There's room for both Wilken and McLeod

There's room for both Wilken and McLeod

According to Gordon Wittenmeyer, Tim Wilken is just fine that Jason McLeod has come on board.  That's a huge sigh of relief for me.  I've made no secret that I'm a fan of Tim Wilken, even if I've sometimes disagreed with his draft picks.  This past draft has shown what he can do if he's given the resources.

Never mind when Keith Law says it wasn't a "great" draft.  This is not to disrespect Law --one of Wilken's drafts are ever considered great -- at the time, that is.  He follows the beat of his own drummer.  He'll like certain prospects more than other people might.  But sometimes those prospects turn out to be Chris Carpenter and Roy Halladay.  Everybody might say they like them now, but that was far from the case when Wilken drafted them.

We've heard Theo Epstein say that the Red Sox staff looked at each other and said, "The Cubs finally get it." with regard to this year's draft.  This doesn't mean they would have picked the same exact players, just that the Cubs were "going for it" and finally understood the right way to build a team.  Not every scout liked Dan Vogelbach, for example, but it's easy to see why someone would take a chance on him, and that's what Wilken did.

It isn't just Epstein that admired the Cubs draft.  It's been said by many executives around the league.  Baseball America ranked their draft in the top 10 along with, coincidentally, McLeod's Padres.

So the Cubs now have two intelligent baseball people who just spear-headed top 10 drafts this past season.  That in itself is a good thing.  Even better, this quote from Wittenmeyer's column gives an encouraging account of a past, positive relationship between the two scouting giants,

“I’m very happy that we got him over here for a number of reasons,’’ said Wilken, who has known McLeod for about eight years. “We’ve kind of migrated to each other in the past during some scouting director meetings and things like that. [His hiring] just kind of brought a smile to my face, and we’ve talked a little bit here in the last few days. And I really look forward to getting together with him and putting together this plan here to make us World Champions.’’

The thought of those two working together just gets me all giddy.  Despite their different philosophies and the fact that McLeod will come in and have the final say, Wilken seems just as excited as the rest of us to have him here.

Keep in mind that this isn't your fantasy league on-line draft where you sit in front of your laptop with baseball magazines and beer.  A major league draft is a huge collaborative effort.  Neither Wilken nor McLeod fly to every single venue and see all there is to see of every player.  They have to trust their scouts and then take that information and come to a decision as a group.  The only thing that changes now is that you have more smart people, more sets of eyes getting together.

Wilken will still have a strong voice as to who gets drafted, though McLeod will now have the final say.  How that works out remains to be seen.  Perhaps McLeod could have talked Wilken out of drafting Hayden Simpson last year, but you also hope he doesn't talk him out of drafting the next Roy Halladay.  In the end, though, both men will have a list of players they like, and they are sure to find common ground more often than they won't.

Their ultimate goal is still the same, to get the best players in the organization to build the best player development system in baseball.  I certainly wouldn't bet against them right now.




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  • Wilkin's has lots of knowledge and will part of the new front office mix.
    After 1 year he can judged on his own merits.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think you have to keep guys at least through the transition. Wilken doesn't have anything to prove, the only question for me is whether he and McLeod can work together. The early indications are that they can and that would be huge for us.

  • Great article John, and great news here. Wilken's quote there has me feeling very optomistic that we can keep 2 very bright scouting minds together for a long time. It seems like they are friends already. I can't wait for the draft this summer, and every summer. I love that everyone involved with the Cubs right now is buying into this plan --everyone seems to understand how truly special and monumental this can be.

    I'm hearing a lot of Chicago mainstream writers talking about caution, and comparing this to what ultimately was a dissapointing hire in Andy MacPhail. You hear many of these guys talking about how overblown this story is, advising us that Theo is no savior, and bringing up his recent failures & the Boston collapse.

    Sorry guys, but this is bigger than Theo. A winning culture starts at the top, and permeates down throughout the entire organization. We have the guys at the top, starting with the commited Ricketts, and then extending to Epstein, who really hasn't had an opportunity like this yet, to establish an organization exactly the way he envisions it. Add in his experience, both good and bad, and I believe we will be seeing an already impressive baseball man in rare form.

    But he's just part of the team. The thought of Wilken & McLeod working side by side for many years has me giddy as well. Hoyer has to be excited as well, as too holdovers Fleita & Kaplan. We'll see more bright minds brought in after the WS. You really get the sense that not only we're in on the ground floor of something truly special, but that everyone involved feels it.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Amen to that!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    Well said, ChiRy. The Cubs didn't have that with McPhail. It was just, "make us competitive, save us money, and fill the seats". No commitment to winning, just profit and a team occasionally good enough to keep you interested.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing who else we might bring in. I don't think we should limit ourselves..shoot high. The Cubs are well on their way to being a respected organization where people will want to go.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Would love to see Coppolella if they could snag him!

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    You and me both. I think he's a great fit even if he isn't from that Boston lineage.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You think the AGM spot could entice him? It's a step up, so would no compensation be due?

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    I think Coppolella would definitely listen. As you say 1) it's a step up and 2) this is suddenly a great organization to work for and 3) it seems to me this is a good fit for him. It wouldn't hurt to let's hope Theo asks!

  • Man, I can't wait to see what happens in the Winter Meetings, and next year's draft! I'm so excited that I may go to my first Cubs' Convention!

    And we have the what, the 8th pick overall? It's good times to be a Cubbie fan! I'm real excited about our prospects in the next couple of years!

  • In reply to pkm613:

    It is exciting. The Cubs convention should be crazy this year. This is as much as excitement as I can remember -- and it's long term excitement, not a short term one created by free agent signings or a managerial hire. The feeling is different because it seems like this is building from the ground up and one that can be sustained over a number of years. I've been a Cubs fan all my life and the closest we came to doing that was Dallas Green, but he didn't get the ownership support that Epstein will.

  • In reply to pkm613:

    Is it the 8th? I heard originally that it was the 6th.

  • In reply to ChiRy:

    It is the 6th pick.

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    "There comes a time when all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place and the universe opens itself up for a few seconds to show you what is possible." ~ Field of Dreams

    There was never a doubt in my mind that Wilken could get along with McLeod. Wilken sees the potential of what the Cubs could be as much as anyone, and he wants to be a part of history.

  • This would be huge keeping these guys together for a long time. Bad drafts kill teams. The Cubs could have chosen C.C. Sabathia in 1998 but picked Corey Patterson instead. Nobody has a crystal ball but I would like to have thought the Cubs of now would have made a much better choice. Like John said, let's hope together they can avoid picking long shots like Hayden Simpson.

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