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.