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For days, local and national prognosticators have suggested that Tom Ricketts made a huge mistake by extending the contract of Director of Player Development and International Scouting Oneri Fleita before a new General Manager was in place. Candidates for the GM job would be turned off by Ricketts inserting himself into the organization’s baseball operations, they said. Ken Rosenthal called Ricketts “dangerously naive.”

While I was willing to point out that the move might suggest the Cubs aren’t targeting GM candidates who will want total control, I also noted – for several reasons – that it was entirely possible that the move would have absolutely no impact on the GM search whatsoever. I thought the strong reactions from around the media were over the top, and, for the most part, wrong.

According to at least one anonymous GM candidate, those reactions were indeed flatly wrong.

“I have known Oneri for 20-plus years and he is as good as it gets,” the candidate told CSN’s Dave Kaplan. “He is bilingual, which is a huge plus in his role, he put the entire Latin American operation together and that includes a network of scouts that will go with him wherever he goes. In addition, the Cubs new 50-acre facility in the Dominican Republic is being put together under his direction. So to lose him would be a major blow to the entire organization.”

Kaplan suggests that the reaction he’s getting from around baseball is that executives think it’s ridiculous that the media is pointing to this extension as negatively impacting the GM search. Indeed, those sources – like the anonymous GM candidate – say it goes the other way: losing someone like Fleita could have hurt the search because he would have taken all of his Latin American connections and scouts with him.

Separately, Bruce Levine wrote up some more details on how the extension played out, and his sources agree that Fleita’s extension will not impact the GM search, in large part because the deal allows the next GM to reassign Fleita to a different role, if necessary.

So, at the end of the day, it sounds like the move was far from being a chink in Ricketts’ armor. It’s another feather in his cap.

  • funkster

    It almost seems like Dave Kaplan is the only media personality in Chicago whose first instinct isn’t to find some way to shit on the Cubs. I’m finding a new respect for him over the last six months or so.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ditto. He can be a bit grousy, but he strikes me as more level-headed than most of the other pontificators.

      • Lou

        Always liked him. No wonder why he still works at WGN while working at ComCast and moderating CTL. Oh yeah, he’s also a huge Cubs fan, unlike most personalities on WSCR the Score, which is scary because of their White Sox homerism and the fact that they claim to be the #1 sports talk station in Chicago.

  • TWC

    Any excuse to use that picture again, eh Ace?

    It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again…

    • CubFan Paul

      …he does look like Buffalo Bill #creepyasf**k

  • Keith

    Do you think we could get Ricketts to take on Unemployment, Health Care, The Housing Crisis and Illegals?

  • Chris

    i think taking on those things are easier than turning this franchise around! If he can fix our Cubs, he can fix anything

    • dreese

      Ricketts for president! …of baseball operations

  • Steve

    Ken Rosenthal should stop giving his opinion. Them again, he gives the rest of the blogosphere a job to do by showing how wrong his opinions usually are.

  • Coal

    Sheesh. Whoever the new GM ends up being, s/he better have a pretty thick skin and/or not be able to read or watch tv. This was a reworked extension for Director of Player Development and International Scouting. Imagine the blowback if the “expert pontificators” don’t approve of Rickett’s ultimate GM selection. Can we as fans agree to give Ricketts and the eventual GM the benefit of the doubt for a couple of seasons?

  • ScottinIL

    Coal, to your point, there are “writers” in Chicago who will find a way to dump on the new GM no matter who it is. Ruben Amaro from Philly could come to Chicago and idiots like Rozner and Rosenbloom will dump on it. I’m with Brett. Forget what the media says. Use your head (something I’d encourage Barry and Steve to do), or simply read BleacherNation to keep yourself level-headed.

  • Vince

    Give Ricketts some credit for being smart enough to retain Fleita. Tom Ricketts is no dummy. Don’t underestimate his abilities. His decisions are based on intelligent and logical thinking. I’m sure, by now, that he has decided on his new general manager and is waiting for the right moment to announce his choice. Just wait and see.

    • Toosh

      I like your post, but Ricketts hasn’t proven to me yet that he isn’t a dummy. Just sayin’.

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