Yesterday, an early morning report said interim general manager Randy Bush would be leaving the Chicago Cubs’ organization, but that report was quickly refuted. Still, it might be a tricky fit to have Bush return to his old job (assistant GM), given his time in the top spot, and his relationship with deposed GM, Jim Hendry.

On Wednesday, the Cubs announced that they’d officially hired, in addition to new GM Jed Hoyer, a new Senior VP of Scouting and Player Development in Jason McLeod. Where that left Scouting Director Tim Wilken, was anyone’s guess – and my guess was that Wilken, who would now be expected to report to McLeod after having been the top scouting guy on the totem pole for five years, would be given an opportunity to look around.

So where do things stand with Bush and Wilken now? Well, tentatively, both will remain with the Cubs through 2012.

Bush is now expected to remain with the Cubs and return to his old post as an assistant GM with the organization. I say “an,” as opposed to “the,” because, although no one else has been hired, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs add another assistant GM or two.

As for Wilken, it sounds like he’ll stick it out for 2012, and he’s saying all the right things. He’s even happy about the addition of McLeod.

“I’m very happy that we got him over here for a number of reasons,’’ said Wilken. “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.’’

Wilken says he expects that the two will work together over the next year, and “marry” their approaches to scouting and development.

“We’ve done a pretty decent job over here, but we can get better,’’ said Wilken.

Will Wilken ultimately remain with the Cubs? Maybe for 2012 – the final year of his contract – but I doubt he’ll be here longer, if he even stays through the Winter. Let’s be real: Wilken has been the top dog for five years, and is a highly respected top dog, at that. If he wants to be the top scouting man in another organization, I suspect he could find that opportunity – and I also suspect the Cubs would let him go take a job like that.

I’d be thrilled if Wilken stays for a year, indeed marries his approach to McLeod’s, and helps smooth the front office transition. But I certainly wouldn’t begrudge him the desire to look around, given the changes.

(You’ll note that Farm Director Oneri Fleita’s name is omitted in this discussion of legacy front office types – given his recent four-year extension, and the fact that the arrival of the new blood did not represent an effective demotion for Fleita, I don’t see the same issues arising. I suspect he’ll stay, and continue his work in the system, and in Latin America.)

  • Cubbie Blue

    Brett, Have you heard anything else on the compensation talks?

    • Brett

      Resource officer Cliffy passed something on to me this morning. He was listening to WEEI (Boston radio), and they interviewed Larry Lucchino, who said that it’s still being worked on, but may require third party intervention (i.e., Selig). According to Lucchino, the two sides have continued to disagree as to what would be “significant” compensation for Epstein. If that was the threshold that was agreed to before the Cubs hired Epstein, then I’d have to agree with those who say the Cubs dropped the ball a little bit – you need to be a bit more specific than “significant.” To me, “significant” for Epstein is two very good prospects, but I could see how the Sawx thought it meant one of the best prospects in the system.

      We may not have a resolution on this until next week.

    • Cliffy

      I listen to the two Boston radio stations lately more than Chicago stations. Don’t be surprised if its not Jeff Baker and Chris Carpenter it helps fills two holes Boston has.

      • Brett

        Many people seem to think it’s Carpenter, at a minimum. That would hurt, but would probably qualify as “significant.”

  • CNB

    I was just reading that LaHair was named MiLB AAA hitter of the year. I really hope that the Cubs give him a chance at 1st next year. Then use there big bucks on pitching and defense.

    • Brett

      That was supposed to be a bullet this morning. Apologies, and good find. It will be very interesting to see what the Cubs decide to do about LaHair.

  • JulioZuleta

    I still say that we haven’t seen much out of Wilken yet. We have a pretty weak system at the upper levels and most of our top guys at the low levels were all big over-slots, which is more the result of Ricketts opening the checkbook than superior scouting. I’d prefer to just see an “out with the old, in with the new” than trying to “marry” our new approach with an older, less effective one.

    • Hrubes20

      To be fair, Wilken’s draft budget was absolute crap in every year before 2011.

      • JulioZuleta

        I know, but still, we don’t have many of those “wow, that guy came out of no where” types. I just think he’s average, nothing more, nothing less.

        • Cedlandrum

          Because of the draft budget, Wilken drafted a bunch of guys who were good baseball players and low ceiling types. That is why you have a ton of guys who are probably big leaguers but not all stars in the minors. He actually has had a bit of success in getting guys to the bigs, they just aren’t considered major helpers. This is what happens when you can’t sign a bunch of overslot guys or major payout guys. When given the chance like this last year, you see what he can do.

          Also go back and look at the Toronto and Rays drafts when he was there. Very good picks.

          • JulioZuleta

            I know what you’re saying, but my point is that any scouting department can be great with a huge budget, and most will be poor with a low budget. Maybe my expectations are too high, but I would just like to see a little more than what we’ve seen.

          • ari gold

            To be fair, we have no idea how well this draft class will be. They could completely tank. They could exceed our wildest expectations. We’ll have no idea for at least 2-3 years. The fact is that Wilken hasn’t had a good draft since he’s been here, although he wasn’t given a large budget. But you can’t argue with the success Mcleod has had. I’m glad he’s here.

        • Jeff

          Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter beg to differ on the “average” moniker you just threw on Wilken.

          • JulioZuleta

            I’m glad that he drafted two aces that frequently embarrass Cubs hitters, but sports is a “what have you done for me lately” business. Im not running him out of town, I’m just saying that he hasn’t been a world beater finding hidden gems at relativly low costs. I don’t care what the budget was, the Hayden Simpson pick is indefensable (ible?). I get that he has been injured, but 99% of the baseball world labeled that guy a bust within 1 minute of the pick.

            • Cedlandrum

              Time will tell on his drafts, but the 08-09 drafts both look to be good drafts with: Cashner, Carpenter, Flaherty, Jay Jackson, Campana, Coleman, Josh Harrison, Brett Jackson, LeMahieu, Whitenack, McNutt, Struck and others.

              Again we don’t know yet, but those look like good drafts. I know Coleman and Campana are fringe players and Harrison was traded, but you have to draft some guys who are utility, fringe players.

            • Diesel

              Actually I believe that the Cubs are one of the only teams that actually frequently embarrass Roy Halladay.  As far as Chris Carpenter goes, MLB conspired to make it so if the world series made it to game 7 that he could pitch.  I hate the Cardinals and their fans.  Go Cubs!

  • jfish1219

    I was having this discussion with a friend of my and I wanted some other opinions. If David Price were available in a trade, what would you be willing to give up? We both agreed that we would  trade any prospects no questions asked to get him even if it cost our top 5 prospects

    • Cedlandrum

      good hypothetical. Can’t trade Baez this year. But I would trade either Jackson or Szczur but not both. McNutt, Carpenter, and Rhee for him.

      So in a sense- Prospects 1&2, our highest upside bullpen arm and a lower, but good starter in Rhee.

      • Brett

        Price wouldn’t be my top dream choice trade target, but, yeah, the Rays could pretty much have who they wanted.

        • Cedlandrum

          Who do you want?

          • Brett

            Lots of guys before Price (career ERA+ is 117, last year was just 107). Too many to list without omitting some obvious ones and being ridiculed … Verlander, Kershaw, Hernandez, Weaver…

            • Hawkeye

              What is the difference in cost for Price vs. some of the other guys you name Brett?   I would imagine that Price is under pretty cheap control by Tampa.   Are there other pitchers out there that you would like that would cost the Cubs payroll the same amount as Price would?

              Update:  Looks like Price is owed only approx. 1.5 million next year.  Are there any other pitchers that are that high of quality for that little of money that you would trade for before Price?

              • Brett

                $1.5 mill in 2012, and then arbitration in 2013 (he’ll get close to $10 million). As I said, shooting from the hip on a question like this would be a mistake for many reasons – contract questions, among them. Properly researching and answering could take hours. Kershaw is arb eligible for the first time in 2012, so there’s that.

                All I’m saying: even considering contracts, I’m confident that Price – while highly desirable – is not the “dream” pitcher if I’m choosing from everyone else in baseball. He was only slightly above average last year.

                • Cedlandrum

                  Felix Hernandez is only going to be 26 this next year but he has thrown 1300 innings already in his career. Whoa! I like his stuff but eventually he has to break down doesn’t he.

                  I agree on the other guys you named.

                • Hawkeye

                  I get what your saying Brett.  I think many of us “shoot from the hip” when looking at things like this.   Plus, a little birdie told me that we are more in a “gaining assets” mode right now as opposed to trading them away.    I think it may take Cubs nation a little time to really change our mind set and realize that we should expect more stories like Castro and less like Soriano.  What I mean is, we should expect to see more kids coming up through the system as opposed to paying for proven and deterierating (sp)  talent.

                  • Jason

                    FWIW, this is how Fangraphs rates them in their annual “Trade Values” segment. This is supposed to incorporate pitching performance relative to contract value.

                    1. Kershaw (#11 overall)
                    2. Price (#12)
                    3. Felix (#14)
                    4. Lester (#18)
                    5. Verlander (#19)
                    6. Tommy Hanson (#23)
                    7. Strasburg (#24)
                    8. Ubaldo (#25)
                    9. Jaime Garcia (#26) – f’in Cardinals

                    • Hawkeye

                      I had to read the list twice as I couldn’t figure out why Rodrigo Lopez was omitted?

                    • Jason

                      He was #11 – right behind Dave Bush

                    • Hawkeye

                      Thanks for going into further detail.   I knew he couldn’t be that far down the list.

    • umpirejim

      Your crazy ! Price is a good pitcher and I mean good not great. We’re finally starting to see a few of this kids and you want to get rid of them. Take it easy Rome wasn’t built in a day.