Late on Friday – and then made official on Saturday – the Chicago Cubs hired a new Scouting Director, and shuffled the current Scouting Director (Director of Amateur Scouting, that is) up the front office ladder. The former is Jaron Madison, who has been the Scouting Director for the San Diego Padres since 2009 (when he was hired into that position by then-GM Jed Hoyer and then-Scouting Chief Jason McLeod). The latter is Tim Wilken, who is now a Special Assistant to President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein.

First, on Wilken, the Cubs are thrilled to be able to keep him on board, which is something of a coup, given that the incoming bosses essentially filled his job last year with Jason McLeod.

“I really feel blessed,” Wilken said of his promotion and his time with the Cubs, according to the Tribune. “This comes at a time when everything is directed toward getting this organization to reach the championship level, to win the World Series. It’s pretty exciting. That sounds kind of funny the way we’re playing, but I’m seeing the inroads that have been made. I’m excited to see what it will look like down the road. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep adding to it.”

Wilken will reportedly get an extension to along with his promotion – he was set to be a “free agent” at the end of this season – which could keep him with the Cubs through 2015. Clearly the new brass came in and found that their ideas on how to build an organization squared with what Wilken had been doing as Scouting Director. Thus, he gets kicked upstairs, and will now work in a more comprehensive role at the top of the organization, rather than focusing solely on amateur scouting. In other words, this is a genuine promotion – and one that allows the Cubs to further expand their already robust front office (which has exploded over the last year). The Cubs may not be able to spend freely on the Draft anymore, but they can spend like crazy on the front office. This pleases me.

Wilken’s now-former boss (the org chart is a bit murky now, but I’d imagine the two are sort of parallel at this point) Jason McLeod had some heavy praise for Wilken, and shared his thoughts on how the two will now work together.

“We’re pretty excited about the opportunity it gave us,” McLeod told Bruce Miles. “In talking to Tim about it, it really allows us to utilize his strengths and skills in a greater capacity. He’s going to be touching, really, all the departments in the organization with still a heavy influence on amateur scouting, but also using him on the pro side for major-league work, for international. I’ve already started including him on the player-personnel decisions in our minor-league system as well. Tim’s such a talented evaluator. His history speaks for itself. I know he’s really excited about it. It makes him feel, not re-energized like he needed it, but he’s been in amateur scouting for so long and done such a great job there, I know he felt like he was ready to contribute in other departments in the organization.”

As for Madison, the Cubs nabbed an up-and-coming 36-year-old executive who – together with McLeod and Hoyer – oversaw the two-year transformation of a San Diego farm system that went from middle-of-the-road or worse to one of the top three in all of baseball. Again, McLeod was complimentary.

“With Jaron, I have a history of having worked with him in San Diego,” McLeod said, according to Bruce Levine. “I hired him as the scouting director there. He understands our system and the processes we want to run and put in place. He is a talented evaluator himself and a great manager of scouts. For us it was a win-win to be able to do this.”

From the official press release on Madison’s hiring:

Jaron Madison joins the Cubs organization after spending the last three years as Director of Amateur Scouting for the San Diego Padres, his third stint with the organization. Madison began his professional baseball career as an associate area scout with the Padres in 2002.

Madison served as an area scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2002-05 before returning to the Padres in 2005 as assistant to the director of player development. He later spent two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals (2008-09) as the assistant scouting director before returning to San Diego to lead the club’s amateur scouting efforts on December 18, 2009.

The 36-year-old Madison is a 1998 graduate of Long Beach State University, where he also coached from 2001-02. He received his masters in sports management from the University of San Francisco in 2002.

There is also a great interview with Madison over at Scout from just before this year’s Draft. I’ll probably be doing a separate write-up in the near future, but it’s worth a read if you’ve got the time.

  • Fastball

    Hopefully these guys can find us some starting and relief pitching a third basemen and somebody who can hit with runners on base. With all the front office help we got in place it would seem that we should be able to find somebody who can play baseball next year in Chicago. I think another severe weakness we have is the Iowa Cubs. At the lower levels we have talent coming along at most all of the positions around the diamond. We are hurting big time at Iowa. They need to work real hard on finding players who still have years ahead of them who can actually be called up and fill in when needed. Right now Iowa is decimated. No real pitching or good position players left down there IMO. They can’t just promote everyone to the next level if they are not ready. Going out and getting players whose careers are basically over or are on the serious decline doesn’t really benefit the organization other than fill out a roster so they can finish the PCL season. If Management can doing a really good job of signing free agents for the AAA team next year and for the ML roster we will be in a better spot. Look at all the not ready for prime time players that have been riding the bus from DesMoine to Chicago over that past 3 or 4 years. We have brought up some good kids in that time frame but we have had more than our fare share of klunkers riding that bus as well. Especially in the pitching department.

    • Luke

      They shouldn’t need to sign too many AAA free agents this winter. Much of the current Smokies roster should move up.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    Hopefully these guys can find us some starting and relief pitching a third basemen and somebody who can hit with runners on base.

    The focus should be on starters and “skill” position players who can hit. All relievers are failed starters, so you get those by accumulating possible starters. Good infielders can be moved around with a bit of work: pile up good hitting middle infielders, and you can make a 3Bman out of one of them. (You can also make corner OFers out of them, although a good hitting MI is an average hitting corner OFer.) Ditto that for CFer: you can convert them to corner OFers or even IFers. (The Dodgers used to do that all the time: most of their MIs began in the OF.)

    BAwRiSP also should not be a factor, as it’s not a “real” statistic: what a guy does one half of the season predicts how well he’ll do in the second half (or the next season) just as well as a coin-flip. Get guys who can get on base, and you’ll get guys who can get on base wRiSP: very slightly half the time they’ll do better, very slightly less than half the time they will do worse. (You get more PAwRiSP against bad pitchers than against good pitchers, so OBAwRiSP overall is slightly higher than OBA.)

  • Matty V

    Maybe I missed it somewhere along the way, but did the Jed Hoyer compensation ever happen with the Padres? Getting another one of their top, up and coming execs made me wonder if the compensation issue is still out there.

    • Flashfire

      They got some nobody from Daytona. “Javier Baez” I think his name was. Like we needed him.

      (No, last I checked it still hadn’t been decided.)

  • Fastball

    Doc, I agree with all of that you just said. I’m not a stat’s guy to the extreme. I do know this. We can’t hit with runners in scoring position. We leave so many runners on base most every game it’s sickening. My point was that I hope they can find or develop players who have the knack to hit when there are guys on base as well as when they are not. I played a lot of baseball including major college. A lot of guys just don’t hit worth a damn when the chips are down. I don’t know whether it’s pressure or they try to hard or they don’t have the confidence. I was a pretty good pitcher and I could pitch out of jams better than most. A lot of guys just fall on their sword when they get in a jam. They don’t have the make up for it mentally or the stuff to pitch out of jams. We need some of those guys that can. If I was a starting pitcher for the Cubs I would just be pissed at myself if I couldn’t throw a complete game every time out. I say that because if I have a lead in the 7th I don’t have very good odds of getting a win. They say that pitchers are measured on W’s and L’s. Well pitchers measure themselves on W’s and L’s. It’s a bitch throwing 7 or 8 innings and then lose because you handed it over to someone else who F’d it up. It’s a lot of work and you can always say I did my part. But that’s not a team approach that’s when everyone starts becoming individuals on a team. I just hate losing and losing was never acceptable anywhere I ever played. As a fan I just get frustrated watching losing baseball. As a player I didn’t want anything to do with losing baseball. I would rather we had the last pick in the drat than the 1st if it meant winning more often.

    • Drew7

      Cubs OPS overall: .672
      Cubs OPS w/ RISP: .690

      This actually helps prove Doc’s point: YOU see the Cubs failing to execute in these situations because, A) there are so few of them, and B) because they suck overall (which, actually, is the main reason for point-A).

  • terencem

    His credentials form working with the Cardinals should not be overlooked, either. They did a great job with the resources they were given.

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  • Myles

    Sounds like a smart guy. As scary as it is to be all OBC with this front office, more brainpower probably can’t be a bad thing.

  • ssckelley

    Quick question, why can’t the Cubs over spend in the draft anymore? It is my understanding they can over spend but could lose a 1st round pick if they go to far over the cap. Is it just the first round pick or could they lose other picks if they over spend by x amount?

    My line of thinking is once the Cubs start winning and are picking at the bottom of the first anyway, why not over spend to lure those talented HS prospects? Almost every year there are a few high school players that would be first round picks that drop into lower rounds because they appear to be unsignable. If the FO is willing to over spend perhaps they get a few of these players to sign instead of going to college.

    Just a thought.

    • Flashfire

      A wise man posted this once:

    • Kyle

      I’m not going to say “never,” but I’ll be pretty shocked if you ever see a draft where enough talent falls to make it worthwhile. A lot of these “first-round talents” that fall aren’t really first-round talents. That was just the highest of many grades that the various pundits and scouts gave them.

  • scorecardpaul

    I was wondering about this, and I can’t find a good answer???
    Is there a way we could change the contract that the players sign??
    for example, what if in the contract it stated that they were a free agent after 2 years??
    would this be allowed, or is the control that owners get over the players mandated.
    if this were even allowed, would a team be willing to do it.??
    My example is this, get a very high pick(lets just say #1 in the draft) pay him a couple mil under slot, but he is a free agent in 2 years. If he were a high profile college pitcher and he turns out to be the real deal after 2 years the Cubs would be willing to pay him big money to play at Wrigley anyway??? With the money saved on the first pitcher get another good player that you have normal control of?? The Cubs get more players, and the player makes more money??

    • THEOlogical

      I’m no baseball guru, but Tampa has been doing that thing, somewhat. They sign players before arbitrary years for less. The player gets more money than they could imagine sooner, and the team gets more control over them, plus, they don’t have to fight each other in taking them to arbitration.
      Also, it would not be wise to sign a pitcher to 2 seasons and then sign some lucrative contract. First I don’t think it’s an agreement in the CBA, but if it were allowed, you would have a player who would walk to just test the market. Also the team would never sign a pitcher to a long term deal after two yrs in the minors, or even one yr in the majors. Most players need time to develop their skills and the big contract usually comes after proving your worth (after the arbitrational period). I really feel we will see more and more of these contracts that the Rays have been doing. It’s both good for the team and the players.

  • Jim L.

    When Theo was officially let go by the Red Sox, what was the time frame that he could not raid the Red Sox front office? Was it after a year?

    • BeyondFukudome

      I believe the applicable contractual language is: “…for as long as Boston harbor smells and Red Sox fans are wicked quee-yah…”

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