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.”
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.