Results tagged ‘ Oneri Fleita ’

8/15 Fleita follow up

Cubs players were surprised to hear that Oneri Fleita was dismissed on Wednesday as the player development director.

“I feel real bad,” shortstop Starlin Castro said. “He was like my father … but it’s a business.”

Fleita was a father figure to several of the Cubs players in his 12 years with the organization. He would take the Latin players into his home, help them assimilate into the U.S. culture, and treat them as if they were his sons. Fleita escorted me on a trip to the Cubs academy in the Dominican Republic, and it was impressive to see how devoted he is to the people there, from the kitchen cooks to the coaching staff. His work was obviously appreciated by the Ricketts family, who gave him a four-year contract extension last September.

But once Jason McLeod arrived in November and took over as scouting and player development director, the situation changed. Theo Epstein said he talked to Fleita about possibly moving to another role in the organization but both agreed it would put Fleita in an “awkward position.” He has solid relationships with players and coaches.

There were two more front office changes on Wednesday. Chuck Wasserstrom, manager of baseball information, was dismissed as his position was eliminated. Wasserstrom had been with the Cubs for 25 years. Ari Kaplan, manager of statistical analysis, was re-assigned as a consultant. Assistant general manager Randy Bush, a holdover from the previous regime, was in “good standing” and will continue in his role, Epstein said. The search for a new farm director will begin immediately, Epstein said, and some internal candidates will be considered.

“There’s a lot of work to be done here, there’s a lot of great people who have contributed in the past,” Epstein said. “Some people will be moving on. Hopefully it proves to be best for the Cubs and best for them.”

Fleita was going to watch the Class A Peoria Chiefs this week before getting the news Wednesday morning. He still planned on going to Peoria — his daughter is looking at Bradley for college — and the Chiefs shouldn’t be surprised if he stops by.

— Carrie Muskat


8/15 Fleita out of Cubs front office

Oneri Fleita, who has overseen the Cubs’ Minor League organization and international scouting operations for 12 seasons, was dismissed on Wednesday. Fleita joined the Cubs in 1995 as a Minor League manager, and has overseen the development of the Minor League players as well as establishing the Cubs’ presence in the Dominican Republic. Jason McLeod was named the head of scouting and player development last November, taking over Fleita’s duties, but Fleita had been named vice president of player personnel.

— Carrie Muskat

9/19 Clevenger, Dolis to join Cubs

The Cubs will add catcher Steve Clevenger and pitcher Rafael Dolis to the roster on Monday now that their season with Double-A Tennessee is over. Mobile beat Tennessee on Sunday to claim the Southern League Championship. Clevenger, a converted catcher, batted .295 with five homers, 27 doubles and 39 RBIs in 95 games, while Dolis was 8-5 with 17 saves in 19 opportunities and a 3.22 ERA in 51 games with the Smokies.

Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken said Monday he was proud of the fact that Clevenger is the 14th player the team has picked in the First-Year Player Draft since 2006 to reach the big leagues. A shortstop when he was tabbed in the seventh round in 2006, Clevenger switched to catching in 2007. Wilken joked that when selected, he told Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita that Clevenger “runs like a catcher” and not a middle infielder.

“The one thing that was constant was that [Clevenger] was a good hitter,” Wilken said.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has decided to keep the Cubs’ player development staff intact for 2012 while he searches for a new general manager. Fleita recently received a four-year contract extension while Wilken is under contract for next year and on Monday, was assured that the team wants him to stay.

“I definitely think they’re going in the right direction,” Wilken said. “I’d love to finish my career here. Tom has shown confidence in our department. He’s been real supportive.

“There’s a lot of good people over here still,” Wilken said of the Cubs staff. “Hopefully, we’ll find a general manager we can get behind as well and really start progressing foward. We need to get better.”

What Wilken is looking for now are some “roster changers” — middle of the order pitchers and hitters.

— Carrie Muskat


9/4 Fleita to stay with Cubs

The Cubs are still searching for a new GM but one exec is staying. Player personnel director Oneri Fleita has received a four-year contract extension from the Cubs ownership. Fleita heads the Minor League system and international scouting operations. He joined the Cubs in 1995 as manager of the team’s Class A Williamsport team, and has moved up the ranks. Fleita was named vice president, player personnel in October 2007. Among his duties is overseeing the operations in the Dominican Republic, which includes building a new academy there.

— Carrie Muskat

11/2 Brett Jackson sidelined

Brett Jackson, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2009 who was playing in the Arizona Fall League, is done for the year after being hospitalized with a bacterial infection in his right shin. Jackson, 22, had joined the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League in late October after participating in the Pan-Am Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico. He was limited to three games for Team USA because of a minor ankle injury. The outfielder appeared in four games with the Solar Sox and had one double and five RBIs. His last game was Friday when he was pulled after two at-bats.

Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita said Tuesday that Jackson had to be hospitalized in Mesa, Ariz., because of cellulitis with an abscess in his shin, which is similar to a staph infection. Jackson was expected to be released Wednesday. Fleita said Jackson will go home later this week but come back to Mesa, Ariz., in January to workout with other Cubs players in preparation for the 2011 season.

This year, Jackson batted .316 with six homers, 19 doubles and 38 RBIs in 37 games with Class A Daytona and hit .276 with 13 doubles, six triples, six homers and 28 RBIs in 61 games with Double-A Tennessee.

— Carrie Muskat

10/10 Thanks from the Ricketts

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts sent a letter to season ticket holders this past week. Here’s a copy:

“It has been an incredible year for my family in our first season as stewards of the Chicago Cubs. Of all the new experiences, none was more enjoyable than the opportunity to meet and spend time with you—our season ticket holders.
“We met many of you during our game day walks through Wrigley Field.  Over the course of those games, you welcomed me and my family, you shared your thoughts and suggestions on improving the team and the ballpark, we celebrated some wins and, unfortunately, suffered too many losses.
“One of the highlights of the year was our first ever season ticket holder ‘open house’ on July 8th. On that day alone I met more than 2100 of you, as we spent a day together in the greatest ballpark on earth. (For all who have inquired—yes, we are going to host that event again and in fact we will double up with a night session as well).
“As our most highly valued customers, your opinions are invaluable as we move our organization forward. In fact, you will soon be contacted to participate in a quality assurance survey as we consider amenity upgrades and look to identify ways to improve your experience at Wrigley Field.
“On behalf of my entire family, thank you for your warm welcome and your incredible support of the Cubs organization. You are truly our partners and we respect your contribution and insights.”
2010 Review
“The 2010 season was a disappointment for all at the major league level–for my family, for the organization, for the players and for the fans. The team showed signs of its potential the last quarter of the season, but the 75-87 record fell well short of our goals. My family is committed to winning a World Series and though it may not be entirely evident from this year’s performance, there are encouraging signs.
“The 2010 highlights revolved around our home grown talent. Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin and Andrew Cashner developed into budding stars, with Castro and Colvin in the NL Rookie of the Year discussion. That young group was enhanced by the August promotion of Casey Coleman, who went 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in his last four starts. All need to take the next step in 2011, but we are very encouraged to have a group of young, home grown players emerge as regulars in 2010.
“We also have to recognize the superb job done by another one of our own–Mike Quade.  During the final 37 games, the team played at a .649 clip (24-13), the second best record in the Majors over that time frame. Making this even more significant, we played largely against teams fighting for playoff berths.
“It is my strong belief that, in the end, it is organizations with strong farm systems that win championships and I am convinced that our organization is making progress.
“Our success in producing talent from within our system can be attributed to a number of factors, including a commitment of financial resources. We believe we have one of the best scouting directors in baseball in Tim Wilken (now 4 years in place) and with a strong farm director in Oneri Fleita and a very productive international effort, we are making progress in what had been a weak spot in the organization.
“Our farm clubs performed very well in 2010, playing to a collective 374-316 record, with first place finishes at both the Triple-A level in Iowa (tied) and Double-A level in Tennessee. The overall .542 winning percentage was second among all major league organizations and our 374 wins were the most for the Cubs organization in 15 years. As I said at our opening press conference about a year ago, we are committed to winning the right way—with our farm system. We believe we are on the right track.”
2011 Preview
“We are early in the process of building the club for 2011. The first order of business is hiring our manager. Jim Hendry has identified a strong group of candidates and we are currently completing our interviews. This is a critical decision and I am confident we will find the right person to lead the club.
“The strength of our team in 2010 was our starting pitching, as we led the National League with 96 quality starts. We expect that to continue. We are excited to see the continued development of our young players and the strong bullpen work anchored by Carlos Marmol (38 saves and a reliever-franchise record 138 strikeouts) and Sean Marshall (2.65 ERA, 22 holds).
“Going forward, we recognize the need to recommit to fundamentals. We need to stabilize our defense and cut down on errors. We need to improve our offense and become more efficient in both moving runners and hitting with players in scoring position. It is too early to determine whether this will be addressed with internal moves, trades or through free agent acquisitions.  But we know we must improve in these areas.
“Given that we had the highest payroll in the NL in 2010, I get a lot of questions about our payroll commitment for 2011. As I said earlier, we are still working on our 2011 baseball plan, so it is hard to be too specific at this time. What I can tell you is that our overall baseball budget (scouting, player development and payroll) will be about the same in 2011 as it was in 2010. Continued long term success will come through superior scouting and player development, and we are committed to improving that facet of the organization. As a result, this likely means a shift of some of our resources from the major league payroll toward scouting and player development, but we are still very much in the evaluation phase.”
2011 Ticket Pricing
“The other question I get regularly concerns our ticket pricing for 2011 and beyond. Overall, our average ticket price will be flat in 2011 compared to 2010. Before going into greater detail on that topic, let me provide some background.
“My family is committed to providing ticket pricing that allows families to enjoy Cubs baseball. In so many ways, our children represent the next generation in the Cubs family. We want to invest in providing families with opportunities to experience Wrigley Field, including such things as running the bases, which will be continued in 2011.
“To this end, we will continue the policy of keeping many of our tickets in the sub $10 range–in fact, we will offer a substantial increase in sub-$10 tickets next year compared to 2010.
“In addition, we are increasing the number of bronze games (our lowest ticket pricing tier) from 6 games in 2010 to 15 games in the bleachers and 11 games in the grandstand in 2011. As a result, there will be 77% more tickets priced at $20 or less in 2011 than there were in 2010.  Stated differently, a total of more than 550,000 tickets will be available for $20 or less next year.
“Again, our average ticket price next year will be essentially flat compared to 2010 (actually it is fractionally down vs. 2010). This does not mean all ticket prices will be the same as last year however, as pricing was adjusted based on location and our schedule. A little background might be helpful.
“To set our pricing in 2011, we examined approximately 5 million transactions from our primary and secondary ticket markets from 2005 through 2010. Our goal was to keep our average ticket price flat overall but improve the alignment of pricing for games and seating sections with actual demand. The result is a market-based ticket model that reflects our fans’ buying patterns.
“The highlights include: (1) reducing the average ticket price for all gold, silver and bronze games, (2) separating the bleachers and grandstands in the pricing tiers, as the buying patterns vary significantly for each area, and (3) adding a new fifth tier of pricing (Marquee Tier) for our high
est demand games.
“Cutting through it all, the net result for our season ticket holders is that some will see a slight (in all cases, less than 3%) increase, others will see a reduction as much as 6% and some will see virtually no change at all.
“Other changes in 2011 include new season ticket holder benefits. Over the years, we have added significant benefits to being a Cubs season ticket holder, such as a dedicated area within our website, early access to Spring Training tickets and other special events (such as the very popular Dave Matthews concerts and Allstate Wrigleyville Classic football game coming in November), and last year’s open house.
“For 2011, there are a number of new benefits that I think you will find interesting. Among them is exclusive access to our players, coaches, manager, front office and ownership through Cubs Insider Webcasts that will occur throughout the year. In addition to updates on everything happening inside the ballclub, these webcasts will provide you the opportunity to ask questions on topics of your choice. A Season Ticket Holder Benefit page follows this letter and you should ask your Cubs representative about any of the items listed there.”
Wrigley Field Renovations
“Like you, we love Wrigley Field and are committed to winning a championship at the Friendly Confines. We all need to recognize, however,  that our wonderful Wrigley Field is fast approaching 100 years of age and is in need of substantial improvements. We committed over $10 million to that effort last year, largely to improve restrooms, add new food options, recast concrete, upgrade steel and other general maintenance. We will continue this effort in 2011 but again the focus will be more tactical than strategic.
“We spent much of the 2010 season assembling a team of renowned architects, engineers, designers and project managers to develop a master plan for a more significant Wrigley Field overhaul and Triangle Building development. Our planning will continue in 2011 and your involvement through the quality assurance surveys mentioned earlier is very important. We look forward to completing the analysis phase and getting underway with the construction and occupation phase.”
“Thank you again for your incredible support of Cubs baseball and the Ricketts family. We have spent our adult lives sitting next to you cheering for our team. We now have the responsibility to improve not only the play on the field but also to protect and save our summer home, Wrigley Field. With your help we will accomplish both.”

7/26 Vitters has season-ending injury

Josh Vitters’ season appears to be over. Vitters suffered a broken middle finger after he was hit by a pitch Sunday in Tennessee’s game against Mississippi. Braves starter Jacob Thompson hit Vitters in the fifth inning and the third baseman immediately came out of the game.

Vitters was headed to Chicago to be seen by the team’s hand specialist either Monday or Tuesday.

“It’s a shame,” Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita said Monday. “He stepped up, he was hitting in the middle of the lineup, hitting third. You could see he was on the come to finish strong, in the middle of the action on a team palying outstanding baseball. His defense was improving and he was giving quality at-bats.”

The Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2007 — and third overall — Vitters began the year with Class A Daytona and was bumped up to Double-A after 28 games with a .291/.350/.445 line. Although he’s batting .223 overall, he was hitting .303 in his last 10 games.

Vitters missed time in 2008 with an injury to his left hand.

— Carrie Muskat

7/2 Minor matters, Part II

Hayden Simpson, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick this June, has yet to report to Mesa because of a viral infection. The Cubs told the pitcher to get well first. Simpson, a right-hander, apparently picked up the virus during his visit to Chicago.

* Nine players from Double-A Tennessee were selected to the Southern League All-Star game, including two catchers, Robinson Chirinos and Steve Clevenger. The list also includes Tony Campana, Ty Wright, Blake Lalli, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, David Cales, Hung-Wen Chen and Ryan Butcher.

“It’s a nice reward, especially in that league with that team,” said Oneri Fleita, the Cubs player development director.

— Carrie Muskat

7/2 Jackson doing well at Tennessee

Here’s a news flash: Brett Jackson didn’t get a hit Thursday. The Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2009, Jackson batted .316 in 67 games at Class A Daytona and was promoted to Double-A Tennessee on Sunday. He had nine hits in his first four games since his promotion, including home runs in each of his first two games, but he went 0-for-4 Thursday against West Tenn.

“He’s been on fire,” player development director Oneri Fleita said of the outfielder. “He’s probably hitting at a .600 or .700 clip. I’m sure the baseball looks like a watermelon to him.”

Officially, Jackson is batting .391 at Double-A with two doubles, two homers and six RBIs in five games. He is batting .600 off left-handers.

“He’ll be challenged big time at the level he’s at,” said Dave Keller, the Cubs’ roving Minor League hitting instructor.

One of the reasons is that Southern League teams play five-game series, which saves on travel costs but also gives teams plenty of time to scout.

“If you hit well in the first or second game of the series, that third, fourth, fifth and sometimes sixth game you have to learn how to adjust,” Keller said. “From our standpoint offensively, it’s great because our guys learn how to adjust and it helps them with their plan. That’s what this level is all about.”

— Carrie Muskat

1/17/10 Dominican trip

Tom and Todd Ricketts were to visit the Cubs’ academy in the Dominican Republic this week. Player development director Oneri Fleita said he will travel with the two Ricketts brothers, part of the family ownership group that took control of the team in late October, on Monday. Todd Ricketts will attend at least one Winter League game. The team’s training facility is located near Boca Chica.

— Carrie Muskat