Cubs fire Oneri Fleita in front-office shakeup
BY TONI GINNETTI Twitter: @toniginnetti August 15, 2012 11:34AM
Updated: August 15, 2012 4:50PM
The changing of the guard under Theo Epstein continued Wednesday at Wrigley Field with the firing of longtime vice president of player personnel Oneri Fleita.
The move comes days after the team promoted amateur scouting director Tim Wilken to a special assistant role and hired Jeron Madison from the San Diego Padres to replace him.
Sources said at least four more people who are veteran Cubs staffers in the player development and baseball operations departments will be let go as well.
One of them is longtime manager of baseball information Chuck Wasserstrom, whose job has been eliminated.
Another, Ari Kaplan who has been manager of statistical analysis, is moving out of the organization and into a consulting role.
Sources say Scott Nelson, the director of baseball operations, will be offered a different role in the organization.
Fleita, 45, had been with the Cubs since 1995 and was a close friend of former general manager Jim Hendry, who also coached him in college at Creighton. After Hendry was fired last year, team owner Tom Ricketts moved to retain the popular Fleita and signed him to a four-year contract extension amid reports other teams were interested in hiring him away.
``All of us with the Cubs owe Oneri a debt of gratitude for his tremendous service to the organization over many years,’’ Epstein said in a statement. ``Oneri has impacted countless people here in a positive way and we wish him well as he continues his career elsewhere.’’
Fleita began as a Class A manager in the organization before moving into scouting and coordinator of Latin American operations and overseeing the organization’s minor league system and international scouting in 2001. He was named vice president of player personnel in October, 2007.
He was instrumental in the Cubs acquiring and developing many of its Latin players, including Starlin Castro.
``I feel real bad,’’ Castro said. ``He was a father to me. I talked to him all the time in the Dominican [Republic] and here. I feel real bad, but it’s a business.’’`