As I first reported on Twitter this morning, the Cubs have fired longtime farm boss Oneri Fleita. The move will become official later today. Fleita's title was vice president of player personnel and he had been given a four-year contract extension last September by team chairman Tom Ricketts.
But all bets apparently were off when the new management team, led by Theo Epstein, took over. Last week, the Cubs hired Jaron Madison from the San Diego Padres to be scouting director and moved Tim Wilken up from director of amateur and pro scouting to be a special assistant to Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer.
"All of us with the Cubs owe Oneri a debt of gratitude for his tremendous service to the organization over many years," said Epstein in a news release."Oneri has impacted countless people here in a positive way, and we wish him well as he continues his career elsewhere."
UPDATE: The Cubs also elminated the position of manager of baseball information, meaning longtime loyalist Chuck Wasserstrom is out of a job, too. We were able to talk with Theo at length today. Here is is, unfiltered, on the Fleita firing:
"It's been a really, really difficult day for everyone involved. First I just want to thank Oneri. I know it was in the press release. He was a tremendous contributor to the Cubs for a long, long time and helped get the organization to the point where it's at now. He certainly deserves everyone's thanks and will be an asset to whatever organization he joins next. We've taken the last 10 months to really evaluate the organization. With the personnel, I think it's my responsibility to determine the structure that's going to put the Cubs in the best position going forward.
"Ultimately we reached the conclusion that there would be a change in personnel atop player development. Once we reached that determination then the question was if it would make sense to keep Oneri in the organization but in a different role and ultimately decided it was best for him and the organization at that point to move on.
"It's hard, I've been around other situations where there's a change in responsibility or a change in roles especially in the player development where hierarchy and reporting structure is really important. It can be hard to make that work. When I talked to Oneri about it he actually saw it the same way. He couldn't have been more professional in how he handled things. I think he genuinely cares more about the Cubs, more about some of the people who work for him than he cares about himself sometimes. He was really impressive with how he handled it."
Fleita joined the Cubs organization in 1995 and is a longtime associate of former Cubs GM Jim Hendry. He was instrumental in the Cubs' growing presence in Latin America.
We will have more as the day progresses.