Bruce Levine on what might be a significant move for the Cubs:
Before leaving for the jungles of Africa, Tom Ricketts made his first move in the baseball operations department, hiring Ari Kaplan, 40, for the position of statistical analyst manager. Kaplan is a talented numbers cruncher who also has had an abundance of practical scouting experience. He’s worked with 21 major-league teams. The Chicago native blends the concept of physical scouting and statistical data into programs he’s developed for MLB teams for over the past 20 years.
The hiring of Kaplan is significant in the sense that Tom Ricketts is now beginning to hire baseball personnel after concentrating on the business/marketing side of the franchise during the first eight months he’s owned the team. Ricketts informed the baseball operations department of the hiring three weeks ago.
Kaplan’s hiring should not impede or affect the status of Chuck Wasserstrom, who is the manager of baseball information for the Cubs and is in charge of Internet information and has been breaking down numbers since the early 1990s. Wasserstrom is highly respected in baseball circles.
Chuck Wasserstrom and (now) Ari Kaplan can break down all the numbers they like, but those numbers won't mean much if the general manager isn't paying attention to them.
Which is why I think Kaplan's hiring is significant in another sense ... In the sense that Ricketts' willingness to hire his own guy in a position of some importance suggests that Jim Hendry's on a terribly (or wonderfully, if you're a Cubs fan) short leash. I suppose this was obvious even before Kaplan's hiring; the Cubs are losing and Ricketts inherited a general manager with a recent history of vexing moves.
But now it seems sort of official.