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Mike Wellman's Archives
As the holidays draw near it's time to start making lists. Even in the wake of seasons as lackluster as 2010 there are things to be grateful for. Take, for instance, the following:
1. The Cubs still don't have a mascot.
2. Most of the seats at Wrigley Field are still unobstructed.
3. Most of the events staged there are still baseball games.
4. Ron Santo still works there.
5. The scoreboard is still [literally] alive.
6. The Triple A team still plays where I live.
My god, it’s nearly 70 today in the Midwest, a great day for a ballgame. But there won’t be one for several more months. Still, the weather gets an old guy’s mind on baseball…
So it’s official. Ryne Sandberg won’t be back in Des Moines next year to reprise his role as the skipper of the Iowa Cubs. One and done. No matter; no surprise. Baseball fans in minor league outposts have been used to the transience of ballplayers since way before free agency came to the big leagues.
Maples are my favorite kind of tree. They are at their best this time of the year. I grew up in the shade of a huge one and one of our two pooches is even named Maple. But someday a maple baseball bat is going to be the cause of death. What a way to go.
Jim Hendry says that he is in no rush to settle on and name Lou Piniella’s successor as the Cubs’ manager. Really? Then why travel all the way to Albuquerque to have lunch with Ryne Sandberg as Hendry did last week? Just to break the news gently that Ryno wouldn’t be called up to Chicago to peer over Mike Quade’s shoulder once Iowa’s season ended? I have a feeling that Sandberg believes, whether he’s been told so or not, that his laidbackness as a player has been a perceived weakness while he’s earned his managerial chops, so he’s sought to demonstrate that he can be fiery on an as needed basis. One of the things he may have been working on during his apprenticeship is the art of the timely ejection. As for Quade’s self-serving auditional mystery tour in Chicago, I’d be more inclined to give him points for a grandstand benching of Alfonso Soriano than the recently ballyhooed one of young Mr. Castro…
Long story short, Mark Hamilton's solo homer with two out in the top of the 9th gave Memphis a see-saw 7-6 win over Iowa today that also advanced the Redbirds to the PCL playoffs and ended the Cubs' season. The teams deadlocked for their divisional crown with records of 82-62 and split their season series 8-8 but the playoff berth goes to the visitors on the basis of their superior intra-divsional record.
It was another pulsating game in a pulsating series. I would say that the umpiring left a little to be desired, not necessarily in terms of the accuracy of calls, but in the length of fuses. After all, these were two teams in a dead heat with 140 games down and four to go. Thicken the skins and stop tossing people in the early innings. More on that later.
What a strange day at the ballpark. I arrived about 11:30 A.M. in time to see the Iowa Cubs' GM unloading champagne out of the back of his SUV. Special shampoo for the clubhouse showers. I had to leave five hours later for a wedding reception with the potential pennant-clincher still unresolved after 10 innings. Turns out I'd only seen two thirds of the game.
On my way into the ballpark a team official in a championship frame of mind mentioned to me that 18 of the players had been to the clubhouse chapel service that morning. It wasn't clear if he thought that somehow boded well for the game ahead. I asked him if Jeff Samardzija, the appointed starting pitcher, had been there. No, apparently he has neither a prayer nor a clue. What would Touchdown Jesus think?
Thanks to a 33 year-old journeyman who's probably had all he's likely to get of the big leagues, what remains of the Iowa Cubs took another big step toward a division pennant and the PCL playoffs with an 8-5 win over the Memphis Redbirds last night in Des Moines. Jeff Samardzija will take the mound this afternoon and try to toss the clincher.
The newly named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year, Iowa's Ryne Sandberg, must be assembling his lineups at this point like Mr. Phelps uesd to put together his teams on Mission Impossible. The Phelps character would listen to the tape describing his task, should he choose to accept it, and toss 8x10 glossies on the table of the available personnel best suited to accomplish it.
Last night Sandberg was without Sam Fuld due to an injured foot in addition to all the horsepower already summoned to Chicago. His starting pitcher was Chris Carpenter, a touted prospect yet to throw well since his promotion to Triple A. The opponent was the Memphis Redbirds who arrived in town deadlocked with Sandberg's club for the top spot in the PCL American North. This weekend's games are the last four of the regular season.
Iowa scrounged a gutsy 4-2 win to nudge a game in front with three to play.
This topic doesn't really merit a full post, but the site won't allow me to reply directly to inquiries aimed my way about Marquez Smith so I took another route in.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.
j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.
so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.
im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.