Who's On Deck?
Saturday night I watched 14 innings of baseball at Principal Park, the same number it took the Iowa Cubs to sweep a doubleheader earlier in the week.The I-Cubs were down to their third-string first base coach by the time this one ended on a walk-off play at the plate with lightning crackling in the distance. Until then the highlight was my leaping grab of a hot dog burped up by the bazooka that scoots around the perimeter of the field on a golf cart between innings. I say burped because we were seated in the front row between the visiting dugout and the visiting bullpen. Maybe bunted would be a better verb.
The game broke from the box quickly before settling into a pitching duel. Sam Fuld played a first-inning single into a triple going for another highlight reel catch. Then in the bottom of the first he was thrown out at second trying to stretch a single. He plays like a kid and I enjoy watching him. The second out of that frame was a tag play at the plate after Ryne Sandberg appeared to change his mind from stop to go in the third base coaching box. Albuquerque seemed on their way to a 27- hit shutout.
During the long, scoreless middle portions of the game my mind wandered back and forth from the lackluster team in Chicago that was embarrassed [again] that afternoon to the hustling, grinding one getting dirty on the field in front of me. I gave some serious thought to the questions of whether or not Sandberg will or should be the next manager at Clark & Addison.
I threw out the fact that he doesn’t appear to have the best judgment as a traffic cop based on what I’ve witnessed firsthand. That won’t matter. What will?
Despite his chronic lack of charisma, his return to Chicago would be a PR plus. That might not have counted as much before no-shows started no-showing this year. It may be a slight factor in his favor now. His presence in Des Moines will not be able to trump bad weather and produce an attendance record here as I’d expected it would, but he is patient and accommodating with fans who line up for autographs before every home game. Even though no NL pennants flew at Wrigley Field during his playing days, his jersey number now does and will forever [will he wear it if he returns?]. He is revered there.
More critical is the direction the new ownership points the organization in after “Year One.” Payroll largesse hangs around this year’s lineups like a noose. To the extent some of that can be shed in a transition to a more homegrown, developing team of younger and hungrier players, Sandberg might make sense as a choice to continue working with players in the big leagues that played for him at different levels of the farm system.
I don’t see him as someone suited to massage the egos of temperamental prima donnas with guaranteed contracts, no trade clauses, personal coaches, etc. For all of his blandness, Sandberg offered some real insight into what makes him tick when he gave his induction speech at Cooperstown. He backed up the theme of those remarks when he signed on for another hitch in the bush leagues as a means of working his way back to the big time as a manager. I admire and share many of his feelings about respect for the game and the proper way to play it. But just because his managerial style seems to have played well in Peoria [and Tennessee and Des Moines where he has patiently guided a slow-starting team that lacks offensive muscle into first place] doesn’t mean it will in Chicago.
I remember when the Cubs hired Don Baylor and he announced some nonsense about how the players were to wear their uniforms and be on the field at attention for the National Anthem every day. At the time I cheered. Turned out that sort of stuff didn’t translate into a changing of the guard with the team pennants on the scoreboard pole.
I don’t know if Sandberg should be the Cubs’ next manager or not. I don’t even know if I want him to be. But I do think he has earned serious consideration next time the job comes open, whenever that happens to be. Just don't hire him to replace Mike Quade.
KKVG: Isaac Paredes is the most-impressive of the 2015-16 IFA. He has legit game power and handles himself well at SS, although I think he will likely end-up at 2B or 3B (maybe not this year, but down-the-line). It is possible that Paredes will get assigned to Eugene (and skip AZL) next month, and I would say he's the only one of the 2015-16 IFA position players who could. To accommodate Paredes at SS, the Cubs have been moving Andruw Monasterio (who was the #1 SS at AZL Cubs in 2015 and the presumptive Eugene SS going into Minor League Camp) around the infield (SS-2B-3B) at EXST.
Having been a mediocre HS player, I would think at a professional level - and in their 20's - doesn't it sound actually FUN to have a chance to play different positions in a 162-Game, uber-long season?
It has to take some of the monotony out of the job and keep you on your toes.
In fact, the best manufacturing floor job satisfaction training theories include job rotation as a way to improve employee satisfaction.
I hope Maddon can keep it going.
(It's usually KK, because his DNA is more like ours.)
Not just Maddon, but the organization as a whole. If the rumors are to be believed, they did a good job of letting Baez learn that he needed to change his approach, and Baez has done a good job listening to their instructions an adapting. Hopefully the same is true of Alomar, who is ripping up AAA.
Previous management teams haven't been as good at this (e.g. Corey Patterson).
Man, this team makes you greedy. Going into Pittsburgh -- with Cole vs. Hammel Game 1 -- I was hoping for 2 out of 3. After winning the first 2 games 14-3, I now want a sweep. Same thing happened in STL. Very, very fun.
Repeating myself, but I give Maddon a lot of credit for Baez's success. Instead of talking about monster HRs and high K totals, he has talked up his defense, versatility and being a "special" player. The kid seems to have responded.
BOB: The attendance has taken a big hit since you left.
K-DUB: I think the Cubs might consider skipping Dylan Cease past South Bend and starting him at Myrtle Beach next season, especially if he gets some time at South Bend this season and pitches well there. As a southern kid with TJS history, pitching at Myrtle Beach in April is probably a lot more attractive than pitching in South Bend, but Cease can't go to Myrtle Beach if he isn't ready for Hi-A.
His story makes him someone I completely root for to succeed but it's interesting that he's not succeeding in the way anyone thought when he was just a prospect. Great defense and contact instead of power. I think failing so glaringly and getting sent back down might have been the best thing for him and his ego.
He still swings at too many balls out of the strike zone but he's making a lot more contact on them which I think is helped by the less violent swing. So we might not get all the HRs we were expecting but I'll gladly take what he's giving.
"KingKongVsGodzilla"? So - was there a winner?
Baez is looking like a pretty special player.
Love checking TCR for your writeups. Quick question - any of these 2015 positional IFAs stand out to you yet? I'm most specifically referring to Kwon, Sierra, Paredes, and Amaya, but I know there's a couple other guys from that class in EXST as well.
bored...looking at stats for the hell of it...
felix pena (26yo) moving to the pen in AAA is looking like an insanely good fit so far in a smallish sample size
13ip 4h 3bb 20K
remembering back to spring training he was regularly hitting mid-90s (though he didn't have a good spring stats-wise). as a starter in the minors he usually worked low-90s.
this could be an arm worth keeping an eye on even if he's only a 1-inning guy who was "demoted" to the pen to start the year.
Phil, historically this front office has been patient with their prep pitchers keeping their IP low and moving them one level at a time. I know I'm getting ahead of myself, and you may not be able to formulate an opinion on this, but you've seen a lot of pitchers over the years, so...
also, after tonight's loss, STL is 13-14.
also also, the wsox are 19-8.
Win tomorrow, and the Cubs would have a 6-game lead. On May 4.