Summing Up Sandberg
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…
It looks like The Sandberg Effect was more pronounced on the PCL road than it was at home in Des Moines. The I-Cubs did go over the half million mark for the seventh time in franchise history, but fell well short of their all-time attendance record, partly because of the loss of a few dates to bad weather. The team also drew more than 500K on the road, something it did not do last year, to top the million mark with all games considered. Too bad for the team ownership that there’s no gate split in Triple A as there is in MLB…
How many autographs did the patient hall-of-famer sign? Well, here in Des Moines a fair estimate might be roughly 10,000. Here’s the math: Approximately 15 minutes per home date while the starting pitcher warmed up x approximately 70 dates = 1,050 minutes [17.5 hours] @ 10 autographs per minute [one every six seconds] = 600 signed per hour x 17.5 = 10,500. Throw in his road show and I wouldn’t be surprised if Sandberg’s signing hand needs an off-season scoping to be ready for spring training…
Sandberg told the Des Moines Register that he thoroughly enjoyed his summer here and seemed to leave the door open for a possible encore depending on decisions made elsewhere. It will be interesting to see how much curiosity other teams with managerial openings have about Sandberg if he doesn’t get the job in Chicago. He’s said more than once that the Cubs are his preferred job but not the only one he’d take given other opportunities. It’s fair to say that the body of his work over the last four years stamps him as more than a pretty name. He deserves serious consideration and it would seem inevitable now that he will manage in the big leagues whether the Cubs hire him or not. Given that likelihood, do they dare let him get away now? Besides earning his bona fides as a teacher of young players, handler of pitchers and in-game tactician he also would be a gate draw, the turnstile numbers in Iowa notwithstanding, at a time when sellouts are no longer a foregone conclusion. And he knows the territory in Chicago! The fact that he will never be quoted as saying that he didn’t realize what he was getting into may be decisive in combination with all of his other credentials. If Hendry doesn’t get some back channel smoke signals that Girardi wants to talk when the Yankees are finished I can imagine him moving quickly to name Sandberg after the Cubs’ season finally and mercifully ends so the organization will have maximum time to huddle up and plot a course toward 2011. If he waits on Girardi and can’t get him he may come back to Sandberg and find him already gone to another team. Sandberg isn’t begging for a chance now, as he effectively was when Piniella was hired. He’s managed, if you will, some leverage since then.
Jake Arrieta gives up first inning run
For the first time in a year, 33 starts.
Old news, sorry if it's 3/44-
J-Hey being classy by repaying an old teammate:
With Paredes moving to 3B, how do you see playing time shaking out between him and Galindo? Do you think Galindo gets starts at 1B? Galindo is more of a prospect than Paniagua, right?
Phil, your knowledge of the Cubs Minor League system is unbelievable.
This kid would be a key piece in a trade for a pitcher, imo.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!