Cubs Eyes Focused on Mesa Ayes
Josh Vitters homered, singled, walked, and knocked-in three runs, and Ryan Flaherty singled twice, doubled, scored twice, and drove-in a run, helping to lead the Mesa Solar Sox (Cubs, Angels, Mets, Phillies, and Pirates) to a 15-1 drubbing of the Peoria Saguaros (Padres, Rays, Reds, Twins, and White Sox) in Arizona Fall League (AFL) action at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in Mesa. Vitters slugged his dinger (a two-run blast) over the 390-foot sign in left-center, and also made several fine defensive plays at 3B during the course of the game.
As the Solar Sox were chopping down the Saguaros, Cubs executives, management, and most all the members of the teams's Player Development and Scouting departments were at the park meeting informally in preparation for this week's annual organizational meetings. Reports from the park are that Pat Listach (presently the Washington Nationals 3rd base coach) will be named the Cubs new bench coach (Listach was a Cubs minor league manager at AA in 2006-07 and at AAA in 2008, and was Mike Quade's hitting coach at Iowa 2003-05 when Quade was the I-Cubs manager), and Boise Hawks manager Jody Davis has been told he will not be offered a position in the organization for next season.
Davis created a stir when he forfeited a Northwest League game at Everett in August, pulling the Hawks off the field in the bottom of the 1st inning after LF Ryan Cuneo slipped and fell on a wet warning track while chasing a fly ball. (The game had been delayed prior to start by rain, but the field was deemed playable by the NWL umpire crew chief assigned to the game). As a result of the forfeit, the Everett Aqua Sox had to refund all the tickets sold for the game, and Jo-dee was suspended by the the league for six games.
Meanwhile, the Cubs are nervously waiting the outcome of tomorrow's election, when they will find out if Prop 420 is approved or not approved by Mesa voters. If the proposition passes, the City of Mesa will be permitted to increase the hotel bed tax and sell vacant land owned by the city in Pinal County, providing the funding necessary to build a new Cubs Spring Training facility at Riverview Park (located on 8th Steeet at Dobson Road, near the intersection of the Loop 101 Pima Freeway and Loop 202 Red Mountain Freeway). Even though the plan does not involve increasing property taxes or the city sales tax, there has been opposition from citizens groups who just don't want the city to spend money on a Cubs Spring Training facility no matter what the funding source is.
If Prop 420 does not pass, the Cubs could remain at Fitch Park and HoHoKam Park through the 2016 season (when the lease expires), or move their Spring Training and Minor League HQ to Naples, FL, for the 2012 season, or maybe find someplace in Arizona (perhaps the Gila River Indian Resevation, which is awash in casino money) that is willing to provide the funds needed to build the envisioned "Wrigleyville West."
Cubs Owner Tom Ricketts, GM Jim Hendry, and several Cubs legends (including Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, and Ferguson Jenkins) have been spending a lot of time in Mesa recently, shaking hands and pushing hard for passage of Prop 420. No question the Cubs want to keep their Spring Training and Minor League HQ in Mesa, if at all possible, but the voters will ultimately get to make the "safe" or "out" call.