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.
When we played the Reds with Chapman, I always thought of it as an eight-inning game. So now other teams have eight innings to try to get a lead against the Cubs. Should be a challenge, assuming three or four Cubs ever start hitting again.
I don't really try to get to know and like these players personally. I'm rooting for laundry, for the most part. Exceptions might be when a player makes trouble in the clubhouse or in the dugout. (Zambrano and Bradley come to mind. Also Papelbon.) But I don't think Chapman is one of those jerks.
Unfortunately, a pretty good summary. It looks like next year Heyward will be getting yet another batting stance adjustment.
The recent good news has been Baez. I'm afraid about the next league adjustment on him, though, which is probably right around the corner.
Bryant I don't worry about too much. Just not seeing the ball well right now. He'll turn it around. Russell's been good with men in scoring position all year and he's 22ish. He'll be fine but next year is likely to be his breakout year.
If Travis' back-to-back-to-back walks cost Hendricks the ERA title, that would really suck.
Edit: "A lifeless loss to a lousy Sox team."
This place is a real downer after a loss to the Sox.
I expect they will go 5-9 games above .500 the rest of the year. 96-98 wins will win the Division.
They should have one more 2-3 week hot streak in them.
However, several players are just "average" for the last month: Zobrist, Ross, Russell, Ceasar. Montero is terrible, plus he cannot throw anyone out. -WAR. Heyward is abysmal at the plate, but a plus in the OF. Still with RISP he has been terrible. KB has not been driving in runs as of late. But Apparently the team is still above average with RISP according to S Sahadev.
I came to that realization tonight. I kept expecting them to play better, but now I realize they aren't going to. They are a .500 team now.
- They have one reliable starting pitcher. Jake's magic is gone, and it doesn't look like it's coming back. Lester has been lousy recently. Lackey's ERA goes up every time he pitches.
- Heyward has been dead weight all year. I can't remember a single series where he was a significant offensive contributor. Not one. Great defense, but but if he were hitting .270 with 10 HR and played average defense, the Cubs would be better off.
new rule...no one's allowed to throw k.bryant a changeup
Team is .500 since early May and is playing like a .500 team. Lack of offense seems to be putting a lot of pressure on the pitchers...and they aren't handling it terribly well.
.500 the rest of the way still may win the division though.
...i hate espn.
nothing like settling into a cubs game to get a few minutes cutaway for an ortiz AB in the 6th inning of the det/bos game.
oh, at least they're doing split screen now...i guess.
I'm liking this rookie Nathan.
Richard DFA'd. Meh...
Throwbacks with fashionable cutouts would be a nice touch.
The next 2 games are nationally televised. I think we dominate tonight, hitting 3 HRs off Shields. Great night for KB to end HR drought facing HR prone pitcher in one of the most hitter friendly parks in the league.
If the ball didn't deflect off the pitcher's mound, the game wouldn't have ended. Montgomery did miss his location though, but if that same contact was made and went in any of direction, good chance of ground out if it doesn't get through.
If it was 1 night later, Chapman would be out there and we probably would be going to extras.
Also, If KB wasn't robbed of a HR, perhaps we would have won. We will never know. Nice play by Melky though.
The comparison isn't Chapman replacing Rondon. It's Chapman replacing Richard (hopefully) in the pen. Chapman's better.