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.
Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.
My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.
Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.
Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.
How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?
Call me lost.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.
O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already.
I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.
I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.
Enjoyable read on David Ross.
Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.
With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).
BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.
If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).
As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).