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.
I think while I get you're saying with moving around a lot of baseball is very rhythm based and for many players moving around a lot could disrupt that. It's the same reason many players aren't cut out for phing or dhing since they need to be in the rhythm of the game to hit.
Of course then you have players like LaStella who are terrible as starters and should only PH. Really hope Madden doesn't get enthralled with him starting too much.
KKVG: Among the players at Extended Spring Training, Isaac Paredes is the most-impressive position-player from the Cubs 2015-16 IFA class (I'm not including OF Eddy Julio Martinez, because he skipped EXST and began the season at South Bend). Paredes has legit game power and handles himself well at SS, although I think he will likely eventually 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 Cubs 2015-16 IFA position players who could.
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.