The Tao of Q-Ball
You've probably read or heard about yesterday's dugout fracas between Carlos Slim and Aramis Ramirez after the first inning. The Cubs continued their defensive indifference that has plagued their early Cactus League games with 3 errors in the first inning - 5 total on the game (Yahtzee!) - and that led to a 6-run first inning. You try not to infer too much meaning in spring training results, but despite what Carlos said at the Cubs Convention about not having to compete for a spot in the rotation, the reality is that it's between him, Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner for two of the spots. And while his hefty contract may earn him the benefit of the doubt over Wells or Cashner, both of whom still have minor league options, you hope he will have to demonstrate some modicum of success in March. Thus he was somewhat justified in his anger if he felt his teammates let him down in the first. But like his namesake has hopefully learned by now, you can't act on it in the dugout in front of witnesses.
But I write today not to discuss the minor scuffle, but the reaction by the Cubs new field general. Q-Ball dismissed the incident as "boys will be boys". Fair enough and it being early March, the incident is probably going to be ignored or forgotten by the majority of Cubs fans, so wise to not make a big deal of it. Now my first thought was would this have happened under Ryne Sandberg? I do this only because I'm an unabashed Sandberg groupie and whether Q-Ball ends up being the right decision or not for the Cubs, damn straight I'd rather being rooting for old #23.
Of course there's no way of knowing, I don't think Sandberg has any magical powers to prevent Slim from shooting off his mouth and Aramis from reacting. But would have they hesitated for a second out of respect to an ex-major leaguer and Hall of Famer? Doubtful, but that doesn't stop me from wondering.
I also wonder how Sandberg would have handled the media afterwards. It's sort of the unappreciated skill of a manager. Dusty didn't know how to do it, the city hated him. Lou did and despite similar results to Dusty, certainly was more well-liked over his tenure. Joe Torre was a master at it and don't think that's not a big part of his New York city legend. Q-Ball by all accounts, seems to be doing it well, but I can't say I wasn't disappointed by the reaction yesterday. What I wanted to hear was, "Boys will be boys and I'll deal with it tomorrow. But instead of jawing at his teammates for making mistakes, Silva should worry about picking them up and not getting lit up like Charlie Sheen on a coke bender. He should also try switching to diet soda. I've been getting on Castro a bit for what I feel are mental lapses on the field, but don't think it doesn't apply to the veterans as well. I may be more public about it with the rookies because fans and media lap that shit up like a dog at a running water hose, but Ramirez needs to remember he doesn't have a contract for next year and took a 2-month siesta to start last season. Koyie should remember that $850K is a dime in a water fountain to a major league club."
Okay, I probably took that too far and sarcasm aside, that kind of honesty sure would be refreshing. I sure would have preferred something more along the lines of, "Silva should have worried more about the home runs he was giving up and this sloppy play from the veterans to kids is either going to improve or guys will find the bench, maybe not as immediately as fans want, but it will improve or I'll find guys that can do it"
But the recent talks with Castro and the brushing aside of veterans mess-ups was the same stunt that Q-Ball pulled last year. He got all over Castro in the media and did everything behind closed doors with the vets or not at all. In return, he got their support when it came time to find the full-time guy. It worked for him and the team and it's certainly nothing new out of the manager's handbooks. Hell, it's pretty much standard operating procedure. But if a breath of fresh air from Q-Ball is what you wanted, you should keep expecting a jet stream of the hot variety.
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!!!!!!