Thanks for the Memories...
There are more than a couple hundred players enshrined at Cooperstown and they are paid homage by something like 350,000 annual visitors to baseball’s Hall of Fame. At Wrigley Field a mere three Cubs have been immortalized in statuary and only half a dozen’s numbers flutter atop the foul poles. This Mecca draws in excess of three million pilgrims per season. Maybe Ron Santo was on to something when he listed the corner of Clark & Addison in Chicago as the address of his personal HOF.
Wednesday night my two sons and I were at the fringe of the mob assembled in the street to witness the unveiling of Santo in bronze, caught in the act of making an off-balance throw to nip a runner in a close play at first. I am no critic of the sculpting arts but I think the rendering of #10 is exquisite. The blue casts to the socks, cap and numerals; the facial likeness, the stitching on the ball about to be thrown – all are vivid. Justice was done to the fans’ memories.
An hour before the ceremony the three of us took a few meandering, strolling laps around the square block of Wrigley. On Waveland we staged a brief reenactment of the ritual game of catch we used to play there while ballhawking during batting practice on trips to Chicago when they were little leaguers. Now Max is 20 and Ben is 17. On Clark we detoured into McDonalds where the clubhouse attendant used to fetch a pair of Big Macs for Sammy Sosa after BP on game days. On Addison we tossed a few coins in the pail of the wheel-chaired beggar who’s been as permanent a fixture on our past visits as the statuary will be on future ones. On Sheffield a ball arced over the bleachers, ricocheted off of some landscaping ironwork and bounced directly to me with a small band of ballhawks in pursuit; a fitting memento of the occasion that I received in the spirit of a child opening a gift.
From our vantage point the remarks of the assembled dignitaries were mostly muffled. I did make out Pat Hughes repeating a laugh line we’d heard more clearly on the car radio as we drove into town that afternoon. He and Santo’s HOF teammates from the fabled ’69 team had keynoted a sold-out luncheon downtown that was broadcast by WGN. More importantly we did manage sightlines to the statue. After it was revealed and roundly approved we went inside and took up seats in the right-center field bleachers. While the Cubs fashioned one of their occasional victories we enjoyed dollar hot dogs and reminisced. Even cheaper was the glowing sunset that rang down upon the day's stage.
We left after eight, me and a couple of the grandsons of the guy I used to listen on the radio with when Santo was routinely making plays like the one immortalized now on the street corner. As we passed by on our way to the redline depot I was able to touch the cleats of someone who autographed mitts and caps for us when he was still able. The cheers boiling over the rim of the stadium just then reported on Carlos Marmol’s progress towards a fanning of the side in the 9th but I imagined them for someone else, some other time.
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!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.