Jackson Two Really Can Say Goodbye
The weather on closing day was as perfect as it had been inclement on Opening Night. A full house was still trickling in at a leisurely holiday pace into the third inning. Enough came to nudge the season turnstile meter past the half million mark for the seventh time in the last eight seasons despite a last-place team that lost more games than it won for the first time since 2005 [for the record, the home slate was well above sea level at 40-31] and the loss of three dates, most recently on the Saturday night of a holiday weekend on the final home stand. Oddly, the franchise ended up setting an attendance record for a three-game series over the weekend, thanks in part to a rainout that nobody wished for.
A fickle breeze that heralded the change in seasons from summer to autumn and had the flags waving goodbye to the sun-splashed crowd also played havoc with airborne balls. Several were dropped including one that glanced off the glove of Lorenzo Cain and reduced the otherwise fine-looking Omaha centerfielder to Alfonsoandso; bopping him on the schnoz and allowing the eventual but still meaningless winning run[s] to score. Earlier, the Storm Chasers’ left-fielder, David Lough, wrestled a routine fly into his glove like he was lassoing a rhinoceros before dropping the equally routine one hit by the next batter. At that point he accepted a pair of shades relayed to him from the dugout. Iowa’s Marquez Smith snagged a pop fly near the stands and dropped one on the infield grass on consecutive plays an inning later.
On the concourse the scent of sunscreen mingled as pleasantly with grill smoke as season-ticket neighbors did with one another for the last time until spring again comes round.
Prospective wunderkind Brett Jackson opened the game with a home run before later drawing a walk and making a sparkling catch that was extra conspicuous in light of the aforementioned atmospheric conditions.
Having been followed out of the park by a foul ball during the first matinee of the year back in mid-April I decided to make a deliberate try to collect one as a bookend to the campaign. I went out to the parking lot behind the third-base side of the ballpark in between the top and bottom of the 2nd inning. The I-Cubs were retired without hitting one out of bounds, but in the top of the 3rd I heard a percussion just before a white speck appeared on the blue metallic roof of Principal Park. I played it perfectly and it bounced to me as obligingly as a room service double play ball does to the shortstop. Omaha DH Clint Robinson banged 23 homers this year to go with the one foul ball he hit my way [on the next pitch he singled in his 100th RBI of the year, tying the game temporarily at two].
Jay Jackson was one inning shy of his seventh consecutive quality start when he was pulled after five solid innings. Cain’s misfortune in the bottom of the 5th, which was in addition to having already been hit by a Jackson pitch, did at least make Jay the winning pitcher.
The I-Cubs began the season with only three players on the roster age 24 or younger. On Monday there were 11 from that demographic in the home dugout up against the division-winning and playoff-bound visitors from the Royals’ fertile system. Reinforcements seem to be spurting from the farm like water from an uncoiling hose, although LeMahieu at 23 was the only one of the 11 among the Cubs quartet of call-ups. We are left to hope as many will spray all the way from Des Moines to Chicago as from Omaha to Kansas City. Gordon, Duffy, Hosmer and Moustakas? There are more where they came from.
The scoreboard reported that Iowa won, 7-2. But it also posted this grimmer news - next home game: April 5 vs. Round Rock.
BONUS: Bryan LaHair stands to reap an additional $7,600 from the 38 homers he tagged in 2011. Not only did he break the franchise record of 37 set by Joe Hicks in 1984, he will collect $200 per roundtripper as the recipient of the Joe Bauman Award, bestowed annually upon the top homer hitter in the minor leagues. It’s as though each one equates to a lap around the Monopoly board. LaHair is the first I-Cub to win the honor. Bauman, you may or may not know, hit six dozen IFO’s playing for Roswell, N.M. in 1954 [and drove in 228 runs!]. Folklore holds that every time he hit one at home the fans thrust dollar bills at him through the backstop like they were ringsiders at a strip joint. I doubt he raked $7,600, though. Within a couple of years he was pumping gas at a Phillips station on Route 66.
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.
Win tomorrow, and the Cubs would have a 6-game lead. On May 4.
Fully agree on Addy -- hope he is our SS for a long time. I'm just surprised he has 4 errors already -- the last 2 on routine plays.
Guess how many Carlos Correa has?
I would still rather have Russell, right now, than any shortstop the team has had in many years. The future is bright enough to wear shades.
EDIT: Gonzo WOULD have been my favorite, 'cepting a certain error of a double-play ball...
Hi Phil, made it home tonight safely. Looks like Cease is getting better each outing. I see Crow did ok today too. I will be reading your write_ups everyday. Great seeing you while there!