Where's Banks When You Need Him?
Baseball here, baseball there; baseball, baseball everywhere…
Friday night I got home from work as quick as I’m able, changed outfits and headed to the ballpark, arriving in the second inning of game one as the I-Cubs dug into the first of four games with the Nashville Sounds in barely 24 hours.
We went with a group of friends and sat at one of the picnic tables in the leftfield corner so I had neither my usual vantage point nor perspective. On the first pass of the cart-mounted mortar we scored an I-Cubs t-shirt. While Rodrigo Lopez labored to preserve the bullpen I worked my way through a lineup of hot dog, nachos, peanuts, soda and lemonade, looking up only at the crack of Tony Rizzo’s bat to watch #18 jump the center field wall. I seem to recall him later singling in the middle of a game-winning seventh (i.e., last) inning rally that first tied and ultimately won the first episode of the weekend marathon. It would not have been a good thing had the opener of the quad-stacker extended into extras.
Game two opened with me indigested, Corey Patterson penciled in as the Sounds’ leftfielder (batting seventh) and Rafael Dolis flirting with a pair of blondes along the short bullpen wall. While I fasted the Sounds cruised to a split of twinbill numero uno. Rafael went unscored upon later in the evening but I wonder if the same could be said for the two blondes.
I stayed away from the ballpark Saturday, opting instead for a day at the races; even dropping a couple of bucks I bet to show on a longshot named “Big Z” in the eighth race. Meanwhile, back at the ballpark, Iowa and Nashville split again with the I-Cubs taking the opener behind a complete-game 1-0 shutout authored by Brooks Raley before dropping the nightcap, 3-2. I was afraid the teams might be reduced to playing tee-ball at some point in their fourth game in two days but thanks to pretty sturdy starters both pitching staffs survived.
Yesterday I took a daytrip to Target Field to watch the big club become a 20-game winner. Try to think of their winning percentage as a batting average.
The Twins’ playground has already depreciated into just another with all the obnoxious bells and whistles that ensure a start-to-finish sensory bombardment whenever you dig deep enough to finance an outing to a big league venue. When they posted the lineups on the skyscraping Jumbotron before the game the Cubs’ struck me as a list of MLB’s Nine Least Wanted when I saw the names on that scale. Heart of the order = DeJesus, Soriano, Baker. Ye gods...
Dempster didn’t disappoint, outpitching Liriano to enable a rare win over an opposing southpaw. Castro seemed hobbled in scoring his third run of the day but he gamely shuffled back out to man his position and finish the game. Maybe he’s just tired. I know I am. Remember the flip side of the Meat Loaf hit: One Outta Three Ain't Good.
While the Cubs were salvaging the finale in Minneapolis the same stout breeze that was at our backs driving north was escorting Rizzo’s 19th and 20th over and out back home in Des Moines. Brett Jackson tagged one, too, operating out of the two-hole I noticed, just ahead of Rizzo. He’s been batting sixth against lefties of late while staying in his customary leadoff spot versus righties. Yesterday’s starter for Nashville was a right-hander. Jackson also swiped his 12th base. His 80 whiffs lead the PCL.
Tonight the I-Cubs open a series at home against the division-leading Omaha Storm Chasers, hoping to close the ten-game gap that separates the two clubs.
I've been wracking my brain to work a "Room With a View" reference in there but I just haven't gotten it to work.
Bryant might be playing SS during an infield shift, no? Usually he is moved to 2B but it could happen.
I won't really be happy until I see Bryant at shortstop.
Yeah, Underwood impresses the internet scouts more than the opposing hitters. Blackburn and Williams have pitched well but they would be more interesting if they missed more bats.
Myrtle Beach has a couple of guys--Trevor Clifton and Jake Stinnett--worth keeping an eye on.
South Bend has the best record in the Midwest League but it's more about their bats than their starting pitching.
Thanks Steve, I always forget about that.
Maddon spins the wheel-o-lineups and Bryant is playing 1B.
The line-ups, by the way, appear in the Twitter box on the left and usually very soon after they are made available.
Looks like no Heyward or Rizzo in the lineup today.
HAGSAG: Kevonte Mitchell has shown some improvement in 2016. He takes a lot of walks, shows occasional power, and he's an athletic defender capable of making the big play in the OF.
However, he strikes out way too much, he doesn't always take the most-direct-route to get to balls hit into the air, and he sometimes runs himself into outs on the bases. He is still very raw.
E-MAN: I don't think Dallas Beeler has a long-term future with the Cubs, but (when healthy) he has gotten the call over the past couple of years as the "26th man" when the Cubs needed an extra starter in a doubleheader.
PHIL: Thanks for the wrap. A 2010 early-ish round Hendry draft pick, why do you surmise the new management team just doesn't cut bait on Beeler? Not shown that much as a starter. Does he have a power arm when right? Is he another Schlitter? Or, is he rosyer filler while the org waits out the lower-level arms to surpass him?
Ryan Kellogg is still a fringy prospect despite being very old for low-A. He's putting up very good numbers no matter who he's facihg.
Great article on Yosh and Nobe. Thanks for including it Trans.
Phil, it looks like Kevonte Mitchell has made some progress this Spring. Your thoughts please, thanks.
so far ryan williams (AAA) is the only system prospect on the "could be ready soon" horizon doing well...that said, he's not very exciting and he's assumed to be an end-rotation talent at best.
paul blackburn is getting great early returns in AA, but he's getting surprisingly low K numbers doing it. he throws lot of low/sinking stuff with good control...also assumed to be an end-rotation guy, but he's got room to be better, especially given his control as base to build on.
Speaking of pitching -- another ugly outing for Underwood at AA. Through 6 starts: 5.19 ERA, WHIP 1.69. Yikes!
Man, do we need starting pitching depth. Our best hopes are still hanging with AZ Phil in Arizona. Very scary.
jeebus... that's terrible.