The Days of Santo
The easier thing would be to just get up tomorrow, slap on the chinos and a polo and shuffle off to work, as usual. Instead I’ll be up an hour earlier, donning shorts and a t-shirt apropos of the occasion and motoring solo to Chicago for, yeah, Ron Santo Day III (or is it IV? Yes, it’s IV).
When the Cubs announced it I reflexively got online and grabbed a ticket, albeit an upper deck reserved one in the interests of cost control. I’ll be driving straight back after the game for the same reason. The road/ballpark ratio comes out about 10/3; not good. I damn well better be one of the first 10,000 through the turnstiles. If I don’t come home with one of the replica HOF plaques I’m gonna feel foolish. Actually, I will anyway and why not?
See, I’m 58 going on 12. I figure since I was there on 9/28/03 when #10 was retired and on 8/10 last year when the statue was unveiled my attendance tomorrow is effectively mandatory. Never mind that I couldn’t make it on 8/28/71, Ron Santo Day I. I’m sure I was listening in. I was 17 going on 18 then. My parents probably wouldn’t let me have the car.
If I ever knew that Santo was the first player to invoke the 10/5 rule to veto a trade I’d forgotten. He didn’t want to go to the west coast and eventually got himself traded across town for Steve Stone, among others. Ironic, huh, in light of current events?
When Santo was in the lineup or the booth I listened to the Cubs on the radio a lot. Now I hardly do at all. There are several factors. The Cubs aren’t very good right now, but that’s more rule than exception when you have the panoramic perspective my (chronological) age affords. Keith Moreland doesn’t tell me much, but Santo wasn’t exactly a sabermetrician. Really, I think the underlying reason I don’t listen as much now is because I’m pissed at Pat Hughes. I used to get a kick out of his tuna sandwich/slap a twenty/ugly sweater shtick when Santo was there to chuckle at it. But things have changed.
When Santo died in late 2010 I got the news on the morning of my second book release. STUBS includes a couple of Santo-related vignettes, one of which I read at the release that evening. When Opening Day 2011 rolled around I sent a copy to Hughes, c/o Wrigley Field, hoping, selfishly, that he might mention it on the air and Cub fans everywhere would start clamoring for STUBS. In the first broadcast of the year I heard him recite some boilerplate BS about how many books get sent to them in the booth and how they can’t possibly acknowledge them all.
We’re not talking about e-mails and birthday reminders here, we’re talking about an actual book I wrote and gave you a gratis copy of. You don’t have to bother to read it, not even the bookmarked excerpts about your late sidekick, and I’m not looking for a 7th inning promo gig a la John Grisham, but if you can’t manage a brief mention of it maybe you could at least reciprocate by sending back a copy of your own book which rushed into print later that season. Any thought of that probably got lost in the shuffle of promoting that book on the air along with your Ron Santo “Voices of the Game” CD.
Now that the juice is squeezed from those sour grapes I can make them into raisins and sprinkle them on my bran flakes in the morning. Maybe I’ll even listen to the “Al Fonseca” interview from the Santo CD on the road. My son gave it to me for Christmas and it always makes me laugh.
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!!!!!!