A River Ran Through It
I wandered down to the ballpark yesterday. Nothing better to do.
Two years ago at about this point of the season Iowa and Memphis hooked up with a division title and playoff spot on the line. Yesterday they took the field a combined 64 games below .500.
Standing out in the center field picnic concourse I gazed across the street at what remains of the Des Moines River after a severe drought. Kids were using the middle of it for a sandbox. Hard to believe this puddle flooded Sec Taylor Field more than once in recent years. Yesterday it struck me as the perfect metaphor for the 2012 Chicago/Iowa Cubs.
A decent crowd shuffled in on a comfortable day as the club again inches toward the 500,000 mark for season attendance in this the final home stand of the year. But nobody’s heart was in it. I could plainly hear a peanut vendor working the GA section in the left field corner. We could have had a conversation, no cell phones required. A group in that bank of otherwise empty seats clad in yellow t-shirts resembled the last kernels on a mostly eaten cob of corn.
Rizzo, Jackson and Vitters are gone, leaving behind a rotting carcass of I-Cubs. Not that the team was flying high with them on the roster, but it’s more interesting to watch a bunch of up-and-comers than a patchwork of refugees from the independent leagues, many of whom aren’t even on first name bases with one another. They come and they go. Only the uniforms remain the same.
In the bottom of the 1st with two aboard Greg Rohan got down a couple of quick strikes and started fouling off pitch after pitch. The PA blared a couple bars of “Stayin’ Alive” and then abruptly shut it off. Nobody gave a damn. Then, sudden as a siren in church, Rohan reached out and banged one the other way, a three-run homer that rattled off the metal bleachers to my left and beneath the right-field scoreboard. There was a ballgame going on.
I didn’t stay long, just long enough to be reminded of what I’ll be missing all winter, starting a week from today.
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!!!!!!
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.