I went down to the field to check out the Cubs’ BP. As the pic suggests, it’s a damn fine day here in Mesa. A little cold this morning, but it doesn’t take much sun to warm it up, and there is much sun today. Frank Lloyd Wright was right: wintering in Chicago is for suckers. I think he actually said it in those exact terms.
I got to the cage and Aramis Ramirez was dug in and taking his hacks. He utterly abused the scoreboard out beyond the left field wall. A lot of guys were smacking it around. The ball carries really well here of course. I read that the Cubs’ new spring training home is going to have the exact dimensions of Wrigley Field. Not sure that’s wise, actually. A bunch of guys are gonna break north and wonder where all their power went.
The fella to the left is Tyler Colvin taking grounders at first base. He’s an outfielder, but ever since Derrek Lee was shipped out last year there has been talk of Colvin being the long term solution at first (Carlos Pena is on a one-year deal). For what it’s worth, Colvin looked pretty competent picking it at first. No idea what anyone who actually knows something about evaluating defense would think.
Got the lineup card. Cubs play the Brewers today. Sadly, no Prince Fielder. At first: Mark Kotsay. I am excited about third base, however, as Milwaukee has someone named Zelous Wheeler playing there. I’ve never seen a 19th century prospector and/or patriarch of a family involved in a blood feud play third.
Down on the field I met Chuck Wasserstrom, the Manager of Baseball Information for the Cubs. He gave me his business card and on it is his work address: 1060 West Addison. I had an immediate visceral reaction when I saw that, convinced that Wasserstrom was putting me on. Then I remembered that this isn’t “The Blues Brothers” and, yes, people actually do work at that address. File that under problems people who are around 37-years-old and watched too many movies growing up have.
I tend to get lost wandering around these ballparks. It’s not always easy for a newbie to find the clubhouse and it’s not always easy to find the press box. The clubhouse was a bit tricky this morning, but they certainly erred on the side of clearly marking the press box here:
Game starts in about an hour. Ho-ho-ho. Kam. And a happy new year. Or something.
Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:
The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.
The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.
A report from Barry Jackson and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reveals that prospective Marlins’ owners Derek Jeter and Bruce Sherman have already initiated several key firings within the organization. While the sale of the team is still pending final approval next month, Jeter reportedly pushed club president David Samson to remove four special assistants this week: Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, Jack McKeon and Jeff Conine.
Hall of Fame infielder Dawson, outfielder Perez and Marlins’ legend Conine served as special assistants to the president. McKeon, who served as team manager from 2003-2005 (and briefly in 2011), was terminated from a 12-year post as special assistant to owner Jeffrey Loria.
The move didn’t come as a big surprise to Dawson and McKeon, Jackson and Spencer noted. It’s part and parcel of dealing with new ownership. But it was disappointing news nonetheless, especially as the long-tenured McKeon might lose an opportunity to return next September to manage one game and cement his status as the oldest manager in MLB history.
Should the Marlins’ sale go through in October as expected, this figures to be the beginning of several cuts. Per Jackson and Spencer:
Jeter also is expected to fire some people on the baseball side of the operation, though it’s believed president/baseball operations Michael Hill will be retained, at least indefinitely if not permanently.
Any replacements for those already released from the team have yet to be announced.