By Todd Johnson
An interesting thing began developing about two years ago. People began realizing that this Cubs team was very good. That if the Cubs didn’t win today, there was still a good chance they could win tomorrow. They began to level out their emotions and to take things in stride. I think this year, with a World Series ring In tow, Cubs fans are a lot more relaxed about the regular season. In fact, they are extremely confident and are looking forward to the postseason. One close loss in April does not seem so damning anymore.
It was a pretty busy week in the Cubs’ universe as they raised four banners on Monday night and on Wednesday, the players got their rings. Both nights were very emotional and I think the Cubs put on two very classy ceremonies. I shed a few tears when Ryne Sandberg, Billy Williams, and Fergie Jenkins got their rings. I even shed a few more when they announced that Ernie and Ron’s rings would be stored in the Cubs archives for all to see. In fact, I am welling up now just thinking about it.
With the arrival of Brian Duensing back from the DL, a decision will have to be made in the next few days about Tommy La Stella and/or Matt Szczur as Carl Edwards will likely be back from bereavement leave early next week. Odds are La Stella will head down to AAA Iowa.
It should be a good week for Cubs’ hitting as they play Milwaukee Monday through Wednesday. Thursday, they are off and then head to Cincinnati for the weekend where the Cubs tend to hit very well. Let’s hope the bats begin to wake up some more.
Around the System
Iowa: 2-5; 5-5 overall -third place
The young Cubs had a good week as Ian Happ, Victor Caratini, and Jeimer Candelario continued to punish baseballs in the Pacific Coast League. Alec Mills and Eddie Butler were both outstanding in each of their outings this week.
Tennessee: 2-5; 4-6 overall – fourth place
It was a rough week, especially for the bullpen which seems to be falling apart early. The only bright spot was an 8 run ninth-inning as the Smokies came from 7 down to defeat the Mississippi Braves. David Bote and Trey Martin continue to hit well. Trevor Clifton is having “that one big inning issue” again this year, but at least they have only been 2 and 3 runs. Otherwise, he hasn’t given up a run in 8 of his 10 IP.
Myrtle Beach: 3-4; 5-4 overall – fourth place
The Pelicans seem to have trouble getting a lot of runs. The pitching seems to be the strength of this team. Oscar de la Cruz had 10 Ks in 9.2 innings of work this week. Thomas Hatch looked very good except for one inning and Justin Steele looks to be pitching like Justin Steele of 2015.
South Bend: 5-2; 5-5 – fifth place
After being frozen the first three games, the bats started to come around quickly. Isaac Paredes, Yeiler Peguero, and Wladimir Galindo all broke out in a big way this week. The pitching, meanwhile, continues to be otherworldly led by Dylan Cease, Manny Rondon, and my new favorite pitcher, who is the breakout pitcher of the year so far, Tyson Miller.
Extended Spring Training
EXST began this week as the Cubs played two intrasquad games and one game against the Angels.. Bryan Hudson threw six scoreless innings with 10 ground ball outs and 6 Ks. Here is Arizona Phil’s take:
“The 6’8 Hudson (Cubs 2015 3rd round draft pick – Alton HS – Alton, IL) was an absolute ground-ball machine, mixing an 87-89 MPH sinker, a plus-curve, and an occasional change-up to keep the A’s hitters off-balance and constantly beating pitches into the ground. He also threw 70% strikes and averaged only 11.5 pitches-per-inning. Hudson’s outing was simply one of the best performances by a starting pitcher in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training game I have ever witnessed (and I have seen many good ones over the last 40 years).”
That’s pretty high praise.
Michael Cruz, his bat, and approach look to be no match at either Mesa or Eugene. I cannot wait to see him play in the next couple of months.
Yesterday, Joe Martarano return to playing minor-league baseball. It is been two years and a horrific knee injury since we last saw Martarano. He will play some first base, some third-base, and even somehow outfield this summer, most likely for Eugene. To shake off the rust, He belted a triple in his first game back.
Card of the Week
Made from a photo by Larry Kave
Players of the Week