Saturday, March 26, 2005

Observations from Arizona

I just returned to Chicago after spending a week in Arizona following the club and enjoying the warm weather. By Arizona standards it was quite mild. Last year at this time temperatures were in the 90's. This year they were in the upper 60's lower 70's each day.

If you are a big baseball fan you cannot beat Spring Training in Arizona. Just in the Phoenix area you have 9 teams playing their home spring games. About 100 miles southeast of Phoenix you have 3 teams that call Tucson home. If you want to see Spring Training baseball Arizona is the place. Downtown Scottsdale has one of baseballs famous restaurants. The Pink Pony has reached legendary status among baseball fans. The Pony is a good ole fashioned booze and steaks place. I could just imagine Billy Martin or Harry Caray holding court at a table.

The Northsiders
I saw the Cubs play 4 games. It's hard to make any judgements in Spring Training and over such a short period of time it's even harder. That being said here goes:
  • POSITIVES THAT I EXPECTED - Nomar can hit. (That's a real news flash.) His wrist looks to be healthy. He hit 4 Homeruns in the 4 games I saw. Zambrano looked awesome in his two starts.
  • SURPRISES - I was impressed by Jerry Hairston, Jr. Hairston hit better than I expected and he was really good playing the 2b. Todd Walker was playing really good defensively. I have complained again and again about Walker's d. But, he played really good. It's looking more and more to me like Dusty will play DuBois in LF against left handers. When Hollandsworth get's hurt hopefully DuBois will be the everyday LF.
  • NEGATIVES THAT I EXPECTED - Sergio Mitre is just plain brutal. I don't expect anything from this guy. It doesn't look to me like Mitre will ever make it. Defensively the Cubs have big issues. Nomar is a liability in the field. He made 5 throwing errors in the 4 games I saw. The Cubs are still gonna strike out a ton. Patterson still looks fine in one at bat and confused in the next at bat. Burnitz is gonna be Burnitz. If he makes contact great. Making contact is difficult for Jer0my.
  • OTHER STUFF - David Kelton is gonna be gone following the spring. I don't see how this guy makes the team.
  • MINOR LEAGUERS - I wandered over to Fitch Park and watched the minor leaguers twice. Ryan Harvey was really hitting the ball hard. The guy is really thin. If he bulks up his legs he might be the Cubs power hitter late this decade. Felix Pie and Eric Patterson stood out. Matt Murton who the Cubs got in the Nomar deal had a couple of really good hitting sessions. Cub fans at Fitch Park were raving about Brian Dopirak.

It sure is enjoyable seeing the Cubs in Mesa. HoHoKam is a great spring home. The Cubs have a great setup in Mesa with Fitch Park just down the street. As a Cub fan and a baseball fan you owe it to yourself to get out to Arizona and enjoy a spring training sometime in your life.

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