We just got back from a 3/16 to 3/22 trip to Mesa. Some comments, etc.:
- Saw Dempster, Zambrano, Wells and Cashner pitch, plus a slew of relievers. Dempster and Wells looked fine, Zambrano not so much pitching-wise, but he IS in great physical shape. We saw Cashner in the rain abbreviated game and while he got hit a little, he was attacking hitters. Overall, the starting first four will likely be decent, but the relievers with the exception of Marmol, will be dicey, and that includes Wood. As for Silva, Quade doesn't seem willing to talk negatively about him to the press. However, Silva really didn't look good.
- Castro is turning into a stud. I lked what I saw at the plate from Soriano, Pena, Fukudome, Byrd, Soto, Scott Moore and Darwin Barney. I wish the Cubs could find their way clear to keep Moore on the roster. The Cubs will hit. Matter of fact, If they are to win games, there should be a lot of 7-5, 8-6 type ballgames.
-We kept an unusual schedule and weren't able to find time to meet up with Al. However, we did go to Fergie's charity game the night of the 16th. Got to meet Ernie Banks and talk a little with Randy Hundley and Ken Rudolph, Hundley's old back up. FWIW, they say they're glad people who would cut Koyie Hill didn't run their teams. In other words, he brings more to the table than any stat can measure, and he's worth more as a player to the team than being a coach.
-We went to Don and Charlie's on Friday the 18th and as we were leaving encountered Willie Mays in the lobby. He was there signing books, balls and photos for his foundation. We had no idea he was to be there. Banks and Mays the first three days we were there, not too shabby.
- We stayed at the Mesa Marriott, which has the old Harry and Steve's/Sluggo's/ now Diamond's located directly across the street. It's my 15th year going there, and the place was consistently busier than it has been in some time. We were there parts of all six nights. I meet up with the same people from Chicago around the same time each year. At least three of the nights, Greg Maddux was there with a buddy. Most people left him alone, which apparently is how he prefers it, but there were the occasional obnoxious drunk businessmen who would recognize him. Maddux spent hours there last night (Monday the 21st). He did not drink at any time that I could see, but was just talking with his friend, whoever he was. We also saw Moreland and Dernier there a couple of times, along with Willie Wilson. And, there was also an executive from the Cubs there who I have become friendly with over the years who has imparted inside info to me from time to time. He's also been kind of a questionable guy characterwise and this year the questionable part was in full force. The guy's a creep, and I hope his ass gets fired. I'm not going to name him, but it isn't Hendry. He doesn't represent the team well at all when he's out drinking, and more than one local connected Chicago guy can probably guess who I'm talking about, since people at the bar last night weren't shocked at all.
- Many people think Wrigleyville West will be a bust. Diamond's gets buy mostly on Spring Training business and the football season. The new location really isn't near much of anything, and it wouldn't surprise anyone if the Wrigleyville portion of the new site doesn't get built for some time.