St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals

Friday, April 23, 2010

Onto San Francisco

Hey guys,

Hope you enjoyed the first round of the NFL draft. Fun series in Phoenix. We got to see a little bit of everything. Most importantly, we saw two Cardinal wins.

As far as the brawl goes...I think it was a lot made out of nothing. Edwin Jackson's fastball rode in on Carp and hit him. I don't think he did it on purpose - hitting the pitcher is just a no-no in baseball. I don't think Jackson is that stupid; he knows hitting a pitcher on purpose would get his three-hitter drilled. Apparently the Cardinals didn't think it was on purpose either, because if they did I think you would have seen Justin Upton or Mark Reynolds get a fastball in their earhole. Still, baseball players don't easily forget. Al Leiter tells a story of being shown up by a hitter during a playoff game, apparently Leiter thought he rounded the bases a little too slowly. Well, Leiter vowed that the next time he saw this particular hitter, he was going to make him pay. Some might think this little feud would have been resolved when this hitter got traded to Leiter's team a few years later, but Leiter hadn't forgotten. The first time he faced him after the incident was when he was throwing live BP to him during spring training. What happened? Leiter hit him in the middle of his back with the second pitch. If the Cards think there was any malice behind Carp getting hit, you're going to see some fireworks when the Diamondbacks come to St. Louis.

It was nice to see Colby and Ryan Ludwick finally start to heat up. Everybody has predicted this would be Rasmus's breakout season and we finally started to see that these past few games. I think you'll see a lot more of Felipe Lopez against the Giants. Apparently he's been bothered by a sore elbow. According to La Russa, Flip's sore elbow wasn't from pitching but rather a nagging joint injury that started in Milwaukee, which is an absolute joke. You're not going to be able to convince me that TLR had Lopez pitch knowing he already had a sore elbow, especially considering he had Mather ready to go multiple innings. Hopefully, Flip's elbow won't bother him the rest of the year. As long as we're on the subject, it was an elbow injury that cut Tony La Russa's playing career short. The story goes that after a decent year in pro ball, he signed up to play in a charity softball game. Well he got there late, and ran out to shortstop without warming up or anything. A ball was his to him deep in the hole, he fielded it, fired to first, and felt a haunting pop in his elbow. It was never the same again. He made it back, but wasn't the same player with an injured elbow and his playing career was cut short because of it.

Jaime's going to have his hands full again tonight. Six days after matching Johan Santana punch for punch, Garcia has to face the reigning NL Cy Young award winner. The Giants are toughest team we've faced so far. They're the only team in the National League with a comparable pitching staff to ours, and their offense is much improved from last year helped in part by Ex-Cardinal Mark De Rosa. We've won every series thus far, and if Jaime can steal us a win tonight we're poised to win another.

Enjoy tonight's game if you can stay up for it. I can't tell you how excited I am for 7:15 start times again. The song of the day is an obvious one: "San Francisco" by Scott Mckenzie. Have a great weekend.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Baserunning and the Desert

Hey Guys,

Well I figured this West Coast road trip would be our first real test and we answered the bell last night. It would have been all too easy after getting into Arizona at three or four in the morning to go through the motions and give a game away to a mediocre D-Backs team, especially after getting down 2-0 in the first inning. But we didn't, and that's a mark of a good baseball team. That's a mark of a Cardinals baseball team.

Funny story, I didn't plan on watching the whole game last night. A 9:40 start time here in the Eastern Time Zone is a little late, even for a college student. I was planning on calling it a night after about the fourth inning or so, but then the circumstances changed. Right before I was about to turn the game off, a good looking twenty-year old redhead from Kansas, who apparently is a baseball fan, came into my dorm room to pick something up from my roommate and wanted to watch the game. Well a guy doesn't find himself in a situation like that everyday - at least not in...Hillsdale. So I'm running on about five hours of sleep. But back to the baseball talk...

Two minor concerns for the Cardinals right now: baserunning and our home run reliant offense. Our baserunning has been just atrocious these past four games - Ludwick got thrown out three times against the Mets, two of which were at home; Skip was thrown out at third last night after some indecision. Jose Oquendo is known for being one of the most aggressive third-base coaches in the league, but I'm going to throw something at the television if I see another Cardinal thrown out at third or at the plate. Major League pitchers are too good to give away outs like that. It surprises me, too, because most smart baseball teams are good baserunning teams. We're a very smart baseball team. Nobody expected us to be a blazing fast team, but I think everyone thought we'd be smarter on the basepaths. This is a very minor concern, though; I expect TLR will make baserunning a focal point until we get a little better at it.

The second concern I have right now is our offense. It's been solid, but it's been incredibly reliant on the deep ball (over 60% of our runs have been scored on home runs). Again, like baserunning, this is a very minor concern that I expect will correct itself shortly. Pitchers tend to be a little ahead of hitters at this point in the season - their arms are as fresh as they will be and the weather is still relatively cool. I think our offense will heat up with the weather and we'll begin to manufacture a few more runs. The real concern right now is our bullpen...but I've harped on that enough for a while. Besides, we're 9-4. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

We're going to face another tough arm tonight. Danny Haren was just a notch below Waino, Carpenter, and Lincecum in '09. We're going to face some tough pitching overall on this trip. Lopez wasn't bad at all last night, Haren will be tough tonight, and we still have to face Edwin Jackson, Matt Cain, a much better looking Barry Zito than we've seen in recent years, and maybe even Tim Lincecum. That's why I think this is our first real test: we're going to see a selection of all-star arms and its our first trip outside of the Midwest. Bryan Anderson will get the nod behind the plate tonight. Look for the Diamondbacks to run on him early and test his throwing ability. The knock on him has always been his defense and I think that will be put under a microscope tonight. Other than that, if we can wait out Haren and claw and scratch across a few runs, I like our chances for picking up another victory.

That's all for tonight. The anthem for the evening is "Ain't Back Yet" by Kenny Chesney. Have a good Tuesday.


Sunday, April 18, 2010


If Ryan Ludwick gets thrown out on the bases one more time...

A lot of reactions to last night's game and and few more after tonight's.

First off, I wasn't able to watch the game yesterday because FOX was showing the White Sox vs. Indians game in my region and MLB TV had to black it out because of the "National Broadcast". Of all the games to be blacked out...but enough of my story.

I was able to watch a condensed version of the game today and was surprised by a few things. I came on this blog before the game yesterday and predicted Bryan Anderson would get the nod behind the plate. Not only didn't that happen, but Yadi caught all twenty innings. I certainly thought after squating for seven hours yesterday, Yadier would certainly get the day off today, but again, that didn't happen. What this shows me is that TLR has very, very little confidence in Anderson's defensive catching ability. Last week I wrote that Anderson's strength was his bat, not his glove, but I never perceived the Cardinals' considered his defense to be this much of a weakness. Having said all this, Bryan will surely get the start in the desert tomorrow, right? One would think 29 innings of catching and a four-hour flight, all in the matter of 48 hours would be too much, even for Yadier Molina. But I was wrong about this last night and I'm prepared to be wrong about it again.

I did a lot of driving today and had ESPN Radio on for most of it and heard three or four prominent ESPN personalities conclude that La Russa was outdueled last night by Jerry Manuel. And for the most part, I agreed with what they said. In fact, I was planning on writing tonight that La Russa was exactly that, outmanaged.

But the more I thought about it, the more I started to think that maybe I was being a little harsh. Tony La Russa, who many consider to be the best active manager in baseball, was out managed by someone who has been on the hotseat since early last year? Instead of doubting La Russa, I asked myself, what did he see? I tried to put myself in his head. Still, I couldn't quite do it. Why would he double switch out Matt Holliday? He must have known the Mets would just pitch around Albert to get to the pitcher if he did that? I know Holliday was sick, but couldn't he have just made a straight substitution? And why did we end up with two position players pitching in the end? While nobody manages expecting the game to go into extras, let alone eleven extra innings, we must have had someone else avaliable. And our base running, what a debacle. We struggled hitting with runners in scoring position too. We had the bases loaded in the 10th, 12th, and 14th and couldn't push a run across. While the two above points don't fall directly (the first one even indirectly) on La Russa, it was still so frustrating. The Mets did not win last night's game, we lost it.

I started the blog entry with the Sunday Night Baseball preview on in the background. Joe Morgan made a comment that finally made me see the light, I don't remember his exact quote but it went something like this: "A lot of people think the Cardinals got outmanaged last night but I disagree. Jerry Manuel is managing for his job, Tony La Russa is mananging to win a divison. Last night, though very exciting, was just a single game in an 162 game season - it wasn't the seventh game of the World Series. Last night's game meant a lot more to the Mets than the Cardinals at this point in the season."

I heard this and I felt like an idiot. "How could you be so stupid, Jack?" I actually said that out loud. I got caught up in the excitment of a twenty inning game and forgot that the season is a marathon, not a sprint. If we had to win last night's game to make the playoffs, or to move on in the playoffs, I'm sure Tony would have managed it differently. But we didn't. Games in April in the cold and in the rain count just as much in the standings as games in September in the heat of a pennant race, I'm fond of that saying, and I used it earlier today to justify why I thought we were out managed. It turns out, I could use that same phrase to justify why La Russa managed a hell of a game last night. Tony could have brought in another starter last night, or left a few of our relievers in longer, and we might have won. We also might not have. We didn't lose last night because of our pitching. Mather and Lopez pitched pretty well. We lost because we couldn't get a timely hit. That will happen a few times over the course of an 162 game season. Instead of bringing in a starter (Kyle Lohse or Brad Penny) or leaving Blake in longer last night and giving us a slightly better chance to win, Tony made the smart choice and saved our pitching. His route gave us a loss, my route would have blown out our pitching for the next week and wouldn't have guaranteed a victory by any means. This is why La Russa is infinitly smarter than I am. If he could go back and do a few things differently, would he? You'd be hard pressed to find a losing manager who wouldn't go back a change a few of his decisions if he could. That doesn't mean he was outmanaged; like Joe said, Tony's managing to win a division.

Gutsy performance from Wainwright tonight. He needed to step up and eat up some innings and he did that. He also showed a lot of leadership and gave a tired bullpen and extra day of rest. He got it done with the bat too. In my mind he's the best pitcher in the National League, his stuff was absolutely filthy tonight.

Tonight's anthem is "Friends in Low Places", by Garth. It's been stuck in my head all day. Have a good rest of your Sunday everyone.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friday Night Reactions, Saturday Preview

Hey Guys,

Exciting ball game last night - almost...too exciting. Franklin scared me a little bit, but he got the job done in the end.

Chris Carpenter pitched like Chris Carpenter again last night. 7 strong innings, 4 hits, 10 K's, and 0 Earned Runs. His fastball had a little more life than his previous start and he hit most of his spots. It seemed like we started our B team a little bit last night with a third of our starters getting the night off, but everybody played in the end. There was an article in the Post-Dispatch yesterday on whether La Russa "tinkers" with the line-up too much. I think early last year (pre Holliday and DeRosa) was an exception, because he was trying to find a line-up combination that worked, but aside from that, after the first couple weeks of the season, everyone seems to know about where they are going to hit when they play. I never minded playing for a coach who platooned me with another guy because there was always that certainty that I would play about half the games. The guys I hated playing for were the ones who seemed to put nine names into a hat and selected their lineup that way. I remember one summer in particular, I hit in every single spot in the lineup by seasons end. I would be hitting in the three-spot and go 3-4 with a double and be moved to the eight-spot for the next game. Other times, I'd be in the seven-hole and go 0-5 and be moved into the four-hole. It was really pretty frustrating because there was no sense of continuity. La Russa plays everyone to keep his bench players fresh. However, with the exception of Molina and Lopez, everyone knows where they are going to hit when they do play, and I think that's what is important.

I think Bryan Anderson will probably get the start behind the plate today. Tomorrow would seem to be the ideal day to do it, to give Yadier a night off before our west-coast trip, but I imagine Wainwright wants to throw to Molina. I've wrestled with this a lot, and there really doesn't seem to be an ideal day to play Bryan. Today makes the most amount of sense, to me at least, because Anderson and Jaime Garcia have worked together several times in the minor leagues. It would be easier for Anderson to get his first start catching someone he is familiar with. It also wouldn't surprise me if Lopez played over Schumaker, though I'm less certain about this than the catching situation. La Russa doesn't like to start Skip against tough lefties, and that's exactly what Johan Santana is. Other than that, I expect all the regulars to start. The Cardinals will try to wait out Santana today and expose the holes in the vulnerable Mets bullpen. If Garcia can keep us in the game through six or seven, I like our chances a lot.

Enjoy the game today everyone, it's always fun to hear Joe Buck broadcast Cards' games. The anthem for the day is Danny's Song by Loggins and Messina. Have a a good one.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cards take 2 of 3 from Astros

Hey Guys,

Never good to give an 0-8 team their first win, but some good things came out of today. First off, we won the series. If we took two of three in every series we'd be the best team in baseball. We just ran into a hot pitcher - you can live with games like that because they don't happen too often. It's much more difficult to swallow 13 to 11 loses where you have five or six chances to win the game but just can't get it done.

As I said above, Bud Norris was good today. No, Bud Norris was spectacular today. He had an "enchanted game" to steal a term from Steve Stone. He made Albert look as bad as I've ever seen him look, not once, but twice. Bud's been a Cardinals' killer too. He's only made three starts against the Cards but has come away with three wins and a 0.00 ERA.

Unfortunately, the Astros exposed our biggest flaw today - our middle relief. Boggs got knocked around a little bit to put it nicely. His velocity was fine and his breaking ball looked sharp, he just was missing his spots. That's going to happen to a young pitcher from time to time. Right now, our bullpen is very average. McClellan has to be better than he has been. Motte looked good today, and Hawksworth has been solid, but like Boggs, they are young. I predict Mozeliak will add another piece to the 'pen before too long.

Lohse was sharp today, much better than his first start. I don't know if any of you picked up on this too, or if I'm being too critical, but it seemed there were times when Kyle gave in a little bit. I'm thinking of both the scoring plays in particular. I understand Norris is a pitcher, but Lohse couldn't have given him a more hittable pitch and Norris didn't miss. With Bourn on base, Kyle also seemed to give in a little to Keppinger and make too good of a pitch. While its great that Kyle didn't give up any walks, I think some of his pitches caught too much of the plate. Still, he certainly pitched well enough to win.

The Mets come into town tomorrow. It would be a disappointment if we didn't take two more, and we have to be looking at a sweep. The Amazins don't look so amazin' this year; they just aren't the same team without Jose Reyes and their starting pitching is below average. Two of the three are on National TV; its going to be a fun weekend. Today's anthem is "I Will Not Bow" by Breaking Benjamin. Enjoy your Thursday night.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Home opener, LaRue, and Tonight's Ballgame

Hey guys,

First off - it was great to see the Cardinals win the home opener...the first time since '06. Adam pitched well, Pujols was Pujols, and everyone else played the way they should. We're now 5-2, which is great, but don't get overly excited just yet. We should still win the NL Central, but that is no great feat this season. We have a lot of work left to do if we're going to make a run at a championship. The three teams we've played haven't exactly been tough. I think Cincinnati will finish below the Brewers, but not by much. For Milwaukee, if it ain't Fielder or Braun, it ain't happening. Rickie Weekes and Casey Mcgehee are nice players but they don't project as stars by any means. A Berkman-less Houston team only has three or four major league hitters in their lineup and a shaky rotation. We're a very solid team right now, but we've still got some question marks. We still aren't sure who our everyday third baseman will be. I like David Freese but he has a lot to prove. Our bullpen, too, has a lot to prove. McClellan has struggled, Motte's fastball has been elevated, and Ryan Franklin has to follow up last year's success with another solid year before he can be considered an elite closer. I know you guys didn't come to this blog to see a flood of negativity, but it would be foolish to get too excited just yet. Having said that, there's a lot to be excited about. Colby seems to be settling into the 5-spot well, Ludwick's bat is coming alive, and Pujols and Holliday are still the best one-two punch in the National League. Combine that with Wainwright, Carpenter, and a Brad Penny who seems to have returned to form, and we have an excellent shot at winning a pennant. We just have to patch up a few holes.

Bryan Anderson was recalled to the big club today after Jason LaRue was put on the DL retroactive to Sunday. Anderson's been hurt for a good portion of the last two seasons, but when he has played, he has hit (he's 6-18 so far with Memphis this season). His defensive game is still a work in progess, but he should get a start or two, as well as be avaliable for pinch hitting.

Finally, a couple things to watch for in tonight's game. Can Brad Penny repeat the success he had in his first start? Can Felipe Lopez force himself into the third base talk? Can the Cardinals beat a team they should beat?

Enjoy the game tonight everyone. The anthem for the evening is "Rise" by Eddie Vedder. Hopefully the Cards can rise to the occasion tonight. Have a good one.


Monday, April 12, 2010


Hey Guys,

It's been a while. Things at school have been pretty crazy, but the semester is over in twenty days and I promise I'll be a more regular contributor then. Now onto the info...

For those of you that didn't get a chance to catch the Cards on Sunday Night Baseball last night, the question was posed to Tony La Russa on why Chris Carpenter has already allowed five home runs already this season (he only allowed seven all of last year) and he gave an interesting response: "Chris just hasn't been getting away with anything. He's made mistakes and he hasn't gotten away with anything"

I think this is pretty accurate, he hasn't gotten away with much (especially in Cincinnati) but he pitched up in the zone a lot yesterday. Oral Hershiser also made an interesting comment: "Sometimes pitchers struggle in their second or third start of the year because they deal with "dead arm". Pitchers never really sell out in spring training, and sometimes when they empty out the tank in their first start, they don't really have anything left in their second or third start." So make of that what you will.

Felipe Lopez swung the bat well last night. I see him playing close to every day if he can hit .280 or .290 with some power. Right now, he's also a defensive upgrade at second over Skip Schumaker and probably a defensive upgrade at third over Freese.

On David Freese, give him some time. He's made three errors so far this season, but he's always been a pretty average defensive player. If he becomes a fixture in the Cardinals lineup, it will be because of his bat. Also, remember that baseball is a game of averages. Early in the season, it's easy to get too high or too low on a player based on twenty games of statistics. At years end, virtually eveyone will be near their career average. I once read that George Steinbrenner used to call Bernie Williams "Mr. May" because he was such a hot starter but always slowed down toward the end of the season. On the contrary, staying with the Yankees, Mark Texiera is a notoriously slow starter, yet he always seems to end up around .290 and forty homeruns.

That's all for now. I promise I'll be more regular in the coming days. Today's anthem is "A Little More Country Than That" by Easton Corbin. Enjoy the home opener.