Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Top Five Cardinals Stories of 2008

Hey, it's been awhile. I hope the holidays have treated everyone well. Not much news on the free agent front for the Cards so far, but today the UCB is looking back at 2008 for the top stories in the Cardinal's nation. Check c70 at the bat for links to all the posts on this topic. Without further ado, here's are my picks for the top 5 Cardinal's stories in 2008:

5. Chris Carpenter unable to return from surgery. This story obviously has ramifications stretching into 2009 with our rotation unsettled with big Carp at the top of it. For this season, however, Card's fans were hoping that both Wainwright and Carp would come off the DL and strengthen the pitching for the stretch run in order counter the moves made by the Brewers (Sabathia) and the Cubs (Harden), which leads me to........

4. Cardinals make no moves at the trading deadline. I personally would have liked to see the Cardinals do something weeks before the deadline, closer to when the Brewers and Cubs made their moves. We lost a lot of close games in July and August and with the way the Brew Crew faded in September, you have to think if someone had been acquired to stabilize the 'pen, the Cards would have caught them for the wildcard.

3. Ludwick leads a series of unlikely heroes in the Card's line-up. Ludwick is obviously the main guy here with his power numbers, but I'd also like to acknowledge the likes of Shumaker, Yadier Molina, Miles and even Ankiel before he got hurt. Many wondered where the production in the Card's offense was going to come from this year besides Albert and maybe Glaus, but several different guys stepped-up with career best performances that allowed us to even think of making the playoffs.

2. Cardinal's surprise run falls short. Certainly, expectations were low this past season, but the team and it's coaches managed to battle on a nightly basis and keep themselves in the hunt for almost the duration of the season. I hate to be pessimistic about this, but I feel that management may have missed an opportunity this past season. The offense was lead by several guys that may not be able to replicate their numbers from last season again and we have an equal number of question marks with the pitching staff heading into next year. The team had one major weakness last year: the bullpen, and it was never addressed. I'm not saying we would have won another world series, but I think we would have at least been in the dance, and that's worth doing. Hopefully, we'll have that chance again next year, but in baseball, you can never know for sure. That's why you have to take the opportunities when they are there.

1. Pujol's wins his second NL MVP. I was pretty negative with the majority of my top five, I thought I'd end on a positive note. Albert could realistically have a whole case of MVP awards by this time in his career with the consistently great numbers he puts up every year, but some likely 'roid fueled years by Barry Bonds foiled him a few times, so he only has the two (so far). I was afraid that our failure to make the playoffs might thwart him again, but fortunately enough voters saw that the Cards would have been nowhere near playoff contention without the great Pujols. Although I've been disappointed with the Card's lack of movement in the off season so far, when you have a player that is one of the all-time greats in baseball history on your team, there is always a great deal of hope for next year!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Early Winter Meetings thoughts

I've been pretty busy lately, so I'm not totally up to date on what the Cards might be trying to do, but here's what I think about the other big moves that have happened so far.

1. You know the Yanks would offer Sabathia way more than anyone else, but wow.

2. Even though the Yanks are getting most of the big pub for that signing, the team that has improved itself the most, by far, is the Mets. If one team in baseball had a worse bullpen than the Cards, it was them and now they add K-Rod AND JJ Putz to the back-end. That's amazing. They even got K-Rod at a reasonable price. Of course, I'm hoping that means we can get Fuentes at an even more reasonable cost.

3. We pretty much HAVE to get Fuentes now, with K-Rod and Putz gone already, and Wood seemingly on his way to Cleveland. Hey, for once, even TRL agrees with me. Wonder what Mozeliak thought about his manager calling him out essentially? Seriously though, I know I'm repeating myself here, but he have two major holes in the 'pen: left-handed relief and closer. Fuentes solves both in one fell swoop. Get it done Cards!

4. I'm pretty ambivalent about the Greene deal. He's probably an upgrade of Izturis offensively (but then again, who isn't?) and he's still above average on D by most accounts. He's also not too expensive salary wise, so that's nice. He won't set the world on fire, but we didn't give-up too much for him it seems, so I guess I'm OK with the deal. I would have preferred having Renteria back, but not at the salary the Giants gave him, so I guess Greene will have to do.

5. The best rumor I've heard is Ankiel to Tampa Bay for either Jackson or Sonnestine. I'd prefer Jackson because he has better potential, but either would be a good deal. We need another starter in case Carp can't make it back and/or Pineiro sucks again and they are both good young arms. I love Rick, but he's never going to hit .300, has never made it through a full season in the majors at any position health-wise, and he'll be a free agent after next year, so it's a good time to deal him.

That's all for now. I shouldn't be too busy leading-up to Christmas, so I'll be sure to weight-in if any major moves by the Cards are made between now and then.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cardinal Blogger Awards

If you have the time, please check-out the winners for the 2nd annual Cardinal Blogger Awards. The official score is now up on c70's page. As with every UCB project I've been a part of in this short time, I've learned a lot participating in it, and I can't wait to do it again next year because I know I'll be able to do it more justice in the future! I'm not sure how much I'll be able to post over the holidays, and I'm sure John is even busier with finals, term papers, etc., but keep your eyes open, especially if there are any major developments in free agency or trades as I'm sure one of us will have something to say. One last quick thing: thanks to all of you that have read our blog this season, it's been fun to share our thoughts with you and to have you share yours with us. Most of all, thanks to John for so graciously sharing this space with me. It's been great great to be able to again share our love for the Cards, despite being separated by an ocean! Hopefully, I'll muddle it up less the during my second year! Happy Holidays and God bless to all.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Trey Cardinal Blogger Award Votes:

Be sure to check-out all the UCB blogs to see how they voted. I haven’t heard for sure from John if he will be voting as well as myself, but keep on eye out just in case. A quick disclaimer for my votes: I’m still getting used to the blogging world, so I really wasn’t sure what to say in some of the categories, so I’ve abstained if I had no clue and did my best otherwise. Sorry to any of my fellow bloggers if I unintentially slight you! I’ll get better at this, I promise. So, without any more whining on my part:

Player of the Year: Albert Pujols, not explanation necessary.

Pitcher of the Year: Kyle Lohse. Wainwright was clearly our best, but he missed too much time with injury to be eligible in my opinion. Lohse was about the only guy on the staff that was good for pretty much the entire season.

Game of the year: 7.5.2008 vs. Cubbies. Ankiel walk-off hit off Kerry Wood was one of the few moments to smile about in late-game situations this year as a Card’s fan.

Surprise player of the year: Ryan Ludwick. This was a pretty easy one. No one could have guessed he go gang busters like he did, but can he do it again?

Disappointing player of the year: Jason Isringhausen. Several candidates here, but most of the other ones had some serious injury factor. The bullpen on the whole was the major factor in missing the playoffs, and Izzy lead the way in that regard. He did get injured also, but was horrible before that happened as well.

Cardinal rookie of the Year: Chris Perez. No real great candidate here. Liked the brief bits we saw of Mather, but the promise Perez showed is more important because of the way we are hurting in the pen right now.

New Cardinal of Year: Kyle Lohse. See above explanation on him. Glaus was solid as well, but not spectacular.

Most anticipated Cardinal: Jason Motte. I know he already made the majors and Rasmus hasn’t, but since he hasn’t used his rookie status up, I’m going to still pick him. Besides, we are stacked in the outfield, and bullpen, not so much, so I think Motte could potentially make more of an impact.

Best individual blog: Mike on the Cards. Maybe not the most original name for a blog, but I always enjoy what Mike has to say. Again, I’m not super familiar with all the work in the UCB yet, but I make the time to read Mike’s work as much as I can, and I like the streamlined format and personal touch he gives his blog's page. Honarable mention to Redbird Ramblings.

Best team blog: Well, I’ll have to abstain on this one, as John and I are the only team I’m aware of presently. Chances are, I read some that are teams and I'm just don't know it!

Best Professional blog: Deadspin. If you don't read it regularly, you should. If only I were that witty.

Best UCB project: Well, I missed some early in the season, but I’ll go with top 7 prospects because that’s a topic I’m not well educated on myself, so I learned a lot from it.

Funniest blog: Hmmm…..can’t think of one I read regularly that is overtly funny. Talking about the Cards is serious business after all!

Best blog post: I only knew about this post from earlier in the year because of a link from c70, but how can you not go with Scott Rolen vs. Eddie Vedder from the Redbird blog? It’s classic.

Rookie Blog of the year: Pitchers hit eighth. This is another blog I try to read regularly. I didn’t realize it was a “rookie”, so it will probably only get better!

Well, that's it. Hopefully I didn't forget anything! I look forward to participating with the UCB more in the future, so hopefully I'll be a lot more familiar with the other blogs next year!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Sweet Justice

Well, I'm sure you've heard, but Albert Pujols is your 2008 NL MVP. He obviously deserved it, but I was a little afraid he'd get jobbed because we didn't make the playoffs. Fortunately, enough people had the sense to realize you shouldn't be win the MVP if you strike-out 200 times in a year (ahem, Ryan Howard). Anyway, I don't have much time today, so I'll leave it at that. It's not a world series win, but it does validate the season somewhat I think. Some food for thought: if Albert didn't play another game, would he be a first ballot hall-of-famer? I think so, he's put up unprecedented numbers up to this point, but I think it's an interesting topic. Hopefully just a theoretical one of course!

P.S. Be on the look out for the 2nd annual Cardinal Blogger awards this week on all the UCB blogs. C70 will be posting the winners I believe on the 21st. John and I will hopefully get around to our votes sometime before then!


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Better late than never

Two fairly major news items for the Cardinals today:

1. Yadier Molina won his first gold glove. We all know he should've won last year, when he had one the great statistical catching seasons in history. His numbers weren't as good this year, but perhaps the writers are just noticing him a year late. He did help the Cardinals starting pitching to better than expected numbers, so perhaps that had something to do with it as well.

2. Carpenter had surgery on his right elbow yesterday. This procedure is similar to the one that Pujols had recently to reduce numbness and discomfort from the nerve in the elbow. Since that was seeminly what was bothering him on his return this year, hopefully it's fixed now. Carpenter had been rehabbing on his own hoping the nerve problem would go away, but I guess that wasn't working. Supposedly, like Albert, this won't have any effect on Carp's availability for spring training. I think that it just makes that question mark next to his name in the rotation for next year a little bit bigger. Remember: it usually takes more than a full year to recover from the tommy-john type surger Carp had, so hopefully his setbacks are nothing more than typical and he'll be OK in a few months. Not holding my breath of course.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Revised Off-Season Plan

I hope all of you enjoyed the end of reason round table discussion. It was a lot of fun for me personally to participate in a round table for the first time. Anyway, it's been a while since I wrote something for this blog, and with players filing for free agency the past few days, I thought it would be a good time to review the the Card's off-season plan. One consensus that seemed to be reached by the round table was that with the re-signing of Lohse, it is unlikely the Cards will sign a "major" free agent in the CC/K-Rod/Burnett mold. Instead, an addition of any all-star caliber player is more likely to come via trade, and even that is unlikely. In the current economic climate, I don't see DeWitt suddenly becoming a free-spender. We'll be lucky if the last season's 99 mil payroll stays about the same level. Taking that under consideration, here's the more conservative plan I'd like to see the Cardinals follow.

1. Sign Joe Beimel. He'd be a huge upgrade as a LHRP. He's also one of the few lefties out there that is equally effective against right-handed batters as left-handed. He earned about 2 mil last year, so I'm guessing it would take about a 3 year deal for 4 per year for 12 mil total. Well worth it and well within the budget.

2. Attempt to trade for Tampa Bay's Edwin Jackson. He's likely to be a hot commodity because the Rays will look to move him to make room for David Price. Still, he's likely to a lot cheaper prospect wise that Jake Peavy for instance (and definitely cheaper salary wise). He only began to show his talent last year and I think getting him to the national league under Duncan's tutelage could be a real boon. He's be a great insurance policy for Carpenter and a possible closer candidate if Carp is available.

3. Sign Renteria to play SS and Re-sign Lopez at 2B. Edgar will come a lot cheaper after being let go by the Tigers - maybe two years at 5 to 6 mil per? He's not a great defender anymore, but he always seems to play better in the national league. Lopez is also not great on defense, but together they would be a huge upgrade offensively and probably give us the deepest line-up in the NL. It might be a good idea to also re-sign Izturis for a defensive back-up in this scenario.

4. Sign one other veteran bullpen arm like Bob Howry or Eddie Guardado. I know we have some nice young arms, but we need at least one good yet to help Franklin out, and preferably someone who could close in a pinch.

Well, that's my plan. It's not sexy I know, but I see it as filling our holes without compromising our strengths. We won 86 games last year, and I think 5-6 more wins makes the playoffs easily. The Brewers likely won't be as good, but the Astros could be better, so competition will still be tough in the division. Standing totally pat won't get it done.


Monday, October 06, 2008

UCB Roundtable

It's my pleasure to kick off the 2008 end of season roundtable. That’s right I’ve got two roundtables and no, no microphone. Each participating blog writer will bring up a topic for discussion and day after day you the reader will be able to follow the "bouncing ball" as it were--going from blog to blog to view the transcripts of our discussion.

October 7: The Cardinal Virtue
October 8: Rockin’ the Red
October 9: The Redbird Blog
October 10: Mike on the Cards
October 13: CardinalNationGlobe
October 14: The Rundown
October 15: Redbird Report
October 16: Redbird Ramblings
October 17: BertFlex
October 20: Fungoes
October 21: Pitchers Hit Eighth
October 22: CardinalsGM
October 23: That’s a Winner
October 24: Redbirds Fun
October 27: Stan Musial’s Stance
October 28: C70 At the Bat

So, to kick things off I asked:

I'll start us off with what I feel is an "easy" topic. A big question for this off-season was answered with the resigning of Lohse. Was this the right move? Do you think he'll have the same performance he did this year? Better? Worse? If this wasn't the right move, who should we have picked up? Okay. Okay. There were 5 question marks in there, but it's all one idea.


Deaner, from the Cardinal Nation Globe, was the first to respond. "I definitely think signing Lohse to a new deal was the right move. I will admit that when the Cards picked him up at the last minute, before the 2008 season, I thought it was a mistake, partially because Lohse was so inconsistent in the past. Needless to say, Dave Duncan has worked his magic again. I don't ever expect Lohse to be a 20-game winner, but I think we can expect the same kind of season out of him next year and for the next few years as we saw in 2008 - the 15-16 win range."


Daniel Shoptaw of C70 at the Bat quipped, "We are definitely going to wind up stretching at the end if everyone had five question marks! :)

”Resigning Lohse, in the purely theoretical, seems like the right move. It seems obvious that the front office isn't sure if Carpenter will be back and has decided not to gamble on his return, treating it much more like gravy if he does return. As it should be.

”I think I have more problems with the length of the deal than the money, since the odds of Lohse really being productive in 2012 are fairly slim. I think 2009 will be pretty good, especially with Duncan still there. After that, who knows?"


The Godfather of the Daniel's of Cardinal blogging,
Don Daniel, the Redbird Blog, sees Lohse as Carpenter's insurance and thus Mo hade Lohse an offer he couldn't refuse, One school of thought regarding the Lohse signing is that this move is simply a sign that the Cardinals are, once again, hoping that an injured pitcher (Carpenter) will return and contribute meaningfully in 2009. After all, the Cardinals have just committed an average of just over $10M per season (for four years) to a free agent pitcher before the official start of the free agency period, and the Cardinals traditionally have not been big spenders in free agency.

"Some in the know believe the Cards are likely to spend somewhere between $15M and $20M on pitching this off-season. The beauty of the Lohse contract, however, is that the money is "backloaded," and the Cardinals will only be giving Lohse a raise of about $2.9 million in 2009 (he'll go from $4.25M to $7.125M). Clearly the Redbirds need to address some bullpen issues, but given the relatively minor increase in Lohse's salary for '09, I still think the team will be in a position to make a run at some of the more interesting free agent starters: Lowe, Dempster, Smoltz, Burnett.

"The other way of looking at this move is that the Cardinals were proactive. If players like Sabathia succeed in driving the free agent pitching market through the roof this winter, the Cardinals locked up an attractive free agent pitcher before prices got unreasonable. And let's not forget that Lohse managed 15 wins for the Cardinals and posted an ERA of 3.78. Lowe (14-11 and 3.24 ERA) and Burnett (18-10 and 4.07 ERA) are considered bigger "names," and are likely to make more $ than Lohse. It could be argued the Cardinals will get a bigger return on investment.

"And, who knows? Maybe the Cardinals intend to open the wallet this off-season. Maybe this is just the first of several moves to come. Either way, I support this signing. I think Mozeliak did a shrewd thing in anticipating that the "big names" would only serve to increase Lohse's value a month from now, and he acted decisively in the best interest of the Cardinals."


Tom Knuppel went Right with an interesting Palin-esque comparison/contrast to the Brewers' CC:

"I like the move that Mo has made to sign Kyle Lohse, however, let us make sure this isn't the biggest signing/trade that is completed in this off-season. We are talking about an average salary of over $10M. This signing gives us some flexibility to spend some dollars for another pitcher for the next 2 years.

"I consider Lohse as a #3 type pitcher. He is not the dominant type to be a 1 or 2. To get a guy that is a #3 is not a bad deal for an average of $10M. Some 4's and 5's are getting more than that in today's market.

"Let's compare Lohse and CC Sabathia. I believe it is likely that Lohse could win 13-15 games and Sabathia will get 17-19 games. Remember that CC has never won 20 games in a season. It is likely Sabathia will get between $20-$25M per year in the open market for his next contract. Compare the two and I would rather the Cards have Lohse's contract for the bucks than CC Sabathia's contract.

"One more point to consider. Over the career of Kyle Lohse and Ryan Dempster you will find their numbers are fairly identical. Monitor the Dempster contract discussion in the off-season and as Sarah Palin would say, "I betcha!" Dempster's contract will be quite a bit more."

Eric Ferguson parked it like a potato, but not like the busted Browns’ draft pick, saying, “I'll couch my response in the acknowledgment that those who can't GM, blog. Johnny Mo and the FO have greater knowledge, resources, and experience than a lowly peasant like myself, so my opinions are entirely inconsequential.

“With that said, this seems like a duct-tape deal for too many years (and it irrationally bugs me that it's so close to the deal Jeff Suppan got with the Brewers a couple years ago). Like any move made in October, it'll look different once the free-agent market plays itself out, but I don't understand the rush to sign a guy whose career year amounted to a 113 Adjusted ERA. His ERA (3.78) lined up pretty well with his peripherals this season (FIP ERA: 3.89), but if he gives back any of the improvement in his HR/9 or LOB%, it's easy to imagine an ERA well over 4.00 next season. Like Dan said, how valuable he'll be in 2012 is another matter entirely.

“I'd also have to wait and see what kind of club we enter spring training with next season -- if it's one that looks like a contender, I could stomach Year One of the deal. But if we look like an 80-win team, what's the point of having a mediocre pitcher locked up for his downhill slide?

“To answer the "Who else should we have gotten?" portion of the question: Aside from the obvious dream of seeing the Cards sign C.C., I'd be happy to see them sign Oliver Perez. He's 27, strikes out more than his fair share, and has room for improvement. We don't always have to sign scrap heapers, do we?

“In closing, I just want to say that if any of the views I have expressed coincide with those of John Hadley, I reserve the right to change them.”

Mike, (please don’t be mad at me for making you pink) of the aptly named Mike on the Cards liked the quick signing, “I like the Lohse signing, and I think it was smart to get it done so quickly. With the uncertainty of Carpenter, signing an effective innings eater was a priority, and the Cards already know what they're getting with Lohse. Had they waited, his price tag may have gone up with the bidding wars for Sabathia and others. “Although I don't really like the length of the contract, I'm sure it was necessary to get the deal done. Good move.

“As far as what to expect from Lohse in '09, I think we'll see much of the same. He's always been reliable, and it seems he's found a place where he can succeed. Another year of Dave Duncan couldn't hurt either. I think the club will be better next season, which should give Lohse another win or two.

“It would be nice to get another arm for the rotation too, so I hope Mo isn't done there. Surely they can't try to count on injured pitchers again.” One can only hope, Mike.

Daniel Solzman, went bananas and put up some interesting splits. Too bad we can’t always use Lohse during these situations. “I just want to say that I am so glad we decided to resign Kyle Lohse for the next few seasons. Sure, after his performance in Cincinnati, I had my doubts but then he went to Philly.

“In 33 starts this season, Lohse pitched 200 innings and finished with a 15-6 record. Unlike the last few years, he kept his ERA under 4. Furthermore, we just need to keep pitching him at home, where he went 8-2 this year with a 3.32 ERA. Throw him at night, too: 11-1 and 2.97.

“In addition to resigning Lohse, we were able to keep Dave Duncan for another season with a club option for 2010.”

Aaron Schafer of the Riverfront Times had a different view. “Well, I guess I'm going to have to be the contrarian here and say just how much I dislike the Lohse deal. I wasn't a huge fan at first, and the longer I've had to let it ripen, the worse I think it could turn out to be.

“The Cards got Lohse on a hugely below market deal, and he had a career year. At that point, they should have simply thanked him, offered him arbitration, and taken the draft picks. A guy is no longer a bargain when you're overpaying for his age 33-34 seasons and can't trade him because you gave him a no trade clause.

“In the Mozeliak era, the watchword to this point has been flexibility, and I think it's been a great direction. A four year deal, with full no trade protection, to a career #4 starter is no way to maintain flexibility.

“And as for the whole Dave Duncan effect, didn't we have our fill of that last year, with Joel Pineiro? El Pinata came to St. Louis, had a couple of good months, and everyone bought into the notion that Duncan had somehow fixed him. A year later, we're all trying to figure out how to possibly move Joel in a package just to free up roster, and payroll, space.

“Unfortunately, I fully expect Lohse to regress back toward his mean career numbers on BB and HR rate. Maybe not all the way; I'm sure that he has made some improvements to his approach and maturity while here. But even just moderate regression is ging to put him back in the 4.20-4.40 range on his ERA, which is still useful, yes, but also entirely attainable by much more affordable means.

“In short, I'm not a fan of the deal from an opportuntity cost standpoint, a value/dollars standpoint, or from a timing standpoint. I'll quote-or at least paraphrase- what Larry Borowsky said about the Joel Pineiro deal last year: this makes it less likely that the Cardinals win 70 games, but it also makes it less likely that they win 90+.”

Daniel Shoptaw responded to Schafer’s objection: “I think that's a strong point against the move. I remember when Tony Womack had his strong season in '04 how glad I was that they let him walk instead of hoping he'd keep that form for another couple of years. (And it was a close call--Jocketty had an offer out to him if I remember correctly.)

“With Lohse, though, in my mind filling that rotation next year is going to be very iffy and, for negotiating purposes, the Cardinals needed to come to terms with either him or Looper before the off-season got going and pitching got very expensive. (I guess that could be someone else's question, which of those would you take.) We've all noted that his top comp right now is Suppan, who have the Cards a good age 30 and age 31 season before moving on to the Brewers. Even his age 32 season was close to league average, leaving the last year of the contract as a stinker. If Lohse is able to continue the Suppan comparisons, it's a reasonable deal in my mind.

“Though I will say the no-trade clause is a little disconcerting. But probably by time we'd really want to trade him, either he has value enough that the trading team will buy out the NTC or nobody will want him anyway.”

Schafer responded, “All good points, but I tend to look at it this way: the Cardinals think they're going to get this year's level of production out of Lohse, while I think he'll be much closer to league average than that. If he's the guy they think he is, then the deal really isn't bad at all. If he's the guy I think he is, then that level of production should have been able to be filled by other means.

The Cardinals have a ton of extra outfield depth; at least some of that needs to be turned into more usable assets. I'm not even talking about trading for Matt Cain or someone like that. The Cards should have been able to bring in at least one young, cost controlled pitcher able to be about league average through the trade market without too very much trouble.

“You pay the big bucks for your stars' your core players, the guys who are really, really difficult to replace. You've got to be able to get the middle sixty percent of your roster at more reasonable cost.”

Pip from Fungoes gave his usual strong response,

“I agree with Daniel Shoptaw (Cardinal 70) that the move is an insurance claim against Chris Carpenter almost certainly not returning in 2009 (at least for the practical purposes of team planning). It's hard to blame the team for wanting a little certaintly after the last two years. But what a difference a bad contract makes: When the Cardinals extended Carpenter after winning the World Championship, they spurned Jeff Suppan on the mistaken assumption that Carpenter would be healthy. Now that Carpenter has gone bust, they've essentially signed Suppan but for more money.

“It's not so much a matter of whom the Cardinals should have picked up (or should still pick up) but whom they should have kept: Anthony Reyes. I'll be willing to bet that over the span of Lohse's new contract, Reyes will have better fielding-independent pitching numbers than Lohse (take your pick: DERA, FIP, xFIP). But the Reyes thing is all water under the bridge at this point; what about going forward? Tom Knuppel (Cardinals GM) mentioned that Ryan Dempster could possibly earn a bigger payday than Lohse. That's doubtful in my opinion, but the point is made. And it brings up this: Dempster is the latest of a handful of pitchers who "converted" from several years of relieving to starting (see also Braden Looper and Justin Duchscherer and previously Derek Lowe). Granted, identifying those types is not easy, but the nominal risk is offset by the reward. Dempster ($5.5 mil, 3.94 xFIP), Looper ($5.5, 4.59) and Duchscherer ($1.2, 4.31) all had comparable expected FIP to Lohse (4.35) in 2008. Rather than commit to four years of what is almost sure to be declining performance, the Cardinals should've taken the admittedly unpopular approach and waited for their young pitching while patching through with more reclamation projects.

“Lohse's career path has been up and down and up, but given his declining swinging strike rate, and the effect of age on pitchers, I expect that we've already seen the best of Kyle Lohse.”

Bryan (yes, I’m hurting for colors at this stage) from Rockin’ the Red thought that Kyle would seek the financial possibilities of other waters which would lead to extra picks, he was surprised: “Initially, I viewed Kyle Lohse as prime bait for extra draft picks this off-season, as I assumed he would price himself out of the Cardinals' budget and find many suitors elsewhere. Given the uncertain status of Chris Carpenter going into next season, however, and Kyle's willingness to not pull a Jeff Weaver by holding out for maximum dollars, I think this was the right move for the Cardinals to make. Lohse gives you a reliable innings-eater with number three starter attributes - although he'll likely be pushed into the number two starter role by Opening Day - in a rotation desperate for some surety. The tag was a bit pricey for what you're getting, but I think, compared to how the market will play out this off-season, it most likely will be less the going rate for similar pitchers. The Cardinals know how Kyle is going to respond to Dave Duncan, which is always an unknown when bringing new pitchers here; that probably sealed the deal when considering a multi-year contract.

“I think Kyle will continue to have success in the National League as he's shown the past two years. The general "luck" statistics BABIP and LOB% don't indicate that this was necessarily a fluky year by Kyle. The main keys to Kyle's success were his ability to minimize the walks issued and increase his ground outs, including a very low HR/9 ratio (0.81). His season certainly seems replicateable, but he's going to need to continue the trends he displayed throughout the season. I wouldn't say he'll achieve a 3.78 ERA or 3.89 FIP again, but he's certainly capable of registering an ERA/FIP around 4.00.”

Don Daniel added, “I agree with some of the concerns that Aaron and others have raised regarding the probability that Lohse will "regress to the mean." I certainly have my own concerns about the length of the deal and the full no-trade protection, but I do like the signing in the near term. And we've all sign that full no-trade protection doesn't mean a whole lot when the parties involved really want to get a deal done.

“That being said, the backloading of this contract makes this deal look a lot less favorable to the team in years 3 and 4. Unless, of course, Lohse defies expectations and builds on a successful 2008.”

Not quite a day late, but never a buck short, Nick (Pitchers Hit Eighth): Well, looks like I’m a bit late to the party – but hopefully can add some original insight.

"I tend to look at this deal in two parts. In my opinion, years one and two of this contract are a coup for Mozeliak and the Cardinals. Having Lohse controlled at $7.125m for ’09 and $8.875m for ’10 is a far-below market value deal. The no-trade doesn’t affect these two years, in my outlook, because unless he totally falls off of a cliff, the Cards won’t be interested in trading him during these two seasons anyway. Surely Duncan et al saw something in the kid that indicates he can maintain his 2008 form going forward. I personally think the reluctance to shell out big bucks to Suppan previously is a good sign for this contract. They see something they like in Lohse, and he’s younger to boot. (Feel free to call me a glass-half-full optimist.)

"The real kicker in the deal is when you look at years three and four. Again, as has been mentioned, is this deal going to be a stinker during those two years? At some point, reliability and the ability to even get out some hitters will decline, but how can you predict when that will occur? One possible upside is that no one really knows what the starting pitching market will be like in 2011. Is it possible that Lohse’s $11m+ during those years could still be average or below for a #3-type starter (obviously making the big assumption Lohse is still worth that slot)? Certainly could be, as we could see pitchers the likes of Josh Beckett, Rich Harden, John Lackey, Cliff Lee, and Brandon Webb all hitting free agency in 2010 or getting big contracts to re-up between now and then.

"Another thought on price and length of contract – Lohse has been extremely durable during his time in the bigs (knock on wood). He’s thrown at least 178 IP in full seasons that he was in the rotation all season. The Cardinals undoubtedly need a reliable arm like that, because I’m not holding my breath for Carpenter to come back and be a top of the rotation guy, and neither should the Cardinals.

"Ultimately, I think the real keys to this deal are whether Lohse continues to respond to Duncan’s tutelage (could he conceivably even improve this year, and be a bona fide #2?), whether the no-trade comes back to bite them, and whether the Cardinals make another move in free agency before Spring Training.

"To directly answer the question, I think this was a good move. I think it should not be considered the end-game move for the Redbird rotation this season though. While I don’t envision the pipe-dream scenarios coming true, with a Sabathia, Burnett, or Dempster being signed, I do think there are guys out there that could provide help to the Cardinals at a reasonable price. Randy Wolf anyone? If Cardinal fans are hoping for an ace to come on board between now and March, it’s going to have to be via trade and it may cost Rasmus. I’m not willing to give up on that youngster just yet…”

(Apologies to Nick for the
copy and paste error.)


from Stan Musial's Stance popped up after I originally
posted this:

"And I am REALLY late to the party
- but for what it's worth, here's my two bits.

"I don't like the Lohse signing,
because I think we're paying too much, and the contract's too long.  I am in
an AL-only fantasy league (because I don't want to be in the conflicted
situation of rooting for

Brad Lidge
to strike out AP and save the game because it helps my
fantasy team), so I did some quick checking of the #3 starters on all AL
rosters, and their salaries, compared to the deal Lohse just got.  The only
guy - the ONLY guy - making near the money that Lohse will make over the
next 4 years is

Carlos Silva
of Seattle.

"I think we will all agree that
Silva is not that good, and his 4-15 record will back that up, even if we
allow that some of his troubles were due to playing for the second worst
team in MLB this past season (although I don't buy that since Carlos didn't
win a game after 22 May).  The rest of the AL pays it's #3 starters
something less than $1Million a season.  I haven't yet done the same spot
check of the NL.  So I think we made a mistake there.

"I also don't understand why we're
going to pay a guy an average of $10.25M per year for the next four years,
based on his best season, and the first since 2003 where he finished with a
record over .500.  It is far more likely, as has been pointed out by others
here, that he will regress to the mean, and probably regress back to where
he's pitched his whole big
league career

"Finally the back-loaded contract
worries me.  Yes, it does free up more money now to sign other players, but
I think this contract will be an albatross around Mozeliak's neck come 2011
- Lohse will be a mere shadow of the pitcher he was this year, and we'll be
stuck with him.

"Mozeliak did need to do something
given Carpenter's health situation for next year.  We need someone durable,
which rules out the AJ Burnetts of the world.  We need someone inexpensive,
which really rules out most top tier free
agent pitchers
.  Why not trade for Matt Cain?  His not so good record
is a product of playing for horrible Giants teams, not his ability.  Or,
given the depth of pitching talent the Rays have, how about

Edwin Jackson
?  My sources indicate he's only signed through this
season (and for $417K).  He has electric stuff; perhaps Duncan could turn
him into the next Ken Bottemfeld."

Yours Truly added: “We all knew the Cardinals didn't make a move in 08 cause of the freed up money in 09--that and the belief (naive?) Carp et. al. would be healthy. Now that 09 is upon us and money becomes available, one couldn't help wonder if the money now tied up with Lohse couldn't have been put to better use. What some are calling the Cardinals' "big"
off-season signing--shouldn't be. If it is, 09 will look remarkable close to 08. I do like that we snagged him before the bidding wars, as we did get him cheaper than he would have if he went out on the open market. I do like that he is in the organization--it doesn't do a franchise good to have the reputation of simply "using" free agents. However, I thought that this move was something the Brewers would do. A mediocre guy has a decent year, and then they sign him to a massive multi-year contract (e.g., Suppan). What I don't like about this contract is much more--and has already been stated: the no-trade clause, the total amount, the total years. Time will tell--it always does, but up front--the negatives seem to far out weigh the positives.”

To summarize, the general consensus is that Lohse was worth it up front…and he’s cheaper now than later. However, the contract is too long, the no-trade clause makes it look even worse. What is more, no one expects him to improve on his 2008 campaign. All in all, it’s safe—but if it’s the only major starting pitching move made it will be a mistake.

Tune in tomorrow to Rockin’ the Red as the roundtable moves on.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Great Article on Albert

I read this article on today and I think it states perfectly way Albert should be MVP this year.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lohse-I think I'm gonna be sick

I don't honestly believe that Lohse deserves a $10M a year contract...and for four years. You mean we couldn't have gone after Sheets or Sabathia? This is the kind of contract we made a mistake with regarding Jimmy Ballgame and Izzy. I just don't see this going well. I thought the Cards' brass was going to make a move that would be more like Suppan, Marquis, and Weaver--let other teams overpay. Simple economics people. Honestly, I think Brad Penny is the perfect type of Duncan-rehab player. Don't be surprised to see him sign with the Cards.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Season Retrospective Part 3 - Bullpen

Before I get started, how about a hand for the guys playing out the season with pride. Five straight wins, and Pujols has gone on a nice little run that will hopefully net him his second MVP award. Now, on to the hard part.......

What went right: Well, not a whole lot really. McClellen pitched well the first 4 months before seemingly running out of gas in his first major league season. Springer was pretty tough for the most part. Perez should flashes of brilliance. Franklin had his moments, especially when he was not asked to close. Motte has been great in an admittedly small sample size. Kinney likewise (props to him for making such a long comeback attempt successful though).

What went wrong: Hmmm......where to start. Izzy was alternately hurt or disastrous. Franklin was unable to consistently close games either. Come to think of it, no one was. Perez probably has the best save percentage, but that's not saying anything really. Finding relief from the left side was equally difficult for the Cardinals. Villone seemed to be TRL's favorite, but his ERA is horrible. He does get some K's, but still not good overall. Flores was the left-handed Izzy this year basically. If the bullpen could have held a handfull of the leads this year that they gave up, we'd be talking playoffs instead of next year right now.

Bottom line: This is obviously the most glaring weakness/need on the team. Just because management did nothing to shore it up at the trading deadline, doesn't mean they won't do anything in the offseason. Right?

Plan of next year: First of all, the Cards have to figure-out who will close for them. Everything else will fall in line from there. I'm not a big fan of the idea of signing K-Rod. Granted, having him this year almost certainly would have given us 10-12 more wins, but he'll command a record salary for a closer (maybe $15-16 mil for 5-6 years) and I just don't think it is worth it for a player that will pitch a maximum of 80 or so innings a year. I'm not sure what other options there will be in free agency (I think Fuentes from Colorado is a free agent), but there will be much cheaper options. Regardless or whether we sign a closer, signing a steady veteran guy from the left side is a must. We have some good young arms, but they are mostly righties (or really totally if Tyler Johnson and Garcia can't come back from injury next year). Motte and Perez look like they will be future big cogs in the bullpen, but they need to work on finding secondary pitches to go with the plus fastballs. I loved Kinney before got injured with his wicked slider, and he hasn't given up a run since coming back, so he looks like a good combo to go with Franklin as the primary set-up guys. McClellen I've heard may be turned back into a starter, but if he isn't, I think he can be effective as a seventh inning guy with the other youngsters helping more over the full season. Springer may retire or move to a team closer to his family. He was good this year, but he's not a necessity for next year. I think if we sign two good veterans (one lefty, one closer), this area could quickly turn from a weakness to a strength. Lord knows, that would be welcome news to the Cardinal nation after this past season.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Season Retrospective Part 2 - Starting Rotation

Nice job by all the fill-ins last night. If you can't go to the playoffs, we might as well ruin the Diamondbacks season as well! Anyway, continuing with my retrospective:

What went right: Lohse was a serious bargain pick-up during spring training and was our most consistent and successful starter. Wellenmeyer pitched very well also for the most part, though he struggled in June and up to the All-star break. Looper was very steady, about what you'd expect from a #4 starter type. Wainwright pitched like an ace - when he was healthy. Carpenter showed signs of his old form for the brief time he was back.

What went wrong - Pineiro pitched quite poorly for most of the year. No one was able to fill Wainwright's spot in the rotation really when he was out, be it Boggs, Garcia or whoever. Mulder was unable to come back, and signing Clement also came to nothing. Carpenter's comeback was also eventually stopped short due to an apparent nerve problem in his shoulder, and he may require more surgery in the offseason. Wainwright was missed badly while he was out, and that may the the primary reason we are in the outside looking in for the NL wildcard.

Bottom line: You'd have to give the starting rotation basically average marks on the year. They were pretty good before Waino was injured, but only decent without him. Lohse, Wellenmeyer, and Looper had what I would term good years though.

Plan for next year: We all know that the Cardinals have a lot of money coming off the books after this year, and this is were I would spend the bulk of it. Even IF Carpenter can come back, and that's a big if you have to say with his long injury history, we could use another big arm. Wainwright and Wellenmeyer should be back (anyone know for sure if Wellenmeyer is free-agency elligible, or just arbitration, like I believe?). I believe we should let Lohse go - he'll command a salary higher than he should after his career year. Resign Looper, he'll be cheaper and fills that 4th or 5th starter role just fine. Relegate Pineiro to long relief/spot starts (the Brad Thompson role). If Carp is back, that still leaves one spot. The guy I'd prefer to go after is A.J. Burnett. He should opt out of his deal with Toronto. He's from the St. Louis area and almost signed with us last time. He'll cost a pretty penny. I'd guess $13-15 mill X5 years (he's earning 12 right now), but he seems to be just reaching his potential and should be even better in the National League. He'll be cheaper than Sabathia at least. He's not quite an ace in my opinion, but will be good as a #2 behind Wainwright, great as a #3 if Carp can come back. The only other big free agent I think the Cards should consider is K-Rod, but I'll describe tomorrow why I don't think that's a great idea.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Season Retrospective part 1 - Offense

Last night, we were officially eliminated from postseason play. The sad thing is, the Mets and Brewers have played very poorly the last three weeks, if we could have just been decent, we would have had a chance. Alas, a team that was probably playing over their heads finally came back down to earth, and in a big way. I just hope now we can finish over .500 and finish ahead of the Astros. The next few days, I'm going to do a 3-4 part series examining what went right this year, what went wrong, and what the team should do in my opinion next season to make in back to postseason baseball. Today, I'll start with the easiest part, the offense:

What went right: Albert had his usual stellar season, despite having the fewest proven bats around him that he has had in his career. Ludwick had a great year, probably a career year. Ankiel was quite good when healthy. Miles, Shumaker, and Molina were all better than expected. Glaus was probably only about average, but with his better than expected defense, there is no question that we got the better of that trade.

What went wrong: The middle infield provided almost no power, with our shortstops and 2B hitting a COMBINED 10 homeruns this year. Chris Duncan was either injured or ineffictive this year. Ankiel was unable to come back from an late July abdominal injury, Joe Mather was lost for the year just as he was finding his way, and Molina and Glaus also struggled with late season injuries. The combination of those things had the Cards with little left in the tank in September.

Bottom Line: The Cardinals currently rank 1st in BA, 7th in HRs, and 5th in runs per game in the National League. That's got be considered a successful season from an offensive standpoint.

Plan for next year: If it were up to me, I'd shut Albert down right now, and have him get the elbow surgery he needs immediately. He may still not make it back quite in time to start next season, but it should be close. I believe Miles and Izturis are free agents. I'd resign Miles, and let Izturis go. His plus glove isn't enough to make-up for his minus bat. Kennedy wants to be traded - if we can find a taker, I say good. Lopez has hit pretty well since coming over, but is weak defensively. I think he'd be worth re-signing if the price is right. Ideally, I'd like to trade for or sign a better hitting SS (a return for Renteria maybe?), start Lopez at 2B and let Miles be the main back-up at both middle infield positions. Glaus, Molina, and Albert are back next year. Ludwick, Shumaker, and Ankiel as well I assume. I'd have Mather as the 4th outfielder/platoon with Shumaker. Rasmus doesn't seem ready for the big show yet it seems, but we have enough good outfielders to allow for another year in the minors. All in all, I think only one big move needs to be made to give us another good offensive team next year, that being the shortstop position. The really big question in all honesty is whether Ludwick can repeat what he did this year. A little more consistency from Glaus and Ankiel to back-up Albert wouldn't hurt either.

Coming up next, I'll examine the starting rotation.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

When it rains, it pours.

It may be close to the end, and here are some signs of that:

1. Four losses in a row, including two to the lowly Pirates.
2. Carpenter has been shut down for the rest of the year. Apparently, he is having a nerve problem in his shoulder. Not sure what that means for next year........
3. Ankiel is also shut down for the year, and will likely have surgery to correct the abdominal problem that has plagued him this last two months.
4. Yadier and Glaus are also hurting. Both are supposedly getting better, and Yady may play today. Lopez has certainly not looked good defensively with Glaus out. Izturis played third at the end of the game last night, and that was much better.
5. Even our rock, Wainwright, had a bad game last night.
6. Ludwick is also losing steam. He and Pujols can only do so much with the other big boppers out. You want to have the September call-ups get some time, but we are having to out-right rely on them with all the injuries we've had.

Anyway, things look pretty grim. I'm of two minds at this point, I'm happy with the way the team has played (i.e. overachieved), but I feel we've wasted a golden opportunity as well. Lots of questions for next year, mostly about the pitching, but you have to wonder if guys like Yady, Shu and especially Ludwick can repeat their offensive production. Anyway, I'll talk more about those issues when the season is officially over. We're not quite there yet I think.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I'm Baaack

Finally got my new laptop just in time to say, dang. We aren't out of it yet, but it doesn't look good. Although we are only 3 1/2 games out, we are behind the Brew Crew and the Phillies for the Wild Card. Not to mention the rented mules of the NL Central breathing down our necks only 1/2 a game back. It can be done, but I doubt it. Nevertheless, no matter what the outcome, I have been thrilled with the season. It vastly exceeded my expectations. And you know what....we have one really bright future.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Could Wainwright have made the difference?

As I mentioned last time, I'm not quite ready to write the epilogue on the the Card's season yet, but I did want to throw one "what if?" out there. I've railed a lot about how the bullpen cost us a bunch of close game from basically mid-may to mid-august. After seeing Wainwright be great in his three starts back, however, I've come to think that MAYBE his injury is the biggest reason we currently stand 5 1/2 back of the Brewers. Having that "ace" in the rotation takes so much pressure of the rest of team. The offense relaxes because they know they don't need much to win that day. The offense has relaxed so much, in fact, that in two of the three games he has pitched since he has been back, they've scored a bunch of runs. The bullpen also has the pressure off them because they know they likely won't have to pitch too many innings (though TRL yanked him early yesterday, probably not wanted to overtax him so soon back), and if they do come in, it will likely be with a nice lead. Having him out for two months put extra pressure on everyone on the team. The team held-on OK, but was basically .500 while he was gone. I mentioned way back that I thought Wainwright was the most important cog on the team (aside from Albert at least), and I think that has proved true over the course of the season. It would certainly be of great help to have him and Carp for an entire year next year, but it's a darn shame that didn't happen this year with some many of our hitter's having career years. Anyway, we gained one on the brew crew yesterday and they are down big early to the Mets as I write this, so maybe we can do it again.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Not Good

While I'm definitely a believer in the saying "it ain't over till it's over", it's tough to see a way into the playoffs for the Cardinals now. While being swept by the Astros, the Brewers swept the Pirates and they are now 6 1?2 back in the wildcard with only 25 left to play. Certainly, stranger things have happened, but it's not looking good. The offense really had a tough time in Houston. Albert continues his torrid play, but he's gotten little support. Ludwick's had a couple of big hits (though not really this weekend). Ankiel hit a HR yesterday, but has looked like he continues to struggle with the oblique injury. Glaus is in one of his cold streaks. Yeah, Looper had a bad start yesterday, but two of the three games we had very good pitching, but little offense. Anyway, the Cards basically need to go on a torrid streak a la the Rockies from last year to have any real chance, and even then, we need some help from the Brewers as well. It's a pretty depressing situation. Makes you wish we had some of those close loses that the bullpen killed us in earlier in the year back right now. I guess you can't cry too much over spilled milk though. Hopefully we'll see better play against the Diamondbacks starting tomorrow at the least.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stayin' Alive

Unquestionably the biggest win of the season so far tonight. A loss would've put us 5 1/2 back with only 28 games left. That would've been a tough task to say the least. 3 1/2 out is no bargain, but it's a lot better. Overall, we broke a 7 game losing streak to the Brew Crew and they won the season series 10-5. If they beat us out for the wild-card, that may be the reason why. As I've mentioned before, they choked down the stretch last year, and I'm hoping for a repeat performance. More importantly, I'm hoping this rare come-from-behind victory sends the Cards on a long win streak of their own. Our best streak this year is 5, but I think we'll need a stretch better than that because of the ground we need to make-up. This was, I believe, only the SECOND time we've won after being down in the 8th innning or later, so that has to give the guys a charge. Ludwick was a hero tonight (how many times has that been the case when we've won this year?, he's been so huge, I still can't believe the year he is having!). Perez struck out the side in the 9th around a double by Hardy. Wainwright kept it close despite some shoddy defense behind him (seriously, our great defense from the rest of the year needs to come back, and soon). Lots of gutsy performances in general, but those three stood out. Six game road-trip coming-up against the 'Stros and the Diamondbacks, both of whom are playing a little better recently. At least we miss Oswalt for Houston, as he pitched tonight. No word on when Carp might be back. It would be nice if he could pitch the Sept. 2 game against Arizona, but for now it looks likely that Pineiro will get that game. Fortunately, Looper and Welleneyer (excluding last night) seem to be pitching as well as they have all season. Lohse seems to be slumping slightly on the other hand. Regardless, it's time to buckle down, and win with whoever you can put out there. It certainly helps to put that Pujols guy's name in the line-up card every day at least.


P.S. - Sorry for the rambling nature of this post, but my thoughts were racing after that great comeback!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Will Albert get his due?

After one of the best offensive series I can remember, I'm hopeful that Pujols will now take his rightful spot at the top of the MVP candidate list. For whatever reason, it doesn't seem like the media is giving him the usual love this year. Here's some stats for you: BA. .359 - 1st in NL and MLB, OBP .467 - 1st, SLG - .639 - 1st, OPS 1.106 - 1st by a mile. He's tied for 7th in both HRs and doubles. Tenth in RBIs. Only 14th in runs, which is down for him I admit. Still, when you add up all the major stats, and the fact that the Cards are contending when everyone thought they wouldn't be, I'm not sure why there's even a debat here. Chipper Jones, Utley, Berkman, David Wright, and Ryan Braun are probably the other big candidates. The only categories any of them lead Albert in by a large margin are RBIs and runs. I can think of two other reasons Albert may not be getting enough pub. 1. Ryan Ludwick. He's having a great year and his power numbers, which unfortunately, people seem to look at the most, are superior to Albert's. 2. Albert gets pitched around so much. After his first two at bats yesterday, the Braves didn't even think about giving him a pitch to hit, not that I blame them. Really, the two times they get him out in the series, he still smashed the ball, but a fielder made a diving catch to rob him. Getting so few pitches to hit and taking so many walks has dropped his RBIs and HRs I have no doubt. What he should get credit for, however, is adjusting his approach to hit for contact since he is not seeing many good pitches. I was watching the Braves' telecast because I was in Memphis this weekend and the color guy erroneously pointed out that Albert rarely goes to right field because he is a pull hitter. Pujols preceded to double to right two of his first three at bats while going up the middle for the other hit. Albert has ALWAYS been probably the best power hitter in baseball when it comes to going with the pitch. That commentator was just plain an idiot. Listen, we all know who the best player in the game is. It just infuriates me too see others fail to recognize that fact. Hopefully, Albert will continue to have a huge stretch run and set all the doubters straight.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

R.I.P. Isringhausen?

Some of you may have heard today that the Cardinals have put Izzy on the DL for the second time this season. He has what appears to be a torn flexor tendon in his pitching elbow. It's unclear how long he has had this injury, and it may go some way towards explaining his woeful performance this year. Izzy is done for the rest of this year, and at age 37, his career is likely over as well. He's had several major injuries in the past, and I just don't see him trying to come back from another one. Though I've taken plenty of shots at Izzy this year, he has certainly been a great player for us in the past, and it's tough to see him go out on such a down note. Certainly, he always made save situations a little too exciting, but before this season, he converted a very high percentage of them and sowed-up a lot of wins for us. Even if he does decide to opt for surgery and a lengthy rehab period, the chances of seeing him again in a Cardinals uniform again are probably slim. Chris Perez seems to be the closer of the future, and if he doesn't work out in the long term, the Cards have several other promising closers in the minor leagues. Izzy is a free agent after this season, so if he doesn't retire, it's likely he'll be playing for someone else next year or whenever he is able to make it back. Izzy's career can probably be summed-up by that famous first line in Tale of Two Cities: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Here's hoping you have only have good times ahead, whatever you may do in the future Izzy.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chances lie ahead

The Cards gave it a decent go today, but came-up short against the Reds and Volquez, who has been one of the top five pitchers in the National League this season. The Bullpen had their first poor game of the road trip after a decent start by Lohse, but the real problem was that the offense couldn't get anything going until the 9th inning in one of the best offensive ballparks in baseball. Overall, you'd have to take 6-4 on the 10 game road trip, though you'd certainly like to have that first game against the Cubs back. A seven game home stand is next up. Even better, the Cards have 4 off days during the stand, the first being tomorrow. This may allow them to go with a 4 man rotation for the short-term. Even though Wainwright was dominant in his rehab start yesterday, he may still come back as a reliever due to that fact IF Carpenter can be back by the time the team next takes to the road, they may not need another starter. Regardless, it's important to make some hay on this home stand. We face two real bad teams in the Pirates and Braves and our biggest rival for the wildcard in the Brewers. If we can say, win 6 of 7 and then bring Carp and Wainwright back for the stretch, that would be awesome. It sounds like Wainwright wants to come back this week, but I think the schedule allows for a little extra caution. It really all depends on Carpenter's status though. Looper, Wellenmeyer, Pineiro, and Lohse all seem to be pitching decent at the same time for the first time since maybe April, but they need that true ace to support them. It remains to be seen who that will be (if anyone). I've pretty much given-up hope of catching the Cubs. Too much ground to make-up and they are just playing too well, but the Brewers are another matter. They faded badly in September last year, and they have even more pressure on them now. Yeah, Sabathia has been other-worldly, but Sheets has not been as good since the All-Star break and their line-up is prone to slump because they aren't high on-base guys and rely on the long ball. The next 10 days could tell us a lot for both the Cards and the Brew Crew.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Is the Bullpen fixed?

It's probably way to early to answer that question with any real certainty, but the signs over this road trip show things are at least headed in the right direction. The 'pen has yielded only 3 earned runs over 21 innings of work during the 8 games of this trip so far. Not only is Perez 3 for 3 in saves chances, but McClellen has been just as good as the new primary set-up man. The best example of that was on Monday when consecutive errors by Ankiel (in his first game back in the field in over 2 weeks) in the eighth left the speedy Hanley Rameriz on third with no outs and the Cardinals nursing a one-run lead. Somehow, McClellen managed to get a weak ground-out with the infield in, a strike-out and a pop-up to strand the runner on third. Jaime Garcia also deserves praise for steady work in middle relief such as his two scoreless innings tonight. It seems that Carpenter going back on the DL has made the Cards re-think their options with Wainwright and he will make a rehab START tomorrow. I'll restate that I think that would be the best move for the team both in the short and the long term. The bullpen's sudden resurgence does make that decision easier though. One thing that seemed to be hurting us the last two weeks was a normally reliable defense. We had several games there with multiple errors, but the last two have been clean I think, so hopefully that junk is over with. I REALLY like the lineup now with Ludwick, Pujols, Ankiel and Glaus in middle surrounded by good contact hitters like Shu, Miles, and Yadier. Bottom line, I think we'll have a good team on the field these last few games. Unfortunately, the Cubs and the Brewers are playing lights-out right now. The Cubs scored three in the ninth to win again tonight. We'll need at least one of them to drop-off significantly or it won't matter what we do really. That may sound pessimistic, but it's a reality with only 37 games left. Still, all is not lost. Hopefully Carp will only miss the 15 days and Wainwright should be back in 7-10 days as well I would guess. It is certainly a must to beat-up on the bad teams left on our schedule such as our current opponent, the Reds. Let's get after them again tomorrow!


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Quick Note

Good win tonight, though I can't fathom how we only scored six runs despite getting 18 hits. Anyway, I just wanted to mention that I was watching a fan blog during the game and people were talking about how Perez seems to be the de-facto closer now (three saves in row.....I'm not sure I can deal with that kind boring result!). One guy said that Izzy had always made things too exciting and it was only a matter of time before almost blown saves became actual blown saves. Another guy responded that "Isringhausen" is actually German for "lead-off walk". HA! Well, I thought it was funny anyway. Hopefully we are a little more productive with RISP tomorrow and we take 3 of 4. The Cubs and Brewers don't seem likely to give us much in the mean time.


Monday, August 11, 2008


Not a good day to be a Cardinals fan. Loss to the Cubs puts them 7 back in the division and 3 back of the Brew Crew in the wild card. Probably still too early to say the division is out of reach, but they need to play way better than the .500 ball they have been the last 6 weeks. Even worse news potentially is that Carp left in the 6th with a "triceps strain". Now this may not be that bad. He may not even miss a start, but if he has to go back on the DL, it will be deadly. They have Wainwright rehabbing as a reliever. One of the reasons for this (besides the obvious one that the bullpen needs help in a big way), is that he should be able to make it back to the big club faster. If Carp is going to be out for an extended period, however, they may have to reconsider that idea. That means (most likely), that it would take longer for him to get back, and that the bullpen won't get the help it has needed for so long. Anyway, a grim day all around. The good news, as I see it, is that the remaining schedule is not too bad. The only games we have against above .500 teams are Florida (7), Brewers (2 at home), Arizona (7), and Chicago (6). We have 20 games against below .500 teams left. 22 left on the road, 20 at home, but 12 of the 22 against the good teams are at home. I think 27-15 is what is needed to get the wild card. Better than that for the division. A difficult task to be sure, but the schedule makes it possible. We will need Carp thought. We'll see what happens.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Chris Perez just picked-up a five-out save in a 9-6 win over the Dodgers. Made it looked relatively easy too. Struck-out two, walked one, no hits allowed. It's nice to not have too much drama at the end of the game for once. Shouldn't read too much into this mind you, Perez was the only guy in the bullpen not used last night, so he may have been the closer by default today. Pineiro wasn't great today, but he did make it through seven, which allowed the other bullpen guys to take the night off. Pineiro may lose his job in 7-10 days when Wainwright comes back as he definitely looks like the weakest link it what may soon be a very strong rotation. The star of the game though, was of course Pujols who went 4-4 with a walk and a grand slam. Ludwick also homered in his FIFTH STRAIGHT GAME! Crazy. We go for the sweep tomorrow behind Lohse. It'd be nice if the Cubs and Brewers would lose and actually let us GAIN some ground for once.



What was I thinking, crying about the Cardinals not adding a reliever at the deadline? We clearly don't need that. Seriously though, Izzy is basically useless at this point, though I think only TRL would be surprised by that statement. Villone also deserves special mention, giving up a first pitch homer to a guy that is only batting .165 on the season and had hit only two out all year before that one. Yuck. Anyway, the formula for a Cardinals win remained the same - the bullpen was the near goat and Ryan Ludwick was the hero. The only real surprise was that he didn't win it on his first try in the 9th. Albert also hit a two-run shot, and Carp looked vintage. The rain delay undoubtably kept him from going deeper into the game as it only took him 51 pitches to get through 5 scoreless innings. Wainwright had another successful throwing session today and is going out for a rehab start this weekend. All in all, there was a lot of good news today, mixed with the same old bad news about the bullpen, but I'm pretty much used to that, so I can definitely go to bed happy tonight.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

GIPD X 3 = L

My math isn't always real good, but I think three consecutive inning-ending double plays (in the 6th-8th), didn't help the Cardinals chances tonight. They also had the bases loaded in the 8th and 9th with one out and failed to score what would've have been a run that at least secured extra innings for us. Yeah, the bullpen blew-up again, but we have to expect that, and the offense has too take advantages of opportunities when they are handed to us. In the last two innings, the normally awesome Phillies pen walked two, hit two batters, and had a balk. Ryan Howard also gave us an error in the 8th for good measure. We only managed two runs in those two innings, and one of those was a lead-off home run by Glaus in the 9th. Good efforts by Glaus, Ludwick, Wellenmeyer, and Franklin (aka the only reliever that didn't stink tonight), but the rest of team didn't do their part. Overall, we lost two straight close games after getting quality starts, which is tough to swallow. The off-day tomorrow is much needed. Hopefully Ankiel can play in the field on Tuesday and Carp can give a couple of more innings than the last start. We could use some good stuff from him to give the team the lift it needs.

P.S. - Bummer for John being robbed, but I'm glad everyone is OK. I thought the folks were supposed to be a lot nicer than that on the Emerald Isle. I'll be praying that everything will be replaced by insurance, but more importantly that his family will feel safe where they live. I've had my place robbed as well, and I know that those first few nights afterwards, you don't sleep real soundly. That feeling passed fairly quickly for me, and I hope it does for them as well. I hope the voice of reason returns to this blog soon though, my rants are only likely to increase in level of insanity if there is twice as many of them.


Saturday, August 02, 2008


Just wanted to drop a quick note. I prolly won't be posting for a while, at least not until I'm able to get a new computer. Our home was burglarized last night--while we were in the house. My wife woke to the sound of the intruders down stairs. She woke me up and I was able to chase them off. But they got away with my laptop and a few other items like our digital camera. Please pray that peace will return to our hosehold as we are pretty shaken up. No one got hurt--that's the most important thing. God's in control, and that's a comforting thought. In the mean time, Trey will be holding down the fort.

Go Cards!


Quick Bullets

*Ludwick may not be the most consistent guy out there, but I would think he has carried us to victory almost single-handedly several times this year, last night being the most recent example.

*Duncan is most likely done for the year due to an upcoming neck surgery. I feel bad for him, but this most likely means Mather will stick with the big club for the rest of the season, which is probably what should have happened a long time ago anyway.

*Speaking of Mather, he's definitely finding his way as a big leaguer. He brings some extra athleticism to the table that helps us, among other things, and is a major defensive upgrade over Duncan.

*Typical Lohse start last night, looked unhittable early, and then got touched-up in the middle of the game. Would have liked to see TRL let him get out of the 6th, but we won, so I can't really complain.

*Izzy picked up his first save in almost 3 months last night. In typical fashion also, got himself into trouble, but pitched out of it as well. It will take a little more than that to re-earn my confidence at least.

*On the plus side, the bullpen does at least have more defined roles again. I'm unsure why Flores got sent down........seemed to be our best LHRP, but maybe his ankle is still bothering him a little. I guess Garcia is filling that role for the time being.

*So far since the break, we've only won two games against above .500 teams. Fortunately, we are 7-1 against the bad teams. Hasn't helped that we haven't had a day off yet. First one is Monday, which gives Carp an extra day of rest.

*Ankiel hopes to be back as a regular after that off day from what I hear, but is still basically day-to-day.

*Wainwright has one more bullpen session today, followed by a like simulated game Tuesday, then hopefully a rehab assignment. He has been able to throw breaking pitches, but not at full tilt yet.

*Sure I'm disappointed we didn't do anything after the trade deadline, but we are still tied with the Brewers in the wild card and only 4 games back of the Cubbies. It should be a fun last two months.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Mo Didn't Screw Up

We don't exactly know the asking prices for the available Lefty relievers out there, but rumors all said they were high. I wanted to NOT hear that Mo traded the farm for a mediocre reliever that happens to be doing okay right now. It would have been nice to score one, but for some reason they were grossly overvalued. And now, Royals, Orioles, Rockies, what are you going to do with your prized loogy? Huh? Pathetic. As I said before and others have pointed out in the last post's comments, there's a ton of money becoming available this fall. We have Carp and A&W coming back which will in turn bolster the bullpen. The offense shows signs of weakness, but is still overperforming expectations. A big bat to protect Pujols' career sure would be nice. Only way to get that in the middle of the season now is one Barry Bonds. That is looking less likely with each passing day. Only things it would cost is league minimum, a little pride, and a smidge of integrity. Otherwise, the big bat will have to wait to this winter.


Thursday, July 31, 2008


It's deadline day, kiddies. It's no surprise that the Cardinals wanted to have a peek at Carpenter in the Bigs before the deadline. His outing was far from perfect but was better than a spot starter, and I'd rather see him round out that rehab up here. The Cards only outhit the Braves 12-11, but get an easy victory with the rare later inning outpouring. I see the Cards making a deal today. I'm thinkin' that Mayhay will be acquired at the expense of Mather and Todd--just a hunch.

Common, Mo. Don't screw this up.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

An interesting solution to the bullpen issue.....

I normally try to avoid posting close to John, but I'm pretty fired-up after last night's awesome win and because of the all the rumors flying around as the trade deadline approaches, so I'm going to work a little off John's post and add in my own thoughts. Anyway, apparently there's some talk that when Wainwright comes back, it could be as the team's closer. I'm basically lukewarm to this idea. On the one hand, I've been harping about how we have one glaring weakness, and it's the bullpen. Wainwright has proven he can close-out games in the most pressure filled of situations in the playoffs. He would be an obvious solution to this problem. It also may protect him from further injuries in the future. On the other hand, this move could set-up a big long term problem for us. We obviously can't count on Mulder in the future and are unlikely to pick-up his option for next year. It doesn't seem like Clement will be of help in this regard, as last I heard he is being rehabbed as a reliever (though that does seem wise, seeing the current situation). Lohse and Looper are also free-agents. This would leave us with Carpenter, Wellenmeyer and Pineiro as starters for next season. Certainly, there are some free agent prospects out there, signing Lohse long term might be a good start, but it's always dicey committing to pitchers long term and Wainwright is already signed at a reasonable price. This brings me back to my original point: we have a good team this year, I think a more talented one than the 2006 team. This team has one hole. I think that hole can be filled without threatening our future too much. Using Wainwright to fill that hole, I believe, threatens the future more than a trade would. It's never been the Cardinal's style to make big free agent signings. It's rarely been their style to make big trades. Trading for Rolen several years ago and then Mulder are about the only two examples I can think of, and those worked-out only kind of. Now I have no idea what is being asked for Sherrill or Fuentes, but I have to think it is less than what it took to get Harden, Sabathia, or the Nady/Marte combo. I say keep Wainwright in the rotation, and just make a deal to be the stop gap for this year. Sorry to keep harping on the same thing, but when you see your rivals going for it, it's tough not to see your own team do the same. On a side note, I totally agree with John about the Reyes deal. We at least got SOMETHING for him. He was out of options and wasn't going to play for us in any form next year. Plus, he's a guy that needs a change of scenery. Hey, he won one HUGE game for us, and it's nice that the Cardinals are giving him a second chance someplace else, so I commend management for that at least.