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.