Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Be Careful What You Wish For..."

"...you just may get it." So three posts ago I stated: "We can't waste these performances from Carp and Pujols. If we don't take a stab at a major bat NOW we will regret it for years." Now that we've pulled the trigger I keep reading the likes of: "Now that we've taken a stab at a major bat we will regret it for years." I've let this trade marinate for a few days wondering if I'm missing something.

1. DeRosa turned out to be a lot more expensive than I thought. I was shocked to learn that the PTBNL was Jess Todd. However, I still like this trade. We traded out of our bullpen surplus to acquire a solid 3B. Effectively this allows for the Cards to make another move...more on this later.

2. The Lugo deal is perfect...so far. We still don't know the PTBNL. Nevertheless, we get a player for free. We shore up a weakness. We don't have to pay for Duncan. We make room for...

3. ...Matt Holliday. Another player who turned out to be more expensive than I thought. I thought as a rent a player he was worth Wallace alone. But I wasn't taking into consideration the two draft picks Beane gives up by dealing him. The other two really make one worry about the future. However, it really didn't look like Wallace was working out at 3B. Viva El Birdos have raised the objection that if Skippy can play 2nd than Wallace would have been fine at 3rd. Going into the draft, Wallace's suspect defense was no secret. Red Bird Row speculates that the Card's merely drafted the best prospect as opposed to needs based drafting. I.e., they fully intended to trade him. I didn't get to hear his full thoughts on the UCB Radio hour but I don't know why he's surprised. My main concern is even if Wallace was never intended to be a Cardinal, did we get the best value for him?"

4. Funny enough, the newest Cardinals have played CRUCIAL roles in our two most recent wins. Big enough roles that you could reasonably say that we might have lost without them. Of course you never know how someone else might have done in their situation. Yet, if we get more performances out of them like we did this weekend, it should be a good second half.

5. I honestly don't think Mo is done yet. It is no secret that Glaus is on the block, and I believe that we'll see a new 5th man from outside the organization before or even after the deadline. The DeRosa deal really made this possible.

6. IF the Cards can land Holliday to an extension before the end of the season then wow. But I just don't see this happening--Boras is his agent after all. Yet, I don't know how we won't be able to afford him.

7. One thing I really like about DeRosa, Lugo, and Holliday is the speed they bring. The Cards weren't a slow team as it was, but it's so nice to see someone like Holliday with so much power and speed. Not only that, but the recent additions have made the Cards an EXTREMELY flexible team. It's like we have Figgons at every position...okay, maybe not. But there are many players that are capable of moving around. For a TLR team...is nice.

The future is less bright...but really. I honestly don't believe we gave up ANYONE that our hopes were riding on. Instead, we have a very exciting season that actually has promise. With key players playing like they are, now was the time to strike. And when we're hosting a trophy up at the end of the season, we are going to look back at these three deals as the difference.


P.S. I think the clubhouse is happy about their new teammates: Check out this celebration after DeRosa's HR.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Big Trade

I'm on my lunch break, so only some quick thoughts on the Holliday trade, which is sure to generate a ton of controversy in the Cardinal Nation.

It's a good trade if......
1. We win the world series this year.
2. We can sign Holliday long-term to pair with Albert.

It's a bad trade if.....
Neither of the above happen. Wallace looks like a future star, and we know we have a big whole at third. The silver lining here is we should have some financial flexibility this off-season with Pineiro, Glauss, K. Greene and Ankiel all likely being let go.

Overall, I applaud Cardinals management for really going for it this year. If DeRosa and Holliday do turn the offense around, we definitely have the pitching to win it all.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Perfect Diversion...

I don't know if anyone has ever noticed, but I almost never talk about something that isn't Cardinal related. Sure, I'll talk about opponents, but if it isn't somehow connected to the Cardinals it doesn't get play. There's always an exception, and this is it: Mark Buehrle for the Chicago White Sox has just pitched a perfect game. I guess the connection is that Buehrle is a St. Louis native. Close enough? Heh

In a really cool twist, a defensive sub, Dewayne Wise made an outstanding juggling catch to rob Gabe Kapler of a HR and to preserve the perfect game. It's not the hardest catch ever made, but considering the circumstances, I defy you to name a better individual catch in the history of baseball. Maybe there's some catch to win a post-season game....maybe I'm just not thinking of it.

Anyhow, it's up there. And I loved it. Congrats to Mark Buehrle and the White Sox.


Duncan Dealt

Photo courtesy: Dustin Winter.

Check out DG's blog as he makes this comparison Minute Maid Stadium. Brilliant!

First things first, another strong start is wasted thanks to an anemic offense and a ultra rare blown save by Franklin. Playing in the fun-house against Oswalt I guess we should be happy to be in it. Nevertheless, a sweep to the not-surprisingly resurgent Astros puts us only 1 game ahead of those with the stadium that closest resembles Never-land Ranch. Same good news as last night--DeRosa looks to be finally transitioning well.

Where to start? For those of you who haven't heard, Chris Duncan was dealt to the BoSox for Julio Lugo (who had been DFA), cash considerations (which means that the BoSox will pay nearly all of Lugo's salary), and a PTBNL. In one day, the Red Sox have channeled Phil Donahue and broken up not just one but two baseball families.

Before I go into my opinions on this deal, I want to thank Chris Duncan for his service to the Cardinals. He had a great year in 2006 and has fought through some nagging injuries this past year. I also believed he probably battled a good deal of nepotism rumors and a good deal of reverse nepotism. He handled it all with class. It was no surprise to see him become so popular in the dugout. I really enjoyed him as a part of my Cardinals.

Sooooo, the day before the trade, TLR goes on a rant about the public's treatment of Duncan.

The next day, we were getting seemingly conflicting reports that Duncan had been traded or demoted.

Apparently, they weren't conflicting reports after all: Duncan was officially optioned (How the heck does he have any remaining options?! I musta missed some clause in the rules.) to Memphis before being dealt. It looks like he'll join up with Pawtucket. I wonder why both happened... Speculations galore! Supposedly, it was coincidence that TLR's rant was the day before the trade.

This was a great move, in my opinion. Chris has been struggling at the plate (and was a severe defensive liability) and the Cards have had a rotating outfield for too long. We've had a glut in the OF (so much so that we even converted Skippy to 2B) and many have been clamoring to deal from that surplus...some for a long time. Funny enough, this just might be a preemptive move... I mean, Ankiel's only strength over Duncan is his fielding--and I don't believe Slick Rick is the answer. I honestly wouldn't be shocked at all to see Dye or Dunn come our direction (Holliday too, but to a lesser degree). I really don't see us in the hunt for P Halladay. Although Welly is certainly the weakest link of the rotation, we're losing games with Carp AND Waino on the mound--ALL because of poor run support. Adding another arm won't help us in those games. But I digress, dealing Duncan for a middle infielder works great as we deal out of depth to add depth to an shallow area. Although we are selling low on Duncan, we are buying low on Lugo--both statistically and financially. We'll get Lugo for the remainder of this year and next year for virtually nothing. Sure, we need to find out who the PTBNL is (or if it is cash)--but Lugo will work great. Lugo is not better overall than Ryan. Ryan's glove is vastly superior, but against Southpaws we'll have a better option at the plate. Don't forget we also have to deal with another PTBNL.

If this is the only deadline deal we make, then I'll be disappointed. Although Mo's been infinitely more active this year than last year, we really need to make a run at it this year and next. We can't waste these performances from Carp and Pujols. If we don't take a stab at a major bat NOW we will regret it for years.

All that said, make us regret it, Chris! Best of Luck!

P.S. I've finally updated the lineup (blogroll) to the right. Due to the nature that is blogging there are too many blogs to have on a 40 man roster--so I added "Memphis". Most of the active roster blogs are the ones I read the most, but there are good ones from top to bottom, please don't take offense if you're merely on the expanded roster. ;)

P.P.S. Note this interesting tidbit. I don't want to give up too much for a Holliday.

P.P.P.S. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/UCB-Host/2009/07/23/United-Cardinal-Bloggers-Radio-Hour Excellent show guys!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Great Start, big game today

Our two best players carried us like they were supposed to last night. Albert gave us the lead with two solo shots, and Carp went eight scoreless. Equally important, however, was another big hit by Ludwick when they did walk Albert to load the bases in the eighth. If you haven't seen it, check out John's ode to Luds due to his great play recently in the post immediately below this one. More good news: DeRosa had a pain-free BP session yesterday, so maybe he'll be able to come-off the DL as soon as he is eligible. Honestly, if we plug him the the line-up everyday, I think we can survive the lack of production at either third or left field. It's having holes at both those places that is killing us. Really interesting match-up on the mound today. D-Backs All-star Haren, who leads in the NL in ERA, vs. Waino, who in my opinion has been as good as anyone in baseball the last six weeks. It would be huge to beat Haren and have a chance at the sweep before the upcoming roadtrip, that's for sure.


Monday, July 13, 2009

My Ode to Luds

Thudwick, Luddy, Luds, Studwick (for you ladies out there), whatever you want to call him. This is my temp tribute to him and the rest of the 70's-bad-stash-wearing-'87-wanna-be-Cards. By temporary I mean, 30 seconds after I took the picture, the stash was gone. Luds is on freakin' fire. Get that man in there EVERY DAY!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

UCB Live Blog

July 12, 2009: United Cardinal Bloggers (UCB) Live Blog Event

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Half-way thoughts - NL Races

Aside from the Dodgers, who are way out in front in the West, the Nationals (who are hands-down the worst team in baseball, and maybe the Padres and D-Backs; every NL team is basically in the same boat. They all have holes in their line-ups, voids in their pitching staff, and injuries they don't have the depth to replace. It's going to be a very interesting second half of the season. One hot streak can easily put a team in first in the NL East or Central and conversely a cold streak will put you in last. It's tough to predict what will happen because of this, but here is what I think.

NL East - The Mets are probably the best team, but they've been killed by injuries. The Phillies are leading right now, but their pitching is a mess, and it's hard to see a way for them to fix that. The most complete team right now is probably the Marlins. They have a porous defense, but their pitching and line-up are quite good. I think they'll make a run at it, but that the Mets will get just healthy enough to win the division with a pedestrian 88 wins.

NL Central - I went over this quite a bit yesterday, but I'll just re-iterate that I think the Cardinals can and should win this division. They have the best pitching staff, and the offense should warm up enough for them to pull away. The Brewers don't have the starting pitching, and the Cubs' line-up and bullpen is a mess. The Reds could be a surprise team though.

NL West - Obviously, it would be a huge shock for the Dodgers to falter here.

NL Wildcard - As I said before, basically 12 of the 16 teams in the NL are contenders for this. The biggest contenders are the Cubs, Phillies, Marlins, Giants and Rockies. All of these teams have major faults. The Giants have by far the best pitching, but desperately need a bat. If they can get that in a trade, I like their chances. If not, I'll take the experience and talent of the Phillies, but really it's a coin-flip between any of these clubs.

My predicted results would pit the Cards against the Giants in the first round. Not a match-up I would love with Lincecum and Cain maybe the best 1-2 punch in baseball. Carp-Waino is nothing to laugh at, but still. In other words, I'm kinda hoping the Giants DON'T get another bat, because they'd be a real tough out in the postseason.


Saturday, July 04, 2009

Half Way Thoughts - On the Cards

To make-up for my lack of blogging activity lately, I'm going to use the holiday weekend to do a series of posts. Today I'll cover the main team. Later today or tomorrow I'll discuss the NL as a whole. And then finally I'll briefly go over the AL race and give my mid-season awards and playoff predictions based on what we've seen so far. So, here's how I stack-up our team so far:

Where we stand now: Well, the team obviously hasn't played great since April. The main reason for that is the offense. Amazingly, Albert is having probably his best season ever to this point, which is really saying something. The rest of team, however, has been not too good. Shu and Ryan have done a pretty good job of getting on base thankfully, or else Albert would never get pitched to. The so-called power hitters in Ludwick, Ankiel and Duncan have been dreadful, though Luds has begun to show signs of life this week. I'm beginning to wonder if Ankiel will ever to disciplined enough to truly be an everyday player and I'm glad he's a free-agent after this year right now. Rasmus looks like not just the future in CF, but the better player by far right now. Duncan to me has looked like he at least has a clue at the plate, but he just hasn't shown the power this year yet. You have to wonder if his neck is 100%. I definitely applaud the DeRosa acquisition by management. He is a big upgrade at third for starters, and is the kind of versatile player LaRussa loves. It's not Mozeliak's fault he got hurt right away, that's just bad luck. Certainly Perez has the potential to be a good closer in the future, but right now, Franklin has been golden and you have to give-up something good to get something good. IF we can get DeRosa healthy and a couple of the outfielders step-up a little, that should be enough offense -because the pitching has been outstanding. The best pitched game I've seen all year was this past Wednesday with Wainwright going 9 and striking-out 12. Carp has been great, Pineiro very good. Wellenmeyer has been the weak-link, but he showed good signs this past start. Thompson has been a decent fill-in, but fortunately Lohse should be back in a week. The bullpen has been almost the polar-opposite of last year. Led by the near-perfect Franklin, they've given-up few leads and often kept us in other close games late. Now, yesterday was one of the few times the offense has managed to take advantage of that and stoke a come-back, but I believe more of those are in the future. We'll need Kinney and Motte to pitch better than they have with Perez gone, but I'm hopeful they can do that.

So what about the future, Conan? Well, looking ahead, all the way to September, 2009, the NL Central is obviously still up for grabs, as well as the wild-card. As poorly as we've played, we sit today atop the division by one game over the Brewers. Granted, we only have a 6 game lead over the LAST PLACE team (the Pirates), so that shows we still have a lot of work to do. Personally, I don't think the Brewers have the pitching to stay with over the long run unless they can find another Sabathia-type deal out there. The Cubs, obviously, are a team to watch. Their line-up has been even worse than ours though, and they don't have a Pujols to carry them. Their bullpen has also been a problem. Honestly, the Reds could be a team to watch if they can get Volquez back, because that would give them a great rotation. Overall, however, I think this race is ours to lose. I feel we've weathered the worst from an offensive stand-point, and the team should just better from here on out. Lohse and DeRosa hopefully shouldn't be out much longer and there is even hope Glaus could return sometime in the next 6 weeks or so. Certainly, other injuries could happen. We always keep a watchful eye on Carp and I'm a little worried we've asked too much of Franklin so far (has has pitched the last three days in a row for instance). Still, I think the team has to start hitting and hitting for power, and even a little more run support should send us on a big streak which could easily allow us to run away and hide from this mediocre division. It would be nice to have a little lead heading into what should be a fun and historic all-star break for the Cardinals and the city of St. Louis.