Friday, December 31, 2010

Top Five Stories of 2010

So, long time, no post. I thought I would try and get back in the swing of things with the UCB's year-end project, the top 5 stories for the Cardinals in 2010. Here goes:

5. McGwire comes clean. Though it didn't have too much impact on the team, Big Mac finally admitting to using performance enhancing drugs was about the only thing people talked about associated with the team the first few months of 2010. It got a little play the first couple of weeks of the season with Big Mac as the new hitting coach, but then people seemed to stop talking about it. Personally, I'm glad he came clean, and I'm glad to have him back in the organization. Hopefully the team will hit better for him next year though!

4. Offseason Moves. Though they weren't the big splash some were hoping for, adding Theriot and Berkman should improve the line-up while keeping Westbrooke gives us potentially one of the best 1-5 rotations in baseball. Are we as good as the Phillies? Probably not, but if the team hits better than last year by say, 10%, then we should be pretty good.

3. Ludwick traded for Westbrooke. This is the unfortunate trade that worked for neither team as both the Cardinals and Padres appeared destined for the postseason at the time of this deal and neither made. Both of the players involved actually played OK, but their teams fell apart down the stretch. Heading into 2011, the Cardinals are probably the happier of the two with this deal, having kept Westbrooke and replaced Ludwick with Berkman, but you have to wonder if keeping Luds around might have made for a better 2010.

2. Pujols future still uncertain. Though both sides appear amicable towards making a deal, you have to wonder if it can get done. Pujols deserves crazy money. He's on track to the best right-handed hitter in baseball history. The Cardinals, though they have a pretty good budget, are not the one of the rich east cost teams that can spend 25 million or more on one player, no matter how good he is. Still, they probably have no choice as losing Albert would probably devastate the franchise for many years. Hopefully, this deal gets done and Albert is a Cardinal for life, but right now this is all any real Cardinal fan can think about.

1. Cardinals fade down the stretch in 2010. The 2010 started with some promise, but seemed to never really get on track. With so much talent, it seemed only a matter of time before they put it all together and made a big run. That run did happen, only in the opposite direction we all expected. In August and September, the Cards were simply one of the worst teams in baseball. Poor hitting and ill-timed errors were mostly to blame, but the 4-5 spots in the rotation rarely led to wins for the Cards as well. In an NL central ripe for the taking, this poor play was a bitter pill to swallow and was the dominating story for the 2010 Cardinals.


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

If things end like this... is certainly possible to have the league MVP, CY winner, and ROY on the same team and still miss the playoffs. Thoughts?


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Important Stretch on the Horizon

The Cards managed to salvage a disappointing homestand by taking the last two from the Giants. Still, 3-5 was not too good overall. 17 of the next 20 games are on the road now, which COULD be rough. I say could be because only 7 of the next twenty games are against winning teams. I three game short homestand against the Reds that splits the two road trips (which will obviously be big), and four games in Atlanta. The rest are against the Pirates, Brewers, Nationals and the Astros. The Cards actually haven't been that great against losing teams (I believe 5 games over .500) and they definitely have not been very good on the road. They need to change those two trends over the next three weeks if they want to stay in the playoff race. Overall, the schedule is pretty easy the rest of the way, but the Reds have an even easier schedule, so the Cards need to beat the teams they are supposed to beat. All three games against the Giants this weekend were on national TV, so I got a good look at where the squad is at right now.

Things I liked:
1. Great start by Garcia today. He seemed to be hitting that rookie wall recently, so its nice to see him bounce back with his best start of the year.
2. Jon Jay=the real deal. Sure, his average has come down a little, but it just about had to. He hits the ball back up the middle and the other way so often, I think he's going to continue to get hits. He's a big plus in the field and on the base paths as well.
3. Feliz could help more than I thought. He's definitely an upgrade defensively. I doubt he'll continue to hit as well as he did this weekend, but one can always hope I guess. Plus, there is no question Lopez is more comfortable on second instead of third.
4. LaRussa batting the pitcher ninth the last two games. I doubt he'll leave it that way indefinitely, but I think the line-up just has better balance in its traditional form. The way Brendan Ryan has hit this year, he wasn't doing much good as a "second lead-off" hitter anyway.

Things that worry me:
1. Bullpen depth. Motte is on the shelf, and Reyes has a minor injury also it seems, so the weight is on McClellen, Miller and Franklin for the most part. Hopefully that will change soon.
2. Rasmus can't stay healthy. When he is in the lineup, the team has tremendous potential offensively, but when he is out, there is no natural #5 hitter available. Jay is better suited at the top of the line-up, and Craig, despite his homerun today, hasn't shown much at this level as of yet.
3. The number #5 starter could still be our undoing. Just like last year, this spot seems to be cursed. I wonder what our winning percentage is with that spot? 20%? Worse? Maybe Lohse can re-discover himself, but I'm not optimistic.

We are actually closer to the wild-card than the central lead at the moment, but I still think catching the Reds is our best bet as the Phillies are finally getting healthy and will be tough these last 6 weeks. Again, the schedule is to our advantage, but what matters is the results.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Now this is Baseball!

Bench clearing brawl in the Cards-Reds game tonight. It probably won't be too big a deal, no punches were really thrown, just some wrasslin'. Still, its nice to see the teams competitive spirit this time of year. Afterwards, only the two managers were ejected. Its possible Cueto of the Reds could see a suspension, as he sorta-kinda kicked at some people as he was pinned against the back-stop, but I'd be surprised. Rolen and Carpenter got into it some as well, so its possible they could also be suspended, but again, they didn't throw any punches that I could see, so MLB likely will let it go. Obviously, all three of those guys are important players, so it would make a big impact if any of them miss any time. The altercation started when Brandon Phillips, who has been talking trash about the Cards, gave Yadier a good luck tap to start the game. Yadier, obviously, took exception to this and started barking at Phillips. Neither of those two did anything physical though, so they should be fine. More importantly, the Cards won the game and go for the sweep tomorrow with Wainwright on the hill. Sweeping the Reds on the road would obviously be huge, and we would actually re-take the lead in the division if we pull it off. The offense has been much better since the break, with Albert leading the way. Holliday had a big game today, and even Yadier, Ryan, and Shumaker seem to be hitting much better. Westbrooke has looked excellent his first two starts, despite not getting a win yet, giving us a solid rotation once again. The bullpen seems to be the only concern right now, but it is a concern, as I believe we have lost three games leading after the sixth inning since the break. All in all, it looks like we have a serious division race on our hands. I like the way the Cards are playing, but the Reds definitely don't look like they are going to go away. Who can beat-up on the pathetic rest of the division the rest of season most will likely decide the race.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Best Wishes, Luds

Luds has been a fan favorite for several years now--and a favorite of mine. Combine his goofy homerun trot, with his overachieving, and his quiet class and you get a recipe for a great addition to the ballpark. Although the pundits were right about the denoument from his 2008 peak, he handled himself quite well. He brought great team unity: "Everyone here comes into the yard ready to play every day. I'll take this group, every day till the day I die." -Oct 2009

Luds served as the second big bat on the team (till Holliday) filling a huge hole. It's the right move as San Diego also serves as the place where Cardianls go to retire--and we wouldn't have been signing him again next year. I'm writing this from San Diego (we need to get together Mike M.). Being traded is quite ironic considering how "Cardinals" Luds is.

I like the Westbrook aquisition. But, although he's a pitcher, he's got big shoes to fill. We'll miss you, Luds.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Oswalt? Really?

In my last post, I opined that the Cards wouldn't/couldn't acquire Roy Oswalt from the Astros. Well, seems I may have been wrong, as most experts seem to think the Cards are the front runners to get him. Just now, a report came out in Houston that Oswalt has ceased his demand that any team that acquires him pick-up his 2012 option (for 16 mil). If he like the situation he is going to that is. Fortunately, he has made it well-known he likes the situation in St. Louis. This was a big deal, because the Cards need to free-up as much money as possible for 2012 with Albert a free-agent-to-be then. The question remains though, is it really a good idea to get Oswalt? Obviously, this signals to me that the team has given up on Brad Penny this season. Oswalt would cost about twice as much as Penny next year, but that seems doable I guess for one year, especially if maybe Ludwick can be moved in the offseason. We'd have a rotation up there with the Yankees, both in ability and cost. It would basically assure another year of fringe major-leaguers and utility men populating the infield and bench, but I suppose we can deal with that also. Hasn't been all bad this year. Anyway, assuming we do make the postseason, with that rotation, we'd be the NL favorites, hands down. Think of it. Oswalt would be, at best, our #3 starter. That's pretty sick. Wainwright, Carp, Oswalt, Garcia in the postseason. Awesome for sure. The other question, besides the financial one, is who would it cost us in terms of personal? I'm guessing a Stavinoha/Allen Craig type plus 2-3 mid minors studs. The speculation centers around Shelby Miller of course, who is the #1 pitching prospect in the system. He's still only like 19, so he wouldn't pitch for us until late 2011, at best I would think. Most team are hesitant to give up a potential ace like Miller, but with him pretty far away from the majors, the Cards might be thinking they'd rather strike while the iron is hot with Carpenter/Wainwright/Pujols/Holliday in their prime. In the end, you'd have to trade the future ace for a World Series win (or two), but there is no guarantee that would be the result, even with that stacked starting pitching. It's a tough call. A week ago, I was dead-set against it, but now I'm starting to come around. I guess my faith in management was restored by the long winning streak. BTW, you should be able to catch the Cards on national TV against the Cubs both tommorrow (on Fox) and Sunday (on ESPN). Hopefully, the bats will wake back up after the last two days!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Cards at the break

Well, we start the second half a game back of the Reds and actually tied in the loss column, so things could be much worse. Even better, the rest of the NL central is a complete disaster, and we have a lot of games left against those teams. In fact, the Cards supposedly have the easiest schedule in baseball for the rest of the year from what I have heard. Here's how I evaluate the Card's first half and how I see their prospects moving forward.

What went right: The top three the rotation (Carpenter, Wainwright, and Garcia) were great. Carp has been a little up down I guess, but overall pretty good. Wainwright has had, maybe, one poor start. Ditto for Garcia. The bullpen, overall, has also been excellent. Obviously, the recent series at Colorado was terrible for them, but take that away and they've been great. I think the top six relievers (Miller, Motte, Boggs, McClellen, Reyes, Franklin) all have pretty good stats for the year. Miller has the "worst" ERA of the bunch at 4.05, which isn't really that bad. Offensively, despite struggling at times, Pujols and Holliday have put-up their expected numbers in the end, though the batting averages are perhaps a little low. That seems to be the case across baseball this year though. When healthy, Ludwick and Rasmus have supplied some nice power to go with the two big guns. John Jay has been a revelation filling in for them. The infield, Pujols aside, has been another story.

What's gone wrong: Freese has hit for a nice average, but not much power yet. Shu was terrible at first, and now is mediocre. Ryan has been beyond horrible. Yadier, much worse than expected. Tyler Greene I guess has been a little better than I expected since he was called back up. Lopez has been the best of the bunch, but that's not saying much. Injuries have hurt the lineup recently, with first Lopez and now Freese missing time. Ludwick is on the DL right now, but should be back soon. When everyone is back in there, maybe Lopez plays every day at second and this team has the chance to score a lot more runs, and i think they need to. Early in the season, the pitching was so dominant, we didn't need to hit much. Unfortunately, Penny and Lohse have been out for a while and don't appear likely to be back anytime soon. Suppan/Hawkesworthe/Octaviano or whomever have taken their place have been completely awful. Quite frankly, I also don't see how Garcia can keep this up. At the very least, the team will have to try and limit the guy's innings in the second half as: A. He's still young and: B. He's already had elbow surgery. This leads me to:

Looking ahead: I still think we are the favorites to win the Central. I think the Reds are playing over their heads. Even with Volquez potentially coming back to bolster their rotation, I think they'll have injuries of their own and they don't have to depth or payroll to compensate. The Cardinal's management, on the other hand, has already made it known they have the flexibility to add a piece (or two hopefully). Earlier in the year, I figured that would have to be an infielder like Dan Uggla to get at least one of the automatic outs out of the lineup. Now I think it will be a pitcher, at least at first. If Penny can somehow make it back by the end of the month, then maybe that changes things. I think we can win with one black hole in rotation, but not two. Who could we add? Oswalt would be the dream, but I think that's unlikely. He's too expensive both in terms of prospects and payroll. The guy I would really love is Fausto Carmona. He's still relatively young and cheap, and he already fits into Dave Duncan's sinkerball mentality. We've done deals with the Indians recently as well. Edwin Jackson of Arizona might be another good option. He's another relatively young pitcher I've always thought highly of, even before his no-hitter this year. It would be tough to afford Uggla as well on top of one of those two pitchers, but hopefully we can add a utility-type that is at least an upgrade over Aaron Miles. I'm hoping Randy Winn's days are numbered at least with John Jay's emergence. I will literally throw a fit if they send Jay back down when Ludwick comes off the DL. I was not pleased when he was sent down last time, and he's only done even better in this most recent call-up. I'm tired of LaRussa's fascination with veterans. Play the better players! Alright, enough with my ranting. Looking forward to the re-start of the season against the Dodgers today. Go Cards!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Good ole days?

After going with a very young and inexperienced bench/back end of the rotation for several weeks, the Cards have recently brought-in several veterens. Jeff Suppan is the latest addition to go along with Randy Winn and Aaron Miles. LaRussa has long-favored having a veteran-heavy team, so this isn't a big surprise for me, but it is also a questionable decision in my opinion. Here are my reasons:

1. There's a reason these players were available. All three are past their prime, and stuggled mightily this year. Granted, we aren't going to count on any of them (except perhaps Suppan) for major contributions, but I'm not sure they will be able to give us even a minor boost.

2. John Jay deserved to be there. He showed great power and even better defense in the limited time he had. Personally, I thought it was great to have a power left-handed bat off the bench. He also showed he had the best outfield arm of anyone on the team this year, making him a nice substitute for Rasmus late in games.

3. Versatility is over-rated. Both Winn and Miles are switch-hitters, which makes subtitutions and pinch-hitting easier for LaRussa. Well, if neither of them can really hit for either side, what good does that really do? I think having Jay, Stavinoha and Lopez (who is also a switch-hitter) as the primary guys off the bench was a lot more dangerous.

The Suppan pick-up bothers me the least. We need at least a stop-gap until Penny returns, and Walters/Hawkesworth have not shown anything good so far. Suppan almost has to be better than them. If he works out, he may end-up being the permanent fill-in for Lohse. No one seems to know when either Penny or Lohse will be back. Penny's injury was supposed to be minor, but he's been out a month now. Lohse seems likely to miss most, if not all, of the rest of season.

Anyway, the bottom line is that this is now an older team, but one LaRussa is probably more comfortable with. Most other teams in MLB are trying to get younger, so we'll see which approach is the wise one as the season wears on.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Cards After Memorial Day

So, obviously, things aren't quite as rosy as when I analyzed the team at the end of the first month of the season. Still, after losing to the Reds in a tough game tonight, the Cards are only a game out of first. Here's how I grade the month of May:

Offense: C+

The struggles of the offense have gotten a lot of attention in the press, and rightfully so, but they haven't been the only issue. Even Albert seemed to go through a mini slump. A bigger problem has been Matt Holiday and Colby Rasmus. They got off to a good start in April, but really struggled in May. Fortunately, both have shown signs of life the last week or so. The middle infielders have continued to be pretty bad, though actually better than in April. David Freese continues to be a big-time bright spot. You have to think that this line-up is too talented to not put together a big hot streak soon. At least I hope so.

Starting Pitching: A-

Carpenter, Wainwright and Garcia. You can't ask for anything more from those three. Lohse is now hurt, but it's hard to say if that's a bad thing or not, because he was terrible all year. He had surgery on his forearm last week, so it seems like he'll be out for a while. Penny continued to pitch pretty well despite taking a few loses. He is on the DL also, but hopefully not for long. It will be tough if we have to continue filling two spots with minor leaguers. Anyway, the starters have held us afloat so far, and it's time for the line-up to do their part.

Bullpen: A

This has continued to be a surprise for me. Franklin has been great, but the primary middle relievers have been awesome also. Motte and McClellen have been great from the right side, and Reyes (well, until tonight) and Miller very good from the left. Hawkesworth and Boggs have struggled at times, but we are less reliant on them. Really, I don't think we can ask for much more in terms of pitching overall. The Cards (at least going into tonight), were first in team ERA in NL. They aren't best in runs allowed though because.......

Defense: D

I might actually be giving a generous grade here. The defense was great the first month, but has been horrible the second. The Cards have fallen from the top the NL in most defensive categories to the middle of the pack. They had allowed 27 unearned runs on the season, tied for second worst in the NL with the Cubs. I was surprised that the Dodgers have actually been worse in this category, because I didn't think that was possible. Shu, Ryan, and Freese have made at least 7 errors each. Poor Ryan seemed to carry his struggles at the plate into the field for a while, and he is usually among the best defensive shortstops around, so that was too bad. Rasmus has really had a hard time in center as well, especially throwing. This has led to John Jay and even Ludwick getting a lot time in centerfield, especially late in games. Really, only Holiday, Molina and Pujols have been themselves in the field. Again, it seems players can carry their struggles at the plate out onto the field, so hopefully the defense will improve with the offense.

Final thoughts:

It was a rough month, but the everyday players seem to be playing better the last week. LaRussa seems maybe convinced to not tinker so much (though we know he will still tinker some!) and let the guys play themselves out of their funk. Hopefully, Penny is back soon to solidify the rotation. Even if Lohse is out the rest of the year, we can win a lot of games with the other four starters. The key is the offense, especially Holiday and Rasmus. If they can hit, we will be golden. I would be a shame to waste all this great pitching, that's for sure!


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Progressive Game Blog-5th Inning

We'll take the ball from PHE as the Cardinals are down in the hole after a 3 run 4th by the Cubs.

Top 5th
1. Rasmus leads off the inning. He couldn't get the bat off the shoulder last AB, and this time he collects the whole set by striking out swinging.

Silva has been dealing.

2. Freese gets caught looking. Silva is filthy today. He's mowing them down faster than I can type. I was going to talk about "when is Freese going to get some RotY" talk, but I'll save that for a time when he actually swings the bat.

3. Molina quickly falls behind 0-2, takes a ball outside, and then pathetically swings at ball two. I mean, this has been happening so much. We're helping out pitchers by swinging at stuff way outside--not that Silva currently needs any help.

9 Ks through 5 innnings--ouch. I always get hosed on my innings in our progressive game blogs.
Bottom 5th

Adam-O looks to right the ship after giving up the lead in the 4th. Sure could have been a massively different inning if they caught Soriano. They might have.

1. Fukudome starts things out with a leadoff walk. Adam-O has been falling behind many batters. Not surprising for a major league debut. I'm pretty happy with the start from him overall. Not sure you could expect much more.

2. Schu boots a sure-fire 4-6-3 (in fairness he was shielded by the 2nd base ump), to put Theriot on first with no outs.

3. Schu comes correct with a completed 4-6-3 as Lee hit is hard to 2nd.

4. Adam-O quickly, for a change, gets ahead of Soriano and gets him swinging .

Adam-O does well to work around the error and walk.

Well, that does it for me, I'll pass it on to Redbird Rants.

P.S. Get Smoltz--yesterday!
P.S.S. I usually watch games that Tim and Joe do with the sound off. :)

Progressive Game Blog today

The Cardinal's offense seems to have awakened just in time for the UCB's annual progressive game blog. Here's this year's order:

Pre-Game: United Cardinal Bloggers
Second: Fungoes
Eighth: Intangiball
Extras/Wrap-up: Fredbird Follys

As you can see, our own John will be handling the fifth inning, so come back later to check it out!


Sunday, May 02, 2010

First Month Analysis

Yeah, technically we are a couple of days into the second month, but since the season didn't start till April 4th, I figured I'd wait till now for this analysis. The Cards are obviously off to a great start at 16-8. Remember though we had a similar first month last year before having a tougher May and June. You'd have to think that won't happen this year though. Here's why along with my grades for the team's performance so far:

Starting Pitching: A

An "A" might be a little low actually, but I have to penalize Kyle Lohse a little. Lohse has actually looked better his last couple of starts which is scary, because the other fours guys have been sick. Wainwright looks like he wants to make sure there is no doubt about the Cy Young this year. Penny has replaced Pineiro and then some. Carp wasn't real sharp his first couple of starts, but has been dominate since. The real revelation has been Garcia though. Has already probably given us more quality starts out the five hole than we had all of last year while adding a lefty to the equation. Can he keep it up once the league scouts him a little better? Tough to say for sure, but I love the kid's stuff and composure out there..

Bullpen: B+

This was the area we were all concerned about, as it seemed a lot of the guys pitched over their heads last year. So far.....they've continued to. Franklin in particular has continued to nail down saves. Maybe its time to stop doubting him? I've also been impressed with Motte. If anything, he looks better than last year. Actually, I really like our middle relief with Reyes and Miller from the left and Hawkesworth, Motte, and McClellen for the right. Overall, the Cardinals lead the National League with a 2.67 team ERA. Wow.

Offense: B

The batting average is pretty low, but the team is hitting for a lot of power, and taking walks a little more frequently than last year, so right now, we are scoring just enough runs. The middle infield has been the big problem offensively. Shu is at .216 and Ryan .182. Felipe Lopez was hitting well when he played, but he's on the DL right now. The outfield has been good with Colby Rasmus looking like the stud we'd hoped he would be. Holliday and Ludwick have been solid if not spectacular. Freese has been better than I'd expected at 3B, giving us a big boost over what we got over there last season. Molina and Pujols have been themselves. Again, we've scored enough runs so far, but can do a lot better if we get anything at all out of the middle infield guys.

Defense: A

This was actually a concern for me. Didn't know what to expect out of Freese for instance. He had a rough first week, but has been great since then. The Cardinals are first in NL in fielding percentage, put-outs and assists. Only one error from the outfield, but only three assists out there also. Overall, you'd have to say that a big reason the pitching has been so good is that the defense has more than held their end.

Overall, you'd have to say that the pitching may take a little dip as we move through the season, but offense should pick-up the slack. Can we continue to win 2 out of every 3? Probably not, but I think we'll come close. The rest of the NL central is even worse than I though it would be, so I think we have real good chance at 100 wins this season.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Good to be Right...

I don't have much time to do a proper write up. However, 4 starts, 3 wins, and a tiny ERA later, I will begin to toot my own horn for Penny. I noted some time ago that he would be an excellent addition under DD...I noted it even before he went to the Sox. And when he was let go by the Sox I wanted him then. So, yeah, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn, or something like that.

And then our own Trey was excited about the Penny signing--while others moaned. Now Penny is pitching lights out. The only downside of that is if he's a Type A at the end of the season (I still doubt that) then we can't offer him arbitration--and I think that means no supplementary draft picks. Correct me if I'm wrong. However, if we get Type A FA stuff outta him this year...then I'll say he was well worth the cash.


Sunday, April 18, 2010


I'm sure many of you are aware of the 20 inning game the Cards played against the Mets last night that ended in a 2-1 loss. TRL and most of the players talked afterward about how proud they were to have played in such a game and of the heart the whole team showed despite the loss. I echo those sentiments, but I do have one minor quibble with the game. What was TRL thinking with the double switch that took Holliday out and left the pitcher batting behind Pujols? I'm not too mad about taking Holliday out per se. He's been ill and clearly struggling on this homestand, but I did not like the double switch. This gave the Mets the opportunity to twice intentionally walk Pujols in extra innings with runners on. It was no decision at all for them really, as they got to face a pitcher instead. Allen Craig is no Holliday, but he would have at least made them think about it. Considering Albert got a hit the two times he was pitched to in extras, it's reasonable to assume he would have won the game for us in one of those earlier opportunities if he had had the chance. Sometimes TRL falls a little too much in love with the double switch, and this was one of those times. A great game for sure, but one I would rather have won.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Quick Thoughts

  • TLR says that he isn't worried about Carp. Hmmm...that helps--a bit.
  • I really enjoyed the 5-0 shut out last night. But we SHOULD have scored way more. Holliday had a couple of opportunities but left men on. We also made several silly base-running errors: Wainwright trying to advance, Rasmus, trying to steal, Luds trying to advance on the throw.
  • The early Skippy haters (and there were lots this season) have been shut down. It's ridiculous to get worked up over two games and Spring training.
  • We could easily be undefeated thus far. It's too bad Penny couldn't get the win before. I'm really excited to see if he can bring some of the same stuff.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Comeback Cards

Yeah I know, before you say anything, I know I forgot to finish the season preview. I'll still try and get to it at some point. I think. Anyway, exciting game tonight. Cards score two in the top of the ninth by the surprising way of a Nick Stavinoha pinch-hit two-run home run. Perhaps more importantly, the bullpen actually did well after some real struggles in the first series. Hawkesworth and Reyes each pitched a scoreless inning following a not quite stellar start by Lohse. Franklin got the save with a scoreless bottom of the ninth. Certainly it seems that the offense could be MUCH better than last year based on the first few games, and hopefully the starting pitching will be at least as good, but the bullpen is where the few questions we have lie. Tonight was definitely a nice step in the right direction. The Cards close this series against the Brew Crew before their first homestand of the year starts on Monday by playing on Sunday night baseball, so I am looking forward to seeing them live for the first time then. Carp starts I believe, so should be good times!


Thursday, April 08, 2010

A Penny Saved...

...would be a Win earned. But it wasn't a save situation and we lost. So...ahmmm so much for wit. Talk about your winnable games. Penny turned in a fairly strong performance. Bronson stymied Cardinals' bats for much of the night (my night your day). And Motte comes on and pitches much like he did on opening day. Eeesh. That bullpen of ours which was lookin' poor on paper to enter the season is now lookin' paper thin. Who can you trust?

BTW, I've been forced, thanks to ESPN America, to watch American League games and man...those are boring. No switches. So little strategy. What do AL managers actually do again?


A FRANKlin Discussion

I've never wanted to have one of those blogs that boohoos a team when they're winning. And I don't plan to start now. Furthermore, it's not right to freak out after only two games. However, when there was a pattern from last year that might be being carried over to this year, it's not unfair to raise the eyebrows.

Perhaps the most disconcerting thing is Franklin's play over the last two games. In fact, his overall performance reminds me of Izzy before his "injury." If you recall, Izzy had several games where he was still picking up saves but he was getting hit hard. Fortunately for those games, and for us last night those balls were hit right at defenders. But just like Izzy's liners, if Franklin continues to miss his spots those hard hit balls will eventually find holes. I really liked TLR using the opportunity on opening day to get a look at Franklin. And I hope that Franklin gets back to his early 2009 season form--but I have to admit to being worried.

Another concern is swinging at balls way outside. Several folks looked committed to swinging--and these were at pitches that looked bad coming out of the hand. Admittedly, I didn't have a view behind homeplate but the swings I'm talking about didn't exactly have deceiving action on them. Yadier, Ryan, and even Pujols. I'm going to keep an eye out for it. I just don't understand why they're pressing against such an underwhelming offense like the Reds.

All in all, we've got the brooms in hand, and the real test begins as we delve into the deeps that is 3-4-5 of the rotation. I mean, common, you expect to win with Carp and Waino, don't ya?


Monday, April 05, 2010

Happy Opening Day!

A lot to talk about! 4-5 with two HRs for Pujols. IBB in front of Molina and he rips a GS! Franklin didn't look good though...
Anyhow, it's a good start to the season overall. My daughter yelling: "Go Skippy!" Too bad he went 0fer with an E.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

NL East Preview

Alright, this should be an interesting division. The Phillies are obviously the favorite, but the Braves have looked really good this spring, and the Mets almost have to be much better than last year. Here's how I think it will shape-up:

1. Phillies. They look like not only the best team in the division, but in the entire NL at this point. Polanco upgrades what was the only hole in the line-up as the new 3B, so they will score a ton of runs. It's downright scary to think about what Halladay could do in the NL even in that tough bullpark they play in. Should get 20 wins easy and we could see 25 for the first time who knows how long. This team is not without it's question marks though. It starts in the bullpen where it looks like Lidge won't be ready to start the season and even then, will he ever be ready to close again. Madsen is solid, but seems more suited for set-up than closer. No help at all from the left side in the pen if JC Romero can't bounce back. The other big question is Cole Hamels. He carried them two years ago, but was a shell of that last year. In my opinion, he is more important for them than Lidge. With their line-up, two top starters makes them almost impossible to beat in the postseason. If he could've been great last year for instance, I think they probably beat the Yankees for two in a row. Even if Hamels is ordinary again, they will make the playoffs, but they need him at his best once they get there.

2. Braves. This is the team everyone is talking about this spring. The biggest reason for that is 20 year-old right fielder Jason Heyward. He has been annointed the next superstar, and I have to agree with that from what I have seen. He has all the physical tools you could want, but has also shown incredibly rare plate discipline for his age. The Braves did the smart thing and made him an immediate starter rather than send him down for a month to slow his arbitration clock like most teams do with young studs. There is no question they are a better team with him playing right now. Probably of more importance than Heyward for this team though is it's pitching depth. They have a potentially great starting rotation with Lowe/Jurrjeans/Hudson/Hanson. Hudson is the key. He has looked good though at the end of last year and this spring coming back from elbow surgery. They lost their top two relievers from last year, but their pen should actually be better with Billy Wagner closing now. Man I wanted the Cardinals to signs him. Oh well. I think this is the NL wildcard this year, and if the Phillis slip up any, they could easily win the division.

3. Mets. This team had about as bad of luck over the course of a season as any I can remember last year. They almost have to have better health this year, and should be a winning team again, but they just don't have the pitching depth to stay with the Phillies and Braves. The offense should be better. Looks like Reyes will be back sooner rather than later and Beltan maybe in early May. Jason Bay will help, but they obviously need David Wright to hit for power again as well. K-Rod is solid at the end of the pen and I think the middle relief is probably a lot better than they showed last year, but were just exposed by the poor starting pitching. There lies the rub. Outside of Santana, every other rotation spot is a huge question mark. I think it has to be better than last year, but still nowhere good enough for Mets fans.

4. Marlins. This team is definitely a wildcard now that it seems they may spend some money. They have some good young starting pitching, and one of baseball's top everyday players in Hanley Rameriz. The bullpen is a real problem, with literally no proven performers out there. The line-up also doesn't seem to have the thump it did a couple of years ago. In two years, if they keep locking-up their guys, they could be a threat again, but probably not this year.

5. Nationals. Another team in this division that almost has to be bettter than last year. At least they have some hope with Steven Stausborg, who looks like every bit the real-deal pitcher Jayson Heyward is as a hitter for the Braves. They also made the right move for their team sending him down to start this year, as this team is obviously still a ways away from winning. Still, they are at least starting to put some pieces together with Zimmerman, Niger Morgan and some other young talents. Hope is a place to start.

Alright, later today I'll get to the NL central. I promise!


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

American League Preview

Well, I'm a day late and a dollar short with this, but I'm trying to get back into blogging, so here goes. I'll try and get to the NL East later tonight, but for now we'll focus on the "Junior" circuit.

AL East:

Predicted finishing order:
1. Yankees
2. Red Sox*
3. Rays
4. Orioles
5. Blue Jays

*Wild Card team

Analysis: It would be pretty surprising for the Yanks to not win the division again. They probably don't have quite the offensive firepower they did last year, but the rotation should be stronger with Vazquez and Hughes at the back end and they should definitely be better in the outfield defensively. The Red Sox also look to have improved defensively and in the starting rotation. Their line-up is not as strong as previous years though, so I think they are destined for the wild-card. They'll be a tough out in the postseason though with their pitching. The poor Rays very well may be the third best team in the American league this year, but that also means third best in this division. Their starters are probably right there with the Sox and Yanks, but they just don't have the depth. Any injuries, and they'll fall out the race quickly. The Orioles and Jays are both basically in rebuilding mode. The Orioles picked-up enough veterans in the off-season though that I think they avoid finishing last again.

AL Central

1. Twins
2. White Sox
3. Tigers
4. Indians
5. Royals

Losing Nathan was a big blow for the Twins. I know stat geeks say closers are overrated, but Nathan was one of only a handful of feared, elite shut-down guys in all of baseball. That being said, these guys always seem to find a way, and both the everyday line-up and rotation look stronger than last year, which should compensate for Nathan's loss. The White Sox also look to have a strong rotation, but are very young most everywhere else. I just don't see them having enough offense to stay with the Twins over the long haul. The Tigers have a lot questions, primarily the rotation after Verlander and Porcello. The bullpen also needs to be much better than last year. Valverde will help greatly, but Zumaiya needs to return to form as well. They have a ton of talent though, and could easily challenge the Twins with the right breaks going there way. The Indians should be better than last year, but are a couple of years away from being back in contention. The Royals, on the other hand, should easily be the worst team in the AL and maybe in all of baseball and have little hope for the future beyond Greinke.

AL West

1. Angels
2. Mariners
3. Rangers
4. A's

For the first time in a while, this division should be interesting. A lot of people are picking the Mariners, but I don't see it. Sure, they have arguably baseball's best 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation in King Felix and Cliff Lee. They should be great defensively and their bullpen is underrated. Scoring runs? That could be a problem. If you are relying on Milton Bradley to be your big bat, that's not good. Therefore, I like the Angels to prevail again ultimately in what should be a much tighter race. The Angels have no true ace, but 5 very good starters. They have no superstar in the line-up, but it's solid from top to bottom. Their bullpen is one area that should be improved this year with the addition of Rodney and the return of Shields. In other words, they are a team of no great strengths, but no real weaknesses either. The Rangers are another team that could challenge them, but consistent pitching is tough for them to find in that offensive ballpark. I think next year might be their year though because they have maybe the best young talent in baseball. The A's look to be the odd team out, but they too should be improved and will factor into the race but giving the other three teams a tougher time then last year. Like I said, and much more interesting division than in previous years where the Angels were just so much better than everyone else.

That's it for the AL. Obviously, I see it holding to form from last year, but I think the races will all be close. The East has the three best teams. Nathan's injury makes the Central wide open and the rest of the West has definitely closed the gap on the Angels.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Looks like a done deal

Pretty much official that Holliday will re-sign this week. I got the annual figure about right at 17.5 mil per, but the deal has an extra year added onto it compared to what I would like at seven. Hard to predict what a player will be like even two years from now, much less seven, but oh well. I don't love the terms of the deal, but don't hate them either. I think in a better economy, certainly Holliday would'be gotten more, so I suppose you'd have to count us a little lucky in the end. It will be interesting to see whom the Cards get the to fill-in the infield now. The rest of the team seems pretty set, though I guess maybe a right-handed reliever might be looked at as well.