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!