Wednesday, December 31, 2008

John Mozeliak takes a break from shopping

John Mozeliak sat alone in his dark office, his face illuminated by the desk lamp, staring intently at the papers in his hands. The ringing of the phone startled him out of his daze, and he closed his eyes and took a deep breath as he imagined who could be calling him at this hour. 

It was late indeed, almost a quarter past three in the morning. The street outside was silent, but John wouldn't have heard anything anyway. His office had been soundproofed at the same time he had decided to have the windows tinted and anti-bugging devices placed strategically throughout the room. They could call him paranoid if they wanted, but that didn't mean there wasn't someone following him. 

He laid the papers down before reaching for the phone. A rustling sound from the hallway caught his attention and his hand froze in midair just above the receiver. He'd left the office door open to let in some air, but maybe that had been a mistake. He slowly turned the chair, careful not to make a noise, and craned his neck toward the doorway to see if anyone was there. But there was no one, not even a shadow. Must have been my imagination, he thought to himself with a small tingling of relief. 

The phone had stopped ringing, so he returned his attention to the papers. Just as he was beginning to relax again, his cell phone vibrated inside his pocket. He quickly pulled it out and flipped it open. No need to check the caller ID, because only one person on earth had his private number and would dare call in the middle of the night. 

"Hello. Good to hear from you." John spoke casually, careful not to use the man's name. 

"Hope I didn't wake ya, boss." The voice on the other end was scratchy, as though he had smoked one too many cigarettes in his life. 

"No. What news have you?" John was anxious to hear how things were coming along, but kept his voice even. 

The man cleared his throat, then said, "Just thought you'd wanna know everything's goin' accordin' to plan. No kinks, as you'd say. The deal today went as smooth as, well, somethin' real smooth, and nobody suspects nothin'. We're clearin' out merchandise quick. And pretty soon, the real fun'll start." 

"Wonderful," John answered. "Keep me updated." He pressed the end button and pushed the phone back into his pocket. Yes, wonderful. His plan was working, alright, and soon everyone would understand.


Tony burst into John's office bright and early that morning, a look of determination and disgust on his face. There was no need for John to ask what the problem was. And even if he hadn't known, Tony was obviously not going to mince many words. 

"Are you out of your mind?" Tony wasn't exactly yelling, but certainly made sure he was heard. 

John looked past Tony at the secretary standing in the doorway, "Daisy, grab us some coffee and give us a minute, alright?" Then he gestured toward the chair across from his desk as he took his own seat. "Make yourself comfortable, Tony." 

"I will not sit down and I sure as sugar don't want any of your dog-gone coffee! Now tell me what in the sam hell you think you're doing to my roster!" Tony clenched and unclenched his fists as he spoke, and his face grew redder with every syllable. 

"Now, Tony, I understand that you're upset. But please sit down so we can talk about this and I can explain the situation." John tried to sound reassuring, but he knew that nothing he was going to say would actually make Tony feel any better. Tony stood--nostrils flaring, breathing deeply--for another minute before finally consenting to John's request. He still did not look happy, however. 

"So explain," he prompted. 

John pressed his fingertips to his temples as if searching for the just the right words to make the whole thing sound overblown. "It's the econo--" 

"NO!" Tony cut him off before he could even finish his thought, and leapt out of his chair. "Don't you dare start with that nonsense. I won't hear it." Tony growled as he leaned over John's desk, practically breathing fire on John's face. 

John put his hands up and tried to interject. "Now just--," but Tony wasn't finished. 

"This is NOT about the economy or the thinning market or the super-duper prospects we have waiting in the wings." Tony flapped his arms wildly, and the sarcasm was evident in his voice. "I am sick and tired of hearing about how poor every other flipping person is around here, and if you don't do something soon to make sure I have more than just my own family jewels to play with next year, well, then, I'll, I'll... I'll make sure you regret it! I promise you that!" 

Tony pointed at John to emphasize his last point, then slapped the neatly stacked papers onto the floor. He kicked the door open as he left, and nearly ran into Daisy on his way out. She stumbled, but managed to recover the two cups of coffee she was carrying. She stared blankly after him, then turned to face her boss who was standing just inside the door. He watched Tony leave before returning to his desk. This was going to be more difficult than he thought, and it was only going to get worse.

please, no . . .

I'm feeling a little dizzy. Anyone else? I just need someone to tell me that this isn't true. It can't be true, can it? TELL ME IT ISN'T TRUE.... Well, whatever. I'm not taking down my Super-Miles picture. In fact, I think I'll put it up somewhere even more noticable. Aaron will always be one of my favorite Cardinals. I choose to believe that he is a spy and will be sending us powerful intel from inside the Cubbies' clubhouse. This message will self-destruct in five.... four.... three.... two....

UCB top five stories of 2008

The 2008 season was a fun one. There were ups. There were downs. The NL Central went from being the underachievers to the enforcers. The Cubs dominated baseball for most of the year, then dropped a big, steaming pile at the division series (which is as much fun as anything for us). The Brewers and Astros made us all seasick with their rollercoaster-like movement through the standings. The Pirates and Reds played their usual role as spoilers, and somehow still put fans in the seats (as usual). The Cardinals played hard (and even found themselves on top for a while) and fought hard, but in the end, couldn't sustain the success. They did finish at 10 games over .500 and with a lot of dignity (winning the last six of the season), and made us all proud in a year that was predicted early to be a nightmare. We spent six months playing the "what-if" game, speculating about the bullpen, the offense, and the injuries. Though, after all is said and done, we are still lucky enough to be fans of the best team in baseball, and lucky enough to have witnessed a lot of history. And the really amazing thing is, we never forget that.

On a personal note, this was my first season blogging about the 'Birds, and I thoroughly enjoyed exchanging ideas and opinions with the other bloggers, and can't wait for the '09 season to get started. Bring on Spring Training, already!

The latest UCB project is a list of the Top 5 Stories (per individual interpretation) of the 2008 Cardinals season. Hereafter lies the list I have compiled. (For everyone else's, head over to C70.) Please enjoy! (And cheers to 2008!)


1. Yadier Molina

I gotta tell ya, as soon as I saw the topic, I knew exactly what my first story would be. 2008 was a break-out year for Yadi offensively. He batted .304 overall, with 7 homeruns, 56 RBI and 56 runs created, and struck-out only 29 times. (In fact, he was one of the toughest Ks in baseball.) He also kept up his defensive specs (although not quite as spectacularly as his '06 season) and finally received that most coveted of defensive awards, the Rawlings Gold Glove (for which he was overlooked in '06 and '07, although I am loathe to mention it). He was able to guide his pitchers through tough innings and tough at-bats. He was run over at the plate, suffered a concussion, and still held on to the ball for the out. He shed his equipment in the batter's box in protest of some questionable umpiring. He hit a double to the wall and then came around to score on a wild throw/error. Okay, I could go on and on about the toughness and talent that Molina showed this past season (and for as long as we've known him), but you all know what I'm talking about. He's our Yadi.

P.S. - After that infamous collision with Bruntlett at the plate, Bernie Miklasz basically summed up the whole season for the Cards in one line, and I feel like this line (as it says) says it all about Yadi and the Cardinals.

And when Molina wouldn't budge, that was the play of the summer, the play that told you all you needed to know about what drives the 2008 Cardinals.

2. The Rolen-Glaus trade

Another easy choice. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, in Cardinal Nation was skeptical about how this was going to turn out. Jays fans were elated, Cards fans were leery. I mean sure, Scott was a malcontent who couldn't get along with the manager or stay healthy for two minutes at a time, but he was like greased lightning with a glove at third base. He had range, reach, and athleticism. (And he could hit a little bit, too.) And here was coming Troy Glaus from Toronto, another malcontent with bad knees and a reportedly average glove. He had shown moments of greatness throughout his career, but had been declining of late (offensively and defensively). Our cautiousness was far from optimistic.

And yet, as pessimistic as we were, Cardinals fans (as is our way) didn't hestitate to give Glaus a chance to prove himself, and we were far from disappointed. Troy Glaus was not merely an adequate replacement, he was pretty damn good with the glove (narrowly missing out on the Gold Glove award--at least as far as the voters were concerned), and got plenty done at the plate (allergies and streakiness notwithstanding), racking up 27 HR (an appropriate number, no?), 99 RBI, and a .270 (hmmm....) average. Rolen, on the other hand... well, nevermind. It worked out for STL, at any rate.

3. The disintigration of the bullpen

This wasn't an easy choice so much as a given. No one who watched even a handful of innings from the 2008 season could argue that the bad news bullpen was problem number one and cost us more than a few games. I believe the blown saves totalled 30, and the late-innings meltdowns were innumerable.

To be honest, not much really needs to be said, save this: That "what-if" game I referenced earlier applies no more emphatically to any area of the team than it does the 'pen. The problem with that game, though, is that it traps you in time. It traps you in the past, and the longer you muck around, the more difficult it is to escape. Therefore, I'm done blaming the relievers for the disappointing losses and the missed playoffs. I'm tired of mucking around. Time to move on.

4. The departure of Anthony Reyes

The Cardinals front office did the only thing that could be done for A-Rey. They traded him for a double-A pitcher from a struggling organization. Then they salted the earth so nothing else would grow.

Throughout his career with the Cardinals, Anthony was never viewed as more than a fill-in for a tired arm in the rotation. His pitching, while commanding at Memphis (and even rarely at Busch) did not mesh with Dave Duncan's demands. His high fastballs, intended to get fly-outs, went against the basic mores of the LaDunc regime. (I say this, of course, with all respect due Tony and Dave, because no one respects those two more than I do. However, I never agreed with the way they handled this situation, and I don't feel a bit bad for mentioning it.) Besides that, Anthony always seemed to be the hard-luck pitcher for the Cards. He threw a complete game one-hitter against the White Sox and got the loss. He picked up a loss against the Mets in a game that was called after five innings because of a little rain. He certainly paid his dues.

Luis Perdomo, the pitcher acquired in the trade, was with the club for four and a-half months (and pitched exactly 18 double-A innings) before being swiped by the Giants in the Rule-V draft (even though the roster was not full and he could easily have been protected). The whole business was stinky and ugly, but at least Anthony is now with a club where he'll get a fair shot at starting and maybe even surprise everyone by leading the Indians to a World Championship (you never know).

5. The rocket launcher attached to Rick Ankiel's left shoulder

Rick Ankiel fell apart on the mound. He completely lost his control and was forced to reconsider his career path. He put down the ball and picked up a bat. He worked hard and gave himself over to the transition, never questioning the choice (by his own account) to overhaul his dreams and take up an outfield glove. His inspiring, emotional story leads the league when it comes to inspiring, emotional baseball stories. But to be honest, it's old news. It's been said, it's been written (far more eloquently than I could ever put it), and it's been rehashed to the point of saturation. Therefore, it isn't on my list.

What is on my list is the unbelievable... no, incredible... no, i-n-d-e-s-c-r-i-b-a-b-l-e outfield assists he made from center to third on May 7 of this year against the Colorado Rockies. Yes, indescribable. Too extraordinary for description. I absolutely cannot put into words how amazing those throws were. Far, fast, accurate, and just plain sick. You know what I mean. You were thinking the same thing. I still get goosebumps.

Throw #1: Helton hit a long, deep fly ball to center, and Taveras (one of the faster runners in the game) tagged up at second to try and make it to third. Ankiel camped under the ball, came up throwing, and pitched a strike to Glaus at third. Taveras was out.

Throw #2: Quintanilla got one to hit the ground in left center, and after chasing it all the way to the wall, Ankiel spun around and lasered another missile in to Glaus, and Quintanilla was out. (I think my favorite part of the whole sequence on that one was watching Glaus stand there like a statue, giving absolutely no indication that he was expecting a throw, and then applying the tag like the guy never had a chance.)

After the game, Hurdle remarked that even though it wasn't fun being on the receiving end of those outs, they sure were fun to watch.

Honorable Mention:
The surprising Kyle Lohse

A late addition to the team, Lohse was supposed to come in and provide a little protection for the rotation that featured some young guys and hoped to see its two aces come back from injuries (and never really did). What he did went above and beyond what anyone expected. He led the team in wins. He led the team in innings pitched. He posted a 3.78 ERA. He was rewarded with a four-year contract extension on the last day of the regular season. In a word, he rocked.

Honorable Mention: Albert Pujols' 2008 season

Albert hit career home run number 300.
Albert was an All-Star.
Albert competed for the batting title and finished with a .357 average.
Albert finished his eighth consecutive season with 30+ homeruns and 100+ RBI.
Albert won his second NL MVP.
Albert won the Roberto Clemente Award, the Silver Slugger, the Fielding Bible, the TYIB Hitter of the Year, the Sporting News ML Player of the Year, the MLBPA Player of the Year, and the Oscar Charleston Legacy Award.

Why isn't this #1 on my list? Because he does it every year. I'm not saying it's less special or less important, but you have to give the other guys some credit every once in a while. Besides which, the title of the project is "top 5 stories" and Albert ceased being a "story" when he started being Albert. Kudos, big guy, on your unyielding greatness.


So that's it. 2008 officially ends around midnight tonight (depending on where you are), and 2009 takes over. (Of course, it'll take me about 2-1/2 months to start writing '09 on my checks, but that's life, I guess.) In other news, my New Year's Eve plans involve pizza, beer, and going to bed early, although if something interesting happens, I could be persuaded to stay up. I figure I've had a whole year of '08, and '09 will still be there when I get up in the morning. There's really no need to sit in front of the clock and wait for the calendar to roll-over. And the sparkly ball lost all interest for me after I was about eight.

But nonetheless, I hope all you bloggers and fans have a great celebration. Be smart and be careful. Somebody would miss you if you were gone.

Les deseo un próspero año nuevo... Diviértense mucho... ¡Nos vemos en 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

as if anyone cares

Well, I'm officially la Beisbolista for all eternity now (or until such time as I forget to renew my domain). I switched over not because of some driving need to eliminate "blogspot" from my address (not that that isn't reason enough), but rather because I've had this stupid feed problem that I was hoping to work out. The really stupid thing is that changing over did not fix the problem. Apparently there was something wrong with the gobbledygook (sorry if I'm getting too technical for you) that I had to fix anyway. So, long story short, I fixed (or at least am truly hoping I fixed) the feed problem, and I needlessly changed my blog address (although I'm sure the benefits will become apparent any minute now).

I think it still re-directs from the old site, but if you lose me, I surely hope you find me again.

Oh, by the way, when I switched, blogger emptied my blog lists for me (thanks again!) and so I had to start all over with them. I tried my darndest to remember everyone I had linked to, but if I left you off, please forgive me and let me know.

team boricua, baby!

Roster aside (because nothing is official yet), I'm a PR fan through and through.
According to, several players (including our Yadi) have indicated that they will play in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. It's shaping up to be quite a team. (Of course, it's hard to imagine rooting against los dominicanos, but having A-Rod on the team will make it a little easier. Lo siento, Albert...)

Possible Team Puerto Rico Roster:
Fernando Cabrera
Willie Collazo
Pedro Feliciano
Iván Maldonado
Joel Piñeiro
Saúl Rivera
J.C. Romero
Jonathan Sánchez
Ian Snell
Javier Vázquez
Yadier Molina
Geovany Soto
Iván Rodríguez
Carlos Delgado
Felipe López
Rubén Gotay
Ramón Vázquez
Alex Cora
Carlos Beltrán
Alex Ríos
Lou Montañez

Monday, December 29, 2008

John Mozeliak goes shoe shopping, part 5

John Mozeliak sat quietly at his desk admiring the two new pair of shoes sitting in front of him. The running shoes, teal with a yellow sunburst design, had been a steal. He had quabbled and negotiated with the manager until the two had reached an agreement. An agreement, John thought to himself with a smile, that was definitely favorable to his own wallet. He ran his fingers over the rubber sole and thought fondly back upon the encounter that had garnered him such an affordable and wonderfully conservative (if not top-of-the-line) prize. 

"Have you found something you like?" the manager asked as John sat looking back and forth between the two pair of shoes he had tried on. The manager sat down on the bench across from John's and rested his elbows on his knees as though he were fiercely interested in whatever John might have to say. 

John had tried each pair on several times and was now wearing the teal and yellow number and considering whether he had anything in his closet that would match the almost blinding (yet definitely eye-catching) color scheme. John bit his bottom lip nervously. He glanced at the manager and smiled, then looked back down toward the shoes. He spoke then, knowing that he must not give away his desperation for the shoes, knowing that he could drive down the price if only he could convince the manager that he didn't really need the shoes, and that they weren't all that stylish. "Oh, maybe. You know, I'm just killing time while my wife shops. I'm not really in the market for any new shoes. Ha ha!" 

"Ha ha!" The manager responded jovially and slapped his knee. "Of course! But I did notice those piles of garbage you wore in. Don't tell me you wouldn't love to replace those, am I right?" 

"Oh, those?" John answered cheerfully. "Ha ha! Sure, I know they don't look like much, but between you and me..." he leaned in as though sharing some deep secret, "they feel a whole lot better than they look." He winked as he leaned back away. John stood up then, hoping he was effectively concealing the ever-present pain in his feet. His smile was strained (and slightly creepy), but the manager gave no indication that he suspected a ruse. 

He stood himself, then simply nodded at the running shoes John was wearing and replied, "How about those beauties? They're absolutely the latest fashion. They've been flying off the shelves ever since we got them in. And they look super on you. Are they comfortable? Ha ha! Of course they are! You love them, right? Tell me you love them." 

John squirmed uncomfortably in the shoes and made a face. "Well, they're alright, I guess. Maybe they just need to be broken in or something." 

The manager frowned thoughtfully and adjusted his belt loops with his thumbs. He lowered his voice and asked, "What would it take to get you home with these shoes today?" 

It was at that precise moment that John knew he had the manager exactly where he wanted him. From there, it had only taken a few minutes for John to negotiate the price he wanted (which was one of his personal bests, if he did say so himself), and he was on his way home with his new, slightly worn, not-quite-so-fashionable running shoes. 

To be continued and continued...

Saturday, December 27, 2008



Brad Penny may soon decide where he wants to pitch next year. He's weighing "an overture from the Cardinals" against other options.

I'm curious what exactly "an overture" means. A hint? An offer? A pinch on the backside?

Yes, please.

Update: I find the AL East despicable. Utterly despicable.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

warm and fuzzy

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

'tis the off-season

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Cardinals' fans! 

Between finals, graduation, holiday shopping, family coming in from across the Atlantic, and n-o-t-h-i-n-g happening with the roster, I may have neglected my blogging duties for a while, but I'm back now, so breathe easy. I just wish there was something really exciting and interesting to write about. Even if it was negative. But no such luck. 

The one thing that is developing (and has been for some time) is the Brian Fuentes saga. Sounds like we're not getting the lefty/closer after all, but I'm okay with that. In fact, I'm more than okay. I've made peace with the fact that we aren't going to be pulling in any big names this off-season, and to be honest, I'm not sure why I ever thought it was possible. I guess maybe there was eggnog involved. The whole situation was being manipulated from start on by Mr. Disreputable himself, Scott Boras, and it all comes down to where Mark Teixeira signs. 

Long story short, with the Angels out of the Tex-mix, that leaves them free to finally truly pursue Fuentes, and in effect, ruin any miserable chance the Cards had to lure him to STL. Like I said, fine with me. So with all this extra non-Fuentes money we've got, where do we go with it? The other possible closer options have mostly been grabbed up, although Hoffman is still available. 

I doubt very sincerely that Tony's New Year's resolutions will include giving the younger guys a chance, so do we paddle around with the same leaky pontoon boat of a bullpen we had last year and hope the patches hold? Or do we focus our efforts on finding someone to come in and cover the gap while we wait for the newbies to come into their own? Tough choice? I'll give you two guesses. 

I still have more shopping to do, but things have settled down, so I promise to come up with something exciting and interesting soon! Even if I have to make it up....

Monday, December 15, 2008

not so fast

Another short post, but this one's on-topic at least.

I'm dreaming that the mystery bidder interested in Pettitte's services is in fact our team. I'm thinking it's between us, the Dodgers, and the Braves. And maybe the BoSox. Or possibly the Jays. And I wouldn't count out Cleveland. Or San Francisco. So basically, it could be anyone, but I would be very excited to hear that John Mozeliak has been running up his phone bill calling wherever it is that Andy lives during the off season. 3 years $36 million wouldn't be so bad for the lefty, as far as I'm concerned. He's probably got 3 good years left. And if we're going to spend the money, I'd rather spend it on him than on Fuentes, to be frank.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


When I picked the name la Beisbolista, it was really only going to be temporary until I figured out what I wanted the title to be. Then I forgot (of course). Now I have an idea for a new name, but I just wonder if it would be a mistake to change at this point. I welcome any opinions or advice. Or if you don't care, that's fine too.

the last dusty fountain

From Matthew Leach over on The Site:

Fuentes is the guy, and the Cardinals believe they can get it done. Other clubs believed to have expressed interest in the left-hander include the Tigers, Brewers and Angels.

"I don't get into offers and that type of thing," Mozeliak said, "but I would characterize it as, it's more than just exploration at this point."

Brian Fuentes wants 3 years/$33 million. The Angels are probably offering close to that. Mozeliak has indicated that he doesn't want to give any more than 2 years/$20 million.

"...believe they can get it done," eh? It makes me wonder if we have some kind of incriminating photos of him....

Actually, maybe that's the way to go. Instead of scouts, the Cards could hire private investigators to follow around other teams' biggest prospects, then in a few years, when they're ready to become free agents, we could swoop in with evidence that they'd had an affair or used drugs or cheated at Scrabble, and presto! Top notch players at bargain basement prices. Heck, if it wouldn't draw too much attention we could probably have them for the league minimum.

Speaking of closers, I think we should have gone after Wood when he was still available. Oh, and since I'm playing that game, I don't think we ever should have given up Dan Haren for that Mulder guy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

a eulogy of sorts

The resounding sentiment out there is that with the recent loss of Perdomo to the Rule V draft, we have basically erased all memory of the dearly departed A-Rey. I guess in a way that's true. 

Perdomo was the final physical remnant of Anthony's existence in Cardinal Red. We don't have a blossoming superstar's shoulder to lean on, nor a miserable excuse for a player on whom to vent our frustrations. We have nothing left to mourn over except our fading memories of a promising young talent and a world championship game. 

Someday, with other things on our minds, we will catch a glimpse of red and blue striped stirrups or a cap with an ironed-flat bill. At that moment, for just the briefest instant, a long-buried memory will stir our souls and warm our hearts. We will stop in our tracks and try to hold on to that feeling. 

Time may steal from us the details of your wind-up and the special way you toed the rubber, but nothing will ever take away the flashes of brilliance we saw when we watched you take the mound. 

So here's to you, Anthony. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

the grand marquis

I have a little bit of a need-to-be-right thing going on. I'm not always right, and in fact, (and you'll find this out after you have teenagers) I'm rarely right at all. However, I at least like to know what's what, and if (and when) I am wrong, I really want to know what the facts are. I was just sure I remembered Marquis being very up side/down side when it came to his pitching during the first half versus the second half of the year. Then Cardinal70 very respectfully disagreed with me and I felt the need to figure out which of us was right.

Now, admittedly, I'm not a numbers girl. I made a D in geometry in high school and I had to take college algebra twice to pass. I can do basic calculations, but sometimes I need my fingers to add. And no matter what it is, I probably am going to want to write it down before it makes any sense. I'm also slightly dyscalculic (which is like the math version of dyslexic), and when I see a lot of numbers together they all kind of swim around the page. Having said this, I did do a little numbers crunching (thanks to Baseball-Reference for doing the hard work) about our friend Jason's splits.

I found this:
2000 - no starts
2001 - 38 G / 16 starts
2002 - 22 G / 22 starts
2003 - 21 G / 2 starts
2004 - 32 G / 32 starts
2005 - 33 G / 32 starts
2006 - 33 G / 33 starts
2007 - 34 G / 33 starts
2008 - 29 G / 28 starts

I focused on the years he started the majority of the time.
................. ERA ............. W-L ......... team's W-L
1st half .... 3.95 .............. 6-4 ................ 8-4
2nd half ... 6.97 .............. 2-5 ................ 3-7

1st half .... 3.88 .............. 9-4 ............... 11-6
2nd half ... 3.52 .............. 6-3 ................ 6-9

1st half .... 3.89 .............. 8-6 ................ 9-9
2nd half ... 4.41 .............. 5-8 ................ 6-9

1st half .... 5.55 .............. 11-6 .............. 12-7
2nd half ... 6.72 .............. 3-10 .............. 3-11

1st half .... 3.67 .............. 6-5 ............... 12-7
2nd half ... 5.73 .............. 6-4 ................ 8-7

1st half .... 4.44 .............. 6-5 ................ 10-7
2nd half ... 4.66 .............. 5-4 ................ 7-6

career (inlcuding all seasons and all games whether he started or not because I'm too lazy to go through and figure out the pinpoints)
1st half .... 4.25 .............. 49-33
2nd half ... 4.93 .............. 30-37

I'm not sure this proves anything one way or another except that there was a pretty pronounced difference in 2006, and that may be what I was thinking of. Oh, and that I'm fairly neurotic.

Thanks for the inspiration, C70!

and in this corner . . .

Last night I was feeling just a tad overwhelmed by the piles of work I have to do and the extremely limited (11 days) amount of time in which I have to get them done. I may have gone off the radar a little as far as reality and sense, but I think I'm back now, so worry not.

So the Dodgers have decided not to renew their original 2-yr/$45 million offer to Manny, even though his agent has humbly requested they do so or he'll eat their children. Color me shocked.

Sabathia may be the proud owner of the biggest pitching contract in MLB history, earning a reportedly historical $161 million over 7 years. It's hard to imagine this not coming back to bite the Yankees in the butt, what with the stunningly unfortunate results from some of the longer pitching contracts handed out in recent years. Oh well, it's not my team, my division, or even my league. As long as C.C.'s not pitching for the Brewers anymore, I don't really care.

The Cardinals (yes, the St Louis Cardinals) may have offered to K-Rod. Actually, considering what he ended up getting (3/$37), I'm almost surprised they didn't get him. Again, it helps us a great deal to know that the top FA closer (if you believe his press) isn't going to bankrupt anybody with his contract. That will make our negotiations for Fuentes or Wood (or whomever) much easier to swallow. It's nice the Mets are keeping the market honest.

Speaking of Wood, he may end up in Cleveland with A-Rey. Sounded like the Indians were interested in Izzy for a while, but if he has his way he'll back in STL next year. (Pause to give the "teacher glare" to anyone who makes a single negative comment.)

Jason Marquis is weighing down the Cubs, and they're looking to lose his contract in order to make room for a certain someone special. Anybody up for a reunion? Just kidding. Kind of. (If I remember correctly, Marquis had a knack for pitching brilliantly for about the first half of the season and then not for the second.) It may end up that Marquis gets shipped to San Diego in the trade, and the Cubbies would cover half his salary. Nothing like paying somebody $5 million to take a player off your hands.

Trever Miller is only guaranteed $500K in 2009? Wow, I guess he really does want to play here. Not to mention that $1.5 million is some serious incentive to play well. Does he know how Tony works his 'pen?

All of a sudden (I guess) Rick "firearm" Ankiel is at the top of a few lists around the league. His story is such a big part of Cardinals history, and it would just completely suck to see him playing somehwere else. However, if the trade is favorable to our starting rotation or bullpen, and he'd be going somewhere where he could play everyday, then I think it's something Moze has got to do. I won't be the first (or the last) to remark that we have an excess of left-handed hitters, as well as an excess of outfielders in general, and it's reasonable to think that Rick would be happier playing full-time than off the bench (as would any self-respecting player).

César Izturis has found a home in Baltimore, and I wish him (and the Orioles) all the best in their new life together. Too bad about that offense, César.

Okay, now I want to mention one more thing, and while it's just a rumor, it's very... interesting. The Cubs (the Chicago Cubs) might also be looking to lose Zambrano's (Carlos Zambrano's) contract if they can pick up Peavy. Can I go ahead and put him on my wish list? I mean, even if it's just a bunch of bologna? Please?

Friday, December 5, 2008


I have every honest intention of running this into the ground. In that you can believe.

The Cardinals have needs, and they have only just begun to address them. By extending Lohse's contract, re-signing LaRue, and picking up Miller and Greene, Moze has renewed my faith. But he's got a lot more work to do. The winter meetings start Monday.

.. Left-handed relievers
..... Charlie Manning
..... Trever Miller
..... __________

One more lefty would do it. I'm thinking Oliver Perez. There's also Fuentes (not likely), Ohman, Beimel, Shouse....

Middle infield
.. Shortstop
..... Khalil Greene

.. Second base
..... __________

Adam Kennedy seems to be the elephant in the room lately. I hope Moze isn't reluctant to sign a second baseman because of the fear of paying Kennedy to sit on the bench for most of '09.

The only problem with re-signing Lopez is that he's not an ideal lead-off man or power bat. And considering the next two items on my checklist....

Power hitter
..... __________

Here's who I don't want: Dunn. Wow, that list was even shorter than I'd thought it would be. (Not that there's any real chance of that happening anyway.) Actually, if it were up to me (which it's not), I probably would put this at the very end of the list--kind of as an "if we've got money left over and just really want to spend it" item--and focus on the real deficiencies rather than the perceived ones.

Lead-off hitter
..... __________

It doesn't sound like anyone projects Greene to take over that spot, so who does that leave? We've got Schumaker....

This spot is generally reserved for a guy who's not so much about the long ball, but more about speed. The guy who can get on base and maybe steal. And since we're known for our unique lineup in which the pitcher hits eighth, we really need two lead-off hitters. Kennedy did not thrive in that role, and Izturis certainly did not impress anyone.

Fifth starter
..... __________

My greatest hopes lay on Carp's ability to return and pitch as brilliantly as we're accustomed (the Cardinals will find out today what the odds are), but reality keeps kicking me in the back of the head and reminding me that it never hurts to have a back-up plan. How about Penny? Penny. Penny. Penny.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

greene-er pastures

Well, first of all, I feel terrible that I missed the show last night, but so you know, I'm listening to it as I type. Those guys do a super job.

Secondly, I'm not overly thrilled about the Greene trade, but barring news that we traded away somebody good to get him (knock on wood), I'm not overly disappointed either. It could very well turn out to be a good move. I tend to agree with those who have attributed his low numbers last year to (1) Petco Park and (2) playing for the Padres. An example of a player living up (or down, as it were) to the level of his cohorts and the expectations of the team would be none other than Felipe Lopez. He certainly came around when he found himself on a club with a winning attitude, and the same may well hold true for Greene. If we can just keep him from breaking any more bones the stupid way, I think he might just be okay. (And since Rentería was waaay out of our price range anyway....) The worst part of the whole thing may be that I can't ever seem to spell Kahlil Khlalil Klahill Khalil right the first time I try. What ethnicity is that, anyway?

Update: I just found this (please consider this post to be "in-progress") over on DG's blog...

Greene is a follower of the Baha’i faith, and it is reflected in his name: Khalil means 'friend of God' and his middle name, Thabit, means 'steadfast'.

Well, whatever his religious preference may be, his hair has got to go. Seriously. It's almost as bad as Arroyo's, and that is just unacceptable.

Speaking of Lopez, I'd still like to get him signed. If it takes a two-year deal, I'm truly okay with that. I doubt Moze would give him any more than that, though.

Lastly, in my opinion, Carpenter should either start or he should stop. No bullpen duties for the big guy. Please. That would just be tragic.

Oh, and what about Brad Penny? I'm still waiting to hear we're in talks with him.

Another update (I warned you): Mark Worrell and a player-to-be-named are the chips. How much of the $6.5 million Greene is owed next year we'll have to pay is yet to be determined/announced.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

trever with an "e"

So Moze made a two-year offer, and Miller (apparently) accepted, then came to town for a physical with team docs, then n-o-t-h-i-n-g happened for a while. We heard rumors that there was something funky with his labrum (something he'd had surgically repaired earlier in his career) or that something about the "language" of the contract was unacceptable to one or both parties. And now, after entirely too much hullabaloo and run-around, Miller and the team have agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $2 million.

Anybody feel really good about this? Didn't think so.

Not that I'm saying it's a bad deal or anything, I just feel a little, let's say, less than confident about the whole business. Something about how they went about it.

But to be honest, I'm just happy something finally happened. PHE reminded me that no team has really gotten anything going yet (heck, even the Yankees opted against offering arbitration to anyone). The declining economy has taken its toll on the game. (Are we officially calling it a recession yet?) I guess I'll have to check my impatience or at least find something else to occupy my mind.

Okay, I'm happy. I'm excited to have a new player on board. I'm excited to find out which number he'll choose. (He was 57 with the Rays, 47 with the 'Stros. Beyond that I don't know.) I'm feeling a little spark of hope for the future.

From what I understand, Miller is a pretty good lefty specialist. I'm still wondering how this will affect the dealings with Rhodes.

yadi update

For those unaware, Yadier Molina is playing for his local Gigantes de Carolina (coached by Jose Oquendo) in Puerto Rico. Some cite the death of his father as the reason for his decision/desire to get back on the field, but whatever the reason, he's out there. Los Gigantes won their first (I think it was the first, anyway) game on Monday, beating the Cangrejeros de Santurce by a final score of 6-3.

Go, Yadi!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pettitte? really?

Alright, so we've all heard by now that the Cardinals declined to offer arbitration to, well, anyone. Old news, as it were. Confusing, but at least resolved. I can go back to speculating on other things, things that sound very interesting on the surface but which may or not be even close to the truth. Joe Strauss wrote this recently (thank you Busch Birds for bringing it to my attention):

The Cardinals are not among "nine or 10" teams" that have expressed interest in five-time Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson.... The Cardinals may have more interest in another free agent lefthander, Andy Pettitte.


Does he mean this metaphorically, as in "the Cards have a better chance of bringing Dizzy Dean back from the dead to fill out their starting rotation"?

Or does he actually consider the Cardinals to be interested in Pettitte?

I absolutely cannot figure this out.

Monday, December 1, 2008

seconds, anyone?

So Edgar Rentería is available....

Interesting turn of events considering the amount of talk there's been surrounding him. I thought for sure the Tigers would offer. Not that they wanted to keep him, but to get the picks. Shows what I know.

Do the Cardinals find a way to sign him now? Was the rumored (and as it turned out, false) contract with the Giants a realistic idea (2 years/$18 million) of what it's going to take? Would Moze be amenable to that kind of deal with a 33-year old player?

And maybe most importantly, would the combination of Rentería at short, López at second, and Miles as back-up give us a chance to win?

And on an unrelated note, can anyone tell me why I can't get my stupid RSS feed for comments to update? If I knew the first darn thing about html or rss or whatever the problem is, I'd fix it. Grrrr....

arbitration deadline

Today is a big day of sorts. Free Agents must be offered arbitration by their current teams today if they are going to offer. This affects us regarding the three ranked FAs we have--Springer, Looper, and Izzy--and to a lesser extent, our unranked FAs--López, Izturis, and Villone--and the two FAs who are pretty much done with baseball (although one of them may not have realized it yet) but filed anyway--Encarnación and Mulder.

Players have until the 7th to accept arbitration (or not), and then in January the legal and financial aspects get worked out.

Whether these players will be offered arbitration, whether they will accept, and whether they will end up signing with the Cardinals anyway will not have too much effect on the team, as far as I can tell. Matthew Leach has a good break-down of the specifics over at

I can tell you that I hope we end up re-signing three of these players. It doesn't really matter to me if it's a result of arbitration offers or not. Hopefully there'll be some news soon.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

too much tryptophan (yawn)

The news is ridiculously slow these days, and I'm bored. Here are two things I learned from the Cubs' site: (1) Carlos Marmol will be the Cubs' closer next year, and (2) Lou Piniella has denied that his team has any interest in signing Jake Peavy. Apparently they're now happy with their starting five, including Marquis. Re: Marmol, I was expecting it. Re: Peavy, I don't believe it for a second. But we'll see. I still think they'd trade for him if all the pieces fell into place. And here's antother crumb I picked up from Yahoo! Sports: The Cards think of Aaron Miles as a "super utility man." I know I've always thought of him that way, I'd just never heard anyone phrase it quite like that before. I'm picturing him with a cape flapping in the wind, and a giant felt "S" on his chest.

no estamos solos

Recientemente, mientras estaba añadiendo unos nuevos links españoles sobre el béisbol, descubrí que existen varios sitios en español para los equipos profesionales en los estados unidos--los marineros, los cubs, los gigantes, y más--pero les falta uno nuestros cardenales. Les hace falta. Me indigné cuando me enteré de que St Louis no tiene un sitio en español. En serio. Simplemente porque no tenemos una población hispanohablante excesivamente grande aquí mismo, no quiere decir que no hay una gran población de admiradores por todas partes del mundo, incluso los países hispanos, ¿no? Tenemos jugadores hispanos, y ellos tienen familias y amigos y seguidores que viven alrededor del mundo y hablan español. ¿No es importante que los proveamos--que MLB los provea--con un lugar para leer sobre sus equipos y jugadores favoritos? Yo creo que sí.

Basically, I was upset to find that while several MLB teams have web sites in Spanish, the Cardinals do not. I think it's a shame because even though St Louis doesn't have a large Spanish-speaking population in itself, we do have hispanic players and hispanic fans, and I think it would be nice if there were a place for them to get their Cardinals news. I guess they'll just have to settle for what ESPNdeportes and the other sports news sites offer.

Friday, November 28, 2008

John Mozeliak goes shoe shopping, part 4

John Mozeliak sat awaiting the manager of the shoe store, his foot tapping along with the muzak version of Just a Gigolo by David Lee Roth. He carefully scanned the shelves and tables again, checking for anything he may have missed earlier. 

Row after row of colorful shoes in every conceivable shape, texture, and size filled the small shop. Customers were busily digging through the bargain bins, shuffling through the boxes, and picking apart the sales ads as quickly as they could. The noise of shopping was all around, and John felt energized because of it. 

Suddenly, something caught his eye in the far corner of the store. There on the floor, nearly hidden from his view by the steady stream of customers moving back and forth across the small space and the piles of shoes strewn about, sat a very unremarkable box. 

Cardboard brown with no decorations, this box was not crying out for attention the way many of the shoe boxes were. In fact, if anything, it was trying to hide, to disappear into the background. 

Slowly, he made his way across the store toward the box. When he reached it, he stopped. The lid was askew and paper hung out the side as though the shoes inside had been tossed there carelessly by the last customer who tried them on. 

John bent down and opened the lid, pulling the paper back as he did so. What greeted him were running shoes, very similar to the ones he had tried on earlier. These, however, were more conservative--black and white--with no bold designs or bright colors. They were sturdy looking, and John thought for a moment that they reminded him of some shoes he'd owned in the past. 

John sat down on a nearby bench and pulled on the shoes. After tying them, he stood up and began his rigorous test of fit and performance. He jogged, he ran, he tip-toed, and he bounced. He stopped short, he spun around, and he scooted across the floor. He crouched down, and he sprang back up, and when he did, he nearly collided with the manager who had appeared out of the storeroom and was now standing beside him. 

"Sorry!" John apologized. "Didn't see you there." 

The manager smiled coldly, then nodded toward the shoes John was wearing. "Have you found something you like?" 

John considered this for a minute before answering. He was interested in these shoes, but what of the other pair? He was still interested in them, also, and this raised some serious questions for him. 

(1) Did he need more than one pair of running shoes? He must remember his tenets for shopping and not go overboard, especially considering that running shoes were only the beginning of his list. 

And (2) if he were only going to buy one pair, which pair would he choose? Each was comfortable and fit him well, and each was reasonably attractive. This wasn't likely to be an easy decision, and may very well come down to the bottom line: cost. 

To be continued some more....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

in a pitching-tuesday tizzy

According to DG (winner of Best Professional Cardinals Blog in the 2nd annual Cardinals Blogger Awards),

Isringhausen, the club's all-time saves leader who is seven shy of 300, will meet with the Cardinals' team doctor next week to have his surgically repaired elbow examined and to get clearance to begin upper-body workouts and throwing. Isringhausen has received interest from four teams, including the Cardinals, said his agent, Horwits.

If you're familiar with my loyalties, you already know that I'm doing a little dance right now, and for two reasons. (1) Other teams are hypothetically interested in Izzy, which means he hasn't been written off by all of baseball, hypothetically. And (2) the Cardinals may also be interested, which means he could very well be playing for St Louis next year which would make me very happy which means I dance, hypothetically. Or rather, the happy is hypothetical. The dancing is merely figurative.

Arthur Rhodes. Honestly, I'm not sure what to say about this, except that in conjunction with the alleged negotiations going on with Trever Miller, it's starting to feel like Moze has moved away from the wait-and-see tactics and is now actively pursuing relievers in a confusing display of pseudo-aggression. It's kind of like after the school-yard bully lays out some poor kid in the dirt, and then while his back is turned, the dirty, picked-on kid makes a face or gives him the finger. It's only safe because the bully can't see him. Get it? It's like telling your friends that "if that jerk were here right now, I'd tell him off." Of course, the jerk is nowhere around, and if he were, you wouldn't say a thing. That's how it feels, anyway.

I choose to believe that mean people are just ignorant, that the rosary hanging from my rearview mirror is good luck, that every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings, and that Dave Duncan is just trying to be utterly realistic when he says this.

Oh, ho, ho... I just saw this over at MLB Trade Rumors:

The Cubs are hoping a market forms for Jason Marquis, and are willing to eat salary "within reason."

Picture me smiling.

Monday, November 24, 2008

John Mozeliak goes shoe shopping, part 3

John Mozeliak sat on the floor in front of his closet, rows of shoes laid out before him. In his hands he held a clipboard and a pencil, and he was busily making a list of the sizes, styles, and conditions of his various pairs of shoes. His eyes were red and puffy, for he had been up all night crying over the predicament he was in. 

No, it was no one's fault, he had told himself. It was just a fact of life that shoes got worn out, or didn't fit, or were damaged in some way. That didn't make it any easier to do what he knew he had to do, however. 

He finished the list, stood up, and made a half-hearted salute toward the faithful friends he was preparing to betray. The list, he knew, was the easy part. The hard part would come next when he must actually go into the shoe store and carry out the treachery.

John hated the mall, and he loved it at the same time. So many people, so many products, so much activity. Chances are, you could find what you needed if you looked around long enough, but sometimes if you waited, you could get it on sale. The problem with that tactic was that if you waited too long, your size could very well sell out before you got there. 

Though he was reluctant to replace his old shoes, he found the idea of the "hunt" and the negotiations very intriguing. Some people like to gamble on horses or cards, but John's weakness was shopping. 

He stumbled through the automatic doors at the mall entrance, just barely recovering himself after the bottom of his shoe got caught on the metal lip of the door frame. He had decided to wear the running shoes because (a) even though they were dangerous, at least they were comfortable, and (b) his task today was to replace the old running shoes, and he figured it might be helpful to compare them to the new ones he tried on. 

When he found the shoe store, he was impressed by the wide selection available. There were shelves and boxes and rotating stands full of shoes. There were running shoes, dress shoes, and sandals. (There was also a good selection of socks, but John didn't let himself get distracted.) Of course, he wasn't the only shopper, so without delay, he began to inspect every pair of running shoes he saw, and to make a mental list of the options. 

Requirement number one, he thought, was that he was not going to spend a lot of money. He wasn't a miser, but he had a lot of shoes to replace and there was no sense emptying his wallet on one pair. He must be cautious. Keeping this in mind, he narrowed down the choices to a few pair. The next requirement, obviously, was that they must fit. And the only way to find that out was to pull them off the shelf and try them on. 

The first shoes he tried were teal with a yellow sunburst design on the side. It wasn't an ideal color combination, but the color didn't matter all that much to John. The laces were white, but too short to be double-tied like he liked. The style was last year's, much different than what was popular now, but they were still decent shoes. They had obviously been tried on once or twice, because you could see that the fabric on the inside was not as fluffy as it had once been. But the soles were clean and bouncy, and the leather was pristine. The shoes were in good shape. 

He sat down on a bench and pulled off his old shoes, then (as they were already laced up) pulled on the new pair and tightened the laces. He looked at them on his feet for a few minutes, rotating his ankles so as to get a good view from every angle. He ran his finger along the inside edge to make sure there was plenty of room. He wiggled his toes and flexed his heels, adjusting the shoes to his feet. Then he stood up. 

He stood still for a minute, then walked in place for a minute, then turned in circles for a minute. He examined the shoes in the slanted mirror on the bottom of the bench. He crouched down, and sprang back up. He put his weight on the balls of his feet, then on his heels, then on the sides of his feet. He pressed his thumb into the space between the end of his big toe and the end of the shoe. 

When he was satisfied that they fit, he walked around the perimeter of the store, avoiding other customers and benches. He walked slowly at first, then jogged a little. He lifted his knees and marched a little. He stopped short. Then he sprinted down one aisle. Finally, when he had exhausted every test he could think of, he sat back down and pulled the shoes off, placed them carefully back in the box, and summoned a salesperson. 

"How much are these shoes?" he asked and held up the box for her consideration. 

The girl smiled and pointed to the price tag on the box. "That much," she answered. 

John chuckled and shook his head. "No, I mean how much are they really?" He emphasized the last word and gave the salesgirl a knowing wink. 

She gave him a very blank stare in return, then slowly lifted her hand to point at the price tag again and repeated, "That much." 

John leaned closer to her, put his hand beside his mouth, and asked again, quietly, "But what's the real price, you know, what you really charge?" 

The salesgirl, now frowning, replied, "Sir, I don't know what you mean exactly, but the price on the box is the price you'll pay." 

"No no no," he laughed and shook his head again, then raised his eyebrows as if to imply some unspoken agreement. "Rea-lly." 

At that point the salesgirl, confused and irritated with the conversation, turned and walked away from John. "I'll get the manager," she mumbled as she disappeared into the storeroom.

To be continued yet again...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

John Mozeliak goes shoe shopping, part 2

John Mozeliak's family and closest friends sat quietly in the living room awaiting his return from the office. When he opened the door, he was startled by the presence of the group. "Hello, there!" he greeted them. He limped slowly across the floor and dropped his keys in the brass candy dish sitting atop the desk in the foyer. 

"You're walking kinda funny, son," John's father remarked. "Everything okay?" 

John stopped in his tracks. "Everything's fine, dad. I just, um, well I sprained my ankle or something. It's funny, you know, they're waxing all the floors in the building, and I didn't see the wet spot, and--" 

"Enough lies, John," his wife interrupted. "I asked all these people to be here today because we want you to get help. You need help, John." 

John took a painful step backward and grimaced. "Is this an intervention?" he asked through clenched teeth. He closed his eyes and bit his lower lip to keep from crying out as his feet began to throb inside his shoes. He didn't know how much longer he could stand there, but realized that if he took off his shoes now he would be forced to admit that he did have a problem. 

"Look at yourself, John. You're a mess. You're not fine." His wife stood from the couch and walked over to where John was standing, then took his hand in hers. "We all love you, John, and we just want what's best for you... for your feet, John." 

His sister joined the couple and added, "You think you can fake it. You think that if you act like everything's fine and nothing's wrong that somehow no one will notice. Or maybe you think it will fix itself. Well it won't, John. This problem is not going to go away. You can't just ignore it, you have to do something." 

John dropped his head and stared at the floor. Tears began to fall down his cheeks, a combination of the raw emotions he was experiencing as well as the stabbing, unbearable pain in his feet. He bent over and lowered himself to the floor. "You're right," he sobbed. "I thought I could work through it. I thought if I broke them in it would be okay. But it didn't work. It just kept getting worse." 

"Sure, John," his wife reassured him. "We know the dress shoes are killing your feet. They're too new and too inflexible. They may be okay to wear for short periods of time, but you wear them all day." 

"You're right," he agreed. "I'll cut back. I'll only wear them for important meetings and special occasions." 

"Good, John," his wife said. "But... well, what about your running shoes, John?" 

He gasped. "My running shoes?" His face showed the disbelief he was feeling. His wife sat down on the floor beside him and gently rubbed his arm, trying to calm him. 

"Yes, John, your running shoes," she said softly. "They're falling apart. They have stains and holes, and the sole has nearly come off the left one. You need some new ones, John." 

"But I love those shoes," John pleaded. "There's nothing wrong with them that a little polish and some new laces couldn't fix. Besides, running shoes are expensive. I really think it's best to just wear the same pair until they completely fall apart. That way--" 

His wife interrupted him again. "Stop it, John. They have fallen apart. Please face the facts, honey. You know I'm only saying this because I care about you," she gestured toward the rest of the group, "because we all care about you." 

His golf buddy, Steve, stood up and spoke. "John," he said, "we've been friends a long time, and you know I don't usually go around sticking my nose into other people's business, but look at yourself, man. You're in pain. You're limping around like a fool, and when we golf you can't even get your putts straight because you can't stop scratching your feet. It's time for some new golf shoes, buddy. They're ruining your life." 

"Your sandals are done, too," added Sandy, the neighbor, and her husband Jack nodded his head in agreement. "You've glued them and duct taped them and sewn them, but that strap just won't stay on. You need to give up on the sandals, John. You're only going to end up with more dog poop on your feet." 

John's kids, Suzie and Bobby, stood up next and Bobby said, "Dad, we know how much you love those loafers, and they are nice, but they're only hurting your feet. They give you blisters and bruises. Every time you wear them you swear it'll be the last time, but after a while you forget, and then you end up wearing them again and getting blisters again. It's a vicious cycle, dad, and it's gotta stop." 

"Is that it?" asked John as he glanced around the room. 

"Well, no," said his mother from the back of the room. She made her way towards John as she spoke. "You know how every Sunday morning you sit on the sun porch and relax with your coffee and newspaper?" 

"No." John almost whispered the single syllable. 

"Yes, John," his mother replied. "The slippers. They have to go. They are dirty and worthless and they smell. Why can't you throw them in the garbage where they belong?" 

"But--" John began. 

"No buts, John. Let the slippers go. It's time. They're ready to leave." 

John slumped against the wall and put his hands up over his face as he choked back the bile that was threatening to come up. He realized at that moment that he would have to make some changes, but he wasn't happy about it. Maybe his family and friends were right, though. Maybe his life would be better if he took better care of his feet. 

To be continued again...

Friday, November 21, 2008

John Mozeliak goes shoe shopping

"It's going to be a beautiful day today," John Mozeliak thought to himself as he sat on the edge of his bed and scooted his feet into his old, brown, worn-out slippers. He stood up, stretched his arms over his head and yawned as he clip-clopped his way across the wood floor to the bathroom, leaving brown, fuzzy clumps of slipper behind him. 

"What a perfect summer we're going to have," John Mozeliak said to the mailman as he sat on the front porch and tied the dingy laces on his running shoes with holes in the toes and funny orange stains on one side. He bounced down the steps to the sidewalk and then tripped and fell when the sole of the left shoe tore away from the rest of the shoe and flipped underneath itself, leaving his hands and knees a bloody mess. 

"I can't wait for the weather to get hot so we can invite the neighbors over for a barbecue!" John Mozeliak shouted to his wife as he headed toward the garage. He winced as his new leather dress shoes creaked with each step he took, but showed no signs of bending even a fraction of an inch, not even to accommodate the movement of his feet. 

"How about a vacation on the beach this year?" John Mozeliak asked his kids as he sat on the couch and carefully peeled his socks off to inspect the red, oozing, painful blisters on his toes and heels caused by the miserable loafers he wore just rarely enough so that he would inevitably forget how uncomfortable they were in the meantime. The blisters would definitely require ointment.

"I can't remember the last time I had so much fun!" John Mozeliak remarked to his golf buddy as he sat down in the cart for the eighth time in half an hour so that he could stick a tee into his shoe and scratch his foot to relieve the horrible, all-consuming itching caused by some unknown fungus growing inside his golf shoes. 

"You just can't beat a cold beer on a hot day," John Mozeliak told the neighbors as he passed around ice cold bottles of Budweiser. He then stepped right out of his left sandal when the strap broke, and put his bare foot down into a pile of dog poop graciously left there by the neighbor's miniature poodle named Princess. To be continued...

Cardinals Blogger Awards

For the second year, UCB is recognizing Cardinals and Cardinals Bloggers for their hard work and dedication. This year I get to help pick the winners, and I'm very excited! Alright, here are my votes. I must say, I had no idea how difficult these choices would be. It's like choosing between your children (well, not my children because that's an easy one... but you get the idea). I tried to go with the options provided, but there were a couple cases where I just had to step outside the box a little. 

Please enjoy! 

Oh, and as always, feel free to disagree. 

(I got a little long-winded, so I separated my votes from my explanations for those who don't care about my reasons.)
1) Player of the Year
Ryan Ludwick
Yadier Molina
Albert Pujols
2) Pitcher of the Year
Kyle Lohse
Braden Looper
Adam Wainwright
Todd Wellemeyer?

3) Game of the Year
July 5 vs. Chicago
August 22 vs. Atlanta
August 27 vs. Milwaukee
September 9 vs. Chicago

4) Surprise Player of the Year
Kyle Lohse
Ryan Ludwick
Skip Schumaker
write-in: Troy Glaus
5) Disappointing Player of the Year
Chris Duncan
Ryan Franklin
Jason Isringhausen
6) Cardinal Rookie of the Year
Joe Mather
Kyle McClellan
Chris Perez

7) New Cardinal of the Year
Troy Glaus
Cesar Izturis
Kyle Lohse

8) Most Anticipated Cardinal
Bryan Anderson
Colby Rasmus
Jess Todd

9) Best Individual Blog
C70 at the bat

10) Best Team Blog
Viva el Birdos

11) Best Professional Blog
Bernie's Extra Points
Bird Land
Obviously, You're Not a Golfer

12) Best UCB Project
Progressive Game Blog
Roundtables (Example: October's)
Top 7 Prospects

13) Most Optimistic Blog
Cardinal Nation Globe

14) Funniest Blog
Cardinals Diaspora

15) Best Blog Post/Series of the Year
Beer Vendor (Warm and Cold)
Biggest Plays of 2008 (Sample: Part 4)
Reading the T-Shirts (here)
Scott Rolen vs. Eddie Vedder (here)

16) Rookie Blog of the Year
Busch Birds
Pitchers Hit Eighth


1) Player of the Year I don't care who you are or what team you're on, if Albert's your teammate you'd better learn a little humility 'cause he's going to draw all the attention, all the accolades, and all the glory (although, surprisingly enough, not all the walks). Ludwick and Molina both had great years. Molina is one of the best defensive catchers I can remember, and Ludwick is the definition of a high numbers power hitter, but Albert is, well... he's Albert. There really is no other choice. (And the MVP award he received earlier this week only cements his position as the Most Valuable Cardinal.)

2) Pitcher of the Year This was a tough one. Tough, tough, tough. 

Wellemeyer was solid, and basically a workhorse, although Lohse pitched the most innings (200) and had the most wins (15). For as hard as he worked and as many innings as he pitched (199, including a complete game), I just didn't feel Looper was quite on par with the other three. Wellemeyer had the best ratio of strike-outs per 9 innings pitched (6.31) and the most strike-outs overall (134). I guess I could go on and give you piles of statistics that may or may not actually mean anything, but I won't. 

I'll give you this: If they were playing a game that meant everything--game seven of the NLCS, for example--the guy I would want on the mound over any other pitcher on the staff is...Wainwright. Lohse, Wellemeyer, well they're both awesome. Looper is a good pitcher, too. Piñeiro scares me a little bit. But with all the chips on the table, I think the guy that has shown how good his stuff is and shown how well he can handle the pressure of game seven is Adam. If he hadn't been injured for the time he was, I think the end of the season would have looked a lot different. I also think he's going to be a Cy Young winner one day soon. He embodies the future of Cardinals pitching.

3) Game of the Year They were all good choices. 

Sept 9: Jason Motte had all of Cardinal Nation standing in front of their tv sets, arms limp at their sides, mouths open, eyes unblinking... no wait, those were the batters he faced. Sorry. 

August 27: A come-from-behind win is always nice. Always. The day after you have your butts handed to you, it's even better. 

August 22: 18 runs on 26 hits. And Wainwright got to whoop up on his childhood team, the team that traded him as a minor leaguer. 

August 9 (I threw this in because it was also a lot of fun): Troy Glaus decided he was tired of not hitting the Cubs, so he hit them. Three times. For five ribbies. Good times picking on Big Z.

MY WINNER- July 5: Once again, our starter--Lohse, this time--held the Cubs' lineup in check, allowing only two runs over 7 innings. This time, however, our bats made some noise, too, and we had it tied at two until the eighth inning, when Ryan Franklin gave up another two on a homer by Ramirez. But in the bottom of the ninth, the Redbirds answered. 

Kerry Wood, who up until this game had only walked nine batters all season, walked the first two he saw (Ludwick and Molina). Kennedy doubled and drove in Ludwick, bringing us to within one. Wood intentionally walked PH Chris Duncan. (Bases loaded with none out.) Schumaker hit a swinging bunt that dribbled into the infield, Molina was out at the plate. (Bases loaded, one out.) Miles popped one up in the infield for out number two, and for a minute it seemed like Wood was going to get himself out of the jam. 

But then up stepped Slick Rick. Ank the Tank. The former pitcher turned outfielder with a power arm. I think if you were going to try and define the ultimate clutch situation (for the regular season, of course) you couldn't do a lot better than bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two out, down by one, playing your biggest rival. And if you're a Cardinals fan, then you know how it turned out.

Ankiel lined one into center field and drove home Kennedy, and we were tied. Duncan came home on Edmonds' throw, beating it to the plate, and the "Cardiac Cards" won 5-4. I can't remember the last time the Cardinals have come from behind like that, but I'm glad we were at home because if the Cubs'd had another opportunity, who knows how it would have turned out. Poor Wood.

4) Surprise Player of the Year 

Luddy didn't surprise me so much as impress me. The difference is, I knew he had it in him, I just wasn't sure if we were ever going to see it. 

Schu had a great season, did much better in center field that I thought he could, and stepped into the lead-off position without any problem (if you just ignore the first two weeks or so of the season). 

I also considered Felipe Lopez when I was writing this, because given his record in Washington and fact that he was released by a bad team, you have to see his contribution to the Cardinals as very surprising. 

And then of course, there was the other side of Adam Kennedy that we all saw very late in the season, a side that was hitting for extra bases and driving in runs like some sort of machine. It was surprising, to say the least. 

But looking back at the entire year, examining all the players and factors we had going into the season, the one thing that stood out to me was the loss of Scott Rolen and the big gap that everybody was afraid we'd have with the new third baseman. 

Glaus was known in Toronto for a lot of the same things we knew Rolen for here--injuries, inability to get along with the manager, etc.--but without the depth and range that Rolen had. Troy had good career batting numbers, but was known to be a streaky hitter. I for one was very skeptical about what he was going to bring to St Louis. But by the end of the second week, even with a slow start at the plate, he was showing us just how good his defense was and making me question the fact that I had ever questioned him. I was literally scratching my head and silently congratulating Moze on a job well done. And by the end of the year, I was clamoring for a gold glove for the man who didn't just fill Rolen's shoes, but re-soled them and sharpened the cleats. He, to me, was the biggest surprise and made as big a contribution as anyone.

I'm going to tell you why I chose Frankie (and no, it's not because Chris and Jason are two of my top three favorite players). True, none of them were what you'd call "effective," but (personal bias aside) Dunc and Izzy were injured. Maybe they shouldn't have tried to hide it. Maybe they could have been getting fixed instead of going out there and making matters (and the games) worse. Maybe some people will never get over this. But Franklin was healthy and still managed to blow saves and give up important runs and ruin the starter's chances of getting the W. 

He's a good pitcher, but he was not ready for the closer role, and he really mucked things up. To be honest, when I think back about some of the late-inning collapses and ridiculous losses, his stand out more in my mind than any others.

6) Cardinal Rookie of the Year 

We did have our share of ML debuts this past season, didn't we? This was another tough choice because Perez made a huge difference in the 'pen, and he really gave fans a sense of hope for not only the immediate future (ie, what are we going to do tomorrow?), but also for the long-term future of the club (ie, he's a guy who could be mentioned leading the league in saves at some point in his career). When we were worried about Izzy's health and the ability of the rest of the relievers to struggle through, he was definitely a bright spot. 

Mather, too, was asked to come up (more than once) and fill in when guys were hurt, and besides just being thrown into a situation where he could have easily floundered but didn't, he made some spectacular plays in right field, and contributed right away to the offense. In other words, he didn't just survive, he flourished. And that resilience is exactly what you want from your AAAers when they're asked to come into Busch and "make it or break it." 

But Mac is special. He started the year with the big club after skipping over AAA, and he eased into his new role with not so much as a hiccup. He dominated lefties, he closed out games. He could come in to get that one guy, or he could go long and eat some innings. He rode around on that motorized cooler like a guy who's been doing this his whole life, and at the same time he was young and fresh and eager to perform. He picked up 30 holds and posted a 4.04 ERA. He pitched 75-2/3 innings, second most after Franklin. He struck-out 59, more than any of the other relievers. Oh, and while this probably shouldn't matter, he is from St Louis, and I have a special place in my heart for local boys who made good.

7) New Cardinal of the Year 

Cesar was particularly good defensively, but never really found his rhythm in the batter's box. 

Troy made a heck of an impression on me and I almost gave him this one as well. 

In the end though, Lohse's presence on the mound gave me hope every five games (or so). He wasn't perfect and no one expected a Cy Young award or anything, but if the fact that the front office was willing to give him the contract they did isn't enough to convince you of his importance this past season, nothing I say will. And I think he's going to be just as important next year.

8) Most Anticipated Cardinal 

I've never been as enthusiastic about the minor leaguers as some other bloggers and fans, but I'd say a person would have to be living under a rock not to have heard a lot about Mr. Rasmus. 

Yes, I know Anderson has a bright future as a catcher with some other big club, and I've heard that Todd is in fact a pitcher, but to say I'm anticipating either one of them make a difference with this team in the near future would not be accurate. 

Rasmus, on the other hand, is going to provide fodder for an incredible trade which will make a impact for the Cardinals, hopefully on opening day. If I were to speculate how the rest of Cardinal Nation feels, I would probably go in the direction that there are two schools of thought regarding Colby: (1) he should either be in a Cardinals uniform in 2009 or be traded, and (2) he should be traded.

9) Best Individual Blog This one was hard because there are so many choices out there and all of them are good. I chose C70 because Daniel's blogs are fun and informative, he always makes good arguments for his opinions, and he stays positive. But beyond all that, he has taken on the task of organizing a blogging group and coming up with projects such as this one to keep the off-season interesting and the Cardinals Bloggers busy.

10) Best Team Blog You cannot get more detailed information about the 'Birds anywhere. The guys from Viva el Birdos go above and beyond when it comes to analyzing statistics, and despite my glaring deficiencies when it comes to understanding such things, I have a huge deal of respect for the time and effort they put into their posts and into keeping up with the endless specs and stats.

11) Best Professional Blog Derrick Goold writes excellent articles and an excellent blog. I like his polls, I like his explanations, I like his style. I also like the fact that he doesn't seem to have anything else to do but cover the 'Birds. Thanks DG!

12) Best UCB Project I loved all the projects, and I loved reading the responses. 

The Progressive Game Blog was fun, and it gave readers a lot of insight into what's going on in the heads of bloggers while they're watching a game. That was more than interesting! 

The Roundtables were a really good project to get bloggers and readers thinking about the issues. I thought the topics and responses from each UCB member were excellent. Getting so many different perspectives on things was neat. They gave the bloggers an opportunity to compare ideas and brainstorm, but they also gave them some direction to really make it feel like a cohesive group.

13) Most Optimistic Blog Optimistic. That can be difficult when your team suffers the kinds of late-innings losses at the rate we were suffering them. Nobody was over-the-top optimistic, but most bloggers did a good job of keeping their chins up even towards the end of the season. 

I picked CNG. He stayed positive even longer than I did. (I don't think he officially threw in the towel until September 17.) And that was not an easy thing to do when the season was headed down the toilet and a lot of people were discouraged and frustrated.

14) Funniest Blog A lot of people think they're funny; Aaron and Ryan think they're funny and they actually are. CD's a little vulgar, a little sarcastic, a little hedonistic. It's a good combination. Actually, there are a lot of funny bloggers out there, and some that can dial it up now and then to put out a funny post. CD stands out to me, though. I really appreciate their sense of humor. (FYI-BertFlex was a close second.)

15) Best Blog Post/Series of the Year This one was tough, too, because they were all good. Really good. But "T-shirts" was super funny. 

Here's one of my favorite parts... all right, it's my favorite. "Brendan Ryan #13: You love the scrappy guy. This is the latest in a long line of shirts for you, starting with Joe McEwing and then Bo Hart, which you still break out occasionally. Whether they have talent or not, it doesn't matter. You also don't feel like it's a good day until you've gotten your clothes dirty in some form of exertion, even if it's just diving off the couch for a loose chip."

16) Rookie Blog of the Year All the rookie blogs are fun to read and well-written, which made this one a difficult choice, too. I chose PHE. Nick's blog has a very user-friendly layout, a good design, and a mascot that reminds me of #25 (if he hit from the left side). His posts are clever and well-articulated, and he provides good reasoning for his opinions. I feel like he has a very good understanding of the game and the business of the game, and I like that he has stayed a Cards fan even though admittedly living in "the land of the enemy." He also doesn't go overboard with the stats, and that makes me especially grateful. It's a great blog and I always look forward to his latest posts.