Thursday, July 31, 2008

no takes-ies backs-ies

The Cardinals made no further moves as far as the trade deadline is concerned, but other clubs had some final-day business going down.

The biggest deal: OF Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers; 2 prospects from BOS & 2 prospects from LAD to the Pirates; OF Jason Bay to the Red Sox

OF Ken Griffey, Jr. to the White Sox; P Nick Masset and 2B Danny Richar to the Reds

C Iván Rodriguez to the Yankees; P Kyle Farnsworth to the Tigers

P LaTroy Hawkins to the Astros; 2B Matt Cusick to the Yankees

1B Mark Texeira to the Angels; 1B Casey Kotchman and P Stephen Marek to the Braves

P Arthur Rhodes to the Marlins; (MiL)P Gaby Hernandez to the Mariners

Carp's back!!!

This next section is completely stolen from Joe Strauss:
(It didn't occur to me to keep notes while he was pitching....)


1st inning

Starter overcomes

bout with nerves

No doubt anxious in his first big-league start since April 1, 2007. Carpenter falls behind each of the four hitters he faces. But, after a leadoff walk, he strands a runner at third.


15 0 0 0 1

2nd inning

Braves get three hits

but just one run

Still having location issues with his fastball and breaking ball, he allows three straight hits, one a bunt single. But he escapes with just one run because of some cautious baserunning.


15 3 1 0 0

3rd inning

Bases are loaded

but no damage

Again, he manages to pitch out of trouble. Atlanta loads the bases with two out on two singles and a walk, but Carpenter retires Jeff Francoeur on a tapper to the mound.


26 2 0 0 1

4th inning

Best inning features

two strikeouts

Finding his groove, he hurls his first 1-2-3 inning and records his first two strikeouts. 2B Adam Kennedy helps him with a good defensive play. Carpenter leaves for a pinch-hitter in the 5th.


11 0 0 2 0

Obviously, I agree about the fourth inning being his best. I wasn't completely surprised that Tony didn't leave him in longer, but I was disappointed. It seemed like he was just finding his rhythm, but I suppose if he had fallen apart in the fifth, I (and the rest of Cardinal Nation) would have questioned Tony for leaving him in so long. It's why he gets paid to manage and I yell at the tv for nothing.

I'd call it a success, though, no matter how short it may have been (67 pitches). He only gave up one run, and though he struggled with his location, there was a bit of an issue with the strike zone moving and widening and just generally misbehaving. He also sweated quite a bit (nerves plus Atlanta in July equals a little extra moisture) and this also could have affected his command. To be honest, what pitcher has ever come back from the DL (especially an extended stint) and been perfect? That's right. In fact, the opposing team usually gets excited when they find out they'll be facing a pitcher that is making his re-debut after being hurt/having surgery because they know (like everyone else) that the first start back in the majors (even if they pitched well in rehab starts) is going to be a challenge. Considering all this, I was very pleased (as I'm sure Tony was) with the job done by Carp, and I can't wait for his next start.

It's funny, but watching the Braves pitchers (sadly) reminds me of our staff. The starters are (for the most part) solid, but the bullpen tends to give up damaging runs late in the game. Doesn't that sound familiar? It's nice for our offense, though, because I think we've scored more ninth-inning runs against the Braves in this series than we have in all the games we've played this year combined.

This other thing that strikes me about the Atlanta team is how many errors and miscues they have. They miss the cut-off man, they throw wild instead of holding the ball, they hold the ball instead of making the play, they stay at third instead of trying to score, they run into an out at the plate, and so on. They just seem to have trouble making decisions in the heat of the moment, and it's costing them games. For a team with a manager like Cox, you'd expect better. I'll bet Bobby expects better, too.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

run, Yadi! run!

Two words to describe the phenomenal baserunning skills of Yadier (let's say it together: yah-dee-yAIR) Molina: Watch. Out.

Last night he came home on a throwing error after hitting a double to the wall, and slid under the tag to score. Tonight he scored from first on a bloop double by Ryan (in which Brendan made it to third on the throw) and slid just under the tag to score, then later in the game he slid into first and was safe on an infield hit when the throw was wide. For a slow runner, he's been making some agressive and spectacular slides. No fear for Yadi.

Ya-DI. Ya-DI. Ya-DI.

the rundown

Yadi's fun to watch. He isn't going to break any land-speed records, but he runs as hard and tries as hard as anybody playing the game. If you didn't see it, he hit a double to the wall and then scored on a wild throw/error. He just barely beat the tag, but he slid right where he needed to and (including the two he drove in on the hit) increased the Redbirds' lead to six runs in the third inning. I almost expected to see him with an oxygen mask in the dugout.

Looper gave the bullpen some relief by pitching seven innings, and then when the 'pen did take over, they were able to (miraculously enough) hold on to the lead and close it out for the win. Unfortunately, a nine-run lead does not qualify for a save situation, and so we didn't see Izzy. The good news is, we had a nine-run lead going into the ninth. Even better, we came out the other side of the ninth with the nine-run lead intact. (I just can't say "nine-run lead" enough.)

Ankiel is still dealing with the sore abs (or whatever), so he didn't play, but Mather had a three-hit night (including a two-run shot), so all was well. Glaus seems to have cooled off a bit, but with everyone else contributing you don't notice it quite as much. He is very streaky.

It's fun to win. It's funner to win by nine. I'm not going to let the fact that the Braves are in a slump right now bring me down. We needed this win, regardless of who it came against, and considering that the Brewers and Cubs are playing each other right now (which means that one or the other is going to lose) the fact that we're playing a team we have a chance to beat is, well, remarkably o-k-a-y with me. But I don't want to jinx it, and no win is ever guaranteed, so I'll just stop right here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

no comment

Since my predictions, hopes, ideas (basically anything I put down) means bad luck for the object, I'd like to express how completely devoid I am of any expectations concerning Izzy and the future of the closer's role.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

a whole other ballgame

Okay, I made a few notes after that devastating sweep by Milwaukee, and now I'd like to make some revisions.

Re: the Brewers series
You can't count on late-inning heroics every game.

Re: game two against the Mets
Hello, Albert. Rescued the team with his 14th inning two-run home run. Talk about your late inning heroics.

Re: the short starts by the starting pitchers
You can't count on your bullpen to pitch five innings every night.

Re: four innings from Piñeiro
Well, it wasn't five innings, was it? It was ten... And with one glaring exception, they were perfect. (Okay, maybe just good enough. Whatever. We'll take it.) Thompson gets the win.

Re: the lack of offense (especially late in games)
You can't count on your 'pen shutting down the other team every night.

Re: two runs to win it (in the 14th)
See comments above.

Re: the poor performance of the bullpen
You can't count on scoring fifteen runs every game in order to win.

Re: the exceptional performance by the bullpen
Ten should do it, though. Heh heh. Talk about keeping us in the game. McClellan struck-out the side in the eighth, and Thompson only needed five pitches in the 13th to retire the side.

Attn: every other bat in the lineup
You can't count on Albert to hit grand slams every time he comes to bat.

Attn: 21 hits by our offense, and Albert won the game with his FIFTH of the night.
Well, it wasn't a grand slam, was it?

too shocked to think

Anthony Reyes is no longer a member of the Cardinals' organization. 

It hurts, it really does. He was such a big part of the World Series team (like so many others that are no longer around), and I'd become a bit of an A-Rey fanatic. I think he's got great stuff and a lot of potential, but I guess it just wasn't meant to be. 

You know what? Good for Anthony. I'll continue to follow him (well, his stats, anyway, I'm not really a stalker), and hopefully this will turn his career around and give him a chance to get some starts or at least pave the way for him to become the big league pitcher he's destined to be. 

I've said it many times before, but now that we're at the end I guess I'll say it one more time: A-Rey never did mesh with Dave Duncan or his demands from his pitchers. 

Anthony would be at Memphis, pitching great, and then when he'd inevitably get called back up, he'd lose his control and give up big innings. I'll not get into the differences between facing AAA hitters and major league hitters, or the difference between pitching for ground balls and pitching for strike-outs (and how the latter is more likely to get you into trouble with fly balls), or the difference between a two-seam and a four-seam fastball, but suffice it say that Anthony will be a terrific starter for some lucky club sometime in the future (maybe it will be Cleveland, maybe not) I'm just sorry it wasn't the Redbirds. 

Good-bye and good luck, Anthony. I'll miss you. You'll always be a Cardinal to me. 

In happier news, Chris Carpenter pitched well at Memphis and is poised to return to the rotation, maybe even as soon as WEDNESDAY. 

Yeah! Maybe Wednesday we'll win. 

The Cubs have lost two in a row to the Marlins. The Brewers lost to Houston last night, and they play again tonight. As much as I hate the Cubs, I'd rather they be in first place than the Bloated Brewers. I just came up with that. 

Have you read the Onion lately? You should. 

Luis Perdomo, according to Matthew Leach and the Cardinals' team site, is, "a big-armed reliever who began the year at high Class A Kinston before being promoted to Double-A Akron. For the year, Perdomo has a 5-1 record, a 1.66 ERA, 60 strikeouts, 24 walks and one home run allowed in 54 1/3 innings. Perdomo, 24, is reported to have a fastball in the mid-90s, a slider and a changeup. The right-hander has spent his entire career in the Indians organization. He will be assigned to Double-A Springfield."

Friday, July 25, 2008

the worst so far

Well, no one can blame our bullpen for this one. 

7-2 loss against the Mets and now we're sliding fast with a five-game skid and no signs of picking up. 

Who is this person wearing Albert's uniform? 'Cause it CAN'T be José Alberto Pujols. 

He hasn't hit a HR since July 4. 

That's 16 games, 56 at-bats, and 20 hits he's had that weren't home runs. 

In that time he's hit five doubles, driven in eight, struck-out three times, walked eight times, and stolen base twice. He has a .357 average in those 16 games, and yet somehow he just doesn't seem like Albert. 

Where would this team be without him? No wonder he's the face of the Cardinals. 

The offense has been lackluster (and no, that isn't what I really want to type, it's just a euphemism) for the entire home stand and this first game in NY. Yes, we won all four against the Pads (but seriously, it was the Pads) but even then, we weren't scoring like we're capable and at least three (possibly all four, I'll check later) of the wins were come from behind. And while that is something in itself, it only works if the other team has a pitching staff you can get to, and that is precisely how the Brewers came from behind to get us in that disaster of a series. 

Re: the Brewers series 
You can't count on late-inning heroics every game.

Re: the short starts by the starting pitchers 
You can't count on your bullpen to pitch five innings every night. 

Re: the lack of offense (especially late in games) 
You can't count on your 'pen shutting down the other team every night. 

Re: the poor performance of the bullpen 
You can't count on scoring fifteen runs every game in order to win. 

Attn: every other bat in the lineup 
You can't count on Albert to hit grand slams every time he comes to bat.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

some advice

Don't talk to Tony about the bullpen if you know what's good for you.

Another hard loss for the Redbirds last night. The good news is, the Cubs lost again, too. The bad news is, we're solidly in third place.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

in closer situ, part 1

Memo to the opposing lineup: You can get to our bullpen. (Don't worry, it's no secret.)

A late inning rally by the 'Birds was dismantled by the 'pen when Ryan Franklin gave up three runs in the top of the tenth last night to put the Brewers back on top. The offense was unable to answer back, and Milwaukee took game one of this four-game set at Busch.

I do not like "Frankie" in the closer role. He's a good pitcher and he definitely rounds out the bullpen, but I don't think he's got the experience to deal with the stress of the job on a long-term basis. Once in a while--under the right circumstances--would be fine with me, but there have been too many disappointing outings from him and I would rather see someone else. Is it too late to get Troy Percival back?

Russ Springer, who pitched a scoreless seventh, has allowed just two earned runs over his last 34 outings (25-2/3 innings, 0.70 ERA). Yahoo! Sports

Yes, Pat, we can hope.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Tonight: Piñeiro vs. Seth McClung (5-5, 4.16 ERA)
Tomorrow: Lohse vs. Jeff Suppan (5-6, 4.71)
Wednesday: Looper vs. C.C. Sabathia (9-8, 3.51)
Thursday: Wellemeyer vs. Ben Sheets (10-3, 2.88)

some words about pitching

Whether they combine to form a coherent thought is, well, still undecided.

The stats for each of the current starters (in games which they started regardless of whether the pitcher got a decision):
►average runs scored by our offense in team wins
►average runs scored by our offense in team losses

Lohse, Kyle (12-2)
For the most part, he's very reliable. As they keep mentioning on the broadcasts, he only has 2 losses in his last 33 starts (over two seasons). That's best in the majors, if you're keeping track.
As with all our starters, he doesn't go as deep into games as one would like, but he went seven innings in each of his last four starts, and he does go deeper more often than shallower (if that makes any sense--I warned you).
Right now, he's our ace simply because he keeps winning. He doesn't seem to have that special "leader" attitude, but that could be traced back to the fact that he doesn't have a contract past the end of this season and Moze seems reluctant to go down that road. If it were me, I'd probably be hesitant to put down roots, too.

Wellemeyer, Todd (8-4)
He hasn't been the most reliable, but when he's feeling good, he's been okay. If he gets enough run support--which he generally does--he gets a win. If not, the results aren't as good, because he does tend to give up quite a few runs. He was the NL pitcher of the month in May, but it's July now. The tide has changed. (And on a side note, this is just one more reason to add to my list of reasons why accolades can damage performance.)
At any rate, he had a solid start (after a couple of rough innings) on Saturday, and I'm looking for things to improve for the Kentucky Colonel. He's definitely got the stuff it takes to be a quality big league pitcher.

Wainwright, Adam (6-3)
He will pitch again this season. Period. If we have to get into the post-season to see it, well then, so be it. The latest news on him is that he's expected to start throwing from a mound within the next two weeks.

Looper, Braden (9-7)
The guy I thought would take over when Adam got hurt--in terms of leadership, winning percentage, and general top-doggery--has been kind of disappointing. He's still a good pitcher, but he seems to take a step back for every step forward. For me, he's the hardest to figure out on this staff. He was a reliever for so long that maybe there are still some residual effects from the change into a starter, although you would hope that goes away after a full year in the rotation. Right now he's at about the same level he was last year, so maybe this is just who he is: A good pitcher that streaks hot and cold like a hitter (and whom I'll never figure out).

Piñeiro, Joel (3-4)
Tony apparently does not agree with Joel's attitude toward losing. If you want to make it on this club, you have to want it.
As far as his abilities, he's right up there with our other starters. In other words, he's a good pitcher, he has definitely benefitted from working with Duncan, and he has his good and bad days. Unfortunately for Joel, he's the Anthony Reyes of the staff right now in that if there's a hard luck loss to be had, it's his. It's nothing he's doing wrong, it's just fate or some such nonsense.

Carpenter, Chris
He started yesterday at AA Springfield, and by all accounts was right where he was expected to be in his recovery. They say his command was off--he walked four--but was getting his fastball up to a solid 92 and struck-out four as well. Only half of his 65 or so pitches got in for strikes, but he only gave one hit over four innings.
He declared himself "not ready" for big league work just yet, but now that his rehab has begun, he's got 30 days before he'll have to rejoin the club or be placed back on the DL. The Cardinals expect him back sometime in early August.

García, Jaime
He's back at Memphis for now, partly because Tony wants a fresh arm for the series against Milwaukee, and partly because the Brewers tend to be very hard on lefties.

Boggs, Mitchell (3-1)
He's back up in exchange for García, and aside from one bad outing in his last start, Boggs was very effective this season for the club. He'll be in 'pen to supplement a bunch of guys that worked very hard in the four-game sweep of the Padres.

Mulder, Mark
He's going to take a nap for a while and see if that makes him feel any better.

Clement, Matt
Anybody else forget about this guy completely? Or was it just me?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

miles and miles (and miles)

Yes, that's right, Aaron Miles hit his second career grand slam--his third home run of the season--and won it in the bottom of the ninth for the Redbirds. Of course, none of it would have been possible without Izzy. 

We were plugging along, fighting for the sweep, and then with Miles on-base, Ankiel gave us our first run of the afternoon with a double in the first. 

Albert drove in number two in the seventh with a sac fly, and Glaus drove in Miles and Ludwick in the eighth with a three-run shot to make it 5-3. 

Izzy, possibly knowing what drama was in store, decided to give two of the runs back. He only recorded one out in the ninth before being replaced with Thompson, but he had accomplished what he went out to accomplish--a tie game going into the bottom of the ninth and Miles due up... fifth. 

That's right. With one out, Pujols walked and then reached third on a throwing error by the catcher. Molina and Schumaker were intentionally walked ahead of Miles, because if you don't know anything about baseball or the Cardinals you might assume the five-foot five-inch "bench" player is an easier and more sure out than the catcher who just ran in from the bullpen or the speedy, left-hitting outfielder. 

Unfortunately, you'd be wrong. 

Bud Black was wrong. 

With the bases loaded, one out, and the game tied in the bottom half of the ninth, all Miles had to do was send a fly ball deep enough to score Albert, hit a single into the gap, or draw a walk. 

Apparently it was overachiever day on Aaron's calendar. Miles took one look at Corey's fastball and pounded it out of the park for a grand slam home run.

p.s.- Jaime García went five innings and gave up five hits and three runs (all scored on two homers). He struck-out four and walked one, and looked pretty darn decent, especially considering it was his first major league start. I will never make another prediction concerning Jason Isringhausen again, and I take full responsibility for the terror that was the ninth inning.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

we like our team

"If there's a better middle of the lineup in the National League right now, I'd be hard pressed to name it." 

Mark Grace, who called the game for Fox today, also had nice things to say about Molina, Miles, the second-base position in general, Tony's management skills, and Dave Duncan's success with pitchers. I like Mark Grace. 

Pujols went three for four with four RBIs, but still no home runs. I guess it's hard to complain about his production when he's getting it done so nicely every day. Glaus and Ankiel have been getting it done, as well, and did you know that Molina is hitting .306? This team deserves some good things to happen. 

Earlier this year the Cards were easily defeated by bad starting pitching. They were having trouble coming back from deficits--even one or two runs--and just generally not able to score runs late in games no matter who was in the lead. But lately--today, as a matter of fact--that hasn't been a problem. Twice in this series already the Redbirds have come back from behind to take the lead, and won both games. We're getting help from everyone right now, and the only real weak spot in the lineup is the pitcher's spot--the way it should be. 

Today, as in past starts, Wellemeyer was struggling early on. He gave up five runs in the first two innings (with a little help from his defense), but then buckled down and cruised through the next 4-1/3 with only minimal difficulty. He even picked up a single to start off the fifth trying to help his own cause (and scored on Albert's double). Earlier this year I would have already written it off as a loss, but today--maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the opposition, or maybe it was the fact that we're playing better--the team picked up Todd and gave him a much needed and anticipated eighth win. 

To borrow a line from Jim Hayes, the Cardinals are a pretty good ball club. 

Jaime García will get his first big league start tomorrow in the final game with the Padres. His plan? "I'm just going to try to go out there and do my thing. I'm not going to do too much or change the stuff [or] try to do something different." He's going up against Cha Seung Baek who was just recently added to the Padres' starting rotation after being traded from Seattle. Jaime's a lefty who looked pretty good in his first ML appearance--he threw two scoreless innings at Pittsburgh--on July 11. 

Doctor's reports on Mulder show that there's nothing more surgeons can do for him. The plan is to let him rest and see what happens.

just a note

Last night Izzy was incredible. Like his old self, in fact, and it was so good see. I would have loved to have seen him the night before in an actual "save" situation, but we'll take what we can get for now. I'm predicting a return to his regular postition--successfully--by the end of August. Maybe we can even get him those last 8 saves he needs.
Glaus, while going two for four, did strike out with the bases loaded and two out. Fortunately, it was not our last scoring opportunity, and the Cards were able to pull one out last night. Ludwick's 3-run homer may have been overshadowed by Yadi's 2-run single, but both were essential for the win. In fact, it seems like when the Redbirds do win, it's usually a team effort, not just one guy doing all the work. How important is that?
Pujols has not hit a HR since July 4. (That's 10 homer-less games.) Remember that one? Number 300. I often wonder if baseball wouldn't be better off if we didn't keep track of every inane statistic and milestone like we do. When they were talking about Jake Peavy the other night, Dan mentioned that the last few Cy Young winners have had rather unimpressive follow-up seasons. The 'Birds and other teams have suffered from World Series hangovers and performed sub-par the next year. Then there's Izzy and his difficulties pitching with the 300th save hanging over his head. And now Albert can't seem to find his power after reaching the 300-mark. I'm not suggesting any drastic changes, but you have to admit it may make a difference.

Friday, July 18, 2008

they're ba-ack

And so starts the "second half" of the season. If you hadn't heard, Kyle Lohse is a winner. His nine last decisions and twelve on the season. He hasn't lost a decision since May 8. Besides which, the team has won eleven of his last twelve starts.

Thank the gods for Yadier Molina. Ryan Franklin, who in his own words has not had a "paved road" for the majority of his career, was in trouble in the bottom of the ninth after giving up two doubles in a row to cut the lead down to one run. Dave Duncan came out to the mound and reminded Frankie not to let the monster-trucker (or at least that's what I picked up with my phenomenal lip-reading abilities) calling balls and strikes to throw him off his game. Ryan struck out Myrow for the first out, and got Hundley to ground out to 2B. Then with the tying run on third, two out, and the pinch hitter Luis Rodriguez at the plate, he was shaking off Molina's suggestions with every pitch. Finally Yadi was forced to visit the mound and sternly assure Franklin that he knew what he was doing, just throw what I'm telling you to throw already. Rodriguez grounded out on the next pitch. Franklin picked up his 13th save.
All of Cardinal Nation knows how talented and indispensible Yadi is behind the plate for the Redbird hurlers, and last night was a perfect example. He was very adeptly blocking balls in the dirt (as per usual), calling for effective pitches (as per usual), and managing his pitchers with precision (as per usual). What would we do without you Mo-Mo?

From Tom Krasovic, Union-Tribune staff writer:

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina's agility and blocking skills made it easier for Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin to throw several split-finger fastballs in the ninth. Headley, the potential tying runner, was on second base with none out when Molina caught a splitter in the dirt, securing a critical strikeout of Brian Myrow. Molina also blocked a pitch with Headley on third and Luis Rodriguez batting with two out.

"Molina plays the game," [manager Bud] Black said approvingly.

Glaus has four home runs in the last three games. He has 14 hits in his last 26 ABs. He's brought his average up to .279, which is as high as it's been since May 24. He's also slugging .504, which is his highest percentage this season.

97 down, 65 to go.

One last thing...
I may not have the greatest grasp on the intricacies of the minor leagues and how they are best utilized, but I do understand that there is a delicate balance that must be respected in terms of prospects that should be kept and nurtured for the good of the home team and those who are simply leverage in trade negotiations for players outside the family. In other words, it is important to figure out early which players will give you production for the league minimum and which players you can fool other organizations into thinking could give them production. Unfortunately, this doesn't always work out like it's supposed to, and occasionally you trade away talent and get bubkis in return. On Wall Street they call this "calculated risk." It works much the same in baseball. Therefore, I understand the slow reaction (or no reaction, as it were) to the Brewers' and Cubs' respective acquisitions of starting pitchers. No one wants to see our promising young minor league talent traded away without some kind of reassurance that it's not going to backfire right in our faces.
What I don't understand is what the suits are waiting for in regards to Kyle Lohse. The more he wins, the more expensive he's going to get. Mozeliak and Dewitt keep using the phrase "distraction" as in, "thinking about contracts at this point in the season would be a distraction." The problem with this logic is that not talking about contracts (or giant squid or greenhouse gases) does not mean you're not / Kyle's not / the general public's not thinking about it. Follow me? I suggest they sign him to a long-term deal while the dealing's good, and let Kyle and the rest of us move on with our lives.

Monday, July 14, 2008


NL Starters

Pitcher-Ben Sheets(MIL)►10-3 / 2.85 / 0

1. SS-Hanley Ramirez(FLA)
2. 2B-Chase Utley(PHI)
3. 1B-Lance Berkman(HOU)
4. DH-Albert Pujols(STL)
5. 3B-Chipper Jones(ATL)
6. RF-Matt Holliday(COL)
7. LF-Ryan Braun(MIL)
8. CF-Kosuke Fukudome(CHC)
9. C-Geovany Soto(CHC)

Manager-Clint Hurdle(COL)

AL Starters

Pitcher-Cliff Lee(CLE)►12-2 / 2.31 / 0

1. RF-Ichiro Suzuki(SEA)
2. SS-Derek Jeter(NYY)
3. CF-Josh Hamilton(TEX)
4. 3B-Alex Rodriguez(NYY)
5. LF-Manny Ramirez(BOS)
6. DH-Milton Bradley(TEX)
7. 1B-Kevin Youkilis(BOS)
8. C-Joe Mauer(MIN)
9. 2B-Dustin Pedroia(BOS)

Manager-Terry Francona(BOS)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

rest and rehabilitation

So, Brendan, gimme a call if you need some company for the AS break. My son just got Rock Band. Yes, it's that time of the year again. The Cards have played 96 (that's roughly 60% of the season), and are sitting at 10 games over .500, 4½ games back in the NL Central, with a half-game lead in the NL Wild Card race. The trade deadline is 17 days away. The rumblings are growing louder, and the one name in particular that grabbed my attention was AJ Burnett. He's a righty, and he's a starter, but he's a solid starter that could fill out our rotation. What we really need is some left-handed brilliance in the 'pen. Maybe even two. The Pirates can keep Nady, the Rox can keep Holliday, and the devil can keep Bonds. We don't need a bat, no matter what the suits say. We need some pitching, and we need it yesterday. Literally. We need to get some decent help in the bullpen and a time machine to go back to the collapse we suffered at the hands (and batting gloves) of the Bucs yesterday. García will start for the series finale with the Pads. The ever-fluid starting rotation will look like this for the start of the second half: 1. Lohse 2. Looper 3. Wellemeyer 4. García 5. Piñeiro Flores is expected to be back in the bullpen by that time, so we'll keep two lefties. Sort of. (And no, I won't elaborate on that...) So here we stand, a little more than halfway through the season, and things aren't as bad as they could be. But they aren't as good either. A little R&R might be just what we need.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

the 'pen strikes again

Whether or not Rick Horton is bad luck (yes!), no one gets more of the blame for this horrific loss than Franklin, Izzy, McClellan, and Pérez. They can split it up amongst themselves however they like, but they alone carry this burden.
Tony may have criticized our offense into production, but nothing seems to be working with the boys in the bullpen. I wish I had the solution. I wish someone had the solution.

Friday, July 11, 2008

updates from the farside

There's a lot of news these days, but I want to start with the (how can I put this?) disappointing start from Mark Mulder. No one knew what to expect, especially me. He'd had two relief appearances--one went well, the other not so much--but hadn't made a start in almost a year. And no quality starts since the first half of 2006. So when he stepped onto the mound, everyone held their breath. 

He struck out the first batter, then walked the second, and that's when things went wrong. 

He threw over to first to check on the runner, and basically just slung the ball to Albert. 

After that he had no control at all and threw seven straight balls before finally motioning to LaRue that he needed help. 

He was taken out of the game at that point--three batters faced--and placed back on the DL with shoulder strain. Apparently, something happened with his arm during that throw to first. Brad Thompson, the resident "long man," came in for relief. 

The big question looming over the clubhouse these days: Will Mulder ever pitch professionally again? If I were a gambler, I'd bet the farm he won't. Let's not forget, however--and I'm also addressing myself with this--that Mark Mulder is a person, not just a player or a number or a trade value. He hasn't pitched up to expectations, but he has given it all he had and then some, and he deserves a little sympathy while he mourns his career. Bryan Burnwell put it best, I think, when he said, "The fact that he failed doesn't deserve our derision. The fact that he tried so hard does deserve our admiration." Thanks, Mark, for all you tried to do. 

Also new on the pitching front, the Brewers acquired CC Sabathia from Cleveland and the Cubs picked up Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin from Oakland. Tony, who hasn't been in the best of moods lately anyway, is a little upset about the Cardinals front office's reluctance to make any similar moves. And he makes a good point. Sure, we've got two of the best pitchers in the NL coming back from the DL (probably at the start of August, but don't hold your breath), but what do we do until then? Maybe the Brewers and Cubs would be nice enough to keep their new guys out of the rotation for a while so we can catch up. That's only fair, after all. 

Ludwick did not get voted to the All-Star team by the "fans." He was, however, voted on by his fellow MLB players, and will get no less than TWO tickets to the game--I suggest he take his wife and mother--although he probably could buy more if he needed. Congratulations, Ryan. 

Albert was also selected to the AS team. Congratulations, Albert. 

Neither of them will start. Albert has indicated that if invited, he would participate in the homerun derby. I find the whole business to be repugnant, and I have nothing else to say. 

Glaus is now something like 0-752 against the Cubs. In 48 ABs. I know that sounds impossible, but you know what they say about Troy... 

We've lost two series in a row. The only good thing about the AS break this year is that it may come at the right time for the 'birds. A few days off may be just what the boys need (with the exception of Albert and Ryan who will probably come away from the exhibition game with a new lease on the season). That's what I'm hoping anyway. 

Roster moves: Barton is on the DL. Izturis is back from the DL. Jaime García is the new LHP in the bullpen. Mather is up. Boggs is down. Mulder.... well, you know.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

best rivalry in baseball

That would be the Cubs and the Cardinals, thank you.

Game 1: Albert hit his 300th career home run on the 4th of July (with his wife in the stands). How apropos. Fireworks were on-hand.
The Redbirds and Looper, who went 7 innings, were able to hold a very competent Cubbies' offense to two runs. Even thought we didn't win, I'd call that a moral victory for sure.
Izzy pitched in his 600th game and struck-out Jim Edmonds. Kinda surreal.
Speaking of Edmonds, he got a standing ovation from the Cardinals fans when he stepped up to the plate in the first, then struck-out three times in the game.
Glaus and HP umpire Ted Barrett nearly came to blows in the bottom of the ninth after Barrett (possibly trying to speed up the game due to the "distracting" fireworks outside the stadium) expanded the strike zone and called Troy out on two consecutive pitches 6 inches off the plate. The first one was a bad call. The second one was pure spite. He stared Troy down as he walked back to the dugout.

Game 2: 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. Then Duncan came home as well, beating Edmonds' throw 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.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

that's a winner, folks

Let's hear it for Duncan! and Glaus, Ankiel, Miles, Franklin, Pujols, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
After getting off to a roaring start, the Cards offense threatened to let a 4-0 lead evaporate into a loss, but Rick gave us the advantage back with a solo shot. Then, once again, we were behind going into the eighth and there was very little air left in the stadium. Fortunately for the Redbirds, Tony has never lost faith in Chris Duncan and threw him right into the deep end with a pinch hit opportunity, and Chris gave us a reason to believe--a reason in the shape of a two-run home run to tie it back up. Then in walk-off fashion, with two out, Glaus won it with his second homer of the game. I am so glad I stayed up to watch!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

will big mac land again?

I don't condone the use of "performance-enhancing" drugs. For one, I don't think they really give athletes the edge that everyone believes. For another, they are dangerous and harmful to your body. Add to that the fact that young kids are using them because they see their idols doing it, and it all stinks. However, I am willing to forgive those who have used steroids or human growth hormone or both because it's in the past. As long as it stays in the past, there's no problem.
Having said that, I would love to see Mark McGwire back in baseball. There are rumblings that he wants to return to the game in a coaching capacity--batting coach, specifically. He has long participated in various aspects of the Cardinals' spring training and other off-season activities, and Chris Duncan, Skip Schumaker and others spend time every off-season weight training with him and getting his advise on hitting. He is undoubtedly one of the most well-known figures in Cardinals history, mostly because of his ability to go yard, but at least partly because of his association with Jose Canseco and the steroid scandal. He was called to testify in front of Congress for the Mitchell investigation, and basically said he had no comment. The "experts" on ESPN believe he should come clean and hold a press conference to confess and apologize to the American people before being allowed to return to the game. I believe that we should let it go and move on with our lives. I want to see him coach (especially if it's with St Louis) and think he would be a valuable addition to any staff. Everybody's got baggage, people. That shouldn't stop him from contributing.

embarassment of riches

Where to begin... 

Kyle Lohse pitched beautifully. In fact, the only run that the Mets had last night was unearned. It was scored on a throwing error by Ankiel. 

Lohse struck-out four and walked two in seven innings of work. He threw 104 pitches, 67 of them for strikes. 

Duncan finally got back into the home run race (he now has five). He dumped one just over the right field wall for two runs. 

Miles went 3-5 and extended his hitting streak to 12 games. 

Glaus had two doubles and was hit by two pitches. Let's see... what else? Oh yeah! 

Mark Mulder pitched.   Off a mound.   In a Major League game.   
I gotta tell you, when it became apparent in the bottom of the eighth that Mulder was coming in (he was the only one left warming up in the bullpen), the butterflies set in. Who knew what to expect? Not me. But after all was said and done, it was a good outing and he looked relaxed and in control. Tatis grounded out; Chavez got a bloop single (which probably should have been caught in left); Castro struck out; Easley singled on another bloop; then Reyes flied out to right. End of inning. 

Yes, the Cards won. 
Yes, Lohse picked up his tenth win of the season. 
Yes, the Redbirds played well. 
But the big news is how good Mulder looked and how you decide where to put him. I'm glad Duncan is the one getting paid to make that decision. (In the latest Stew, David Brown remarked, "Dave Duncan will have the late Dizzy Dean up and throwing in no time.") 

Side note: As I was watching the post-game show on FSN, there was a text message question from a fan that basically said, "When do the Cards bite the bullet and finally put Miles in the rotation?" Okaaaaay. Are you really watching the games? 'Cause I feel like it's pretty obvious to the rest of us that the Cardinals' starting rotation is not where fresh faces are needed. In fact, our rotation is one of the best in baseball. 

That brings me back around to the problem with Mulder. If you do decide to put him back in the rotation, whom do you move? 

Boggs is the low man on the totem pole, but he's pitching so well it would be a crime to send him back to Memphis, and he did not impress anyone pitching out of the bullpen.

If you go by stats, Piñeiro would be the odd-man out, but he's pitching much better than his 2-4 record would suggest, and the Cardinals have won his last four starts. 

Looper is actually struggling more than anyone else right now, but he's also been one of the most dependable starters over the course of the season, and his problems may very well be corrected by his next turn. 

Obviously, Lohse isn't going anywhere. He's pitching like a superstar/All-Star. 

Wellemeyer was very sharp for his last start (even though he didn't get a decision and the Cards ended up losing the game), so as long as he stays healthy, he'll be in the rotation. 

There are only about two weeks until the All-Star Break, so chances are, things will remain staus quo until afterwards. At that point, who knows? We'll eventually have to work Wainwright back into the mix also. I guess it's better to have an excess of choices than not enough.