Sunday, August 31, 2008

swept not away, just a little off-course

We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in [Arizona], we shall fight [in Pittsburgh], we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in [Cincinnati]. We shall defend our [stadium], whatever the cost may be. We shall fight [at Busch], we shall fight [at Wrigley], we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!

(This was borrowed from Sir Winston Churchill and disfigured by me.)

Swept by the 'Stros.

So maybe my plan needs a little revision. I still think the 'Birds have it in them, but now is the time to bring it out. No more waiting. Get Carp in the bullpen, and put a little ben-gay in the jock straps.

Tell you what, I'll bake a pie for every player that hits a home run in September. Any flavor. Will that help?


Come on, Cards fans, I know you're out there. We can't give up now. There's too much left to play for! So gather up what's left of your cojones and jump back on the wagon. It's go time, people. The money's on the table, the horses are at the gate. The race for the end is beginning.

Nothing's over! Nothing's decided! It's September! Isn't this what it's all about?

bold predictions

Anybody else feeling a little tense about the season? I'm trying to stay calm and not let the pressure get to me, but I feel myself sinking lower with every loss.

It's August 31. There are 26 games left for the Cardinals. That's eight series (plus one game left against Houston). Two of those series are against Chicago. And the Cubs and Brewers have six games left with each other.

The Cubs also have 26 games left, and Milwaukee has 27. Philadelphia will not win their division and will be looking for some Wild Card love. They have 26 games left also.

Here's my hope for the remainder of the season: I'm assuming the Cubs are going to win 2/3 of their remaining games (at least), and the Brewers are probably going to hover around .500 in the last month. Philly will probably not do that well.

There's no reason we can't win both series with the Cubs, and so for part of my formula, we are going to take 4/6 of those games.

The Brewers, obviously, aren't going to do as well against Chicago, and the Cubs will take 4/6 of those games.

That means, of their other games, Chicago will win 11 (of 14). They are pretty much out of reach for the division title, but I don't think they'll make it past the division championship series.

The Cubs will finish at 102-60 and win the NL Central.

The Phillies and Brewers see each other for 4 more games, but we don't have any more with either of our closest Wild Card competitors.

Milwaukee will win 2/6 of the games they have left with the Cubs, and 3/4 with Philadelphia (just for good measure), but they're going to struggle against the Reds and Pirates who will decide they have something to prove in the last month of play (and maybe even have some really outstanding young talent come up from AAA). Cincinnati will take 3/6 and Pittsburgh will take 2/3. Even San Diego will prove too much of a challenge for Milwaukee, and they'll split that 4-game series.

The Brewers will end up at 92-70.

Philadelphia will take 3/6 from Washington, 2/3 from the Mets, and 4/6 from Atlanta, but will get swept by Florida in both 3-game series.

The Phillies will finish the season at 85-77.

The Redbirds, in addition to taking 4/6 from Chicago (cause the Cubs don't really need those four games) will win today in the final of three against Houston, will take 5/7 from Arizona, sweep Florida and Pittsburgh, and win 4/6 against Cincinnati.

We will end up at 94-68 and on top of the NL Wild Card race.

There you go, then. Today, as they say, is the first day of the rest of the season, and if we want to win, now's the time to start.

We're going to need a lot of strong starts from our rotation, a lot of clean finishes from our relievers, and some heavy hitting from the offense. We also need as much moral support from the fans as we can muster, because these are the games that count. Don't give up on the boys yet.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

just playing a little baseball

First inning: Big hits. Ankiel hit a three-run home run. Looper gave up six runs before getting a single out. Boy, he could not buy a strike, and the 'Stros took advantage.

Third inning: Was it a catch or wasn't it? Skip Schumaker laid himself out in center and came up with a ball that Hunter Pence was sure wasn't caught, and he got himself doubled-up running. Upon further review (on the replay) it was shown to have been a trap rather than a catch. It was ruled a catch, however, by the umpire.

Al Hrabosky:

I'm sure he trapped that ball, but let's get in the dugout quickly.

Oh, Al.

After the break, we learned that Cecil Cooper had been ejected from the game. The crowd steadily booed the whole umpiring crew for the rest of the game.

(I tell you what, if roles had been reversed, I would have been standing on my head screaming and probably cursing the umpires 'til next week.)

And here is where instant replay will begin its inevitable morphing process. It will start as a tool to judge fair vs foul balls where home runs are concerned, but people will not remain happy with the limitations on it for long. Eventually Selig will give in and expand the uses to which IR can be put, and then, watch out.

Fifth inning: That f***ing hill should be outlawed. Why it isn't a rule violation, I can't figure. Schu almost made a spectacular play out there, but came up just a foot or so short, and then the next batter took Looper deep for the third time. Springer, who gave up the game-winner last night, got right back on the horse that threw him (got a hair of the dog that bit him, or some other cliché of your liking), and struck-out his two batters, no problem. Goes to show what a difference a day makes. I like that Tony will send a guy right back out there as soon as possible. For one, it shows that he still has confidence in his pitchers (and sometimes that's as important as anything), and for two, it gives the pitcher a chance to show what he can do. To show that he isn't going to let one mistake define him. To shake it off and make good.

Seventh inning: Albert crushed one to left. Okay, maybe he didn't exactly crush it, after all you only have to hit a ball about 150 feet to make it out in left field at MM Park, but he hit it hard enough and fair enough (bounced it off the "fowl" pole) to give the Cards two more runs toward coming back in this one.

Ninth inning: My hopes were dashed, and I wonder how when there's a down-by-two or three situation where we need big hits, it seems like it's always the rookies at the plate.

Blah. I felt going into this post that I would be writing about a loss, but there's still plenty to play for: individual player statistics, spoiling the season for other teams, getting some big league playing time for AAAers, and so on. After all, it's not all about the post-season, right? It's supposed to be fun. That's what I'll be looking for.

it's ugly, but probably not spelled correctly

Have you seen all the hateful things Brewers' fans are saying about us? (Or maybe they just appear hateful because I'm misinterpreting their misspelled words and faulty grammar.) 

I can understand why they are frustrated, having not played in October for the better part of three decades, but why take it out on the Cardinals and the Cards' fans? What did we ever do? It's not like Tony's hiding a cabinet full of voodoo dolls wearing Milwaukee uniforms. Right? So, what then? It's a mystery to me.

Friday, August 29, 2008

looking to the future

If you'd asked me at the beginning of the season who I'd like to see make the extended roster in September, my list would have included a lot of the promising AAAers like Mather and Perez and Boggs. Guys with a lot of potential looking for their first opportunity to show the big leaguers what they're made of.

Unfortunately, there aren't many of those guys left. The Cardinals have seen nearly a dozen prospects make their major league debuts this season--including some very clutch performances--and McClellan, Pérez, Mather, Stavinoha, and Phelps are currently on the 25-man roster.

Players who have been up and are on the 40-man roster:

Mitchell Boggs
Jaime García
Mark Worrell
Mike Parisi (thhhhbbbbpppppt.)
Brendan Ryan (MLB debut 2007)
Rico Washington
Kelvin Jimenez (MLB debut 2007)
Randy Flores (MLB debut 2002)

Players who are on the 40-man roster but have not seen ML action:

Jason Motte
Jarrett Hoffpauir
Blake Hawksworth

There are also four spots on the 40-man roster currently occupied by DLers (Duncan, Carp, Barton, and Izzy).

I'd love to see guys like Brian Barden and Cody Haerther get the chance to show off their stuff, but we'll have to wait and see what Tony thinks about that.

Am I a staunch supporter of the September roster expansion? No.
Will I live with it because it's not going anywhere? Sure.
Do I believe it is as evil as the DH? Not necessarily.
Do the pros outweigh the cons? It's entirely possible.
Does anybody really care what I think? Chances are slim.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

like it never happened

Oh, wow. 
So much has happened. The Cards lost. The Cards won. Albert got angry and then he got even. I figure this was a good lesson for the Brewers (and most particularly Carlos Villanueva) who split the series with the Redbirds. The lesson: Don't F*** with Albert. Don't F*** with us. And definitely don't do it in Spanish.

I have a small confession to make. I turned it off after the seventh inning last night. Oh sure, I watched every excruciating out the night before, but I gave up on this one and went to bed after Mather popped up with the bases loaded to end the inning. Don't say it, I'll "shaaaaame" myself. I missed the attitude from the reliever, I missed the adjustment from Albert, I missed the 4-run come-from-behind, and most importantly, I missed Troy Glaus finally getting a hit in this series.

You know what the difference between a 12-run win and a 2-run win is? Go ahead, say it... Nothing. So brow beat us all you want, we don't lay down for anyone, and no way in hell do we make this easy for the Bloated Brewers.

Ryan Braun, after the beat-down the Brewers gave us on Tuesday, had a few comments of his own about differences.

The difference between a good team and a great team is being content and getting a win today and coming out flat tomorrow — or coming out tomorrow and really trying to do everything we can to get that victory. The great teams come out and find a way to send a message and win that game tomorrow.

So, Ryan, what does that make your team? That's what I thought. For future reference, you might not want to make such bold statements until after you win the game. It tends to send the wrong message if you can't follow through, and Prince Fielder might shove you into your locker.

Anyway, a split is not ideal, but it's better than a sweep, and the season is FAR from over. Damn this game and its hypnotizing effects on me...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

buena onda

Albert is THE MAN.


Sin duda. 

Regardless of the opponent, but especially as far as the Braves are concerned. He owned them over the weekend, going 8 for 10 (that's .800) with 2 home runs, 3 doubles, and 8 RBI. Nasty stuff. 

How can anyone doubt this man? 

How can he not be the top story on ESPN every day? 

When will the world wake up and acknowledge his overwhelming and undeniable greatness?

Can I just throw something out there that is completely unrelated to the Cards or baseball or sports or anything?... Everybody hates Chris just came on (a show I never watch but happens to follow the re-run of OTH on Sunday nights) and they're playing "You got it (the right stuff)" by the New Kids on the Block. That's all. I just didn't want to be the only one aware of it.

putting it behind us

I knew it... 

It's all my fault. 

Baseball is a game of jinxes and superstitions and I ignored my better judgment and made a comment (temped fate, really) that I had no business making. 

 Ah, well. 31 more games. It ain't over 'til it's over, right? 

If you ever question hustle or wonder why Schu feels it's necessary to slide into first; if you ever defend players who strut out of the box or turn off their burners halfway down the line, all you need do is remember this game. 

Ninth inning, two on and two out for the Braves who are on top by one, and Russ Springer gets Martin Prado to ground one to second. 

A routine play? Sure. An easy out? Not necessarily. 

Albert had been playing deep and Lopez (at second) took what turned out to be a split second too long getting rid of the ball. Prado was safe, loading the bases. 

Now while we, as Cardinals fans, may find it easier to blame Lopez rather than Albert, or concede that we lost because of our own mental errors rather than because the other team played better, you have to give a lot of credit to Prado. 

He never gave up on it. He hustled down the line like he had gotten one past the infielders and actually had a chance. Anyone watching the play develop would have turned away from the tv (kind of like I did) and assumed the inning was over. But they would have been surprised (much as I was) when they glanced back up to see Prado standing at first and the replays showing a distraught second-baseman who had just saddled Springer with a slightly heavier load. 

Later, Lopez defended himself saying he was waiting for Albert to get back to the bag, and Albert apparently had nothing to say. But does any of that really matter? Does it make any difference whose fault it was? Was this the play (or misplay, rather) that decided the game? Can the Redbirds afford to let this one game, this one loss, this one mistake define the rest of the season? 

Of course not. If there's one thing, though, that the 'Birds have excelled at this year, it's bouncing back. They have turned moving on into an art form. They have suffered some of the most heart-wrenching defeats known to man (see: 20-2 vs Philly), and they have come back the next game ready to play (see: won the next two in that series). 

All year they have shown moxy and grit and heart and determination, and it's going to take a lot more than one little game against the Braves to slow them down. I don't think we have reason to worry, Cards' fans, but you didn't hear that from me. 

Speaking of Felipe Lopez, had a nice article about him (and about the club). He's been a very nice addition to the team since his arrival at the beginning of the month. He's batting .327 with the Cardinals (on-base .400 and slugging .449), with 2 doubles, 2 triples, and 3 RBI. He has stolen base three times (never been caught). He's also fielding well. He's played 48-1/3 innings at second, 14 at third, 15 at short, and 28-2/3 in left field. He doesn't have any errors (at any position), and combined he has 9 put outs and 29 assists. (

Saturday, August 23, 2008

el mundo es un pañuelo

Además de ser un deporte "Americano", el béisbol es un deporte muy popular en el mundo hispano. Muchos de los jugadores de las ligas mayores son hispanos, son de decendencia hispánica, o al menos hablan español. Igualmente, muchos jugadores de las ligas mayores (incluso los estadounidenses) juegan en México o el caribe fuera de la temporada regular. Entonces, hay muchos seguidores del béisbol (aquí y en latinoamérica) que también hablan español y hay una demanda alta para partidos y reportes en español. En Chicago, Nueva York, y Los Angeles, estaciones de tele y radio ofrecen programas beisbolistas especialmente para los hispanohablantes. Anunciadores latinos cubren los partidos. Entrevistan a los jugadores en su lengua nativa. Aún en las ligas mayores hay jugadores que hablan muy poco inglés y tienen que comunicar en español.

Si ya no hablas una lengua segunda, te aliento aprender el español. Es importante para el béisbol, pero también para el futuro de nuestro país. El español es el idioma que está creciendo más rápido que todos aquí en los estados unidos.

Si entiendes el béisbol en inglés, es probable que lo puedes entender en español, también. Se usan palabras muy familares como "un doble play" o "un hit". Y, por supuesto, las reglas son iguales. Pero hay frases españolas que se usan también, y si quieres escuchar (o mirar) un partido de béisbol con anunciador hispanohablante (como en la serie mundial de little league o en la liga del caribe), es preciso tener un conocimiento básico de los términos. 

a whopper

18 runs, 26 hits, and not a single home run. Who'dathunk?

Yesterday was my favorite kind of day... I went shopping in the morning, the Cubs lost after lunch, and the Cards won before bedtime. I slept well last night.

And they didn't just win, either, they slaughtered the Braves. It was pure punishment, and I loved every second of it. I was a little worried about Lopez there for a minute, but he redeemed himself before it was all over.

I didn't initially understand putting Joel in for the last three innings, because I figured he could still get slotted into the rotation if he was fresh, but I sorted it out. With all the off-days, it makes sense to let Wainwright and Lohse go every four games because they'll still get five days of rest. And honestly, Piñeiro is our weakest pitcher right now, so he draws the short straw if someone's getting skipped. This way he gets some work closing out the game without having to extend the order.

Hopefully, this will inspire them to play hard again today instead of, say, slacking off. Maybe I shouldn't even think it...

Friday, August 22, 2008

IBRS: the balk

IBRS. Bringing to light some of the lesser known and misunderstood rules of the great American pastime.

Here's my best attempt at explaining a situation that always has me scratching my head, the balk.

pivot foot - the foot on which the pitcher pivots before throwing (right foot for a right-handed pitcher)

free foot - the foot on which the pitcher falls or places his weight during delivery of the pitch (left foot for a right-handed pitcher)

the rubber - the "pitcher's plate" on top of the mound

the stretch - first part of Set when the pitcher may lean in (or "stretch") toward home to get signs from the catcher, or make whatever preliminary motions are necessary for his pitch

delivery - when the pitcher comes set and throws the pitch

coming set - the beginning of the delivery, usually marked when the pitcher brings his hands together in front of his body

time of pitch - when the pitcher makes a move toward home plate after coming set

release - when the pitcher throws the ball

The 2 possible pitching positions are:

Option (1) SET
- the pitcher stands with his toes pointed toward 1B or 3B (depending on his handedness; a LHP would have his feet pointed toward first, a RHP toward 3B)

The pitcher begins SET with one hand at his side.

He then comes SET (bringing his hands together in front of his body), his pivot foot in contact with the rubber, and his free foot in front of (on the HP side of) the rubber. This is SET position.

He may then go to STRETCH.

He must then come to a complete stop with the ball in both hands in front of his body (basically returning to SET position). The stop may be considered optional if there are no baserunners.

He can then either deliver the pitch, throw to a base, or take a step off the rubber with his pivot foot.

Once the pitcher has reached the time of pitch, or in other words, once he makes a move toward home, he must complete the pitch.

Option (2) WIND-UP - the pitcher stands with his toes pointed toward home plate (This position tends to take longer and the pitcher risks a stolen base if there is a baserunner. Many pitchers will vary their choice based on the presence or absence of baserunners.)

The pitcher's pivot foot must be on the rubber, with both hands holding the ball in front of his body. This is WIND-UP position.

He takes signs from the catcher while in position.

He can then either deliver the pitch, throw to a base, or take a step off the rubber with his pivot foot.

His pivot foot must not leave the ground. During delivery he can take a step backward and a step toward home with his free foot.

There is NO set or stretch position with the WIND-UP.

Again, once the pitcher makes a move toward home, he must complete the pitch.

The purpose of the balk rule is to prevent the pitcher from deceiving any or all baserunners. Therefore, the umpire can make a judgment call based on what he interprets the pitcher's intent to be.
The umpire may call a balk if there are runners on and the pitcher:

(while touching the rubber) makes any motion associated with his pitch and then doesn't pitch. (You could also say that if he makes any motion associated with pitching in general and doesn't throw the pitch, it is a balk.)

(while touching the rubber) fakes to first with no throw. (I don't really know how you fake to first with a throw. It's not really a fake then, is it?)

(while touching the rubber) throws to a base without stepping toward that base first. (Just because he steps, though, doesn't mean he has to throw.)

(while touching the rubber) throws (or fakes a throw) to an unoccupied base. (However, if there's a runner on first, the pitcher can turn 180 degrees and throw to second, presumably because if the runner attempts to steal, he would end up at second. Otherwise, the purpose of throwing to an unoccupied base might be delaying the game, see below.)

makes an illegal pitch. (Like a quick pitch. That's basically just a balk when there's no one on base.)

throws the pitch without looking at the batter. (Tricky... Might be more impressive if he threw the pitch without looking at the catcher.)

attempts to pitch while not in contact with the rubber. (That means any motion associated with pitching.)

delays the game. (There's some silly 12-second rule pertaining to how long the pitcher can make the batter stand in the box. I think, though, that this only applies with the bases empty. See: throwing to an unoccupied base, above.)

SETs to pitch without having a ball. (Even just getting that look in his eyes...)

(while touching the rubber) drops the ball. (Either on purpose or by accident. If the ball slips out of his hand and rolls foul, it is a ball if the bases are empty and a balk if there are runners.)

(while in position) removes one hand from the ball (for any reason other than throwing the ball).

(while intentionally walking a batter) throws to the catcher who is outside the catcher's box.

(while pitching from the SET position) does not come to a complete stop.

The penalty:

The baserunner(s) will advance one base.

For the complete list of rules and semi-decent explanations, head over to and check out the official rules for pitchers.

I'm no expert. Hell, I'm not even reasonably well-educated when it comes to this stuff. If I've erred or just plain screwed up, let me know or just ignore it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

a good night on the books

Excerpt from a book I'm thinking of writing entitled: 

In the heat of the game: A book about the sweatiest pitcher in the National League, with the possible exception of Guillermo Mota

"I actually hit the ball," Wellemeyer thought as he sped down the first base line and slipped on the bag before recovering himself and scampering back to tag the base. The base path was wet from the steady mist that had been falling since before the game started, and as a pitcher, Todd was not used to having to run those particular ninety feet.

Here are the offensive numbers from last night:

Schumaker.....3/4, RBI
Ludwick.......2/4, 2B, RBI
Pujols........2/5, 2B, RBI
Ankiel........1/4, HR, 2-RBI
Glaus.........1/4, 2-BB, RBI
LaRue.........2/3, HR, 2B, 3-RBI
Wellemeyer....1/1, sac bunt, RBI
Kennedy.......0/4, reached on error

That's 13 hits and they only stranded six.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

the end of an era?

Tony said this about Izzy, "I told him to get the thing fixed and plan on pitching next year." 

Poor Jason. I wish the season could have ended differently for him. I wish Cardinal Nation had been more understanding when he wasn't pitching his best. I wish we could have gotten him 7 more saves. 

Maybe Tony's optimism means we shouldn't discount seeing Izzy in a Redbirds uniform next season. He has done such a good job (when he's healthy) as a reliever that it would be a real tragedy for him to go out on a bad note instead of with the ovations and applause that we know he deserves. 

I'm already calling on the organization to retire #44, just not quite yet. 

In other news, Wainwright will be back in the rotation on Friday. I guess this means we shouldn't expect to see Carp for a while. Adam sounds chipper and hopeful and healthy. 

The issue with Kyle Lohse and a five-game suspension has me completely dumbfounded. I totally wasn't expecting it, mostly because you usually only see suspensions after ejections, and there was no ejection (and if there had been it would have to have been an ejection of Volquez rather than Lohse). So the fine and 5-game penalty was kind of shocking. Kyle called it "pretty weak" and I'm inclined to agree. Especially considering that Volquez received no punishment even though he put two pitches close to batters' heads and hit Lopez in the back. What a load of manure. I'm glad he's appealed it and I hope they repeal the suspension.

just to clarify . . .

Last night was only one game. If the Cards can get back on track, there's no reason they can't still make it to the playoffs. 34 games left. The end is in sight but nothing has been decided.

small snippets of a conversation with myself

Here's what I know for sure...
(1) The team that lost to the Bucs last night will not get anywhere near the playoffs.
Whoever that team was...

Do I mean I don't think it was the Cardinals? Besides the ugly, ugly misplays by Molina, nothing seemed too far out of the ordinary. Looper gave them every chance. The bullpen gave up important runs. The offense was nowhere to be found (at least until the ninth inning).
Oh, and you can't really blame Barton for swinging through that pitch.
So if it wasn't the Cardinals, then it hasn't been the Cardinals all year.

In defense of my statements, they were playing the Pirates. And that game was revolting. In fact, so bad that I actually considered turning it off.

(2) Whatever else happens this season, they have got to start playing better at home.


(3) I still love Yadi.

No one can be perfect every game, but where was his head?

Not that he carries all the blame. If Mac hadn't kept putting runners on, there wouldn't have been a play (or lackthereof) at the plate. And likewise, if Yadi had thrown to first to get the sure out, Kyle may have been able to pitch out of it.

(4) There was no justice for a pitcher who went seven and only gave up one run.
Looper has been pretty good his last three or four outings. When Miles came up in the bottom of the seventh to pinch hit, I was yelling so loud it's entirely possible Tony actually heard me. Unfortunately, he didn't listen. "Noooo!" I screamed. "Leave Looper in! Let him hit for himself!" But to no avail.

(5) As heart-breaking as the loss was last night, losing Izzy will prove to be a far more devastating loss.
And I don't want to hear a single negative word about it. Izzy is a trooper. He's an excellent pitcher, teammate, and mentor, and the Cards won't be the same without him.

The worst part: his contract is up after this year. What will the future hold for Jason?

Monday, August 18, 2008

what it takes to be a winner

Okay, before I get to the Gold Glove stuff, I just wanted to remark on how difficult it has been lately to feel optimistic about the post-season possibilities for this team. The end of the year is fast-approaching and every time I think we're going to make this big run and blow right by Milwaukee for the Wild Card, something like yesterday happens and I have to wonder if there's really any realistic chance of that at all. 

Lohse, who up until recently had been our top starter, the guy who couldn't lose, has now lost three in a row. It's not that it's entirely his fault. In fact, yesterday he only gave up three runs, but our offense just couldn't get it going enough to help him. Our bullpen didn't do much to help either, but by that point it was probably already too late anyway. It was disappointing, to say the least. 

Secondly, gimme one second to vent on the whole retaliation issue. 

When Lohse came up to bat in the game yesterday, Vólquez threw one very up and very in and Lohse had to duck out of the way. 

Then when Vólquez was in the box, Lohse let him know that it hadn't gone unnoticed. 

He threw one just as up and just as in, the only difference being that Lohse's pitch caught Vólquez' bat and was a foul tip for strike one. (Vólquez ended up striking out on three pitches.) 

Now I usually side with Tony on retaliation pitches (he has publicly denounced pitchers who put the ball too close to the batter's head, whether it's intentional or not), especially if the batter gets hit, but in this case I felt that it was justified and I was glad to see Lohse not back down. 

I agree that he could have thrown it a little lower, and he probably heard about it from Tony later, but a pitcher has got to be able to stand up for himself and his team, and in a tense game an inside pitch can send a very strong message: If you push, we'll push back

At any rate, I was hoping it would give the team a little lift, a little energy, a little kick in the pants, but it didn't. At least not in that particular game... 

Now on to to the original topic, the Rawlings Gold Glove Award. Every year (for the last 51 years), nine players from each league are awarded the gold glove for their defensive performance at each position (catcher, pitcher, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, and three OF). The coaches and managers vote for the winners, but are not allowed to vote for their own players. 

Since Troy Glaus' name has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the award this year, I thought I'd take a minute and explore the statistics of the recent winners at third base. Scott Rolen won the Gold Glove for five straight years from 2000-2004 and then again in 2006. In 2005, the NL winner was Mike Lowell. In 2007 David Wright earned the honor. 

In 2000--Rolen--1080 innings (127 gs), 89 po, 245 a, 14 dp, 10 e, .971 fp (.298 ba, 26 hr) (The offensive numbers aren't officially supposed to count, but it's a fool who believes that they don't.) 

In 2001--Rolen--1329 inninngs (151 gs), 104 po, 325 a, 22 dp, 12 e, .973 fp (.298 ba, 25 hr) 

In 2002--Rolen--1360 innings (154 gs), 133 po, 335 a, 41 dp, 16 e, .967 fp (.266 ba, 31 hr) 

In 2003--Rolen--1339 innings (152 gs), 109 po, 298 a, 23 dp, 13 e, .969 fp (.286 ba, 28 hr) 

In 2004--Rolen--1228 innings (139 gs), 93 po, 325 a, 23 dp, 10 e, .977 fp (.314 ba, 34 hr) 

In 2005--Lowell--1126 innings, 107 po, 243 a, 34 dp, 6 e, .983 fp (.236 ba, 8 hr) 

In 2006--Rolen--1215 innings (126 gs), 93 po, 318 a, 32 dp, 15 e, .965 fp (.296 ba, 22 hr) 

In 2007--Wright--1418 innings (141 gs), 107 po, 324 a, 24 dp, 21 e, .954 fp (.325 ba, 30 hr) 

Troy Glaus so far this year: 1019 innings (117 gs), 81 po, 230 a, 24 dp, 5 e, .984 fp (.276 ba, 21 hr) 

If he plays all remaining innings (35 games x 9 assuming no extra innings=315), he'll end up with 1334 innings (152 gs). He has started 117 games at third, and if you stretch out his stats (and assume he starts all 35 remaining games at third), you could predict that he will end up with: 105 po, 299 a, 31 dp, 6-7 e, .984 fp (.276 ba, 27 hr). 

Compared to the numbers GG winners have posted in the past, and considering that Troy is currently at the top of the NL in all fielding categories, I'd say he has a very good (maybe great) chance at taking the trophy home. 

Of course, if you ask Troy, he'd tell you the only thing that matters is getting his team to the playoffs. If that happens, then he'll consider this a successful year. 

abbr: gs=games started, po=put outs, a=assists, dp=double plays, e=errors, fp=fielding percentage, ba=batting average, hr=home runs

Saturday, August 16, 2008

gold gloves third base

I was thinking about Troy Glaus and the possibility that he could win the gold glove this year for his performance at third base, and so I did a little digging.
I tried to make a chart, but my lack of cleverness with html and the likes has seriously hindered my creativity, so I'll just prose it. I do, however, need some more time, and since Blogger has already identified this as a post, I'll leave this here as a promise to post more later on the subject.

it's magic

Is it too early to start thinking about magic numbers? So what?

Magic number =
# of games (total) + 1
- # of wins by the leading team - # of losses by the trailing team

Therefore, right now Chicago's magic number (163 - 75 - 53) is 35.

Explanation: Every game that's played moves teams closer to the end. Therefore, a win will automatically move the leading team one magic number closer (because that's one less chance the trailing team has to catch up).

The magic number is also the "elimination number" for the trailing team for the same reason.

For example, because the number is 35, if the Brewers lose 35 games between now and the end of the season, they have no chance at winning the division. Conversely, if the Cubs win 35 games between now and the end, the Brewers have no chance at winning the division.
Besides which, every game the Brewers lose is one less the Cubs have to win.

The Cubs can move to 34 by winning today, no matter what the Brewers do. But if the Brewers also lose, the Cubs' magic number becomes 33. If the Cubs lose, the number stays the same unless the Brewers also lose.

Confused? The magic number is only affected by a WIN for the leading team or a LOSS for the trailing team. Cubs win, -1. Brewers lose, -1. (Cubs win and Brewers lose, -2.)

Nothing else makes a difference. In other words, the Brewers can't help themselves beyond not hurting themselves. All they can do is try and win and hope the Cubs lose. That is, of course, unless they are playing each other, which they will do six more times this season. If the Brewers win those games it will help them because the Cubs will have lost.

I think the official rule for determining whether it's too early to start keeping track is if your end result is more than 20. I guess it's too early.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not conceding anything. There's plenty of time left in the season for things to change, especially if the Cards can keep up what they've been doing lately (namely, winning).

We only have two more games with Milwaukee, but six with the Cubbies. We could make a real statement by taking at least four of those six games, and even if we can't get back into the division race, the Wild Card is far from decided.

The Cards have played 125 games (37 remain), the Brewers have played 123 (39 remain), and the Cubs have played 122 (40 remain).

(Oh, and by the way, the Angels still have 42 games left and their magic number is 25. If you're looking for a safe bet, I think you just found one.)

Here's how it looks from here on out...

The Redbirds' schedule:
we play Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Milwaukee (2) at Busch;
then Houston and Arizona on the road;
Florida and the Cubs (3) at Busch;
Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and the Cubs (3) on the road;
and finish the season playing Arizona and Cincinnati at Busch.

The Cubs' schedule:
they play Cincinnati and Washington at Wrigley;
then Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on the road;
Houston at Wrigley;
Cincinnati, St Louis (3), and Houston on the road;
Milwaukee (3) and St Louis (3) at Wrigley;
and finish with the Mets and Milwaukee (3) on the road.

The Brewers' schedule:
they play Houston and Pittsburgh at Miller;
then St Louis (2) and Pittsburgh on the road;
the Mets, Cincinnati, and San Diego at Miller;
Philadelphia, the Cubs (3), and Cincinnati on the road;
and finish up with Pittsburgh and the Cubs (3) at Miller.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Carp was DLed this afternoon... mere minutes after I speculated that he would be able to make his next start. 


Brian Barton was activated. Basically this means that our bench has lengthened to five guys and yet we still have a sufficient bullpen. 

Ah well. I'd rather see Carp healthy in 2009 than risk another serious injury. Besides which, we've made it this far without him, we can make it a little farther. 

Todd Wellemeyer likes garlic bread. But then, who doesn't? 

Finally (and then I promise I'll let it go), instant replay is a terrible idea. Oh sure, in its purest form it might help umpires get home run calls right or judge fan interference, but when has anything like this ever kept its virtue intact? It will be twisted and mangled and pounded and harassed until it isn't even recognizable anymore, and then it will destroy baseball. 

Mark my words, we will regret this decision. But if it is inevitable (as so many believe), why must it interrupt August? Why in the name of Ruth can't they wait and work out the kinks and implement it first thing next season? What is the rush? Selig even commented, "I want to make sure that if and when we do it, it's really good, it's perfect." Wouldn't it make more sense then, to start it at the beginning of the year? Sheesh.

on the road to victory

Carp is obviously going to miss his turn in the rotation tonight. 

Thompson will take his place, and then tomorrow either he or García (who will likely be the first reliever in for Brad) will be shipped down to Memphis in order to make room for Barton on the roster. If Carp has to miss another start (fingers crossed that he doesn't), he would probably be DLed and Wainwright (who will make a start at Springfield on Saturday) activated to join the rotation. Yes, rotation

If, however, Carp is strong/healthy enough to make his next start, Wainwright would probably come back as a reliever with Pérez optioned to make room. In that case, Wainwright would be closing, and he has indicated that he's okay with that as long as it isn't a back-and-forth situation. So chances are, if he returns to the bullpen, he'll stay with the bullpen for the remainder of the season. 

Piñeiro, Wellemeyer, and Looper have been too good recently to justify sending them to the 'pen, and as far as I'm concerned, it's fine. That's one decision I'm glad doesn't have to be made (at least for the time being). 

Speaking of the Colonel, can you believe how sharp he was last night? The strike zone was a joke (although he commented during post-game interviews that he thought the HP ump did a fine job), but he overcame four walks and only gave up three hits. And he shut-out the Marlins. He's now 10-4 on the season. (Todd was picked up by the Cardinals last year after the Royals released him. Dave Duncan worked his magic again and turned the struggling reliever into an effective starter practically in the blink of an eye. The Cubs, the Marlins, and the Royals had given up on Wellemeyer, and now we've got him shutting down lineups.) 

Ludwick keeps on making his case for MVP, and with Albert in a little bit of a slump, it's nice to have another big bat to pick up the team on nights like last night. 30 home runs as of August 14. That's some impressive slugging right there. Among home run hitters, he's currently third in the NL and fourth in all of baseball behind Howard (33), Quentin (32), and Dumm (32). He's eighth in the majors in RBI with 90. And he's tied for first (with Lance Berkman) in the NL and MLB with a .608 slugging percentage. 

I haven't heard any news on the Kyle Lohse contract front lately. I actually haven't heard much about contracts, period, but if you'll recall, Moze doesn't like to "distract" the players with talk about trivial things like, say, their jobs or where they'll be living next season. I tell you what, if Kyle wants to stay in St Louis, I say pay him whatever it takes. The discussion on the radio this morning revolved for a time around the Seattle Mariners and the colossal wastes of money they signed last year (and how pitifully they've performed), and the importance of making wise choices instead of easy ones. However, we've all seen what Kyle can do, and since he isn't getting cheaper while we wait for a more appropriate time to talk, why not just get it out of the way and then we can get back to winning baseball games. If Moze thinks that avoiding the subject prevents distraction, he needs a reality check. We need to address the issue now and stop pretending it doesn't exist. Hello, 500-pound gorilla. And while you're at it, give Wellemeyer and Ankiel whatever they want too. 

Here's something unexpected: Izturis is batting .395 in August (15 for 38) with 3 walks and only 2 strike-outs. I heard it suggested at one point that maybe having López around has motivated César to perform better, but I think maybe it goes a little deeper than that. 

López, meanwhile, is 8 for 25 (.320) since joining the Redbirds. Something about being on a winning team can help bring out the winner in certain players. 

The Cubs have won eight road games in a row now, and look pretty unstoppable, so let's just focus on the Wild Card, shall we? We're three games back of the Brewers, and the Mets and Phillies are fighting over third place (oh, and maybe the division title for the NL East). However, with something like 40 games left to play, nothing has been decided. May the best (and by "best" I mean the Cardinals) team win....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

the eighth-inning 90-yard pick-off

It's weird watching them play baseball on a field with yard markers. I'd feel bad for the Marlins fans, but I think it might be counterproductive. Also pointless. (Really, Floridians? Do you have somewhere better to be?)


The sportscasters on ESPN replayed the catch forty or fifty times today and referred to it as extraordinary every time. I agree it was marvelous and brilliant and perfect and amazing, but extraordinary? Let's not go overboard. I mean, he didn't even get the double play.

Chris Pérez is quickly winning me over with his toughness in the ninth inning. He doesn't shy away from his fastball at all, even with 2 strikes. He may not be the official "closer," but I'd say he's definitely the first guy you think of when there's a save situation. He has three saves recently, and I wouldn't be surprised if he closed one out again tonight, either. Franklin does not seem to be comfortable in that role, Izzy's obviously got some demons to work out, and Springer and McClellan are too valuable in the set-up role, so unless my worst nightmares are realized and Wainwright returns to the position that made him famous (and yes, I may be exaggerating just a little) or the Redbirds pick up another reliever (ha ha ha), that leaves few options. So call him what you want, I think Pérez might be the oser-clay.

Speaking of Mac, in my humble opinion, if Yadi had been behind the plate last night, I don't think he would have fallen apart like he did. I don't mean any disrespect to LaRue, but Mac is young and Yadi just seems to have a little bit better connection with the rookies. LaRue certainly caught Looper well, though, as well as Pérez. Oh, and then there was that two-run double he hit...

Glaus was 4 for 4. Yikes. Streaky McStreakerson. He also committed his fifth error of the season, though, so it wasn't a perfect night. He is still the best-fielding third baseman in the NL.

If you think about it, we don't really have anyone who's struggling overall. Everyone has their good and bad days, but we've got a team full a guys who go out there every night to play, and they make the opposition work for it. They aren't perfect, but they give it all they've got. No slackers, no excuses, and they always hustle. I think that no matter what happens this season, they have a lot to be proud of.

Question #1: Who do you send down to make room for Barton?

Question #2: If it isn't meant to be for the Cards, who do you root for to win the division? The Wild Card? The National League?

Question #3: Who is the NL MVP? What if it was based solely on defensive performance?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Just wanted to remark on how impressed I have been with Chris Pérez and his fastball. I think I smell an "in closer situ" coming up. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

IBRS: infield fly

IBRS = Interesting Baseball Rules Series. 

Bringing to light some of the lesser known and misunderstood rules of the great American pastime. 

Whether or not it's actually interesting, well that's debatable. It's just my way of filling the space. (Actually, it's more about the rules being interesting than my perspective on them.) 

Here's a quick overview of one of the more difficult to understand rules in the game, the infield fly.
The infield fly rule (IFR) only applies with fewer than two outs.
The IFR is designed to prevent infielders from creating a double (or triple) play situation by dropping an easily caught popped-up ball. Therefore, if there are already two outs, the IFR is not applicable (because it is unnecessary).
It applies when there are runners on first and second OR when the bases are loaded.
The reason for this is that there MUST be a force play possible at third base. If there's only a runner on first, the IFR doesn't apply because there is not a realistic double play that could be made.
The ball must be fair.
If the ball drops in foul territory the batter is NOT out.
The ball does not have to be caught in the infield.
If the umpire calls for the IFR, the batter is out UNLESS the ball drops in foul territory. It may be caught in foul territory, or it may drop or be caught anywhere in fair territory.
The ball does NOT have to be caught.
If the umpire calls for the IFR, the batter is out UNLESS the ball drops in foul territory.
The ball must be "catchable with ordinary effort."
That means that if the infielder has to dive, run, or make some kind of spectacular effort to get to the ball, the umpire can decide the IFR doesn't apply.
The runners CAN advance on the play.
Since the IFR only applies with fewer than two out, the runners may tag up (if the ball is caught) or just run (if it drops fair) and take a base. The force play does not apply (since the batter is already out) and the infielder must tag the runner to get the out.
The umpire has to call for the IFR.
He may call "Infield fly, batter's out," or "Infield fly if fair," to indicate that the runners should tag up.
The IFR does not apply to popped-up bunts or line drives.
There is another rule that prevents infielders from intentionally dropping line drives in order to turn a double play. The Intentional Dropping Rule (6.05L) states that an infielder cannot touch the ball (in a line drive situation) and then drop it so as to force a double play.
Coming up next: The balk.

Yadi's game

I take back everything I ever said (or thought) about the bullpen. 

Kyle McClellan and Chris Pérez were awesome (yes, awesome) last night. It just goes to show how important a strong (deep) start from the rotation is. When they're rested, they're better. 

Of course, Yadi deserves just as much (if not more) credit. He gave us the lead with a 2-run shot, and threw out two would-be base-stealers (one of them in a very key spot leading off the bottom of the ninth). He also guided his pitchers (including Piñeiro who had never faced the Fish before) through nine stellar innings of work. 

He's just so amazing begind the plate that I think we take him for granted as much as we do Albert.

Derrick Goold pointed out that "Piñeiro couldn't remember shaking off Molina's called pitch once."

La Russa agreed. "Mostly the catcher had just a huge game. Star of the game for me."

And Dave Duncan remarked that Molina "gave [McClellan] direction at a critical point in the game," when he called for the fastball that got Willingham on the inside corner for a called third strike.

I also take back (conditionally) everything I've said about Piñeiro. He had his good stuff last night and was able to go a full seven innings (with only one earned run allowed). Besides the fact that he didn't dig us into a hole we couldn't escape, he was able to last long enough to save a couple of relievers from having to pitch. And to be honest, no knocks against the Marlins, they're every bit as good as the Cards and it wasn't just a rollover'em win. We actually had to work for it.

Ankiel was back in the lineup. (Heh heh.) 

I loved the post-game interview with Brent... 

If Mac hadn't been able to pitch around a runner at third with nobody out, Rick probably wouldn't have been laughing (much less talking to reporters) about the (double) error he committed in left field. It's true he doesn't usually play LF, and he had very recently commented that he finds center to be the easiest of the three outfield positions for him to play. Of course, two weeks off may also have affected his coordination. And as Brent so politely pointed out, it wasn't an easy play. (I think he felt bad for mentioning it at all.)

Albert struck-out THREE TIMES. I don't even think I need to elaborate on that one. THREE TIMES. No matter what else happens in a game, a team can feel pretty damn good about doing that to Sir Albert.

Carp was pulled from Sunday's game against the Cubs after 5-1/3 because of some pain in his pitching arm. The team reports make it sound insignificant, but Carp is headed back to STL to see the doctor anyway. Hopefully he'll back with the team before his next scheduled start.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

all aboard the G-train

Bernie Miklasz had a few words about Troy, and I thought I'd share them:

He's third among big-league third basemen in RBIs and sixth in homers.

And he's durable; only five third basemen have logged more innings than Glaus this year.

"He's tough-minded," La Russa said. "You look at it, and when he's not getting results he doesn't give you any indication that he's discouraged. You don't see him back off in the field, you don't see him back off in his at-bats. He just competes."

Glaus has outhomered Rolen 21-6, has 41 more RBIs than Rolen, and his slugging percentage is 91 points higher than Rolen's. In Toronto, Rolen continues to be bothered by shoulder fatigue and pain and has hit eighth in the lineup in recent days.

Oh, and Glaus gets along with the manager.

so much for that

Dave Duncan has apparently announced (without consulting me, thank you very much) that when Wainwright returns to the roster he will be pitching out of the bullpen... more specifically, as the closer. I have to assume Dave knows what he's doing. At least this means we won't have to see Piñeiro or Wellemeyer displaced from the rotation. Plus, things went pretty well the last time Wainwright was our closer, wouldn't you say? I wonder how Adam feels about this...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

no need to wait any longer

As promised, my thoughts regarding game 2 in the series against the Cubs: 


Well, I think that about sums it up. 

Carlos Zambrano gave up a CAREER-HIGH 4 home runs. He also hit one. I'm no expert, but I don't think they cancel each other out, at least as far as career statistics go. 

Troy Glaus decided he was tired of not hitting the Cubs, so he hit them. Three times. For five ribbies. 

Albert and Schu also homered, but the most amazing runs came in the top of the ninth when the 'Birds were able to show the Cubs what it's like to have a bullpen dissolve in front of your eyes. 

Their 'pen didn't exactly give up a lead, but five hits and three runs (two of them with two out) to basically cement St Louis' lead, well, that'll still ruin your day. 

Wellemeyer was on fire. Two of the runs were actually his, and the third came (and was charged to him) when Villone couldn't get the one guy he was sent out to face and then Springer allowed an RBI base hit before striking out the final batter of the seventh. 

Todd went 6-2/3, and while my screaming at the tv for Tony to leave him in to get that last out didn't have the desired effect, it wasn't a complete disaster (like I feared it would be). I guess I just need to have a little more faith in the bullpen Tony. 

Springer went on to strike-out the side in the eighth, and then Thompson came in and closed it out. It's too bad, too, 'cause I was kind of hoping to see Miles pitch an inning or two. (Speaking of which, we haven't seen his name mentioned with regards to the opening in the save department, have we? Just a thought.) 

Jim Edmonds struck-out three times. I'll root for him from here 'til Tuesday unless he's hitting against the Cards. When that's the case he can go suck a lemon. 

Would it be possible for us to hold onto some of the runs we scored today and use them in tomorrow night's game? Just in case...

you're right, I'm wrong

Did I say Glaus needed a day off? Tony offered him one, but Troy said he wanted to play. Was it just the push he needed? Or was Troy just tired of hearing about his 0 for 29 streak against the Cubs? (I know I was.) Well, something worked. Fourth inning: 2-run home run. Fifth inning: 3-run home run. I'll say no more, because the game isn't actually over, but be sure to check back for all my mildly interesting and completely random thoughts about the game in its entirety. Just a side note on Glaus, because as I was watching the game on Big Fox, the idiot... I mean astute announcers mentioned something about Troy being in the race for the Gold Glove this year... 

Here are his fielding stats (compared to NL starting third-basemen) thanks to Baseball-Reference: As of the end of play August 8 

►109 games started 

4 errors (T-1st) 

212 assists (1st) 

►75 put-outs (3rd) 

►22 double plays (2nd) 

.986 fielding percentage (1st) 

Plus, he's batting .267 (.271 if you count the three hits today) with 19 home runs (21 if you count the two today) and 74 RBI (79 if you count the five today). 

He also has 28 doubles, a triple, and 64 walks (compared to 80 strike-outs). His on-base percentage is .367 and he's slugging .476 (and you can do your own math on that one if you want to figure in 8 bases from today).

off to a good start

I'm not sure if I'd say he looks good in the uniform (who would?), but he sure looked good on the mound. (And who am I kidding, anyway... I think they should all play in their jockeys.) 

The line: 6.1 IP / 7H / 1R (1ER) / 1BB / 4K / 1.42ERA (with CLE) / 88 pitches-62 strikes / record 1-0 

He told the Cleveland media that he's happy to be with the Indians, even if they're not contenders, and is excited to get a "fresh start" with a new team. 

When asked about his former team, he said, "I just felt like I didn't fit in, like anything I was doing wasn't fitting in. It was hard trying to make people happy. It made for long years." 

Hopefully he will fit in with the staff and players at Cleveland, and will be able to show everyone that he can compete at this level. Go get 'em, Anthony.

Friday, August 8, 2008

opportunities squandered

Jim Edmonds had something to prove and he proved it. He went deep twice off Looper. The good news is that the one time he had a baserunner in front of him, he hit into a double play. He stared into the Cardinals dugout on his way past after hitting the first long ball, but Tony swears he wasn't paying attention and couldn't care less even if he had noticed the blatant gesture directed primarily toward him. Their relationship seems to have deteriorated just a tad. It's too bad, really, because by all accounts they were fairly close when Jimmy was wearing the birds on the bat. I still like Edmonds and try to keep up with what's he's up to, but I sure like him a lot better when he's not hitting home runs against us. 

Ryan Franklin's squirrel was apparently asleep during Frankie's second inning of work. He (Franklin, not the squirrel) loaded the bases and then Izturis couldn't quite reach a line drive right over his head. The bullpen looked good otherwise, though. Pérez went for the second day in a row after being recalled from Memphis, and he's looking more and more like a potential closer. I know Tony says he wants to go the collective route, but if you've got a guy who can get the job done, why not use him? As far as I'm concerned, anything is better than Franklin (even with the squirrel) and I absolutely don't want to see Wainwright pitching out of the 'pen, although they rarely ask me and even more rarely listen. 

The Cards stranded seven, and Troy Glaus stranded five all by himself. He's now 0 for 4,208,665 all-time against the Cubs. His last hit against them was in his dreams, and even then it was only a bloop infield single that he just barely ran out. Maybe tomorrow would be a good day for him to get a day off. (Like that's going to happen....) Izturis went two for three (including a double) and stole two bases today, and was 6 for 12 with an RBI in the series against the Dodgers (that's .500 for those who are really bad at math). I can't help but wonder if the acquisition of López hasn't inspired César to fight a little harder for playing time, but I'm sure it's just a coincidence. Whatever the cause, it's good to see him producing offensively. Will this series define the season for the Redbirds? The end is in sight, Cards fans, and if you've got a lucky rabbit's foot in the back of the closet that you forgot about until just now, DIG IT OUT... We've got some Cubbies to crush.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

in closer situ, part 2

Does closer by committee ever actually work? 

Do we really need a "closer"? 

Who came up with the idea, anyway?

Here's what Jim Caple (Page 2) wrote recently:

Jerome Holtzman, a legendary baseball writer...made closers incalculable millions because he is the writer responsible for the save becoming an official baseball statistic. He invented the save in 1960 as a way to better measure the effectiveness of relievers and it became an official major league stat in 1969 (saves previous to that year were added to record books after the fact).

The problem is that Holtzman's well-intentioned attempt to measure a reliever's worth has been cheapened, manipulated and bastardized to the point that the save is the most overrated stat in baseball and the closer is the most overrated and replaceable role in American sports.


Dear Tony,
Please don't put Adam Wainwright in the bullpen when he comes back from the DL. He is far too valuable as a starter.
Thank you sincerely,

gotta have faith

It's getting harder and harder to envision the Cards in playoff contention. I still believe they can do it, though... I refuse to give up. After all, lately the Brewers have shown how little cohesion they have as a team, and without them in the way, the Redbirds have a wide open door to the Wild Card. 

Last night basically summed up the season for the Redbirds... at least I hope it did. (See the end of the post for an explanation.) 

Yes, the bullpen (specifically Izzy, but I'll get into that later) gave back every hard-fought run, but in the end, after much chagrin, the offense was able to deliver a win. (Did that rhyme? Sorry.) 

To the casual observer, this game may have seemed tense, messy, even ugly. And it was. But you have to look beyond the ninth inning meltdown to find the true spirit of the game and this team. 

pre-game: Chris Carpenter was sidelined with injury for well over a year, and now that he's back, he operates under pitch-count limitations. Going into the game he was already predestined to leave after 80-85 pitches. He's the ace, and Tony will take no chances with his arm. 

innings 1-5: Carp got through the first five only allowing three hits, and finished having only thrown 51 pitches. If the damn rain hadn't come in (or should I say, if the damn umps hadn't called for the tarp with a slight mist coming down) who knows how much farther into the game he'd have gone. It's best not to speculate, I suppose. 

bottom of the first: Albert ended a too-long Oh-fer streak with a single up the left side and then stole second (with a little help from the LA catcher who couldn't handle the ball), but nothing came of it. 

bottom of the fifth: The Cards opened up the scoring when Kennedy drove in Izturis. Kennedy doesn't play much, and when he does he usually seems a little rusty (as should be expected). Last night, however, when we needed him to, he made it work. Adam went 3 for 6 in the game, a sight above his season average of .260 or so. Kennedy has really improved his game since last year when many were questioning his abilities both at the plate and in the field. 

bottom of the sixth: This was a disappointment. The bases were loaded and the only RBI we came out of it with was thanks to Rick Ankiel getting hit by a pitch. 

bottom of the seventh: Kennedy singled (for the second time) ahead of Albert, and then Albert reminded us why he's the best in the game. A two-run shot put the 'Birds up four to nothing. 

the bullpen: Brad Thompson was on. Three batters, three ground-outs, 1-2-3. 

Kyle McClellan needed a few more pitches than I would have liked, but after giving up the only hit he would allow, he got a double play to end the seventh inning, and then another to end the eighth after a one-out walk. 

Ron Villone came in for the ninth because with a four-run lead, there was no save situation and therefore no closer. Unfortunately, the lefty he was brought in to face was Andruw Jones, the switch hitter, and he opted to bat right-handed. Even worse, he opted to turn it on for this game and hit his third home run of the season. (Yes, Andruw Jones. I'm not sure if it's more surprising that he hit a home run or that he only has three this season. I guess that depends on how closely you follow the Dodgers.) And that's where things went terribly, horribly wrong. 

Jason Isringhausen, who may not be a professional baseball player much longer, was completely ineffective and maybe even a little sloppy. 

Two more runs would score for LA before Tony finally pulled his closer, and then Ryan Franklin came in to clean things up and allowed another of Izzy's baserunners to score. He was able to get the final two outs of the inning, though, possibly thanks to the squirrel. That left us tied at four going into the bottom of the ninth. 

Franklin pitched again in the tenth and gave up two hits but got out of a bases-loaded jam without giving up any more runs. 

Jaime García came in for the eleventh and was very good. He walked one, but didn't allow any hits or runs, and kept the tie intact for one more inning. 

bottom of the ninth: A single and a walk were followed by a fielder's choice and and a high fly to left that ended that particular threat. 

bottom of the tenth: With two out, Miles and Izturis each singled, but Schu couldn't get the ball past the second baseman and that was the end of that. 

bottom of the eleventh: Kennedy singled again in a clutch spot (good for you, Adam), Albert slapped at one that was waaaay out of the zone and popped it up for the first out, and then...

Ryan Ludwick sauntered to the plate. 

He owned four homers over the weekend. 

He hit one deep to left center, and that was the game. 

So here's how it breaks down: 
►The Cardinals' starter was sharp, but only pitched five innings. 
►The Cardinals scored early, but were unable to add on late in the game. 
►The bullpen leaked and gave up the tying run, denying the starter a "W". 
►Instead of playing small ball, the Cardinals offense depended mostly on the long ball to score. 
►The 'Birds stranded almost as many runners as they had hits. 
►Rain delays interrupted the game. 
►The Redbirds did not play spectacularly well at home. 
►The 'Birds were 1 for 2 in stolen bases. 
►The first and second spots in the lineup combined to hit over .400. 
►Pujols hit .400. 
►Glaus hit a double. 
►Ludwick had an extended hitless streak (0-5), then came through in the clutch. 
►The defense was sharp; they did not commit an error, and they turned three double plays. 

With a few tweaks, this breakdown could be applied to any one game or the entire season. Go ahead, try it. 

I was tempted (more than once) to go to bed and let them sort it out by themselves, but I stuck it out and stayed up. I am glad I did. 

In other news: Wainwright is getting closer to returning. After his latest test (throwing pitches to some of the Cardinals' hitters) he said, "My arm felt good and my finger felt great." He's supposed to start in Memphis on Saturday. 

The 'Birds signed recently released SS/2B Felipe López and sent Brendan Ryan down to Memphis. We'll see how this works out. Sometimes you find gold, and sometimes it's just a shiny rock. 

Someday Rick Ankiel will be back in the lineup, and I'm waiting none-too-patiently.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

headlines (at least as far as I care)

Duncan's doing well post-surgery. 

The logo for the 2009 ASG was unveiled today.

Monday, August 4, 2008

pass around the happy

Trying (as usual) to stay positive in the face of a heartbreaking loss is not easy. 

Todd Wellemeyer pitched a gem. He went a full 6 innings and only gave up one run on four hits. Unfortunately, he didn't get to notch another win in his belt, but he definitely earned himself a second look as far as staying in the rotation when Wainwright comes back. He struck-out three, walked only one, and dropped his ERA about a tenth of a point. If it hadn't been for the (cough) bullpen... 

Glaus (VOTE for him for the Pepsi clutch performer of July) went two for four with two RBI, and he did his best in the bottom of the ninth. Too bad he wasn't up third or fourth. That really would have been clutch. He's up to 19 homers, 74 ribbies, and batting .273. Beyond that, he's slugging .489 and on-base .373. 

Ludwick hit his fourth home run in three games and now sits atop the Cardinals' home run leader list with 27. He's batting .306 with 78 RBI, and he's slugging .614. (He's NL player of the week for last week!) 

Ryan Franklin set the batters down in order in the top of the ninth. He threw 10 pitches, seven of them for strikes. (I still think the squirrel he's got super-glued to his face is helping by telling him what pitches to throw, but as long as something's working I have no complaints.) 

There are still 48 games left, which is plenty of time for the Cubs to fall apart, the Brewers to remember they're the Brewers, and the Cardinals to reclaim the division title.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

a few notes

What's new? 

►Chris Duncan (as I may have mentioned) will have surgery tomorrow to try and repair a herniated disc in his neck. You're in my thoughts, Chris.
Symbiotic relationship?
►Izzy pitched a four-out save last night. He's up to 293 now. 

Ryan Franklin has some sort of growth on his face (mostly around his mouth and chin) that could well be controlling him. He and the growth pitched out of a jam in the top of the ninth tonight to keep the Phillies to a one-run lead.
►The Cardinals released Matt Clement today. I wondered for a while if anybody even remembered he was around, and now I guess I have my answer. Apparently, he couldn't get his sinker down and was just generally a disappointment. Now there's room on the roster for someone more productive. 

►Wainwright (I refuse to call him Wain-o no matter what you do to me) pitched around eighty pitches at 100 percent today and said he felt great afterward. His "In My Own Words" segment is on FSN right now. 

►Ludwick has three home runs in the last two games. 

►Glaus is cold. Ice cold. But he can still draw walks. 

►I can't wait to see Manny Ramirez in the next series. I like Manny even if Rick Horton does too.