Sunday, November 30, 2008

too much tryptophan (yawn)

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

no estamos solos

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

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

Friday, November 28, 2008

John Mozeliak goes shoe shopping, part 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued some more....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

in a pitching-tuesday tizzy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture me smiling.

Monday, November 24, 2008

John Mozeliak goes shoe shopping, part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued yet again...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

John Mozeliak goes shoe shopping, part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"No." John almost whispered the single syllable. 

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

"But--" John began. 

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

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

To be continued again...

Friday, November 21, 2008

John Mozeliak goes shoe shopping

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cardinals Blogger Awards

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

Please enjoy! 

Oh, and as always, feel free to disagree. 

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

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

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

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

8) Most Anticipated Cardinal
Bryan Anderson
Colby Rasmus
Jess Todd

9) Best Individual Blog
C70 at the bat

10) Best Team Blog
Viva el Birdos

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

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

13) Most Optimistic Blog
Cardinal Nation Globe

14) Funniest Blog
Cardinals Diaspora

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) Surprise Player of the Year 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6) Cardinal Rookie of the Year 

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

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

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

7) New Cardinal of the Year 

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

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

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

8) Most Anticipated Cardinal 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 20, 2008

a Miller for the ages

Trev-er Miller apparently just signed is in the process of negotiating a two-year deal with the Cardinals as STEP ONE of our "shoring up the 'pen" plan. At least that's the hope. You'll find his numbers here, but you won't be knocked over by them. (note: maybe he will, maybe he won't.) Also, you may wonder if this is the same man we signed earlier this off-season. I'm almost completely certain that it is not. One more thing, the UCB blogger award votes will be cast tomorrow on various blogging sites. C70 has the ballot (and list of participants) and will be tabulating the votes and presenting the results next week. I'm almost finished with mine, and should be ready to go with my votes very early tomorrow morning. (I have to be somewhere at 0645, and I don't want to have to wait until after lunch to post.) Good luck to all the candidates!

Monday, November 17, 2008

hail the conquering hero

So maybe there is some merit to these awards after all. The baseball writers of America have actually gotten it right and given El Hombre the credit and recognition he deserves. We all know and have known for some time that he is without doubt the most valuable player in the National League (and really, in all of baseball, arguably for the better part of a decade). Even though Ryan Howard may not really know what that means, Cardinal Nation does. We watch baseball greatness every day. We understand how critical his contribution is, not only on the field, not only at the plate, but as a team leader, community leader, and humanitarian. Albert finished the 2008 season with 37 HR, 100 R, 160 RC, 116 RBI, 104 BB, 54 K, .462 OBP, .653 Slg, 1.115 OPS, and a .357 BA. And that's just his offense. Howard finished the '08 season with 48 HR, 105 R, 113 RC, 146 RBI, 81 BB, 199 K, .339 OBP, .543 Slg, .882 OPS, and a .251 BA. And that's just his offense (but with a slightly different emphasis.) Anyone else notice that Albert's BA was higher than Howard's OBP? That says a lot right there! sidebar: If they ever do decide to name an award after Albert, it will go the player who demonstrates not only excellence in play, service to the community, and overall good-sportsmanship, but also who is completely unappreciated and undervalued by the national sports media on a fairly regular basis.

the Albert award

I'm trying not to get caught up in the MVP hoop-lah, because I have this terrible fear that as soon as I do, and the winner is announced, I'll just have to denounce the whole the thing as unjust and baseless. But the writers over at the Post-Dispatch had some interesting things to say about the two front-runners (Howard and Pujols), and I figured that if the contest does end up in the toilet like I'm afraid, their arguments won't have to have been in vain. Basically, I'm just preparing myself for the worst because it's probably too much to ask for the majority of the voters to look beyond the ends of their own noses and see the truth.

Anyway, here's a synposis of the comments from, but you should check out the whole thing.

Bernie called Howard "...about the fourth most valuable player on his own team."

Burnwell reminded us that "...[Pujols'] own peers — the MLB Players Association — already picked him as the best...."

Strauss remarked that Pujols "...led the league in slugging percentage, supposedly Howard's forte."

The Commish states that ".251 is not MVP quality...."

DG explains that Howard may have had a "September surge that included a .352 average [but] ...the other months matter, too."

Speaking of Albert's trophy shelf, so far this off-season he's picked up the Silver Slugger Award, the Fielding Bible Award, the Oscar Charleston Legacy Award, the Roberto Clemente Award, the MLBPA NL Player of the Year Award, and the Sporting News ML Player of the Year Award. Did I forget anything?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

in mid-air

Can we not figure out some way to compromise with Lopez on the length/price of his contract? I'd really like to see him stay with the Cardinals. I'd also like someone to explore the option of using Miles and Ryan in a platoon situation at short. I suppose the only problem with that is their not-quite extraordinary offensive numbers, right? And what would be so bad about bringing back Edgar Rentería? He played well in STL, and while he was mildly disappointing in Detroit, it's been pretty strongly argued that he's better in the NL than the AL (which is true for a lot of players). He's only 33. He has incentive to do well. Of course, there's still the issue of Kennedy and where his future will lead him. If he stays in STL, he won't get the playing time he wants, but if he goes somewhere else, will that be the case there as well? Does anyone need him? Poor guy. Here's the roster as I see it:

Starting pitchers
1. 29 Chris Carpenter
2. 50 Adam Wainwright
3. 26 Kyle Lohse
4. 37 Todd Wellemeyer
5. 35 Joel Piñeiro
....41 Braden Looper FA

If we need another fifth starter, I vote for Looper. He was a good fit, and I think he's probably as good as any other pitcher out there that we have a realistic shot at landing. That being said, I sincerely hope Carp can come back and pitch like he used to.

34 Randy Flores
31 Ryan Franklin
44 Jason Isringhausen FA
52 Josh Kinney
46 Kyle McClellan
68 Chris Pérez
36 Russ Springer FA
48 Brad Thompson
27 Ron Villone FA

I wouldn't mind letting Villone go. I know not all his ugly stats are his fault, and he did have some pretty rough assignments, but as far as overall impressions go, I wasn't struck by his stuff.
I think if Johnson is healthy and Flores can figure out what the heck happened to him last year, one more lefty would finish the balance nicely. (Not Fuentes.) Someone like Shouse or Ohman would fit the bill without breaking the bank. As far as the closer situation, bringing in someone to share closing duties with Perez would take some of the pressure off Perez (and Tony). I know we're probably not likely to look at Gagne or Wood or Hoffman, but maybe we should. Especially someone like Hoffman, who is maybe a little past his prime (no offense, Trevor), would be able to mentor Perez and the other young guys, while at the same time not having to shoulder the entire closing responsibility.

21 Jason LaRue
4 Yadier Molina

Nothing to say here. I think we've got this area all locked up.

8 Troy Glaus
7 Adam Kennedy ???
22 Felipe López FA
12 Aaron Miles
5 Albert Pujols
13 Brendan Ryan

Bring back Lopez, sign Rentería, let Miles continue to be the phenomenal utility player he is, and find someone to take Kennedy. At this point, I'd be comfortable covering $3 million of his salary just so that he's not taking up space on the bench. Ryan is either going to find his big league rhythm this year or he's going to end up somewhere else. I really hope it's the former.

24 Rick Ankiel
47 Ryan Ludwick
55 Skip Schumaker

I see Barton at Memphis next year, and I see him staying there unless he does something worth noticing. I think that Tony would have sent him to Memphis last year if his hands hadn't been tied with the Rule 5 and whatnot, because I don't think he was ever really comfortable with him anywhere in the outfield (and neither was I). If Duncan can play (fingers crossed), this area is pretty well cemented also. At least I'm happy with it. If, however, Duncan is done, left field could very easily be a good place to bring in a big bat. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Barry Bonds. Now I'm just going to walk away.

15-day DL

60-day DL
16 Chris Duncan
19 Tyler Johnson

40-man Roster
-- Brian Barden
-- Brian Barton
-- Mitchell Boggs
-- Jaime García
-- Blake Hawksworth
-- Jarrett Hoffpauir
-- Charlie Manning
-- Joe Mather
-- Jason Motte
-- Mike Parisi
-- Nick Stavinoha
-- Mark Worrell

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

think again

Here's what I really think about Brian Fuentes.
If ERA and good looks were inversely proportional, they would have to rename the CY Young award after him. 

(On second thought, since ERA is better when it's lower, I guess that would make it directly proportional. Too much math? Sorry.) 

Okay, cheap shot. He does have a good arm and (despite my best efforts), talent and ability are the most important factors in determining whether or not to pay players the exorbitant amounts of money their agents think they deserve. 

Brian's agent thinks he deserves something like 3 years at $10-12 million per. According to various unrecognized and unreliable sources, Brian Fuentes is a left-handed relief pitcher with a submarine-style delivery that keeps batters guessing. In other words, he is a superhero. He probably actually deserves a big paycheck. 

Here's why I don't want Mozeliak to go after Fuentes (looks aside): 
  • (1) The Mets want him, too. Not that the Mets don't flex their muscles a little every time a new free agent is unveiled, but my "sources" indicate they are extra-serious about this guy, leading me to believe that he's something special. Unfortunately, the more competition there is over a player, the higher the price goes, and the less likely we are to end up with him anyway. Call this my "preemptive sour grapes" defense. 
  • (2) He's 33. Consider the FA options that are out there (in the category of LHRP): Trevor Hoffman (whom, by the way, I wouldn't mind seeing in Cardinal red) is 40; Brian Shouse is 40; Will Ohman is 31; Joe Biemel is 31; Jeremy Affeldt is 29. (Okay, so I'd be amenable to signing any one (or two) of these pitchers.) He's not the oldest, but he's certainly not the youngest. He does have an underhanded delivery that my "sources" tell me will add roughly 3.67 extra years to his career. I just don't see anything that makes him sound like "the pitcher we've been waiting all our lives for." Call this my "low-hanging fruit" defense. (Maybe the brainwashing is working.) 
  • (3) He's not just a LOOGY, he's a closer. First, this doesn't bode well for my plans for Izzy. It would take some of the pressure off Perez (who, in my opinion, needs a little more big league experience before he's ready to take on the full-time demands of that particular post), but if he's the closer, he wouldn't be available for 6th, 7th, or 8th inning duty against left-handed batters, right? Right. Tony's not going to want to close-by-committee all season, and even if we did, it would only add to the pressure on the rest of the relievers. We need a LOOGY and a closer, and no, this is not one of those situations where you can go two-for-one. Call this my "have our cake and eat it too" defense. The one thing that would make me reconsider is if we were able to pick up Fuentes and another lefty reliever. All those who think there's any chance of this happening, keep dreaming.

listen up

The illustrious UCB will be holding an internet radio show tonight here, at 9PM central, hosted by Tom from Cardinals GM. It's the second actual show, but as I understand it, the first was more of a trial run. I would have posted sooner, but I'm not entirely sure anyone needs me to plug them. At any rate, it should be fun! I have a laryngal thing going on and not much voice, so I won't be calling, but hopefully I'll be able to listen. For anybody who can't listen live, the show archives on the blog talk radio site, so you can catch up later. Best of luck to everyone involved!

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Okay, just to clear things up a little... I have no problem trading Ludwick and/or Rasmus and/or Boggs for the highly touted, much anticipated man whose name makes for really super post titles--Matt Holliday

However, never did I suggest that I would be willing to give up more than ONE big league-ready player. If Skip Schumaker is part of the equation, then I may have to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation. 

Ludwick OR Skip. 

And they can throw in as many minor leaguers as they want. Seriously. I support no trade that gives up two-thirds of our working outfield in exchange for one outfielder. 

Unless Matt Holliday has a clone. In that case, trade away.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Saturday morning comics

Friday, November 7, 2008

need to take a Holliday

All other things equal, my question upon hearing the trade rumors surrounding Ryan Ludwick and Matt Holliday is this: 

What am I missing?

Luddy came from basically nowhere, turned around an injury-ridden career to make a name for himself last season, and was even mentioned once or twice as a possible MVP candidate. He hit well (although he also struck-out quite a bit), he played a mean right field (and left and center when needed), and he is far from expensive. He was a huge part of the reason that the Cardinals competed when no one gave them half a chance going into the season. 

Now here's where I may lose you. I am fairly excited about the possibility of this trade going through. Matt Holliday is good, and he's a bargain for what we'd be getting. He's a big name, which can mean as much as anything. And he's ready to get out of Colorado which means he's looking for a home, not just a change of scenery. He's younger than Ryan, has (obviously) steadier career numbers than Ryan, and (forgive me) is better-looking than Ryan. 

Heck, I say give the Rox Ludwick and Rasmus if that's what it takes. 

The reason I'm confused is that the Cardinals are not known for this kind of aggressive-ish move, especially when it would cost them money and result in a one-year deal where they might have had three or four. The Cardinals are known for their wait and see, slow and steady attitude toward negotiations. 

We don't flex our spending muscles the way some teams do. 

We don't gut our farm system for instant gratification. 

We are cautious shoppers. 

We nurture our young talent so that we can reap benefits in the years to come. 

We shy away from free agents in favor of home-grown players. 

We don't settle for less, we strive for greatness. We just refuse to do it at the expense of the future. At least, that's what I've been used to. To be honest, John Mozeliak seems to be changing things up a bit. Not a complete overhaul, just some tweaking. The Kyle Lohse deal, while late-coming, was a statement. It said, "we're not going to be afraid to do what we need to do to build a winning team." 

The Holliday deal would make an even stronger statement. It would say, "we're not afraid to trade our commodities to make an impact." Beyond the obvious help he would bring at the plate, signing Matt Holliday would show the players, the fans, and the rest of baseball that the Redbirds are no longer going to roll over while the Cubs and Brewers take what was once a mediocre division and run past us to the finish line. 

It would show the world that we are serious about competing. 

One thing, #5 is already taken. Matt would have to choose another. Somehow I don't see this as a deal breaker.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wright is wrong

Okay, I waited as long as I could.

David Wright? Seriously? What sorts of favors is he doing for the voters? And yes, I mean that in the most vulgar sense.

(sigh)....grant me patience.

I can't even find the words to address the whole Adrian Gonzalez fiasco. If it weren't for Yadi, I'd wonder about the validity of the whole process. Of course, I have this disorder where I consider St Louis players the cream of every contest, and I have a tendency to disregard anyone from another team as a possible contender.

Joel Piñeiro fields his position better than Maddux. (Don't hate me for hating Greg Maddux.)
Our middle infield may not have been stellar, but whose was?
Ryan Ludwick is a better outfielder than Beltran, McLouth, and Victorino combined. I won't even mention Skip Schumaker and his diving grabs. Oh, and hello, Rick Ankiel. "The arm." Need I say more?

There are probably some flaws in my reasoning, but you have to at least agree that there were two major oversights in the awards this year.

I'll try to find some perspective.

National League
P, Greg Maddux, LAD
C, Yadier Molina, STL
1B, Adrian Gonzalez, SD
2B, Brandon Phillips, CIN
3B, David Wright, NYM
SS, Jimmy Rollins, PHI
OF, Carlos Beltran, NYM
OF, Nate McLouth, PIT
OF, Shane Victorino, PHI

my prayers have been answered

I don't know if it was the goat I sacrificed to the baseball gods (no, not that goat), or if someone finally realized what a complete f***-up it was to exclude Yadi last year (and the year before, but with slightly less emphasis), but YADI WON THE GOLD GLOVE. I can't even tell you how happy this makes me. Take that, Geovany Soto. Thhhbbbpppt. The only complaint I have (regarding Yadi winning) is that we shouldn't be celebrating his first gold glove, should we? Other complaints I have surround the lack of gold gloves for some other players. I'm not going to get into that mess right now, though, not during Yadi's moment. Felicidades, Yadi. Lo mereces sin duda.

Monday, November 3, 2008

don't let the door hit ya

I tagged Kelvin Jimenez in exactly one post this season (although I wrote about him a little bit more than that), and here is what I said:

Kelvin Jimenez is a terrible pitcher. He's just not good. Can we all finally agree on that? Seriously, if your team is ahead by 10 (and then by 6 after you give up some late-inning goods) and you get pulled with only one out left to record, how do you look at yourself in the mirror? I mean, with a six-run margin, how many bad pitchers get left out there? But not you. You're not even as good as bad. You're awful. Dreadful. Shockingly, upsettingly worthless.

Jimenez, a guy with serious control issues who gets lucky sometimes (this being the only reason his ERA isn't in the double or triple-digits), is called on basically when everyone else is tired or when it's early and the better pitchers are being saved for later.

Needless to say (and by the way, I hate that saying, I just felt it was appropriate), I shed nil a tear upon learning of his departure from the Redbirds organization. God have mercy on the Blue Jays' fans.

Sorry, Kelvin. I know you're a person, and possibly even a decent one, but maybe you should consider a career change.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

backup backstop

Jason LaRue will be back in red next season with the Cards. He had such an impact this year that I would have been surprised if the suits didn't re-sign him. You don't even want to imagine needing him for long stretches (because you want Yadi to be as healthy and productive as possible), but there's nothing wrong with having a good back-up (I'm talking to you, Cowboys) because if, God forbid, you do need him, you don't want to be left wondering what you were thinking when you signed this guy.

It sure is a slow process, this accumulation of personnel during the off-season. Good thing I have real life to keep me busy.