Tuesday, March 31, 2009

the worst thing ever

spare parts?

Starting pitchers
1. 29 Carpenter
2. 50 Wainwright
3. 26 Lohse
4. 37 Wellemeyer
5. 35 Piñeiro

31 Franklin
52 Kinney
46 McClellan
43 Miller
60 Motte
36 Reyes
48 Thompson
44 Isringhausen

21 LaRue
4 Molina
23 Barden
3 K. Greene
5 Pujols
13 Ryan
55 Schumaker

24 Ankiel
16 Duncan
47 Ludwick
7 Mather
28 Rasmus

15-day DL
64 García
8 Glaus

60-day DL

40-man Roster
54 Barton
68 Boggs
67 T. Greene
77 Hawksworth
70 Hoffpauir
56 Manning
34 Pérez
78 Scherer
61 Stavinoha

So I'm waiting. Yep. Just sitting idly, twiddling my thumbs, thinking about the word "twiddle" (and smiling), and hoping to hear soon who #25 is going to be. Well, not #25 strictly speaking, but the 25th person to occupy the 25-man roster. You see, by my count, there are 24 able bodies on said roster, and I find it hard to imagine Moze and TLR (or either individually) saying to themselves (or himself), "Ehh. Maybe 24's enough." Right?

12 pitchers. 2 catchers. 5 infielders. 5 outfielders. 2 infielders who could be outfielders. 2 outfielders who could be infielders. One outfielder who used to be a pitcher. One pitcher who used to be a catcher. 2 starters who used to be relievers. 2 relievers who want to be starters. One catcher who shaves his legs. One outfielder who has titanium parts.

Whew. (The word "fielder" has lost all meaning for me.)

ML put up the rotation, and it looks like Wainwright will get the start on opening day. Carp is being saved for the fourth spot in the order, and I heard somewhere (sorry, if it was from you) that it had something to do with the upcoming series against the Cubs.

I can definitely feel the excitement in the air. We're in the final stretch here, sports fans! 6 days until opening day. Seems like it's been forever.

Predictions 2009: NL East

So now we move on to the Senior Circuit. The original. The mack-daddy. (Yeah, sorry about that.) (Note: These predictions are based on absolutely nothing substantial or scientific. At best, they represent how I hope the races will turn out. At worst, they are my attempt at shaking things up. If you want more accurate guesstimates, visit some of the other UCB soothsayers.) And we start things off with the NL East. (Another opportunity for me to alienate fans of other teams.) Before I get officially started, though, I must remind you of a few self-evident truths about the NL East. 1) The Nats are not the best team in baseball. I could elaborate, but I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. 2) The Phillies are the reigning World Champions. Whatever curses this might carry remains to be seen, but if it's merely a matter of talent, the Phils are destined to have another great year. Those two things, while true for the past, hold little to no bearing over the future. We all know that anything can happen, and often does, and that's what keeps us coming back day after day, year after year.
That being said, here's what I predict:
1. FLA Marlins. They had a great first-half run last year, and they learned a lot from it. They'll win the division by one or fewer games, but the margin doesn't matter. A win is a win is a win, after all.
2. NY Mets. A much improved bullpen (starting with the back end) will take them far, but not far enough to win the division. 3. PHI Phillies. They'll play the spoiler this year, and do what they can to keep the Mets from finishing strong enough to get past the Marlins. 4. ATL Braves. Even though they are working towards freshening things up, they're still an old team and I don't think they'll get back to the playoffs until the turnover is complete. 5. WSH Nationals. Do I really need to explain? Washington fans don't watch for the glory, they watch for the love of the game. At least, that's all I can figure.
See you tomorrow for my NL Central predictions. I know you're dying to see who I have finishing first in that particular division.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Chris Perez, our savior-I mean, saver-I mean, closer-I mean, ninth inning pitcher-I mean, pitcher... wait, what I was I talking about? 

Oh, right. Perez was optioned to Memphis today, presumably to make room for another middle infielder like, um... well, I don't know, actually. Barden? Thurston? Is Ottavino an infielder? I guess technically pitchers do work in the infield, right? 

Anyway, TLR thinks that Perez needs more, regular playing time, and he isn't going to get it at the expense of the big club unless he's really, truly ready. 

Colby Rasmus won the game for the embirded ones (eh?) after a series of stooge-like mistakes by both teams. I would've liked to see the game today, just to try and catch a glimpse of the message allgedly scrawled across Hanley Ramirez' chest in permanent marker. (Not that he normally takes off his shirt during games, don't get too excited, but maybe if the sun caught him just right and the wind was cooperating, you never know.) 

Personally, I think the whole "no jewelry/hair neatly trimmed" is a wonderful policy and I often wish the Cardinals had a similar rule. No one on our team gets too over-the-top with the bling (although the hair has started to become an issue), but I don't see the need for chains and earrings on the field, and if anything, they're an injury risk. The hair is more about appearance. I like the clean-cut, clean-shaved, jewelry-less look on my ball players. 

Speaking of hair, did you see Yadi? I Googled for "Molina blonde", "Yadier bleach", and various other combinations of words, but apparently no one is talking about it yet. Well, just so you know, Yadi has dyed his hair yellow/gold. It's awful. I was speechless when I first saw it, even with the warning I got from Al (who speculated that Yadi dyed it to match his gold glove, and you cannot imagine how desperately I hope that isn't true...), but I did manage to tweet about it a little. Or a lot. Yadi, te amo, pero este look no es para ti. 

What else... Glaus was officially placed on the 15-day DL, and I put him on my fantasy DL also. Oh, and the UCB is centralized now. We have a homepage/main site where links will be posted to all the participating blogs for each project, as well as a twitter roll and a blog roll for the member blogs. PHE set it all up, so stop by and have a look around. And be sure to check out all the 2009 predictions.

Predictions 2009: AL

The American League. Junior circuit. Buckers of tradition. Laughers in the face of history. Whiners about their precious pitchers having to do anything remotely athletic. Let's take a look at how things might shape up this season for our overconfident kid brother. (Note: These predictions are based on absolutely nothing substantial or scientific. At best, they represent how I hope the races will turn out. At worst, they are merely lists wherein I try to remember which teams are actually in certain divisions. I have better uses for my time than paying close attention to the AL, after all. If you want more accurate guesstimates, visit some of the other UCB soothsayers.)
AL East.
The instigators. The (arguably) toughest division in all of baseball. Starting with the Yankees, these teams take up well more than their fair share of the spotlight. What helps me deal with this, though, is the fact that the spotlight doesn't back off just because you're having a "bad hair day" or one of your star players "admits to using performance-enhancing drugs". The good with the bad and all that.
I predict:
1. BOS Red Sox. It's hard to get too creative with this division, although last year was as surprising as anything. I just don't see Tampa repeating, and even with CC and AJ and JC, I don't think the Yankees have quite overcome their own egoes just yet. Besides which, they seem insistent on playing Jeter in an everyday role, and he's just awful. Think of Boston as my "default" pick for this division. 2. NY Yankees. See above. I hate their free-spending ways, but they do have CC. 3. BAL Orioles. They have César now, after all. For this team, he's an improvement. 4. TB Rays. Pennant hangover. Does that apply? 5. TOR Blue Jays. 2018 will be their year.
AL Central.
Much like the NL Central, this division is largely overlooked by the National Media. Is it the unsavory locale? Is it the unappealing location? Is it the unpleasant region? Is it...? Okay, we get it. We don't have a coast. We're stuck in the middle of the country with our cows and our "dirt for sale" and our well insulated mid-sections. That doesn't mean we don't have some good players and competitive teams, but much like your weather, Southern California, some things never change.
I predict:
1. CLE Indians. A-Rey will lead them to the promised land. Plus, they made a few notable acquisitions this off-season, although I can't seem to think of one right now. 2. MIN Twins. I wasn't going to rank them this high, but then I saw Slowey pitch. I had to give them props just for having him in the rotation. 3. CHI White Sox. I can't say anything bad about the Sox, partly because I get a kick out of Guillén, and partly because the black unis scare me. Unfortunately for the South-siders, they're going to come up short again this year. 4. KC Royals. Getting better every year. 5. DET Tigers. Getting worse every year.
AL West.
Really, I don't have much to say about the division that could just as easily be called "Angels 'n stuff". Oh, right, the A's picked up Matt Holliday. That should turn things around for them.... *rolling my eyes*
I predict:
1. LA Angels of Anaheim. They lost K-Rod but picked up Fuentes. Honestly, even without Rodríguez, I think they could have sleep-walked across the finish line last year. 2. TEX Rangers. Ehh. They're in this spot mostly for the sake of argument. Stranger things have happened, you know. 3. OAK Athletics. Oh, and Springer. 4. (white space) Reserved for the Astros* whenever baseball figures out how to divide 30 by six. 5. SEA Mariners. They aren't just going to lie on the floor of the basement of the division anymore, they're going to force MLB to contract the construction of a sub-basement. Mark my words, somehow the Mariners will finish fifth in a four-team race.
So, now that I've properly ticked off fans of almost every AL team, I guess we sit back and watch the season unfold, then meet back here in November and see how close I was. Come back tomorrow for the start of the National League predictions. We'll kick things off with the East, then cover the Central on Wednesday, and the West on Thursday. Friday, we'll pick our playoff favorites and speculate on who will take home all the various hardware. *I don't have any problem with the 'Stros being in our division, but if MLB were to pluck away a team from our abundance, the westernmost city, as you'll note, is Houston. Obviously it wouldn't be the Cardinals.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

always comes too late

It's Sunday, and I'm never sure what I should write (if anything) on Sundays. It's a religious day, sure, but it's also a lazy day. I want to lie on the couch and do nothing for several hours, and blogging just doesn't fit into that plan. But since there's a busy blogging week coming up (the UCB is doing our 2009 predictions all week), I decided to take a few minutes and move from the couch to the computer and jot down a thing or two. 

Actually, since I'm coming up on a year of this blogging nonsense, and the new season is about to start (and the weather is being bipolar again) I though it'd be a nice time to reflect. The toughest thing about writing a blog is knowing your audience. 

Am I writing for a Cardinals fan who doesn't need to hear me prattle on about the box score because (s)he was watching the game right along with me? 
Am I writing for a fan of another team who is just trying to keep tabs on the competition? 
Am I writing for a casual fan who doesn't care about stats but rather is simply looking for entertainment? 
Am I writing for a Cardinals fan removed from the area who is trying to stay connected with Cardinal Nation? 

The answer is yes... and no. 

I'm writing for Cardinals fans and baseball fans and sports fans because that's what I am. But I'm not writing for one constituency in particular, and I'm not catering to any specific audience. When it comes down to it, I write for myself. 

When I started "blogging", it was a way for me to keep a personal record of the games and happenings that I was most interested in. When I decided to publish my thoughts on the internet, I didn't have the vaguest idea what blogging really was. I'd read blogs and even had a few favorites, and I would comment here and there (mostly anonymously), but I was too shy to try and publicize myself. (I'm still fighting that personal demon, although I'm getting better.) I certainly didn't realize what a community it is. 

Now that I have a year of this blogging stuff under my belt, I have a better idea of what's going on. I'm glad when people let me know they enjoy what I've written, but I'll keep on writing for myself because if I tried to narrow my audience down to one (or even a few) particular group(s), I don't think it would mean as much, and it certainly wouldn't be the same blog. 

So if you've come here looking for something Cardinals-related that I don't offer, please check out the Cardinals blog list in my sidebar. There are a lot of really good, really smart, really funny bloggers writing about our team (along with a smattering of other topics), and each one offers something completely personal and completely unique. I try to keep my list as up-to-date as I can, but it seems like there are new blogs everyday. 

If you're a Cardinals blogger and you're not on my list, it's really nothing personal, I just don't know about you yet. 

The other blogging "neighborhood" that I've just recently started to take notice of (and shame on me for neglecting it so long) is that of the female bloggers. There are ladies writing about the Cardinals, baseball in general, and nearly every other team out there. Yes, guys, women can appreciate a nicely turned double play just as much as you, and from what I can tell, there have been female fans of baseball as long as there's been baseball. It's amazing to me (when I loiter about on other ladies' blogs) just how passionate and interesting their ideas are. I don't have a lot of real-life friends who are baseball fans, and so I may occasionally forget how large a group we are, these "babes" who love baseball, but it most definitely is not a group that is going away. Side note: You may notice that I don't have the girls separated out from the boys over in my Other team blog list, and that's because I can't decide if it's insulting or not. I once heard someone say "Either women are equal to men or they're not," (as in, you can't have it both ways) and I'm hesitant to start that avalanche. After all, I'm just here to talk about baseball. (Hmmm... I like that. I'm just here to talk about Cardinals baseball.) 

Anyway, I also wanted to say thank you to anyone who has read or is currently reading my blog, even if you don't like it or don't agree with me. It's been a fun year and I've had a great time writing and doing projects with the UCB, and I'm looking forward to another great season of blogging and baseball. Stay in touch! (Even if you'd rather remain anonymous.)  

Friday, March 27, 2009

I missed pitching tuesday

Early this morning, I realized that I promised to break out my newly invented word for you, and I have yet to deliver on that. So here you go.

embirded (adj.) adorned or decorated with birds or images of birds. «The Cardinals wear embirded uniforms; The Cardinals' jerseys are embirded; Which ones are the Cardinals? The embirded ones.»

You're right, it's not that impressive. But it will save me precious seconds that I would normally have wasted saying things like, "Their jerseys are adorned or decorated with birds or images of birds," and "The Cardinals are the ones with jerseys adorned or decorated with birds or images of birds." So you see, it's all in the spirit of time management. Feel free to use it and save yourself some time.

In other news, Troy Glaus sailed out to LA yesterday to have a "routine" examination of his recently surgically "repaired" shoulder. At least that's what we've been told. If you'll recall, we were told lots of fantastical things about his health in the recent past, and then he went and needed surgery. I take everything coming out of Cardinals camp with a big ol' grain of salt, and I'd advise you to do the same.

We're getting closer and closer to the end of Spring and the beginning of the regular season, and while not everything has gone exactly as hoped (or planned) this Spring, things could definitely be worse (knock on wood). To recap, we replaced some of the left-handed parts, cleaned out the entire middle infield (more or less), and re-hauled some broken down arms. Matthew Leach may be a closet Cubs fans, but I'm looking forward to a very competitive season from the embirded ones.

Fantasy Alert: I'm checking every day for Izzy to make the Rays' major league roster so I can add him to my team. I'll let you know how that goes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

a few (more) bits

I read the scouting reports and descriptions of players' abilities, and I understand (some of) the statistics and how they correspond to success in the big leagues, but all the words and abbreviations and numbers in the world can't compare to actually making visual contact with a player--seeing him do what he does--when it comes to deciding if I like his stuff. (Now, of course, my opinion means very little to anyone but me, but given the choice between reading mountains of other people's opinions or drawing my own conclusions about a player's worth, I'd much rather see him for myself.) 

So when I finally got to see Dennys Reyes pitch an inning today, I was very excited. I was even more excited after he finished, because it went well. Seeing a LOOGY who can actually face more than one batter at a time is encouraging, because Tony's management style when it comes to the lefty specialists, to put it mildly, could use some work. 

Chris Perez, on the other hand, gave up the tie-breaking winning run to the 'Stros and didn't have much command. I guess that's part of the idea behind Spring Training, though, isn't it? Real game situations that allow you to see where you need work, without the threat of a "permanent record" hanging over your head. Well, if you say so. 

Derrick Goold has a wonderful series going on for the P-D in which he asks some very random (and rarely baseball-related) questions to baseball players. His latest "P-DQ" was with Todd Wellemeyer, and if you haven't read it, READ IT. Right now. Just go. He (DG, not TW) is also going to be a guest on the UCB's weekly podcast tonight (and for all my 31 years I still have no idea what exactly the term "podcast" refers to, but it calls to mind terrible images of pod people) and talk about everything Cardinals you can imagine for an hour or so. (But probably no extraterrestrial parasites. Probably.) 

I was looking over some predictions I made back in January about what the off-season would bring (or not bring, as it were), and so far, I'm doing pretty well. Look out for more predictions at the end of March. The UCB's next scheduled project will cover how we think the AL, NL, and post-season will break down, and posts should start going up on Monday. There may be a little bias showing when it comes to the NL Central, but they should be good reading anyway.

a few bits

March 25 already, eh? We don't have too much longer to wait for the beginning of the regular season, and with the roster shaping up for the final draft pretty quickly, there's not a whole lot of activity to talk and/or think about these days.

Troy Glaus finally came to terms with the fact that playing in a Grapefruit League game is just not realistic for him. His surgery wasn't that long ago, after all, and while there was some small part of me hoping he would heal at super-human speeds (like Albert always seems to do), I was never counting on him to be ready to go on opening day. If he's ready (and healthy and free from complications) by my birthday (May 26), I'll require no other gifts.

Have you noticed that every time anyone in Cardinal Nation types or speaks the words "Chris Carpenter" they are immediately followed by the words "knock on wood"? Think we're just the tiniest bit terrified out of our minds that something is going to go wrong and all our hopes will be dashed before they even see the light of day? I think it's entirely possible that I won't actually breathe until I see him pitch a full day's work and then leave the mound smiling. Knock on wood.

Last year I grew to hate Ryan Franklin. I feel a little bit bad about this, because it wasn't really his fault. He was thrown into situations that weren't suited for him, and he probably did the best he could. As a matter of fact, I've scolded other people for giving Izzy grief over performing poorly when the circumstances were stacked against him, and then I went and did the same thing to Frankie. As of this moment, he has a clean slate with me. That is not to say that I want to see him closing out games again (for as long as I live), but if he happens to find himself in that role (heaven forbid), I will support him and encourage him to the best of my abilities. That being said, I'd much prefer to see him as a set-up man.

More later.

Monday, March 23, 2009

nothing much

I've got other things going on today so I don't have much time for writing, but luckily for me, there's not much going on anyway.

Yeah, I watched the WBC. I didn't concentrate on it real hard, though, so blame me for the loss if you need to. Seriously, though, it's probably not exaggerating to say that it was a miracle the US made it as far as they did. And judging by the RD flag(s) in the stands, I'd say los dominicanos agree with me. Korea and Japan in the finals? I'll take Korea.

No, I'm not watching NCAA BB. If you're following me on twitter, you know why.

Spring Training is going well for the Cardinals so far (knock on wood). No, it doesn't mean anything, but if they're clicking, they're clicking, and it makes me feel a lot better about the regular season possibilities. Khalil Greene has impressed me as much as anyone. He's obviously fielding well, but he's also looking good at the plate. (By that, I mean he's hitting the ball well. He still needs a haircut. Speaking of which, when did Joe Mather turn into a Malibu Ken doll? Wow.)

All right, so Curt Schilling is retiring. And he has a blog?! Why didn't anyone tell me?!

Fantasy alert: if you don't want to read about my team, turn back now.

I traded Penny for Pettitte (because I started worrying about the shoulder) and Giles for Scutaro (because I realized that I had drafted Brian Giles). I am officially happy with my roster.


Friday, March 20, 2009

the 850-thousand dollar man

Ever since my last post (about 24 hours), I've been thinking about Chris Duncan and his need for a commercial. So I made one in my head.

Have you ever seen those commercials where it starts as a black screen and then there's kind of a pulse feeling, as it brightens on certain scenes just long enough for you to see what's going on, then darkens again? Dark...scene...dark...scene... you get it? I can't think of a specific example right now, but if I do, I'll let you know.

In my Play Like a Cardinal commercial (if only I had access to Duncan and a studio where I could put this together), it would pulse in and out to show scenes of Chris doing different baseball-related things, and then.... well, here. Just read.

(Disclaimer: I did not steal any of this from anywhere, and I don't even know who Lee Majors is.)


Starts dark.

Brightens to scene of Duncan in a brightly lit operating room, lying on metal table as doctors and scientists wearing surgical gowns and masks stand over him... then darkens again.

Brightens to scene of Duncan in a gym benching weights... darkens again.

Brightens to scene of the operating room again, close-up of monitors showing vital signs... darkens again.

Brightens to scene of Duncan fielding fly balls... darkens again.

Brightens to scene of the operating room again, close-up of robotic prosthetics, tools, metal rods, and various nuts and bolts on tables covered with blue surgical linens; lots of activity, people working on Duncan... darkens again.

Brightens to scene of Duncan swinging away in the batting cage... darkens again.

Brightens to scene of the operating room again, close-up of nurses wiping sweat off the surgeon/mechanic's forehead as he leans over Duncan with some sort of power tool... darkens again.

Brightens to scene of Duncan in front of his locker buttoning his jersey... darkens again.

Brightens to scene of the operating room again, start on Duncan's face as he's smiling, pan out to show the hectic room from ceiling view, as doctors race to fix him, monitors are flashing... darkens again.

Brightens to scene of Duncan taking the field with crowd cheering and stadium lights on... darkens again to show STLCardinals.com logo.


Get it? It's Duncan being turned into a cyborg! Or something. They're not actually operating on him, but rather replacing his human parts with titanium parts. See, because he has a titanium disc in his cervical spine. I knew you'd catch on.

I'm not really a producer, so it may need some tweaking. Suggestions?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

a is for anchor

I really meant to write earlier today, but you know how time can get away from you when you're procrastinating. 

First, some catching up on the Roundtable, since the last question was asked today and will be posted tomorrow over at C70 at the bat. Recently, 5 O'Clock Blogger took on the Mark McGwire issue, 4thebirds covered the Cardinals' offseason approach, and The Redbird Blog asked us for our bold predictions for 2009. Stop by and find out what we had to say on the subjects. 

Next up, some of the comings and goings at Camp Cardinal. Chris Perez is having arm issues, and seeing as he's a pitcher, this figures to affect his "employability". Jason Motte pitched a four-out save today (I tuned in just in time to hear it) and sounded pretty good. The twitter buzz has it he's working a slider. Izzy pitched an inning against the 'Birds (a scoreless fifth), which I was lucky enough to miss. (sniff) Be careful with my guy there, Joe Maddon. He's sensitive. 

The new Play Like a Cardinal commercials are up on the Official Site for your viewing pleasure. I like 'em all, but my favorite (believe it or not) is Yadi's. I've often wondered if he could block balls with his eyes closed. (His was my favorite last year, too, in which he caught two pitchers at the same time. Classic.) I was hoping they'd find a way to feature Chris Duncan in some sort of Bionic Man-type "we can rebuild him, we have the technology" sequence. Maybe next year.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I've been told that "no one talks about their fantasy team." Well, as I'm not one to stand on ceremony, and don't really care what "everyone else" does, I'm going to talk about my fantasy team. Over and over again.

Last night, way, way past my bedtime, was the draft for my fantasy baseball league. A live draft, for those of you who haven't done this sort of thing before, is fairly fast-paced. It's through Yahoo! Sports, and so there's also a lot of flashing flash and bright colors. For a newbie like me, it required quite a bit of concentration. Remarkably, I ended up with most of my top picks (although if you're in my fantasy league, you may be thinking to yourself, "remarkably, eh?" with a smirk on your face).

See, I had a strategy, and it was working beautifully for a while. The higher rated players were going first, and so my lower-ranked picks went unchallenged for a good portion of the time. However, as the draftees were thinned out, managers started focusing on position-specific selections, and at that point, even players further down the list were getting picked up. I had not anticipated that, and it forced me to change my strategy a little. In retrospect, I probably should not have picked Chris Duncan in the 7th round. (Go ahead, laugh it up.)

The players I missed out on that I would have liked to have acquired were Ryan Ludwick, Kyle Lohse, Pat Burrell, and Ramón Hernández. I completely forgot about A-Rey (please don't bother, I'm already chastising myself) until another manager grabbed him up, and I never had any real expectation of getting Adam Wainwright, although he was around longer than I would have thought he'd be. Between keeping tabs on what the rest of the managers were doing and queueing up my picks, I didn't have much time for thinking beyond the occasional, "well, [expletive]."

Anyway, wanna know whom I picked for my "dream team"? (Am I allowed to tell? Do I care?)
My #1 overall pick was Yadier Molina. This should surprise no one. Actually, when I was setting up my pre-draft list (in case I fell asleep), it went something like this:

1. Yadier Molina
2. Albert Pujols
3-25. a bunch of other Cardinals with some random back-ups thrown in. (Oh, and I played favorites with los puertorriqueños.)
I did not get Albert because I picked ninth/third. He went second overall. Here's who I did get (in order by round):

Yadier Molina (StL - C)
Chase Utley (Phi - 2B)
Rick Ankiel (StL - OF)
Aaron Miles* (ChC - 2B,3B,SS)
Josh Johnson (Fla - SP)
Brad Lidge (Phi - RP)
Chris Duncan (StL - 1B,OF)
Russ Springer (Oak - RP)
Troy Glaus (StL - 3B)
Skip Schumaker (StL - OF)
Carlos Delgado (NYM - 1B)
Mike Aviles (KC - 2B,SS)
Todd Wellemeyer (StL - SP)
Brett Myers (Phi - SP)
Felipe López (Ari - 2B,3B,SS,OF)
Brian Giles (SD - OF)
Khalil Greene (StL - SS)
Jonathan Sánchez (SF - SP)
Brendan Ryan (StL - 2B,SS)
Ian Snell (Pit - SP)
Kyle McClellan (StL - RP)
Luke Scott (Bal - OF)
Eric Bruntlett (Phi - 3B,SS,OF)
Mark Buehrle (CWS - SP)
Brad Penny (Bos - SP)
Iván Rodríguez (Hou - C)

I'm probably not going to win this league.

It's okay, though, because I like my team on a deeper level than performance statistics. My league-mates are probably all shaking their heads and/or rolling their eyes, and fantasy-philes around the world are sensing a disturbance in the force.

Well, maybe I don't have a real appreciation for the essence of fantasy baseball, but I'm having bunches of fun already and I anticipate a lot more before the season is over. I plan to give the rest of the managers a run for their money.

One thing I noticed when I was looking over my team after the draft was that I seem to be well-stocked on infielders, particularly middle infielders. I guess the current middle infield situation in Jupiter has me subconsciously squirreling away every extra guy I can find. It's been a hard winter.

*I wasn't going to allow any Cubs on my team, but I made an exception for Super-Miles.

Oh yeah. The WBC.

I guess I should say something about Puerto Rico's (insert colorful adjective here) loss to the good ol' US of A, but I don't really know what that would be. It was disappointing, and I'm a little bit glad I didn't get to see it. I despise David Wright anyway, so that particular fire didn't need any more fuel.

On the bright side, Yadi and Cheíto get to re-join the rest of the team for camp, and the fact that they made it as far as they did is nothing to sneeze at. They should be proud. I know I am.

Monday, March 16, 2009

¿por qué no te callas?

Yes, I just made an Hugo Chávez reference. (Actually, I guess it's more a Juan Carlos I reference. Ha ha!) At any rate, it's really just a reaction to the announcers spending Magglio Ordoñez' entire first plate appearance talking about the fact that the Venezuelan fans hate him because he has recently publicly endorsed the middlingly unpopular president of Venezuela (and his ambitions).

Why don't you just be quiet?

Sure, baseball players can be political. Sure, fans can boo them for it. But do we have to hear about it for 10 minutes? (Besides which, his hair is much in need of some discussion and yet no one ever seems to notice it.) Come to think of it, you probably don't want to read about it either.

Moving on.

Anybody else really hate Bobby Abreu? I mean really really? Huh. (Yeah, keep chicken-walking, you... something-or-other. What? It's late.)

I'd also like to take this opportunity to congratulate baseball on an amazingly disastrous new rule. Pardon me for a minute, I'll be yelling.

What a FABULOUS WAY to disrupt the FLOW of a GAME!!!

What a BRILLIANT METHOD to make the UMPIRES the focus of ALL THE ATTENTION instead of THE PLAYERS and--good grief!--THE GAME!!!

Players get to SIT ON THEIR THUMBS for a FULL FIVE MINUTES while the officials DISAPPEAR FROM THE FIELD!!! Pitchers get to LOSE THEIR RHYTHM and let their ARMS COOL DOWN!!!

I CANNOT BELIEVE they didn't think of this NONSENSE SOONER!!!

If I wanted to watch a game dictated by TECHNOLOGY and INSTANT REPLAY, I'D WATCH FOOTBALL!!!

Umpires should blend into the background. They should be invisible. They are there to quietly guide the game and nothing else. When they take center stage and have the entire stadium waiting and watching them, something is terribly, horribly wrong. I was against this idea from the start, but now that I've seen the thing in all its depravity, I can't believe there isn't more outrage.

Seriously folks, we've seen the BEAST, and it is video review. What a mockery.

Am I just bitter because of the loss? No. In fact, I wrote most of this in my head while it was actually happening, which is to say before PR lost so dreadfully to Venezuela.

Here's what else:

The runner (whoever the heck he was) was out when Yadi threw to second. You know what I'm talking about, don't act like you don't.

Henry Blanco is a freak.

Puerto Rico may turn out some great catchers, but Venezuela has the pitching market all locked up.

I'm happy about Yadi's at-bat in the ninth. It was a little scary to see him up first against K-Rod in such a serious situation, but I knew he wouldn't strike out and he didn't. He continues to amaze me with his patience and composure at the plate. 10 WBC points

I'm going to bed now (instead of watching the Mexico-Cuba game) to cry myself to sleep because I don't get to watch the PR-US game.

Oh, and I invented a word. I'll bust it out for you in the near future.

UCB Roundtable: The next to be honored

It's my turn to ask a question of my fellow bloggers for the Roundtable, and after being inspired by an article from Derrick Goold earlier this off-season, I decided to ask this: 

We all know (and have discussed) the rich history and tradition that the Cardinals have. A lot of the greatest Cardinals have had their numbers retired and have been immortalized on the wall in Busch Stadium. Who should be next? 

And speaking of jersey numbers, how soon can numbers like 32 and 57 (that is if you didn't choose one of them as the next to be retired) be put back into circulation, if ever? 

Jeff (5 O'Clock Blogger) Number 51 should be next to join the pantheon of retired numbers. He may not have the Hall of Fame pedigree, but Willie McGee is universally beloved. At least by Cardinals fans. And number 25 should be put back into circulation. 

Daniel (C70 at the bat) I'd rather see 51 saved for special fan-favorite players (not the Bo Hart flavor-of-the-month, but someone that's put in their time with the Cards, like say if Ankiel returned) as a honor. Worn occasionally by the right people. Willie definitely needs a statue out front of the park, though. I really don't know that we'll see another one retired until number 5 goes up on the wall. 57 is basically retired now and I don't think we'll see it come off the wall. I think 32 may go back quietly into circulation within the next 2-3 years. Hancock's death, while tragic, doesn't have the long-term resonance that DK's does. As for 25, I'd keep it back a while longer until we figure out exactly how we want to immortalize this era. If Mac gets into the Hall, I think you go ahead and retire the number. If it looks like he never will--and, right now, that's the stronger possibility, you may make it available in a few years. 

Mike (Stan Musial's Stance) Completely agree with 51 being the next number to retire. Is the "Retire #51" petition still active? #32 should be put back in the hopper. The appropriate amount of time has passed to mourn the memory of an idiot who killed himself driving drunk. #57 is more difficult. I don't think that number will return to service until all his teammates from the 2002 Cardinals have left the team or retired. That means, I hope, until AP retires. Completely disagree with bringing #25 back. McGwire is a Hall of Famer, despite the petulance of the BBWAA. 

Scott (Cardinal Nation Globe) I really like this question. [Ed. note: Why, thank you!] I'm going along with the consensus that Willie McGee's #51 should be formally retired and take it's place along the scoreboard and left field wall at Busch Stadium. As for #57, I don't think it needs to be officially retired like Musial's, Brock's, Gibson's, etc. but maybe just leave it the way that it is, as a memorial. Number 32 should be put back into circulation... maybe not this year, but maybe in 2010 or 2011. Number 25 is a sticky situation... I say put it on the back burner for about 10 years and then reevaluate the situation. Keep it in storage... like his statue: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/04/sports/baseball/04statue.html

Haedar (Redbird Ramblings) I'll have to go with the greatest cardinal centerfielder of all time, #15, mr. jimmy edmonds. I think he was a main cog in the cards lineup for a long time and provided spectacular defense night in and night out over the span of, what, 9 seasons? it'll probably have to wait until he officially retires though. I'm not too sure about it, but I think the cards unofficial policy to only retire numbers of a player when he gets into the hall of fame. can anyone confirm this? still, I think 15 should someday, during edmonds life, be retired and placed on the wall. I don't think the number 57 should be back into circulation because of the situation and the circumstances...I'm not sure about 32, but does the significance of the player or his impact on the team contribute to the effort of retiring his number when the player's death was sudden and unfortunate? I don't know, but come to think about it, now that I have recalled the events that occurred, both numbers should be retired. 

Josh (Redbirds Row) Give me Jimmy Ballgame, but do it at the same time 51 gets his due. Edmonds doesn't lose points in my book for wanting the opportunity to start everyday, and heck, he could still be a lefty off the bench for some teams. 

Mike (Stan Musial's Stance) Good call on #15. 

Trey (The Cardinal Virtue) I have to adamantly disagree with Edmonds. He didn't play enough of his career with the Cardinals, and he played too much of it (i.e., more than zero games) with the Cubs. On the more objective side, he was a good player, but I think an overrated one because of his Sports Center highlights. He made many memorable plays in the field and was a very good offensive player in his prime, but he's not an all-timer. I think he's remembered fondly for how exciting he was, but I don't think the numbers totally support him. 

Erik (Play a Hard 9) Edmonds not an all timer? I don't think the numbers support you on that. He is certainly the Cardinals' all-time center fielder, and considering they had Flood, Lankford and McGee for long periods of time, that is saying something. 

Aaron (The Rundown) Really? Got to disagree with you on Edmonds. Look at his numbers at his peak; they aren't good. They're ridiculous. Edmonds' peak years represent the best stretch of offensive output by any center fielder ever not named Willie, Mickey or the Duke (to coin a phrase). Okay, or DiMaggio. Add that unreal output to the perennial award-worthy defense, and Jimmy Baseball was as good as anyone to ever play the position in a Cardinal uni, and pretty much any other uniform, too. Now, if you want to argue longevity, be my guest. But to say Edmonds is just good, and overrated, well, I'm going to have a hard time letting that stand. 

Trey (The Cardinal Virtue) Edmonds had a stretch where for 9 out of ten years (stretching from 1995-2004), he had a great offensive season. The one "bad" year was an injury-plagued 1999 campaign were he only played 55 games in Anaheim. Five of his great years were with the Cardinals. Five great years, and we retire a number? Here's some stats on Edmond's career: played 150 games or more: 4 times. Average games played per year (not counting his rookie year of 18 games): 127. Yes, I think durability and longevity matter. Another thing I didn't like about Edmonds: struck-out way too much. .87 SOs per game played over his career. In his first year as a Card (2000), Edmonds hit 42 homers and drove in 108. Career best numbers, but he also struck out 167 times that year. In 2004 he again hit 42 dingers and drove-in a career high 111, but struck out 150 times. Yuck. 

Willie McGee (who, granted, was even less durable than Edmonds), only cracked 100 SOs once in his career, and struck out over 400 times less in almost 300 more career games. Certainly, with a player of Edmond's power ability, SOs can be a price you pay, but it was often a very high price with him. I know I'm focusing on only a couple of stats here, but my point is that we tend to overlook some of the negative aspects of Edmond's career, because when he played, and when he played well (which wasn't always true for either aspect with him), he was so spectacular to watch. Sorry to drag on, but I feel strongly about this one. What if Griffey Jr. or Andruw Jones had had a few great years with the Cardinals? In their primes, they were probably better than Edmonds. Would you want them on the wall? Edmonds wasn't great long enough in his career and especially not in a Cardinal uniform to warrant retiring his number. That's just how I feel. 

Nick (Pitchers Hit Eighth) The next (or current) number up for discussion in my mind is 25. However, barring a resolution to the "did he or didn't he" questions surrounding McGwire, I think that having 25 on the wall will follow the path of his statue. If the BBWAA finally sees fit to put Mac in the HoF, bring em both out. If by some stroke of luck an exoneration of sorts comes on McGwire, bring em both out. Personally, I'm not holding my breath. Beyond that, I don't think 32 or 57 will ever be retired. 57 will likely remain on the wall in the bullpen, and that will be enough to keep anyone from wearing it. The first time a "big-time" or "name" player comes to town that has worn 32 for his career prior to landing with the Cardinals, that will be the end of the moratorium on that one. For me, and I realize this will get me in hot water with a lot of you, retired number does not equal life-long fan favorite. I'm not sold on 51 being retired. Willie had some great years, he was a good player – but he's got no means of comparison to the guys already on that wall at Busch, IMO. To more directly answer the question, and agree with a previous opinion, it may be until #5 goes up before we see another retired number at Busch. The only other possible candidate, and I hesitate to open this can of worms, would possibly be #10? [Ed. note: Ooooooh...

Pip (Fungoes) With all due respect to Edmonds, his claim to being the greatest Cardinal centerfielder of all-time is not undisputed. Curt Flood, #21, had more win shares in a Cardinal uniform (221) than Edmonds (195 by my count) and played 99% of his career with the team. Yes, Edmonds had some exciting years, but he's also playing in an offensive (among other things) era. Besides Flood, one could make a good case for some Hall of Famers: Frankie Frisch (196 Cardinal WS), Joe Medwick (212) and Sunny Jim Bottomley (214). Frisch wore #3 late in his career, but he could be honored sans nombre, like Hornsby. Ditto Bottomley, who was born and died in the region, and played the majority of his career in St. Louis (the last two as a Brownie). Joe Medwick is a lot like #37 Keith Hernandez: He played the first half of his legendary career in St. Louis but played a substantial second part in New York, which is probably a strike against him. 

Mike (Stan Musial's Stance) This discussion raises an interesting question, at least in my mind: with all the player movement now normal in baseball, how much time spent with a team qualifies a star player to be immortalized with a retired number? Should it be measured in years? Percentage of time spent in the majors with one team? Based on how many of the player's best 5 (or some other arbitrary number) seasons were spent with a team? Today guys who play their whole careers with one team like AP, Ripken, Gwynn are extremely rare. Should great players be punished for 'following the market'? Maybe this is a UCB question for another time... Remember, Nolan Ryan's had his number retired by three different teams (Angels, Astros, Rangers).

Pip (Fungoes) That's an interesting question you raise, Mike. A few quick responses from my point-of-view: 1. Percentage of career spent with team should still matter. Yes, it's rare (but obviously not unheard of). So are retired numbers. 2. I'm not sure that I'd want to use the Nolan Ryan example. First, it's an exception. Second, the teams who retired his number are, to put it mildly, lacking the tradition of the Cardinals. When you have a long tradition of greatness, you can afford to be more selective in choosing your franchise's representatives.

(The Cardinal Virtue) I agree 100% with what you said Pip. I'm not disputing that Edmonds is good enough to be on someone's wall. Just MAYBE not ours. 

My response Personally, I think it probably will be Albert whose number next graces the scoreboard and wall at Busch, and I look forward to it. McGee would be a nice edition, but the more years that pass, the less likely it seems that'll happen. McGwire also belongs there, as far as I'm concerned, but I don't see it happening at all, not realistically. Oh, and I would gladly sign a petition/march in the streets/burn my bra/whatever it takes to get #44 on the wall. But you probably knew that. Regarding the can of worms, I wholeheartedly support this. Tony for president. The other issue that I brought up, concerning Kile and Hancock, is one of memorial. I agree with most of the rest of the group that #57 stays on the wall whether it's ever officially retired or not. #32, as Daniel said, can make its way back into the crowd any year now. As to whether anyone will want to wear it, that's another story. (Purely out of respect, of course.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I refuse to call him "li'l dunc"

C70 is doing Approval Ratings for various Cardinals, and the subject of yesterday's poll was none other than my favorite left-fielder, Chris "Titanium Disc" Duncan. I was prepared for the worst, to be honest, because there's never a real positive feeling surrounding Chris when it comes to most fans. I've been pleasantly surprised up to this point, though. (knock on wood) There have been a few low scores, but for the most part it's been hovering in the 60s-70s with several voters giving him even higher scores than that. (I gave him a 98, in case you were wondering.) Many of the voters over at Viva El Birdos wrote brief explanations for their ratings, and as I was reading through them, I came across a few that made me smile. (I just recently signed up for a VEB account so as I might get in on the fun. I know, I know... late to the party as usual.)

This was my favorite quote. It's from a fan nicknamed "easy". (The bolding is mine.)

I’m torn I love to watch Dunc play. Even the outfield adventures are exciting. He never gets cheated at the plate, works hard all game, chews tobacco, has guts, doesn’t shave and just looks like a guy I’d get along with. Problem is he’s just not a very valuable player, at least for us, and he may be in the way of some better ones if he stays the next couple of years. for the latter reasons I have to rate him lower than I want.

This is an excellent summation of the Dunc-inator's appeal. 

He's Everyman. 

He's Joe Public. 

He's the guy who's always ready to party even when you'd rather just sleep. 

He's the guy who would give you the shirt off his back just so he'd have a reason to walk around shirtless. 

He's the guy who provides regular fodder for an absolutely hilarious running joke over at insidestl.com. (Really, it's funny. You should check it out.) 

He's the lost boy who refuses to grow up.

On the field, he never slows down or slacks off. He's always giving 110% and he works hard to improve his defense. He has a lot of talent with the bat, and when he's healthy, he has the potential to lead a offense. He's young, and has his whole future ahead of him.

If you weren't aware (because maybe you like to start reading at the end), Big-D is my newest project. He's one of my favorite players, and because of some of the criticism he gets, I decided to make it my business to defend and/or promote him. (Don't worry, you'll understand once the regular season starts.)

So I'm off to a healthy start at least. And ba-Dunc-a-dunc's performance this Spring isn't hurting the cause, that's for sure. Maybe he really is fixed and will be able to contribute up to his potential this year. It would make my job a lot easier.

Friday, March 13, 2009

a little world baseball

I admit I haven't been following the other teams in the World Baseball Classic. The US team interests me because, well, I'm from here, and the Puerto Rico team interests me because I have an irrepressible (and sometimes troubling) fascination with lo todo boricua. But the rest of the competition I could take or leave.

This Cardinals blog I came across recently made me wish I'd been paying closer attention. Somehow I missed the update from Cardinals Best News Links (and just as an aside, if you're ever looking for Cardinals news and you're not looking there, you're looking too hard--he finds everything, and it is an awesome resource), although part of me wishes I could just erase it from my mind.

Apparently, in a disastrous 16-4 loss to Cuba (as if having to play Cuba isn't bad enough), Reyes showed his less impressive side.

In the 7th inning, with Mexico down 7-4, Dennys came in and faced 5 batters, did not record a single out, gave up 3 hits and 5 runs (all of them earned), walked one and beaned one. I believe there's a word for an outing like that, I'm just not going to type it because I'm trying to keep from using those kinds of words in the blog (anymore).


Hopefully he can get himself back on track in time to join the Cardinals in camp. Otherwise, this wonderful late-Spring signing is going to look pretty regrettable.

unas quejas

Today's round of the UCB Roundtable is up at the Redbird Blog, and it's definitely worth a read. My turn to interrogate the ranks comes on Monday, so make sure you check back then. 

Nothing else much is going on right now. We're all patiently awaiting the start of the regular season (or maybe the continuation of the World Baseball Classic--there are a couple of games on Saturday that I won't get to see, and then a couple on Sunday that I couldn't care less about but which will be available to me, unless, of course, PR happens to lose to the US *ha ha* on Saturday, in which case I will get to see them on Sunday instead of having to wait until Monday), and trying to keep up with Spring Training progress (the Cardinals play two games today that won't be broadcast!) while we endure ridiculously bipolar weather (which means it's cold today but there are already bugs around and my seasonal allergies have declared war on me). 

How are things with you? Well, it's Friday, so I'm not going to take up too much of your time. Have a good weekend! 


Thursday, March 12, 2009

over-thinking again

Here's my question: Since the Skip Schumaker experiment isn't working out like we'd hoped, do we continue the seach for a second baseman within the ranks, or do we start looking for a trade?

Follow-up question: Does the need for a 2Bman now take precedence over the need for a "sixth" starter, and if we have trade bait, do we use it to bring in a middle infielder?

Related question: What about Mike Avilés? I wasn't familiar with this guy until seeing his performance in the WBC, but he seems like a good SS, and has spent some time at second. Think we have anything the Royals need?

I'll try to figure all this out as I listen to the game on the radio this afternoon.

Albert has made news again, sort of, as he is the focus of an article in Sports Illustrated written by sports writer extraordinaire Joe Posnanski. (He's the kind of writer who makes me look at my own blog and wonder, sometimes aloud, "why do I bother writing when there are people out there doing it so much better?") It's a wonderful examination of Albert's unique situation, and I highly recommend it to anybody who really loves baseball.

I had this whole shpiel planned in which I would announce that I respectfully disagree with anyone who retains even a shred of doubt about Albert or his integrity, and then defer to other bloggers who have summed up the situation nicely. Then I started typing and, well, things happened. I realized I feel more strongly about this than I thought, and so I decided I owe it some (more) time.

1. I hate to be stubborn, but you will never, ever convince me that I'm wrong about this. There are a lot of things that I will give in to, and a lot of arguments that I can be persuaded to change my mind about, but this is not one of them. Albert is a special kind of player and person in my eyes, and you may call it "blind faith" but it's faith nonetheless, and I don't need test results or empirical evidence of any sort to affirm my beliefs.

2. No amount of testing is going to change anything. I was having a hard time putting this into words, but then I read C70's latest post and found that he had already done so quite well. The fact is, even if Albert were tested every day from now until he retired, people would still doubt him. There is no way to go back in time and prove him innocent for all those seasons that are over, and as C70 said (regarding people's insistence that he have himself independently tested),

Taking a test will only have people saying, "Well, yeah, he passed, because he chose when to take it. All a publicity stunt, if you ask me."

3. Albert should not have to prove his innocence. There is a reason the justice system doesn't work that way and never will. Something about a town called Salem and some poor women being burned alive because they couldn't prove they weren't witches. Something about a Senator named McCarthy and a Red Scare. Something about basic human rights and fear of persecution. It's a terrible shame that he plays in this era with the weight of suspicion hanging over everyone who takes the field, but it is not his fault that others have tainted the reputation of America's past time, and it should not be his cross to bear.

4. You are free to disagree with me, and I'm sure there are those who will. I just hope there are no hard feelings.

Now, back to baseball. The Cardinals just finished taking care of the BoSox down in Jupiter (thank you, KTRS 550), courtesy of a Joe Mather 2-run (walk-off) home run. Picture me smiling.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

various and sundry items

A commenter (who shall remain anonymous) pointed out that I may have been unfairly uncomplimentary of Cardinals minor leaguer Adam Ottavino after his 3-inning start against Venezuela yesterday in the WBC.

To begin with, after all the stupid and/or ridiculous things I write on a pretty regular basis, I'm impressed that anyone was able to pluck out that one gem.

Second, maybe I did understate his performance. I won't say I was blown away, but I'm willing to concede that he did as well as you could ask any pitcher to do in that position. And considering his age and experience level, I guess maybe I should have been more generous with my praise.

Anyway, thanks to "anonymous" for reading and commenting. It's always nice to hear from other baseball fans.

I hope you're keeping up with the UCB Roundtable. The latest discussion is up over at Cardinals Diaspora, and if you need to catch up, C70 at the bat has the complete listing. Also make sure you listen tonight as the UCB do their weekly radio show to discuss all things Cardinals. I'm still working on my speaker situation (and if you couldn't tell, I'm resisting having to buy new speakers), but I'll be there in spirit.

Just to keep things interesting, and because I care, I thought I'd let you know that St. Louis has been named the 6th manliest city in the U.S. (based on very real and scientific-like data collected by people working for a snack food company).

If you're in the Midwest and looking to enjoy a game with a cold beverage, look no farther than St. Louis, which has the highest concentration of sports bars in the country.

Yeah! How's that for civic pride? As a matter of fact, Missouri has two of the top 10 manliest cities in the nation.

1. Nashville, Tenn.
2. Charlotte, N.C.
3. Oklahoma City, Okla.
4. Cincinnati, Ohio
5. Denver, Colo.
6. St. Louis, Mo.
7. Columbus, Ohio
8. Kansas City, Mo.
9. Indianapolis, Ind.
10. Toledo, Ohio

Check out the entire 50-city list to see if your city was included (and find out the standards by which cities were judged).

Chris Duncan earned himself 5 ST points* yesterday with his second home run. I can't wait for his turn in C70's Cardinals approval ratings. Yes, I know it will probably be ugly, but maybe my vote will help to balance it just a little.

*In case you were worried about how few points I've been handing out, let me ease your mind. This is just Spring Training, and much like camp for players, I'm using this time to warm up and get a little practice in before the real season starts. Once they're playing games that count, the points will be awarded on a game-ly basis (and much more fairly, I assure you).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

venting my frustrations

The WBC. 

MLB wants viewers (I assume), but apparently it's more important to them to push their network than provide coverage that's reasonably available to fans. No, I can't get MLBN. (And yes, I realize there are venues through which I could watch the games that I'm missing, but that's not the point. If you want me to watch baseball, shouldn't I just be able to turn it on? I have cable and everything.) But I'm not bitter. 

All right, just ignore me. I'm going to try and refocus on the Cardinals. I don't have any comment on the AP SI cover except that it's not a super flattering picture (really) and yes, I believe in Albert. Everyone's entitled to his own opinion, and mine is that Albert is above reproach. Obviously I don't know him personally, and maybe if I were a fan of another team instead of the Cardinals I would feel differently about it. The fact is, though, that I don't doubt him for a second. Maybe people are concerned that if they support him they'll regret it later and don't want to look stupid, but I have no fear. No way does anyone ever convince me that Albert has ever done anything even remotely unfair. I'd still love him if he had, but he hasn't. That is my unwavering stance on the issue. (Okay, maybe I did have an opinion.) 

The latest Roundtable round is up over at The Cardinal Virtue. Check it out. 

Adam Ottavino pitched a few innings for Italia this afternoon and did a remarkably adequate job. He held los venezolanos to 1 hit and no runs, and did have some trouble finding the strike zone early on, but overall was fairly impressive. Unfortunately for Italy, they decided to take him out of the game, and things went downhill fast. As I type, the Venezuelan team is up 10-1 in their half of the 8th and the announcers have already eliminated Italy from the Classic. Oh well. It is Italy, after all.

Monday, March 9, 2009


At some point, anyone reading this blog might start to question my loyalties. 

"Are you a Cardinals fan or a Yadier Molina fan?" they might ask. 

Ha ha! Good question! 

 Okay, I'm just kidding. I'm both, obviously. But I'm not a Yadi fan just because he plays for the Cards, and conversely, I'm not a Cards fan just because Yadi plays for them. 

"So if Yadi's PR team was playing (televised) at the same time the Cardinals were playing (televised)--and in this metaphorical universe it wasn't a Spring Training game because strange things like that are possible--which game would you watch?" 

Well that's just silly. 


(clears throat) Um... 

"No tivo." 

(laughs nervously) 

Anyway, I just wanted to reassure you of my allegiances before I told you this: YADI DROVE IN THE GAME-WINNING RBIs IN THE EIGHTH ON A BASES-LOADED DOUBLE INTO LEFT!!!! 

Ol' Ned's pitchers had done a pretty decent job of keeping the boricua hitters in check (and were ahead 1-0) until the 7th when PR had the bags full. Unfortunately, they left them that way. But in the 8th, Yadi came through, driving in two before getting called out in a play at the plate when he tried to add on another run after Feliciano singled and drove in Avilés. 

Puerto Rico won 3-1. 

ESPN's recap included video of Yadi pointing to the sky and obviously sharing the moment with his father who passed late last year. It's those moments, isn't it? So I hope you can understand my predicament. I just can't choose between them. Lucky for me, it's never come down to one or the other. Let's hope it never does. 

Oh, and be sure to check out the latest round of the UCB Roundtable over at Whiteyball.


I was kind of in and out of my brain this weekend, but hopefully everything's back in working order this morning. 

Last night, my daughter (who will be 4 next month) asked me (without any prodding or provocation at all), "do you miss 'Addy'?" And no, she didn't mean Daddy, she meant Yadi

We were watching the USA-Venezuela game, and she very astutely recognized that (1) it was baseball (okay, maybe that's not so miraculous), and (2) Yadi wasn't playing. Maybe that was because she knows what color uniform Yadi wears, or maybe it was because she inherited my ability to sense Yadi's presence without any corporeal clues. 

"Yes, I do miss Yadi," I answered. 

"When will he be back?" 

"Soon!" I told her. "The Cardinals start playing in about a month, and in fact, he'll be playing for Puerto Rico tomorrow." 

Then she said, "I miss him, too." I'm going to go ahead and give Yadi 25 points for that. 

Things in the WBC are going as well as we could hope for. The US team beat Canada and Venezuela, and PR won against Panama. RD is 1-1 (but since Albert isn't playing, I don't really care so much about that). As fate would have it, I won't get to see the PR game tonight because I don't get ESPN deportes or the MLB Network. (Thhhhbbbbppppt.) That's okay though, because Cardinals television coverage of ST will begin this weekend on a channel I do get. KSDK (channel 5) will have the Saturday game against the Braves. (Yay!) 

In case I haven't mentioned it, Erik (of Future Redbirds fame) announced that he's retiring from the blogging game (although he'll still be contributing ocassionally over at BtB). Chances are, if you follow the Cardinals, you're familiar with his site, and if you follow Cardinals blogs, you read it like a bible. He kept everyone (even those of us not so farm-conscious) well informed. He'll be missed. 

Good-bye Tyler Hansbrough. (It's harder than you'd think to be a Duke fan and a UNC fan at the same time.) Rest in peace Corey Smith, Marquis Cooper, and William Bleakley.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

with a name like Reyes . . .

First of all, every time I see this guy's name, I think of greasy breakfasts and open-all-night diners where drunk people go for coffee when all the bars have closed but nobody wants to go home. It's probably pronounced like "Dennis", but maybe not. According to B-R, he pitched 46 1/3 innings in 75 appearances last year for the Mellizos, ending up with a 2.33 ERA (yes, I still like ERA) and a 1.187 WHIP. Not too shabby. More stat-savvy bloggers will probably counter with some outrageous FWAP or TWIRP or SMUT that I've never heard of (and no knock on them, they're much smarter than me), but until I hear differently, I'm a little bit psyched about this. Knowing the front office, he's not making much money, and if we can get a few good LOOGY innings out of him to complement Miller, well then, super. 

Update: USA Today has some figures. 2 years/$3 million and some incentives.

aclarando las cosas

Thanks to ML for today's lineup against la República Dominicana:

1. Schumaker 2B
2. Mather 3B
3. Ankiel DH
4. Ludwick RF
5. Duncan 1B
6. K.Greene SS
7. Jay LF
8. LaRue C
9. Rasmus CF
Pujols doesn't want to play against su patria, maybe out of respect, maybe not. At any rate, it means some 1B love for the Dunc-inator, and truth be told, if it's not Albert standing on the bag, I want it to be Chris.

Now on to more important matters, namely, determination of novios and novios del día. Sorry to keep you waiting. (You were waiting, right?)

What is a novio? As is the tradition, a novio is the player for whom you stand and clap when he steps up to bat (even when you're in your own living room). He's the player whose jersey you wear faithfully and whose autograph you covet. He's the player for whom you argue when the umpires are being stupid, and who can do no wrong. Maybe you highlight his name on the scorecard. Maybe you whisper a little prayer when he's on deck. Maybe you know his stats by heart (going back to his high school ball days). Maybe you celebrate his birthday or the anniversary of his first big league home run. You cry when he gets hurt. You cheer when he gets a hit. You know in your heart of hearts that if he were to get traded or somehow end up on another team, you might just have to become a fan of that team. When he's struggling, you defend him. When he's hot, you beam with pride. In some ways, on some level, he is the team in your eyes.

Who can have a novio? Anyone can have a novio, and most of you probably do if you think real hard. Women, men, and everyone in-between can have a Cardinals novio. Whether you prefer to call him that, well, that's another story.

What must a novio be? A player on the current Cardinals roster. You might love Keith Hernandez above all others and snuggle with your Keith Hernandez-shaped body pillow (appropriately dressed in a Keith Hernandez jersey) while you watch highlights of old games in which Keith Hernandez played, but for the purposes of this experiment, Keith Hernandez cannot be your novio. Maybe you and "Keith" can root for Khalil Greene together.

As should surprise no one, Yadier Molina is mi novio cardenalero--my Cardinals novio. (My Cardinal novio? Well, whatever.) He is my favorite player, partly because of his incredible defense, partly because of his skill guiding the pitching staff, partly because of his remarkable (and ever-improving) offense, and partly because he is just so darn adorable I could eat him up. Truth be told, one of those factors is way more important than the others, and I'll let you use your imagination to figure out which one.

Now to the daily competition...

Who can be a novio del día (N.D.D.)? Any Cardinals player can be novio del día. For each game, the player who contributed the most--offensively or defensively--will be named novio del día and get N.D.D. points. The team does not have to win the game for a novio del día to be named, but it helps. However, it's understandable that sometimes a player may perform at the N.D.D. level, but can't quite carry the whole game by himself. Under those circumstances, he would still receive the N.D.D. honors, but probably fewer (if any) points.

Points? Points will be awarded to the N.D.D. based on
[1] the importance of the game (ie, is it ST? division rival? post-season?),
[2] the value of the contribution (ie, a game-winning run? a game-saving play? just dumb luck?),
and [3] my current mood.

Basically, it's all arbitrary.

I'll keep track of points over the course of the season, and will award special "prizes" to the winner.

What if none of the players distinguishes himself in such a fashion on a particular day? If no other obvious choice is apparent, the points go to Yadi. Obviously, Yadi can be the N.D.D. just like anyone else (and if he's playing, he's got a pretty good shot), but if for whatever reason no one, including him, is the stand-out novio del día, he gets the points by default. It is my game, after all.

Got it?

And now some random things...

7. Baseball makes sense. It is logical and reasonable and understandable. Life should be more like baseball.

8. I used to insist on sitting in the left field bleachers when we would go to games because I had a crush on Ray Lankford. I've never told anyone that before.

9. The only time I ever watched American Idol was the season Nikko Smith was a contestant. No, I don't suppose that one is really about baseball, but it's related. (Ha! Get it? Related? *wink*) He was the only reason I watched and I quit after he got the boot.

More later.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

all is right with the world

Well, you can go back to your lives, folks. Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers are together again. I know I'll sleep better tonight. 

Lots of money? Check. 

An opt-out clause that allows the bedreaded one to pursue greener grass next year? Check. 

An ordeal that ultimately cost the entire baseball-watching universe just a tiny piece of its soul? Oh, check. 

In UCB news, Andrea led the latest turn of the Roundtable at Bugs and Cranks, and Josh has his round up over at Redbirds Row. Be sure to check out both. 

Speaking of Duncan... Ahh, the outfield. Nothing like a little competition to bring out the best (?) in people. The problem is, the results that we're seeing so far are not the ones that the majority of Cardinal Nation was hoping for. No one has jumped out as a clear no-doubter, and (even though I keep preaching the "it's early, don't get excited" line), the one player really struggling is the one that everyone wanted to see make the big club. 

Oh, right... it's still early, isn't it? Don't want to get ahead of myself. The projected opening day lineup features Schumaker at 2B, Mather at 3B, and the usual suspects at 1B, short, and behind the plate. 

The starting rotation is predictable and yet keeps all our hopes balanced precariously on the ledge as we wait for something really bad to happen (because that's in the back of all our minds, isn't it?) and put a dent in the table for all the knocking on wood we do. 

But the outfield is a book yet to be written. Chris Duncan had a big day with his bat yesterday and may very well be the favorite to start in left. Some people feel it would make sense to platoon him with Barton, and I think I'd have to agree. Neither is a defensive juggernaut, and between them they can hit from both sides. Rick Ankiel is a bit of a gamble. When he's healthy he's invaluable, but can he stay that way? Ryan Ludwick, the focus of the latest roundtable discussion, will probably have to lose the job in right. After the numbers he put up last year, I don't think Tony will hesitate to start him everyday, and I truly believe that he can repeat his success if he can stay in the lineup. Colby Rasmus is the wild card right now. He played a brilliant Spring last year but was crowded out of the competition by the same abundance of outfielders we're experiencing this Spring. And now that he's got a solid chance at making the big club (with his big boy jersey number and everything), he's playing like a nervous prospect who's never been to camp before. Jon Jay is hot and cold, but would need to set Jupiter on fire consistently to even get a shot. Nick Stavinoha figures in there somewhere, as well, but like Jay, would really need to tear it up in order to earn a spot on the 25-man roster. On a final non-Cardinals note, thoughts and prayers for the family of John Odom. Death need not be explained, only mourned.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

a pitching tuesday quickie

First things first, I want to remind everyone to check out the latest round of UCB discussion over at Stan Musial's Stance. I don't have much to say about the hurlers on this beautiful Pitching Tuesday (partly because I covered it yesterday), except that I'm still not getting worked up over the results because it's still early. Got it? 

So, yes, you may have pitched brilliantly today, Kyle Lohse, but until you do it in a game that counts against a team that isn't 96% rookies, I'm not going to care. 

That being said, it's still nice to see that 15-4 on the scoreboard. 

Oh, and Chris Duncan is a stud. He gets 10 Spring Training points* for his 475' bomb (and for going 4/4 with 5RBI) today. *I'll explain later.

Monday, March 2, 2009

more randomness

I hate to be a fun-spoiler, but I refuse to get on-board the "Carpenter pitched two good innings and now all that remains is figuring out which band will play for the World Series celebration" just yet. After all, Lohse did not pitch well, Wellemeyer did not pitch well, and now I'm hearing that Wainwright did not pitch well. This is Spring Training after all. Early Spring Training at that. I won't condemn the team based on a few bad starts, and I won't endorse them based on two good innings. Now, that's not to say I'm not excited to hear he's progressing, or that I don't think we'll be in contention this year. I just won't get any bit hot or bothered without a little more to go on. If he'd gone out there and pitched like some Joe Schmo throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of the season by planting one in the dirt 10 feet in front of the catcher, I'd be writing the exact same thing here: Two Spring Training innings do not a definitive diagnosis make.

Adding to my "25 random things" list...

Random things about me r/t baseball

4. My foray into blogging began with Microsoft Word and a very colorful chart in which I recorded game scores, wrote important notes, and tabulated averages, saves, and various other stats. After the disappointment that was the 2004 post-season, I decided that the next time the Cardinals played in October, I wanted my own personal record of the season, and the idea for the chart was born. After the 2007 season, I decided to take it up a notch and keep track of things more emotional in nature, and since I'd recently joined facebook, I integrated the two and started writing "notes" about the games. Eventually this lead to an ongoing s*** list in which I kept track of the players who were really aggravating me (and whether they ever redeemed themselves). From there it was a short jump into the world of true blogging, and I've never looked back. (The list didn't last very long because it turned out to be more trouble than it was worth, but you can see the part I archived here, if you want. The rest is lost in inter-space somewhere.)

5. I don't just talk to the television when the game's on, I carry on entire, very involved conversations with Dan and Al. Sometimes these conversations get a little heated, but we always make good by the next first pitch. I often wonder how their wives put up with them.

6. I think there's always something new to learn about the game, and I love learning. For example, I used to graciously accept the various announcers' explanations of what makes a balk a balk whenever the subject would come up, but last year I decided I wanted to know the facts. Now that I have a better idea of what to look for, I have one more thing to yell at the tv about.

Just getting warmed up now...