Saturday, January 30, 2010

is Julio Lugo really still on the team?


All right. If you say so.

Speaking of middle infielders, I want Felipe López back.

In 43 games (169 plate appearances) with the Cards in '08, he hit pretty darn well.
BA .385, OBP .426, SLG .538, OPS .964

He defended pretty well, too, not to mention the fact that he can play almost anywhere you put him.

He's currently looking for a home, and some people seem to think we're in the mix to sign him.

I promise this has nothing to do with his ethnicity (even though it doesn't hurt que es boricua).

Also, I'm not above begging.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Our Yadi

... Mets fans have suffered as much as any fan base in sports over the past 23 years: the Scioscia homer, the fall of Doc and Darryl, the Bobby Bo era, the Kenny Rogers Game, the 2000 Subway Series, Yadier Molina's homer and the Collapse of 2007.

my picks.... team of the 00s

Okay, back to blogging with the big boys, and I've decided to jump back in with this project.

UCB proudly presents The Cardinals TEAM of the DECADE.

Of course, there aren't too many options, considering the amount of talent we've had the last 10 years, but I intend to make it as interesting as possible.

Now, where to begin....

Ah, yes, how about with the player of the decade. Albert Pujols at first base. The Best Player in Baseball. (I really believe that he could play any position with as much success as anyone who's ever played it, and if you doubt that, just challenge him and see what happens.)
The. Best. Player. in. Baseball.

Jim Edmonds in center field. Again, there's no argument that he's the best Cardinals CF of the decade because there's no argument that he's the best Major League CF of the decade. (On a side note, this is just despicable.)

Scott Rolen at third. He may not be my favorite of all-time, but I still must give him a lot of credit for playing as well as he does. And who can argue with all those gold gloves? (Does it make me a bad person that I laughed when this happened? After I found out he was okay, of course.)

Here's where it gets harder.

Catcher: I'm going with Yadier Molina. If you told me Matheny was "technically" better, I might shrug and admit that he probably taught Molina everything he knows, but you could never convince me that anyone outplays or outworks our Yadi. He exemplifies what catching ought to be. Take note, all you catchers.

Left field: If you've read here before, you know whose name I want to put in this spot, but I'll resist because deep down I know that there are better fielders at that position. Screw it, Chris Duncan. Outfield blunders aside, this guy contributed a lot with his bat. Maybe he was easy for some to make fun of, and maybe he had a lot to learn, but he wasn't a slacker and he loved the team. Oh, and he has a titanium disc, people.

Right field: Ryan Ludwick. The man is a force to be reckoned with, both at the plate and in the field, and it makes me shake my head every year the front office doesn't offer him the moon. His problem is that he just does his job. He's not flashy or spoiled or loud. He comes to the park, takes practice, plays the game, and lets everyone else soak up the attention. But you can always count on him.

Second base: Skip Schumaker. The point is to pick a team, using players from the entire decade, that you would like to see on the field and could stand up against anybody, right? Schu is the guy I want at second. Maybe it's an emotional choice, but there's nothing wrong with sentimental value.

Shortstop: Edgar Rentería. His resume with the Cardinals reads pretty nicely: AS, GG, SS, and MVP votes. Of course, given the revolving door of middle infielders we've had lately, you have to like the fact that he was around long enough to earn some tenure, even as funny looking as he is.
(Brendan Ryan is a close second, just because he is so much fun to watch. I think I'll make him my bench player.)

Starter: Chris Carpenter. Not only is he one of the best pitchers in the game, but he's one of the best pitchers in the game who had TJ surgery, came back, and contended for the Cy Young. He is the decade.

Reliever: Jason Isringhausen. My feelings about Izzy are no secret. He gave every ounce of himself for this team, even when things were bad and "Cardinals fans" were booing him in his own house. Plus, he holds the team all-time saves record, or something like that. I don't want to talk about it anymore.

Manager: I would pick Tony LaRussa even if he weren't the only choice.

Well, that wasn't too hard, or probably too interesting. Be sure to check out the rest of the bloggers' choices for team of the decade at the UCB site.

19 days!

I can smell Spring Training!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

the return of pitching tuesday

23 days until pitchers and catchers report. (Yes, that's counting today. Just work with me, please.)

23 reminds me of A-Rey, and A-Rey reminds me of pitching. The 5-man rotation has a pretty solid foundation going into 2010, but questions linger, primarily concerning the fifth spot.

We've got Carp and Wainwright (I still refuse to call him Waino), two of the best pitchers in the NL who should've shared the Cy Young in '09 but ended up with only each other to hold. Then there's Lohse, who wasn't stellar the year after signing a huge and very well-timed contract with the club, but who has the talent and experience to contribute quite a bit this season. Brad Penny rounds out the main four as the latest addition to the team, and it should be very interesting to see not if, but how Duncan is able to build on his strengths and help him pitch his way into our hearts.

The last spot in the rotation is where the question lies. Jaime Garcia? Kyle McClellan? Mitch Boggs? Or maybe someone else will step up during ST and give us another name to chew on. None of these options is ideal, Garcia because of missing all of '09 and with not much major league experience to begin with, Mac because he is so valuable in the 'pen, and Boggs because, well, he tends to go downhill very quickly when he goes. Brad Thompson is gone, but I wouldn't have been too excited about him in the rotation, anyway. There's still an outside chance of bringing Smoltz back, but I'm not holding my breath. Besides which, it's hard to imagine him lasting all year without any issues.

Truth be told, it might make sense for the Cards to sign a fifth man at this point, but I don't look for that to happen. At least not until Tony and Dave get a better feel for what we have to work with.

The bullpen is evidently going to look very similar to last year. Ryan Franklin will hold down the 9th innings, Dennys Reyes and Trever Miller will primarily come in against lefties, and Kinney and Motte will cover the gaps. Some newer additions could include Walters, Jukich, Samuel*, and Ottavino, but again, it's hard to know which of the hopefuls will have their dreams come true until we actually see them take the ball in ST.

*Youngest pitcher on the roster.... He just turned 23.

Once upon a time I heard talk of Russ Springer rejoining the team. That was probably just a fairy tale.

Know who I'd really like to have? Max Scherzer. He's a Missouri native, so I feel kind of possessive of him. I just know someday he and Mark Buehrle will wear the birds on the bat.

Think the Mariners really have a chance now that they've got Cliff Lee? Think the Phils could've made it as far as they did without him?

Monday, January 25, 2010

exclamation of delight

Picture me smiling.

No, on second thought, picture me lounging on a sunny Puerto Rican beach, daiquiri in hand, well-tanned towel boy massaging my feet, Cards versus Nats on my laptop, watching ba-Dunc-a-dunc hit one deep into the right field stands as his father and former teammates smile inwardly.

On third thought, picture me in the right field bleachers at Busch Stadium, cold Bud light in hand, on my feet as Duncan steps into the batter's box, holding my breath as the ball explodes off his bat and lands in my outstretched bare hand, as his father and former teammates celebrate silently.

As is the fantasy, the Cards triumph over the 'Natinals' by a fairly lop-sided score, but not before Chris has his way with a couple of fastballs and makes a couple of Sportscenter-worthy plays in the outfield (or possibly at first base, depending on how Washington decides to use him).

You know you want to come along.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I'm not quite certain why, but I don't love Colby Rasmus. I'm sure he's a fine, upstanding young man with a bright future ahead of him and many admirable qualities, but I just don't love him. I don't hate him, or even dislike him. I tolerate him. I accept him. But if he were to be traded tomorrow to, say, the Royals, I wouldn't bat an eyelash. Why? Heaven knows. Maybe he is destined for greatness in this crazy game of baseball, and I wish him all the luck in the world (especially as long as he's playing for St Louis), but I just can't get excited about him, and I apologize to anyone who is at all offended by this.

To recap, I'm not a fan of the current center field option for my team.

So, as you might imagine, I'm reeling a little with all the CF noise circulating these parts. To start with, Rick Ankiel makes news by going and getting himself signed by Kansas City. First of all, good for the Royals. Rick is a story no matter where he goes or what else is going on there, and playing for the Reales certainly will only add to the interest. Second of all, good for Rick. I never expected him to end up back with the Cards after free agency, but I can assure you that KC was the last place I would have bet on him landing. I think it will be a good fit. He's a good guy and they are certainly in need of something... good.

Then there's Jimmy Baseball's sudden decision to put himself back out there, hoping to play somewhere, and publicly challenging TLR to give peace a chance. As you may or may not be aware, Jim Edmonds is the best center-fielder of this generation and occupies 10 or 12 spots on the "Most Unbelievable Catches" without even trying. (Imagine if he were trying.) There's a facebook group entitled "2/3 of the world is covered by water and the other 1/3..." yeah, you know the rest.

Here are my questions.

1) I understand why he still wants to play, but does he still have anything left to contribute? Maybe just veteran leadership and a lot of experience. That's worth quite a bit, actually.

2) Why would the club bring him back? He and Tony had some very unfriendly words (if you believe everything you hear on tv), but I don't think it was quite as antagonistic as the Tony-Rolen feud. A big part of me believes they could patch things up, and maybe already have. Besides which, he claims to be willing to work for peanuts (although the league minimum is currently exponentially more money than I make, so maybe 'peanuts' isn't an appropriate term), which only makes him that much more appealing.

and 3) What if he ends up playing against us again? I don't think I can handle much more of that.

In other CF news, did I completely miss the fact that Curtis Granderson is now a Yankee? And, then, how? (Insert irate rant about the free-spending New York Yankers and their quest to own us all, here.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

peekers and ballyhoo and reason #14,998

I have a startling and tragic confession to make, fellow baseball and Cardinals fans. I won't draw it out or string you along, I'll just blurt it right out, and hope upon hope that you can find it in your hearts to forgive me.

Here goes.

Until two days ago, I had not yet read 3 Nights in August.

Go ahead, berate me if you must. I can take it.

I undoubtedly deserve it.

And I only hurt myself with my procrastination. For as interesting and informative as I knew it would be, I could not have guessed how GOOD this book is.

It is magnificently well-written and extremely complimentary to the St Louis club and fans. It is chock-full of the inside jokes and stories we outsiders long for. It is interspersed with touching and heart-breaking descriptions of the loss of Darryl Kile, the meltdown of Rick Ankiel, and the emotional withdrawal of JD Drew. And throughout it all, Buzz captures the excitement and passion of those 3 games so well that I felt like I was right there in the dugout with Tony.

It helps if you're a Cardinals fan, but any baseball fan (with the possible exception of Cubs fans) would enjoy this book. If you're like me and are taking your time with your list of "to-reads", skip ahead. In fact, drop whatever you are currently doing and read this book. Now. No exceptions. And if you've already read it, read it again. My copy is now a permanent fixture in my purse.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

without a jot of blood

Well, with exactly one month and one day until pitchers and catchers report (Yippee!!!), I figured now was as good a time as any to jump back into this whole blogging thing.

Actually, I've started countless posts over the last couple of months, but just couldn't finish one, at least not satisfactorily.

Not that there hasn't been anything going on.

Heavens, no. It's been busy. And a little loco.

Of course, you don't need to hear from me that the Cards signed Matt Holliday for $119-120 over the next seven years, or that he inexplicably changed his number to #7 (and no, the, "Jim Edmonds wore #15 and I want to set myself apart, blah, blah," nonsense is not an acceptable explanation), or that no matter how hard he tries (and he will try), he will never usurp Albert's throne, or that there was absolutely no factor in his decision more motivating than all those zeroes (no matter how the idiots on KSDK try to spin it). So I won't tell you.

I also won't tell you that somehow, someway, we let Mark DeRosa get away to the Giants, and no one in the front office even hiccupped. That was disappointing for me. I mean, I had a feeling he wouldn't be back, but I didn't expect him to get the Aaron Miles treatment, for goodness sake.

And, finally, I most definitely will not tell you about the long overdue confession/explanation/apology we all heard from Mark McGwire. I believe I've made my feelings about Big Mac pretty clear, so there's little reason to continue beating that horse. It's dead.

Want to know the truth? I didn't even watch it. Why should I? I know the plot. I know the characters. I know the outcome. His words, no matter how well-rehearsed, were predictable and pointless.

Heck, yes, he took steroids. Heck, yes, he would have taken anything to improve his performance. Why? Because baseball is hard. Because it's all about appearance. Because he was getting old. Because everyone else was doing it. And mostly because there was no risk of getting caught.

See. What else is there to say?

No one is going to stand in front of a nation of baseball lovers and say, "I did it because I have no respect for the game." Or in front of a nation of people struggling with unemployment and debt and say, "I did it because the millions of dollars I already had weren't enough."

Don't get me wrong, though. I love the man. His pedestal is almost as high as Albert's for me.

Sure, he should have said it long ago. 

I have heard all the arguments, and I understand people's outrage and disappointment. But in the end, how do you justify cheating? You don't. You come clean and move on. You can't make it right. You can't give back the home runs. You can't undo the damage. So what exactly do we want from him? A pound of flesh?

It's time for us to move on, too. Move on from this, and from the whole steroids scandal of the 90s in general. We need strict rules, strict testing, and strict punishment, and that way, 10 or 15 years down the road, we won't be subjected to another generation of apologies.

Did I mention that pitchers and catchers report in 32 days? Does anything else really matter?