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March 2008

Opening Day!

Posted on March 31, 2008 at 9:01 AM
All the promise of the spring gets puts to the test as the daily "grind" starts.  I say grind, but that's only for the players.  For us fans, it's the most joyous of times.  Baseball, on every day.  The background of our evenings, always giving us something to watch and discuss.

I'm still on record as saying that the Cardinals are going to fulfill some of this spring promise.  I spent a good portion of my fantasy draft yesterday making the same arguments I've made here.  I really hope that I'm not eating my words come September--I doubt they'll be very tasty, especially if the Cubs are winning.  (BTW, Cub fans, here's to a happy 100th anniversary.  May there be many more!)

The lineup is already out there, from the always-informative Derrick Goold:

  1. Skip Schumaker, LF
  2. Ryan Ludwick, RF
  3. Albert Pujols, 1B
  4. Troy Glaus, 3B
  5. Rick Ankiel, CF
  6. Yadier Molina, C
  7. Cesar Izturis, SS
  8. Adam Wainwright, RHP
  9. Aaron Miles, 2B
I'm a little surprised to see Brian Barton not in there.  As Goold says in his entry, there was a lot of speculation he'd be in the lineup against the left-handed Jeff Francis.  And Glaus hitting fourth instead of Ankiel?  Interesting in its own right.  Should be interesting to see how this all works out today.

OK, so here's Francis's line against the current Cardinals.  Not a lot of success save Pujols, who basically has success against everyone.  It does show why Miles is in the lineup and probably why he's hitting ninth, making for greater odds that there will be a man on when the lineup rolls over.  And Glaus has taken him deep a couple of times.

Wainwright against the Rockies is here.  He's not had a lot of exposure to the club (27 PA against hitters wearing the purple), but that's not surprising given his one year as a starter and the teams only getting together twice a season.

I look for a low scoring game.  Hopefully the Cardinals will be able to pull it out.  Anyone want to pick a Pujols home run?

It's a wonderful time.  Baseball is here!

Fantasy Baseball

Posted on March 30, 2008 at 11:35 PM
The Cards get started on the real thing tomorrow, but until then, we've only got fantasies.  I had my keeper league draft today and this is what the result was.  I'm pretty happy with it, and I know there's nothing more boring than people talking about a team in a league you aren't in, so one time post and that's it.

5x5 league and here's the roster:

C B. McCann (Keeper)
C Y. Molina (Round 12)
1B A. Pujols (K)
2B P. Polanco (7)
SS H. Ramirez (K)
3B R. Zimmerman (K)
MI J. Hardy (5)
CI M. Teixeira (K)
DH B. Butler (11)
OF C. Granderson (K)
OF J. Hamilton (1)
OF C. Hart (2)
OF M. Kemp (3)
OF R. Ankiel (9)
P E. Bedard (K)
P F. Hernandez (K)
P J. Santana (K)
P A. Wainwright (K)
P R. Harden (4)
P J. Isringhausen (6)
P J. Soria (8)
P Z. Greinke (10)

Granderson went on the DL after the draft and I picked up Austin Kearns.  So, what do you think?

Quick Notes for the Weekend

Posted on March 29, 2008 at 12:36 PM
No major theme here, just some things I wanted to get down.

First, the only other UCB contributor on the YNOT (due to bad timing and perhaps some burnout) was Rockin' the Red.  You can see his answers here.  It's hard to to be a little optimistic going into the season.  Whether that optimism is well founded will probably be quickly tested.

Cards won yesterday against Springfield in their park.  3-2, with Pujols hitting a home run.  The last game of the series is today at 1:00 pm and can be heard on the Cardinal Radio Network.  After that, the team takes tomorrow off and gets ready for Monday's festivities.

One Cardinal that won't be playing on Monday appears to be Brendan Ryan.  Looks like he'll start on the DL and Rico Washington--getting the call over D'Angelo Jimenez due to the options he still has--will ride in the red convertible.

Tom over at CardinalsGM will be having a live blog chat on Opening Day.  If you are away from the TV but can get to the computer, stop by and talk about the game, the Cardinals and baseball in general.

More XM news:  While I'm rocking to the Play Ball Channel (XM 120) right now, it reminds me to pass along that it will be exclusively online on Opening Day.  So you get an extra day of songs, calls, interviews, etc.  Speaking of on-line, due to popular demand XM Home Plate (XM 175) will now be able to be heard on-line every day, starting today.  So if you can listen to music through your computer, you can now replace that with some great baseball talk.

I see where former Cardinal Woody Williams was released by the Astros.  Woody was a great contributor while he was here, but it looks like it's the end of the line for him.  He'll always have fans in St. Louis, though.

That'll do it for now.  I'll be back Monday for an Opening Day post before the games kick off.

More UCB: Answering the YNOT

Posted on March 28, 2008 at 3:00 AM
Quick background on the whole YNOT thing can be found here, under History, but the basic concept is this.  Generally, every series during the year is preceded by a YNOT game, in which 10 questions are asked (plus a tiebreaker) about the upcoming games.  Then they are graded after the series to see who won.  It's also been expanded to cover different periods of time, which is where we come in today.  The season-long YNOT is up at CardsClubhouse (get over there and fill it out if you haven't!) and the United Cardinal Bloggers are going to put up their answers, with explanations.  As typical, I'll post links here when they get them up.

So jump with me and let's see what we can see...........

  Continue Reading

A Storm Brewing?

Posted on March 27, 2008 at 10:14 AM
John Mozeliak was hired to be the peacemaker.  He was supposed to bring together the factions of scouting and stats.  While he may be doing that in the front office, I'm not sure he's doing it in with the dugout.  And I've got no problems with that.

Today's big story is the Reyes situation.  Here's what Larry at VEB has to say:

i would no longer characterize this as merely a proxy debate; it really is about the future of the organization --- about whether or not personnel decisions will be guided by any semblance of a long-range strategic vision; about stats vs scouting; about how to get maximum yield from the organization’s assets; ultimately, about who's in charge.
As usual, he's hit the nail on the head.  When Mozeliak was hired, I was afraid this was another TLR yes-man and lamented the hiring as a missed opportunity.  Not surprisingly, I was a little off there, it appears.

Look, I've said before that I'm a Tony LaRussa fan.  That said, his view of the game is a short-term one.  He wants to win now and wants the tools to do that.  In his mind, that means proven players that you have statistical data and tendencies on.  You know what they are going to do.  (And, apparently, gets soft spots for, if you read this story (scroll down) about Aaron Miles.)

Mozeliak has to look long-term.  There has to come a time where players are developed, not only for cost purposes but for trade options.  And there comes a time where the players have to prove what they can do on the major league squad.  Reyes has reached that point and, finally, Mo has put his foot down.

However, I found this just a little ominous:

"The decision of who gets in uniform is ultimately placed with the front office and/or ownership. I just appreciate the coaches and I having input in that. I also understand that at some point the decision is theirs. But once you get them, the decision how to play them is mine and the coaches'. ... That's how it works."
Could we see LaRussa let his wounded pride get in the way and only see Reyes pitch once a week or so in blowouts?  Something in that doesn't sit right with me, though hopefully TLR's need to win would override any hurts he may have from the front office directive.

Also, Juan Gonzalez is now on the temporarily inactive list.  I didn't even know there was such a thing.  I don't think we'll see too much more of Juan Gone, unless the outfield just falls to pieces.   I guess it could make for some summer intrigue if he's in shape and the Cards need to make a trade.

Great game for the Cardinals yesterday.  They battled back from a 2-0 deficit to win 8-2.  I've heard before just to pay attention to the last two weeks of ST.  That's when the regulars start playing more, pitchers go longer into the game, etc.  Starting last Monday (3/17), the Cards are 8-0-1, getting good pitching and strong offense.  The average score in that time is 7-3, with two double-digit scores put up by the Cards in that span.

Of course, last year the pitching staff put up a 2.00 ERA or so in spring and then, well, we know what happened there.........

Today's lineup for the last game that counts in ST.  Friday and Saturday the Cards are in Springfield, MO to take on the AA team.

  1. Skip Schumaker, RF
  2. Chris Duncan, LF
  3. Albert Pujols, 1B
  4. Rick Ankiel, CF
  5. Troy Glaus, 3B
  6. Yadier Molina, C
  7. Adam Kennedy, 2B
  8. Kyle Lohse, RHP
  9. Cesar Izturis, SS

The bench is standard, with the addition of INF Rico Washington and OF Amaury Marti, of note. The bullpen features: LHP Randy Flores, LHP Ron Villone, RHP Ryan Franklin, newly-minted rookie RHP Kyle McClellan, RHP Russ Springer and, making that last push, RHP Kelvin Jimenez.

We'll see if Lohse can build on his good first outing.  The game is on the Cardinal Radio Network and also on XM 176.

Moves and Lineup

Posted on March 26, 2008 at 11:20 AM
Per the ever-resourceful duo of Derrick Goold and Matthew Leach, Cliff Politte and Chris Perez will be starting their season in AAA.  No big surprise there.  Politte hadn't done a whole lot in the spring and Perez, while showing flashes of brilliance, also showed that he could use a little more time in AAA.

So that means that the roster is set, except for one pitching spot.  Who will be in that spot might be a surprise.  Kelvin Jimenez and Anthony Reyes (yes, the subject of so much angst in the blogosphere lately) are the final two candidates.  I can't believe that having Reyes work out of the pen is a better idea that having him be a starter in Memphis, but it is something that worked for Matt Morris as he came back from injury and for Adam Wainwright as he was getting used to the majors.  Whether it'd work for Reyes, I don't know, but I think I'd be for it.  He's obviously done as much as he can in Memphis, so if Looper or Wellemeyer start blowing games early, it'd be an easy swap.

What might be most noteworthy is this quote:

“Dave and I don’t agree on everything. … It is still fluid.”--Tony LaRussa
Now THAT is news!

Today's lineup:

  1. Skip Schumaker, RF
  2. Chris Duncan, LF
  3. Albert Pujols, 1B
  4. Rick Ankiel, CF
  5. Troy Glaus, 3B
  6. Yadier Molina, C
  7. Adam Kennedy, 2B
  8. Adam Wainwright, RHP
  9. Aaron Miles, SS

The bench is standard, with most of the major-league complements available. Brendan Ryan is set to take infield and cuts in the cages today. The bullpen, as listed on the lineup card: LHP Randy Flores, RHP Russ Springer, RHP Kyle McClellan, RHP Kelvin Jimenez, RHP Hugo Castellanos.

Looks pretty standard, save Miles at short.  That's a lineup that we'll see quite a bit this season (with Izturis instead), I'd expect.  And just more proof that it's time to get serious, seeing all those regulars playing.  The season is coming!

What More Can He Do?

Posted on March 26, 2008 at 9:00 AM
Let's look at some spring stats, shall we?  While it's not totally indicative of results, let's take the easy way out and compare ERAs of the projected starting rotation:

Thompson 2.76
Lohse 3.60
Wainwright 3.92
Wellemeyer 4.05
Looper 7.98

And then, the pitcher that needs to go to Memphis, apparently:

Reyes 3.32

Fungoes has a great take on the inconsistency of LaRussa and company in using spring results.   It boils down to this: if great springs are why Thompson and Kyle McClellan are making the rotation and roster, respectively, how can you keep Reyes out of the rotation and Looper in?  It's not like Looper is this well-established starter that's just having a rough spring.  Look, his ERA for last year was almost 5, he gives up more than a hit an inning, allowed 22 long balls.  And all of that includes a spectacular April, where he had a 1.91 ERA after 5 starts.  All in all, Looper really doesn't need to be part of the starting rotation.

Anyway, Reyes took the challenge and threw up six scoreless innings in a 3-0 win over the Nationals.  I don't think it's insignificant that you see a comment like this out of TLR:

"He made a lot of good pitches," La Russa said. "Whatever the wind was doing he made some good pitches. He was helped a little by the wind. He may have been hurt by the wind. Mostly, he helped himself."
Granted, the wind was a factor yesterday, as a strong one was blowing in.  But if the wind was blowing out, do you think that TLR would have given him any credit for that, or would he have said, "You've got to pitch to conditions, and Anthony didn't do that."  To me, even though it's mainly complementary, that quote has that hint of, "He can't keep it up, he needs that wind help, he wasn't really that good."

Also yesterday, the Cardinals made some official moves, putting people on the DL that we already knew weren't starting the season.  Chris Carpenter, Joel Pineiro, Matt Clement, Mark Mulder, Tyler Johnson, Josh Kinney and Juan Encarnacion.  That's a heck of a disabled staff.  Healthy, they'd beat a lot of people.

Brendan Ryan was not put on the DL, so he'll likely be ready for Opening Day.

Today, Adam Wainwright makes his last start of the spring, facing the Baltimore Orioles in a game that is scheduled to be on FSN.

Home Stretch

Posted on March 25, 2008 at 9:24 AM
A while back, the United Cardinal Bloggers (some of who did the roundtable that you can find below) put out their predictions for the way the different standings around the league would pan out.  Daniel at Redbirds Fun told me at the time he typically waited until closer to the regular season, and you can now find his selections at his blog.

Not your traditional Opening Day, but the Red Sox and Athletics have kicked the season off in Japan.  Looks like Boston's in good shape to win this one in extra innings.  Our network friends at Who Made You Mirabelli? and Beantown West will likely be all over this, albeit from the Boston perspective.

Cards won another one yesterday, 8-4 over the Twins.  13 hits for the Redbirds, so most everyone had a good day.  Even Cesar Izturis drove in two with a single in his only AB.  You know it's a good day when something like that happens!  (He did get caught stealing, however.)  Colby Rasmus again made the trip and drew a walk.  Being that the Cards don't have another road trip, that may be his last appearance with the big squad in the spring.

Brad Thompson threw a pretty decent outing, two runs in five innings.  He even struck out four, which usually isn't a big part of his game.  The only pitcher with a rough day was Chris Perez, who allowed two runs in the ninth and was yanked before he could finish it.  That probably seals his demotion to Memphis, but he will see St. Louis sometime this summer, barring injury.

It really is the home stretch for the Cardinals.  They have home games today and tomorrow against the Nationals and Orioles, respectively.  Then, on Thursday, they are the "road team" for the last Fins and Feathers game against ST roommates Florida.  Friday and Saturday has them playing in Springfield, MO against their AA team before heading to St. Louis to start off the season on Monday.

Joel Pineiro pitched against AAA batters yesterday and did pretty well.   According to the article by Matthew Leach, if all goes well Pineiro could be back with the major league club by mid-April.  I don't know what the odds are of that happening.  I'm sure they go up dramatically if he doesn't report pain today.

There's an article up today about the pitching of Thompson and Todd Wellemeyer.  I don't know that they should bear the brunt of the outrage of Anthony Reyes not being in the rotation.  I still don't think Wellemeyer can keep up his numbers if he had to stay in the rotation for a whole year.  Thompson would probably have a better chance, but I do think of him as a reliever as well.  The biggest problem is that we've got these guys plus Braden Looper when our top prospect of a couple of years ago languishes.  It just doesn't make a lot of sense.

Rick Ankiel is hitting .369 for the spring, coupling the average with power.  If anyone had said 8 years ago that Ankiel would be our cleanup hitter, it would have been a joke about a weak offense.  He's definitely developed into a reasonable alternative in that slot.  Of course, the jury is out on whether he can continue to be effective until the regular season gets started, but I think he'll be fine.

This offense really has me excited about the 2008 season.  There should be a lot less of "oh, we aren't going to score" this year.  Last year, if Pujols or Molina weren't coming up, a lot of times scoring opportunities were wasted.  There will be a lot more firepower in the lineup this year, it appears.

Mr. Goold is on the ball again today, bringing us the lineup.  Anthony Reyes is on the mound and hopefully will have another great start.

  1. Skip Schumaker, RF
  2. Brian Barton, LF
  3. Albert Pujols, 1B
  4. Troy Glaus, 3B
  5. Rick Ankiel, CF
  6. Jason LaRue, C
  7. Aaron Miles, 2B
  8. Anthony Reyes, RHP
  9. Cesar Izturis, SS

The bullpen is stocked with LHP Ron Villone, LHP Randy Flores, RHP Ryan Franklin, RHP Jason Isringhausen, RHP Kelvin Jimenez, RHP  Hugo Castellanos.

UCB Roundtable

Posted on March 25, 2008 at 8:59 AM
As you regular readers know, this week, some of the United Cardinal Bloggers spent time discussing the issues of the day via e-mail.  Last Monday, it was Anthony Reyes.  Tuesday, we took a look at the roster farther into the year.  Wednesday, there was some discussion of trades, the bullpen, and TLR.  Thursday was Ballpark Village, outfielders and pleasant spring surprises.  Finally, Friday took on spring disappointments and Mozeliak's work as GM.

You can tell from reading the above that it didn't leave me much to ask about and that coupled with a weekend could be why participation was down on this one.  Still, some good discussion was held.  Let's take a look.

Daniel (C70 At The Bat): OK, y'all have done such a great job on the questions this week that I don't know there is much left for me to toss out.  But here's something to discuss this weekend (and Monday, in case you are away from the computer this Easter weekend).  No real theme to the questions, just kind of a general wrap-up.

First up,we've talked a little about trades, with the outfield and the bullpen.  If you could reasonably make a trade, what would it be?  Either specific (Duncan for Player X) or general (an outfielder for a pitching prospect).

Bryan (Rockin' the Red): I know the Rays are a hard team to deal with, but they could use an outfielder and we have a wide variety of them - lefthanded ones, righthanded ones, young ones, old ones, converted ones, versatile ones, etc.. I would suggest possibly Chris Duncan for shortstop Ben Zobrist and prospects. The goal is to beef up the talent in the middle infield, especially at second base. I think if a trade happens, it'll either be from our outfield surplus or our starting pitching surplus as guys get back.

Mike (Stan Musial's Stance): Duncan's still probably our best trade chip, but I could see Schumaker being traded as well.  If we move someone, given our glut of outfielders, it will probably be one of them; and I agree with Bryan, it should be for a middle infield prospect.  That's really where we're weakest.

Daniel: The Rays would seem to make a good trading partner.  They are pretty deep in the young pitching, as well, but that might not be something that the dugout group wants to deal with.

I could see Looper (if he does well) being moved at the deadline if the Cards aren't in it, as well as some of the bullpen pieces like Springer and possibly Franklin, and maybe even Pineiro, Clement and Mulder, depending on their health status.

Mike W (Mike on the Cards)
: I've read some rumors about Skip going to the Rays, but I don't know if there's anything to them.  Besides Schumaker, I think the trading chips are Duncan, Looper, Thompson, Reyes, Franklin, and Anderson.  I'm not terribly attached to any of them, except maybe Skip, so if I were making a trade, it would involve any combination of them for a middle infield prospect.

Don (The Redbird Blog): In terms of a specific trade, my philosophy is you can never have enough pitching.  So the Rays seem like an obvious trade partner at this point, given their "surplus" of young pitching and need for outfield help.  It appears they are most coveting a left-handed outfielder who can play center and right.  Schumaker would be the obvious candidate, especially since he's cheap.  I think the Cards could sweeten any deal by throwing in Anthony Reyes.  I disagree with the Cards' approach, but it appears Reyes does not figure into LaDuncan's future plans.  Rasmus is ready, and Schumaker's departure would open a spot for him.

  Continue Reading

Weekend That Was

Posted on March 24, 2008 at 2:04 PM
First off, hope you all had a great Easter weekend.

Mike on the Cards got his UCB transcript up since last we spoke.  We're sending around the final discussion now, and you should be able to read it here tomorrow.

So we get down to the last week of games.  Saturday, the Cardinals beat the Twins 6-3.  I didn't get to see or hear any of this game, spending the Saturday with family, but looking at the box score and write up, I see that Colby Rasmus got to make the trip and continued to show he's got the skills to play.  I can't wait until we get to see him in St. Louis on a regular basis and neither can Albert Pujols, apparently.  Pujols raised his spring average to .400.  Imagine if he made a run at that during the regular season.........  The newest Cardinal starter, Kyle Lohse, didn't look too bad.  Two runs, five innings, three K?  I think we can take that.  Whether he can do it on a regular basis will be the key.  Chris Perez blew the save by giving up a run in the eighth, but still struck out two in his inning of work.  He should make it to St. Louis sooner rather than later as well.

Sunday, the Cards just bombed the Mets 14-4. I got to see some of this game, including Rick Ankiel's blast after he double-clutched in the swing.  He definitely is going to be someone worth watching this season.  If he can be a little more selective, he will be a force.  I was gone before Colby Rasmus hit his home run.  Wish I'd been able to see that.  It's only fair to note that I saw Cesar Izturis--aka this blog's whipping boy--make a couple of very impressive fielding plays.  That's what the Cardinals thought they were getting out of him!

The Cardinals beat the Mets every time they faced them this spring.  Doubt that means much, but it is interesting.  They are also 8-1-2 in their last 11.

So that brings us to today.  What's in the paper?

Well, here's the lineup from Mr. Goold:

  1. Skip Schumaker, LF
  2. Chris Duncan, 1B
  3. Brian Barton, DH
  4. Rick Ankiel, CF
  5. Ryan Ludwick, RF
  6. Adam Kennedy, 2B
  7. D’Angelo Jimenez, 3B
  8. Jason LaRue, C
  9. Cesar Izturis, SS

Starting pitcher: RHP Brad Thompson.

The players on the bench include: OF Colby Rasmus, C Nick Derba, OF Nick Stavinoha, 1B Mark Hamilton, C Matt Pagnozzi. The spare pitchers brought along for protection are RHP Josh Dew and RHP Bob Zimmerman.

As he notes, all five outfielders that probably will be in St. Louis on opening day are in the lineup.  And Mr. Rasmus is on the bench to fill in.

Pujols got the star treatment and wasn't asked to make the trip.  Troy Glaus was supposed to, but he was scratched from the trip with a sore back.  Apparently it wasn't serious, which of course raises the question of whether it was a little convenient to miss one of the longest bus trips of the spring with "back pain."  Also noticeable that it comes after a day when the man he was traded for breaks a finger.

In other news, it appears that Kyle McClellan has made the roster.  I got to see him pitch Sunday and he looked pretty sharp.  Whether that was due to the batters' unfamiliarity with him or what, I wouldn't lay claim to know.  But this does blow some minds.  On one hand, you have the whole Anthony Reyes situation, on the other a pitcher that hasn't thrown but a handful of innings at AA is getting the call.  This seems to refute the "LaRussa won't play young kids" theory and puts more weight on the "Anthony Reyes ran over one of TLR's cats" theory.
What appears to be really good news about Mark Mulder.   It sounds like the health issues are in the past and that he can focus on getting into game shape.  If that's the case, those early-May return dates that have been floated around for some time might have some accuracy and that could be a boost to the team.

When I started writing this entry, the Cards were down 2-0 and their five game winning streak was in jeopardy.  Now, they've gone up 3-2 after loading the bases with nobody out in the fourth then hitting into a non-scoring double play.  Some of the guys you wouldn't expect leading the charge.  Find the Gameday link on this page.





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Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
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Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
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John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
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Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
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Ballpark Village 58.3%
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Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
B.J. Rains 69.5% (down 0.9%)
Kyle Lohse 68.9% (up 13.8%)
Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%

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