Posted on September 30, 2008 at 12:15 PM
The Cardinals wasted no time starting this "aggressive and creative" offseason, signing Kyle Lohse
to a 4 year, $41 million contract yesterday. This has been an interesting topic in Cardinal Nation, with about as many for it
as against it
All in all, I think we could have done worse. I'm not thrilled about the fourth year, but it very well may be that, with the escalation of salaries, that fourth year will be a bargain price. The no-trade is a little disturbing too, because that does limit things that Mozeliak can do, but there are always ways around that. And, honestly, if I'd found a place I liked enough to give up free agency for, I'd want some assurance I wasn't leaving without some say so.
It'll be interesting to see what this allows Mozeliak to do this offseason. For example, Aaron over at the Rundown mentioned something about Roy Halladay
a few days back. With this deal, maybe it makes someone like Todd Wellemeyer or Jess Todd more available in a deal like that. Not that I'm suggesting it, but having close to a full complement of pitchers should give Mozeliak a better hand to play from in the offseason.
We'll see the pitcher hitting eighth again next year
, which should make some bloggers
happy. Really, though, why change? The Cardinals had one of the top offenses in all of baseball this year. No, you can't credit it all to the unorthodox lineup, but do you think it's possible that had some sort of impact? And why change when things are going well?
I'd talk some about the Twins/White Sox game this evening, but I think I've already proven I shouldn't venture too far away from the Redbirds!
And, in passing, I'd like to comment on the changing of the guard
at Viva El Birdos, the premiere Cardinal blog in the blogosphere. (Proof? It won Best Cardinal Blog in the first annual Cardinal Blogger Awards
hands-down.) lboros has done a spectacular job building that place up and it won't be quite the same without his lower-case writing pervading the site. That said, DanUp is a wonderful writer in his own, well, right, and I know that he'll keep the high standards going.
Posted on September 29, 2008 at 8:07 AM
Sadly, the season is now over. Let's take a quick look at the last four games.Thursday
Hero: Albert Pujols
. 3-3, a HR, 4 RBI.....what else do you want from him?
Goat: Wow, tough to find one in a 12-3 win. In possibly the toughest call yet, we'll go with Jason LaRue
. Even though he drove in two, he was 1-5 and left nine on base.
Notes: Really take no pleasure in eliminating the Diamondbacks, but that's the way it goes.Friday
Hero: Troy Glaus
. You bring in the game winner, you get the tag. Though Pujols and Felipe Lopez laid claims as well.
Goat: Ryan Franklin
. It wouldn't be the same without some bullpen meltdowns in the last week, would it?
Notes: Pujols ran his consecutive hits streak to seven in this game. Too bad there wasn't about another week or two, or that Chipper had been healthy enough to play. Albert might have gotten another batting title.Saturday
Hero: Ryan Ludwick
. Two for three while filling a lot of columns in the box score. Plus he didn't leave anyone on base.
Goat: Chris Perez
. They weren't earned, but he's going to have to do a better job of keeping runs from scoring if he wants the closer role next year.
Notes: You know, if the Cards could have played this well against teams they were supposed to beat, this might have been a different season.Sunday
Hero: Felipe Lopez
. 4-5, 2 runs, 3 RBI. VEB's got a discussion
of Lopez up today. I'm in the "bring him back" camp, because something seems to have clicked for him in St. Louis. He'd definitely be a step up from most of our middle infielders.
Goat: Kelvim Jimenez
. A good game all around for most everyone, but Jimenez gives up a HR to the first batter he faces. Not good, even in a blowout game.
Notes: Awesome way to end the season. Players get pulled for standing Os, no real drama, just a fun day at the ballpark.
And apparently Kyle Lohse will be a Cardinal for a while longer. The team has a press conference today which should be to announce his long-term contract
. Leaving the money issue alone for the moment, two things about this struck me. One, the Cardinals were able to get a Scott Boras client to sign without testing free agency. Granted, Lohse's experience in the FA market last year wasn't quite what he was looking for, but still you'd have to think coming off a 15 win season instead of a 9-12 season would get a number of teams interested. I wonder if this is a case of the client telling the agent, "This is where I want to be. Make it work."
Secondly, in my mind it means they are very concerned about Chris Carpenter. Getting Lohse now means that they have a bird in the hand, so to speak, when they go out into the free agent market. They can get a #3 type starter and not have to go for broke on a Burnett or something like that. You have Wainwright, Lohse, Wellemeyer locked in for next year. Get a FA and the fifth slot could be filled with Carpenter, if his health issues actually clear up, Pineiro, Garcia, Boggs--there are a lot of options. If you think Carp's going to be good to go from day 1, though, I think you wait and see what you can get on the market, maybe sign Looper back because he'll be cheaper.
Speaking of, that should be the end of Looper in a Cardinal uniform, something that kind of surprises me. Being that he was such a personal project of Dave Duncan and Tony LaRussa and that he'd been basically as effective, mostly, as Lohse, I figured that the Cards would go after him first. I guess it's possible they'd bring him back, but I think if they go into next year with the same starting rotation, people would be a little restless. Though it's true that's not the weakness they really have to address.
John Mozeliak said that this offseason would be "aggressive and creative". I'm not sure that Lohse counts on the creative side (unless it opens more options) but it definitely is aggressive. We'll talk about the money when we are sure what it is.
Postseason baseball will be a topic here as well. First off, I can almost guarantee that the Tigers win today. Every couple of years, these scenarios come up where a game will have to be played Tuesday and things will be thrown out of kilter. It never fails that something happens to keep that scenario on paper instead of reality. If the Tigers win today, that would follow that script.
The Angels are going to be a tough team for anyone to beat. With Beckett not getting to go twice, the Sox are already at a disadvantage, though it's not like they are a weak club. That should be a good series, but I'd go with the Angels.
In the National League, I think you have to give Philadelphia the edge since Sheets is out for the Brewers. Sabathia's proven his worth, but even he can't win three games in a five game series. On the other side, I sincerely hope the Dodgers will take out the Cubs. If Zambrano is more like the Zambrano the Cards beat around recently, there's a decent chance. If he's on, especially in a short series, he and Harden will push the Cubs to the NLCS.
A big UCB project is in the works. More on that later.
Posted on September 28, 2008 at 8:01 AM
Don't have time for a full writeup, but I did want to note the end of the Cardinals' season today. It's been a great ride, for the most part, but there definitely have been some regrets, such as the beginning of September. If they'd just been able to play .500 during that stretch, today might have more meaning.
Still, it's been much better than most thought. There will be lots of looking back and forward here in the next few weeks, but just wanted a quick salute to the St. Louis players for giving it their all this year.
Kyle Lohse goes against Adam Pettyjohn in today's season closer. Lohse has done well against the Reds in the past
and you know he wants that 16th win to up his value even more on the free agent market. Pettyjohn has only faced Felipe Lopez (and that was just one at bat) so he's a fresh face to the Cardinals. He's only pitched two innings this season and 67 in his career. As a 31-year-old pitcher, I think we can say he's not a top prospect. Hopefully Albert can go three-for-three and get that average to .360. He won't catch Chipper, but that'd be a nice number for the back of the baseball card.
Only three hours of baseball left. It's always sad on the last day, especially with no playoffs. Even the hot stove can only keep you so warm.
Posted on September 24, 2008 at 8:12 AM
The end of the Cardinals postseason hopes, that is. The Cards were able to win a game last night, which was a nice change of pace and guaranteed them at least a .500 record, but the Mets won as well, so the Cardinals, for 100% certain, will not be playing after Sunday. Still, you have to agree with Tony
"If you'd have told this club we were going into the last week of the
season in contention for an October spot, I think a lot of people
wouldn't have believed it," La Russa said.
Heroically, Ryan Ludwick
's three-run home run set the tone for the game. It seemed to get the Cardinals off the mat, though I will say I was a little afraid, as the innings wore on, that this would be another instance of the Cards scoring early and not scoring again. Thankfully, that wasn't the case.
Also, congrats to Albert Pujols for finally cracking the 100 walk plateau. I know that's something he's talked about in the past as a goal of his. He still needs five runs to get to 100 in that category, which menas he might fall just a bit short unless the offense explodes the rest of the way and he's a part of it. Congratulations also to Kyle Lohse for getting his career-high 15th win.
A solid game by most everyone. As much as I've been pressing for him to play, Brian Barton
's 0-4 gets him the Goat tag. I still think he needs to be out there getting the experience through the rest of the week, though. It's not like it's hurting the team that much.
There was more and bigger news than just the game yesterday. Whether it's a harbringer of another end remains to be seen. Chris Carpenter is potentially going to go under the knife again as the doctors apparently--and with anything related to the health of Cardinal pitchers, you get your grains of salt out--have found that the problem is a compressed nerve. Joe Strauss rang the alarm bells yesterday morning, but today's stories
are much more positive. I have no doubt that Strauss will discuss his opinion on Carpenter and why things seemed to have changed in today's JSL!!! chat
This nerve stuff is interesting to me due to my past history with Guillain-Barre Syndrome
. My initial diagnosis was carpel tunnel, as they seem to have considered with Carp. And I had one of the nerve-conduction studies done that they mention in the PD story. (Not the most pleasant of things, though all in all not terrible.)
I hope that the new news/spin, depending on your point of view, is accurate and Carp can have this fixed by opening day. The problem is if the Cards believe this, plan their off-season accordingly, and it still isn't well by spring, which is a strong possibility. I think most fans would agree that St. Louis needs to plan for Carp not being around in 2009 and act accordingly. If he is, it's a bonus and strengthens the team even more. But after the Mulder/Carpenter/Clement saga of this year and the tradition of having injury problems linger longer than their "expiration date" for this team, it's the only way to go.
The first official meaningless game takes place tonight as Adam Wainwright makes his last start of the year against the young up-and-comer Max Scherzer. Scherzer was actually born in St. Louis and I'm pretty sure the Cardinals wouldn't mind having him now. He's never faced the club, which sometimes is a tremendous advantage for the pitcher with this team, though they did alright in a stretch earlier this year handling fresh faces.
Wainwright pitched a solid game against the D-Backs at the beginning of the month, winning the only Cardinal victory in the series. He only went 5.1 but allowed just a single run. Historically
, Adam Dunn's done well against him, but he's pretty much alone out of the Diamondbacks.
I'm on another four-day weekend starting tomorrow so I don't know if I'll update again before the season is over. Enjoy these last few games--the winter is so cold without baseball!
Posted on September 23, 2008 at 8:00 AM
In a way, it was pretty emblematic of how this September has gone.
Eighth inning, down by two. Brandon Webb is finally gone, replaced by Brandon Lyon. Ludwick leads off with a single and Glaus a double that Ludwick had to hold up on to see if it was caught. Still, second and third, nobody out. At the very worst, it would appear the Cardinals would get a run in this one, if not tie it up.
Aaron Miles was up next. A fly ball or a groundout would get the run home. Instead, he hits a rope of a line drive, which would normally be great, except it was right at David Eckstein playing second, who doubled up Glaus. One out later the Cards are done with no runs across the plate.
This season was like that, somewhat. The first five months, the Cards got into scoring position, but September has doubled them up and sent them back to the dugout.
The tragic number is one now (the Mets, bless their hearts, keep us in there) so there's a good chance today is Official Elimination Day. Still, as the refrain goes, if anyone had said the Cardinals wouldn't be mathematically eliminated until 6 days before the end of the season, we'd have said it was going to be a very good year.
Hero of last night's game would be probably a tossup between Felipe Lopez and Cesar Izturis
. Izturis gets the nod because he got his three hits in one less at-bat. Goat? I think I'm going to go with Albert Pujols
. He did draw two walks, but he struck out in a key spot. There was a reference in one of the stories recently that the elbow is bothering him more than normal. If that's the case, it wouldn't hurt for him to sit out a game or two. I know better than to think he would agree to sitting out the rest of the season.
Speaking of injuries (and how do you talk about the Cardinals lately without doing just that), the team still really doesn't know what is wrong
with Chris Carpenter. He's going to see a specialist for the "non-baseball" injury, which as to be a little disconcerting for fans. There seems to be a growing chorus of people that aren't sure he'll ever pitch effectively again. That'd be sad for many reasons, but especially because he was just getting to the top of his game when he got hurt. To see someone be a shooting star is always a little painful.
Let's take a look at tonight's game. It's hard to believe that we are getting to the part of the season where we can say, "That was the last x". After Kyle Lohse's start tonight, it'll be the last turn through the rotation. Where does the time go?
Lohse pitched in the series in Arizona at the beginning of the month and did very well, though the team rallied to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. He threw six scoreless innings, but the bullpen couldn't hold it. He's done well against them in the past
, so perhaps he can continue that trend tonight.
Randy Johnson didn't pitch well when the Cardinals faced him last, giving up four home runs in another game that the Cards came from ahead to lose. The Redbirds have hit him well in his career
, so everything's in their favor tonight on paper. They don't play the games on paper, though.
Having Randy Johnson go against St. Louis always reminds me of the first time I knew Pujols was something. There'd been some prospect hype about him when he came up in 2001 (though at least in my mind nothing like we hype the prospects today) and the first Saturday game
was on Fox, which gave me my first opportunity to see him play. I actually taped the game, more because Rick Ankiel was pitching (kinda--this was after the 2000 meltdown. He struggled through five innings and got credit for the win, the last he'd receive in the majors until his return in 2004 as a reliever) than for any other reason.
It was in the middle innings. I remember that there were a couple of outs and Johnson got two quick strikes on Pujols. Since he's a rookie, I'm thinking "here comes the strikeout". Johnson throws a pitch that dives low out of the strike zone. Not only does Pujols not get fooled, he ropes it for a run-scoring double. That's when I knew there was probably something to this kid. To drive a good two-strike pitch from a HOF pitcher in his prime in your fifth career game makes you stop and think.
We have a week more to enjoy Pujols and the rest of the guys. Let's watch some baseball and try to stave off winter as long as possible.
Posted on September 22, 2008 at 8:48 AM
OK, that's a great exaggeration. But when you go into Wrigley and lose a series, that's always bad. When the Cubs are able to clinch the division by beating you, that's much, much worse.
Hero: Adam Kennedy
. Maybe he should request a trade more often. 4-5 including a big grand slam that just started the Cardinals rolling.
Goat: Kelvim Jimenez
. It didn't matter due to the large lead, but four runs in 2.2 innings hopefully assures he won't be back in St. Louis next year.
Notes: At least there was one highlight of the weekend. Too bad the Cardinals couldn't save some of those runs to use later on. I was home Friday, so it was nice to be able to watch an afternoon Cardinal win.Saturday
Hero: Troy Glaus
. That home run looked to jumpstart the Cardinals to a comeback win. However, it just didn't take.
Goat: Brian Barton
. His error proved to be a costly one and he missed another ball out there as well. I still think Barton needs a few more starts to see what he really has to offer.
Notes: Cubs clinch. Are there much sadder words than that? (And there has to be some sort of irony that Jim Edmonds caught the last out.) I always hate having the Cubs in the postseason, because no matter how flawed they are (and this year's team isn't that flawed), they could get hot and end the World Series streak. And I'm not sure how to live in a world with the Cubs as world champs.Sunday
Hero: Skip Schumaker
. A nice three-hit day out of the leadoff slot. Too bad there wasn't more going on behind him.
Goat: Braden Looper
. It wasn't all his fault, of course, but still, four runs to the Cub scrubs isn't a great way to get back to a personal .500 record.
Notes: Not much to say about this one. Just playing out the string, really.
On a related note, I'm a fan of Jim Hayes on the FSN crew. He brings humor to the broadcast while still seeming to know his stuff. But I really appreciated this exchange before Sunday's ballgame:
Brent Stover: Do you get the sense from talking to the players that they feel that they are still in this thing, that they are still thinking playoffs?
Jim Hayes: No, no I don't.
Most times you get the politically correct "until it's mathematically over", etc. and Hayes did say that no players would come on camera and say that, but that his sense was they were looking back at how good the season on the whole was. And that's perfectly reasonable. It'd be different if they were in second in the wild-card race or much closer, but right now, it's just a matter of getting to Sunday before heading home.
Home may be a permanent location for Russ Springer, as he continues to debate retirement
. Springer's been one of the fairly reliable guys out there and it'd be nice to have him back, but at his age, it would be tough to give up another year of being with the family. The bullpen's already going to be a top priority
, though, and it'll be almost a total workover if Springer leaves as well.
Who would be there from Opening Day 2007? Izzy only comes back on a cheap contract with lots of incentives and he may want to try to work his way back elsewhere. If Springer retires, that's two. Flores and Villone are almost assuredly gone. Anthony Reyes is traded. Right now, it looks like the only ones that made the initial 25-man roster that would be back are McClellan (and there continues to be talk of him going into the rotation, something that may increase depending on what the word is on Carpenter today), Thompson and Franklin.
Quick look at today's game as Arizona comes into Busch. Which means David Eckstein gets to hear the cheers once again!
The Cardinals push to clinch a .500 record doesn't get any easier today, as former Cy Young winner Brandon Webb takes the hill. Webb has had some rocky spots this year, but he's still posted a 21-7 record with a 3.26 ERA. Arizona sits 2.5 out behind the Dodgers, which was something people didn't expect once Dan Haren and Webb were teamed up. Those guys have done their part, though, to keep them alive for October.
St. Louis doesn't look like the team to untrack them, at least today. The Cardinals don't hit Webb all that well
, with even the Great One posting a .238 average. And no one on the Cardinal roster has taken Webb deep. If we go by career stats, we may see a lineup like:
I'd put positions next to the lineup, but I think we've seen lately that positions are so arbitrary. TLR will get who he wants in the lineup into the lineup one way or another.
One of the Redbird bright spots goes tonight with Todd Wellemeyer taking the ball. I don't think many thought last year's success would carry over, but he has a 12-8 record and an ERA under 3.75. The only D-Back that's seen
him with any regularity is Adam Dunn. However, that's just 14 PA and he's hitting .200 against the Colonel.
The Cardinals need two wins to get to 82 for the season. It'd be a shame if they didn't make it.
Posted on September 20, 2008 at 3:18 PM
Today, the United Cardinal Bloggers get together across their many sites to discuss the Cardinals/Cubs game as well as some general Cardinal talk. If you want to chime in, feel free to send in your comments below. Other blogs that should be participating include Fungoes
, Stan Musial's Stance
and Redbird Ramblings
, among others.
Posted on September 19, 2008 at 4:22 PM
As a test run for tomorrow's scheduled UCB project, here's today's game. I made it to the discussion around the sixth inning.
Posted on September 19, 2008 at 8:32 AM
At least, it is for one day. The Cards, with a insane lineup, actually were able to beat the Reds 5-4 last night to end the 7 game losing streak.
When you have a lineup that starts Aaron Miles and Adam Kennedy in the outfield and you actually win, there's probably little doubt how that happened. Albert Pujols
hit a three-run shot to put the Cardinals out front. Of course, it almost looked like they'd give it right back, as the Reds scored a run on a ball that a normal outfielder might have gotten to, but was a double with Miles out there. Lohse settled down, though and finally got his 14th win.
They say the win justifies TLR's off-the-wall antics as he tried to jam in as many lefties as possible. But the Cardinals still managed just six hits. If Volquez has better command (he walked six as well), odds are the losing streak continues.
The Goat goes to Chris Perez
. The PD game story
says he's trying a new arm slot and is having difficulty with it. For some reason, this causes me a low level of concern, because it hints at a Anthony Reyes-type situation, where they have to tinker. I'm guessing he needs it, though he's been successful in the past, to be competitive at the big league level. At least in the braintrust's mind. But two walks and a run in less than an inning in a game you are supposed to be trying to save is enough to get the Goat label.
In other news, Adam Kennedy wants to be traded
. There's a shocker. While Kennedy definitely didn't play well last year, he's gone through spurts where he's been solid in 2008. It does have to be difficult to not know when your next start is going to come. I'm sure the Cards won't get much for him after the last couple of years, but I hope he winds up in a place where he can contribute and do well.
Today, the Cards go to Wrigley. With the Cubs magic number at two, they could clinch the NL Central today with a win and a Milwaukee loss. The good part about that is the Cards play at 1:20 and the Brewer game isn't until 6:10. Which means that, even if the Cubs do clinch today, they can't celebrate on the field in front of the Redbirds. Which, really, is about all you can ask at this juncture.
It's going to be a heck of a matchup today as Adam Wainwright goes against Carlos Zambrano. If nothing else, the Cards are almost assured of a hit today, because Zambrano isn't likely to be the next Johnny Vander Meer. St. Louis has been strong against the Big Z this year, though, as he's gone 1-1 with a 7.84 ERA. Of course, most of that was in the August 9 game where he gave up 9 in 4.1, including two home runs to Troy Glaus. The other game, on July 4, he threw six scoreless. I'd bet today will be closer to the latter than the former, though the historical numbers aren't terrible
for the Redbirds.
Wainwright has only faced the Cubs once this year, allowing a run in 6.1 innings back on May 2, which was pre-injury. The Cubs have done well against Adam
in his career and he'll definitely have to be wary of Aramis Ramirez, who seems to burn all Cardinal pitchers. As we again curse Pittsburgh for basically giving him to the Cubs a few years ago!
Cardinals and Cubs, afternoon baseball. Let's see if we can't put a little delay on that big Chicago party, huh?
Tomorrow afternoon, 3:00 pm, the United Cardinal Bloggers are having a multi-site live chat. You can join in here or at any of the other participating sites and your comments will be seen across the network. If you've got questions you want us "knowledgable" bloggers to answer or just want to talk baseball during the game, feel free to join us!
Posted on September 18, 2008 at 12:33 PM
It's been, overall, a good season for the Cards, but the last few weeks have been on the rough side. Touring around the blogs...........
Even CardinalNationGlobe has given up the ghost on this year
. One of the last to succumb, but as he points out, "you have win against the teams in your division come September if you
want to make the playoffs and the Cards weren't able to do that."
Trey and John over at The Cardinal Virtue haven't posted since Sunday, but they were on the ledge then
. I can't imagine that they are still clinging to any postseason hopes.
Tom at CardinalsGM invokes a little Johnny Cash
and takes management to task. Obviously, I'm not excited about how September has played out, but it doesn't minimize how the rest of the season was in my book.
Without Fungoes, you may not have realized that a title besides batting average
is being fought over by Albert Pujols and Chipper Jones. Last night didn't help Pujols in that regard, either.
You'd think things on the minor league scene would be a little slower with those seasons wrapped up, but Future Redbirds has three separate posts up today. One is about the Cardinals buying the Memphis franchise
(more on that later), one indicating that Niko Vazquez isn't feeling the love
from some prospect raters, and one about those prospects heading to the Hawaiian Winter League
. If you want to keep with how players are doing in winter ball, FR is your place.
It's possible Mike did go play in traffic
, because he's not updated Mike On The Cards in about a week. Then again, there's not exactly been a lot of good stuff to update it with.
Remember I said that we'd revisit the Memphis topic? (If not, wake up! It's only been a couple of paragraphs!) Pitchers Hit Eighth
has done a great job looking at this issue. It does look like the only holdup is that Memphis is a non-profit organization, but I bet they'll figure all that out before next season gets underway.
More after the jump.............. Continue Reading
- The Worst of Times [Posted on September 22, 2008 at 8:48 AM]
- UCB Project: Live Blogging! [Posted on September 20, 2008 at 3:18 PM]
- Live Blog: Cards/Cubs [Posted on September 19, 2008 at 4:22 PM]
- Our Long Cardinal Nightmare Is Over [Posted on September 19, 2008 at 8:32 AM]
- Around the Blogs: Walls Crashing Down [Posted on September 18, 2008 at 12:33 PM]
- Marking Time [Posted on September 18, 2008 at 9:47 AM]
- Few Signs of Life [Posted on September 17, 2008 at 8:03 AM]
- The Final Stretch [Posted on September 16, 2008 at 8:01 AM]
- The Final Nails [Posted on September 15, 2008 at 8:14 AM]
- Sweetness [Posted on September 10, 2008 at 8:02 AM]
- Spoilage Is Not Always Bad [Posted on September 9, 2008 at 7:41 AM]
- UCB Project: Looking at the Baby Birds [Posted on September 8, 2008 at 8:00 AM]
- Gutting Some Fish [Posted on September 7, 2008 at 11:00 PM]
- It Was Bound To Happen [Posted on September 4, 2008 at 7:53 AM]
- The Bleeding Stops [Posted on September 3, 2008 at 7:54 AM]
- No Holiday From The Losing [Posted on September 2, 2008 at 7:55 AM]