Posted on March 31, 2009 at 9:06 AM
More news was made off the field than on it yesterday, which is not uncommon during the spring. After their morning meeting and the game, two players were sent down to the minors
. Matt Pagnozzi was no surprise--he had a good spring, but the Cards are set at catcher. Chris Perez was the other
, and while not a surprise, definitely worth more discussion.
You might say that Perez was a victim of the World Baseball Classic. That's not the main reason, I don't think, but with the WBC forcing the season to start late, the normal off-days in April just aren't there. Two weeks before one off day, two more until the next. It's only prudent to carry a guy that can eat innings if necessary and Brad Thompson, right now, is that guy.
Not that I'm all excited about WonderBrad going north. His numbers are trending the wrong way
and I'm not sure he's all that effective in that swing role anymore. However, Perez isn't going to go two to three innings at a time, so the situation didn't work out for him.
Having that injury made a difference as well, even though he's looked sharp coming back from it. You wonder if the starters were routinely getting into the seventh if maybe the braintrust would have decided a long man wasn't as needed. Since they've struggled with some pitch efficiency, though, that insurance policy was probably needed.
It'll be good for Perez to get regular work in Memphis as the closer as
well and I'd guess that by mid-May he'll be back up, probably for
good. The Cards have three days off in May and while June is crowded,
the starters should be up to speed by then.
On the field, the Cards pulled out a 2-1 win over the Marlins. Another good start for Joel Pineiro, who worked into the seventh and allowed only three hits and no runs. Could he actually be, if not this good, at least an asset to the team this year? If he can be, that makes the Cardinals that much better. Dennys Reyes allowed an inherited runner to score, though he did strike out to in his outing. Kyle McClellan continued to show improvement, throwing a scoreless inning for the win.
Offensively, not much was going on. Colby Rasmus went one for three and scored the winning run when Cameron Maybin overthrew the catcher in the ninth. Khalil Greene, batting in the cleanup spot, was the only player with two hits. Greene's camp really has people excited, especially since he's not striking out much
Today, the Cards go on their last Florida road trip. Tomorrow they are at home, Thursday they are the "road team" against the Marlins, then the trip to Memphis before returning to St. Louis. Today's lineup:
Molina DH (here's the deal with that one
Adam Wainwright makes his last start of the spring before opening the season on Monday. Just don't expect Tony LaRussa to actually tell you that.
And don't forget to check out the UCB predictions of the NL East
Posted on March 31, 2009 at 8:01 AM
Yesterday, we took a look at the American League, making my predictions for what will happen over there. Today, we start taking a look at the important stuff, starting with the NL East. As with yesterday, be sure to check out the official United Cardinal Bloggers
website to get a link of all the blogs participating.
To determine my standings for the NL East, I used the same depth chart/ranking system that I used for the AL. I didn't come up with the answer I expected, but I"m going to stick with it. Not like I usually get these right anyway. Continue Reading
Posted on March 30, 2009 at 9:30 AM
Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Three games that the Cardinals played against AL foes. Two of them with what portends to be close to the Opening Day lineup. And the Cardinals couldn't win any of them.
None of them were blowouts and the Cards had a chance to win at least two of them, but still, running into this kind of streak after such a strong spring training is a little disappointing. You'd hope that it's just one of those things, some strong opposition more than a struggling team, but the team has lost a total of five in a row, which doesn't completely coincide with the World Baseball Classic wrapping up and players returning to camp, but enough that you have to start wondering whether some of that early spring success was inflated due to the fact the Cards didn't have much depletion of their roster.
Let's take a quick look at the games. Friday, they lost on the road to the Red Sox
11-8 in extra innings. This one almost was a spectacular game, as the Cards scored four in the ninth to take the lead, only to cough it up in the bottom of the inning. There were good things from the game, of course. David Freese had a great game, going three for four with a home run and driving in two. Khalil Greene and Albert Pujols both had two hits. Chris Perez threw an inning and struck out two.
The disturbing thing, though, was the outing of Kyle Lohse, who gave up 11 hits and six runs (five earned) in five innings. The Sox hit him hard, but Lohse did dance out of trouble until the sixth, where it really came crashing down on him. Dennys Reyes didn't really set the world on fire either, allowing three hits and a run in his inning of work.
Of course, days like that happen and if it wasn't in the middle of a five-game losing streak, maybe it gets shaken off. But so often in spring we look for signs and portents in everything, so outings like that within a couple of weeks of the start of the season can raise some eyebrows. Continue Reading
Posted on March 30, 2009 at 9:01 AM
It's United Cardinal Bloggers prediction week. The member blogs are making their predictions about how things are going to go this year, now that we are down to the final week of spring training. The schedule is as follows:Monday
: American LeagueTuesday
: National League EastWednesday
: National League CentralThursday
: National League WestFriday
: Postseason play and awards
Since we follow the Cardinals, the American League generally isn't within our normal purview. So we'll get the inferior league out of the way with a quick run around it today. You can find links to all the blogs on the new United Cardinal Bloggers website
Let me explain first how I went about making these selections. I used the ESPN depth charts and ranked the teams within the division. The player I liked best at catcher got a 1, the least a 5 (or 4 in the AL West). Added this up for all the teams and sorted by lowest score. I'll discuss the teams as we go. (Note: Top Players refers to those players that I ranked number one in their position in the division.) Continue Reading
Posted on March 27, 2009 at 8:51 AM
You'd never know it from the final 9-5 score
, but yesterday's game against the Mets was a close, low-scoring affair that the Cardinals led. Until the seventh inning.
I was listening to the radio broadcast and John Rooney and Mike Shannon gave plenty of grief to Colby Rasmus for not throwing out the runner at home and then dropping the fly ball. There's no doubt it wasn't a stellar day for the prospect either on the field or at the plate, where he went 0-3.
But what was more troubling to me was the pitching of Trever Miller. Miller didn't seem to have much of anything, giving up a double to Carlos Beltran and then a home run to Omir Santos. (And if you are like me and just said, "Who?", Santos is apparently a catcher that got 10 ABs with Baltimore last year. I don't know if he's in the running to backup Brian Schneider or just a warm body in camp right now.)
Obviously, a lot of the hitters that Miller faced wouldn't have come up if Rasmus catches the third out earlier in that inning. But Miller didn't limit the damage at all. Five hits and a walk in one inning will do a lot to lose a game. If it was a regular season game, I think Miller would get my Goat award.
More positively, Adam Wainwright had a good outing and is ready to start the season
. He did walk four and allow five hits, which are troubling numbers, but if the strike zone was as iffy as some have said yesterday, some of those walks might not be his fault. The most important thing is that he's happy with his stuff, which should translate to good things for the Cardinals.
Offensively, Khalil Greene was the only Cardinal with two hits, pushing his spring average back over the .400 mark. Save a few of those hits for the regular season, Khalil! Seriously, if half of this offensive output translates to the regular season, we'll be in good shape at shortstop.
Someone wrote me yesterday asking about Shane Robinson and why he was still in camp. Right now it appears to be just as a depth issue, but he's definitely making his mark there as well, with the winning RBI on Sunday and then a home run in the ninth yesterday. You have to think that, if he starts off well at Memphis, it's really going to push John Mozeliak to move an outfielder.
Speaking of the GM, he talked about the roster construction yesterday
. Most everything is settled, which we pretty much knew. Someone between Rasmus, Joe Mather, Brendan Ryan, Brian Barden and Joe Thurston will be heading to Memphis. My guess is Barden, unless they feel Mather needs some regular work to get back into the swing of things.
One person that won't be playing on Opening Day is Troy Glaus, who headed back to California
to have his shoulder examined yesterday. It's not necessarily a setback, since he was going to have to have examined sometime anyway, but until we hear the results and have him get back to rehabbing, you can't count on his return. LaRussa hopes for a May 1 return, but I'd be pretty shocked if that happened. If he's back before Memorial Day, count it a victory. David Freese's message to Troy: "Hey, take your time. I've got it covered."
Cards put their closest thing to an Opening Day lineup on the field today against the Red Sox. As Derrick Goold noted in the UCB Radio Hour, this team will stay up in Fort Myers and face the Twins Sunday, while a B team will be used in the home game on Saturday. Kyle Lohse takes the mound and hopes to continue the streak of good starting pitching. Here's hoping he does!
Posted on March 26, 2009 at 8:22 AM
Yesterday, the Cards lost the game
in the ninth inning. While that was a fairly regular occurrence last year, I'm only remembering one game
this spring that's been like that. The bullpen, on a regular basis, has been a source of strength or, at the very least, not one of heartburn.
While I didn't get to see the game, I understand that Chris Perez looked OK, just a little rusty. The walk was the most incriminating thing on the record, I'd guess. Perez will have a few more opportunities, but right now I think he's probably Memphis-bound, at least for a little while.
Dennys Reyes got into the game yesterday as well, just allowing a hit in his inning of work. Sounds like he wasn't expecting it to go that well
, so perhaps he won't need that much spring work to get into the flow of things for the regular season. Tony La Russa's going to love having two effective lefties in the pen.
Even Kyle McClellan, who threw two innings, looked better, though he still allowed three hits and a run in his time on the mound. McClellan really liked how he was throwing, though, and hopefully with the shift to the other side of the pitching rubber, he'll start looking more like the McClellan we saw last year.
That works us back to the starter, Joel Pineiro. Yesterday, I said that if he got beat by the Astros, that might tell us something. That was before someone at CardsClubhouse pointed out to me that the Astros had won five in a row. I still don't have a lot of hope for the 'Stros this season, but perhaps that means that Pineiro's outing, when he allowed two runs in five innings, isn't quite as bad as I might have otherwise made it out to be. Pineiro struck out five, which is nice, but those strikeouts are almost a necessity when you give up more than a hit an inning. Still, there are reasons to be optimistic about him throwing in the fifth slot in the rotation.
Offensively, you have to wonder if Albert Pujols is just bored. He's said that he's already ready to go and his spring average has slid somewhat. Not that I'm worried about the big guy, he'll be fine when the bell sounds.
Nobody had two hits in the ballgame yesterday, though listening to the Houston radio announcers it sounded like Colby Rasmus almost got a second hit in the last AB of the ballgame. From the sound of it, the first baseman leaped and made a great catch of a liner. Y'all that saw it on television can correct me, but I imagine that if he doesn't catch that, Rasmus is on second with the tying run and two outs.
BTW, that five-hit game Rasmus had last week has really helped out the average. I didn't realize he was up to .290 right now, a far cry from those low-.200 days earlier in the spring. He's done more and more to earn his trip north.
Cardinals cut Royce Ring yesterday
. It's still possible, if no one claims him, that he'll wind up in Memphis, but reading that description of him cleaning out his locker makes me think that might not be a strong possibilty. There was some discussion of this on Twitter yesterday, with Matthew Leach maintaining his belief that, without Reyes, Ring makes the team. My contention, though, was that if they were content with Ring, they wouldn't have gone out looking for Reyes.
Apparently TLR is tinkering with his tinkering
. Some days he'll hit the pitcher eighth, some days the pitcher ninth. There was a good discussion on this during last night's UCB Radio Hour. (And if you didn't listen, make sure you download the podcast from iTunes or wherever. It goes an hour and a half and Derrick Goold has some great thoughts during it.) The argument espoused by Pip
states that anyone is better than a pitcher in that slot, even if they don't appear to be a regular "leadoff hitter". It'll be interesting to see how this plays out during the season.
Cards get the Mets today. Adam Wainwright is on the mound and hopefully will continue to round into shape against a Mets team that looks a lot different than the bare-bones one the Cards faced earlier in the spring. David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado all will be back from their World Baseball Classic sojourns. The lineup
A link to wrap all this up. It's an older story, but I'd not seen this one about Albert's wife
until today. Just reading the story makes me hungry!
Posted on March 25, 2009 at 7:54 AM
Apparently Tony La Russa is going to continue not only batting the pitcher eighth but not "naming" a closer
. As Derrick Goold writes, though, not naming one doesn't mean the team doesn't have one.
I mean, you can tell Jason Motte "you can't put closer on your resume" but when he's coming into close games in the ninth and trying to end it, he's pretty much the closer. I'm sure the rationale is that if Motte falters, they can give Ryan Franklin or someone else the job and it won't matter because Motte never "lost" a job he didn't technically have.
Of course, the only way that line of reasoning works is if you rotate through your closers on a fairly regular basis regardless of results. If Motte works all the ninths until he starts blowing games and then Franklin gets into the mix, I think it's safe to say Motte will feel like he lost the job, no matter what the skipper says.
Still, the fact that La Russa is using Motte in that situation is a positive step. With his reputation (earned or not), you'd expect Franklin to start getting the saves until he couldn't anymore.
Yesterday was a day off, so there wasn't much news out of Cardinal camp. It was more than a day off, really; players weren't even supposed to be showing up. It's the last day of vacation utnil the day before Opening Day, when the team will be back in St. Louis. We're in the home stretch now!
The minor leaguers did play some yesterday, though. Goold has the Vuch Report
up as well as discussions about Mark McCormick moving into a reliever role. If yesterday is any indication, sounds like he's taking to it.
Cardinals take on the Astros today with Joel Pineiro on the mound. The way Houston's spring is going, I'm not sure a good outing by Pineiro means a lot while a bad outing is fairly indicting. It is spring, however, and you never know what the weather or other factors are going to do to the game.
Remember UCB Radio Hour with Derrick Goold tonight at 9:30!
Posted on March 24, 2009 at 8:23 AM
The Cardinals had a pitcher arrive in camp, a pitcher leave for the minors and a pitcher leave for another team yesterday. None of them were able to overshadow the pitcher that pitched, however.
Chris Carpenter had another stellar outing on the mound, going five innings and leading St. Louis to a 6-3 win
over the Nationals on Monday. While his spring scoreless streak was snapped at 16 2/3, he still hasn't given up an earned run this spring. He also stepped up his strikeout game (something that was a topic of Twitter discussion yesterday) by fanning six in his five innings. This is the real deal, I believe. This spring has been better than any of us expected out of him and it really raises the excitement level for the coming season.
Offensively, Brendan Ryan made a case to be the occasional leadoff hitter, going 2-5 and scoring a run. Yesterday, I mistakenly said that Joe Thurston was about the only middle infield backup option left, but obviously Ryan is there as well.
Chris Duncan had a 2-4 day. After numerous big games, we've not heard from him in a while so it's good to know he's still hitting over .300 for the spring. He even stole a base, which you won't see every day. Rick Ankiel and Yadier Molina also had two hits.
Looking at the boxscore, though, I found one hitter that stood out even though he didn't get a base hit. Colby Rasmus came in later in the game and officially stood at 0-1. However, he also drew a walk and stole his third base of the season. His all around game is what is going to get him on this roster, I believe.
Talking about the roster leads us into the discussion of the pitcher movement yesterday. First off, Dennys Reyes made his official entrance into Cardinal camp
. You have to like a guy who says on the pronunciation of his first name, "It's like the restaurant." Of course, a jovial attitude from a big guy goes far when you are getting batters out. Ask Ray King how long it lasts if you aren't. Still, Reyes is off on the right foot and should get some action Wednesday or Thursday.
After pitching three scoreless innings in yesterday's game, PJ Walters was sent down to the minor league camp. That follows Blake Hawksworth having a good outing before going down as well. At least the pitchers make the decisions harder right before they go! If I'm right, that means the roster stands at 32 with just less than two weeks in the spring. You have to figure that Sunday will be one of the last cutdown days.
The Cardinals also completed the Khalil Greene trade yesterday, sending relief prospect Luke Gregerson to the Padres
. You can find the analysis over at Future Redbirds
, but to me, it seems like a fairly decent cost for what could be a significant upgrade at the shortstop position. If Greene has a good year, you'd expect there's a chance the Cardinals could sign him to an extension before the season is over, increasing their return in the deal.
On the injury front, there is good news and, if not bad news, at least news you really didn't want to hear. The latter is that Troy Glaus has hit a wall in his rehab
. For a while there it looked like he might get into a few late spring training games, but apparently that's not going to happen now. Which, with Cardinals and injuries, has to raise concerns even if Glaus is saying they didn't go backward in his recovery. Hopefully he'll be back on the mend pretty soon.
Better news is that Chris Perez sounds like he's about ready to go
. I imagine he's really chomping at the bit due to the fact that he's pretty much lost the closer job to Jason Motte at the moment and may be battling for the last slot on the roster. With the fact that he has options and that he hasn't pitched, Memphis is looking like a more likely spot for him, at least temporarily, but if he's able to get six more appearances in and does well, he could force Tony La Russa's hand somewhat.
Matthew Leach has his latest roster projection up
. He has Perez going down, Joe Mather making the team as an outfielder and David Freese going north as the third baseman. I do like the fact that he says he has a hard time seeing Rasmus not on the roster. I'm really anxious to see what Colby can do on a regular basis.
Pip at Fungoes has an article up exploring if the Cardinals should go to a four-man rotation
. The positives of that are very compelling, but I don't know if that'd be more likely to aggrevate injuries, in Carpenter especially. If so, you could undo all that good work by having to force in a below-replacement level pitcher.
The last approval rating: Bill DeWitt scored a 80.2%. I gave him an 85, because he's had a very good run and I agree with most of what he's done. There have been a few questionable calls and I'm not sure they do a great job with the press, but on the whole, he's been a good owner in my opinion.
Today is a milestone. It's the 500th entry I've written for C70 At The Bat. (507 overall, with six from Mike of Stan Musial's Stance
last year and one with the UCB blog swap earlier this year.) It's been fun and I hope you've enjoyed.
Remember that the United Cardinal Blogger Radio Hour
is a half-hour earlier tomorrow and that Derrick Goold will be joining us. Hope you can join us!
Posted on March 23, 2009 at 8:15 AM
Since we last got together to discuss the Cards on the field, they've won three of four and tied the other. There comes a point where spring results have to be taken seriously, don't they? The Cardinals are 15-6-2 and just a game behind Atlanta for the best record in Florida. It'd be one thing if they were winning slugfests, but the pitching has been sharp as well. They've won with early leads and they've rallied in the ninth. I think there may be something special in this club this year.
Look at yesterday's game
, for example. Baltimore puts up two runs in the first on some shaky Cardinal fielding. The Cards responded with two in the bottom of the inning. Baltimore takes a 3-2 lead in the second, St. Louis ties it. Baltimore scores again in the seventh, the Cards tie it in the eighth and win it in the ninth.
Ryan Ludwick seems to be getting a little more comfortable at the plate. He's hit his two spring home runs in the last week and I was able to see him rope a double yesterday. He looked like he was more in tune with what was going on, which is good for Cardinal fans to see. With his breakout last year, there's always the possibility of a one-year fluke. I don't think that'll happen with Ludwick, but his early part of spring didn't help those thoughts.
Nice to see Blake Hawksworth come in with a scoreless inning and get the win. Granted, it'll be our last look at the Hawk for a while, but it's still nice to see.
The reason for that is that more cuts were made yesterday
. While it's not too surprising to see Hawksworth or Jon Jay (he with yesterday's game-winning RBI) sent down, I was pretty surprised to see Tyler Greene was one of those demoted. At least earlier in the camp, it really looked like Greene was going to go north as a utility infielder type. Apparently they figured he should play a little more regularly.
This also must mean that the powers that be are much more comfortable with Skip Schumaker at second. The only other middle infielder left is Joe Thurston, who apparently has made the team.
Of course, it might be a little early to say that. Most of us thought that third base was locked up with Joe Mather, but his sliding offense necessitated a return to the big camp
for David Freese. I know Mather had a double yesterday, but it wasn't a gap double, more that he got around on an inside pitch and was able to get it past the third baseman. Nice enough, sure, but not necessarily a tell that things are coming around.
Third base really is the only thing to watch right now. Most of the other offensive positions are set (if you believe Colby Rasmus has done enough to get a trip north) and the pitching is starting to sort itself out as well.
Speaking of pitching, Dennys Reyes is supposed to be in camp today after his World Baseball Classic stint with Mexico. He'll probably get a good bit of work the next week to get back up to speed.
Kyle McClellan will probably go north with the team, but his spring has not been at all what you'd want to see out of a guy that may be part of the late innings. Apparently he's just a little out of whack, but it'd be nice to see that ERA drop a few runs from its lofty 10.64 height before the season started. Otherwise, he may be on a short leash with the Cardinals since there could be a number of options in the bullpen.
With only posting the UCB Roundtable on Friday, I didn't get into the last approval ratings, so let's do that now. First off, Colby Rasmus notched a 65.5% rating. A lot of people didn't really know what to do with him since he'd not played yet, so he got a lot of 50s or in that range due to that fact. I gave him a 70, figuring that his minor league performance has been good and it's nice to have a prospect everyone recognizes as a prospect.
Today, for our final installment, we'll take up Bill DeWitt. There's been a lot of talk about ownership, which I guess is pretty standard for any team. Do you find his cheapness (at least to you) a problem? Do you give him credit for the postseason runs they've had in the last decade-plus? Your ratings in the comments, as always.
Today's lineup against the Nationals
. Chris Carpenter looks to extend the scoreless inning streak. I seriously can't wait until we see him on a regular basis this season.
I think this is a pretty interesting lineup because of some comments made this weekend, where Tony La Russa said he'd bat the pitcher ninth on days where there wasn't a second leadoff man. To see Skip down in the 9 hole, in my mind, means that TLR is trying to find that other leadoff guy, giving Ryan today and maybe others down the line a shot at it so he knows what they have.
Also, the United Cardinal Bloggers Radio Hour this week is moved to its new 9:30 time on Wednesdays and to inaugurate the new slot, Post-Dispatch
writer and Master of Modern Multi-Media Derrick Goold will be joining us. If you've got questions for him, leave them in the comments and we'll see if we can't get them to him.
Posted on March 20, 2009 at 9:57 AM
The month-long United Cardinal Bloggers roundtable finally reaches its end. It must have been time, because the last few questions elicited fewer responses than some of the early ones.
There wasn't much left to ask, but I wanted to see what the bloggers were most looking forward to in 2009. After the jump, their responses. Continue Reading
- Bullpen Fails Cardinals (Kinda) [Posted on March 26, 2009 at 8:22 AM]
- No Closer? No Problem! [Posted on March 25, 2009 at 7:54 AM]
- Cardinal Comings and Goings [Posted on March 24, 2009 at 8:23 AM]
- Cardinals Continue To Roll [Posted on March 23, 2009 at 8:15 AM]
- UCB Roundtable: Anticipating 2009 [Posted on March 20, 2009 at 9:57 AM]
- Cardinals Win One, Possibly Lose One? [Posted on March 19, 2009 at 9:01 AM]
- Off-Day Doldrums [Posted on March 18, 2009 at 8:42 AM]
- Cutting Them Down To Size [Posted on March 17, 2009 at 8:43 AM]
- Splitting The Cardinal Weekend [Posted on March 16, 2009 at 9:14 AM]
- Doubling The Fun [Posted on March 14, 2009 at 9:07 AM]
- Crafting Another Victory [Posted on March 13, 2009 at 8:47 AM]
- Skip-ping Second [Posted on March 12, 2009 at 8:38 AM]
- Duncan It Again [Posted on March 11, 2009 at 8:44 AM]
- Thoughts After An Off-Day [Posted on March 10, 2009 at 8:12 AM]
- Weekend Ups and Downs [Posted on March 9, 2009 at 9:07 AM]
- A Disappointing Day in Cardinal Nation [Posted on March 7, 2009 at 9:26 AM]
- Defeating the Dominican [Posted on March 6, 2009 at 8:52 AM]
- The Biggest Spring Training Game [Posted on March 5, 2009 at 9:43 AM]
- Duncan the Opposition [Posted on March 4, 2009 at 8:27 AM]
- Wainwright Goes Wrong [Posted on March 3, 2009 at 9:01 AM]
- A Weekend of Cardinal Baseball [Posted on March 2, 2009 at 8:43 AM]