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February 2010

Playing Pepper 2010: Detroit Tigers

Posted on February 27, 2010 at 5:58 PM
Last year before the season began, I posed five questions to a blogger for each team, so as to get to know the rest of baseball.  I focus so heavily on the Cardinals that sometimes the rest of MLB can pass me by.  That went very well, so much so that it spawned not only a postseason edition but was part of the impetus for the formation of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

So this year, I've brought 
Playing Pepper back, with a little bit of a twist.  Instead of five questions, I posed 10 questions, and this year every team got the same set.  Plus, tapping into those BBA connections, I sent them to every blogger representing that team in the BBA.

We'll try to do two a day in a general alphabetical order, but things may change depending on responses.


Detroit Tigers
2009 Finish: 86-77, second in the AL Central

The first game I ever went to was in old Tiger Stadium, back in the 1984 championship year for the Tigers.  I was visiting my aunt and uncle and only remember snippets, but it was a starting point on this long journey into baseball fandom.

A couple of people who have much stronger and better memories (though maybe not of last year) are John from Motor City Bengals and Shelly who writes over at Seamheads.  Both of them took the time to answer the now-familiar Playing Pepper Ten.
  Continue Reading

Playing Pepper 2010: Colorado Rockies

Posted on February 27, 2010 at 10:20 AM
Last year before the season began, I posed five questions to a blogger for each team, so as to get to know the rest of baseball.  I focus so heavily on the Cardinals that sometimes the rest of MLB can pass me by.  That went very well, so much so that it spawned not only a postseason edition but was part of the impetus for the formation of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

So this year, I've brought 
Playing Pepper back, with a little bit of a twist.  Instead of five questions, I posed 10 questions, and this year every team got the same set.  Plus, tapping into those BBA connections, I sent them to every blogger representing that team in the BBA.

We'll try to do two a day in a general alphabetical order, but things may change depending on responses.


Colorado Rockies
2009 Finish: 92-70, second in the NL West, NL Wild Card, lost in NLDS

I recently received my copy of Baseball Prospectus 2010 and read through the Rockies section, finding some glowing words about the current management of the team and how they've learned to play without worrying as much about the ballpark.

David Martin writes for the blog Rockies Review and he took the time to go over the Playing Pepper Ten.
  Continue Reading

Playing Pepper 2010: Boston Red Sox

Posted on February 26, 2010 at 11:57 AM
Last year before the season began, I posed five questions to a blogger for each team, so as to get to know the rest of baseball.  I focus so heavily on the Cardinals that sometimes the rest of MLB can pass me by.  That went very well, so much so that it spawned not only a postseason edition but was part of the impetus for the formation of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

So this year, I've brought 
Playing Pepper back, with a little bit of a twist.  Instead of five questions, I posed 10 questions, and this year every team got the same set.  Plus, tapping into those BBA connections, I sent them to every blogger representing that team in the BBA.

We'll try to do two a day in a general alphabetical order, but things may change depending on responses.


Boston Red Sox
2009 Finish: 95-67, second in the AL East, AL Wild Card, lost in ALDS

Ever since the Sox took card of the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series, I can't say that I've been a huge fan of the franchise.  I've got some friends that follow them, as does my brother to some extent, but I've just not been that interested in the non-cursed version.

That said, the BBA has some excellent Boston bloggers and a number of them took the time to humor me and answer the Playing Pepper Ten.  Inside, read the answers from Brian of BoSox Injection, Rob from The Bottom Line and Allan from The Joy of Sox.
  Continue Reading

Playing Pepper 2010: Cleveland Indians

Posted on February 25, 2010 at 10:22 PM
Last year before the season began, I posed five questions to a blogger for each team, so as to get to know the rest of baseball.  I focus so heavily on the Cardinals that sometimes the rest of MLB can pass me by.  That went very well, so much so that it spawned not only a postseason edition but was part of the impetus for the formation of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

So this year, I've brought 
Playing Pepper back, with a little bit of a twist.  Instead of five questions, I posed 10 questions, and this year every team got the same set.  Plus, tapping into those BBA connections, I sent them to every blogger representing that team in the BBA.

We'll try to do two a day in a general alphabetical order, but things may change depending on responses.


Cleveland Indians
2009 Finish: 65-97, tied for fourth in the AL Central

With my wife being an Ohio native as I noted before, both the Reds and Indians come under some scrutiny in this house.  With the Indians in the AL, I don't keep an eye on them quite as closely, but like to see them do well.  Lately, though, that's been a little problematic.

For the first time in this series, not one but two bloggers will be taking on the now-familiar questions.  Nino from The Tribe Daily and Tony from Indians Prospect Insider fill us in on what to expect for the Tribe this season.
  Continue Reading

Playing Pepper 2010: Cincinnati Reds

Posted on February 25, 2010 at 12:45 PM
Last year before the season began, I posed five questions to a blogger for each team, so as to get to know the rest of baseball.  I focus so heavily on the Cardinals that sometimes the rest of MLB can pass me by.  That went very well, so much so that it spawned not only a postseason edition but was part of the impetus for the formation of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

So this year, I've brought 
Playing Pepper back, with a little bit of a twist.  Instead of five questions, I posed 10 questions, and this year every team got the same set.  Plus, tapping into those BBA connections, I sent them to every blogger representing that team in the BBA.

We'll try to do two a day in a general alphabetical order, but things may change depending on responses.


Cincinnati Reds
2009 Finish: 78-84, fourth in the NL Central


I've said numerous times on this blog that the team I probably follow the most besides the Cardinals are the Reds.  They are in the same division, which helps, plus my father-in-law is a big Reds fan, so keeping up with them keeps our conversations going.

I've been one that keeps thinking the Reds are going to be a surprise team soon and I asked Shawn from Cincinnati Reds Blog his thoughts on the upcoming season.
  Continue Reading

It's Like Being There

Posted on February 25, 2010 at 10:46 AM
Maybe it's just me, but with the coverage we are getting from Jupiter, it's almost like being there.  After a session reading all this stuff in front of my computer, I'm bitterly disappointed to go outside to 30 degree weather.  Let's bring on the spring already!

Last night Andrew from Pitchers Hit Eighth and I had some real good discussions with a couple of the media folk in charge of bringing us all this info.  Geoff Goldman of Fox Sports Midwest and David Solomon of KTRS 550 were on the program, letting us have a glimpse of what is coming up this season, what the plans are for media coverage, and promoting what they've been doing this spring.

For example, just check out the spring sites of FSMW and KTRS.  You've got writeups, video, audio, everything you need to make you feel right at home with spring training coverage.  Factor in the Post-Dispatch and the Globe-Democrat, plus all the guys on Twitter and you feel like you are there.

I mean, in years past, would you be able to see the slow motion capture of Matt Holliday facing the knuckleballing Charlie Zink?  Or actually hear Rich Hill talk about his bullpen?  I don't think so.  It's a wonderful time we are living in.

Let's use Hill to transition to talking about some of those things, rather than the coverage of them.  Hill threw a live BP yesterday and, as you can hear in the above link, was very pleased with his performance.  Everything was going for strikes, which has been the concern with him (besides his health, of course).  If he can show command, he can be a valuable asset for the Cardinals.

Hill says he's healthy for the first time since 2007.  If you take him at his word, and we have no reason not to, that could mean that '07 is a decent benchmark about what you can expect out of him.  Here are his numbers from that season:

11-8, 3.92 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, .235 BAA, 183 K, 63 BB in 195 innings

He did give up 27 home runs in 32 starts that season, a number that would possibly come down if Dave Duncan is able to reach Hill and get him to start being more of a groundball pitcher.  Hill will be 30 in just a couple of weeks, so there's still a chance that those numbers could improve, but even that line would be a wonderful thing out of the fifth starter slot.

Duncan came out and said the fifth starter slot is between Hill and Kyle McClellan, basically meaning that Jaime Garcia will be starting in Memphis as he continues to distance himself from that surgery.  If Hill is back to '07 levels, it's going to be tough for McClellan to overtake him for that fifth spot, since HIll also would have the advantage of being a lefty in an all-right handed rotation.

Couple of stories on the center fielder floating around today.  Colby Rasmus spent the winter, besides becoming a new dad, getting stronger so as to be able to handle the rigors of the long season.  I love this quote out of the article: "I don't want to use the word comfortable because Tony doesn't like that."  No, I don't imagine that he does.  I figure if you say you are comfortable, he's going to do all he can to make you uncomfortable!

Colby had an acceptable season last year.  There were a lot of holes and it wasn't what those that had Rookie of the Year in their heads were planning, but he contributed to the team.  If his new regimen does what he wants it to do, he could make a major step forward this season.

He talks in the article about all the information and different things that were going on last year in relation to facing lefthanders.  For all of Tony's efforts to give all the players information and put them in places to succeed, sometimes he's constant playing for the edge can backfire.  This year, Rasmus should be facing a lot more lefties--I mean, who plays center when he's not in there--and if he can strengthen his numbers against them, that may put him in the second spot in the lineup, figuring that the opponent bringing in a LOOGY for the back to back hitters of him and Skip Schumaker won't be as effective if he's hitting lefties as well.

No matter where he hits, LaRussa wants to see him producing.  You can't argue with TLR not putting numerical goals or thoughts out there.  You don't want to see Rasmus thinking, "Man, Skip thinks I should have 30 HR this year and I've only got 10 now, I've got to start hitting!"  That kinda thing doesn't work in any job situation.  Still, looking forward to see what Rasmus will do this year.  It should be a lot of fun.

So much more out there to talk about, from Skip being a core player on the team to the update on Brendan Ryan's recovery to the announcement of the Cardinal television schedule, but I've run out of time.  Hope to get a few more Playing Pepper entries up today, so be sure to come back for that!

Playing Pepper 2010: Chicago Cubs

Posted on February 24, 2010 at 4:37 PM
Last year before the season began, I posed five questions to a blogger for each team, so as to get to know the rest of baseball.  I focus so heavily on the Cardinals that sometimes the rest of MLB can pass me by.  That went very well, so much so that it spawned not only a postseason edition but was part of the impetus for the formation of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

So this year, I've brought 
Playing Pepper back, with a little bit of a twist.  Instead of five questions, I posed 10 questions, and this year every team got the same set.  Plus, tapping into those BBA connections, I sent them to every blogger representing that team in the BBA.

We'll try to do two a day in a general alphabetical order, but things may change depending on responses.


Chicago Cubs
2009 Finish: 83-78, second in the NL Central

Ah, the Cubs.  As Cardinal fans, we not-so-secretly revel in their lack of success and count the days before the inevitable fall (or earlier) implosion.  The rivalry between the two teams enlivens the season, especially when the Cardinals are on the up side.

However, the Cubs were more dangerous in the decade past than most any other and they look to stop that epic streak this year.  Brian from Bullpen Brian put partisanship aside and took on the Playing Pepper Ten.  (He also published my answers from a Cardinal point of view, if you want to take a look at them.)
  Continue Reading

Playing Pepper 2010: Chicago White Sox

Posted on February 24, 2010 at 2:37 PM
Last year before the season began, I posed five questions to a blogger for each team, so as to get to know the rest of baseball.  I focus so heavily on the Cardinals that sometimes the rest of MLB can pass me by.  That went very well, so much so that it spawned not only a postseason edition but was part of the impetus for the formation of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

So this year, I've brought 
Playing Pepper back, with a little bit of a twist.  Instead of five questions, I posed 10 questions, and this year every team got the same set.  Plus, tapping into those BBA connections, I sent them to every blogger representing that team in the BBA.

We'll try to do two a day in a general alphabetical order, but things may change depending on responses.


Chicago White Sox
2009 Finish: 79-83, third in the AL Central

The White Sox had an up and down year last year, making headlines with the acquisition of Jake Peavy but finishing 7 1/2 games out in a weak division.  Ricky from Tremendous Upside Potential was kind enough to give us a look at the coming season for Chicago.
  Continue Reading

Playing Pepper 2010: Atlanta Braves

Posted on February 23, 2010 at 1:31 PM
Last year before the season began, I posed five questions to a blogger for each team, so as to get to know the rest of baseball.  I focus so heavily on the Cardinals that sometimes the rest of MLB can pass me by.  That went very well, so much so that it spawned not only a postseason edition but was part of the impetus for the formation of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

So this year, I've brought 
Playing Pepper back, with a little bit of a twist.  Instead of five questions, I posed 10 questions, and this year every team got the same set.  Plus, tapping into those BBA connections, I sent them to every blogger representing that team in the BBA.

We'll try to do two a day in a general alphabetical order, but things may change depending on responses.


Atlanta Braves
2009 Finish: 86-76, third in the NL East

The Braves battled last year, coming back from an early hole to be within striking distance of the wild card in the last couple of weeks.  This isn't the team that won all those divisional titles, as there have been younger faces coming up and players shipped out.

In Bobby Cox's last go-round as a manager, will the Braves be able to extend his final season?  I asked Jim of Braving Baseball the Playing Pepper Ten.
  Continue Reading

A Great Day For Cardinal Prospect Watchers

Posted on February 23, 2010 at 10:42 AM
The hyperventilating prospect geek fraternity will be out in force today

The term coined by Joe Strauss and used as a hashtag on Twitter (#hpgf) will get a workout this morning, as last year's first round draft pick Shelby Miller throws a bullpen, along with prospects Sam Freeman and PJ Walters.  Walters brought the good news that his daughter, who was born prematurely, is doing better, though is still in the hospital.

Miller, though, will be the focus of the early part of camp.  He's not to the level that Stephen Strasburg is, of course, with the possibility of making the team right off the bat, but there is a lot of interest to see just how well he does.  He's not going to make the team, but he might just give a glimpse of the future.  With the farm system as reportedly barren as it is, any glimpses are wonderful things.

It gets started for real today, as well, because Tony LaRussa's going to have his annual speech, then the first full-squad workouts get underway.  A real game, albeit one that doesn't count, is just nine days way!  (Sounds like TLR deviated a little bit, allowing some veterans to talk as well today.)

Among those position players with something to prove is Joe Mather.  As with many articles in the spring, he's claiming great health and is ready for a big year.  I'm still not sold on him being the everyday third baseman, but to be able to do that, play outfield, etc. and have that power in his bat, he'd be a great bench asset for this team.

Brendan Ryan actually made it in to camp yesterday.  He's positive he'll be ready for Opening Day, but I'm still hedging my bets.  Just knowing how injuries tend to linger on for Cardinals, for whatever reason, and I wouldn't be surprised if he starts on the DL and comes off after the 15 days are up.

A lot of us are interested to see how Brad Penny will do in St. Louis, especially when paired up with Dave Duncan.  Over at Bloomberg Sports, they indicate that he could be a fantasy steal late in drafts, which is good to hear.  It's nice to have some outsiders giving support to what we fans are thinking.  Penny is the key to the season, in my book.

A note about tomorrow night's UCB Radio Hour.  We are scheduled to have another guest join us, as Fox Sports Midwest media relations person Geoff Goldman will be calling in to talk about his job, what to expect from this year, and if Jim Hayes really is that much of a goofball.

Someone that won't be joining us, for once, is Nick from Pitchers Hit Eighth.  Nick and his wife welcomed their first son into the world yesterday.  So you probably won't see that UCB roundtable transcript up on his site today!  Congrats to the whole family.




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Heroes
Carlos Beltran (6)
Yadier Molina (5)
Matt Holliday (4)
Jon Jay (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Pete Kozma (3)
Shelby Miller (3)
Adam Wainwright (3)
Allen Craig (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Tyler Lyons (2)
Edward Mujica (2)
Jake Westbrook (2)
David Freese (1)
Joe Kelly (1)
Seth Maness (1)
Trevor Rosenthal (1)
Michael Wacha (1)
Ty Wigginton (1)

2012 Top Hero: Matt Holliday (17)
2011 Top Hero: Lance Berkman (24)
2010 Top Heroes: Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols (24)
2009 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (28)
2008 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (25)

Goats
Jon Jay (6)
David Freese (5)
Mitchell Boggs (4)
Joe Kelly (4)
Pete Kozma (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Allen Craig (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Yadier Molina (3)
Matt Adams (2)
Carlos Beltran (2)
Matt Carpenter (2)
Matt Holliday (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Seth Maness (1)
Shane Robinson (1)
Fernando Salas (1)
Adam Wainwright (1)
Jake Westbrook (1)

2012 Top Goat: Rafael Furcal (11)
2011 Top Goat: Ryan Theriot (12)
2010 Top Goat: Brendan Ryan (14)
2009 Top Goats: Rick Ankiel and Todd Wellemeyer (13)
2008 Top Goat: Troy Glaus (13)

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%
Adam Wainwright 88.2% (down 3.7%)
Jose Oquendo 87.1% (up 2.4%)
Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
United Cardinal Bloggers 85.2% (up 6.3%)
Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
Mike Shannon 85.1% (down 0.2%)
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%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
Joe Strauss 54.3% (down 13.4%)

2012
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%)

2011
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%

2009
Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%


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