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April 2010

Wishes Granted

Posted on April 29, 2010 at 8:00 AM
In yesterday's entry, I said this:

"I'd like to see them get a lead and then gradually increase it"

As I've said before, sometimes it's like they read this blog.  Last night, the Cardinals go out and score in the first, add on in the third, and then just kept going.  With any Cardinal starter right now (even Kyle Lohse, if he's gotten through a couple of good innings), you never get too worried if there's a lead, because the pitching has just been so good.

There are a lot of good candidates for Hero from last night's ball game, but I'm a sucker for pitching, especially when there's no obvious offensive selection.  It was great to see Skip Schumaker get a couple of hits (bet he won't be changing out of the high socks for a while), Colby Rasmus to drive in one with his first hit off a lefthander, David Freese celebrating his birthday right with two hits and two RBI, and if Albert Pujols hits a ball about a foot another way, he drives in three or four instead of just one.

All those were solid candidates, but you have to give the tip of the hat to Jaime Garcia.  It'll be interesting to see how he does when he starts seeing teams a second or third time, but right now he's just amazing to watch.  Who's have thought he'd get through his first month in a rotation with an ERA just slightly over one?  (And, more surprisingly, not even lead his own team in ERA!)  Garcia should be named rookie of the month this month by MLB and has put a strong foot forward in the rookie of the year race.  Jason Heyward may get more press, but Garcia has been better overall.

On the flip side, we have Matt Holliday.  Another hitless night, though he did walk and score a run.  If we counted pre-game, though, we'd have to find someone else, because smashing the C in Big Mac land is pretty darn cool, especially when you could see the ball still sitting up there.  Holliday thinks he's got an idea why he's been struggling, so we'll see if it works out.

Before we get to today's matchups, I want to talk a little about the new app that the Post-Dispatch has out for the iPhone and other mediums.  Full disclosure: I was provided a free copy of it, though no reviewing strings were attached to that.  I downloaded it last night and played around a little with it.  It's a pretty sharp thing.  It's got Bird Land on there, which is a must of course, and it's got the stories from the P-D.   It also comes with pictures and news of all the players, and it has an easy-to-navigate menu so that you can find all the stories related to Pujols or Holliday or whomever.  It even allows you to read Derrick Goold's Twitter posts, as well as other P-D members.  All in all, I think it's worth the $3 that they are charging for it.  If you are into these kind of things, it's worth checking out.

Cards go for the sweep in the afternoon tilt today.  A note that Fox Sports Midwest will be doing a live chat during the game, so check them out over there while the actions going on.  Adam Wainwright goes for the Cardinals, so you feel good about the chances of a sweep.  Here's what the Wagonmaker has done against the team that drafted him.

Nate McLouth 12 9 3 1 0 0 1 3 2 .333 .500 .444 .944 0 0 0 0 0
David Ross 12 11 2 1 0 1 3 1 4 .182 .250 .545 .795 0 0 0 0 0
Yunel Escobar 10 9 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .100 .000 .100 0 0 0 0 2
Chipper Jones 9 8 3 0 0 0 1 1 1 .375 .444 .375 .819 0 0 0 0 0
Brian McCann 9 9 2 1 0 0 1 0 2 .222 .222 .333 .556 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Diaz 6 5 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .400 .500 .400 .900 0 0 0 0 0
Omar Infante 6 6 4 0 0 0 1 0 1 .667 .667 .667 1.333 0 0 0 0 0
Derek Lowe 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jordan Schafer 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 .000 .667 .000 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Martin Prado 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Jo-Jo Reyes 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Clint Sammons 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 76 67 17 3 0 1 7 9 11 .254 .342 .343 .685 0 0 0 0 2
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/29/2010.

Nothing really stands out in this.  None of the Braves have faced him all that often and there's just a lot of singles in that group.

The Braves send out Jair Jurrjens to try to stop the bleeding.  Numbers against the Redbirds:

Matt Holliday 14 13 7 3 0 0 4 0 3 .538 .571 .769 1.341 0 0 0 1 0
Ryan Ludwick 11 10 4 0 0 0 0 1 2 .400 .455 .400 .855 0 0 0 0 0
Albert Pujols 11 10 2 1 0 0 1 1 3 .200 .273 .300 .573 0 0 1 0 0
Skip Schumaker 11 8 2 1 0 0 0 3 0 .250 .455 .375 .830 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 9 9 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 .222 .222 .222 .444 0 0 0 0 0
Brendan Ryan 6 5 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .200 .333 .200 .533 0 0 0 0 0
Felipe Lopez 3 3 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Joe Mather 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .667 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Colby Rasmus 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Carpenter 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 72 65 21 6 0 0 6 6 11 .323 .389 .415 .804 0 0 1 1 0
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/29/2010.

Boy, if Holliday has figured it out, today would be a good day for him to show it.  And while it's not like Jurrjens just owns Pujols, AP hasn't had a day off yet.  Could it be we'll see Mather play a little first and let the big man have some rest?

No blog post tomorrow, as it's my church's annual BBQ and I'll be there from about 3:30-7.  That's AM to PM.  Long day, but a lot of fun.  Hopefully there's a lot of good Cardinal baseball to write about when next we speak!

Another Rally By The Redbirds

Posted on April 28, 2010 at 7:49 AM
You know, it's kinda nice to see these comebacks.  Granted, I'd like to see them get a lead and then gradually increase it, but knowing that a team isn't out of it is helpful.

You have to give the Hero tag to Yadier Molina this time.  For the second straight night, he gave the Cards the lead with a solid hit.  For the last three years or so, Yadi's been a guy that I want up there when the team needs a hit, second only to Albert Pujols in that regard.

On the flip side, Blake Hawksworth really had a terrible game, didn't he?  He came into the game with a three run lead and left one out later with it down to one and the winning run on base.  The runs weren't earned, but that's because he made the error, throwing the ball away on a play at the plate.  Not exactly a night that he'll want to remember for a while.

I think one of the more disconcerting things to come out of last night's game, though, was that Chris Carpenter didn't have a feel for his fastball.  Normally, that's not a huge deal, but when you factor in that the game before he didn't have it either, you start to wonder exactly why not.  Carp wasn't completely Carp-like last night, though he still was very effective and gave the team a chance to win, so I think that's something to keep an eye on.  To be his dominant self, he's going to have to have more confidence in the heater.

One person who never lacks for a heater is Jason Motte, who actually got the save last night, with Ryan Franklin having worked the last two days.  Seemed to me watching that game that Motte got wild when he was throwing 96, 97, but he'd tone it down to about 88 and get the ball over the plate.  He also made an acrobatic play to get Erik Henske at first after a double-play ball had bounced off his glove.  (You could also tell that he wasn't exactly happy with botching the DP....)  It was a little bit of a high-wire act, but it still was good to see Motte get a save in such a close game.  Hopefully it'll be good for the confidence.

Also, it was nice to see my friends at Pitchers Hit Eighth be relevant again.  It will be interesting to see, since the fact that Brendan Ryan was hitting ninth played into the game-winning rally, if Tony La Russa will go with the pitcher in the eighth spot again tonight and for how long.  I'd like to see it continue for a while, but you never know with TLR.

In news that sent some worry around Cardinal Nation, Aaron Miles is back.  Now, I honestly don't think he'll ever see St. Louis this year.  Felipe Lopez should be back soon and Tyler Greene is fine as a backup.  I would also hope that, even if he did make it, TLR wouldn't feel the need to play him much given Ryan and Skip Schumaker.  That said, well, you just never know.  Hopefully that'll be the case, because Miles was all right in St. Louis, but we got his career years and they weren't super at that level.

Cards have at least split the series, which is good, and they have Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright going to get another series win.  The Cardinals are already the best team in baseball, record-wise, and there's no reason to think this can't keep rolling along.

Garcia goes tonight against Kenshin Kawakami.  The only Brave that has faced Garcia is Nate McLouth, who is 0-1 against him.  Kawakami is just as much of a cipher, as the only person that has faced him (Felipe Lopez, 1-3) is on the disabled list.

Cards have had trouble in the past with pitchers they've not seen.  You'd like to think that Kawakami's 4.76 ERA would indicate St. Louis would be able to take him, but you don't have to have been a fan very long to know that high ERA guys oftentimes are able to shut the Cardinals down.

UCB Radio Hour is on tonight!  It's one I'm pretty excited about, because not only is Nick, one of our great hosts from Pitchers Hit Eighth, on the schedule tonight but also Tom from CardinalsGM.  Tom was one of the original voices of the UCB Radio Hour back in its infancy and it's great to get him back in the saddle again.  9:30 Central over at Blog Talk Radio, so give them a listen or call in at 646-929-1758!

Cardinal Comeback

Posted on April 27, 2010 at 7:47 AM
First off, I want to say thank you to everyone who has expressed kind words over the Cardinal Blogosphere Guide.  I hope that it results in increased traffic for the blogs listed and that you can find another source of can't-miss Cardinal writing.

Perhaps it was just me, but it seems like if this was last year's team, a 3-0 deficit against Tim Hudson would have been game over.  I was listening to that portion on the radio and felt like it was over.  Atlanta seemed to be continually chipping away at Kyle Lohse and the Cardinals were again not getting any hits with men in scoring position.

However, the last half of this game was very different than the first half.  I'm not quite willing to give Lohse the Hero of the game tag, but he did stiffen and figure out how to keep Atlanta from scoring any more runs.  It sounded like he was getting the ball down more in the last couple of innings, which always is a good thing.

I don't think all the runs he allowed were his fault, either.  It seemed to me, watching the third inning, that he made some awfully good pitches, especially to Chipper Jones who eventually walked.  I thought he should have had Jones out a long time before that, but he couldn't get the calls.  It seemed like he just had to lay it in there to get a strike, something Troy Glaus took advantage of in driving in the second run.

I'm going to give Colby Rasmus the Hero tag again.  Not only did he hit a big home run to pull the Cards within one, his continued development (and the fact that Albert Pujols was on second with first open) led to a walk in the eighth, allowing Yadier Molina to drive in the winning run (and would have had an insurance run if that ball hadn't hopped the wall).  Sure, that set up the double play with Molina batting, but I'm wondering if things might not have been a bit different if it was the early-season 2009 Rasmus batting.

Then again, maybe not.  Bobby Cox did walk Skip Schumaker to get to Ryan Ludwick, something that I've never seen and likely won't see again anytime soon.

Talking about heroes, can we give a little credit to this bullpen?  I've been one in the last couple of weeks that has been on their case, but since Mitchell Boggs grooved a pitch to Mark Reynolds in Arizona, here's their combined line:

13 IP, 10 H, 11 K, 7 BB, 1.38 ERA

The walk total is a little high, but it's skewed by Kyle McClellan's three in the first game of the examined period.  They've really come in and shut the door in the last week and hopefully that will continue.

Finally, major kudos to Bryan Anderson.  In his last major league at-bat for a while, as Jason LaRue will be activated today, he had a nice piece of hitting, going the other way to drive in the tying run.  Hopefully he'll do well in Memphis, though the odds of us seeing him before September (barring injury) are very slim.  There was some talk on the post-game show last night about the team carrying three catchers and letting him be more of a left-handed bat, but I think if they wanted to do that, they'd have let him play more in the last couple of weeks, as they have Nick Stavinoha as an emergency backup.

Even though David Freese went 0-4, there's no way he can be the Goat.  He had a number of defensive gems last night, bringing back memories of Scott Rolen.  To think that people were ragging on his defense at the beginning of the season!  Freese is starting to look like one of the biggest steals in Cardinal history.

So if we don't give it to him, we look to the other 0-4 in the box score, Brendan Ryan.  It's been a tough month for Brendan and thankfully it's not really affected his glove, but he's going to have to hit over .200 soon, isn't he?

The Cards made some moves yesterday, sending down Allen Craig, putting Felipe Lopez on the disabled list, and calling up Tyler Greene and Jon Jay.  I put a quick look at the newcomers together for Baseball Digest yesterday, and as I did so I really got excited for what Jay especially may bring to this ball club.  He's got a good high-average bat, so he may be more likely to help that "string hits together" idea.  He's got speed, so he can go first to third or steal a base.  I expect he'll probably get a start in this Atlanta series, maybe Thursday, and it'll be interesting to see what he does with the opportunity.

The move that may affect the Cardinals the most from yesterday, though, they didn't make.  Twitter blew up yesterday with the announcement of Ryan Howard's five year extension.  You can find Ben's ruminations on that over at BD, but the consensus is 1) that's way more that Howard is worth and 2) it's going to make it that much harder for St. Louis to sign Pujols.

I tend to agree, at least on the former.  I mean, Howard has always struck me as a guy that isn't necessarily going to age well.  He hits long balls and that's about the extent of it.  He still can't hit left-handed pitching, so his average is never going to be really high.  He's not known as any great shakes at first.  He's a good player, don't get me wrong, but the second-highest annual salary in baseball?  That doesn't seem right.

Will this affect Pujols's contract?  That remains to be seen.  On the one hand, you'd think it'd have to, because it's the easiest comparison in the world.  Howard plays the same position and does everything worse than Pujols, so you know AP would be looking for more than $25 million per now.

On the other hand, does it really?  I mean, no one expected to get AP for $25 per year, did they?  Not if he's looking to be the highest player in the game.  He already had the ARod contract and the Mark Teixeira contracts to use as a comparison.  Does this really add that much more fuel to the fire?

Look, we already know that Pujols, if he wanted to hold out for every cent, is going to be the richest player ever, no matter who pays him.  I don't know that being able to point to one more crazy contract will add much incentive to either side.  I still think, and I've held to this all along, that Pujols's contract is going to have some creative stuff in it.  Honestly, you hear this tossed around by a lot of media types for a lot of contracts, but I would not be surprised if a small fraction of team ownership, say 3% or so, wouldn't be part of it.  I'm not sure if it's legal within the rules of the game, so it might be that he gets an option to purchase that percentage at a bargain rate when he retires, but I think ownership might well be a part of his next deal.

Cards get back to the field tonight and send out Chris Carpenter against Derek Lowe.  You always like your chances when Carpenter is on the bump.  Here is what he's done against the Braves:

Troy Glaus 22 18 5 2 0 2 5 4 4 .278 .409 .722 1.131 0 0 0 0 1
Nate McLouth 17 16 4 0 0 0 1 0 3 .250 .294 .250 .544 0 0 0 1 0
David Ross 11 11 3 0 0 0 1 0 1 .273 .273 .273 .545 0 0 0 0 0
Brian McCann 8 7 2 0 0 1 1 0 1 .286 .375 .714 1.089 0 0 0 1 0
Chipper Jones 7 6 3 1 0 0 0 1 1 .500 .571 .667 1.238 0 0 0 0 0
Eric Hinske 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Yunel Escobar 5 3 2 0 0 0 2 1 1 .667 .750 .667 1.417 1 0 0 0 0
Derek Lowe 4 4 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .250 .250 .250 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Martin Prado 4 4 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .250 .250 .250 .500 0 0 0 0 1
Matt Diaz 3 2 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 .500 .667 .500 1.167 0 0 0 1 0
Omar Infante 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Jair Jurrjens 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 91 81 23 3 0 3 13 6 18 .284 .356 .432 .788 1 0 0 3 2
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/27/2010.

Atlanta actually has a better average against him than I would have expected.  Former teammate Troy Glaus has the best numbers, but Glaus hasn't been quite himself this year.  Then again, he did get a couple of hits last night, so he could be heating up.

Derek Lowe has looked a little shaky so far this season.  Still, he's a ground ball specialist who can get it going at any time.  Here's him against the Cardinals:

Matt Holliday 34 32 18 5 0 1 9 1 6 .563 .559 .813 1.371 0 1 0 0 1
Felipe Lopez 23 23 7 1 0 0 1 0 1 .304 .304 .348 .652 0 0 0 0 1
Albert Pujols 21 20 7 2 0 1 8 1 2 .350 .381 .600 .981 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 17 15 5 0 0 0 2 2 3 .333 .412 .333 .745 0 0 0 0 0
Ryan Ludwick 10 10 6 0 0 2 6 0 0 .600 .600 1.200 1.800 0 0 0 0 0
Chris Carpenter 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Jason LaRue 5 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .000 .200 .000 .200 0 0 0 0 0
Adam Wainwright 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Skip Schumaker 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 123 117 43 8 0 4 26 5 19 .368 .390 .538 .929 0 1 0 0 2
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/27/2010.

The big bats in the lineup have done a number on him in the past.  You combine that with what Lowe's done this year and Carpenter on the mound, and the odds definitely favor a solid win for the Cards tonight.  However, as we know, that's why they play the games on the field and not paper.  Should be a fun one!

The Definitive Guide To The Cardinal Blogosphere

Posted on April 26, 2010 at 1:00 PM
Before the season started, Nick over at Pitchers Hit Eighth put together a wonderful post entitled "2010 Cardinal Fan's Guide To Twitter".  The post outlined what Twitter was and who was on there, broken down in to handy categories.  Which got me thinking, what if there was one of these sort of guides for all the great Cardinal blogs that are out there?

When I started blogging in 2007, there didn't seem to be just a ton of Cardinal blogs around.  There were a few, especially a couple of big boys, but not the widespread coverage that there is today.  There are few things that I consider myself an expert on, but due to my involvement with the United Cardinal Bloggers, I feel like I've got at least a fairly good handle about the state of the Cardinal blogosphere today.  So that meant I felt confident that I could take this on.  

Once I started sketching this out, however, I realized just how many different Cardinal blogs there really were.  Sorting them into categories and describing them was a challenge, but I hope that you'll be able to use the following information to guide your daily reading.

A few notes before I jump into things.

  Continue Reading

Pitchin' On The Dock Of The Bay

Posted on April 26, 2010 at 7:49 AM
You knew, just looking at the matchups, two things about this weekend's series.  One, it was going to be darn tough for the Cardinals to keep their streak of not losing a series alive.  The second was that if anyone scored, it was going to be a fairly impressive accomplishment.

Sometimes when you think you have a handle on a series, it turns around and surprises you.  This time, not so much.  The Giants scored all of six runs this weekend--and won two out of three games.  The Cardinals scored three runs, which normally would provoke questions about the offense (and to some degree still does), but really wasn't unexpected.  So the two teams combined to score fewer runs in the entire series than the Astros scored by themselves on Sunday.  It was that kind of weekend.

Jaime Garcia continues to draw the toughest the other team has to offer.  It's one of the downsides to that early season flip of him and Chris Carpenter due to the unwillingness to have Garcia pitch in the first ESPN Sunday Night game.  I say downside, but it's not affected Garcia anywhere but in the win column.  He beat Yovani Gallardo and arguably outpitched Johan Santana in the beginnings of that 20-inning game.

While he didn't outpitch Tim Lincecum--that's a tough thing to do--he did pitch a solid game without his best stuff.  He walked three and gave up seven hits, yet if the defense had been a little better behind him, he might have gotten out of there with only two runs allowed.  He becomes more and more impressive every time out and it's be interesting to see what he does on Wednesday versus his first non-ace, Braves pitcher Kenshin Kawakami.  More kudos go his way for getting his first major league hit off of such a dominating starter.

The Hero of that game, though, was probably Yadier Molina, for providing the little offense St. Louis could muster against Big Time Timmy Jim.  Two of the eight hits and the only RBI.  Lincecum gave the Cards a few chances, but Molina was the only one to capitalize on any of them.

It's a little tough to separate out a Goat, but we'll give it to David Freese for an 0-4 with a strikeout.  I wanted to lean toward Brendan Ryan, due to his error that helped lead to a run, but in the long run it's doubtful that run made all the difference in the game.

I wasn't able to see much of the next two games, which is a shame because I do like to see good pitching.  Adam Wainwright has proven that last year wasn't necessarily a career year, just a level that he can attain on a regular basis.  After four starts, he's 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA and two complete games.  Waino is going to be the team workhorse for a while, though, and is understandably supplanting Carp as the de facto team ace.  He should be just hitting his prime at 28, so hopefully we have a lot of years left of seeing that big curveball and more deep-game outings.

I think you probably go and give the Goat to Albert Pujols on this one.  Pujols hasn't seemed right, especially this week, so to go 0-4 with a called strikeout (that, granted, was at least questionable from his point of view) and a key double play is just not what the team is used to out of Pujols.  Now, given the results of Sunday, it's possible that he's starting to stir out of it, which is good news for us and bad news for the pitchers of the National League.

Sunday, Brad Penny was, well, insert your own Penny/money pun here.  A lot of us weren't sure what we had with him, but I think a 0.96 ERA has given us reason to think that, even though he can't keep that up all year, odds are he's going to be above-average as a third starter.  With Garcia being well above average as a #5, if Kyle Lohse gets going to be an average #4 (which is well within his capabilities), this rotation is going to be the best in baseball.

Pujols did get back into the groove against Matt Cain, whom he's now 8 for 12 against.  Always good to get a little extra BP when you are struggling, especially since those results counted.  His first-inning homer was all that Penny needed and perhaps may be a omen for how many games will be won this summer.

Tough to find a Goat in this one.  Lots of similar performances, as the hits were pretty evenly spaced throughout the lineup, save for Pujols's three.  I guess we'll give this one to Matt Holliday, who went 0-4 with a strikeout.

Because the Cardinals are winning, sitting 2 1/2 ahead of the Cubs and the only NL Central team that actually is above .500, attention can be paid to some of the smaller issues on the club, such as the St. Louis bench.  Nick Stavinoha, Joe Mather, and Allen Craig aren't exactly picking splinters out of their posterior, but that's more to do with the quality of major league dugouts than it is their playing time.  It's a tough dilemma for them, because how do you stay sharp and really get into a rhythm when you may only play once a week, if that, and pinch hit here and there.  (And don't get me started on Bryan Anderson.)

Tony La Russa hasn't shown much of his famous propensity for lineup swapping and creative playing schedules.  It's tough to do with guys like Holliday, Rasmus, and Ryan Ludwick that have proven they should be out there most every day.  David Freese is doing well enough that they can't even crack third, because even if Freese is out, Felipe Lopez is probably in.

It makes me wonder if there won't be some other move made here soon when Jason LaRue returns this week and Anderson goes back to Memphis.  Might Craig go with him and Tyler Greene come up?  Especially if Lopez's arm is still barking at him, I wouldn't be surprised at such an insurance move.

The Cardinals get to return home tonight and face a Braves team that is struggling, sitting at the bottom of the NL East.  The pitching they face in this series won't nearly be as tough as they faced in San Francisco, and with Cincinnati (and Aaron Harang and Homer Bailey) coming in afterwards, if we aren't talking about a good offensive week for this club, there may be deeper problems than we think.

Tonight the Cardinals face probably the best starter they will see all week in Tim Hudson.  Hudson has a solid 1-1, 2.38 record so far this season and hit his only career home run in Busch Stadium.  Here's what he's done against the current Redbirds:

Felipe Lopez 29 27 5 2 0 1 2 2 3 .185 .241 .370 .612 0 0 0 0
Albert Pujols 22 20 8 0 0 1 3 2 2 .400 .455 .550 1.005 0 0 0 0
Matt Holliday 13 11 3 1 0 0 2 2 1 .273 .385 .364 .748 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 8 4 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 .250 .571 .250 .821 1 0 1 0
Brendan Ryan 4 4 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 .750 .750 .750 1.500 0 0 0 0
Jason LaRue 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .667 1.000 0 0 0 0
Kyle Lohse 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0
Colby Rasmus 3 3 2 1 0 0 1 0 1 .667 .667 1.000 1.667 0 0 0 0
Skip Schumaker 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Brad Penny 2 2 2 1 0 0 3 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.500 2.500 0 0 0 0
Ryan Ludwick 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0
Total 91 81 26 6 0 2 11 9 7 .321 .389 .469 .858 1 0 1 0
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/26/2010.

It looks like the Pujols resurgence could continue tonight.  It's probably not a bad thing that Lopez might not be available for this game, as Tony wasn't likely to start him with those numbers anyway.  The team has hit Hudson in the past, but we'll see if they are able to do so tonight.

Kyle Lohse looked terrible last time out, but he has had some solid work at times this year as well.  Here's what he's done against the Braves:

Eric Hinske 21 19 6 1 0 0 2 2 5 .316 .381 .368 .749 0 0 0 0 1
Omar Infante 19 19 3 1 0 1 2 0 4 .158 .158 .368 .526 0 0 0 0 0
Chipper Jones 17 11 6 2 0 1 5 5 1 .545 .647 1.000 1.647 0 1 0 0 0
Nate McLouth 17 16 4 1 0 1 3 1 2 .250 .294 .500 .794 0 0 0 0 0
Brian McCann 13 12 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 .250 .308 .250 .558 0 0 0 0 1
Yunel Escobar 11 10 4 0 0 0 0 1 1 .400 .455 .400 .855 0 0 0 0 0
Troy Glaus 11 9 3 0 0 1 2 2 1 .333 .455 .667 1.121 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Diaz 7 7 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 .143 .143 .286 .429 0 0 0 0 0
Martin Prado 5 5 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 .400 .400 .400 .800 0 0 0 0 0
Tim Hudson 4 3 1 0 0 1 2 1 1 .333 .500 1.333 1.833 0 0 0 0 0
Jo-Jo Reyes 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
David Ross 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 .500 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Jordan Schafer 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 132 117 35 6 0 5 18 14 21 .299 .371 .479 .850 0 1 0 0 2
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/26/2010.

Man, Chipper Jones has owned Lohse in the past, hasn't he?  It's a good thing for St. Louis that he's been hobbled lately, even sitting out some games.  He'll be in the lineup tonight, I have no doubt, but maybe he won't be quite the same guy that's blistered Lohse in the past.

The Cardinals also get to see what all the fuss is about with Jason Heyward.  Should be fun to get to see him for four games, unless he wins one or two of them for the Braves!

My weekly post at Baseball Digest will be up later this morning, so be sure to look over there for that.  This afternoon, though, come back here for a project I worked all weekend on.  It's an comprehensive guide to the Cardinal blogosphere.  Really, you don't want to miss that.  Or even if you do, humor me since I put in around eight hours on it!

The Cardinals' Favorite Cheese

Posted on April 22, 2010 at 7:53 AM
I'm not sure if he listed it amongst his many cheeses during his picnic with Libby two weeks ago, but Hurley really should have packed what is quickly becoming the cheese in Cardinal Nation.

Colby Jack.

Colby Rasmus was the no-doubter Hero last night.  Two home runs, an early one to give the Cards a comfortable lead and a late one to break a tie in the ninth inning, plus a triple (and a run scored on a wild pitch) in the middle to boot.  These were the kind of games we thought we'd see out of Rasmus this year and it's going to be even more difficult for National League pitchers to navigate the Cardinal lineup if he is growing into this type of player.

Chris Carpenter didn't look quite vintage Carp, but he was pretty close.  I was a little surprised to learn that he'd never put up back-to-back double-digit strikeout games before.  Then again, while Carp can get the K, he uses his defense a lot as well.

Carpenter apparently was battling in more than just the traditional baseball sense.  He really took exception to being hit by a pitch from Edwin Jackson, especially, as he noted, that he's not exactly a Silver Slugger up there at the plate.  I don't think he was thinking that he had been hit intentionally, I think it was the frustration of a master craftsman with a talented but unthinking worker in the same field.  Carp knows that he'd never hit someone in that instance because he's pitching them so differently.  Jackson should have been, but wasn't thinking the way a top notch pitcher would have been.

Mike commented on the post here before the series started that Arizona's bullpen was worse than St. Louis's.  We saw that some in Game 1, but it definitely came to fruition last night.  I was thinking that was likely the reason we saw Dan Haren and Jackson go so long, so the Diamondbacks wouldn't have to get into that bullpen.  Giving up five runs in the ninth of a tie game, well, Cardinal fans can empathize with that and are just glad that, for once, our team was on the giving end of one of those debacles.

Not that the Cardinal pen was much better in this series, including last night.  I've always thought that Trever Miller was one of the more consistent guys down in the bullpen.  He's not necessarily going to face a lot of batters, but the ones he does face he usually retires.  Not last night.  Miller was hit hard and then threw a wild pitch to let the tying run in.  You know it's a rough night when they remove you for Jason Motte.

Motte looked solid, though he ran up a lot of full counts.  He just blew his fastball past Justin Upton and did throw some offspeed stuff for strikes.  If he can continue this growth pattern, there might be fewer Tums purchases in the St. Louis area this season.

Off day today, so we'll look at Jaime Garcia vs. Tim Lincecum tomorrow!

Disaster Start

Posted on April 21, 2010 at 10:59 AM
So far the Cardinals have played two games in Arizona.  The differences could not be more stark.

Monday night, it was vintage 2010 Cardinals.  Brad Penny allowed a couple of runs in the first, then cruised, piling up out after out, extending the streak of starters going seven and allowing two runs or less to seven games.  Matt Holliday continued his breakout of Sunday night, putting up three hits, including the game-tying two-run homer.  It was even one of those nights when it was hard to find a Goat, as the bullpen came in and kept Arizona scoreless while almost everyone had at least one hit.  If you have to give it to someone, I guess you give it to Yadier Molina, since he went 0-3 with runners in scoring position.  As I've noted though, not all Goats are created equal.

If you had said before Tuesday night that the Cardinals were going to score seven runs off of Dan Haren, I think just about everyone would have signed up for that win.  With the way this pitching staff is going, you are going to give them seven runs?  Yes, please.

Rob Neyer put out on Twitter this week a new term, disaster start.  A disaster start, if I remember correctly, is a start where the pitcher goes five innings or less and gives up more runs than innings pitched.  Kyle Lohse apparently decided to see what one of those looked like up close and personal.

The worst part of the game was the frustration factor.  The Cardinals got up two before an out was recorded, but gave it back in the bottom of the inning.  Went up two in the top of the third, gave back three in the bottom.  Scored three in the top of the fourth, allowed three in the bottom of it.  The team never stopped Arizona when they needed to.

Of course, it's always something with Lohse.  I don't say that in a derogatory way, just saying that if there's something strange, it'll be with him.  Not only did he have Bryan Anderson catching (more on that in a bit), but apparently he had major head congestion last night.  Having dealt with all the pollen and everything around here, I completely know what he's talking about (you can probably hear me hacking all the way through last night's BBA Baseball Talk), but if you were to guess which pitcher would have that happen to him, you know you'd guess Lohse.

Mitchell Boggs and Kyle McClellan stoked the bullpen worries again after they'd started to ease due to the great performances in the 20-inning affair and Monday's game.  Boggs delivered a meat pitch to Mark Reynolds who tagged a two-out homer to give Arizona the lead they'd never give up.  Plus, when you allow the opposing pitcher to get four hits, you know things aren't going your way.  The Cardinals never seemed to be able to get the third out when they needed it.

The Hero of last night's game should be Ryan Ludwick, with a three for four night including two home runs.  Even he comes with a drawback, however, as the Cards had a chance to get rid of Haren once and for all, with runners on the corners and Albert Pujols up, but Ludwick got picked off of first.  Pujols was intentionally walked and Holliday was out to end the inning. That play may have changed the complexion of the game, though it's likely that, even if the Cards had taken a lead, the bullpen would have given it right back.

Two things that I really wanted to talk about yesterday before circumstances kept me from blogging was the talk about the reliance on home runs and the captivity of Bryan Anderson.  Both are still somewhat relevant, so I'll get into those after the jump.
  Continue Reading

Looking For Some Bats

Posted on April 19, 2010 at 11:10 AM
Whatever you may think of this weekend series against the Mets, one thing is certain: it was definitely memorable.

While Saturday's game will be the most talked-about of the three contests, being the type of guy I am I have to go in order.  Besides, Friday's game had a lot of the same components as Saturday, just with a better (and shorter) ending.

Friday's Hero was, of course, Felipe Lopez for smashing the grand slam that, eventually, the Cardinals needed every bit of.  It was an unexpected jolt of offense against a Mets team that was shutting down the Cards in every aspect.

Probably the more important story line that came out of that game, though, was the re-emergence, if you will, of Chris Carpenter.  After giving up five home runs in his first two outings, and looking very bad against the Brewers last Sunday, there wasn't really concern in Cardinal Nation, more like general unease.  Is there something wrong with Carp?  Is the magic gone?

Carpenter stopped a lot of that talk before it got started, allowing just one unearned run and four hits over seven innings.  While the Mets offense has its problems as well, as we saw Saturday, it was still a legitimate effort and one that eased the minds of a lot of St. Louis fans.  It's good to know that we can still trust that, every five days, the Cardinals are going to get a great pitching performance and have a strong chance to win.

(That's a misleading statement, though.  With a rotation ERA that stands at 2.09 now, EVERY day the Cardinals are getting a great pitching performance and have a strong chance to win.  Which is an awesome feeling.)

On the down side Friday, Ryan Franklin again stirred up the embers of the negative talk directed his way.  Franklin had been efficient in his last outing, so when Fox Sports Midwest analyst Al Hrbrosky started talking about how they'd found a flaw in his delivery and they'd fixed it, I could believe that.  Until three of the first four batters reached base, that is.  Franklin eventually gave up two-thirds of the three-run lead he was staked to, but finally locked the door.  While the bullpen performed spectacularly on Saturday, the doubts are still there on some of these guys.

Then you have Saturday.

You feel like any game that goes 20 innings, you should give out two Heroes and two Goats, since you basically played two games and then some.  I should probably dedicate a whole entry to that game, to the ins and outs, to the questionable decisions made by Tony La Russa, to the highs and lows and just general craziness.  Then Nick goes out and does it better than I could anyway, so you get spared some of that.  Still, after the jump, we'll get into a little discussion about one of the games that will definitely be remembered from this year for a long time to come.
  Continue Reading

Book Review: High Heat

Posted on April 16, 2010 at 11:28 PM
As I've said before, there's little better than getting a free book.  Normally, my requests for a review of a book come through this site.  However, I received one a while back in my capacity as founder and head of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and, since we didn't have a policy on how to handle that among our 150 or so members, I exercised my prerogative and snatched it up.

This time, it was a dandy of a book called High Heat: The Secret History of the Fastball and the Improbable Search for the Fastest Pitcher of All Time.  (As a side note, does anyone remember when books just had titles, instead of colons and subtitles?  Seems like nobody nowadays is content with just a snappy title, they've got to go explain the whole thing.  Back to our story.)  Tim Wendel sets out to tell the story about the fastball and the guys that have thrown in the hardest over the course of major league history.

It's not just an academic study, though.  Wendel takes you to Cooperstown as he searches through materials there, to Alabama and Dr. James Andrews' motion study lab, and various other places, weaving the stories of the hardest flamethrowers throughout the narrative.

As Wendel notes more than once, it's difficult to get a grasp on who was the fastest pitcher ever.  For one thing, the fact that there was no accurate way to get a reading on pitchers in olden times, back when at least legend indicates there were a number of hard throwers, means it's not as simple as taking radar gun readings across the years.  By the end of the book, Wendel also seems to shift from the more empirical "fastest" to the more subjective "best," as in which pitcher got the most out of the gift they were given.

Not only the success stories are noted in this book but also those tantalizing possibilities of what might have been.  The major story in that vein is the legend, as it were, of Steve Dulkowski.  Dulkowski was one of the hardest throwers ever, according to eyewitnesses, but he never made the big leagues due to his lack of control.  I'm not talking about just missing the corners, either.  You know Bull Durham?  One of the things I learned is that some of Nuke LaLoosh was based on Dulkowski, especially the wildness.  If Dulkowski could have ever harnessed his fastball, he might have been a Hall of Famer.  His wildness (both on and off the field) kept that from him, however.

Wendel hits all the points, from the first (Amos Rusie) to the most current (Stephen Strasberg), from the fictional (Sidd Finch) to the medical (Tommy John).  He lists out his top 12 at the end of the book, but I won't spoil the fun of finding that out here.  It's not a perfect book--at times the transitions are a little jarring, as you aren't sure what the connection between John and Satchel Paige is, and as a Cardinal fan I could have used a lot more discussion and talk about Bob Gibson--but overall it is a very fun, informative, and enjoyable read, a book worthy to be added to your baseball bookshelf.


Posted on April 16, 2010 at 5:01 PM
This isn't a post directed toward any of the bullpen members.  I've not lost my basic sense of civility and started throwing around names.

No, I'm talking about these Fatheads.  When I was in the hospital four years ago, I remember seeing a ton of commercials about these wall clings that were basically large pictures of athletes.  At the time, there was a football focus, but they've branched out into other sports, into pop culture, heck, you can even get a custom one, in case you've always wanted to see what you look like bigger than life.

As you know, sometimes being a blogger pays off.  Usually it's with free books, but this time, John from, who are working with the people at Fathead, swapped a Fathead Jr. (player TBA, but I'm hoping for Pujols) for a little face time on the blog.

If you've ever thought about getting one of these, now really is a great time.  Here are some codes for you:

SML15C: That will get you 15% off of selected Fathead products.  The large Fatheads are a bit pricey for those of us with limited means, so getting 15% off is a great deal.

SMLSHP: This one will get your Fathead shipped to you at no additional cost.  Free shipping is always good, right?

They are even giving away a free Fathead Jr. every day for the rest of April.  If you want in on that, click here and sign up.

Those are some pretty big odds, though, on getting one.  While I'd recommend signing up over there as well, I can also help you out if you are willing to take the luck of the draw.

John has offered to send a Fathead Jr. to one of my readers as well.  I'm guessing that yours would be taken from the same group of players that mine will be, a group that includes AP, David Wright, Derek Jeter and Chase Utley.  So my e-mail address is in the contact info above.  If you e-mail me your address, I will put your name in a drawing for the free Fathead Jr.  What do you have to lose?  If you get a guy you can't stand, I bet you can find a friend that would be willing to discuss terms with you.

I'll hold the drawing Monday night, so your e-mail needs to be in my box by 7:00 PM Central Monday.  Good luck to you!





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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)

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%)

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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