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November 2010

Does Blogging Ruin Baseball?

Posted on November 30, 2010 at 11:51 AM
With the cold wind blowing and baseball's hot stove still not heating up to a nice cozy temperature, there's not much to talk about.  However, when three stars of the baseball firmament align in baseball heaven, well, it deserves a mention.

Bob Costas, Bill James and Joe Posnanski were in St. Louis last night, talking about sports and sports coverage, most especially baseball.  What seems to have been a major talking point was the downside to the saturation coverage that not only the 24/7 news channels bring to the game, but the numerous different blog sites that also cover things. As one of those numerous different blog sites that covers things as well as the head of two different groups filled with those kind of sites, I feel I should weigh in a little bit on that topic.

It seems that the biggest drawback to this coverage, in the opinion of those there, was the lack of romance in the game now.  That everything is pinned down, hammered out, and there is nothing left to enjoy.  I think there is a point there, I do.  I'm a traditional guy, a purist, however you want to phrase it.  I tear up at Field of Dreams and have a healthy regard for the players in the past, many of which didn't have the media coverage exposing whatever warts and flaws they had.

That said, I think the blogging portion of the coverage has led to a greater appreciation of the game and the outcomes.  I don't mean those types that are negative about everything, that the sky is falling every time the home team doesn't win by ten.  I don't mean those types that make it their mission to try to stir up trouble, antipathy, and anything else they can to get page views.  I'm talking about your regular, run of the mill bloggers, the kind that make up the United Cardinal Bloggers, for example.

When I think about how the UCB covers things, I think about all the different viewpoints that are brought to the table about a single game or a stretch of games.  You can see things that other can't, and vice versa. The Diamond Dolls at Cardinal Diamond Diaries may find the silver lining in a bad loss.  Pip will show why things aren't that bad (or are worse) with the stats.  Mark at RetroSimba will give a historical perspective.  All of these put together means that the sum is greater than the parts.

Of course, I'm the kind of person who wants to read as much as they can about the last game and talk about it as much as possible as well.  Perhaps it does get tiring to some, and I know that when you read the same headline on two or three blogs, it can start to sound like an echo chamber.  However, I think that blogging is similar to fantasy baseball.  

Fantasy baseball is a great way to stir interest in the game.  You might watch Pittsburgh vs. Washington if you've got Ryan Zimmerman or Andrew McCutchen on your team, and anything that gets eyeballs on baseball is a good thing.  The same with blogging.  With blogs, you sometimes watch games looking for different perspectives to write about.  You might be looking for a subtext or a different layer to the game.  Or, if you are like me, writing about it the next day gives you the chance to organize your thoughts and understand what happened and what it meant.

Do some 10-2 games get over-analyzed and is it a bit harder to have an even keel with this kind of coverage?  Perhaps.  However, I'd rather live in a world with too much baseball talk than not enough or not at all.  This time of the year really emphasizes that, as the football talk drones on while you pan the Twitter and the websites for some nugget of baseball discussion.

Couple of links before I wrap up here.  First off, it's Albert Week over at Cards Diaspora.  I'm sure you thought you knew all the arguments for resigning Albert, but Hooks and the gang are always willing to prove that you haven't completely plumbed the depths of any topic.

Speaking of the big first baseman, he's got his own article in USA Today.  Hopefully he doesn't get a lot of feedback, because if he starts blogging no one will ever read here again.  Though we'd be glad to have him in the UCB!

The radio show will be hosted by yours truly tomorrow night.  We are going to spend a little time talking with James from Astros County, getting a feel for what our divisional rivals are doing this offseason as well as whether or not Lance Berkman is a good signing for someone.  Tune in and join us!

The Berkman Potentiality

Posted on November 29, 2010 at 10:30 AM
I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday.  If you are like me, you ate well, you got to see some family, and then just enjoyed not having to work.  Got some of the Christmas decorations up as we do the whole Advent thing.

What didn't happen over the last few days is anything related to the Cardinals.  The front page of the Post-Dispatch looks the same, no major breaking news, no reports of John Mozeliak inviting himself to Albert Pujols's house for a little turkey and cranberry sauce.  Which means that it's tough to find things to write about in this space.

However, today some news came out that was at least intriguing and worthy of discussion.  Lance Berkman apparently wanted to go back to Houston, but the Astros didn't reciprocate.  So he's looking at other teams, and one of the teams he says has contacted him is the Cardinals.

Does this make sense for the Cardinals?  After all, it's pretty obvious Berkman isn't going to play his normal first base in St. Louis, at least in 2011 and hopefully for many a year after that.  Though having Berkman would be some sort of insurance policy if Pujols were to walk, even if it is one that doesn't pay full value for the loss of use.

The real question is whether it's a good idea for the Cardinals to go the established veteran route instead of using Jon Jay and Allen Craig.  Berkman had the worst year of his career last year, but is still only 34.  (Seems like he's been around forever!)  In 2009 he hit 25 home runs and had a .399 OBP.  If you think last year was a bit of an aberration, combining a bad start with a change in scenery, you have to think it's possible for him to be a .270/.380/.480 with 20+ home runs again, which is probably a bit more than Craig and Jay will combine for, at least in 2011.

Craig and Jay are on the rise, in theory, and Berkman is on the downhill side of his career, even if it's not a straight downward slope.  So if you have to give Berkman a three year deal, for example, by the end of it, the two youngsters might be outperforming him at a fraction of the cost.

Which is where the real issue comes in.  If you can get Berkman for a minimal salary, I think you probably pull the trigger.  He made $14.5 million last year, though, and I can't see him settling for less than $7-$8 million with teams like Chicago in the mix as well.

I've always had a fondness of Berkman, as he was one of the classy Astros that made the Houston/St. Louis rivalry so good in the 2000s, but I'm not seeing a good way to get him into Cardinal red.

Cardinal Roster Machinations

Posted on November 22, 2010 at 8:06 AM
I love Cardinal Nation.  I was offline much of Saturday, but I still received texts from my good friend Josh of Pitchers Hit Eighth, keeping me in the loop on 40-man roster moves.  Not sure if other fan bases obsess like this, though I'm sure some do.  To me, though, it's just part of being a Cardinal fan, worrying about the details, whether it's a replacement bullpen coach or a guy getting dropped off the 40-man.

Or, in this case, four of them.  I wasn't that surprised about Nick Stavinoha, though I think it gives an indication that the front office wasn't that enamored of the philosophy of last season either.  Stav had his moments, but probably proved that he was, at best, a tolerable pinch-hitter. That's not enough to keep your roster spot in the offseason.

Josh said he was most surprised that Adam Ottavino was left unprotected.  I wouldn't necessarily disagree with that, since it's possible someone could select Ottavino in the Rule V draft and then keep him on the disabled list all year, especially if he needs surgery.  The flip side to that is wondering if other teams think there is value in selecting someone that may need surgery.  If not, he could make it through the draft and stay in the organization.

At first blush, the name that jumped out at me was Steven Hill.  I know with Yadier Molina and Bryan Anderson (most likely), there's not room at the catcher position right now in St. Louis, but I was surprised that they'd give up on him.  I'm guessing the thought process is that catcher is a deeper position right now (they added catcher Tony Cruz to the 40-man at the same time) and that Hill wasn't ever going to have the defensive chops that they wanted and they didn't have a spot for him to move to.

Lastly, the sad case of Daryl Jones is a cautionary tale of drafting "athletes".  Jones didn't have a lot of experience playing baseball when he was drafted, but he had all the tools.  Two years ago, it looked like he had finally put all those tools together and was on the right path, but injuries and regression have taken their toll and he's now spent three years at AA.  I'm sure someone will take a flyer on him in the draft and maybe they can unlock his potential.

This weekend was Stan Musial's 90th birthday, so Bernie Miklasz put together 90 reasons to love The Man.  If you didn't read it over the weekend, read it now.  Looking at the video of his birthday, while he still has some energy and life to him, it's obvious that age is getting to him somewhat, so we've got to appreciate him while we have him.  It'll be a sad month in St. Louis when he goes.

Late last night, the United Cardinal Bloggers released their Cardinal Blogger Awards winners. I was extremely honored to be selected as co-Individual Blog of the Year.  When you are in the same sentence as Pip at Fungoes, you must be doing something right.  Interestingly enough, a couple of years ago we were tied in this category when the awards came out, but a late ballot broke the tie in Pip's favor.  We'll see if history repeats itself!

Keep in mind that Wednesday, the UCB Radio Hour is dedicated to why we, as fans, are thankful.  We are looking for a lot of callers to discuss what aspects of their fandom they are most appreciative of.  While you are getting ready for the big turkey day, plan to join us that evening for a little Cardinal Thanksgiving!

(PS: As I complete writing this post, I see that Viva El Birdos has a similar title to today's entry.  The similarities are 1) entirely coincidental and 2) do not extend to the quality of the posts, as you can probably tell by reading them!)

Standing For Stan

Posted on November 18, 2010 at 8:10 AM
The Associated Press doesn't quite get it.

In their story about the Presidential Medal of Freedom winners, their description of Stan Musial is "a Hall of Fame first baseman/outfielder who played 22 seasons for the Cardinals."

Stan Musial is so much more than that.

Not surprisingly, even though he is being honored on a national level, you really have to get into St. Louis to understand the special relationship Stan has with the city and the fanbase.  As I said last night on the UCB Radio Hour, almost every athlete has some sort of negative. They couldn't do this, they were money hungry, they held out, they were a jerk this one time when someone met them.  Almost everyone, but not Stan.

The stories about Stan, from regular people to players that he played with and against, all glow with love for The Man.  Joe Posnanski's Sports Illustrated cover article from this summer shows the reverence and high esteem he is held in.

Bernie writes today about the love Cardinal Nation has for Stan The Man.  As much as Albert Pujols is beloved in this town, as much as he's done for St. Louis, I don't think he could ever top Stan in the hearts of the fans.  That's no slight against Pujols, don't get me wrong, more that it's a different era.  When people start earning tens, hundreds of millions of dollars, the connection is not going to be as strong.  That financial aspect is always going to tinge the thoughts of the fans.  Even if AP signed a huge discount (which, due to the union, he probably couldn't do even if he wanted to), he's not going to have the same connection with the fans that Stan does.

When I was working on naming the Baseball Blogger Alliance awards this summer, trying to figure out which players I wanted to assign to which awards, I knew only one thing--Stan Musial was going to be honored in some way.  I thought it most appropriate that he'd be our MVP, because if the consistency and values that Musial brought to the game were applied by everyone, just imagine how much better off we'd be.

Stan joins Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Buck O'Neil, Hank Aaron and Frank Robinson on the list of ballplayers that have been so honored.   If you are looking for a top tier of baseball, that'd be it.

There are a few other Cardinal stories out there as well.  As expected, Jose Oquendo will not be managing the Mets.  I'm still from the school of thought that perhaps it's best that Oquendo get some MLB managing experience elsewhere before taking over in St. Louis, but it's always nice to have the Secret Weapon around.

JC Bradbury has a blog post out saying he expects that Pujols could be the first $40 million man.  While I understand where he's coming from in that projection, I don't think it's possible. AP is extremely valuable, but he's more valuable to St. Louis than just about anyone else given his ties to the community.  I can't imagine that ownership is going to destroy the current payroll scale by blowing out the top end.  Could it be $30?  Perhaps, but I don't see $40 happening at all.

Also, the team is looking to hedge its bets on David Freese's health.  The more I hear his name, the more I'm convinced the Cardinals are going to sign Miguel Tejada to a bench role.  Hopefully, unlike Felipe Lopez, he'd stay there and back up both Freese and Brendan Ryan.

Of course, if the Mets actually are looking to move Jose Reyes, that would have to be a tempting proposition.  He'd only be a rental, being a free agent that the Cards would have to let walk at the end of the year (but likely getting draft picks in return).  He's "only" $11 million for next season.  He'd be the perfect leadoff man, plus he'd fit in at second base.  Problem is what the Cards would have to give up to get him.  I don't think a Francisco Samuel/Steven Hill/Jon Jay package, something that probably would have gotten Dan Uggla, would go as far with the Mets.  Then again, it's a new man in charge, so we'll have to see.

Probably won't be back in this space until the beginning of next week, so have a wonderful weekend!

2010 Cardinal Blogger Awards Selections

Posted on November 17, 2010 at 4:00 PM
For the fourth year running, I am casting my votes in the United Cardinal Bloggers' Cardinal Blogger Awards.  This is one of our signature projects, the one that actually kicked off the UCB. (It's so hard to believe it's been a full three years since we organized this group!)  This is always a lot of fun because not only do we get to take a look at who did what for the Cardinals, but we also get to honor some of the great blogging work that was done during the year.

Of course, some basic rules apply, mainly not voting for yourself (like I would) and keeping your votes to at worst a tie between two instead of splitting a vote three or four ways.  Other than that, all's fair.  With that, after the jump we'll go down the ballot and list out my winners.

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Focusing On Pitching

Posted on November 17, 2010 at 10:15 AM
A couple of pitching-related Cardinal stories from yesterday, neither a big surprise, though one was more expected than the other.

First off, Adam Wainwright finished runner-up to Roy Halladay in the National League Cy Young voting.  You'll remember, of course, that is exactly how it panned out in the Baseball Bloggers Alliance voting as well.  Wainwright looked to have it wrapped up with 17 wins and a 1.99 ERA in August, but the last few outings hurt him, plus Halladay was a beast almost all year long.  No complaints here, just tip your hat and hope that one of these years Waino can break through.

Of course, the bigger news on that front is that the second-place finish vests his options for 2012 and 2013.  Not that it's a big deal--odds are that they'd have been exercised anyway, the way he's been going--but it is nice to have that certainty when you are planning.

The other story was that the Cards and Jake Westbrook came to an agreement, keeping the pitcher around for another two years.  The price seems to be pretty good, but I'm a little conflicted.

We know that Westbrook had a successful few months in St. Louis and seems to work well with Dave Duncan.  I'm not going to fault the Cards for going after him on performance-related points.  I'm sure that he'll be a solid #4 starter next year behind Chris Carpenter, Wainwright, and Jaime Garcia.  It bolsters the rotation and, in that way, it's a good thing.

The problem comes in two ways.  First, the rotation is now full and only Garcia is making under $8 million a year.  That's a lot of money tied up into five people.  Financially, it might have been better to promote someone like Lance Lynn and slide him into the fifth slot.  You have to hope that Kyle Lohse is good enough for the #4 hole, but 1) he definitely has the ability to be that, if he can just gain consistency and 2) that's what you get for giving him a no-trade clause.

The second is that everyone in that rotation, save Wainwright, has had injury problems.  You don't expect any of them to go down necessarily, but you start upping your odds for a catastrophe when you pile in that many risk factors.  What happens if Westbrook and Garcia go down, like Brad Penny and Lohse did this year?  Is there enough to fill those holes?

Both of these issues are sidelines and I don't expect that the club really focused much on that when negotiating with Westbrook.  All in all, I think it's a good deal, though.  Having quality pitching is always a plus.

A pretty interesting day to kick off the general manager's meetings in Florida.  The word before those meetings was that these were "ground-laying" discussions for moves that might be done at the winter meetings in December.  Yet Westbrook signs and then, in a move that was of interest to St. Louis as well, Dan Uggla gets shipped to the Braves.

Lot of Cardinal fans were very interested in getting Uggla to take over for Skip Schumaker at second base and I can't blame them.  I've never been completely high on Uggla, due to the fielding issues and his propensity for the strikeout, but it definitely would have been an upgrade offensively.

Of course, it seems like the front office is looking more at the shortstop position as a place to make changes anyw---

Sorry about that.  The loud screaming fit from over at Cardinal Diamond Diaries distracted me for a moment.  Anyway, that seems to be where they want to upgrade.  I'm not completely sold that replacing Brendan Ryan is better than making Schumaker a utility guy, but that seems to be most likely.  It's going to have to be a pretty special bat to replace that glove, though.  With all the ground ball pitchers this team has, trading defense for offense is a tricky proposition.

A couple of other stories from earlier in the week.  One, the Secret Weapon was supposed to interview with the Mets Monday.  Last I heard, Terry Collins was the frontrunner and I don't expect that anything will be known for a while, as new Mets GM Sandy Alderson lost his father this past weekend.  Always rooting for Jose Oquendo, of course, but I bet he's back at third next year.

Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday received Silver Slugger Awards.  As someone on Twitter (Matthew Leach, maybe?) mentioned, Pujols will probably win both the Silver Slugger and the Gold Glove and lose out on MVP to someone at the same position.  What are the odds of that happening?  Gotta be slim.

Matt Carpenter and Shelby Miller were selected as top hitter and pitcher out of the Cardinal farm system for 2010.  We know that Miller is still a couple of years away, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on Carpenter in the spring.  I don't think he could get the call, as it's very unlikely that he'd be the backup to David Freese, but if some reason Freese can't go or winds up getting hurt again during the season, Carpenter could be the first option.  Then again, Zack Cox is hitting well out in Arizona.....

Finally, there look to be some changes in the FSMW booth, and I can't say that they are completely positive ones.  After meeting with Dan and Al, I have a better appreciation for them.  To go along with that, even though occasionally they say things that make me roll my eyes, they aren't hard to listen to.  Ricky Horton, though, adds a little too-cheery dynamic to the broadcast, plus his voice is just enough higher that it throws off the experience.  Mainly, though, while Dan and Al are homers to a degree, they are more likely to be fair and to not gloss over things as much as Ricky seems to.

Now, after slinging at the professionals, it's time to let you do the same to me.  I'm hosting the UCB Radio Hour tonight and flying solo, so phone calls are always welcome to keep me from rambling on for an hour.  Well, less than an hour tonight because there are guests for tonight's show!  Doug Gladstone has written a book, A Bitter Cup of Coffee, about the plight of some MLB veterans who are not covered by the players' pension agreement.  He will be joining us to talk about the book and the issue, as well as former player Tom Bruno.  Bruno played for four seasons and three different teams, including the Cardinals, and now is the owner of Major League Adventures up in South Dakota.

Should be interesting to talk to them for a while, then we'll talk the current Cardinal team.  Hope to talk to you then!

Prepping The Stove

Posted on November 9, 2010 at 8:52 AM
The off-season is here.  Teams can talk to free agents.  The GMs are getting together sometime this month, then have the winter meetings at the beginning of December.  The hot stove season is here and we hopefully will bask in its warmth.

The Cardinals are going to be an interesting team to watch this offseason, because there is no telling how it is going to go.  Will they made a trade for a middle infielder?  Will they basically stick with the status quo?  Will they make some sort of blockbuster with Colby Rasmus involved?  There are so many directions that things could go with this team.

I'm not sure if it is an indicator of anything or not, but it is pretty interesting that Matt Pagnozzi was placed on waivers.  As you know from reading my analysis of the last few games of the season, I expected that Pagnozzi was in line to be the backup catcher and Bryan Anderson would be plying his trade elsewhere as some part of a deal where Cardinal fans figured we gave up too much for too little.

Instead, Pagnozzi is the one gone and Anderson is in line to be the regular backup, as the philosophy on that position shifts from defense-only to offense, with a splash of defense.  Anderson can have a limited platoon with Molina since he hits lefty and can make those Molina off-days not so disappointing.

Of course, it might be that Tony LaRussa is planning for Molina to be the first player to catch 162 games as well.  Never rule that out.

Also, of course, this offseason brings the added drama of the Albert Pujols contract.  AP's come out and said he wants a new contract by spring training, if possible.  I don't see that as being a big change in his stance.  Last year, he cut off negotiations before the season started and you would have to expect that he would do the same this year.  In my view, if there isn't a contract extension by time the team reports to Jupiter, things are a failure in that department. I'd bet that the club is going to really push and see if they can't get it signed right before the Winter Warmup.  There's no way you can go into the season with him still unsigned if your focus is winning in 2011.

While MLB Trade Rumors is a wonderful resource any time of the year, I find myself checking it more in July and this time of the year than anytime else.  Looking through there today, there were a few things that caught my eye.

First off, the Rockies are interested in Jake Westbrook and the Dodgers may be as well.  Reading what the St. Louis media is writing and talking about, it seems pretty likely that Westbrook will re-up with the Cards, but we'll see if the interest from the other clubs drives his price up or puts him out of the Cardinals' budget.  I still think that move will get done and fairly soon, and as long they don't break the bank for him (or are willing to up payroll), it seems like a good move.

I've wondered if World Series MVP and former Cardinal Edgar Renteria might not be on the radar for the Cards, not necessarily as a full-time player, but a great backup at short.  It seems that Renteria is also open to playing some second base, which would be helpful for the Cardinals as well.  It remains to be seen, though, if Renteria is open to taking on a more limited role or would still prefer to play every day.  I think he'd be a fabulous bench guy for the Cards, but his salary may preclude that.

Tim Dierkes, who established the site, has put up his guesses for where the top 50 free agents will wind up.  I'm still not sold on Cliff Lee going to the Yankees, but that's neither here nor there.  The only two on the list that he thinks will go to the Cardinals are Westbrook and Orlando Hudson.  Interestingly enough, he's the subject of today's Viva El Birdos entry.

So the stove is starting to gain a little heat, but there's still some time before it gets going full throttle.  It's not likely the free agents will start moving until after Thanksgiving.  Which means there is plenty of time for analysis and reasoning, also known as "pulling ideas out of backsides".

UCB Radio again this week, same time, same place.  Bill Ivie of i70 Baseball is on the schedule to educate, illuminate, and entertain you, so tune in!

Cardinal Blogger Awards Ballot, 2010

Posted on November 5, 2010 at 11:09 AM
Every year, the United Cardinal Bloggers has their yearly voting for different awards, both Cardinal-related and blog-related.  It's our chance to not only recognize what happened during the season but also to recognize the great work that goes on in our membership.

This year is no different.  After the jump, you will find the ballot for the awards that the membership will be voting on.  It will also be posted at the official site.  Ballots are due from members by November 19, with the awards hopefully given out by Thanksgiving.

If you are not a UCB member but want to give your opinion on who should win what, feel free to do that in the comments!
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UCB Roundtable: Looking At 2011

Posted on November 4, 2010 at 3:35 PM
Finally, we've reached the end of the month-long United Cardinal Bloggers roundtable.  If you've not been reading the transcripts, you can find the links over here at the official site.  Lots of great question were asked during this process, which means that going last adds a degree of difficulty when you try to come up with something not touched on already.

To wrap up this year's discussions, I thought I'd see what the thought was for 2011.  Would the Cardinals bounce back?  Was this still the Reds' division?  What would the rest of the standings look like?

Joining me in looking at these questions were Dennis (Pitchers Hit Eighth), Mark (RetroSimba), Dustin (Welcome To Baseball Heaven), Pip (Fungoes), Chris (Bird Brained), Tom (CardinalsGM), Erik (Play A Hard 9) and Nick (Pitchers Hit Eighth).  After the jump, see what these luminaries forecast for the upcoming season.
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Lilliquist Leaps, Mather Moves

Posted on November 4, 2010 at 8:51 AM
A few items in Cardinal nation today.  Most of them were hashed out professionally on the UCB Radio Hour last night, but we'll talk about them here as well.

First off, there were a few staff moves made yesterday, the biggest of which was Derek Lilliquist, the former Braves pitcher who has been in the Cardinal organization for a while, taking over Marty Mason's role as bullpen coach.  I expect that Lilliquist is who they had their eye on when they let Mason go, though they weren't completely sure he'd take the job.  Lilliquist has a history with a lot of these pitchers that have come up the ranks and is well regarded in the organization.  Seems like a positive thing on the whole.

Also, the head trainer (Barry Weinberg) and the assistant trainer (Greg Hauck) swapped spots.  Sounds to me like Barry might be thinking of getting out of the game sometime soon and is starting to gradually ease his way out the door, turning over the reins to someone new.  Weinberg was head trainer in Oakland under Tony LaRussa, so he's been around a while and done a good job of getting his assistants ready for the big time.  Brad Henderson, the Pirates head trainer, and Mark O'Neal, the Cubs top guy, both came out of the Cardinal organization.  (Full disclosure: Mark O'Neal's grandmother goes to my church and his mother was my kindergarten teacher.)

The other major news of yesterday was that Joe Mather was claimed off of waivers by the Atlanta Braves.  While that caused some angst in some quarters of the fanbase, unfortunately there really wasn't a good spot for him in St. Louis.  He's not really a third baseman, and I still think that the team will get a veteran guy to back up David Freese, who should have the starting nod.  He's not going to get much time in an outfield of Matt Holliday, Colby Rasmus, Jon Jay, and Allen Craig, with Skip Schumaker possibly available as well depending on what happens with the middle infield.  There just wasn't a spot for him.

Atlanta has a long tradition of picking up Cardinal outfielders, whether it was directly (JD Drew), indirectly (Rick Ankiel) or via waivers (Brian Barton).  Hopefully Mather will thrive in Atlanta, except when he's playing the Cardinals.  We wish him the best.

Of course, the above goes under the assumption that Colby Rasmus will be a Cardinal next year.  Things got all stirred up when it was noted that his St. Louis house was for sale, but apparently he just wants to get a new place.  The Post-Dispatch crew takes a look at how reasonable it is to trade Rasmus.  Answer: it's not.  Which is what anyone with a lick of baseball sense would understand and agree with.

Derrick Goold puts a lot of interesting things in this column.  First off, it's crazy to see how dominant Albert Pujols has been on the Bill James Hall of Fame Monitor.  When you put him up against his contemporaries--and, more accurately, the people that are the same age as him--he laps the field.  Just more ammo for the contract discussions that, hopefully, at least are in the preliminary stages.

Then there's the whole "Edgar Renteria decides World Series" bit.  I hadn't thought about the fact that he ended the '04 Series, deciding it for the Red Sox, as well as getting the game-winning hit in '07 and this year.  Still, I think putting a groundout for the losing team in a sweep along side a Game 7, ninth-inning RBI single and a Game 5 three-run home run in the seventh is a bit of a stretch.

Finally, the note that St. Louis had the sixth-highest TV ratings, and the highest in a non-California or Texas city, really points to the fervor of Cardinal fans.  They love good baseball, no matter who is playing.

Zach Cox has been named a "rising star" out in the Arizona Fall League.  Cox started off really slow, but has come around somewhat lately.  You can read all about how he and the rest of the Cardinal contingent are doing here.  I know that Cox won't get a true shot at third base in spring training next year, but if Freese goes down mid-season, could be that Cox at least is in the conversation for a call-up.

Hope to have the transcript from the final UCB roundtable question up sometime later today!





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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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