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December 2010

UCB December Project: Top 5 Stories

Posted on December 31, 2010 at 1:29 PM
Yes, I'm still alive, if any of you are still checking this site.  Between the paucity of Cardinal news and the busy Christmas season, it's been difficult to get back to this corner of cyberspace.

There is a little news, of course.  John Mozeliak has made the baffling claim that the defense will be better in 2011, which didn't fly with some people.  The Brewers went out and got Zack Greinke, which made the division that much more competitive.  On a more personal level, if you are an Android user, you can now get the UCB on your phone.


Scan this code to open in Marketplace

Scan that logo and you'll be taken directly to the app, or you can search the Marketplace for United Cardinal Bloggers.  Are you an iPhone person (like myself)?  The iPhone version of this should be out any day now and I'll be sure to let you know when it is.  These apps are similar to the Baseball Bloggers Alliance app that I've mentioned before.  That app is also now available on Android.

All of that housekeeping aside, today is the last day of 2010.  As is tradition, the last day of the year the United Cardinal Bloggers take a look back at the top stories from the past twelve months of Cardinal baseball.  Everyone has a different take on what the biggest five stories of the year are, so I encourage you to check out all the links from this index post to get a real good feel for 2010.  (Not to mention downloading The Year In Cardinal Baseball, but I'm sure you've already done that....right?)

So, after the jump, I'll count down what I think are five of the, if not biggest, then most memorable stories of this last year.

  Continue Reading

BBA Recommends Alomar, Blyleven For Hall Of Fame

Posted on December 31, 2010 at 10:00 AM
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Second baseman Roberto Alomar and starting pitcher Bert Blyleven were named today as the recommended 2011 Hall of Fame class by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Alomar, who is on the ballot for his second year, and Blyleven, looking at his fourteenth time, both finished just shy of the BBA's recommendation in 2010 at just a fraction under the 75% threshold.  As was the case last year, both Alomar and Blyleven received the same amount of votes from the BBA membership in 2010, but this time it was enough to push them into the recommended status.

Both players received 117 votes out of the 154 ballots cast, resulting in a 75.97% approval rate.  Again echoing the vote taken at the end of 2009, shortstop Barry Larkin was the third man in the balloting, missing selection by being named on just 70.78% of the ballots.

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance's vote has no impact on the official vote taken by the Baseball Writers of America and the members of the Hall of Fame.  However, the BBA has been often a predictor of awards granted by the writers, matching their selection in fourteen of the sixteen major awards in the last two postseasons combined.

The final voting results are as follows:

Roberto Alomar, 75.97%
Bert Blyleven, 75.97%
Barry Larkin, 70.78%
Jeff Bagwell, 62.34%
Edgar Martinez, 59.09%
Tim Raines, 54.55%
Mark McGwire, 44.16%
Lee Smith, 38.96%
Alan Trammell, 35.71%
Don Mattingly, 33.12%
Larry Walker, 31.17%
Fred McGriff, 27.27%
Jack Morris, 25.97%
Rafael Palmerio, 20.78%
Dale Murphy, 16.23%
Dave Parker, 12.34%
Harold Baines, 10.39%
Kevin Brown, 9.09%
John Franco, 7.14%
Tino Martinez, 5.19%
John Olerud, 5.19%
Al Leiter, 4.55%
Bret Boone, 3.90%
Juan Gonzalez, 3.90%
Marquis Grissom, 2.60%
Benito Santiago, 1.30%
Bobby Higginson, 0.65%
Charles Johnson, 0.65%
Kirk Rueter, 0.65%
Carlos Baerga, 0.00%
Raul Mondesi, 0.00%
BJ Surhoff, 0.00%

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was established in the fall of 2009 for the purpose of fostering collaboration and communication among bloggers from across baseball.  The BBA has quickly grown to its current membership of 256 blogs, including some of the most prominent blogs on the internet, spanning all major league teams and various other general aspects of the game.

More information about the BBA can be found at their website,www.baseballbloggersalliance.com, or by contacting the founder and administrator of the organization, Daniel Shoptaw, at founder@baseballbloggersalliance.com.

A Tale Of Two Cities

Posted on December 14, 2010 at 9:10 AM
Yesterday, following Twitter, there was the suggestion floated that Cliff Lee might be looking at an unnamed team in a "place he loves."  Following on that with some discussion at this weekend's poker table, when around a third-hand report (which, being that Lee is from Arkansas, wasn't surprising) of Lee hoping last year that the Cardinals would trade for him made the wheels start turning.  What if St. Louis was laying low in the weeds?  I started thinking of options and working out ideas for a post, knowing the chance was slim to none.

Glad I didn't get too far on that one.

As you know by now, that place Lee loved was Philadelphia, who signed him to a contract last night and put together the best rotation (on paper) since at least the Braves of the early '90s, though this is a more accomplished group than those guys, I think.  Avery came up and starred early, then flamed out.  All of these guys have put in the time at the bigs, though Cole Hamels is still pretty young.  Couple that rotation with the offense that they still have.......

Before the 2010 season I thought you could make the case that St. Louis and Philadelphia were the top two teams in the league and one of them would be the NL reps for the World Series.  I don't think you can quite compare the two as evenly now.

Rumor has it, though, the Cards did put in the last piece of their puzzle, as it is being reported that they've signed Gerald Laird for backup catcher.  Then again, there is some doubt to that report, so don't run out for your Laird jersey just quite yet.

If it's true, though.....ugh.  The Cardinals talked about adding offense in that slot, but he really isn't much different than Jason LaRue in that regard.  I don't see that this will encourage the Cards to sit Yadier Molina more often and I don't see that this is an improvement over Bryan Anderson.  I know the receiving issues with Anderson, but still, paying Laird a million to do what he usually does seems to be a reach.

Couple of great links for you.  First off, you have to check out CardinalsGM today with their take on the Brendan Ryan deal.  Fair warning, you may have a certain song stuck in your head the rest of the day.

Secondly, the United Cardinal Bloggers have been diligently working since the end of the season to put together a review of 2010.  Now, the fruits of that labor are available to you.  You can find The Year In Cardinal Baseball at the official site in a PDF format.  You can save and download it for your later reading or you can dive right on in.  Lots of great writers collaborated on this and it is well worth your time to check it out.

UCB Radio tomorrow night with Josh of Pitchers Hit Eighth so be sure to tune in then.  Maybe by then we'll have confirmation on the exciting Laird news!

Scrooged

Posted on December 13, 2010 at 10:26 AM
My thanks to all that read and expressed such kind things about my recent foray into parody writing.  Unfortunately, one of those that did not read this (apparently) was Mr. John Mozeliak, because he completely gutted the piece by trading Brendan Ryan yesterday.

Everyone has immediately jumped all over Tony La Russa for this move, which may be the accurate reaction.  However, I find it pretty interesting that TLR had reached out and invited Ryan to his house in the next day or so to have lunch and talk about things.  I don't think La Russa has done that for the other doghouse veterans that he'd run out of town, such as Scott Rolen or Anthony Reyes.

Then there is this quote from the GM.

"Changing the culture of the clubhouse was important to us.  Given the personalities involved, we felt this an appropriate way to make a change."

If we accept the premise that everything is done through the filter of keeping Albert Pujols happy and when you factor in that at least one teammate has anonymously suggested that Ryan needed to focus on his job a little more, could it be more that AP didn't mesh with Ryan rather than TLR?  Granted, I'd think it'd be hard to get along with one and not the other, but it's a possibility.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that Pujols called up Mozeliak and said, "He goes or I go" or "Ship him off now" or anything of that nature.  I just wonder if it was pretty obvious in the clubhouse that Pujols (or, to be fair, any of the big guys such as Matt Holliday or, as would be expected from the televised lecture, Chris Carpenter) really didn't get along with that extremely hyper and bouncy personality, especially when the team was struggling.

Whatever the case, the team can say all they want about what they received in return, but the chances of a guy with those kind of numbers ever making the Cardinals is really slim.  You just have to wonder what the Padres were offering last week that made the club turn them down.  Right now, the proverbial bag of baseballs is more valuable than a wild flamethrower that gets rocked in the lowest of minors.  You'd think he'd have been successful there just by reputation, because if he could get anything over the plate, it wouldn't have been hit often.

It seems like the team is set for 2011, save the backup catcher.  Now, I'd argue that with a payroll that is already too high for the team, apparently, using Bryan Anderson as a cheap and effective backup would make logical sense.  However, besides the fact that logic went out the window when they kept Skip Schumaker at second base in all these maneuvers, it appears that at least one starter, according to Matthew Leach on Twitter, doesn't care for throwing to Anderson.

In which case, their pursuit of Bengie Molina wouldn't be a bad thing.  First of all, you never go wrong with doubling your Molina supply.  Secondly, B. Molina's bat off the bench would be a wonderful thing.  I know he's slowed down some, but he's still provide more offense than we are used to in that regard, which might allow TLR to actually rest Yadi on occasion.

We'll have to see how things shake out, whether Yadi can talk his brother into it over the Christmas holidays, but it's at least something to get the taste of the Ryan trade out of our mouths.

Baseball Bloggers Alliance Day!

Posted on December 10, 2010 at 9:12 AM
December 10, 2010 has been designated as the first ever Baseball Bloggers Alliance day.  Granted, it's not been so designated by anyone on high, just the BBA itself, but it gives members a chance to talk about the organization and what it is doing.

The BBA started up around September of last year.  The idea was to get some bloggers from across baseball together, have some interaction, give each other some contacts to help enhance their blogging.  Once people started joining, though, the thing continued to grow.  Now, there are roughly 240 blogs claiming membership in the organization.

One of the great things about the BBA is getting the perspective of other fans, knowledgeable ones that follow their team with the same enthusiasm and intensity that we follow the Cardinals with.  Following most of these guys and girls on Twitter gives you the complete view of most everything.  You'll see both sides of a trade or a signing.  You'll hear rumors and see them lauded or shot down.  Plus, you get a ton of witty comments and conversations.

To go along with the stated purpose of the BBA, to encourage discussion, we've also tapped into the power of groups by doing our annual post-season awards.  When we started that last year, I expected that we'd see a vast difference between our selections (done by a newer, more statistically-oriented generation) and the baseball writers' picks.  Surprisingly, both years the two groups have agreed on most things, including all of the major awards.  It seems like the writers are moving into the 21st century as well.

You can read more of my thoughts on the BBA, how it got started up and what I'm looking for our of this group in my interview with Arne Christensen over at Misc. Baseball.  I'm quite proud of what this organization has accomplished so far and I look forward to seeing what it can do in the next few years.

Are you a blogger interested in joining the BBA?  Drop an e-mail with your pertinent information to founder@baseballbloggersalliance.com.  There are some new membership requirements going into effect in January, so be sure to check out the constitution and make sure you are able to handle those.  Otherwise, the door's always open! 

A Cardinal Christmas Carol

Posted on December 7, 2010 at 12:23 PM
"Merry Christmas, Mr. Mozeliak."

The general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, John Mozeliak, looked up from the paperwork on his desk.  Running a baseball team might be enjoyable and have great perks, but it never stops.

"Thank you, Molly.  I hope you have a nice holiday as well.  Are you visiting family?"

Molly nodded.  "My parents are in town and we are having a nice family gathering.  How about you, sir?"

"Well, tomorrow will be, but tonight the wife and kids are visiting her family while I work on this paperwork and make some calls."

Molly frowned.  "Christmas Eve, alone?  That can't be fun."

Mozeliak smiled.  "True, but the job's the job, I'm afraid."

As the day wore on, more and more people came by to extend season's greetings to their boss before they slipped out the door, off to whatever the evening held for them.  One by one, the office lights were extinguished until it was just Mozeliak there, poring over paperwork and calculating numbers.

Suddenly, the phone rang.  Mozeliak glanced at the caller ID and, with a smile, picked up the phone.
  Continue Reading

The Berkman Actuality

Posted on December 6, 2010 at 9:02 AM
Regular reader(s) will remember that, last week, I wrote about the possibility that Lance Berkman would become a Cardinal.  My conclusion was that it wouldn't happen and it didn't work for the Cardinals.

Yeah, this is why I don't bet actual money on anything.

As you know by now, the Cards came to terms with Berkman over the weekend, getting him for a one-year deal worth $8 million.  I spent a lot of this weekend turning this over in my mind, reading what more knowledgeable people had to say about it, and I'm still not at a definitive conclusion about it.

In my partial defense, I did write the following:

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.

It's fairly obvious that the allure of St. Louis was a big draw for Berkman.  He easily could have gotten a little more security and a cushier job being a 1B/DH type for Oakland or another team, but instead he took the shorter deal that is harder work.  Which also means he's motivated to make this work, because two off years in a row at his age makes getting his next contract much harder.

Berkman has also lost some weight and the Cards seem to feel confident he can play the outfield.  We won't know until we see him moving around out there, but if he can handle the position at an average or better level, things should be fine.

As for his bat, you have to hope it bounces back somewhat from last year's rough spell.  He had a couple of tolerable months interspersed within the season, hitting .303 in September, for example.  The power wasn't there, though, and you hope that the weight loss and solid knees will help that out.

Even in his down year, though, he still had a .368 OBP.  John Mozeliak is hinting he might hit second, which would be good for Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, having a better chance of coming up with someone already on base.  Berkman might hit fifth, which could move Colby Rasmus to the two hole.  I just hope we don't see Ryan Theriot and Skip Schumaker 1-2, because that's not going to help the offense at all.

In the general theory of things, I think I like the move.  I'm not sure that it's the wisest use of resources, but it's not necessarily the worst one.  Mozeliak says payroll is "leaking", which I'm guessing means it's so heavy that it's starting to sag and sprout holes.  Which means that 1) moves are pretty much done, save a cheap bat somewhere, maybe,  2) Rasmus is safe, because even if you traded him, the odds of getting the same production back at the same payroll level are practically nonexistent and 3) for all the talk of the Cards needing a backup catcher, it seems to me that the best way to go about it is to use Bryan Anderson in that role, because he can do the job and he gets paid the league minimum.

Winter meetings are going on this week and you can't rule anything out, though the odds of the Cards making another trade or significant move are 3,720 to 1.  Most likely, this is the team going north next spring.  I can't say it's a bad one.

Cardinals Turn On The Stove

Posted on December 1, 2010 at 9:50 AM
After weeks of relative inactivity, the Cardinals made a couple of moves yesterday.  One was fairly straightforward.  One will have some sort of repercussions.

First off, the Cards signed lefthanded reliever Brian Tallet away from the Blue Jays.  Tallet's numbers last year were pretty unsightly at first blush, as he posted a 6.40 ERA and allowed 20 home runs in 77 innings.

However, Tallet's splits are where the Cardinals find value.  He allowed only a .176 BAA vs. lefties last year, compared to a .320 BAA vs. righties.  Over the last three years, the splits haven't been quite as dramatic (.251 BBAL, .271 BBAR) but he seems primed to be put into that LOOGY role.  Also, over the last three years, his best ERA has come on grass (3.88), so it's possible that he'll be relieved to get away from Toronto's turf.

The Cards spent less than a million on him, so if he flops terribly or someone pulls a Jaime Garcia and comes out of nowhere in spring training, it's not a huge problem to replace him.  It's the very definition of low risk, potentially high reward.

The big news from yesterday, though, was the trade of Blake Hawksworth to the Dodgers for infielder Ryan Theriot.  Infielder might be a general term, though, since John Mozeliak came out and said that if the season started today, he'd be the shortstop for the Redbirds.

When you look at the deal from the perspective of what the Cards gave up, you'd have to say that it was a decent deal.  Hawksworth had done good work for the Cards, but he was out of options and the righthanded side of the bullpen is pretty full.  Theriot is definitely the type of player that you'd think you could get back for him.

But is Theriot really that much better than Brendan Ryan?  Bernie Miklasz lays out why that doesn't quite mesh up with reality.  Obviously, Brendan Ryan had a terrible year at the plate last year.  I'm not sure, however, why the Cards think that his is true level of play instead of the 2009 level, when he hit .292 and had an OBP of .340.  While I'm not sure he reaches that level again, he's just as likely to hit close to Theriot's .270/.321/.312 line from last year as, well, Theriot is.

So there is meager (if any) offensive upside to replacing Ryan with Theriot.  Defensively, though, there's no contest.  Ryan picks it better than anyone.  He didn't win a Gold Glove this year, but any defensive award that honors Derek Jeter is going to be looked at suspiciously anyway.  The defensive metrics show that Ryan does a lot of great work out there, and while Theriot is passable, he's not much better than that.

It would make more sense for Theriot to go to second and replace Skip Schumaker, though that doesn't do a lot for the total offensive numbers.  Having both him and Ryan in the lineup could possibly be a drag on the bats.  Besides, if the guy is being compared to David Eckstein's tenure here, that's not necessarily the strongest of endorsements.  Eckstein was fine and, yes, won the World Series MVP in 2006 (though Scott Rolen deserved it more), but I don't think his best was that much better than Ryan.

Matt Sebek, of course, has struck to the heart of the matter in trying to determine if Theriot is really "gritty".  I think a drawback to Theriot's application is that the portion of the fan base that loves the gritty guys already has an attachment to Ryan and usurpers have a hard time overcoming that initial resentment to a player taking "their guy's" job.  I guess if he came out with a strong April, he might be able to become a fan favorite and then have a better chance of being gritty, but right now, I'm not feeling it.

As you know, I'm a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and we've got something new out now.  If you are an iPhone person (and I just got mine this week, which I am quite excited about), the BBA has an app where you can read the blog posts of many of our members, including yours truly.

Mobile Blog Reader - powered by Notice Orange

Just click on the above or search for Baseball Bloggers Alliance in the App Store.  Julian from Splashing Pumpkins took the lead on this and did an incredible job getting it all together.

Remember, I'm hosting the UCB Radio Hour tonight with James from Astros County guesting.  I know we'll talk about the Theriot deal as well, so call in or at least join us in the chat room!




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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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