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February 2012

Keeping You Informed: Spring Training Radio

Posted on February 29, 2012 at 11:48 AM
If you've not seen it, you'll find today's regular post and the daily Playing Pepper (featuring the Cleveland Indians) below this post.  However, when they start telling you when you can hear St. Louis Cardinal baseball, well, you don't hesitate to get that out there.


CARDINALS SPRING TRAINING RADIO SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED 
Mike Shannon and John Rooney Will Cover All the Warm Weather Action

ST. LOUIS, February 29, 2012 -As the St. Louis Cardinals begin the 2012 Spring Training schedule, fans will be able to catch all the warm-weather action from veteran broadcasters Mike Shannon and John Rooney on the team's flagship station KMOX (AM 1120) and the Cardinals Radio Network. 

The first of sixteen broadcasts will begin next Monday, March 5, as the Cardinals face the Miami Marlins. Beginning Saturday, March 10th, every Saturday and Sunday broadcast will feature the Cardinals Pre-Game Show. The show will air 20 minutes prior to first pitch and feature Mike Shannon or John Rooney interviewing Cardinals players, coaches and other baseball personalities. 

The 118 Cardinals Radio Network affiliates will broadcast most Saturday and Sunday games, as well as select weekday games. Fans are encouraged to check their local listings for details. A complete radio broadcast schedule can be found below.

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Playing Pepper 2012: Cleveland Indians

Posted on February 29, 2012 at 11:30 AM
In 2009, I decided to get a feel for other teams around baseball by asking bloggers for those teams some questions about their squad.  Not only has this series been very popular, but it spawned the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  With camps opening up again and spring training getting into gear, it's time once again to play a little pepper.

Cleveland Indians
80-82, second in the AL Central

Cleveland wasn't supposed to do much last year.  While the team had some interesting talent, they were still considered at least a couple of years from really contending for the divisional title.  Instead, the young Indians came out of the gate blazing hot and rode that wave to first place for most of the season before fading late and winding up 15 games behind Detroit.

The question then becomes, which is the team we'll see in 2012?  The hard-charging team that led the AL Central for a while or the fading team that's just not quite ready?

Thankfully, there are some great Cleveland bloggers that we can ask these sorts of questions.

Mike Brandyberry writes the wonderfully-named Did The Tribe Win Last Night, where you can find out, yes, if the Tribe won or lost.  You can also follow him on Twitter at didtribewin.

Nino Colla is the president of the BBA's Cleveland chapter and authors The Tribe Daily on a regular basis.  TheTribeDaily is also where you can find him on Twitter.

Keep reading to find out what Mike and Nino think of the 2012 Indians and all about that not-as-known-as-we-thought pitcher.
  Continue Reading

One Day Closer To Baseball Games

Posted on February 29, 2012 at 7:15 AM
Happy Leap Day to you all!  The calendar teases us by adding this one day before March, of all months.  Couldn't they add it to April or May when there's already baseball going on?  Instead, it taunts us.  "Oh, you'd like to see March because that means baseball?  Well....wait a bit longer!"

That, of course, doesn't mean that there's nothing coming out of camp, just that the news is starting to slow some.  Yadier Molina's contract still isn't finalized, but it's close enough that there's not much else to say there until it's done.  All the players are starting to get into a routine of morning practices, afternoon golf.  It's just a relaxed time in baseball.

There are a few feature stories, of course, and the most surprising one may be of Chris Carpenter in today's Post-Dispatch.  After all he's done in his career and how good he's been the last couple of years, you'd expect him to just keep doing what he's doing.  Instead, apparently he's been displeased with his mechanics since his surgery--in 2007--and is going to work on them in the spring.

Which gives you the standard two possibilities.  Either he's going to tinker with things and lose what makes him Chris Carpenter or he's going to tinker and become even better than we've seen.  Knowing Carp, I'd bet on the latter.  It would seem to be a good hedge against him getting older and losing his effectiveness as well.  He seemed happy with his results yesterday, so we'll see if he's able to unlearn what he has learned and put these new mechanics into practice this season.

There was talk earlier in the spring about Jake Westbrook and his significant weight loss.  It looks like it is starting to pay off.  If he is able to translate that change in his body into better performance on the mound, the rotation gets that much stronger.  A good Westbrook as your number five starter means, if Kyle Lohse can pitch like he did last year, every time out you'll feel like there's a strong chance to win.  Which is a good feeling if you are a Cardinals fan.

On the field, yesterday both Carp and Adam Wainwright threw live BP.  We got a rematch of '06 when Carlos Beltran stepped in against Waino (no reports on how he did) and Molina went yard against the recovering right-hander, on the only curveball Wainwright threw.  Lance Berkman tried to take out Carp with a shot up the middle.  BP means nothing, of course, but it's good to talk about it anyway.

David Freese has been working so hard at camp (partly because there's no obvious person behind him) that the club is starting to ease off.  Matt Carpenter got into those drills yesterday to give Freese a bit of a breather.  It's telling that the club doesn't necessarily consider him an injury risk anymore.  Of course, we'll have to wait and see if that holds up through the whole season.

On to today's Approval Ratings.  Actually, by coincidence Chris Carpenter is our player.  Carp's always been a guy that's done pretty well on this measurement, though not necessarily as high as you might expect.  How about this year?

Well, his low was 75 and he got about 6 100s, so his score wound up to be 90.1%, just into the upper tier.  That's an improvement over last year (86.9%) but off his high from 2010 (93.6%).

Our media member of the day is Jim Hayes.  I know that some people aren't fond of the Cat, but I've always found him fairly entertaining and I think he does a good job over at Fox Sports Midwest.  Hayes's low was 25 with a couple of perfect scores, which worked out to a 71.9% mark.  That's down about five points from last year, but as with all of these ratings, it's a fairly small sample size, made smaller when a number of people didn't register an opinion.

Our final rating for February is the new manager.  It was tough to give Mike Matheny a grade as he comes in as such an unknown, but I was hoping people would factor in what they knew about him as a person and as a player.  While a number of people didn't vote, as it were, a lot of respondents did.  Matheny got a couple of 100s and marked a low score of 50, making his average 81.1%.  That should give us a good baseline for whatever he gets next year.

We'll talk Cleveland Indians later today in Playing Pepper, so come back and check that out!

Playing Pepper 2012: Cincinnati Reds

Posted on February 28, 2012 at 2:30 PM
In 2009, I decided to get a feel for other teams around baseball by asking bloggers for those teams some questions about their squad.  Not only has this series been very popular, but it spawned the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  With camps opening up again and spring training getting into gear, it's time once again to play a little pepper.

Cincinnati Reds
79-83, third in the NL Central

Cincinnati hit a bit of a speed bump on their way to becoming the new power in the division.  After a surprising 2010 when they won the division, expectations were that they would contend yet again with their young talented core.

Instead, injuries and some inconsistent performances forced them into also-ran status much more quickly than they expected.  They spent much of the year not only following Milwaukee and St. Louis, but also the surprising Pirates.  They were able to overtake Pittsburgh, but still finished 16 games out.

However, Walt Jocketty did not rest and wait for his young core to coalesce, making some intriguing offseason moves to challenge the Brewers and the Cardinals for the 2012 title.  Thankfully, there's a whole slew of Reds bloggers ready to help us take a closer look at their team.

Shawn Weaver writes for Cincinnati Reds Blog and has been the BBA's Cincinnati Chapter President for quite a while now.  You'll find him on Twitter at coweaver.

Brian is the main writer at Reds Net Live and is also a BBA member.  His Twitter account is REDSNETLIVE.

Russell Wight can be found at Reds Country and on Twitter at russwight.  He's a BBA member like the rest of this group.

Then we have the men of Blog Red Machine.  Steve Engbloom is the senior editor over there, while Justin Suer and Matt Gahris, both staff writers, also chimed in on the questions.  You can find Steve usually on Twitter at blogredmachine.

After the jump, see what all these guys have to say about what could be one of the Cardinals' biggest hurdles to a divisional title.
  Continue Reading

Mo Money For Yadi Mo?

Posted on February 28, 2012 at 9:03 AM
After much of the fan base had started to write off the possibility that Yadier Molina was going to spend more than one more season wearing the birds on the bat, talks between him and the club have progressed so far as to be labeled "close to agreement" and "all but finalized".  While nothing counts until the names are on the paper, it sounds like Molina is going to be a pillar of the Cardinal teams going forward.

A very expensive pillar.

While Joe Strauss is talking about $60 million or more for likely five years, Ken Rosenthal is hearing that it's between $70-$75 million for the length of the deal.  When you break out the calculators, that's $14 or $15 million per year.  When Yadi said it was about the money, looks like he meant it!

If this is true--and, to be fair, we have no idea if Rosenthal's source is accurate--that would make Molina the second-highest paid player on the current roster, bumping aside Carlos Beltran and Kyle Lohse to trail only Matt Holliday.  That's heady stuff for a guy that, even up until last year, was considered a defense-first catcher.

This doesn't sound like the rational and analytical John Mozeliak that we've come to know.  The guy that did the analysis, figured the cost of Albert Pujols, then let him walk.  The guy that made a calculated move to ship out a talented and cheap player to buffer up the current squad.  This sounds like Mozeliak has found a local establishment and has been hanging out there after practices every day in Florida.  Whatever he's drinking, it's good stuff.

For a team that reportedly had to move Kyle McClellan and his $2.5 million to have a chance to sign Roy Oswalt, this seems a curious move.  Now, I'm guessing a five year deal means that it would replace Molina's current 2012 year that was worth $7 million and that it'll be a backloaded contract, meaning that they'd probably get Molina still at around the $7-8 million range but then, after some of the bigger contracts roll off, he's move up to more like $16-17 million by the end of it.  So perhaps there are ways to make the payroll portion of this work.

But should they?  One of the only ways that St. Louis can stay competitive, besides continuing to develop their farm system, is not making a mistake on large contracts.  They gave Holliday his big deal but early returns are showing he's earning it.  It's not a surprise, either, since power hitting outfielders are the ones that usually get this kind of cash.

A catcher, though?  At one time I believe I read that the Cardinals were doing some internal work on injuries, trying to analyze them and see who was susceptible, who was not.  If that's the case, I'm guessing there are reasons that they expect Molina won't wear down over the course of this deal and can be productive both offensively and defensively, but that seems like a large gamble to take.  What happens if Molina's legs are shot in 2015 and you've got to pay him $16 million or so for that season and the season beyond?  Seems like it has a strong possibility of putting the Cardinals in a payroll bind very quickly.

If the contract is actually closer to $10-12 million a year, that's still fairly pricey but a little more manageable.  There's definitely an argument for making sure Molina gets paid.  He's a homegrown guy, he may have a significant impact on the pitching staff, and he does have a fairly good bat for a catcher.  I'm not saying I wouldn't want Molina on the team--far from it.  I just think back to all the arguments people made about not giving Pujols a record-setting contract because it could easily cripple the franchise.  This one might be for millions less, but it still has that possibility.

A few other notes from around the camp.  Lohse will be starting the spring opener on Monday.  I don't think that has any import except they've worked the rotation forward to Opening Day and this is the way it needs to shake out to make sure Chris Carpenter can go that night in Miami.   

Allen Craig got to get on the field yesterday, but he's still extremely limited in what the club will let him do.  Opening Day really seems out of the question, but if he gets back on the field in April, that's a big step ahead of where I thought he'd be.  I wasn't thinking he'd be back until mid-May, so getting back a month before that can only help the team.

Marc Rzepczynski is coming into this season with a lot of confidence.  Then again, getting key outs in the World Series will do that to a person.  How Mike Matheny uses Scrabble may be one of the most interesting things to watch in the first few weeks.  Tony La Russa would have likely used him as a LOOGY (at least until he trusted J.C. Romero) but I've got a feeling Matheny is going to let Rzepczynski see a number of right-handed batters as well.  Don't figure we'll know a lot from the spring training usage, but should have a pretty good feel by May.

I meant to talk about this yesterday, but time got away from me.  I don't expect to focus much time on the Cardinals that are no longer here, unless they say or do something that relates to their time wearing the red.  That was the case with Colby Rasmus late last week, who really tore into his time in St. Louis.

Now, I'm not going to argue that perhaps Tony La Russa should have managed him better.  That seems to be the common idea around the internet and there is a lot to that.  TLR's one-size-fits-all type of managing, where he tried to motivate players with "tough love," as it were, probably doesn't work for everyone.  Even without La Russa in the clubhouse this year, odds are Rasmus just wouldn't have reached whatever potential he might have here.

That said, let's not put all the blame on TLR.  Some of Rasmus's quotes seem to show a lack of awareness of what was going on in St. Louis.

First off, to say "the fans were upset with me" is possibly true, but it is misleading.  Were people disappointed that he was hitting .246/.332/.420 at the time of the trade?  Surely.  They knew he could do more than that and had seen him do more than that in the past.  But look at the reaction to the trade from fans on the internet.  At the time, it was probably at least 70-30 against the deal because the fans didn't want to give up a talent like Rasmus.  I'm guilty of it as well and I'm glad the deal brought a World Series to St. Louis, because otherwise the feellings toward Mozeliak right now might be a little different.

Secondly, ripping the St. Louis media as tough might be the first time anyone's ever done that.  We've got great media people in St. Louis.  Derrick Goold, Bernie Miklasz, Matthew Leach was here then, all of those guys are quality reporters.  This isn't New York or Boston or Philadelphia, where some papers seem to take an inordinate joy in tearing players down or berating them or exploiting whatever weakness they have.  If he thought St. Louis media was tough, how in the world did he even survive road trips to New York?

His "young little puppy" remarks also could come across (depending on the perspective you bring to the discussion) as clueless as well.  Rasmus's contention is that he had too many people telling him what to do and how to do it.  The flip side of that could be that getting advice from players and coaches is kinda part of the gig.  It depends on how it was given, of course.  Rasmus may have thought he was being browbeaten while other players were just trying to get him to unlock his talents.

Finally, I took a bit of offense to the question about him getting a ring.  "I'll believe it when I see it."  The organization has said you are getting a ring, Colby.  You even admit that in the preceding sentence.  If you are trying to imply that this organization is classless enough not to give you a ring when 1) you earned it (at least by manner of being on the squad last year) and 2) they have already confirmed it, that's pretty weak.  What you do with the ring is your own business (wouldn't be surprised to see that on the market at some time or another) but you'll have one.

I forgot to start this yesterday, but it's time to being revealing how Cardinal Nation feels about the players, the media, and other assorted people related to the Redbirds.  We'll do one in each category a day and hopefully mix in some thoughts left on the form earlier in the month.

Today's player is Lance Berkman.  This is the first time Berkman's been on the form, as there wasn't really any point in asking about him before he'd played a game in Cardinal red.  So, would the #LBFanClub come out in force?

For a guy that was Comeback Player of the Year, has a remarkably personable public persona and kept the Cardinals from elimination in Game 6, I kinda thought the results would be higher.  Still, an 88.6% mark isn't anything to sneeze at.  One commentor stated that "Lance deserves every mark of positive kudos" and another said, simply, "Puma can flat out rake."  Berkman notched five 100s and his low was a solitary 50 (about 20 points lower than his next-lowest).

On the media side, we look at our friend Derrick Goold from the Post-Dispatch.  Derrick brought home a 87.8% mark last year and is generally well-regarded, which is why I was surprised when this year's had dipped to 82.8%.  There was even one ranking of 0, which really surprised me. I'm not sure if they were registering no opinion or if Mr. Goold had really twerked them off somehow, but I had to count it.  Derrick did garner two perfect scores, however.

Finally, in the assorted category, we look at club owner Bill DeWitt.  DeWitt's numbers have bounced around from a high of 83 before the '10 season to a low of 71 before last season.  How would the numbers look this year?  Would people blame him for a certain icon walking or applaud him for holding a stern line?  Would he get credit for bringing in a top bat off the free agent market?

Well, while he doesn't hit his past highs, Mr. DeWitt does move up to 79.8% this year, a large jump from his last mark.  One person commented that DeWitt and Mozeliak are "keeping a viable team, despite the economy and personnel challenges" and another says they are "making some great moves."  DeWitt received two 100s and one 30 for his low mark.

Tomorrow we'll do another set of three and see how they turn out!

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Keeping You Informed: Play Ball! The St. Louis Cardinals

Posted on February 27, 2012 at 3:57 PM
I mentioned in a post earlier in the month that the Cardinals were putting some of their Hall of Fame exhibits on the road, and the first stop was the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock.  As it happens, LR is just an hour's drive from here, so I'm hoping to go in a couple of weekends to check out the memorabilia and the displays.  Should be an incredible thing!  Looks like the opening will be very special as well.....


William J. Clinton Presidential Center's Newest Exhibit, "Play Ball! The St. Louis Cardinals," Opens Saturday, March 3 
Special Grand Opening Reception to Feature Hall of Famer Lou Brock 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Feb. 27, 2012) -- The William J. Clinton Presidential Center opens its newest temporary exhibit, "Play Ball! The St. Louis Cardinals," a celebration of America's pastime, on Saturday, March 3, 2012. This one-of-a-kind exhibit will include decades of memorabilia from one of the country's most beloved sports franchises, the St. Louis Cardinals. Featuring more than 100 historic artifacts about the Cardinals, the exhibit will also include the actual World Series trophies from 2006 and 2011, World Series rings, and Stan Musials' newly-conserved uniform. 

On Friday, March 2, the Clinton Center welcomes Major League Baseball Hall of Famer, Cardinals legend, and Arkansas native Lou Brock as the exhibit grand opening featured speaker. 

"I'm proud to welcome my friend Lou Brock back to Arkansas, and I'm honored that he is opening the latest exhibit at the Clinton Presidential Center," said President Bill Clinton. "His accomplishments on the field are both historic and legendary and are surpassed only by his ongoing efforts as one of baseball's greatest ambassadors." 

Lou Brock is the National League's all-time leader with 938 stolen bases, including a National League record 118 thefts in 1974. In 1978, the National League announced that its annual stolen base leader would receive the Lou Brock Award, making Brock the first active player to have an award named after him. He established an MLB record with 12 seasons of 50 or more steals, led the league in steals eight times and was the first player to steal at least 50 bases and hit 20 homers in a season. His 3,023 career hits rank 23rd on the all-time list. Lou also holds the World Series highest batting average record at .391 in 21 or more World Series games, and is currently a spring training instructor for the 2012 Cardinals. He batted .375 in six All-Star Games, and he batted more than .300 seven times throughout his career. Brock's Major League Baseball career spanned nearly 20 years, the first three years with the Chicago Cubs and the last 17 years with the St. Louis Cardinals. 

"We are honored to be part of this wonderful exhibit that celebrates both the storied history of the Cardinals and our great American pastime," said William DeWitt III, President of the Cardinals. "Arkansas has always been an important part of Cardinals Nation, so this is nice opportunity to give back to a community that has given us so much." 

"Play Ball" features items on loan from the St. Louis Hall of Fame Museum and runs through September 16, 2012. 

"On the heels of a World Series victory, 'Play Ball' is a great opportunity to celebrate past victories as well as look forward to the future," said Stephanie S. Streett, executive director of the William J. Clinton Foundation. "Each year, we strive to bring a blockbuster exhibit to the Center that will appeal to everyone in the family. Baseball has that universal appeal, and we are thrilled to bring both the exhibit and all its exciting programming to our visitors." 

The grand opening program and reception are FREE; however, reservations are required. RSVP to 501- 748-0425 or by emailing operationslr@clintonfoundation.org. 

About the William J. Clinton Presidential Center 

The William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park, located on the banks of the Arkansas River in Little Rock, Arkansas, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world to its grounds each year. Opened in 2004, the Center is home to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and the Little Rock offices of the Clinton Foundation. For more information, visit www.clintonpresidentialcenter.org 

About the Clinton Foundation 

Building on a lifetime of public service, President Bill Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation with the mission to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote healthier childhoods, and protect the environment by fostering partnerships among governments, businesses, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and private citizens to turn good intentions into measurable results. Since 2001, President Clinton's vision and leadership have resulted in more than 4 million people benefiting from lifesaving HIV/AIDS treatment; more than 14,000 U.S. schools building healthier learning environments; more than 26,000 micro-entrepreneurs, small business owners, and smallholder farmers improving their livelihoods and communities; and more than 2 million tons of greenhouse gases cut or abated in some of the world's largest cities. And President Clinton has redefined the way we think about giving and philanthropy through his Clinton Global Initiative, whose members have made more than 2,100 commitments that are improving the lives of nearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. 

The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum 

The Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum (www.cardinals.com/museum) collection is the largest team-held collection in Major League Baseball and is second only to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in terms of size with over 16,000 memorabilia items and over 80,000 archival photographs. 

The St. Louis Cardinals 

The St. Louis Cardinals (www.cardinals.com) are one of the most storied franchises in all of baseball. Since they joined the National League in 1892, the Cardinals have won over 9,300 games, 11 World Series Championships and 18 N.L. Pennants, 3 N.L. Eastern Division Titles and 8 N.L. Central Division Titles. Over 40 former Cardinals players and managers are enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Playing Pepper 2012: Chicago White Sox

Posted on February 27, 2012 at 11:30 AM
In 2009, I decided to get a feel for other teams around baseball by asking bloggers for those teams some questions about their squad.  Not only has this series been very popular, but it spawned the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  With camps opening up again and spring training getting into gear, it's time once again to play a little pepper.

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

For the last few years, it's always been a lot of fun on the south side of Chicago.  Not necessarily from the team on the field, but the odd couple pairing of Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen has made for some great headlines and, a few years back, a World Series title.

However, antics tend to get old when winning doesn't accompany them, so now Guillen is plying his trade down in Miami while the Sox try to contend in a improving AL Central while rookie manager Robin Ventura takes over the reins.  The novelty of a former White Sox legend replacing another long-time Sox player in the dugout is an interesting one, especially since Ventura (like Cardinal manager Mike Matheny) has never managed a game.

To get the low down on the Pale Hose, I again tapped the Aerys network and came up with Cheryl from South Side Hit Girl.  Not only can you read about the White Sox on her blog, but you can get the latest reactions from following her Twitter feed, cherann23.

After the jump, we'll talk about this offseason and whether a certain DH type has a chance to rebound from a terrible season.
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Keeping You Informed: Cardinal Single Game Tickets

Posted on February 27, 2012 at 11:02 AM
As time continues to draw closer and closer to the baseball season, odds are you are going to want to get out to the ballpark.  However, maybe you can't swing a full season ticket pack or maybe you are not a St. Louis area resident and can only make it to a couple of games.  Well, it's time for you to look into getting those tickets!


2012 SINGLE-GAME TICKETS GO ON SALE THIS WEEK 
Prices for 30% of games start at just $5 

ST. LOUIS, February 27, 2012 - The Cardinals announced today that individual tickets for the 2012 season will go on sale this Friday, March 2nd beginning at 10:00 A.M. Fans who wish to purchase tickets to three (3) or more games can take part in a special online-only "multi-game" on-sale beginning Wednesday, February 29th at 12-Noon. 

While ticket demand is expected to be high coming off the team's 11th World Championship, the Cardinals' approach to tickets is to continue to offer great values to fans in 2012. Throughout the season, the team will continue to offer "Dynamic Deals of the Week" highlighting outstanding ticket savings for fans, as well as a host of other fan-friendly values (www.cardinals.com/fanvalues ). 

"Our successful move to the new ticket system last season enabled us much more flexibility to provide better deals on a daily basis for our value-oriented fans," said Bill DeWitt III, President of the Cardinals. 

The Cardinals dynamic pricing system allows the team to more accurately price tickets for individual games to provide fans more pricing options. Over 80% of last year's games featured tickets priced lower than in 2010, with two-thirds of the games having tickets available for $10 or less. 

The multi-game presale and Friday on-sale are both available online at cardinals.com. In addition, tickets will be available for Friday's on-sale via phone at 314-345-9000 or in person at all Cardinals Clubhouse Stores and at the Busch Stadium Ticket Windows. 

Fan-Friendly Values 2012 

Dynamic Pricing: Ticket prices fluctuate based on market value, meaning many games feature tickets as low as $5. Great Promotional Giveaways: Premium items such as a Replica World Series Trophy, David Freese Bobblehead and Replica World Series Ring highlight a season of over 30 stadium giveaways and special promotions. 

Hunter Family Sundays: On most Sundays, fans who purchase RF/LF Pavilion and RF Terrace tickets will receive a free Hunter hot dog and Coca-Cola. North Star Ice Cream Sundays: Two hours prior to each Sunday game, enjoy games, prizes and FREE frozen treats in the Ford Plaza. Six Flags Double Play Combo: Get a Cardinals game ticket and a Six Flags ticket for only $55. AAA Member Discounts: AAA members receive a $10 discount off select Monday-Thursday home game tickets. 

Fill Up at Phillips 66: Fill up with 10 gallons or more at a participating Phillips 66 to receive a special discount ticket offer for 2012 games. KMOX 1120 First Pitch Tickets: At 9:00 a.m. on the day of each home game, fans may purchase a voucher good for two tickets for just $5.60 per ticket. Fans redeem their vouchers for actual tickets 15 minutes prior to game time. Tickets may be anywhere in the Stadium from Infield Field Box to Standing Room Only.

Outside Food & Drinks at All Games: Fans may bring their own food and drinks into Busch Stadium for all 81 home games (some size and content restrictions apply). 

Promo Packs: Two different 5-game ticket packs, which feature discounted tickets to 2012's best promotional giveaway games. 

Group Value Nights: select games throughout the season where groups of 25 or more receive 50% off regular ticket prices. 

Cards Cash: Stored money built into the barcode of your ticket, good for use at any Busch Stadium concession stand, kiosk or Team Store. Fans can add $12 Cards Cash to a ticket for just $10. 

For more details, visit www.cardinals.com/fanvalues

One More Week

Posted on February 27, 2012 at 7:00 AM
This is the final week without baseball games until late October.  The season is really upon us, assuming we can wait out another seven days before some actual contests!  Until we start seeing some results and have a better idea how to judge things, we are left with the profiles and other stories being brought to us by the talented cadre of writers covering the squad in Jupiter.  

For one, the fact that Tyler Greene is the preferred candidate at second base.  I don't know that this is news, per se, as it's been pretty much accepted after some comments made by John Mozeliak in the offseason.  However, it is interesting to see that so publicly proclaimed, something that I don't think would have been done under the former managerial administration.  Tony La Russa was big in using competition as a driving force for players to be getting better.  He didn't want to see anyone resting on their laurels, as indicated by the fact that he never named Jason Motte the starter.

Mike Matheny is going a different route and time will tell if it's as productive as TLR's.  I think in this case, having Greene fairly relaxed and less stressed out about winning and keeping playing time will only help him.  It's also probably good for Greene to go into camp completely focused on second base instead of having to think about shortstop or the outfield.  That singular focus should be beneficial as Greene tries to parlay his talent into results at the big league level.

Which, like Bill and I talked about on last night's Gateway To Baseball Heaven, really makes Skip Schumaker an expensive luxury item.  He's not going to get much time at second, as you'd think Daniel Descalso is above him on the depth chart there.  He's not going to get a lot of time out in the outfield with the three main starters and then Allen Craig coming back sometime soon (more on that shortly).  Where, exactly, is Schumaker going to play?  He could be a pretty tolerable bat off the bench when all you need is a single, but is that worth a two-year, $3 million deal?  I can understand rewarding him for his organizational loyalty, but that seemed a year too much even when it was done and it looks like even more so now that he's a man without a position.

Speaking of Craig, he got onto the field for some workouts for the first time since his offseason knee surgery.  Mozeliak and Matheny both are planning for Craig not to be ready on Opening Day, but it sounds like that is at least in the realm of possibility.  Originally, it seemed like Craig might be out until May or later, but now it's possible he'll just miss a week or two, which means the new manager gets to start juggling four quality outfielders and a solid first baseman a little sooner than expected.  How Matheny uses these guys and how often we see Craig on the field, especially getting into June and farther on, is one of those threads that we'll be keeping an eye on as the season progresses.

Lots of other roster possibilities listed in that article as well.  The suggestion is that with Greene at second, Alex Cora could make the squad to back up Rafael Furcal.  While I guess that's possible, seems to be that Descalso played there well enough last year to handle short-term duties and you don't want Cora out there for anything but short-term duties.  We'll have to wait and see, but I would think it would take a very strong spring for Cora to make this club.

Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright will both throw live batting practice tomorrow, marking Carpenter's first time against hitters this spring.  This is part of the scheduling that will keep Carpenter off the mound a little bit this spring, helping him rest up (as it were) from a big workload last year.  There are only so many bullets in the tank and he used a lot of them in October, so it doesn't hurt to have him miss a start in spring training.

Wainwright is ahead of schedule, partly because he got to work earlier this offseason than normal due to the injury.  Wainwright sounds like he's feeling 100% and it's going to be difficult for the organization to throttle him, I think, unless he starts feeling some soreness or discomfort.  If he's feeling like the 2009-2010 Wainwright, he's going to want to take the ball every time and go 7-8 innings.  If he's not showing any ill effects, I'm not sure the club shouldn't let him.  I'm not saying let him have 130 pitch outings, but I think you can start treating him less like he's coming off of injury and more like he's the staff ace.

Of course, even though Wainwright is doing well, nobody is surprised at all that Carpenter will be the likely Opening Day starter.  The opening start is as much about an honor as it is about who the best pitcher is, and there's no doubt Carp earned that honor with his postseason heroics (as well as his total work last year, of course).  Carpenter better enjoy it, though, because it might be the last one he has now that Wainwright is healthy.  Looking at the schedule, assuming it's not juggled because of off days and assuming Carp-Waino go one-two, that leaves Jaime Garcia for the home opener against the Cubs.

Jordan Swagerty still has some elbow soreness.  I don't know about you, but anytime you start hearing elbow problems in conjunction with a prospect, it gets me nervous.  It's nice to know an MRI didn't show any problems, but it's still not a great thing to hear.  Hopefully the inflammation will lessen soon and Swagerty can get back to the mound.

Probably the most exciting news for the fan base isn't coming from between the white lines but from the people standing outside of them.  This year's class of instructors has had a hometown flavor as a lot of former Cardinals are flocking to Jupiter.

Of course, the biggest one of them all is the Gold Glover himself, Ozzie Smith.  Ozzie's feud with Tony La Russa was legendary (and, to be honest, something that didn't cover my childhood hero with much glory) so it's not surprising that as soon as TLR skips town, Ozzie's back in uniform.  No matter what the situation, it's a lot of fun to see Ozzie back in the red and I know the players are going to enjoy having him being an instructor as well.  Between Ozzie, Willie McGee, and the expected visit by Whitey Herzog, it's almost like a 1980s flashback.  No wonder Matheny is planning on running more!  (Being that TLR is supposed to visit camp as well, I'd guess that Ozzie will either be gone by then or take a couple of days off while TLR is in town.  It's a sad situation, but not one that looks to improve.)

Last spring, we were all abuzz with Matt Carpenter and pushing for him to make the major league roster.  This spring will likely be different after Carpenter got just a cup of coffee at the bigs and there's that other guy playing third base that had a passable October.  Still, Carpenter is coming to camp to show off his new-found versatility in hopes of winning a bench slot. Something to watch this spring is how he's able to play at these new positions.  If he can be a solid utility knife type of player, it could be good enough for him to win a seat on the bench in the bigs.  All the positions he plays are full, but having someone that you can swap in during games can be a very nice option to have for the new manager.

We've seen talk about Mitchell Boggs this spring adding his changeup, but it's interesting to note that he and Derek Lilliquist are doing some tinkering with his slider as well.  Boggs would seem to have some motivation going into camp, as someone with options is likely going to start the year in Memphis, a qualification that he possesses.  To start the year in St. Louis, he's going to need to have a good spring.  I don't think it has to be great or dominating, but he can't afford too many hiccups if Eduardo Sanchez and Lance Lynn are rolling along.

Playing Pepper is back for Week 2 today as we focus on the Chicago White Sox.  Come back and check it out!

Playing Pepper 2012: Chicago Cubs

Posted on February 24, 2012 at 11:30 AM
In 2009, I decided to get a feel for other teams around baseball by asking bloggers for those teams some questions about their squad.  Not only has this series been very popular, but it spawned the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  With camps opening up again and spring training getting into gear, it's time once again to play a little pepper.

Chicago Cubs
71-91, fifth in the NL Central

Ah, the Cubs.  We all know the jokes.  Completely Useless By September. "What did Jesus say to the Cubs?  Don't do anything until I get back."  As Cardinal fans, we've reveled in them and the fact that the postseason hasn't been kind to those from the north side of Chicago recently.  (And by recently, we pretty much encompass the last century.)

Times may be a-changin' where the ivy grows, however.  Theo Epstein is now in charge and if there's a man that's proven he can break a curse, it's him.  While he has still plenty of work to do, there's a little spirit of optimism among Cub fans and maybe, for once, it's justified.

There are not too many Cub bloggers that would venture into enemy territory like this site, but I was able to find a couple in Brian Corbin and Rob Harris, who are both members of the BBA.  Brian writes the aptly-titled Bullpen Brian and can be found on Twitter, also at bullpenbrian.  Rob's work can be found at Blue Batting Helmet and also has a Twitter account, rlincolnharris.

Keep reading to see what they think about their catcher and their closer!
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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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