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The State of the Cardinals - No Worries, Mates

Posted on June 13, 2011 at 10:31 PM
For the first time in quite a while, the St. Louis Cardinals are not in first place in the National League Central. Uh oh. Everyone brought a pail? No, folks. You don't have to start bailing water yet. The Milwaukee Brewers are red hot. The Reds and Pirates are hanging in there. It's a long, long season and there is plenty of time. Yes, it's possible for the Brewers to keep playing this way all season, but the odds are against it. The Cardinals do have some problems, injuries being one of them. But they aren't broken.

In fact, the Cardinals have several things going for them. First, they have Tony LaRussa. Love him or hate him, his record speaks for itself. Second, they have a solid offense, especially once Matt Holliday returns (which is any day now). Put Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and Colby Rasmus against just about every other middle of the order in the National League and you've got something there. Yadier Molina is hitting. We'll get to the rest of the line up in a minute. Lastly, they have plenty of pitching to stay in the race.

What? You are worried about the pitching? You still think the sky is falling? Nah. Some adjustments need to be made. But again, we'll get to them in a minute. For now, let's defer speaking of Chris Carpenter. Kyle Lohse has been very good. Sure, you have to hold your breath at times when he's on the mound, the same as Jake Westbrook. But Lohse is keeping the ball inside the park and keeping free passes to a minimum. That's golden in this writer's book. You have to think about Jake Westbrook as a fifth starter. If your fifth starter can win half his games, that's good. Westbrook gives you that. It may not look pretty. But as a fifth starter, he's a darn sight better than Zach Duke or Doug Davis or a lot of the other options around the league.

Jaime Garcia is a legitimate ace. Yes, he'll have a bad game or two. But for the most part, he's your stopper. And most of the time, he's doing just that. Kyle McClellan was exceeding most people's expectations and his numbers look a whole lot like what Adam Wainwright would be doing if he wasn't rehabbing his surgically repaired elbow. But now McClellan has a strained hip flexor (whatever that is). This is actually a good thing. What!? It is. You had to watch his innings anyway because you can't have a guy who was a reliever pitching 220 innings. You simply can't do that. This gives the Cardinals a built-n chance to rest the guy for a bit.

McClellan threw a bullpen session and is eligible to come off the disabled list on Thursday. This writer would hold him out another week or two. Lance Lynn did a fine job and despite a 5.23 ERA, his numbers were actually better than that. A little luck here and there and his run total would look a lot better. His strikeout to walk ratio was just fine. He only gave up the one homer. Give him two more starts and give McClellan a break. Get McClellan good and healthy and he can knock out the rest of the year. 

Okay, we need to discuss Chris Carpenter. He's 1-6. Chris Carpenter one and six. Seems strange doesn't it? Would you believe the old Fan if he were to claim Carpenter's results as a fluke? The only statistic that looks out of place are his hits allowed and his home run to fly ball ratio. Everything else is the same as always. Let that last line sink in. The home run percentage is 1.0 per nine innings. That's pretty much out of character for Carpenter. But it isn't terrible and can be easily remedied. But what about all those hits? It's about defense.

This old Fan is completely convinced that other than a few homers, the only difference between Chris Carpenter this year and any other year is the defense behind him. Need proof? Okay. Just look at his BABIP. The last two years, Carpenter's BABIP, or batting average on balls in play, has been in the .284/.285 range. This year, it's sitting at .332. The difference is subtle on ground balls (his bread and butter). Last year, his BABIP on ground balls was .223. This year, it's .235. That doesn't seem like much, but it is a difference. Add to that fact is that the line drives hit off of him are also finding more holes. Last year, his BABIP on line drives was .670. This year, it's .746. As wonderful as Lance Berkman's season is going, he simply isn't going to get to some of those gap shots like other outfielders will.

So what should the Cardinals do when Carpenter starts? Put your best fielders on the field. Give Berkman a day off or put him at first and Pujols at third. When Nick Punto comes off the disabled list (which is soon it seems), put him at short on games Carpenter starts and avoid putting Schumaker at second. Give the team every chance to field the ball and Carpenter will give you what he's always given you. Plus, Carpenter, despite his record, has been very good so far in June.

The infield has been a bit of a mess, hasn't it? This writer said it before the year started and will state it again: Signing Ryan Theriot to play short was a bad idea. The guy has been fine (for him) on offense. But his defense is not good. He has little range, little arm and few instincts. Baseball-reference.com gives him a WAR this season of 0.1. He does a little better with Fangraphs, which gives him a WAR of 0.5. This writer doesn't really have a problem with Theriot as your second baseman. But not at short. Never at short.

The problem for the Cardinals is that their minor league system doesn't have anyone ready to play short. Pete Kozma is the regular at Triple A and he lacks range too and Theriot is a better hitter. Taking a quick peak at the Double A level is pointless because the Cardinals would never go that deep in a pennant race. A trade seems the only solution. Tyler Greene isn't the answer, that's for sure.

David Freese breaking his hand was unfortunate for the Cardinals. He's a good third baseman and can hit when healthy. But that's always been the problem. Until (and if) he gets back, a platoon of Allen Craig and Daniel Descalso works just fine.

It's sort of ironic that in the beginning of the year, the bullpen was atrocious and the Cardinals (despite five blown saves) managed to obtain first place. Now that the bullpen has come together, the team has fallen out of first. But the good news is that the Cardinals have figured out the bullpen. Fernando Salas is among the league leaders in WAR for relief pitchers. He has three wins (against no losses) and eleven saves and a sparkling 1.82 ERA. Establishing Salas as the closer set up the rest of the bullpen. Eduardo Sanchez and Jason Motte have been terrific. Mitchell Boggs has come on strong and has very good peripherals. Brian Tallot (when he is used properly and isn't giving up homers), can get lefties out. That's a good core for your bullpen. No worries there. Seriously.

In conclusion, yes, it was a bad series in Milwaukee. Pujols got quiet again after it seemed he got hot again. But Holliday is on his way back, Lance Berkman has been an on base machine. Colby Rasmus has learned the strike zone and this team will score runs. The rotation is pretty solid and the bullpen is exceptional now. Figure out the infield and there is no reason this team can't roll along and compete well with the Brewers and anyone else in their division. Put those pails away, folks. There's only a little standing water in the good ship, Cardinals.

William J. Tasker writes every day as the Flagrant Fan over at his site. A generalist, he's not a Cardinal fan but has fallen in love with the team's fans and writers. That growing respect for the Cardinal Nation lead to this guest post for this site's featured writer, who is on vacation.
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While the Cat is away...

Posted on July 30, 2010 at 1:07 AM
As you ran down your bookmarks this morning and clicked on C70 At The Bat, I'm sure you had no idea what you were about to find.

Hello, my name is Bill Ivie and I am the Executive Editor of i70baseball.com, a Baseball Digest affiliate site dedicated to all things Cardinals and Royals related.  I also work for BaseballDigest.com and can be found regularly on Blog Talk Radio hosting the United Cardinal Blogger Radio Hour as well as my own I-70 Baseball Radio.

Wait...where you going?  I promise, you are in the right place.  Don't leave just yet.

Now that introductions are over, let me explain.

Daniel, your normally gracious host, has gone on vacation.  In an effort to ensure that his fans, both of you, would not be bored this week without him, he left the keys in the care of some faithful friends and bloggers that promised to provide some crap for you to read great content that will keep you from missing Daniel too awful much.

It is more than a pleasure for most of us to help out Daniel and we can only hope that you are pleased with what we bring. 

What should we talk about this morning, you ask?  Well...

I Can't Even Feel Frustrated Anymore

This team is not serious, are they?  I sit down every day and read about how the team under performs, fails to deliver, and how everyone seems completely surprised by this.  I do not think you can be surprised by this anymore.  The only surprise I get everyday is when I get up in the morning and do not see a headline that begins with "Cardinals Trade For" in the Post Dispatch.

Seriously, people, this is no longer a surprise.  This team is struggling offensively and has all season long.  Do we need pitching help to get to October?  Yes.  Suppan and Hawksworth are not going to cut it.  But the bigger need here is to produce runs. 

It is a simple rule in sports.  To win, you must score more than the other guy.  To outscore your opponent you must first score.  The 2010 roster of guys wearing the Birds on the Bat have been shut out 10 times this season as of today.  That equals the total for 2009.  They were shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since the first half of this decade.  I would love to see a rotation for the next few years that consisted of Carpenter, Wainwright and Oswalt, but it does not fix the obvious problem.  This team needs help producing runs.

More than that, this team needs a shake-up.  The trade deadline is just under two days at this point.  If this team is to produce the World Series that we were all crowing about at the beginning of the year, changes need to be made.  I think most players, within reason, should be available.  Can we grab a known commodity for Colby Rasmus?  Then do it.  Does Skip Schumaker have a future on another club that can bring us a solid run producer?  The deal should be done.  Can we get a solid return for the rights to golden child Shelby Miller?  Then ship him away.  I would much rather be writing a column three years from now about how we traded the great Shelby Miller for a trophy in 2010 then finish this season writing about how we let the 11th Championship in team history get away because we would not part with a player that has yet to prove himself.

Tune in for the rest of the week as we hijack this site and bring you some commentary from different voices.  Do everyone that writes a favor and visit the site that they come from.  I promise, before Daniel returns (and kills all of us), you will find a few new additions to your daily bookmarks because of it.  I will see you again on Thursday.

Have a great weekend and, as always, thanks for reading.

Cardinals Struggle In Big Apple

Posted on June 23, 2009 at 8:03 AM
Well, the offense seemed to make it to New York, at least in some fashion. On a good night, especially against a banged up Mets team, four runs would have been enough.  However, more and more frequently, that's not enough with Todd Wellemeyer on the hill.

While the Post-Dispatch story indicates that Wellemeyer may not be long for the rotation, Matthew Leach twitters that Dave Duncan says no changes are imminent, mainly because they don't feel like there are a whole lot of other options.  Wellemeyer's numbers are really getting ugly to look at, as his good starts have been much more rare this season and overwhelmed by his mediocre to bad ones.

He's been bad at home, bad away.  Bad in the day, bad at night.  And for all the talk that he was having trouble in the early going overthrowing his fastball, right now his BAA for his first 15 pitches is now the lowest BAA against him at .278.  Every other breakdown, people are hitting .300 or more off of him.

He can occasionally tantalize (two runs in 5.1 against Detroit, six shutout innings against Kansas City) but it's just becoming too rare to count on.  With an offense that appears to be coming out of the doldrums, he may get some more wins, but the odds of him regaining the confidence of Cardinal Nation is pretty slim.

While Wellemeyer has to bear the brunt of the blame for last night's loss, the offense isn't completely without fault.  Four runs is much better than Cardinal fans were used to earlier in the month, of course, and they seemed poised to get back into it after Ryan Ludwick's home run cut the lead to one.  However, again a pitcher with terrible numbers, a pitcher the Cardinals on paper should have dominated, held the offense basically in check.  It would be an interesting project to see what St. Louis has done against pitchers that had an ERA over 5 when they faced the Redbirds.  I would suspect it wouldn't be all that great.

In other news, Khalil Greene has expressed his appreciation to his teammates for their support during his mental crisis.  Greene, who got another hit last night and is hitting .500 since he returned, credits the organization for trust and positive reinforcement, something that he doesn't feel like he got in San Diego.  Hopefully this will result in a strong second half for Greene.

Joel Pineiro goes for the Cardinals tonight vs. Livan Hernandez.  Pineiro is probably glad that Carlos Beltran is on the disabled list, but still will have to deal with David Wright. Hernandez has done fairly well against St. Louis, though Albert Pujols does have three home runs off of him.  (By the way, you know how old Hernandez is?  He's 206.)  The Cardinals beat up on Hernandez to the tune of seven earned in 4.1 back in April, so they'll be looking for a repeat performance tonight.

Remember that at 10:30 Central time, Mike from Stan Musial's Stance will be interviewing 1982 World Series closer Bruce Sutter.  If you can't listen live, you'll be able to listen at Blog Talk Radio, any UCB member site that has a player (such as this one) or download it off iTunes.

Many of you know that this blog gets syndicated in numerous places around the internet.  I wanted to point out that now Seamheads has picked up this blog to supplement their content.  I would think it's possible that there will be an occasional original article from me over there, though nothing is in the works.  Also, the blog roll has been updated with some new sites, so be sure to check that out as well!

A Disappointing Day in Cardinal Nation

Posted on March 7, 2009 at 9:26 AM
For a Friday, things sure didn't lend to a happy weekend yesterday.

First, let's take a look at the game against the Mets.  There was some great news, admittedly, in that Chris Carpenter worked two more scoreless innings and reported no trouble again afterwards.  Sounds like his command was a little off, but that's not terribly surprising.

There comes a point when this has to stop being news, don't you think?  Maybe it's after the season starts.  Maybe, for you, it's becoming easier to treat Carp as part of the upcoming rotation with fewer question marks.  I know seeing outings like this really make me feel good about the '09 season.

Continuing in the pitching vein, Mitchell Boggs made his first appearance of the spring, also with two scoreless innings.  I know that the organization is big on Boggs, but I've never quite seen it myself.  Still, I wouldn't be surprised if he could be a servicable fifth starter on the team and should provide valuable pitching insurance at Memphis.

Also on the positive side was a life from Colby Rasmus.  2 for 2, two walks and a stolen base makes for a very good day for the prospect.  It appears that Tony LaRussa has had a talk with the youngster and went out of his way to praise his part in the Dominican win.  Hopefully that has had the effect of calming Rasmus down and keeping him from pressing.

If Rasmus has a strong finish to spring training, he'll go north with the team, I'm fairly sure.  If he scuffles, though, the team won't hesitate too much to send him to Memphis, not when keeping him there a few weeks and give them another year with Colby under their control.  Personally, I'd like to see him riding in the convertibles on Opening Day.

All of those positives and still the Cardinals lost the game to a Mets squad decimated (or, as Matthew Leach Twittered, deci-Met-ed.  Punny guy, that one.) by World Baseball Classic participants.  This is the team the Cards hung 15 on earlier in the week, but yesterday could only manage 4.

Kyle McClellan was charged with three runs, though I believe Ian Ostlund allowed some inherited runners to score.  Ostlund continues to dig holes for himself.  He was in trouble even before the Dennys Reyes signing, but now, he'll be lucky to get assigned to the minors instead of outright released.

Trever Miller faltered for the first time this spring, allowing the winning run to score.  Not that there's any cause for concern there--those days happen and Miller's spring has been fairly solid so far.  He knows he has a job April 6, at any rate.

The rest of the bad news yesterday came over at Future Redbirds, where Erik announced he was hanging 'em up.  While there's still some possibility that someone will step in and run the site, there's a much bigger chance that Future Redbirds is shutting down for good.

This is a big blow to Cardinal Nation as a whole.  Most anyone who knows anything about the Cardinal farm system learned it from reading FR.  The daily updates, progress reports, and discussion about the farmhands has made for a more intelligent and informed fan base and, if it is to close, will be sorely missed.

I wish Erik the best as he steps back to be with family, especially with his future redbird and the next one just months away.  He will be sorely missed.

While it may not be easy being green, today it's not too bad to be Greene.  First, our current shortstop Khalil gets the feature over at the Post-Dispatch.  After first repeating the spring training mantra--it's early--so far Greene has looked pretty comfortable in Cardinal red.  We knew he could play defense, but if Hal McRae has gotten his swing fixed and he's able to get back to those 20 HR days, he could make the offense that much more potent.

Think about the lineup for a second in the most positive light.  Skip Schumaker is a tolerable leadoff hitter.  Albert Pujols is Albert Pujols.  Ryan Ludwick should be at least a 25 HR guy with good average.  Joe Mather and, later, Troy Glaus bring some pop.  Colby Rasmus could bring speed and power to the lineup.  We know what Rick Ankiel can do.  When you add a strong Greene to that mix, this team could put some runs on the board.  And if Carp and Adam Wainwright stay healthy.....

Anyway, sorry, doing some spring dreaming.  At the official site, prospect Tyler Greene gets his turn to shine.  LaRussa and staff seem to be using language that has to have Tyler pretty excited about his chances.  Because it seems to be similar to things they were saying last year about Kyle McClellan and you see how that worked out.

Getting a solid backup/utility guy out of your farm system, one that could fill in with little dropoff, is a wonderful thing.  He has a speed/power mix as well, plus has played very good defense in the spring.  I would not be surprised to see him head north, especially as insurance on Schumaker's transition to second.

Speaking of the roster, the above-mentioned Matthew Leach has his latest roster projection out.  Not a whole lot to argue with there, though Jason Motte has done pretty well this spring.  Still, he might start out in Memphis to get a little more closing experience and get a callup soon after.

Cards play the Astros today with Joel Pineiro on the mound.  A good start of Pineiro and I will start dreaming about this team!

On the UCB front, Fungoes got their transcript of the latest roundtable question up.  Check out how we'd change the main scoreboard at Busch.

Fandom

Posted on January 9, 2009 at 9:16 AM
I saw a Facebook note yesterday.  Actually, I was tagged in it, which is why it came to my attention even though I was only tangentially involved.  In it, the writer basically renounced her Cardinal Nation status, with shots at ownership on the way out.  While this wasn't a big surprise--the person in question had been more of a "player fan" than a "team fan" by her own admission for some time--it got me thinking about this concept we call fandom.

First, let me qualify.  All opinions are really that--opinions.  I know other people define fandom in their own way and feel differently about their loyalties.  Fandom, like religion, can be a personal thing and, also like religion, can rile people up if you start questioning it.  So I want to make it clear I'm not questioning things, just putting it out there the way I see it.

For me, fandom really isn't something you put on and take off like a shirt out of the closet.  It's not something you give up on when things get rough and then get back to during the good times.  I guess casual fans are like that, but once you start devoting time to a team, you are invested in my book.  I mean, I've been following the Cardinals for 20+ years, with close to 10 of those on-line debating, commenting and blogging.  I'm stuck, folks.  I'm not going anywhere.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that fandom means you go along with everything.  You can argue, you can vent, you can complain, but at the end of the day you are still a fan.  There's nothing that will turn you away from the team.  The Cards could go 0 for the upcoming decade and I'd still be a Cardinal fan, probably still posting and blogging.  (Sorry, I know you were thinking you'd get rid of me.)  I wouldn't be a happy one, I'd be more frustrated than Albert Pujols taking his third intentional walk of the night, but I'd still count myself a Cardinal fan.

This led me to thinking about the fan protests of not buying tickets or merchandise.  I guess if it's on principal, fine and good, but if you actually expect things to change, all you are doing is punishing yourself. 

It reminds me of all those "gas out" e-mails that you get, saying "Don't buy gas on this day."  Of course, the fact that it'd take the whole country not buying gas to even register and the fact that the next day you have to buy it, thus delaying the gas company's profit by a whole 24 hours don't seem to make a dent on the people that take these things seriously.

It's the same way with sports teams, at least in strong markets.  Matthew Leach twittered that his mail ran close to 50/50 positive/negative.  Let's assume that happy people don't e-mail in as much and say for every disgruntled fan, there are two relatively gruntled ones.  So if you don't renew your tickets, someone else will likely buy them.  If you don't purchase merchandise, chances are someone else is going to come along and buy it.  As I said, I understand doing things on principle and if that's the case, more power to you.  But don't be shocked if Cardinal policy doesn't bend to your will because they aren't getting your $300.

I guess what I'm saying is that, in my mind, fandom is like a good marriage--death do you part and that's it.  You work through the spats and difficulties, if only because that makes the good times so much better.  Heck, I've been invested in the Cardinals longer than I have my marriage and I expect to have both of them on my deathbed.

Obviously you can follow more than one team, but I don't know that you can be a real strong fan of more than one.  Maybe people with more time, energy and brainpower than I do can.  I mean, my wife likes the Indians and my father-in-law is a big Reds fan, so I keep tabs on those teams and try to follow their news and seasons.  But I don't know what the topics are that fire up their fan bases or how close their top prospects are to the majors.  I'm a casual fan of those teams.  I'm a fan (in the true fanatic meaning of the word) of the Cardinals.

Sorry for the rambling.  I'm still not sure I expressed that the way I wanted to, but it was bugging me and I had to get it out.

Some discussion about Tony LaRussa's future in Rick Hummel's Q&A blog.  Some people think this front office conflict of vision will keep him from returning.  I don't know about that.  He signed his last contract after Walt Jocketty left, so he knew things would be different when he did that.  If he doesn't return in 2010, I think it's because he's retiring to California.  If he stays in baseball, I expect it'll be with the Cardinals.

And LaRussa gave some more love to Colby Rasmus, boosting the idea that he'll be in the bigs at some time next season, probably starting if John Mozeliak can ever get a good deal on one of his outfielders.


Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light

Posted on January 8, 2009 at 9:33 AM
The rage is everywhere.  Can you feel it?  Anger coursing through Cardinal Nation's veins?

That's at least Bernie Mikalsz's opinion.  And, truth be told, some of the questioners in Joe Strauss's chat yesterday backed him up.

From Bernie's column:

The fan base seems angry. On the talk shows and in the blogosphere, where the rage bubbles into a rapid boil, there's chatter of a boycott, of customers giving up their season tickets. They question the commitment to winning. They are tired of excuses. They won't spend another dollar until things change.
Like Pip from Fungoes said last night in the UCB Radio Hour chat room, can someone find me an angry blog?  I'd like to say I'm fairly versed in the Cardinal blogosphere and I couldn't name you one.  A couple may have expressed some discontent from time to time, but I'm not sure any of them would have risen to the level of anger, especially not on a consistant basis.  (As a side note, you must read Pip's latest entry.  It's a much better discussion of the topic of management than I could ever come up with.)

"Blogosphere", however, seems to be used as a general catch-all phrase encompassing all Internet-related commentary, whether on a blog or on a message board.  And as we all know, posting on a message board is pretty easy to do.  There are definitely some fans that are taking their frustrations out on ownership.  I wouldn't dare suggest that Cardinal Nation is a unifed front.

That said, I look at the forums at CardsClubhouse and realize that for every malcontent, who thinks ownership should be spending more no matter who it is on and believes that Bill DeWitt is greedy, manipulative, untruthful and probably secretly a Cub fan, there are five that are patient, that understand the offseason isn't actually over yet, that the Cardinals have a significant payroll, and that ownership is trying to be practical and competitive at the same time.

So I reject the idea that Cardinal Nation is this seething mass that is ready to storm the gates of Busch Stadium and force the checkbook away from Bill DeWitt.  A minority should not be used to define the majority.

Shakespeare said, "Oppose not rage while rage is in its force, but give it way a while and let it waste."  So let's leave that for a while and hope that it wears itself out.  Besides, as a wise being once said, "Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering."  And I really don't want anyone suffering while they read this, at least any more than a normal reading creates for you.

Switching gears, last night's UCB Radio Hour was a great kickoff to the year.  If you missed it, you can listen to it on the player in the upper right or you can download it from iTunes.  As you know, Matthew Leach was a guest at the beginning of the show and really brought a lot to the table.

One of the things he pointed out, something that we on the outside really do tend to overlook, is that "we're not playing with Strat-o-Matic cards".  In other words, the decisions that get made will take into account, for lack of a better word, a political component as well as an actual talent component.

Matthew's point related to Skip Schumaker.  Without a trade, it could be difficult for the team to tell Skip, "Look, you had a good season last year, but we are bumping you for a rookie."  Which is understandable.  I think outsiders like myself tend to underrate the chemistry aspect of things, looking at the stats and the logic of the situation. 

He also said that a trade made too much sense not to happen, but that this front office didn't let things leak out.  So they could be working on moves and no one would really know.  It sounds like it may be a situation where they wait to see what the outfielders do in spring training before trading one off.

I think the strongest point he made was that Tony LaRussa never said that Chris Carpenter was seriously being considered as a closer for next year.  What he was saying was that if Carp wasn't healthy enough to start but was healthy enough to close, they'd do that.  However, it's unlikely that situation comes to pass.  He's most likely going to be either healthy enough to start or sitting on the DL.

A good day to you all and please try to keep your rage in check, OK?

Holding Pattern

Posted on December 19, 2008 at 9:49 AM
Yesterday was my ninth wedding anniversary, which explains why there was no blog post.  The total lack of Cardinal news didn't hurt either.  I was hoping that the day I was away from the internet, something would shake loose, but it was not to be.  As much as I want something to happen, I continue to expect little if any business will be done before the fifth of January.

There were a couple of things I found over at MLB Trade Rumors that could have indirect bearing on the Redbirds.  There is nothing specifically linking the stories to the Cardinals, but in light of some of the things that have been bandied about in the Cardinal blogosphere, they become interesting.

First, the Yankees probably aren't going after Ben Sheets.  Apparently only Texas and the Braves have been linked to him and neither one all that strongly.  I can't find where I read it now, but there was a story that indicated John Mozeliak would spend for a reliever or a starter.  If Brian Fuentes continues to drag his heels or winds up somewhere else, it could be that Sheets comes into play for the Cardinals.  We can hope, at least.

Second, it appears that the Mike Cameron to the Yanks deal is pretty much off the table.  Which may mean that Rick Ankiel becomes a Yankee target for outfield help.  There's been a lot of talk about Ankiel for Ian Kennedy, which would seem to work well for both teams, which is why it probably won't happen.

Posting will likely be light next week unless the Cardinals make a move.  There's a UCB project scheduled for the 31st, so be sure to look for that.  If you are traveling this weekend, stay safe! 

Today's the Day

Posted on November 17, 2008 at 8:22 AM
It's NL MVP day!  Which means Cardinal nation is keeping a close eye out for the results.  You can see comments at VEB and 4thebirds....., to name a couple of places.

My personal feeling is that Pujols winds up winning the award tonight.  Besides the fact that it's fairly obvious from everything but the "team made the playoffs" angle that he deserves it, there seem to have been numerous columnists--not just St. Louis ones, but national ones, that have written that he should get the award over Ryan Howard.  Granted, there have been some for Howard as well, but you can see how well those have gone over.

Besides, it would be very symetrical.  Pujols was denied an MVP in 2006 by Howard, even though his team went to the playoffs (and won the World Series, though obviously that was after the voting) while Howard and the Phillies stayed home.  Same situation this year in reverse.  Even Phillies fans understand that.

Heck, Pujols was even the people's choice!  (I guess Rasmussen threw that question in while canvassing for political opinion!)  And he was the computer's choice!  Talk about bringing opposite sides together.

You look at the list of awards that the man has won this offseason and you just have to figure that the MVP is due to be added in.  I'm confident that he'll take home the award today.

If he doesn't, VEB's right--we can just stop paying the little attention we do to awards because they aren't worth much.


Idle Speculation

Posted on October 15, 2008 at 9:34 AM
Finding blogging topics at this time of year is pretty darn hard.  You almost were spared an entry today, until I followed a link at St. Louis Sports Magazine to this article.  The relevant quotes:

Axelrod made one concrete stipulation to any trade scenarios: “Jake would only approve a trade to a team with a solid chance of winning and a winning tradition. Those teams in the National League may be in locations that are more acceptable, or would be.”

He said “the ability or opportunity to win is very important to Jake, and hopefully some sort of coincidence with his and his family's lifestyle.”

Among the cities Axelrod mentioned were Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and St. Louis.

OK, I added the bold.  But, seriously, if he's looking for a winning tradition, how in the world are the Cubs on the list?  Two years does not a tradition make.  But I digress.

What would you give up for Jake Peavy?  I would guess most of Cardinal Nation would think this is a deal that Colby Rasmus could go in.  Truthfully, I can't imagine a way it would happen without Rasmus.  I'd be pretty tempted to do it, though.  Peavy's a dominant pitcher in the prime of his career with few injury issues.  To add him to a rotation with Wainwright and Lohse would do wonders for the Cardinals' chances.

I'd honestly be very surprised if Peavy is moved in the offseason, though I'm sure we'll hear lots about it.  I would think Mozeliak's been on the phone with San Diego, so maybe he can smooth over the ramifications of the last San Diego/St. Louis trade.

EDIT: MLBTR notes Buster Olney has mentioned this as well.

The Cardinals may also be in the mix, according to Buster Olney.  Olney says that one team, "perhaps the Cardinals," is discussing the idea of adding Khalil Greene to a Peavy deal.
I'm not a huge Greene fan, but it does make sense that the Cardinals would be asking about him.  A .213 average last year?  10 home runs is nice, but I think I'd rather have Izturis with that kinda clip.  However, his 2007 season (.254, 27 HR) would be pretty nice.  If he can hit .250 with power, he'd be a huge step up.  Be nice if he learned to take a walk, though, and struck out a little less, but nobody's perfect.

Surgery for Pujols

Posted on October 14, 2008 at 7:59 AM
Yesterday's top story had to be that Albert Pujols went ahead and had surgery on his elbow.  Talk about coming out of left field!  From the last comments made by AP and the club, I didn't expect anything to happen this quickly.

Thankfully, it wasn't the full-blown Tommy John surgery that we've all been fearing.  It was more of a minor surgery to relieve pressure on a nerve (something that sounds similar to the condition Carpenter has).  Here's the telling point of the article, in my mind:

But the nerve issue didn't crop up until the end of the '08 season, causing him numbness, tingling, weakness and pain.
So what would you consider the end of the season?  I don't know how far it went back, but look at his numbers for the last homestand of the year:

.588 (10 for 17), 6 runs, 2 doubles, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 7 walks, 2 K, .708 OBP, 1.235 SLG

Maybe they should always numb him!  To be able to get that kind of production with such a nerve issue is really amazing.  We tend to take what Pujols does for granted, but then we take a step back and marvel anew.

Of course, the drawback was that Dr. Paletta did the operation.  Paletta doesn't exactly have the full faith and trust of Cardinal Nation, but if there's one procedure that he's going to be doubly sure not to botch, it's AP's.  The silver lining if he did botch it would be there's no way he'd work on Cardinal players again.  Heck, he probably couldn't work in St. Louis again!

Be sure to check The Rundown later today for the newest installment in the basically-month-long UCB roundtable!






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Heroes
Carlos Beltran (6)
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Matt Holliday (4)
Jon Jay (4)
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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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