Houston Astros: March 2012
Posted on March 28, 2012 at 2:30 PM
As you know by now, this is the week for predictions from the United Cardinal Bloggers
. We peak here in the middle of the week with the division we all know and care about, the NL Central. (Means it's all downhill from here, folks.)
Plenty of activity around this division, with free agents leaving, free agents signing, trades being made, and injured players returning. Who will wind up at the top of the heap? Keep reading and find out! Continue Reading
Posted on March 21, 2012 at 7:17 AM
You know, it took a little while for Mike Matheny
to get his first spring training win as a Cardinal manager, but now it seems like old hat to him.
After yesterday's 6-1 win over the Astros, the Cards have won five of their last six, and we can blame that ugly loss on Saturday on those green uniforms, right? St. Louis is now 9-6 in the spring and, while nobody actually looks at the standings in Florida and Arizona, is only a game behind San Francisco
for the Grapefruit League title. It seems the Cards are showing how they are going to win--no big offensive explosions, just some solid production and some good pitching.
Offensively, Matt Holliday
hit a two-run triple, starting the scoring for St. Louis and, as it turned out, providing all the offense that they would need. A couple of people pushing for roster spots, Erik Komatsu
and Bryan Anderson
, also had stellar days. I think Komatsu has probably done enough
that, since he's Rule 5, he's going north. Anderson had a couple of doubles and is hitting close to .500 in the spring. With the fact that Matheny's been a big Anderson supporter in the past, I'm guessing he may have played his way to St. Louis
Of course, there's still some time to go. Opening Day is just two weeks (two weeks!) away, though, so time is running out for other people to make an impact and wrest the jobs away from these two.
Nice to see that Allen Craig
got a chance to hit in a minor league game yesterday. Sounds like they tinkered with the rules and had him be pretty much a designated hitter, but just the fact that he's in there against live pitching is a big step in the right direction. It'll be interesting to see if he can improve quickly enough to get into a regular game before the exhibition season ends. I'm sure the fans in Springfield would like to see him in that one on April 2!
goes today against the Mets back home in Jupiter, which may or may not get as much attention as the fact Chris Carpenter
is supposed to throw another bullpen session today as well. The game is on KMOX if you are near a radio or have the GameDay Audio package from MLB.
Housekeeping time! First off, I wanted to let you know that Out of the Park Baseball 13 is coming out soon. If you've played OOTP, you know it's a great simulation baseball game and it's only gotten better in 2012. You can preorder it now
and get it three days before anyone else does, so that's definitely some motivation, right?
One of the new features of OOTP is Real-Time Simulation. It's basically a way to recreate the excitement we saw in Game 162 last year, as you can see what's going on in other games around the league while you are playing your game. You can see swings in important games, keep up with a no-hitter, and things of that nature. No longer do you just get the final result--it's like you are always watching the out-of-town scoreboard!
If you are one that would rather do this on the go, there's iOOTP. Designed for the iPhone and iPad, iOOTP brings you most of the features and all of the fun of the original game to your mobile device. You'll find it in the App Store on April 5.
OOTP lets you recreate past seasons to see if they'd turn out differently, lets you set up your own league where Bud Selig can't arbitrarily move a team to a different division (though Houston's move to the AL West is incorporated in the game if you play past this season) and lets you get into the game as well.
I'm hoping to get a review copy and if so, I'll let you know what I think of it. I've played OOTP in the past, so I'm excited to see what this year's looks like!
Playing Pepper with San Diego (and an old friend) today, so check that out later. Also, if you've not voted in the second round of the All-Time Team Tournament, you need to do that! PH8 and I70 end today, AMF and here end tomorrow. All the relevant links can be found in this second round post
Here's hoping Westbrook can keep his strong spring going and the Cards can take another from the Mets!
Posted on March 20, 2012 at 7:27 AM
It's getting to the part of spring training where the newness of seeing baseball scores and highlights is starting to wear off and you start glancing ahead to Opening Day, when everything starts to actually matter. So while it was nice that the Cards won yesterday over Atlanta 4-3
, there wasn't necessarily anything that just stood out.
Let me take that back. I think the work of Lance Lynn
needs to be highlighted. In his second start of the spring, Lynn looked as good as he did the first time out, not allowing anything until the fifth, when he gave up a run on a couple of hits. With all the usual caveats (small sample size, spring training games, etc.), Lynn is going to make any decision on Chris Carpenter
be a lot easier. The team isn't going to have to rush Carp at all, because if he's not ready Lynn is showing that he can handle the role for a while with minimal repercussions.
About the only thing off about Lynn's day was the fact that he unexpectedly was pressed into hitting
after the Braves wanted to use their pitcher and not a DH. Of course, hitting might be a misnomer, since he struck out looking twice. He wasn't there to hit, though, so it's a lighthearted story. Too bad he didn't crack an extra-base shot with that borrowed equipment!
Nice to see Carlos Beltran
get his first Cardinal home run and Matt Carpenter
hit one as well, continuing to make that press to start with the big club this season. I think that he'll probably go north, especially since it sounds like Skip Schumaker
is going to be headed to the DL. Schumaker was diagnosed with a torn oblique and we should find out today the general timetable for his recovery. Suffice it to say, though, the odds of him being healthy by Opening Day are really, really small. I'd rather navigate an asteroid field than put money on that proposition.
Reading this story
about Mitchell Boggs
, you feel like Derrick Goold had this cued up for today, but then had to rewrite the beginning when Boggs stumbled and allowed a home run to Brian McCann
. It somewhat illustrates the contrast between what players say in the spring and what they are going to actually do when the bell rings. The idea is that Boggs has this new split-finger fastball, but in a game situation (especially a game that didn't even count), he still didn't use it.
It does sound like Boggs is earning the confidence of Mike Matheny
and it seems unlikely that he'll see Memphis again, at least for a while. If Boggs can step up and be that pitcher people think he can be, that bullpen is just overflowing with strong, young arms that we as fans will be happy with. Early last year we cringed when Ryan Franklin
or Miguel Batista
came into the game. This year, I think Matheny might be able to point blindly down to the 'pen and we'd be happy with whomever came out.
Carp's got another BP scheduled for tomorrow
. In Jenifer Langosch's story, she notes he threw 40 pitches in his last one on Sunday. I heard the Fox Sports MW guys say at one time that he'd thrown 60, but I think I'll stick with Langosch's number. Either way, he's ramping up his workload and it's still not inconceivable (see, I do know what that word means
) that he'd be the Opening Day guy. I don't think it's very likely, but I will not be surprised if he avoids the DL and gets into the rotation the second time through.
Speaking of interesting Langosch's articles, there's one on the main site today about Shelby Miller
and the weight he lost this offseason
. While we have lauded Jake Westbrook
for dropping poundage, it's a little different when it's your top prospect. The Cards were afraid that he would lose some durability without having that weight to fall back on and they've got him working with the strength and conditioning coaches. Just another example of how we are all different. If Shelby still wants to lose weight, though, I've got some extra here I don't mind if he takes.
Finally, Tony La Russa is picking up his pen and writing his memoirs
. At least, some of them. With a working title of One Last Strike: Fifty Years In Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season
, not only is it an overly wordy title, it seems to be going to give more focus on 2011 than the whole of his career. I'd think that a really good book about La Russa's career would take longer than a few months to write, so I'm not overly optimistic about a detailed account. Still, I'm sure the book will be interesting to Cardinal fans and reliving the 2011 season, well, there's nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.
Cards face the Astros today, a game that'll be on Fox Sports Midwest and delayed on MLB Network. I think it's Kyle Lohse
's turn to get back out on the hill, but I can't seem to find that anywhere.
Today's Playing Pepper will be up in a bit, focusing on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Also, you'll get Round 2 of the Smith Regional here today, with voting staying open until Thursday night. You can already vote over at Pitchers Hit Eighth
and I70 Baseball
, so do so!
Posted on March 5, 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.
56-106, sixth in the NL Central
These aren't your father's Astros. Actually, check that. These aren't your older brother's Astros.
What those stars of the 2000s have left behind is a young team with limited abilities. Houston finished 40 games out last year and, as much as they'd like to make a run in their last year of NL play, it'd take even a bigger miracle than Miracle Max
is able to conjure up.
While it may be sad for us to see a respected rival fall by the wayside, there are some intrepid bloggers that feel the pain much more intensely.
Steve Duer typically follows those that have stopped in Greenville on their way up the ladder at his blog Appy Astros
. You can also find him on Twitter at AppyAstros
Long-time readers of this blog will know James of Astros County
. James and I have written for each others blogs occasionally and James has been a part of UCB Radio Hour and our annual NL preview show. You can find him on Twitter at AstrosCounty
After the jump, they'll talk about that noted Cardinal killer and just what they thought of their new GM coming from the Redbird ranks.