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Taking The Fifth

Posted on March 26, 2013 at 6:59 AM
As we expected before the spring (though not necessarily throughout the camp), Shelby Miller will be the fifth starter in the Cardinal rotation.  While the loss of Jason Motte, freeing up a bullpen spot, didn't hurt Miller's case (as Joe Kelly was probably better suited to the 'pen than Miller was), Miller came out and earned it on his own, putting a capper on it yesterday.

Getting the start against the Twins, Miller wasn't dominant--six hits in 4.1 innings--but did strike out two and only allowed one run to cross the plate.  His main competition, Kelly, wasn't as fortunate, allowing two runs in two innings and putting the Cards in a hole that they were a bit lucky to be able to climb out of.

We also got a chance to see the new-look late inning bullpen, as Trevor Rosenthal worked a scoreless eighth (though he did walk two) and Mitchell Boggs got the save in the ninth in Jason Isringhausen-esqe fashion, allowing two hits in the process.  It might not have been good for the heart, but it did get the job done.

Miller really seems to appreciate his role, something that he might not have done a year or so ago.  His struggles in Memphis last year seem to have focused him on the right path, which seems to bode well for the real start of his major league career.

Offensively yesterday it was Matt Adams and Oscar Taveras.  Adams drove in three of the four runs and had the only extra-base hit.  Two of those RBI came in the ninth, when the Cards rallied for three to win the ballgame.  It's hitting abilities like that that will have Adams riding in a red convertible a week from Monday.

Taveras, perhaps sensing an opportunity if Carlos Beltran's broken toe doesn't heal up quickly, went four-for-five with a stolen base, his second of the spring.  While it does appear that Beltran will likely start the season in St. Louis (though that really will depend on how well he handles the pain of his toe in a game, probably today against the Mets), Taveras can't hurt his stock with games like that.

The injury situation in general doesn't seem to be nearly as dire as it was just 24 hours ago.  Beltran we've alluded two, though the fact that it was a hairline fracture rather than a bruised toe was made clearer yesterday.  He's been told he can't make it worse--which hopefully he doesn't take as a challenge--and it's completely up to him.  If he does play in today's game, that'll give him and the Cardinals a much better idea if he can handle playing in Arizona on Monday.  Even if he can't, this doesn't sound like a long-term enough issue to warrant Taveras.  Just don't tell him that.

The other major offensive calamity also seemed more positive on Monday.  David Freese had an MRI and the club was encouraged with what they saw and now won't rule out Opening Day.  Sounds like there's just some inflammation and no actual damage, so with rest and the proper treatment, he could be back out there pretty shortly.  More news in that vein should be available Wednesday or Thursday.

The Cardinals also got some good news off-the-field yesterday as Kyle Lohse finally signed a deal, giving them an extra pick in this year's draft.  That he signed it with the Brewers meant that the Cards are going to see a lot of their old friend, perhaps as early as the series against the two teams in a couple of weeks.  There were a lot of knee-jerk reactions comparing Lohse to Jeff Suppan and that's completely understandable.  Both had some great years in St. Louis, both seemed to develop under Dave Duncan, and now both take a long-term deal (Suppan's was four years, $42 million) to go to the Brewers.  Of course, Suppan was cut by the Brew Crew during the last year of the contract and made his way back to St. Louis for a last hurrah.  Perhaps that means if the club needs some help in the stretch run of 2015......

With the season coming close, a lot of stuff going on.  Later this morning, the next UCB prediction week picks will be up, looking at the NL East.  This afternoon, we play some pepper with the Texas Rangers.  There's also the Egraphs contest still going on (only seven entries so far, so you're getting some good odds) and don't forget to sign up for The Bird's Eye View.  Man, we need the season to get started just to take a breather!

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UCB Project: 2013 American League Predictions

Posted on March 25, 2013 at 1:00 PM
It's that time of year again.  When hope is new, the grass smells clean, and people foolishly put down what they think will happen in the baseball season to come.  The United Cardinal Bloggers are no different.

Every year we take a crack at these things.  Sometimes it goes pretty well--Pittsburgh's late fade last year kept me from nailing them being third and over the .500 mark.  Sometimes it goes disastrously--I had Boston winning the AL East last year.  Yeah, that was pretty much bad from the get-go.

However, terrible performances don't stop us from trying it again anyway.  (Kinda like Mike Matheny continuing to use Victor Marte last year.)  So we'll do it again on the same kinda schedule--the entire American League today, then each division in the National League gets a day before wrapping it up on Friday with postseason predictions and awards.

Since we hardly pay attention to the American League--we all know real baseball lets a pitcher hit, don't we?--let's try to make a quick pass through there today.  If you want to use these as a guide, odds are you better figure the opposite is really going to happen!
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Playing Pepper 2013: Minnesota Twins

Posted on March 12, 2013 at 6:15 PM
For the fifth straight year, Playing Pepper returns to C70 At The Bat.  If you aren't aware, this series helps get a feel for the other 29 teams in baseball by asking those that follow them the closest--their bloggers.  We've got spring training action going, so it's time to play a little pepper. 

Minnesota Twins 
66-96, fifth in the AL Central 

After a rough 2011, expectations were that the Twins would be better and while they might not take a divisional title, they wouldn't finish last again.  Instead, the Twins got off to a rough start that had them over 10 games out by the end of May and never got on track for a better return.  Only Cleveland's late season collapse had them within shouting distance of another divisional opponent.

Back-to-back last place finishes can sour a fan base, especially when there aren't a lot of people expecting better things this season.  To see if that's the case here, I've got Ben Noble from Puckett's Pond, the Minnesota entry of the FanSided network.  You can follow the blog @puckettspond on Twitter.  Along with Ben, I've got some opinions from the man known as Thrylos over at The Tenth Inning Stretch.  You'll find him on Twitter @thrylos98.

Stay tuned to find out what these guys will be watching this season and what they thought of the Twins' activity over the past couple of months.
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The Ride Starts Early

Posted on March 5, 2013 at 11:15 AM
Last year, the Cardinals were a feast or famine team at times.  Score big or score none.  You weren't always sure what team was going to show up.  While the traditional spring caveats (it's early, it's spring, not the makeup of the regular season team, etc.) still apply in full force, we're seeing a bit of that this spring as well.  Last week, the Cards were scoring double digits on a regular basis.  Yesterday, their first shutout of the spring.

The Redbirds didn't have many bright spots yesterday, falling to the Twins 7-0.  Lance Lynn got the start but struggled, Jason Motte allowed two runs on a homer by Aaron Hicks, and the bats didn't get a hit until Daniel Descalso poked one in the fifth.  The box score shows an almost unmitigated mess as even Edward Mujica and Oscar Taveras were caught up in it and even our old friend the double play made a return.

In fact, the only bright spot from yesterday was, again, Michael Wacha.  He threw 2.2 innings, struck out three and the Twins announcers were raving about him on the radio.  He allowed two hits and a walk in his time out there, but was able to work around them.  Eventually the Wacha bubble is going to take a pinprick or two, but so far so good.

(We got to see our old friend P.J. Walters out there as well.  Walters threw two innings and only allowed one hit, which was erased on a double play.  I'm always rooting for P.J., because he seems a great guy and he's been a Conversations guest, so best of luck to him making the Twins roster.)

So there wasn't much to talk about on the field.  Let's talk about what's surrounding the team, mainly in the way of injuries.  Before we get to the one that most of us are most concerned with, let's acknowledge that the left-handed side of the bullpen took what is hopefully just a temporary hit recently.  Marc Rzepczynski has a sore arm and won't throw again until at least Thursday.  Sam Freeman is also out with a sore biceps and will be seeing a doctor about it shortly.  It doesn't sound like Scrabble's issue is too serious, but you know this is giving our friend Barret Browning some extra motivation, if he needs any.

The main injury, of course, is the one to Rafael Furcal, who will see Dr. Andrews on Wednesday for a second opinion the elbow.  There seems to be still the possibility that surgery won't be required, as it seems to be more due to inflammation and the bone spur than the initial ligament damage.  Still, it seems like a tough situation for the Cards, because if it's not surgery, there's no guarantee that we won't be back in this same situation months from now.

Of course, there's going to be a lot of criticism leveled at John Mozeliak.  Whether that criticism is fair or unfair depends on your point of view, of course.  Mo tends to think that it comes down on the unfair side of the equation and he does have significant points to back that up.  I can't fault him for not getting Stephen Drew because you couldn't guarantee him that he could be a starter.  You couldn't make a major trade for the same reason.  While I'm not sure what Mo could have done (and I don't know what he tried to do behind the scenes), the idea that Furcal was going to make it through the year completely healthy and completely effective was a high-risk bet.  Even if it wasn't the elbow, his back was bothering him last year.  Odds were he was going to miss some time one way or another.

Perhaps Pete Kozma can do it.  I mean, he is only 24 and did have the talent to be a first-round pick.  However, if you are putting significant money on that outcome, please call the Problem Gambling Helpline.  That's not the way to bet, though baseball does have that pleasing tendency to show us that we don't have it all quite figured out yet.  I'd love to see Kozma be one of those examples.

Bernie Miklasz says the Furcal injury gives more impetus to put Taveras on the team.  While I'm one that would be excited to see Taveras start in St. Louis and I do believe the rotation plan is a winning one, I disagree with his premise.  I don't think that even with Furcal in the lineup the offensive equation changes that much.  It might have been better than Kozma or others, but I don't think it would have been significantly.  Having him go down doesn't, in my mind, add a point for Taveras.  Again, though, there are some really good arguments for his promotion.

Before I get into today's Cardinal Approval Ratings, I'd like to call your attention to a post at what typically isn't a baseball blog.  A reader of this blog (yes! I have a reader!) directed me to something he had wrote about Jon Jay and what he saw as a negative perception of him by Bernie and others.  It's worth your time to see how Jay stacks up against some others at the position, so head over and check it out.

All right, let's take a look at today's three approval ratings.  First up is David Freese. World Series Hero, local boy-makes-good, but also a guy that only has one full season (a good one, mind you) under his belt.  Everyone took a swing at this one and Freese came out with a 82.9% rating.  I thought it was interesting that he came in under Allen Craig, honestly.  Still, it's a good mark and there didn't seem to be any under 70 in the results, plus it is well in line with his mark from last year, when he was coming off the October heroics.

Our media member of the day is Jim "the Cat" Hayes from Fox Sports Midwest.  As much as anyone on that network, Hayes is the personality but can also do the serious interviews as well.  I thought he did a good job during the Stan Musial tributes and programming, for instance.  Of course, not everyone agrees with me on that point and Hayes comes in with a 73% mark.  This is his third year on the ballot and that 73 is right in the middle of his first two years, so we are probably finding his spot.  There were 17 people that didn't register an opinion and one at each endpoint (100 and 0).

We move on to a former Cardinal for our last one of the day.  Lance Berkman made an impact on the fan base in his short time in St. Louis and even though he's gone on to Texas now, his legacy won't be forgotten.  There were a good number of 100s in his ratings (though there was at least one 0 as well) and 50 of our 58 rated him, with an average of 80.6%.  That's down from last year's high of 88%, but given that he's not on the roster anymore, it's still a fine mark.

Off day today but the Playing Pepper series continues, talking about that other Missouri team, so come back this afternoon for that!

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Losses On And Off The Field

Posted on March 4, 2013 at 9:25 AM
While the Cardinals had trouble with Washington this weekend, the focus by Sunday was on what they lost away from the diamond.  The news most of us had been anticipating came along and Rafael Furcal was shut down from baseball activities and was to be reevaluated.

This is not a shocking blow to anyone that follows the Cardinals.  Ever since Furcal disdained surgery for rehab and therapy, it seemed only a matter of time before this happened.  Adding the bone spur to the mix didn't help matters at all either.  Furcal will be examined by Dr. George Paletta today and options will be discussed after that evaluation.  It would seem surgery would be the most likely outcome, meaning Furcal might well miss the entire season.  (Interestingly, that would kinda keep the Goat streak alive.  Since I started them in 2008, the player that was the Top Goat hasn't been with the team the next year.  Furcal looked to break that streak, but if he's out for the season, again the Top Goat wouldn't play a game for the Cardinals.)

The biggest problem with this that there is no depth behind Furcal, something that most all bloggers have been pointing out with regularity (and, to be fair, the club was aware of as well).  There's no confidence that Pete Kozma can do what he did the last six weeks, even though he is having a fairly strong spring.  Ronny Cedano doesn't appear to bring a lot to the table.  Ryan Jackson seems to have fallen out of favor with the club.  It's gotten to the point where the suggestion is to start Daniel Descalso at short and let Matt Carpenter have second and it might be the most reasonable one of the bunch.

Bernie Miklasz points out that this situation is of the Cardinals' doing.  I do think the club was hamstrung this offseason in dealing with shortstop, though.  As Bernie points out, they couldn't actively pursue Stephen Drew since they weren't sure he'd be the starter.  That same uncertainty probably precluded them from dealing any prospects for a shortstop that might or might not be on the field this season.  With Furcal not having surgery and therefore the club really not knowing what they had (despite the off-season assurances that he was doing fine), it didn't leave them with a lot of great options.

And there aren't a lot of great options out there.  I was fortunate enough to have lunch with Dennis Lawson, who now writes at Phat Bunneh Baseball, and we talked about the shortstop position, concluding that the main reason that names like Troy Tulowitzki continue to pop up even with significant arguments to the contrary is that there just aren't very many shortstops worth their salt out there nowadays.  Texas probably won't move Elvis Andrus because of that as well, plus if they do put him on the block, the bidding is going to go fairly high.  Who else is out there?  Asdrubal Cabrera?  J.J. Hardy?  The list of shortstops worth pursuing is short.

The Cardinals came to camp with two different players having avoided surgery.  I guess 50/50 is the best you could really expect there, though I think given the depth in the organization the club would have been more comfortable with a healthy Furcal and a down-for-the-count Jaime Garcia. Garcia, though, actually does seem to be fine, starting yesterday's ballgame and went three innings, giving up two and striking out four on a day when the wind was whipping.  The Cards wound up losing the game against Washington in the ninth, but Garcia pitched about as well as you'd expect under the conditions.  Every time he's out there, a little more worry about him going a full season evaporates.

Shane Robinson hit another home run yesterday, continuing his rampaging spring.  He's 10-for-18 in his six spring games this year with two home runs and seven RBI.  At 28, he is likely in the prime of his career and most likely will be the right-handed option of the bench this season.  It's still early and we'll see how he does in the last couple of weeks, but if he can give the Cardinals something in the pinch this year, that'd be wonderful.

If the injuries on the field weren't enough, they've moved to the dugout as well.  Mike Matheny has a ruptured disc in his back.  (The Cardinals say he's fine.  He just can't make a pitching change or fill out a lineup card.  They are taking it easy and hope he'll be ready for opening day.)  Actually, it sounds like he might have surgery quicker than some of his players, but first he's going to get an epidural shot.  That sounds to me like a temporary solution and with all the traveling he's going to be doing, surgery is probably more likely than not.  I would guess Mike Aldrete would take over the team in any interim role.

With the Cards playing Washington this weekend, there was the opportunity to hear a couple of Stan Musial stories from the phenoms of the Nationals.  Both Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper had interactions with The Man and had signed jerseys from him.  Musial reached out to both in what was likely his way of welcoming new stars to the game.  I wonder just how many other players along the way have gotten a request for a signed jersey from Musial?  Likely a great number.

Today's the first day we get to talk about the results of the Cardinal Approval Ratings.  We'll do three a day, a player, a media member, and one from the assorted column as well.  Today, we look at Allen Craig from the players.  I received 58 entries in this year's voting and Craig (as I expect most all the players were) got an opinion from everyone.  He got about four perfect ratings and his lowest seems to be a 70, meaning Craig is, unsurprisingly, well received in Cardinal Nation.  Comments included, "Allen Craig is in the same boat for me that Freese was last year. I want a solid 140+ game season out of him, then I'm convinced" and "I'm still worried about Craig's legs" but overall, he received a 88.3% favorability rating in his first year on the ballot.

Our media member of the day is Derrick Goold.  Over the offseason, Derrick got a bump up to lead Cardinal man at the Post-Dispatch as Joe Strauss moved up (or is that over?) to columnist.  It seems impossible to find anyone that thought this was not a good move.  Derrick is fair with his reporting and is good about interacting with fans that have questions.  It looks like he'll now have regular chats as well, which is another great thing.  Not everyone votes for the media types (only 44 respondents there) but there were comments like "I think that Derrick Goold is amazing in his presentation, and one of my favorite sources of sports news, overall" and "He's basically everything the modern internet-savvy baseball fan could want out of a team reporter."  It's no wonder he wound up with an 89.1% mark, well up from last year's 82.8% and a new career high for the three years he's been polled.

Finally, we reach our last person, which actually is an idea.  With Ballpark Village finally getting underway, I wanted to see what people were thinking of it.  There were only 42 votes on this one, but the results weren't nearly as high as our other two.  Due to the delays and, frankly, the expectation that it would never get off the ground, many people were down on the whole thing.  While nobody left any comments on it, the overall rating was 58.3% with a couple of zeros and a few in the single digits.  (To be fair, there was at least one 100 as well.)  I think this will be fun to track over time and see if it doesn't get quite a boost when there are actually restaurants and the like up and going.

Cardinals take on the Twins today before an off day tomorrow.  Lance Lynn gets back on the mound and tries to shake off his first outing, when he gave up two runs in two innings.  The Twins radio network will be covering the game, so if you have GameDay Audio, you can listen in.  Hopefully the Cards can get back on the winning track! 

Wainwright Day

Posted on June 29, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Before we get into looking at today's game and other issues around the Cards, I guess we should really take a gander at Wednesday's loss to the Marlins, huh?  Have to be complete and all that, but it was a bit of a tough loss to swallow, only made palatable by the fact that the Cards had won five games before it.

I'm giving the Hero tag to Tony Cruz, mainly for his tie-breaking home run in the seventh that looked, for a very short time, to be a decisive one.  Cruz also had a single in the game, making it a little more palatable that Yadier Molina was taking the night off.  Having Cruz be a viable candidate back there is big, because as much as we love Molina and as awesome as his year has been so far (seriously, Molina has to be in the MVP discussion if he keeps this up, doesn't he?), you gotta have him rest sometimes and the team's going to be more willing to rest him if Cruz can take up the slack.

Lots of credit has to be given to Joe Kelly as well.  He looked very sharp, at least at times, and was able to get through six innings with just two runs allowed.  Again, I don't think that he's the definitive solution for our rotation issues, but he's filling in just fine and getting some great big league experience which will suit him in the future, either with the Cards or, perhaps, as a trade piece.  Whatever the case, so far he's kept the team in the game every time out, and that's about as much as you can ask from him.

David Freese and Matt Carpenter both got two hits, though Freese was thrown out at home when  Jose Oquendo got a bit too aggressive and sent him after Carpenter's first hit.  Freese was out by a significant amount.  I know I'd be too conservative as a third base coach and you should try to make the outfielders make a play, but when they are about to throw and your runner is just getting to third, especially one with ankle issues, maybe holding him up is the best option.  Again, though, I don't think Oquendo gets burned on that any more than any other third base coach, he's just the one we see the most.

It's basically a coin flip to see who gets the Goat of the game, because none of the relievers that came in to relieve Kelly really did their job.  Fernando Salas got an out and gave up a home run.  Victor Marte pitched an inning and a third, but gave up a run as well.

Sadly (because I'm rooting for him), though, I think you give the Goat to Sam Freeman.  Freeman's line looks almost identical to Salas's, but the home run he gave up gave the Marlins the lead that they never relinquished.

This weekend, we flip the calendars and stare July right in the face, which means that it's time to really start thinking about trades and moves that the team should do to make a push at the postseason.  The Cards right now are just 1.5 games out of first and, though they sit in third, would take over second with a series win against Pittsburgh this weekend.  (Yes, Pittsburgh is in second.  They were strong last year as well, remember, until fading in August.  Not saying that they are going to do that again this year--my preseason pick of having them finish ahead of Milwaukee looks pretty good right now--but more like it may be about time for us to stop with the wonderment of the Pirates playing good baseball.)  So what do they do?

A lot of focus is on the pitching staff, which makes sense.  The Cards are deep enough that they don't need a bench bat and the only position on the field that you could upgrade would be second base, and the team already has three guys that can play that.  Unless a top second baseman just lands in their laps, I don't think they'll go that direction.

So, do you take a starting pitcher, assuming that Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia aren't going to be much use to you this season, or do you focus on the bullpen?  Or do you take a starter so you can move someone like Lance Lynn to the bullpen, helping out one by doing the other?

Trading for relievers isn't necessarily the most exciting of moves, but it's likely what John Mozeliak will be looking at.  While there are a lot of intriguing arms in the pen, arms that have produced before, but they aren't reliable so far this season.  I expect that he'll look to bring in some middle relievers, guys that won't necessarily cost a lot in talent but will be a shot in the arm.

If, however, he decides to go with a starting pitcher--and, if Lynn continues his recent skid, he might--there are a couple of names that I was thinking about.  I've checked in with a blogger for each of these guys and used what they've told me as a basis for this comparison. This is getting long, so let's take the rest of this entry after the jump.

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UCB Prediction Week, Part I: American League

Posted on March 26, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Every year about this time, the United Cardinal Bloggers take aim at their predictions for the upcoming season.  It's a great way to look at the divisions, get a feel for what is going on, and write down picks that you will be trying to scrub from any internet search engine by probably July.

I'm far from an expert, so take all of these picks with a grain of salt.  There are few gut picks that don't have a lot of basis in reality, so feel free to take that into consideration when reading them.

Since the American League doesn't really matter as much, we at the UCB just lump it all into one day.  So keep reading to see how I pick the divisions to shake out.
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Playing Pepper 2012: Minnesota Twins

Posted on March 13, 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.

Minnesota Twins
63-99, fifth in the AL Central

We're not used to seeing the Twins down in the cellar of the NL Central.  Sure, there was a time when they struggled, but it hasn't been recently.  However, anything and everything went wrong for the Twins last year and they skidded to an almost-100 loss season.

The good thing for the Twins is that they play in the AL Central and, as such, can't ever be ruled out of contention.  While some part of the division have improved, most people wouldn't immediately suggest that Minnesota is doomed for the cellar again.  To get a better feel for the team, I tapped into the one blogosphere that could compete with the United Cardinal Bloggers in terms of organization and coordination.

Nate Gilmore writes for the FanSided blog Puckett's Pond, and you can also find him over on Twitter at LegendofArctic.

Ryan (AKA Twin #1) can be found writing with his brother over at the uniquely named Twins on Twins.  He's also on Twitter at twinsontwins.

Until recently, Seth Stohs was writing at  However, about a month ago he shut down his blog and combined with a number of other blogs into a megasite called Twins Daily, which really is an impressive achievement.  You can find him on Twitter at SethTweets.

Andrew can be found plying his trade away from the land with 10,000 lakes at his blog Twins Fan From Afar.  

Finally, Cody is another blogger watching his team from a distance, as he writes the blog North Dakota Twins Fan.  Cody's on Twitter at nodaktwinsfan.

Stick around and we'll talk about a couple of question marks that could have a big impact on the season to come.

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Playing Pepper 2011: Minnesota Twins

Posted on March 10, 2011 at 12:31 PM
Two years ago, I started a series I called Playing Pepper, where I asked questions of bloggers of each major league team about the season to come.  Not only was that informative and entertaining, it led to the spawning of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  With spring training coming up, it's time to get back into shape by again playing a little pepper.

Minnesota Twins (94-68, 6 GA and first in the AL Central; lost in the ALDS)

Last year was a big year for the Twins.  They moved outside to a beautiful new open-air stadium and then christened it with a divisional title (that, for the first time in a couple of years, didn't take Game 163) and, while October was shorter than expected, there was still a lot of hope for the future.  It's a long way from the contraction talks and there is no shame in being a Twins fan in baseball today.

What about 2011?  Can they continue to be the class of the division?  Three Minnesota bloggers will let us know.

Around the horn, it's Andrew Kneeland of Twins Target, part of the Bloguin network.  Andrew's got an interesting look at social media and baseball coverage going on so check it out.  Also, you can find him on Facebook and Twitter.  

He'll toss to Wally Fish, who has done a number of different blogs but has now settled at Puckett's Pond on the FanSided network.  Wally's also the MLB Director for FanSided and can be found Tweeting and Facebooking.

Wrapping it up will be Cody Christie.  Like me, Cody doesn't live in the state of his favorite team, as noted by his blog North Dakota Twins Fan.  As with the others, you can also find him over on Twitter.

The guys talk about a main cog returning from Tommy John surgery after the jump, something that would probably perk up the ears of Cardinals fans.
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Freese-ing Them Out

Posted on March 8, 2011 at 11:45 AM
We've been waiting for David Freese to get into the ballgame.  Apparently, so has he.

On a day where everyone was hitting, perhaps the loudest noise of all for Cardinal fans was the sound of Freese's bat as he stroked two hits and collected three RBI, all without injuring himself.
He also handled his only chance in the field without incident as well, bolstering optimism that the third base conundrum will be less of an issue than we expected.  (Side note: you can see Derrick Goold discussing Freese in this video.)

Even with his strong start, though, the Cardinals aren't going to deviate from the plan.  Freese will sit today when they take on the Boston Red Sox and still alternate days playing and not playing.  Cardinal fans are breathing a little easier today, though, with him finally getting on the field.

Freese wasn't the only one that had a strong day yesterday.  When you win 10-4 over the Twins, I guess that's not too surprising.  Looking at the pitching first, Jake Westbrook went three scoreless innings before stumbling a bit in the fourth.  Still, 3 2/3 innings with just one run allowed is much better than the 50-pitch two inning outing he had in his first shot.  Every pitcher is key this year, of course, but having Westbrook eat innings will be very valuable to a pen that may get used a lot every fifth day.

Lance Lynn didn't have quite the same type of outing this time as he did in his first appearance.  He allowed two earned runs in his two innings, with two walks and a strikeout.  He wasn't helped at all by Colby Rasmus's error in center, dropping a fly ball that might have changed the complexion of the inning.  The Twins announcers were talking about him trying to get people to chase the off-speed stuff and it just wasn't working, as he'd get ahead of batters but not be able to put them away.  I'm sure there was a discussion between him and the pitching coach on that after the game.

Jon JayAllen Craig, and Matt Carpenter all wound up with two hits, with both of Jay's being doubles.  Carpenter and Jay also tallied two RBI.  I had no idea that Carpenter was five for eight this spring.  I realize that Dennis makes a strong point urging caution with the results from the spring, with good reason, but it is nice to see the kid having an impact.  If Freese does go down, it could be Carpenter getting the call, especially if Nick Punto isn't going to be available.  (Are you like me?  Have you quickly forgotten Punto is part of this team?)  He'll at least have some confidence that he can compete at the big league level and probably will start out in Memphis, being just a phone call away.

Most fans are more focused on the other Carpenter, however.  Chris Carpenter may have to miss Friday's start, as he felt a twinge in his hamstring going less than full bore during Sunday's session.  However, he went again today and reported no problems, so it may be that he gets back on the mound Friday.  We'll see how the evaluation Wednesday goes.  You know they aren't going to rush him, but he does need a couple of starts to help build up to going deep into games.

The other injury from last week, Mitchell Boggs,  threw at full speed yesterday and reported no problems.  Sounds like that back issue is...wait for it....behind him, though I worry that might be something that flares up during the season.  There will likely be suitable fill-ins at Memphis, though, if it does.

Time for today's approval ratings.  We start off with the closer of the Redbirds, Ryan Franklin.  Franklin has never been the strongest of statistical candidates and he has his detractors as well.  That said, he's gotten the job more times than not, which will bring some warm and fuzzy feelings to a fan base.  Last year, he polled at a 69.7% clip, with his late season 2009 collapse still fresh in people's minds.

After another year of pitching the ninth, this year Franklin moves up to 72.8%.  Some people thought that he "doesn't have what it takes anymore" while others rated him much more highly.  For the record, I gave him an 86, because he has been fairly reliable, plus I gave him bonus points for his Twitter presence.

Dave Duncan is our management person of the day.  While his good friend Tony La Russa could be considered the lightening rod for this organization, Duncan tends to miss out on a lot of stuff thrown Tony's way.  Last year, he was marked at 87%, making him one of the highest non-players surveyed.

Duncan makes it three years in a row with rising stock as he gets a 87.9% from this year's polled Cardinal fans.  Duncan was considered "as good as it gets" but one did note he always looked like he was at a funeral in the dugout.  To complete the record, he got a 94 from me.

Our media member for the day is the Cat, Jim Hayes, from Fox Sports MW.  Jim typically does pieces for the pregame show, as well as interviews of the players before the game.  He will also join the guys in the booth during the third inning to talk about different aspects.  Fair disclosure: I met Jim as part of the FSMW tour last year and, while I liked him before, that time spent probably helped push to his 95% rating from me.

Hayes seems to be a love-him-or-hate-him kind of figure, as he wound up with a respectable 76.1%, but there was a lot of deviation in the scores, as there were a few 100s and a few in the 50-60 range.  He was termed "a clown" by one while another one loved his inside jokes with the players and announcers.  I've had this discussion on Twitter before, so I know he doesn't suit everyone's taste, but I think he enlivens the broadcast notably.

Cards are on KMOX again today, taking on the Red Sox.  Jaime Garcia will be on the mound looking to continue where he left off last time out.





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Carlos Beltran (6)
Yadier Molina (5)
Matt Holliday (4)
Jon Jay (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Pete Kozma (3)
Shelby Miller (3)
Adam Wainwright (3)
Allen Craig (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Tyler Lyons (2)
Edward Mujica (2)
Jake Westbrook (2)
David Freese (1)
Joe Kelly (1)
Seth Maness (1)
Trevor Rosenthal (1)
Michael Wacha (1)
Ty Wigginton (1)

2012 Top Hero: Matt Holliday (17)
2011 Top Hero: Lance Berkman (24)
2010 Top Heroes: Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols (24)
2009 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (28)
2008 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (25)

Jon Jay (6)
David Freese (5)
Mitchell Boggs (4)
Joe Kelly (4)
Pete Kozma (4)
Matt Carpenter (3)
Allen Craig (3)
Daniel Descalso (3)
Jaime Garcia (3)
Yadier Molina (3)
Matt Adams (2)
Carlos Beltran (2)
Matt Carpenter (2)
Matt Holliday (2)
Lance Lynn (2)
Seth Maness (1)
Shane Robinson (1)
Fernando Salas (1)
Adam Wainwright (1)
Jake Westbrook (1)

2012 Top Goat: Rafael Furcal (11)
2011 Top Goat: Ryan Theriot (12)
2010 Top Goat: Brendan Ryan (14)
2009 Top Goats: Rick Ankiel and Todd Wellemeyer (13)
2008 Top Goat: Troy Glaus (13)

Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
Adam Wainwright 88.2% (down 3.7%)
Jose Oquendo 87.1% (up 2.4%)
Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
United Cardinal Bloggers 85.2% (up 6.3%)
Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
Mike Shannon 85.1% (down 0.2%)
John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
Joe Strauss 54.3% (down 13.4%)

Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
B.J. Rains 69.5% (down 0.9%)
Kyle Lohse 68.9% (up 13.8%)
Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%

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