The Cardinals may have gone out of town, but that doesn't mean out of sight out of mind. There's been plenty to talk about out of this series in Baltimore, so let's quickly look at the last two games before getting into it all.
I think the best thing that we've seen out of both games is great starting pitching. On Tuesday, Kyle Lohse was very strong, going five scoreless innings. If it wasn't for the rain delay that forced him out of the game, I'd give him the Hero tag. As it is, I think you give it to Matt Holliday due to his two hits and his home run. A strong night for David Freese in his return from the disabled list as well, with two hits and a run scored, though he did strike out once.
On the downside, you probably give the Goat to Ryan Franklin. More about him in a bit, but he wrapped his Cardinal career by going 1/3 of an inning and giving up three hits and two runs, including a long ball. Yadier Molina had a rough night as well, going 0-4.
Wednesday night, you can't do anything but give the Hero to Chris Carpenter. A complete game, resting a bullpen that was short members due to release, recent use, or nagging injury. One run over those nine, with five strikeouts and an impressive piece of pitching in the fifth, when he had bases loaded with nobody out and was able to emerge unscathed.
132 pitches, on top of the 250 pitches he threw in his last two outings, does give some pause, though. I feel like Carpenter can handle this, that he's the workhorse, the competitor that will go as far as you need with no ill effects. However, he has had numerous arm injuries in the past. Can that arm hold up? More relevantly (because I don't believe Carpenter is going to be hurt doing this), will he still have the stamina come late August? The Cards have talked in the past about saving bullets. Does Carp just have another clip he can put in?
Just a small shoutout as well to Mark Hamilton. Even the DH has its uses, as Hamilton has gotten a chance to start the last couple of nights. Tuesday night he went 1-4 with an RBI and last night he was 1-3. Perhaps some regular play while the Cardinals are on the East Coast will help him get a bit of a groove. I still think the Cards would be well served to let him start some games at first and put Lance Berkman in the outfield (or even rest Berkman occasionally) to see what they have in Hamilton.
The Goat would go to Yadier Molina for another 0-4 night. Yadi's only hitting .224 in June after his stellar start. The team has used Tony Cruz more than I thought they would once Gerald Laird went down, but either Molina needs a rest or he's averaging out to where you'd expect him to be. Hopefully he can do what he did last year, start the second half of the season fresh and have a strong end of the campaign.
Last night's game was overshadowed somewhat by the news that came out a little before game time, when it was announced that Ryan Franklinhad been released. The waiver-wire guy that quickly became an All-Star closer just as quickly hit the wall and the team had little choice but to part ways with him. They'd done everything they could to keep him around and try to help him out, but nothing was working.
Franklin always did it with smoke and mirrors. If you look back, I was always wondering when the bubble would burst. He got three outs, but they might have been fly balls to the wall or he might do his Jason Isringhausen impression and make things interesting before he'd get the job done. When you walk that wire, eventually you are going to fall off and Franklin did with a vengeance.
I think that in years to come Franklin's reputation in St. Louis will be much better than it was in the last few months. You could even see that yesterday, as many bloggers and Twitter types focused on the good that Franklin had done in St. Louis, which was considerable, instead of the disaster that 2011 has been for him. He most likely will spend his days in Oklahoma, but I could see him being one of those ex-Cards that pops up at various events around St. Louis. Who knows, might even do some TV or radio if he wants to. Whatever the case, he's apparently relieved at the change and hopefully things will be good for him in his post-baseball life.
Interesting side note, at least for me. So far every year, the player or players that wind up as the top Goat on this site aren't back for next season. Troy Glaus was in 2008, didn't return. Rick Ankiel and Todd Wellemeyer in 2009, both were allowed to be free agents. Even last year, when it seemed the curse would be broken, Brendan Ryan then got traded to Seattle. With Franklin's Goat in Tuesday's game, he moved into a first place tie with three others. Apparently this year the jinx didn't wait until the offseason.
It appears that Brandon Dickson is about the only option for the Cardinals, at least internally, to initially fill that roster slot. Bryan Augenstein and Makiel Cleto were both optioned to Memphis and Springfield, respectively, within the last 10 days and as such can't return unless there's an injury, which there's not. Be interesting to see what Dickson can do in the bullpen and if he takes to it like Lance Lynn apparently has.
Have you voted yet? If you didn't see last night's post, click over here to see what you can do for Stan the Man.
Cards finish up in Baltimore tonight. After flipping their rotation because apparently Camden Yards doesn't agree with Jake Westbrook, Jaime Garcia will go for the sweep against Brian Matusz. As you can imagine, there aren't many reference points for either pitcher against the opposing team. Here's Garcia vs. the Orioles:
Well, at least Punto can tell the club a little about the guy. Scouting reports aren't going to do much for either team tonight. Hopefully Garcia pitches like good Garcia and the offense can get him enough to win!
The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end
awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America. These
awards can be found at the official site in October with links back to the voters,
ensuring transparency and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball