Posted on March 25, 2010 at 9:56 AM
Filed Under: Approval Ratings
| St. Louis Cardinals
Things were rolling along. Matt Holliday was back from his rib cage injury and starting to find his groove. Albert Pujols was back from his back, relieving a lot of worries in Cardinal Nation. Everything was great, until yesterday's game, when Yadier Molina
pulled up lame, left the game, and was diagnosed with a strained oblique.
Strained obliques aren't anything new in the Cardinal clubhouse. Woody Williams had one a few years back, and more recently Pujols and Chris Carpenter have had to deal with them. The problem with obliques is they take a while to heal (unless you are Pujols, who does everything better than a normal human).
The hope is that it's a mild one, he takes a few days off, and is ready to go for the beginning of the season. However, I'm a little doubtful it'll happen that way. A catcher has to be able to throw out baserunners, get into the crouch, and move in different ways than anyone else on the field. I can't imagine that if the oblique isn't completely healed, Yadi will be able to be back catching anytime soon.
Which poses quite a dilemma for the club. It was noted at the Post-Dispatch that Yadi might be the second-most indispensable Cardinal, because his backups aren't nearly to his caliber (sorry, Jason LaRue and Matt Pagnozzi). While LaRue especially can hold down the fort for a limited period of time, you don't want to see him out there on a regular basis. If Bryan Anderson had developed the way that he looked like he was going to, this would have been a great opportunity to see what he could do. However, being that Anderson only got one at-bat in camp this year, I think we can safely assume he's not in the picture, at least right now.
The Cardinals will have to wait and see with Yadi, but hopefully, no matter how much they need him, they don't rush him back. Those obliques can flare up again at the slightest provocation.
Switching gears to those that throw to Molina, it looks like the honking worked. Jaime Garcia is expected to be named
the fifth starter by the club for the regular season. Garcia has had a dominant spring and it would be hard to overlook his work.
This is in no way to short Kyle McClellan, though. I know I was a little concerned about the switch from reliever for McClellan, but he's handled it like a champ, putting up numbers that, in any other camp, would have solidified his standing as the last starter. However, with the bullpen still in a bit of flux, having the established hand like McClellan in there wouldn't hurt any.
You have to figure McClellan will get a lot of two-inning, three-inning looks this year. If Garcia falters, is he the first in line to take over? With a promotion of a Mitchell Boggs or an Adam Ottovino, whichever doesn't make the club, as the fill in for him? If Rich Hill starts getting it together in Memphis, where does he fit in? Still a lot of questions to be answered this season, though if Garcia keeps going like he has this spring, most of them aren't even going to come up.
After our interview with McClellan
earlier in the spring, I'm not surprised to hear him saying things about whatever the team needs and it's just nice to be wanted and valued. It's got to be tough when you want to be a starter, you pitched lights out, and it still wasn't enough. I don't think he'll carry that into the season and he'll be just as effective a reliever as he's been a starter this spring.
If you've not seen it yet, Pujols is going to have his own "Got Milk?" ad
. We discussed on last night's UCB Radio Hour
about Pujols's increased profile and whether he's becoming a household name in households that don't even follow baseball. I'm not sure he's there yet, but he is working on it.
Time to finish up the Cardinal Approval Ratings with the last three on the ballot. Last year, we were wondering exactly what Tony La Russa was thinking, moving outfielder Skip Schumaker to the infield. Skip wasn't on last year's voting ballot, but after a year of solid work at second, it was time to get a feel for what Cardinal Nation thought about him. On 66 ballots, Skip wound up with a respectable 81.1% mark. The Schu man topped out at 99 and bottomed out at 50.
Mike Shannon was on last year's questions, racking up a 91.6% rating. The long-time broadcaster was more of the same in 2009, but his approval rating dropped dramatically. Shannon only got a 80.3% tally this year, with numerous zeros on the 64 ballots that named him. It's possible that some put in zero instead of leaving it blank for no rating, but it could be that Shannon is more polarizing than I thought.
Adam Wainwright came into his own last year, challenging for the NL Cy Young. That obviously helped him in the eyes of the respondents, as he wound up with a 95.6% mark, the second-highest on the club. Over 15 different 100 ratings and the lowest on the 66 ballots was a 77.
Hope y'all enjoyed the approval ratings. It was interesting to see the differences between this year and last. No post tomorrow, as I'll be in getting carpal tunnel surgery. They say I'll be able to type soon afterwards, so hopefully it won't be too long before we are talking Cardinals again!
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