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Getting The Work In

Posted on March 20, 2012 at 7:27 AM
Filed Under: Atlanta Braves | Houston Astros | St. Louis Cardinals
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!

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Carlos Beltran (6)
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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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