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Let's Go: It's Opening Day!

Posted on March 31, 2011 at 7:33 AM
Filed Under: San Diego Padres | St. Louis Cardinals
Can you feel it?  That shift in the air.  You woke up this morning feeling a little different, didn't you?  Today had that extra bounce, that extra excitement.  Call it Baseball Easter, call it the real New Year, call it whatever you like but call it great.  Opening Day is here, folks!  It's time for some Cardinal baseball!

May I say to those of you that are in St. Louis today, I'm envious.  To be a part of an opener in St. Louis, with the pep rally, all the red-clad fans milling about, the buzz and energy, to see the Hall of Famers and the Clydesdales, that's something devoutly to be wished.  One of these days, I want to make that happen!

There have been a lot of changes this offseason and there are a lot of questions that need to be answered.  Can Kyle McClellan fill that fifth role?  Can Kyle Lohse (who finally was touched up yesterday in a Triple-A game) keep his spring results as the games begin to count?  

What can we get out of Lance Berkman?  He's not concerned about his spring and he does have a point that he has reason to be confident the numbers will be there in the end, but last year did a lot to throw some doubt on that  A stronger spring would have made people a bit more confident, but lousy springs sometimes presage great years.  There's not a lot of correlation.  (At least we hope!)

It's interesting to hear that Matt Holliday is feeling more relaxed and ready to go this year.  With a year under his belt and less pressure to live up to expectations, it could be a strong April for him instead of the frustrating start last season had.  It's always refreshing to hear an athlete actually acknowledge that the contract played a role and that he was trying to hard to come through.  We saw what happened the rest of the year when he relaxed and played, so hopefully we'll see that from the get-go this year.

After about a week of speculation, Brian Tallet says he's ready to go today. That doesn't mean that Tony La Russa will use him, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Tallet come in around the seventh to get a lefty out.  Give him a chance on Opening Day in front of the home crowd.

As the spring concludes, that means you have to find places to put the minor league prospects.  Zack Cox and Shelby Miller will be teaming together at Palm Beach, while Carlos Martinez will technically be on the Quad Cities roster, but he'll actually stay in the extended spring training facilities down in Florida for a while to continue to get acclimated to the US (and to avoid pitching in the cold, I imagine).  When I purchased yesterday, I had to take advantage of adding for an extra $10 just to be able to watch these guys and the rest of the heralded prospects the Cardinals have.  (Plus there are so many other names out there on other teams, especially the Royals, that it seemed like a solid move.)

So, finally, we have real games to talk about.  You can see some of the statistics about today's game in the preview that's up at Baseball Reference.  Chris Carpenter ties a legend today, as his fifth Cardinals opener puts him in the same sentence as that good old Arkansas boy, Dizzy Dean.  You know Carp's going to be one of the Redbird legends when you can compare him to Dean and Bob Gibson in the team record books.
Here's what Carpenter has done against the Padres:

Brad Hawpe19165100133.313.421.375.79601
Aaron Harang16161000105.
Orlando Hudson1191000012.
Jorge Cantu330000001.
Chase Headley330000001.
Cameron Maybin330000002.
Will Venable331100000.333.333.6671.00000
Tim Stauffer110000001.
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/31/2011.

Not a lot there for those guys.  Hawpe's done a little damage and he is the one that's faced Carp the most, but all in all there aren't many of those guys looking forward to opening the season with Chris Carpenter on the mound.

Carpenter will be opposed by Tim Stauffer.  What's he done against this current Redbird crop?

Albert Pujols1193200221.333.455.5561.01001
Skip Schumaker983100111.375.444.500.94400
Matt Holliday863001311.500.6251.0001.62510
Colby Rasmus882100001.250.250.375.62501
Yadier Molina750000011.
Lance Berkman442101201.500.5001.5002.00000
Jon Jay3331000001.0001.0001.3332.33300
Chris Carpenter220000001.
Tyler Greene220000002.
Ryan Theriot220000000.
Jake Westbrook220000000.
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/31/2011.

Nobody's gone yard off of him, but there have been a lot of hits against him.  Look at that top number for Albert Pujols.  Two triples off of Stauffer?  That's gotta be AP's all-time high against someone.  Pretty sure he's not going to get another today, but I wouldn't be surprised if he removed that 0 in the HR column.

So here's the lineup that TLR will throw out there:

Chris Carpenter, P

Nothing to argue with there.  Earlier in the spring I made the case for Berkman in the two slot and Rasmus down around five, but until Berkman gets going, I think it's best the way it is.  Theriot may lead off a lot of games with an out and I like Colby's chances of getting on base right now better than Berkman's.  Hopefully Big Puma proves me wrong quickly--I really want him to have a big year.

If you want to get a real in-depth look at the Cards, check out Kevin's post over at Cards 'N Stuff looking at every player that's on the roster.  I dare you to find a better way to spend the morning!

Before the first pitch, you still have time to play a few games.  T-56 will take your pick for a batter in MLB that will get a hit until the first game of the day kicks off, while the two YNOTs (season long and San Diego) are open until the Cardinals' first pitch.

Enjoy the holiday, folks!  Go Cardinals!

EDIT: Bob from On The Outside Corner posted this on Twitter earlier this morning.  Play this and see if you aren't tapping your toes and expecting some baseball!

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2 Comments | Leave a comment

Oh man! I love baseball organ music. Enjoy opening day, Daniel. And good luck on the season.

Who doesn't love Opening Day, right? Best day of the year. Check out this preview of Opening Day and the 2011 Season, which features plenty of coverage of the Pujols contract situation, including how the Cards should handle it all:

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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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