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Losses On And Off The Field

Posted on March 4, 2013 at 9:25 AM
Filed Under: Approval Ratings | Minnesota Twins | St. Louis Cardinals | Washington Nationals
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! 

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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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