They've done all the openers. They've gotten their rings. All the starters have gone twice. The stopping and starting with off days will slack off. Save for seeing the teams that they've not seen, there's not anything left to be "new" about the season. Now, it's just time for baseball on a regular and consistent basis.
The Cards start a nine-game stretch tonight against Cincinnati at home, followed up by a road trip that takes them to Pittsburgh (meaning Jenifer Langosch can revisit her old stomping ground) and Chicago. A successful stretch there could have them extend their current 2.5 game lead in the NL Central and position them well for the coming months.
What may be more interesting than the results of this trip is the roster juggling that's going to have to take place soon. Skip Schumaker began his rehab in Memphis on Sunday and likely won't be there long. When he returns, you figure Shane Robinson gets sent out, even though Robinson is hitting .385 with a home run in limited action. That much makes sense, at least as much as it makes sense that Schumaker is on this roster. What comes next, though, will be telling as well.
Allen Craig will hopefully be ready to go soon after May reaches us, which means someone else has to be moved for him. Originally, I thought this was going to be as easy as John Mozeliak making a small deal with Washington for the rights to Erik Komatsu and sending him down to AAA. However, in the chat room while Bill and I were doing Sunday's Gateway To Baseball Heaven, Bob Netherton pointed out a new rule that even after the deal, Komatsu would have to clear waivers to be demoted. That seems unfair--if a team has given up something of value for the rights to the player, it'd suck to then lose him while trying to do the very thing you traded value for--but unfair and baseball have gone hand in hand before.
So you can't do that. It's possible they'd just return him to Washington because there's no room at the inn. With the way Matt Carpenter is hitting, it's unlikely that they would demote him, although there's a lot of duplication between Carpenter and Craig. Both are going to be the fill-ins for Lance Berkman or Carlos Beltran, with Carpenter adding the backup for David Freese and Craig for Matt Holliday. A slower start for "Little Carp" and I'd say that'd be the move the team made, but since he's currently leading the team in OPS, that's probably not an option.
Those really are the only two options, though. Neither Tyler Greene nor Daniel Descalso is lighting the world on fire, but the return of Craig doesn't help that. I'm pretty sure Mike Matheny's not going to go the Craig-at-second-base route like we saw some last year. There's still time before any decision needs to be made--I've not heard about Craig lately, so I don't think a rehab stint is imminent and, even if it was, he'll probably need the full 20 days--but it's something to think about on a day off.
Cardinals do get another first--the first time they've seen a team twice in 2012. The Reds come to town after St. Louis took two of three (and had a solid chance at a sweep) up in Cincinnati. This rivalry has cooled off somewhat in the last couple of years, partly because the big agitators are gone, partly because the animus got transferred to Milwaukee last year when the Reds weren't contending. Which is good, since there are so many former Cardinals over there, now including Ryan Ludwick. It's tough to root against a player after he's passed through the Lou. Well, I guess it depends on how he left...........
Kyle Lohse gets another crack at his former team. Last week, he gave up one earned run in six innings in the hitters' park known as Great American. Lohse has had two strong starts to begin his season and looks to do well in his first home start of the year. Here are the career numbers, which haven't changed much since the last time we saw them.
Former Cardinals Scott Rolen and Ludwick are high up on the list of plate appearances, but they've had about as much luck as everyone else. Joey Votto and Jay Bruce have hit him pretty well, but they hit a lot of people very well.
You have to expect that, even with this rivalry cooling, Johnny Cueto is going to get some boos at Busch tonight. That's just going to happen for a long, long time, especially since his foot knocked Jason LaRue out of the game for good. Cueto had one bad inning in his start against St. Louis last week, giving up three in the third, but that was it during his five-inning stint and the Reds rallied to win the game. Here's the career numbers against him.
Lance Berkman should be back in the lineup today after getting six days (including that last start by Cueto) off. A number of the Cardinals, including Berkman, have hit Cueto well in the past. Note that Jon Jay has hit three home runs off of him, including one last week, so he's likely quite excited about tonight's tilt.
Expectation is that Freese will be back tonight as well after a small finger issue and hopefully Beltran will not be suffering any lasting affects from being hit by a pitch in Sunday's game. If not, the full lineup should be going out there against Cueto, something he didn't have to deal with last Thursday. Should be a fun time and look forward to the Cards playing their first home night game tonight!
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