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The Last Week Without Baseball

Posted on February 18, 2013 at 7:57 AM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals
Look at the calendar.  We're always working for the weekend, of course, but more so this week than most.  See that, right there on Saturday?  Yep, that's the first spring training game of the year, a little tilt with those co-dwellers in Jupiter, the Miami Marlins.  There seems to be a good chance some of the young guys like Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha will make their spring debuts this weekend.  If that doesn't get you fired up on a Monday, you've got issues.

Speaking of issues, Carlos Martinez really should switch to American Express, because his visa issues are keeping him out of camp.  I'm not sure what the deal is with athletes and their visas, but there's always some that have more trouble than others getting back into the country.  Do they wait to long to get back?  Does the fact Martinez once was Carlos Matias pose the problem?  Is it just random chance?  I don't know, but hopefully whatever the problems are, Martinez can clean them up pretty soon.  There are going to be some significant innings for him if he can get into camp and show he's in shape and it'd be a shame for him to miss them.  As fans, Martinez would make an already exciting spring from a pitching perspective even more so.

For the first time that I can remember, the Cardinals held a bunting tournament among its pitchers at the end of last week.  The bunting tournaments came into national attention last season when A.J. Burnett, recently acquired by the Pirates, fractured his face during one of them.  Still, the tournaments go on and Michael Blazek beat out Trevor Rosenthal for the title.  (From what I understand, hitters will have their own tournament later on.)  No matter what came out of the tournament, though, it was worth it to hear this quote from Mike Matheny:

"I know how much everybody loves how much we bunt. It seems to be great entertainment for everybody back home, so I'm glad we could appease them."

Well played, Matheny. Well played.  It shows that last year's outcry of his bunting style--an outcry that, if you've purchased your 2013 UCB Annual, you'd know was a bit over blown--didn't get past the manager unnoticed.  Of course, that also means it's unlikely he's planning to change his style, but I seriously hope we won't see much more no-outs, runner-on-second bunting this season.

Of course, the big story until it gets resolved will always be Adam Wainwright's contract discussions.  Joe Strauss has a column up today talking about those discussions and comparing them to the Albert Pujols negotiations, with the emphasis on that they are quite different animals.  I raised my eyebrows at the fact that Wainwright was looking for something longer than five years.  I could imagine that's quite a sticking point, even with someone as good as Waino.  Would they go longer if Wainwright would take less per yer?  That's something we'll have to wait and see.  I think that Wainwright will stay a Cardinal and I think the deal won't be crushing to the team, but I thought Pujols would stay as well.  Then again, we didn't know back then how bad the relationship between Pujols and the front office had gotten.  That variable isn't in play here, as far as we can tell.

Rafael Furcal has come to camp and said he feels great, except when he throws the ball.  While the pain is better than it was last year and it sounds like it's more discomfort right now, he's also not let loose with a throw or two yet either.  All of this has alarm bells going off in Cardinal Nation and rightfully so.  There are players behind Furcal, of course, but none you feel real confident about being out there for any extended period of time.  Derrick Goold has a writeup about Pete Kozma today, and while you might root for him, looking at the fact that last September's boost was fueled by a .415 BABIP, something obviously unsustainable, makes you realize that those six weeks are less and less likely to be what Kozma is all about.  You have to figure that if Furcal goes down, the Cardinals get into the shortstop trade market quickly.

At least Jaime Garcia has been throwing without pain.  Garcia and Furcal were two players that Cardinal fans worried most about in the offseason, as they discarded surgery talk for rest and rehab.  That can work, but more often than not it's a delaying tactic and they'll be on the surgeon's table at some point.  Garcia threw live batting practice Saturday, though, and everything looks good.  I don't think that people are quite letting out the breath they've been holding in regards to him, but it does give some indication that he'll be fine, at least to start the season.  We'll know more as the spring goes along, of course.

If you've not voted in the Cardinal Approval Ratings, please do so!  I'm still about 20 short of last year's responses and would love to top that number if possible.  So let me know what you think of the players, media and another assorted types.  You can make a difference!

Also, if you missed it, Episode 29 of Conversations With C70 went up this weekend.  Talked with Ian Hunter of The Blue Jay Hunter and it was a lot of fun, so give that a listen.

The annual Playing Pepper series starts this afternoon with a look at the Arizona Diamondbacks, so be sure to come back for that one.  Ignore the Starks of Winterfell--baseball is coming!


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Heroes
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)

Goats
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%)

2012
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%)

2011
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%

2009
Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%


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