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2011 Cardinal Blogger Awards Ballot

Posted on November 13, 2011 at 11:08 PM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals | United Cardinal Bloggers
As you know, the Cardinals have now named Mike Matheny as the next manager of the team.  I'll have much more on that in the morning, but while I had some time, I wanted to make sure I got in my ballot for this year's Cardinal Blogger Awards, brought to you by the United Cardinal Bloggers.

If you've been reading this site for a while, you've probably seen these awards in past years.  This is the fifth time that we've done them, marking it as the longest consecutive project of the UCB.  This year, we've added a little twist, in that we're allowing the readers of these blogs and followers of these Twitter accounts to have a little say in the matter as well.  If you follow this link, you too can make your voice heard in the balloting.  If you want to vote for me in any of the blogger-related awards, I'd be honored, but you can't go wrong expressing your opinion on any of those nominated or available for selection.

OK, after the jump, we'll get started.


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Award 1: Player of the Year

For the last four years, this has been automatic.  You write down Albert Pujols's name and you move on to the next one on the list.  This year, Pujols probably would only come in third on an average ballot.  His slump at the beginning of the year overshadowed a strong finishing kick, but there's no doubt it wasn't one of his best years.

Instead, it comes down to Yadier Molina and Lance Berkman, and as much as I love Yadi and he had an outstanding year (though his defense was a bit shakier than normal), I have to give it to Berkman.  Without Berkman, this team likely digs itself a hole early in the year that it was unable to get out of.  John Mozeliak's $8 million investment paid off handsomely.

Award 2: Pitcher of the Year

He's dominated this award in the past and again I'll have to be unoriginal and go with Chris Carpenter.  Jason Motte and some of the other young guns in the bullpen did some outstanding work as well, but Carpenter is the one that drug this team into the playoffs to some degree.  Throwing two shutouts in the span of five weeks and eight scoreless innings in another is enough to get a lot of respect, but his postseason work was outstanding (for the most part) as well.

Award 3: Regular Season Game of the Year

There really were some amazing games this year.  I've got a fondness for April 3, where Jaime Garcia threw a shutout while the UCB looked on from their suite seats as part of the Cards' first Blogger Event.  Most of the month of September should be included in the discussion, from Carp's shutouts of Milwaukee and Houston to the Carlos Marmol game against the Cubs.  All very, very fine choices.

For me, though, I'm going to go with one a little bit stranger, a little bit wilder, that helped sum up this team.  August 2, 2011 found St. Louis in Milwaukee, a inhospitable place for most team.  Garcia started this one and struggled early.  The Cards got behind 3-1, but scored five (including a home run by Jaime) to take a 6-3 lead.  They almost immediately blew it, giving up four in the fifth to trail by one.  After tying the game, they wound up winning it in the 11th.

All of that was crazy enough, but then you had Yadier Molina taking a borderline third strike and going ballistic, the umpire's over-the-top acting like Yadi had drenched him in spit, Pujols being hit and then Motte coming out--in a tie game!--and throwing not one but two pitches at Ryan Braun, finally putting him on.  Lance Lynn showed that he was a force in the bullpen and Matt Holliday and Berkman combined to win the game.  There's very little that happened in the Cardinal season that wasn't encapsulated in that game.  (Plus, it doesn't hurt that this all happened on my birthday!)

Award 4: Post-Season Game of the Year

Game 6 of the World Series is going to win this award and I've got no problem with that.  It was an historic, amazing game and it deserves every accolade it is given.  However, remember that it was a sloppy game for the first half of the night as well.  For my money, the most incredible, outstanding postseason game was Game 5 of the NLDS.  Carpenter vs. Roy Halladay.  A run scored before the first out, then nothing else all night long.  I spent that game pacing a square of my carpet in front of the TV and interacting with my Twitter friends that were as stressed as I was.  It was an outstanding experience and a game that will get overshadowed some with the rest of the postseason run but one that deserves the spotlight.

Award 5: Surprise Player of the Year

I was really surprised that Lance Berkman came back the way that he did, I'm not going to lie.  However, I think more surprising was the impact that Jon Jay made on this squad.  With his tailspin after the trade of Ryan Ludwick in 2010, I really thought that the league might have caught on to Jay and we'd seen the best that we were going to see out of him.  Instead, he came out and played well enough that the Cards felt comfortable trading Colby Rasmus, a deal that saved the season.

Award 6: Disappointing Player of the Year

You could throw a stone into the pre-July bullpen and most likely hit a solid candidate for this award.  That said, I have to give the tag to Ryan Franklin.  I felt like he'd been living on borrowed time the last couple of years, but I didn't expect that the note would be called due quite this quickly.  A gradual decline would have been expected, but to have one save all year long and not even be able to contribute much when moved out of the closer role was nothing we saw coming back in the spring.

Award 7: Cardinal Rookie of the Year

Wasn't the best year for the young guns, as a lot of them had already lost rookie status.  I really liked what we saw out of Lynn, but he was hurt a good portion of the stretch run.  Adron Chambers brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the team, but really wasn't around very much.  I think I'll go with a guy that technically was a rookie, having only pitched 30 innings the year before.  Fernando Salas stepped in and stabilized the late innings before turning the closer role over to Motte and did some great work in the setup role as well.  Without him, the Cards might have gone with Franklin or Miguel Batista longer than they did, which would have been disastrous.

Award 8: Pre-Season Acquisition of the Year

There's no doubt that this one as well, as only one of Mozeliak's moves last winter really paid big dividends.  Lance Berkman made that offseason a good one, no matter what anyone else did.

Award 9: Mid-Season Acquisition of the Year

Most everyone (well, not really Corey Patterson) that Mozeliak acquired around the July trade deadline paid off handsomely and even his August acquisition of Arthur Rhodes worked out as well.  I'm excited to see what Marc Rzepczynski can do in the future with the Redbirds, but my choice on this one has to be Octavio Dotel.  I never thought that it would be when the trade was made, thinking Dotel to be an veteran well past his prime, but he impressed me with his strikeout ability and his solid work.  Very rarely was he tagged with anything or have a bad outing and his arm helped put that bullpen into some sort of order.

Award 10: Most Anticipated Cardinal

I'm a pitching guy through and through, which means I'm just counting the days until Shelby Miller takes the mound at Busch Stadium.  He's still got some work to do, but I wouldn't be surprised if August or September of 2012 doesn't have him in the bigs and the UCB looking for a new name to give this award to next season.

Award 11: Best Individual Cardinal Blog

The ranks of active Cardinal blogs written by one individual expanded some this year and there is quality work going on throughout the whole Cardinal blogosphere.  Naming just one is a tough chore and I want to thank all of my friends in the UCB that have cast a ballot for me in this category because there are so many very good ones to choose from.  

That said, I'll cast my vote for Bob over at On The Outside Corner.  Bob's got a grand way of tying current day to historical precedent (like Mark at RetroSimba does as well) and he's also often got great information about the guys coming up through the farm.  If he's not on your regular reading, he should be.

Award 12: Best Team Cardinal Blog

There are really some amazing team blogs in our group as well, blogs that tend to work together almost seamlessly to put up quality content.  I love what Bill does at I70 Baseball and there's not a bigger supporter of the guys at Pitchers Hit Eighth than me either.  That said, this year I'm going to go with Aaron Miles' Fastball.  Due to limitations at work, AMF was a site I was able to read through our firewall pretty often and I enjoy their regular postings and discussions about the game.

Award 13: Best Professional Blog

I'm going to give this to Obviously, You're Not A Golfer, but I'm cheating just a bit.  There's no doubt that Matthew Leach puts up some great stuff over at his blog, but I'm giving him the edge due to his active and engaging Twitter presence and his great support of the blogging community over the years.  Plus, while he constantly destroyed me in Words With Friends, he was generous enough to keep playing (and destroying) me for quite some time.

Award 14: Best Rookie Cardinal Blog

Looking at the list of blogs that started work between December 1, 2010 and when we put this list together, it's a very impressive body.  Aaron Miles' Fastball is on there.  El Maquino is on there.  Redbird Dugout is on there.  STL: Fear The Red is on there.  The blog that really piqued my curiosity this year, though, was The Redbird Menace.  Malcolm writes some really interesting stuff in a manner that's fairly unique.  He had to set the blog aside for a while to focus on passing the bar (and it's always good to have a lawyer in a group like this) but he's back and I'd say you should add it to your bookmarks.

Award 15: Post of the Year

Let me say up front that I'm really proud of my submission to this category.  Obviously I am or I wouldn't have submitted it!  However, it's very tough not to go with Bill's post "Backyard Dreams".  To be able to tie in what David Freese did in Game 6 to what Jim Edmonds had done years before to what all kids practice in their backyard made for a wonderful, touching read.

Award 16: Best UCB Project

Since I'm the one that comes up with the UCB schedule, I hate to choose one project over another.  That doesn't mean I won't do it, just that I hate doing it.  I'm very proud of the Progressive Game Blog, because I think it's a one of a kind project that's never been done anywhere else before, but all in all the roundtables--both in February/March and October/November (/December this year!)--give the most fun for the longest period of time.

Award 17: Most Optimistic Cardinal Blog

If you're blue/and you don't know where to go to/why don't you go where upbeat sits/Diamond Diaries fits.  The girls may not post quite as much anymore, but there's no doubt they have a very sunny view of whatever situation the Cardinals might find themselves in.  I have a feeling that will be even stronger after what we saw the team do in 2011!

Award 18: Best UCB Podcast

You could call me a producer of the UCB Radio Hour, being the guy that lines up the hosts and makes sure everything is going OK, plus I sit in the big chair once every couple of months.  You hear me and Bill every Sunday on Gateway to Baseball Heaven and obviously Conversations With C70 is mine as well.  So I'm limited in what I can vote for, being that I'm not going to vote for anything I've got my hand in.

However, that preceding paragraph should not be construed as any slight against my actual selection, the Pitchers Hit Eighth podcast.  I've repeatedly expressed my admiration both here and to both Nick and Josh at how well that podcast is done.  They've lined up incredible guests and, even though time constraints have no meaning when these guys get together, the shows never feel long, drawn-out, or tired at all.  In all honestly, their work and the conversational style of Nick and Josh just sitting down talking is what inspired me to go about trying the medium out and I'm still trying to get my show to those standards.

Award 19: Best UCB Twitterer

If you aren't following basically everyone in the UCB on Twitter, you need to.  There's no better way to spend a day (especially during the off-season when you need to talk baseball) than following all of these guys and girls and engaging them in conversations.  If you could only follow just one, though---man, that'd be a tough call.  You'd miss out on @throatwarbler's Twitter tales or @poisonwilliam's shameless self promotions or @MattSebek's cutting humor, but I think you'd have to go with @gr33nazn.  Dennis brings it all--good discussions, insightful commentary and humor to boot.  If you aren't following him (or any of these guys) you've got to get to it.

Award 20: Best Fake Twitter Account

There were a lot of Twitter accounts that sprung up during the stretch run.  The rally squirrel had one.  Motte's glove had one.  Even the Cardinal bullpen got one after the Game 5 miscommunications.  However, the best one, hands down, was @TortyCraig.  Written from the perspective of Allen Craig's pet tortoise, it was a well-written account that stayed true to its own universe and was completely believable (if you accepted the premise, of course).  After the Series, the account was shut down, but I raise a sprinkled doughnut in honor of the creativity of that account.

Twenty awards.  That's a lot of excellence.  And there were so many that didn't get recognized because, with the nature of awards, you can only pick one to take home the hardware, no matter how many were deserving.  We'll tabulate the results at the end of the week and you'll find them over at the official site when we do.  Until then, though, get your vote in and let your voice be heard!


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We agreed on a lot of your choices.

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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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