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It’s Starting To Look A Lot Like Baseball

Posted by JE Powell

The holidays are finally over. Yes, I certainly enjoy them, but as a parent with an ever expanding family (siblings getting married, getting ready to give birth [though not the same sibling], etc) the holidays can be a bit, shall we say, harried. In my neck of the woods we have had several days that were around 50 degrees Fahrenheit and has had a spring feel to it (though reports indicate snow is on the way; stupid Midwest weather) and with that it has served to remind me that baseball is once again right around the corner. In about five weeks St. Louis Cardinals pitchers and catchers will report to Jupiter, Florida on February 19th. That day, for me at least, is the official start of the baseball season.

My little blog will officially be over a year old on the aforementioned 19th. Well, I guess it depends on how one defines the blog’s birthday. I created the blog on February 15th, 2011. My first post was February 23rd, 2011. So, in human terms, I suppose one could argue that my blog had a gestation period of 8 days. Well, I guess that’s not really close in human terms. The closest would be the American opossum, which is 12-13 days and can be as short as 8 days, though, opossums are marsupials and give birth and then let the offspring develop in the ventral pouch of the mother. So, I suppose that my blog’s official birthday would be Feb. 23rd. So it will be just shy of a year old when pitchers and catchers report. But I digress.

Back to baseball. Since I am coming down with another case of Cardinal Fever (as you may recall, it’s a form of Bird Flu), well I guess I have had Cardinal Fever my whole life, so I am not coming down with it, let’s take a very quick peek at the 2012 season.

I hope to cover some of these topics more in depth at a later date, so these will just be quick hits for now. First, some of the questions for 2012:

  • Will Adam Wainwright be able to come back from Tommy John surgery and be as dominant as he was before?
  • Will Rafael Furcal and Carlos Beltran spend any significant time on the disabled list?
  • Will Jon Jay be able to able to produce with the bat having considerably more playing time at centerfield (while he put up good numbers last year, statistically speaking, his numbers declined as his playing time went up)?
  • Can Allen Craig come back from knee surgery and play as well as he did with limited playing time in 2011?
  • Can David Freese stay healthy and carry over his magnificent play during the 2011 playoffs?
  • How well will Mike Matheny manage the team?
  • Who will see the most playing time at 2nd base?

Time will be the only one who can truly answer these questions, but they are questions that will affect (effect? I still don’t know which one to use and I have looked it up several times) the outcome of the season.

But the best part, in my opinion anyway, is finding the answers out. I am anxiously awaiting the start to the real New Year, the first day of baseball season (which, as you may recall, I have stated to be February 19th. Sure, the regular season doesn’t start until April this year, but I cannot wait that long. I miss baseball.


Top 5 Stories of 2011: UCB December Project

Posted by JE Powell

2011 certainly has been an interesting  year in Cardinals Nation. There have been many different, interesting, and sometimes frustrating stories throughout the year. Well, for the UCB December Project I get to pick my top five stories of the year.


Wainwright Has Tommy John Surgery, Misses Entire Season

Losing Adam Wainwright for the entire season was a huge loss. Wainwright was a 20 game winner and the ace of the staff. Before he had to go on the disabled list, he was set to be the Opening Day starter. This story dominated Spring Training and overshadowed the fact that Albert Pujols showed up to Jupiter, Florida without a new contract. I would have much rather had Wainwright, however.


David Freese Wins NLCS MVP and World Series MVP

The 2011 post season turned David Freese into “Absolute Zero” and a superstar. Yes, a superstar. Whether that will carry over to 2012 remains to be seen, but his performances during the post season gained the St. Louis area born 3rd baseman national fame. More importantly, to Cardinals fans at least, his performance did two things:  1) helped deliver an 11th World Series Championship to St. Louis and 2) help carve is immortality in Cardinals history and lore.


Cardinals Win NL Wild Card on Last Day of Season, Game 162

Much has been written about this, but here’s a quick recap:

  • The Cardinals were 10 1/2 games out of the Wild Card on August 25th.
  • The Cards were 3 games out with 5 to play
  • The Cards won 23 of their last 31, a record of 23-8
  • This was, historically speaking, one the greatest late season surges to make the playoffs of all-time


World Series Game 6

This is one of the best games I have ever seen. This game ranks at near the very top as one the greatest games in the Cardinals’ storied history.  It could be the greatest.


St. Louis Cardinals Win the World Series

There is no other moment, in my opinion, that can top this. This was one of the most improbable World Series wins in the history of Major League Baseball, a World Series that will be talked about for years and decades from now. For me, there is no other story capable of being Number One.

Honorable Mentions

Pujols Starts Spring Training with No New Contract

Colby Rasmus Traded

Albert Pujols Signs with Angels


UCB Roundtable Question 12-13-2011

Posted by JE Powell

For the December project for the United Cardinal Bloggers, each member asks a question of the entire group. I was slated to ask my question 12-13-2011. The following is my question followed by the responses of my fellow Cardinal bloggers. 

First of all, there has been a plethora of great questions asked and I have really enjoyed answering all of them. For my question I am going to ask you to peer into your crystal ball, read your tea leaves, or make an educated guess based on SABRmetrics or however you choose to do it to answer the following:

On the current 25-man roster, which players do you see going into the Hall of Fame one day, if any, and why (they do not have to go in as a Cardinal, just in general)? Now, for the sake of the question, please assume there will be no major or career ending injuries and that there will be no sudden, drastic decline in play that would kill a players chances. Just for clarification, I do mean the Hall of Fame in general, I.E if you think a player will get in, but not until the Veteran’s Committee elects the player, that still counts.

Daniel Solzman, Redbird Rants 

Molina but he has to keep his offense up.  Defensively, he’s the best catcher in the game right now.

Holliday is possible with 1300 hits and 200 homers through 8 seasons but I don’t know whether he’ll have a 15 year career or a 20 year career.  He has the BA, no doubt there, to get the hits.

Lance is nearing 2000 hits but he’s at 358 home runs.  If he gets to 500, I’d say he would be a lock.  That’s the only thing stopping me from putting him in right now.

As much as I like Carp, I just don’t think he’ll be elected, not by the writers anyway.  Right now, he’s nowhere close to 200 wins and just shy of 1700 strikeouts.  Even if he pitches two more seasons, he would not get the numbers you would want HOF players to have.

Adam is 66-35 with 724 strikeouts in 5 seasons so far.  If he’s still dominant over the next 10 years and puts up great numbers, I’d induct him.

Christine Coleman, Aaron Miles’ Fastball

My opinion of the Hall of Fame might be different than others. Numbers, obviously, make the case for a Hall of Famer, but I also think a Hall of Famer had to/has to have that extra *something* that makes you instantly recognize his greatness. There are some recent Hall of Famers that I don’t think really earn that title for me.

With that, I could possibly see Yadi as a Hall of Famer someday, depending on how his career continues both on defense and offense. Maybe.

Ray DeRousse, STL Cardinal Baseball

Of the current roster, I can’t see any potential Hall of Famers except Wainwright if he manages to stay healthy for 13-15 more years and puts up numbers. I don’t think Berkman or Holliday will have numbers spectacular enough to make it.

Bill Ivie, I-70 Baseball

I will echo Ray’s vote for Wainwright.  If he simply continues at pace for another 10 years he will be close to 200 wins.

Yadi’s offensive production has been on the rise, and he needs that.  He can get to the hall based on his defense, but he needs to get to a few minor milestones (2500 hits would be nice) to solidify his call.

Mark, RetroSimba

Matt Holliday has the best chance if he can put together 5 or 6 high-quality
consistent seasons for the Cardinals. He has a NL MVP Award. His career batting average is .315. He has 1,348 hits and 770 RBI. He turns 32 in January. If he can keep the career batting average above .300 and get to 2,500 hits and 1,350 RBI, he has a chance.

Because of his statistics and his popularity with the writers who do the voting, Lance Berkman could be a candidate, too. But I think he’s marginal. His hits total is 1,822. He turns 36 in February. His career batting mark is .296. Holliday’s age gives him a chance to achieve better totals than Berkman.

Chris Carpenter would be a cinch if he hadn’t missed virtually all of the 2003, 2007 and 2008 seasons because of injuries. His career stats likely won’t be strong enough, though. But any Cardinals fan knows he has been a Hall of Fame-quality ace and one of the best big-game pitchers in franchise history. He could be a Veterans Committee pick.

Daniel Shoptaw, C70 At the Bat

I’ll chime in for Molina and Wainwright.  Obviously still a lot of baseball to be played, but with the lower standards for catchers, some good offensive seasons and Molina should make it.  Waino, we’ll have to see how he does returning from the surgery.

Tom Knuppel, Cardinals GM

I just don’t see anyone except maybe Wainwright but my feeling is there are no future HOF’ers on the Cardinals roster at the moment.

Jon Doble, Redbird Dugout

My initial thought was nobody.

Lots of guys would be in the Hall of Very Good though.

Wainwright is 30 right now and has 66 career wins. I think he’s basically going to need about 250 wins to be considered, which means his next 8 years would need to be downright amazing.

Molina could get some consideration, but I honestly think that comes down to whether Ivan Rodriguez gets consideration. They are both viewed as exceptional defensive catchers with excellent pitcher handling and pitch calling abilities. Rodriguez had a nice bat in his prime too, but it has deteriorated as he gets more innings on his knees.

However, Lance Berkman is one guy I can see getting in the easiest. He is one of the best switch hitters of all time. 11th in batting average, 2nd in OBP, 2nd in SLG, 4th in HRs, 10th in RBI (but within striking distance of 8th this season). He’s up there in every category for switch hitters.

Thank you very much for all the bloggers that have participated in the October/November United Cardinal Bloggers Monthly Project: Post-Season Roundtable (the project is now into December due to the Cardinal improbable run to the World Series,though I am sure Cardinals fans will not complain).  If you are interested in reading the questions and responses at the other wonderful Cardinals’ blogs, check out the October Project page. It has all the links to the other blogs.


Manager Search

Posted by JE Powell

Days after the St. Louis Cardinals won the 2011 World Series, their manager, Tony LaRussa, retired from managing and definitely left the Cardinals in a better position than he found them.

However, because La Russa has retired the Cardinals now find them looking for a replacement. According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, there are six current candidates and the John Mozeliak, GM of the Cardinals, hopes to have chosen a successor for La Russa within 10 days of Thursday, November 3rd, the first day of interviews. The candidates are:

  • Chris Maloney, manager of the Triple A Memphis Redbirds
  • Mike Matheny, former Cardinals catcher
  • Joe McEwing, former Cardinalls’ utility man and current bench coach for the Chicago White Sox
  • Terry Francona, former manager of the Boston Red Sox
  • Ryne Sandberg, Hall of Fame 2nd baseman and current manager of a minor league Phillies affiliate
  • Jose Oquendo, 3rd base coach of the the St. Louis Cardinals

I honestly do not see Maloney, Matheny, or McEwing getting the job. From all the talk, I seems like there are three main candidates: Francona, Oquendo, and Sandberg. I am going to take a look at each candidate and see what each would bring to the table.

Terry Francona         

Francona has experience with winning teams. He has lead the Boston Red Sox to two World Series Championships (and has an 8-0 record in World Series games, I do believe), so he has experience dealing with high pressure situations. Remember, he also lead the Red Sox to beating the Yankees when the Sox were down 3-0.

The downside to Francona is that there is a chance that he could hire his own staff, which would mean losing Dave Duncan, Mark McGwire, Jose Oquendo, and Dave McKay. Duncan is one of the best pitching coaches in all of baseball and Mark McGwire turned the Cards into the best offensive team in the National League. Oquendo and McKay are pretty good 3rd and 1st base coaches, respectively, and have been with the team a long time.

Ryne Sandberg

Sandberg is an intriguing choice. He doesn’t have any Major League experience, but he has a very vast knowledge of the game and I think will be able to increase the small ball part of the Cards offense. Sandberg may also be more likely to try to move runners with steals, something that wasn’t a very big part of La Russa’s tactics. Sandberg is a Hall of Famer and I think would have the respect of the current roster. He may even be a little more receptive to younger players.

The negatives to Sandberg are that he was a former Cub player, so he really doesn’t understand how to win. OK, that was a joke, but kind of true, too. As a rookie manager, I think Sandberg would likely keep the current staff and the experience of the aforementioned Duncan, McGwire, Oquendo, and McKay would greatly aide Sandberg as he tries to learn on the job. However, not having any Major League experience could be an issue for a manager inheriting a team just off of a championship and a team capable of repeating next season.

Jose Oquendo

If David Eckstein is correct, then Oquendo could be the key to keeping Albert Pujols. One thing that Oquendo brings to the table is experience on the field. He has played ever position, so he would be able to identify with all of the players, to some degree. Not to mention that he has been a staple on the team for quite some time and from all accounts has a good relationship with the players. Part of me wants to say, “if Pujols will stay because Oquendo is manager THEN MAKE HIM THE MANAGER!” But, then my logical side kicks in and I realize that John Mozeliak has earned our trust and he will sign the best candidate and I am sure will take the Pujols situation into account.

Oquendo has two negatives as I see it. The first, like Sandberg, is inexperience. He has served under La Russa for some time, but has very little in game management. In Sandberg’s case, however, he has at least managed a Triple A team. Secondly, I feel that some of the 3rd base calls Oquendo has made over the years have not been the best choices. I wonder if that would translate over to calls from the dugout. Maybe I am not being fair, but it’s still a concern for me.

It is certainly possible that another candidate could emerge or that Maloney, Matheny, or McEwing could get the job, but I would be OK with Francona, Sandberg, or Oquendo. I kind of feel like Francona is the leading candidate, though at the time of this writing, I do not think Francona has been interviewed and I have heard that the Cubs are trying to woo him.

Whoever John Mozeliak decides to hire will be coming into one of the best managerial jobs in baseball. The Cards are fresh off a championship, Adam Wainwright will be coming back, the starting rotation should be pretty strong, and the offense was the best in the National League next year. Not to mention there are some young players with a bright future that are or will be coming up in the next year or two. As long as the right guy is hired, I think the Cards will be in good shape next year. But whoever the manager is, he will have a tough, Hall of Fame, act to follow.

Interview With a Blogger (Not The Vampire Movie)

The United Cardinal Bloggers (of which this little blog is a part) has a monthly project for August where we interview a fellow blogger and I had the pleasure of interviewing Tara from Aaron Miles’ Fastball. She interviewed me for her site, so, if you want to read responses filled with non-sequiturs, trains of thought that go nowhere, and several blatant threats towards blogs written by space aliens, please go read my silly answers to her perfectly cromulent questions. And, while you’re at it, check out other blog posts by the other contributors over at AMF. It’s a truly wonderful site for those who enjoy reading about the Cardinals. 

What follows is, in my biased opinion, a shining example of how an interviewee should respond to questions, even if the interviewer fell asleep several times during questioning and once started crying for no apparent reason.

So, what’s your story? How/why are you a fan?
Tara: I tell people I’m a Cardinals fan by birth, despite not ever living in St. Louis! My dad — who is a die hard sports fan anyway — was born and raised in St. Louis and, thus, a Cardinals fan! As I’m sure you’ll do with your daughter, my dad introduced me to baseball early and often. In some of my earliest pictures I’m sporting a Cards cap (albeit several sizes too big!) to match his. For me, it was always something I did and followed with my dad. We didn’t get to see many Cardinals games when I was growing up in Utah, but any time we got to sit and watch a game together was priceless. It’s just one of those things, as you know, that you grow up with. It just sticks. And it’s a part of you, win, lose or draw!
Do you have a specific game that has always stuck out in your mind? Have you been to any other stadiums besides Busch to watch a Cardinals game?
Tara: My greatest Cardinals memory may seem a bit cliche, as it’s all about that 2006 World Series run. But it still is the clearest memory … it could have been yesterday! Again, because of my dad’s part in my baseball fandom, he’s a big part of it. First was that Adam Wainwright curve ball that froze Carlos Beltran in the NLCS. My dad and I were literally on the edge of the couch, but only until that strike was called. I’ve never jumped up faster in my life! And for the World Series, once again my dad and I watched together. Only this time we were inches from the television! That emotion is just unreal. And to share it with my dad was even better!
I’ve been to other ballparks … but not to see the Cardinals, unfortunately. I’d love to go to Kansas City or Milwaukee. Or, of course, Wrigley for that rivalry!
How did you get started blogging? So, tell me your top five Cardinals moments. They do not have to be in your lifetime, though. And they do not necessarily have to be actual “in game” moments.
Tara: My involvement with blogging — and especially the UCB — came about in a very fast and unexpected way (but I wouldn’t trade a second!). When I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to start a blog as a way to get my name out there as well as to continue honing my journalistic skills. So I did, but not about baseball. Then I came across a new online sports network looking for female sports writers. In my digging, I found Christine Coleman’s site, Aaron Miles’ Fastball, and realized we live in the same area. I sent her an email, just saying I really appreciated her blog. Since she certainly had the St. Louis Cardinals site under control for the new Aerys Sports Network, I didn’t expect anything else. But she offered to let me guest write occasionally. And occasionally it turned into weekly. And that progressed quickly to co-hosting a UCB Radio Hour, and ta da! Here we are. It’s been great getting to know so many skilled writers and baseball minds!
Top five Cardinals moments, huh? Let’s see. In no particular order:
David Eckstein being awarded the 2006 World Series MVP. Always loved him, and it was awesome to see him rewarded!
Any time Yadi throws a guy out from his knees. Ridiculous!
That October 17, 2005 Albert Pujols homer off brad Lidge. My dad’s birthday, the NLCS, and the destruction of Brad Lidge (at least for a few years!) … it was perfect.
In 2007 (or 2008? Can’t remember) the Single A Cardinals affiliate that happens to be in my town had a special night with the World Series trophy. Again, my dad and I were there and had our pictures taken with it. Being that close to so much history was priceless!
And for one outside my lifetime, how about Stan the Man’s 1955 All-Star Game walk-off that was just named the greatest moment in All-Star history! I would have loved to watch him play.
(These are, of course, in addition to that wicked Wainwright knee-buckler mentioned earlier!).
If you could get any player from any team to play for the Cardinals who would you want and why? Who is your favorite mid-season acquisition the Cards have ever had?
Tara: You know, I sit and watch games on a regular basis and thing, “Man, I wish he played for us.” But trying to pick just one is tough! I think Craig Kimbrel would be great to have. We’ve needed a dominant closer for so long!
As for my favorite mid-season trade, all-time I’d, of course, have to say Lou Brock in ’64. Not that I saw it happen, but the result when it did was pretty spectacular! If I were to pick more recently, I’d go with Matt Holliday. Not quite Lou’s caliber, but I really like him and what he’s brought to this team, especially right after that trade happened.
How do you feel about the trades the Cardinals made this season? And how realistic of a shot do you think the Cards have at making the playoffs this season?
Tara: The trades this season. Well, so far I’ve been under whelmed with the exception of Rafael Furcal. I love the defensive prowess he brings to the short stop position! Rzepczynski has been strong, but I don’t think he’s being used as effectively as he could be. I was a Colby Rasmus fan … so I was sad to see him go, but the new guys haven’t been all bad.
As for this season, it’s so hard to say. I’m such a  cup-half-full kind of fan in that, as long as it’s mathematically possible, I’ll still be holding out some bit of hope! That said, there are so many pieces that would have to fall into place (the Brewers collapsing, our own offense soaring, and our pitching holding steady, to name a few) that, while I still hope they do something, I’m not holding my breath.
Assuming the Cardinals do not make the playoffs, which is starting to look like a distinct possibility, what moves do you think the Cardinals need to make to improve the team for next season (besides resigning Pujols, of course)?
This off season could be very interesting. There are a LOT of decisions to be made, including what to do with Chris Carpenter, Lance Berkman as well as the predicament with Ryan Theriot. I wouldn’t mind adding a bat in center field, but I’m not holding my breath there.
The underlying question may revolve around Tony La Russa — if he’s back, chances are Pujols, Carp, and Yadi are around again. Regardless, it will be a very telling off season — we COULD see a very different team on the field next year. But, it’s just as likely that we see a largely similar lineup.
How many games do you go to? What is your favorite commercial or tv appearance featuring a current or former Cardinals player?
Tara: Since I grew up in Utah, I wasn’t at a Cardinals game until 2009, after my family moved to Iowa. We’re about five hours away now, so it’s not a terrible drive, but it definitely takes some planning. That time (in ’09) we were really ambitious and we drove down for the game and back in the same day, so we didn’t get to really experience the new Busch. Of course, my dad had been to all kinds of games as a kid when he lived in St. Louis, so it was fun for him to be back and to see the new stadium. They played the Marlins that game and Todd Wellemeyer pitched a pretty solid game, backed by a Pujols home run right at Big Mac Land. Then, we were back just over a week ago and saw two games — the final game in the Brewers series and the opener against the Rockies. (So far, I’m 3-0 in games I attend!!) I’ve been to other Major League games, but not to see the Cards outside of St. Louis.
Favorite commercial. That’s a good question! I always love seeing what crazy Cardinal Nation commercials they come up with at the beginning of the season, and this year I especially love the one with Berkman trying to pick a number. One, because I like just about anything Adam Wainwright is in, two, because it shows just how many Cardinals greats there are! It’s a great way to show what it’s like becoming a part of Cardinal Nation. Plus, Lance is such a great personality, too. That one’s my favorite … at least right now!
So, that’s how the interview went down. I would like to thank Tara for taking time out of blogging to help me with mine. Thanks Tara!

UCB, I C A…Great Time

Posted By JE Powell

I didn’t really know what to expect going into Sunday for the United Cardinal Bloggers event at Busch Stadium III. Well, I guess I kind of knew what to expect, as far as meeting other bloggers and watching Cardinals baseball. Some of the highlights were meeting Deckacards from Cards ‘N Stuff, Dennis from Pitchers Hit 8th, Daniel from Cardinal 70, and Joe and Mike from Cards Droppings, Tom and the guys from Cardinals GM,  as well as briefly meeting Christine from Aaron Miles’ Fastball, and Erika from Cardinal Diamond Diaries.  It was pretty cool to put faces with some of the very good blogs I read. Other blogs were represented there, but I didn’t get around to meet everyone, which was a little disappointing. I hope to meet others next time there is an event.

Another highlight was a Q&A with Cardinals GM John Mozeliak. Here are some of the topics he touched upon. He:

  • Feels that the key to this season is the pitching. If the pitching can hold up then the Cardinals should be successful
  • Views the Cardinals Minor League as the strongest it’s been since he joined the team in 1995
  • Hasn’t had any substantial contact with Pujols (and his agent) regarding a contract extension, but still has high hope about resigning Pujols after the season
  • Believes that, should another Cardinals starting pitcher go down due to injury, there are minor leaguers ready to step in
  • Hasn’t made a decision on whether to pick up the options on Adam Wainwright for 2012 and 2013 or to negotiate a contract extension
  • Has checked on Matt Holliday and Holliday is feeling better since the surgery, but Holliday feels a little “bloated” (John’s word)

I really appreciated John taking the time to sit down and have a discussion with us little ol’ bloggers. I have been guilty on many occasions of criticizing Mozeliak (and Jocketty before him) about moves they made or didn’t make, but I realize now (it took me long enough!) that Mo’ really does have the best interests of the team in mind. He said the organization felt that this season getting players with better hitting was a little more important than defense, hence getting Ryan “The Riot” Theriot and trading away Brendan Ryan. Mozeliak made a good point that when he makes a move it’s because he feels it addresses and issue or is a good move that benefits the team, but that not all moves work out the way he thought they would. I didn’t take this a “political” statement (simply meant to placate), but rather as sound logic. Cardinals fans often have the power of hindsight in that we can analyze a move a few weeks, months, or years down the road and say that it was a “stupid” move or a “great” move. Mozeliak admitted that Chris Perez has done very well for the Cleveland Indians, but that at the time he felt that getting Mark DeRosa would help the Cards with hitting and defense. DeRosa was injured a week later and wasn’t quite right the rest of the season. Here’s what I came out of the Q&A thinking: Cardinals fans shouldn’t just assume that every move Mo’ makes is the right one, but we should give him the benefit of the doubt. I am sure I will criticize Mo’ at some point the future, I just hope I can step back and look at whatever move he made from a logical standpoint and not an emotional one.

I would like to take a moment to thank the St. Louis Cardinals organization for their generosity and hospitality. I may be new to the whole blogging game, but they treated us well and it was very much appreciated. In the Ozzie Smith Legends Club Party Box, there was plenty of room to sit comfortably and blog (which you can read the live blog transcript here) and the food was delicious and plentiful. I think the next trip I take to St. Louis for a game is going to have to be with a large group and in a party box. It was that cool.

And now for the part of the show where I actually talk about the game. Cardinals won. Enough said. Well, no, not enough said. If you give me an ear I will do my best to talk it off, so I cannot leave it just at “Cardinals won.” First of all the final score was 2-0 and the game was just a little over two hours long, mostly because Jaime Garcia pitch so, so well today. He allowed no runs and only 4 hits while striking out 9. That’s one hell of a good game. The Cards need that, too. After the no decision that Carp got on  Thursday and the batting practice that Jake Westbrook pitched yesterday, it had to be great for morale to have Garcia pitch so well, especially after a rough spring.

Starting right now, in this blog post, I am going to try a new feature called 3 X 3 where I will give three positives and three negatives from selected games.

The Positives:

  1. The Cardinals won 2-0
  2. Garcia is looking as good, if not better, than last year. One game does not a season make, but it’s certainly a good sign
  3. Molina got a nice hit up the middle for the go-ahead run

The Negatives

  1. Skip Schumaker and Ryan Theriot do not have any rhythm on double plays and neither can seem to handle throws from Molina
  2. Pujols hit into another double play and would have hit into a second one had the Cards not had two outs already
  3. Holliday is still a week or two or more from returning the Cards offense seems to need his bat. The Cards were outscored 16-8 in the series and the Padres DID NOT score a run in the last game of the series.

All in all, it was a very successful day at Busch III. The Cards won, I got to meet some very cool people, I had a great time, and, oh yeah, the CARDINALS WON!!!

A quick note: My Grandpa used to tell me that a majority of games in baseball will see the winning team score more runs in one inning than the rest of the team scores all game. Just a little interesting thing to keep an eye on. I have found this to be fairly accurate, though it could be me remembering all the times that it worked out and forgetting when it didn’t. It did hold true in two out of three games the the Cards-Padres series.

It’s Just Spring Training

Posted by JE Powell

“It’s only Spring Training” is something that’s become a mantra of sorts for me. As of today, Sunday March 27, the Cardinals are 14-14-1 and recently gave up three runs to the Marlins in the bottom of the 9th inning to lose the game. But, should Cardinals fans be worried? NO! After all, it’s only Spring Training. However, there are some things that Cardinals fans should keep an eye on this season.

  1. Can Jaime Garcia have a repeat of last season? So far in Spring Training, Garcia has a 1-3 record, a 7.94 ERA, and as give up 37 hits and 24 runs versus only 6 strikeouts. He’s been pitching erratically, but hopefully he can figure it out pretty quickly.
  2. Is Albert Pujols really healthy? The last couple of seasons, Pujols has been battling nagging elbow injuries, but it seems that he’s feeling no pain and he’s itching to produce. Since Pujols was the MVP in 2009 and should have been 2010 and was dealing with said elbow problems, then if he is healthy this year the National League better look out.
  3. Will Chris Carpenter be the Ace the Cardinals need? There’s no reason to think that he won’t, except for the fact that he’s had a rough spring. He’s dealt with a hamstring injury and has 5.19 ERA with only 6 K’s in 17.1 IP so far this spring. At this point there’s really nothing to be worried about, except, perhaps, health issues. But, like I have said, it’s only Spring Training.
  4. Should Kyle McClellan be the fifth starter? I would have to say, right now, that yes he should. He’s 4-0 with a 0.78 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 23 IP. He is not likely to keep that pace up for 30+ regular season games, but he is giving Cardinals fans hope for a replacement for Adam Wainwright. Another question concerning McClellan is whether or not he can handle 30+ games of pitching as a starter since he had been in the bullpen for the last several years. But that is a question that only time can answer.
  5. Can David Freese stay healthy? Last season he played in only 70 games, missing the rest of the season with an ankle injury and a broken toe. However, he appears to be healthy this year and La Russa is planning on having Freese play 6 out of 7 games (about 140 games over the season) as opposed to the 2 out of 3 (108 games) that La Russa originally planned.
  6. Will Lance Berkman rebound from a poor 2010? Again, only time will tell, but were I a betting man I would put my money on Berkman being productive. He’s slimmed down and is further removed from his knee surgery that slowed him down last year.
  7. Does Spring Training have any bearing on the Regular Season? I really don’t think so. In 2006 the Cards finished spring training with a 15-14 record, but then went on to win the World Series. It will take more than 83 wins to make the playoffs this year, but it can be done.

Those are just a few of the questions that face the Cardinals this year and most of them will be answered by the end of the season. Spring Training, in my opinion, is a good way for teams to evaluate the talent of young players trying to make the team and to judge players that are trying to make a comeback from surgery. There are split squad games and many starts from players that might not even make the team. So, just take Spring Training with a grain of salt and remember, It’s Just Spring Training!

The Invention of AA Carpenter

Posted by JE Powell

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog, already in progress…

…so, overall, I suppose that, given the circumstances, the best thing to do is buy a new pair of pants and pretend nothing happened.

For those of you just joining us, I am chatting with my special guest, Adam Albert Carpenter, one of the greatest fictitious baseball players to ever play the game. He’s even better than Steve Nebraska from the movie The Scout. AA Carpenter has won 2 Cy Young Awards, a batting title, and retired as the career leader in WAR (wins above replacement). He played his entire career with the St. Louis Cardinals.

STL: Fear The Red: So, Adam Albert, how do you feel about the upcoming season?

Adam Albert Carpenter: I think the Cardinals have a good shot at winning the division, though, it will be much tougher than in years past. The Reds pitching is decent, not great, but they play a very good defense and can score runs. The Brewers are looking tough, too. The Zack Greinke injury hurts a little, but he should be back in a month or so.

STLFTR: What are your thoughts on Wainwright?

AAC:  I am disappointed at the loss of Wainwright for the season because he is a special pitcher and a perennial Cy Young candidate, though he has yet to win one. He had a chance to win it this year. With Roy Halladay being on a team with Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, they may have taken some votes away from each other just as Chris and Wainwright did a few years ago, and allowed Waino to slip in there as a winner.

STLFTR: Any prospects you think may make a difference this year?

AAC: I am keeping an eye on Matt Carpenter (no relation to me or Chris), who has been very impressive thus far in Spring Training. Though he’s not technically a prospect, if David Freese can stay healthy, I expect good things from him. There are a couple of prospects out there that I think will have a shot in a year or two and could become Big Gamers, such as Shelby Miller or Zack Cox.

STLFTR: Speaking of Shelby Miller, what do you think is the best way to handle him?

AAC: I think it would be a very good idea to take a page out of the Wainwright book and bring Shelby up later this year (or early next year) for eighth inning relief or use him as a closer, especially if Ryan Franklin does retire after this season as he has suggested. History shows that bringing up a pitcher as a starter to early and using them to much could casue problems as was the case with Mark Prior and may have been the case with Stephen Strasburg. I’d rather see a young pitcher start off in the bullpen for a season and then become a starter after they have become accustomed to the long MLB season.

STLFTR: What do you think the key factor will be for the Cardinals to win the divsion?

AAC: Winning more games than the other teams in the division.

STLFTR: Fair enough. What do you think will be the outcome of the Albert Pujols contract negotiations?

AAC: He will either re-sign with the Cardinals or sign with another team. If he truly wants to spend his whole career with the Cardinals and wants to win, he will re-sign.

STLFTR: During your career, you suffered two concussions due mainly to your very aggressive base running style. During the second of those concussions, you were knocked unconscious for a few moments. How do you feel about in-game collisions and today’s style of play?

AAC: I don’t remember getting a second concussion. Are you sure you did any research? I would slide hard into bases to try to break up a play. That’s common throughout baseball history. In retrospect, I probably should have slid feet first more often, but what’s done is done. Today’s style of play is different because it’s a different time. The 1970’s style was different from the 1930’s just as today’s style is different from that of the 1970’s. It’s not better or worse, just different.

STLFTR: Last question. Do you feel it’s better to be talented or a hard worker?

AAC: Honestly, you almost have to be both. There is a place for hard workers who may lack talent, but make up for it by practicing all of the time and hitting the gym, but it seems to me that those types of players are usually role players. Athletes that have a copious amount of raw talent can only get so far on said talent without a good work ethic. The truly special players are the ones who hone their natural talent and with constant hard work.

I want to thank my guest, Adam Albert Carpenter, for taking time out of his busy schedule to sit down and chat with me for awhile about life and baseball. For those of you who missed the first part of the blog, we may have a re-airing (printing?) at some point in the near future, but that depends on future programming. So, thank you for joining us today and as always, GO CARDINALS!!!!!

Who Would Win In a Fight…

Just for the heck of it, I thought it might be fun (for me at least) to match up current St. Louis Cardinals players vs. fictional/historical figures to and have them duke it out. When the season gets under way, I hope to have more informative blog posts, but for now, I want to play around and have some fun. Some of the people I will use because they have played for the Cards in a few games or are non-roster invitees, but I think their names warrant use. So here goes:

Who Would Win?

Adam Ottavino vs. Otto Octavius (Doctor Octopus of the Spider-Man comics)

The Fight: At 6’5″ Adam Ottavino has a distinct height advantage over the 5’9″ Doc Ock and Doc Ock does have the extra tentacles, but Ottavino is built solidly and has good reflexes making him Spider-Man-ish.

Winner: Adam Ottavino narrowly escapes Ock’s death-blow and knocks Ock unconscious with a fastball between the eyes.

Jon Jay vs. John Jay (Founding Father and first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court)

The Fight: Jon Jay had a batting average of .300 last season with four homers, four more than John Jay ever had. John Jay, however, was very influential in founding the United States. Jon Jay had 27 RBI last season, but John Jay was a fierce opponent of slavery in New York state and was instrumental in emancipating slaves in New York.

Winner: With all due respect to Jon Jay, there was really no contest. John Jay beat him easily. Oh, and John Jay has a much cooler name.

Adam Wainwright vs. Orville and Wilbur Wright (Inventors of the Airplane)

The Fight: The Wright Brothers invented a way to (temporarily, at least) defy the laws of physics. Adam Wainwright has a wicked curveball that seems to defy the laws of physics. The Wright Brothers paved the way to make international travel much, much quicker. Adam Wainwright is out for the season, but Orville and Wilbur are both dead.

Winner: Wright Brothers. Really, what chance does a baseball pitcher have against two people who changed the world?

Matt Holliday vs. Doc Holliday (of Tombstone fame)

The Fight: Last season Matt Holliday hit .312 with 28 HR and 103 RBI with above average defense. Doc Holliday was a gunfighter and dentist who hung around with Wyatt Earp and was part of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. While both Hollidays are/were associated with individuals considerably more famous than them, neither are/were really sidekicks and have a place in history all their own.

Winner: Matt has a bat, Doc a gun. While Matt has a better career batting average, Doc has a gun. Matt has a considerably larger yearly income, but Doc has a gun. Catching my drift? In this case, Doc wins.

David Freese vs. Mr. Freeze (Nemesis of Batman)

The Fight: Mr. Freeze has a freeze gun and can turn almost anything to ice, or at least cover anything in ice. David Freese had 4 HR and 36 RBI in 70 games and if you extrapolate that out to a full 162 games, had he been healthy and played in all of those, he would have had roughly 9 HR and 83 RBI.

Winner: As I said, Mr. Freeze has his freeze gun, but David Freese is from Texas and you don’t mess with Texas. Therefore you don’t mess with David Freese. Had Mr. Freeze kept that in mind, he would not have received a beating that he has only seen from Batman.

Blake King vs. The Burger King (Stupid marketing mascot)

The Fight: Blake King is on the forty man roster and could end up back in the minors, but he has a track record of striking out more batters than innings pitched and could be useful for short relief or even just to face one batter. The Burger King is (in my opinion) as stupid character from those Burger King commercials and has a face literally made out of plastic.

Winner: Blake King because I don’t like The Burger King and I am sure that Blake could knock The Burger King into submission with fastballs.

Jaime Garcia vs. Jerry Garcia (Former guitarist for the Grateful Dead)

The Fight: Jaime Garcia had a great rookie season last year and was a very solid number 3 starter behind Wainwright and Carpenter. He had an impressive 2.70 ERA and went 13-8 with 132 Ks. Hopefully he can continue and build on last season because the Cards are going to need that kind of output this season with Wainwright out due to Tommy John surgery. Jerry Garcia was the front man for the Grateful Dead and co-wrote such songs as “Truckin'”,”Casey Jones”. and “Friend of the Devil.” Jerry Garcia is still, in many ways, a pop culture icon more than 15 years after his death.

Winner: Tie. The Grateful Dead have a huge following called Dead Heads, but Jaime has a bigger following called Cardinals Fans. Jerry’s career lasted 30 years, but Jaime has just gotten started.


This is the Match-Up that many of you have been waiting for (or not, how should I know?):

Albert Pujols vs. The Incredible Hulk (A superhero in Marvel Comics)

The Fight: This one is epic. The Hulk is a green, raging monster with nearly limitless strength. Albert Pujols is a fearless machine with nearly limitless talent. The Hulk rages through anything in his path leaving a wake of destruction. Pujols tears through opposing pitchers leaving a wake of destroyed baseballs in his path. The Hulk has two green hands. Pujols has two Gold Gloves.

Winner: Although this was a tough one, Albert Pujols manages to best the Hulk. How? Pujols outsmarts the Hulk by finding Betty Ross and getting her to calm the Hulk down and return him to his Bruce Banner form. Pujols doesn’t need violence to win, he just uses his keen mind and strategy to win. Which is how he has been doing it for ten years.

I hope this post has been, at the very least, entertaining if not informative. All the links to the Cardinals players lead to the St. Louis Cardinals official website and all the links for the historical/fictional characters lead to wikipedia. I certainly hope that you have had as much fun reading this blog entry has I have had writing it. GO CARDS!!!

One last note. I apologize, but I have not figured out how to get links to pop up on a separate screen, so all links will take you away from this post. Once I figure it out, I will fix it.

Wainwright Knifed in St. Louis

Hellllloooo Cardinals Nation!

Don’t worry and cast aside your concerns about Wainwright. Next season may be just out of arms reach but before you know it, Wainwright will be back slinging fastballs just like he has in the past. This season, the Cards will definitely miss his surgeon-like precision locating his pitches, but the Cards organizations will persevere. While McClellan may have been trying to elbow his way into the starting rotation this spring, it looks as if he (or someone else) will have to cover for Wainwright. There is a chance, of course, that my beloved Cardinals could be disjointed and in disarray, but LaRussa/Duncan have a knack for making the best of bad situations.

There are some rumors (and they ARE just rumors) that Chris Carpenter would be open to a trade, though he is NOT seeking one. So, what does this mean? Prospects for Carp’s $15 Million for next season? Trading Carp for another pitcher? I don’t see how losing Wainwright would cause a panic move such as that, but down the road?

It’s possible that if the Cards are not in contention for a playoff spot in July (blasphemy, I know) that the Cards organization could then trade Carpenter for top prospects to build up the minor league system. If Carp would get traded I think, at least at first, he might feel like a fish out of water. But I digress.

I admit that this season is full of unknowns and, even into next season, Cardinals fans are going to have several things to “worry” about that I think most of us have taken for granted over the last several years: Pujols, Waino/Carp, and winning the division most of the time. But no matter what happens at least the Cardinals aren’t the Cubs.*


*I apologize for the quality of this post. But, unfortunately, this is probably a good example of how most of my blog entries will go. I apologize for any inconvenience. And bad grammar. And improper punctuation. And even with spell check, spelling.