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.
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.
Posted by JE Powell
The A&E Home Entertainment/MLB Productions Official 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals 2 Disc-DVD Set (from here on out, I will just refer to it as the “DVD Set” because it’s just easier that way) is basically set up in three parts: The Official Film, the Bonus Material, and the entirety of NLDS Game 5 (Carpenter vs. Halladay). So, I have decided to review it that way. I now present to you, Part I: The Official Film.
I think that best review of the movie I can give is that my mother-in-law loved it. She is not a sports fan at all (except for her New Orleans Saints and even that is just a “check the team’s record every few weeks” sort of thing) and while I know she watch parts of a few World Series games, she really didn’t care who won or lost. So, I had just started watching the Official Film on Thanksgiving Day when my mother-in-law came into the room, sat down, and asked what I was watching. I said, “It’s about the Cardinals winning the World Series.” She replied with a simple, “Oh.”
Posted by JE Powell
It’s that time of year again when members of the United Cardinal Bloggers get to make their picks for for the Cardinal Blogger Awards. This year, however, readers get to vote for the Awards, too! Readers can vote here. So here’s your chance to make your voice heard. Well, not really your voice, but you get to make your picks known.
There are twenty categories and I have gone through and carefully determined who I feel is the best choice and why. So gather ’round and let me tell you the tale of the SS Minnow and its three hour tour…er, I mean let me tell you my picks:
Cardinals Player of the Year
This felt like an easy choice to me. Albert Pujols had more home runs and more RBI, but had trouble the first half of the season and grounded into a lot of double plays. Berkman was consistent all season long and filled in for Pujols while Pujols was on the disabled list. Berkman had 31 HR and 94 RBI, so he was pretty close to Pujols’ numbers and had a slightly better batting average at .301 (compared to .299 for Pujols). With Matt Holliday injured on an off all season, Berkman had to carry the team the 1st half and had some big hits in the playoffs.
Cardinals Pitcher of the Year
Like, Pujols, Carpenter struggled the first half of the season, but turned it on the second half of the season and was huge in late August and all of September and October. Carp pitched a shutout on the last day of the season and, coupled with an Atlanta Braves loss, helped the Cards secure a playoff berth. He also pitched a 1-0 shutout in Game 5 of the NLDS and pitched on 3 days rest in Game 7 of the World Series to ensure the Cardinals 11th Championship.
Regular Season Game of the Year
September 7th vs. Milwaukee
Carpenter pitched a 2-0 complete game shutout of the Brewers and struck-out Nyjer Morgan, which caused Morgan to have a temper tantrum. That was the Cardinals fifth win in that last six games against the Brewers and Morgan’s temper tantrum may have been a sparking moment that sent the Cardinals onto the playoffs and World Series.
Post Season Game of the Year
World Series, Game 6
This game could probably win Cardinals Post Season Game of the Decade without much effort. This was one of the best games I have ever seen in my life, period. The Texas Rangers took a 4-2 lead and the Cards tied it. Texas took a 7-4 lead and the Cardinals tied the game when they were down to their last strike. Texas took a 9-7 and the Cardinal tied it, again down to their last strike. David “Absolute Zero”** Freese hit a solo shot in the bottom of the 11th to win the game. The Cards may not have officially won the WS until winning game 7, but in reality, they won the World Series in game Six.
Surprise Player of the Year
Berkman had a disappointing season in 2010 and was traded from Houston to the Yankees where he continued to disappoint. However, he signed a one year deal with the Cardinals and ended up winning Comeback Player of the Year and had 31 HR and 94 RBI while batting .301. There was quite a bit of speculation that he probably wouldn’t be able to play the outfield any longer or that he had lost his swing or whatever. He proved them all wrong.
Disappointing Player of the Year
Rasmus had a strong first couple of weeks, but then began to slowly taper off and after 94 games played he was only batting .246 will 11 HR and 40 RBI. Not necessarily bad stats, but when a player whines and complains that he isn’t getting enough playing time when it seems obvious that he just isn’t trying very hard out in the field on defense, it’s disappointing. He had a lot of potential, but his maturing needs some work.
Rookie of the Year
I think it’s fitting to pick Craig here, because this category follows Rasmus. Craig also had 11 HR and 40 RBI for the Cardinals, but did it in only 75 games. He also hit .315. Craig came up huge in the playoffs, especially off the bench in the World Series.
Sensing a theme here? I don’t think I can add much to what I said the last two times a picked. He was just very important to the Cardinals run this year.
To steal a line from Mystery Science Theater 3000, Rzepczynski “isn’t a name, it’s a bad scrabble hand.” But this left hander really helped to solidify the bullpen and got some huge outs against left handed hitters in the playoffs.
Most Anticipated Cardinal
Jake Westbrook has really not worked out that well for the Cardinals. In fact, they only used him for one inning during the entire playoffs. He will be the 5th starter in the Cardinals rotation, but if he is struggling in late July or early August, I think the Cards will call up Shelby Miller. Miller has some maturing to do, but I think he will be a very important piece in the Cardinals rotation. Even if it’s not in 2012, I think he will be a starter in 2013.
Best Individual Cardinals Blog
Daniel is the Godfather of all Cardinals bloggers. He started the UCB (United Cardinal Bloggers) and the BBA (Baseball Bloggers Alliance), but his blog is more than that. He is insightful and puts a lot of time and effort into his blog. His blog post Happily Ever After is one of the better Cardinal posts I have read in quite some time and when I got done reading, I went back and reread it. It was that good.
Best Team Cardinals Blog (A blog with 2 or more bloggers)
Nick, Dennis, and Josh run an insightful, funny, witty, and enjoyable blog. I often find myself laughing out loud or nodding my head in agreement with something they have written.
Best Professional Cardinals Blog
Derrick Goold is a blogger and journalist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His blog updated regularly and he often has inside information on trades, rumors, or anything Cardinals related.
Best Rookie Blog (Started after December 1st, 2010)
I had the pleasure of meeting Christine during the UCB Event at Busch Stadium the third game of the season and Tara and I interviewed each other for the Get to Know A UCBer monthly project in August and I had quite a bit of fun with that one. I have only read posts by Miranda, but I enjoy her upbeat writing style. AMF is a great site and I really do not see them having a sophomore slump.
Post of the Year
This blog post gave me goosebumps. It was just that damn good. I am not going to defend this pick. It can defend itself. Read it. Now! Go!
Best UCB Project
Get to Know a UCBer
Most Optimistic Cardinals Blog
Honestly, just check out the site. You will feel better about yourself and life in general. Trust me on this.
Best United Cardinal Bloggers Podcast
UCB Radio Hour
Best Cardinal Tweeter
Best Fake Twitter Account
I gotta be honest and say that I rarely tweet and I haven’t checked out any of the fake twitter accounts. I was listening to the MLB Network on XM and heard someone mention that an account had already been created just after the squirrel ran over home plate. That’s why I picked it.
Those are my choices for the Bloggies. You can read all the picks from the other bloggers at the UCB Official Site and don’t forget to vote for yourself, dear reader, the link is all the way back at the top of this post. There are many, many wonderful Cardinals bloggers and blog sites out there, so make sure that you hop over to the UCB site and check them ALL out.
**I call David Freese “Absolute Zero” because when he was up to bat twice during game six of the World Series and again in game seven he didn’t have ice running through his veins, he was so cool that all molecular activity ceased.
Poste by JE Powell
Wow. One, little, simple word, but it sums up what is, in this writer’s opinion, one of the greatest endings to a baseball season ever. woW. There, I wrote the word backwards and it still has the same impact, even if it looks a little weird.
I must confess, back in late August I had wrote the Cardinals off. Now, to be absolutely clear, I did not (nor would I ever, even in the worst of times) stop watching and paying attention to my beloved Cardinals. But conventional wisdom (which I admittedly stole from a M*A*S*H episode) is that a team can pick up a game a week. The Cards were 10 1/2 with about six weeks to play. I even commented to a co-worker in late August that the Cards would have to go 23-8 in September (which only has 30 days in that month, so how the Cards would play one more game than there are days in that calender month, I do not know) and at that time Atlanta was playing pretty well. Stictly from anecdotal evidence, I think most Cardinals fans felt that the Cards were not playing like a playoff team and were more than like NOT going to make the playoffs. I am often wrong, but I cannot remember a time when I have been so happy to have been wrong.
In 2006 I had a mantra all season long that continued down to the last day of the season. “The Cardinals just have to make the playoffs.”
“But the Cardinals have had two eight game losing streaks and a seven game losing streak and even got beat by nearly 20 runs by the Chicgo White Sox,” I had someone say to me.
“The Cardinals just have to make the playoffs,” I replied. Over and over again I said it. Every Cubs fan was rubbing it in, even though the Cubs finsihed 30 games under .500 that season. “The Cardinals just have to make the playoffs.” And in 2006, they did. By 1 1/2 games over the Houston Astros and the Cards ended the sesaon with a nearly pitiful 83-78 record. I think that was the 2nd worst record of a playoff team ever (the 2005 Padres finished 82-80 and won their division). I kept the faith, as it were. But 2011 was different.
This season, it didn’t look like the Cards would make the playoffs. They were not playing very well and they had seemingly too far back to make the playoffs. But then something happened. I don’t know what happened, but something obviously did. They started winning and Atlanta started losing. All through September the Cardinals kept winning and the Braves kept losing. The Cards swept the Braves in a three games series and picked up three games towards the Wild Card. In fact, I think the 2011 Cardinals need a nickname like the 1934 Cardinals “Gas House Gang” and I present to you, my faithful reader, the 2011 Cardinals “The Wild Cards”. It just fits. It’s nearly perfect, if a bit on the nose, I guess. But it sums up everything nicely. On the last day of the regular season, the Cards beat Houston 8-0 and the Braves lost to the Phillies 4-3 in 13 innings. The Cards were in.
But really, what were they going to do? They had to face a Phillies team that won 102 games and had what many predicted would be one of the best starting pitching rotations ever. No way the Cards are going to beat Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, or Roy Oswalt three times. “The Cardinals just have to make the playoffs.” The 2006 and 2011 Cardinals proved that that mantra is one that every Cardinals fan should keep in mind. Because once the playoffs start anything can happen. Case in point, the 2011 Cardinals. In the NLDS (National League Division Series) the Cards were down 2-1 in the series and had to face Roy Oswalt and then Roy Halladay. The Cards won game 4 to tie the series and then Chris Carpenter beat Roy Halladay 1-0 in one of the best pitching duels I have ever seen. NLDS Champion St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals moved on, beating a team that many prediccted would win the World Series, to face the Milwaukee Brewers, a teamt he Cardinals haven’t faced in the playoffs since 1982 (when I was merely a year old). Nyjer Morgan, or Tony Plush, or whatever silly name he wants to give himself, made some silly comments (back in September) towards the Cardinals about them watching the Milwaukee Brewers on TV while Cards players sat at home. I love it when opposing players get cocky against the elder statesmen Cardinals. The Cardianls team, much to their credit, shrugged it off and did not retaliate. At least not with words. They did it with their bats and their bullpen. The Cards split in Milwaukee the first two games and then won on the road in Milwaukee (the toughest home team in all of baseball this year) to clinch a spot in the World Sereis. I certainly hope Nyjer Morgan enjoyed watching the Cardinals play in the world series. I am sure he has a very large, nice TV with high-def and could see everything nice and clear.
The World Series this year wasn’t the best played World Series, but damn was it entertaining. And Historic (with a capital “H”). The Cards won game one, then dropped game two in the top of the ninth inning when Texas scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead in the game. They headed to Texas for game 3. An Historic game because of one man, the true Prince of Baseball, Mr. Albert Pujols. Game 3 of the world series was a Wild (Cards) game, to say the least, but Albert Pujols put on, quite possibly the greatest offensive show you will ever see in the World Series. Sure, players have hit 3 home runs in a WS game (Ruth, twice, and Reggie Jackson), had 5 hits (Paul Molitor) and 6 RBI (Hideki Matsui) and 4 runs scored. But from what the experts said no one has ever had 3 HR, 4 Runs, 5 Hits, and 6 RBI…IN THE SAME GAME! Historic. When I saw Albert hit his first homerun, as soon as he made contact I said out loud, “It’s gone.” Just matter of factly. The sound of the ball off of a Cardinals bat in the WS is beautiful. Just Beautiful.
The Cards then dropped games 4 and 5 went to the Texas Rangers and the Series headed back to St. Louis with the Cards down 3 games to 2. I felt that whoever won game five would win the series. In game 6, when Texas went up 7-4 I thought, well, the Cards put in a hell of a season and the Rangers were definately a worthy adversary, my hats off to them. I kept watching, hoping for a miracle. I need to pause for just a moment to explain something. When the Cards fall behind or it looks like they are going to lose, I just assume they will. My reason is that if something great happens, it all the more great becasue I didn’t expect it, but if they do lose, at least I am not as dejected as I would have otherwise been. It’s a sort of defense mechanism. I didn’t give up, but I was kind of protecting myself, I guess.
So, the Cards are down 7-4 in game 6 when Allen Craig hit a solo shot to pull the Cardinals within two. Flashforward to the bottom of the ninth. 7-5, Cards sill behind. Pujols on 2nd, Lance Berkman on 1st. David Fresse up to bat. Has there ever been a more appropriate surname for a player in the history of baseball? David Freese had ice running through his veins. He gets ahead in the count 3-2, the Cards have two outs and are down to their last strike and that beautiful sound again, the ball of a Cardinal bat. A two run triple. Game tied.
Top of the 10th, one on and Josh Hamilton is up to bat. He swings at a ball a little low and outside and sends the ball over the fence for a two run home run. I texted my friend and fellow Cardinals fan (he is also the “official” STL: Fear the Red photographer, though I don’t post many pics) and said, “What was the point of the Cardinals tying the game up just to give the lead right back?” The Cardinals go to bat in the bottom of the 10th behind by two. Back to back hits, a bunt, and a ground out make it 9-8 Texas with two outs and the Cardinals have a player in scoring position. Lance Berkman gets up to bat and falls behind 1-2 in the count. Once again, the Cardinals are down to their last strike. If Berkman swings and misses the Rangers are champs. Oh, look at that, a single THE GAME IS FREAKING TIED AGAIN!!!! At this point I am curled up in a fetal position unable to take the drama any longer. OK, not really, but I was in my head, at any rate.
In the top of the 11th the Tony La Russa sends out Jake Westbrook to pitch, who hasn’t pitch in like a month. I’m thinking, oh no. But, oh yes, he holds them and keeps the game tied. Bottom of the 11th and up to bat is David “Absolute Zero” Freese. I say “Absolute Zero” because his veins are so ice cold that all molecular activity has stopped and he is no longer human. With one swing of the bat, a walk off home run, Absolute Zero has transcended baseball and become a Cardinals legend. I know with metaphysical certitude that one day when my baby daughter is older I will relive that moment over and over and over again as a bed time story. It was the greatest moment in my Cardinals lifetime, beating out Wainwrights curve to Carlos Beltran.The Cards made history for the 2nd time in the WS becoming the first team to come back from a two run deficit TWICE in the 9th inning or later. The also became the first WS team to score in the 8th, 9th, 10, and 11th innings of a World Series game. In my opinion, and I am sure the opinion of nearly all Cardinals fans, this was the Greatest World Series Game of Our Generation. Perhaps ever. Only time will tell, I suppose.
There was only one thing that would make this game better. A victory in game 7. A loss would diminish the heroics and the drama of game 6 in my mind. Game 7 was a good game, but couldn’t possibly rival game 6 and it didn’t. What it did do, though was, three fold: 1) Gave David “Absolute Zero” two more RBI (to tie the game again, so less) making him the current record holder for most RBI in the post season with 21, 2) Made Game 6 a perhaps legendary status, and 3) Made the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals World Series CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!!!
This season was one of the most memorable seasons I have ever seen, not just as a Cardinals fan but in general. All the Cardinals have done since last August is come back. They came back from 10 1/2 down to win the Wild Card; they came back from a 2-1 series deficit to win the NLDS; they came back FIVE times in game 6 of the WS to win; and they came back from a 3-2 series deficit in the WS.
Because when all is said and done, “All they have to do is make the playoffs.”
JE is a life long Cardinals fan and is still pinching himself. He can be seen very infrequently tweeting on Twitter at @stlfear_the_red and has a Facebook Fan page, though he has no idea what the address is. The Cardinals, at this time, have won the world series every year that he has had a blog.
* JE apolgizes for the lenght of the post and any grammatical and spelling errors. He will attempt to correct any mistakes that are pointed out and will eventually re-read through the long, long post to try and correct any he sees. That might not be for awhile, however, because he has alot of other UCB blogs to read through. Please forgitve him any mistakes that he has made.
Posted by JE Powell
Well, the Cards have made it to the NLCS and must face the formidable Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers have a tough hitting line-up anchored by Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, but the Brewers also have a good 1-2 punch in Greinke and Marcum for their starting pitching. In my opinion, and the opinion of many experts at ESPN, it should be a very good, hard fought series.
The is some bad blood between these two teams in part because of an in-game argument between Nyjer Morgan of the Brewers and Chris Carpenter of the Cards. They had a shouting match a few months ago and then after that game Morgan made some tweets refering to Albert Pujols as “Alberta”. On October 8th, Zack Greinke of the Brewers game out and said that Chris Carpenter is a phony. I realize that since I am a Cardinals fan, I am a bit prejudiced, but I haven’t read or heard anything about any Cardinals players coming out and mocking the Brewers in return. That could be due to the fact that the Brewers are trying to play mind games with the Cards, or the Brewers are just a young team without much post season experience and do not know how to handle it and the Cardinals are a veteran team that has “been there” before and carry themselves with poise. Take your pick, but any which way you go with it, it certainly has increased media and public attention (the ratings for the series will prove the latter statement and a quick glance at the NLCS page on ESPN should be sufficient to prove the former).
I will certainly be cheering my heart out for the Cardinals and I most assuredly want them to go to the World Series, but despite a few ill conceived comments from the Brewers players, I think overall the Cards and Brewers have had an otherwise amiable history over the last many seasons. One way or another, it should be a great series and I look for it to go six or seven games.
Posted by JE Powell
In one of my earlier posts I mentioned that I was planning on starting a “semi-regular” feature where I will pick a random game and talk about three positives and three negatives and I thought last night’s game would be a good one to start with.
- The Cardinals lost 13-8. It seemed like none of the Cardinals pitchers could keep the Diamondbacks from scoring. Nearly every home run the D’Backs hit was with at least one man on and that was what really hurt the Cardinals.
- Chris Carpenter gave up 8 earned runs in only 4 innings pitched and now has on 0-2 record with a 5.82 ERA. Carpenter will turn it around and start pitching better, but this was a very rough start for him.
- Reliever Bryan Augenstein had to leave the game with a groin strain and will be put on the DL and Brian Tallet could also be put on the DL due to a right hand injury.
- It seems that Lance Berkman’s bat has come alive. Berkman has raised his average to .289 and has 3 home runs in his last two games.
- Albert Pujols is beginning to hit, too. He was 3 for 5 and raised his batting average to .200.
- The Cardinals scored 22 runs in three games and have scored more than 6 “It’s a serious number” runs in each of those games.
So, there you have it, my first “official” 3 X 3. I hope to do these at least once a week, probably more, though.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
AND NOW FOR THE MAIN EVENT!
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.
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.