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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.

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Let’s Go Cardinals….Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap

Posted by JE Powell

The title of this post is also a chant that can be heard whenever you go to a Cardinals home game. Right now the Cardinals need our support, perhaps more than at any point this season. With tonight’s 6-5 victory over the Mets, coupled with the Braves 4-0 loss to the Marlins, the Cards sit a mere 1.5 games behind the Braves for the Wild Card. The Braves have 6 games left and the Cardinals have 7, so it’s going to go down to the wire.

Right now the Cardinals are playing solid baseball, predicated on the notion that efficient pitching and timely hitting wins games. The Cards finished 3-1 in a four game series against the Phillies, a team that many experts think will represent the National League in the World Series.

The season is drawing to a close and the Cardianls are definately hot right now, but they need to keep winning to have a shot at a playoff berth. After they finish this series with the Mets, the Cards must face the Cubs and Astros. The Cubs will not give in and that will be a tough series and, although they have not had a good season, Houston could play spoiler. It’s not an easy road ahead. So, put on your Cardinals apparel, tune in to Fox Sports Midwest and CHEER, CHEER, CHEER!

Monthly Predictions: June

Posted by JE Powell

Here it is, the third installment of my Montly Predicitons where I try to predict the Cardinals record for the month and overall record. So far I have been exactly right in predicting a 16-11 record in April and a 17-12 record for May. However, I will also predict that this will be the first time this year that I am wrong and will not be correct in June. Law of averages and all that.

Cards vs. SF Giants, 2 Games Series (last two of a series that started in May)

I am going with the same prediction of the first two games of the four game series and saying 1-1.

Cards vs. Chicago Cubs, 3 Game series

I predicted a 1-2 finish against the Cubs last month and I am going to predict a 1-2 series for the Cards again this month. Mostly because I hope by predicting the Cards actually win the series.

Cards at Houston Astros, 3 Game series

I cannot predict a sweep for the Cards for a third straight series against the ‘Stros, but I will predict a 2-1 finish against them in this series.

Cards at Milwaukee Brewers, 3 Game Series

The Brew Crew is playing very well right now, but I am going to predict a 2-1 series win for the Cardinals in this one.  The Brewers are not a very good road team and this series is in St. Louis.

Cards at Washington Nationals, 3 Game Series

Pretty simple prediction on this one 2-1.

Cards vs.  Kansas City Royals, 3 Game Series

The last time these two teams faced each other, back in May, the Cards won the series 2-1, but it was hard fought. However, I think the Cards will go 2-1 again, but a little easier this time. KC isn’t playing that well right now, so Cards win the series.

Cards vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 3 Game Series

When these two teams met back in May, the Cards swept a two game series against the Phillies, but I don’t think the Phils will go down that easily again. 1-2, Cards lose the series.

Cards vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 3 Games Series

Jose Bautista is doing his best Albert Pujols impression this season (perhaps better as he hit 54 HR in 2010 and Pujols has never broke 50). However, the Blue Jays are mostly a one man show. Cards 2-1.

Cardinals at Baltimore Orioles, 3 Game Series

Baltimore is an improved team this season over last year, but right now I think the Cardinals are a better team. Cards 2-1

So, I am predicting a 15-11 record with an overall record of 48-34. Tune in next month where I will have a “I was wrong, but right about being wrong” post if I am, in fact, wrong.

Just like yesterday, please excuse the grammatical and spelling errors as I again sacrificed accuracy for content.

Monthly Predictions: May

Posted by JE Powell

Just before the season started, I went through and predicted the outcome of each series in April (I was only right on 4 of the 9 series, but I had the over all recored right!) and I am now going to continue that for May. So, here I am at my computer, have a Diet Coke beside me and I am ready to go. (Just a note, I am going to go through this one a little quicker than last time, do to time constraints)

Cards at Atlanta, Last Game of 3 Game Series

It’s hard to sweep a series in the majors, but I am going to get greedy and say the Cards win this one. Derrick Lowe is the scheduled starter for Atlanta and he is fresh off of a DUI arrest, so perhaps he will be distracted. Oh, and the Cards have a little pitcher name Jaime Garcia going. 1-0

Cards vs. Florida, 4 Game Series

Florida is playing very well right now and so are the Cards. I see a draw. 2-2

Cards vs. Milwaukee, 3 Game Series

Milwaukee is a good hitting team this year, but seems to rely quite a bit on the long ball and their pitching isn’t quite what I thought it would be. They are still a good team, though, and I think it will be a tough series. Cards 2-1

Cards at Cubs, 3 Game Series

It seems to me that the Cards always struggle against the Cubs, especially in Chicago. I don’t have any stats to back that up, but I (and it frustrates me to says this) see a lost series. Cards 1-2

Cards at Cincinatti, 3 Game Series

The Reds are a much better team this year than their record (at the time of this writing, 13-13) would indicate and their is some recent bad blood between the two teams. I think the Cards have better pitching overall. Cards 2-1

Cards vs. Philadelphia, 2 Game Series

The Philies are pitching really well, but I think the Cards are two. These two teams match up well, in my opinion. Phillies have a little better pitching, but the Cards have a little better hitting. 1-1

Cards vs. Houston, 2 Game Series

If I keep predicting a sweep, I would have to be right sooner or later, right? Cards 2-0

Cards at Kansas City, 3 Game Series

The Royals are a good young team and a playing pretty well right now, but I think the Cards are a better team. I am also going out on a limb here and thinking that there might be as many Cards fans in KC as Royals fans. Might seem almsot like a home series. Cards 2-1

Cards at San Diego, 3 Game Series

 A little revenge anyone? The Padres took two of three in St. Louis and since then the Cardinals have been hitting very well and the Padres haven’t. 2-1

Cards At Colorodo, 3 Game Series

This years Rockies team is much better than I thought they would be and are probably going to be near or at the top of the division all season long. Tough series, especially for in Colorodo. Cards 1-2

Cards vs. San Fransisco, 4 Game Series (Two in May)

The first two games depends on who the Cardinals face. If it’s Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, it will be tough to win both of the first two games. It will probably be tough anyway. 1-1

It’s kind of tough to predict how a team will do a week in advance, let alone a month, but, really, I have nothing to lose. Well, except perhaps the respect of my reader. But, my wife loves me, so I am not to worried about losing her respect. At least on my blog. If you do the math, I predict a 17-12 record for the month of May and a 33-23 record overall. If I am right, expect another “I Was Right! Sort Of…” post and if I am wrong, expect a “If you make enough predictions eventually you will get one right and just make sure you keep telling people about that one right prediction so they forget about the others” type of post. Or some such nonsense.

NL: Grand Central

Posted by JE Powell

This is day 3 of the United Cardinal Bloggers Monthly Project-March and today we are dealing with the NL Central Division. I have already posted about where I think the teams in the NL Central will finish (you can read it in my first post), but I have changed my mind slightly.

NL Central

1. St. Louis Cardinals     92-70

Part of the reason for putting the Cardinals in first place is that, as a die hard fan, I just don’t have the heart to rank them lower. The other part is that I feel they underachieved last season when they faded down the stretch to lose out to the Reds. For the Cards to be successful this season they need steady production from Lance Berkman and Kyle McClellan to be a solid fifth starter.

2. Cincinnati Reds     90-72

The Reds lead most of the offensive categories last season in the NL and I think they may again this year. Bronson Arroyo is a solid starter and Mike Leake is a good, young pitcher, but I feel the Cards have a better starting rotation. The Reds have the reigning MVP in Joey Votto and overall the Reds had a very good defensive team. I would be irritated, to say the least, but not surprised if they won the division. I think that the Wild Card will come out of the East again, so winning the Central Division is the only way into the playoffs.

3. Milwaukee Brewers     87-75

This is another team that I wouldn’t be surprised to see win the division. The additions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum gives the Brew Crew a legitimate ace and very good number two starter. Along with last years staff ace Yovani Gallardo, the Brewers will be very tough to beat in a series.

4. Chicago Cubs     82-82

The Cubs added starting pitcher Matt Garza and first baseman Carlos Pena in the offseason which were some good pick-ups. If Aramis Ramirez can stay healthy and Alfonso Soriano can live up to expectations for once, then the Cubs should be able to at least finish at .5oo.

5. Houston Astros     75-87

The Astros were awful in April and May last season, but played very well after June 1st. I look for a similar performance again this year, but I feel the rest of the division (other than the Pirates) is much better.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates     63-99

Awful. Just awful. They have some promising talent with their everyday players, but their pitching is atrocious. They only won 57 games last year and they wont do much better this year.

That’s just a quick look at how I think things will play out in the Central Division. Thursday will be the NL West.

I’ll Give It The Ol’ College Try

At this point, I don’t really know what I expect to make of this blog. I love my Cardinals and have since I was a wee lad splitting logs and walking miles to get a book to read, unknowingly preparing myself to become the 16th President. That may have been someone else, I’m not sure. Anyway, I hope to, at the very least, be entertaining if not informative. I would like to be humorous, logical, and at times irreverent, but that’s not really for me to decide. I will write what I write and let my readers (probably just my wife and a couple of friends) decide what the blog ends up being. So, having wasted a bunch of words and not said anything worth while, let’s get down to the point of this blog: The Greatest Team in The History of Sports (my opinion, of course) the St. Louis Cardinals!

The Central Division is going to be tough this year, it seems. The Reds should remain as good as they were last year and have Aroldis Chapman for a whole year, he of the 105 mph fastball. And lest we forget the reigning NL MVP in Joey Votto and the addition of former Cardinal Edgar Renteria, World Series MVP.

The Brewers are much improved with the additions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to go along with Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf for a pretty good starting rotation. They also have, of course, Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Cory Hart, and Casey McGehee all players who have 25+ HR power.

The Cubs, I daresay, are improved as well. Matt Garza was a smart trade and Carlos Pena should have a better year than last year when he hit .196. If Soriano, Ramirez, and Fukudome can have improved seasons, and stay healthy, they should produce more than last year.

Houston played much better ball after June 1st last year with an above .500 record after going 17-34 in April in May. If they can continue that trend, then they may have a solid team, if not necessarily a playoff team.

And then there’s Pittsburgh: The Turd in the Toilet of the Central Division. I predict another last place finish for this stinker of a team. The Pirates are mostly irrelevant, though they have had some good players over the years that they let slip away.

My predictions for this season are as follows:

  1. Cardinals (of course!) 92-70
  2. Brewers 90-72
  3. Reds 89-73
  4. Cubs 80-82
  5. Astros 75-87
  6. Pirates 63-99 (Narrowly missing the Century mark in losses by sweeping the Reds and then being swept by the Brewers, who win the NL Wild Card)

When I started writing this particular blog post, the Cards had a full, healthy rotation, but since then Adam Wainwright has gone down with (at the time of this writing) appears to be a season ending injury. I still stand by my prediction of 92 wins, but I do not think they will get past the first round of the playoffs. Also, just for the sake of honesty, I am standing by my prediction of 92 wins and a first place finish out of a severe case of the I-Hopes.

As my Grandpa used to say to me “You’re as useless as a turkey turd on a pump handle.” I hope this blog has been at least slightly more useful than that.