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3 Up, 3 Down…5-11-2012

Posted by JE Powell

Last year I tried a post called, “3 X 3”, but this year I am giving it a new name and changing the order a bit. I am now, as the title of this post suggest, calling it “3 Up, 3 Down” and this time I will have the “Down” part come first so that I can end the post on an “Up.” You know, end on a positive note. I will basically take random games and point out three bad things I saw and three good things about that particular game. So, without further ado…

3 Down

  1. The  Cards lost…so that’s bad.
  2. The bullpen seems to be up to its regular season tricks again. This time it was Kyle McClellan giving up two runs in the 12th inning and getting the loss. This is the fourth time, at least, this season that the bullpen has taken the loss. If they end up pitching like they did last post season, all will be forgiven.
  3. Jaime Garcia had a rough start to the game, but settled down and pitched better. However, he put them in a whole that they couldn’t quite dig themselves out from.

3 Up

  1. Carlos Beltran…wow. He is playing very well right now and he is making the loss of Albert Pujols seem like a great thing (although, Pujols is doing his part to make it look that much better since he is playing like hot, stinky ass).
  2. Allen Craig had come off the Disabled List with a vengeance. He hit another home run last night and has 4 HRs and 12 RBI in 8 games (with a .323 BA). In comparison, Pujols has 1 HR and 11 RBI with a .195 BA in 33 GAMES!
  3. I was very, very wrong. The Cardinals are hitting very, very well and while they may have a hiccup occasionally, they are hitting the hell out of the ball right now, near the top of the NL is many of the offensive categories as a team. Seven runs last night.

The “3 Up, 3 Down” articles are a bit shorter, yes, but I enjoy doing them. So, kick back and watch or listen to a Cardinals game. You’ll be glad you did.

-14-

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Welcome Back Offense, We Missed You!

  • Posted by JE Powell

The Cardinals are now ten games into the season and sit at 4-6 record. The Cards could be 7-3, if not for three blown saves by Ryan Franklin, but that is what it is and nothing can be done about it now. I want to give Franklin a couple of more chances and see if he can turn things around. If he blows a couple of more saves, then I think John Mozeliak and Tony La Russa might need to find a closer outside of the organization. Majority owner Bill DeWitt Jr. has said the Cards have room to add payroll this season, should the right situation arise.

This, however, is about offense and how the Cardinals found it. In the last two games the Cardinals have scored 14 runs, the same amount they scored in their first five games. The return of Matt Holliday from an appendectomy has helped. The Cards are 2-1 with him in the lineup and 1-5 without him. Holliday makes this team better. 

Here are some of the positives of the last few games:

  • The Cardinals have won two games in a row
  • Matt Holliday returned to the lineup
  • Lance Berkman had a two homerun night on April 11th
  • Jaime Garcia and Kyle McClellan have been pitching extrememly well
  • Ryan Theriot’s bat is starting to come alive
  • Albert Pujols will not be batting .150-ish much longer
  • The season is ten games old and there are still 152 games to play
  • The Cardianls (while it’s a very small sample size) seem like their offense has started to come around
  • With Colby Rasmus’ high OBP and Matt Holliday’s return, when Pujols starts hitting and Berkman ups his batting average, this Cardinals team should score some runs
  • Outside of one start by Jake Westbrook, the Cards starting rotations hasn’t allow all that many runs and  has kept the team in games while the offense struggled. If the Cards can continue to have good seasons by their starting pitchers and the offense continues to perk up, this team has the potential to be very good

So, while two games does not a season make, I think that Cardinals fans certainly have reason to get excited about the Cardinals recent offensive output. If Theriot continues to improve his batting (it at .240+ now, up from around .150) and gets on base, then he is followed by Rasmus, Pujols, Holliday, Berkman, Freese, Schumaker, and Molina which is a very potent lineup when, please excuse the cliche, the hitters are all clicking on the same cylinders. If this offense can become what it seems it can be, then this summer the Cardinals are going to be a very fun team to watch.

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!

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.

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.