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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.

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I Was Right! Sort Of…

Posted By JE Powell

Back before the baseball season started, I did a prediction post about how I thought the Cardinals would fare in each series, you can read it here, if you wish. In the second to last paragraph, I said I thought the Cardinals would go 16-11 (plus or minus 11, you know, just to give myself some wiggle room). At the end of April , 2011, the Cardinals are, in fact, 16-11. So, I was right!

However…

I only accurately predicted the outcome of  4 of the 9 series the Cards had in April, for a .444 average. But since this is primarily a baseball blog, a .444 batting average is pretty damn good.

My predictions:

Cards take 2 from the Padres. NOPE! Cards only won one game.

Cards take 2 from the Pirates. NOPE! Pirates took two.

Cards only win one against the Giants. YES! Well more like “yes (frowny face)”. The Cards lost the first two games of the series in the bottom of the ninth. Had they had a pitcher capable of closing a game at that point, they could have swept.

Cards take two of three from the Diamond backs. YES! This was the series when the bats came alive and began to take the National League by storm.

Cards and Dodgers split, 2-2. NOPE! And I am glad I got this one wrong. Cards took 3 of 4 and nearly swept the Dodgers.

Cards win two against the Nationals. YES!

Cards take two of three against the Reds. YES!

Cards sweep Astros. NOPE! They did take two of three from Houston, though.

Cards lose last two games of April to the Braves. NOPE! Another one I am glad to have been wrong on. In fact, the Cards one both of the April games against the Braves.

So, while I may have been below .500 on the predictions that led up to my 16-11 prediction, I was spot on for the overall record.

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

Posted By JE powell

The Cardinals finished up a three-games-in-two-days (there was a rainout on Wednesday) series with the Washington Nationals on Thursday going 2-1. After the last out of the series, the Cardinals found themselves in a tie for first place with the Cincinatti Reds, whom they host for a three game set this weekend.

Matt Holliday hit his second home run of the year in the series and Pujols hit a couple of more. The Cardinals could have won all three games if Jake Westbrook had not allowed 6 runs in the 3rd inning of the first game of the series. It’s still early in the year, but among the five starters, Westbrook looks like the weak link. But he very well could turn it around. In the the second game, Mitchell Boggs got his first career save and looked pretty good doing it, too. Over all, I think the series was pretty successful for the Cards and they are really starting to look like a team that can contend.

As of today, the Cardinals are 2nd in runs scored in all of MLB (104, three runs behind the Reds), 1st in batting average in MLB (.292, .015 ahead of next closest team, the Cubs), 1st in MLB in OBP (.360), 3rd in SLG (.451), 2nd in OPS (.812), 5th in home runs (22), and 1st in total bases (306). Not bad for a team that stuggled to hit and score runs the first 8 games of the year. They are going to need solid pitching and good run support if they are going to manage at least 2 out of 3 against the Reds, which should allow them to stay in first place.

The Cardinals were very good against the Reds last year going 12-6 and they are going to need to continue that this year to contend for the division and a playoff spot. Stay tuned to see what the weekend holds.

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.

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!!!!!

Monthly Predicitons: April

Posted by JE Powell

I want to take a look ahead to the schedule the Cards have for April (I am counting the one game in March) to see what kind of win loss record they will have when May 1st comes around. I am going to list their schedule by series and you can go here for a complete day-by-day schedule, if you are so inclined. My goal is to have a Monthly Prediction post up before the first of each month and take a look at the games ahead.

San Diego Padres, 3 Game Series:

I think the Cards can go 2-1 in this series. San Diego’s projected starting line-up doesn’t have anyone who hit better than .268 last season (Orlando Hudson) or hit more than 17 home runs (former Cardinal Ryan Ludwick). With the loss of Adrian Gonzalez (via trade with the Boston Red Sox) the Padres lost a near .300 hitter with 30+ home run and 100+ RBI capability. As of right now, they do not appear to have a team that has the ability to put many runs on the board each game.

Their pitching doesn’t appear to be that great right now, either, outside of Mat Latos perhaps. Latos won 14 games last year with a 2.92 ERA and 189 strikeouts and he’s only 23 years old, so he could become a top-tier ace. Clayton Richard had 14 wins as well, but with a 3.75 ERA. He did have a decent 153 K’s, though. Then there is Heath Bell, who posted 47 saves last season with 86 strike outs in only 70 innings pitched. So, if the Padres can get a lead going into the 9th inning, Heath Bell’s history suggests that they will hold the lead and win.

Pittsburgh Pirates, 3 Game Series:

I see another 2 out of 3 for the Cardinals. The Pirates have some young, talented players, especially Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones, but they are still a young team. A team that finished the season 57-105 last year. Their projected starting line-up has several players that could be All-Stars one day, but as has been the case more often than not the last several years, they will probably be All-Stars on other teams.

The Pirates biggest problem is pitching. Their projected opening day starter, Paul Maholm, went 9-15 with a 5.10 ERA last year. That’s barely a fifth starter on most teams. The Pirates projected five starters went a combined 26-54 last year, with Ross Ohlendorf going 1-11 and Charlie Morton going 2-12 (with a 7.57 ERA, yikes!).

The main reason I give the Cards a loss to the Pirates is that it seems like the Cardinals have a tendency to lose games against relatively bad pitching. I don’t have specific evidence, just past experience in being a Cardinals fan.

San Fransisco Giants, 3 Game Series:

This will be a tough series and I think the Cards will lose 2 of 3. The San Fransisco Giants are the defending World Series Champions and they have a shot to repeat. Buster Posey is coming of off a Rookie of The Year award and Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff are two very capable hitters. Edgar Renteria has gone on to the Reds, but was replaced by former MVP Miguel Tejada, who may be in the twilight of his baseball career, but can still perform.

Which brings us to the one of the top two or three pitching staffs in the National League. Tim Lincecum won the Cy Young award in 2008 and 2009 and could win more in the near future. Matt Cain is a solid number 2 starter and could be an ace on many other teams. Together Lincecum and Cain combined for 29 wins and 408 strikeouts last year. The Cards may not have to face Lincecum in this series because the first game of the Giants series is the seventh of the year for both teams, so Lincecum will more than likely have pitched the day before. That’s why I think the Cards will win one. If Lincecum does pitch, there could be a sweep.

Arizona Diamondbacks, 3 Game Series:

This is a team to look out for this year with a very good young core of players in Stephen Drew, Justin Upton, Kelly Johnson, and Chris Young. I think that the D-Backs should be able to put some runs up on the board. However, I think the Cards will go 2-1 against this team. Here is a look at their depth chart.

Record-wise their pitching didn’t look to good last year, except for perhaps Daniel Hudson who posted an 8-2 record with a 2.42 ERA in only 14 games. If the offense can put up some runs, I look for pitchers such as Ian Kennedy and Joe Saunders to win 11-12 games, which would be an improvement over last season.

Los Angeles Dodgers, 4 Game Series:

I predict a split in this series. Here’s a look at the Dodgers depth chart. Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and James Loney are three very capable hitters, but at 37 Casey Blake is starting to decline. If he can hold up, he may very well be productive. The addition of Juan Uribe will certainly help, assuming that can put up another 20+ HR, 80+ RBI season. I don’t think this team is capable of winning the NL West or even getting the wild card, but I think they will be around .500 when the season ends.

Their pitching looks to be pretty decent this year. All five of their starters won 10+ games last year and Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley could both win 15 games. If those stats hold up, you are looking at a starting rotation that’s capable of winning 55 to 60 games. Not to shabby.

Washington Nationals, 3 Game Series:

Win 2, lose 1. The Nats added Jayson Werth, but lost Adam Dunn, though the acquisition of Adam LaRoche will certainly help the team. The Nationals have done a pretty good job of improving the offense of the team. Their probable starting line-up has former Cardinal Rick Ankiel in left, though he has a tendency to strike out and does not seem to be able to his left-handed hitters, so he may platoon in left. Center fielder Nyjer Morgan can steal some bases and run out some bunts for hits, but other than that his bat doesn’t have much pop.

Their pitching isn’t really any better either. Livan Hernandez could be their opening day pitcher and he went 10-12 last season. I think one of Washington’s bottom of the rotation pitchers will sneak a win in this series.

Cincinnati Reds, 3 Game Series:

I have touched upon the Reds in an earlier blog, so I am not going to go to in-depth here. There Reds have reigning MVP Joey Votto and the team is coming off of a sweep in the NLDS. The Reds won the division by five games over the Cards last year and will be in the mix to repeat as division champs this year. The Cards had the Reds number last year winning 12 of 18 and I look for that to continue this year. 2-1.

Houston Astros, 3 Game Series:

The Astros had a nice stretch from June 1st on last year where they had a winning record in that time period and they may be able to build on that this year, but I look for them to be at the bottom of the barrel this year along with the Pirates. Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee have some pop in their bats and Michael Bourn is a very speedy guy, so this team may put some runs up on the board and sting you when you aren’t looking, but I am predicting a 3-0 sweep of this team. This series is in Houston, but I just have a feeling that brooms will be involved.

Atlanta Braves, 2 Games of 3 Game Series in April:

The Cards will play to games of a three game series to finish out April. The Braves look to be an offensively improved team with the addition of Dan Uggla, though I would certainly not call him a defensive improvement. I think Snoopy is a better defensive player. The Braves outfield is looking pretty good with Martin Prado in left, Nate McClouth in center, and Jason Heyward in right. These three guys are capable of power and hitting for average. If Chipper Jones can stay healthy, look for  this team to be in the playoff hunt for a wild card spot (The Phillies pitching may be to strong for any other team to seriously think about winning the NL East). 0-2

April Overall:

So, my prediction for the month of April is the Cardinals going 16-11, plus or minus 11. The Cards, I think, have a good team and will continue to do what they have done in years past be winning 16+ games in April and then have slightly worse months (record-wise) in May and June (than they did in April), but I will take a closer look at those months when they get nearer.

So, there you have it, a minimally researched outlook at the month to come with some mediocre analysis and sub-par links. Do you kind of get the feeling that you are watching Saturday Baseball on Fox after reading this?

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.