Results tagged ‘ Cardinals ’
St. Louis Cardinals and the Memphis Redbirds have their struggles, the
Springfield Cardinals are rolling. On
Friday, they clinched a playoff appearance with a 10-2 win over the Tulsa
Drillers. On Saturday, I traveled to Tulsa to check out this hot Springfield team
there’s something you don’t see every day” -Dr. Peter Venkman (Ghostbusters)
approached the park, I saw something strange in the neighborhood:
not sure what the Ghostbusters car was all about. It drove around the field playing the
Ghostbusters theme song. It stopped
behind homeplate and guys got out armed with proton packs. I was really hoping for a Stay Puft
Marshmallow Man sighting. But, there
were no ghosts to bust and no one got slimed.
On a Roll…
Springfield Cardinals picked up where they left off the night before, although
the Tulsa Drillers were given hope when their starter Keith Weiser struck out
Cardinals lead-off hitter, Antonio DeJesus.
Peter Kozma, came to the plate. Kozma’s
hometown is a few miles north of Tulsa, so the local boy always gets a
few cheers. Kozma singled.
Drillers were worried about Kozma, a base-stealing threat.
As well they
should be. Kozma swiped second.
fellow infielder, second baseman Daniel Descalso, who is hitting .329 and
slugging .532, knocked a double to score Kozma.
He did it so quickly that I did not get a picture until he was on second
Hill, who is listed as a catcher but was playing left field, flew out to right. Tony Cruz, who is listed as a catcher and was
playing catcher, reached on a error.
Descalso scored from second as the Drillers first baseman chased down
the missed catch.
behind me made the comment that “an error is like a can opener”. It is probably a common expression, but I had
never heard it. In this case, it turned
out to be true.
James Rapoport, singled quickly (i.e. no pic).
That brought to the plate, big first baseman, Matt Arburr. How big you ask? 6′ 4″, 260 pounds. Mike Hamilton was called up to AAA Memphis, so Arburr is getting his
chance. He did not miss this one: 2 RBI Double.
In the seventh, he would also have a solo home run.
baseman, Mike Folli, ended the inning with a fly-out to right.
damage was done. Cardinals lead
4-0. They had another four run inning in
the third, but Kozma’s first run would be all the Cardinals would need, as
starting pitcher, Ryan Kulik, pitched a beaut.
Eight shut-out innings, five hits, one K, no walks. Twelve groundouts. Eleven flyouts.
Norrick came in to pitch the ninth. The Missouri native was un-hittable, but not
necessarily in a good way. He walked the
bases loaded AND struck out the side.
minor league parks, you will find a between innings food race. You might think if you have seen one, you
have seen them all. I must give a tip of
the hat to the folks at Drillers Park that flirt with heatstroke to
dress up as QuickTrip food items.
Taquito and Egg Roll are very creative in mixing up the race and coming up with
gimmicks to make it interesting. In the
latest installment, Egg Roll came from behind with a snow shovel, knocked Hot
Dog down with a sharp blow to the back.
As Taquito attended to his fallen food item friend, Egg Roll crossed the
Everything is Coming up
pun was a stretch. As I drove home from Tulsa, I tuned into MLB Homeplate on XM Radio. When they said they had a breaking story on a
Cardinals trade, I held my breath.
Trades make me very nervous.
Perhaps, I get too attached to Cardinal players. I usually hate to see them go.
the trade rumors had been about a rental deal for Matt Holliday. In all the scenarios I heard, the price
seemed too high. I did not make sense to
me to trade the second best power threat (Ludwick), plus a pitcher, plus a
prospect just to have Holliday for a few months.
breath held, I listened to the news:
Mark Derosa for Chris Perez and a “player to be named later”. I exhaled in relief. I can live with that. In fact, I am excited about it.
went into high gear, considering all the defensive alignment options. That was followed by all the offensive
line-up options. The possibilities are
DeRosa is such a good fit. I have
secretly always liked this player, even when he was a cub. Not that I liked playing against him, but
next to catching, utility players are my favorite. DeRosa can play anywhere, and by all accounts
he is a class act, a great guy to have in your clubhouse.
doesn’t it feel like we stole him from the cubs? That may be the thing that puts a rather evil
smile on the face of Cardinal Nation.
The cubs traded him to the AL, so DeRosa could not hurt them. They signed our utility player, Aaron Miles, out
from under our nose. Ironically, Miles has
not played nearly as well as a cub. That
made payroll room for the cubs to sign Milton Bradley, who has been nothing but
a blight. Now, DeRosa is back in the NL
Central, in the clubhouse of a division rival and posed to do damage to his
former team. Score a coup for the
said, I will miss the flame-throwing, Chris Perez. And, he may come back to haunt us, as traded
players often do. I wish Perez all the
best. I hope he has a great career, and
stays in the American League. Here is
Perez warming up in San Francisco:
there is a list of potential “players to be named later”. I do not know who is on this list, and that
makes me nervous. But, for today, I look
forward to seeing DeRosa wearing the ‘Birds on the Bat’. He is the type of player that was born for
Goin’ to Kansas City.
Kansas City, here I come.
They’ve got some crazy little
And you know I’m gonna go be one.
Off to See Some Inter-league Play
On my drive to Kansas
City, I listened to MLB Homeplate on XM Radio. There were endless debates over inter-league play. It’s bad. It’s good. Love it. Hate it. Love it, but let’s tweak it. Always use the DH. Never use the DH. Switch the use of the DH to the NL parks. Make the inter-league records determine the home field advantage for the World Series. And, on and on and on.
I could not care less about all of that. I am a fan of inter-league play for one reason and one
reason alone: The Cardinals play in Kansas City. Short of an inter-league game that would take them to Arlington, it is as close as the Cardinals ever get to me. Still, it’s a six-hour drive.
I lived in Kansas
City for a number of years and have friends and family
to visit, which makes the I-70 series weekend very special for me. I got to meet my brand week week-old nephew. I love hanging out with my fam.
The home of the Kansas City Royals, Kauffman Stadium or
“The K”, is a special place for me. I saw my first major league game there. I was probably nine or ten. I did not really know baseball back then. I do not remember who we played. I do not remember who won. I did know who George Brett was, and I knew when I walked into The K, that it was the biggest place I had ever been, and I liked being there.
I went with my sister her fiancé and some of his
family. We sat near right field. We played a game where each person drew an outfield position. Each time the Royal playing your position caught a fly ball, everybody else paid you a dollar. I had right-field and the other team must have been stacked with lefties because I made a killing.
It was poetic and special that I would be back at The K
with my sister on Friday. She does not understand my attraction to this game, but she is one person in my life that does not look at me like I am crazy when I take off cross-country to go see a game. And, I love that about her.
Welcome to the New K
The outside will always look a bit like a place the Jetsons’
would have gone to watch a game. It is a throwback to the early 70s when we were in love with astronauts, men walked on the moon and I drank Tang for breakfast.
The field area at The K has always been spectacularly
beautiful, with the signature outfield fountains. It was a gem in it’s day. However, as new parks are built, the old girl had been left in the dust. Little luster remained on the hunk of forty year old concrete.
No longer. Major
renovations were completed over the winter, and the old girl has a whole new look. The fan experience in this park is excellent.
The scoreboard seemed more fabulous that ever.
Before the renovations, there were no seats between the
foul poles. Unless a home run ball took some sort of funny hop, it could not be caught here. Now the outfield is full of seats and activity.
Although there were plenty o’ Cardinals fans in the seats,
I do believe I saw much more Royals blue than last year during the I-70 series. Good for you, Kansas City! However, the fans in blue (except for the ones in powder blue retro
Cardinals jerseys) would not have much to cheer about.
Game 1 Davies vs. Thompson
The Cardinals came out hitting the Royals well. Single, single, two-run single. But, in the
third, they broke out the cannons.
In the first, the Royals pitched to Pujols and were
punished with a 2-RBI single. This time they walked him. Enter the slumping Ryan Ludwick. Although the words “grand slam” were bouncing around in the back of my head, I quieted them and thought how nice it would be if Ludwick just got a nice simple base hit. And, he did 393 ft. into the brand new outfield seats.
The Cardinals weren’t finished handing out souvenirs to
that section. Rick Ankiel and Khalil Greeene went back to back with solo shots. All sluggers have had their issues at the plate lately. Nothing like a little long ball to get them going.
I like the move of Khalil Greene to third base. After seeing the athleticism that Brendan
Ryan and Tyler Greene can bring to the shortstop position, I think one of them should be playing that position. On a team with the pitching philosophy of “pitch to contact and let your defense do the work”, they need to play their best defenders.
Also, because of the philosophy, that puts extraordinary
pressure on the middle infielders to be practically perfect in every way. Perhaps, that is part of the pressure that was getting to Khalil Greene. Perhaps, he can relax a bit at third. It seemed to work in his rehab starts in Memphis. And, it seems to be working now.
I did not want to say this out loud too soon for fear of
jinxing it, but I think it is safe to say that Skip Schumaker has turned into a very fine second baseman. With Schumaker’s athletic ability and intense work ethic, I really believed the transition would work. I just did not know it would work so well. He looks
like he was born to it.
Davies was pulled in the third and Thompson pitched a
gem. Cardinals win!
Game 2 Bannister vs. Carpenter
With a rain delay of
about an hour and a half, it looked like it might be a long day at the ballpark. However, Bannister and Carpenter were like to pilots grooving in the jet stream trying to make up time on a cross-country flight. Length of game: 2:37.
Many might argue that Albert Pujols is the most intimidating
Cardinal. If I were a National League pitcher, I might agree. But, the Cardinal I find most intimidating is Chris Carpenter.
He is big. He is tall. His voice
is deep. He has amazing stuff, and he is all business, all the time. You often see Pujols smile or share a laugh. Not Carpenter. I am sure he has a light-hearted side, silly, fun-loving side. I have just never seen it, and that’s fine by me. If he scares the bejesus out of me
just sitting in the bleachers, I can only imagine the fear he inspires in those
who must stand in the batter’s box.
This was really the best game of the series. Although the Cardinals let the whole game, it
was close until the ninth. The Royals threatened to get the bats going in the 8th. Carpenter was pulled after a 2-out double. The third out was four batters, one walk, one error, one run and two pitchers away.
In the ninth, a string of base hits by Ludwick, Duncan,
and Molina, was topped off by a Khalil Greene home run. The four run inning turned the formerly 3-1 game into a rout.
Game 3 Meche vs. Wainwright
I enjoyed the game with family on Friday. Saturday was spent swapping baseball stories with friends. Both were great, but Sunday was for me. I walked up to the ticket booth and purchased
one of the last seats in outfield section 105. I wanted sit in one of the new seats. I wanted to sit where the home run balls landed.
The 1:00 pm start on the first day of summer was as hot as
they come. Despite application of sunscreen, I would leave with a souvenir sunburn. But, the weather was no hotter than Albert Pujols’ bat.
I have run out of words to describe El Hombre. Special.
Amazing. The best player in baseball. The words fall short. While he is capable of anything, he still
finds a way to exceed our expectations.
When Albert Pujols came to the plate in the 4th
with bases loaded, I tucked away my pencil and scorecard. I was ready to catch the ball. The grand slam ball. I thought, “Albert, hit it to me.”
But, he missed. The
grand slam ball landed about 15 feet to my left and 10 feet back. I expected a home run, but I did not expect the 423 feet monster shot. He’s such an over-achiever.
The game had been close, but the grand slam put the
Cardinals out of reach. In a continuation of that inning, the Cardinals sent 12 batters to the plate and
scored 8 runs. I began to feel sorry for the Royals. Especially, the catcher,
Olivo. I was drenched in sweat just sitting there. I could not imagine
working in the heat while wearing catcher’s gear.
In other news, Khalil Greene hit his third home run in
three days. He was rewarded by a plunking. Maybe, intentional. Maybe not. Either way, the Royals paid. The pinch runner, Thurston, was the first to score on the grand slam.
Random Images from the I-70 Series
Colby Rasmus at the plate. How much to we love our little Rookie of the Year Candidate?
On Friday, the Royals catcher, Olivo, hit a long fly ball to deep left field. I quickly tried to get a picture of Ankiel making a spectacular catch. Instead, I got a blurred image of his attempt and the very sad shot below of him looking at where the ball landed inside the Cardinals bullpen:
Tuesday, I went to a Oklahoma City Redhawks games with some girlfriends. It was a very “chilled out” game by my usually
standard of insanity. I did not go early
for batting practice. I did not even
make it to my seat before first pitch. I
did not keep a score sheet. Sometimes,
it nice to be normal.
did not take the time to shoot some photos of the “Dodgers” theme throughout
the stadium. I did eat a tasty Dodger
Dog. A Dodger Dog is long and skinny,
much like the people you see in L.A.
I also had garlic fries that were just as good as the ones I had in San Francisco.
However, I did listen to the Cardinals game on my iPhone and enjoyed the play-by-play of the Cardinals disassembling the Tigers’ ace, Verlander. Nice to see the offense come around.
category of “Where are they now?”, I saw three people you might have wondered
about. It is just amazing who you might
cross paths with on a weeknight in the southern Midwest.
I wrote a
blog this Spring about how So Taguchi might possibly be the ultimate good luck
charm, and I was concerned because he was a non-roster invitee to the Chicago cubs camp. I knew that he did not make the 25-man
roster, but I did not know what became of him.
a borrowed roster for the Iowa Cubs and was tickled to find So Taguchi’s
name. Actually, I was down right
excited. I mean, it is not like you see
a former Cardinal with two World Series rings (one from Philly last year)
playing in Oklahoma City.
him in the dugout in his usually bench playing role:
came in to play right field and got one at bat:
getting a picture of his at bat because he was hit by a pitch almost
came up to bat, I cheered loud. I was
the only one in an otherwise quiet stadium, so it seemed really loud to
me. Yes, I cheered for a cub. Probably, the first and last time that will
I am nervous that he is a lucky charm, and he could still end up playing for
the cubs. More about my So Taguchi
superstitions can be found here.
Samardzija is probably better known for his college years where he was a fine
wide-receiver at Notre Dame. Samardzija
set single-season school records in both receiving yards and touchdown
spend a little time up with cubs last year, but did not make the team out of
Spring Training. He has been pitching
with the AAA Iowa Cubs this year. He has a
3-3 record with a 4.27 ERA.
got the start (and the loss) on Monday night.
So, on Tuesday he was in the stands with a radar gun logging pitches for
the Tuesday pitchers.
Hernandez, the pitcher born in Cuba in either 1965 or 1969, recently
signed a minor league contract with the Rangers. I spotted El Duque in the dugout:
If you are a Cardinal Fan living in Oklahoma,
the past couple weeks have been good. Not
just because the St. Louis Cardinals are climbing out of their offensive
funk. Not just because
after sweeping us, the tornado that is the Rockies these days, continued raping
and pillaging the NL Central by sweeping the Brewers as well, keeping the
Cardinals within easy striking distance of the leader spot. But, mostly because both the Memphis
Redbirds and the Springfield Cardinals made road trips to Oklahoma. Nice of them to come to me.
Well, nearly to me. Both Oklahoma City and Tulsa are at least two hours from my
house. There have been some late nights, followed by going to work early
the next day, so I could leave early to go back to the ballpark. However, it is not like my favorite
minor league clubs play here everyday, so when they are here, I gotta go!
I always say, “Sleep is what you do when there is nothing better
to do”. However, there is a
little story that goes along with that: At
some point, there is nothing better to do than sleep. Friday, I hit that
wall. Slept 13 hours. And, now I am ready to go again!
The Memphis Redbirds came to Oklahoma City for a four game series against the
Redhawks. This is the last time the Redbirds will be in my state this
year. If I want to see them
again, I will have to go track them down in Memphis or maybe Round Rock or both.
As I watched the games, I listened to the St. Louis Cardinals
games. It was easy to get
the games confused in my head because the St. Louis Cardinals seemed to be
having the same problems with the Reds and the Rockies as the Redbirds were having with the
In the first game, the Memphis Redbirds did show the offensive
fire power that they are so capable of, but has often eluded them this
year. Joe Mather had a fantastic night with two
sacrifice flies, two doubles, one single, two runs and two RBIs. Mather looks a 100% better than he did
in April. In April, he
still looked thin and weak, like he had never completely recovered from the
Spring Training bout of flu that had derailed his strong start.
Hoffpauir, had a Gold Glove night at second base, while going 2-3 with a
walk and an RBI. Two
fielding plays earned a star on my scoresheet: 1) a leaping catch of a line drive and
2) the pick of a grounder far to his right then the throw fired to first in
time to catch the runner.
After the first game, the offense would slow to a trickle. Game two had twelve hits, but only
four runs. Game three would
have nine hits but no runs. Game
four would feature only six hits and no runs.
In game two and three of the series, it was easy to look at the
score sheet and see that they game was really much closer than the score
indicated. However, game
four was plain ugly with the Redhawks flamethrower, Naftali Feliz on the mound.
And, the lack of offense was complicated by the fact that the
Redbirds’ pitching was not particularly sharp. All the while, pretty much the same
thing was going on up in St. Louis.
There were two call-ups: Jess
Todd and Tyler Greene.
With Tyler Greene on third, Joe Mather hits a fly ball…
…which scores Greene
With Tyler Greene gone, Hoffpauir moved to shortstop and
to the delight of the hometown crowd, Oklahoman, Casey Rowlett, got a start at
Jon Jay is an outfielder to
keep an eye on. He plays hard as evidenced by the large tear in his pants:
I will probably watching him a little more closely for one simple
fact: I have his bat. It’s cracked.
It’s signed. It’s mine. It has found a home in my office where it
serves as a memento, conversation piece and potential weapon. It may be cracked, but I bet it has one good skull
cracker left in it.
I have no game, so you can be assured that it is in my possession
through no effort of my own, but through the kindness of fellow baseball fans. There is a family, who sits near me at Redhawks
games. The son is adept at snagging
broken bats out of the dugout and getting them signed.
They know I am a huge Cardinals fan. During the series, they acquired bats from
Shane Robinson, Jarrett Hoffpauir and Jon Jay.
They came to the game early and got the bat signed for me. They told Jay who it was for. He asked if I was there. They said that I
would be there later. He said he would
wave to me.
Which he did. When he
popped out of the dugout, they yelled at him.
He looked up at me.
I said, “Thank you!”
He said, “You’re welcome.”
And, off he went to abuse another piece of lumber. Yep, I am oh-so-eloquent in person. Still, my gratitude was sincere, as was his smiling
response. Best of luck to you, Jon Jay!
Here is Jon Jay and the bat before it was cracked:
I know he does hit. I
know he has hit. I know he
will hit. But, for all you
Cardinal fans that have been calling for his call-up, back off. Brett Wallace is not ready yet.
In response to my statement, “You’ve got a lot of talent out
there”, Redbirds Manager, Chris Maloney, said that they have been in a slump
all year. Yes, much to my
surprise, the Redbirds Manager walked over and chatted with me during batting
practice. I had a nice
conversation with the Mississippi gentleman about baseball and such.
Of course, it proved to me once again that while I might be a writer,
I am so not a journalist. There I was with a great opportunity and no good
questions. I do not think,
“So, who’s pitching today?” qualifies. Still,
I thoroughly enjoyed the chat.
Later, however, I did think of the question I wish I would have asked. With the call-ups of Greene and Todd,
who had both been playing well, it occurred to me how difficult it is to
“build” a team in the minors.
In the major leagues, a manager typically has his cornerstone
players to build on. For
example, with the Cardinals, you start with Pujols and Molina, who are rarely
missing from the lineup. You have a couple solid starters who always keep
you in the game, like Carpenter and Wainwright. Perhaps, you have a “go-to” arm or two
in the bullpen, like Franklin. Then you fill in and mix and match
Now, you might lose a key player to injury. If you are not in contention, you
might lose someone to a trade. However,
you do not lose a player because he is “too good.”
Not so, in the minors. Your
best starter is the “sixth man” in the big club’s rotation. Your closer is one major league injury
away from being plucked from your bullpen. And,
whoever is swinging a hot bat, could be on a plane tonight to St.
an ever changing cast of players, how do you build? I wondered, if that was the hardest
job of a minor league manager.
Or, is it herding ‘birds? I
imagine keeping young men on task and out of trouble can be a challenge.
Normally, I would say “herding cats”, but a small bird somehow ended up in my
house a few weeks ago, and I tried my best to herd it back outside to the great
outdoors. So, I can say
from experience that it is nearly impossible to herd a bird.
However, I believe the following look from the Redbirds manager might
actually herd ‘birds. Here
is the Chris Maloney coaching third base and looking like there might be hell
to pay if more Redbirds do not find their way around the bases.
The AT&T Bricktown Ballpark continued its “Taste of the Big
Leagues” promotion finally bringing Busch Stadium to me. I must admit I was a bit disappointed at
first. I am not sure what I was
expecting. A replica of the arch? Clydesdales?
There were only three Cardinals banners: Enos Slaughter, Lou Brock and Dizzy Dean:
The photo op included seats from old Busch stadium. That was kind of cool.
Of course, a big Stan Musial banner was a must.
The Busch Stadium food included toasted ravioli. Although I promise you what they called “toasted
ravioli” was not toasted ravioli. If
real toasted ravioli is like a piece of homemade pie, then what they were
selling was a pop-tart. Tasty, but not
special. However, the “Bratzel”, a brat
wrapped in pretzel dough, pig-in-a-blanket style, did not disappoint. It was huge.
I slathered the Bratzel in mustard and ate contentedly as the crowning
touch to the Busch theme played over the PA:
The Budweiser Song. No, the
Clydesdale’s did not appear. The crowd
did not stand and clap along. But, I
could see and hear it all in my head. It
The Springfield Cardinals returned to Tulsa this week. Tulsa is a bit farther and unless I leave
work early, I cannot make first pitch. However,
on Thursday, I left early to watch a double header. It was a beautiful night and the
Cardinals won both games with Trey Herne and Brandon Dickson on the
In the shortened seven-inning games,
the Cardinals won 2-1 and 4-1. In
addition to the two one run outings by the starters, Tyler Norrick and Francisco
Samuel turned in one hitless inning a piece. Eduardo Sanchez turned in two.
Starter, Lance Lynn, would not be so fortunate on Saturday. He gave up three runs in six innings, which
would not be bad except the Cardinals scored zero runs.
Samuel Freeman, joining the club from Palm Beach, threw two
perfect innings with two K’s. His
call-up was so fresh, that he was not listed on the roster.
As I searched for his number on the roster, I heard a voice behind
me say, “He’s probably not on there. He
only joined the team today.” I turned to
the voice, which belonged to the Cardinals’ bus driver. This information I obtained from his name tag.
I suppose if I had game, I
would have pumped him for all sorts of AA details, but instead I just lamely asked,
“What’s his name?”, wrote “Sam Freeman” on my scoresheet and turned my
attention back to the game.
Other player notes.
I enjoyed watching second baseman,
Daniel Descalso. He has a nice
glove and is batting .328.
Pete Kozma is a local boy and a hometown favorite even among the
Drillers fans. Kozma made his AA debut
when I lasted saw the Cardinals in early May.
The shortstop is batting .245 and has accumulated 17 RBI’s in that time.
Outfielder, Daryl Jones is hitting over .300, but never seems to
hit when I am watching.
First baseman, Mark Hamilton, is putting together some good
numbers: batting .294 and slugging .521. For that, he gets two pictures:
Fine, you are right. I really posted two pictures because I actually caught the ball in both. I have not figured out the trick to making pictorial contact with the ball consistently, but there are a lot of guys who have been trying for a lot longer to figure out how to do the same thing with a bat.
When I last visited the Drillers Stadium, I met a fellow Cardinals
fan and had a nice warm baseball chat on an otherwise damp, chilly night. Later, Scott took the time to find and
comment on my blog and asked me to let him know if I was coming back when the
Springfield Cardinals came to town.
So, during the Drillers/Cardinals games I enjoyed the rare treat
of sharing the games with a fellow Cardinals fan. Although since he usually is there rooting
for the Drillers, he sometimes gets confused about who he should be cheering for. I
suppose that is understandable.
Although I do not mind watching games all by myself, it is a
delight to watch them with a knowledgeable baseball fan, because they notice
things that you miss. I enjoyed his
stories, insights and company.
As I am going through my billions of pictures, I cannot believe
that I did not take one of Scott, who looked so great in his Eckstein
jersey. So much better than Eckstein
Scott, if you are reading. Next
time in Tulsa,
you bring Eckstein. I’ll bring
Molina. We will get a picture. And, maybe even catch someone stealing
Potpourri for $500, Alex
I accidentally purchased a MILB.tv subscription for $29.95 or
so. Now, I can watch the Memphis
Redbirds on my PC. Yes, I know, I have
an addiction problem. But, as my mom puts
it, it is a very wholesome addiction.
But, I have gotten to see Khalil Greene in his rehab starts. The good news is that he looks good at the
plate. However, he did have a
multi-error game at shortstop. Not
good. The crowd booed. It was ugly.
After a conversation in St. Louis,
he is back in Memphis
at third base, where he looks very, very good tonight. I read that he was a third baseman in
college. Perhaps, playing shortstop is
where the pressure gets to him.
Especially, on a team where the prevailing pitching philosophy is pitch
to contact and let the defense work.
Maybe, third base is his comfort zone, his happy place. It sure seems so, he just knocked in two and
scored the go ahead run from second.
The Redbird skipper pulled Shane Robinson in the first inning of
Sunday’s game for not running out a ground ball. Robinson did not start tonight, but he came into the game later.
New call-up, Pete Parise, threw two perfect innings in relief.
Jarrett Hoffpauir is on fire!
This weekend I will be in Kansas
City for the I-70 series between the Kansas City
Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals. I am
excited to see the renovations at the K.
I am excited to see my Royals. I
am excited to see my family and friends.
But, I am most excited to meet my brand new nephew who was born last
week. Yes, I am an addict, but I still
know what is most important.
was the Second Annual United Cardinal Bloggers Progressive Blog Day, where UCB
members write about one inning in today’s installment of the I-70 series as the
St. Louis Cardinals take on the Kansas City Royals at Busch Stadium.
the fifth inning, so visit these fine blogs first and then come back here:
Pregame: United Cardinal Bloggers
Fourth inning: Cards on Deck
So, by now, you know that Kyle Lohse has a two hit shutout going. A two RBI single by Nick Stavinoha, got the
Cardinals out in front in the first. Skip
Schumaker added on with a lead-off home run in the third. Cardinals are leading the Royals 3-0 at the
start of the fifth inning.
I was watching the game from home today rather than from the sold-out stands in
Busch Stadium. However, when I am at the
ballpark, there in one thing I hate: having to go to the bathroom during the
game. Sometimes I can make it a whole
nine innings, but more often than not, the beverages kick in, the bladder
stretches to capacity and I am left with no choice but to make the trek to the
I hate to
go because I am always afraid I am going to miss something. Depending on how far away the bathroom is and
whether or not there is a line (actually, I am female, so there is always a
line), the roundtrip can take a whole half an inning or better. Annoying.
had I been in the stands, the fifth inning would have been a good time go.
anticipation grew as I watched the first through the fourth inning of this
really fine Cardinal outing. I wondered
what new excitement my inning would bring.
Another home run? Lohse striking
out the side? Another fine catch by
center fielder, Colby Rasmus?
Turns out, the most
exciting thing that happened in the inning is that the Royals phone to the
bullpen was on the fritz. They had to send a runner out to give instructions.
at the Plate
led off for the Royals and hit a routine fly ball to center fielder, Colby
Rasmus. This was the sixth fly ball of
the day to Rasmus, who was earning his money in center. He plays a sweet and easy center field. A real joy to watch.
Next up, Olivo
did hit a double down the left field line.
That might have been new and interesting since it was only the third
Royals hit thus far, but Olivo hit that exact same double in the second inning.
Aviles, with his odd helicopter batting
stance, struck out. The pitcher,
Hochevar, quickly got behind 0-2, and grounded out to shortstop, Tyler
Greene. Olivo, once again, found himself
orphaned at second base.
at the Plate
Cardinal lineup was back to the top as lead-off hitter, Skip Shumaker,
led-off. Schumaker had a tough at
bat. Fouled off three pitches. Worked the count to full. And, ultimately line out sharply to Royals
third baseman, Teahan.
Rasmus was up next. He took a curve for
a strike, a curve for a ball and then grounded out sharply to first baseman, Butler.
Again. Very much as he did in his
last at bat in the third.
Albert Pujols is up. Nobody on, which is
good because he might get a pitch to hit.
He did find a pitch to hit, unfortunately he hit it on the ground to the
shortstop who threw to first and got the third out.
Was it a
ho-hum inning? For most people it would
be. No runs. One extra-base hit. One strike-out. No diving plays to make the highlight
reel. However, a real baseball fan will
appreciate the following:
- A very efficient scoreless
inning for starting pitcher, Kyle Lohse.
Four batters faced. Twelve
pitches thrown. Of which, only two
were balls. Very, very sweet.
- It took twelve pitches to
retire the Royals. It took eight
pitches to retire Skip Schumaker, who took a very good lead-off style at
bat before lining the ball into a glove.
- Sometimes less is more. Especially when it comes to excitement
in a close 3-0 game. I have seen
enough Cardinals pitchers in trouble in close games. I have seen enough errors on routine
plays. I will happily take a quiet
inning of solid pitching and defense.
In particular, when the Cardinals are enjoying the lead.
these UCB sites to continue on with game.
Today is Debate Day at
United Cardinal Bloggers, when Cardinal bloggers square off against each other
to tackle some tough issues.
The subject I will be
addressing on this Debate Day is:
The Cardinals should
try to trade Chris Duncan rather than Rick Ankiel.
Let it be said that I
do not like trades. I am territorial, perhaps, almost maternal when it comes to
players with redbirds on their jerseys.
I am not comfortable bartering them like spare parts at a swap meet.
When I watched Brian
Barton traded before my very eyes in Oklahoma
City, I was bummed even though
I had watched him strike out three times in two games and get tossed for protesting
a check swing call. I did not want to
see him go, even though it was a good move for both him and the Cardinals. We got an arm. He went to a team with better opportunity in
So, when confronted
with today’s question, “Do you trade Chris Duncan or Rick Ankiel?”, the answer from
my heart is “neither”. However, trades
are an important part of baseball.
Realistically, the Cardinals have great outfield depth and can deal from
a position of strength. The only thing
that might prevent the trade of an outfielder this year is a rash of
injuries. When given the choice between
injures and a trade, I will take the trade.
So, who do the
Cardinals deal? Chris Duncan or Rick
Ankiel? I choose Chris Duncan.
Rick Ankiel roams centerfield like he was born there. He owns it and skillfully defends it against incoming fly balls.
In addition, there is his arm. Last year, base runners tested his arm and
found it lethal. This year, they are
cautious and respectful.
Ankiel can rack
up outs and keep base runners in check.
He is a force.
Although Chris Duncan
has shown some improvement in the outfield, he is still barely an average
defender. Proof of this is the fact that
Tony LaRussa pulls him in late innings and moves Skip Schumaker to replace him
and shore up the defense. Although he
has hit well so far this year, his bat does not do the Cardinals much good
sitting on the bench in the last third of the game.
While Chris Duncan is
a minus defender in the outfield, he is quite good at first base. Unfortunately for him, there is currently no
opportunity at first base with the Cardinals.
And, even if you could imagine a tragic scenario where first base opened
up, does anybody want to be the guy to try to fill Albert Pujols’ cleats? I think not.
So, I could live with
the trade of Duncan,
if we could find him a nice club where he could start at first base. There he could be a more complete player.
In the days of
free agency, the “face of the franchise” is a revolving door. Fans, the people who drive the revenues of a
club, need “faces” to get behind. These
faces are inspiring and entice people to come out to the ballpark and drop
money on a jersey with the face’s name on it.
Of course, Pujols is the main face in this franchise, but some of us
need the option to be a little more creative.
Rick Ankiel has “face”
potential. The Cardinals drafted him
right out of high school in 1997. He
is a farm raised product of our own. Jerseys adorned with #24 are scattered
through the stands, some of which go back to his pitching days.
Yes, his pitching days. Fans love the story of how the strong armed
pitcher went wild, and then went back down to the minor leagues and worked his
way back up as a outfielder and hitter.
It is inspirational. Heroic. And,
always, it is compared to the transition of Babe Ruth from pitcher to
outfielder. People come to
On the other hand,
Chris Duncan was also drafted by the Cardinals out of high school, but the fans
have never embraced him. Maybe, it was
the error in Game 5 of the 2006 World Series that nearly cost them the
game. Or, the errors that have
Perhaps, the fans are
frustrated with the injuries or the streaky bat. Maybe, it is because his dad is on the coaching
staff and they feel there is nepotism involved in decisions surrounding Duncan.
Although, Tony LaRussa does
not strike me as someone who lets the personal interfere with business.
Whatever the reason,
Chris Duncan has become the whipping boy of St. Louis Cardinals fans. Whatever is not working, be it offense or
defense or perhaps even pitching, Duncan
gets the blame. Matthew Leach tweeted it
best. When Skip Schumaker made an error
on a missed catch after replacing Duncan
in right field, Leach twittered, “Somehow, somewhere, somebody is turning that
into Chris Duncan’s fault”.
It is not right. It is not fair. It just is.
could find the fan love he deserves somewhere else, and we could find a quality
arm, because you can never have too many of those.
Truly, I like Chris
Duncan, and there is no doubt that he has gotten off to a stronger start at the
plate this year than Rick Ankiel. This,
of course, strengthens his trade value.
There are concerns
that Rick Ankiel, a Scott Boras client, may command too high a price at the end
of the season. Whether or not Ankiel is “signable”
will come down to two factors: what kind
of year he has and if it is a good one, how much does he really wants to be a
If we trade Duncan and Ankiel walks,
we still have a fine outfield consisting of Ryan Ludwick, Colby Rasmus and Skip
Schumaker. Jon Jay, Shane Robinson and
Joe Mather are doing a good job in the outfield at Triple-A Memphis. And, from a financial perspective, the
Cardinals would end up with a less expensive outfield. If the Cardinals do not feel comfortable
increasing payroll, they are going to have to find ways to save because it will
not be long before it is time to resign Albert Pujols.
The Debate Rages On
The argument for
trading Rick Ankiel rather than Chris Duncan can be found at C70 At The Bat.
The other questions on the table
- The Cardinals’ real rival is Houston, not Chicago.
- The team should try to resign Rick Ankiel at season’s
- If Troy Glaus is out for the year, Brett Wallace
should be considered for a callup.
- Khalil Greene should be approached for an extension
before the end of the year.
Links to these debates can be
found at United Cardinals Bloggers. Click over there and check it out.
off a triumphant sweep of the Houston Astros, the St. Louis Cardinals traveled
to Arizona to go Diamondback hunting. The Snakes put up a pretty good fight, but the
Cardinals won the series 2-1. The Cardinals are
leading the Central, a full game ahead of the Cubs. Yet, with Carpenter injured again, it feels
like we are losing.
Carpenter, if you are reading this (which, of course, you are not), I want you
to stop now. Fans, continue on:
Carpenter needs to believe that he can comeback and have a full healthy
season. I want him to believe that. However, as fans, we need to be
realistic. The fragility of Carpenter has
been proven over and over. Injuries are
not a matter of “if”, but “when”, “how severe” and “how long”.
few innings he has taken the mound, both this year and last, have been
beautiful. The thing that amazes me most
is the man can be out for months and months, but when he comes back, he throws
fellow fans, we need to thing of Carpenter as gravy. Or, dessert.
Anything he does this year will be a bonus. A treat.
Something to be savored, but not counted on. The rest of the starting rotation has to be
the meat and potatoes. Fortunately, they
are proving that they can be.
#6 – I actually called it
Chris Carpenter made it to the clubhouse at the top of the fourth on Tuesday,
speculation began about who would be called on to start in his spot. Names were tossed about: Kyle McClellan, Brad Thompson, Mitchell
Boggs. However, a different name came to
my mind, and I thought I must be wrong since no one seemed to be saying it.
email to a friend this morning, I gave the name of the Memphis Redbird who I
thought would get the call–just to go on record. When I saw the Chris Perez and Mitchell Boggs
call ups today, I knew I had missed it.
not. Later, I checked St. Louis
Post-Dispatch website, and there he was:
P. J. Walters. Walters will be
joining the Cardinals rotation on Friday against the Cubs, which will give an
extra day of rest for Lohse, Wellemeyer and Pineiro.
I saw P.
J. Walters pitch in Chris Carpenter’s spot in one of the Cardinals’ exhibition
games in Memphis. And, he pitched well,
giving up only one run, which was unearned.
Walters also had a fine start against the Oklahoma City Redhawks, going
seven shutout innings, giving up only 2 hits and 1 walk.
24, was drafted by the Cardinals in the 11th round in 2006. He spent most of 2008 in Triple-A
Memphis. He had a great Spring Training.
He will make his Major League debut at Wrigley Field going against Carlos
Zambrano. It does not get much bigger
than that. Welcome to the bigs, Mr.
on the D-Backs Series
Despite the double loss in Tuesday’s game, there were many positives that came out of this series. Felipe Lopez was not one of them.
year, Felipe Lopez’s major league career was in the waste basket. The Nationals put him on waivers. How bad is your year going when possibly the
worst team in baseball kicks you out?
Cardinals picked him up, dusted him off and he became a new man. He hit like crazy in a Cardinals uniform. He seemed to earn a spot in St. Louis.
Yet, he did not get one. The
Diamondbacks picked him up.
this series, Lopez was very much the rattlesnake we turned our back on. He struck and struck and struck. Hitting the ball again and again. Making great defensive plays. He was a Cardinal killer.
me wrong, I like Lopez. I am glad he is
having success. I just wish he would go
have it against the other National League teams, and not so much mine.
start, Todd Wellemeyer looked like, well, Todd Wellemeyer. That is the Todd Wellemeyer that was named
the National League’s Pitcher of the Month in May of last year. Not, the Todd Wellemeyer that has struggled
in Spring Training. The slight change in
his delivery seemed to do the trick.
Great to have him back on track!
outing rounded out a five game winning streak by Cardinals starting pitching. It
was five beautiful days where, in the best possible way, it was impossible to
tell which pitcher is the staff ace.
Wow. Game winning home run in his first game
against the team that originally drafted him and waivered him. In addition, he made contributions both
offensively and defensively to keep the Cardinals in Tuesday’s game. While we look rather longingly at Felipe
Lopez and wonder what might have been, D-Back fans are scratching their heads
trying to remember why they let Barden go.
a day off on Monday, Molina got a workout behind the plate. In particular, catching seven different
pitchers on Tuesday when Carpenter left after the third.
On top of
that he was an offensive force, taking great at bats ending in clutch hits,
getting on base and even racking up a critical stolen base that put him in
position to score. In two games, he has
racked up two runs, four hits, four RBI’s and three walks. He was on base five out of five times in
Wednesday’s matinee with 3 hits and 2 walks.
Up So far, The
the Cardinals look like a great team, with a plethora of tools and moving
parts. As a whole, they have been sharp
and effective. Of course, the
competition has been the Pirates, Astros and Diamondbacks. Not to discount these talented clubs, but
they are not the cubs.
Cardinals go to Wrigley for a four-game series with the Chicago cubs. Their mettle will be tested. Come Monday, we will know.
Astros and Cardinals last met, it was August, 2008. The Astros were on the rise. The Cardinals, disabled with injuries, were
on the downhill slide. I journeyed to
the Juice Box in Houston, only to see my Cardinals get
week, the Houston Astros journeyed to Busch stadium, and the St. Louis Cardinals
returned the favor. We all like to talk
about hitting, but we all know that pitching wins games. The good news is: We have pitching!
Cardinal pitcher, Joel Piñeiro, carried
his Spring Training success into his first start of the year, going 6 2/3, giving up two runs. I was hard on Piñeiro
before. He would get into jams, not
check his emotions and self-destruct.
Both in the exhibition game in Memphis and
his first start of the season, Piñeiro is in perfect control–both of his
pitches and his emotions.
The bullpen combination of Josh
Kinney, Jason Motte and Kyle McClellan did the rest. Granted, Motte got into trouble again, but
was not allowed to fail as McClellan came in with two on/one out and retired
the two batters he faced. Cardinals win
Adam Wainwright had a rough start.
He pitched five shutout innings and got the win. Yep, that’s a rough start for Wainwright. Mostly, he threw a lot of pitches, but he got
the job done. A bullpen combo of Jason
Motte (pitching a very nice 6th this time), Dennys Reyes (three
up-three down) and Brad Thompson (pitching two innings, but giving up two runs)
finished the game.
For 4 1/2 innings, this game was a
pitching duel between Oswalt and Wainwright. Oddly
enough, Oswalt looked better, yet the Cardinals were up 1-0. In the bottom of the 5th, the
Cardinals broke it open. The kids set
the table: Joe Thurston (1B), Brendan
Ryan (Sac bunt), David Freese (pinch hit RBI 2B), Skip Schumaker (walk), Colby
So, with bases loaded Roy Oswalt
faced Albert Pujols. Thus far, Oswalt
had been successful against Pujols, who had hit into a line-out double play and
popped up. It was a classic dual
between a great hitter and a great pitcher, but in the end, the great
hitter found a pitch to drive into Big Mac Land for a grand slam. It was not a bad pitch. It is just when you pitch to Albert
Pujols, there really are no good pitches.
Not finished, Pujols punished
reliever Wesley Wright by hitting 3-run bomb.
A seven RBI day for Pujols, which ties a career high for him. The Cardinals did a great job of setting
the table. Pujols feasted.
Quickly, a tight pitching dual
turned into a rout, as the Cardinals win 11-2.
In Kyle Lohse’s second start of
the season, the Astro’s leadoff batter, Kazuo Matsui, reached on a base
hit. No other Astro would reach until
the ninth. Kyle Lohse retired 24 Astros
in a row. Two batters reached in the
ninth, but are stranded. Kyle Lohse
pitched a 3-hitter, complete game shutout.
Of note, in the fourth, he retired the heart of the lineup (Pence,
Berkman and Lee) on five pitches.
Astros pitching was tough, with
starter Wandy Rodriguez only giving up three runs. Should have been enough to win, but not
today. Cardinals win 3-0.
The 2009 Season:
Just a week ago, the 2009 season
began, and we starving baseball fans have feasted. Already, we are peeking at the standings, and
most are surprised by how week one has shook out. It looks like many teams are channeling
their inner-Rays and trying to be the next team to go from worst to first. Here are the leaders:
AL East – The Toronto Blue Jays lead
with a 5-2 record, followed closely by the Orioles, just a half game back. The three favorites, the Yankees, Rays and
Red Sox, are in the cellar.
AL Central – The Detroit Tigers lead
with a 4-3 record, with the White Sox and Royals only a half game back. The
Twins follow 3-4, and the Indians finally won today are holding the bottom
AL West - The Seattle Mariners,
energized by the return of Griffey, lead 5-2.
The mourning Angels and Rangers trail 1 1/2 games back. Oakland is off to a slow start with a 2-4
NL East – The Atlanta Braves and Florida
Marlins are tied for first, two full games ahead of the Mets and World
Champion Phillies. The poor Nationals
still have not notched a win.
NL Central – The St. Louis Cardinals
with their 5-2 record lead the Cubs by 1 game.
The Pirates are 1 1/2 back. Reds
and Brewers are tied with 2-3 records.
Thanks to the aforementioned pitching, Houston is at the bottom with a 1-5
NL West – The San Diego Padres
lead the west by one game over the Dodgers.
Rockies are 1 1/2 back. The D-backs and Giants are tied for last with
a 2-4 record. This could change quickly as the Giants head to L.A.
As for the Cardinals, week one of
the season was very much a success. With
very few exceptions, the pitching has been solid. The position player side of the roster has so
many moving parts, so much flexibility.
Tony LaRussa is known to be a man of many lineups, and this roster is
very conducive to his style.
I have enjoyed watching how he
manages to get everyone playing time. The
outfield rotation. The third base
rotation. The infield rotation. Substitution.
Pinch hitting. Pinch
running. By doing this, he also keeps
all his players fresh. Well, everybody
except Yadier Molina, who is the only player that has played every inning.
Watching the young players has
been exciting. Colby Rasmus, David
Freese, Brian Barden, Brendan Ryan and Joe Thurston (who is batting .500).
Once again, we were the team that
everybody counted out. Once again, we
are in the mix.