Tagged: Jason LaRue

The Newcomers

I stated that a returning lineup that includes Albert, Holliday, Rasmus
and a hopefully healthy David Freese should be pretty formidable.  Then
throw in the defense and occasional offensive spark of Yadier Molina and
a returning staff that includes Carp, Wainwright, Garcia and Franklin,
the Cardinals should be a force to be reckoned with.  Yet, last year
they fell to the the Reds with all of these guys (except, of course, for

So what was missing?  It’s hard to say.  But with the Reds likely to
contend again and the Brewers making moves to show they want to contend,
the Cardinals better find that missing piece.  They are hoping it’s in
one of the new guys they’ve added to the team.  So let’s look at this
band of newcomers and see what the potential is there.

Lance Berkman – Arguably, the biggest name added to the Cardinal roster,
this is an interesting move on many levels.  It was not long ago that
Lance Berkman struck fear into the hearts of Cardinal fans everywhere. 
There are two guys over the years that I would classify as true
“Cardinal killers” and they are Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran.  As a
‘Stro Berkman had a big bat, under a team that always tragically
underperformed.  Though he’s a 1st baseman by trade, Pujols has the
position well under lock and key.  So they claim that he was brought
over as an outfielder.  And outfield he will clearly play in 2011.  But
we’re stupid here.  He’s also provides a safety net.  Should the Redbird
brass not be able to retain Albert’s services past this year, Berkman
could easily slide into that spot, while we look elsewhere for a right
fielder.  Smart move, I say, with major upside.  Berkman underperformed
with the Yankees, but I still believe he has some sting left in that big
bat of his.

Ryan Theriot – The Cardinals had a perfectly capable defensive shortstop
in Brendan Ryan.  However, his offense last year was atrocious. 
Moreover, he apparently clashed with LaRussa although they claim that’s
not why he was sent packing.  In any case, I’m not in the clubhouse, I
don’t know if the criticism of Ryan was fair or not.  I do know that if
getting rid of him and signing Theriot is what it takes for this team to
mesh, then I’m all for it.  Though I will miss the socks.

Nick Punto – The utility infielder should be an great asset to the
Cardinals.  Although, it was just learned today that he will be out for a
couple of months with a strained groin.  So, he should be a great asset
if / when he is healthy.  The problem for the Cardinals last year was
that if someone went down (Freese) or needed a day off (Ryan or
Schumaker) all that was left to fill the void was Tyler Greene.  Greene
was able to fill that need in some areas, but certainly not in all. 
Punto serves a great utility man.  There are so many options here
LaRussa’s head will be spinning.  Punto can play 3rd, should Freese need a back-up again, he could play 2nd, putting Skip in the outfield if one of the outfielders need a day off, he can fill in at short.  And as long as everyone stays healthy I expect to see a lot of mix and match here.

Gerald Laird – I’ll be honest.  I know nothing about Laird.  The Cardinals have brought in him to be a back-up for Yadi.  They would like to spell the often played catcher a little more often than they have in the best.  From what I hear, his skill set is similar to Molina’s in the fact that he’s a backstop first, a hitter second.  What’s really upsetting about this whole situation though is that we had to go find Laird in the first place.  He’s a replacement for last year’s backup catcher, Jason LaRue.  LaRue was forced into retirement when he suffered a concussion during an on-field altercation between the Reds and the Cards.  The Reds’ Johnny Cueto bicycle-kicked LaRue in the head.

Newcomers + Returners = Solid Team,

Hawksworth gets one in the face

Like any sport, baseball has the potential to be quite serious.  And sometimes with very little warning.  Cardinal pitcher, Blake Hawksworth, learned this first hand when he was hit with a comebacker in Saturday’s game against the Cubs.

You can watch the video here.

It was really scary to see it happen because you can easily tell that while he attempted to deflect it, the ball was just slightly faster than his reflexes.  He gets hit flesh in the face and then just goes down.  He’ll probably be looking at stitches, dental work and who knows what else.

Still, as serious as it is, it looks like it could have been a lot worse.  Let’s hope that is indeed the case.  The Cardinals just recently learned that Jason LaRue will never play baseball again, thanks to being kicked in the head by Johnny Cueto.  Then, awhile back when the Cardinals permanently lost Juan Encarnacion due to a foul ball to the eye.  The Redbirds have had their share of scary moments.

While all of these situations are unfortunate, there is a clear difference between what happened to Hawksworth and what happened to LaRue.  The guy that hurt Hawksworth did so completely unintentionally and felt horrible.  He has even tried to get ahold of Blake to apologize, even though there’s nothing he could have done.

Let’s just hope that Hawksworth is ok and able to come back as soon as possible.

Get well soon Blake,

An…..upgrade? (I think.)

Normally, I have no problem having an opinion.  Especially when it comes to my Redbirds.  But this whole Pedro Feliz thing has thrown me for a loop.  If you read my blog, you will note that I have complained about the lack of a 3rd baseman more than anyone.  Once a position held by Scott Rolen, not only did it mean we had solid defense up the line, but a power bat as well to combine with Edmonds and Pujols.  These days we have big guys Holliday and Pujols and….well, not much else really.  Colby has some pop from time to time, but now he’s strained something.  Hopefully, he’ll be back to full-time action for this weekend.

In any event, it’s no secret that we lack anything resembling a 3rd baseman or even anybody with a halfway decent ability to play the hot corner for an entire 9 innings.  It just so happened that our main two guys, David Freese and Tyler Greene were both sent to the DL.  Freese is done, but Greene is supposed to be making his way back here at some point.  But how long are we talking about?  Will it be too late?

We needed someone and we needed there now.  And apparently John Mozeliak heard our cries.  His answer?  Claiming Houston Astro Pedro Feliz off of wires.  This is certainly not a permanent solution….everyone knows that.  His contract is this year only, so we’re strictly talking about a rental.

pedro feliz.jpgNevertheless, is this good for us?  His defense has to be better than anything we have going on now with Lopez playing way out of his comfort zone and Allen Craig, who looks like he might pee his pants every time he has to hit or field a ball.  But from what he showed in Houston, his offense is certainly not top-notch.  The best we can hope for is this: that his desire to prove himself to his new team and anybody that might want him this off season combined with actually being on a post season bound club again will make his numbers start to climb upward.

But I have my doubts.

When Walt Jocketty made certain moves, they were often criticized, but I almost always backed his play.  He made the impossible possible.  In the hands of Dave Duncan, Jeff Weaver is suddenly pitching like he’s Cy Young.  He brought us Edmonds and Rolen to have their best years in St. Louis.  Of course, he had the bad call from time to time.  (Oh, Danny Haren, how we miss you….)  But overall, you felt like even when it didn’t make sense it was going to turn out ok.

I do not have that same feeling with John Mozeliak.  But I don’t know what else we could do.  The situation was (is) bleak.  After an inspiring sweep at Cincy, we have spiraled downward as we have lost to very, very sub-par teams.  It’s not over yet, not by a long shot, no matter what Reds fans might try to tell you.  But 3 games out is not where we want to be.  And if we got to 5 games out, I would be worried.  We definitely need to be no more than 2-3 games out when the Reds come to play us in September.

In the meantime, I will look forward to seeing our new man suit up and hopefully be one of the missing pieces to this puzzle.

Side note:  Apparently, Jason LaRue is done for the season as he is not recovering from his concussion.  This is worrisome and hopefully for his sake, this is only a season ender, not a career ender.  Bad blood, aside, I sincerely hope Johnny Cueto makes some sort of apology for this.  You can blame Molina or Carp all you want, but it is not their, nor even Brandon Phillips fault.  Cueto kicked him in the head.  Even though it wasn’t on purpose, it’s not acceptable and he might have just ended this guy’s career.  Best wishes Jason.

And, here’s hoping Arizona can close the deal tonight.

2 1/2 just looks better than 3 1/2,

Making lemons out of lemonade: tough loss, but two important home runs & MVP talk

This game was frustrating in so many ways.  To name a few:

  •  Kyle Loshe, proclaimed healthy from surgery. was his same unproductive self.
  • The Cardinals’ rally was too little, too late because they let the game get away early.
  • We let the Cubs have their first series win since the last time they played us.  Why can a team 17 games back only beat us?
  •  Coupled with a Reds loss, this means we’re back in 2nd place.

And on and on and on it goes.

We all know how awful this game was, so no point in rehashing every last detail.  Instead, let’s talk about the couple meager good things about this game.  Both things are home runs from two different players at two very, very different points in their career.

The first was a surprise home run by recent call-up, Steven Hill.  This guy’s life sure has
changed in the last week.  He’s probably the only guy in the free world who appreciates steven hill.jpgJohnny Cueto’s Bruce Lee impersonation.  As a result of Jason LaRue going on the DL from Cueto’s antics, the Cardinals needed a back-up catcher.  For only logistical reasons (the Memphis Redbirds were too far away), the call-up went to AA catcher Stephen Hill, as opposed to AAA catcher, Matt Pagnozzi.  There was talk of sending Hill down and bringing up Pagnozzi (yes, he is the nephew of famed Cardinal catcher, Tom Pagnozzi), but when the game initially got out of control today, LaRussa decided to give Yadier Molina a rest.  Yadi has caught more innings than any other NL catcher this season.  In his second major league at-bat ever, Hill got his first major league hit via the long ball.  Barely over the fence and barely fair, but a home run is a home run.  This sparked the only Cardinal rally of the day.

The second was certainly nowhere as unexpected as Steven Hill’s.  This home run was by Albert Pujols, a man who has done that very thing 395 times before.  Still this was a very significant home run, as it gave Pujols his 30th home run of the year, meaning he has done that in his first 10 years of playing.  No other play IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME has even done that their first 7 years of playing.

Albert has been really heating up in August as I mentioned here.  This should surprise no one as, historically, August has been his best month hitting-wise.  But until recently, many people had pretty much written his season off as merely “good” as opposed to “ridiculously awesome” as it’s previously been.  But those of us who have had the privilege of watching Albert game after game for the past 10 seasons can tell you that any “slump” he has does not last for long and he will continually to be an MVP threat every year.  I’ve read a few articles not really even giving Albert a chance.  I think that once you have been so good for so long, people tend to take what you are doing for granted and not realize that we literally are watching history in the making every time he takes a swing.  In a separate article, a writer stated that there were three guys that had a possibility of making a run at the Triple Crown this year: Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton and Joey Votto.  All great players for sure, but how do you not put Pujols on the list?  Sure, his average was low at the time (and by “low” I mean around .300), but one hot streak and he’s right there.

Recently, I looked at Wainwright’s bid to be the 2010 Cy Young winner and tonight, I would like to look at Albert’s numbers to see if he could possibly be the NL MVP for the 3rd straight year.  We’ll also look at his competitors and break it down similar to how I did the Cy Young award.

The Numbers
Obviously, the place to start, what do the numbers say about Pujols and the guy that many think is the possible MVP / Triple Crown threat.

                      G           AB       .AVG        .SLG       HR      RBI       BB       SO 

Pujols           115        435        .315         .586        30        86        71          54
Votto             110        404       .322          .594        28        79        67          90         

Pujols is 2nd in home runs, 1st in RBI, 4th in .AVG, 2nd in .SLG, 2nd in .OBP
Votto is   3rd in home runs, 3rd in RBI, 1st in .AVG, 1st in .SLG,  1st in .OBP

Basically, Pujols leads in 2 of the three triple crown categories, but Votto has him on average, slugging and on-base.  The question will be how long Albert continues on this tear.  In the matter of a couple weeks he has managed to raise his average from slightly below .300 to a fantastic .315 only .07 points of the lead.  One more home run will tie Adam Dunn for the lead there and he maintains a safe distance as the leader in RBI.  If Albert manages to raise his average, he will definitely be a favorite to repeat as the MVP.

Pujols also leads Votto in walks (2nd in NL), while striking out a whole lot less.  He has also hit more doubles and stolen more bases, but Votto has scored more runs.

The Intangibles
Not a year goes by without the debate of what “valuable” really means.  Is Albert Pujols more valuable because of his monster numbers, despite having a slugger like Matt Holiday on the team?  Or is Votto more valuable because no one expected the Reds to be in 1st place this far into the season?  Is Albert more valuable because his ability to do this year after year or is Votto more valuable because you look at 2010 and 2010 alone.  No matter how you answer these questions, other factors will always figure in the MVP voting that you can’t always know.  A big one is getting your team into the postseason and remains to be seen which of these guys (or if maybe both) will do that.

My Conclusion
This is a two horse race between these two guys at this point.  Other guys have good numbers, but not GREAT numbers like Votto and Pujols have put up so far.  The other power hitters don’t have the average and the high average guys have low power numbers.  But these two are examples of the perfect combo.  The remaining 1 1/2 months of the season will reveal who has in him to complete the 162 game grind still producing for his team.

But for now?  It’s too close to call.

According to my stats, a lot of you are reading but not very many are commenting, so let’s change that.  I’d love to hear what you have to say.  You can start now by weighing in on this discussion.

sp;  Who’s your call between these two?
–   Do you think I should have shown love to guys like Dunn or Gonzalez as MVP candidates?
–   Will Albert ever win the Triple Crown?  Will anybody???
–   Do you think Stephen Hill slept with his home run ball tonight?

Or anything else that tickles your fancy…..

Glad to be done playing the Cubs,