Tagged: Marlins

The Struggle

There’s no doubt about it – the Redbirds are struggling right now.  Not “it’s time to hit the panic button struggling,” but struggling nonetheless.  No matter what they do these days, they seem to fall just a bit short.  And it’s frustrating to watch.

Yesterday, they were foiled by good defense and Stanton’s 2 homers to lose by a run.  Today, a decent outing by Wainwright is spoiled, as they get shutout.  Adams, is slumping big time and struck out to end 2 games in a row.  It’s frustrating.

I have to remind myself that back in 2006 the Cardinals did everything they could to not make the postseason before catching fire and winning it all.  The main difference this time is not having that big bat that you know is just going to come through.  For years it was Albert and even last year Beltran always seemed like a sure thing.  Holliday has been on a tear, but he’s such a streaky hitter that you never know how long that will last.  Taveraz hasn’t materialized into that big power bat yet either.

Once again, as I mentioned in a previous post, as a normal bench player (Mark Ellis) got the start, he went 2 for 3.  But ask him to get a hit of the bench?  Impossible.  The same as been true for Descalso, Jay, when he was hitting off the bench and so many others.

Bad mangerial move of the day: putting in Adams to pinch-hit for Taveras.

There’s two problems with this.  You say you’re giving Adams a “mental and physical break,” by giving him a day off.  He got the physical break, but not the mental one.  In fact, it was probably made worse.  He had already struck out to end the game the day before.  So basically unless he homers, you are setting him up to fail again.  It doesn’t matter that he had no control of the rest of the game.  What he’s going to be thinking about tonight was ending two games in a row via the K.

The second problem is Taveras.  Both he and Adams are left hitters.  So by subtituting one lefty for another, you are flat out telling Taveras, you don’t have the confidence in him coming through in a big situation.  And of course, we don’t, but don’t tell him that!  There’s no other explanation for that move unless you think Adams is more likely to get the big hit.

Every game I think, maybe this is when they break out of their slump.  But it just hasn’t been happening.  And unless something magical happens, I’m just not having my normal confidence in this team making a long post-season run.  At least without Wacha and Molina returning pronto.  Their hitting, their pitching has all been mediocre.  I’ll give them credit for their defense.

It just feels like the whole team has been in a funk and it’s time for them to snap out of it real fast!


Break the slump,


The two big keys are coming through

I’ve never watched a perfect game or even a no-hitter live.  And while I watch partial innings or games of various teams, I normally only watch complete Cardinal games.  So I probably never will unless a Cardinal tosses one.  Jaime Garcia sure thought about it last night.  In the end he threw a 2-hit complete game, but I’ll take it.

One of the big keys this year for the Cardinals to be successful was Garcia being the same guy this year that he was his rookie year.  And he has yet to disappoint.  The southpaw has been nothing but dominant for the Redbirds this year, tied for 3rd in wins, 3rd in ERA and 9th in strikeouts in the NL.  Not to mention being only one of two guys to throw to complete games and the only one to throw 2 shutouts.

The other big key was Lance Berkman.  Could he stay healthy?  Could he be the threat he once was?  Check and check.  Berkman has been tearing up the league, leading in RBIs (32), 2nd in average (.392), tied for 2nd in home runs (10), and 4th in runs scored (25) and the season is barely a month old.  He easily has to be one of the most feared hitters in the NL right now.  And it doesn’t hurt that the guy who is leading the league with a .410 average is hitting right in front of him.  In fact the these two are also 1-2 in slugging percentage as well.  What pitcher wants to face that?  Albert’s not hitting like he once was, but having him be the 3rd best hitter on a team isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  And at the end of the year, his numbers will be right there.  The offense has been absolutely torrid.

Watching this team this year has certainly been frustrating at times (nearly every 9th inning), but it has also been a lot of fun, watching them hit well, score runs and have fun themselves.  I rarely saw that last year.  They are winning series after series (except when they split a 4 gamer with the Fish) and leading the league by 1 1/2 games.  Time to sweep the Brew Crew and hope for a few more Cincinnati losses.

Having fun,

Individual Awards, part 3 (Rookie of the Year)

So far I’ve looked at the Cardinals chances of bring home the MVP and the Cy Young in order to ease my pain as I watch the Cardinals lose game after game.  Tonight, I will look at the final of the big 3 individual awards: Rookie of the Year.

The Cardinal contender in this category is Jaime Garcia.

Garcia, of course, is a pitcher.  Therein lies the interesting thing about this award.  In the MVP, we compared hitters to hitters and in the Cy Young, pitchers to pitchers.  And all of the other likely candidates besides Garcia are hitters.  Still, we will try and make a good analysis of this award.

The NL has a lot of great talent this year.  In fact, there are many names, I won’t go into detail about, like Stanton, Colvin, Castro, Desmond, among others.  I’m going to look at the top 3 hitters contending for this award, plus Garcia.

First, the hitters.  They are: Jason Heyward (Braves), Gaby Sanchez (Marlins) and Buster Posey (Giants).  The stats break down like this:

Sanchez     139 games    .283 / .350 / .470      19 HR        81 RBI
Heyward     132 games    .286 / .401 / .475      18 HR        71 RBI
Posey           97 games    .324 / .373 / .522      15 HR        62 RBI

There are obviously a lot of other numbers too, but all of that will still point to the same thing.  Sanchez and Heyward have played the entire year, while Boster Posey was called up at the end of May.  Clearly, Posey has the better average, but is it fair to compare his 364 at-bats against the other guys who have around 500 at-bats?

Sanchez’ Marlins aren’t going anywhere, but that’s not why I wouldn’t give him this award.  I think Heyward and Sanchez are pretty similar, but I give the edge to Heyward.  I think he’s the overall better player, and has really delivered in the 2nd half for an Atlanta team dreaming of October.

It is a tough call between Heyward and Posey though.  Both of these guys are good.  And 80% of the time, I would give the award to the guy who has done the tough work of the 162 game grind that is baseball.  But Posey may be that one exception to the rule.  This is not just a guy with good numbers.  This is a guy who has encompassed exactly what a catcher should be.  He came in to replace Bengie Molina (not an easy task) and started playing like a seasoned veteran.  He has led this team as a catcher, handling the pitching staff with ease.  He has come through in the clutch many times.  But if you want to talk numbers, let’s talk numbers.  In all of those less at-bats, he is still only 3 homers and 9 RBis shy of Heyward.

So while I think you can make a case for either guy and I wouldn’t think it a travesty, if one guy got picked over the other, if it were my vote, I would cast it for Buster Posey.

So now, what about Garcia?

How do you compare his line with Posey’s?  Obviously, you can’t.  What you can do is look at what kind of numbers rookies need to have to get the ROY.  It varies year to year, but at least we can get a ballpark.  The last NL pitcher to win the award was Dontrelle Willis in 2003.  But we have a couple more recent examples.

Last year JA Happ got 2nd in the vote and in 2006, Justin Verlander received the award for the AL.  (Huston Street won it as a pitcher in 2005, but as a closer, which is a whole other dynamic.)  Let’s look at Garcia compared with Verlander and Happ.

Jaime Garcia          28 GS   163.1 IP      13-8      2.70      132 K       64 BB
JA Happ                 23 GS    166.0 IP     12-4      2.93      119 K       56 BB
Verlander               30 GS    186.0 IP     17-9      3.63      123 K       60 BB

His initial numbers are better than Happ’s, but of course Happ only got 2nd place.  Verlander had an amazing 17 wins, but his ERA was astronomical.  And Garcia kills them both in strikeouts.

The other question is, will Garcia pitch again this year?  He has skipped two starts for “fatigue.”  This is the most innings he has ever pitched and it’s catching up with him.  Now that the Cardinals are out of it, management might feel it’s best to shut him down for the rest of the year.  Garcia wants to pitch again, but they will be careful with the valuable southpaw.

Garcia’s number are great.  But in a year, where there are many different worthwhile candidates, I don’t see the voters giving it to a rookie with his numbers.  But if he pitches again (or even twice more) and adds 1-2 more wins and lowers his ERA even more, I think he forces the voters to take him seriously for the award.

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.  What’s your take?  Who do you like for NL Rookie of the Year?  Is there a guy on your team not getting enough love because he’s playing a non-contender?

The youngster has game,

The Difference

Matt Holliday started the Cardinals top half of the 2nd with a leadoff double.

A leadoff double has to mean at least one run, right?  There’s no excuse not too.  Even if you have to use two outs to get there, so be it.  A ground out and a sac fly is a run.  However, the Cardinals did none of the above.  In fact, Holiday never even got to 3rd, as the Cardinals put up a big fat zero on the scoreboard.

Dan Uggla started off the Marlins bottom half of the 2nd with a leadoff double.

Will Carpenter be as effective in wiggling out of this jam with no runs?  Or at the very least, only giving up the 1 run?  Nope.  Instead, the Marlins will capitalize in a big way.  After an intentional walk, Carp gives up a grand slam to Brad Davis for his 3rd career home run.

The difference?

Simply put, the Marlins executed and took advantage of Uggla’s double, while the Cardinals did not.  Hopefully, Carpenter can settle down after this, but the Cardinals offense absolutely has to do something.  String some hits together and there’s a chance.  They have to realize they are fighting for their lives and show some energy, so the pressure will be on the Reds tonight.

Come on bats,

Votto’s ejected while Derrek Lee & Albert Pujols play HR derby

What an interesting turn of events we have.  I just saw that Joey Votto was thrown out of game in the first inning.  Votto seems to always be counted for 2-3 hits per game and an RBI or two, so I can’t say that I’m too sad to see him out for a game.  This should definitely hurt the Reds chances today of a win.  I’ll be interested to hear the details as they are released and to see the video of the whole thing  It was a 1-1 count, so it wasn’t even strike 3 he was arguing.  Did he say something very insulting to the ump or did the umpire just overreact?  We shall see.  As for now,the Reds are all tied up with the Marlins in the 6th.

On the Redbirds side of things, it is the story of the home run so far this game.  I mentioned two days ago (here) and again yesterday (here) how much I dread seeing Derrek Lee.  He loves to bring his best against the Redbirds and after homering in his first two games this series, he has homered two times already in this game.  For those of you keeping score at home, that’s 4 home runs in 3 games.  Ridiculous.  They better walk him next time up.

After Lee’s first home run, Albert immediately answered with a long ball of his own to give him 30 for the year.  Let’s hope he can answer back again this inning.

Albert going deep,

The melting pot: Reds win, Loshe returns, Albert’s on fire & more Cy Young talk

Ugh.  The Reds beat the Marlins 5-4.  Maybe the Fish were watching the
Cardinals game because with two walks and a base hit, they loaded the
bases in the 9th with nobody out.  Unfortunately, they only squeezed out
one run on a double play ball.  Uggla then popped up to end the game
which let Cincinnati pull back even with the ‘Birds.  Seems like
whatever we do, we just can’t shake this team.  I’d love to put some
distance between us, but it seems like one of those years where it just
might come down to the wire.

In other news, Wainwright’s top two competitors for the Cy Young award pitched yesterday and today.  I already talked yesterday
about how Josh Johnson was roughed up pretty bad by the Reds.  He took
himself out of my top 3, for the time being, with my 3rd place vote now
going to Atlanta’s Tim Hudson.  He’s been quietly putting together a
pretty decent season.  Hudson is now 2nd in ERA and 4th in wins.  The
only thing that hurts him is the low strikeout total.  But outs are outs
and he’s definitely in the running to finish in the top 3.

Halladay, however, threw another excellent game and put the pressure
squarely back on Wainwright.  Those two are neck and neck.  Halladay
went 8 innings today, allowing no runs and striking out 7.  For awhile,
it seemed like he might have another complete game shutout to add to his
resume, but luckily his pitch count was 113 and he was pulled after 8

Still, Halladay managed to increase support for his case
for the NL Cy Young by lowering his ERA to 2.24 and picking up his 15th
win.  And did I mention those 7 strikeouts?  Wow, this guy really does
it all.  He’s now 3rd in ERA, 3rd in wins and remains 1st in strikeouts
by a ton.

At this point in time, I still give the edge to Wainwright (as I did here)
because I think being 1st in wins and ERA goes a long way, but it’s not
over by a long shot.  If Wainwright’s ERA drops a lot in next couple
starts and he fails to get to that magic number of 20 wins, Halladay
could surpass him.  But hopefully Adam will deliver another
Wainwright-esque performance and this could be a fun battle to watch all
the way through September.

As for tomorrow’s game, Kyle Loshe
returns to pitch for the first time since May 22nd.  He was far from
impressive in those 9 starts, so let’s hope he comes back bigger and
better that ever.  Here’s also hoping that Albert continue to rake. 
He’s always tended to get hot in August and this year is no exception. 
He’s only gone hitless one game this month and is hitting .447 and
slugging .830 for the month.  Are you kidding???  He’s also already gone
deep 5 times with 13 ribbies and scored 15 runs.  I think it’s safe to
say he’s feeling good at the plate right now.  His average is up to
.313, instead of hovering around the .300 mark as it has been so long. 
He’s back in the top 5 in the league for average and of course continues
to be at the top in home runs and RBIs.  Albert for MVP and Wainwright
for Cy Young could be a perfect addition to World Series win #11,
right?  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  First things first.  And that
first thing is Loshe getting us the series win against the Cubbies.

Wanting to see a healthy Loshe do his thing,

Sickening Loss

These are the kind of games that are heartbreakers.  Chris Carpenter vs. the Cubs.  Definitely an easy game to get up for.  And Chris pitched well.  He gave up 3 runs in 6 innings.  But it wasn’t enough against Big Z, who was only slightly better than Carp.  Zambrano went 5 and 2/3 and gave up 2 runs.  They both struck out 3.

Carpenter is a great pitcher and 9 times out of 10, you’re going to right taking your chances with him.  He’s rarely going to get beat by giving up lots of hits and walks.  But he was one glaring flaw.  He tends to give up the long ball.  And he did exactly that today…..TWICE.  One by Aramis Ramirez and once by (of course) Derrek Lee.  I mentioned yesterday that this is a guy who always brings his A game against the Cardinals.  This is two games in a row that he has now gone deep against the Cardinal staff.  He may not yet be the “Cardinal killer” that Carlos Beltran is, but I still don’t enjoy seeing our staff face the guy.

And the most disheartening part of the whole game?  The 9th inning.  As the home team, you figure surely you can scratch out a run and at least tie it up, if not go ahead.  Especially after Aaron Miles led off with an infield single and scooted on to 2nd on a wild throw by Aramis Ramirez.

So essentially you have a runner on 2nd with nobody out.  That HAS to be a run.  No excuse.  A couple of sac flies, a bunt and a sac fly, a base hit.  There are so many options.  But instead Brendan Ryan pops out foul to the catcher and Lopez pops up to the third baseman.  So now there is 2 outs and Miles still hasn’t moved.  All the more maddening was watching Allen Craig swing and miss 3 straight would-be balls to end the game, as Albert Pujols watched from the on deck circle.  I really wish John Jay was still at that point in the game.  He swings a hot bat and perhaps the outcome would have been different.  Those pitches Craig swung at…..they were not even a little close.  It makes me sad, but all I can hope for now is that the Reds will lose tonight.

Biggest Marlins fan ever,

Westbrook finally gets his W

The Cubs have a way of coming out all guns blazing against us.  And then I found out that Derrek Lee was back in the lineup and he always plays tough against us as well.  And the Cubs were true to those expectations for the first inning.  After a leadoff out, they got four straight hits to go up 2-0.  I’ll admit it.  I was worried.

But luckily, it was only two runs as Westbrook wiggled out of that jam and the Cubs strandedjake westbrook.jpg two.  Westbrook settled down after that though and ended up going 6 innings, giving up 2 earned runs and struck out 3 for his first Cardinal win.  I am definitely happy with that.  Surprisingly, he was not the “star of the game” tonight on the post-game show.  Not only did he earn his first win with his new team, he had quite the day at the plate too.  A guy who only had 2 career hits, hit a double down the line and scored his first ever career run.  Probably pretty exciting for this life long American Leaguer.

His first win couldn’t have come at a better time as we take the first of this crucial 3 game set and hand Chicago their 10th loss of the year.  The Reds made it clear tonight they have no plans in slowing down as they took being swept out on the Florida Marlins.  I mentioned yesterday how they were going against a guy who’s competing for the NL Cy Young, Josh Johnson.  He was leading the league in ERA.  I say “was” because the Reds hung 6 runs on him and they did it early.

In fact, this is the only good news in the Cincinnati win.  With Johnson’s ERA quickly rising, Cardinal star Adam Wainwright is now in possession of 1st place in ERA.  Combine that with his 1st place wins and he looks better than ever to take home the Cy Young home trophy, as I argued for in this post.

We are still up 1 game in the central and with every game, the race intensifies more and more.  You gotta feel good with Carp going tomorrow.  I really can’t stand Carlos Zambrano (he’s a bigger idiot than Brandon Phillips in my book), so it would be nice to rough him up a bit.  Although that could lead to another scuffle 🙂

Speaking of Phillips, one fan at the game tonight showed a sign addressed to him, saying “thank you” to him with love from Cardinal fans.  Gotta love it.  As expected, Yadier Molina got a standing ovation tonight from the crowd and he didn’t disappoint.  He started off the night with a base hit and ended 1 for 2 with two RBI sac flies tonight.

Two other notes of interest:  Colby Rasmus walked four times tonight, including one intentional pass.  And the big guns, Pujols and Holiday combined to go 5 for 9, with 2 RBI and 4 runs scored.  Pujols also went deep the first inning to give him 29 on the year and 495 lifetime home runs.  A couple more and he’ll be in the top 50 of all-time.  Crazy.

Wesbrook lookin’ good in Cardinal red,

Who the heck is Thomas Diamond?

After the whole high-intensity, playoff atmosphere in the series against the Reds, it would normally be anti-climatic to play a team that is 19 games under .500 and sitting 17 games back.  But this is the Chicago Cubs we are talking about.  There is always an implied rivalry with them.

It probably wouldn’t be so bad, but here’s the thing.  I live in West Central Illinois.  And what that means is I am smack dab in the middle of a very heated Cardinal / Cub rivaled fan base.  It’s split about 50-50.  And Cubs fans are so annoying.  I haven’t heard anything from them all season long.  And then they beat us two games in a row and they start crawling out of the woodwork crying, “Sweep!  Sweep!”  No matter that they are completely out of the postseason race.  No matter that they have had horrible pitching all year.  No matter that they are completely irrelevant.  No matter that they haven’t won a World Series in over a century.  If they beat the Cardinals, all they do is talk smack.

So it goes without saying that I desperately want to beat them this series.  So far in 2010, we have gone 3-3 with them, but listen to a Cubs fan and you would think that they were on the brink of a championship.  In any event, we cannot squander the lead we gained by squashing the Reds.

First up for the Redbirds will be Jake Westbrook.  He hasn’t won a game in a Cardinal uniform yet, but he has pitched well enough to be a number 4 guy.  Hopefully, he’ll get his first win against the Cubbies who are sending Thomas Diamond to the hill.  Um, wait….who????  Well, he’s thrown a grand total of 187 pitches in the big leagues.  And he has an ERA of 8.00.  Surely we can beat this guy, especially with the bats starting to come alive.  But don’t be mistaken.  The Cubs will be up and ready to play against us.  Every one of those rookies.  I seriously don’t even know half of the Cubs team anymore it feels like.

The other good news is that the Reds will be playing the Florida Marlins.  And facing not just any Florida Marlin, but the Florida Marlin with the best ERA in baseball.  None other than Josh Johnson.  And we already know what happened when the Reds bats came into contact with the league’s 2nd best ERA pitcher, Adam Wainwright.  If we hit well and back up Westbrook, we could easily be a couple games up in the division.

Let’s add to our lead boys,

P.S.  Did anybody else see that Loshe is scheduled to start Sunday?  That experiment could go either way, so all the more incentive to wrap up the first two securely.

Nearing the End

It’s been a few days since my last blog, but it’s not because I have given up on my Redbirds (although I have).  It’s because I’m out of town.  In fact, I still am.  I am in Albany, New York.  I have been all weekend and on Friday, I went to a Yankee game.  But I’ll talk more about that when I get home.

For now let’s talk about October.

Previously, the Angels were the first team to clinch a playoff spot.  But they are no longer alone.  After a 12-6 beatdown by the Cards over Chicago and Zambrano, the Cubs finally clinched what has seemed inevitable for awhile.  They clinched the central division.  I was in Times Square when I found out.  I was walking through and “Cubs clinch” scrolled by on a massive screen.  Ugh.  What a horrible way to find out.

The Cardinals have on the other hand have reduced their elimination number for the wild card to 2.  Plus, they have let the Florida Marlins jump ahead of them.  So I guess this is the point when we start sounding like Cubs fans and say things like, “Wait ’till next year.”

All over but the crying,