Tagged: Nationals

Ankiel vs. Franklin

Rick Ankiel was once a left handed stud pitcher for the Cardinals.  He was going to be the biggest ace in the history of the franchise.

Then the unthinkable happened.

He became uncontrollably wild, throwing balls wayyy over the catchers head during postseason play.  At worst, he was a laughing stock and at best, a case to be pitied.  He never regained his form after that and was ready to walk away from baseball altogether.  However, he decided to come back as an outfielder with amazing results.

His once valuable pitching arm became a canon from center field and his power was unmistakable.  It became ridiculous to think that this guy was only going to be hitting once every five days.  He worked his way back to the majors and became the Cardinal center fielder

His road eventually led him to the Nationals, but upon returning to St. Louis for the first time, ankiel_ad_post_dispatch.JPGhe did a very classy thing.  He extended a thank you to all of St. Louis for being behind him, supporting him and getting to play in front of the best fans in baseball.  He did this by taking out an ad in the local paper and it was well received.  Ankiel is definitely in the fold of, “Once a Cardinal, always a Cardinal” and will be remembered by Cardinal Nation forever.  He won’t be remembered as the young kid with the amazing left arm, but as the power hitting center fielder who left St. Louis with dignity and humbleness.

So why bring this up?

It’s no secret that recently named ex-closer Ryan Franklin has been struggling.  His ERA had skyrocketed up past 11.00 and he was giving up home runs left and right.  In save situations or not, he was not pitching many scoreless innings and blew 4 of 5 save opportunities.  There was some murmuring of boos (certainly not a loud chorus of them) and these were Franklin’s words.

“Just because you spent your money to come here and watch us play, and
somebody happens to make one bad pitch and gives up a homer, you don’t
start booing them. I’ve been here for five years, and four years I’ve
been pretty good. You should go write stories about the fans booing.
They’re supposed to be the best fans in baseball. Yeah right.”

Many many ballplayers far greater than Ryan Franklin have agreed that Cardinal fans are the best in baseball.  Players have again and again commented on it after coming to St. Louis after playing for another organization.  It’s an organization that players with the caliber of Lance Berkman seek out to play for.  And Franklin says, “Yeah right” to all of that?

He renounced his comments later, but the damage had already been done.  The boos were not that loud before and I have personally never booed Franklin.  But now?  If he hears the boos, it’s his own fault.  How cocky to think that it’s all on the fans and he deserves none of the blame?  And how arrogant to say he’s being booed over “one bad pitch.”  No, you’re being booed because in 5 chances, you’ve only managed to save one game.  And you’ve given up umpteen home runs.  Quite a bit more than “one bad pitch.”

Franklin, you can learn something from Ankiel.  Ankiel was once a cocky kid who had to let some adversity come his way to teach him a little humbleness.  He learned from it and became a better man and baseball player for it.  You would do well to do the same.  And maybe not make those kinds of comments at the people who pay your salary.

Ankiel, always a Cardinal,
Tiffany

Shutout

If you had told me prior to the season that the Cardinals would net a 5-0 win over the Nationals, I would have said, ‘Sounds about right.’  If you had told me that 4 of those 5 runs would come from a pair of 2 run homers from our big boys, Pujols and Holliday, I would have said, ‘Sounds about right.’  If you had told me that the shutout would be a result of going the distance?  That’s where I would have stopped you.

Carp?  For sure.  Garcia?  Yup.  But Loshe?  I wasn’t a believer.  But he is quickly changing my mind.  He has been so good this year.  And then here against the Nationals….wow.  A 9 inning shutout, striking out 6 against two walks.  He is making me a Loshe believer for sure and dreams of pennant races and world championships are dancing through my mind.

Loshes’ #1 fan,
Tiffany

All Tied Up

I drove to Kansas City and watched the Royals play the Indians on a very, very chilly night of baseball.  Felt like I should’ve been watching the Chiefs, as cold as it was.  I rooted for the home team, but they eventually fell in extras thanks to some poor work out of the bullpen.  But I got to see my first Major League game of the season.  I’ll be going soon to Busch.

On to Cardinal baseball.

Today was a double header, which the Cards ended up splitting with the Nationals.  You always want to win 2 obviously, but I’ll take the split and hopefully tomorrow we will take the series win as well.  As the saying goes, if you can win every series, you’re doing pretty good.

It was even better combined with the Cubs splitting their double header and losses by the Reds and Brewers.  These four teams are now tied for first atop the central division, all at .500.

Both games with the Nats and the Cards, the teams were two runs apart.  In the first game of the doubleheader, Westbrook was far from sharp.  But he also didn’t get a lot of help behind him.  The problem with the Cardinal defense is that it is simply ‘adequate.’  Sometimes things that aren’t recorded as “errors” is still sub-par defense.  A ball that Theriot only knocks down that a better shortstop would record an out on.  Tyler Greene making a poor throw to 2nd, allowing them only to get 1 out instead of the double play.  And then the obvious errors: the drop balls, the missed catches, etc.  We knew from the beginning that the defense would not be the best it’s ever been.  And that’s why the pitching and the hitting needs to be as sharp as possible.

Ankiel getting his first plate appearance in the first inning of the first game got a nice round of appreciation applause, which was great to see.  Ankiel took out a half page ad in the paper thanking them for their support.  Great move, Rick.

In the second game, Jaime Garcia was again plagued by poor defense, but managed to pitch good enough to nail the win, both for himself and the team.  Also in the night game was the first save opportunity since LaRussa announced that Ryan Franklin would no longer be his pitcher of choice in save situations.  Mitchell Boggs got the nod and locked in the save.  And all of Cardinal Nation breathed a sigh of relief.

In both games, the Cardinals continue to rake.  Everyone was getting hits, even guys like Punto and Descalso.  And the big guys continue to do what they’ve been doing.  23 hits among the two games is certainly not too shabby.

Two for one baseball,
Tiffany

Baseball Milestones

Every season has ’em.  It might be an all-time record that will be tied
or broken.  It might be reaching that next even number in hits, saves or
home runs.  It might be surpassing a franchise record.  Whatever it is,
it’s a milestone.

And 2011 will be no different.

So who are the candidates for these 2011 milestones and what is the likelihood they will be achieved?  Glad you asked.


Hitting Milestones

Player – Derek Jeter
Milestone – 3,000th hit
Current # – 2,928 hits

This is easily the most talked about milestone of 2011.  Jeter is only
72 hits away from his inevitable 3,000th hit.  So barring a significant
injury, he should get there and get there soon.  Jeter is not only the
face of the franchise and embodies everything it means to be a Yankee,
but he will be the first Yankee to complete this feat.

As he draws closer, opponents stadiums will sell out with fans hoping to be there when he reaches that famous mark.


Predicted date – June 12th

Player: Ivan Rodriquez
Milestone – 3,000th hit
Current # – 2,817 hits

Pudge sits 183 hits away from this mark.  Is 183 hits doable in a
season?  Without a doubt.  Is it doable by him?  Probably not.  It’s a
mark he’s only hit twice before in his career and both times were over a
decade ago.  These days he’s at about the 100 hit mark for the season. 
So if Pudge is going to his this mark, he will have to gut it out for
at least one more season after this one.  I predict he does just that
and cements his legendary status in the game of baseball.


Predicted date – 2012

Player: Alex Rodriquez
Milestone – 631 home runs (5th on the all-time list)
Current # – 613 home runs

Every one knows that A-Rod will eventually be going for his 700th home
run and even is potentially capable of overtaking Bonds on the all-time
list.  But first things first.  You have to climb the list one player at
a time and next on the list is Ken Griffey Jr. who set his mark not too
long ago.

A-Rod needs 18 home runs to get past him.  Looking ahead, with 48
dingers, he could overtake Willie Mays in the #4 spot.  But let’s not
get greedy; he’s not gonna be hitting 48 home runs this season.  The 18
home runs should be an easy accomplishment, although I expect him to
struggle when he draws close to the number, as he did when he neared
#600 home run.


Predicted date: July 29th

Player: Jim Thome
Milestone – 600 home runs
Current # – 589 home runs

Thome will only be the 8th player in the history of the game to get to
the 600 home run mark.  No doubt this is quite an accomplishment and
from everything I’ve seen and heard of Thome, it couldn’t be by a nicer
guy.  The Twins saw him pass Twinkie legend Harmon Killebrew last year
and are ready to see him continue  on his journey by reaching this
historic mark.


Predicted date; July 6th

Player: Alex Rodriguez
Milestone – 1,952 RBIs (5th on the all-time list)
Current # – 1,831 RBIs

Currently 17th on the list, Alex is 121 RBIs from being in the top 5. 
The fact that he could potentially break the top 5 all-time in two major
categories this year just shows how good this guy really is.  Yeah,
he’s had his moments, his off-days and the stupid personal drama, but
when it is all said and done, he will be one of the best in the game
ever.

A-Rod looks to be a shoo-in for at least 100 RBI, but after that is when
it gets tricky.  Can he get the extra 21 he needs?  Well, since
becoming a Yankee 7 years ago, he has reached 121 RBI in a season 4
times.  So if history is an indicator, that would give him a 50 / 50
shot.  I predict he does it, but by the skin of his teeth.


Predicted date: September 27th

So several hitting milestones to look forward to this year, mostly by Yankees.  And even though others may not be hitting as big of a milestones there will be plenty of smaller stepping stones hit to future milestones.  300 or 400 home runs, 2000 hits, etc.  Every player in hopes of bigger and better marks have to hit these smaller ones along the way.


Pitching Milestones

Player: Mariano Rivera
Milestone – 602 saves (1st on all-time list)
Current # –  559 saves

It’s not a matter of whether Mariano break’s Hoffman’s save record, but when.  And technically, he has two back to back milestones here.  First when he hits the 600 mark, becoming only the 2nd player in the history of the game to do so and then when he break’s Hoffman’s record.

Still will he do it this year?  He’s 43 shy of the all-time mark, which can be done and has been done by him before.  But it’s far from a guarantee.  After all, even if he converts every save chance he gets, he’s limited by the total of opportunities he has.  And that’s why I do think he will break this mark, but not yet.

Predicted date: 2012

 
Sadly, this is it.  And since I don’t think this out gets hit this year, that means, there will be no significant pitching milestones in ’11.  Jamie Moyer is still claiming he’s not retired, even though he’s going to be close to 50.  (50???)  So who knows what 2012 may bring in terms of milestones.  Though, the fact that pitchers aren’t what they used to be means that most pitching milestones and records will never be reached, such as the 300 win mark, complete games, shutouts and others like that.

Good luck to all players going after these marks.  Even though baseball is a team sport and I’m sure most players would give up these marks for a ring in October, they are nice achievements to reflect back on at the end of your career.  To know that you are the only player who reached a certain plateau or that others are chasing your record has to be a great feeling.

Chasing the blogging milestone,
Tiffany

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,
Tiffany

Albert hits #400

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In case, you didn’t already know, Albert Pujols just went deep for the 400th time in his career, making him the 3rd youngest person to do so in baseball history, as well as the 5th fastest, in terms of at-bats.  Only 300 more to get to 700, Albert!!

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400, baby!!!!

This will be a lot more meaningful if it can be combined with a Cardinal victory.  Right now the Cards lead 5-4 in the 6th inning.  Let’s go Redbirds!

Phillies Lose

The Phillies lose thanks to some great spoiling action by the Astros.  I always knew I liked them.  This gives a good chance to gain some ground tonight in the wild card race.  And because the Reds don’t play today, a win would pull us within 3 of them.  It’s starting to look like all of these races will come down to the wire and 162 games might end up not being enough to sort it all out.  But the Cardinals have to start putting together a string of wins and they need to do it soon.  Winning 1 and then dropping 2 isn’t going to get us anywhere.  The Reds haven’t lost often, so when they do we need to take advantage of every opportunity we can.  Come on Redbirds….let’s start the winning streak tonight against the Nats!!

Confident with Carp on the mound,
Tiffany