Tagged: Tigers

So that’s what these bats are for???

For the first time in 2011, the Cardinals have won two in a row.  And they did so in a big way, finally showing off the power that we have known is in that lineup all along.

Berkman hit his first home run as a Cardinal and deciding that wasn’t enough, went deep again a couple innings later.  The base hits were coming quick and coming often, something we haven’t seen at all yet this season.

Every Cardinal starter got in on the action, including starting pitcher Kyle McClellan who went 2 for 3 and got the Cardinals on the board with the first RBI of the game.  The TV announcer said,

“I’m trying to think of how many times we have said Yadier Molina scores from first on a 2 out double by Kyle McClellan.  I’m thinking this is probably the first time.”

I’m sure he’s right.

But that’s just how the game went yesterday.  The Cardinals were getting the long ball, they were getting base hits with 2 outs and they were getting extra base hits.  The offense was starting to look alive.  Last or nearly last in every major offense category, the Redbirds are slowly climbing out of the cellar in regards to team stats, as they now stand just 2 games under .500.

mclellan.jpgIn pitching they continue to do well as McClellan not only showed off his bat, but pitched a great game too, especially for a 5th starter.  If he pitches this good all season, I will be highly impressed at his move into the starting rotation.

Overall, the Cards are at the top in most team categories.  They’re posting a low ERA, striking lots of guys out and even have a shutout and a complete game to their credit.  They are one of only two games to have that complete game thanks to Jaime Garcia’s fantastic performance.  All this and we still have our ace going to tonight, who surprisingly hasn’t recorded a win yet.

As much as things are starting to go right, it stands in deep contrast to the silent bat of our big man, Albert Pujols.  Albert went 1 for 5 last night, raising his average to a mighty .150.  This is Pujols and 10 seasons of record setting baseball speak for themselves, but he is going to have to get on track if the Cardinals are going to have a shot at winning the thing.

We’ve said since the beginning that it will be an uphill battle.  Wainwright is gone, the defense is questionable, the health of prime guys like Berkman and Freese was up in the air.  Add in the unknowns like an emergency appendectomy and it’s no doubt the Cardinals have their work cut out for them.  So they need every player to contribute and they need their 3-4-5 to stay hot.

Something about Albert’s swing looks off to me.  It doesn’t look like that pure swing he had going before.  And I can’t help but wonder if his contract is looming large in his mind.  It’s a lot of pressure, no matter how great a super start you are.

Hopefully we can gain some ground on the Reds tonight as we go against Armando Galarraga and the D-backs.  Galarraga, of course, is not famous (or probably more infamous) for losing out on a perfect game due to a bad call from ump Jim Jocye.  He will be a trivia answer for decades to come through no fault of his own.  Maybe we can make him famous again tonight: “most runs given up by a starter.”  I like the sound of that.

Berkman looking good in Cardinal red,
Tiffany

Pick-up basketball nabs another one

So I recently read about the latest prominent injury, that of newly
acquired Brewer ace, Zack Greinke.  He has a fractured rib and looks to
be out for a couple of weeks and missing about two starts.

A few things about this:

1) Brewer fans are probably livid that he did this playing pick-up basketball.

When
you’re a Major Leaguer, it’s not that you can’t play any other sports,
but rebounding hard in a friendly game?  Probably not worth doing damage
to your $27 million arm, especially when a team pulled out all the
stops to get you.  Also not the easiest way to get a fan base in your
corner.

Can you imagine if he did something more serious then
just a hairline fracture?  The Crew would really be sunk this year.  As
it is, a couple of missed starts in April is NOT the worst thing in the
world.  Losing ace Adam Wainwright for an entire year?  Now that
probably is the worst thing in the world.

2) Isn’t there something in professional contracts about not doing extreme things like skydiving and whatnot?

If
so, should there be something in there when a player inflicts damage on
himself?  Although at least Greinke did this playing a real sport. 
Remember Joel Zumaya?  He injured a finger on his pitching hand playing
Guitar Hero.  That’s right.  A video game.  And that was during the
ALCS.  So horrible timing even though his Tigers did end up moving on to
the World Series that year.  So yeah, it’s all perspective.  It can
always be worse.

3) Cardinals must take advantage

I
would never root for an opposing player to be injured.  And I do wish
Zack Greinke a quick and speedy recovery, just as I would hope opposing
fans would do for Wainwright.  But what’s done is done.  He is injured. 
He will miss 2-3 starts.  The Cardinals must take advantage of this
time.

I know games in April seem to mean less than late
September, but at the end of 162 games when you’re 1 or 2 games out of
contention, suddenly all of those missed chances in April start haunting
you.  Greinke will likely be a big winner for the Brewers this year and
be tough to beat.  So now, while they’re down a guy is the time for the
Cardinals to start ahead in the standings.

In other news,
Morneau is back for the Twins after missing extensive time with the
Twins because of a concussion.  The Twins are my favorite AL team and I
just like Morneau, in general, so I am thrilled to see him back. 
Concussions are scary and becoming way too common in baseball and have
ended the careers of far too many players.  Most recently was Jason
LaRue who suffered his from a kick to the end during an on-field
skirmish with the Reds and a run-in with Johnny Cueto’s spiked foot. 
Edmonds suffered lingering concussion effects after a bad run-in with an
outfield wall.  And one of my favorite Cardinals Mike Matheny’s career
ended early as well.  Here’s hoping a very productive season for Morneau
and all the Twins!

Greinke out, Morneau in,
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

The wrong side of a sweep & the Angels clinch

So that’s it.  Swept.  BY THE PIRATES.  I cannot even begin to explain
to you how much that disgusts me.  The Pirates!  The last place Pirates
who have won a grand total of…..drumroll please…..63 games all
year.  Talk about playing the roll of spoiler.

So that’s it.  As
I said, it wasn’t enough to win 1….we needed to take 2 to stay in the
October hunt.  And instead, we have been swept by the third worst team
in the National League.  In my mind, it’s over.  Not because it’s
impossible to win.  4 1/2 back isn’t impossible.  In fact, quite the
opposite.  It would be quite possible to gain 4 1/2 games, especially
with the remaining schedule that some of those teams have.  No, I think
it’s over because the Cardinals don’t seem to have that will to win. 
In 2006, I believed that the Cardinals were going to win their
division. 

Even when it looked bleak, I believed they were
going to do it.  And I believed that they were going to beat the
Padres, the Mets and even the Tigers.  Because they played the whole
year like they were going to do it.  They would be down by 8 runs and
you believed that they could come back because they often did.  They’d
be losing by a run in the 9th with 2 outs and you believed that any one
of those guys would get a rally going for them to win because often it
happened.

I don’t feel like that this year.  This year it feels
like when they’re up 4, 5, 6….even 10 runs, that they will probably
blow the lead because most of the time they do.  And it’s not just a
feeling.  Stats show that the Cardinals lead the league in blown
saves.  I don’t know what the number is anymore.  I stopped counting
after 30.  It’s too depressing.

The Cubs worry me though because
until September came they reminded me a lot of the 2006 Cardinals. 
Always getting a key hit at the right time.  Just a few short weeks ago
I watched Aramis Ramirez jack a grand slam over the wall to get his
team ahead by a run and an eventual win.  Luckily, in September they
have started falling apart.  Even though their collapse more than
likely won’t be enough to keep them out of the playoffs, it will
hopefully be enough to get them booted in the first round.

Tonight we start a series against the Reds.  So we’ll see what happens.

Also, congrats to Anaheim for being the first team this season to clinch their division.

1 spot down, 7 more to go,
Tiffany

Off day ramblings about the first week of baseball

As uaual, with an off day, I’ll discuss just a few random thoughts I’ve had lately and also get a chance to take a look around the league to see what other teams are doing. But before I get into all that, I want to look at how the Cardinals have fared so far this season. We’ve swept and been swept so I think you can safely say we’ve been on both sides of the baseball coin.

Let’s start with the Mets series. Are the Mets a good team? Absolutely. Is that why we lost to them 3 in a row? Definitely not. I don’t know if it was because it’s still early in the season or what the problem was, but the Cardinals were not playing simple, fundamental baseball. And with a team as good as the Mets are, you can’t afford to be off your game that much. They will make you pay. All in all, this lineup was essentially the same lineup we faced in October and we took 4 of 7 from then.

The reason why we were swept by New York is the same reason we were swept by Pittsburgh.  Not executing good, fundamental baseball.  It just wasn´t happening for us in the opening series with the Mets.  But luckily, it didn´t take the Redbirds long to figure it out.

In the Mets series, the Cards committed four errros in three games.  Inexcusable, especially because they were mostly routine plays for a Major Leaguer.  In the Pirates series, only one error was committed and it was on a rather difficult play.  Plus, a couple of very difficult plays were made.  Pitches were executed.  Runners were advanced.  Guys took an extra bag when they had the opportunity.  Fundamental baseball.  Compare that to the Mets series where the pitchers struggled to close the door, even when the defense messed up and the offense just wasn´t executing at all.

Well, now it seems the Cardinals main objective is putting any and all closers out of business. I mentioned previously about all the runs scored off of Billy Wagner during the NLCS.  Then, you have the Cardinals basically single-handedly causing the demotion of Brad Lidge from the ´Stros.  And now the latest victim……Salomon Torres.  2 games, 2 save opportunities, no saves.  So, closers, look out.  If you value your jobs, don´t play the Redbirds. 🙂

Ok, on the rest of the NL Central.  I know it´s way early in the season, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it looks like it might be more of the same for the Wrigley faithful.  Honestly, I can´t imagine how anyone could have picked this team to win the division.  They made a lot of good moves on paper, but until they can back it up on the field, I´m not willing to put them any higher than 3rd.  It´s sort of hard to really enjoy making fun of the Cubs anymore because a rivalry becomes pretty much nonexistent when one team finishes on top and the other in the cellar.  Nevertheless, the series with the Cubbies each year is always good for a little smack talk between the clubs.  I´m still predicting a good year for the Brewers with a 2nd place finish, so I anticipate the Milwaulke-St. Louis rivarly will start to heat up more this year.  Especially with Jeff Suppan now wearing a Brewer uniform.  (Can´t wait to see him pitch Sunday!)

Other things in baseball.  Everyone´s talking about A-Rod and the history he´s making in New York.  6 dingers n 8 games?  Incredible.  Still, I think this sort of thing is also the undoing of the Yankees at times.  Because the Cardinals 3-2 game is just as much a ´W´ as the Yankees 10-1 win.  The Yanks have scored 52 runs in 8 games this year while the Cardinals have taken 9 games to score 26.  But guess what?  The Yankees are playing .500 ball and we´re one game over.

Don´t get me wrong.  I like the Yankees.  And sure, it´s fun to watch your team´s sluggers bash the ball all over the park.  There have been games when every bat in the Cardinal lineup is hot.  But when all is said and done, it doesn´t matter how many runs you clobber your opponent by.  Because eventually in October you will play 3 other great teams to win it all.  And when the Tiger arms absolutely shut down your big bats, where do you turn?  A guy like David Eckstein to shoot the ball into a hole somewhere and start a rally.

I still pick the Yankees to take the East over the Sox because they definitely have the offense and their pitching isn´t horrid, but unless they get a new gameplan and quick, I say by the end they´ll be watching the World Series from their couches.  Though I would LOVE to see a Cardinal-Yankee World Series for sure.

And about those Red Sox.  How are the beantowners feeling about ol´ Dice-K now?  He´s pitched good in his first two starts, but he´s also now taken his first loss against Seattle Mariners phenom Felix Hernandez.  (That kid´s amazing.)  By the way, they´re paying him 420,000 this year for his services.  I have no doubt that Dice-K will do a great job in the Majors….but I think there´s a lot of talent out there for a lot less money.  Just one example.  In his first game, he pitched 7 innings, giving up 6 hits and 1 run.  Great line.  But Wainwright copied it exactly in his first start, except he gave up just 5 hits.  It is impressive that Matsuzaka struck out 10, but in his last appearance he only struck out 4, so obviously it´s not an every time thing.  Wainwright has just as many wins and his ERA is under 2.  And we didn´t pay 51 million to talk to the guy.

One pitcher off to an absolutey ridiculous start is Danny Haren of the Oakland A´s.  In two starts his ERA is a tiny 0.69, but…..he´s 0-2.  The A´s have scored a grand total of 1 run in both of his starts combined.  How about a little run support here?  Maybe they would be interested in trading him back to us for Mark Mulder?  They can even keep the hot catching prospect.  I kind of wonder if that trade isn´t why Walt is so gunshy about big names now.  But that´s okay; if he can keep looking like a genius for getting major production out of the Kip Wells and Braden Loopers of the world, let the Giants have the Barry Zitos.  Dave Duncan has got to be the best pitching coach in the world.  Maybe more ex-catchers should consider the field of pitching coach.

I read a lot of negativity about the Cardinals in pre-season that basicaly said Dave Duncan can´t solve all our problems, he´s not God, etc.  Well, maybe not, but I´m pretty sure he can do miracles at least.  Because somehow the biggest question mark (starting pitching) of the off season, as well as the next biggest in spring when we found out about Kinney (relief pitching) has turned into our biggest asset.  They´re getting wins when our big-time offense is not.

This has been brought to my attention lately, especially last Tuesday when I saw the pitching matchups around the Majors.  Jeff Weaver (Mariners), Matt Morris (Giants) and (Jason Marquis) were all starting.  Matty Mo´s been gone for a few years now, but Weaver and Marquis were key parts of the rotation down the stretch last year.  Well, Weaver went 2 innings…yes, 2….and gave up 7 runs to sport a hefty 31.50 ERA.  Marquis has pitched much better, but still remaine winless as a Cubbie.  On the other hand, the Cardinals won by starting Triple A Memphis pitcher Randy Keisler.  I really like irony of it all.

I´m interested to see what other fans think of Keisler.  Is he a valid option to start for awile?  And if so, how long?  Does he only start if we find out Carp is going to be out for a short while?  If it turns out Carpenter is gone for the season, do we start looking for more long term solutions?  If so, who?  Or is Keisler an acceptable long term solution?  Any and all thought are appreciated and not just about that.

If you agree/disagree with any of my ramblings, I´d love to hear about it.

Well, I´ll probably preview the Brewer series tomorrow, but for now it´s late here and I must go.

Closing down closers,

Tiffany

Will the Cards close the deal? Only one win away.

I’ve predicted it all along and now that it’s finally here I seriously can’t believe it.  The Cardinals are at the brink of their first World Series Championship since 1982, since my first birthday.  Unbelievable.

So I will say what I’ve waited to say since Opening Day.

The Cardinals are 1 win away from being world champions!!!

Go Redbirds!

Tiffany

Will the rain go away? Cardinal fans are ready to party.

I’m sure just about everybody but me is mad about the rain delay.  Everyone wants to see who’s going to take this thing: the Cardinals or the Tigers.  But for me (and perhaps other people living in Europe as well?) I’m extremely glad that the there was a rain delay last night.

Before there was no Friday game.  Now not only is there a Friday game, but it’s a game with which the Cards could possibly win the World Series.  And being a Friday game, I can stay up without worry, as I can sleep in as late as I want on Saturday.  I’ve made sure to make no plans this weekend so that I can stay up for the game and than sleep in.  And for some reason if the Cardinals don’t win both tonight’s game and tomorrow’s game and only take one of the two, I can also stay up Saturday night.  I will get up for church on Sunday morning, but it still means I will be able to sleep in a lot later than I would on a weekday when I have to get up super early for work.

So far the postseason schedule, rainouts and the teams who are winning have accomodated me perfectly.  If that continues it means the Cardinals will win in 5 on Friday.  Although, here in our work contest, I picked the Cardinals to win in 7.  Not that it matters.  Nobody else picked the Cards over the Mets in 7 besides me, so I’ve definitely won.  All of us completely butchered the American league.

I feel very good about the rest of this series.  The Redbirds only need two wins.  They can get those out of Suppan and Reyes and if they fall short, Weaver and Carpenter are waiting in the wings.  I feel pretty confident in getting two wins in four chances with those guys on the hill.  Nevertheless, the Tigers are a tough club and will fight to the bitter end to bring a championship home to their city so the Cardinals can’t take anything for granted.

I think pretty much every Cardinal fan has to be thinking about 2004.  After being down in Houston and coming back in such unbelievable fashion to push that to game 7 and to get the win.  Edmonds and Walker coming through huge for us.  All of us fans were on such a high only to be shot down very quickly by the Boston Red Sox.  It was so disheartening.  Not only did most people favor the Cardinals to win, everyone thought they’d at least get a game or two from the Sox.  Unbelievably, it never seemed we had a chance.

The Cardinals seemed to get that monkey off their backs the first game of this series to come out and quickly trounce the Tigers.  And of course it helps tremendously to have Carp as part of our post-season rotation this year where he wasn’t able to contribute in ’04.  And even if they won’t admit it on camera the guys who were part of the team then and now (i.e. Edmonds, Rolen, Pujols, etc.) have to be quite happy with how the Cardinals have redeemed themselves quite well so far.  And now being up 2-1, victory is finally close enough to taste and Cardinal fans across the country can feel how close it is.

My sister isn’t much of a baseball fan and my nephew was explaining to her how important it is because he’s never seen the Cardinals win in his lifetime.  But what really surprised her is that they haven’t won since 1982.  She assumed they had won it all in the 90s sometime.  So she asked me the other day, "So you don’t ever remember the Cardinals winning the World Series?"  Yup.  Pretty much.  Sure, I was alive the last time it happened, but I was barely a year old.  And that’s a big part of the reason why I chose the blog name that I did.  Because me and the rest of Cardinal Nation is ready to finally…..after all these years…..to

Party like it’s 1982

Let’s Go Redbirds!!!