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.
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
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
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
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.
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,
The Cardinals didn’t even make the postseason this year. This is something that us Cardinals fans are not normally accustomed to. But what’s done is done and now comes the time where we watch other teams competing for the World Series title.
So, now there are two things that I am rooting for in the postseason. The first is the Minnesota Twins. I lived in Minneapolis for four years and they became my favorite AL team. If the Cardinals aren’t in it, I’d love to see the Twins go all the way. The problem is that the Twins are playing the Yankees. Now, I like the Yankees a lot, but I like the Twins more. But the Twins haven’t had great success against the Yanks in the postseason. And in fact, now they are down 0-2 in the ALDS once again.
The other thing I like to root for in the postseason are interesting series. A best of five or a best of seven is the best when it goes down to the wire, to the last game. Or even to the last inning in the last game. Think about it. When a little kid throws a baseball to himself in the back yard, what’s always the scenario? “Game 7 of the World Series, bottom of the 9th. Bases loaded, down by 3, full count.” A team winning in five or seven games is far more interesting than seeing a sweep. Unfortunately, right now, all of the games are shaping up to be sweeps. Hopefully, that will change and we will have some more interesting baseball to watch.
In other news, how about Roy Halladay? If Adam Wainwright had pitched this season last year, he would have been the Cy Young easy. But this year, Halladay has put it away. He has been a machine on the mound all year including his perfecto. And now in the postseason, he pitches a no-hitter? For only the second time in history? Incredible. Also makes you wonder what the Cardinals would have done against him.
Let’s go Twins,
If the Cardinals fail to make the postseason, we certainly can’t blame anybody but ourselves. Colorado completed a 4 game sweep of the Reds this afternoon, giving St. Louis ample opportunities to close the gap in the NL Central. We had our chance against the Brewers and will now have to face a very good team in the Atlanta Braves. We need this win more than ever.
The last I had seen the Reds were up by one run against the Rockies. Then the next time I looked at the game, the Rockies had taken the lead. Surely it must have been a 2 run homer. But I was incorrect. It was a solo shot and……a steal of home. What? Seriously? So not only did the Reds lose, but they lost by one of the coolest plays in baseball. That is fantastic.
The game just got over and the video isn’t up yet, but I can’t wait to see it. I want to know if it was a straight steal or not. Because if it was, major props to rookie Chris Nelson. He did his job in a big way. After Giambi got on, Nelso was put in to run for him. As a pinch runner in a tie game, your job is simply to score. By whatever means possible, get your butt across homeplate. And that’s exactly what he did. He moved to 3rd on Votto’s error and then stole home.
Again, I don’t know if this was a straight steal or not, but the last person that I know did a straight steal of home was Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox last year. He stole it off of Yankees lefty, Andy Pettitte. I remember watching that play and the disbelief on Pettitte’s face.
I’m definitely a fan of the running game. Home runs are great, but so is a team that can play small ball when the time comes. If you only rely on homers, you will suffer when your big guys go through a drought. I miss the old school days of Whiteyball and watching guys like Coleman, McGee and Smith make it look so easy. Another play I’d love to see live is a guy getting on and then stealing 2nd, 3rd and home in the same inning. I think Werth did it once a year or two ago, but before that, it hasn’t happened in probably a decade.
But, bottom line is Reds lose and the Cardinals MUST capitalize tonight against Atlanta. Wainwright is the man for the job. Here’s hoping the offense can score him at least a few.
Rocks come through again,
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,
It’s coming down to the wire. A little over a month of baseball left with no off days. The Cardinals are in third place, 1/2 game behind the Brewers and 2 games behind the Cubs. The performance of all three fo these teams over the next moth will determine who the division champ is, as this is clearly still up for grabs.
And the Cardinals are not the only ones feeling the excitement of catching up. New York has now taken 2 straight from Boston to pull them back within 6 games behind the Sox and are currently leading 2-0 in today’s game. The Phils have taken 3 straight from the Mets and now only sit 3 games behind them and are also winning 5-3. Also, the Padres have won their last 3 games from the D-backs and are now tied atop the NL West (or are in first if you go by their percentage).
This is by far, one of the most exciting years of playoff races that I can remember. Almost every day I have several games I would love to watch, but instead have to settle for box scores. This is definitely what September should be all about.
Tonight the Cardinals take on Houston for the rubber match in this 3 game set. Getting out of tonight with a win and therefore going 2-1 in this series would be huge. I can’t state enough how important it is for the Cardinals to simply just to win each series as it comes. Sweeping a team would be a bonus, but just winning each series should be more than enough to propel us to first in this division of .500 ball teams.
Of course I always love for the Cubs to lose regardless, but if you look at the standings, the ideal was probably for the Brewers to win 2 of 3 games. If that happens and the Cardinals win tonight, then that means we would remain 1/2 behind the Brewers and be just 1 game back of the Cubs. Either of those teams sweeping would not have been as good for us in the standings.
The Cardinals are currently all tied up 1-1 with the ‘Stros and as I watch them, I’ll continue to keep one eye on the other games to see who just might be our competition in the postseason. That’s right….our competition. I still feel this division is ours for the taking and will continue to feel that way until one of the other teams wants to prove me otherwise.
Wanting a Brew Crew win,
How about that game? I don´t think I could have asked much more than a 12·4 killing of the Brewers. And all while wearing their old school baby blue uniforms. I´m a very superstitious baseball fan, so I´d like them to stick with the uniforms tonight too!
There were a lot of great things about this game. First of all, it was a total team effort Every starter had at least one base hit, as did pinch hitter Aaron Miles. That´s 10 Cardinals getting something done. Next, Eckstein, Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, Molina and Wells all had mult·hit nights, including 3 hits for Pujols and 4 hits for Edmonds.
This is just a continuation for the incredibly hot streak Edmonds is on. And much like last year, how good the Cardinals are rolling depends on how good the veterans are rolling. You need young kids like Ankiel, Ryan and Ludwick to come up, give some new life and help win a game or two. But it´s that veteran presence day in and day out that will keep the Cardinals winning games. We need consistency out of Rolen and Edmonds. And right now Edmonds is on fire. After a dismal July of hitting a horrible .143, he is now hitting .410 in August. It was his 6th multi·hit game of the month. Now if he can just find his power stroke back.
Another huge positive of this game was the continual barrage of hits. It was essential a game of small ball all the way through for the Redbirds. The Cardinals scored 12 runs, which would normally make you assume that they smacked at least a few dingers out of the park. Not so. The Brewers homered twice for their 4 runs. You know how many times the Cardinals went deep for their 12 runs? None. They also had no triples and just 2 doubles. But there were a whole lot of singles and a whole lot of walks. They went the other way, they poked the ball into holes and just generally played smart baseball.
The Cardinals also played their trademark ¨hard nine¨ all the way through this game. After getting behind early 3·0, they didn´t give up, but fought back and ended up winning this game easily. They also never just laid down and gave away outs. One situation I´m thinking of in particular was in the 5th, when the bases were loaded with 1 out and Kip Wells was batting. He took a couple of swings where he looked absolutely awful. But he didn´t hit into an inning ending double play, nor did he just take a normal strikeout people would expect from a pitcher. Instead he fought off a pitch or two and ended up poking a single down the line for 2 RBI. That is good baseball.
On such a good night, I hate to talk too much about what went wrong, but there was one thing that concerned me. The first was almost failing to capitalize with runners on. The first couple of innings, the Cardinals got guys on with less than 2 out and did squat with it. We are just lucky that the Brewers let us stay in this game. In some games, those might be all the chances you get and you need to take advantage. Overall, the Cards left over a dozen runners stranded on the basepaths.
I could have also dealt with some more hustle from Pujols on one of his infield singles. If Ryan Braun had any kind of heat on that ball he threw across the diamond, Pujols would have been out easy. And you could see on the replay, that he just stood there for a minute in the box, thinking it was going to go foul. Then when it was clear it wasn´t he took off. Pujols is a great player and the best hitter on our team, but I hope he never becomes the guy who doesn´t hustle or run things out. It doesn´t really seem in his character to do that, but sometimes after playing so long, it becomes hard to run everything out. It makes me glad to have players on our team like Eckstein, who takes nothing for granted when running and Rolen, who probably has the best home run trot of anybody in the Majors, with his head down all the way all around the bases.
As for the competition, I am continually impressed with Ryan Braun as an offensive threat. He really is a great hitter. He reminds me a lot of Chris Duncan when he was up last year for his first half·year in the bigs in terms of being power hitters. He hit 22 homers in just 280 at·bats. Braun has now hit 23 in 291 at·bats. Both strike out a lot because they are power hitters. Duncan struck out 69 times in those at·bats last year and Braun has 64. The difference is that Braun is hitting a crazy .354. It just seems like if he makes contact, it´s going to be a base hit. The Brewers have a great player in this guy. If his defensive play improves to match how good he has been offensively, he will be something special, I think.
The last thing I think I will discuss will be Kip Wells. The same Kip Wells, who all of Cardinal Nation was ready to drive out of St. Louis forever or at least tar and feather. In the early months, he dropped 7 straight decisions at one point and was 3·13 going into August. He´s tied for 11th for the most runs given up in the NL and tied for 2nd for the most losses in the NL with 13. Yet, this is his 3rd good start in a row and he definitely is showing some signs of improvement. After getting down 3·0 via 2 long balls by the Brewers, he settled in and allowed only 1 hit in his next 5 innings. That shows great concentration in a tough situation. He easily could have made a bad situation worse, but instead he pitched great and let his team get back into the game to get him the win. That is what we´re going to continue to need out of him and the rest of our staff.
The Cubs also lost, so we are slowly inching our way towards first place. We´re now 3 games back of the Cubs and 4 1/2 games in back of the Brewers. The best we can be after this series with the Brewers is still 2 1/2 games back, but now we can only be 6 1/2 back at the worst. It is imperative that we win at least 1 of the next 2 games. Taking 2 of 3 from the Brewers heading into the Chicago series would not only be a huge boost, but I really see it as a must.
Complete random side note: As I´m typing, I´m watching the Yankees game and Shelley Duncan had hit a 3·run shot with 2 outs to tie the game up 3·3 and send New York and Baltimore to extras. That is Cardinal outfield Chris Duncan´s brother. However, Baltimore scored one run in the 10th already, so hopefully New York can come back again in the bottom of the 10th for the win because right now the Sox are losing in the 9th inning.
Tonight´s matchup for the Cardinals is newest Cardinal pitcher, Joel Piñeiro against Brewer Yovani Gallardo. Gallardo is coming off his worst start of the season when he gave up 11 earned runs, so hopefully he can continue that trend for one more game.
Bring back the baby blues,
After waiting many games and at-bats for two inevitable baseball feats, we got them both the same day.
The first happened on Saturday afternoon when Alex Rodriguez hammered the first pitch he saw to the left field stands for his 500th career home run. An elusive club to say the least (he is only the 22nd player to ever accomplish this feat) A-Rod continues to add to his baseball resume. He joined the club as the youngest player to ever have reached this mark, roughly a week after his 32nd birthday.
The next happened Saturday evening when Barry Bonds drilled a pitch in the 2nd inning to tie Hank Aaron on the all-time home run list and to bring him one away from sole possession of the honor of being the greatest home run hitter in the history of the game.
What makes this whole thing ironic is that many feel that if anyone in the near future will surpass Bonds at whatever he will set the new mark at, that it will be A-Rod. From his first full season with Seattle, A-Rod has hit homers with such constistency and fervor that I also think we will likely see A-Rod overcome the mark, barring any serious injury. Since his first full season of starting in the Majors, he has only hit less than 35 home runs once and that was in 1997. Not to mention that was the only time in a full length season that he hit under 100 home runs. And never since being a starter has he hit under .385. It can be hard to remember how talented A-Rod is because of all the contraversy he tends to bring on himself by his actions or signing outrageously gigantic contracts and of course playing in the kind of baseball town that New York is.
But the fact remains that if A-Rod only needs about 12 seasons to hit 500 homers, what could he do in another 12? Granted, as an aging ball player he likely won’t hit them at quite the same clip. Nevertheless, in 12 seasons he will be 44, only one year older than Bonds is right now. Obviously, not everyone is capable of playing that long and especially at such a demanding position as 3rd base. But, with options such as the DH, I think it is quite possible that A-Rod will not only beat the record, but will dwarf it.
As for Bonds…….I respect the man’s ability, but I am sick that he is the one that broke Aaron’s all-time record. When you think of everything that Aaron went through in pursuing the record in regards to racism and the kind of caliber that he played at despite everything, you can’t help but have enormous respect for him as a player and as a person. Bonds is quite the opposite. I know a lot of people will say you have to appreciate his achievement aside from everything else, but I find it hard to do that. Like I said, I respect the natural talent of the man, but that only goes so far because every time you look at him you have to think…..just how much is natural talent? How much is steroids? Bonds could have stayed clean and been recognized as one of the greatest players of our generation. Yet he chose to immerse himself in scandal and contraversy and that I do not respect. I hope that at some point these investigations do get over and that Bond does not get away with perjury or anything else he may be convicted of. Because the last thing we need him showing people is that you can do whatever you want and get away with it.
I am just glad that this whole circus will be over soon and we can get back to some more interesting stories in baseball, such as all the great division races that are heating up.
As for me, I will be continuing to watch my Redbirds in hopes that at least make the last two months of the season interesting. They are nine days away from back to back series with the Brewers and the Cubs that should, for the most part, determine whether they have a season left or not.
Let’s hope it’s not over before they even get to that point.
And that starts with getting a win tonight over the Nats.
Side note: Aaron MIles pitched last night against the Nationals and ended up getting the order out 1-2-3. You might remember that ultimate utilityman Scott Spiezio had similiar success in pitching one inning of relief earlier this year. It’s getting kind of embarrassing that guys who have never even been close to pitching in the bigs are getting outs faster and easier than guys who are supposed to be Major League pitchers. Yikes.
Wainwright bringing it to DC,