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,
Before I get into Cardinal baseball, how about that Yankee game? 8 home runs by 7 different players? And not of them is A-Rod? Are you kidding me? You figure there are a lot of balls getting hung over the plate that game to have that kind of a homer happy night. So I’m surprised that Alex didn’t get in on the action, much less to go 0-5. It also shows you how much under ability these guys have been playing all year. This is what the Yanks are capable of doing when they’re running on all cylinders. Every guy down the lineup 1-9 has the ability to put the ball in the stands. Half of their lineup could be cleanup on almost any other team in the league.
Ok, on to the NL Central. What a bittesweet day of baseball. The Cardinals played a hard fought game against Pittsburgh and actually came up on the winning end to stretch their streak to…….4 games. I can barely believe it. The sad news? The Brewers fought back Glavine and his quest for 300 in their win over the Mets and the Cubs won as well. So, the Cardinals still sit at 6 games back of first place and gain nothing on Chicago.
I’m happy for the win though. This kind of back and forth game is the kind of game that Cardinals would win last year and have been losing this year. And even though it seemed back and forth, they never really let the Pirates fully get their foot back in the door and pretty much stayed in control the whole game. Still, I wish the Redbirds would have been able to put them away sooner. You just can’t get in the habit of letting teams hang around in games, especially when we go back to playing higher caliber teams. Both runs that were scored off of starter Adam Wainwright were runs scored with two outs. A sac fly or something may happen when you have 0 or 1 outs, but once you have 2 outs, you have to do everything possible to shut that door.
That said, I felt the Cardinals played hard. Ryan Ludwick laid our for a terriffic play in left field. And Scott Rolen came in hard to homeplate on a play that he should have been out on by a mile. But the catcher couldn’t come up with the ball and Rolen was safe. Great baseball. Though, the Pirates may want to invest in a new catcher. He made two mistakes today that cost his team and earlier this season he did the same against the Cardinals. I can’t remember what game, but I remember another similiar play when he couldn’t handle a simple relay throw for the out.
These next games against the Pirates are getting to be pretty much must-wins for the Redbirds. Sweeping or taking 2 of 3 from the lower teams in the division are a necessity if the Cardinals expect to cotinue competing for the division. That said I think I should explain the following.
I’m not naive when it comes to this team. I know that they have played horrible ball this year. I know that they barely held onto the NL Central title last year when they were AHEAD for most of the year, let alone trying to climb back into contention. And I’m painfully aware that even if this team somehow makes it into the postseason that they’re chances are almost nil. Anybody else remember the 2004 World Series when we didn’t have Carpenter? Yeah, their are other pitchers and other games, but don’t think that the 2004 loss and the 2006 win don’t have anything to do with Carpenter. There is something about going out there with your dominant ace against the other team’s dominant ace that boosts your team’s self esteem, not to mention pushing everyone else on your staff back and deeping your rotation. Losing Carp has been the biggest blow of the season thus far.
Nevertheless, I have faith. Blind faith, maybe. But faith none the less. I believe my team can do it. Or maybe more accurately, I WANT to believe my team can do it. But this is what baseball is all about, right? Every team’s fan has that sort of faith on Opening Day. They all say, “We signed free agents!” “We called up our top prospect from our farm system!” “It’s a new year!” Now, it’s the All-Star break and fans of some teams like the Royals and the Devil Rays have resigned themselves to another season of under 500, poorly executed baseball.
But the rest of us still have hope. Not all of the teams will be rewarded. The Mets, Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Cubs, Cardinals, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Padres and Rockies will not all make the posteason. In fact, only half of them will. Yet all of those teams are only 6 games or less back and it is ‘possible’ for any of them to do it. So I hold onto the hope. It’s certainly better than giving up on a season. How many people gave up on the Redbirds last year? Like they say, in baseball, anything is possible.
I’d like to hear from anyone else on this topic. When do you say enough is enough when it comes to your team? Do you hold onto hope until the bitter end, until that magic number for the first place club finally reaches 0? Or is that just asking for disappointment such as was the case for Houston fans last year? Is there a point in the season where you finally admit your team is too far gone, even if they have not ‘technically’ been eliminated? I’m really interested in thoughts about this. Obviously baseball is a good starting point, but if you have another sport you’d like to bring up on this topic, I’m open to that too.
Alright boys, time to get busy tonight, taking another one away from the Pirates.
I have been very busy at work the last few months and while I have kept up with baseball and the Cards, I have not had time to watch every game and or to even think about blogging. We were trying to get a product out the door on a deadline and now that it has been completed, I hope to spend a little more time watching Cardinal baseball and with my blog.
I realize that there is no way that I can recap everything I’ve missed talking about the last few months, so I’ll just go ahead and pick up where things are right now.
It’s really a great time to come back to the blog, I think, because there is so much happening in baseball right now. First, the Cardinals are starting to look like a team that maybe has a shot of contending. After being in 3rd place for quite sometime and well behind the Brew Crew and even the 2nd place Cubbies (gag), the Cardinals have recently come on strong. After taking 3 of 4 from the Brewers over the weekend, the Cardinals are now in pouncing distance of them at just 6 games back. What makes this even more interesting is the fact that the Redbirds still have 6 games left against the Crew and 8 games against the Cubs this year. So if the Cards can stay close, they definitely have a chance to help themselves the next couple of months. Not to mention the games between the Brewers and the Cubs, where someone has to lose.
This upcoming series is a big one. We will be playing the Pirates and we have to win a couple of games right here, especially with the Brewers playing the Mets. You figure with Glavine on the mound and the kind of ball the Mets have the ability to play, the Brewers are in for a tough series. So it’s an excellent time to gain some ground.
Right now, there is excitement seemingly everywhere in baseball, not just in St. Louis. 3 huge milestones will be chased tonight throughout the baseball world. A-Rod attempts to hit number 500 in New York and not only that, but when he accomplishes the feat, he will be the youngest player to ever reach that mark. I just hope they get a win and shave off a few more games in the AL East Race. I don’t want to see Boston win it.
Over in LA, the Giants/Dodgers rivalry will be heating up and even more so, with Barry one homer shy away from maybe the most hallowed record in baseball; the all-time home run record set by Hammerin’ Hank Aaron. It’s only a matter of time before it happens, but of course, knowing it’s that imminent can sometimes make a player press too hard at the plate, so we’ll see how he handles the pressure of pursuing the great Aaron and his record.
Last, but not least, Mets pitcher Tom Glavine sets his sights on 300 career wins. I’m rooting especially hard for this one because not only do I respect Glavine as a pitcher, a win for him means a loss for the Brewers. And that is something I am very much in favor of.
What a day this could be if all of these feats happened on the same night. Even if they don’t, they will all happen this season, barring injury, in a year where there has already been so many stories with Sosa and Thomas already hitting milestone home runs and Griffey not too far behind. Craig Biggio earned hit number 3000 and if Randy Johnson could have ever stayed healthy he would have had a chance at 300 wins as well. Definitely a historic year to say the least.
The last thing that makes this an interesting day is that the non-waiver trade deadline has now passed with a lot of the wheeling and dealing for the year done. Though there are a few GMs that seem to prefer trading after the deadline, waivers and all.
The Cardinals made very little noise, acquiring righty Joel Pineiro from Boston for cash and a minor league player to be named. Honestly, I don’t know much about this guy. I know that Boston had designated him for assignment, but by this point, I trust that if the Cardinals are interested in a pitcher, there is usually a good reason. Dave Duncan has worked a lot of miracles in that pitching staff, even with guys that were supposedly done, such as Jeff Weaver last year. And Pineiro doesn’t appear to be that far gone looking at his numbers. The best part about this is that the Cardinals didn’t get rid of a ton of players as I feared might be the case. That tells me that they haven’t given up fighting in the Central yet and that they plan on being a contender instead of just a seller at the deadline.
Other notable trades include Matt Morris coming to the Pirates. Once the ace of the Cardinal staff, Morris will be seeing the Cardinals a lot more in the NL Central than he did as a Giant. Morris was always a favorite of mine, a Cardinal that was hard to see go. I hope he does well in Pittsburgh.
Also, of note, Eric Gagne went to Boston. This deal surprised me a ton, considering he had a no-trade clause to the Sox. I really didn’t think he would waive this to setup for Papelbon. That makes the Sox downright frightening in the late innings.
Well, I supppose that is more than enough for my return blog. I will be back tomorrow where hopefully I will be saying that the Cardinals are just a mere five games away from first place.
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,