Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Thank You Mr. Hendry and BATTLE OF THE CRAZY

Grud the Stud hits for the cycle and Cards fans everywhere are loving the Ex-Cub factor. There was no way to know ahead of time, but when Cubs GM Jim Hendry decided to go after Todd Walker and not Grudzielanek he screwed the pooch. Now Walker is injured for an extended time and Grudzielanek is playing a key role in the Cards 14-5 start with solid defense and versatile hitting. He has hit fairly well leading off, in the two spot, or in the six or seventh slot. Through seventeen games he has a 828 OPS, which aint bad.

Changing topics, me and Mike from OldStyleCubs have an ongoing debate about who is more crazy, Julian Tavarez or Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano has gone all out for the title so far this year. He has been ejected twice in five starts, once for showing up a ref as he was being taken out of the game and yesteday for beaning Austin Kearns. Just when I was thinking there was no way Tavarez would be able to top him, the opportunity has come. With Izzy hurt for a little bit, Tavarez has moved into the closer role. Added pressure and attention can only lead to more antics from the Dominican headcase. If Tavarez blows a save (please no) he will probably fight something in the dugout, meanwhile Carlos shows no sign of slowing down. So be ready for an all out BATTLE OF THE CRAZY.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Thank you Mr. Beane

Mark Alan Mulder is awesome. Ten, yes that is TEN innings in 101 pitches. That is like a left handed Greg Maddux, which I suppose is Tom Glavine. He only gave up four hits and no walks. The only man to reach scoring position in the ten innings did so because of an error. Nearly every batter got a first pitch strike on the outside corner followed by a lot of low stuff, causing 17 ground balls. If you combine Mulders last two starts you get two complete game shutout three hitters. It is the second complete game shutout in three days for the Cards, which is pretty sweet.

The bats were pretty poor today against freak of nature Clemens. I can't stand Roger but still sort of feel sorry for him. He has a 23 inning scoreless streak, but his run support has a 22 inning scoreless streak. So far he has allowed one run and the Astros have scored three for him. Of those three, Clemens himself drove in two. He has a .32 ERA and a 1-0 record after four starts. Too bad for Roger, too good for the rest of the NL Central.

In Cub news, they let another game slip away today to move back below .500 to 8-9. I only watched parts of the last couple innings. One thing that became clear is that Corey Patterson is not going to accept a role as a contact hitter. With the game tied in the 8th Patterson led off the inning with a home run to break the tie. However the Latroy Hawkins blew the save and Glendon Rusch gave up the go ahead run in the top of the ninth. Luckily for the Cubs, Patterson had chance to be Mr. Hero twice in one game. He came up in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and runners on first and third. If Corey was the gritty contact hitter Cub Nation wants him to be he would have choked up against Jose Mesa and tried to smack the ball somewhere and use his phenomenal speed to get on base and tie the game. Instead, he did his best Sosa impression and took two big home run swings to fall behind 0-2 and then struck out on a high Mesa fastball.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Split

Chris Carpenter, 13 million dollars well spent. The Cards first complete game of the year and it could not have come at a better time. In danger of being swept at home by the Cubs for the first time since 1988, Carpenter made a one run lead last until the eighth when the Big Boys added some superfluous insurance runs. For that he gets the series MVP. Scott Rolen had a nice day, driving in three runs, which could have had four if Oquendo keeps Edmonds running on Rolen's double that bounced off the crazy section in fowl ground.

The bats were pretty quite for the two games, but not as disappointing as the gloves in game one. The Cubs did play better in game one than the Cards, but the Cards did a damn good job of giving the game away. La Russa decided to go with the B-Squad for game one. I understand that it was a day game after a night game, so you have to use two catchers. Also, if old guys like Grud and Reggie need a day off that is fine, but why put all the bench guys in on Wednesday and none in on Thursday. The bench players fielding was horrendous. Mabry dropped a flyball in the first, he did not need to dive for it, but he did and ended up letting it bounce out of his glove. Nunez botched a double play in the same inning. Whenever I see some one actually tag a base with the ball, I think Gold Glove. Suppan had to get five outs in the first and ended up surrendering a run. Edmonds also let two balls skip past him on the wet grass, the first one gave Zambrano a triple and let Michael Barrett score from first.

I have to send some good vibes to David Eckstein who has been playing sensationally so far. He has made every play in the field, including the tough ones. His OBP is a huge .429 with eight walks and only four Ks. The funny thing is he only has 3 runs scored. Considering he has been on base about 25 times in front of the Big Boys, I would guess he'd score more. If he keeps getting on he will come around a lot more and the Cards will score like they did last year with Womack.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Oh Baby!

MMMM came out strong last night. He only gave up one run over six innings and used only 71 pitches to get there. However, the issue with Morris is not one game, it is his consistency. Last year he had outings much better than last night, the problem was they were mixed in with his explosions. If he can pitch this well, give or take a couple hits, all season the Cards are going to be a lot tougher. Also, how about Abraham Nunez reaching base in every at-bat, four for four with a walk. Grud the Stud sowed some good patience leading off. He took two walks and poked a hit the other way. Of course with Walker, Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, behind him he scored every time he reached base.

But this post is not called OH BABY! because of last night or the five game winning streak. OH BABY! as Ken Wilson would say, means that it is time for some Cards/Cubs action. The time of the year where I have to defend myself against my entire surrounding. Usually that is easy because the Cards win, especially in Busch. Suppan is coming of one of his best starts ever, against crazy man Carlos Zambrano who has gone Bad Game, Good Game, Bad Game, to start the season. After that we have Chris Carpenter who has done the opposite of Zambrano, with good starts in his first and third games. The Cubs counter with Ryan "Why am I starting" Dempster, who has been mediocre so far this year. The Cards obviously have the edge in game two. I would usually say the Cubs have the odds in game one since Zambrano can be lights out, but because of the previous starts, and the fact that the Cards are on a 5 game tear, and it is in Busch, I will call it a toss-up.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Mulder Joins the Party, Carpenter deal

Well that was nice. Mulder showed up finally and gave eight great innings. A lot of ground balls. He seemed to struggle at times with pitches soaring away from lefties and leading to a couple walks. But his mistakes did not come back to hurt him as there was only one unearned run.

I was upset when Molina dropped the ball from Reggie, but I was real happy with his batting. This will be the only time in his career he scores twice from first and has an infield single all in the same inning, guarenteed. It was about time he got some hits, he had been hitting solid line drives but the outfielders were making all the tough plays. In the game I went to against the Brewers on Saturday he deserved two hits and got none. Last night Reggie Sanders got the same treatment, he hit the ball real hard but got unlucky, otherwise the Cards could have been up by more than one before the ninth.

Tonight is the big night for Mountain Man Matt Morris. If he comes out strong that will be five great outings in a row, one from each of the starters. That would make me smile. Since Suppan's last start, the starters have given up only four earned runs. However, three of them crossed the plate after Al Reyes came in with two outs and the bases loaded. If Reyes gets that out, the Cards starters are the best thing this side of the Marlins (who are just plain ridicky-donk.)

Not getting much hype is Carpenter's new contract. The deal is for two years with a club option for a third. The rumor going around is that it is 6 or 7 million a year. That is well below market price, considering Carp won 15 last year with a solid ERA. If he had been a free agent this winter he would have gone for about as much as Clement, Ortiz, Milton and Wright who averaged around 8 million a year. Carp is a lot better than Milton, Ortiz or Wright, and much more consistent than Clement. If anyone out there knows of an official dollar amount on the deal, please leave a post.

That deal gives the Cards Carpenter through 2007 or 08; Mulder and Suppan each through 05 with a club options for 06; Morris only for 05; Marquis is only for 05, but he is arbitration eligable, so the Cards should be able to lock him up. The Cards will obviously pick up the Mulder option and the Suppan option barring injury or a huge collapse. So this year they should work on a multi-year deal for Marquis. Of course, Morris will decide his own fate with his pitching, regardless he will be a free agent again this year and anything could happen.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Everything you need to know

So I was just checking my fantasy players in the Red Sox Toronto game (Man-Ram dinger, WOO) and I came across this little gem. Read the Toronto pitchers names and it will tell you everything you need to know about the Blue Jays team compared to the other AL East teams.

Wrong again

Another series gone, another bad prediction from me. I said the Cards would be fortunate to take either game one or game two, instead they took them both and carried game three for the sweep.

I made the trip up to Miller Town for game two, which was marvelous. Pujols and Rolen hit monster shots. Also, Eckstein looked real good in the field he converted three tough plays making them look easy, along with several routine ground balls. Carpenter got out of first inning trouble and then went into cruise control into the seventh. Isringhausen probably had his best performance in two years.

The starting pitching this series was great, Suppan, Carpenter and Marquis all went deep and held the Brewers to almost nothing. Marquis only had one EARNED run, and Carpenter's three runs all came in after he left the game. If Reyes had gotten the first guy out Carp would have had a goose egg for seven and two thirds. The long innings was especially important with King away for two games, Eldred, Pulsipher, and Lincoln out.

Despite the great starting pitching the series MVP is obviously Rolen. Six hits in the last two games including two dingers and a triple. All three RBIs in game three. Also, I can not go without mentioning Izzy again. He closed out all three games on consecutive nights. Game two he got ahead of each batter 0-2 before K, K, easy ground ball. His cutter is really working, so if his sinker gets to the level of his cutter, he will really baffle hitters.

The Cards go to Pittsburgh for just two games. Mulder will try to get his first quality start under his belt against Dave Williams. Then we get to see the debut of Mountain Man Matt Morris or as the Crash Test Dummies would say, MMMM against Josh Fogg.

I will be happy to see MMMM out there. Watching the game yesterday, he charged the field when the Cards one so that he could be the first to touch Izzy's butt. If he can pitch effectively he will really give the team a lift.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Brewers

Look out Brewers the Cardinals are coming to town.

I wish I really meant that. The Cards have not one a series yet, and they will have to either get their shit together or get real lucky to win this one. Game one is Ben Sheets vs Jeff Suppan, one of whom is an strikeout machine. So the Cards have their work cut out tonight. Game two is Doug Davis, who is 2-0 with two very good starts against Chris Carpenter who is 1-1 with a very good start and a very very bad start. If season opener Carpenter does not show up things could be ugly. Game three is Victor Santos, who has only pitched once this year and contained the Cubs for five innings against Jason Marquis who is pitching real well. So the Cards definitely have the edge in game three. Of course if the Big Boys decide to show up (Pujols and Rolen) a sweep is never unlikely.

In other news, Eldred is on the DL, Nunez is not, and Jimmy Journell is with the Big League team. Journell is not a surprising choice, but not who I would have picked. I would have taken a starter from AAA for two reasons. The major league pen had no long relief pitchers left. Eldred is hurt, Calero and Haren are gone. Journell is a one or two innings guy, not a three or four innings guy. If something happens and the Cards need seven innings out of the bullpen they are going to be screwed. Also, this person may only be up for a few days until Morris gets back. The Cards will need to clear a space for him and unless Nunez gets worse, they will probably send Journell right back down. So if the Cards called up a starter he would only miss one start and may gain a couple valuable big league innings.

So who saw Sheffield take a swing at the fan last night? I am not saying that he is Ron Artest, but I think he is a bigger ass than the fan. The fan did not touch him or the ball, he was just trying to distract him as any fan would. It is not much different than yelling at him. At hockey games you bang on the boards, in basketball you wave those sticks behind the backboard on free throws.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Oops

Boy was I wrong. I thought the Cards lineup would take care of Gavin Floyd like the inexperienced rookie that he is. Instead Gavin took down 19 straight batters, and the Cards folded away game two to the Phillies. Meanwhile Suppan struggled in almost every inning, and Randy Flores looked like an inexperienced rookie instead.

The Cards do not seem to have their Mojo working through four games. If the big four batters get things going soon the Cards could put together an early season run, that gets them the swagger back that they had last year.

Well game three is starting now, and amazingly, it is working on MLB.TV. So I am a happy camper. Up to now MLB.TV has been blacking me out since my billing address is still in St. Louis. Apparently, they can figure out how to broadcast every MLB game streaming online, but they can't use an IP address to figure out where you are. Also they have a customer service line that makes you hold for an hour before talking to you for thirty seconds, putting you back on hold for ten minutes and then hanging up on you. Do not get MLB.TV.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Split

So the Cards dropped the second game. The only dissapointing part, like in game one was the bullpen. Tavarez, the one guy who looked good in game one, gave up the runs in game two. I would like to have seen the bats put up another seven, but I am not too worried about the lineup. Pettitte pitched well. The good news is Marquis looked pretty good, only giving up one run and working well with men on base.

I am happy with a two game split in Houston when we are facing Oswalt and Pettitte. If the Cards can be a consistent .500 on the road against All-Star caliber pitchers, I think they will be in good shape. At the very least they are better off than the Cubs who dropped two of three to the D-Backs.

Who is ready for Mark Mulder action tomorrow? The Cards get to face Lidle, Gavin Floyd, and Lieber so the batts should come out in full force this weekend. I really like the matchups since the Cards weakest starter, Suppan is up against Floyd, who I have never heard of and Carpenter, who looked real good opening night, is against the Phillies 'ace' Lieber. The Phillies also just dropped two of three to the lowly Nationals. So things are looking good.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Carpenter Earns Opening Day Start

What a way to win game one.

Edmonds Sanders and Walker went yard. Pujols got a couple ground ball hits. But Chris Carpenter was by far the most impressive. Seven innings only four hits, and only three fly balls the whole time. There is no question he is back in the form that made him the Cards best pitcher last year.

The only bad news was the bullpen. With a six run lead and only two innings left, all they had to do was throw strikes. Instead they walked batter after batter. The strike zone was a little small. But I expected more. With two out and none on in the eighth Reyes let Palmero get a double, which is fine, Palmero is a good hitter, and Reyes did what he should have done and through one over the plate. The problem was he got afraid of Adam Everett and his 16 career home runs and 315 OBP and walked him. He should have just thrown strikes and force Everett to beat him, so that he would not have to face Biggio and Bagwell with guys on. For the Astros a walk was almost as good as a double or even homer since they were down six.

Then Ray King did the same thing in the ninth, none on and two out with a four run lead and he walks Brad Ausmus who is not a good hitter.

Well I have certainly complaned enough about a 7-3 win. The Cubs lost a close won last night, I enjoyed watching Old Man Maddux struggle over some beers and wings. As you can read over at OldStyleCubs Dusty Baker made a questionable (read dumb) decision in a key pinch hitting spot. He chose to use Neifi "Why am I not on the Iowa Cubs" Perez instead of one of the two good Cubs bench hitters. Another example of what seperates La Russa (one of the best game callers) and Baker (one of the worst) and probably causes the Cubs about five games a year.

Final Predictions

I figure I should get some final predicitons out there, so I can say that I did. I had a lot of long drawn out predictions over the last two months, but here is the basics. I had to change the NL West due to Baby Bonds and his moping.

NL Central Redbirds 99-63
NL East Marlins
NL West Padres
NL Wildcard Cubbies

AL Central Twinkies
AL East Yankees
AL West Angels
AL Wildcard Red Sox

I am sorry I made the AL just like last year, but that is the way I see it going, maybe something strange will happen in the Central, or a West team will take the Wildcard, but I doubt it. The playoffs are a crap shoot. But it is fun to guess now, when I have no clue whatsoever.

Divisional Round
Cardinals beat Padres; SWEEP BITCHES!
Marlins Beat Cubs; The Return of BARTMAN
Yankees Beat Twins; Sorry, Minnesotans it's gonna happen every year
Angels Beat Sox; Why not? Vlad goes crazy Schillings ankle breaks for real

Championship Round
Marlins beat Cardinals; And a lone tear drips down the Arch and flows down the Mississippi
Yankees beat Angles; Jeter + A-Rod = Good

World Series
Yankees beat Marlins; Yankees get revenge from '03 and they break the "CURSE of the Giambino"

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Opening Day

Finally, opening day, how sweet it is.

The Cubs line-up was scary good yesterday. They lit up Javier Vazquez and some D-Backs relievers for 16 runs. The first nine were NOT on home runs, which is the only way the Cubs could score last year. Patterson was good, Walker was good, Ramirez was good, Lee was good... All of that is bad for the Cards. Of course one game is no indication of how the season will go. The good news, Zambrano was pretty bad and really crazy. He could not even qualify for the win because after an 4 and 2/3 inning he could not throw a strike and walked in a run. As he was leaving he did his normal freak-out and technically got tossed from the game, although he was leaving anyway. The bullpen was not rock solid either against an average D-Back lineup.

Also in Cubs news they gave Aramis Ramirez a reasonable contract 4 years 42 million. The weird thing is that Ramirez can opt out of the last two years. That's a no win situation for the Cubs. If Ramirez does well (which he probably will) and could get more than 11/year on the market he will leave or demand more money. If Ramirez struggles or gets hurt he will stay on for the last two years and let the Cubs over pay him. The dollar and year figures make sense, but Hendry gave up quite a lot when he agreed to the option after 2006.

335 minutes till the first pitch!!!!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pujols the Incredible

The count is on. How many day's will Pujols go with out striking out? He is yet to register a K in spring training, meanwhile hitting the cover off the ball. He should have another monster year. I don't want to put too much pressure on the guy, but I am expecting all of these things:

1) MVP
2) More homers that strikeouts
3) Twice as many Walks as strikeouts
4) 430 OBP
5) 667, or as I say 2/3, Slugging
6) Hit one into the New Busch Stadium

In other news, I just got Tony La Russa's new book and as soon as I have some time I'll let you all know what I think.