Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A good year

This time last year the Cards were just starting their run to NL supremacy. They were in a three way tie for second place with everybody chasing the Reds. Since then they have gone 111-51, not including the playoff run. Watching tonight's game there was another big difference from this time last year. As Dan McLaughlin put it "Coming up in the third inning, Mulder, Eckstein, Walker." Compared to Williams, Womack and Renteria from last year I am a happy camper. This year Woody is hurt. Womack is hitting poorly playing left field in New York. Renteria, although heating up lately, has been struggling in Boston. Meanwhile, Mulder can not lose, Eckstein refuses to get out and Walker despite a slow start is over 800 OPS.

(Excuse this pause, Pujols is up right now with runners on first and second. This the third time he has had a runner in scoring position and he has hit a weak ground and a lazy flyball. He could not possibly get out a third time with RISP in one game, could he? The count is 3-1, two outs. OK, he walked. This aside must continue while Edmonds clears the bases. Right Jimmy? He could not have hit it harder, too bad it was right at Desi Relaford. Mulder gave up back to back jacks and the Cards are coming from behind again)

Anyway, it has been a good year for the Cardinals since last year. Hopefully this time next year I will be posting about what we can do to get back to back championships.

Friday, May 27, 2005

NL Central = Loserville

Just when it seemed that the Cardinals march to the NL Central crown could not be any easier. Mark Prior gets hit by a line drive and all of Cubs Nations screams a profanity in unison. As glad as I am that the Cards chances are getting better everyday, I am a little upset to see this. I do not want to win because of an injury or seven. Blame things on injuries is an excuse but for Cubs fans the last couple of years it is a damn good excuse. Wood is already out. Although he pitched well yesterday Zambrano will be questionable for a while with his "Non-baseball-related Tennis Elbow." Now, Prior looks to be out for a while since the ball hit the same elbow that always gives him problems.

Combine that with the Astros not scoring and the Reds finding ways to lose, all of a sudden the NL Central is clearly the worst division in baseball despite having possibly the best team.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

5/18ths update

Finally, the regular season is exactly five eighteenths over. So I thought I would take a look at the status of some of my preseason predictions about the league Pujols and such. Also look at some of the surprising trends.

The Cards are on pace to win 104~105 games.
The Cubs are on pace to go 79-83.
The Diamondbacks are on pace to take the Wild Card with 95 wins.
It is looking like an I-55 series in the playoffs, but instead of the NLCS it's the World Series as the White Sox are on pace for 118 wins.

Houston is on pace to score 583 runs compared to 803 last year. Of the 583 about 40 will be in support of Clemens. Clemens will only allow 31 runs the whole season yet finish with a 10-7 record.

As for Pujols and my ridiculously high demands: He is on pace for 40 dingers, 50 doubles, 140 RBIs, 75 Ks, 7 SBs. He is not on pace for the MVP since Derrick Lee is dominating. He is not going to have more dingers than strikeouts. He does not have a 420 OBP or a 2/3 slugging. He IS on pace to hit on into the New Busch. They just have to build it a little more first. Come on Albert, step it up. You are only being great, be spectacularly amazing.

As for my early OVER/Unders:
Sammy Sosa 660 hrs? Not looking good, he only has 4 this year and now is on the DL from a ridiculous injury. He got a staph infection from a sore on his foot. It must be from all the showers he took after Moises Alou and his "hand hardening treatments."
Sosa 240 average
? He is over right now by a little at 269.
Cards 94 wins? Looking like over.
Cubs 92 wins
? Not Likely, but they just have to play .600 ball the rest of the way.
Mulder 17 wins? OVER! He is getting all the run support he can ask for and is even winning his bad starts. He could win 20 if he pitches like he has in his good starts.
K-Wood 15 Wins? WAY UNDER. He has one win and is on the DL, yikes.
Rick Ankiel 10 starts? Hahahahahaha
Rick Ankiel 20 wild pitches? Maybe he will have 20 thrown at him by AA pitchers with no control. He can see what it is like from the other side.
Nomar 115 games? Way under again. He is out until at least September.
Cubs 20 blown saves? Over, they already have 8 and Ryan Dempster has a few more in him.
Rolen 120 RBI? Under, Stupid Hee Seop Choi, why didn't he get hurt.
Molina 1 SB? Under, none yet and as long as he is hitting 8th Mr. Molasses won't get any freebies either.
A. Ramirez 100 LOB? Under, he is not getting on base enough this year. I thought he would be more like Lee and Lee would be more like Ramirez.
Morris 10 wins? Way over, he came back early from his injury and has pitched real well and has 4 wins to show for it.
Glendon Rusch 10 wins? Over, barely. He is finally in the rotation with Dempster closing, and he should stay there even when Wood gets back. He has 3 wins already is pitching well enough to get 10 or 11 wins.
Pujols Triple 1 Crown Category? Under. He has none now, but he is only two back in RBI, two back in HR and .020 back in batting. So he could easily take one or all of them.
Prior Third in Cy Young Race? Over. He is pitching well but not like Willis, Clemens, and a handful of other guy. Also, look at Bill James thingy.
Patterson/Edmonds 150 strikeouts? Under/Over respectively. Edmonds is leading the race 43 to 38.
Baker/La Russa pitching changes? Baker has taken his guys out a little earlier this year, except for Prior CG the other day. Of course Tony is using everyone he can.
Baker/La Russa tantrum? I am still waiting for a real good one where at least 3 things are thrown (Hat, Scorecard, Bats)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I'm still here

It been a while since I put up a post. I know there are a lot of you out there that spend hours every day refreshing my site just to see if there is something new up. To all of those people I am sorry.

__________________________________________________

Since I posted last the Cards have won series against the Mets and Royals and lost a series to the Phillies. The Phillies, so far, have the Cards number. The worst three starts the Cards rotation has had this year have all come against the Phillies. The Phillies have a solid lineup, even with Thome out, and they seem to step it up a notch against the Redbirds.

Unfortunately for Phillies fans, Scott Rolen was injured and in St. Louis and JD Drew is long gone leaving them no one to boo during the series except their own team. Amazingly, the fans did a lot of booing considering they took two of three games. If you lay out the fanbases for all the teams on a spectrum the Cardinals fans would be at one end and the Phillies at the other. While the Busch Stadium crowd has been known to applaud an opposing player for a great play, fans at the old Vet were known to applaud paralization (Dallas Cowboys). They also are famous for BOOING SANTA CLAUS because he stopped giving out presents. Baseball fans know them better for throwing batteries and other trash at players. Clearly, the horrible fans in Philly have had some part in the pro sports teams not winning a championship since the year I was born.

__________________________________________________

The good news for the Cardinals. Including the Royals series, the Cards have four series in a row against possibly the four worst teams in baseball. Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Washington and Colorado do not strike fear in to opponents. Right now the Cards are already 7 games up in the central and after the next eight games they could easily push that to 9 or 10 games in early June. If they can manage a win tonight they should get another game on the Cubs. I am going to Wrigley tonight to see the stellar match-up of Roger Clemens vs. Sergio Mitre.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Edgar Who? Which Scott

David Eckstein has been everything I could ever ask for in a shortstop. He is remarkable. Over this home stand I have enjoyed watching his at-bats more than anyone else on the team including Pujols. He has a great strategy at the plate and a remarkable ability to see the ball well enough to know whether he wants to:

A) Foul it off
B) Take it
C) Slap it the other way or
D) Pull it.

So far this year he has done all four of the above options perfectly. He does not have the option to drive it and he does not try to. His OBP is up to .411, which is fourth among lead-off men in baseball. Even when he does not get on base he usually stays in the box for 5, 6, 7, 10 pitches. That is great at the beginning of the game so the other players can see what the pitchers has. It is also great later in the game if the pitcher makes the second out and Eckstein gives him two minutes of an at-bat to relax and get ready to pitch the next inning. He has not been bad in the field. He has lived up to his billing as someone who makes all the routine plays and none of the spectacular plays. Don't get me wrong, he has made some good to even great plays, but no Web Gems.

Rolen going down is bad news. Hopefully he will be back in 15 day. The only good aspect is that we finally get to see some big league action from Scott Seabol. 30 year old Seabol (and his one major league AB) have been doing real well in Memphis. He could fill in well for Rolen seeing as they are both :
30 years old
6'4"
200 lb
Right handed
Country white boys
Named Scott

Monday, May 09, 2005

Westies in St. Louis

Let's all hope the San Diego series was a bump in the road and that the Cards will take down the Dodgers like they did last October.

Dropping three of four at home is never nice, even though the Cards outscored the Padres in the series. But worse than the series loss may be the loss of Yadier Molina. Molina has really been turning it on lately. More of his hits have been falling and you can see his confidence coming back. Also he has shown some great fielding nailing a ridiculous 7 out of 9 base stealers. I have not heard if Molina is going on the DL yet or who the Cards are recalling to be the back-up catcher. (McKay? Yikes!) Either way we are going to see what Einer Diaz can do and that does not excite me.

However, I am excited about the Cards bats heating up. Of course there was the 11 run first. But that is largely due to Redding's lack of control. What really excites me is that over the last seven games (since Smoltz beat us up) the Cards have averaged 7 runs per game and have scored at least three runs in each game. The bats took a while to get going this year but I think now they are ready to go. Luckily, even without great hitting the Cards are at 19-11 and four games in front of the NL Central due to the great pitching so far.

The matchups against the Dodgers mostly favor the Cards this weekend. Tonight matches up Mulder against Odalis Perez (the lesser of the two O. Perez). Tomorrow features Morris vs. Scott Erickson, whose career of above-averageness is winding down into a finale of below-averageness. Jeff Suppan will do his best against Brad Penny on Wednesday on ESPN. Penny had the weird nerve injury last year like Carpenter. He has only had three starts since coming back and has gotten better in each one. In his last he start went seven scoreless innings. So Wednesday should be the hardest for the Cards. Thursday it's Chris Carpenter against Derek Lowe, a matchup we all wanted last October.

In other news: I am going to Wrigley tonight for the Cubs/Mets if it is not rained out. If it is rained out I am going for beer. The Cubs have never won when I have been at that old pile of bricks so the Cards should have a chance to move seven games ahead of the Cubs, who I still consider the biggest threat in the Central.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Morris and Woody

Matt Morris pitched his worst outing of the year last night and that is wonderful. If Morris's bad starts this year are like that instead of his explosions last year he should have a wonderful season. He made a lot of really good pitches including some great off speed stuff and fast stuff with good movement. The problem was he made too many mistakes. He only paid for his mistakes once, obviously on Nevin's dinger. But it could have been much worse for him if not for the triple play and Yadier Molina's cannon arm. (The sneeky bunt pick-off where Grudzielanek snuck behind the runner on first as Pujols charged was awesome.) Morris has built a lot of confidence in me with his starts so far and even though he was much less sharp last night, I am glad to see that when he is not on his game he can go seven inning and three runs instead of three innings and seven runs.

Matt's old partner in crime and a St. Louis favorite Woody Williams was supposed to start the game tonight but he has a nagging rib cage injury. It's too bad, he would have received a standing O when he was annouced. It could have been a touching moment showing the Cards fans appreciation for our players past and present. It is San Diego's only trip to Busch this year, although I would not rule out a playoff match-up. Woody is 38 and only signed a one year deal with the Padres. He has the stuff to pitch another year or two but if his injuries bother him all year I would not be surprised to see him retire. So Woody, who made a lot of friends in only 3 1/2 years in St. Louis, may never pitch in any Busch Stadium again. Here is my salute to Woody for helping lead the Cards to three playoffs and one World Series. (Also mentioning his St. Louis success means nothing without a shout-out for Dave Duncan "The Rejuvinator")

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Greatest Comeback Ever and Braves recap

Do you believe in miracles? YES!

Sorry, Mr. Cool J. but I am going to call it a comeback and one hell of a comeback at that. Down six runs in the ninth and winning is just unbelievable. Mabry tried to do the same thing to the Cubs a couple weeks ago and fell five feet short. This time he had plenty of power to cap off the seven run ninth. I was already cursing the bullpen injuries and mourning the first three game losing streak of the season. When that ball flew out I started jumping, yelping, and banging on shit because I could not control myself.

The huge emotional win could not have come at a better time. The Cards had been on an 10 for 11 streak and in cruise control going into Atlanta when the Braves knocked them down a few pegs.

Game one against the Braves was anything but what was expected. The former A's facing each other was supposed to be a 0-0 tie into the 11th. The Cards were lucky to win that one. The big first inning was due to a lot of ground balls that found holes in the infield. Mulder was not sharp. One thing that disturbed me was La Russa's managing of Molina. A game before hand La Russa let Molina bat in a critical two out situation to help "build his confidence" for later in the season. Then in this game La Russa repeated called for Molina to bunt. Tony took the bat out of his hands, essentially saying that he has more faith in the pitcher to get a hit. He is never going to break out of his early funk if he has to lay down a bunt every time there is a runner on ahead of him (especially with how well Grud the Stud has been playing.)

Game two the Cards played poorly but still well enough to win. However Kevin Gryboski, the home plate ump, made lots of bad calls for both teams and ultimately tilted the balance enough for the Braves to comeback and win. I do not know if I have ever scene a worse officiated game. The call he made against Orr was stunning. He called a strike for the Cardinals that was at least 5 inches inside. The three strikes that he called balls in the seventh forced the Cards to get six outs that inning and allowed the Braves to tie the game. Because of that, Jimmy "AA" Journell was in against Mondesi instead of Tavarez for the save. Tavarez has given up three home runs since the start of the 2003 season. Usually, I do not like to bitch and moan about officiating and the Braves got screwed too when the pitch hit Chipper in the foot. Still, I let out one big moan when game two ended. Morris pitched well, I would have liked to see him get another inning, but I suppose La Russa knows more about the health of his arm than I do.

Game three got another big moan out of me. Occasionally a team is going to get all the opportunities in the world and never capitalize. That what happen to the Cards on Sunday. There was a guy on in every inning and he never came around. Edmonds runs scoring double bounced of the top of the wall, just missing a home run. It is a little depressing, but it happens. Suppan pitched really well and the Cards did hit well. They put up 10 hits and a few walks.

Meanwhile Pujols is putting together a nice hit streak as he has found his line drive stroke. I may be wrong but I think he has a streak of reaching base in every game this season too.