Saturday, June 25, 2005

They're not saying "Boo" they're saying "Soup"

I was at the game last night, which was nice. It is the only time I will ever see two Taguchi dingers and a Molina dinger in the same game. Throw in two from Edmonds and 8 strong innings from Suppan, you got yourself a winner. It runs the Cardinals winning streak in games I attend up around a baker's dozen. I think the Cards should just go ahead and give me season tickets, so they can win every game.

Besides the long balls, it was really nice to see such a good long outing from Suppan. He has had several starts since he has been a Redbird where he confusses hitters and has shutouts go into the fifth or sixth inning. Usually he gets tired at that point, or hitters figure him out and he gives up a few runs and leaves the game. Last night that inning did not come until the ninth. At that point all the Cards needed was Ray King to come in and get one ground ball.

A few roster moves have the Cards bloggers buzzing, so I figured I would give my take:

  • Luna moves up for Seabol. Bad call, Tony says we need another shortstop to give Eckstein rest. But we have Nunez, a natural shortstop and a switch hitter, so he should be able to give David rest any day of the week. Seabol clearly is a better hitter that Luna. He even hits better in the bigs than Luna does at AAA. It will not be devastating, but hopefully, Seabol will be back on the bench heading into September.
  • Cedeno is done for. When Roger got "hurt" all Cards fans were glad to see him off the active roster. But we were all a little worried that he would come back when his time on the DL was up. Fortunatley, the Cards optioned him to AAA. Another team could go after him and make the Cards happy and the Mets thrilled.
  • The Cards traded for an infielder named Tim Hummel. With Seabol going back down, things are going to be crowded at Memphis, I hope a player to be named later is more like Crash Davis than a prospect.
  • Randy Flores goes to the DL, Carmen Cali comes up. Bill Pulsipher anybody? I am not sure which one is hotter right now, but I keep seeing headlines about Pulsipher having good outings.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Derrek Lee and Mark McGwire

This might just be me, and tell me if I am crazy, but the Cards/Cubs rivalry in 2005 is starting to look a lot like it did in 1998 with a change of roles.

In 1998 Mark McGwire broke the home run record, duh, for the first time since the 60s. In 2005 Derrek Lee is going after the triple crown for the first time since the 60s.

In 1998 Sosa was McGwire's main competition and if it were not for Big Mac, Sosa would have had the all time record. This year Mr. Pujols is Lee's biggest competition, since he is in the top five in all the NL triple crown stats. If it were not for Lee, people would be having the usual discussion about Pujols chasing the triple crown.

In 1998 even though McGwire took won the home run battle, the Cubs won the playoff war. In 2005 it looks like Cubs fans will have to settle for individual accomplishment or a wildcard birth.

Lee and McGwire are American, Pujols and Sosa are Dominican.

Also remember that in 1998 Sosa, not Big Mac won the NL MVP since his team made the playoffs. If the Cubs do not make the playoffs this year, will they give the MVP to Pujols even if Lee wins the triple crown and Pujols is second or third in each category? I doubt it.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Meltdowns

Chernobyl. Marquis. Mulder.

On May 9th, Mulder and Marquis were both 5-1 and pitching well. Since then most of the wins either one of them has picked up has been due purely to run support (Although Marquis usually provides his own). Each one hit rock bottom in Cinci giving up early runs and being chased out of the game by the fourth inning. I am officially calling out Mulder, Marquis, and Dave Duncan to stop the decline. Gentlemen, it's go time.

Good news:
1) We play Pittsburgh for four games.
2) I am in St. Louis and going to the game Friday and the Cards have a winning streak of near a dozen in games that I attend home or away.
3) The Cubs lost to the Brew Crew despite D-Lee's 3 for 4 two home run day.
4) Matty-Mo goes for 9 and 0.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Pulling away, top five pitchers

Last post I made was one day before the Cards lost the third game of the series against the Blue Jays. It was the first series the Cards had lost in over a month. How do they respond? A sweep of the lowly D Rays. Conveniently, the Cubs got swept by the Yankees at the same time expanding the Cards NL Central lead to 9.5. I am not saying that the race is over, but nine and a half is a big lead anytime of the year.

Bring on the Reds, the Cards number one whipping boy since the dominant Cardinals showed up last May. We took game one in style behind Chris Carpenter. I said it after his last start and I will say it again: Carpenter is one of the five best pitchers in the National League. Clearly that list starts with Roger Clemens. The other four spots are debatable but Chris Carpenter over the last two years is up there.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Canadia

Anything Halladay can do Carpenter can do better. Carpenter's start (and finish) last night is challenging Mulder's 10 inning gem for the best Cards start this season. By the end of the season Carpenter should once again prove himself to be the club's best starter. If he is healthy this year the smart money is on Chris starting game one of the playoffs. Carpenter is quietly turning in to one of the best pitchers in the league. He has a great mix of power pitching and finesse. Unless Morris regains his old power, Carpenter is going to have twice as many strikeouts as any other Cardinal. At the same time he can get groundballs like the rest of the rotation. Last night was a perfect example as he had 10 ks, 12 groundballs and only four flyballs. He started off with pure power striking out five of six. Then, as power pitchers do, he walked a man. Immediately, he took a little off and got a ground ball for the double play. After that he had a mix of groundballs and strikeouts that ended in him only throwing 95 pitches for the CG and about two feet away from a no hitter.

As much as the out of town media like to talk about the power of the Cards lineup, it is the pitching staff that makes them the best team in the league. Along with Morris and Mulder the Cards top three will take the Pepsi challenge with any other rotation in baseball. Marquis is posed to a have a better year than his breakout season last year and Suppan is good enough to be the third starter on 20 teams. Combine that with the NL's best healthy closer and at least four solid middle relievers (Tavarez, King, Reyes, Thompson, Eldred?, Flores?) and the Cardinals pitching is at least as dominant as the lineup.

But the lineup still is great. A couple days ago Larry Walker told us that his tank is just about empty and that he won't be wearing red in 2006. Apparently, the low gas indicator light came on a little early as Walker hit two monster dingers, which lifted his OPS up over 800. Pujols hit another dinger and went 3 for 4 to keep chasing Derrick Lee in the triple crown stats, but Lee went 4 for 5 with a dinger of his own.

The batter I enjoyed the most last night may have been Yadier Molina. He was only one for four, but could have easily been four for four. He worked the count in every at bat, fouled off several pitches and hit line drives. The first three were shallow line drives that could have fallen for hits, but two of them were right at charging outfielders. The last line drive was a rocket that Vernon wells caught on a jog at the track in the deepest part of the park.

If Molina and Larry Walker start hitting well things should get even better. Then in a week when Rolen gets back the Cards can forget about only taking two out of three games each series and start sweeping everybody.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Draft

Throughout my college career, I have found many ways to procrastinate. Usually video games (Smash Brothers, Halo, MVP Baseball) do the trick. Now, it is my last week of college ever. I have a big report due and two finals coming up. In order to put off this work I needed something special. I needed something so mindless that my brain can actually turn off for ten minutes at a time. Only one thing could fulfill my need, the MLB draft.

MLB.com has provided live video coverage of this event. Unlike the NFL or NBA draft, the players in the MLB draft are people that no one has ever heard of. The good news is that the entire first round took about 20 minutes, which is about 8 hours faster than the NFL' s marathon style. I am sure that by the end of the week TheSTLCardinal.com will have a well informed full post on the draft, but for now I will pretend that I have some idea what is going on.

The Cardinals had two first round picks, a high school center fielder named Colby Rasmus, and a college shortstop named Tyler Greene.

This Colby fellow seems to be a huge power hitter center fielder, for a high schooler. Apparently, he is also a left handed power pitcher. He is just out of high school, so it is anybodies guess where he will end up in a few years. Woody Williams was drafted as a shortstop that could pitch a little. Of course, the Cards have a need for an outfielder next year, but I am sure this guy is several years away.

Tyler Greene has always been a big prospect and apparently is a huge prospect now, the problem is that he is a Boras client. Like all Boras clients he dropped significantly in the draft, so if the Cards can sign him he will be a steal at pick number 30. I was a little confused about whether his name was Tyler or James, so I looked it up and it is James Tyler Greene.

The Georgia Tech website has his 2005 stats as follows:

Player           AVG  GP-GS    AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI   TB  SLG%  BB HBP  SO GDP   OB%  SF  SH  SB-ATT   PO   A   E  FLD

5 Tyler Greene .373 59-59 260 75 97 15 3 12 72 154 .592 38 6 68 4 .464 0 4 30-31 101 193 19 .939
and his full scouting report here. His fielding, according to the scouting report, is solid so he should stay at shortstop. Hopefully, he will be a solid option when Eckstein's option is up after 2007. Of course that all depends on him signing. This year, the little brothers Drew and Weaver held out all year but eventually gave up and signed contracts that were very close to their original offers. So, Boras clients are signable for reasonable deals.
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In the supplemental first round the Cards picked tow right handed pitchers. Power guy Mark McCormick from Baylor and high schooler Tyler Herron. So that makes two position players, two pitchers, two college guys, two high schoolers, and two Tylers.

This McCormick guy looks like the new hotness. His stats for last year are like this:
Player               ERA   W-L   APP  GS  CG SHO/CBO SV    IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  2B  3B  HR   AB B/Avg   WP HBP  BK  SFA SHA
26 McCormick, Mark. 3.12 7-3 17 17 0 0/0 0 92.1 60 41 32 55 97 8 1 2 325 .185 10 9 1 2 6
His scouting report says that he came out of high school throwing 99 mph.

Here is some stuff about Tyler Herron.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Scrub Weeks Recap

The Cards just finished up five series against five of the worst teams in the league: KC, Pitt, Washington (I know they are in first, but that is a fluke), Colorado, and Houston.

The Cards won four series, lost none, and tied against the Rockies. Overall they went 10-5. They could have easily taken another game in Colorado to make it 5-0 and 11-4, but those are pretty good numbers anyway. While the winning percentage grew a few points the division lead shrunk a little bit. The injured Cubs are winning the way you would expect the healthy Cubs to win. Clearly, this whole time it has been Wood and Prior holding them back. So now the Cubs are only 5.5 games back in the division. The division is shaping up the way it is supposed to be Cardinals, Cubs, everyone else.

Now we head into interleague play which should be exciting. The best three teams of the last year were clearly the Cards, Yankees and Red Sox. We should see some good baseball. Luckily, the Cards do not have to play the super hot Orioles. As far as Cards/Cubs goes the interleague scheduling is a big help for the Cardinals. This year both teams play the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays, but while the Cubs play the White Sox twice, the Cards play the Royals and the Devil Rays.

Other good news is that Rolen is on the road to recovery. The announcers today said that he was doing baseball activities and could possibly be back sometime in the next road trip. That would put him about 5 weeks into the original 4-6 weeks estimate. Mabry, Seabol and Nunez have done a good job filling in for him, but getting an All-Star back will really help. Hopefully, we can kill two birds with one stone and the roster moves when he comes back will result in Cedeno either going to Memphis or being released. Seabol has played at second a little so I suppose he could be a good pinch hitter and utility infielder after Rolen gets back.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

It only gets better from here

Everyday I think about how wonderful the Cardinals are. They are coming off a NL Championship season and already have the best record in the National League this year. I, like most Cards fans, would take a championship this year even if it means five years of being the worst team in the league. The good news is that the Cards do not have to sacrifice the future to be good now.

Reasons the Cards should be good for another five years:

  • Albert Pujols is 25, the best hitter in baseball and signed long term. Any team with this guy on it is going to have a chance. Also, his contract is not too large to prevent signing other big talent.
  • Scott Rolen is 30, the best thirdbaseman in baseball and signed long term. He is just hitting his prime and has at least five more years of top tier baseball in him.
  • Yadier Molina is 22 and turning in to a great catcher already. All of you doubters who were out there in April are finding out what your shoe tastes like. He hit over 300 in May and every year I expect him to add a little more power. Not to mention he already has to be considered one of the best arms behind the plate in the game. The rate at which he picks off and throws out base runners is crazy. He also learned a thing or two about blocking balls last year from the master .
  • The starting rotation is all 30 years old or younger. Mulder is 27, Marquis is 26, everyone else is only 30. None of them are signed for more than 2006, but that will be the focus of Jocketty over the next two years. Even if he fails to sign one or two of them:
  • There are a handful of starters in the minors, lead by Anthony Reyes waiting for a chance. Adam Wainwright is also looking better this year after his injury. Last year's pick Chris Lambert is on the right track for 2008 maybe. Also, the Chris Gissell guy that managed to pitch well for the Rockies system in Colorado Springs is tearing it up so far in Memphis.
  • Walt Jocketty is the man.
  • To make it totally unfair, the Cards have seven picks in the first three rounds of the draft this week, including four in the first/supplemental first round. I am anxiously awaiting the draft so that I can become overly optimistic about some kids that may or may not ever make it to the Cardinals. But with so many early round picks the Cards are bound to make one or two good ones. The Jocketty system is to develop the talent and then trade it away for established stars. In a dream scenario, the Cards would have a good hitting college outfielder fall into their laps for the 28th pick and he would be ready to play in a couple years when Edmonds contract is done and Reggie and Larry are long gone.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Trade Rumors

Let's start some trade rumors.

As time goes on I become more and more impressed with Walt Jocketty's deals. Everyone seems to be paying off better than I could have hoped for. Now he says he wants to get a young outfielder for the bench this year and possibly to start in 2006 when Reggie and Walker run out of time on their contracts. The sooner the better, since an extra outfielder would give the old guys a chance to rest and let Mabry play more third base with Rolen out. It may be a stretch but the Reds have a lot of extra outfielders and I wouldn't mind to see Wily-Mo as the Cards fourth outfielder. They are in desperate need of relief pitchers and we could get away with giving one or two up since Eldred and Lincoln are coming back. Bernie Miklasz thinks that it is possible too.

Here is the plan as I see it. Trade a couple out of the bunch of Flores, Cali, Brad Thompson, Rhett Parrot (Hopefully not Flores) to Cincinatti for Wily-Mo Pena. Bring Eldred off the DL, send Cedeno down to AAA, and recall which ever one of those guys is left or Bill Pulsipher until Mike Lincoln gets back.