Tag Archive | "Baseball Games"

This One’s For You: Tune In To Fox Sports Midwest

As the clock reaches 5:30 we now hand over the This One’s For You commentary to the team at Fox Sports Midwest for their annual broadcast.

FSMW

We hope our readers have enjoyed the many different viewpoints that we have been able to bring to you today.  We have certainly enjoyed taking some time to acknowledge the men and women who server our country and to feature voices that are not normally part of i70baseball in doing so.

Our writers and many more combined to bring you 17 unique outlooks on tonight’s broadcast and our respect for members of the military.  Those articles are indexed here for your convenience:

I started it off with thoughts about my cousin and her family.
Kevin Reynolds took a look at a generation known as “The Greatest Among Us”.
Rob Rains explained how he is just now gaining a personal connection to the military.
Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reflects on her interactions with soldiers.
Tim Danielson took a look at a special set of cards.
Chris Reed expressed his thoughts on quiet reverence.
Jim Spurlock shared his views from a Kansas City Royals fan.
Joe Schwarz brought you a Cup of Joe full of Thank You’s.
Jennifer Gosline talks about taking freedom for granted.
Jennie Finch was kind enough to share her unacknowledged moments.
Aaron Hooks talked about Matt Damon and patriotism.
Daniel Shoptaw, known as “The Blogfather”, talked about the freedoms we all enjoy.
Nick Schaeflein wears the flag on his arm and his heart.
Cardinal broadcaster Dan McLaughlin recalls the importance of connecting families.
Jacob Mayer talks about soldiers reuniting with their families at baseball games.
Nick of PH8 fame explains what This One’s For You means to him.
Finally, Tara Wellman brings a powerful post to round out the day.

Thank you all for reading, for sharing, and for commenting throughout the day.

Of course, thank you to those that fight for our right to share our opinions openly in these forums.

This One’s For You.

Posted in Cardinals, Featured, I-70 Baseball Exclusives, This One's For YouComments (0)

Jason Motte injury has all signs of long-term problem

In four years Jason Motte went from a hard-throwing catcher to a pitcher who closed out a World Series championship and became a linchpin in the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen but, as is the case for many closers, now it is his turn to land on the disabled list with arm problems.

MathenyMotte

The Cardinals announced Saturday that Motte has a right elbow strain and will likely start the season on the disabled list. The team has a viable back-up in Mitchell Boggs, but Boggs could end up being the Cardinals closer for most, if not all, of 2013.

Although Motte technically has a sprained elbow, he underwent an MRI on Friday that found a tear in one of the ligaments. That sounds an awful lot like what shortstop Rafael Furcal experienced when he tore an elbow ligament Aug. 30. Furcal didn’t play the rest of the season and will now miss the 2013 season after he finally had Tommy John surgery.

That’s not to say Motte is headed toward Tommy John surgery and will be out for the year, but a tear in an elbow ligament doesn’t usually heal itself, at least not quickly.

But this isn’t doomsday for the Cardinals. They can still compete for a playoff spot or even win a World Series championship without Motte. Other teams have experienced this type of situation with their closer, and whether they got lucky to have a good fill-in closer or they simply had a deep bullpen, they still won a lot of baseball games.

For example, the 2012 World Series champion San Francisco Giants lost their closer, Brian Wilson, at the beginning of the season. But they eventually gave Sergio Romo the job and he finished game after game all the way to a four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

The Cardinals are even a step ahead of the Giants because they have a back-up closer ready before the season starts. The Giants had a closer-by-committee situation early in the season as pitchers such as Santiago Casilla tried to finish games before they settle on Romo.

The Cardinals already have Boggs ready to make a relatively easy transition from eighth-inning setup reliever to closer. Boggs led the Cardinals with 78 appearances in 2012 and had a National League-best 34 holds.

Plus, the team has a loaded bullpen that should be able to fill in any open spots without much trouble. Flamethrowing righthanded reliever Trevor Rosenthal has the stuff to shut down hitters for one inning, and the Cardinals have a bevy of righthanded relievers such as Fernando Salas and Edward Mujica who can continue to work the middle innings.

Motte’s injury also might affect the battle between Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly for the fifth and final spot in the starting rotation. The Cardinals could decide to give the rookie Miller the starting job and put Kelly in the bullpen since he worked eight games for the Cardinals in relief last season.

In any case, the Cardinals certainly won’t get the type of consistency from the closer’s role they had in 2012. Motte had all 42 saves for the Cardinals last season and tied with Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel for the league lead.

That’s a bit much to expect out of Boggs, who hadn’t had an earned-run average below 3.50 until he broke through last year and posted a 2.21 ERA.

But the Cardinals do have a deep enough team to survive an injury to their closer. This isn’t an obituary for their season, but the words to describe Motte’s 2013 season might already be chiseled in stone.

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St. Louis Cardinals Spring Training Games Mean Little But Should Be Fun

The day pitchers and catchers report is always a special day in the baseball community. It marks the symbolic end to the offseason, but another special day approaches this weekend to mark another step toward the birth of another baseball season.

Cardinals Spring Baseball

The St. Louis Cardinals will open their exhibition schedule at 12:05 p.m. Saturday against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida.  That will officially mark the beginning of spring training that more fans can follow, rather than breathlessly waiting on reports of how a second baseman looked while fielding ground balls or how a pitcher looked during a bullpen session.

Admittedly, spring training games aren’t a huge step up from regular spring training workouts. Pitchers will each throw just a few innings and batters who will eventually fill the regular-season lineup will take only one or two at bats, if at all. This year’s Cardinals roster is relatively set for Opening Day, but these will still be baseball games that will gloriously fill the afternoons throughout the rest of February and March.

Some fanatics will surely try to analyze these early games and try to draw conclusions about how a pitcher such as Shelby Miller will perform this season based on a two-inning performance in the first week of March. That outing won’t mean anything in the grand scheme of a season, but hey, it gives fans something to talk about that isn’t contract negotiations or performance-enhancing drugs.

Fans also get a bonus this year because the games will start about a week earlier than normal because the World Baseball Classic will take place during the first half of March, and teams needed some extra time with their players who would be gone for a couple of weeks because of the tournament.

The Cardinals will lose catcher Yadier Molina, rightfielder Carlos Beltran and reliever Mitchell Boggs to the World Baseball Classic, but those three already have defined roles that would only change if they got hurt, which is a whole other issue that comes with the World Baseball Classic.

Otherwise, minor leaguers will fill the field for much of the spring games, but this year fans will likely recognize several of the names in those box scores.

Outfielder Oscar Taveras is one of the Cardinals most highly touted prospects. He hit .321 with 23 homeruns and 94 RBIs with the AA-affiliate Springfield Cardinals last year, and MLB Network recently ranked him as the third-best prospect in all of baseball. In fact, the Cardinals had six players make MLB Network’s list of the top 100 prospects.

Miller came in at 25th, and he will be a strong contender for the fifth spot in the Cardinals starting rotation this year. Trevor Rosenthal ranked 43rd, and he figures to be an important part of the Cardinals pitching staff in 2013.

The other three Cardinals players on the list are unlikely to make the team, but the spring training games should give fans a chance to see second baseman Kolten Wong, as well as pitchers Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha, for the first time.

Folks have talked about those prospects for more than a year, and this year’s exhibition schedule should allow fans their first chance to see how excited they should be about the Cardinals No. 1-ranked minor league system.

Miller, Rosenthal and Joe Kelly will compete for the fifth and final rotation spot, and Daniel Descalso and Matt Carpenter will battle for the second base job. Otherwise, not much of what takes place during the 32-game schedule will have much of an effect on the Cardinals’ 2013 season.

And that’s OK. The Cardinals will be playing actual baseball games.

While temperatures in St. Louis remain in the 30s and 40s, that is good enough for now.

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UCB Roundtable: The Designated Hitter and Perpetual Interleague Play

February brings Spring Training, baseball games, and baseball discussions back into the forefront of our minds.  Meanwhile, every February the United Cardinal Bloggers host their first roundtable discussions of the year.

The premise is simple, one writer asks a question and the other writers from around the UCB get a chance to answer with their thoughts about the St. Louis Cardinals.  This continues from day to day for three weeks and concludes with a question from the man himself, Daniel Shoptaw.  You can follow along over at the official UCB site by clicking here.

This year, i70baseball was tapped on the shoulder to open the discussions up.  The question I posed to the group centered around the changes in baseball this year:

This year, Major League Baseball will engage in perpetual interleague play.  For the first time, interleague games will be played throughout the season, taking away the ability to adjust rosters based off of new requirements.  No longer can the Cardinals send a pitcher out for the week to pick up an extra bat.

With players like Carlos Beltran and Rafael Furcal, the DH has been used often in the past as a way to get a veteran an extra “day off” without losing his production in the lineup.  Some players are uncomfortable with the routine of a DH, sitting and effectively pinch hitting three of four times a game, and would prefer to be more involved.

So the question is this:

Will perpetual interleague play help or harm the Cardinals this season?  Why do you feel the way you do?

The answers are displayed in the slide show below, with the author’s site logo being displayed with their answer.  Please take the time to look through all of the answers and visit the various author’s websites to read through the various voices of the UCB.

<b>Aaron Miles Fastball</b>

Picture 1 of 16


Christine - Aaron Miles Fastball

My opinion is it’s not really going to affect them much either way. As Dathan said, it’s not just the Cardinals facing this in a vacuum – every other team is as well, so every other manager is going to have the challenge of balancing his lineup differently. To me that’s the key: how Mike Matheny is going to handle it. It’s more of a responsibility for him to find the right piece to plug into the DH spot on the right day for it to not be a problem. The pieces are there – it’s what he does with them that will make the difference. Supposedly weak bench or not, I certainly haven’t heard or read any of the “experts” saying the Cardinals will be weak offensively, so having to use a DH at other times beyond the previous set interleague games shouldn’t make a difference.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in CardinalsComments (1)

Regardless of expectations, St. Louis Cardinals were beaten by a better team

Although the St. Louis Cardinals looked poised for another exhilarating run to a championship while up three games to one on the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS, the Giants came back to win the series. Instead of looking at the series as a complete failure by the Cardinals, a more realistic view might show the Giants were simply a better team in 2012.

Sure, the Cardinals had Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse, a trio of starting pitchers who have a combined three Cy Young awards and 30 wins this season. They also had a lineup that had the fourth highest batting average in Major League Baseball.

Unfortunately, the Giants had a team better equipped to win baseball games. There’s probably a reason they won 94 games and the Cardinals won 88. The Giants have a lineup that can produce runs without hitting a homerun. They had 31 RBIs in the NLCS compared to 19 for the Cardinals.

The Giants also have really good pitching. That shouldn’t have been a surprise to people who follow baseball. The starting rotation with Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito is as good of a rotation as any in the league. Closer Sergio Romo also filled in terrifically for injured closer Brian Wilson.

As for the third aspect of the game, the Giants defense was substantially better than the Cardinals. The Giants didn’t give up an unearned run in the entire seven-game series while the Cardinals gave up 10 unearned runs on six errors.

Could the Cardinals have won the series and gone on to win their second World Series in a row? Certainly, they were just one win away, but it would also be unfair to think the Giants are an unworthy opponent for the Detroit Tigers in the Fall Classic. The Giants already proved plenty worthy by winning the first two games of the series heading into play Saturday.

The same thing happened in 1996 when the Atlanta Braves came back from a three-games-to-one deficit to beat the Cardinals in seven games. The finish to that series was actually even worse than the 2012 version. The Braves beat the Cardinals 14-0 in Game 5, 3-1 in Game 6 and 15-0 to close out the series in Game 7.

No playoff elimination is going to be even close to fun. In fact, the final three games of the NLCS were about as brutal as it gets for the losing team’s fans. This year’s loss certainly carried plenty of disappointment given how the team had always come back from seemingly insurmountable odds.

But there is also another way to look at it. The Cardinals probably shouldn’t have made it as far as they did. The team battled injuries to nearly every position player at some point in the season, the bullpen didn’t get its act together until the postseason and the team lost several key pieces from the 2011 championship team.

Manager Mike Matheny did a wonderful job leading the team in his first season. He has the respect of the players and the team has a collective will power that keeps it from getting left behind on the field and in the standings.

The Cardinals will be back next year. They might not win the World Series in 2013. There will be teams such as the Giants who have a well-established team that can make a run through the playoffs. But, there is little reason to think they would completely fall apart and not play competitive baseball throughout the season.

Unfortunately, next season is still six long, cold months away.

Posted in Cardinals, FeaturedComments (3)

Welcome back, Royals!

For the last 2 years, the Kansas City Royals have been masquerading as an organization that is finally headed in the right direction, only to be ultimately exposed once again as the disgraceful Royals we have known for the better part of the last 20 years.

Everyone outside of the Kansas City Royals fanbase has been able to see it for years, so why do Royals fans themselves continue to allow themselves to be fooled by this organization? While the blame for another horrendous season ultimately starts at the top, it most certainly does not end there.

The Royals are now 48-63 and 12.5 games out of first place. Coaches are getting fired, players are getting tossed away for nothing, Ned Yost is beginning to show his true colors, and of course the Royals continue to lose baseball games. The season is once again lost. Royals fans are left with no reason to watch, other than perhaps to see Wil Myers get called up, or who gets fired or DFA’d next.

Let’s start with ownership…nobody can be sure what kind of restrictions the Glass family is placing on Dayton Moore and the rest of the front office. We know that there of course are some restrictions, and probably a bit of meddling, but to what extent nobody except Dayton Moore can be sure. It is known though that despite the Royals glaring need for starting pitching last off-season, it was not in the budget to add any more starting pitchers through free agency. And while the Glasses can be blamed for much of the Royals failures throughout their tenure, it is most certainly not on them.

General Manager Dayton Moore is having a bad year. And that is putting it lightly. Some things are out of his control, such as pitcher injuries, which have been plentiful. However, since this time last year, here is a list of some of the transactions Dayton Moore has made:

-Traded Wilson Betemit to the Detroit Tigers for absolutely nothing
-Traded Mike Aviles to the Boston Red Sox for absolutely nothing
-Signed Jeff Francoeur to a 2 year, $13 million contract
-Traded Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez
-Signed Bruce Chen to a 2 year/$9 million contract
-Signed Yuniesky Betancourt to a 1 year/$2 million contract
-Signed Aaron Guiel as a free agent (this is here more for humor, as I have no idea how this fell under the radar. Seriously?!?!)
-Traded Kevin Chapman and D’Andre Toney to the Houston Astros for Humberto Quintero & Jason Bourgeois
-Signed Jason Kendall as a free agent (only to have him retire 5 days later)
-Designate Yuniesky Betancourt for Assignment
-Lose Jose Mijares on waivers getting nothing in return

Now, that is only the bad stuff, but if the decent deals were included, the list would not be much longer. And outside of the Jonathan Broxton signing, there has not been much good done by Mr. Moore in the major league transaction category over the past 12 months. One could almost look at the list of transactions over that period of time and wonder if the guy is trying to get himself fired.

As for Ned Yost, the guy is clearly beginning to lose his mind. In his 2 years with the ball club, he has fired more coaches than most managers do in 10 years. And it is not likely that he’s finished there. He continues to call for bunts in odd situations, untimely stolen base attempts by players who should not be stealing bases, and head-scratching pitching and lineup decisions on a daily basis.

Things are spinning out of control in Kansas City once again. If there is a silver lining here, it is that at least this is very familiar territory for Royals fans.

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Don’t tell me to be patient!

Once again the Kansas City Royals are starting the season by solidifying themselves on the Mt Rushmore of baseball futility. They have yet to win a home game! They let Prince Fielder, and Jose Bautista steal bases. They found a way to lose a game that’s never been done before, or if it has no one can remember, by hitting two consecutive batters to force home a winning run. It’s frustrating to the point of being mystifying how one organization can come with so many ways to be terrible.

It’s not like we haven’t seen this before. In January I wrote a post called Winter Worries. Unfortunately it appears a lot of my worries are coming true. The past two weeks have reminded me of 2004 more than the Kauffman Era. Key players are on the Disabled List. Veteran players have regressed. Rookies have regressed, in the case of Greg Holland, spectacularly. The league has adjusted to the younger players and they appear to have trouble adjusting back. I don’t know if Ned Yost is going to jump in the shower with his uniform on, or flee the team in the middle of the night. Since that whacky stuff has already happened, probably not. But it would not shock me if the Royals find some other way to make their fan utter “WTF” and national media text “LOL” to all their friends. You see, this organization has more of a track record for creating scenes fit for a Yackety Sax Youtube video than winning baseball games.

I’ve been told thirteen games is not a large sample size. Let me tell you about a sample size: Since April 18, 2000, the date David Glass assumed sole ownership of the Royals, the Royals are 813-1144. That is the worst record in the Major Leagues during that time. (They are 2 games back of the Pirates in case you were wondering.) Is that a big enough sample size? Royals fans have been told by non-stake holders that the Royals have one of the best farm systems in Major League Baseball. We’ve been told that this 2012 version is better on paper. I guess I should believe that, but fans don’t print up t-shirts, and you don’t get to hang banners in your stadium for being good on paper and winning awards from publications. You get those things by winning baseball games.

The organization tells us it takes 8 to 10 years to build from within and go from terrible to winner. Really? Tell that to Andrew Freidman General Manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. He was promoted to General Manager after the 2005 season. At the end of 2008 the Rays were American League Champions. I hope Jon Daniels of the Texas Rangers doesn’t hear that it takes 8 to 10 years to turn a team around. Daniels was also promoted to General Manager at the end of the 2005 season. It took him four seasons but the Texas Rangers won the AL Pennant in 2010 and 2011 and look to make another run, not just for the playoffs, but for the World Series title. Both of these General Managers took over their organizations six months before Dayton Moore took over the Royals. Want another example unfolding in front of our eyes? Look at the Washington Nationals. In March of 2009 Mike Rizzo was promoted to General Manager of the Nationals. Granted, the Nationals haven’t won anything yet, but they look a lot more promising than the Royals right now. Tell me again how long it should take to rebuild an entire organization?

DO NOT tell me I need to be patient! And that I’m some how not a good fan because I’m losing patience with “The Process”. I’ve been patient. The fact that I even care enough to let this baseball team make me mad says enough about my patience. It’s not like I’m being unreasonable. I was not expecting to see a World Series or even a division contender from the Royals this season. What I am expecting is for the Royals to not be fundamentally terrible in the field and on the base paths. I’m expecting them to not walk the bases loaded. I’m expecting them not do things that are so off the wall and terrible that the Royals land on baseball blogs for the wrong reasons, and become punch lines for late night television. All I’m asking is that the Royals be mediocre as opposed to historically terrible.

Is it too much to ask of the Royals to not open their home schedule with a half inning so bad that casual fans tune out for the rest of the year? Is it too much to ask the Royals to not spiral into a losing streak that has diehard fans questioning why they root for this team in the first place? Is it too much to ask that the Royals be more relevant than Major League Soccer in their own town? Is it too much to ask that the front office find some other marketing drivel to defend their terrible on field performance? It shouldn’t be. Other teams in worse markets than Kansas City have used a process to turn their organizations around. Asking Royals fans to trust Dayton Moore’s “Process” is becoming too much to ask.

Posted in Featured, RoyalsComments (2)

The “K” Never Looked So Good

The Kansas City Royals began their season just seven days ago but it has been over two months since most of the organization has even sniffed their workplace at I-70 and Blue Ridge Cutoff. Six games in and the team is sitting at a comfortable 3-3, while taking the opening weekend series against the highly touted Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim then one out of three from the Oakland Athletics, a town that the Royals have never found much success in.  But as most fans would agree, a mark of .500 baseball is  exactly where the Royals want to be coming into Kauffman Stadium.  Yes everyone’s season started a week ago but now it is close to home and the early jitters are out of the way just in time for Kansas City to finally get to see their hometown team in person.

One thing both the fans and the organization can agree on is the lack of support from the bullpen in the first road trip of the season.  Known as being the strength of the team coming into the 2012 year, the pitchers in the bullpen showed a little anxiety and maybe were over throwing some in excitement for the season but over time they will settle down and get back into.  The problem with people evaluating the first six games of the season is that it is such a small sample size.  For example, left fielder, Alex Gordon, is not going to continue this beginning of the season slump he is in now.  If he was doing this in mid-June no one would be even talking about it.  Before his ninth inning single on Wednesday, Eric Hosmer was in an 0-11 struggle yet it was not given air time like the struggles of Gordon because Hosmer hit fine in Anaheim.  The sample size is just too small to begin to make assumptions about what will happen for the rest of the season.  By my math, the Royals still have 156 baseball games to play so assumptions truly will not matter once the bulk of the season is gone in late June into early July.

Staying on the same subject, the starting pitching so far has been a surprise to say the least.  Through six starts the Royals starters have a 1.85 ERA which is way under what was expected of them.  While they have thrown out there six quality starts just like the struggles of the bullpen, the success of the starting staff is such a small sample size that conclusions simply cannot be made.

I am not saying to not get excited about the Royals or to get to high on the team.  I am just simply saying let everything play out on the field.  All fans can do is wait and see what the results of the season will be.  But the fact that all us fans now get to watch it in person is so much sweeter.  Watching through the television or listening on the radio is almost like a tease to the season. For Kansas City the season starts tomorrow. Kauffman Stadium will be in rare form tomorrow afternoon as the excitement for the Royals is higher than it has been in years.  As much as fans are excited to see the Royals they are as excited to be able to show us all why this team is in it to win.  Never have I seen a fan base so excited for a team playing at the Truman Complex, or a team that is so excited to be in front of their hometown.  This year we have both and putting these two together could make for one heck of a summer.  Kansas City our team is home.

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At Bat Sustains Frenzied Pace

MLB.COM AT BAT SUSTAINS FRENZIED PACE
Mobile consumption of live baseball games rises to record levels; Averaging over 800K live streams per day

NEW YORK, APRIL 12, 2012 – MLB Advanced Media, L.P. (MLBAM), the interactive media and Internet company of Major League Baseball, today announced that its MLB.com At Bat 12 application surpassed the three million download mark yesterday, achieving the milestone only eight days into the 2012 MLB regular season and more than four months earlier than its record-setting 2011 campaign. Last year, At Bat reached that mark on August 22, 145 days into the season.

Since Opening Day, the mobile application has delivered a daily average of over 800,000 live audio and video streams, an increase roughly double last year’s comparable daily average. This includes yesterday’s games during which fans consumed more than one million live streams.

At Bat returned with its fifth edition in February to such strong fan demand that within a matter of hours the app rose to become the highest grossing sports application for iPhone, iPad and Android, top spots it currently maintains. Overall, At Bat has been ranked as the highest grossing sports application for 43 consecutive days on Android and 70 days combined on iPhone and iPad, including the past 19 straight for both iOS devices. The only other sports app to hold that number one ranking for iPhone or iPad was March Madness Live.

MLB.TV Premium subscribers get At Bat 12 for free on supported iOS and Android devices. Fans also can subscribe to MLB.com At Bat 12 for the one-time seasonal fee of $14.99 on all available platforms (iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile) or iPhone and iPad users have the option of a $2.99 per month fee with a monthly recurring billing option.

For more information, visit MLB.com.

Posted in Cardinals, Featured, RoyalsComments (0)

Mike Matheny fosters good, clean start to St. Louis Cardinals season

The St. Louis Cardinals might have a new manager, pitching coach and offensive stars, but their results have been the same as the 2011 team during its run to the World Series championship. The games have also been less stressful to watch, thanks in part to new manager Mike Matheny.

The Cardinals started the 2012 season with two of the cleanest wins a baseball team can have, especially to begin a season. They beat the Miami Marlins 4-1 Wednesday before traveling to Milwaukee and beating the Brewers 11-5 Friday.

Sure, they got beat in starting pitcher Adam Wainwright’s return Saturday to the tune of a 6-0 shutout, but Brewers starter Zack Greinke pitched a brilliant game. He was also the third elite pitcher the Cardinals had faced in as many days.

Overall, the Cardinals have shown early signs that they will play a much cleaner game than they did while Tony La Russa was the manager. It’s foolish to say La Russa’s teams didn’t play good baseball. His team’s won a lot of baseball games, but they also maintained an edge to their game that was never completely comfortable to watch. They could certainly come back after falling behind several runs early in a game, but just as well could let a similar lead disappear.

A good bullpen is certainly a major factor in how those situations play out, but La Russa’s heavy use of his bullpen played a role. His theory of using several relievers in one game was meant to keep them available night after night without wearing down one particular pitcher. But, that always left opportunities for one of those pitchers to have an off-night and blow the game.

Although it’s very early, Matheny hasn’t shown any tendencies to take a lot of risks. His decisions have been calculated, and have not tipped the game for or against his team. Those moments where his decision wins or loses a game will surely come, but his approach is a smart one for a new manager with an experienced team.

Matheny’s has also made judicial use of his bullpen. It helps when his starters pitch deep into ballgames, but he has not made pitching changes just for the sake of making pitching changes. Matheny has a good understanding of the rhythm of a baseball game, and has shown a more gentle touch than La Russa.

Matheny is no teddy bear, by any means. He will fight with his team to the death just as La Russa would have, but Matheny will likely trust his gut instinct rather than what the numbers say in the matchup book.

That will be a stark change for Cardinals fans who have grown to fear a righty-lefty matchup simply because the pitcher and hitter don’t have the same dominant hand. The hand a pitcher throws with is sometimes less important than how the pitcher is throwing that day.

Even if a pitcher, particularly a reliever, was cruising along, La Russa would yank him simply to play the matchup game. Matheny appears to be more likely to let a pitcher who is dominating go ahead and work a full inning regardless of who comes up next in the order. This certainly won’t always be the case, but it will be nice to watch a game that doesn’t include at least six pitching changes every night.

Also, the team’s baserunning has been much better. Former first baseman Albert Pujols was often more of a factor in this problem than La Russa. Pujols was a very aggressive baserunner, but he would also run himself into an out because of that aggressiveness.

The 2012 Cardinals might not be the most explosive team in Major League Baseball, but if the first week is any indication, this should be a very fundamentally sound team that could win a lot of baseball games.

Having a manager who fosters that type of a team will certainly help.

Posted in CardinalsComments (1)

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