Tag Archive | "Career Record"

Cubs Continue Moving and Shaking

One of the most intriguing teams over the next few weeks will be the Chicago Cubs. It will not necessarily be for wins and losses out on the field, but what they may or may not do in the front office. The team better have unlimited phone minutes as the Cubs may lead the league in trades this year and bolstering several teams around the league along the way.


The Cubs have already made several trades this year, and the latest involved ace starter Matt Garza being moved to the Texas Rangers. In exchange, the Cubs will receive five prospects. They will receive third baseman Mike Olt who was one of the highest ranked prospects in all of baseball last season. In addition, they will receive pitchers C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm, and two players to be named later.

The deal fits the pattern of the North Side philosophy which is moving contracts, getting young talent, and building a farm system for the future. Daily in Chicago, the question is who will be next? Could it be Alfonso Soriano or Kevin Gregg? Stay tuned. The 2015 lineup card is shaping up nicely.

In other organizational news, the Cubs and number two overall pick Kris Bryant agreed to a $6,708,400 bonus deal. That’s the largest bonus in the 2013 draft and the biggest in the two years under the new draft rules.

Baseball America’s 2013 College Player of the Year, Bryant led NCAA Division I with 31 homers, more than 223 of the 296 teams at that level this season and more than any player has hit since college bats were toned down three years ago. He also topped Division I in runs (80), walks (66), total bases (187) and slugging (.820) while batting .329 and setting a San Diego University career record with 54 homers.

Finally, a tip of the cap goes to the Kane County Cougars, Class-A farm team of the Chicago Cubs, who welcomed their 10 millionth fan recently. According to Minor League Baseball, the Cougars are the first Class-A team in Minor League Baseball history to reach 10 million fans. The Cougars are also the 6th-quickest Minor League Baseball franchise to reach the historic mark. Well done Cougars!

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Felix Hernandez megadeal should actually help St. Louis Cardinals in Adam Wainwright negotiations

The St. Louis Cardinals enter spring training this week with another star player entering the final year of his contract just two years after the Albert Pujols contract circus. But the Cardinals suddenly have leverage in these negotiations they never got with Pujols.


Adam Wainwright will be a free agent at the end of the season if he and the Cardinals can’t agree on a long-term contract before the end of the season. This sounds similar to the Pujols situation, but the Cardinals should suddenly be more optimistic this time around thanks to an American League team on the West Coast.

The Seattle Mariners are close to signing pitcher Felix Hernandez to a huge contract that could range from five to seven years and $135 million to $175 million. Either way, Hernandez is going to be a very rich man, but he probably helped the Cardinals in negotiations with their own ace pitcher.

Hernandez could make somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 million to $27 million annually, which is close to the price tag many people figured it would take to keep Wainwright in St. Louis beyond this season. However, the Cardinals have a few good reasons not to pay Wainwright that much money, or at least not for that long.

See, Hernandez is just 26 years old even though he’s pitched in the big leagues for eight seasons, but he has never had a major arm injury. Wainwright is 31 years old, missed the entire 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and struggled at times in 2012 to regain his dominant form.

The bigger concern for the Cardinals was when the San Francisco Giants signed righthanded pitcher Matt Cain to a six-year, $127.5-million contract extension before the beginning of the 2012 season. Cain was 27 years old at the time he signed the deal, but he also had a career record of 69-73.

Granted, the deal worked out last year as Cain led the Giants to a World Series title with a 16-5 record and a perfect game along the way, but Wainwright still looked like the better pitcher at the time.

Maybe it’s been good for the Cardinals to let negotiations with Wainwright drag on into the final year. The constant questions about the contract won’t be pleasant if they don’t get a deal done before the season begins, but the Cardinals would’ve certainly had to pay more for Wainwright if they had signed him to an extension two years ago, and probably even last year. There was a chance Wainwright could have made between $25-30 million per year up until the Hernandez deal.

Wainwright could still shoot for that type of money as a free agent in the offseason if he has a Cy Young Award-caliber 2013 season, but teams will likely be much more unwilling to give a 31-year-old pitcher with a history of arm problems more money than a 26-year-old pitcher who has never spent an appreciable amount of time on the disabled list.

Of course, time will determine if the Mariners made the right decision to sign their righthanded star pitcher. Hernandez could have a Cain-type season, or he could turn into Barry Zito, who hasn’t pitched above .500 since the Giants signed him to a $126-million deal in 2007.

No matter the long-term outcome, news of the Hernandez deal should make Cardinals fans more optimistic their team’s own righthanded star pitcher will take the mound at Busch Stadium in a Cardinals uniform to open the 2014 season, and God-willing, several more seasons beyond that.

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Jason Motte and Cardinals Reach Agreement

Motte I70

ST. LOUIS, Mo, January 22, 2013 – The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have agreed to terms with pitcher Jason Motte on a two-year contract for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, avoiding salary arbitration.

Motte, 30, tied for the National League lead with a career high 42 saves in 2012 and became the first Cardinal in franchise history to record every save during the season. The right-hander ranked 9th among N.L. relievers last season with a career high 86 strikeouts, 8th with a .191 opponent’s batting average and T11th in innings pitched (72.0). He also ranked second in the league with 58 games finished.

“We are excited to be able to have Jason under control for the next two years,” said team Sr. Vice President & General Manager, John Mozeliak. “We wanted to recognize what Jason has accomplished for the Cardinals and the role he has played in our bullpen. He exemplifies the type of player on and off the field we want in our organization, and we’re looking forward to having him part of the team for the next two seasons.”

Motte made his Major League debut with the Cardinals in 2008 and since that time has a 17-13 career record with 54 saves. His 54 saves rank 11th all-time among Cardinals relievers, and his 42 saves last season marked the 6th-highest total in a single season, becoming just the fourth Cardinal in franchise history to reach the 40-save plateau (Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith, Jason Isringhausen).

From MLBTradeRumors.com – The agreement buys out Motte’s two final years of arbitration, but won’t delay his path to free agency. He still projects to hit the open market following the 2014 season. Motte had filed for a $5.5MM salary for 2013 and the Cardinals had countered with $4.5MM, as MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker shows. The 30-year-old set himself up for a raise from his 2012 salary of $1.95MM by posting a 2.75 ERA with 10.8 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and an NL-best 42 saves this past season.

The deal is worth $12MM and includes performance bonuses, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).

Motte’s signing leaves two arbitration eligible players left unsigned: third baseman David Freese and left handed pitcher Marc Rzepczynski.

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Replacing a Cardinal legend

Replacing a Cardinal legend…those words could mean a lot of different things coming into the 2012 season. It could mean Lance Berkman taking over first base for Albert Pujols. It could mean rookie manager Mike Matheny replacing Hall-of-Fame manager Tony LaRussa. This article will focus on Derek Lilliquist, Cardinals pitching coach, who has the task of replacing arguably the greatest pitching coach of all-time, Dave Duncan.

Lilliquist filled in admirably during the 2011 season when Duncan had to take an extended leave of absence to help his wife Jeanine after her surgery to remove a brain tumor. Duncan had a year remaining on his contract after 2011, but it began to seem more and more unlikely that he would come back after LaRussa retired and his wife’s medical issues. On January 6th, 2012, Duncan stepped down as Cardinals pitching coach.

Cardinals fans grew anxious over the off-season, realizing just how crucial the pitching staff would be to the team’s success following the loss of Pujols. Duncan had always been able to work his magic on struggling veteran pitchers, helping them return to form and the Cardinals stay within their budgetary constraints. Duncan also had compiled 30 years worth of notes in his famous notebooks that will no longer be sitting in the Cardinal dugout. It was one thing for Duncan to be on extended leave and available for a phone call from Lilliquist. This year, he is on his own.

Lilliquist pitched in the majors from 1989 to 1996. He was selected by the Braves with the sixth pick of the 1987 draft. Lilliquist had a very successful career at the University of Georgia, where he was named College Pitcher of the Year by Baseball America after leading the Bulldogs to their first ever College World Series appearance.

He pitched in 262 games in his major-league career for five different teams: Atlanta, San Diego, Cleveland, Boston, and Cincinnati. His career record was 25-34 with a 4.13 ERA. Like a lot of good coaches (aka LaRusssa and Duncan) his playing career was nothing exceptional. However, the Cardinals saw something in him to believe he would make a great pitching coach.

After his playing career was over in 1996, Lilliquist coached high school baseball in Florida from 98-01. Then he got his chance to coach for the Cardinals.This season will be his 11th in the Cardinals organization.

Lilliquist started in 2002 coaching for rookie level Johnson City. After one year there he moved up to Peoria in 2003. One year later, he started a four-year stint coaching for Class A Palm Beach. According to the Cardinal’s team website, during those four years, Palm Beach made the playoffs twice and won the 2005 league championship. The 2005 team had the second best ERA (3.94) in the league.

After the 2007 Palm Beach season, Lilliquist became the pitching coordinator in Jupiter (Cardinals spring training site), helping rehabilitating pitchers. Then in 2011, he got his chance with the big club, serving as bullpen coach, before taking over Duncan’s duties during his leave of absence. Although there is a lot of years experience, 2012 is only Lilliquist’s second at the major-league level.

One reason fans were initially more accepting of the club hiring a rookie manager was the year Matheny would get to spend with Dave Duncan at the helm of the pitching staff. That opportunity obviously went away less than two months into Matheny’s tenure. Now the defending World Champions have a rookie manager and a pitching coach with only one year experience. Is it time to press the panic button? Not so fast….

Matheny has shown an incredible work ethic and command of the team so far in spring training. He has done a good job of mixing in veterans with young players and prospects. The daily workouts are ran efficiently and the club seems to be getting very well prepared for the upcoming season.

Although Lilliquist is getting less press, he also seems to be doing a good job of handling his new pitching duties. A lot of different pitchers have gotten extended looks and impressed so far during camp, including Sam Freeman, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, John Gast, and Shelby Miller. Lilliquist and Matheny have made sure the young pitchers were able to spend a good amount of time with the veterans of the staff, to watch their daily routine and learn their method of success.

The back end of the rotation, Lohse and Westbrook, have looked strong so far in camp. Adam Wainwright is pitching like a man possessed, having not allowed an earned run so far in spring training. More importantly, his stuff looks really, really good. His curveball is as nasty as ever. All signs point to a successful start for Lilliquist first year at the helm.

The games will start to count in a couple of weeks. How will he handle his starting rotation with Carpenter on the mend? How will he handle a very talented, but still fairly young bullpen? A lot remains to be seen. One thing is certain, the Cardinals have very little chance for a repeat run at a title if the pitching staff falters. Lilliquist is certainly facing his greatest challenge yet. Is he up to the task? Stay tuned.

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Royals Name Dave Eiland Pitching Coach

Royals Name Dave Eiland Pitching Coach

KANSAS CITY, MO (October 25, 2011) – The Kansas City Royals today announced that the club has named Dave Eiland as the Major League Pitching Coach.

“We are delighted to have Dave join our coaching staff,” Royals General Manager Dayton Moore said. “He is an extremely talented pitching coach and a proven winner who has the ability to relate to the young pitchers who are transitioning to the Majors. He has also shown effectiveness in working with established pitchers. Ned and our entire baseball operations staff have strong convictions about Dave’s ability to make a positive difference with our pitching staff.”

Eiland (pronounced: “Island”), 45, served the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011 as a special assistant to Andrew Friedman after working from 2008-2010 as the New York Yankees pitching coach, including helping the Yankees to 103 wins and a World Series title in 2009. New York pitchers combined to strike out 1,260 batters in 2009; the franchise’s second-highest total in history. Prior to his time as the Major League pitching coach, Eiland spent five seasons as the pitching coach in the Yankees minor league system as three separate levels. As a player, he appeared in 92 career Major League games, including 70 starts, over 10 seasons with the Yankees (1988-91, 1995), San Diego Padres (1992-93) and Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998-2000) and compiled a 12-27 career record with a 5.74 ERA.

Eiland and his wife, Sandra, have two daughters, Nicole and Natalie, and reside in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

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Duffy Named PCL Pitcher of the Week

The following was provided to us by the public relations staff for the Omaha Storm Chasers, AAA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

OMAHA, Neb. — Lefthander Danny Duffy of the Omaha Storm Chasers has been named the Pacific Coast League’s Pitcher of the Week for April 25-May 1, the league announced Monday. He becomes the first member of the Omaha franchise to win a weekly award since Anthony Lerew was named Pitcher of the Week from August 9-15 last season.

The Goleta, Calif., native was honored for his fine performance against the Iowa Cubs on Thursday, April 28 at Werner Park. In that game, Duffy allowed just one hit in six shutout innings, striking out eight batters without issuing a walk. He earned his first Triple-A win in the process, while lowering his PCL-leading ERA to 0.90.

Duffy’s gem marked his third-straight start in which he has not surrendered a run. In those three outings, all at home, he has fired 15 scoreless innings, allowing seven hits and three walks while striking out 20 batters. Opposing hitters are batting just .194 against him on the season.

Still just 22 years old, Duffy has tasted quite a bit of success in his four-plus professional seasons. He owns a career record of 25-13 with a 2.44 ERA in 328.0 career innings, striking out 383 batters against just 104 walks. During the 2010 calendar year, he won the Texas League Championship as a member of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, pitched for Team USA in the Pan American Games Qualifying Tournament in Puerto Rico and threw for the Surprise Rafters of the Arizona Fall League. He is considered the 68th-best prospect in the game according to Baseball America.

Duffy is scheduled to pitch May 3 on the road in Albuquerque, and if the rotation holds would pitch at home on Sunday, May 8 against the Oklahoma City RedHawks.

Tickets to that or any other future Storm Chasers game are on sale at the Werner Park ticket office, by phone at (402) 738-5100 or online at www.omahastormchasers.com.

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The Tumbling House of Cards

In July of 1967, the Cardinals’ pennant hopes were seemingly dashed when a line drive off the bat of Roberto Clemente smacked off Bob Gibson’s leg, breaking a small bone just below the kneecap. Gibby would be out of action for over two months, and the Cardinals had to rely on a young and unproven Nelson Briles to fill the void in the rotation. To the casual observer, the situation seemed hopeless; coming into the 1967 season, Briles had a career record of 7 wins and 18 losses; not exactly Gibson-esque type numbers, to say the least. While Cardinal Nation braced for the worst, all Briles did was go 14-5 with a sparkling 2.42 ERA, while subbing for the seemingly irreplaceable Gibson; and the Redbirds were on their way to a World Championship.

After all was said and done, the injury to the Cards’ pitching ace was clearly a blessing in disguise, not only allowing Briles to come into his own in the starting rotation, but allowing Gibson to rest that right arm of his, and come back stronger than ever; just in time for the World Series showdown with the Boston Red Sox. Gibson took care of three wins, while his young understudy, Nellie Briles, notched the other one; naturally.

Of course, the following season, a very fresh Bob Gibson tore through the National League’s opposing lineups effortlessly, on his way to 22 wins and an incredible 1.12 ERA. Thanks in large part to his dominance on the mound, the baseball hierarchy promptly decided to lower the mound a few inches the very next season, in an attempt to revitalize offensive production, to keep the fans happy; and most importantly, keep them coming to the games and drinking that beer and eating those hot dogs.

Interestingly enough, the Cardinals got lucky again; this time in 1982; when their young “phenom”, David Green, pulled a hamstring trying to leg out an infield hit during an early May encounter with the Braves at Busch Stadium. While the crowd groaned, the wheels had been set in motion to bring up rookie Willie McGee to fill in for the injured Green.

McGee, of course, did much more than “fill in” for the now expendable former “phenom”; by the start of the ’85 season, David Green had been dealt to San Francisco, along with a few other expendable players, for a guy known as “Jack the Ripper”; aka Jack Clark. Clark fit in nicely with his new team, leading the Cards to two World Series appearances in the three seasons he was with the team.

Ironically, it was an ankle injury Clark sustained in September of 1987, that hastened his departure from the team, following a dismal World Series defeat to the Homer Hanky Twins, where Clark was out of action (along with Terry Pendleton), and feared not quite healed for the following season. Exit “Jack the Ripper; enter “Bob the Blob” Horner; a guy way past his prime, and unable to hit with any power whatsoever. The Cardinals would begin a sustained stretch of dismal performance that would not end until 1996.

Backing up to 1985, the Cards began the season poorly, losing their first four games, and looking like a team heading nowhere; especially since their star centerfielder, Mr McGee, was himself banged up and forced to go on the disabled list for a while. That prompted the front office to bring up a young speedster named Vince Coleman, to “temporarily” fill the void created by the loss of McGee.

Vincent “Van Go” quickly became the catalyst to an offense geared towards scratching out runs; his 110 stolen bases paced the Redbirds’ offensive attack through the regular season, as the Cards finally slipped past the New York Mets to claim the division title.

The Cardinals’ postseason prospects suddenly seemed in jeopardy, however, as Coleman was somehow run over by a speeding tarp, clocked at one mile per hour; sending the game’s fastest player out of commission after three games of the NLDS against the Dodgers. The Cards survived Coleman’s loss in that series, but it may have spelled the difference as St Louis fell to Kansas City in heartbreaking fashion, in the World Series; in seven gut wrenching games.

During the Cardinals’ improbable championship season of 2006, the team was able to piece things together while injuries sidelined key players; most notably, Scott Rolen; which in turn, allowed Scott Speizio to heroically fill in at third base, and become a folk-hero in the process. As the oft-injured Rolen sulked, the team thrived without him, while manager Tony LaRussa decided Rolen was himself quite expendable, and sent him packing for Toronto – the equivalent of baseball “solitary confinement”; few expected Rolen to be the type of dominant player he was in his heyday with the Redbirds, and for a few seasons, he remained in oblivion; until this year.

Now, Scott Rolen is patrolling third base for the dreaded Cincinnati Reds, and has had a rare injury-free season; his offensive production has been stellar, to go along with his gold-glove type defensive play at third base. Clearly, when Scott Rolen is healthy, he is still a very fine ballplayer, and has found a “home” with the revitalized Reds; much to the dismay of TLR.

By contrast, the Cardinals’ third baseman, David Freese, who was a productive .296 hitter for the team through the end of June, has been lost for the season with a leg injury. Unlike other years, when the Cards were able to find replacements for fallen stars, this season has been a frustrating “merry go round” of largely unproductive third sackers; while the team consistently struggles to manufacture any sort of offensive threat beyond Pujols and Holliday. Losing Freese may have been downplayed at the time, but the team’s steady decline into a distant second place position can at least partly be attributed to losing Freese’s bat in the lineup.

The second part of the recipe for disaster has been the loss of Brad Penny; a solid starting pitcher who could even hit a bit. All those innings Penny was counted on to work for the Cards has been filled by journeymen pitchers who have trouble getting anybody out; especially in the late innings with the game on the line. Unfortunately for the Redbirds, the team had no “Nelson Briles” waiting in the wings to pick up the slack for the rotation; the trickle down effect has created a bullpen that has been a major disappointment since blowing that huge lead (8 runs?) in Colorado, in early July. To prove that was no fluke, they’ve accomplished similar results over this lackluster second half of play; allowing the Reds to take command of the race, while the Cards eat their dust. It’s a revolting development, to say the least.

Barring a total miracle finish, the Cardinals will face a bitterly disappointing off-season, while they try to regroup for next season. In the meatime, the front office must put together a multi-multi-million dollar contract to placate their greatest player since Stan Musial; Albert “Winnie the” Pujols. If they fail to placate Albert the Great, and he moves on to another team, this franchise will be in a total shambles. Imagine where the team would be this year without him; imagine that same scenario for the next decade or so.

Assuming Pujols stays right where he belongs, the task of rebuilding the team to its position among the National League’s elite, will be less daunting; assuming they can just stay healthy.

That is of course, a very big assumption; being “lucky” in any given year is a major requirement, even for teams that seem to have the clear advantage “on paper”; sound familiar?

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