Tag Archive | "Don Mattingly"

Legend of the Fall: Beltran Continues His Quest

The heroics of Carlos Beltran in the month of October are nothing new. He ranks in the top 10 nearly every major postseason category that an individual can find himself in. However, in last night’s game one of the National League Championship Series, he had his signature effort as a Cardinal during the season’s final month. In the process he single-handedly carried the team to series-opening victory, as well as continued to make an increasingly convincing case for how his legacy will be rewarded.

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Beltran took the world on his shoulders, as his two-run third inning double started the offense, and remained the entire output until his RBI single ten innings later earned a grueling win to a grueling start to the NLCS. In a matchup that saw just three lead changes scattered across 13 pitchers for both sides, it was the two defining hits by Beltran that made the complete difference in the Cardinals 3-2 victory.

Yet, the moment of the game came in the top of the tenth inning, when Beltran showcased why the team leans on him so heavily at this point. After Jon Jay misplayed a Mark Ellis line drive into the right center field gap, which resulted in a one out triple, the club found itself in about as big of a bind as possible. After intentionally walking Hanley Ramirez to reach Michael Young with a double play situation in play, Trevor Rosenthal found himself in a do or die scenario.

Young did exactly what he has supposed to do, which was put the ball in the air to the outfield. The ball he hit would have been Jay’s to take in any other scenario, but this was far from that; it was the game on the line. With this crossroads clear and evident, Beltran moved over from right to overrule his outfield mate, and uncorked the type of throw which helped make him a Gold Glove center fielder three times over, cutting down Ellis at home plate and giving the Cardinals another life.

Helping to make good on a dominant, seven scoreless inning collaboration from the Cardinal bullpen, poetically, the game came back around to Beltran came back to the plate again in the thirteenth inning and capped his legend securing evening. With two on and one out in the 13th, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly finally unleashed his closer Kenly Jansen, owner of one of the most dominant fastballs in the game. But Beltran worked the count in his favor so he could face that pitch on his terms, which resulted in him lining a base hit in right field, which brought in Daniel Descalso (who had a clutch flare hit to start the inning) and closed out a hard-fought win to start the series.

For Beltran, his reputation simply grows at the highest peak of the season again. It has been nine years since his record-setting eight home run October debut with the Houston Astros. In the time since, he has grown his career, seemingly lost his peak to injury and then rebuilt it in a new role. All along, he’s become a new player in the season’s final month, the type of postseason legend that is rightfully mentioned along the lines of Jeter, Jackson and Ruth.

There are a few things each name in that group has in common, and it is that their efforts evenly resulted in a World Series victory. Despite reaching the NLCS four times and reaching the seventh game of each appearance, he has yet to be able to breakthrough to game’s final level. The debate continues on whether Beltran is a Hall of Fame-caliber player, but one thing that is a consensus is that the conversation starts, and finishes, with the efforts he turns in during this point in the season. And when it comes time for that discussion to ultimately be decided on, the game he began this season’s NLCS with will be remembered as a strong indicator of just how exceptional he truly has been. But where the season ends, and how much further he can fuel this particular Cardinal team, could ultimately be the decider.

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Cooperstown Choices: A Look At The Ballot

For the second consecutive year, the Hall Of Fame ballot will be looked at, player by player, right here on i70baseball.

HallOfFame

There are 37 names on this year’s Hall Of Fame ballot, with 24 of those players appearing for the first time.  Dale Murphy, one of the thirteen hold overs from last year’s ballot, appears for his 15th and final time.

Below you will find the links to a brief run down of each of the candidates.  Each page is a virtual baseball card providing the reader with a few lines of highlights of the player’s career, a banner photo of the player, a table of statistics from the player’s career, and two sections of opinion on Why He Should Get In and Why He Should Not Get In to the Hall Of Fame.

The twenty four new players on the ballot are featured in articles written this year while the hold overs were written in 2012.  You can follow the links below to read about each candidate and their credentials for Cooperstown.

Jack Morris Jeff Bagwell Lee Smith
Tim Rains Alan Trammell Edgar Martinez
Fred McGriff Larry Walker Mark McGwire
Don Mattingly Dale Murphy Raphael Palmeiro
Bernie Williams Barry Bonds Roger Clemens
Mike Piazza Curt Schilling Kenny Lofton
Craig Biggio Sammy Sosa David Wells
Steve Finley Julio Franco Reggie Sanders
Shawn Green Jeff Cirillo Woody Williams
Rondell White Ryan Klesko Aaron Sele
Roberto Hernandez Royce Clayton Jeff Conine
Mike Stanton Sandy Alomar Jose Mesa
Todd Walker

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

Posted in Cooperstown Choices 2013, Featured, I-70 Baseball ExclusivesComments (0)

Big Mac Leaves St. Louis

One year ago, Cardinal Nation tasted the very definition of bittersweet as the team reveled in its 11th—and inarguably most dramatic and improbable—World Series Championship while also saying goodbye to Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan, the outgoing brain trust of so much on-the-field success over a decade and a half in St. Louis. Their departure set in motion a transfer of eras to new manager Mike Matheny, and on Friday another big chunk of that transfer disappeared from the Busch Stadium landscape and headed west.

As reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire is expected to depart for the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he will assume the same role under manager Don Mattingly. McGwire cited a desire to be closer to his family as the reason for the move.

It’s hard to know just what a hitting coach contributes to a major league team. He does not teach players to hit—they have to know how to do that before they get past Double-A. He can’t provide a magic bullet to kill a slump, or a magic potion to prolong a streak (not in this era, anyway). Certainly some combination of encouraging words, a watchful eye for changes in approach, and a general bank of knowledge to pass on to the younger generation has a lot to do with it. In the World Series film from 2011, a scene from the batting cages before Game 6—yes, that Game 6—shows David Freese horsing around a bit with McGwire and talking about his stance. McGwire tells him, “Just keep doing what you’re doing, David.” Was it a profound, Nostradamus-like vision from Big Mac? Maybe, maybe not. But it was a neat moment that perfectly framed the notion that McGwire knew what he was talking about as a coach at least some of the time. He wasn’t just the recipient of a bone tossed by La Russa, as so many surmised after the announcement of his hiring before the 2010 season.

But there was Mark McGwire the player, too, and no matter how controversial his feats as an on-the-field Cardinal were, he left an indelible mark on this great franchise in 1998. And though injuries were making it the twilight of his career, he did contribute to the playoff teams in 2000-01 that started the remarkable run the Cards had under La Russa and continue to have under Matheny. It seems odd that McGwire was in the same lineup as Albert Pujols, doesn’t it? But he was…they were teammates for Pujols’ first year as a Cardinal, and he was Pujols’ hitting coach for his last year as a Cardinal. Now that’s bookending a relationship.

And, really, McGwire did the same with the Cardinals as a whole. No one felt any closure with Big Mac after the steroid scandal broke, and we all watched uncomfortably as he painfully stood before that congressional hearing in 2005. He finally took his medicine—albeit years too late—and redeemed himself by doing his job and doing it well. He proved he deserved to be a part of the game again, and he proved he was worthy of donning the Birds on the Bat again. Both were longshots at best for almost a decade.

Maybe it is a shame that McGwire is leaving the Cardinals but still coaching. In the storybook version of this tale, he retires a Cardinal and that’s the end of it. But this is real life, and moving on to another team not only validates his desire to remain in the game; it validates the game’s desire to keep him around.

So long, Big Mac. Thanks for the memories.

Chris Reed also writes for InsideSTL Mondays and Bird Brained whenever he feels like it. Follow him on Twitter @birdbrained.

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April showers bring May disaster

The only good thing about the Cardinals’ 1-4 trip is they returned home still in first place in the National League Central Division, albeit only a half game ahead of Cincinnati.

The 1-4 trip followed a 1-4 homestand, giving the Cardinals eight losses in their last 10 games. In three of their four losses on the trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles, they scored five runs, which would have been enough to win earlier in the season. But the bullpen let them down Sunday in a 6-5 loss at Los Angeles.

Left-hander Marc Rzepczynski struck out the only really dangerous hitter in the injury-riddled Dodgers lineup when he fanned right fielder Andre Ethier with two on in the seventh inning. That was the second out. Rzepczynski had only to get St. Louisan Scott Van Slyke, a minor league call-up who was pinch hitting.

After falling behind 3-0, Rzpczynski laid in a changeup. Van Slyke had the green light from manager Don Mattingly and the son of former star outfielder Andy Van Slyke, popped his first big-league home run, a three-run shot, to left.

“My plan was to go with sinkers away early and see if he could hit a ground ball,” Rzepczynski said. “Then I threw a 3-0 changeup, thinking he’d be a little bit out in front of it, I just left it up a little bit up, and it was right in his wheelhouse.”

The Cardinals ran themselves out of two innings although television replays indicated catcher Yadier Molina was safe in the sixth inning after trying to advance on a bloop hit by first baseman Matt Adams.

Adams’ performance in his first major-league game was notable. He had two singles in four at-bats as he replaced injured first baseman Lance Berkman.

“He’s a pretty mature hitter for his age and experience,” manager Mike Matheny said of the 23-year-old Adams. “He has a short, powerful swing and the ability to stay within himself and not try to do too much. He has the ability to go to both fields. Power is a rare commodity and he’s got some. Defensively, he does a nice job, too.”

 

NOTES
–1B Lance Berkman was placed on the disabled list Sunday. He will find out Monday the severity of his right knee injury suffered Saturday night. “If I’ve re-torn my ACL or something like that, I’d certainly get it fixed but you don’t know how psychologically you’re going to come back from something like that,” Berkman said. “I’m not talking from the standpoint of being scared of hurting it again. I’m talking about doing everything it takes to come back and play again at an elite level. I think that’s a legitimate question I’m going to have to answer if, in fact, it turns out to be something more serious than we hope that it is.”

–Rookie 1B Matt Adams was purchased from Class AAA Memphis to replace 1B Lance Berkman. Adams, a 23rd-round draft pick from Slippery Rock University in 2009, was hitting .340 with nine homers at Memphis and he singled on the first pitch thrown to him in the majors and added a second single on Sunday while playing flawlessly in the field, even starting a double play.

–RHP Kyle Lohse was denied his sixth victory by a bullpen letdown. Lohse, over 5 1/3 innings, pitched around many of the Dodgers’ 11 hits off him.

–3B David Freese, already locked in an awful slump, hit rock bottom on Sunday, fanning four times on four at-bats, mostly on high fastballs. Freese is 3 for his last 34 with all three hits coming in the same game.

–2B Skip Schumaker continued his impressive hitting as a part-time player, suggesting that perhaps he should play more. Schumaker tripled in two runs in the fifth and also drew a walk.

BY THE NUMBERS: 8 — Consecutive losses by the Cardinals to the Los Angeles Dodgers over two seasons.

QUOTE TO NOTE:  From the Chicago Tribune, “If this team has shown anything, it’s that it’s resilient enough to hang in there. We realize no matter who it is, we’re going to be right there. I still feel that way.” — 1B Lance Berkman, after he went down with a right knee injury, further cluttering the Cardinals’ disabled list.

MEDICAL WATCH:

–1B Lance Berkman (right knee injury) was placed on the disabled list May 20. He will find out this week the severity of the injury suffered May 19.

–RHP Kyle McClellan (strained right ulnar collateral ligament) left the May 17 game and returned to St. Louis to be examined by team doctors. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 18 and will be sidelined at least 10 weeks.

–RF Carlos Beltran (sore right knee, plantar fasciitis in right foot) did not start May 14-17, though he pinch-hit three times. He returned to the lineup May 18.

–CF Jon Jay (sprained right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 15.

–RHP Scott Linebrink (right shoulder capsulitis) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 30. He felt tightness during an April 30 bullpen session, and he didn’t appear close to a return.

–RHP Chris Carpenter (weak right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He isn’t likely to begin a real throwing program until sometime in May and probably won’t pitch until at least June.

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BBA Recommends Larkin, Bagwell For Hall Of Fame

In the annual polling of members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin and former Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell were recommended for induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. This is the third year the organization has conducted this survey of the membership.

Larkin, a 12-time All-Star who fashioned an .815 OPS over 19 seasons, received the largest percentage of votes, being named on 84.25% of the 148 ballots cast. This is the highest percentage garnered by any player in the three years of BBA voting.

Bagwell, who hit 449 HR and had a .948 OPS in his 15 seasons in Houston, was selected on 115 ballots for a 78.77% rate. As with the official voting done by the Baseball Writers of America, a player must be named on 75% of the ballots to be recommended by the alliance.

Last year, the BBA recommended second baseman Roberto Alomar and pitcher Bert Blyleven, both of whom were inducted into Cooperstown during the summer. In 2010, no player reached the 75% mark in BBA balloting, the year that outfielder Andre Dawson was selected for the Hall by the baseball writers.

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance’s vote has no impact on the official vote taken by the Baseball Writers of America. However, the BBA has often been a predictor of major awards granted by the writers.

The final voting results are as follows:

Barry Larkin 84.25%
Jeff Bagwell 78.77%

Edgar Martinez 60.27%
Tim Raines 57.53%
Alan Trammell 44.52%
Mark McGwire 41.10%
Larry Walker 35.62%
Lee Smith 33.56%
Jack Morris 32.19%
Don Mattingly 29.45%
Rafael Palmerio 28.77%
Fred McGriff 28.08%
Dale Murphy 16.44%
Bernie Williams 11.64%
Juan Gonzalez 6.16%
Javy Lopez 2.74%
Brad Radke 2.05%
Tim Salmon 1.37%
Bill Mueller 0.68%
Phil Nevin 0.68%
Ruben Sierra 0.68%
Tony Womack 0.68%
Jeromy Burnitz 0.00%
Vinny Castilla 0.00%
Brian Jordan 0.00%
Terry Mulholland 0.00%
Eric Young 0.00%

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was established in the fall of 2009 for the purpose of fostering collaboration and communication among bloggers from across baseball. The BBA has quickly grown to its current membership of 347 blogs, including some of the most prominent blogs on the Internet, spanning all major league teams and various other general aspects of the game.

More information about the BBA can be found at their website, baseballbloggersalliance.wordpress.com, or by contacting the founder and administrator of the organization, Daniel Shoptaw, at founder@baseballbloggersalliance.com.

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Cooperstown Choices: Don Mattingly

With the Hall Of Fame election announcement coming on January 9, 2012, it is time to review the ballot, go over the names, and decide who belongs in the Hall Of Fame.

There are twenty seven men on the ballot this year and we will take a look at each one individually prior to official announcements. You can find all of the profiles in the I-70 Baseball Exclusives: Cooperstown Choices 2012 menu at the top of the page.

Tune in Saturday, January 7, 2012 as I-70 Baseball Radio will host a panel of writers discussing the Hall Of Fame Ballot in a 2-hour special.

In this article, we take a look at Don Mattingly.

Don Mattingly
A career first baseman that became affectionately known as Donnie Baseball, Mattingly spent his entire 14 year career wearing the pinstripes of the New York Yankees. He debuted in 1982 and retired following the 1995 season, putting together a successful career in the years between.

Year Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1982 NYY 7 12 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 .167 .154 .167 .321 -11
1983 NYY 91 279 34 79 15 4 4 32 0 21 31 .283 .333 .409 .742 107
1984 NYY 153 603 91 207 44 2 23 110 1 41 33 .343 .381 .537 .918 156
1985 NYY 159 652 107 211 48 3 35 145 2 56 41 .324 .371 .567 .939 156
1986 NYY 162 677 117 238 53 2 31 113 0 53 35 .352 .394 .573 .967 161
1987 NYY 141 569 93 186 38 2 30 115 1 51 38 .327 .378 .559 .937 146
1988 NYY 144 599 94 186 37 0 18 88 1 41 29 .311 .353 .462 .816 128
1989 NYY 158 631 79 191 37 2 23 113 3 51 30 .303 .351 .477 .828 133
1990 NYY 102 394 40 101 16 0 5 42 1 28 20 .256 .308 .335 .643 81
1991 NYY 152 587 64 169 35 0 9 68 2 46 42 .288 .339 .394 .733 103
1992 NYY 157 640 89 184 40 0 14 86 3 39 43 .288 .327 .416 .742 107
1993 NYY 134 530 78 154 27 2 17 86 0 61 42 .291 .364 .445 .809 120
1994 NYY 97 372 62 113 20 1 6 51 0 60 24 .304 .397 .411 .808 112
1995 NYY 128 458 59 132 32 2 7 49 0 40 35 .288 .341 .413 .754 97
14 Seasons 1785 7003 1007 2153 442 20 222 1099 14 588 444 .307 .358 .471 .830 127
162 Game Avg. 162 636 91 195 40 2 20 100 1 53 40 .307 .358 .471 .830 127
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/18/2011.

Why He Shoudl Get In
Mattingly is one of the historic figures in Yankee lore. A dependable player that was a field leader for the team for a long period of time. He pulled in an American League Most Valuable Player award in 1985, strung together six consecutive All Star appearances from 1984-1989. He also showed stellar defense, has witnessed by his nine Gold Glove awards. His three silver slugger awards show that he could handle the bat, as well.

Why He Should Not Get In
Despite all of his achievements, he fell short on many categories that voters hold dear. His hit total (2153), home run total (222), doubles (442) and runs batted in (1099) leave a little to be desired. Donnie Baseball may be a great Yankee and a memorable player, but he needed a few more season to be Cooperstown worthy.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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TLReplacement

Following the parade through the streets of downtown St. Louis, and subsequent celebratory ceremony inside Busch Stadium on Sunday afternoon, long-time Cardinals manager, Tony LaRussa called a meeting. It would be his last. He told the players, coaches, and the small intimate group in attendance that he’d decided to retire, and would not be returning for another season. Nearly everyone was shocked, many were emotional, and only those who were there know exactly what it was like in that moment. David Freese recounted in a radio interview on Thursday, “I’m glad I was sitting down when he told us.”.

Tony LaRussa announces his retirement after 33 years of managing in MLB. Bill DeWitt Jr, Tony LaRussa, John Mozeliak (L to R)

Less than a week later, the organization has already begun conducting interviews for LaRussa’s replacement. The list that’s apparently floating around out there, though it doesn’t appear the club has confirmed it, includes the following handful of candidates:

And right on cue, Cardinals fans are pissing a moaning about the lackluster “short list”.

“Where’s Joe Maddon??”
“They have to give it to Oquendo!”
“Francona is the only guy with any Major League experience!”
“Why isn’t Don Mattingly on the list?”
“Can’t hire Sandberg–he was a CUB!”
“They can’t give it to Oquendo!”

…and plenty of other nonsensical outcries.

Listen, poll Cardinal Nation a week ago, and ask “With whom should the Cardinals replace Tony LaRussa?”, and EVERYBODY on the aforementioned list is suddenly over-qualified. People are writing in “Helen Keller”, “My dead grandma”, “My dog, Rolen”, and “lamp shade” as quickly as they can. It’s the battle cry we’ve heard from half of Cardinal Nation for the last decade and a half: “A.B.L.”, baby, Anybody But LaRussa.

Yet, now that it’s a situation that the Cardinals are actually in, it’s being taken to the next level. Now, anyone who has ever worn the birds on the bat is suddenly deserving and qualified to manage the 2012 team. Milt Thompson? Bingo! Rex Hudler? Bring him in! Keith Hernandez? Perfect man for the job. Todd Zeile? Slap a “12” on his back, and call him skipper! I cannot, for the life of me, understand the logic behind these arguments…and spare me the “they understand the Cardinal way” stuff. A year ago, Marty Mason would’ve been “perfect” in a lot of these same folks’ minds.

I suppose it’s simply the emotion-driven sentiment that comes along with most fan bases. When you’re talking sheer numbers, and almost as many different personality types, logic & sound reasoning often elude the masses. I wrote about that earlier, but I’m no less irritated by it today than I was then.

But, now we’ve gone and taken it to a whole new level. We, as a general fan base, are demanding…DE-MAND-ING that Joe Maddon bring himself, and those highlights we’ve not seen since the Edmonds days, down to 700 Clark Street, and meet with Mo. And I mean yesterday! Repeat after me: Joe…Maddon…

(no, seriously, go ahead and say it aloud)

Joe. Maddon. Is. Under. Contract.

If the right thing to do is pursue a manager who is already under contract with another team, then why don’t the Cardinals just skip all the messing around, and just go get Mike Scioscia? He’s under contract until 2018, sure…but that’s irrelevant, because the Cardinals fans want him in St. Louis, right? Look, I’d be just as happy as the next guy to have Maddon or Scioscia in the home dugout calling the shots at Busch next summer and beyond. But for me, that wish is on the same list that has all that stuff about Jessica Alba, and for those of you familiar with the phrase, I’ll bet my other hand fills up first.

Maybe the good folks in the front office at Tropicana Field are still a little sore about the way the whole rumored ‘Colby Rasmus & others for Jeff Niemann & others’ deal that, at least according to some accounts, John Mozeliak pulled the rug out from under Andrew Friedman at the last minute. “If Mozeliak from St. Louis calls, don’t answer.” may be the standing order to the staff down in St. Pete. That kind of stuff happens, folks. There are an awful lot of egos out there, and many of them are quite sizable. Relationships between the Cardinals and Padres have been favorable in recent years, it’s reasonable to assume that other relationships aren’t as good, and some might be downright bad. It would be most unfortunate if the relationship between the Cardinals and the Rays were bad, though, for a number of reasons–not the least of which is that in some ways, the Rays are the new Expos.

I don’t know who the next manager of the St. Louis Cardinals will be. Interviews began on Thursday, when two candidates met with members of the Cardinals brass. Francona is expected to interview Friday, while interview times for Delino DeShields and the great Casey Stengel have not yet to be determined. Mozeliak has given a tentative timetable of the next few weeks to get a deal done–presumably some time before Thanksgiving is a general target. Either way though, rushing a decision is obviously a mistake, but promptness needs to be balanced with being thorough and confident in their selection.

After all, there’s other important business to tend to.

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Cards Droppings Previews Cardinals Trip To Hollywood

Make sure you drop by our friends, Cards Droppings, for their analysis and generally solid baseball coverage. Thanks to them, we bring you a series preview for the Cardinals and Dodgers.


Now that the slugfest in Arizona is over, the Cardinals travel to Hollywood to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers. I’m sure all of the Cardinal hitters would love to stay at Chase Field, as Dodger Stadium is a much tougher place to hit. In three games against Arizona, the Cardinals went from being at the bottom of the league in hitting all the way up to fourth. They scored 31 runs in three games, and the early season talk (from me, admittedly) about our struggling offense has vanished. Even washed up Albert Pujols has raised his average above the Mendoza line. Now, the team moves on to a four game set with LA and their very formidable pitching staff. Hopefully we can keep the offense rolling, but that will be a tough task.

The Dodgers are managed by Don Mattingly, aka Donnie Baseball. He was a childhood favorite of mine, and my mom spent countless hours (and dollars) shuttling me around to various baseball card shops looking for that Mattingly card that I just “had to have”. I still have the collection, and if it wasn’t for Mattingly’s notoriously bad back, that said collection would be worth quite a bit more than it is today. Perhaps if Mattingly finds his calling as a manager, he’ll make it into the HOF after all. He’s got a long way to go, and with the offense that the Dodgers have, he’ll have to be Casey Stengel, Gene Mauch, Earl Weaver and Sparky Anderson all wrapped into one.

The Cardinals will get to say hello to former teammate Blake Hawksworth as well. He was traded for Ryan Theriot, so I’m sure he’ll be looking forward to facing his former mates (save for perhaps Albert Pujols).

Offensively, the Dodgers are a bit rough around the edges, to say the least. Outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp are superstars and I’m sure they’ll do their share of damage this weekend. Kemp really seems to have found himself this year and a lot of the baggage that he’s carried with him in previous seasons seems to have vanished. Maybe it was the breakup with Rhianna that made him a changed man. Ethier hits lefthanded, and I’m sure that we’ll see a Trever Miller / Ethier matchup more than once this series. It’s a bit unfortunate that the Cardinals will be without a second lefthander due to the Brian Tallet injury. It would have been nice to have him available to face both Ethier and first baseman James Loney. Other than the aforementioned Ethier and Kemp, the Dodgers are really pretty brutal. Tony Gwynn Jr is nowhere near the player his dad was (although we’ll see Marcus Thames in the lineup against the lefty Garcia tonight). Shortstop Rafael Furcal is already out with an injury, and he’ll be replaced by Jamey Carroll. At third, Casey Blake is serviceable at best. Rod Barajas, Juan Uribe and James Loney aren’t that great, either. Bottom line–this should be a team that can be pitched to. We’ll see if the Cardinal hurlers can actually execute that.

The strength of the Dodgers is their pitching. We’ll face three very tough pitchers this series in Kershaw, Billingsley and Kuroda. In relief, the Dodgers have fireballer Jonathan Broxton and dominate lefty Hon Chi Kuo. Matt Guerrier is another tough righty and former Cardinal Mike MacDougal is familiar to all of you redbird fans.

Check out the pitching matchups and in depth breakdown of each game by clicking here.


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BBA Recommends Alomar, Blyleven For Hall Of Fame

BBA RECOMMENDS ALOMAR, BLYLEVEN FOR HALL OF FAME

Second baseman Roberto Alomar and starting pitcher Bert Blyleven were named today as the recommended 2011 Hall of Fame class by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Alomar, who is on the ballot for his second year, and Blyleven, looking at his fourteenth time, both finished just shy of the BBA’s recommendation in 2010 at just a fraction under the 75% threshold. As was the case last year, both Alomar and Blyleven received the same amount of votes from the BBA membership in 2010, but this time it was enough to push them into the recommended status.

Both players received 117 votes out of the 154 ballots cast, resulting in a 75.97% approval rate. Again echoing the vote taken at the end of 2009, shortstop Barry Larkin was the third man in the balloting, missing selection by being named on just 70.78% of the ballots.

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance’s vote has no impact on the official vote taken by the Baseball Writers of America and the members of the Hall of Fame. However, the BBA has been often a predictor of awards granted by the writers, matching their selection in fourteen of the sixteen major awards in the last two postseasons combined.

The final voting results are as follows:

Roberto Alomar, 75.97%
Bert Blyleven, 75.97%
Barry Larkin, 70.78%
Jeff Bagwell, 62.34%
Edgar Martinez, 59.09%
Tim Raines, 54.55%
Mark McGwire, 44.16%
Lee Smith, 38.96%
Alan Trammell, 35.71%
Don Mattingly, 33.12%
Larry Walker, 31.17%
Fred McGriff, 27.27%
Jack Morris, 25.97%
Rafael Palmerio, 20.78%
Dale Murphy, 16.23%
Dave Parker, 12.34%
Harold Baines, 10.39%
Kevin Brown, 9.09%
John Franco, 7.14%
Tino Martinez, 5.19%
John Olerud, 5.19%
Al Leiter, 4.55%
Bret Boone, 3.90%
Juan Gonzalez, 3.90%
Marquis Grissom, 2.60%
Benito Santiago, 1.30%
Bobby Higginson, 0.65%
Charles Johnson, 0.65%
Kirk Rueter, 0.65%
Carlos Baerga, 0.00%
Raul Mondesi, 0.00%
BJ Surhoff, 0.00%

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was established in the fall of 2009 for the purpose of fostering collaboration and communication among bloggers from across baseball. The BBA has quickly grown to its current membership of 256 blogs, including some of the most prominent blogs on the internet, spanning all major league teams and various other general aspects of the game.

More information about the BBA can be found at their website, www.baseballbloggersalliance.com, or by contacting the founder and administrator of the organization, Daniel Shoptaw, at founder@baseballbloggersalliance.com.

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