Tag Archive | "Fanbase"

Not So Quick – Cards Miller Cleared To Throw

St. Louis Cardinal fans and beat writers jumped quickly to the conclusion that Shelby Miller was “out of the competition” for a spot in the opening rotation due to reported shoulder stiffness on Wednesday.

Shelby Miller is showing up in shape to compete for the opening in the rotation.

News broke across the internet out of Jupiter, Florida on Wednesday that 22 year old Cardinal prospect Shelby Miller had sat out throwing drills on Wednesday with “shoulder tightness” according to the team.  Fans held their breath and pundits declared that the three way competition between Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly for the final rotation spot was now down to two.

It did not seem to matter that manager Mike Matheny downplayed the problem saying that the team was not concerned about it.  No matter that the tightness appeared overnight and the righty did not feel any pain when he was throwing on Tuesday.  Never mind that the pitcher himself said that he would be back by the end of the week.  A fanbase that is still reeling from the loss of Chris Carpenter was ready to hit the panic button.

Thursday morning came and the team announced that Miller had been cleared to throw.  While they would continue with a conservative path and not push the hurler into games this weekend, there are no restrictions on the young man at this point and they expect him to be in game action early next week.

The fifth spot in the rotation is still up for grabs and is still locked into a three-way battle between some very exciting, young arms.

Don’t count Shelby Miller out just yet.

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Who Is Number Two In KC Rotation?

The Kansas City Royals took huge measures this offseason to fix their number one on-field issue, the rotation.  The addition of James Shields gave them a legitimate ace pitcher at the front of their rotation.  The rebuilt rotation looks stronger but leaves the question open: Who’s number two?

Rotation

Throughout 2012 the opinion around the Royals fanbase was very similar.  Many people felt that the team was full of pitchers that projected as the fourth or fifth best pitcher in a rotation.  There was no clear cut “ace” nor was there anyone that the fans felt confident in taking the mound to stop a losing streak.  The team had major league quality pitching, it just was not elite.

Dayton Moore seemingly set out to fix that during the end of 2012 and into the offseason.  A three year contract was reached with Jeremy Guthrie, who had pitched very well after joining the Royals during the second half of 2012, and trades were made for Shields, Wade Davis, and Ervin Santana.  The fifth spot is up for grabs this spring and eventually Danny Duffy will join these four to round out the starting five.

Shields obviously will head line the starting rotation for the Royals and is the type of pitcher that would headline most rotations across baseball.  Last year was a team full of rotation guys that projected as four and five starters, this year, it appears that the rotation may be full of guys that are top-three style pitchers.

Looking at the four starters that are set into the rotation this season, where will they rank at the end of 2013?

Wade Davis: Number Four
WadeDavis
Davis has been a solid Major League pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays.  In four seasons he has proven to be a durable starter and a reliable relief pitcher.  The Royals brought him in as insurance and an upgrade over the pitchers they currently had, but he was never projected to be near the top of the rotation.  Davis will provide some inning-eating starts throughout the summer and be serviceable in his role, but ultimately will remain as a lower-rotation starter that may end up back in the bullpen before long if other pitchers are pitching well when Duffy returns.

Ervin Santana: Number Three
MARINEROS-ANGELINOS
Santana is the pitcher that the Royals most hope can realize his potential.  In eight seasons of starting pitching for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Santana has won 16 or more games three times in his career.  He has also lost 12 or more games three times as well.  An up-and-down career has seen moments of brilliance and frustration for Santana.  The Royals will hope that Dave Eiland can work with Santana on mechanical flaws in his delivery and help him regain his top-of-the-rotation form.  Santana should be able to be the number three starter when the smoke clears, though Kansas City may be hoping he is better than that.

Jeremy Guthrie: Number Two
JeremyGuthrie
Looking at past performance of all three starters would rank Guthrie much lower in this conversation.  However, in recent interviews Guthrie has talked very openly about a renewed confidence, a satisfaction with management and coaching and overcoming a mental block that he felt kept him for being a better pitcher in Colorado.  He has spoken to the fact that Kauffman Stadium is a pitcher friendly environment and that he feels that he has one of the best defenses in the league behind him.  The confidence shows in his statistics from last season, with nearly all of his stats showing best in his career type numbers.  He is pitching to contact, keeping the ball in the park, and letting his defense do the work.

By the time the smoke clears on the 2013 season, the Royals will be looking at a rotation that will feature top-tier players at most of the slots.  Jeremy Guthrie has every opportunity to become a great part of that rotation for the next three years.

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

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Is Lance Lynn Out Of Line?

The St. Louis Cardinals opened camp on Tuesday morning with the traditional pitchers and catchers workouts.  It did not take long for the first quote to fire up the fan base to come out.

LanceLynn4

Lance Lynn has arrived at camp looking fit having dropped a reported 40 pounds.  He has successfully avoided using the phrase “best shape of my life”, is on the heels of an 18 win season, and addressed the one thing that critics had for him last year by improving his offseason diet to hopefully address the fatigue that set in at the end of 2013.  In the midst of losing starter Chris Carpenter and the buzz around three young rookies hoping for a rotation spot, Lynn is a bright spot in early camp.

Then, on Tuesday morning during a media scrum, a quote came flying out from Lance Lynn.  It may or may not be “out of context”, but it seemed to fire up the fanbase pretty quickly.  Via Twitter, beat writer Jenifer Langosch shared Lynn’s thoughts on the rotation competition this spring:

Lynn on rotation competition: "I was an 18-game winner last yr w/ an All-Star appearance. I have to do a lot of things to lose a spot, IMO."
@LangoschMLB
Jenifer Langosch

It is easy to see how that could rub some fans wrong.  That is not the way players tend to act around St. Louis.  Players that have been in the league for years, won multiple awards, and are solidified in their positions for years to come say “I’m here competing for my spot on the team”.  It shows a cockiness and brash attitude that this team, and it’s fans, are not accustomed to hearing.

The question here is: was it really wrong to say?

He is right, isn’t he?  I would say, due to the news of Chris Carpenter’s injury, that Lynn’s spot in the rotation is his to lose and in order to lose it, he would have to collapse pretty hard this spring.  His season last year was impressive, especially considering the second half issues he ran into.  The work he has already put in to attempt to fix that part of his game deserves accolades.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch ran an article on Tuesday as well, discussing Lynn with his manager.  Matheny had high praise for his starter and his offseason work.  The manager also had this to say about early perceptions that Lynn was not guaranteed a spot in the rotation this year:

“I know (that) made Lance a little frustrated,” said Matheny “I told him, ‘We want you coming in competing for a spot. We don’t want you rolling in thinking this is yours.’”

It is not easy to say if there is a right or wrong here.  Some will say “Carp would have never said anything like this.”  Others will point out that Lance Berkman was a breath of fresh air and would tend to be brutally honest with the media and the fans.  It is easy to see that type of quote being attributed to Berkman and fans would have applauded his honesty.  So why the outrage that Lynn is doing so?  Is it because of his age?

I freely admit that my immediate reaction was negative.  I don’t like it.  I don’t want a young player who, in my mind, still has some things to prove to sound so cocky.  I want him to talk about working hard to prove that last year was not a fluke.  I also admit that this is a personal preference.  Personally, I don’t like what Lynn said.  However, I also don’t feel what he said was incorrect.

The basic thought is there: an All Star pitcher made a statement that most of us were already thinking.

Is there anything really wrong with that?

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

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Shutdown Theory

Ligament Replacement Surgery—known better by the moniker “Tommy John Surgery”—is almost a foregone conclusion for Major League pitchers today. Teams practically build their rotations and, many times, entire seasons around when, not if, a certain pitcher will need to take a year or two off for an elbow rebuild. In 2012, the most famous case is that of Stephen Strasburg of the first place Washington Nationals. But the St. Louis Cardinals may have a similar case to review regarding their ace Adam Wainwright.

Saturday, the Nationals announced Strasburg will be shut down for the rest of 2012, including any postseason games the Nats might play. Strasburg underwent his procedure on September 3, 2010—two full years ago. Conventional wisdom suggests a pitcher needs anywhere from 12-18 months of rehab before he is truly ready to return to form on the mound, and most hurlers don’t feel back to 100% until two years after the surgery. Technically, Strasburg should be hitting his stride right about now. Imagine the boost the Nats would be getting from that, assuming they were close to where they currently are. Instead, they’re forced to go the rest of the season without their de facto ace. Arguments and hindsight from both sides are numerous: should he have rehabbed at all in 2011…should he have started 2012 late…the Nationals are doing this to protect his and their futures…this is just another power flex from Scott Boras…how can the Nats do this to their fanbase…how can they not do it…etc.

The Cards are in a somewhat similar situation with Wainwright, though the scales are vastly different. The righty underwent his procedure February 28, 2011, and was in training camp less than one year later. Wainwright started the Cards’ home opener—albeit to little success—and hasn’t missed a start yet. As the 2012 season progressed, Wainwright seemed to get stronger. Aside from the occasional hiccup, he looked to be inching closer to pre-surgery form right before our eyes. Cardinal coaching and front office eyes, however, were no doubt laser-focused on his health the entire time. And while the Cardinals also have to ponder the future, their perspective is quite different: coming off a World Series victory that punctuated perpetual success under Tony La Russa, followed by a complete sea-change with the transition to Mike Matheny…losing Chris Carpenter at the start of 2012…could Wainwright have rested a few more months and joined the team mid-year…only having Wainwright under contract one more season, with designs on trying to re-sign him…the Cards are still in a dogfight for a return to the postseason…etc.

Ironically, the two pitchers’ last few outings have been similarly bad. Strasburg pitched well against the Cards last week, but that start was bookended by giving up five earned runs in each of two outings—one of five innings, one of three. Wainwright’s last two starts have been even worse: six earned runs in less than three innings and five earned runs over five innings. Under normal circumstances, these events could be looked at as a slump or even just a radar blip for two pitchers so obviously better than the numbers they posted. But is it more than just irony that Strasburg’s stumble came as he inched closer to the 160 IP limit the Nats originally discussed, or that Wainwright seems to be losing gas as he hits 18 months since his surgery?

Wainwright has said that failing to repeat the proper arm slot has led to his bump in the road, not soreness or fatigue. But fatigue is sometimes just as much a symptom of mechanical issues as anything else. And even if he cannot perceive something being off—or simply can’t fix it—Wainwright runs the risk of injuring himself in other areas.

That’s not to say the Cardinals have to shut down Wainwright like the Nationals are doing for Strasburg. Even with all the similarities, the two cases have differences too: namely, Wainwright being a veteran, being older, not being as much of a power pitcher, etc. But the situation definitely bears watching, especially if Wainwright’s starts continue to go badly. And if Carpenter ends up able to pitch at all in 2012, perhaps that’s a scenario where Waino can at least get some extra rest.

Every pitcher is different, so it’s tough to assign hard numbers and come up with the right answer every time. And any ill effects for these two teams either way are still weeks to months away from being truly known, if they ever are at all. No team should ever give up on a season, especially one that includes a legitimate shot at postseason play. The Nationals know what price they were willing to pay regarding Strasburg, and they believe they just hit their limit. Do the Cardinals know their price regarding Wainwright? Will they know when they’ve hit it?

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

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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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The Kansas City Royals “All-Terrible Acquisition Team”

The Kansas City Royals have certainly had some historically terrible acquisitions over the years

Anyone who has been a fan of the Royals for any extended period of time has seen it multiple times. The off-season acquisition of a player another team was dying to get rid of (usually a malcontent), being sold to the Royals fanbase as a game-changing pickup. Every team acquires players that don’t pan out. But no team seems to pick guys up that they pencil in as top/middle of the rotation starters, middle of the lineup bats, or closers that end up embarrassing themselves and the rest of us like the Kansas City Royals. Here, we take a look at the worst of the worst, position by position.

Use the buttons below to scroll through the worst acquisition at each position for the Royals.

<strong>Catcher: Benito Santiago (2004)</strong>

Picture 1 of 8


Santiago came to town with about as much excitement for playing in Kansas City as Juan Gonzalez did at the same time. He made it 49 games before coming down with his own phantom injury, and was then shipped off to Pittsburgh after the 2004 season.

Runner Up: Jason Kendall (2010)

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Will Kyle Lohse Change

Last week we talked about Jake Westbrook.  Today we look at the other half of the back of the St. Louis Cardinal rotation.

Kyle Lohse has had an adventurous 4 years in St Louis.  Signed as a free agent before the 2008 season, he posted arguably the best season of his career in 2008.  The Cardinals rewarded him with a multi-year deal, although the fanbase had some misgivings about it based on the size of the contract he was awarded.  Eager to prove his doubters wrong he started 2009 on fire, finishing April with 4 victories and a sub-2.00 ERA.

Then things derailed.  He was hit on the right forearm by Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton in his next start and was never quite as dominating. He did two stints on the DL before the All-Star Break, then had an ERA of 5.72 the rest of the season.  During the first two months of 2010 he was actually worse (ERA 5.89).  Lohse was eventually diagnosed with exertional compartment syndrome in his right forearm and had surgery to repair the damage.  He gamely came back to the rotation in August of that year; opponents said thank you by hitting .389 on balls in play off him the rest of the season.

After a full off-season of rest, and a good spring, Lohse seemed ready to reprise his 2008 form, and early in 2011 he did.  Through the first two months of last season he posted a 2.13 ERA and a 3:1 K/BB ratio.  Lohse was back.  Then he got hammered by the Cubs on June 4 at home and spent the next three months with an ERA north of 5.00.  In his last August start against Pittsburgh the light appeared to come on again; in September, when the Cardinals needed him most, he was sterling.  In 4 September starts he posted a 1.37 ERA an a 4:1 K/BB ratio.  His playoff outings were ultimately forgettable, although for his first 5 innings in Philadephia he was awesome.

Lohse lives and dies with his change-up.  Last season his change-up was his most devastating pitch, and more valuable than any season since that 2008 campaign.  Nineteen percent of his pitches were a change-up in 2011, the highest percentage of his career.  He compensated by throwing fewer curveballs and sliders; of the former he threw 37% fewer than he had in 2010, the latter about 12% fewer.  His slider was pretty effective (wSL of 4.1 by Fangraphs), but his curveball was just average (wCB 0.3), so that decision on which pitch to throw less frequently was the right one.  What’s interesting is in his previous good season with St Louis, his curveball was far more dangerous (wCB 5.9) even though he threw it about the same frequency (6.7%) as he did in 2011.

Although controlling and spotting his change-up is key to his overall success, it is the ability to throw the curveball to good effect that will define Lohse’s season.  It may be he lost the feel on that pitch due to the forearm injury; it hasn’t been there for him since the 2008 campaign, based solely on the weighted pitch values posted at Fangraphs (-1.0, -1.0, and 0.3 the last 3 seasons).  If Lohse can regain that pitch in 2012 he will be the dominant, consistent pitcher he was in 2008.  If he can’t, he will likely continue to have stretches of sublime pitching intermingled with stretches of throwing BP to major league hitters.

Watch for Lohse’s curveball during his spring training starts.

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The Luhnow Legacy

Somewhere in the whirlwind that is known as the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals off-season, a very key piece of the organization left the club without much fanfare. Events quickly moved from World Series parade, to Tony LaRussa’s retirement, to the Albert Pujols negotiations, to Dave Duncan’s leave of absence, to the Winter Warm Up. I can not think of another team that had so much turnover  immediately following a World Championship as the Cardinals experienced. In the midst of the flurry of off-season activity it is certainly understandable how a key move made but a small splash.

Lunhow,

Cardinal Nation barely had a chance to catch its breath from World Series Game 7 before Tony LaRussa announced his retirement. In the following weeks Albert Pujols, Joe Pettini, and Dave McKay all moved on to other clubs. Cardinal pitching coach Dave Duncan announced that he would take a leave of absence to be with his wife as she continues her battle with cancer.  When the Cardinals take the field against the Miami Marlins on April 4, 2012, Jose Oquendo will be the only uniformed coach that has been with the team since 2009.

Despite all of the turnover within the club, there is great optimism within the Cardinals front office, the team, the coaches, and a majority of the fan base at the prospects for the 2012 season. Before completely shifting focus to 2012, I want to reflect on a 2011 departure that gets less attention, but has tremendous organizational impact. On the very same night the Los Angeles Angels were finalizing a deal to sign Albert Pujols, the Houston Astros named Jeff Luhnow their new general manager.

Jeff Luhnow was the head of the Cardinals scouting and drafting department. He established a strong presence in Latin America for the team, and brought the Cardinals into a new era of player development that used both scouting and analytics.  He worked for the team from 2003 until this past December. Since 2005, Luhnow turned the Cardinals farm system from one of the worst in baseball to arguably one of the top five in the league. This was done in spite of the fact the Cardinals never had a top ten pick during any of the drafts he oversaw.

Luhnow is not a “baseball insider” that worked his way up through the ranks. He was more comfortable with spreadsheets than with scouting reports when he was hired by the Cardinals. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in economics and engineering, and earned his MBA at Northwestern University. Prior to joining the Cardinals in 2003, he worked in mechanical and chemical engineering, spent five years in management consulting, did entrepreneurial work, and served as a vice president of marketing for Petstore.com.

In the early part of the last decade, teams had to quickly adapt to the new emphasis on analytics brought about from the release of the book “Moneyball”. The book highlighted the Oakland Athletics success, despite an incredibly small payroll, using advanced statistics to find market inefficiencies in player evaluation. Luhnow was one of the early baseball analytics experts given a front office job. He was hired to make sense of the new analytics and improve the Cardinal’s international scouting. He quickly integrated database analysis into personnel decisions.

Said more simply, Luhnow drafted and developed enough talent to allow the Cardinals to win two World Series titles in six years. He leaves the club well positioned to compete in 2012 and beyond. The Cardinals can not pay top dollar for more than four or five players every year, due to being a bottom-third market city. To have Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, Chris Carpenter, and Carlos Beltran, they must find production from young, cost-controlled players to have a competitive team year in and year out.

Beyond just analyzing numbers on a page, Luhnow implemented “bio-mechanics” within the Cardinals player development process. Pitchers were taught the mechanics, rhythm, and tempo that aid them in remaining injury free. Former big-league pitchers worked with young Cardinal pitchers on the mental aspects of the game needed to be able to compete at the highest level. Hitters worked with video not only as a means to scout opponents, but to improve their swing and approach at the plate. This does not seem to be such a big deal in 2012, but not many other teams were using video to this level in 2004.

Luhnow was hired by Bill Dewitt against the wishes of then GM Walt Jocketty. It was a front-office riff that would eventually lead to Jocketty’s departure following the 2007 season. Little did Jocketty know at the time just what Luhnow was building between 2005 and 2007. The 2005-2007 drafts produced Allen Craig, Daniel Descalso, Jaime Garcia, and Jon Jay. Also in those drafts were players used in the trades for Matt Holliday, Rafael Furcal, Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepcynski, as well as Luke Gregerson and Chris Perez.

There are an abundance of prospects in the system that project to be impact players: Shelby Miller, Oscar Taveras, Tyrell Jenkins, Carlos Martinez, Matt Adams, Ryan Jackson, Kolten Wong, Zach Cox, Trevor Rosenthal, John Gast, Jordan Swagerty, and Joe Kelly, among others.

As the 2012 season fast approaches, there will be a lot of new faces for Cardinals fans to get used to. One of those faces is the man hired to replace Jeff Luhnow, Dan Kantrovitz . If he performs his jobs well, Cardinals fans won’t feel the loss of Luhnow. He has big shoes to fill. Matheny has already made clear that he will place a large emphasis on advanced scouting and metrics.

Any success Kantrovitz has will be built upon the foundation of integrating scouting and analytics that Luhnow brought to the organization. Luhnow should be remembered as a key piece to a great era of Cardinal baseball. I am glad the Cardinals will not have the Astros as division foes but for another year. Although they are a very bad baseball team at the moment, I fully expect them to be a force to contend with under Luhnow’s leadership.

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Cards Take The Fans For A Ride

This season has been anything but smooth for the Cardinals and their fanbase. An up and down, rollercoaster of a ride has seen fans start thinking towards 2012 and the team exploring options to trade some potential free agents, only to realize the Braves were falling apart and the team might be able to salvage something in 2011.

The season's hopes are on the shoulders of EJax

The playoffs, or the three games that represent the playoffs to this point, seem to have taken that idea to the next level. The Cardinals had Roy Halladay on the ropes and the fans were excited to see that their team was, in fact, worthy of being in the playoffs. A few innings later, however, the team would show a weakness to pull through and see the victory all the way through and ended up being blown out in the first game. The blowout seemed to confirm to most fans that the team was overmatched and that the Phillies truly were the powerhouse. The road was not going to get any easier, either, as Cliff Lee still had to pitch before they could leave Philadelphia.

Game two rolled around and the Cardinals worked hard against Lee, taking his pitch count high early on and scraping out a few runs. The bullpen, used in a match up environment despite an early exit by the starter, would pin down a solid victory. Fans were back on the bandwagon seeing that the team could hang tough, compete hard, gain a victory against a top of the line starter, and band together for a win. The series was shifting to St. Louis and the fans were clamoring about a potential National League Championship Series appearance.

Game three had the potential to be one of two things: a great performance for the team or an extreme statement by Philadelphia. It turned out to be a bit of both but ultimately, simply a let down for the Cardinals. Behind a strong start by Jaime Garcia, the Cardinals kept Cole Hamels on the ropes throughout the entire game. The problem this time around was lack of follow through. Why Hamels labored and constantly found himself in a threatening position, he did what any ace pitcher would do and worked his way out of it. The Cardinals failed to drive the point home with the youngest of the “Four Aces” on the mound and found themselves in trouble when Garcia left a pitch up and surrendered a pinch-hit, three run home run. Much like the season, the Cardinals would not let this go down without a fight, and scraped together a few runs of their own. As happened often in 2011, the team found themselves coming up just short.

This has been one of the most heartbreaking and exciting versions of the Cardinals to watch. If there is one thing this team has earned from the fans, it would be the support knowing that they just will not give up. On Wednesday evening, the team will take to the Busch Stadium field facing yet another elimination game. They hand the ball to Edwin Jackson and ask him to keep hope alive. They face a familiar foe in Roy Oswalt and will look to use that to their advantage.

Win or lose, they will go down with a fight. Fans deserve a team that leaves it all on the field. This team deserves fans that will get behind them and fight with them. This is the highs and lows of baseball. The fans may be rewarded with one more game in Philadelphia. The fans may be let down and left feeling like it was not enough.

Who says you cannot be romantic about this game?

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Examining The Puma: Your Thoughts

The signing of Lance Berkman to a one year, $12 million extension has the internets (and most noticeably Twitter) a buzz. Where else should one go to gauge the opinion of the fanbase?

In a effort to get a feeling for just how the fans viewed the deal we asked for some Tweets to be sent our way

Tweet me folks, what do you think of the return of Berkman to the #stlcards? One year/12mil...hit me with your thoughts.
@i70baseball
i70 baseball

The responses (and tweets that we found) were varied, from monetary concerns to excitement. Some even found it to be a funny contract completely. Below are the responses from you, our fans.

@ maybe a little too much $, but it's good to see berk back. worked out for everyone this yr, can next yr too.
@jdotson8
Joel Dotson
@ initial reaction is totally against since it preceded the Pujols extension. #oneortheother #notboth
@throatwarbler
Bob Netherton
@ I think getting as much business as possible done before trying to lock up Albert is a smart move by Mo. Molina Furcal next?
@ Not sold on it. $12 million is a lot that could fix other problems. Berkman has 7 HR, 28 RBI despite hitting .314 post-ASG
@JonDoble
Jon Doble
@ like the Berk deal, but agree with @. Good insurance if Pujols leaves, need Craig in lineup, MI & pitching
@ HAHAHAHA 12 mil for one good year of an old man! This will turn out well....
@KCRoyalman
✔KCRoyalman
@ Think it's a good deal. His "raise" is basically offset by Carpenter's "reduction" next year.
@cbensinger
Chuck Bensinger
@ YES!! I'd want a little longer, but nevertheless it's awesome. :) #BigBerk
@PDiddySwagMan
Patrick Hennessy
Thrilled about Lance Berkman's contract extension. Makes sense on all levels. #stlcards
@GregScott1991
Greg Scott
@ I hope that everybody realizes that Berk's return all but guarantees TLR will be back, right ? #scrappyreduxredux
@throatwarbler
Bob Netherton
With how outrageous money is with athletes these days 12 million for Lance Berkman is a pretty good deal. #stlcards
@FishSTL
Michael Fisher

Stay tuned to our ongoing series of articles today “Examining The Puma” as we take a look at Berkman’s year in Cardinal red and our reader’s thoughts on the signing.

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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