Tag Archive | "Moments Of Brilliance"

David Freese could be right-handed version of Matt Adams for St. Louis Cardinals

The moments of brilliance for St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese come in flashes.

MLB: NLCS-San Francisco Giants at St. Louis Cardinals

He hit one of the most memorable home runs in franchise history in the 11th inning of Game 6 of the 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers and just Monday he delivered a vital pinch-hit, two-run double to extend the Cardinals lead to 8-5 in the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers.

But those moments are not enough for a player who the Cardinals have tried to make a cornerstone at the third base position. They are more fitting of a pinch hitter, such as first baseman Matt Adams, who has been a left-handed, pinch-hitting weapon for the 2013 Cardinals.

Sure, Freese is a good guy, he is considered a good teammate and he combined for a .295 batting average in 2011 and 2012, topping out with 20 home runs and 79 runs batted in during the 2012 season, but he has since become an average player, at best.

He started the 2013 season in a horrible rut. He bottomed out with a .163 batting average April 29 and a 20-game hitting streak between May 17 and June 11 raised his average to .284, but he is now back down to .265 with just six home runs and 46 RBIs.

Those aren’t horrible numbers and were good enough when the Cardinals did not have a replacement infielder outside of the .255-hitting Daniel Descalso, who also has a paltry .310 on-base percentage.

However, Freese also has a -0.4 Wins Above Replacement value, meaning he has played slightly worse than would be expected from a typical third baseman, and the Cardinals now have a replacement, although he comes in the form of a second baseman.

The team called up second baseman Kolten Wong from Triple-A Memphis last week, and manager Mike Matheny has started him in three of his first four games.

With Wong getting regular playing time at second, regular second baseman Matt Carpenter has had to move elsewhere. At first, Carpenter got a needed day off, but Matheny has continued to put Wong in the starting lineup so Carpenter has moved to his original position at third base and Freese has moved to the bench.

Freese isn’t buried on the bench, however. Matheny has given other regular starters extended time off throughout the season. He sat center fielder Jon Jay for several consecutive days in April and early May when he was struggling to fix his swing, and shortstop Pete Kozma didn’t play for several days in a row in late July and August when he went in an extended slump at the plate.

But a long-term view of the Cardinals infield suggests Freese could be the odd man out if Wong takes the starting job as second baseman and Carpenter becomes the everyday third baseman.

Carpenter plays solid defense and occasionally replaced Freese late in games in 2012 because Matheny wanted a stronger defensive player at that position in the late innings. Plus, Carpenter has hit .312 with 61 RBIs and has a WAR value of 5.1.

More than anything, the Cardinals figure to get more consistent production with Wong and Carpenter in the lineup than Freese, who has always been a streaky hitter.

Yes, he hit .390 in the 2011 postseason and was the Most Valuable Player in the National League Championship Series and World Series that year, but his batting average had also dropped from .326 to .297 in the six weeks that led up to the playoffs.

Instead of the everyday third baseman, Freese could take on the role Adams has for the Cardinals throughout the season. Adams has played in the field in just 46 of the 76 games he has played in during the 2013 season, but he has hit .277 with nine home runs and 34 RBIs while primarily coming off the bench.

Freese has some power and could give the Cardinals a reliable right-handed pinch hitter, which has been a lacking aspect of the team for much of the season.

Freese is a good player, but his value to the Cardinals might be higher in the late innings off the bench than throughout an entire game at third base.

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Is Hands Off Best For Jaime?

Jaime Garcia has, at times, been one of the best pitchers the St. Louis Cardinals have on staff.  At other times, he has been erratic.

JaimeGarcia

It is a subject that has been poured over many times, but Jaime Garcia can go from “lights out” to “nobody’s home” with just a bad call or missed play behind him.  The lefty has shown moments of brilliance and moments of complete confusion, sometimes in the same game.  Much has been said about it and, behind the scenes, much has been analyzed about it.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has said in interviews that he fully believes that he could have helped prevent the amazing collapse of Rick Ankiel on the mound had he not been hurt and not on the field during the 2000 playoff run.  He has stated that earlier in that season, Ankiel had struggled and he was able to bring him back into focus and get through the situation.

Thirteen years later, Jaime Garcia has Matheny for a manager and the two are trying to find the best way to help the pitcher overcome mental lapses and realize his potential on the mound.

During a recent interview, Matheny has revealed that the team will attempt to take some pressure off of Garcia by not looking into every detail of the starter’s games.  It seems there is some concern that he tries to adjust his mechanics too often, becoming too much of a perfectionist and getting inside his own head.

“I’m not dissecting everything he’s doing,” Matheny insisted after the win. “I know everybody else likes to right now. I’m just watching him go out there and do his thing. He did a nice job of pitching without reading into every situation that he gets into or out of. … I made a commitment to myself not to microscope him.” –from StlToday.com

Garcia will need to continue to pitch at the level he projects at in 2013 for the Cardinals to remain successful.  In addition, with the young talent being developed in the system, Garcia may be pitching to secure a spot on this team in the near future.

Either way, getting Garcia out of his head and into a routine will be a good thing for everyone involved.

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

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Royals Farm Report

PLAYER PROFILE

Anthony Lerew

Anthony Lerew, during a callup to the Majors earlier this season

Pitcher

AAA-Omaha Royals

27 years old

Bats: Left

Throws: Right

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 225 lbs.

Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 11th round of the 2001 MLB Draft

Last week we featured a Royals pitcher with the best name in baseball (Rowdy Hardy). This week, let’s talk about the pitcher with the game’s best mutton chops.

Anthony Lerew has spent a little time in The Show this year with mixed results: a 1-4 record, mile-high 8.54 ERA, but moments of brilliance sprinkled in. However, in the Minor Leagues this year, Lerew is 7-3 with a 3.01 ERA. Of late, he’s been particularly dominant, going eight innings in each of his last two starts and allowing only one earned run during that stretch. He also posted 13 strikeouts versus just three walks, and his efforts earned him a pair of wins.

Lerew might be the most interesting pitcher in the minor league system right now. Despite his spotty success in the big leagues this season (and over four Major League seasons between Atlanta and Kansas City), Lerew deserves and probably will receive a shot at the Royals’ rotation next year. That would be a huge step forward for his career, but a slot in the big league bullpen is not beyond the realm of possibility.

The fear with Lerew, though, is that he falls into that category of “AAAA” players – the guys who dominate in the minor leagues, but just aren’t good enough to cross the wide chasm between AAA and the majors.

Royals fans have seen that happen too many times.

MiLB WEEKLY ROUNDUP

AAA – Omaha Royals

Record to date: 70-56, second place in the PCL American North

The past week: 5-2, winning three out of four at Sacramento

Transactions: Another light week. Jai Miller was promoted to Kansas City; and Brian Anderson was sent all the way from A- Burlington to Omaha.

Coming up: In an I-70 Baseball flavored matchup, the O-Royals host the Memphis Redbirds this weekend before Iowa comes to town for a rare five-game series.

AA – Northwest Arkansas Naturals

Record to date: 31-21 in the second half (first place), 73-49 overall

The past week: 2-4, dropping a pair against Midland

Transactions: Josh Fields was received on a major league rehabilitation assignment.

Coming up: The Naturals host Midland, then travel to Springfield for a four-game set before going to Tulsa next weekend.

A+ – Wilmington Blue Rocks

Record to date: 28-24 in the second half (second place), 60-62 overall

The past week: 4-2, with a rainout against Salem

Transactions: James Thompson was activated from the temporarily inactive list; and Harold Mozingo was placed on the 7-day disabled list.

Coming up: The Rocks finish up with Lynchburg at home this weekend, then travel to Potomac for three games and to Lynchburg next weekend.

POSITION PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Clint Robinson

Clint Robinson, first baseman, AA-Northwest Arkansas Naturals

.411 average the past week, 5 home runs in past 10 games

Clint Robinson has been arguably the best hitter in the Royals’ minor league system this year, and recently he’s been keeping his hot streak alive.

PITCHER OF THE WEEK

Luis Mendoza, AAA-Omaha Royals

2-0, 1 earned run, 8 strikeouts

Mendoza picked up a pair of wins last week, defeating Sacramento on the road and then Fresno in an eight-inning, no-earned runs gem. Mendoza is 9-8 on the season for the O-Royals with a 4.23 ERA.

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