Tag Archive | "Outfield"

Carpenter, Beltran and the Cardinal’s Pandora’s Box

The big question regarding the Cardinals going ahead is how will all of the assets they have fit into one roster. While there is no clear solution to that question yet, one thing that is for certain is that the biggest variable is the team’s most versatile player, Matt Carpenter.

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Whenever the 2013 season comes to a close, the season’s steadiest question will quickly become its loudest: what is going to happen with Carlos Beltran? The club’s most high profile free agent-to-be has made no secret of his desire to return with the team next spring, but while admitting that it is on the club’s radar of decisions to be made, John Mozeliak has not public committed to what extent the team would be willing to go to in order to pursue a continued relationship between player and team.

The reasons for this are simple; despite an unquestionably strong tenure in the Cardinal uniform, including two All-Star Games and 55 home runs, neither age (he will turn 37 next year) nor positional alignment fit easily into the picture going ahead. Reasons for this have included most prominently the presence of Oscar Taveras at Memphis, but perhaps more quietly the price tag of a potential part-time presence in the outfield. Add in the urge to find more at-bats for Matt Adams, while not sacrificing Allen Craig’s presence in the lineup as well, and there are a plethora of optimal situations that make a Beltran return a tough situation to imagine.

But on the other side of the equation, there is the question of if the team can afford to let him go as well. He has been a dependable power threat in a season where they have been few and far between for the team. And the issue of if Taveras both returns healthy from the nagging ankle issue that ended his 2012 early, as well as how he transitions to the Majors, loom as well. If either of those issues looms, an absence of Beltran could create quite a hole for the team, which could have been avoided.

However, the presence of Carpenter could alleviate any and all of these issues. While he has risen to his call as a second baseman in a resounding fashion, he is only a year removed from being the team’s ultimate utility man. In the upcoming years, the everyday lineup of the Cardinals has the potential to fluctuate on nearly a matchup-to-matchup basis, due to the meeting of the veterans and emerging farm system at the MLB level.

A regular feature of this mix will be Carpenter, who Mozeliak made it abundantly clear the team will be pursuing a long-term pact with soon. However, his position going ahead could best be considered being deployed again as an everyday utility weapon, in the style of how Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist has been used over the years.  The best starting spot for this could prove to be right field, where alternating Carpenter in a few times a week gets a chance to use himself, David Freese and Kolten Wong together, in addition to allowing Allen Craig or Matt Adams to stay in a first base. A move back to second or third gets the uber, “Coming Atractions” duo of Wong and Taveras on the field together as well.

While the possibilities of the Cardinal lineup are very diverse in the next few years, there is a chance that the full potential is oddly not reached by keeping one of its current All-Stars in the mix, while maximizing the abilities of another showcases more of the team’s full potential can currently being imagined.

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Pirates Gear Up For Playoff Run

A day after major changes for both franchises, the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets completed a trade that alters the remainder of the season for both.

Marlon Byrd

The Mets were told their ace pitcher, Matt Harvey, would miss the remainder of the season due to a UCL tear.  Meanwhile, the Pirates fell out of first place when the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Cincinnati Reds in dramatic fashion.  The events of yesterday got the gears turning for both clubs and an agreement was reached.

The news was first reported by Anthony DiComo, the Mets beat writer for MLB.com.

The Pirates have acquired Marlon Byrd and John Buck from the Mets in exchange for second base prospect Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later.

Byrd is the notable piece of the deal for the Pirates as his stellar play this season shores up an outfield that has struggled for consistency.  His bat plugs nicely into the heart of the Pirates order and he brings with him 21 home runs and 71 runs batted in.  He has continued to produce in a season that was all but written off before it started.  Byrd was not expected to be a key piece at his age but he has provided a consistent bat and above-average defense to Pittsburgh and, more than likely, play right field alongside Andrew McCutchen while Starling Marte continues to recover from hand issues.

Buck, meanwhile, is a depth move that adds veteran leadership, solid defense, and a inconsistent bat to the bench.  He continues to throw out 30 percent of would-be base stealers and can drive in runs from time to time when he is playing well.

The Pirates part ways with a minor league second baseman who projects to be a decent hitter when he arrives at the big league level.  Herrera is only 19 years old and ranks just outside of the top ten prospects in the Pirates organization.  He benefits well from above average speed and surprising power, according to Baseball America, who ranked him 20th among Pirates prospects prior to this season.

The Pirates added two veteran pieces and a solid bat to their lineup as they enter the final push of a playoff run.  It is the type of mood that the Cardinals would have made under the Tony LaRussa leadership.

Cardinals fans hope it is not worthy of the same results LaRussa normally found.

Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.
You can find his work on Yahoo!InsideSTL, and here on i70.
Talk baseball with him on Twitter @poisonwilliam

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Jay Reignites Cardinals While Quieting Critics

It was not too long ago that the mere mention of Jon Jay’s name sparked a conversation about every way that he could be replaced. But within the last few weeks, nobody has been more responsible for the turnaround of the Cardinals than him. And now, with the Cardinals back to a comfortable 20 games over .500 and firmly on the heels of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jay continues to be the most unlikely, occasionally most undesirable, catalyst of the year.

Jay_

From the beginning, Jay has been a bit of a stepbrother. He slid into becoming a full-time part of the lineup two years after Colby Rasmus was hastily escorted out of Busch Stadium boundaries. And starting then and since, he’s proved his worth as a stabilizer of sorts for the team. Whether it has been as a leadoff or bottom of the order bat, or making the quick transition from plug in corner outfielder, to major landowner in an outfield devoid of much range otherwise, Jay has been a glue stick for the Cardinals over the past three years.

But despite all of this, there has been no player that has been outwardly yearned to be replaced more than Jay has over the past two years. He’s the most pedestrian of the regular Cardinals, and an era of Trouts, McCutchens and Harpers, the public opinion search for more in middle of the outfield has singled out Jay as the odd man out. Whether it is idea that Carlos Beltran could have something left in the tank to take to centerfield, a trade needs to be made or that Oscar Taveras is already much better suited for the team already, there are no shortage of reasons of somebody, anybody, else should be in his place.

But in the month of August, there’s been no more impactful of a player on the roster. For the month, his 26 hits are tied for the most in the National League, and he leads the Cardinals with a .377 average and 15 RBI in 18 games. The bottom-line: when Jay got going, the team started looking like it had a clue again. July was the worst month of the season for the team, and it wasn’t until their season-worst losing streak hit seven games, that an understated two hit game by Jay got at least one part of the lineup moving.

It was the first of what are now nine multi-hit games Jay has accumulated over the past 20 days. And it seems that the multitude of hits have all come at just the right time. He scored three runs and drove in two more in the 13-0 win in Pittsburgh which ended the club’s slide on August 1st. Then next night he turned in his second three RBI night of the season, contributing to second straight 13 run night for an offense that had scored just 10 runs over the previous week. The next week, he turned in three, three-hit games before plating a career-best four hit effort versus the Pirates back at Busch, which included him scoring the game winning run in the bottom of the 14th inning in a tight slide continued the club’s recent run of tough wins over their immediate superiors in the Central. In the last two days, he’s even added power to his recent show, notching home runs in back-to-back games for the second time in his career.

It’s been a tedious process, but Jay is quieting the bad-tempered mob against him. While has had a year that’s mostly been below the standard he’s set at the plate, his timing has once again been impeccable. He’s now at a career-best 54 RBI, and his on-pace for new high marks in runs scored, doubles and hits. And in a season where on average, four All-Stars are in the daily mix, it’s been the ultimate role player that’s stepped up the highest when nobody else could answer the call.

Sometimes, less truly is more.

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Royals Add Infield Insurance

The Kansas City Royals recent play has them a contender in both the AL Central and the race for a wild card spot. Now playing meaningful games in August and September for the first time in years, the Royals have made several moves recently to add depth to their team as they try to make the playoffs for the first time since 1985.

Emilio Bonifacio

Kansas City recently placed Miguel Tejada on the 60-day DL. The absence of Tejada coupled with Mike Moustakas nursing a sore left calf led the Royals to make two moves to bolster their infield depth.

First they acquired 12-year MLB veteran Jamey Carroll from the Twins and then they added super-utility player Emilio Bonifacio from the Blue Jays. Both players cost the Royals cash and/or a player to be named later.

Carroll is a light-hitting infielder who started 46 games for the Twins this year and did not hit a home run, while driving in nine runs. Offense is not Carroll’s game, but he does provide veteran leadership and he can fill in at multiple positions on the infield. He is a good defender, even at this time in his career.

Carroll started Tuesday’s game against the Marlins at third base and was 0-4 with one strike out. He also pinch hit in Monday’s game and was 0-2.

Bonifacio is also expected to have a utility role. Like Carroll, Bonifacio can fill in all over the infield. Unlike Carroll, Bonifacio has also logged time in the outfield and can play a corner spot or in center field. Bonifacio doesn’t hit for average (hit .218 with the Jays this year), but he does offer speed. He can steal bases when he gets regular at-bats and can also come into the game as a pinch runner, providing a threat on the bases in late-game situations.

These moves have gone under the radar in baseball circles. However, Royals’ GM Dayton Moore identified a need and got two players without giving up much in return. As the Royals enter the dog days of the season, these acquisitions could loom large. The young Royals have never been in contention and they can learn from veterans Carroll and Bonifacio who have experience on winning teams.

 

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Dyson stealing his way into fans’ hearts

Speed kills and Jarrod Dyson has speed to burn.

JarrodDyson4

 

In the third inning of Tuesday’s game against the Braves, this was on full display. Dyson bunted down the third base line for a single to lead off the inning. He wasted no time stealing second base. He ended up being stranded on third base, but he showed how dangerous his speed can be for opposing teams. Without hitting the ball out of the infield, he had himself in scoring position.

This is what Dyson brings to the table for the Royals. His elite speed gives the team an added weapon that they were missing while Dyson was on the DL (he missed over a month with a high ankle sprain).

The Royals are currently fourth in the majors with 60 steals and Dyson’s return from the DL should only help add to that number. In his first three games back, Dyson had three steals. In 102 games last season, Dyson swiped 30 bases and he stole over 30 bases in four different minor league seasons.

Dyson isn’t the only threat on the bases for the Royals. Alcides Escobar and Elliot Johnson have 11 steals each and Lorenzo Cain has nine. Even first baseman Eric Hosmer has seven steals.

The Royals now have a log jam in the outfield with five players more than capable of manning the position. Alex Gordon should stick in left field. Dyson, Cain, and David Lough can all play center field and Jeff Francoeur is still around to play right field. On Wednesday, Cain played in center with Francouer in right against left-hander Mike Minor. In the previous two games, Dyson played in center with Lough in right, while Cain and Francoeur sat.

With Dyson in the lineup, the Royals are one of the fastest teams in the majors, especially if Dyson, Cain, Escobar and Johnson are all on the field at the same time.

Dyson currently sports a slash line of .292/.320/.604. If he continues to hit and get on base, he should force his way into the lineup, especially against right-handed pitchers.

Because the outfield is so crowded, Dyson may not see everyday at-bats. But even in limited plate appearances, Dyson could threaten the 30 steals mark on the season, which will only help the speedy Royals push the envelope on the base paths.

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Lately the Royals offense is more lucky than good

After being ten games below .500 at one point, the Kansas City Royals made it to the .500 mark early this week before losing two in a row to the Cleveland Indians, falling to a 34-36 record.

Chris_Getz

After the debacle of May, it’s good the see the Royals playing better baseball. But they’re not playing good enough to contend for the A. L. Central, much less be a playoff contending team. Losing two out of three games to the Indians proves that. The team batting average is .257, which is only point better than last week. They’re also dead last in the A. L. with 37 home runs and a .368 slugging average, so the power isn’t there.

While first baseman Eric Hosmer shows improvement with a revised swing, third baseman Mike Moustakas is stuck with a .189 batting average and calls from some fans to send him down to the Minors and move Alex Gordon to third. Sending Moustakas to the Minors might help, but moving Gordon to third is a bad idea. Remember one of the reasons the Royals moved Gordon to the outfield? It’s because he wasn’t that good at third base.

And then there’s the Jarrod Dyson coming back from the DL problem. Dyson isn’t the problem. Outfielder Jeff Francoeur is the problem. Francoeur is at .214/.257/.335 and spends more time on the bench while David Lough patrols the outfield. Lough was called up when Dyson went on the DL, and Lough has done well with a .296/.310/.418 line and made a couple of spectacular defensive plays. He’s proven to be at least a league average outfielder and better than Francoeur is now. Which means Lough will likely be sent down to the Minors when Dyson returns.

Yes, it doesn’t make sense, but sometimes the realities of baseball doesn’t make sense. Dyson doesn’t have options remaining, so if the Royals don’t add Dyson to the major league roster, they have to trade, option or release him, which the Royals won’t do. However, Lough does have options remaining and the Royals can send him back to Omaha with no restrictions.

The Royals could release Francoeur and eat his remaining $4 million salary, but it’s unlikely the team would do that either, seeing they still believe Francoeur will come out of his hitting slump. The likely scenario when Dyson returns is to start him in the outfield, have Francoeur on the bench and send Lough to Omaha. It’s not the fair decision or frankly the most logical decision. But if Francoeur doesn’t show improvement, the club will have no choice but to cut him loose and call Lough up as a Royals outfielder, which could happen sooner rather than later.

Next is Chris Getz, the Jeff Francoeur of the infield. Getz has a .216/.278/.288 average and platoons with Elliot Johnson, who has a better .252/.284/.342 average. But is Johnson an everyday second baseman? Seeing Johnson appeared in 47 games and Getz in 46 games, the Royals don’t think so. Second basemen aren’t known for their power like first or third basemen, but if a team isn’t getting much production from the corners, then the second baseman has to pick up the slack. That’s not happening with Getz and it’s uncertain if it would happen if Johnson was an everyday player.

Then the usual offensive stalwarts, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, are having “down” years. Gordon is at .288/.344/.416 and Butler at .273/.379/.399. They’re not bad numbers, but the Royals need to find offense where they can get it.

The Royals did a good job improving their starting rotation and despite some rough outings from the bullpen, the ‘pen is holding its own. The Royals pitching staff leads the A. L. with a 3.41 ERA and has kept the team from falling into oblivion. But the hoped for production from the lineup hasn’t been consistent. If the offense doesn’t improve, it could be another Royals season like it’s been the last ten to twenty years.

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Matt Carpenter sets pace for increasingly impressive St. Louis Cardinals team

The St. Louis Cardinals have one of the most balanced attacks in all of Major League Baseball. Their pitching staff leads in earned-run average, the defense has the fewest errors in baseball and the lineup is ranked fourth of the 30 teams, but every power-producing engine needs a spark plug.

MLB Chicago vs St. Louis

For the Cardinals, that’s Matt Carpenter.

Carpenter began the season as a post-Tony La Russa version of Skip Schumaker. Originally a third baseman, manager Mike Matheny wanted him to move to be the starting second baseman in 2013 in a move similar to 2009 when Schumaker, now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, moved from the outfield to second base.

Carpenter has committed four errors through 58 of the team’s first 61 games while playing a combination of second base and third base, but he has quickly become an incredibly valuable asset.

Centerfielder Jon Jay began the season as the leadoff hitter, but he struggled to get his season started at the plate (his batting average was .204 in April). Matheny had enough of starting every game with one out, so he moved Jay to the seventh spot in the order May 2 and replaced him in the leadoff spot with Carpenter.

Carpenter was hitting .288 when he became the full-time leadoff hitter, and he’s since gone on a tear. He’s raised his average to .333, including 17 multi-hit games since Matheny moved him to the leadoff spot full time.

His rise to the top of the lineup coincided, not coincidently, with a Cardinals hot streak. The team compiled a 20-7 record in May and has won five of eight games in the first week of June.

They also had baseball’s best batting average (.289) in May, meaning the hitters behind Carpenter also hit well.

Catcher Yadier Molina led the team with a .394 average, but rightfielder Carlos Beltran, third baseman David Freese and shortstop Pete Kozma all hit .267 or better, not to mention Jay’s .284 average and 15 runs batted in, which tied him with Beltran for second most on the team in May.

“I feel like every time I get on there someone drives me in,” Carpenter told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after Monday’s 7-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, in which he went 3-for-5 with three runs scored.

In addition, the move down in the order has been as beneficial to Jay as the move up has been for Carpenter. The Cardinals had their cake and ate it, too.

Jay’s batting average improved from .204 May 1 to .286 May 21 before a recent slump that included consecutive hitless two-game series against the Kansas City Royals.

But certainly, the leadoff spot is what makes the rest of the game go. Carpenter gets on base, and Beltran, Molina and Matt Holliday drive him home to establish crucial early leads, which in turn allow pitchers to be more aggressive early in games.

But it all starts with Carpenter, who is quickly putting together one of the most impressive seasons of any Cardinals leadoff hitter since David Eckstein hit .295 with 90 runs scored, eight homeruns, 61 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 2005 on a team that won 100 games.

He’s also tough. Diamondbacks pitchers hit him three times Wednesday, and he came back the next night with four hits in five at-bats.

Carpenter has done exactly what any team needs from a leadoff hitter. He is the ignition that has put the Cardinals on pace toward another historically good record.

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International Soccer At Busch Details

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ST. LOUIS – May 21, 2013 – Two of the most storied English Premier League clubs, Chelsea and Manchester City, will be in St. Louis this week for a historic exhibition match at Busch Stadium on Thursday, May 23rd.  Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CST.  This will be the first international soccer match at Busch Stadium, as well as the first non-baseball sporting event at the ballpark that opened in downtown St. Louis in April 2006.  Following is a schedule of official activities and information to help fans enjoy international soccer in St. Louis this week.  Fans may also join the social media conversation on Twitter with #socceratbusch.

Ticket Availability

Thursday’s match is sold out, but fans should continue to monitor cardinals.com/soccer as tickets may be made available up until game time.  Tickets to Chelsea’s training session event on Wednesday are available for $20 at cardinals.com/soccer, the Busch Stadium box office and by phone at 314.345.9500.  The public training event includes a free concert by indie rock band Cracker, fireworks and a unique crossbar soccer challenge that will end with one fan in attendance winning a trip for two to travel to England next year to see Chelsea play at home.

From Baseball to Soccer – The Busch Stadium Transformation

On Monday, the Cardinals grounds crew began the process of reconfiguring the ballpark for soccer by removing the pitcher’s mound and installing sod in the infield and along the infield warning track.  The soccer field will be finished by Wednesday. The 100 x 65 meter soccer playing field will span from just in front of the visitor’s dugout to the edge of the outfield in front of the home bullpen.

Wednesday, May 22nd - Chelsea Training Session Event

As the designated home team, Chelsea will conduct a public training session at Busch Stadium for St. Louis fans.  The training session event promises to be an affordable and special evening for soccer fans.  Not only will fans be able to see one of the greatest international soccer teams prepare for their historic match with Manchester City, they may also enjoy a free concert by indie rock band Cracker, fireworks, and have a chance to participate in a unique crossbar soccer challenge that will end with one fan in attendance winning a trip for two to travel to England next year to see Chelsea play at home.

Gates for the training event open at 5 p.m.  Before fans enter Busch Stadium, they may want to visit one of three Chelsea fan-tents set up around the ballpark where they can pick up a complimentary Chelsea flag, sign up for information about the club and take a photo with a championship trophy.  The Chelsea fan-tents located at 8th & Clark, Gate 1 and Gate 2 will be open from 3:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Chelsea’s training session will commence at 7 p.m.  The session is expected to last just over an hour.   The Cross Bar Challenge will start around 8:30, followed by the Cracker concert.  The evening will end with fireworks around 9:30 p.m.

Thursday, May 23rd - Chelsea vs. Manchester City Match

Fans will want to plan to be downtown early to soak up all the soccer excitement.  Budweiser will kick off the formal activities at 4 p.m. with the Budweiser March to the Match Pep Rally at Kiener Plaza.  A full schedule of activities follows:

Schedule 

4 P.M. – 6 P.M.        Budweiser March to the Match Pep Rally at Kiener Plaza

The Cardinals and Budweiser will host a pre-match pep rally in Kiener Plaza, located between Broadway, 7th, Chestnut and Market.  Local rock band Griffin and the Gargoyles will perform.  Budweiser will have their Build-A-Bars and Pool Ball games as well as other soccer-themed activities.  Both teams will distribute free items for fans (Chelsea flags & Manchester City megaphones), and the team mascots and a Budweiser Clydesdale will be on hand for photo opportunities.  Team officials are scheduled to address the crowd at 5:30 p.m. and invite fans to “March to the Match,” led by the Budweiser Clydesdale and the team mascots down 7th Street to Gate 3 of Busch Stadium.

5 P.M. 

Gates open

7:00 P.M.                   

Pre-match ceremonies begin with an appearance by Chelsea’s mascot, Stamford the Lion, and Manchester City’s brother and sister mascots, Moonbeam and Moonchester.

Chelsea and Manchester City will be introduced. Each team will enter the field with 12 local children dressed in team attire.  The 24 children are between the ages of six and eight.  The referees will be introduced and will conduct a coin toss ceremony with the two teams.

The National Anthem will be performed by Brian Owens of the Missouri Air National Guard Band, Sidewinder.  

Flyover by Commemorative Air Force 

7:30 P.M.

Match Commences

Half-time

Ceremony honoring six St. Louis members of United States Soccer Hall of Fame (Frank Borghi, Bob Herman, Bob Kehoe, Denny Long, Pat McBride and Al Trost)

Watching on TV

Fans can watch the match on ESPN 2.

Radio Coverage

Fans can tune into KMOX (1120 AM) to hear coverage of the match.

Online or On the Go

Fans may also get unique content from the game via the Cardinals’ Twitter account, @Cardinals.

Getting to the Game — Roadwork & Alternative Transportation Reminders 
MoDOT will not have any scheduled additional lane closures on state highways inside the city limits for Wednesday or Thursday. There are projects under construction at I-64 and Jefferson and Tower Grove.  MoDOT will continue to have three lanes open in each direction of I-64 Wednesday and Thursday to accommodate soccer fans.

MetroLink is a convenient alternative to driving, allowing fans to avoid the cost of parking and game day traffic.  To avoid the traffic congestion and the cost of parking on game day, fans can use one of 19 free Park-Ride lots along the MetroLink line and take the train to Stadium Station, right across the street from the ballpark.  Check the Metro website www.MetroSt.Louis.org for schedules and the Park-Ride lot nearest you.

Soccer Merchandise Available in Cardinals Team Store

Fans will want to stop by the Busch Stadium Team Store to purchase a variety of soccer-related retail items connected with the historic match.  The Team Store has team specific merchandise, as well as special items commemorating the historic match such as t-shirts and scarves.  The store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week, and offers free, 15-minute street parking next to the store entrance at Clark and 8th Street, between Gates 3 and 4.  Merchandise will also be available at locations throughout the ballpark on both Wednesday and Thursday. 

 

About Chelsea Football Club

Chelsea is one of the most successful teams in England with four Premier League titles and seven FA Cups.  The Blues also boast two UEFA Cup Championships, one UEFA Super Cup and one UEFA Champions League title. In 2012 Chelsea, with the help of Spaniards Juan Mata and Fernando Torres, as well as English International and three-time Chelsea Player of the Year, Frank Lampard, became the first London club to win the Champions League. On May 15, 2013, Chelsea won the Eurpoa League Trophy, beating Benfica 2-1.

About Manchester City Football Club

Informally known as “The Blues” or “The Citizens”, Manchester City FC is an English Premier League side, founded in 1880 as St Mark’s West Gorton. The Club won the 2011-2012 Premier League title and has won 25 major trophies. It counts the European Cup Winners’ Cup, three League Championship titles, and five FA Cups amongst its honors. The Club plays its domestic home fixtures at the Etihad Stadium, a spectacular 47,500 seat arena, which the Blues made their home following the successful Commonwealth Games in 2003. For more information, please visit www.mcfc.co.uk. 

About Relevent Sports

Relevent Sports brings the excitement and intensity of international soccer to the United States by showcasing the best clubs in the world through premier tournaments and events. Going beyond the game, Relevent provides an innovative approach to building international soccer presence by utilizing brand development, grassroots planning, corporate sponsors, international touring and philanthropic initiatives for the soccer organizations. 

BUSCH STADIUM – POLICY REMINDERS

Bag Inspections Policy

  • ·        The standard game-day bag inspection policies for Busch Stadium will be in effect. Bags will be allowed that meet Major League Baseball’s standard size restriction (16”x16”x8”), and all bags will be inspected prior to entry. 
  • ·        Fans will be permitted to bring small personal cameras and will be subject to inspection.  No professional-sized photography equipment will be allowed except for members of the media with proper credentials.  
  • ·        Non-alcoholic beverages such as water and soda in open cups or in clear plastic bottles no larger than 2 liters are allowed.
  • ·        Alcohol, bottles, cans, thermoses, hard-sided coolers; hard plastic cups/mugs are not permitted.
  • ·        Small banners and signs are allowed.  Banners may be displayed as long as they do not hinder or interfere with play or distract or interfere with the view of another guest. Banners may not be obscene or in poor taste, attract abuse or cause a disturbance among other guests. They should be soccer-oriented and not commercial in nature.
  • ·        Please minimize items you bring into the stadium to speed up the inspection process. 
  • ·        Expect long lines upon entry. Allow plenty of time to go through the inspection process.

Exit/Re-entry Policy

Standard Exit/Re-entry Policies are in effect.  Guests wishing to leave the stadium, but planning to return during the same game must have their hand stamped at Gates 1, 2 or 4 as they exit the stadium. Guests must show ticket upon re-entry. Inspection policy will also be enforced.

No Smoking Policy

Standard Busch Stadium Smoking Policy is in effect.  Busch Stadium is a smoke-free facility. Exit/Re-Entry turnstiles will be set up at Gates 1, 2 and 4 to allow fans access in and out of the stadium if they wish to smoke. Fans will get their hand stamped as they exit the stadium. Guests must show ticket upon re-entry. Inspection policy will also be enforced.

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Cardinals Position of Interest: Organizational First Base

Of all positions in the Cardinals system, first base is perhaps the one that developed the most unexpectedly. While there was no need for a real succession plan due the long-term presence of Albert Pujols, and then Lance Berkman on the roster as well, it was a spot that could have left the team sorely in need of help. However, Allen Craig stepped up in both the wake of the departure of Pujols and injury issues of Berkman a year ago, and claimed it for his own. Fast forward a year later, and the position has both a long-term answer and yet another blooming talent at the MLB level in Matt Adams. But how will the future play out overall at the position? And will the surplus of talent lead to moves being made at spot, or will other issues make the team gun shy about jumping to any conclusions still?

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St. Louis: Craig came into his own as a full-time player last season. In his second full season, he played in 119 games and hit .307. He entered the season as a sort of utility man to support Berkman, as well as Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran in the outfield, but due to the repeated injuries to Berkman, he made 83 starts at first base and the position was his permanently by late summer. The 29-year old finished third on the team in runs batted in, helped in part by a National League-best .400 batting average with runners in scoring position. The team made a 5-year $31 million dollar commitment to him in response to his 2012, which presented another interesting situation in what to do with prospect Matt Adams.

Adams, who has averaged 20 homers a year in his minor league career and was the organization’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2011, found himself on the big league roster coming out of the spring. He has shown prodigious power, but is a fish out of water due to first base being his only position with Craig blocking him there. For now, the 24-year old will continue to be a potential big impact bat and spot starter in case of rest or a trip to the outfield for Craig, but of any of the organization’s top prospect, he is the one with a future that seems most likely to be spent elsewhere.

High Minors: With Adams with the big club, there is nothing of particular emphasis at Memphis currently regarding first base. Brock Peterson is manning it currently, but career minor leaguer is more his path. Xavier Scruggs will return to Springfield as a 25 year old for a second consecutive year, and while he has shown consistent power during his five year rise through the system (20+ homers the past three years), he still hasn’t put much pressure on breaking into even Triple A yet.

Low Minors: There’s not a particularly emergent player at the lower levels of the minors at first currently either. Danny Steinstra (24) and Jonathan Rodriguez (23) are in a time split at the position at Palm Beach, while David Washington (22) is manning the corner the next step down in Peoria. None of the trio profiles as a solution much further along the minors based on past performance and advanced age for the level. Among the more developmental prospects in the lower level is Jeremy Schaffer, who hit 10 home runs and 20 doubles at Rookie level Johnson City in 2012 after being an 18th round pick last June. He will open at Low-A Peoria, but if the 20-year old continues along with the same production as his pro debut began with, he’ll quickly rise to be the best prospect at the position in the organization.

Synopsis: First base is a top heavy position for the Cardinals, where the best talent is already on display at the Major League-level. Craig and Adams are both the future, simultaneously, so something will have to give eventually. But neither is making it easy, Craig with his fresh long-term deal and penchant for driving in runs, and Adams with his epically long drives. Yet a decision will have to be made, and once it is, the system as it currently stands does not offer much follow up promise behind either. The positive thing is that neither HAS to go anywhere anytime soon, and that is a good for staying strong at the top, while building in the system.

 

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A Birds Eye View: Cardinals/Reds Preview

The most official, yet unofficial, annual holiday in St. Louis is here again: Opening Day. And this year, return home of the Cardinals brings much into its fold, both traditional and not. While the pageantry of the Clydesdales march around the Busch Stadium outfield, leading in Hall of Famers to remind all of what the tradition of the Cardinals truly is will set the tone, a stark reminder of the greatest loss the organization has ever taken will be there as well. Not the disheartening loss at the hands of Barry Zito in the last game played on the field, but rather the passing of the greatest Cardinal of them all, Stan Musial.

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Around this all however, the business at hand on the field is there as well, as the team’s most potent competition in the division waits in the Cincinnati Reds. With all of these factors combined, this will surely be an unforgettable Opening Day, and one that will be played with an emotion that is rarely seen in April. Here’s all you’ll need to know to get ready for the debut series of the season of the home season.

The Cardinals coming in: The Cardinals (3-3) are coming in as winners of their previous two games, including a 14-3 dominance of the San Francisco Giants yesterday afternoon. In the game they scored 14 runs on 15 hits, a scoring trend that has been the norm this season. Despite being third in the National League in runs scored, they have hit only four home runs on the year, with three of them coming in one game vs. the Diamondbacks last Tuesday.

Pete Kozma enters as the most consistent Cardinal bat thus far. The rookie shortstop has continued his improbable hitting run with eight hits in 24 at-bats (.333), along with a team best five RBI…Matt Carpenter enters tied with Kozma with eight hits as well, half of which have been doubles, putting him atop the NL in the category…Matt Holiday has matched the five RBI mark to lead the team as well…Matt Adams has six hits in 10 at-bats, spread across two starts thus far…Adam Wainwright has struck out 12 in his first 13 innings and Trevor Rosenthal is averaging 13.50 strikeouts per nine innings over three appearances.

The Reds coming in: Cincinnati (4-2, first place NL Central) enters as an impressive offensive force as well, although they are doing it in a different fashion than the Cardinals. They have hit 11 home runs as a team, with both Todd Frazier and Shin-Soo Choo having three a piece. They enter their first road trip of the year in the midst of a grueling opening schedule, coming off winning series versus the Los Angeles Angles and Washington Nationals. They have scored at least five runs in five of six games, including a 15-0 win over the Nationals on Friday.

Frazier is the hottest hitter in the young National League season. He’s leading the league in batting average at .480 (12 for 25), and has driven in nine runs as well. He has taken over as full-time third baseman a year after finishing third in Rookie of the Year balloting, and leads the team in five categories…Joey Votto has opened up slowly, with a .238 average and 1 RBI…Cardinal Nation’s public enemy number Brandon Phillips returns with nine hits in his first 27 at-bats…Jay Bruce has 10 strikeouts in 29 at-bats…the Reds bullpen is surrendering only a .198 batting average against, and is highlighted by Aroldis Chapman’s nine strikeouts vs. 16 batters thus far

 

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday (3:15)—Jaime Garcia (1-0) vs. Mat Latos (0-0): Garcia surrendered one run across 5.2 innings in his debut vs. Arizona last Tuesday. In his career, Garcia has 20-11 home record, with a 2.48 ERA. Versus Cincinnati, he has an 8-2 career record. Latos gave up seven hits over 6.2 innings in a no-decision outcome for him, but 5-4 win for the Reds. In 2012 vs. St. Louis, he was beaten to a 7.84 ERA and 1-2 record.

Wednesday (7:15)—Lance Lynn (0-0) vs. Bronson Arroyo (1-0): Lynn couldn’t escape the fifth inning is his start, surrendering six hits, four runs and tossing 94 pitches. He has a 7.50 ERA vs. Cincinnati all time. Arroyo went six innings, giving up three runs in his win vs. the Angels last Wednesday. He is in the last year of his deal with the Reds, and has an 8-13 career record vs. STL.

Thursday (12:45)—Jake Westbrook (0-1) vs. Homer Bailey (1-0): Westbrook didn’t surrender an earned run, but still took the loss in his 116 pitch, 6.2 inning debut on Friday. The only run coming on a base loaded walk following an error. Bailey had a similarly impressive start, going six innings giving up only two hits, but getting the win. In 13 career starts, Bailey has a 3-7 record with a 5.00 ERA.

 

Injury Impact—St. Louis: Chris Carpenter, Rafael Furcal (Out for season), Jason Motte (15 Day DL, elbow issue), David Freese (15 Day DL, returns today). Cincinnati: Ryan Ludwick (Separated shoulder, out for four months), Nick Masset (15 Day DL)

A look back: The Cardinals won the season series in 2012, 8-7. They outscored the Reds 60-46. On the year, the Reds won the NL Central with a 97-65 record, while the Cardinals finished in second place with an 88-74 record. Both made the postseason, with the Reds losing in the NL Division Series 3-2 to the San Francisco Giants. The Cardinals lost the National League Championship Series to the same Giants, four games to three. All-time, the Cardinals lead the series 1,064-946 in the Modern Era, with their first game taking place in May, 1901.

 

News and Notes

-          Third baseman David Freese will make his season debut with the Cardinals after a rehab stint from a late spring back injury. While rehabbing with the Memphis Redbirds over the weekend, he had four hits in 12 at-bats, with two doubles and four RBI.

-          The team will reveal a display for Stan Musial, featuring his #6 and the logo the team is wearing as a patch on his left shoulder, in the outfield during the pregame events.

-          Injured pitcher Chris Carpenter is expected to participate in the pregame introductions for players today. It will be the first time he has been in uniform with the club this season.

-          Promotional giveaways for the series include a Magnetic 2013 schedule on Monday and a charity haircut day, sponsored by Great Clips, on Wednesday.

 

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