Tag Archive | "Playoff Implications"

The UCB Awards

It’s time once again to fill out the votes for the United Cardinal Bloggers end of the year awards.

Most awards ballots are anonymous, but not the UCB. In order for a ballot to be counted, you have to post it for the world to see. Guess that keeps us honest, huh?

For the first time you, our fans, get a chance to vote. Head over here and fill out your very own ballot and help show the great people of the internet your love for i70baseball.

Enough stalling, here is the Cardinal and Blogger landscape as I see it:

Cardinal Player Of The Year
Lance Berkman

The Big Puma did it all this year and made an entire city fall in love with him all over again. He put together an impressive season, put another solid bat into the lineup, and even gave the team a bit of a discount to retain his services. No longer “Fat Elvis”, Puma Time arrived in full force in 2011.

Cardinal Pitcher Of The Year
Chris Carpenter

The focus here is the fact that this is the pitcher of the year, not a specific half. Carp put together a solid year by the end of it all and was really the bulldog and ace of this staff when they needed one. He was a leader of this team when the team needed a leader and somewhere along the lines took my advice and held this team together.

Regular Season Game Of The Year
September 28 at Houston (Carp throws a shutout on the last day)

More for the day than the game, this was far and away the best single day in my baseball memory. All over the country the game was contested in highly competitive games with playoff implications and the Cardinals found themselves right in the middle of it all.

Post Season Game Of The Year
World Series Game 6 – Two Rallies With One Strike Left

There really are no words to describe this game. The greatest Cardinal victory that I have ever witnessed. Thank you, David Freese.

Surprise Player Of The Year
Kyle Lohse.

Seriously, I have been the leader of the charge to dump Lohse and his salary (and that manscape beard) at the earliest convenience. By the time the dust settled, he led the team in wins. Again, Kyle Lohse led the 2011 Cardinals in victories. Before you Sabermetric stat heads jump all over me, I don’t care, wins are still important to me.

Disappointing Player Of The Year
Colby Rasmus.

I admit it very openly, I am a fan of Rasmus. Even as a fan, you get tired of saying “this is the year”. Everything in my baseball knowledge pointed to this being a year for Colby to break out. That either shows that I have very little baseball knowledge or that this kid has daddy issues far beyond what even Freud could understand.

Cardinal Rookie Of The Year
Daniel Descalso.

I love me some Danny D. Kid showed some resilience this season, played a strong enough hot corner to be a finalist for the gold glove, and showed some heart. If he does not get serious consideration for the second base job next season, I have to wonder why.

Pre Season Acquisition Of The Year
Lance Berkman.

This award should be a landslide. There were a few of us that kept a positive attitude about Berkman when he was signed, but I don’t think anyone expected that John Mozeliak got that good of a deal.

Mid Season Acquisition Of The Year
Octavio Dotel.

I really did not give Dotel much of a chance coming over and viewed him as draft pick compensation at the end of the year. Now, I find myself hoping the Cardinals find a way to keep him for another season. He was money down the stretch and got the Cardinals out of some tight spots that this bullpen could have never been trusted with before his arrival.

Most Anticipated Cardinal
Shelby Miller.

The tall Texan has a great opportunity ahead of him and it may be coming in 2012. Until then, I will keep checking the minor league box scores every five games to see how well he performed yet again.

Best Individual Blog (Written By One Person)
On The Outside Corner

I may be a little biased here as Bob Netherton also writes for i70baseball. But, honestly, it is impossible to read Bob’s site without learning something. I consider myself a historian of this game and I love the tradition and history it provides. Bob captures that in new ways every single post and that is not easy to do.

Best Team Cardinal Blog (Written By More Than One Person)
Pitchers Hit Eighth

Last year, PH8 and i70 split the votes and were co-holders of this award. I have been a fan of Nick and his crew for quite a while and considered it an honor to be mentioned with them. I still do. From the funny and spot-on analysis of Dennis to Nick’s straight forward and poignant posts, once you sprinkle in some April Fool with Josh and a little bit of Andrew, the site is a must read daily.

Best Professional Cardinal Blog
Bird Land

One of my hardest choices as I have a lot of respect for Derrick Goold and Matthew Leach. In all, I think Goold does a great job of giving the fans what we want to hear about, even if it is not the biggest story of the day.

Best Rookie Cardinal Blog
Birds On The Bat 82

It is not the most catchy name, but the site (and it’s author) have earned my respect this year. Here’s hoping there is many more years of some 1982 love.

Post Of The Year
Diamond Diaries – 9 Years Later

I am a sentimental guy and I’ll be damned if stories of Jack Buck and Darryl Kile don’t get me every time. Angela Weinhold (another of i70′s own) did an amazing job of capturing the moments from nine years ago that rocked the very foundation of Cardinal Nation.

Best UCB Project
Roundtables

Twice a year this group of blogs exchanges ideas throughout discussions started with simple questions in the roundtables. It is one of my favorite projects I have ever been a part of.

Most Optimistic Cardinal Blog
Diamond Diaries

Honestly, I do not remember a time when the girls of Diamond Diaries ever gave up on this team this year. We were all ready to mail it in at some point, but they kept the faith throughout.

Best UCB Podcast
Conversations With C70

“You are listening to my Daddy’s show!” may be the best intro I have ever heard on a podcast.

Best UCB Twitterer
gr33nazn

That’s “Green Asian” for those of you that did not know (I didn’t for a long time). Dennis from Pitchers Hit Eighth brings the funny to 140 characters or less better than anyone I know. He is right there with a quip or an anecdote for most anything and is always there with some encouraging words for real life.

Best Fake Cardinal Twitter Account
None

Sorry folks, I just don’t do the fake accounts. The squirrel and tortoise annoyed me all post season and most of the other stuff is pure drivel. I’m abstaining form this one.

That’s my ballot. Hope everyone enjoys, feel free to comment below, and don’t forget to go vote yourself.

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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A-T-L In The S-T-L: What The L To Look For

To borrow a phrase from Joe Biden, “This is a big [freakin’] deal.”

Often it’s said during the season that a series or even a single game or inning just might be the “point that we look back on” once the season is over. Inferred is that we look back on that game, inning, pitch, whatever, and point like Matlock at the exact thing that sparked the beginning of the end. “Dude. Remember that hanging 1-2 breaking ball in the bottom of the 4th at San Diego two months ago? That was it, right there. Season? Over.”

Matlock

High Cheese, your honor. Gets ‘em every time.

During the offseason, and leading up to spring training, we heard rumors of varying contract numbers. And again this year, every game since Opening Day we’ve been hearing about that serious number. But now it’s mid-September, and the two numbers most fans are watching closely are “magic” numbers, and elimination numbers. Headed into Friday night’s action, the Cardinals elimination numbers are 11 and 12. If the Cards lose 11 games in the standings of the National League Central Division, they’ll be mathematically eliminated from the possibility of winning the division over the Milwaukee Brewers; Lose 12, and they can kiss hopes of defeating the Atlanta Braves the wild card goodbye too. Which brings us to this weekend, as those Braves come to Busch Stadium for an epic battle between two powerhouses in baseball. Two of most storied franchises in all the land will face off and only one will remain standing. Cue the John Williams score. That’s right, fans, it ALL COMES DOWN TO THIS SERIES!! Ok, not really. It is an important series though, as September playoff implications go.The redbirds will host Larry Jones and the Bobby Cox-less Atlanta Braves this weekend in St. Louis. Friday’s pitching matchup features Edwin Jackson for the Cards & Randall Delgado for the Braves. For Delgado, it’s a tale of ridiculously small sample sizes at the Major League level. He has never faced the Cardinals–not hard to imagine when you consider he’s had one start in each of the months of June, August, and September so far in 2011, totalling 15 IP, never going more than 6 in a single outing. The 21 year-old Atlanta right-hander is sure to have his work cut out for him, as he faces a potentially explosive lineup, and the Braves are struggling a bit lately. They’re 5-5 over the last 10, against the Mets, Nationals, Dodgers & Phillies.For Saturday night’s game, Jamie Garcia draws Derek Lowe, and Garcia’s extra rest will hopefully be enough to keep the Cardinals in it. If the Braves can get some offense going, and put up a crooked number, things could fall apart quickly for the young left-hander. Lowe looks to bounce back from surrendering 5 runs in 5 innings his last outing, on Labor Day. Even more so than most games, this one will be all about the starting pitching.

On Sunday, it’ll be Westbrook and Hudson squaring off. Westbrook has seemed to have more control of late, walking only one batter in his last two outings. There have been plenty of INNINGS this year when he’s exceeded that, and that control will have to continue on Sunday afternoon. Hudson’s ERA is lower by about a point and a half, and the Atlanta starter has been considerably more consistent over the 2011 season than his counterpart. It’s almost odd that the Cardinals are at home on a Sunday, and the game hasn’t been moved to Sunday night for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. That game will be played, appropriately, in Flushing, as the Mets host the cubs on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 2001.

By the time the sun sets on Sunday, the Cardinals could be as much as 10 ½ games out of the wildcard race, or be as close as 4 ½, in the event of either team sweeping the other. As a side note, the Brewers are hosting PHI, and lost to Hamels last night, lining them up to face Halladay, Lee, and Worley this weekend. Better them than us, though I did make a prediction about this series back in January that has since turned out to be a little off. From there, it’s all about what the Cardinals can put together for the rest of the season, and not rely on other teams losing–they have to rely on themselves, and win games. They need momentum, something they’ve not had much of all year, if they want to have a chance at October baseball, and time is running out.

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Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Kansas City Royals

The Royals put a damper on the Twins’ hope for having home field advantage in the post season by unleashing a near non-stop onslaught against the Twins’ formidable pitching staff. In the first two games, the Royals scored twenty runs. The Royals have a chance to influence post-season seeding again to conclude the 2010 season versus the Tampa Bay Rays. If the Royals sweep the Rays, the Rays will go from being the number one seed to the number four seed in the playoffs. With a division title and playoff implications on the line, the Rays can ill afford to slack off against a team that scored over twenty runs in the past three games.

Game 1: Matt Garza (15-9) vs. Zack Greinke (9-14)

Matt Garza is getting his last start before the post-season begins. He is one of the key ingredients for the Rays’ ability to maintain pace with the Yankees all season long. He has one start against the Royals this season back on April 29th. He went six strong innings, giving up only five hits and one run.

Zack Greinke is going for his last attempt at reaching double-digit wins this season. For him, it would be a building block going into next year and a personal statistical milestone. If he pitches like his Cy Young caliber self, the Rays will have to take advantage of any mistake he makes. Last time Greinke faced the Rays he was nearly unhittable. He went eight strong innings and only gave up four hits and one run while striking out six. Despite this excellent performance, he took the loss due to the Rays pitching staff’s shutout performance.

Game 2: James Shields (13-14) vs. Bruce Chen (11-7)

James Shields has been on a roller coaster this season in terms of his effectiveness. At times, he has been forced to take early exits as he did against Florida in June (3.1 innings/ 10 ER). In other instances, he was very solid as he was against the Yankees two weeks ago (6.1 innings/ 1 ER). It is difficult for me to see him as a starter for the Rays in the post-season because of this inconsistency.

Bruce Chen is trying for win number twelve to cap off his most impressive season since 2005. He does have some quality experience against the Rays when he was with Baltimore. This will mark his first start against them this year. He is coming off an impressive outing versus Cleveland. He pitched 6.2 scoreless innings but wound up not being a part of the decision.

Game 3: Wade Davis (12-10) vs. Kyle Davies (8-11)

Last time Wade Davis got a start against the Royals, he pitched a magical seven scoreless innings against Zack Greinke. Since then, he has pitched .500 ball. He has not won a game since September 11 while visiting Toronto. Despite this fact, his ERA in the month of September has dropped steadily with each start.

Kyle Davies has a chance to tie a career high in wins if he can earn the victory on Saturday. His most recent start against Tampa Bay was back on May first of this year. He lasted six innings while striking out six, walking five, and giving up just two earned runs. In his last outing, he was shelled by the Twins. He lasted only 3.1 innings and gave up seven earned runs on eight hits and three walks. In order for him to get a strong consideration for next season he will have to have a solid outing against the Rays.

Game 4: David Price (19-6) vs. Sean O’ Sullivan (4-6)

David Price, a Cy Young candidate this year, will finish off the season for the Rays. Depending upon how the first three games go, he could be the man the Rays count on to bring home the division title, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He has a chance to join the 20-win club in just his second complete season in the majors. Back on May first, he ended up not being a part on the final decision against the Royals. He went six innings and gave up two earned runs on just four hits. In his most recent start though, he pitched eight shutout innings against Baltimore.

Sean O’ Sullivan did something for the Royals that was more than just a “W” in the standings in his second-to-last start. Because of his quality pitching performance against Cleveland he assured the Royals would not suffer a 100-loss season this year. He also has the opportunity to make a stronger case for the Royals to keep him around for next year if he is able to repeat his winning performance against the Rays.

Offense:

The Royals were hot in the series against the Twins. With those performances, the Royals were able to move into a tie for second in the American League in team average. The Rays have been on and off the past few games, including a 2-0 loss against Baltimore on Wednesday. The Royals batters have a chance to do some damage to the Rays’ post-season expectations. Billy Butler and Mike Aviles have been swinging the bat really well all September. If the leadoff hitter can get on, this will give these two hitters a chance to drive in some runs.

Defense:

Going into this season the Royals thought they had improved on the defensive side of the ball. According to the numbers, they have not. This will be a point of emphasis going into the off-season. In contrast, Tampa Bay is ranked third in the American League in fielding percentage behind two other Playoff bound teams (New York and Minnesota).

Pitching:

This is another point in which the Rays and the Royals are polar opposites. The Rays are ranked second in team ERA, first in saves and third in strikeouts. The Royals rank fourteenth, fifth and eleventh in the same categories. The Royals need solid outings by their starters in order to set the game up for closer Joakim Soria. If each of them can go six or more innings while keeping the game close, this will allow Soria to attempt to eclipse the forty-five save mark.

X-Factor:

The Royals are playing for pride and evaluating talent for next year. The Rays are battling for a division title and playoff seeding (even though they are guaranteed a spot). The big question is, will the Rays finally cave under the pressure that they have been under all season or will they prove that they are the best team in the A.L. East?

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