Tag Archive | "Pundits"

The St. Louis Cardinals Acquire Reliever From Milwaukee

BREAKING - The St. Louis Cardinals have acquired John Axford from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for a player to be named later, according to the team and first noted by Kary Booher of the Springfield News Leader.

JohnAxford

Axford, the once mighty closer for the Brewers, has served as the team’s eighth-inning guy for the majority of the 2013 season.  His performance has been far from his former, dominant self.  He is allowing greater than 1.5 runners per inning pitched and has already surrendered as many home runs this year as he has in any other year.  His strikeout rates are down, though his walk rates appear to be steady.  He is a work horse type pitcher that has already appeared in 62 games this season and does add some veteran relief to the back end of the bullpen.  He does produce a solid ground ball rate just below 44% and the Cardinals are probably hoping to catch lightning in a bottle by putting him back into meaningful ball games.

Axford is in his arbitration years as a “Super Two” player, which leaves him under team control through 2016.

Far from the move that most fans or pundits believe to be the one the Cardinals needed to make, it does inject a new and steady arm to the bullpen for a relatively low cost, depending on the prospect heading to Milwaukee.

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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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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I come to praise the Shields-Davis trade, not to bury it

If there’s a fan base pessimistic about everything, it’s the Kansas City Royals fan base. Not being in the playoffs since 1985 and not having a winning season since 2003 does that to you. And with all the other misfortunes the Royals experienced over the years, you can’t blame fans for being pessimistic.

Shields and Davis

So when the Royals traded top prospect Wil Myers, pitching prospects Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery and infielder Patrick Leonard for Tampa Rays starters James Shields and Wade Davis, a lot of Royals fans, bloggers and pundits panned the trade. They claimed the Royals gave up too many prospects and traded potential long-term success for short-term gain. They believed the trade smacked of desperation, a cynical move by General Manager Dayton Moore to try to keep his job.

But what were the Royals supposed to do? Look, the Rays weren’t about to give up David Price or Jeremy Hellickson for Myers, Odorizzi, Montgomery and Leonard. And I doubt adding someone like Eric Hosmer and/or Billy Butler to the deal would change things. The Rays aren’t rebuilding and they have no reason to give up Price and Hellickson. The Rays had room to give up Shields and Davis and still keep their strong, young, starting rotation.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed the Royals gave up Odorizzi. But Odorizzi projects as a number three or four starter, like Davis. And Davis has four years of Major League experience and is a free agent until 2016. If Davis works out as a starter, he could be the key success to the trade. And if he doesn’t fare well as a starter, he can go to the bullpen, where he succeeded with the Rays in 2012.

Making Montgomery a part of the trade made sense. This is the guy some thought would be a part of the Royals 2012 rotation. Instead, Montgomery ended up in AA Northwest Arkansas and struggled there. It’s likely he wouldn’t be with the Royals anytime soon and a change of scenery might do him some good.

The Royals only get two years of Shields, but if he pitches as expected, the Royals have an ace they haven’t had since Zack Greinke. If you’re into statistics, Baseball Reference says Greinke is statistically similar to Shields, who’s going to make $9MM in 2013. Greinke will make $19MM in 2013.

Heck, the Royals will pay Ervin Santana $12MM in 2013 and he’s projected as the number two or three starter. Looking at it that way, Shields is a bargain, even if the Royals pick up Shield’s $12MM 2014 option. If the Royals do well in 2013 and 2014, perhaps Shields signs a multi-year deal with the team. It could happen.

And think about what the Royals didn’t have to give up. Players like Danny Duffy, Felipe Paulino, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and pitching prospects Kyle Zimmer and Yornado Ventura. The Major League team is still intact and when Duffy and Paulino return, they will be a part of the starting rotation.

But what about Jeff Francoeur? Yes, he had a terrible 2012 and it might be a stretch if he crawls back to being league average next year. But even if Myers stayed with the Royals, it’s likely he wouldn’t be on the Opening Day roster. Despite what some think, the Royals needed front line starting pitching over a right fielder like Myers. And if worse comes to worst, there’s always David Lough or Jarrod Dyson, right? And by the time Francoeur leaves, there’s a chance Bubba Starling will take his place.

Sure, the Royals could have gone the free agent route and got a Anibal Sanchez, Shaun Marcum or Ryan Dempster. But would the Royals sign them for $9MM a year like they got Shields? And honestly, Shields is a better pitcher than Sanchez, Marcum or Dempster. If anything, the Royals might have been better off trying to sign Sanchez, Marcum and Dempster over Santana or Guthrie.

It’s true losing prospects like Myers, Odorizzi, Montgomery and Leonard hurts, but remember, they’re prospects, not proven Major League commodities. Of course, Shields could blow out his elbow and Davis might be the second coming of Luke Hochevar. But baseball is a game of risk and the Royals aren’t going to win by playing it safe and relying solely on their prospects.

Remember all the bold moves the Detroit Tigers took last year? They made it to the World Series. Sure, it’s a long shot the Royals will be in the World Series next year, especially with the Tigers in the division. But the Royals have to make bold moves if they want to succeed.

And don’t forget this trade brings the Royals payroll up to $80MM. Love him or hate him, David Glass is spending money and Dayton Moore is making an effort to improve the team.

It won’t take long to see if this trade works out for the Royals. If it blows up, Moore will be gone and the team could be wandering in the baseball wilderness for several more years. But if it succeeds, it could be the start of a new era of winning baseball for the Kansas City Royals.

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Did The Cardinals Miss Their Shortstop?

The St. Louis Cardinals went into the offseason with a very short shopping list.  Solidify the bullpen, which they accomplished with the signing of Randy Choate, and upgrade the middle infield.

StephenDrew

The rumors have flown and the team has been attached to just about any shortstop that was even rumored to be available.  While rumors and pundits wondered what direction they would go, they have quietly stood their ground.  Whether that is by choice or by force, the team has not been able to pull the trigger and the options have gotten slim.

The most active rumor was concerning Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera.  Now that Cleveland has completed a deal that sent Shin Soo Choo to Cincinnati, most expect them to keep the soon-to-be free agent for the time being.  Cabrera offered a large upgrade offensively as well as an above average glove.  Possibly the player that would have made the most impact for the team, Cabrera seems to be off the market and out of the question.

While very few rumors surfaced surrounding the young Dodger shortstop Dee Gordon, it seemed like a logical fit when the West Coast Yankees expressed interest in utility man Skip Schumaker.  Alas, the Cardinals got a shortstop in return, but it was in the form of former fifth round draft pick Jake Lemmerman.  The move provided St. Louis with a much needed addition in depth at the minor league level, but leaves them contemplating what to do at the major league level still.

Further rumors connected the Redbirds to the player that proved to be a thorn in their side in this year’s National League Championship Series, Marco Scutaro.  Scutaro had the unique ability to provide an upgrade at either short or second base and could have added some veteran leadership to a club that continues to get even younger.  Scutaro proved that his loyalty was to the team that brought him his first championship and signed on the dotted line to remain in San Francisco.

Possibly the largest rumor of them all had the Cards looking to bring Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus to the Gateway City.  Andrus represented an increase in offensive productivity, he would be a step back on the defensive front.  Texas has the youth to make such a move, but as the winter has gone on, they have seemed like they do not have faith that they are ready to make that move as of yet.  News breaking of Josh Hamilton‘s new contract in Anaheim will have Texas looking to hold on to the offensive weapons they have.  They are in the market for pitching, which the Cardinals have an abundance of, but the price may be too steep overall.

The final hope may be a player they have expressed interest in already this offseason, Stephen Drew.  Drew has drawn interest from multiple places.  Most experts expect him to land back in Oakland but no movement has been made to that direction as of yet.  Drew would be a risk investment as the Cardinals would hope that his offensive production could return to levels previously shown in his early career.  He also poses a bit of a health risk which may not be that much better than what they currently have.  There has been talk of Drew being willing to play second base, which makes him a bit more attractive in the long run.

The club has stood by the fact that it would wait to hear how current shortstop Rafael Furcal‘s injury was progressing before they would pursue any other options.  What few reports have surfaced concerning Furcal have been positive.

If, in fact, this team wants to upgrade in the middle infield, it may be time to do it or miss out.

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Here’s your chance, Johnny Giavotella

The Royals were likely to call up infielder Johnny Giavotella after the Omaha Storm Chasers season came to an end, but Chris Getz‘s season-ending thumb injury last week gives Giavotella the chance to see if he has what it takes to be a Major League second baseman.

During spring training, a lot of fans expected (and hoped) Giavotella would make the opening day roster. But on March 25 Giavotella was optioned to AAA Omaha and Getz became the Royals second baseman. A lot of Royals fans and pundits were disappointed. But the Royals believed Getz’s defense was superior, his offense had improved and Giavotella needed more defensive seasoning in Omaha.

Giavotella did well in Omaha with a .331/.408/.504 line with five homers, 25 RBI and 152 plate appearances, playing second base. When starter Jonathan Sanchez went on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis, Giavotella joined the Royals May 9.

During his first stint with the Royals, Giavotella played 21 games and split playing time with Getz and Yuni Betancourt. He had an unimpressive .217/.260/.261 line with no homers and six RBI over 73 plate appearances, committing three errors at second base. Giavotella got more playing time at second when Getz went down with a rib injury May 16, but he still split playing time with Betancourt. The Royals sent Giavotella back down to Omaha June 12 when Chris Getz returned from the disabled list.

Giavotella returned to Omaha, ending up with a .323/.404/.472 line with 10 home runs, 71 RBI over 418 plate appearances. He played the majority of the games at second, committing six errors with a .983 fielding average. It appeared Giavotella would be a September call-up, if he was called up at all. Then last Friday, Getz broke his thumb during a bunt attempt and Giavotella was called up for last Saturday’s game against the White Sox.

Plans are for Giavotella to play five to six games a week at second base. So far, Giavotella’s five games since his return haven’t been impressive. His average over the last five games is .167/.211/.167 with three base hits, no RBI with six strikeouts and no walks. In other words, he’s in the lineup, but not really contributing. Of course this is a small sample size and there’s hope his offensive numbers will improve as he gets more playing time.

But what about Giavotella’s defense at second base? To be honest, his defensive numbers this season haven’t been impressive either, with a .949 fielding percentage and a 3.65 RF/9. Compare that to Getz’s .983 fielding percentage and 4.43 RF/9. Even Betancourt had a .975 fielding percentage and a 4.61 RF/9, and we all know how bad an infielder he was. The league average fielding percentage at second base is .983 and the league RF/9 is 4.62. In other words, all three players are just near or below league average. One is no longer with the team (Betancourt), another is out for the year (Getz), and the one who’s left (Giavotella) is below league average in both categories.

Some Royals fans would like Giavotella to be the second baseman of the future and take Getz’s place. But to be fair, Getz played well with a .275/.312/.360 average and only committed four errors at second, despite having an injury filled season. And since Getz is not going to be a free agent until 2015, he’s probably going to be competing for a second base job in 2013, along with Giavotella.

Unless Giavotella has an injury, he’s going to be the Royals second baseman for the rest of the season. And even if his offense improves, his defense will decide if the Royals think he’s their second baseman of the future. Giavotella is being given a chance. It’s up to him to make the most of it.

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Dave Veres on Darryl Kile

It has been 10 years since we were all shocked to find out that Darryl Kile had passed away, in his sleep, in a hotel in Chicago.  The St. Louis Cardinals lost another member of the “family”, players lost a teammate, and the world lost an amazing man and father.

All of this is well documented and I do not feel I can bring more to the subject.  I admired him.  I enjoyed his career.  I mourned his loss.  I, much like other fans and pundits, have moved on.  Sooner or later you simply run out of words.

About a month ago, I was co-hosting a radio program on my network, pinch hitting for a host that could not make it.   The show featured former Cardinal reliever Dave Veres, a guy I had watched as I grew up and I was excited to interview.  Before the interview was over, the subject of Darryl Kile was raised, and I could tell there was a bond.

When the United Cardinal Bloggers decided that the June project this year should be to look back at Jack Buck and the man many of us now know as “DK57″, I was not sure what to write.  I sent a few emails and some requests but ultimately was denied or met the common “I’m not sure what more I can say”.  My email to Dave Veres, however, was answered kindly.

 I did reach out to former Cardinal beat reporter, Matthew Leach, for his thoughts.  He told me that he would be running them on his blog, but he did not have a “favorite memory” of Darryl Kile.  Leach has said many times that Kile was “hard to cover” and explained why.  He did come up with a memory, and you can read that story over at Obviously, You’re Not A Golfer.

I asked Veres two questions: 1 – what is your favorite memory, on or off the field, of Darryl Kile and 2 – What can you tell me about that fateful day ten years ago.  What I got back but funny, beautiful, inspiring and sad.

On his favorite memories of Darryl Kile, Dave Veres shared the following
As you have most likely heard about Darryl and his on the field accomplishments and how he was such a great teammate and competitor. My favorite memories of Darryl were more off the field since we spent more time in the winter together with our wives and kids being so close.

One was when we were in AAA with Tucson and I think we were playing Tacoma and we would go fishing in the mornings. So one morning we are out and being in the Northwest they had plenty of rain, so we were hiking back to get to a fishing hole and instead of going through a couple inches of water I decided to go across a muddy area instead because I didn’t want to get my shoes wet. Well, needless to say, what looked like a little bit of mud turned out to be about a 4 foot mud hole. I remember as I was sinking and was asking Darryl to help. He basically said “I’m not going in there”.  Luckily, for my sake, I finally hit the bottom. Then he held out his fishing pole for me to grab onto. Of course then it was funny and, needless to say, I went into the water anyway to rinse of the mud.

So, now we are in the big leagues and both live in Houston and Darryl and I would golf or play “mortal combat” and the wives would go shop or whatever. Of course it was only fitting that they were both pregnant at the same time, too. So on Jan 15th 1997 my wife and I are going to the dentist and I get a call from Darryl and he says he and Flynn are going to the hospital and wants me to go by the store and pick up a camcorder so they can record it. Nothing like going into your best friend’s wife’s room and setting up a video as she’s getting ready to give birth to twins. Thank goodness since it was twins and a high risk delivery there were plenty of doctors in there.  I could set up without having to “see” anything. Later that evening we are at home and my wife is feeling some labor pains, I think it’s just because she watched Flynn deliver. Well about 8 hours after their twins were born we had our daughter. And when Darryl signed with the Rockies the next year they traded for me a few weeks later and we all moved to Denver. So we spent nearly every Christmas and birthday’s together for the 4 years.

On June 22, 2002 – The day Darryl Kile was found in his hotel room
Well, I can say that morning may be the worst day I have ever been through. Since Darryl and I usually lockered by each other and he was always one of the first guys at the clubhouse, it was pretty clear when I arrived at the ball park he wasn’t there yet. So I tried calling him and, when I couldn’t reach him, I called my wife to go to his room and try and wake him up. I knew his brother came to town and just figured he over slept. So she banged on his door and there was no answer.  So she asked one of the maids to open the door since he was late for the game. Luckily for my wife’s sake he had the security latch on,otherwise she would have found him. But, that’s when we knew he was in his room. So they had to get security and I think they called the Cardinals and let them know something was up. As we were out at BP the clubhouse guys came and got me and said there was a “family emergency”.  It was my wife on the phone and told me that Darryl had passed away in his sleep. I didn’t know what to do or say,I just kind of went numb or in a daze. A little while later Tony came in with the team and that’s when they told everyone else.

Those next few days were so exhausting. The emotional drain on us, if anyone watched the game the next day against the cubs on ESPN it was like a bunch of zombies. I’m not really sure why they aired that game. I think being a father my first thoughts went out to Flynn and the kids,I couldn’t imagine them not having their father any longer.

I still think about him pretty much daily, usually a DK or 57 will pop up or a story will remind me of him. We ran into Flynn and the kids last year in Anaheim at a volleyball tournament that our girls were playing in. Even though we don’t talk as much it was still we hadn’t missed a beat when we saw them,except there was no Darryl in person.

We appreciate Dave sharing such personal stories with us.  After the stories, he included one quote that stuck with me:

He was truly one of the nicest and genuine people you could have ever had the privilege to know. Also one of the greatest competitors, I don’t think he missed a start in 10 years,so that why when Tony got us together and we realized that Sunday night game would have been Darryl’s start,we needed to play it in his honor.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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One Last Look Back: Top Five Royal Stories

Today, we will take one last look back at 2011.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

The season was not much different than what many expected from the Kansas City Royals. In a rebuilding year with a crop of youngsters coming through the system to keep fans excited, the Royals would finish low in the standings and surprise very few people.

There were a few bright spots and plenty of reason to be optimistic if you are a Royals fan. Here are the top five stories from the 2011 calendar year in Kansas City.

Editor’s Note: Thanks to our own Troy “KCRoyalman” Olsen for helping come up with the stories and ranking them.

Number Five: Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur
or I Thought This Was A Youth Movement
The Royals, in the middle of a youth movement, grabbed two veteran outfielders that had many fans scratching their heads. Somehow, the Royals caught a break and ended up with solid production from both of the outfielders.

Francoeur turned his work on and off the field with the young players into an extension that will keep him in Royal Blue through 2013. Meanwhile, the Royals capitalized on the rise of Lorenzo Cain through the minor league system and Cabrera’s productive 2011 into a trade that would bring promising young hurler Jonathan Sanchez to Kansas City from San Francisco.

Number Four: Royals Farm System Is The Best In Baseball
or Maybe Dayton Moore Knows What He Is Doing
After years of “rebuilding” and many fans, experts, and writers of all kinds questioning the consistent moves made by general manager Dayton Moore, the Royals farm system suddenly appeared to be stacked full of minor leaguers ready to bust onto the major league scene.

The excitement level in Kansas City grew and the team, fans, and pundits had a focus on the future. It was no longer a matter of if the team would win, it became a matter of when the team started winning. The number of prospects about to hit the big stage was overwhelming and for the first time in almost a decade, the entire nation was discussing the Kansas City Royals.

Number Three: The Countdown Begins
or The World Will Witness The Beauty Of Kauffman Stadium
With the final pitch of the 2011 All Star Game, the countdown to the 2012 Mid-Summer Classic began. Kansas City will play host to baseball’s biggest gala in 2012, but the hype began in July of 2011.

The unveiling of the official All Star Logo, the unveiling of a renovated stadium that featured some of the most attractive sight lines in all of baseball, and the excitement surrounding the city began to build towards a chance to shine in front of the world.

Number Two: Rookies Hit The Bigs
or The Youth Movement Begins To Arrive
If there was one thing everyone around the Royals was clamoring for from Dayton Moore and the front office, it was patience. Patience with the young players as they developed, patience with the team as it would hit hot and cold streaks, and patience with a fan base that may want to win now, but winning overall would be more important.

Moore was willing to give fans a sneak peak of what he had in store and two of the best the system had to offer, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, arrived on the big league scene. While Hosmer showed poise and determination, fans realized that Moustakas and others would be learning at this level to become the players they were capable of being. The field management staff did exactly what they needed to do when they simply stayed on course with Moustakas and were rewarded with a September that shows the young man is exactly what he is projected to be.

Number One: A Legend Continues To Fade
or Why Can’t The Royals And Frank White Get Along
Last season, Frank White was upset with his passing over at management’s hands but agreed to stay on as a commentator for Fox Sports Kansas City and help keep a legend from on the field in the booth with the Royals organization. Now, as the Royals prepare to move into 2012, White has been told he is no longer needed.

Tired of feeling disrespected, White has vowed to be done with the Royals and has even considered requesting that his iconic number 20 be removed from the wall and put back into circulation. It has been a public and brutal public relations nightmare that has fans steaming. A reconciliation does not seem imminent and the whole situation leaves a stain on an otherwise positive time for the franchise.

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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Arthur Rhodes

When word broke a few days ago that reliever Arthur Rhodes was released by the Texas Rangers, Cardinal fans everywhere wondered if the team would take a flier on the pitcher that as recently as last year was pitching for division rival Cincinnati. While it appeared that John Mozeliak would let this veteran pass, the Cardinals watched as recently dominant Lance Lynn leave a ball game with an oblique strain that may put him on the sidelines for the remainder of the 2011 season.

Arthur Rhodes

That was all it took for the Cardinals management. Lynn would go down on a day that Allen Craig would be activated and the roster would shift to a heavier bench for the first time in quite a while. Fans and pundits would wonder if the Cardinals would replace Lynn and on Thursday night, they found out just how the team would do it.

Arthur Lee Rhodes, all 41 years old, six-foot two-inch, 220 pounds of left handed pitcher, is on his way to join the team for this weekend’s series with the Colorado Rockies. He fits the Tony LaRussa/Dave Duncan mold of a veteran pitcher that has played for multiple organizations looking to catch on with a contending ball club.

Rhodes was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the second round of the 1988 draft. Three years later, he found his way onto the major league roster and would be used as a starter until 1994. By 1995 he was working primarily out of the bullpen and by 1997 his role on any pitching staff would be that of a relief pitcher. He would stay with Baltimore until the turn of the century, joining the Seattle Mariners in 2000. It was in Seattle that he would establish himself as a solid relief pitcher and someone that could be counted on for 66+ appearances a year. From Seattle in 2003, he would sign a contract to join the Oakland A’s. Oakland would trade him during the off-season the following year to Pittsburgh who would flip him to Cleveland before he ever wore a jersey for the Pirates. After a season in Cleveland, Rhodes would find himself traded to Philadelphia in January of 2006. A one year contract with the Mariners would not mean much as Rhodes spent all of 2007 injured before signing a new deal to return to the Mariners once again in 2008, just to see them trade him to the Florida Marlins before the season was over with. Two productive years in Cincinnati and half a season in Texas has led Rhodes to the Gateway City and the St. Louis Cardinals, his tenth franchise (including Pittsburgh) in his 20th season in Major League Baseball.

He is a left handed specialist and will allow Marc Rzepczynski to be used in various situations and not just in a typical lefty/lefty matchup. The team will need to make a corresponding move with both the 25-man, major league roster as well as the 40-man roster. That move is anticipated to be announced very close to game time on Friday.

Rhodes has struggled at times this year, evident by his release. However, he was used in standard relief and called upon to face hitters on both sides of the plate. It is projected in St. Louis he will not be asked to do that. We can see his performance in Texas this year by looking at the following table, courtesy of Baseball-Reference.

Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR BB SO SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS
vs RHB as LHP 27 63 60 11 20 6 0 4 3 8 2.67 .333 .365 .633 .998
vs LHB as LHP 28 42 37 5 8 1 0 2 5 7 1.40 .216 .310 .405 .715
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/12/2011.

Should Rhodes continue to pitch well against left handed hitters, and nothing suggests he will not, he will be a welcome addition to the Cardinals’ bullpen. If he is used in situations where he will face right handed hitters, then we may see some frustration from fans when his number is called.

Cardinal fans can rest easy when it comes to Rhodes. After all, he does not write poetry.

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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Cardinals Schedule Outlook: August

August heats up for the Cardinals and everyone currently predicts they will still be in the hunt of things when it does.

If in fact the Cardinals do find themselves deep in the division competition, one of the predicted top of the division foes will be the Milwaukee Brewers. The two teams will surely find some separation this month as they face of eight times in the Midwest heat.

The Cardinals will also find themselves on the road for most of August and facing other division foes like the Cubs and Pirates who, despite their records, seem to do a good job of playing spoiler.

August Breakdown:

Total Games: 28

Home: 13

Road: 15

Vs teams with winning records in 2010: 10

Vs teams with losing records in 2010: 18

Vs teams in the NL Central: 18

Key Series:

August 1-3 at Milwaukee, 9-11 vs Milwaukee, 30-31 at Milwaukee – the Brewers will look to untuck the Cardinals playoff hopes before September arrives while the boys in red will attempt to prove that all the pitching help Milwaukee employed during the off-season will not help them win a pennant.

While the Brewers were the most improved team in the NL Central this off-season, many pundits question whether they did enough. Over the course of these three series in August, we should find out just what the team is made of.

August 22-24 vs Los Angeles – The boys of Dodger Blue come calling near the end of the month and may have a chip on their shoulder to prove as well. A team stuck in the middle of a youth movement and a contender, the Dodgers may or may not find themselves in the thick of things by late summer depending on who you ask. Either way, these two storied franchises will challenge the thermometer to keep up with the play on the field as they light it up for a Summer classic in St. Louis.

Key To a Hot August:

The August schedule is an interesting one. There are teams the Cardinals should, and honestly have to, beat as well as contenders and division foes. It will be a challenge for the Cardinals as the season really heats up. This is the month that lineups and rotations have to prove they are healthy and can compete as their bodies are giving out.

At the end of August:

If the Cardinals have 14+ wins… they are not playing well enough to win this division. With 18 games against teams within the division, the Cardinals have to over-achieve a bit in August.

If the Cardinals are above .500… they have a start towards a playoff run. Honestly, this team does not need to finish above .500 in August, it needs to finish well above .500 in August. Anything less than 18 wins and September will be real interesting.

If the Cardinals are below .500… the season is looking down a barrel of the nastiest kind. If this team is under-achieving to this level and expects the Pujols contract not to be a distraction, everyone is fooled. If the Cardinals want to keep Pujols on the back burner and the season in focus, they cannot lose the month of August.

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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Cardinals Host Social Media Night

This past week I was fortunate enough to attend a new event at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals hosted an event known as “Social Media Night”, inviting bloggers, internet writers, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and even guys like me to come down and rub elbows with team officials, beat writers, and each other.

Bill Ivie and Derrick Goold

It has been a long time since I attended a game with so much anticipation. Driving to St. Louis, I kept fans of the site updated on my progress as we came closer to the stadium and the event. My Twitter account was bombarded with well wishes, invitations to meet up during the event, and some jealousy from those who could not make it.

Attending with me was fan of the site Greg Dowler, BaseballDigest.com’s Matt Wilson and i70baseball.com’s Justin Hulsey. We settled into our table front and center to listen to the likes of John Mozeliak, Matthew Leach, Derrick Goold, and representatives from Skorch, an agency that helps companies with their social media presence.

My first opinion and comment here is to thank the St. Louis Cardinals for organizing this event. It was informative, fun, light-hearted, and entertaining. While there were some minor flaws, I think the organization is doing a great job reaching out to the fanbase and showing some appreciation to people who keep the team at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds. They have expressed an interest in making this an annual event and I fully believe that it will allow them to build on the success of this year’s event.

Bill Ivie and Matthew Leach

All that being said, after listening to the guest speakers and shaking a few hands, I had the opportunity to rub elbows with some people I admire and look up to. When the Cardinals formed the event, I am sure they expected a swarm of internet pundits to gather around the speakers they had lined up and embrace the opportunity to speak with some of the team’s executives. I am not saying I did not take the opportunity to meet Matthew Leach, Derrick Goold, and Terry Rodgers among others; we had some very good conversations and made some great contacts. In this instance, however, my mind was set to get face to face with the people I drove four hours to see.

You see, I spend most of my days reading the same sites you probably do. I bounce around the Cardinal “blogosphere” and read the various sites and voices every morning, placing my finger on the pulse of the fans and being entertained by some of the most creative people out there.

Daniel Shoptaw, the “godfather” of the United Cardinal Bloggers, worked very hard and very closely with the Cardinals and Fox Sports Midwest in order to achieve this gathering. Because of this, he and Nick (PitchersHitEighth.com) and Mike Metzger (StanMusialsStance.com) were invited as guests of Fox Sports. You can read Daniel’s account of his amazing day over at his site, C70 At The Bat.

While the majority of us sat and listened to John Mozeliak answer questions, Leach and Goold tell us how much Twitter has changed the game of journalism, and the other speakers, the UCB guys were still busy with Fox Sports. The real goal and focus of the event became apparent as a low murmur rolled through the seats during the event as Shoptaw, Nick, and Metzger emerged and arrived in the area set aside for the evening’s festivities. While everyone in attendance enjoyed listening to the speakers that the team had arranged for all of us, most of us were truly there to meet each other for the first time.

As the event came to a close, the opportunity I was waiting for had finally arrived. I shook hands and posed for pictures with the United Cardinal Bloggers. I talked baseball, New Media, and internet radio with Daniel Shoptaw, Justin Adams, and Tom Knuppel. I got the opportunity to meet Cadence, the new Diamond Diaries lady. I put faces with names and voices with words for the first time in years of reading their work. We shook hands, we took pictures, we settled in to watch a Cardinal victory and we began talking like old friends. I felt like I had known these people for years and immediately connected with them like we simply had not seen each other in a long time.

L-R Front row: Pip, Fungoes Second row: Joe, The McBrayer-Baseball Blog; Nick, Pitchers Hit Eighth; Justin, i70baseball; Daniel, C70 At The Bat; Bill, i70baseball; Tom, CardinalsGM Back row: Chris, Bird Brained; Mike, Stan Musial's Stance; Matt, Baseball Digest; Justin, Rising Redbirds (and others); Steve, Play A Hard Nine

Social Media, New Media, Email, Phone Calls, whatever medium had introduced us all, it was baseball that gave us a bond and baseball that held us all together.

A very heartfelt thanks to the St. Louis Cardinals for putting together an event that I hope to be a part of for years to come.

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