Tag Archive | "St Louis Cardinal"

St. Louis Cardinal Fan Catches Allen Craig’s Homer In Milwaukee

Allen Craig lifted his 12th homerun of the season this afternoon in Milwaukee, extending the St. Louis Cardinals’ lead to 7-0 at the time.

The more impressive feat was that of the fan who covered a lot of ground to track down the ball and snag it out of the air.

Check out the video below and tip your cap to a Cards fan in a visiting ballpark giving maximum effort to bring home the souvenir.

Craig’s solo homer8/21/13: Allen Craig launches a solo homer to left-center field, giving the Cardinals a 7-0 lead over the Brewers in the top of the second

Embedly Powered

via Mlb

But who was the fan?  Well, thanks to the wonderful world of Social Media (and @gr33nazn on Twitter), we discover that it is none other than “Milwaukee’s Ballhawk” Shawn.  You can read more about The Ballhawk at his blog by clicking this link.  He claims to be a Cardinal fan, especially Ryan Franklin, and is sporting a Franklin shirsey in the video.

Well done, Ballhawk, well done.

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If Tyler Greene Homers In Chicago, Will Cardinal Nation Hear It?

St. Louis Cardinal fans are seemingly obsessed over former players.  Brendan Ryan, Rick Ankiel and Lance Berkman have all been on fans’ minds throughout the season.

Tyler Greene?  Not so much.

White Sox Mets Baseball

The middle infielder, who many believe cracked under the pressure that Tony LaRussa placed on him while they were both in uniform for the Cardinals, found himself on the outside looking in after a weak spring training with the Houston Astros.  He was released from his contract prior to opening day and he drifted off into oblivion.  Or Chicago.  Same thing in most people’s minds.

Tyler Greene is a Chicago White Sox infielder.  That news was a surprise to me as I read a recent article over at the St. Louis Sports Page about former Cardinals and how they are performing.  I had not heard anyone talking about him.  No fans rumbling about his arrival in the big leagues when Gordon Beckham went down hurt.  No sudden jubilation when he signed a contract with the pale hose on April 1st.

Surprisingly, not even a blurb on the internet when Greene went yard on April 26.

Greene is playing well in Chicago in very limited duty.  He has produced a .276/.323/.483 slashline in 29 at bats, producing a single home run and two runs batted in while scoring four times.  He has entered the game as a pinch runner or pinch hitter almost as many times (5) as he has on the field as a second baseman (6).  He has yet to attempt to steal a base and has committed one error in 29 chances.

Tyler Greene is a bench player in major league baseball, continuing to patrol the middle infield and run the base paths.  Leaving St. Louis has not injected his career with a sudden level of success.  The absence of Tony LaRussa has not allowed Greene to improve to the level that everyone thought.

Even so, it appears that no one cares.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can follow him on Twitter by 
clicking here.

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Welcome To St. Louis Carlos Martinez


“Better get there quick, Big Boy.”

That quote has circled the blogosphere this week after St. Louis Cardinal General Manager John Mozeliak responded with those words after Josh Gilliam, of the great site Pitchers Hit Eighth, asked about seeing Carlos Martinez in Springfield.  Less than a week later, Martinez is on his way to Milwaukee to join the major league squad as struggling reliever Mitchell Boggs heads to Triple-A to join Memphis.

Boggs was in line to be the Cardinals’ eighth inning man going into the season when closer Jason Motte revealed an injury.  The easiest resolution to that, in manager Mike Matheny‘s mind, was to move everyone in the bullpen up a role and Boggs was thrust into the closer position.  His reaction was less than satisfactory and suddenly the bullpen, once thought to be a strength of the team, was in turmoil.  It seemed everyone was struggling and Boggs was, quite possibly, at the head of it all.

Mozeliak moved quickly in response, sending Marc Rzepczynski to the minor leagues and adding Seth Maness both to the major league and the 40-man roster.  The bullpen needed to be settled and Mozeliak aimed to do so quickly.  Edward Mujica found patience and settled the ninth inning going forward.  Trevor Rosenthal, while still not being perfect, has seemed to find a bit of a foothold.

Boggs, however, continued to struggle.  He would show moments of steadiness followed by loss of command and concentration.  He has shown improvement, but not enough to warrant a continued spot on the roster.  Memphis will provide a place to step away from the focus and the bright lights of major league baseball while Boggs tries to discover his former command and potential.

Martinez, meanwhile, has shown progress throughout a season that started a little late this season.  Due to some visa issues early on, Martinez was very late arriving to a spring training that might have led to his arrival in St. Louis on opening day.  Due to the late start, Martinez found himself in Springfield to start the season.  In three starts, the most recent of which was on April 29, Martinez has increasingly gone further and been more effective.  Over the course of just over 11 innings this season, he has surrendered 11 hits and one walk.  Conversely, he has struck out nine hitters and held opponents to just three runs.  He is not the most impressive of Cardinal minor league hurlers, but he shows enough promise to deserve the promotion.

To make room for Martinez on the 40-man roster, as founder of the United Cardinal Bloggers Daniel Shoptaw speculated, shortstop Rafael Furcal was moved to the 60-day disabled list.

The hard throwing right-hander arrives in St. Louis as a part of the bullpen solution.  His next challenges will surface as he is used more frequently and in higher pressure situations.  How he responds to that challenge will reveal his longevity at this level.

The future has arrived in St. Louis.  How bright it shines is about to become apparent.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can follow him on Twitter by 
clicking here.

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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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David Freese Cracks Top Ten Right Now

Fans of MLB Network know that they have been subjecting players to “The Shredder” for statistical analysis to determine the top ten players at each position right now.

In an episode of the show, hosted by Brian Kenny, that will air Friday night, i70baseball has learned from an MLB Network executive that St. Louis Cardinal David Freese will indeed be featured as one of the top 10 thirdbaseman in baseball.

Photo Courtesy of/Copyright Erika Lynn

Photo Courtesy of/Copyright Erika Lynn

The “Top Ten Right Now” series is enjoying it’s third incarnation and will feature a Cardinal third baseman for the first time when Freese’s name is revealed.  Sabermetric Godfather Bill James and former Oriole second baseman Bill Ripken will be on hand with Kenny to help analyze The Shredder’s results and provide their own lists for comparison.

Bill James:
“The only thing you like about him really is the bat. He [has] a terrific bat, quick bat, hits the ball hard [to] straightaway center. He’s not a defensive wonder, he’s not a base stealer, but he does hit.”

Freese has garnered some attention since his now famous heroics in the 2011 Post Season.  However, it was 2012 that helped solidify that Freese could be seen as a consistent contributor to the Cardinals roster.   A player that has battled injuries for most of his career, Freese was able to take the field for 144 games last season and show solid production while he was at it.

Bill Ripken:
“When King Albert left and went out to Los Angeles to play with the Angels, here’s one of the guys that picked up the slack.”

He would reach career highs in almost every offensive category, posting a .293/.372/.467 “slash line” while hitting 20 home runs and driving in 79.  He was a spark plug at times for the 2012 team and added much needed depth in the lower part of the lineup.  He would achie his first appearance in the midsummer classic after being voted in as the final roster spot by fans on the heels of a very successful social media campaign for the position.

Brian Kenny:
“Freese has established himself now as a solid contributor to the Cardinals.”

“He’s a player who isn’t great at any one thing, but is above average everywhere and that makes you an excellent player.”

“Last year, [he had] 20 homers, .293 batting average, 57 walks. Just enough power, average and plate selection to add up to sixth in OPS among qualifying third basemen last year.”

Freese’s future looks bright for the team and the team is currently in negotiations with the home town hero to avoid arbitration and possibly secure him to a long term deal.

The show will air at 8pm Central Time on MLB Network, Friday February 8th.

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

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King Felix Is Not Adam Wainwright

The Seattle Mariners extended Felix Hernandez‘s contract on Thursday and many St. Louis Cardinal fans reacted quickly, feeling Adam Wainwright‘s price tag just went up.  The problem with that thought is simple, Hernandez is no Wainwright, he’s much, much better.

Cardinals Spring Baseball

Hernandez agreed to a deal that will keep him in Seattle for a reported financial windfall to the tune of seven years and $175 million.

That is not to say that Adam Wainwright is not a very good pitcher, we all know that he is.  It is not to say that Adam Wainwright will not be a very wealthy man when his contract is resolved, he most likely will.  But to say that Wainwright’s price will be based off of Hernandez’s price is a bit absurd.

Both of them debuted in the same year for the team they still play for, the Mariners and Cardinals respectively, and both were due to hit free agency at the same time, after the 2013 season.  That is where the comparisons end, however.

We can start with the obvious point of age.  Hernandez (26) is five years a junior to Wainwright (31).  If you are giving a seven year deal to a pitcher, you would do so to a pitcher Hernandez’s age, not Wanwright’s.  Beyond that, Hernandez has not spent any significant time on the disabled list, has substantially better career numbers, and has earned many more accolades than his St. Louis counterpart.

Tale Of The Tape
Wainwright Hernandez
80 Wins 98
1 20 Win Seasons 0
3.15 ERA 3.22
908 Strikeouts 1487
1073 Innings Pitched 1620.1
214 Games 238
11 Complete Games 23
4 Shutouts 9
1 All Star Selections 3
0 Cy Youngs 1
1 Arm Surgeries 0
1 Missed Seasons 0

That graph shows two very good pitchers.  It also shows one with an injury history, that is older, and is not quite on the same level.

Hernandez translated his career into a $25 million a year payout.  Wainwright will probably look to translate his into $20 million a year for a much shorter period of time.

Calm down, Cardinal Fans, the price of King Felix had little to no impact on the cost of Adam Wainwright.  That price was set before and I highly doubt it moved at all with this news.

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

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Coach Berkman

*Note: at the time of the writing of this article, Adam Wainwright had just completed a four-hit shutout, which provided a tremendous boost to an overused St. Louis Cardinal bullpen and a huge step towards Waino reaching the consistency he desperately longs to regain. He struck out 9 and walked only 1 and said “..that might be the best feeling I’ve ever had pitching…I’ve done some things that are pretty fun, but I can never remember feeling that emotional after a game”. Huge news in Cardinal Nation, but not a topic I want to delve into in this  space…however, rest assured that weighs easy on this writer’s mind as we deal with a tougher topic here…

Lance Berkman.

He is one of the guys that reminds me that baseball is ultimately a game people play because they love it, or at least at one point in time they did.  Berkman is one of the few guys that does not give “jock-talk” interviews, but actually speaks openly and honestly with the media. He stands up and takes the heat when the team does not play well. He is refreshingly honest about what he is good at, and what he is not. And he is also a dang good baseball player.

2011 postseason heroics aside (which will always be revered in Cardinal Nation), Berkman revitalized his career after a very disappointing and injury marred 2010. For the season, he played in 145 games, hitting 31 HRs 94 RBI and a slash line of .301/.412/.547. He was, in my opinion, unquestionably the first half MVP last year, putting up 24 HR and 63 RBI by the All-Star break. He did all of this after rehabbing a knee injury that greatly hurt his 2010 performance. Many doubted at 35 years old, he would be able to return to “the Berkman of old”, and that the Cardinals were throwing 8 million dollars down the drain last season.

We all know how that story ended. Berkman was a key piece of the 2011 World Series title, felt he could still contribute at a high level, and wanted to stay in St. Louis. Speaking openly with the club and the media, he said his services should be worth 12 million for the 2012 season, and the Cardinals agreed. Contract signed. Full speed ahead in the attempts to defend the crown.

Then come the injuries.

Berkman had just returned from the DL when he re-injured his right knee last weekend against the Dodgers, on a seemingly routine play. An MRI Monday revealed a tearing of the meniscus and cartilage responsible for cushioning the knee. Berkman is undergoing surgery this week, which will be his fifth knee surgery. Early prognosis is he will be sidelined a minimum of six weeks.

I bragged on Berkman’s honesty earlier, and will again. He is just not sure he wants to go through the grinding rehab one more time to get himself back to playing at an elite level at 36 years old. I can not say I blame him for feeling that way. It would be a terrible way for him to go out, but reality is, he may never play again. There is some time needed to figure out what the rehab process will look like following surgery, but I began to run through the “what-ifs’ regarding a Berkman retirement…and not from the standpoint of replacing his production on the field, but figuring out a way to keep his leadership, toughness, and knowledge within the organization.

The Cardinals have shown a trend towards hiring former players as coaches in recent years. Jose Oquendo has been third base coach for a long time, Mark McGwire the hitting coach the last two seasons, and John Mabry was brought into the fold as assistant hitting coach this season. Why not make Berkman an offer to stay on as a coach if he finds out his playing days are done? I realize there is not an open slot at this moment, but the organization should make a commitment to him, just like they did Mike Matheny, and give him a chance to scout or coach.

Of course, there is a great chance he would say no. He may want to return to his ranch in Texas or even rejoin the Astros organization. I just hope Mozeliak would make his best effort to keep Berkman in the mix after his playing days are over. The organization would be much stronger for it.

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Are the Cardinals headed for 2000 again?

I had the opportunity to take in my first 2012 St. Louis Cardinal game at Busch Stadium this past Sunday, as they defeated the punch-less Cubs behind a very solid pitching performance from Jake Westbrook and tremendous days at the plate from Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter. That win pushed the Cardinals to 7-3 on the young season.

One of the worst mistakes any blogger/journalist can make is take a small sample size (like 10 games) and make a lot of assumptions or unreasonable projections, but soaking in the beautiful day at Busch Stadium during a blowout of the Cubbies….I just could not help myself.

I began to ask a lot of “what if” questions.

-What if this team under new leadership, starts another great era of Cardinal baseball without a reloading period following the key off-season losses?

Mike Matheny has been preaching respect. He has preached playing the Cardinal Way. He has reminded the team what it means to wear the Birds on the Bat. They are playing hard and playing with confidence. The Cardinals could not have asked for a better start to the season. If you had told me that the first two weeks would be played without Allen Craig, Skip Schumaker, and Chris Carpenter, see Lance Berkman, David Freese, Jon Jay, and Carlos Beltran miss time with aches and pains, AND yet to have the “real” Adam Wainwright make an appearance; I would have predicted 3-8 not 8-3. Many experts in the industry warned of a mediocre season for St. Louis following the loss of Pujols, Duncan, and LaRussa. There are 25 solid players in the clubhouse and a coaching staff that does not believe a “reload” is necessary. They play hard for each other and want to win now.

Could this mix of veterans and deep farm system usher in a new era of being perennial playoff contenders, just like 2000-06, when the Cardinals made the playoffs six out of seven consecutive seasons? What if…..

-What if Matheny does not listen to the doubters who say he can not manage a winning ballclub without any experience…and the team keeps on winning ?

-What if Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook continue pitching this well in their contract years?

-What if Pujols did not afford the other batters in the lineup as much protection as we thought he did? These guys can hit the baseball. It is a solid, deep, and balanced lineup.

-What if the bullpen is actually better this year than it was last year? Matheny lets relievers who are pitching well stay in the game, as opposed to playing the matchups constantly like LaRussa did. He looks more at the quality of the pitches that night, and less at the spreadsheet of past performance. This just might create an added level of confidence in the bullpen that the better they perform, the more they get to pitch.

-What if the team makes great selections with five of the first 59 draft picks?…and keeps stocking its deep farm system with future impact players. The model of surrounding four or five key veterans with young talent seems to be the Cardinals best chance for sustained excellence. They have a tremendous opportunity during this year’s draft to get a bunch of great young talent that they can keep for at least  six years at a very reasonable price.

-What if Carpenter returns to form by summer and Wainwright returns to his former dominant self? The rotation would be just plain scary.

-What if this team is tired of the talk they can’t repeat without Pujols and LaRussa? Touched on this one above, but this is a highly talented group of professionals with a very competitive edge. This was most evidence by several players showing up to camp after a short off-season in the best shape of their lives. They are motivated to win this year.

Look, I know everything seems like rainbows and lollipops after such a fast start. The trials will come. Matheny will cost them a game with a bad decision at some point. But as I sat in the bleachers Sunday afternoon, I had a realization of just how many things are going right in Cardinal Nation right now.

For years, the talk was how losing Pujols would derail the organization into mediocrity. I am simply proposing that may not be the case. In fact, this organization may be the brink of a new standard of sustained excellence. That is a very big leap to make after 11 games, I know. This could be the start of another spell of playoff runs like the team had at the start of the century.

With a solid rotation, deep lineup, a manager they love to play for, and motivation to silence the doubters, they have as good a chance as any to make quite a run for seasons to come.

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March Madness – UCB style

March Madness has arrived.  64 teams will battle for the title of National Champion.

You can catch all of that basketball action live on various television channels.  I assure you, I will be watching with you.  But between games, we hope to remind you that baseball is, in fact, in full swing.

Friend of the site, and fellow United Cardinal Blogger member, Nick reached out to i70 yesterday to participate in a March Madness tournament.  The goal?  To crown the greatest St. Louis Cardinal Team of all time.

Yesterday, a draft was held.  Four websites chose the 64 teams for this year’s tournament.  Each site will represent a region for this tournament.

Aaron Miles Fastball – Gibson Region
Pitchers Hit Eighth – Musial Region
C70 – Smith Region
i70 – Buck Region

Each region will post a poll for the readers to determine the winners.  Each match-up will run over the course of a weekend, with the next round beginning the following week.  The Final Four will be held on the United Cardinal Bloggers official site.  The Buck Region bracket is below.

Later today, polls will be posted for the initial round of this tournament.  We ask that our readers vote on these rounds and help us determine who will represent i70baseball in the finals of the tournament.  Also, make sure you drop by the other sites that are participating and vote on their brackets as well.

Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.com

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Will Kyle Lohse Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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