Tag Archive | "St Louis Post Dispatch"

Remembering Burwell For The Man He Was….And Is

Bryan Burwell

I would not profess to say I knew Bryan Burwell for a long period of time at all. In reality, it has now become fact that I only knew him in a short window towards the end of his life, which sadly came to be on early on Thursday morning. I met him just a few years ago at the annual Cardinals Care Winter Warm Up early in the morning in a media breakout room. Bryan would record interviews with many of the members of the team and other attached figures in our room, so essentially I had a front row seat to watch him do what he did remarkably better than anyone else I have ever seen do firsthand: effortlessly produce a comfortable, yet productive conversation out of anyone. It did not matter whether he was discussing a first trip to spring training with a promising minor leaguer, or talking through the real-life impact of reaching the Hall of Fame with Tony LaRussa. The man simply had a common touch that was unmatched in my eyes.

This could probably be attributed to the way that I truly became acquainted with him myself back in early 2013. While we were in the media breakout room he had come in and he made his presence felt in an immediate sense, simply by speaking to one person he may have identified in the hallway before even stepping into his destination at the table in the media room. I knew it from hearing it for years on ESPN’s ‘The Sports Reporters‘, as well as narrating local televised stories in my native St.Louis, where he worked for 12 years as a member of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Yet, in a room full of noteworthy voices, it was that distinctively deep voice that was instantly recognizable even if you even turned to identify who it was.

It would be inaccurate to say that he worked the room, because he never went out of his way to announce his presence. Mainly, because he did not have to. Most every conversation that he had was one you could tell was a continuation of one previously. This was a man that genuinely knew everyone, and that gravity like pull to him was returned from the recipient as well. Myself being easily the youngest and most unaccomplished writer at the time in the room, I stayed to my work in the corner that I enjoyed working from, being slightly seen but definitely not heard whilst earning my stripes I was not even quite sure if I deserved yet.

The next time I looked around I saw that the sudden Master of Ceremonies of the room, Bryan, had set up shop at an adjacent table just behind me, while setting in on working with his cameraman about what interviews he would be going after that day. In a day where my job was to speak with and connect with some of the most famous figures in the city and in sports, I was more stunned by the fact that I would be working in the same proximity with one of the most noteworthy writers of my time.

When the member of the Cardinal media staff that comes in the room to let us know that another player would be taking the podium to field questions soon came into our room, we moved over to take our spots in the adjacent room where the media sessions take the place. On the way out of the room, Bryan looked over at me and I nodded back in initial direct recognition, but then he made his way by and put his hand on my shoulder, which of course set my nerves into overdrive. I had hoped that I had not broken some unspoken rule of the room that I had no knowledge of, but was about to be baptized in the parameters of.

But as quickly as those nerves flared up, he dosed them with a quick recognition that changed the course of my day immediately. He looked down at my laptop bag and had noted KappaAlphaSithat it shared the coat of arms of my collegiate fraternity, which unknowingly to me Burwell was affiliated with. Instantly the entire course of my experience that day—and many times after—changed.

We immediately began a discussion on a number of topics that ranged from my work and background, to his as well. He had questions ranging from what my goals were with writing and opinions on the Cardinals, all the way down to sharing fraternity stories and just general conversation. All in all during this first conversation, we ended up talking for close to a half hour, while a number of people who knew him came to speak to him and therefore met me as well.

Afterwards I would often stand next to him in the media sessions, where he would sometimes turn to me with an off the cuff comment or to offer some context that always helped to get a grasp on either what question to ask or even down the road inspire a story. It was one of the most unexpected, yet meaningful professional relationships I had ever cultivated.

It was the beginning of one of the most useful and beneficial relationships of my life. After this initial meeting, we remained in contact occasionally. While I never asked him for anything directly regarding jobs or information, if something came along that he thought was a good opportunity, he would reach out to me with it, usually via Twitter or a quick text. Anytime we would run into each other at either a Cardinals or Rams event or practice, we would have that same conversation where he would check in on what I was doing, and then in his own generous way, let me know the best way to go about making the most of it.

I can recall the last time I worked with Bryan having lunch with himself and Joe Strauss at a restaurant in downtown St. Louis. As the three of us sat in the mostly empty establishment, there was a Mizzou basketball game on the corner. And while the lunch only lasted about 45 minutes, I learned more in the exchange of bantered between the two seasoned writers than I probably could have in the rest of the year combined. Those two were longtime coworkers, and did not have to welcome me to that privy of a conversation. But with his always welcoming style, Bryan gave stock to my opinion on both the game and other random topics just easily as he did the much more seasoned Strauss. That is just the type of guy he was, a true man of the people.

As an African-American writer, many times in this industry you do not see many people that resemble yourself or that you can relate to on that level. While Burwell was a nationally famous figure for both his written efforts as well as his televised work, he was not far from Earth in this culturally shared feature for us either. He related to me as well on that very basic and shared perspective. I came to find it was bigger than just a relationship built from a happenstance meeting over a laptop bag, that it was the gateway that showed the often-immediate bond that occurs between African-American journalists who are charged with the responsibility of shedding light in ways it may not have the opportunity to be shed through any other medium.

Bryan let me know that there is no reason to get away from who I truly am to write a sport that does not reflect me as often as it could. A purpose that I understood before meeting him, but was sharpened even greater by being able to watch and associate with him.

I am saddened to see my part-time mentor/fraternity brother/stylistic mentor pass on for the standard reasons that one is impacted to see anyone pass. There is a family with a void in it and friends that have lost a genuine one in return. I am also saddened because the city and country has lost the type perspective provider that never goes out of style. One unafraid to face up to tough issues and tackle them with his head up and head on.

Bill Ivie, the founder of this website, shared his thoughts on Burwell’s passing:

Burwell was a guy that I very seldom agreed with. His opinions often differed from mine pretty greatly. But I always appreciated the way he went about his business, the way he presented his information and the respect he had for the industry. He took time to work with our reporters from i70 anytime we were on the same assignment. Never once did he look down on anyone from this site for not being “traditional” media. The man had my respect and the industry lost a great voice, a talented writer and a mentor. He and his family will remain in our prayers during what is now a hard holiday season for them all.

But in his passing, he has also instructed another indirect lesson that can reverberate as long as the ones that he voiced to me as well: that your work and the ethic to create it can be your legacy, but to carry a common touch and strong dignity through what you produce can truly make you immortal, just has Bryan has become.

Thank you for what you represented, and later became, for me. From a representative work to read, and then an actual personality to model myself after.

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Rookie Kolten Wong Expected to Be St. Louis Cardinals’ Starting 2nd Baseman

Kolten Wong’s journey has traveled many directions in his short time establishing himself on the St. Louis Cardinals’ roster. He was the prospect who was poised to take the position over late last season. He became the heir apparent during the offseason. He struggled at the start of spring training.


Now he appears to be the starting second baseman when the season begins.

As spring training winds down for the Cardinals, most of their roster decisions have been made. One of the key positions that seemed to demand attention was second base.

General manager John Mozeliak acquired an insurance policy for his young prospect when he signed Mark Ellis to a contract in December 2013. Ellis would challenge the young Wong to produce immediately if he wanted to hold on to his starting role.

Wong responded early in spring training by pushing himself too hard and found himself without a hit in his first 10 at-bats. Speculation was rampant that Wong simply was not ready. The young man was doing very little to change the minds of his critics.

Then something clicked in his progress—Wong relaxed and started showing signs of the talent so many had talked about prior to this season. He finds himself leading the Cardinals this spring with a .372 batting average. He has an impressive .674 slugging percentage and is leading the team in OPS with a 1.100 mark. The offensive production that some predicted seems to have arrived.

Meanwhile, his challenger struggled to take the field often enough to truly create the competition that management seemed to want. Ellis was slowed by a left knee ailment that caused him to miss seven consecutive games, and now finds himself preparing for Opening Day.

Ellis is expected to be ready for the season opener on March 31. When discussing the situation with Rick Hummel the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,Ellis expressed frustration with the injury more than with not being the starter:

I’m always disappointed when I can’t play…. I never want to be the guy in the training room. I want to be the guy who nobody has to worry about. They don’t have to worry about, ‘Hey, is this guy going to be able to play today or not?’ That’s what is disappointing.

Wong seems ready to begin his rookie season, and Ellis is ready to be the veteran backup.

The Cardinals are ready to win with both of them.

Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.com.
Follow him on Twitter to discuss all things baseball throughout the season.

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MLB Trade Rumors Center Around St. Louis Cardinals Shortstop Pete Kozma

Trade rumors begin to swirl as spring training nears completion in Major League Baseball.  As Opening Day draws near, teams begin to identify their needs as well as their surpluses.  The St. Louis Cardinals, who have found themselves actively involved in the market for shortstops around the league over the last few seasons, suddenly find themselves with a player to offer to the market.


Pete Kozma is the odd man out in St. Louis, and general manager John Mozeliak hopes to benefit from that.

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN, the Cardinals have been shopping Kozma around the league, letting other teams know that the young shortstop is available:

The reasons for trade rumors surrounding Kozma are obvious.  The Cardinals signed Jhonny Peralta during the offseason, Daniel Descalso offers a backup option who can play multiple positions and the team needs the room on the 40-man roster.

All of this could lead to a trade for a low-level prospect in exchange for the man who played 143 games for the Cardinals last season.

Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out another need that the Cardinals may wish to address with the rumored trade of Kozma based on the recent reassignment of relief pitcher Tyler Lyons.

“The Cardinals can option Kozma or keep him as Peralta’s backup. Having optioned Tyler Lyons to Memphis on Wednesday, the club could survey the market for long relief. No obvious internal candidate currently exists,” according to Strauss.

That option would not alleviate the roster restriction that exists but is a fair trade rumor as it fulfills both the team’s need and surplus at the same time.  The argument against a long reliever in return is based more on the value that Kozma holds.

Ben Humphrey of Viva El Birdos breaks down the value of Kozma on the market and what fans should expect in return.  Ultimately, Humphrey comes to the conclusion that a trade involving Kozmawould likely resemble the trade of Brendan Ryan in December of 2010.  In that trade, the Cardinals received relief pitcher Maikel Cleto, a low-level prospect with a lively arm.

The Cardinals will do their due diligence in shopping Kozma around to see if there is a trade that makes sense.  If the past can tell us anything, it is that Mozeliak will only move Kozma if he feels that the Cardinals will clearly benefit from the return.

Meanwhile, the trade rumors will continue to circulate.

Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.com.
Follow him on Twitter to discuss all things baseball throughout the season.

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Oscar Taveras Needs to Find Motivation in Minor League Assignment

Oscar Taveras, one of the St. Louis Cardinals’ top prospects, was supposed to be competing for a spot on the 2014 major league roster at this point in the spring.  He was supposed to be earning at-bats, showcasing his talent and pushing manager Mike Matheny to make a very tough decision to send him to the minor leagues.  That decision was not so hard.


Due to an ankle injury that required surgery near the end of last season, Taveras was very reluctant to step onto the field this spring.  Though team doctors had cleared him to play, he continued to favor the ankle, fearing that he may aggravate the injury and take another step back in his progression.

While hesitant to trust his ankle, Taveras ended up straining his hamstring.  Speculation has surfaced that the hamstring injury my be related to the unwillingness to test the ankle, as Derrick Goold of theSt. Louis Post-Dispatch points out when he writes, “With Taveras unable to take the field and do many of the workouts, his conditioning started to wane, and favoring his right ankle may have contributed to the right hamstring injury.”

Taveras, slowed by the injuries early on, has been reassigned to minor league camp.  He has made his debut on that side of the complex already and has begun the journey to try to reach the major leagues this season.  That journey is something that Matheny wants him to think very hard about.

Mathney is a strong believer in hard work and earning your spot.  The reassignment to minor league camp should be a motivational factor for his young star.  Matheny’s personal blog reflects that sentiment very well:

With almost 60 guys left in camp right now, I realize that I will have almost 35 of those tough conversations with guys who will not be able to make our club. I hope to remember the feeling of not making that team, many years ago, and the disappointment of a dream being delayed. I realize that I will most likely be part of their motivation to get better and make it to the next level, and I hope that I am around to celebrate with them when they beat the odds, and use their disappointments to help them reach their dream of getting to the Big Leagues. I will tell them, just like I told my son, ‘get to work and prove ’em wrong.’

Over the next few months, Taveras can let his production speak for itself.  He can show a strong work ethic and prove that he wants to be in St. Louis.  He has the opportunity to do exactly what his future manager expects him to do.

Indeed, Taveras has every chance to “get to work and prove ’em wrong.”

Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.com.
Follow him on Twitter to discuss all things baseball throughout the season.

Posted in Cardinals, Minors, MLBComments (0)

Jack Clark Says Albert Pujols Juiced

It sure didn’t take long for Kevin Slaten and Jack Clark to open up the doors to controversy on the new 920 AM.


The subject of performance enhancing drugs is clogging sports talk radio, and for good reason.  The Biogenesis scandal has brought it back to the forefront of everyone’s mind.  When Kevin Slaten brought it up on the air and suggested that he always suspected Albert Pujols of using, Jack Clark was quick to jump in with his thoughts.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch broke the story this morning and you can read Dan Caesar’s take by clicking here.

Clark states that Pujols former trainer, Chris Mihlfeld, offered to provide Clark with steroids as a part of his exercise routine.  Mihlfeld went on to explain how well it was working for Pujols, whom he had been working with since college and projected to be a “big star” someday.

Is this shocking to anyone?  I mean, we all want Pujols to have played a clean game over the years and believe that he was the super-human he portrayed to be early on in his career, but are we sticking our collective heads in the sand?

I can recall Pujols final season here in St. Louis.  In June of that year, he broke his arm in a play at first base.  We we warned that he would miss time and that he would take some time to rebuild his strength based on the type of injury .  It would cause a good portion of his season to be a struggle.  He was slated to miss 4-to-6 weeks with the injury but i70baseball’s Mike Metzger noted in this article that he recovered in just over two weeks, referring to his recovery as much quicker than that of a “mere mortal”.

Pujols did some amazing things while he was in St. Louis and I sincerely hope he did them the right way.  He was exemplary on and off the field.  He was a childhood hero to many fans.

Say it ain’t so, Albert.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
He is a freelance writer that publishes work for InsideStl and Yahoo Contributor Network as well.
Follow him on Twitter.

Posted in Cardinals, MLBComments (2)

Triple Play: Jake Peavy, Michael Young, Joe Nathan

The non-waiver trade deadline is less than a week away. In this week’s Triple Play, we look at some of the players who are being bandied about in trade rumors, plus a few players who SHOULD be traded, along with our weekly Wainwright Walk Watch.


Who’s Hot?

Jake Peavy, ???

It’s not his pitching that has Peavy in the “hot” category – it’s all the trade rumors. With Matt Garza already traded and Cliff Lee not being made available by the Phillies, Peavy has been considered the top starter on the trade market. MLB Trade Rumors reported over the weekend that Peavy packed his bags and it’s highly unlikely he will make another start for the White Sox. ESPN’s Buster Olney is predicting that Peavy will end up with Oakland, which actually makes that scenario most unlikely. Rumors also have the Cardinals and Orioles in pursuit, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that nothing is imminent, while the O’s are “tapped out” financially, according to Jon Heyman. Peavy hasn’t been dominant since being activated from the disabled list after the All-Star break, but he has a 10-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio and has held opponents to a .229 batting average. The most logical destination remains Atlanta, regardless of what some national writers are reporting. After Tim Hudson’s horrific injury last week, the Braves need another starter. I think they can get a deal done with the White Sox that does not include top pitching prospect Alex Wood. Boston is another team that could use a starter, thanks to Clay Buchholz’s absence. The Red Sox are fairly deep in young players who could (should) interest the prospect-poor White Sox.

Who’s Not?

Michael Young, Philadelphia

As mentioned in last week’s column, I do not understand the infatuation with Young. There are plenty of players who can put up the following batting line: .277/.342/.402, 7 HR, 32 RBI, 38 runs, 1 SB. Here are some examples: Drew Stubbs (not a full-time outfielder), Luke Scott, Stephen Drew (both injured for part of the season), John Mayberry (reserve outfielder), Eric Chavez (reserve infielder), and David DeJesus (platoon outfielder). Yet several teams, including Young’s former team (Texas), have shown interest in him, despite his lackluster July performance (.236/.333/.375 batting line). If deployed as part of a strict platoon, Young could have some value as a designated hitter for a contender, but players like that should not require much in trade. This seems a case where Young’s past hitting success will result in the Phillies being able to obtain a couple of prospects from a team. That being the case, this should a no-brainer situation for the Phillies, who are in dire need of an infusion of young talent. Then again, GM Ruben Amaro hasn’t always shown in inclination to do what’s in the best interest of his team’s future. I’d say the chances of Young actually being traded are about 60-40, at best.

Playing the Name Game

Player A: 6-6, 3.06 ERA, 1.077 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 3.57 K/BB, 134 ERA+

Player B: .278/.366/.500, 13 HR, 44 RBI, 42 runs, 146 OPS+

Player A is Kansas City’s Ervin Santana. Player B is the Padres’ Carlos Quentin. Both are players who should be traded by Wednesday’s deadline. Given the Angels’ terrible pitching this season, they would probably like to have Santana back. He has been up-and-down this year, but his two starts since the All-Star break have been terrific (both wins): 15 1/3 IP, 0.59 ERA, nine hits, one run allowed, nine strikeouts, three walks. He’s younger than Peavy, much less of a health risk, and has the capability to dominate. Kansas City is hovering around .500, honestly not much of a threat to the Tigers or Indians in the AL Central (the current six-game win streak notwithstanding). Considering the return package the Cubs received for Matt Garza, who will be a free agent at season’s end, the Royals should be able to match that for Santana.

Quentin, meanwhile, would be a perfect fit for a team looking for an outfield bat or DH upgrade (Rangers, Pirates, Orioles, Athletics). When he isn’t starting brawls with opposing pitchers, Quentin offers plenty of power (.866 OPS) that would boost several contenders’ lineups. Once the Padres get Cameron Maybin and Kyle Blanks back from the disabled list, they will have a glut of outfielders who should play most every day. Quentin’s contract, which pays him a combined $17.5 million in 2014-15, is quite reasonable, making him an even more attractive commodity. Trading Quentin for some young pitching would help San Diego on two fronts. Failing to trade him would be a mistake.

Player A: 1-2, 33 Sv, 1.69 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 8.7 K/9

Player B: 1-1, 32 Sv, 1.73 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 9.5 K/9

Player A is Mariano Rivera. Player B is the Rangers’ Joe Nathan, who could be on the block. At first blush, this would appear to drastically change the trade market. One of the premier closers in baseball suddenly being available would have contenders lining up, right? Teams like Detroit, Boston, and the L.A. Dodgers have dealt with bullpens in flux the entire season. But why would Texas trade Nathan to an AL contender? The Dodgers seem like a possibility, what with their bottomless wallets, but what do they have to offer the Rangers in exchange? The Pirates might have a need due to Jason Grilli’s injury, and they have the prospects to entice Texas, but if they are looking for hitters, not pitchers. With the Rangers chasing the Oakland Athletics in the NL West and several other teams in the wild-card hunt, it would seem like the Rangers would be better served to keep their closer. On the other hand, if they are determined to not exercise the $9 million team option for 2014 on the 38-year-old Nathan, that may be driving the decision to entertain trade offers.

Random Thoughts

  • Wainwright Walk Watch: Adam Wainwright went 37 innings before walking his first batter, so we are keeping track of how few free passes the Cardinals’ ace issues throughout the remainder of the season. After a fine start last Friday against the Braves (7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER) which resulted in a loss, Wainwright’s strikeout-to-walk ratio sits at 145-to-18 (8.06-to-1). That ratio is still the best in the majors. Wainwright’s main competition in the fewest-walks competition remains Oakland’s Bartolo Colon (also with 18 walks, but only 77 strikeouts). The next-best K/BB ratio belongs to Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma (5.86-to-1).
  • If Pittsburgh truly is considering a trade for Justin Morneau, I applaud the creative thinking. Garrett Jones can move to right field. Morneau’s experience might be just what the young, hungry Pirates need.
  • Another name that offense-starved teams should keep in mind: Kendrys Morales. Seattle seems to have about a half-team of first-base/DH types on the team; fan favorite Raul Ibanez probably isn’t going anywhere and Michael Morse wouldn’t bring as much in value. Morales, once an anchor for the Angels’ lineup, has belted 16 homers and driven in 58 runs this season. He would fit in well at first base in Pittsburgh, or at DH in Texas, Baltimore, Oakland, and Tampa Bay.
  • An ugly weekend for the Cardinals (getting broomed by the Braves in Atlanta) has some fans clamoring for a trade to either boost the rotation or replace shortstop Pete Kozma. If GM John Mozeliak can let Albert Pujols walk away after winning a World Series, I highly doubt one bad series is going to cause him to make a panic move.
  • Speaking of Pujols, the sight of him leaving the game Saturday night due to his plantar fasciitis was difficult to watch. Cardinals fans know how long that foot malady plagued Pujols in St. Louis, but he was able to play through it most of the time. If the condition is bad enough to force him to the disabled list, then the pain must be excruciating. His pain tolerance is one of the reasons he earned the nickname “The Machine.”
  • Beginning in 2014, the Angels have eight years and $212 left on his contract. Yikes.
  • News: Yahoo reported over the weekend that the Angels are “open for business.” Views: they really don’t have many marketable pieces; their middle infielders (Howard Kendrick, Erick Aybar) could attract some interest, but since they aren’t trading guys like Mike Trout or Mark Trumbo, they probably won’t be making very many deals.
  • Let’s see here: Jeter and Soriano homer, Rivera picks up win as Yankees rally to win. Is it 2013 or 2001?
  • A first-person review of Miami’s 20-year-old phenom Jose Fernandez as he shut down the Rockies at Coors Field last Tuesday night: he might not throw quite as hard as Justin Verlander or Aroldis Chapman, but Fernandez’s fastball absolutely explodes out of his hand. He is a much better pitcher already than Jeffrey Loria deserves.
  • Tino Martinez, fired over the weekend for alleged abusive conduct involving Marlins’ players, says he is “unsure” whether he will coach again. I think the rest of us are sure, Tino. You’re done. I wouldn’t count on a TV job anytime soon, either.
  • Series of the week: St. Louis at Pittsburgh. The Cardinals come to town with a one-game lead over the Pirates, who lost two of three to the Marlins. St. Louis is 2-3 against the Pirates this season. Pittsburgh is 32-18 at home in 2013.
  • Trade deadline prediction #1: the Orioles will find that they aren’t actually “tapped out” after all and make another deal for a pitcher.
  • Trade deadline prediction #2: Pittsburgh will find the additional hitter they need, along with another reliever to help cover the loss of Grilli.
  • Trade deadline prediction #3: Oakland, emboldened by their continued success without a big-name superstar, will make a big splash to bolster the team.
  • I guarantee at least a .333 average on these predictions. That, and 99 cents, will get you a Big Gulp.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

Posted in Cardinals, MLB, RoyalsComments (0)

Cardinals Rotation: Are Innings A Concern?

The St. Louis Cardinals, according to many sources, seem to be searching for starting pitching.

Rick Porcello

The one thing the team has made sure that everyone is well aware of is the depth of starting pitching in this organization.  If that is true, then why the search for another arm in the rotation?

According to Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post Dispatch, it appears the team feels the need for more innings in the rotation.  The loss of Chris Carpenter, the concern over Jaime Garcia, and the unknown of what kind of workload the young arms can carry has the team willing to add a known “inning eating” commodity.  Most recently, that interest has shown in the Tigers Rick Porcello.

Should the concern be warranted?  Adam Wainwright is now two springs removed from Tommy John surgery and projected to be back to his normal self.  The Jake Westbrook trade and subsequent signing was based off of his ability to pitch a high number of innings.  The Cardinals have not had two pitchers with over 200 innings just once in the last 26 years, as pointed out by friend of the site Jon Doble.

Looking at trends over the last three years for the projected six men battling for the five spots in the rotation, the concern does come through.

Wainwright was injured the entire 2011 season, having a large impact on his three year average of 143 innings pitched.  If we remove the injury season and go back a year further, his average jumps up to 220 innings.  The concern is whether or not his arm can carry that load again, but for the sake of argument in this space, I give him the benefit of the doubt.  Innings Based On Average: 220

Westbrook was brought in to solve the issue of innings pitched.  Despite nagging injuries the last few years, he has approached the 200 inning plateau, though he has not reached it.  His 2010 season was split between the Indians and the Cardinals, but was still a productive one.  His average places him second in this discussion, though he is probably the number three man in the rotation.  Innings Based On Average: 187

Garcia, the wild card of the bunch, has seen injuries and ineffectiveness effect him during his major league career.  At times, he has been a dominant, top-of-the-rotation type pitcher.  At others, he has been sporadic and wild, projecting more at the back of the rotation.  Last season was the worst in his three year average, only producing a little more than 121 innings.  So far this Spring, it appears he has righted the ship and is back on pace to be a big part of this team.  Innings Based On Average: 166

Lance Lynn is a bit harder to project based on his limited exposure at the Major League level.  Many tend to forget that he was a starter during his minor league career, however, and the three year projection goes back to grab an entire year of starting at the Triple-A level.  His average is hurt by his time in the bullpen in St. Louis in 2011, but is still respectable for a guy entering his second year in a big league rotation. Innings Based On Average: 150

The final spot in the rotation will be left to either Joe Kelly or Shelby Miller.  Kelly is the easiest to examine in this conversation, thanks to his production filling in for Garcia last season.  His workload reached a peak due to the need for him in the big league rotation last year and leaves the Cardinals hopeful that he can repeat that performance but concerned that he may have pushed too hard, too soon.  It is also important to note that his 2010 season saw him work out of the bullpen in Class-A ball for a period of time. Innings Based On Average: 138

Shelby Miller has everyone buzzing.  He ranks as one of the top ten prospects in all of Major League Baseball and the team and fans are both excited to see what he can do on the biggest stage.  He gave everyone a glimpse of his potential at the end of last season.  He may be the biggest unknown in this situation and he may also offer a saving grace.  He projects as a top of the rotation starter and will be relied upon throughout his career and that time may come as soon as this season.  Innings Based On Average: 131

The ultimate equation that you would like to apply to an ideal situation is to break up the innings based on quality starts.  A quality start requires six innings pitched from the starter and there are 162 games in the major league season.  That puts most teams looking for 972 innings from their starting rotation in a perfect world.  The Cardinals rotation will fall well short of that goal based off of these projections. Innings For Rotation Based On Average: 854-861

That leaves the team about 110 innings short of where they would like to be.  The name that is driving the most attention right now is Rick Porcello, who’s three year average puts him at 183 innings.  Even if he was slotted to fill the five spot in the rotation, this gains the Cardinals around 50 innings.  A drastic improvement but not one that reaches their goal.

The Cardinals are relying on one of the pitchers in their rotation to overachieve their average and the addition of Porcello, or someone similar, to pick up the remainder of the balance.

Ultimately, the move may not be necessary but at the same time, it is not a bad one.  Assuming the team doesn’t have to part with any key components of the future, a trade for Porcello makes a whole lot of sense once you take a look at the numbers.

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

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St. Louis Cardinals can’t go wrong with fifth-starter decision

The St. Louis Cardinals have used three weeks of spring training to find their likely middle infielders for the upcoming season, but one big decision remains as to who will take the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Fortunately, the Cardinals should be in good shape regardless of who they choose.


Three contestants began the battle for the final starting spot at the beginning of spring training, and the Cardinals have already eliminated one contender. They told Trevor Rosenthal last week he would not make the rotation, but he would likely have a prominent spot in the bullpen.

So that leaves Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller to fight for that last spot. Not coincidentally, the Cardinals plan to have both pitch Thursday against the Atlanta Braves in a game that will most likely be the Cardinals final evaluation before they make their decision.

Kelly has made two starts so far this year. He went two innings in each outing and gave up just one run combined. However, his control has been erratic, and he has walked five batters in those four innings.

Miller has also pitched twice this spring, but just one was a start. He’s given up three runs combined, but he’s also walked just one hitter.

Cardinals management said earlier in the week that a decision is near because the winner would need the next three starts to build stamina for the regular season, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The odds favor Kelly for several reasons. He is two years older and has more experience in the starting rotation. Kelly made 16 starts last year, while Miller just came up in September to make a token two starts.

Miller is also a higher-rated prospect who the Cardinals hope becomes a cornerstone of the rotation long into the future. And although Miller has looked impressive in everything he’s done at the big-league level, the Cardinals have been burned plenty of times by bringing up a young pitcher who could’ve used a little more time in the minors.

And that’s where Miller figures to go if he doesn’t win the job. Kelly pitched eight times last year as a long reliever, and he could easily slide back and fortify the bullpen again. However, the Cardinals already have Rosenthal, Fernando Salas, Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte as solid righthanded relievers they can bring in to shut down a game. Kelly would likely be wasted in mop-up duty if he went to the bullpen.

The bullpen also wouldn’t be the best spot for Miller because he is going to need to establish the stamina necessary to pitch as a starter for an entire season. He is much more likely to rack up innings with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds than in long relief out of the Cardinals bullpen.

Either way, Thursday will probably be one of the most interesting days of the Cardinals 2013 spring training.

This is what spring training is all about. Two players came into camp knowing they had to perform well to win a job, and one of them will likely walk off the mound Thursday at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., as part of one of the most exclusive clubs in St. Louis: the Cardinals starting rotation.

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Furcal Should Concern Cardinals

In a spring training that has included worries about contract negotiations and the health of starting pitchers, the stability of a right elbow ligament for a position player could be the St. Louis Cardinals’ biggest problem as games get underway.


Shortstop Rafael Furcal received an anti-inflammatory shot in his injured elbow Friday to help ease discomfort created by a bone spur, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Furcal tore a ligament in the elbow Aug. 30 in a game against the Washington Nationals, and he chose to forego surgery in favor of rehab during the offseason. But that decision could come back to haunt Furcal and the Cardinals for the 2013 season.

Furcal has yet to throw or take lefthanded at-bats during camp, and he didn’t sound optimistic about his condition Thursday.

“It still hurts, a lot, when I’m throwing,” Furcal said.

That is very bad news for a Cardinals team that doesn’t have a solid backup option at shortstop.

Pete Kozma played well at the end of last season, but that was a flash of brilliance in an otherwise mediocre career spent languishing in the minor leagues, and the Cardinals have been reluctant to put much faith in Kozma as a major part of the solution at shortstop.

But other than Kozma, the Cardinals are in a world of hurt in one of the most important positions on the field. They signed Ronny Cedeno during the offseason, but he has a career batting average of .247 and hasn’t been able to stick even with bad teams such as the Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets.

The Cardinals looked at making a move for a shortstop during the offseason and reportedly inquired about trading for Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.

Cabrera would be an excellent fit with the Cardinals and would fill a position of need, but other teams know the Cardinals are loaded with good, young pitching, and their asking prices are very high.

The Cardinals understandably don’t want to park with their treasure trove of pitching. Pitching and defense are what generally win championships, and decent hitters are usually easier to find than pitchers who can provide productive innings.

But because Furcal didn’t undergo surgery when he first injured his elbow, the Cardinals are in quite a bind just a month before the regular season begins.

Obviously, the decision to have surgery is ultimately that of the player, and the team likely has significant input, but right now the decision to try and rehab rather than have surgery is creating some anxious moments in spring training camp as Furcal struggles to heal enough to play.

Furcal also has a history of injuries that threatened to derail his career. He was an all-star-caliber shortstop with the Atlanta Braves during the first six years of his career, but he has not played more than 100 games in three of the last five years because of various injuries.

The Cardinals knew they were getting a fragile player when they traded for Furcal at the 2011 trading deadline, and they got quite a bit of production from him before the injury. Furcal has been a .259 hitter with 176 hits in 171 games played in the year and a half he’s been a Cardinals player, but the elbow injury is looking like it could be a problem longer than just the next couple of weeks.

So if Furcal can’t start the season, the Cardinals will have to make a decision just as important as Furcal’s decision about having surgery. They will have to make a deal to get a shortstop, which likely would cost highly regarded pitching prospects, or they’ll have to hope a Kozma-Cedeno platoon at shortstop is good enough to make the playoffs.

Otherwise, the Cardinals could have another one of those incredibly frustrating situations when they count on a player to eventually get healthy, and he never does.

That has happened repeatedly with Cardinals pitchers throughout the years, and it usually results in a not-so-great season because the team didn’t make necessary changes while hoping the injured player would return.

Hopefully, shortstop isn’t the Cardinals’ downfall this year, but it is already the position that will cause the most anxiety this spring.

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Is Lance Lynn Out Of Line?

The St. Louis Cardinals opened camp on Tuesday morning with the traditional pitchers and catchers workouts.  It did not take long for the first quote to fire up the fan base to come out.


Lance Lynn has arrived at camp looking fit having dropped a reported 40 pounds.  He has successfully avoided using the phrase “best shape of my life”, is on the heels of an 18 win season, and addressed the one thing that critics had for him last year by improving his offseason diet to hopefully address the fatigue that set in at the end of 2013.  In the midst of losing starter Chris Carpenter and the buzz around three young rookies hoping for a rotation spot, Lynn is a bright spot in early camp.

Then, on Tuesday morning during a media scrum, a quote came flying out from Lance Lynn.  It may or may not be “out of context”, but it seemed to fire up the fanbase pretty quickly.  Via Twitter, beat writer Jenifer Langosch shared Lynn’s thoughts on the rotation competition this spring:

Lynn on rotation competition: "I was an 18-game winner last yr w/ an All-Star appearance. I have to do a lot of things to lose a spot, IMO."
Jenifer Langosch

It is easy to see how that could rub some fans wrong.  That is not the way players tend to act around St. Louis.  Players that have been in the league for years, won multiple awards, and are solidified in their positions for years to come say “I’m here competing for my spot on the team”.  It shows a cockiness and brash attitude that this team, and it’s fans, are not accustomed to hearing.

The question here is: was it really wrong to say?

He is right, isn’t he?  I would say, due to the news of Chris Carpenter’s injury, that Lynn’s spot in the rotation is his to lose and in order to lose it, he would have to collapse pretty hard this spring.  His season last year was impressive, especially considering the second half issues he ran into.  The work he has already put in to attempt to fix that part of his game deserves accolades.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch ran an article on Tuesday as well, discussing Lynn with his manager.  Matheny had high praise for his starter and his offseason work.  The manager also had this to say about early perceptions that Lynn was not guaranteed a spot in the rotation this year:

“I know (that) made Lance a little frustrated,” said Matheny “I told him, ‘We want you coming in competing for a spot. We don’t want you rolling in thinking this is yours.’”

It is not easy to say if there is a right or wrong here.  Some will say “Carp would have never said anything like this.”  Others will point out that Lance Berkman was a breath of fresh air and would tend to be brutally honest with the media and the fans.  It is easy to see that type of quote being attributed to Berkman and fans would have applauded his honesty.  So why the outrage that Lynn is doing so?  Is it because of his age?

I freely admit that my immediate reaction was negative.  I don’t like it.  I don’t want a young player who, in my mind, still has some things to prove to sound so cocky.  I want him to talk about working hard to prove that last year was not a fluke.  I also admit that this is a personal preference.  Personally, I don’t like what Lynn said.  However, I also don’t feel what he said was incorrect.

The basic thought is there: an All Star pitcher made a statement that most of us were already thinking.

Is there anything really wrong with that?

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

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