Tag Archive | "Ucb"

Sign Up For The Birds Eye View

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The St. Louis Cardinals will open the season with the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 1.  Last season, the group of bloggers known as the United Cardinal Bloggers (UCB) pulled together to provide fans with an easy way to preview each series the club would participate in.  The collaborative effort became known as The Bird’s Eye View.

 

The UCB has once again drawn their collective talents to bring fans this newsletter service at the beginning of each series.  People who register for The Bird’s Eye View will receive an email on the first day of each series providing an in depth look at pitching matchups, key components and emerging news for the Cardinals and their opponents in the series.

The writers here at i70baseball are proud members of the UCB and will contribute to The Birds Eye View periodically throughout 2013.  We invite all of our readers to sign up for this email report by filling out the form located here.  Don’t worry, your email address will only be used to send you a copy of The Bird’s Eye View before each series the Cardinals play and will not be used for any other purposes or promotions.

 

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UCB Roundtable: The Designated Hitter and Perpetual Interleague Play

February brings Spring Training, baseball games, and baseball discussions back into the forefront of our minds.  Meanwhile, every February the United Cardinal Bloggers host their first roundtable discussions of the year.

The premise is simple, one writer asks a question and the other writers from around the UCB get a chance to answer with their thoughts about the St. Louis Cardinals.  This continues from day to day for three weeks and concludes with a question from the man himself, Daniel Shoptaw.  You can follow along over at the official UCB site by clicking here.

This year, i70baseball was tapped on the shoulder to open the discussions up.  The question I posed to the group centered around the changes in baseball this year:

This year, Major League Baseball will engage in perpetual interleague play.  For the first time, interleague games will be played throughout the season, taking away the ability to adjust rosters based off of new requirements.  No longer can the Cardinals send a pitcher out for the week to pick up an extra bat.

With players like Carlos Beltran and Rafael Furcal, the DH has been used often in the past as a way to get a veteran an extra “day off” without losing his production in the lineup.  Some players are uncomfortable with the routine of a DH, sitting and effectively pinch hitting three of four times a game, and would prefer to be more involved.

So the question is this:

Will perpetual interleague play help or harm the Cardinals this season?  Why do you feel the way you do?

The answers are displayed in the slide show below, with the author’s site logo being displayed with their answer.  Please take the time to look through all of the answers and visit the various author’s websites to read through the various voices of the UCB.

<b>Aaron Miles Fastball</b>

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Christine - Aaron Miles Fastball

My opinion is it’s not really going to affect them much either way. As Dathan said, it’s not just the Cardinals facing this in a vacuum – every other team is as well, so every other manager is going to have the challenge of balancing his lineup differently. To me that’s the key: how Mike Matheny is going to handle it. It’s more of a responsibility for him to find the right piece to plug into the DH spot on the right day for it to not be a problem. The pieces are there – it’s what he does with them that will make the difference. Supposedly weak bench or not, I certainly haven’t heard or read any of the “experts” saying the Cardinals will be weak offensively, so having to use a DH at other times beyond the previous set interleague games shouldn’t make a difference.

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

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The UCB Annual

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Every year, the group known as the UCB (the United Cardinal Bloggers) come together on one massive project known as the United Cardinal Bloggers Annual.

I-70 baseball has been a proud member of the UCB for almost three years and we have contributed to the Annual every year of our existence.  This year, a post dedicated to the memory of my father was chosen as the “Post Of The Year” and included in the publication.  I also contributed a brief look at the history of the Houston Astros, their rivalry with the St. Louis Cardinals, and their subsequent move to the American League.

The result of all the hard work this year is a 25-chapter ebook dedicated to the memory of Stan Musial that takes a look back at the 2012 Cardinals and a look forward to 2013.

National writers Will Leitch and Drew Silva check in with their own thoughts in the book as well as 18 bloggers from around the internet.

The 2013 United Cardinal Bloggers Annual is available as an e-book at the Amazon Kindle store for $4.99. The book can be read on any of the devices in the Kindle family as well as by downloading Amazon’s free reading apps for your computer, tablet or smartphone.

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UCB November Roundtables: Injuries and Chances

Twice a year the group known as the United Cardinal Bloggers gather virtually to discuss the topics that are on everyone’s minds.

The torch gets passed daily to the next person to ask a question while the group of bloggers all sound off with their opinions   The November roundtables have come around and I-70′s turn has come to pass.  This year, we wanted to play to the optimists, the pessimists and the realists of the group with a predictive question towards 2013.

The email that was sent to the group read:

My question for you is two-fold and equally pessimistic and optimistic (with a dash of realistic, for Daniel’s sake)…
- What player will take a substantial injury, shelving him for the majority of the 2013 season?
- What player will gain the opportunity, and seize it, to become a cornerstone of the team next year?

The answers were varied at times and very agreeable at others.  Here’s a look at what the UCB thinks…

Dennis LawsonPitchersHitEighth
It’s hard not to be pessimistic about injury considerations.  I’m going to try and be positive and say that the substantial injury has already happened, and it’s Jaime Garcia.  Lance Lynn could be the guy who seizes the opportunity to be a consistent guy.  Knowing what lies ahead makes it easier for Lynn to really train for 200 innings, and he can do so without looking over his shoulder.  This gives him an opportunity to look past the bullpen “demotion” and move ahead with his focus on being the kind of rock the team needs him to be.

Daniel Shoptaw - Cardinal70
I agree with Dennis that Garcia’s the injury, but I’ll say Shelby Miller takes that opportunity and puts together a season that at least puts him into consideration for Rookie of the Year.

Daniel SolzmanRedbirdRants
I have to go with Garcia on the injury.

Shelby Miller will become a cornerstone of the team.  We saw the potential of what he could do at a major league level on the final game of the season.  Yes, it was a meaningless game in that both teams had already clinched playoff berths but a no hitter through 5 innings in his first MLB start?!?

NickPitchersHitEighth
Matt Holliday’s back makes me nervous, and since we’re just playing around here (please don’t ACTUALLY miss any time, Matt) I’ll say he gets shelved for some extended period of time and Oscar Taveras goes bonkers with the available at-bats.

Wes KeeneKeeneOnMLB
In the spirit of making things interesting, I’ll go a different route. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Beltran experiencing some significant downtime. The alternate lineup will look very similar to what we got in the NLCS with Craig in right and Matt Carpenter at 1st. In this scenario, I think Carp does what he does and shines. Beltran being out, while unfortunate, is one of the missing pieces the Cards are relatively well equipped to cover, provided they don’t have other significant injuries happening concurrently.

Mary ClausenMLBVoice.com
Part 1: Jaime Garcia.  He seems to be on the DL more than is isn’t as of late.  Part 2: Shelby Miller.  I’m excited to watch this young pitcher mature onto a spot in the Cardinal rotation. Hopefully they will take him slow. We don’t want another Rick Ankiel. It’s funny (not ha ha ) that rumors say that Ankiel might pitch again. What timing? It will be Fun! to follow Rick. He’s a very gifted athlete.

Editor’s Note: The rumor about Ankiel returning to the mound has been denied by Ankiel and his agency

Tom KnuppelCardinalsGM
I have already stated I don’t trust the health of Chris Carpenter so he is the most likely for me to choose. I don’t see him going past 10 starts and I hope that I am wrong about this.

For the person seizing the chance I think it becomes Lance Lynn…. but to be defined as a cornerstone I would have to lay low on that one.

Dathan BrooksCardsTiedForFirst
Injuries are so tough to try and predict, and the 2nd part of the question is almost fully reliant on the 1st.  I suppose age/track record are some indicators.  Garcia, Furcal, & Beltran are all good candidates I suppose, given what we know & have seen at this point.  ‘course, never count Freese out when we’re talking about health concerns, and Jon Jay could easily take a foul ball off the foot or Yadi be HBP on the hand….ya just never know.

Brian VaughanStanGraphs
Realistically, I already feel like Jaime Garcia is all but tied to the disabled list. The whole “not having surgery” thing seldom seems to pay long-term dividends for a player and usually only delays the inevitable. I’m going to assume he winds up watching most of the season rather than participating, and if he does, I think it’s entirely possible we see multiple starters solidify themselves.

Lance Lynn will surely get the first crack at becoming the new number three after his All-Star turn this past summer, and I think he’s largely (Get it? He’s tall!) up to the task. Lynn can miss bats, and even though he’s been a bit inconsistent I think the end results will be there. If Garcia’s troubles are as bad as I’m speculating, and again this is purely based on my non-existent instinct, then I think we’ll for sure get treated to Shelby Miller’s Official Rookie Season. Miller showed he has Major League stuff right now, and I think he’ll be more than adequate even at such a young age. If he steps up big time, just imagine how much financial flexibility John Mozeliak will have! See how I’m looking at the bright side here?

Spencer HendricksStanGraphs
To be honest, none of the Cardinals are especially durable, neither the veterans (Beltran, Furcal) nor the younger guys (Freese, Craig, even Jay missed ample time this season) for that matter. There are plenty of obvious picks to make in regards to who might spend a large chunk of the season on the DL, but I’m going to make a wild, random guess just for entertainment and hope very fervently that my words don’t become prophetic. I’ll say that Molina will get off to another great start in April and then find himself tragically struck by a serious injury, missing the rest of the season. Maybe he’ll have to endure another nasty home plate collision, maybe he’ll run into Hee Seop Choi on the way to first base, who knows? All I’m saying is Molina’s going to have a 1.200 OPS in April and then be lost for the season shortly thereafter.

Breakout candidate goes to Shelby Miller. I’m really excited to see Shelbs make the rotation and be the pitching equivalent of Mike Trout next season. Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP all at once. How’s that for a Triple Crown? I’m bullish on Shelby.

Mark TomasiksRetroSimba
Carlos Beltran likely will follow Lance Berkman in having an injury-plagued second season with the Cardinals.

Not to worry, though, because Oscar Taveras will replace him and do well.

DJ McClureWelcomeToBaseballHeaven
The Cardinals rolled the dice with Lance Berkman in 2011 and hit the jackpot. Rolled it again with him in 2012 and busted. Hopeful we won’t see a similar story with year two of Carlos Beltran after a very good first season with the Cardinals but it’s tough to stay ahead of Father Time when injuries have already been in the equation. Carlos avoided extended time on the DL this season but did have a number of nagging injuries. If that’s the case next season compensating for those could lead to more serious problems. Of course hopefully not.

As for who would pick up the slack? Yep,  Mr. Oscar Taveras (AKA Minor League Guy). He’s definitely not a secret in STL and hasn’t seen a pitch in AAA yet, but I think they’d give him a legitimate shot if needed as long as he was progressing in Memphis. He’s only a year younger than Mike Trout who was in a similar spot as Oscar last year and look how that turned out.

Christine ColemanAaronMilesFastball
As many have already said, I think the substantial injury waiting to happen is Jaime Garcia and his shoulder. I was already a little nervous reading a week or so ago when John Mozeliak said they are holding their breath a bit regarding Garcia not having surgery now, so that just seems like a serious problem waiting to happen.

The one who will seize the opportunity, to me, is Lance Lynn. He no doubt learned much, positive and negative, this season regarding what it takes to sustain success as a starting pitcher based on the ups and downs he went through. I think he’ll be able to channel that into sustained success throughout the 2013 season and beyond.

Chris Reed - BirdBrained
It’s hard to believe, but the most durable guys on this team seem to be Yadier Molina and Jason Motte. Jaime Garcia, Rafael Furcal, and Chris Carpenter seem to be the most obvious choices for the long-term DL since they’re practically there already, with Carlos Beltran also a solid choice. And don’t forget the ever-present questions surrounding the young careers of David Freese and Allen Craig. Ugh. It makes ME hurt just thinking about it.

I honestly don’t think we’re going to see a lot–if any at all–of Garcia next year. A shoulder injury is just about the worst thing that can happen to a pitcher. He may be able to pitch through it for a while, but surgery or no this will catch up to him in a hurry. I’m guessing Garcia takes the ball less than six times in 2013. And, consequently, it becomes Miller Time in St. Louis. Shelby Miller will step into the role and have a very nice rookie season–perhaps even make some noise in the Rookie of the Year voting. But you said “cornerstone,” and I have trouble attaching that label to most rookies. What will really propel the 2013 rotation to greatness will be the return to Ace form of Adam Wainwright. His leadership on and off the field will be what holds the starting five together in the absence of Garcia (and Carp, if necessary).

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UCB To Provide Series Previews

You know the United Cardinal Bloggers for their fine writing and their passion for the Cardinals. Now they want to inform you even more. Beginning with the July 23rd series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the UCB will be providing a series preview email entitled “The Bird’s Eye View.” This preview, written each series by a different blogger, will get you up to speed on the next few games. Each preview will have its own style and voice, but will always bring you great information and links that you need to be ready for the upcoming series.

So, if you want to get this exciting collaboration mailed straight to your inbox, please fill out the form below and make sure utdcardbloggers@gmail.com is on your approved senders list. Then sit back and enjoy!

You can also access the sign up sheet by clicking here.

In case you want to know, participating bloggers as of this moment:

Christine Coleman, Aaron Miles’ Fastball
Bill Ivie, I70 Baseball
Randy and Ryan Knuppel, Saint Louis Sports
Tom Knuppel, CardinalsGM
Chris Mallonee, Birds On The Bat 82
Bob Netherton, On The Outside Corner
J.D. Norton, Bleed Cardinal Red With Me
Daniel Shoptaw, C70 At The Bat
Tara Wellman, Aaron Miles’ Fastball

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United Cardinal Bloggers Progressive Game Blog

Welcome back to the annual Progressive Game Blog.  For the last four years, the United Cardinal Bloggers have come together to tell the story of an entire game from multiple voices on multiple sites.

 

This year, not only will you find the voices of many members of the UCB, you will also find some of our friendly Mets bloggers describing the game from their own standpoint.  You can read all of the entries by following along through the main “index” post over at the official UCB Site.

I-70 Baseball will bring you the third inning of today’s game as will Mets Fans For Life.

The Cardinals come to the plate in the top of the third down by three runs as the Mets plated three in the bottom of the second (read about the second inning over at Cards N Stuff.  Young centerfielder Shane Robinson will look to get the Redbirds started in front of pitcher Lance Lynn and the top of the order.

A Texas League single to right put the lead off man on board but an all to familiar story unfolded with Lance Lynn at the plate.  On three consecutive pitches, Lynn was unable to push a bunt into fair territory, and the opportunity to move the runner up 90 feet passed the Cardinals by.  Unable to move the runner into scoring position or out of a force play situation proves once again to be fatal as lead off hitter Rafael Furcal grounds into an inning-ending double play.  Give Shane Robinson credit for a solid attempt to break up the double play as Daniel Murphy attempted to make the turn.

A quick aside as we wait for the bottom of the third inning to play out: I don’t think I have seen any other team in baseball represented as well on the road as the St. Louis Cardinals.  No matter what city they visit, there is almost always a strong representation of Cardinal red in the crowd.  Not to be out done in New York, there is a young lady sitting directly behind the plate sporting the familiar bright red cap adorned with the white STL logo.

What Lynn lacks in ability to drop a bunt, he more than makes up for on the mound.  After a rough second inning, he took the mound to face the middle of the Mets’ order, starting with cleanup hitter Lucas Duda.  After falling behind Duda, Lynn battled back to get him to fly out to left fielder Matt Holliday.  Daniel Murphy would follow with a fly ball towards the right-center field gap, but the defensive positioning was in place to make it a routine out for Carlos Beltran.  Young Mets first baseman Ike Davis would fall behind in the count early and yet work a walk out of Lynn.  After falling behind shortstop Omar Quintanilla, Lynn battles back for his second strikeout of the game and keeps the Mets from causing any more damage.

Working deep into counts is hurting Lynn early on in this game and his pitch count is climbing to out of control proportions as he closes the third with 71 pitches, 41 of which are strikes.  At this rate, the game will soon be in the hands of the Cardinals’ bullpen.  It feels strange to say that any game in the hands of this bullpen is a major concern at this point.  If the Cardinals hope to pull this one out, they will need to get some offense going and some efficient innings for their starter.

Head over to Rally Birds to check out the top of the fourth inning.  Thanks for stopping by our corner of the Cardinals web-o-sphere to check out or commentary.  Here’s hoping this game turns around quickly.

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United Cardinal Bloggers Release “Happy Flight”

The United Cardinal Bloggers are proud to announce that their second season review publication in as many years is now available for download.
Happy Flight: The Story of the 2011 Cardinals details the incredible season that the St. Louis squad had last year.  Highlighted by photography from Erika Lynn and laid out in beautiful full color by Jon Doble, Happy Flight brings you the highs and lows of the ’11 season, recaps the amazing postseason run, and includes features on Tony La Russa and Lance Berkman, among others.  Inside the pages you will find the writing of 15 different Cardinal bloggers, from sites such as I70 BaseballPitchers Hit EighthAaron Miles’ Fastball and Future Redbirds.  Happy Flight clocks in at 93 pages, chock full of Redbird goodness that you’ll enjoy reading time and again.
You can download your copy at this link.  Options for purchasing a printed version and a Kindle version will be released later.
Founded in the fall of 2007, the United Cardinal Bloggers are the only known formalized team-centered blogging community in Major League Baseball.  Members participate in various projects throughout the year as well as being a resource for other members.  You can find out more about the UCB at their official site, www.unitedcardinalbloggers.com.

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UCB Fall Roundtable: The First Pitch

The United Cardinal Bloggers come together a few times a year for a great project known as “The UCB Roundtables”. The fall edition starts today, and it starts right here on i70baseball.

I asked UCB Founder and the man we call The Godfather, Daniel Shoptaw, for a few words about the project. Here is your history lesson for the day:

Back in the spring of 2008, I was invited to do a roundtable with another Cardinal blogger on a general baseball site. While I don’t believe it was exactly how we see the roundtables today (hey, I found an archived link!), I enjoyed it enough that I thought I could adapt it to the nascent UCB. We took our first crack at it in June of 2008 and it’s been a regular part of the UCB rotation ever since. Now we do one before the season starts as our February project and one after the season ends as an October project. This year we have roughly 30 bloggers scheduled to participate.

So, I get to throw out the first pitch. I figured, honestly, that we would not be able to avoid talking about Albert Pujols for long, so I jumped in head first with the question on everyone’s mind, prior to Tony LaRussa announcing his retirement and making my question obsolete prior to publishing. I asked the UCB the following:

Albert Pujols is no longer a Cardinal and has moved on to greener (see what I did there?) pastures. Put your General Manager hat on for me and tell me what moves you feel need to be made if the team desires to be competitive in 2012. Is there a key free agent or specific position that Mo should attempt to upgrade? Should he stand pat? Anything other than reacquiring Pujols is on the table.

The answers, which have been edited a bit, both for space and to keep them on point, are as follows:

Aaron Hooks, Cards Diaspora
Sign Edwin Jackson.

I know, not nearly as sexy as signing Prince Fielder, but having a quality 4th starter to go with Wainwright, Carpenter and Garcia…
then Jake Westbrook as the Cardinals 5 is a very, very sturdy rotation in 2011.

The Cardinals will have to get increased production on a more regular basis from Allen Craig and Jon Jay and something from SS. But they can win, albeit, not as spectacularly as with #5, but they can win.

Also, I’ll never mention Prince Fielder and ‘sexy’ in the same answer ever again. Promise.

Ray DeRousse, STL Cardinals Baseball
Personally, I’m all for not re-signing Pujols. While he has a competitive attitude, I think he is too self-absorbed, arrogant, and fragile to have that kind of money or that many years.

I’d love to install Allen Craig at first base. He would give you 25-30 home runs and somewhere around a .300 average. Many have suggested Berkman at first and Craig in RF, but Berkman seems adamant on remaining the outfield (and we want him as happy as possible).

I would NOT re-sign Furcal, Theriot, Rhodes, or Patterson. I’d install Tyler Greene at short, or bring up Ryan Jackson (though he’s probably still a year away). I’d hang on to Punto if he’s around a million. I’d possibly keep Laird, although my inclination is to give Tony Cruz a shot.

What I really want is a true leadoff hitter on this team. How about we trade Matt Holliday and get a young lefthanded reliever and a stud second baseman (or shortstop) who can lead off? I was salivating over the idea of having an Ian Kinsler on our team, or nabbing someone like Jose Reyes. This lineup needs more oomph from the top.

Otherwise, I wouldn’t change much. The starters are set (unfortunately, and there’s nothing that can be done about it) and most of the bullpen is set. It’s time to transition into the youth movement we know is coming in 2013/2014, and this would be a way to
start.

Kevin Reynolds, Cards N Stuff
One thing 2011 taught us is that SS is not an “offense first/routine play” position. On UCB day at Busch, I asked Mozeliak about our depth at SS in the system if Theriot doesn’t work out. That remains my concern. This team now has offense. It has chemistry. What it needs is a SS with solid defensive ability and good plate discipline.

Perhaps the most intriguing question beyond that – assuming no trade/signing is made to upgrade the rotation (heard the Roy Oswalt rumor) – revolves around Skip Schumaker. Jon Jay is a decent CFer…but he’s shown himself vulnerable to prolonged droughts. The team needs to carry at least one other option at CF. Skip Schumaker could be that option…but he’s also left-handed. Perhaps the best way to shake Jay out of slumps is to platoon him in LH/RH matchups until his bat adjusts again. That is much more difficult to do with two LH CFers. It would be nice to have a RH option.

Of course, the second base question looms large for Schu as well. As it stands, this team has 3 regular options at 2B – Theriot, Punto, and Schumaker. That’s 1 too many. Again, Tony likes the RH/LH options. Punto has proven valuable at multiple positions…and he’s a switch-hitter, satisfying Tony’s “flexibility” pre-requisite. Schumaker is a valuable super-utility man…able to play all three outfield spots, 2B against RH pitchers, hit leadoff on occasion, and even pitch in a pinch ;). As much as I hate to say it, Theriot is the odd man out here. He performed well offensively in an everyday role early in the season, but his defensive issues – which are not related to playing SS – limit his availability in 2012. How much does that degrade his offensive contributions?

I think the team needs to focus on signing a SS first…defensive stability and plate discipline…and then attempt to sign a bench, RH option in CF…and that may mean dealing Theriot somehow. Oh…and FYI…Allen Craig in CF scares the bejeezus outta me! So let’s not entertain thoughts of him as a CFer. Plus, Craig is a stud…so far…let’s not put him in the “replace Albert with 25 – 30 HRs” category until he logs a few everyday at-bats. He killed in several at-bats in the postseason…he’s looked entirely vulnerable in many other at-bats – and I say this having watched Craig play in Springfield quite a bit.

Jon Doble, Redbird Dugout
If Albert Pujols is leaving, I don’t think that there is very much that the Cardinals’ organization needs to do in free agency to make the team competitive. Part of this is that I feel that the free agent class beyond Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder is extremely thin.With Pujols gone Allen Craig will get the opportunity to play every day. Lance Berkman will make a nice bridge until Matt Adams is ready to get his chance at the big league level. All the major spots are filled.There are really three things that I feel like the Cardinals need to do this offseason to solidify the team and the roster.First, address the middle infield situation. My preferred solutions are Clint Barmes at shortstop and Jamey Carroll at second base. Both
are exceptionally good gloves with Barmes putting up a +14 runs saved this season at short and Carroll was a +2 in 81 games at second base, and a career +15.Barmes’ bat also provides some good pop deep in the lineup to give another potential double-digit home run threat. Carroll’s bat might give you something that you can use as a leadoff hitter. He hits lefties and righties well and should put up about a .350 OBP, which is very solid for a leadoff-type hitter in today’s MLB.Second, find a right handed outfielder that can play all three outfield positions. Jon Jay, Skip Schumaker, and Adron Chambers. The
Cardinals’ best three options to play center field are currently left handed hitters. That doesn’t bode well for any need to platoon someone in a slump. Someone like a Jerry Hairston whose utility ability would come in quite handy and would give Jay a spell in CF whenever he needs one.And finally third, find a left handed reliever to compliment Rzepczynski. Last year would have been the best time, considering that
there were several top quality left handed relievers on the market. Mike Gonzalez is about the only left hander on the market that
interests me.

Beyond that the team should hold onto it’s young talent and they’ll be set for 2012 and beyond with or without Pujols. Amazingly, the team is exceptionally well positioned either way.

Starting pitching should be the focus. After Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright, there’s a need for more depth behind Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook. Shelby Miller isn’t ready. I don’t see Lance Lynn or Marc Rzepcynski being converted to a starter. Edwin Jackson likely will leave via free agency. Kyle McClellan doesn’t seem to be the answer either.
Aaron, El Maquino
Use the cash you’re not paying Pujols and get a free agent rightfielder (DeJesus, Ludwick, Nady) and closer (Bell, Rodriguez, Soriano).
Diane Schultz, Diamond Diaries
If Albert remains a free agent and leaves, the Cards should take the money and get a good quality starting pitcher.

JE Powell, Stl Fear The Red
I am not so sure that if Albert does leave that going out and getting Prince Fielder or some other high priced power hitter is such a good idea. Matt Adams hit 32 HR and had 101 RBI in 115 games for AA Springfield this past seasn and depending on how he does in AAA he may be very close to being ready to take over at first. The Cards could use Allen Craig at 1st in the short term.

Again, IF Pujols were to leave, I think the best course for the Cardinals to try and upgrade at short stop and 2nd base. Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins filed for free agency, although getting either one of them would be a long shot. I’d rather the Cardinls just pay Pujols (of course, what Cardinals fan wouldn’t?) and Kelly Johnson is a 2nd basemen who filed for free agency. That’s just a few names that are our there. Upgrading at both positions could cover (between the two positions) the gaping offensive hole that losing Pujols’ bat would leave.
Daniel Shoptaw, Cardinal 70
I’m thinking along the same lines as many others here. I’d probably use the payroll surplus, such as it is, to absorb Jake Westbrook’s contract (though I wouldn’t argue with Kyle Lohse, I think Westbrook’s contract was even more ill-advised) and see if I couldn’t get Roy Oswalt to come play for the team he’s always wanted to join at a price that worked for both of us. Use Tyler Greene at short, either Berkman or Craig at first, find someone to play second, and I think this team contends yet again.
Steve Sommer, Gas House Graphs
My to-do list looks exactly like Jon Doble’s. I haven’t done the research to know if my solutions would be the same as his in the middle infield, but I definitley agree on the holes to fill. Interestingly those holes look similar to those of last offseason. Shortstop (Theriot), Left Handed Relief (Tallet), RH CFer (left unfilled/Jon Jay as proxy), 2B (Skip seen as the solution). Unfortunately the “name” free agents in middle infield will likely command more than their value, especially in terms of contract length.

I could be persuaded that the right starting pitcher at the right contract length (read 1 year) could be a fit, but I also think that Lynn could provide sufficient first level depth.

Chris Mallonee, Birds On The Bat 82
I’m a fan of moving Berkman to first and letting Craig play right. Interestingly, not many seem to be giving him credit for his outfield play in the World Series. I thought he did a fine job and will continue to improve. He’s a good athlete.If I was GM and Pujols walks, I don’t resign Theriot, and keep Punto/Schumaker at platoon split 2B with Descalso still available to sub in for Freese when his ankles start hurting. I would then look to trade Lohse or Westbrook for a good prospect and sign a top tier outfielder and Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson. That would really shore up the back end of the rotation…the question is would anyone take Lohse or Westbrook. But not paying AP would allow the Cards to try and throw money at a guy like Matt Kemp, spend for a good pitcher, and take a Type B free agent at short. I like the name Barmes that has been thrown around.
Tom Knuppel, Cardinals GM
If Albert does not return I hope to re-sign Furcal for a bit less than he is owed and then I sign some oldies like Beltran to play right, Berkman to first and Craig stays in his current fill-in role. Then if money is still available I look at pitchers like Jackson, Oswalt but likely entice Buehrle to St Louis with the money left. This means we attempt to trade Westbrook most likely and add in McClellan for a deal if anyone takes them.

Miranda Remaklus, Aaron Miles Fastball
First off, with Albert gone, you’ll need an all-star bat to take the pressure off Holliday and the young guys. I don’t think you can depend on Matt Holliday to handle being “THE” star. He did well behind Albert and ahead or behind Berkman. I don’t think he can be the one. And this will be David Freese’s third season. He’s not ready to be shoved into that role, even though he made a GREAT case for himself this post season. And Allen Craig is kind of a younger Skip Schumaker. He’ll always have place in the lineup. I don’t think he likes having a set spot. He seems to thrive being where he is needed.

You don’t sign Prince Fielder though. I initially didn’t believe he would mesh with Tony, but now I’ll just say, he doesn’t mesh with the fan base!

Sign EJax or another quality 4th starter. Keep Jake. I just like him. Gutsy and classy during the playoffs. Move Lohse to the pen for longish relief or try to trade him. Zepper can work on becoming a long reliever or another rotation arm if needed. My baby bird farm favorite John Gast might even make an appearance this season!

Sign Rafael Furcal. He was such an upgrade at SS. I don’t know if you’ll find a better player and teammate for the cost. Tyler Greene is not our SS next season. He’s super inconsistent. I saw him play at Memphis this summer, where he was supposed to be getting consistent playing time. He wasn’t consistent even then. I’d really like for him to succeed in St. Louis. I loved that he was the one that got the steal that started the rally comeback against the Cubs at the end of the season. It was beautiful. Although, with Tony gone THIS might change now.
Tara Wellman, Aaron Miles Fastball
Like Miranda, I like Rafael Furcal. I like his energy, his intensity (though it hurts him at the plate sometimes) and his qualities as a teammate. The intangibles make him more than his .195 batting average. That said, character alone doesn’t win championships. There’s always the Daniel Descalso option, though not as popular with some. If he gets the work at SS, I’m one of those who believe he could do it … and do it well.

A post-Albert team will likely have to rely on strong pitching if the offensive gap can not be filled (and who, exactly, could fill number five’s shoes?). I like the prospect of a Wainwright, Carpenter, Garcia, Jackson starting four, so I resign Edwin. Westbrook is another one of those guys that may not always have the goods, but he has the heart. I can see him doing just what he did in the World Series — coming in to relief situations that may be longer, but more concentrated than a full start. Lohse has the stuff to be a good 5th man, but I’m not opposed to seeing what we could get for him.

I’m one of those who likes the idea of Berkman at 1st base with Allen Craig — or even Craig/Schumaker — in right field. Lance held his own out there, but I’d rather have his experience at 1st, at least for now. As others have said, Matt Adams might make good progress over the off season, and that presents a more … “youthful” option for the future.

Speaking of Skippy, I want him on this ball club. Not only can he go in at several positions, but he’s a competitor and will do whatever is needed to help the team win. Yes, if you want him in center field, it doesn’t align with the RH/LH matchups. But without Tony, that may not be as necessary as before. I know somebody is going to have to walk, but if I’m setting up a winning team, I don’t want it to be him.

Oh, and above all, I echo those who have said it — don’t sign Prince Fielder! Yes, he might be good. But he’s not a Cardinal.
Erika Lynn, Diamond Diaries
Should Albert leave, I like what we already have and see no reason to run to the market. The Cardinal talent is deep – it just won us a CHAMPIONSHIP after all.

However, in that scenario, I would predict Berkman moves to 1st and Allen Craig gets his deserving place as a regular in the lineup, playing right field.

I love these guys. I love this team. With Adam Wainwright in 2012, the sky’s the limit (again). In my perfect world, we keep everyone…. even the turtles and squirrels. ;)

I guess find a replacement for Tony should be priority one. I won’t elaborate further as I’m sure someone will want to further this discussion via a round table question.

For me the middle infield and bullpen are my two highest priorities behind the Pujols extravaganza. “IF” Albert Pujols does not return and Craig and Berkman fill RF and 1B respectively I believe that puts emphasis on a more stable middle infield both defensively and at the plate. Not a lot of suggestions except if the worst case scenario is bringing back Furcal at short with a platoon of Schumaker and Theriot at second then I guess I’m fine with that. No Tyler Greene at short please. Otherwise some names previously mentioned by others are on the board as well. “IF” Albert comes back maybe send Allen Craig to second base camp this winter?

As for the bullpen I have no idea or recommendations. I thought we had a solid pen going into last season and the next thing I knew I was wishing we still had Dennys Reyes. Not really.

The only real wrench I’ll throw in is the starting rotation. I’m on the same page as some who have responded with replacing a current piece in our rotation. Edwin Jackson will not be back based on the contract offers he’ll be receiving but both Roy Oswalt and Mark Buerhle are available. I could see either of them here on a short term deal but my lean is Buehrle. Mark is an innings guy and would be a very nice addition to the rotation. And no offense to Jake Westbrook but he would be my choice as the odd man out. Figuring out a way to do so either via trade of otherwise is the hurdle obviously. Wainwright, Carp, Garcia, Buehrle and Lohse. I’m good with that.

 

Dathan Brooks, Good Morning Good Afternoon Goodnight
Let me say: I’ve never been a fan of making moves just for the sake of making moves. I’m sure we all have “those friends” that will complain all winter about how Mo “needs” to do this or that, sign this guy, or release that one. Frequently, these are the folks who are most vocal leading up to, and in the days after the trade deadline.

For me, if Pujols departs, I’m not freaking out about going into spring training with the squad looking a lot like it does now. There could be a couple of minor things that could be changed, though. If (and that’s not a big if) Arthur Rhodes doesn’t come back, we’d be left with Garcia & Rzepczynski as our only southpaws. If your OF consists of Holliday-Jay-Schumaker-Craig, your IF has Freese-Descalso-Furcal-Punto-Berkman, and your rotation is 29-50-54-26-35, that leaves Motte, Boggs, Lynn, McClellan(?), Salas, Sanchez for the ‘pen. I think going after another LHP is the play. If they think scrabble can start, go after a ‘pen guy. If not, maybe pursuing a LH starter is the way to go. No C.J. or C.C., please. Buehrle would be nice, but I have to believe the hometown discount it would take to get that done is on the border of putting it out of reach. Not impossible, but unlikely, IMO.
I’m not uncomfortable with the lineup we’d run out there, even if it didn’t contain Pujols (though, obviously the preference is to include him). I think, as with almost all years, pitching should be at the top of the list. After a manager. Middle infield defense might need to be addressed also, but I’m not convinced that can’t wait until the season is underway to address.
And I agree with Tara, Prince Fielder isn’t a Cardinal.
Malcom Pierce, The Redbird Menace
The Cardinals need to focus on the middle of the field. Even with Pujols gone, the team has good options at the corners. Berkman can shift to 1B while Craig finally gets a shot at starting in RF. Is he good enough to play full time? Maybe. Maybe not. At least he provides a reasonable option.
Arguably, the Cardinals are going into 2012 without a middle infield. Furcal and Punto are free agents. I have no faith in Tyler Greene to be more than a quad-A player. Schumaker was never really a 2B and when his offense is judged as an outfielder, it is found wanting. Theriot isn’t a SS anymore and figured to get a raise in arbitration. Both of them should probably be non-tendered. I wouldn’t object to bringing either of them back at a steep discount, but I suspect there are other teams willing to pay them or play them more than the Cardinals should consider. Descalso will still be around and it would be nice to see if he could play SS, where his bat is far more acceptable, but the manager willing to perform such experiments retired today.
It is tempting to suggest that the Cardinals pursue Reyes or Rollins with a portion of the money set aside for Pujols. If Albert is truly gone, they’ll have the money. Unfortunately, either of them have the potential to turn into liabilities from injury (Reyes) or a deteriorating skill-set coupled with a general lack of plate discipline (Rollins). I’d almost rather take a gamble on the inconsistent Kelly Johnson at 2B, then look to the trade market for a SS.
Stephen Drew of Arizona might be a good target. They could take a gamble with Reid Brignac from Tampa, looking to buy low and hope he bounces back. Or they could go with the veteran Mike Aviles, a non-tender candidate from Boston. Shortstop is a weak position across the majors, so they’ll be issues with any player the Cardinals could realistically acquire.
I don’t have a great amount of faith in Jon Jay as a starter, so bolstering CF would be nice as well. But the options in FA are almost as bleak as the options for middle infielders. They boil down to hoping that Grady Sizemore is finally healthy or pray that David DeJesus stops aging. I’d almost rather improve on RF (Beltran, perhaps) and test Craig in CF
One more thing: is getting Brendan Ryan back out of the question?
Daniel Solzman,
If Pujols doesn’t resign, then I would play Lance Berkman at first and place Allen Craig in RF. I would do what I can to bring Skip back to the team, seeing as how is due for arbitration. I’m not sure I would resign Theriot. Furcal, I would resign but I would work and bringing him on at lower than the $12 million that he would make.
Rob Darnell, Rob Says Really

I believe the Cardinals need to find a place to play Allen Craig and I mean every day! I remember when Jeff Kent was the hard hitting second baseman of the Giants. He was not the prototypical second baseman either. I compare Allen Craig somewhat to Dan Uggla in Atlanta, a power hitting second baseman who may not field the position with grace but is in the lineup for his bat. As for Skip, I try to keep him as Craig’s back up and potentially a 4th or 5th outfielder. I like the nucleus of the young talent mixed with the veterans. This played a huge part in the Cardinals WS run. I also would like to see the Cardinals keep Furcal, as I believe he would stay and not break the bank doing so.

I would definitely make sure the staff is deeper going into 2012. Believe it or not, I would like to see both Edwin Jackson and Jake Westbrook back. I’m not so sure about Lohse, but I believe the Cardinals are “stuck” with him. The chemistry this team developed with the staff was very good, and it in my opinion does not to be tweeked to much.

Finally and only because of today’s events: The manager. When it comes to who will be the next Cardinals manager, I think that this job is one of if not the best gigs in all Major League Baseball. I think anyone, who’s anyone would be calling Mo wanting to manage the team that just won the World Series. But this is very important, I believe they whoever they are absolutely needs to keep the bulk of the coaching staff (Dunc, McGwire, McKay and if he’s not the manager Oquendo). That is an absolute must. My personal thoughts are that Oquendo gets first crack, but any proven skipper (Riggleman, Maddon, Francona), is more than fine by me. I don’t believe this hinders Albert re-signing as much as many others believe.

Pip, Fungoes
Part of the wisdom of re-signing Lance Berkman was to provide insurance for just this scenario, so the pieces rotate into place: Berkman plays first, Allen Craig goes to right field. That of course still leaves a firepower gap for the offense, which was the team’s strong suit in 2011. Happily, for whatever productivity loss the team incurs with Craig, it gains in payroll, so the Cardinals could afford to buy some offense.

The open spots then are shortstop and second base, with the possibility of centerfield. The rotation of Wainwright, Carpenter, Garcia, Lohse and Westbrook has some high highs and low lows, but overall is actually set up better than 2011′s was. I’m not convinced that a secondary LOOGy should be high on the shopping list, given their relatively low replacement value (for example, take Arthur Rhodes — please!).

Going outside the organization, the Cardinals might end their shortstop revolving door by bucking up for Jose Reyes, though his 2011 OBP of .384 belies his .341 career average. The price tag obviously matters here. Maybe it’s the former Mets fan in me, but Reyes would revive some of that top-of-the-lineup thrill from the Herzog years. And if Cardinal fans can embrace lifetime Astro Lance Berkman, surely they can warmly receive Reyes, right? Otherwise, I agree with Malcolm that Drew would make lot of sense at shortstop, but clearly Arizona, who extended his contract earlier this year, thinks so too. I’m not sure Mozeliak has any more high-talent ne’er-do-wells to offer in trade. Thinking outside the box a bit, Carlos Beltran (yes, the hated Beltran and another ex-Met) would be a fascinating late-career short-timer (had the fourth-highest WAR among RFs last year). The only problem would be positional, since he probably couldn’t return to center.

Certainly finding a new manager is a important, but the pool of would-be managers isn’t as scarce as top players, so I would actually deprioritize it. And given that the team likely wouldn’t need to spend as much on its manager as it did La Russa (~$5 million), they could use the extra payroll on the field.

Joe McBrayer, McBrayer Baseball
For now I would put Berkman on 1B and move Allen Craig to right, but I would put in motion Matt Adams. If I could bring Furcal back at a cheaper price I would, if not I would go after FA Jose Reyes. I would put an end to the Schumacher experiment and put Descalso at 2B. I would keep the SP/MR the same and leave Motte as RP. A must sign would be Dotel.

Nick, Pitchers Hit Eighth

Middle of the field – both infield and outfield.

The left and right sides are well-covered – Freese, Craig, Holliday, Berkman, Craig, et al.

The question is the middle.

Bring back a critical utility part – Nick Punto.

From there, it gets murky. I’m afraid of Jose Reyes being a cash-sink. Jimmy Rollins is past his prime. Can Tyler Greene put it together and finally earn the shortstop job? If not, does Rafael Furcal come back at a reasonable number?

With the corners providing power in the lineup, the middle infield has to somewhat set the table, but can spare at least one position to defense. Orlando Cabrera comes to mind as a guy who can field both middle infield positions as a great complement to Furcal.

Get a right-handed complement for Jon Jay. Jay projects as the starting center-fielder, but I’m still wary of his slumps. Grady Sizemore is probably wishful thinking, but maybe a right-handed guy to check him would be worthwhile – Reed Johnson or Coco Crisp?

How about a left-handed power bat off the bench and to spell at first base? Russell Branyan?

Keep in mind that the new manager (whomever that may be) may or may not require the services of a second LOOGY.

For my money, either of the Hairston’s would be welcome in St. Louis.

Finally, Roy Oswalt.

 

Thanks to all who participated in the first question, stay tuned to Retro Simba for the next question in the series.

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United Cardinal Bloggers Get To Know Each Other

Since the launch of this site, i70baseball has been a member of the United Cardinal Bloggers (UCB) and we have always been anxious to help out with any projects or events they wish to have us help out with.

This month, the UCB decided to have writers from various sites around the internet do a brief interview of each other and introduce the fans of our site to a writer from another site that you may or may not know. You can read the entirety of the posts over at the main site.

That being said, I proudly present to you Dustin (DJ) McClure, the guy behind Welcome To Baseball Heaven.

DJ McClure

Where do you currently live? Originally from?

O’Fallon, MO / Originally from Iowa

What made you follow/become a fan of the Cards?

Well like I said I’m originally from Iowa and we didn’t have an MLB team. Every summer my Dad and I would go on trips to see different parks in our general vicinity (KC, STL, Chicago, etc.). Our first trip to St. Louis I believe was in 1992 or so. I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere at Busch and I’ve been a Cards fan ever since.

Who was your favorite player as a child? Now?

My favorite players past to present: Ray Lankford, Jim Edmonds, Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter.

What do you wish the team would do different?

Score more runs. Pitch better. Win more games. Just kidding. Unfortunately we don’t have the personnel to play better defense and put more runners in motion so I’ve got nothing. Well maybe no more crazy TLR lineups.

What do you think the team does well now?

This year’s version of the Cardinals does a good job of battling and playing hard. It’s not always pretty and the outcome is not always what we want but I always feel this team plays a hard nine on a consistent basis.

When someone goes to your site, what can they expect (Shameless Self Promotion)?

As of right now not a whole lot. My writing has taken a backseat to some pretty cool stuff taking place in my personal life. I promise my mediocre writing will be returning soon to capture the hearts of a few.

Do you write or appear on other sites?

I have not as of yet. I’d welcome the opportunity to guest post in the future.

Give me one Cardinal, current or past, that you just never liked…

Easy. J.D. Drew. Scott Boras as his agent. Disabled list every season as a Cardinal. I did always enjoy referring to him as “Nancy” Drew. The best thing about Drew was the fact he brought us Adam Wainwright.

Same questions for any MLB player…

Francisco Rodriguez or “K-Rod” Anytime dude gets a save or a big strikeout to end an inning he celebrates as if he’s just won the World Series. He’s always had electric stuff but other than that he’s just a tool.

What do you do professionally (“real job”)?

I work in the wireless industry.

What would your dream job be?

Anything that would allow me to be involved in the daily operations of the Cardinals or any MLB organization and also travel with the team.

The United Cardinal Bloggers is a group of writers that have come together in a network to complete writing projects about the St Louis Cardinals. UCB has also developed a weekly radio show/podcast called the UCB Radio Hour.

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I-70 To Participate In UCB Progressive Game Blog

The following is the press release from The United Cardinal Bloggers home page. I-70 will be hitting leadoff and discussing the first inning this year.

UCB Announces 2011 Progressive Game Blog

Photo By Erika Lynn

For the fourth consecutive year, the United Cardinal Bloggers are conducting a project that is unique to the Cardinal blogosphere, the Progressive Game Blog. This year, the game in question will be Saturday’s tilt against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Progressive Game Blog allows for one game to be seen through many eyes. Each blogger will write up an inning, discussing it in their style and using it as a jumping off point for any other stories or tangents they wish to get into. All the blog entries will be linked together, so a reader can see one game through many different eyes.

“The PGB is one of the things that helps define what the UCB is all about,” said Daniel Shoptaw, founder and organizer of the group. ”It’s original, it’s collaborative, and it’s baseball. It’s always a lot of fun to see how other bloggers see a slice of the game, especially when they view it in a much different fashion than you do.”

This is not a live blog, but all entries should be posted by Saturday evening. A list of all the blogs participating and their inning can be found at www.unitedcardinalbloggers.com as well as below.

The United Cardinal Bloggers is a loose association that brings together Cardinal bloggers for various projects throughout the year as well as building community and communications between the bloggers. You can find the UCB on Facebook as well as Twitter.

The roster for this year’s Progressive Game Blog is as follows:

Pregame: United Cardinal Bloggers
First: I70 Baseball
Second: Aaron Miles’ Fastball
Third: The Redbird Menace
Fourth: Fungoes
Fifth: STL: Fear The Red
Sixth: El Maquino
Seventh: Cardinal Diamond Diaries
Top Eighth: Cards ‘N Stuff
Bottom Eighth: Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Goodnight
Ninth: Pitchers Hit Eighth
Extra Innings/Postgame: C70 At The Bat

Past PGBs include:

2008–St. Louis vs. Chicago
2009–St. Louis vs. Kansas City
2010–St. Louis at Chicago

Just a curious note, the first two of these games were pitched by Kyle Lohse, with the third one being his start if he had not just gone on the disabled list. Saturday’s scheduled starter? Kyle Lohse.

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