Tag Archive | "Win 7"

United Cardinal Blogger Awards Ballot 2012

Every year the group known as the United Cardinal Bloggers (UCB) come together to vote for a bevy or year-end awards.  In the interest of transparency  each member posts their ballot live to the masses with explanations for their choices.  What follows is i70baseball’s entry in the 2012 awards voting.

Player Of The Year
Nominated: Allen Craig, Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday

The nod from i70 goes to Yadier Molina.  Not only a presence behind the plate as the field general for the team, but his offense has steadily increased and this year was no exception.  He became a middle of the order hitter that more teams feared while continuing to be the catcher that baserunners refused to steal against.

Pitcher Of The Year
Nominated: Kyle Lohse, Lance Lynn, Jason Motte

I am going with Jason Motte here.  For the first time in years, there was confidence at the end of the game.  With Motte locking down the ninth inning, this team was able to shorten the starters and have clear, defined roles for the bullpen guys.  Motte at the back end of ball games improved the entire pitching staff.

Game Of The Year
Nominated: 6/13 vs. White Sox (1-0 Lynn win), 7/16 vs. Brewers (9th inning rally), 7/21 vs. Cubs (12-run inning)

I’m going with the 7/16 contest with the Brewers.  It’s not that the other games were not impressive, but this team needed a come-from-behind victory against a legitimate foe in a big way.  The team proved that it could win games even when trailing, that it could pick up a pitcher from a loss, and that it could do so against a team that seemed to have their number.

Performance Of The Year
Nominated: Chris Carpenter’s five innings against Chicago, Adam Wainwright’s shutout of San Diego, Shelby Miller’s first start vs. Cincinnati, Carlos Beltran 3-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI vs. Washington

I want to go with Carp, I mean the guy did give a rib for this season.  But, I cannot deny my excitement watching rookie Shelby Miller take a no-no five innings deep in his first start in The Bigs.  The future with this kid looks bright and that game, though utterly meaningless, gave us just a small glimpse.

Surprise Player Of The Year
Nominated: David Freese, Jon Jay, Pete Kozma, Lance Lynn

Personally, I have to go with Jon Jay.  I really felt this guy was destined to continue to be a fourth outfielder and not quite able to grab the opportunity in front of him.  For the first time, Jay solidified himself as a legitimate starter in this lineup.  It was something I didn’t think he was capable of.

Disappointing Player Of The Year
Nominated: Lance Berkman, Daniel Descalso, Rafael Furcal, Marc Rzepczynski

I don’t know that I was really disappointed with any of the Cardinals this year.  Honestly, most of them performed as I anticipated.  If I was forced to choose, and in this case I am, I would have to go with Lance Berkman simply due to his extended injury time this year.  He remained a positive influence on the youth of this team and a refreshingly honest product of the game, but the team would have been much better if he would have remained on the field throughout the season.

Rookie Of The Year
Nominated: Matt Adams, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal

This is a close race between Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal, but my vote goes to Kelly.  He had a greater impact on the team for a longer period of time.  Otherwise, I don’t think Rosenthal even lost his rookie status this year, so I hold off to include him next year with a full season under his belt.

Acquisition Of The Year
Nominated: Carlos Beltran, Edward Mujica

I was surprised that the team was as quiet as it was this year.  Given his production, his leadership, and the amount of pressure put on him to produce in the wake of Albert Pujols leaving the franchise, Carlos Beltran has to be the acquisition of the year.  If he produces well in the second year of his contract and avoids being the next Berkman, he will quickly become one of the best moves that John Mozeliak has made for this team.

Most Anticipated Cardinal
Nominated: Carlos Martinez, Oscar Taveras, Kolten Wong

The future Cardinals may be one of the most exciting things in Cardinal baseball right now.  The two that jump out at me are Taveras and Wong, both for different reasons.

First of all, Wong is a player that this franchise needs.  The second base position has been a merry go round of sorts that has featured players from all over the diamond in the last few years.  If Wong can become a solid option at second for many years to come, he has a profound impact.

That being said, the most exciting of these options and my pick for Most Anticipated Cardinal is Oscar Taveras.  He projects as a corner outfielder with speed and a middle of the order presence.  He could give the team the flexibility to deal from a core of talent that shows some power to supplement the team in other places.  If he is as good as the hype, St. Louis will have a new star to fall in love with very soon.

The rest of the ballot is devoted to our fellow blogs around the United Cardinal Bloggers, recognizing the hard work that we all put into the sites that you enjoy.  The passion among this group for baseball, for the Cardinals, and for sharing those thoughts is nothing short of extraordinary.  I am proud to share my thoughts on some of my contemporaries.

Best Individual Blog

My vote has to go to The Godfather himself and C70 At The Bat.  While it can easily be brushed off as being an easy choice to pick the leader of our group, it truly is the best choice out there.

Over the last few years, Daniel Shoptaw and I have joined forces on multiple projects and have changed places in the “leadership” chair more than once.  When it comes down to it, the content, the frequency, the passion and the quality of Daniel’s work inspires me on a regular basis to continue doing what I love and to do it to the best of my ability.

Best Team Blog

If Daniel has inspired me individually as a writer, the group of guys at Pitchers Hit Eighth inspired the creation of i70baseball in the first place.  They continue to produce funny, informative, and on-point content on a regular basis utilizing some of the best voices of all of baseball writing.

Best Cardinal Media Blog

The fine work by Derrick Goold at Bird Land for the St. Louis Post Dispatch is funny, personal, and informative.  He finds a way to connect with his audience on a personal level, something very rarely seen in today’s media.

Best Cardinal Rookie Blog

Though I personally don’t delve into the subject matter often, advanced statistics are a big part of the game of baseball.  The guys at StanGraphs have brought advanced statistics and “Sabermetrics” to the Cardinal corner of the internet in a fresh and fun way.

Post Of The Year

I strive to connect with my audience, to let them see into my life and to utilize the bridge of baseball to bring it all together.  When I look for a “post of the year”, I want that special something that jumps out from the normal posts and transcends into life and baseball.  To me, “We Don’t Get To Write The Endings” from C70 At The Bat was precisely this type of post.

Best UCB Project

It is a mainstay for years now and happens before and after the season, but I personally enjoy the roundtable discussions that circulate through multiple blogs, polling the “pulse” of so many of us on everything from the stadium to the jerseys to the prospects and veterans on the field.

Most Optimistic Cardinal Blog

Throughout the season, as discussions and frustrations reach their highest points, we are consistently reminded of the history of the game and how this franchise has overcome situations of surprising similarity in the past.  Our resident historian is quick to spin a Twitter tale or a quick post and for that, I give the most Optimistic Blog to Bob Netherton at On The Outside Corner.

Best UCB Podcast

It almost comes across as a “cop-out”, but the UCB Radio Hour pulls together a large amount of bloggers from the UCB and puts a high-quality discussion together consistently every week.

Best UCB Twitterer

This was a tough one for me.  What goes into this decision?  Talking great baseball?  Of course.  Humor and being able to back up your arguments is another quality I admire.  Being able to get your point across in the briefest of settings is another.

All things considered, Dennis Lawson, better known as gr33nazn on Twitter is a good follow that has become a good friend over the years.

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Spring Training Report #3: Let the Games Begin

SPRINGDALE, AR – The Kansas City Royals are just two games into the spring season, but already have shown a winning attitude.  They dominated the defending American League Champion Texas Rangers in a 6-1 win to open the year, and used a late rally to win 7-6 in their second game.

Many former Naturals have been a part of the team’s early spring success.  Johnny Giavotella scored two runs in the first game, while Mike Moustakas had a pair of hits and an RBI in game one.  Giavotella continues to have the upper hand in the battle with Chris Getz to be the Royals starting second baseman, but Getz has shown a better ability to drive the ball so far this spring.

Kevin Kouzmanoff, a non-roster invitee to spring training, capped the 6-5 win in game two with a two-run double in the ninth inning to drive home former Naturals Moustakas and Wil Myers.  Myers has picked up where he left off last fall in the Arizona Fall League this spring.  He has gone 2-for-4 so far this spring and scored twice in just two games.  Myers is trying to make the step up to Triple-A Omaha to start the 2012 season.  Derrick Robinson, who is trying to make that same step, also had a big day Monday for the Royals delivering a two-run single in yesterday’s game.

The Royals are in action Tuesday playing in two games (split squad) against San Diego and Cleveland.  The minor league affiliates will begin playing spring games next Thursday March 15th.  The last minor league game this spring will be March 28th.

Naturals/Texas League Notes

Naturals in Other CampsJuan Abreu (2009) allowed one run in one inning of work so far this spring for the Astros.  Abreu, who made his major league debut with Houston last season is trying to make the team in a relief role.  Angel Sanchez (2008) is in camp with Houston as a non-roster invitee but has yet to see any game action for the Astros.  Kila Ka’aihue (2008) has gone 2-for-10 thus far in three games for the Oakland Athletics.  He is competing for playing time at first base and designated hitter with Daric Barton and former Texas leaguer Chris Carter (Midland, 2009).  Ka’aihue is out of options, and must make the big league roster or be exposed to waivers prior to being sent to the minor leagues.  Jeff Fulchino (2008) made his debut for the Nationals this spring tossing a scoreless inning March 4 against Houston.  Other former Naturals in spring training this season include a trio of players who are in camp with the Atlanta Braves, Dusty Hughes (2008), first baseman Ernesto Mejia (2010), and outfielder Jordan Parraz (2009).  Parraz has gone 2-for-4 with an RBI so far this spring, while Mejia is 1-for-5 with a triple and an RBI.  Hughes made his first appearance on March 3 throwing a scoreless inning against the Detroit Tigers while surrendering a pair of hits.  Former Natural Jeff Bianchi, who is in major league camp with the Milwaukee Brewers, made the highlight real last night tripping on two different occasions while trying to score on a botched fly ball in a game versus the San Francisco Giants. Bianchi had singled off Giants’ ace reliever Sergio Romo.

Transactions:  Former Natural Dan Cortes failed his physical last week.  This voided his minor league deal with the Washington Nationals, making him a free agent.  Longtime Natural Blake Johnson was signed to a minor league deal by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday March 2nd.   Johnson is the only player to suit up for Northwest Arkansas in all four seasons of their existence.  This season the right-hander will either find himself at Double-A Chattanooga or Triple-A Albuquerque.

Other Injury Notes: Felipe Paulino experienced some tightness in his hamstring last week during camp, but it does not appear to be something that will be a long term issue at this point.  Manny Pina is expected to miss the rest of spring training as he recovers from knee surgery, while Paulo Orlando who is recovering from surgery for a sports hernia is expected to be back soon for the Royals.

Check nwanaturals.com for our Spring Training Report, where we’ll continue to follow Royals’ minor leaguers in spring training as well as cover other baseball information that pertains to the Naturals and the Texas League.

The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark, located in Springdale.  Visit our website, nwanaturals.com, for information on season tickets and ticket plans.

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Albert Pujols: 400 Home Runs

In 2001 the St. Louis Cardinals, thanks to an injury to veteran outfielder Bobby Bonilla, made the roster move that would identify the franchise as it reestablished itself as the premier team in the National League. As the team broke from Florida and headed North to begin the season, Albert Pujols claimed the final spot on the roster.

It All Begins As opening day arrived, Pujols would find himself making his major league debut, going one for three with a single to left field in his third at bat of the game after flying to deep left field in his second at bat. It would be the third game of the season before Pujols would reach out and drive the first home run of his career. On Friday, April 6, 2001, as the Cardinals played the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pujols would hit fifth in the lineup and play right field. In the top of the fourth inning with Ray Lankford on first base, Diamondback hurler Armando Reynoso would work Pujols into a 1-2 count. After fouling off the fourth pitch of the at bat, Pujols would lift his first home run of his career. The home fun would tie the game at two runs a piece. Pujols would go on to drive in Ray Lankford with a double down the left field line later in the game as the Cardinals would go on to win 12 to 9.

Number 25 The number 25 was reserved by the big red headed man playing first base for the Cardinals when Pujols arrived on the scene. Pujols, who would find that position soon to be his regular home, was still being moved all over the field in 2001. On Saturday, July 28, 2001, the third place Cardinals would find themselves in Chicago playing the first place Chicago Cubs. The Cubs had a young player turning heads on the mound in Kerry Wood and in the fifth inning he would make a mistake on a 1-0 pitch to the Cardinals rookie. Pujols would hit the second pitch of the bat the opposite way for a solo home run, his 25th of the year (and his career, obviously). The Cardinals would win 7-4 to pull within 7 1/2 games of first place.

Rookie Of The Year When the curtains would close on 2001, the Cardinals would win the division and Albert Pujols would bring home the National League Rookie Of The Year Award. On Sunday, September 30, 2001, as the Cardinals played at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Pujols would put the nail in the coffin of the competition for the award. In the bottom of the first inning, after Pittsburgh starter Tony McKnight walked J.D. Drew, Drew would still second base. With Drew on second and a 2-0 count, Pujols would launch a home run to left center field. The blast would be the final one of his rookie campaign, number 37 for his young career, and give him 128 runs batted in for the year. The Cardinals would win the ball game, their 90th win of the season and their 5th in a row, by a score of 7-3. Albert would finish the year hitting .329 with 37 home runs and 130 runs batted in. He would play five positions – first and third base, left and right field, and designated hitter – win a Silver Slugger as a third baseman, make his first All Star appearance and finish fourth in the Most Valuable Player award.

Going Home Jose Alberto Pujols would be the name you would find inscribed on a high school diploma from Fort Osage in Independence, Missouri, a stone’s throw from Kaufmann Stadium in Kansas City. On Saturday, June 8, 2002, in Kansas City, Pujols would play left field and hit the 50th home run of his career in the fourth inning off of Royals reliever Mac Suzuki. The blast, hit on a 1-0 delivery, would bring home Fernando Vina and Eli Marrero and would be pulled to left field. The Cardinals would go on to win the game 11-3 behind staff ace Matt Morris.

I Love L.A. It was a trip to the left coast that would find our next monumental home run in the Pujols saga, home run number 100. On Sunday, July 20, 2003 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Pujols would drive his 100th home run of his career while still playing a familiar left field for the Cardinals. The hit came in the fourth inning off of Dodger starter Odalis Perez on a 2-2 pitch and Bo Hart on first base. The home run, hit to straight away center field, would put the Cardinals in the lead 8-5 on their way to a 10-7 lead. The Redbirds would remain in 2nd place, three games back of the Houston Astros. They would finish 2003 in third place in one of the closest divisional races in a long time.

Saying Goodbye To The Old Ballyard This walk down memory lane finds a fast forward to September 30, 2005 and one of the last games played at Busch Memorial Stadium and Pujols at his now familiar position of first base. Pujols’ 200th homer of his career would come in grand style in the seventh inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds. With Skip Schumaker, David Eckstein, and So Taguchi on base, Albert Pujols would step to the plate and take the first pitch he seen to left-center field for a grand slam, one of eleven in his career including milestone home run number 350. The Cardinals would go on to win 12-6 over the last place Reds as they looked to close Busch Memorial Stadium (Busch II) and set to open Busch Stadium (Busch III) the following season.

Providing The Fireworks It was Independence Day, Friday, July 4, 2008, when Albert would hit home run number 300 of his career. In a frustrating game that would see the Cardinals lose to the first place Chicago Cubs by a score of 2-1. The only fireworks from the Cardinal bats on this day would come in the bottom of the 8th inning when Pujols stepped to the plate to face Bob Howry. Pujols would work the count to 2-2 and foul away the fifth pitch of the at bat. On the sixth pitch, Pujols would launch the ball down the left field line to provide the only run for the Cardinals. The team would finish a disappointing 2008 season in fourth place despite Albert Pujols winning his second Most Valuable Player award.

The 47th Player To Hit 400 Home Runs On August 26, 2010, Albert Pujols would become the 47th player in Major League Baseball history to hit 400 home runs in his career. Leading off the top of the fourth inning, Pujols stepped to the plate and took a high curve ball for a strike from Washington Nationals’ right hander Jordan Zimmerman. The second pitch of the at bat was a high and outside fastball that Pujols drove to the opposite field for the 400th home run of his career.

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Series Preview: Blue Jays vs. Royals

“It’s unacceptable”

Losing six straight games has become a regular occurrence in recent Royals memory. It has happened twice this season and too many times in the past ten years. I agree with Coach Ned Yost, this is unacceptable of any franchise who wants to contend. As the Royals are looking into getting back on track against Toronto on Monday night, the message is clear from the manager, “win.”

The Royals have given away games in a variety of ways during this streak. There have been errors on defense, digging early holes that are too deep to crawl out of, and/or lack of timely hitting. You cannot win ball games like this.

The Blue Jays are coming in to town after sweeping the Baltimore Orioles, including a 10-1 shelling on Sunday. They Blue Jays are also currently in fourth place in their division like the Royals, however they are above .500.

Game 1: Brett Cecil (8-5) vs. Kyle Davies (4-6)

Brett Cecil is making his first start against the Royals and he is coming off an impressive 7-inning performance that earned him his eighth win. On the other hand, Kyle Davies has not had a win in his past seven starts. His last start against the Mariners, earned him a no decision when the Royals rallied late to win 7-3.

Davies has faced the Blue Jays once, earlier this season. He gave up six hits, two walks, and four runs. He faced them twice last season and they managed a .320 average with three home runs. The upside of this is that the Royals will sleep in their own beds tonight and be better rested than their opponents will be.

Game 2: Jesse Litsch (0-4) vs. Anthony Lerew (1-3)

Both of these pitchers were shelled in their most recent outings. Both of them have atrocious ERAs at this point but one quick and painful outing will do that. On the other side of things, Litsch has had success against the Royals. In his career, he is 2-1 with an ERA of 1.19 against the boys in blue. However, the last time he faced the Royals it was in 2008 and the lineup has changed significantly since then. Like most of his starts this year will be, this will be the first time Lerew has thrown against the Jays.

Game 3: Marc Rzepczynski (0-0) vs. Zack Greinke (5-9)

Last series I made a bold statement about how Greinke needs to make a statement every time he pitches and I am not backing down from it. Instead of leading off the series, he is closing it out. The Royals need some momentum going into New York for their four game series against the Bronx Bombers.

Rzepczynski is slotted to replace Brandon Morrow for this game in order to give Morrow additional rest. This is his first appearance against the Royals. His ERA is currently 5.40. This is thanks largely to the Minnesota Twins, who shelled eight hits and four runs in just over five innings of work. In his three appearances, so far this season he has also given up two homeruns. If the Royals were looking for a mismatch in pitching matchups, they might have found one here.

Offense:
The Royals offense has struggled lately and it has been painfully obvious on the scoreboard and on the division standings. Hitting is a very fickle. You are going to have low points in a 162 game season. However, good hitting teams will never have everyone cold at once. It is the middle of July in Missouri, the Royals need their batting to match the weather, HOT every single day.

The Blue Jays have scored twenty-eight runs in the past five games, dating back to July 10th. This includes the ten-run onslaught that they gave the Orioles on Sunday. This being said, they are still near the bottom of the league in batting average with a team average of .243. If the Royals pitching staff needed to play a poor hitting team, this would be the opportune series to do so. The last time the Royals played a poorer hitting team (Seattle), it was a very productive boost in their confidence.

Defense:

The Royals made errors that cost them at least two of the games against the Athletics. A coach can hit infield until his arms fall off. However, there is something cannot be coached that the Royals defense has been lacking since the Chicago series (Execution). If you make plays behind your pitchers, they will battle for you. If you make an error every game, that is enough to throw the pitcher’s game out of whack enough to make him hittable.

DeJesus has continued his errorless streak and still has a shot of the all-time record for an outfielder, which is currently at 269 games. If he plays everyday, he is set to break the record on August 20 at home against the Chicago White Sox.

The Blue Jays are statistically in the middle of the pack on defense. They do however, rank third in the American League with 98 double plays turned so far this year. While the Royals are in a three way tie with 80.

Pitching:

When their ace left for “greener pastures”, the stats were not going to be as fantastic as they would be with him. Despite the notable departure, the Blue Jays are among the stingiest pitching staff when it comes to the long ball. They have only given up 82, where as the Royals have given up 103.

Based on what I have seen, watched, and/or read about the Royals pitching staff this season their winning combination is this:

Effective Start goes 6-7 innings and leave the game either tied or winning + 1-2 innings of relief + 1 inning of Soria to close the deal.

When the Royals manage to do this, it is lights out. However, getting the starters to go that deep day in and day out has been a struggle all year.

X-factor:

The Royals are playing at home. The Blue Jays have a time zone change and a flight of over a thousand miles. This might be a factor for game one of the series, but fatigue will be even for games two and three. If the Royals defense continues its consecutive games with at least one error, it will be another long and dreadful series for the Royals.

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