Tag Archive | "World Series Title"

Coach Berkman

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

Lance Berkman.

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

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

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

Then come the injuries.

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

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

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

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

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Lets Go, Lets Do This

There are five games left in the regular season. This means it’s a good time to look back at the season and decide if it was a success, middle of the road, or a failure. In the sports world success can a relative term. I would hope in the Royals front office that anything short of a World Series Title would be considered a failure. But as a fan I have a lot less pressure. If I measured the Royals success or failure by World Series titles I wouldn’t even watch baseball. I guess you could call me an “in it for the ride” type guy. As a fan I have the freedom to set my own expectations for the team at the beginning of the season.

Kauffman Stadium is shut down for the season.

In late February Bill Ivie sent me a direct message on Twitter asking if I had thought about writing about the Royals. I’d never thought about it, and I didn’t have any experience. I responded by relaying that information but added that I’d write something up and give it a try. On March 8th my first article appeared. This being the 28th article I think about blogging all the time, and I have six months of experience.

My first article starts out like this:

Royals Fans have been searching for something, anything that might point to a resurgence of an organization that was not even good enough to cheat during The Steroid Era

In summary that was my expectation for the 2011 season. I didn’t expect a division winner. I didn’t even expect a .500 record. I wanted the much talked about prospects in minors called-up, and I want to see those prospects produce at the major league level.

The prospects are up and meeting or exceeding expectations. When they were struggling we saw them work their way through their troubles. They have improved. Not only have the prospects done well, so have the veterans. At the beginning of the season my friends and I mockingly called Alex Gordon: Dominator. Now we call him the Dominator and we actually mean it. Jeff Francoeur has put on a defensive display in right field, and Melky Cabrera has had a career year at the plate.

Is there a lot of work to do? Sure, the team is still 20 games below .500. (I’ll discuss 2012 expectations later) But as a fan my 2011 expectations have been met. There are several postives Royals fans can get excited about. Since this current line-up has been together this team has played around .500. Mix in some decent starting pitching and Royals fans can really get excited.

When I played football in high school my team was winning a game we had no business winning going into halftime. The adrenaline from being up on this team was so strong we were upset that there had to be a halftime. We had momentum. I kind of feel like that as a Royals fan right now; we don’t need no freakin’ off-season. Let’s go, let’s do this. We ended up winning that game. Maybe the Royals will win something next year.

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What Would You Do?

One of my favorite books to read to my children is Dr Suess’s Cat In The Hat. It’s a tale of calamity that a certain cat causes inside a house on a rainy day. You spend most of the book grinning and snickering at the boy and the girl’s trouble with the Cat In The Hat. However, the last part of the book brings you back to reality. You might call it a buzzkill. On weather the children should tell their mother about the visit from the “Cat In The Hat”, the last line of the book is “What would you do, if your mother asked you?”

Cat In The Hat

I kind of feel like that with the calamity before the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline on July 31st. Not so much with what the Royals did. Their movements were so minor I don’t even feel the need to address them. However, I was intrigued at what division rivals Cleveland Indians did. Essentially, they went all in, in trying to win this division.

The Indians traded their top two pitching prospects, plus two more minor prospects to Colorado for their ace pitcher in Ubaldo Jimenez. It’s an intriguing move in that Jimenez hasn’t had the best of years this season and the Indians gave up a lot to get him. I’ve changed my thought process twice on weather it was a good trade for the Indains. Jimenez has a friendly contract, but at the same time the Indians have defined their window in which to make a run for a World Series title with a diminished pipeline after that.

Why have I spent two paragraphs writing about the Indains on a Royals website? Because the Royals will have to cross this proverbial bridge at a trade deadline in the future. The farm system will not be able to bring all the pieces to get the Royals to a World Series Title. At some point, when their window is more defined the Royals will have to send some prospects away to get a missing piece. When that time comes the Royals front office will have to answer the question: “What would you do?”

A lot of how we’ll feel about such a trade won’t be known until it actually happens. When it does happen it will solidify this “playoff” window we’ve all been looking for.

It will most certainly mean departing with some of the prospects we like to keep track of. Is Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi and two others worth legitimate lock down ace starter that will get the Royals into the playoffs? I think so. I don’t think Ubaldo Jimenez is that starter, but he will certainly help the Indains. Now, how long will it be until the Royals can even define their “playoff window”?

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