To Trade Or Not To Trade?

Now that the “unofficial” second half of the season has started, I want to talk about what is and should be ahead for the Cardinals.  When the last half of July rolls around, the most talked about topic in baseball is, of course, the upcoming trade deadline and who is or isn’t going to make a splash.  When we think big splashy trades, we think of teams like the Red Sox, or the Dodgers.  We also think of teams like the Marlins and the Blue Jays, who seem to think trading players is in itself a major sport.  We don’t think of the Cardinals, that bastion of conservatism when it comes to player turnover.  The Cardinals don’t make splashy trades; the Cardinals bring up young players from the farm system who fit in seamlessly and make other teams wonder what the Cardinals put in their minor league drinking water.

No, the only trade of recent memory that could possibly come close to being splashy, was the three team trade of Colby Rasmus in 2011.  That trade was made more out of the necessity of separating Rasmus and his manager Tony LaRussa before someone got hurt, though the return the Cardinals obtained did help them win a World Series.  That return didn’t “return” much of anything after that (though we did get a draft pick that returned us Patrick Wisdom, so there is something yet unrealized). There was also last season’s trade of Allen Craig and Joe Kelly; that trade was more surprising than splashy.  Surprising perhaps most of all to Craig, Kelly, and their teammates, who learned of the trade the same way the rest of us did, from the media.  Oops.

Most years the Cardinals do something low key, a minor player for another minor player.  There was Michael Blazek for John Axford in 2013, who remembers who Michael Blazek was?  We remember Axford, because he is kind of hard to forget, but do you know where he is now?  Then there was Zack Cox for Edward Mujica in 2012.  Mujica was a great deal for us until he wasn’t, but a gold star for anyone who knows what in the world happened to Zack Cox.

No, the Cardinals are anything but splashy.  I suspect if the Cardinals make any trades this season, it will be of the low key variety.  Perhaps a bullpen arm, or a first baseman that comes cheap. No Joey Vottos, Paul Goldschmidts or Freddie Freemans will occupy first base for the Cardinals in the second half.  More like an Adam Lind, or an Ike Davis or a Logan Morrison.  Someone who fans will say, “that guy?” over.  That is the Cardinal Way, amirite?

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not complaining.  Splashy deals that are expensive are for suckers.  Most of them turn out to be a big wet dud.  The San Diego Padres made a bunch of these splashy deals in the offseason and where did it get them? Have the Marlins or the Blue Jays set the world on fire in the last several years?

I think low key deals are just fine for the Cardinals.  They tend to work out more often than they don’t.  John Axford and Edward Mujica were good for us.  If you don’t count the Craig/Kelly deal as splashy (I don’t) then that one has worked out in spades.  The Red Sox will probably never trade with the Cardinals again.  John Mozeliak is a crafty dude.  Don’t underestimate him, he knows how to get value under the radar.

I don’t expect this trade season to put the Cardinals on the map, so to speak.  That is just fine with me.  The Cardinals get enough media attention as it is, and not in a good way.

Low key, yeah that’s the ticket.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

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The Invincible Jon Jay

It’s a magical time to be a Cardinals fan.  This team just can’t lose.  Adam Wainwright, Jordan Walden, Matt Adams, Matt Holliday, all down.  Injuries, sminjuries.  The Cardinals are like a Timex watch—takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’.  51 wins before July 1st.  What is there to complain about?

Nothing, really.  Though that doesn’t stop folks from complaining anyway, because no team is perfect and that’s what fans do.  The team may be the best in baseball right now, but there are always ways to make it even better.  The current complaint making the rounds is one that I find a delicious irony in.  Fans are complaining, get this, because Jon Jay is starting in center field instead of Peter Bourjos.  The complaint is based on the fact that Jay is struggling at the plate, as of last night his batting line is .224/.312/.267/.  Yeah, that’s bad.  That’s worse than Allen Craig at this time last year, albeit with less PAs.

The delicious irony in this is that this particular complaint is one that I made consistently all last season, and was basically told to shut up.  Jay was hitting and Bourjos wasn’t.  My complaint was based on overall play and talent, not just hitting, but the hitting was all anyone cared about.  Well this season Jay isn’t hitting, but Bourjos is, and guess what?  He’s still starting over Bourjos.  Ain’t that a kick in the head? (Any Cardinals fan paying attention should get that pun).  Jay starts when he hits, Jay starts when he doesn’t hit.  It must be so great to be Jon Jay.  There is no way to screw up and lose his job.  What employee in America wouldn’t want to be him?

Yeah, it’s ironic as hell.  It also has to be frustrating for Bourjos, because there is apparently nothing he can do to start on the Cardinals.  Even the “grittiness” of being clobbered across the face with a catcher’s leg in a shin guard and then playing the next day was only good for one start.  Maybe the next step is getting butt implants and changing his name to Jon.  Going to have to learn to bat lefty for that maneuver though.

In the words of the esteemed Ryan Theriot (cough), “It is what it is”.  I don’t have anything more to add to the subject, because I pretty much shot all my bullets last season, and I had my temper tantrum about it earlier this month.  Matheny is going to do what he is going to do and John Mozeliak is going to let him, because the team is winning and why rock the boat?  Makes sense.

It is damn funny, though.  It’s all come full circle in a way that only the Universe could create.

The situation will probably change in a few weeks when Matt Holliday comes off the DL and takes his left field spot back.  Then, it won’t be so great to be Jon Jay, because Matheny’s new man-crush, Randal Grichuk, will probably supplant Jay in center field.  I’m not going to open that can in this post, though.  Maybe later.  Grichuk is an interesting topic and one that would use up an entire post.

For right now it’s Jon Jay all the way.  What do you say, the Cardinals are going to win today.

The Cubs still suck and life is good.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Hacking For Dummies

I have waffled back and forth on whether to address this “hacking” scandal.  Given the lack of information, it is difficult to address it beyond just a surface pass.  I will attempt it, however, so as not to be accused of ignoring an important story.

The news broke yesterday that there was a federal investigation into an intrusion into the databases of the Houston Astros, by a person or persons believed to be employed by the St. Louis Cardinals.  This intrusion occurred sometime during Spring Training of 2014 and information gleaned from that intrusion was publicized sometime afterward by the online publication known as Deadspin.  (The information was originally posted on a site called Anonbin, but that site appears to no longer exist).  The intrusion occurred from a computer located in a house in Jupiter, FL, often used by employees of the Cardinals.

The information obtained from the intrusion was proprietary information about scouting, players, and conversations about trade discussions between the Astros and other teams (including the Cardinals).  The NY Times article cites investigators’ belief that the intrusion and subsequent publication of information was done in an attempt to embarrass Astros GM Jeff Luhnow (formerly employed by the Cardinals) probably by vengeful employees of the Cardinals.    Both MLB and the Cardinals have issued public statements that both are cooperating fully with the investigation, but provide no further details.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the investigation is focused on mid to low level employees of the Cardinals.  The Houston Chronicle has reported that the investigation has narrowed down 4 to 5 suspects, and the FBI expects to complete its investigation soon.

This is what we know about the investigation.

This is what I think.  The fact that investigators so easily traced the intrusion back to the source says that the perpetrators were not sophisticated enough to hide their tracks, leaving a trail back to the IP address is the work of a novice.  Anyone with a moderate amount of computer savvy would know to use one of the options available out there to thwart a trace (a VPN service, TOR, etc).  In my mind this eliminates a concerted effort by higher ups in the FO, which apparently is the conclusion of the investigators as well.  In addition, the fact that the results compiled from the intrusion were shared on the internet leads me to believe this was not an attempt to gain a competitive advantage, but to harm Jeff Luhnow in some fashion.  If one wanted to use the information covertly to gain an advantage, releasing it publicly would be the antithesis of such a strategy.

If the investigation is indeed wrapped up soon, we will know before long the who, what, where and why of what occurred.  A fast resolution is the best thing that can happen in this situation, avoiding distraction during the season, and putting a stop to the rampant and harmful speculation currently going on in the media and on the internet.  Articles like this ridiculous one, will hopefully cease, and the Cardinals can get back to the more important business of running the franchise.

What a conclusion to the investigation won’t do is end the hatred that exists for the Cardinals organization, a hatred that until this story broke, was based on irrational reasons grounded in the success of the organization and a misunderstanding and misleading interpretations of the Cardinals principles of operation, known as “The Cardinal Way”.  The hatred will continue, and it will be buttressed by these recent events, regardless of the outcome.  Even if the higher echelons in the organization are completely exonerated, and the villains are found to be rogue employees of the Cardinals acting on their own, those who hate the Cardinals will ignore that and will add to their repertoire of hate words like “cheaters” and “criminals”.

Be prepared for it Cardinal Nation, it is going to be a very bumpy ride.

Thank you for reading.

The Upside of Anger

Believe it or not, I promised myself before the season started that I was going to take a different approach with my blogging this year.  I was going to blog less about my frustrations with Mike Matheny and most especially his handling of his outfield situation.  Well folks, it’s June 4, so you can mark this day as the day I lost the battle with myself.

GGGAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Okay, that felt good.

Here is what I am SO MAD about.  Jon Jay went on the DL and so did Randal Grichuk.  Peter Bourjos FINALLY saw some consistent playing time.  He was hitting, hitting better than he did last season.  His swing was better, he was making more contact, striking out less.  Bourjos has never been a .3oo hitter nor will he ever be, but with his defense and speed, a league average hitter is all he needs to be to be the best option in CF.  He was doing it too.

Then Randal Grichuk came back from the DL, and the hyperbole that set your teeth on edge started.  Grichuk started playing more, and Bourjos less, even though Bourjos was still hitting.  Then Jay came off the DL, and that was the end of that.  Bourjos has been relegated to the role of street urchin that everyone takes pity on and slips him a few crumbs of bread here and there.  And he did NOTHING to deserve such treatment.

So now we have Randal Grichuk as the favored child  based on 3, count them, 3 weeks of playing.  Yes, he looks good, but looks are deceiving.  Grichuk has a BABIP of .353.  He also has a line drive rate of 17%.  That means he should have a BABIP of around .290.  So that extra 60 points of BABIP means he is hitting into a large amount of luck, and his current batting line is a mirage.  Ground balls and fly balls that he is hitting are finding holes and not getting caught at a rate beyond what they should be normally.  When that happens, regression is the inevitable result.  Grichuk is not going to continue hitting this way, not unless he starts hitting a lot more line drives and less ground balls and fly balls.

Jon Jay, on the other hand, is starting to look a lot like 2014 Allen Craig.  He may just be in a slump, or his wrist injury could be affecting his hitting.  Either way, he does not look good at the plate.  Without his high average bat, Jay contributes nothing that Bourjos doesn’t.

Despite all this, I am not really angry that Grichuk is playing.  It makes some sense that the organization wants to see what they have in Grichuk.  There is no certainty that Heyward will sign with the Cardinals after this season, and Grichuk could be the insurance policy in RF if he doesn’t.  He has to play, and play enough so that the Cardinals can judge if he is the real thing.  The test will come when opposing teams get enough video on him to recognize his weaknesses; will Grichuk be able to adjust to being pitched differently?  Will his defense in CF hold up?  Scouting reports on him have said he doesn’t have the tools to stick in CF as a starter.  Are those reports wrong?  These are all questions that need to be answered.

No, what is making me angry is that Jay is getting starts in CF over Bourjos.  I don’t want to hear that crap about past performance means he’s earned it, blah, blah, blah.  How many times has John Mozeliak said that baseball is a performance based business?  If you don’t perform you don’t play; that was certainly used against Bourjos all last year as the reason he didn’t play over Jay.  So is there a double standard?    Do we have to have Allen Craig, the Sequel?

Matheny talks out of both sides of his mouth.  With one breath he praises Bourjos for his improved hitting, but then his actions don’t match his words.  According to reports in the Post Dispatch, Matheny said he would use the “hot hand” approach to help determine lineups.  Okay, then why is Jon Jay starting in place of Peter Bourjos?  As of this writing, Jay, with a batting line approaching Mendoza territory, does not have a “hot hand”.  His hand isn’t even lukewarm.  Yet he has started in CF in 3 of the last 4 games.  What that tells me is that Matheny’s words cannot be trusted.  Yes, I will say it, Matheny is a liar.

Am I angry?  You bet your ass.

I can do nothing to assuage my anger, however.  I am powerless to do anything except write these words in a blog.  I don’t like being angry.  So these words get written in this cathartic way, and then I must put it away, for my own good.

To use a baseball term, there is no “upside” to anger.  Except in the movies.

Thank you for reading.

In Search of First

Good morning, good afternoon, good night, gentle readers (I want to be apropos to my readers in whatever time zone they may be).  I haven’t been posting as often as I have in the past, partly because I have been somewhat busy, but more so because I have found myself searching for something new to talk about.  It’s not that I don’t have concerns or frustrations with this year’s Cardinals team, I do. It’s that those concerns and frustrations are virtually the same as I have always had.  After a while, even I get tired of listening to myself.

So, the one clear difference so far this season from last season, is the changes at the top of the Cardinals’ lineup.  Last season, no matter what lineup shenanigans were pulled by Mike Matheny, the one thing Cardinal Nation COULD count on was the comforting presence of Matt Carpenter in the first place spot.  Well, no longer.  Carpenter has been moved down one spot to number 2.  That change was welcomed by some, not so welcomed by others.  For myself, I don’t have an issue with Carpenter batting second, it’s a good spot for him, but moving him leaves the important spot of lead off bereft of a natural occupant.  Matheny has played musical chairs with the top spot ever since, and the last one standing each time has left much to be desired.

There have been as many difference of opinion as to who should be in that spot, as there have been bodies in that spot.  We have had Jon Jay, Kolten Wong, Peter Bourjos, Randal Grichuk, and Jason Heyward.  Jon Jay is now on the DL and the rest have not cemented themselves in that spot.  The differences in opinion have been differences in approach more than anything else.  There is the old school thought that speed should be at the top of the lineup; 4 of the 5 aforementioned occupants fit that mold.  There are those who view OBP as the deciding factor.  Others want a combination of both speed and OBP.  Still others look at the offensive profile of the hitter; the top spot gets the most PAs of any other spot in the lineup, so it follows that that post should be occupied by one of your best hitters.

For myself, I see speed as the least important factor of these to consider.  Speed is nice to have and it certainly makes a big difference in scoring runs.   But speed only matters once that speed is on base.  If it doesn’t get on base at a healthy clip, it’s wasted.

I see the ideal lead off candidate as a hybrid of getting on base and getting on base with a vengeance.  That means consistency, for one, and getting into scoring position as quickly as possible, for another.  It’s one thing to get on base, but you have to get on the right base to score runs.  This is where speed can be helpful, if you can stretch a hit into extra bases, or steal a base.  Doing this has its dangers, however, as we have so painfully seen with our bunch of base runners.  The other way to do it is to hit for extra bases, meaning hit the ball hard and far.  So my criteria is two fold: OBP and hitting profile.

Matt Carpenter fits my ideal lead off candidate better than anyone else on the squad.  He both gets on base and gets on base with a vengeance.  He is also the most consistent hitter on the team.  Prolonged slumps are very rare for Carpenter.  Unfortunately, Carpenter no longer occupies that spot.  I would like for him to move back there, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. Therefore, another candidate must be found.  So let’s look at who we have.

I am going to start by addressing those who have been occupying that spot in Carpenter’s stead.  Jon Jay is currently on the DL, but is expected back soon.  I don’t like Jay in the lead off spot for one clear reason, he doesn’t get on base with a vengeance.  He gets on base with a whimper.  When Jay gets an extra base hit, it is cause for a National Day of Thanks.  Jay has the distinction of having the least amount of power of pretty much anyone in major league baseball who qualifies as an everyday player.  Jon Jay has an ISO (Isolated power) of .020.  There isn’t a word in the English language for how awful that is.  Jay’s ISO has steadily declined for several seasons, and with the issues he has with his wrist, the likelihood of it getting any better is pretty slim.  So, NIX on Jay as a lead off hitter.

Kolten Wong, Peter Bourjos, and Randal Grichuk all have the same problem; they don’t get on base enough.  Career OBP for each:  Wong .297, Bourjos .306, Grichuk .282.  Is it possible for their OBP to improve?  Sure, it’s possible, more so for Wong and Grichuk because they are young.  Is it likely?  I wouldn’t count on it.  I give Wong a better shot than Grichuk, because Grichuk, though he has plenty of raw power,  has very poor contact skills.  He is basically a mistake hitter, throw him a juicy fastball and he is going to hit the crap out of it.  Otherwise, he is going to strike out, or hit a weak grounder.

Jason Heyward is an intriguing possibility, he has a career OBP of.349, good speed, and the ability to hit for extra bases.  The issues with Heyward are that he is currently struggling quite badly, and he has demonstrated an aversion to hitting lead off.   Neither of those things are immutable, so he remains an option, if not now, perhaps at a later time.

So who does that leave?  Well, someone who doesn’t seem at all like a lead off hitter, and one who is probably not going to get that spot as long as Mike Matheny is the manager.  That person is Matt Holliday.  Yes, Matt Holliday.  Matt Holliday both gets on base and gets on base with a vengeance.  Blessed with a career OBP of a whopping .386, and enough power to hit for extra bases, Matt Holliday is my candidate for lead off hitter in the place of Matt Carpenter.  Holliday’s  power has declined somewhat, but he still has enough to fill the role.

I imagine a lot of people think I’m crazy, but a lot of people are mired in the past ways of thinking about baseball.  IT FITS, people.  Get with the program.  You want to win lots of baseball games?  Then stop thinking like you can’t wait to drive your Edsel to the General Store.

My work is done here.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Our Warrior Is Down But We Must Soldier On

The Cardinals have had some rough news about the health of players lately.  First it was Adam Wainwright going down with a season ending achilles tendon injury.  That was bad enough.  Then came the news that Jordan Walden was out 6-10 weeks with an arm injury.  Now we hear that something possibly mysterious is wrong with the Cardinals’ best hitter, Matt Carpenter.  It could be something that rights itself in a few days, or it could be something more serious.

What’s more alarming about Matt Carpenter’s “illness” is just that it is an illness and not an injury.  An injury, for the most part, is more easily diagnosed and a timetable for recovery can be established.  The injuries to Wainwright and Walden give some level of closure and an expectation for return.  Carpenter’s health is more ambiguous; the symptoms that have been described could be the manifestation of many conditions, some of which are very serious, even life-threatening.  Now I don’t want to be an alarmist here, the chances of him suffering from something life-threatening are pretty slim.  I tend to be more optimistic considering Carpenter’s age and overall physical health.  It is likely he is just suffering from overwork or a mild virus.

The not knowing is of course, the worst.  Many fans get angry when something like this happens and the information that we get is so vague.  I don’t see this as a major issue because many fans don’t know, or forget, that there are privacy laws that prevent the Cardinals from giving out much information about a player’s health.  Some information is given out, because the Collective Bargaining Agreement requires that players sign a release for the dissemination to the public of some health information. The information that is allowed to be released is minimal, however.  The privacy laws are there for a reason, and let’s be honest, do we really NOT want health information to be private?  Do professional athletes deserve much less privacy than the rest of us?  I think not.

It’s maddening not to know, I get that.  We worry and that causes anxiety, and  well, it isn’t good.  But the individual player deserves to not have his physical limitations and bodily functions broadcast to the entire world.  Those of us who worry will just have to suck it up and wait.  We will know what we need to know eventually.  Hopefully, what we will know is that Carpenter just needed some rest and he will come back in a few days healthy and ready to resume being awesome.

In the meantime, the Cardinals are still winning, and players are stepping up to fill the gap.  Let’s rejoice in the players that we do have healthy and doing their thing to the best of their ability and beyond.  This is a wonderful time to be a Cardinals fan, let’s enjoy it while we can, and hope for Matt Carpenter’s speedy recovery.  There is plenty more baseball to play, and likely more injuries to come.  It’s all a part of baseball.  The Cardinals have shown a remarkable resiliency in the face of injury (and illness) and there is no reason not to expect more of the same.

Get well soon, Matt.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cubs Are One Percenters

It was a grueling weekend at Busch Stadium for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Three games against the Pittsburgh Pirates all ended in wins, but they were hard fought, exhausting wins.  Not since 1987 have the Cardinals won 3 consecutive games in extra innings, by only one run, and in walk off fashion.  It was as if the Gods of Baseball decided after the Phillies series that the Cardinals needed to earn it the hard way.

They earned it.  Boy, did they earn it.

I must confess I was a little disturbed (no, I was a lot disturbed) by the recent roster moves that resulted in stuffing the bullpen with extra arms, more extra arms than seemed necessary to me.  Given what transpired, either someone in the Cardinals organization had a Nostradamus moment, or the Universe was sending me a message that I needed to keep my trap shut.  If it was the latter, the Universe doesn’t know me very well.  I have never once cared about being wrong about anything, especially if I was wrong in a good way.

It has to be excruciating for the Pirates and their fans to lose 3 games in a row in that fashion.  All of that hard work and determination and nothing to show for it.  You have to admire the Pirates, they fought every bit as hard as the Cardinals did.  Despite all the hype and hoopla the media has been giving the Cubs, it is the Pirates, in my view, that deserve it more.  The Cubs are just the entitled rich kid flaunting his wealth and getting all the attention while the middle class kid works his keester off to get a slice of the pie.  I want to have a beer with the Pirates;  the Cubs can take their cognac and their cigars and stick them where the sun don’t shine.

Yes, I know the Cubs have this Curse thing going on and the over a century long drought of having not won a championship.    I get that there is a lot of sympathy for the Cubs and this sense of entitlement comes from finally having a realistic chance of achieving the dream.  The Pirates have had a long drought as well, not Cubsian (sic), but a drought nevertheless.  The Cubs just don’t do it for me in the Have to Root for the Underdog category. I can’t work up the enthusiasm for them that I can for the Pirates.  The Pirates have likable players like Andrew McCutchen; the Cubs have overly hyped prodigies who, even if they are nice kids, make you want them to fail just so the media would shut the hell up about them.

This is not a popular opinion in many quarters of the Baseball Universe.   In addition to not caring about being wrong, I also don’t care about conforming either.

The Cardinals play the Cubs in a 4 game series at Busch, starting tonight.  I do not want any extra inning nail biters against the Cubs.  I want complete and utter domination.  Please give me that, Cardinals.

The Cubs are the 1%.  They must be crushed and demoralized.

Thank you for reading.

Carnage Reigned (Rained) at Miller Park

It is still a little less than a month into the new baseball season, and things have already turned sour for the St. Louis Cardinals.  A routine series in Milwaukee this past weekend will not long be forgotten for its incredible run of very bad luck.  By the time the team left Milwaukee to return to St. Louis, many in Cardinal Nation were thinking that Miller Park was possessed by evil spirits.

Injuries, one of them severe, have left Cardinal Nation stunned and shell shocked.  First of all, Yadier Molina has been sidelined for several days by an injury to his knee as a result of a foul tip during Friday’s game.  Unable to play for the remainder of the series, it is hoped Molina won’t be sidelined for long.  Tony Cruz filled in for the injured Molina in the last two games of the series.

Right fielder Jason Heyward suffered a groin strain in Sunday’s game chasing after a ball in the right field corner at Miller Park.  He is listed as day to day, his return to the lineup unknown.  During that same game, Mark Reynolds came face to face, literally, with the left center field wall while making a catch at the warning track.  Reynolds lay on the ground for a short time, but by the time the Cardinals’ trainer, sprinting to the rescue, got to him, Reynolds was at least on his feet.  After an initial evaluation, Reynolds remained in the game (knowing who he was and where he was at the time, we hope).

However, by far the most devastating injury is the loss, probably for the remainder of the season, of staff pitching ace Adam Wainwright, who suffered an Achilles tendon injury in Saturday’s game while taking an at bat in the fifth inning.  Wainwright stumbled out of the batter’s box after hitting a pop up, and was helped off the field by the trainer and the Cardinals’ manager.  Preliminary reports during and since the game have indicated an injury to the Achilles tendon of the left foot.  An MRI is scheduled for today to confirm.  Achilles injuries are very serious, a full rupture of the tendon would require surgery and a long recovery and rehab period.  A partial tear of the tendon would require less, but significant, recovery time, but the hope for that outcome appears to be remote.

Out of all that carnage, the Cardinals managed to win the series, but took a loss in Sunday’s game 6-3.  The Cardinals have returned home to start a four game series against the Phillies, but the pall of the Wainwright disaster still hangs over the team and the fans.  John Mozeliak has expressed that a replacement for Wainwright in the rotation will be an internal one, though with the recent injury of Memphis starter Marco Gonzales, that replacement will likely be either Tyler Lyons, or Tim Cooney.  Perennially injured starter Jaime Garcia is not yet ready for prime time, though a return to the rotation at some point (however long that might last) has not been ruled out.  Gonzales should  be returning as an option at some point as well.

While Cardinal Nation waits for the confirmation of the bad news on Wainwright, the show must go on, as they say in circus parlance.  The return of Molina is imminent, and the fate of Jason Heyward is unknown, though he will likely miss some of the Phillies’ series, probably replaced by Jon Jay, with Peter Bourjos manning center.  Hopefully there will be no trip to the DL for Heyward.

It was both a good and a bad weekend, though the bad is likely to overshadow the good for the foreseeable future.  Continuing to win would be the best medicine for everyone involved, most especially Wainwright.  A return to Miller Park is thankfully not in the team’s immediate future; the next series there isn’t until August.  Maybe the evil will have dissipated by then.  If not, I suggest a truckload of bubble wrap be on hand.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

The Mettle of Kolten Wong

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want

to test a man’s character, give him power

—Abraham Lincoln

I remember back in April of 2014 when Kolten Wong was inexplicably benched and then subsequently sent down to Memphis for several weeks. It made no sense to me at the time; the offense as a whole was struggling, but Wong was doing no worse than others on the starting squad, in fact he was doing a little better than a few. The explanation that was given was a non sequitur; the offense was struggling, therefore Wong needed to “face adversity”. Many of us thought at the time that the explanation from Mike Matheny was a heaping pile of horse hockey. But then again, many of Matheny’s explanations for things fit that mold. Anyway, Wong went to Memphis and hit the snot out of the ball for three weeks. Yeah, he really needed to be there.

In the meantime, Wong’s replacement, Mark Ellis, was setting the world on fire. Yes, that is sarcasm. I had no issues with Ellis, his signing was welcomed by me because he had some seriously good defensive skills and I believed he would be an asset to the bench as a back up second baseman. He also was a league average hitter in his career, which was a long one. Unfortunately, age and injury took its toll on him and he was unable to get anything going with the bat in 2014.

However, it appeared Matheny found Ellis’ “veteraniness” appealing and couldn’t wait to allow Ellis to have sufficient rehab work in the minors after his injury before having him brought to the big leagues. Ellis had one rehab start, and then was brought up to play in Wong’s stead while Wong sat on the bench and contemplated his navel. After a while, Wong was sent to Memphis, and we were treated to all the Mark Ellis we could handle (or not, as it turned out). Eventually, Wong came back and was reinstated to the starting second base position, with recurring intervals of Mark Ellis still to be had.

I regurgitate all of this Wong history for one purpose. To show just how far Kolten Wong has come in his big league career. From the days of involuntarily “facing adversity” to the days of being the kind of second baseman we all had hoped for. The kind like we saw play last night against the Washington Nationals. We saw some dazzling, web gem worthy plays on defense, and some really big hits on offense. Kolten Wong showed us what he is made of and we like it. We like it a lot.

Now, Wong is still going to have bad days, as does every big league player. Hopefully there will be no more banishments for illusory purposes. Kolten Wong is a major league second baseman and there should be no more doubts about that, even during the inevitable periods of struggle. Adversity happens to everyone, and it shouldn’t have to be faced in shame and disgrace.

Kolten Wong is the second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, and I couldn’t be happier about that.

Thank you for reading.

In Praise of Matt Carpenter

The joys of beating the Reds is a gift that keeps on giving. As my last post was about this subject, I don’t want to spend too much time on it. Suffice it to say that beating the Reds never gets old. But then again, beating the Cubs, the Brewers and the Pirates never gets old either. Not to mention beating every other team in the National League, but most especially the Nationals (who the Cardinals play next), and of course the Dodgers (the postseason drubbings are especially meaningful). The Giants are the one team that remains a particular nemesis. It’s an odd numbered year though, so hopefully they will not be an issue in the Cardinals’ quest for the trophy.

I want to talk about Matt Carpenter. Who doesn’t want to talk about Matt Carpenter? I suspect Mr. Clayton Kershaw would like to forget he exists, seeing as how Carpenter has been the main antagonist in his postseason melodramas, but Mr. Kershaw doesn’t have to read this post (and if he did, I would be shocked all the way down to my old toes).

So yes, Matt Carpenter. Hitter of many doubles, scorer of many runs, lead off man extraordinaire and possessor of the best five o’clock shadow in the major leagues. I can’t get enough of Matt Carpenter (with apologies to his wife, who has nothing to worry about, as I am old enough to be his mother). The Cardinals found themselves a gem in that 13th round pick in the 2009 draft (that was a very good year). He isn’t perfect, but who is? Not much of a base runner, and I worry about that arm throwing all the way from third base. He seems to have to put a little too much effort into many of his throws, which is why if there was no Kolten Wong, I would worry less if he still played second base. I hope the arm holds up and he doesn’t end up like Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals.

I love watching Matt Carpenter play baseball. When he comes to bat, you know you are not going to get cheated. Even if he strikes out, he does it with panache and an indomitable spirit. That cheeky grin is a winner too. His most recent imitation of Ozzie Smith at home plate was a sight to behold, but one has to cringe at the thought that he might have been injured. Best not to try that again, Matt. We get you, we really do, and we don’t need reminders of your tenacity that potentially come with a trip to the DL. Ease up, dude.

I could go on, but I don’t want to appear stalkerish. Suffice it to say that I enjoy Matt Carpenter as much as any old woman with a baseball fetish. Maybe more, because I have a blog to talk about it. Heh heh.

I end this post with some Cardinals news. Randal Grichuk has been put on the 15 day DL with a weight room injury. I think the Cardinals either have poor trainers (I doubt it) or way too enthusiastic weight lifters. I sincerely hope this does not become an epidemic. Seriously, if you must get injured, at least do it on the field making some spectacular baseball play or something. Geez. So now the guy who engenders comparisons to expensive foreign cars is in the shop for repairs. That’s what happens when you invest in expensive foreign cars. Of course, I think the comparison to expensive foreign cars is ridiculous and stupid, but I guess some folks just need hyperbole to make their day worth living.

Till we meet again, gentle reader.

MGL on Baseball

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