Monday, December 31, 2007
Well, with perfect intentions, this post should have appeared this morning. However, Indy/Tennessee was a bit too enthralling (I wanted to know who the Chargers would be playing this weekend), and then the Sound of Music came on (can't miss in my book)... well what do you know it's New Year's Eve.
As a west-coast blogger, well, I get to post on Monday nights after most of the world has gone to bed - or in the case of today, gone to the Champagne bottle. So I missed the boat. But, since I gave my word I'd do a post on my thoughts regarding the top 5 Cardinal stories of 2007, here's my short list.
5. Josh Hancock dies. Really only memorable because a professional athlete died in the middle of the season. It did mentally affect the team's performance for a time, and it did serve as something of a marshalling point; however it didn't galvanize the team like Darryl Kile's death in 2002 did (or the way Sean Taylor's death has for the Washington Redskins)
For me, this was memorable because ol' Josh's father decided to sue the world over his death - the restaurant, the bartender, the tow truck driver, yada yada yada - which led to this post. It wasn't something I enjoyed writing, but it needed to be said.
4. Walt Jocketty, Cardinals part ways. After 14 years, a World Series Championship, and the contract extension he had signed through 2009, you'd think this event would be higher on the list. Fact was, rumors of discord in the Cardinal front office had circulated all year, including the widely reported "story" that Walt was considering taking over the GM job with Cincinnati. His ultimate departure from the organization wasn't that big of a surprise; it was, frankly, one of the worst-kept secrets of the year.
3. AP left on bench; NL loses All-Star game. A big story because of the magnitude of Pujols' star power, the fact that his manager was the one running the NL side (and the one who decided to stay with Aaron Rowland against K-Rod), and the fact that the NL had the bases loaded with 2 out and down by 1. A hit would have won the game. Why would you leave the NL's most feared hitter on the bench in that spot? The story quickly diffused into explanations from LaRussa and Pujols about why and that it wasn't that big a deal, but it once again IMHO displayed why playing the All-Star game for home field advantage in the World Series is a terrible idea.
2. Edmonds traded to Padres for Minor Leaguer. Signifying the end of the Edmonds era in St Louis and the start of the MV3 break-up. Most had expected Rolen to be the first to go given his ongoing friction with LaRussa (which has been true for 3 years, so doesn't make the top 5 this year). It also formally and blatantly signalled a change of course for the franchise; a conscious decision to dump payroll in the form of stars no longer producing; a significant effort to upgrade the team's farm system and build a winner from within (in the fine tradition of Branch Rickey). Lots of us greeted this news with shock and dismay, me among them.
1. Carpenter has surgery, done for the year. The biggest story of the year. Chris was the lynchpin of our hopes for a title defense; everyone knew with Mulder on the shelf until after the All-Star break, a reclamation project (Wells), a cross-your-fingers-project (Looper), a head case (Reyes), and the 'rookie' starter (Wainwright), Carpenter had to produce. He went down in early April, and we all hoped he could come back. He tried and couldn't. Cardinal playoff hopes went down the tubes the day the club reported he was having surgery and was done for the year. What a huge pyschological blow for the team and their fan base!
So that's it. As I search my 'wine cellar' (read: second fridge) for any bubbly to ring in the new year, here's 5 stories to keep your eyes on for 2008:
- Will the Cardinals sign a free agent pitcher (God help me if it's Kyle Lohse)?
- How many votes will McGwire get for the HOF this time around?
- Will Mulder and Carpenter regain some semblance of their old command when they return?
- Will Colby Rasmus be as good as he's projected to be?
- Will Rolen stay a Cardinal for all of 2008?
Cheers, Happy New Year, and please - if you're partying on the town, don't drive.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
While we were on hiatus, the Cardinals signed Cliff Politte to a minor league contract. Politte was a large part of the White Sox bullpen success in 2005 (68 appearances, 67 1/3 innings, ERA 2.00), but only threw 30 innings in 2006 and then went down to shoulder surgery, from which he spent all of 2007 recovering. I'm assuming he'll be a non-roster invitee to spring training, and will probably start the season at AAA.
Politte joins Johnson, Carpenter, and Mulder in the pitcher's section of the team rehab clinic.
So Taguchi has latched on with another team, signing with Philadelphia. Taguchi will get $1 Million in 2008 and has an option for 2009. Now, having gone to college in the Philadelphia area, I will admit to having the slightest bit of affection for the Phillies, although to be honest it's more because their fans crack me up than because I like the baseball they play. At any rate, I'm glad So's found work, and as before wish him well.
While I was poking through my archives looking for my Christmas post from last year, I stumbled across my New Year's Eve post. Apparently the Egg Nog was especially spiked last year, for I made some Resolutions, which I promptly forgot about. Whether or not I'm foolish enough to do this again next week only time will tell. But if I do come up with some resolutions for 2008, I ought to at least look at how I did on those I had for 2007. So here goes:
1. Hit .600 in 2007 - Due to many things, but mainly to a growing family, I only played 41 games this year, which translated into 146 at bats - less than 50% of the at bats I had in 2006. This probably helped the average; I hit .589 this year. Close, but no banana.
Yes, I keep statistics on myself. Playing rec/beer league softball. Insert OCD joke here.
2. I will learn to dive for sinking line drives - Nope, still haven't done that. I did decide that sliding was a better plan than diving. Less risk of injury. However, the old man still has some giddy-up in his stride, and I was able to get to most line drives hit in front of me. The other ones either I played on a hop..... or chased after they skipped by me. Swing and a miss.
3. I will learn to drive to the hospital with a concussion after attempting to dive for a sinking line drive - rendered moot by my good sense in not diving at my advanced age. Call it a tie.
4. I will run for more than 4 minutes (blah blah blah) - We'll just stop there. I didn't run for 4 minutes continuously at any point last year. Fitness test for the USN? I swim it, vice running it. I did determine that if I do a set where I run for 2 min, walk for 2 min, and repeat that cycle 5 times, my back locks up. I don't do that anymore. Seemed practical. Swing and a miss.
5. I will pleasure my wife whenever she wants me to - I did this so well, in September my second son was born. Needless to say now my wife won't let me anywhere near her. I'm lucky I'm still allowed to live in the same house. Success!
6. I will lose 11 pounds - Actually gained 5. When I recently had blood work to determine my triglyceride level, the counter read "TILT" and then shut down for 2 weeks. Dietary changes are a-coming. I might have more luck with this one in 2008. Swing and a miss.
7. I will swim 450m in under 7 minutes - We do 2 Physical Readiness Tests a year. May 2007 - 8 min, 30 seconds. Dec 07 - 9 min, 45 seconds. Yes, the trend is the wrong way. Yes, it was nowhere near 7 minutes. I hate getting old. Swing and a miss.
8. I will broaden my topics beyond the St Louis Cardinals - I did the Villanova preview on Deadspin for the 2007 NCAA tournament, which was the big success. There are some VU, Charger, and Ram posts sprinkled throughout the year here, but otherwise it's all Cardinals, all the time. Swing and a miss.
So the final tally - 1 Success, 5 swings and misses, 2 ties/close calls. Wow. Pretty dismal, eh?
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
There has been some movement by the Cardinals in recent days, but we'll hold off the discussion on all that until after the Holiday. Instead, I'm re-posting something I did last year for Christmas, because it succinctly reminds us of what this day commemorates.
"Today I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.Compliments of the season to you.
Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child's cry. A blazing star hung over a stable and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven't forgotten that night down the centuries; we celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, the sound of bells, and gifts.
But especially with gifts. You give me a book; I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer, and Uncle Henry could do with a new pipe. We forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled...
all, that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up.
The stocking for the Child born in a manger.
It's His birthday we are celebrating. Don't ever let us forget that. Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most and then let each put in his share: loving kindness, warm hearts, and the stretched-out hand of tolerance; all the shining gifts that make peace on Earth.
- Re-printed w/o permission from the movie "The Bishop's Wife" (1947)
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Pondering what to write about is like watching chrome rust - you waste a lot of time, and not much happens. That's one of the reasons why I shifted to a two post per week schedule last winter - I ran out of things to say. Which, for anyone who knows me, is almost unbelievable.
One of the sites I peruse (as you can see from the right margin) is C70 at the bat. At the tail end of the Edmonds discussions, commentors started discussing retired numbers, or more specifically, numbers that have been 'unofficially' retired. This caught my interest.
So let's talk about Cardinal Retired Numbers.
For those of you unsure which players have had their numbers retired, here they are:
1 - Ozzie Smith (HOF)
2 - Red Schoendienst (HOF)
6 - Stan Musial (HOF)
9 - Enos Slaughter (HOF)
14 - Ken Boyer
17 - Dizzy Dean (HOF)
20 - Lou Brock (HOF)
42 - Jackie Robinson (HOF)
42 - Bruce Sutter (HOF)
45 - Bob Gibson (HOF)
85 - August A 'Gussie' Busch (Owner)
Yep - all but Ken Boyer are in Cooperstown, making this a hard group to join. I think Busch is also in the hall, but I can't prove it from the HOF website.
So of the unofficial retired number list, who should we consider to join this group? (Note: I selected what I consider representative statistics for this analysis.)
1. Jim Edmonds (#15)? Played for the Cardinals 2000-2007. 3-time All-Star. Top 5 twice in MVP voting (4th in 2000 and 5th in 2004). Six Gold Gloves (2000-2005). Sliver Slugger (2004). Top 15 on team's all-time list in HR (4th), RBI (12th), and walks (7th). Reasonable case for the Hall.
Projection: Probable. As a Cardinal, he is one of the greats in the history of the club.
2. Willie McGee (#51)? Played for the Cardinals 1982-1990, 1996-1999. 1985 NL MVP. Two time batting champion (1985, 1990). 4-time All Star. Silver Slugger (1985). Three Gold Gloves (1983, 1985, 1986). Top 15 on team's all-time list in RBI (14th), Hits (11th), Total Bases (14th), and Stolen Bases (4th). Got 5% of HOF vote in 2005, 2.3% in 2006, so won't be going to the Hall unless the veteran's committee picks him up.
Projection: Possible. One of the most beloved Cardinals of the past 20 years. Other than Ozzie, the best position player on Herzog's teams in the 1980s. Had a petition drive started in his name; I think it got over 10,000 signatures, but not sure what happened to it. I have a nice T-Shirt commemorating the petition effort, though.
3. Whitey Herzog (#24)? Managed the Cardinals 1980-1990. Three NL East Division Titles, 3 NL Pennants (1982, 1985, 1987). One World Series (1982). NL Manager of the Year in 1985. 822-728 as Cardinals Manager.
Projection: Very Probable. Herzog missed getting into the Hall this year by one vote (Veteran's Committee), so he may make it in 2009. Once he's in, I imagine the team will retire his number much like Bruce Sutter's in 2006.
It's interesting that only one Cardinal manager's had his number retired (Schoendienst), and that was for his exploits as a player. Now that Billy Southworth is in the Hall, that should change.
4. Darryl Kile (#57)? Pitched for the Cardinals 2000-2002, compiling 41-24 mark. All-Star in 2000. Died tragically from a blocked artery in 2002; found in his Chicago hotel room the morning he was to start against the Cubs, June 22, 2002.
Projection: Not Likely. By all accounts he was a good man and excellent teammate, but his number would be retired more because of his tragic death and the way that galvanized the team in 2002 then for his on-field exploits as a Cardinal. Did not receive a vote for HOF in 2007.
5. Josh Hancock (#32)? Pitched for Cardinals 2006-07. 3-4 record, 1 save - your typical middle reliever. Killed in a collision on a St Louis highway April 29, 2007; was later found to be legally drunk at the time of the crash.
Projection: Not in this lifetime. An appropriate period of not issuing 32 to another player is warranted. I'd be a little bit surprised to see #32 on a Cardinal before the 2009 season. After that, someone else should wear the number. His death was untimely; but I don't think a guy who was so self-destructive in life is someone we should lionize in death by retiring his number.
Anyone else we should consider? Make your pitch in the comments.
Monday, December 17, 2007
But it gave me a chance to peruse some of the Cardinal Blogdome reaction to the trade. And as always, Viva El Birdos is the site I visited first. To quote some snippets from the article:
the news that jim edmonds asked for this trade has done little to stop the angry recriminations over it. there are still plenty of people out there --- including a few who e-mailed me yesterday --- who insist that thte [sic] deal was born of dewitt's money-grubbing and/or mozeliak's stupidity.and
however the cardinals spend the $6m, that return will get added to the value the cards have already received in exchange for edmonds, david freese. frustrated jed fans are dismissing this guy as a piece-a-shit prospect, which isn't fair; he'll never be a star, but he has a decent chance of delivering a few seasons of league-average offense.I assume that, although Larry could have just checked the diaries at SportsNation to gauge reactions to the trade, he surfed the web to a few other sites. Which got me thinking: I know he's read this site in the past; I don't know how often he reads it since I came back here from mvn.com. Was my post one of the ones 'dismissing this guy as a piece-of-shit prospect'?
Yeah, it could be interpreted that way.
In hindsight, in the paragraph above the second Edmonds photo, I should have inserted the word 'apparently' between "because they" and "got so". That more accurately describes how I feel about the trade. The rest of the post is as neutral as I wanted it to be. Freese didn't appear on any Padre top 10 prospect list I could find, but I didn't want to dismiss him as a player of the caliber of Pete Rose, Jr, so I tried to portray some of his successes as well. Let's face it: guys named MVP of their league are pretty good regardless of which league they play for.
In all honesty, we won't know if this trade is a good one or a bad one for at least two more years. We'll have to wait and see how Freese progresses in the Cardinal system. Or, if he gets packaged into a deal for another player, we'll evaluate that player's performance to see if it was worth having the rights to Freese at all.
Josh over at mvn.com? That guy's downright hysterical about this trade. Which I have to say I found somewhat amusing.
I understand the long-term vision behind the trade, though I still think the Cardinals didn't get much in return; but I'm willing to wait and see how Freese pans out before I start organizing a 'pitchfork and torch' march through downtown St Louis.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I took my Cost final today (3 hours), and have the NOA final tomorrow. It's take-home, and we have 8 hours to complete it.
Needless to say I'm not exactly in touch with the larger world right now.
So I finish my final, and flip over to stltoday.com, to find this.
Viva El Birdos, for example) that the Cardinals need to get younger, that their farm system is dry, that they have too much money tied up in too few players. Of course, this prevailing opinion was counter-punched recently in this article by Jeff Gordon.
I'd gotten to the point that I understood the release of Bennett, Eckstein, and Miles in the name of fiscal responsibility and because they all allegedly had significant weaknesses in their game.
But trading Edmonds? What a message.
Baseball these days is a business. The men who own major league franchises didn't get to the point where they could own a major league franchise without being sound businessmen. And they don't make investments lightly. They jealously guard their capital, and they aggressively pursue high returns for their money. You can't get too sentimental over your investments these days. Emotional attachment to something, be it a stock, house, or player, leads to bad fiscal decisions and a loss of opportunity.
That the DeWitt's treat the club as a business they're trying to make a profit from has never been clearer to me than right now. I'm sure they want to win championships; I'm sure based on the trades they allowed Jocketty to make during his tenure as GM, the salary they tied up in big-name players, the fact that this team has had one of its most successful runs in its history since 2000. But they're also in this for the money: new stadium, jettisoning KMOX as the Cardinals' flagship station being two examples. And approving today's trade.
Edmonds was the longest-tenured Cardinal. A three-time All Star, multiple gold glove winner, and cause of many, many big plays with his bat and glove. But he had suffered through two injury-plagued seasons, and it was becoming increasingly obvious he couldn't hit left handers anymore.
The Cardinals let him go in exchange for David Freese, a ninth-round selection in 2006, a prospect who played last year in High Class A and a man who doesn't appear on anyone's 'Top 10 Padre prospect' list. He was the Sun Belt Conference player of the year in 2006 (South Alabama).
The Cardinals reportedly freed up $7 million in salary with the trade.
I guess the club is thinking this could be the guy that eventually replaces Scott Rolen at third, which is forward-thinking. I'm not sure if my shock is because they traded Edmonds away, or because they got so little in return for him.
In any case, thanks for the memories, Jim. Good luck in San Diego.
I guess we'll find out how good Colby Rasmus really is now.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
1. I've added a link to Sports News Connection. Check it out. It's a one-stop website with links to articles from around the country, for example ESPN.com, MLB.com, SI.com, the Sporting News, and local paper reporting. Towards the bottom of the page is the 'Sports Blog Connection' section, and The Stance is listed as the Cardinals blog. More exposure never hurts. Welcome, Curt, to our margin.
2. Dustin over at Whiteyball.com introduced me to the Baseball University website. Yes, there is actually a BASEBALL UNIVERSITY. Would that I had found that out before deciding to slug through a statistics-based Masters program. All kinds of cool courses (hitting fundamentals, scout like a pro) are offered, as well as classes designed to make you a better youth coach. You need to know these things; there's so much to learn about the great game. Check it out.
Today brought the release of the Mitchell Report. I'm not going to go into great detail here, because the report (and subsequent 80+ player list) is being dissected on sports sites (and newspapers and blogs) across the world. But I did have interest in one specific question:
Does the report identify Mark McGwire as a steroids user?
The report is 406 pages long. Small print, no pictures. Dry. Since I don't have the time (right now, maybe later) or the patience (ever?) to read the entire thing, I did the next best thing:
I searched the pdf file for the word 'McGwire'.
McGwire does appear rather prominently in the report. By my count, his name appears 46 times (37 in the body of the report, and nine more times either via footnote or bibliography). The report basically re-hashes all the public events in McGwire's baseball life since that day in 1998 they found andro in his locker. After wallowing around without a point for 132 pages, we finally come to the crux of the issue, on page 133:
"During the course of the investigation, we interviewed a number of coaches, club personnel, former teammates, and other persons who know McGwire. Only Canseco, who repeated the allegations from his memoir, said he had knowledge of McGwire's alleged use of steroids (emphasis mine). Through his personal lawyer, I asked McGwire to meet with me for an interview about these issues, but he declined to do so."Hmmm.
You would think, based on how discredited McGwire currently is, that if there was dirt to be had on him it would be easy to bring to light. Most people have difficulty not kicking someone when they're down; that person's an easy target and probably won't fight back. So why did no one come forward to say they had seen McGwire using?
There are several possibilities. Mitchell didn't interview players (or had little luck getting them to talk; he reported sending letters to Bonds, Palmerio, and Sheffield, among others, and got no answers from them either), so the guys with the real dirt remain silent. Perhaps Canseco had an ulterior motive for accusing McGwire in his book. I don't know.
The one thing that works against the Canseco ulterior motive theory is that McGwire never forcefully (to my knowledge) denied the report.
Whatever the reason, these facts remain, and are not in dispute: The ONLY proof we have that McGwire used steroids is the testimony of one man. No one has come forward claiming to have sold McGwire steroids (a la Victor Conte with Bonds). No former training partner of McGwire's has come forward either to back up Canseco's story. There is no corroborating evidence to prove McGwire used steroids. I expected this report to include his name. It doesn't; yet it does include other former players among those named.
I hope the entire BBWAA took notice. Stop treating McGwire like an ex-girlfriend you believe betrayed you. Vote the man into the Hall.
76.5% of the voters did not vote for McGwire last year, and in their arrogance and adolescent pique, probably won't this year. They won't let facts get in the way of a good emotional argument.
I have two words for them.
Monday, December 10, 2007
1. Rolen and LaRussa still hate each other.....check.
2. Cardinals haven't signed a free agent starting pitcher yet......check.
3. Mo can't find a suitor that wants Duncan or Ankiel in exchange for pitching help.....check.
Looks like the status quo is still in place. So, I thought I'd take time out to describe a recent birthday gift I received.
The following description should not be taken to mean that I did not like any other birthday gifts I may have recently received, or that I am not grateful to have received said items. I simply wanted to talk about this one during a slow week.
Just in case members of my family read this site (and I know who you are...)
I recently had a birthday. How old am I? 'As old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth.' Name the movie that comes from and I'll think of something cool to acknowledge your acumen with. Anyway, a couple of days passed, and a package arrives from amazon.com. Seems my younger brother had sent me something (I can't call him my little brother, as he is 3 inches taller and 30+ lbs heavier. Pretty close to how much bigger my dad was than I. Yes, I'M the runt).
So I open it. And it's this:
Now, I'd seen this DVD set advertised on-line (and in TV commercials) before, and thought it might be cool; but never thought to buy it. Let me tell you: It's pretty cool.
The set includes 6 disks, of the following games at Busch:
- 1968 World Series, Game 1 (Gibson strikes out 17)
- 1982 World Series, Game 7 (WE WIN - on the scoreboard after the game ended)
- 1985 NLCS, Game 5 (Herzog out-manages Lasorda; the 'Go Crazy, Folks!' game)
- 1987 World Series, Game 3 (I'll have to watch it to see why this one made the cut)
- 8 Sept 1998 game vs Cubs (McGwire's 62nd HR)
- 2004 NLCS, Game 7 (Clemens, afraid of Rolen, pitches to AP with the tying run on third; AP doubles, Rolen HR on next pitch, World Series bound!)
Each DVD jacket includes interesting facts. For example, the 2004 jacket states: AP hit .500 against the Astros in that series. It also includes the attendance, how many hitters STL pitchers struck out, men LOB by each team, and the box score on the back. The inside of the case includes a summary of each inning's events (ex: 2004 bottom of 6: Cedeno bats for Suppan; Cedeno singles to center; Renteria sacrifice bunts, grounds out to pitcher [Cedeno to second]; and so on), which makes it easy for you to find the event you're looking for.
The DVD itself allows you to watch the whole game, or select what half inning you want to skip to or start viewing from.
Naturally I watched all of 2004 Game 7 again. One of my favorite Cardinals games ever. But not before I discovered that this particular disk has some extras included on it.
Like Edmonds' HR the night before that forced Game 7.
I did not see that event live. I was at work all that day. I was on the Submarine Squadron staff in 2004, and although the OPCON (Operational Control room) had recently restored its cable connection to the TV in there - ostensibly to watch the news for major world events - I hadn't been able to camp in that space to watch the game. I was, of course, monitoring the game via the internet. As I was getting ready to head home I stopped by to see the ninth. I saw Izzy blow the 4-2 lead. I listened in the car as the Cardinals swung feebly at Lidge, and Tavarez pulled his head out of his ass long enough to retire 6 straight Astros.
I was almost home when Pujols reached. I heard Rolen make his out while sitting in my driveway. I had the radio turned up so I could hear it, and started taking stuff out of the trunk of my car; when I heard the distinct sound of static from my radio. When I fixed it, all I heard was bedlam.
You see clips of the HR but it doesn't do it justice. Seeing Edmonds foul off the first pitch, then send the second one soaring into the Cardinals bullpen gave me goosebumps. A smile appeared on my face without me thinking about smiling.
I haven't watched the rest of the set yet (I didn't see the 1982 Game 7 either, I listened to it on the radio while I did homework), but I will. It (other than Gibby's game) will be a walk down a pleasant memory lane for me.
I highly recommend this set for the Cardinal fan near you.
Younger bro: Thanks.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Today is December 7th. Here's who died:
"Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleagues delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
This morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.
Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire."
If you know a veteran of the Second World War, call him. Visit his or her grave today if they are no longer with us.
And remember those who perished on that Sunday morning so long ago.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
WITH THE REMOTE. Get your mind out of the gutter.
Things I learned from watching that boob-and-ass-fest:
- Brazil could become a creditor country to the world if they bottled Amazon River water and sold it under the byline "drink this and look like a lingerie model!" You gonna tell me the 'fat' lady in the green muumuu down at the trailer park wouldn't guzzle that stuff by the gallon?
- I'll bet the after-walk spread was a bowl of tic tacs and some fortified water. That's a lot of bony women. Beautiful faces, but not much meat.
- 'Dream Angel Heavenly' Fragrance? Come on. They ought to name that shit 'Spilled Semen', to memorialize the 10 million adolescent boys who use those catalogs for other than their intended purpose.
And now, back to baseball.
I've got some catching up to do from my last post, so here it is in a nutshell: Cardinals signed Cesar Izturis to a 1 year, $2.85M deal. Stltoday.com reported the contract included incentives that, if met, could make it worth $3.5M. There's no option for 2009, so this is a one year rental.
Here's a comparison of what Izturis and Eckstein did over the past 3 years in some categories I selected. These are their averages from 2005-2007:
Izturis: 90 Games, 317 AB, 31 R, 81 H, 14 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 22 RBI, 4 SB, 5 CS (nice), 19 Walks, 28 K, .255 AVG, .298 OBP.
Eckstein: 133 Games, 521 AB, 72 R, 155 H, 22 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 38 RBI, 9 SB, 5 CS, 38 W, 36 K, .297 AVG, .356 OBP.
To be fair, Eckstein lead off for the Cardinals all 3 years, while Izturis hit all over the batting order; and Izturis was relegated to the bench the last 2 years as a Dodger, Cub, and Pirate.
For a fielding comparison, I just looked at fielding percentage and errors:
Izturis: Average .975 fielding pct, 7 errors (I just looked at his stats playing short)
Eckstein: .976 fielding pct, 14 errors.
So it's a wash there; Izturis made fewer errors on average, but he also had fewer chances to make a play than Eckstein.
Frankly I don't see how the club improved with this signing. Izturis is a weaker bat who hasn't played short full time since 2005. Basically the organization has decided to tread water this year under the assumption that Brendan Ryan, who isn't ready for prime time full time (which most prognosticators agree is true), will take over at short full time in 2009.
Not to mention the Cardinals parted ways with one of La Russa's favorite players; the 'toughest man I've ever had play for me,' I believe was the sound bite.
Which brings us nicely to one of La Russa's least favorite players: Scott Rolen.
Not sure when this article went up, but it's scathing. As far as La Russa's comments on the organization's best interests, I completely agree. Rolen, when healthy, makes this club infinitely better. The last time the club dumped a veteran on a snap decision was the shipping of Keith Hernandez to the Mets; worked out pretty well for Keith, and the Mets (we got Jack Clark to replace him, so I can't really complain about the consequences to the Cardinals).
In all seriousness, what did the Cardinals expect to get offered for Rolen? Other teams are dealing from a position of strength. They know Rolen is unhappy in St Louis, and they know the Cardinals are trying to move him. They also know he's had the three shoulder surgeries in the last two years, and they've seen his power numbers decline steadily since the collision with Hee Sop Choi in 2005. If St Louis was trying to deal him in 2004, at the peak of his powers, they could have held out for a king's ransom; but now, other GM's are like sharks circling for the kill.
Additionally, I think now, based on how this situation has blown up in St Louis, and the ugly way Rolen left Philadelphia in 2002, that Scott can justifiably be classified a clubhouse cancer; and what contender wants to insert a malcontent into the mix in the locker room? Rolen was golden in Philadelphia initially, and then went to play for the team he idolized as a kid (and admitted was perfect for him), yet both periods of employment ended (or are going to end) very badly.
Who would willingly want to deal with that nonsense?
The Cardinals have also been rumored to be shopping Jim Edmonds and Anthony Reyes. The Padres are rumored to be interested in both (at least according to the Channel 8 sports guy on the 11 o'clock news out here). St Louis can lose Rolen or Edmonds, but not both; AP got very little to hit last year, can you imagine what he'll see pitch-wise this season if his protection is Duncan or Ankiel? For Reyes: I'll say it publicly now: unloading Anthony Reyes would be a mistake the Cardinals rue for years to come. His stuff is too good. Quit treating him like a yo-yo and let the man pitch.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Gotta be a joke, I thought.
Well: Sourcebooks, Inc actually exists - it's an independent publishing company based out of Illinois. When I called the number, a person answered - and the name she gave matched that on the email I received. They were serious. So I told them sure I'd read and review it. They asked that the review come out the week of 26 Nov; so it follows below.
Here's a photo of the book cover:
Now a disclaimer: I haven't written a book report since high school, so if you're expecting this to read like a New York Times book section review, you're going to be SORELY disappointed. Of course, if you think the writing on this blog approximates the New York Times writing style, either I'm in the wrong line of work or you should stop drinking. Immediately.
Bottom Line Up Front: If you're tired of slogging through the Confessions of St Augustine and want an intellectually non-threatening book to read for that 3-hour flight anywhere, this book is for you. However, I was disappointed with the book, mostly because the amount of facts used to back up any of the opinions expressed inside it are scarce to say the least, and there are no references given for the reader to review to see the veracity of his arguments.
It lists for $14.95, which I think is a bit much for 265 pages of Bryan Burwell's opinion.
Having said that, I've been kicking around how I was going to write-up this review, and all my rough drafts focused on what I thought was wrong with some of Mr. Burwell's arguments, which means he succeeded in what he was trying to do, namely, present a position as a jumping off point for you to say, 'yep, that's right' or ' that's BULLSHIT! And here's why.' So although I was disappointed in the book overall, I must admit, in all fairness, many of the positions presented got me thinking, which again, is the intent of the book.
Some specific constructive comments:
- There is one outright error, on page 95: Chris Pronger has only won 1 Stanley Cup as of the printing of the book, vice the two quoted, and that was with Anaheim in 2007. He has been to the Finals twice (last year and 2006 with Edmonton); perhaps that's what Burwell meant.
- Burwell's picks in just about every category lean heavily and almost exclusively to players and teams he watched personally or that played during his lifetime. This is understandable when you realize....
- Burwell appears to have done very little research other than talk to some sportswriting cronies and do one interview with Jim Hanifan. It's hard to say for sure, since there are no footnotes included in the discussion, no references cited, and virtually no hard facts quoted throughout the book.
- His statement that Don Denkinger can't be blamed for the 1985 World Series loss to KC is valid, but his argument is so weak that it almost forces the conclusion that Denkinger WAS to blame (pg 117).
- Same can be said about his argument for who the greatest Cardinal manager of all time is. I would have used a different metric than longevity and division titles, since the men he's trying to compare (Southworth, Herzog, and LaRussa) managed the game under different rules and in a different league (8 teams, 1 division vs 12 teams, 2 divisions vs 16 teams, 3 divisions and a wild card). Perhaps wins per year? NL titles (although a difficulty factor would have to be added - it was easier to win a league title before one or two tiers of playoffs were invented)? WS titles (which, after all, is the goal of every baseball team)?
- I think he's arguing that St Louis isn't the great baseball town its reputation says it is (pg 201-205), but his argument is a little convoluted and I couldn't tell what he was arguing for when it was over.
- Curt Flood's challenging the Reserve Clause is a significant moment in baseball history, but the most significant moment in St Louis sports history (pg 49)? I don't think so. The most significant moment in St Louis sports history is signing Branch Rickey to be team president and manager of the Cardinals in 1919. The Cardinals we all know now as the NL's marquee franchise (in terms of World Series titles)? Didn't exist until Rickey invented the farm system. Those 9 NL titles and 6 World Series titles from 1926-1946 don't happen without Rickey. He laid the foundation for success that continues to the present. If that's too esoteric, I would suggest four others that deserve mention: trading for Lou Brock (led to the El Birdos 3 WS appearances and 2 titles), trading for Mark McGwire (led to a revival of interest in Cardinal baseball and the long term signing of Jim Edmonds, a key member of 2 WS teams), trading for Brett Hull (which revived Blues hockey, not to mention bringing the Greatest Blue of them all to St Louis), or Trent Green's blown knee (letting Kurt Warner get a shot and 2 Super Bowl appearances).
Some general comments about content:
- I completely agree with his position on whether Cardinals/Cubs is a great rivalry (pg 100), on whether the Rams should bring the throw-back unis back (like the Chargers do with the powder blues - one home game a year) on page 152, and the things he says about kid and high school sports on page 263-64.
- I continue to find it amusing that a man who was an unrepentant apologist for Barry Bonds for years, and manages to include Leonard Little on his 'All St Louis Football Team' (pg. 177) without mentioning the fact that Little killed a woman with his car while driving drunk, never misses a chance to savage Mark McGwire by talking about his alleged steroid use. There is no discussion about McGwire's performance on the field, just page after page screaming "HE CHEATED!" Bryan: (a) Andro was legal when McGwire was taking it; (b) McGwire, although not as forthcoming as many sportswriters would have liked at the Senate hearings, at least was honest (unlike Palmerio); (c) McGwire has never been found to have failed a drug test or been indicted by the Feds for perjury and obstruction of justice (although if his name appears in the Mitchell report, I may have to rewrite this paragraph).
- I found one passage on page 71 to be patently offensive: "With the early 1940s National League watered-down because of both the war and the lack of black players in the majors..." (emphasis mine). Why did he feel the need to throw the second part of that comment in? Would he say the early 1940s Negro Leagues were watered-down because of both the war and the lack of white players? Saying the league was at less than it's best because of all the players in the service during the war would have been enough. But no, we've got to bring race into it, which weakens the argument, insults the reader, and discredits the author.
- I can't believe he didn't find room for Marty Marion at SS for the all-time Cardinals team (3 WS titles, 8-time All Star, NL MVP in 1944).
- I can't believe Orlando Pace continues to get the props he does even though he breaks down with injury virtually every single season.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Please pardon the right-handed batter. But the stance is about right, isn't it?
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Today it was announced that the Cardinals signed Jason LaRue (late of the KC Royals, formerly of the Cincinnati Reds) as Yadi's back-up. They also signed a Dewon Brazelton (also late of the KC Royals), and John Wasdin (most recently a Pirate and Ranger), both pitchers, to minor-league deals.
The aforelinked (I just made that word up, go me) article used such superlatives to describe LaRue as "..we also want to get him back with Hal [McRae, hitting instructor] and get him back to where he's more comfortable at the plate," and "He carries a career .235 mark depressed by a combined .170 mark the past two seasons." Not to mention the fact he couldn't cut it with the Royals. So we have a no-hit backup we're paying $50K less than our previous no-hit backup (Bennett). I don't know, maybe someone in the organization needed that $50K to pay for Christmas.
Brazelton's been cut by both the Royals and the Pirates, two of the pitching-richest franchises in the league.
Wasdin has appeared in 21 major league games TOTAL the past two seasons.
Memo to Mozeliak: Sign me! I'm left handed, and have good control. I can get one lefty out a game. I'm sure I'll work well with Dunc and Tony.
Because it seems you're the big boss man guy picking up illegals, er, MIGRANTS, on weekday mornings, who are looking for work at Sawtelle and Olympic.
One programming note: I've added a new Cardinals blog in the list - C70 at the bat. Another regular Joe [not his actual name] who follows the Cardinals; also he's commented repeatedly on this site, meaning he's either one of the brightest CPAs in the land or really, really bored.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
That's OK; it's what we expect from the Mass-hole contingent.
I hope he watched tonight's Colts/Chargers game. You want to see a team get homered by bad calls? Try these on:
1. First Quarter: LB Session makes a tremendous 'alert' play to catch a bouncing ball in the end zone. He then returns it to the San Diego 6. BUT WAIT! There's an inadvertent whistle! Apparently, the referee standing in the back of the end zone can't follow the bouncing football. Indy is at least awarded the ball, but on their own 20. Manning subesquently throws his 4th pick, leading to San Diego's only offensive TD.
2. Fourth Quarter: Third and 8, 7:35 to play. Peyton throws a deep ball towards Moorehead. Ball goes through his arms; he protests for a flag. There isn't one. Replay shows the Charger DB grab his arm just before the ball arrives - clear PI. The referee, STANDING LESS THAN 3 feet away, makes no call at all. Indy forced to punt.
AND THE PIECE DE RESISTANCE:
3. Fourth Quarter: Fourth and 1, 1:36 to play. Indy in a run formation. Center Saturday looks up, 3 Indy players shift....and the back judge calls a false start on Utecht. Al Michaels and John Madden are left wondering, 'where was the penalty?' as they peer at the replay.
I've been watching football for over 30 years, and I'm having a hard time remembering when an officiating crew was that bad. Including last week's Colts/Patriots game.
Yes, two special teams lapses in the first quarter really crippled the Colts. Yes, Peyton threw 6 picks (although the last one is a whatever pick). Yes, Vinateri missed 2 chip shots at the end of each half. Despite that, the referees played a DECISIVE role in determining the outcome of this game.
Ya think Simmons will mention this travesty in his next article? Or will the big cloud of smug over the Simmons house at another Colts loss preclude his judgment?
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Of course, if they do it as a way to get away from their wives, drink some beer and go to the Orlando area strip clubs (which, I hear, rock), then good on them.
This week the meetings concluded with some big news (drawn up on a cocktail napkin? On Bambi's equipment? Is that taking the joke too far?), namely, that Houston had shipped Brad Lidge and parts to Philadelphia for Michael Bourn and some other names.
Looks like a really good move for the Phillies. They solve their closer problem and move one of their better pitcher (Brett Myers) back into the rotation, where in 2005-06 he was 25-12 with an ERA of about 3.8.
Houston gets a legitimate CF in Michael Bourn to fill that hole. Not sure who will close for them next year (Chad Qualls? someone else?), but they have picked up a great prospect in Bourn. Someone who's been bandied about on some Cardinals blogs as worth getting to play in St Louis.
Which begs the question: given our fiscal woes for the 2008 roster, did the Cardinal hierarchy consider shopping Isringhausen or Pervical to Philadelphia to get Bourn?
Granted, Izzy is 35 (and Percival 38) while Lidge is 31, but who was the better closer last year? Who has been the more consistent closer over his career - Izzy or Lidge? It's Izzy by a lot. I know hindsight is 20-20, but we could have shopped Izzy to Philly and, if we were able to broker a deal for similar pieces that Houston got, gotten a ML ready CF to step in for Edmonds (letting Ankiel stay in RF), and shaved about $7M off the payroll for next year. Sign Percival to a $1M deal that's incentive laden to be worth more, and wha-la! more wiggle room to sign those starting pitchers we so desperately need. We certainly could have thrown in a used piece (like Brunlett) - perhaps John Rodriguez or someone of similar ilk.
Are there any other clubs out there looking for closer help?
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
So's loudest hit - HR off Wagner, Game 2 2006 NLCS. Courtesy ESPN.com
Why do I like So Taguchi so much? He played the game right.
So played 10 years in Japan for the Orix Blue Wave. Yes, the same team Ichiro played for before he joined the Mariners. Imagine the OF where Ichiro played RF because So was a better CF! A 4-time All-Star (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001), his teams won 2 Pacific League Championships (1995, 1996) and the Japan League Championship in 1996. He wasn't the first Japanese player to win a Japan League title and a World Series title (Tadahito Iguchi has also done it, at a minimum), but he's a member of that very select group.
All that's great; but then, following the 2001 season, he headed for the states to play Major League baseball. Didn't speak a lick of English; he learned that on the fly and from his wife. He struggled mightily to hit Major League pitching, but he wanted to play at the ML level so HE WENT TO THE MINORS AND STARTED FROM SCRATCH WITH HIS SWING. I play a little bit of softball now and then, and I have a swing honed from 30 years of swinging a bat; it's not great, but it's good. I can't even imagine a successful baseball player willing to start over from scratch learning how to hit. Can you see any successful American player being told, 'yeah, you need to start over or you might as well quit' and then the same player willingly and without complaint doing the work needed to fix it?
So eventually made it back to the majors, and you know the rest. He carried the Cardinals during the summer of 2005, when Edmonds was down with an assortment of nagging injuries, batting .379 in July at the top of the order - easily the brightest he shone until that great HR off Wagner last fall.
He was also an excellent defensive outfielder. I haven't been able to find any Gold Glove statistics for him in Japan (or if they even give out a similar award over there), but So could play the OF. However, the thing that sticks with me about him defensively happened in the 2006 NLCS as well. He mis-judged a fly ball to CF that hit the wall behind him, and then caromed away. Of course, the bases were loaded, and the hit cleared the bases. Not good.
So went out to CF with a coach the next day and practiced taking balls off the OF wall so he wouldn't make the same mistake.
Which is exactly what I would have done had I been burned like that.
I'm glad I was able to get a hold of a 'Taguchi 99' shirt last season. I seem to play better defense with it on.
So a toast - to the great So Taguchi. You will be missed in this corner of Red Bird Nation.
Monday, November 05, 2007
It's amazing that they can get their point across when neither one of them has uttered a word, much less a complete sentence.
So I'll keep plugging away and try to get my project out to you by the end of the week. In the meantime, the biggest news of the past week is Mozeliak being named GM (vice filling in as interim GM) and the reported overtures the Cardinals made to Curt Schilling.
Mozeliak getting the job does a lot for continuity in the office; he knows the playing field and the players, which is a plus, and he had a chance to learn from Walt Jocketty. It remains to be seen where his priorities lie in rebuilding the club. I don't think a high-profile free agent signing will fix what made the 2007 Cardinals a sub-.500 team, but with that said, they have holes they need to fill, and the cupboard within the organization is pretty bare. I have some thoughts on which way they should go, but that's a later post.
The Curt Schilling thing - he's an attractive name, in all likelihood a first ballot Hall of Famer when he comes eligible for enshrinement - but he's 40 now. As has been pointed out elsewhere, (and because I kept pretty close tabs on the Red Sox this season thanks both to my wife's affinity for the franchise and the sheer number of Boston players I had on my fantasy roster), he wasn't the same pitcher who won 20 games in 2003. He would certainly be a large upgrade over KFW or Reyes, but I'm not sure he'd be worth the price he'll probably command for one year. Late breaking tonight is the Red Sox appear close to a deal with him, so it all may be speculation washed down the drain by mid-week; even if that deal falls through, I think I would look somewhere else for starting pitching help.
Well that's it. The GM's are meeting in Orlando this week; if anything interesting comes out of it, we'll discuss it.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Congratulations to the 2007 Boston Red Sox.
Isn't it interesting how the worm has turned? The Yankee mystique began to crack in Game 7 of the 2001 Series, took another hit while losing the 2003 Series, and officially turned south with Dave Roberts' stolen base in 2004 ALCS Game 4. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Look at your modern Red Sox - they really have become that which they despised most, the Yankees. And they broke their streak of appearing in one World Series every even numbered decade.
Of course, Boston won 5 of the first 15 World Series contested, so we'll have to see if this is the dawning of Red Sox Century or proof they're like the city Brigadoon - allowed to appear as a power for 15 years out of 100, then they disappear for the rest of the century.
I don't have much to say about the last two games. I thought Game 4 was the best game of the set; it certainly (to my mind) was the best played game. I must admit to being slightly off on a few things. Game Three (Dice vs. Fogg) did NOT favor the Rockies. I thought Fogg would acquit himself well - 10 hits, 6ER in 2 and 2/3 isn't a very good effort. Some prognosticated he would get torched:
"...the long layoff seems to have hurt colorado (although their lack of offense in game 1 is probably josh beckett's fault); their pitchers aren't sharp, and they've made mental errors in the field and on the bases. i haven't counted them out just yet, but in the next two games they will start josh fogg --- a finesse pitcher who the patient red sox hitters ought to slaughter ---"
and they were right. I also thought Dice K would pitch poorly (wrong), and that Francona was silly not to start Beckett in Game 4 (wrong) because the extra day off between Games 4 and 5 (wrong, no day off) would allow him to pitch on normal rest (not needed).
This is why I don't play the lottery on a regular basis.
This is also symptomatic of why I no longer blog at mvn.com - I'm not paying as close attention as I have in the recent past to what goes on in sports (general themes yes, minutae no). Speaking in broad brushes is, to my mind, OK on a personal blog; not so much when you're more mainstream.
A couple of quick thoughts on some recent events in Cardinal-land:
1. Cardinals released Mike Maroth. With the way he got lit up in the NL this season post-trade, and the low 80s hop on his fastball, he's probably finished in baseball. Mike's a high character guy the likes of which the world needs more of, not just baseball. Here's hoping he'll latch on somewhere else; if he doesn't, Major League Baseball is poorer for his release.
2. It appears almost a formality that Chris Antonetti will become Walt Jocketty's replacement as GM. Sites that I frequent - www.ussmariner.com and the aforequoted Viva El Birdos - both have high praise for him. I certainly don't always agree with the opinions expressed at these sites, however in this case I have no reason to quibble with them. Chris is 33 years old, and about to become the General Manager for my favorite team. It is an opportunity I would jump at if I had the chance. I'm not that much older than him (37); anyone out there got some advice on how to get a job in a Major League front office?
One thing: It appears Chris will not be allowed to pick his own staff; he will work with those already in place (Mozeliak, LaRussa, Ludnow, et al). Coming in as the boss and working with an established core of professionals can certainly be done - it's how the USN works on board ship for COs, XOs and Department Heads - but it's got to be a little disconcerting for Antonetti. Whatever the bag is, he's just been handed it. With all the inherited internal politics, hidden agendas, strong personalities, and the like. Again, it can be done; but it will take a tactful man to turn the trick, something I'm not sure I could have done as a 33 year old (and to hear my wife tell it, probably not something I can do now).
To Chris: Good Luck; be patient; keep your wits about you.
3. A-Rod opted out of his contract. That'll save the Yankees about $70M in salary and the Rangers about $22M. This is better news for Texas than New York. It also leaves a huge hole in the Yankee infield and batting order. Some thoughts on this:
- I wonder if the Steinbrenners did a 'worst case' analysis when they decided to low ball Joe Torre. Did A-Rod leaving figure into their decision?
- How many other Yankees will follow him out the door?
- Will this mean New York is planning on backing a dump truck full of money up to Mike Lowell's house in an attempt to woo him from Boston?
- A-Rod and Scott Boras don't make this kind of financial decision without a lot of prior research and some assurance they can get what they're asking for (reputably in the $27 to $30 million per season range). If that's true, there are only really 5 places he can go: Mets, Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels, and Cubs.
I don't see him remaining in New York to play for the Mets.
I believe the history between he and Boston precludes him playing for the Red Sox.
Arte Moreno reportedly has said he won't pay what Boras is seeking for A-Rod's services.
The Dodgers are an option, especially if they fire Grady Little and hire Torre (more speculation).
However, my money says he'll sign with and play for Piniella's Cubs. Now, I have a source in the Cub organization that says it won't happen due to the impending sale of the team; the Tribune Company hasn't finished enumerating all their assets, and MLB won't allow them to take on the kind of financial burden A-Rod's signing would require before the team is sold. But I still think that's the most likely place he'll end up. If he does, Chicago immediately becomes the team to beat in the NL - they would have the most feared lineup in the league, and their pitching is good enough.
Besides, I've been wrong about so much over the past 2 weeks, I'm sure to be right about this thing...
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Some random thoughts on Game 2:
- Jimenez's fastball is legit. He generates a lot of power from that skinny frame of his - a la a young Pedro. This isn't to imply he's going to be as good as Pedro, but that he has easy gas - 97 mph.
- With that weapon, why oh why did Torrealba mess around with his other pitches? And why did he insist on flipping junk up there when behind in the count and with runners on in scoring position? I agree with what Joe Morgan said on the radio - quit messing around and throw the heater (that's a paraphrase). Lowell was sitting on a breaking ball when he lined the ball into left for the go-ahead run in the 5th.
- Based on Schilling's hat tip while exiting the game in the sixth, you get the feeling he won't be back next year and he knows it?
- Are we sure that's Eric Byrnes in the Fox pre and post-game shows, not some Hobo they pulled out of the Cask and Flagon? Dude, showing up on TV with a severe case of bed head is bad enough, but do you have to dress like you slept in a trash can?
- Boyz II Men had 4 members in their heyday. They sung God Bless America with 3. Apparently, the guy with scoliosis was the one that could carry a tune.
- I think the Fox contract with MLB includes the following two caveats: (a) Boston is not allowed to be retired in order at home during the World Series; (b) A random draw is held before the series and that player is not allowed to be retired from an 0-2 count (Youkilis right now, Manny in the ALCS). How else to explain why the 0-2 and 1-2 pitches to Youkilis have been nowhere near in this series?
Colorado really needed this game. They can still win the series, but now two things are assured: They will have to win it at Fenway, and they will have to beat Beckett at least once. Dice K against Fogg is a favorable matchup (in my opinion) for them in Game 3. They need to do something to rattle Beckett early in Game 4, like bunt for hits, be real aggressive on the basepaths, step out a lot, something. Hopefully the series will be 2-1 at that point, but the way their bats have cooled off (again, nice 8 day layoff, Bud) they may be in a 3-0 hole instead.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
OK, I made the last thing up.
And, the World Series got underway today.
The game is still in progress, but it's been over since the bottom of the fifth. 13-1 Red Sox. Yikes. Colorado gave up 8 runs total to Arizona in four games. Some instant observations from Game 1:
- Beckett is really good.
- Eight days off will kill a pitching staff (way to go, MLB and FOX!). Denver's a hockey town, rumor has it the Nordiques play there. Sometimes, during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when one team has survived a grueling 7 game series and their opponent won in 4 or 5 games to earn some days off, you hear the 7-game survivors say, we'll give a good effort, but we really don't expect to win this game. Think Clint Hurdle told that to his guys before Game 1?
- When Drew scored the 12th Red Sox run, Joe Buck intoned, 'That breaks the team record for runs in a World Series game.' The previous record? 11. As in 11-9, Boston, Game 1 in 2004. Thanks for the reminder, Joe. A small part of my mind secretly hopes Boston wins this series; maybe then we'll stop seeing ads of the team celebrating as Cardinal players exit the field from 2004.
- I don't think I can sneak Pedroia by everyone next season in my fantasy league. Probably not going to get Ellsbury, either.
- A lot of air has been heated comparing the Red Sox's 30-5 blitzing of Cleveland to Atlanta's 32-1 blitzing of St Louis in 1996. Note to all overconfident Red Sox fans: In 1996, Atlanta blasted the Yankees 12-1 in Game 1 and 4-0 in Game 2. They then lost 4 straight. Stay tuned.
- One more thing about that comparison: 30-5 doesn't do justice to the Indians. They trailed 4-1 in Game 5 when Boston scored 3 runs on 1 hit (and 2 balls hit out of the infield; both were sac flies) in the seventh. They trailed 3-2 in Game 7 until Pedroia's HR in the seventh, then got blown out in the eighth because Wedge stayed with Betancourt about 4 hitters too long. Cleveland lost the series because Carmona and Sabathia went 0-3, and their bullpen finally turned mortal. St Louis lost to Atlanta because Atlanta was better; it just took Atlanta until Games 5-7 to show it.
- The best part of this game was Clayton's conversation with Coco Crisp about the Taco Bell promotion. No wonder baseball can't attract new fans.
Monday, October 22, 2007
So that's settled. Now all we need do is find a GM.
And a shortstop.
And two starting pitchers.
And a bench.
And select who will play in the outfield.
I'm ambivalent about Tony's return. There is no question he's one of the great managers in the history of the game. But I think he was driven to experiment this season with players and line-ups based on the number of injuries and because he'd run out of traditional ways to motivate the team. Based on how ungracefully some of the veterans have aged, he needs to continue to give the younger members on the roster playing time, and not just platooning. Or every 5th day. Playing the kids over veterans hasn't exactly been LaRussa's mantra in the past, and I think to be successful next season he's going to have to change his stripes, as it were.
When he's had roster questions that he would fill from within the 40-man roster, like he will with the outfield, Tony's gone about it two ways. The first was to declare an open competition for the spot (a la Royce Clayton and Ozzie Smith). That backfired on him so badly that Ozzie won't speak to him to this day, and doesn't attend Cardinals functions that Tony's at (which, frankly Ozzie, get over it - it was 12 years ago. What are you, 6?). The other was to declare a player had the spot and that was the end of it (a la Braden Looper as a starter last season). That worked out much better.
Unfortunately, the OF situation is sufficiently muddled that declaring who will man each position at this point is probably counter-productive. Tell Edmonds he's the everyday CF? Jimmy hasn't played 150 games since 2005; his hitting is clearly declining, although he's still above average defensively. Will Duncan's defense improve sufficiently to justify leaving him in left, especially with Ludwick and Schumaker proving they can hit at the major league level last season (and both are significant upgrades defensively)? And we haven't mentioned Ankiel yet.
Viva El Birdos (as usual) does a superlative job laying out the players and the options for the 2008 outfield; so what does La Russa do?
(Footnote: I was wrong about Game 7 - Dice K did start, and pitched well for 3 innings. Given his history over the last 3 months, that was a ballsy decision by Francona. And Dice did rise to the occasion, for 9 hitters.)
Thursday, October 18, 2007
There's been a lot of excellent discussion about the Piniero signing. Look at the comments for the below post, to start. Other articles to read include Fungoes, the Society of American Baseball Research chapter in St Louis; comments at That's a Winner; and of course Viva El Birdos.
All of it is making me slowly realize my initial thoughts that this is a good signing may be wrong. The problem is I don't know what the right answer for the rotation is. We've been through this. Wainwright and Looper are givens. Reyes? I still he's a good option, but I know his manager/pitching coach don't trust him. Mulder? Carpenter? Thompson? Wellemeyer? Who knows who fills out the rest of the rotation. For a free agent fix, what are our options? Jae Seo?
I guess it's wait and see who declares for free agency time.
- There's a great article at sportsline.com about playoff scheduling and the current malaise affecting MLB. Well worth the read.
- Some comments about the just completed ALCS Game 5:
1. I loved the Beckett/Lofton confrontation. Beckett's a competitor; Lofton is too. Lofton had already admitted to some gamesmanship before his first AB (he homered) against Dice-K, which I'm sure rankled the Red Sox a little. Beckett's 3-0 pitch to him, that he thought was ball four, was clearly a strike. Beckett let him know what he thought after Lofton hit the fly ball. Lofton, of course, didn't back down. That's all good to me. Frankly it's about time a little emotion showed up, since I don't think Manny will get drilled with a fastball (that he richly deserves for showboating, by the way).
2. Speaking of Manny, nice 390' single, slap head. When did he forget to hustle out of the box? All this 'Manny being Manny' excuse spin is horseshit. He should have been hustling, and he shouldn't act like he won the series when he hits a HR while his team trails by 5 runs. It didn't matter; he wouldn't have scored anyway; but come on - you're fighting for your playoff life; you gotta care a little bit.
3. Speaking of the 390' single, exactly why are there 6 umpires on the field again? Oh, yeah - to prevent mistakes like this. The replay clearly showed the top of Sizemore's glove at the bottom of the yellow stripe, and the ball landing above his glove. HOME RUN. Six guys screwed that up. MLB should mandate what was suggested during the division round - make the two umpires down the lines stand further down the lines, like at least half way, so they don't have to run to get into position (and miss a call because their vision is jumping around). I'm not an advocate for replay in baseball, but the umps could have used it tonight. That play was the most egregious error since the Jeffrey Maier 'homer' in 1997.
4. Youkilis' triple in the seventh? All Gutierrez' fault. Yes, Sizemore didn't hustle and the ball glanced off his glove, but realize this: A ball hit by a right handed hitter to right field will ALWAYS slice towards the line. Always. I know this and I play beer league softball now. A Major League outfielder should damn well know this. Gutierrez should have anticipated that ball slicing back to him, and been in position to make the play. Sizemore knew it, and fully expected Gutierrez to play his position correctly. Gutierrez didn't; Sizemore tried to cover; and you saw what you saw.
5. So, assuming Schilling wins on Saturday, who pitches Game 7 for Boston? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
Monday, October 15, 2007
One by-product is I was introduced to Dustin Mattison, who writes for the blog Whiteyball - a great resource for news on the Cardinals farm system. His site is bookmarked under Cool Cardinals Links to the right, and is worth a look.
If you're interested, and missed it, I've included a link to all the stories I posted there in the margin. Below my LEAGUE CHAMPS Rotisserie Baseball roster. You may not care about my fantasy team, but I do - and the reward for my obsession was a not insignificant amount of scratch (which my wife has already spent, by the way).
Speaking of scratch, the Cardinals signed Joel Piniero today to a two-year, $13 Million dollar deal. This will keep him in St Louis through the 2009 season, and provides some much needed depth in the rotation. As I pointed out here, the Cardinals had holes to fill in the rotation; this gives them Wainwright, Looper, and Piniero as definite starters next season. What remains to be seen is who will fill out the final two spots. KFW? No friggin way. Reyes maybe, but I firmly believe that will depend on whether LaRussa returns or not. Mulder says he'll be ready for spring training, but after two surgeries in less than a year on his shoulder I think he's much more of a question mark than he's saying publicly.
In the same linked article above we briefly discussed the Cardinals payroll for next year. With Piniero's signing, the numbers stand at $80.55 Million.
Personally - I think this is a good pick-up. Piniero was solid down the stretch, much more so than we had a right to believe (seeing as he was jettisoned by Boston). With the clubs dearth of starting pitching, and slim pickings expected on the free agent market, this is a good move.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
No, I do not look like Fredbird in real life, but I thought it was a funny photo to use so I'm going with it.
Some non-Cardinals notes:
- The Padres elimination game last Monday was tough to take for this town. Their best pitcher gives up 6 ER in 6 1/3 innings, and then their franchise pitcher blows a save that would have put them in the post-season - for the second time in three days, no less. The really odd thing about that inning in Colorado was the absolute lack of change-ups that Hoffman threw to the 4 hitters he faced. By my count, he threw 2 - both for balls, and one bounced. Hoffman not being able to locate (or have any confidence in) his change-up is what undid him in that game. Some of my co-workers (I'd been off work since my second son was born, Friday was my first day back) mentioned that the change-up gap had come up on local sports radio here, but I've not heard anything about it nationally. Interesting.
- The Chargers are really bad. More to follow if they lay a gagger this Sunday in Denver - and since they haven't won in Denver in consecutive seasons since joining the NFL, I fully expect a gagger.
- Some in blogdom have railed against the off-day format for this year's playoffs, and I can't agree more. TV driving (a) a playoff game in Boston to start at 2130 EDT, (b) a playoff game in Chicago to start at 1700 EDT (the only, mind you, majority daytime game ballpark left in the majors), and (c) the ridiculous fact Boston vs Anaheim will have 2 days off before Game 3 is played just makes me sick. Baseball series aren't played this way from April through September; why do the powers-that-be in baseball allow greed to play a role in determining who makes the World Series (beyond payroll greed)? Why is the most difficult thing about playing baseball (the day after day grind) allowed to be less important when the chips are down? It makes no sense.
The amount of abuse St Louis has taken since winning last year has been a favorite topic of mine to defend around here, but let's not discount the role favorable scheduling played last playoffs. Allowing the Cardinals to throw Carpenter in Game 4 on REGULAR REST against what had been the hottest team in the NL (Padres) immediately prior to the playoffs starting was a huge advantage for the Cardinals.
Maximize TV revenue is today's mantra. Gone are the days where you could sneak a radio into class and listen to a day game in the playoffs (as I did all through high school). MLB says it's got the fans interest at heart; it wants a big national audience; it wants to recruit kids to be baseball fans. Starting every game at night guarantees most kids (at least the ones with involved responsible parents) won't be around when it finishes. Starting a game at Fenway at 2130 guarantees young Sox fans won't be awake to see how it turns out, which to me is really criminal.
Having the Division Series be on TBS exclusively is a 'Fuck You' to the fan that should be discussed separately.
That's enough for now. For my thoughts on Jocketty's dismissal see mvn.com. Also, vivaelbirdos has a great article on Jocketty that's worth reading.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
One, I don't have the readership that most excellent blog has.
Two, I've been called up.
MVN.com offered me a writing position on their Cardinals blog, and I decided to take it. Why? Because what difference does it make if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it. I figured what the hell. I'm writing there under my real name, not this psyudomym; and I hope it becomes a springboard to bigger things.
I intend to keep the same posting schedule (Tues/Fri) for the rest of this season; after that, who knows.
I may still post periodically here (you can't forget where it is you come from), but for all the Cardinals content, surf on over to MVN.com.
It's been a blast writing here for the past year. Thanks to all who stopped by to read this and even left a comment or two. I would certainly still be toiling in the wilderness without you.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Once again proving it's good to be a guy - my wife, who is mit kinder, didn't get to sleep until after 2 this morning - a combination of the heat, physical pain, and the fetus just beating the shit out of her because he's hot too. I don't know how she hasn't gone insane the last 4 days. I'm not sure how I haven't.
Anyway, back to the team of interest. First off, I spent most of the last 5 days in a media blackout, so I didn't realize Juan Encarnacion had been horribly injured until after I posted on Friday. Believe what you want about Juan E - he didn't hustle, he's a liability in the outfield, whatever. The fact of the matter is, he carried the club offensively throughout the month of July; his grousing when Rick Ankiel got called up is completely understandable (he hadn't really done anything to merit a benching); and he's played hard since that day when he's had an opportunity. To be injured so greviously on such a freak play is awful. No one deserves to get hurt as badly as he did, not even Barry Bonds. Baseball has a short list of players who've suffered eye trauma; for most, the prospects of getting back on the playing field isn't good. Hopefully Juan bucks the trend and is able to make a full recovery.
Scott Rolen is shut down for the year. I personally applaud that decision. Get better Scott and tear it up next season.
The club gets to a game over .500 for the first time since April...and KFW lays his traditional egg. 11-0 whitewash yesterday. Ouch. Based on reports in the Post-Dispatch today, Reyes is officially out of the rotation for the year. With that, and the expiration date having passed on KFW, what's the Cardinals rotation look like for the rest of the year? Apparently Wainwright, Looper, KFW, Piniero, Mulder, and Maroth. The six-man rotation is a novel concept, much like hitting the pitcher 8th; the Club is, I believe, 17-11 since La Russa moved his hurler up one spot in the order, so who's to say the six-man rotation won't work?
Despite the gagger yesterday, St Louis is 3-1 on this homestand. Taking the next 3 from Pittsburgh, in preparation for their road trip to AZ and CIN, will be important. Luckily the two clubs they're chasing also got shellacked yesterday, so we're still 2 games out. Anything can happen from here on out.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
Houston of late has been a house of horrors for the Cardinals - except for one indescribably exquisite HR in the 2005 NLCS - so losing 2 of 3 doesn't bother me. What's more important is they didn't lose much ground to the Cubs, and they made up the one game they lost by beating Cincinnati last night 8-5.
Some comments on happenings around Cardinal Nation.
- Looks like I was dead wrong about Joel Piniero. He's pitched quite well since being acquired. He certainly pitched well enough to win on Thursday, but for the fact the Cardinals haven't figured out Albers like the rest of the NL has.
- Lots of type has been spent concerning the physical condition of Scott Rolen. He is, and remains, one of my favorite players; if he asked out of his final AB on Wednesday because he was in too much pain, well, that's a warning shot to the organization. Shut him down and let him heal. Making the playoffs this season is a long shot, anyway; even if by some miracle the Cardinals do make it, it's unrealistic to believe they'll survive past the NLDS. I'm not saying we should mail in the rest of the season, not by a long shot - the team's fought hard these past 3 weeks to get back into contention, and will continue to do so - but the long term health of Rolen is much more important than keeping him active at 50% or less for the rest of this season.
- Should they make the post-season, what will their rotation be? You gotta go with your best 3 starters, of course. Wainwright being the ace of the rotation is a no-brainer. I would think Looper's earned a chance to be the #2 starter. So who do you choose for #3? KFW, no friggin' way. Too inconsistent, and it is true he seems to have reverted back to his first half form in recent starts (I can't believe a rainout in Chicago would have messed with his head/preparation so much he's lost the bubble). So it's Piniero or Reyes. Reyes, although he has pitched much better in this turn in the rotation, is still VERY prone to the big inning, whereas Piniero has been tough.
So I'd go with Wainwright, Looper, and Piniero. Note that I use no statistical analysis to back this up; call it a hunch.
Of course, this is all subject to change depending on how the month of September plays out.
At any rate, Wainwright attempts to pitch the club back to .500 tonight against the Reds, and we will be waiting anxiously to see how that works out. Our old friend Jason Marquis works today for Chicago against those Astros, and the Brewers send Dave Bush to the mound at home against Pittsburgh.