Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Well, That Really Didn't Solve Anything...

I thought the team needed a 5-2 homestand - take 2 of 3 from Chicago, and 3 of 4 from Milwaukee. They went 4-3. So we really haven't solved anything; they're still not quite out of it, but not quite in it, either.

Some random thoughts from this recently completed homestand:

- The Cubs have the look of a legitimate playoff team. In fact, I daresay right now they are the best team in the NL. This pains me for a couple of reasons: (a) it's the Cubs; (b) I hate to see a team that spends $300 million rewarded immediately - it makes the hole in the space/time continuum that much bigger; (c) Jason Marquis is on a winner AGAIN (although his 11-1 pasting in the salvage game of that series was fun). It's not a big pain, though.

- How good would Milwaukee be if their bullpen was worth a shit? Realistically the Cardinals should be very fortunate they're not 11 games out and buried right now. A legit playoff team doesn't blow leads of 6-0 and 5-0 in consecutive days.

- Welcome back to the fight, Scott Rolen.

- Anthony Reyes finally got off the schneid (is that even a word?). Apparently he looked good as well. I continue to maintain he's a better option both short-term this season and long term for the franchise than KFW (or, unfortunately, Mike Maroth), so it would be nice if the team pulled him aside now, said, 'nice start kid - you're on the big club for the rest of the year, so just pitch', and let him go to work - regardless of the outcome.

- Team's .500 at home again.

- I haven't been keeping that close tabs on the pennant race, mostly because the club's been so bad for long stretches this year. But today I noticed that St. Louis is only 4 games out on the loss side. Yep - the Brewers have played 4 more games, and the Cubs 2 more, than the Cardinals. Not sure if that's significant, but there you go.

So it's off to Pittsburgh and the Nation's capital for 6 games. With two of the NL West's teams (San Diego and LA) coming to town on the next homestand, the club needs a good trip here. 4-2 at least. 5-1 puts them back at .500 for the season. I don't know if I could stand that much excitement.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Atta Boy, Skip!

Striding to the plate after David Eckstein couldn't get the sac bunt down n the tenth inning, Skip Schumaker hit an 0-1 pitch into the right field seats, breaking a 2-2 tie and leading the Cardinals to a 7-2 win. Way to step up, Skip!

Several things to like about this game. Taguchi played well in CF. Molina cut down Willie Harris twice trying to steal (although the first time it appeared Harris beat the tag). Thompson limited the damage to 2 runs through 6 innings - and picked Andruw Jones off first for good measure. AP with yet another clutch HR - this one to tie the game in the 8th. Rolen homered. Yes, it was piling on, but given his offensive struggles this year it was good to see.

And most importantly, the team trailed 2-0 after 5, with Eckstein's single to start the game their only offense, and still came back to win.

I said earlier I would be very pleased if they ended up 5-5 on this road trip. They did, and I am.

What's this? Momentum headed into a key 7-game home stand against the Cubs and Brewers? Maybe my last post was a trifle premature.

Then again, KFW is starting Tuesday night. Let's not get too excited (yet).

Friday, July 20, 2007

RIP, 2007

Chris Carpenter to have Tommy John surgery. Good luck on your rehab, my friend. We'll add you to our intentions.

Mike Maroth gets pummelled by Atlanta.

This photo sums it all up.

Photo courtesy of Deadspin.com and joesportsfan.com

I have to ask: When they looked at Carp's elbow earlier in the year, and decided he needed to have bone spurs removed, don't you think they would have noticed his shredded elbow ligament then? How did they miss that? Were no X-rays taken of his arm?

Carp has been hurt - literally - since day one of the season, and his return was a hope and a prayer in my book. But this new diagnosis, somewhat out of the blue (at least until last week), boggles the mind. It sounds a lot like the medical bungling of Rolen's shoulder injury 2 years ago. I asked it before, and I'll ask it again - do we have quacks on the Cardinals medical staff?

[Update 22 July 8:50pm] Bernie Miklasz asks this exact same question in his Sunday column. Proving we here at the Stance have our fingers on the pulse of those burning questions you want answered. :) Or it could just be coincidence.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

No Way

You're kidding, right? Can't be.

KFW threw a 2-hit shutout? Nah. I'm living in bizarro world. Hang on, I've got a phone call...

"Hello? What? He did? No shit. Yeah. Yeah. See you then."

Guess he did throw a 2-hit shutout for 8 innings. Cards win 6-0. Apparently, the Novena is working. So keep going once around the beads, burning those votive candles, giving to the poor.

Can't hurt.

More importantly, the Redbirds have won 3 of 4 since being blown out of 'The Vet' those first two games after the break. That levels their record at 3-3. Hey, got to start somewhere.

So it's on to Atlanta for 4 against the Braves. Keep building momentum, fellas. 9 out in the Central, 7.5 out in the Wild Card. I have no reason to think this is a playoff team. But, if I can finally fix my softball swing (which I did) and start driving the ball again (which I am), any thing's possible.

KFW a winner. Wow. Don't blink, you might miss it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Now Wellemeyer is hurt

Whacked his elbow on his knee during his last start. So he's headed to the 15 Day DL.

Which means we're stuck with Wells (hereafter abbreviated as KFW).

So we go to war in the second half with Looper, Wainwright, Thompson, Maroth...and KFW.

Perhaps now is a good time to start a novena to St. Jude.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wells instead of Wellemeyer?!?!?!?!

Well, the All-Star game extravaganza is over yet again. NL loses, AGAIN. Oh, I long for the salad days of my youth (1980s) when the NL ruled this exhibition.

So the AL will host the World Series again this year, as they have every year since 2001. I despise this method of selecting the host team, and have a much better alternative, but that's a blog for a later time.

Today we discuss Kip friggin' Wells returning to the starting rotation. Let's look at this logically: Wellemeyer is 3-1. Wells is 3-11. The Cardinals are 7-1 (I believe) in Wellemeyer's 8 starts. Wells is 3-11. Wells has a 0.82 ERA as a reliever.

So why is this a good idea? Has La Russa finally lost his mind?

Tony's job is to give the team the best chance to win. Wells has not done that when it counted. Just because he had a great spring, and then had a reasonably successful 3 week stint in the bullpen, doesn't invalidate the 3 in-between months of shitty pitching. Wells, as a starter, does not give this team it's best chance of winning. He essentially gives them NO chance of winning. Tony might as well start sending me out there every fifth day.

I hope LaRussa and Duncan aren't stubbornly sticking to Wells as a starter in a lame attempt to salvage their reputations as geniuses overhauling journeyman pitchers.

Stick Wells in the bullpen or release him. Let Wellemeyer keep starting until Mulder and/or Carpenter return, with Brad Thompson holding down the other slot. You've already (probably) permanently damaged Anthony Reyes with your incessant yo-yoing of him between AAA and the majors, as well as constant tinkering with his delivery/pitches.

Where have you gone, Fernando? The Senior Circuit turns its lonely eyes to you...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

So much for the first half

I'll bet the Redbirds are collectively glad to have the week off, if for nothing else, to regroup from a below expectations first half.

Some quick notes before I'm booted off the computer for the night:

- Lots of people in Redbird Nation don't like Taguchi. I've seen that sentiment on message boards and in blog articles over the past year (since I joined in the fun). I have not been able to figure out why. For those who don't like him, read this short article on Taguchi that appeared in today's Post-Dispatch. That attitude is why he's one of my favorite players.

- Lots of hitters decline the HR derby invitation because they're afraid it will mess up their swing. I think AP accepted this year because he's looking for his swing. Since he's not hitting HR with the regularity we've come to expect from him, perhaps entering this competition is a good idea. However, I always caveat that comment with this thought: Edmonds entered the HR derby in 2003, and stated later that he hurt himself doing it. His production clearly suffered that year after the All-Star break (28 HR, 67 RBI first half; 11/22 second). This team cannot afford AP to go in the tank in the second half. Again, just a thought.

Posts may be scarce this week. See you for sure after the break.

Mets fans don't like Taguchi? OK, that I do get.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Wishful thinking and bad defense

After I wrote my last post, I thought it may have been wishful thinking to believe the Cardinals could sweep San Francisco. We were to face 2 of the best young pitchers the Giants have in Lowry and Lincecum, and then a lefty (Zito) who, like all lefties, will give our lineup fits.

And then the first two games happened. And if certain folks could FIELD their POSITION, LaRussa's boys would have won both games.

First, Friday night's 4-3 loss. Key play: Taguchi's drop of Benji Molina's fly ball led to three runs - and a 4-0 lead. I love Taguchi. He's my favorite Cardinal after AP. I play softball most nights in a Taguchi #99 shirt. He hustles, was willing to re-make his approach at the plate in the minors just to have the opportunity to play at the Major League level in the States, and he's a great defensive outfielder. Although you wouldn't know it from last night's highlights.

Sorry, So - I love ya, but you should have made that catch. Cost us the game.

Of course, it is always difficult to predict what would have happened if a particular play had been made or a hit had been gotten in a specific situation. However, I think it's entirely reasonable to believe LaRussa would have deployed his bullpen almost the same way (maybe Franklin instead of Cate in the eighth) and that the Cardinals would have started the ninth tied 1-1. Then Duncan's double wins it.

Next, tonight's 7-6 loss. Aaron Miles had one of those horrible innings. His 3 errors (in one frigging inning!) led directly to 3 Giant runs, indirectly to a fourth, and the margin of victory. If he fields his position, the Cardinals win this game 6-5. The throw to first on Sweeney's slow roller - shit happens. The ball Randy Wynn hit that went through him - inexcusable. The other bad throw - the first two plays were clearly in his head at that point.

We've lost enough games because our starting pitching is God-awful, or because our big bats haven't produced this year. Now, with the first two finally starting to click, to be betrayed by our defense? That REALLY hurts.

So much for being .500 at home. Best case scenario is we win tomorrow and go into the break 5 games under overall, 21-22 at home. Ugh.

I can't wait for the All-Star break. At least my Rotisserie Fantasy team is kicking ass....

kids: If you want to learn how to play short, DON'T watch the highlights of this game.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Cardinals reach .500! The Cardinals reach .500!

Hey, Happy Day! We're a .500 team again!

Er.....at home.

See what this season has been reduced to? I'm actually excited that the Redbirds are now 20-20 at home. Although they very nearly weren't, based on the game highlights courtesy of the WWL. Let's thank the designers of Busch III for making the warning track out of concrete - otherwise Stephen Drew's 9th inning double scores the tying run from first. Instead, it's second and third with one out, Izzy walks them loaded, and gets the inning ending twin killing.

Hope for the future? StL took 3 of 4 from the Diamondbacks - one of the better teams in the league. It's tough to leap over two teams, and they are still 4 games under .500 overall, but they're now only 7.5 games back of Milwaukee. If by some miracle they can sweep the Giants (matchups: Lowry vs. Maroth Friday, Lineceum vs. Looper Saturday, and Zito vs. Wellmeyer Sunday - not the most favorable for the Redbirds, I'd say), they'd enter the break only 1 game under. To play as badly as they have this year and only be 1 game under at the break would be a miracle.

Well Done

As was announced by MLB this afternoon, Chris Young (P, Padres) won the All-Star bakeoff and was added to the NL roster.

Pat yourselves on the back, dear readers - well done.

Apparently Chris is pretty pumped about it as well.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Fix this Injustice!

The All-Star teams were announced today. I have one major gripe:

Chris Young is not an All-Star.

Young is 8-3 so far this year in 16 starts. Against the best team in the AL, Boston, he allowed one hit over 7 innings and struck out 11. Chris is second in the league in WHIP, first in fewest hits allowed per 9 innings, 4th in strikeouts per 9 innings, and third in ERA. His stats are as good or better than those of Brad Penny, Jake Peavy, Ben Sheets, and Cole Hamels, all of whom are All-Stars.

I implore both my readers - go to mlb.com and vote for Chris. Vote early and often.

Fans of baseball thank you.