Monday, March 31, 2008

It's the Opening Day Extravaganza!

Cardinals! Rockies! Wainwright vs Francis! Yipee!

(Insert photo of ominous cloud cover above Busch here)

So I'm stuck at work and can't watch the game. Which is OK, because it's not being telecast nationally anyway. Something about the Cardinals not being very good this year. Over to for the streaming gamecast. Why the CBS website? Because it also hosts my fantasy league. I know, I know - nobody cares about my fantasy league, but I do, so their site is an obvious choice over ESPN.

Game starts. I'm late seeing it due to meetings. By the time I get back to the computer, it's 1-0 Rockies and Wainwright had to wriggle out of a bases loaded jam. Oh, boy.

You know how 'you can tell how the season will go by the first hitter'? (thanks, Harry Doyle) Well, Schumacker walks.

On 4 pitches. The rest of your first inning:

Ludwick: Ball, Ball, Ball, Ball (Schumacker to second)
Pujols: Ball, Ball, Strike Swinging, Flies out to deep left (remember, I'm watching this on the computer, so I envision the Rockies LF (Holliday?) crashing into the wall to prevent a 3-run HR).
Glaus: Ball, Ball, Ball, Ball (Schumacker to third, Ludwick to second).

(Anticipation rising)

Ankiel: Ball, Ball.....

Waiting for update......

Tired of waiting, hit manual refresh.....

Score updates: 4-1, Cardinals, then freezes. Crap. What happened?

My ISP picks this exact moment to shit itself. Fantastic. What the hell happened?

Luckily, there's another Cards fan in the building - and he has MLB TV at his desk. Stop by to chat. His computer is running slow, too. He tries to pull up the box score...and it won't come up.

God Damnit.

Eventually, we discover that Ankiel has a hit and 2 RBI, and Molina has a hit and 2 RBI. I assume that Ankiel doubled in 2, and Molina singled in the other 2. Correct.

Pujols hits his first in the second. 5-1 Cardinals. I tell my friend, watch, the game will get rained out now.

Damn jinx.

So we'll try again to kick off the season tomorrow at 6:15 PDT.
Have to share this story. There's a new Tiger Woods gatorade out, and the ad campaign shows him hitting a golf ball on the moon. That leads to this exchange:

Me: (groans) "Jeez, now he has a sports drink? What's next, Tiger Woods Condoms?"
Mrs. Rant: (stunned silence, then rolls eyes) "That's disgusting."
Me: "Think about it: Men want to be him, and women want to be with him. Now you can! Tiger Woods Condoms!"
Mrs. Rant: (leaves the room)

I feel you need to know about this. Especially if, sometime soon, there are Tiger Woods Condoms. Note I didn't touch the obvious pun on his last name.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Maybe I'm not so crazy after all

Western Kentucky is about to succumb to UCLA; score is 77-71 Bruins, 1:25 to go, and Boris Siakam (A black guy named Boris? cool) just fouled out. I tip my hat to the Hilltoppers who, down 21 at the break, managed to cut the lead to 4 with just under 5 minutes left. Heck of an effort, fellas. Well done.

We can only hope Villanova shows the same heart tomorrow against Kansas. And that it doesn't take a 21 point deficit for them to reach that deep.


This academic quarter is finally, mercifully over. I had a take home final that I started Thursday last and finished Tuesday afternoon. Four, count them 4, problems. Problem #3 took me 11 hours to do. Never been a fan of the take-home exam. I also had a group project that wrapped up last night, and a final this morning. Needless to say I'm much more relaxed right now than I have been since New Year's Day.

Which is good, because I can quit ignoring this blog and start it up again. Nice timing, considering the season starts Monday.


Sports Illustrated's 2008 Baseball Preview is out. Cardinals are picked to finish 5th in the division, one game worse than the Astros (73-89). 5 years ago (2004) the magazine picked them to finish 3rd, and they won 105 games. Not seeing that this season. The magazine projects the following every day lineup:

Schumaker RF
Duncan LF
Pujols 1B
Ankiel CF
Glaus 3B
Kennedy 2B
Molina C
Izturis SS

Adam Kennedy in the six slot? Yeesh. I'd flip him into the 2-hole, bench Duncan, and put Ludwick in left hitting sixth. You win with pitching and defense; we have minimal pitching, so we need lots of defense - something Duncan doesn't excel at. Of course, I'd only stay with this lineup as long as Kennedy wears his hitting shoes. When they wear out, or he loses them, he moves down in the order rapidly.


Let's return to the subject of Anthony Reyes. Two very interesting posts appeared on Viva el Birdos this week - the first by The Red Baron, the second by Larry. Lboros gives a nice summary of what organizational strife is now playing out in the Reyes saga, but I want to focus on von Richthofen's article, because I finally figured out why I'm rooting for Reyes.

He reminds me of my brother.

Not literally, of course; my bro stands 6'4". He doesn't iron the bill of his cap. And if you're sitting down and he walks between you and the sun, you'll think a solar eclipse is in progress. My brother is an imposing man, and a good athlete, who for a portion of his youth aspired to be a big league pitcher.

He tried out for his high school team as a freshman and got cut. He then buckled down and got to work to try and make the team his sophomore year. I know my dad found a pitching coach in the local area to work with him, and I believe it after his freshman year disappointment that he started working with the guy; this wasn't one or two sessions, but several over the course of the year. Younger Brother (YB - I can't call him Little Bro because, well, he ain't little) played Pony League baseball that fall and summer working on his mechanics and pitching. I distinctly remember one game he was pitching in, where he had runners on first and second and two out, and got the count to 2-2 on the hitter. He threw a fastball over the outer half of the plate. Now, it may have been the approaching dusk, or the fact that after a while the balls aren't very clean at the little league level, but I had trouble seeing the pitch. So did the umpire, who called it outside. YB was starting to throw some gas.

Anyway, by the time tryouts rolled around YB was another year taller and bigger. The coach came over to watch him throw (this story is what my late father told me afterwards). YB was messing with a breaking ball that he never really had good command of, so the coach asked him to throw a fastball. YB fired one over the plate, at the knees, that was a dart. The coach blinked. I think YB made an impression.

To make a long story short, YB was cut in the final cut that season. When he approached the coaches to find out why, he was told 'You weren't dominating enough.' What kind of a bullshit answer is 'You weren't dominating enough'? Tell me I don't have a breaking pitch, that I suck at holding runners on, that I'm tipping my pitches, that my pants don't fit - in short, tell me something objective. Not something subjective like relative domination level.

As I recall, that particular incarnation of the high school team won 3 games that year. Nice job selecting a squad, jackass.

However, the 'dominating' rationale sounds an awful lot like the rationale Duncan and LaRussa are using to keep Reyes out of the rotation. In addition (quoting the Baron):
Anthony Reyes has pitched as well as any other pitcher in competition for a starting spot this spring. He has the second most strikeouts of any pitcher, the second best ERA, (despite throwing one game while still recuperating from the flu) and has walked almost no one. However, there is some mystical thing, some magical thing, some fantastic, bamstaferous, flamtabulous thing that Anthony Reyes simply does not do. Unfortunately, whatever that single thing is, it's the only thing that can possibly make him into a major league pitcher.
How can Brad Thompson, who I also like, only make 1 start and be anointed as the #5 pitcher? How can dead weight like Wellemeyer, who routinely can't get out of the fifth inning due to a high pitch count and walks more men than "Wild Thing" Ricky Vaughn, be guaranteed the #4 slot? Reyes probably thought, if I pitch to my ability there's no way they can send me down this season. Looks like he was wrong; Duncan never wanted him on the starting staff, and is doing whatever he can to ensure that Reyes doesn't make the team.

Reyes is getting railroaded, just like YB did. Now I understand. Stick it to them, kid. This blog will be vocal in your defense all year, starting now. If you make the team (and the rotation) out of camp, I'll tone it down a little bit, but don't worry - I got your back.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Quid Erat Demonstrandum

Exhibit A:

AP Photo (Mike Carlson)

San Diego 70, Connecticut 69 (OT).

Exhibit B:

AP Photo (Mike Carlson)

Villanova 75, Clemson 69.

Moral: NEVER bet against a Catholic School on Good Friday.

What's that? What about this?

Oklahoma 72, St. Joseph's 64 (AP Photo - John Bazemore)

OK, never bet against a GOOD Catholic school on Good Friday.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

United Cardinal Blogger Round Table Discussion

Because we are all diehard Cardinals fans, and don't have nearly enough going on to keep us occupied during the course of a normal work day, all week some of us have been discussing various hot topics on the Cards.

The beauty of it is, when its your day to moderate, you pose a question and let the discussion go. Jump in as necessary.

Since I'm convinced somewhere in the deep Mideval past of my family we were actually named 'Murphy', it follows that today, my day to moderate, all hell would break loose at the office. Luckily, I had enough foresight to pose my questions of interest Tuesday night, so folks could chew on them all Wednesday.

What follows is a rough transcript of the discussion. Your players:

Me (playing myself)
Don (of Redbirdblog)
Bryan (of Rockin the Red)
haedar (of Redbird Ramblings)
Dan (of C70 at the bat)

Question #1 - We've discussed whether Reyes or Duncan would be on the team 1 August. One of the Cardinals consistent strengths since 2004 has been their bullpen (they get a bit of a pass last year because the starting 5 was so fluid; Franklin and Izzy were solid at the back of games). Is there anyone in our pen that might be an attractive trade option come July? If so who and why?

Don: If you assume the Cards will not be in contention in the NL Central by July (and, frankly, I'm not sure they won't hang around in the race for awhile), then I think Izzy becomes an attractive trade target for a contender that has issues at the back end of its 'pen. He's in the last year of his contract, and by all accounts Chris Perez is the closer-in-waiting.

Bryan: It partly depends on what the bullpen looks like in July. If Mulder, Clement, and Pineiro come back at their expected dates, along with Carpenter's estimated end of July/August arrival, the bullpen could look significantly different than it does now. Any of the current starters aside from Wainwright could be pushed into the 'pen when our guys get back and instantly become trade candidates. Kyle Lohse and Anthony Reyes are two names that come to mind. Out of the current bullpen, however, I think the only real trade candidates that would have value would be Ryan Franklin and Tyler Johnson. I think Isringhausen will stay with the team, as he wants to finish his career in St. Louis. Keep in mind he's from the area.

haedar: I gotta say springer would be the most enticing one. he is on a one year deal, he pitched pretty good last year and if he can match that his value will only rise. he is a grizzled veteran that has been through everything, the type of guy you need on a playoff team going for it all. the problem is he does not want to be traded, and he won't be. the other guy is obviously izzy, but he has said earlier that he will not waive his no trade clause so it's a lost cause.

Dan: Springer and Izzy are the obvious candidates, but don't forget the possibility that Looper could be back in the pen when all of the other arms get healthy. If he shows he can still do it there, he could be intriguing to some people that either need a fifth starter, a closer, or an 8th inning guy. All the arguments for Izzy staying or going make sense, but the big key is if Perez actually pitches in the majors and how he does. I don't know that, if the Cards feel like they can contend next year, they'd want to give the closer job to a rookie. Signing Izzy for another year and letting Perez throw the 8th (if they don't do that most of this year) may make the most sense.

Follow-up question: Agree Izzy is probably the team's most attractive veteran that could be moved at the deadline, and he has been steadfast in his desire not to leave St Louis. Can you envision a scenario where he would change his mind - perhaps like what Jim Edmonds did (although not, probably, tied to playing time as in Jim's case)?

Don: While I understand that Izzy has expressed a desire not to be traded, I think the writing is on the wall. He'll be a free agent at the end of the year, and I seriously doubt the Cards will try to negotiate another contract with Izzy given Perez waiting in the wings. That being the case, Izzy is leaving at the end of the year anyway (assuming he doesn't retire). So I doubt he'd be opposed to going to a contender for a couple of months at the end of the season. I can understand why he objected to a trade with a full year remaining on his contract, but that's not the case in '08.

Bryan: I think the Cardinals could try to bring Izzy back, as I'm not sure that Chris Perez will be outright handed a job next year. Even if Izzy left, I could see them bringing in a "transition" closer to help ease Perez into the spot. Tony will be back next year, remember, and he has a good relationship with Isringhausen. Izzy will be turning 36 in September and has had problems physically in the past years, so it's hard to tell what he's thinking in terms of how long he's going to play. While I'm a huge fan of Perez, I could honestly see Izzy and Perez being in the same bullpen next year. I could be wrong, but I think Izzy would jump at the opportunity to mentor his eventual successor.

Assuming the club doesn't move Izzy at the trade deadline, I think re-signing him will really depend on when Chris Perez is brought up from Memphis. If he's a September call-up, then perhaps they'll try and sign Izzy to a 1-yr deal. If he's up before the All-Star break, and performs well in the seventh and/or eighth, then Izzy's more expendable.

Bryan: I agree. It depends on how the bullpen formulates during the course of the season, which is almost impossible to predict right now.

Consensus: None. Most thought Izzy would be the best trade chip assuming (a) Perez matures as expected and (b) Izzy waives his no-trade clause. Other possibilities included Franklin, Johnson, and Springer.

Question #2: Tony LaRussa is signed on through 2009. Is 2009 his last year as a manager? What style of manager (or who, if you have someone in mind) do you think the Cardinals will pursue as his replacement?

Bryan: Tony La Russa will be done after his contract runs out. There's too many opportunities outside of baseball that I think he'll want to pursue. That said, I think it would be beneficial to the club too to have a new manager. La Russa's antics for getting veterans in the lineup at whatever cost have gotten old, and I think the club will be heading in a totally different direction by then. Jose Oquendo is a frontrunner to succeed Tony, and I think he has some of the qualities that we need in a manager - a good relationship with the players, knowledge of international players, and a willingness to play the best player, regardless of age or contract status. The new manager must be able to see the value in developing young talent. It is a must. I've noticed that the Cardinals are preferring to stay in-house when filling positions lately, which could affect who our next manager is.

haedar: I think 2009 will be tony's last season as a manager of any team in the mlb; especially if he doesn't make the playoffs in 2008 and 2009 because he is all about winning and making the playoffs. he is a "win now" guy and I don't think he has the patience to see the youth get established and play like polished big leaguers nor does he want to which is proven by all the moves that they have made to block some young and potentially good players (miles/izturis vs. ryan, gonzalez vs. schumaker/barton, etc.).

Daniel: I don't see how TLR stays after '09. He really had to debate coming back this time, it sounded like, and I think he'll be ready to move on after it. I'm not huge on having Oquendo follow him--I think a lot of the Oquendo love is from his Cardinal background, not necessarily his managerial chops--but I don't know who else it'd be. I do think it'd be a young gun, not a retread in the LaRussa/Baker/Leyland mold.

Don: I do think '09 becomes LaRussa's last year, but I really think it's his decision. It seems DeWitt is very loyal to Tony. So if Tony is still energized and the Cards are seemingly close to another post-season run, I can see him staying beyond '09. As far as potential replacements for Tony? The obvious candidates, in my mind, are Oquendo and minor-league manager Ron "Pop" Warner (Springfield AA). But the name that really intrigues me is Mike Matheny. He'd need some time as a bench coach, but I think he's a future managerial star.

Consensus: 4 out of 5 Bloggers surveyed (including me) think LaRussa is done after 2009. Who the new manager will be is a lot harder to predict, but the belief in this forum is that whoever it is will have to be able/willing to coach young players and let them develop, vice plugging in the grizzled veteran and/or having a preference for the veterans which seems to be how the team is run now.

Question #3: Jeff Gordon had a nice summary yesterday on of the Memphis Redbirds roster for 2008. We've discussed Rasmus and Mather; who else has potential to be on the big club before September 1st?

haedar: you got jarrett hoffpaur, mark worrell, chris perez (if he doesn't make the team), and a couple of guys that have left huge impressions on dunc and tony (mclellan and parisi). maybe even the legendary Marti if he continues to hit. also, maybe brain barden if they need another infielder. ron flores for lefty relief and josh phelps if pujols goes down (god forbid).

Dan: Perez, if he's sent down at all. Hoffpauir I think will be up at some time this year, especially if there's a chance to move him over to SS. (Not sure if he's got any experience there.) Mather should be up as well.

Don: Chris Perez is an obvious candidate. I also think you could see Mike Parisi and/or Kyle McClellan. Don't sleep on Marti for a spot start here and there in case of short-term injury.

Bryan: I think Jose Martinez has an outside shot of getting the call to the big leagues at some point this season, especially if Izturis really does turn out to be a complete dud. He's starting to get more attention with the upper management, which is always a good sign. I agree with Don with the bullpen talent available, and I would add Jason Motte to that list. Joe Mather will be the first outfielder called up after a trade or injury. That is, unless Juan Gonzalez decides to continue shaking off the rust in Memphis.

Consensus: Chris Perez will be promoted from Memphis prior to the trade deadline. Lots of other candidates are available, but their ascension really depends on who gets hurt or bombs during the first month or two.

My thanks to all the contributors to today's discussion. See you again tomorrow.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hope this isn't a sign of how my fantasy season's going to go

Update from the tournament of champions: I'm completely out.

Yep, my champs (1934) played a simulated Game 7 today against the 1964 club - and led 1-0 going into the ninth. But Mike Shannon hit a backbreaking 3-R HR to win the game (and the series) 3-1. Ouch. My other teams were all knocked out, too.

I currently sit in third place, but that's as high as I'm going to go. It's all downhill from here.

Oh well - only pride at stake. I hope this isn't a precursor of how my Rotisserie league will play out (we draft on Saturday).

There's a United Cardinal Blogger event in progress - we're posing some questions among 4 of us - Redbird Ramblings, C70 at the bat, The Redbird Blog, and yours truly. I'll be posting the results of my question (still formulating that one) on Thursday. Please visit the other sites - lots of interesting points being made.

I still believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny

Wow! Villanova made the NCAA Tournament! WOO HOO! WOO HOO! WOO-

Who are they playing? Clemson? CLEMSON?!?

Didn't they just lose on a last-second shot to the #1 team in the country? I guess that means they're pretty good, hunh?

Crap. Looks like 1 and done for our favorite #12 seed.

(To my mind only Dayton has a legit beef as a should-a been in. If they'd beaten Xavier in the A-10 tourney, they'd have probably made it; unfortunately, injuries to their big men early in the A-10 league schedule did them in.)

Oh, this week I'm sure we'll be treated to the high-pitched whine from the All-Cash Conference about how Va Tech should've been in, that Villanova doesn't deserve it, blah blah blah. And that whining will certainly peak if Villanova loses - especially if they get blown out. And since the club has been Jeckyll and Hyde again (meaning we don't know which team will show up on a given night), that's entirely possible.

We got one thing going for us, though - playing on Good Friday. Do you really want to play a Catholic school on Good Friday? That's when the magic started.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Assignments and other fun stuff

Monday night the University of San Diego somehow beat #22 Gonzaga to win the West Coast Conference tournament - and secure an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. This was cause for some celebration here in the hometown. Being the casual local sports fan, I picked up Tuesday's sports section to read the summary and reaction to the game. All positive. Even though USD will probably be first round fodder for a #3 or higher seed.

Underneath the Tuesday sports section was the Wednesday section (today's paper to me, tomorrow's by the time you read this). In there I found this little tidbit:

ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (NL)–Optioned RHP Mark Worrell, RHP Blake Hawkesworth and INF Jarrett Hoffpauir to Memphis (PCL). Assigned RHP John Wasdin and INF Josh Phelps to their minor league camp.
Most of the names on this list didn't surprise me, but Josh Phelps' name did. Here's a guy ostensibly picked up as insurance for AP; if AP's elbow exploded, at least we'd have a right-handed guy with some pop to step in for him.

If he's in minor league camp, and therefore on his way to the minors when the team breaks camp, that isn't going to happen.

So who backs up AP at first? Here's a thought - Chris Duncan.

Lets face it - Duncan tries hard, but he ain't the best defensive outfielder in the league. But he worked his way through the system as a first baseman. Moving him to first as a back-up removes one name from a still crowded field of guys vying for the 3 starting spots - and it gives the team a good power bat off the bench.

The downside is that his LF spot will probably be inherited by... Juan Gone. A minimal upgrade (in my mind) in power, and probably a wash on bad defense. Interesting.


A note about today's big brawl between the Rays and Yankees. This was allegedly started with Elliot Johnson (2B prospect for Tampa) collided with Francisco Cervelli (C prospect for New York American) on a play at home, and Cervelli caught the worst of it, breaking his wrist. There were some things said in the paper by Yankee manager Joe Girardi and Rays advisor Don Zimmer, and then today's events (Longoria hit by a pitch, Duncan sliding in at second with his cleats up).

First, Johnson is trying to make the team. You make the team by making an impression, by playing hard. So for a guy trying to make the majors to come charging around third when there's a play at the plate and make an aggressive move for the bag is part of the game. Cervelli breaking his wrist is unfortunate and tragic, but sometimes that's the way it goes. Rabbit Maranville broke HIS LEG in a play at the plate during a spring training game; it ended his career.

It would have probably died this weekend if Girardi hadn't called the play bush. He's responsible for what happened today. His comments fanned the flames, and then Zimmer had to chime in, and the next thing you know some guys are getting thrown at and other guys are sliding into people's legs with their spikes up. Nice call, Joe.

I'll tell you what - if it's me, and I'm trying to make the team, I'm playing each inning like it's my last. Because it definitely could be. And if that means I've got to run someone over to make the roster, banzai. [clarification note: playing hard does NOT include trying to stick your nails into someone's knee. If Girardi wants to complain about something, there's a good topic to start with.]


Final college hoops thought: Today's Syracuse/Villanova game was touted as a NCAA Tournament play-in game; winner would go, especially if Syracuse won. Well, the Orangemen got crushed by 19. Now the talking heads are saying, well, Villanova improved their chances, but they really need to beat Georgetown tomorrow to lock it up. Bastards.

You know tomorrow if Nova beats the Hoyas, they'll say, well, Villanova really improved their case, but they probably still need to beat Connecticut.

Go Cats. [Update 3/13 2100: Hoyas 82, 'Cats 63. So much for that.]

Monday, March 10, 2008

"We were different people with different morals."

For one Monday, things fell into place - got my work work done early enough to dig into my homework; actually understood the homework and was able to finish it in under 3 hours (for this course, that's a statement; I'm not a dummy, but this Optimization class is kicking my ass).

Which left me time to poke around on the internet, you know, to see what's out there. And naturally, time to blog about it.

Spring training means I spend some time monitoring the Cardinals, but most of it searching for nuggets that will help my fantasy team. I know, I know - nobody cares about my fantasy team. But I've got a title to defend.

Which is how I ended up reading about the Toronto Blue Jays. Well, it's more than that; as you know, the left side of their infield played for the Cardinals last year. While reading the article by Jayson Stark, I came across this gem of a quote from Scott Rolen:

"St. Louis is as good a place to play baseball as there is anywhere -- the city, the fans, the personnel there, teammates, the whole package," [Rolen] says. "My wife loved being there. I loved being there. I had every intention of finishing my contract there. And from what I'm told, many of the people who make the decisions there had every intention of me finishing my contract there. So the fallout, and the situation that became untenable, was personal. There was no contract issue. There was no organizational issue. So when I'm asked about that relationship [with the manager], the way I look at it, everybody has their story. And if you give both sides of the story, I don't think they're going to match up. I've said it before. We were different people with different morals."
Isn't that an interesting thing to say? What the hell does that mean?

After Rolen's injury in 2005, and the debacle with his surgery/rehab that required a second procedure, there were questions raised on how the team handled his medical treatment. I asked them here; Bernie Milkasz asked them publicly in his column and took some heat from LaRussa at a subsequent press conference.

Could we speculate that perhaps the sub-standard medical treatment Rolen received wasn't the whole story? Was perhaps he rushed back to help the team before he was physically ready to, and, being the gamer he is, he tried it to his physical detriment?

And what does it say about LaRussa if he has 'different morals' in light of the steroid era, when two of the biggest stars now associated with steroid abuse played significant years for him (Canseco and McGwire)? Did he really know what was going on and turn a blind eye, to get any advantage to win?

Of course, this supposes that Rolen's moral code closely approximates mine, which doesn't condone cheating on any level. I'll never know that, just like I'll never know what LaRussa's code is. But as someone with some leadership experience, I did find it interesting that LaRussa took their issues public, including his excoriating comments against Rolen this winter.

Seemed like someone trying awfully hard to set the ground rules for how the dispute would be viewed.

Seemed like someone trying awfully hard to spin the story in his favor.

Seemed like someone with a guilty conscience.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Once around the field, then hit the showers

Well we've been playing spring training games for about a week now. I've never gotten too excited about what happens during Feb/Mar at the major league level. For one, the veterans typically have a time table or workout schedule they adhere to - a product of many, many springs getting ready for the long season. That means the majority of at bats go to the kids - kids trying to make the team, kids being evaluated as to where they should start the season, etc.

Every now and again a veteran climbs into camp, more often than not an old Cardinal from days gone by (Andy Van Slyke, Willie McGee, Ray Lankford) trying to will themselves onto the team. That's at least interesting to watch, especially if they have a good spring (like Van Slyke and Lankford did their last go-around); you can't help but root for them. Even if, in Van Slyke's case, they tear a hammie and ultimately don't break camp with the club, or, in Lankford's case, get hurt early in the season and are really not the same afterwards.

We have a story-line sort of like that in Juan Gonzalez this year, but he's not an old Cardinal hand, and I've expressed my opinion of him previously, so you know I'm not that excited about this either.

So there won't be much analysis of the 2008 Grapefruit League Cardinals here this month. We'll continue trying to fill the weeks with somewhat interesting blather until the season starts.

Although I will continue to watch Anthony Reyes' progress this spring. I really hope that guy turns it around and has a good season. Two starts so far, one a teaser of all his talent, the other a reprise of last season. If he's throwing strikes, that's a start; if he has velocity on his fastball, that's a plus; now he needs to put hitters away when he's ahead in the count.

Come on, kid - we're rooting for you.

One final note - the Sweet 16 round in the Tournament of Champions (hosted by vivaelbirdos) is complete. Going into today, I was tied for third with 18 points; two series remained, 1944 vs 1964, and 1934 vs 1886 (my pick in bold). 1934 won, as did 1964. I should know better than to bet against Gibson. I end up 4-4 in this round. Based on a rough calculation, I should be tied for second with 21 (one point out of first); but the most important thing is both my finalists are still alive.

Enjoy your weekend.