Wednesday, July 30, 2008

And MORE good news

LOOK! Two posts in one day!

I didn't realize that Chris Carpenter is back and will start tonight until just now. Boy what a lift he can bring the team if he pitches to even 70% of what's he capable of. And it's a good team for him to start against, based on how Atlanta's looked so far in this series.

Yep, the creases of a smile have crept onto my face. I don't think they'll leave today unless Carp gets blown up, which I don't expect.

Things Didn't Work Out Like I Thought

Since I left off with the note about my oldest, here's the update. He had a viral infection all last week, there wasn't any medication he could take to fight it, and it eventually passed to his younger brother. But they are both over it now and recovering nicely.

With all that excitement, blogging became a secondary priority. I did manage to watch most of the Fri/Sat/Sun games against the Padres; the impression I took out of that 4-game sweep was (a) the Padres are a really bad club, (b) our bullpen isn't much better and was significantly overworked during the series, which shouldn't have been the case playing the worst team in the NL (and would bite us in the following series), and (c) those calling for another bat in the lineup don't know what they're talking about.

That brought us to the Milwaukee series, which I enjoyed from the comfort of my hotel room in Newport Rhode Island as I was on a business trip. It also meant I didn't enjoy it, rather, getting my news from ESPN in-game (when possible) and either the web/SportsCenter the following day. Some belated thoughts on that:

Game 1 - loss 6-3 in 10 innings - in fairness, that loss rests on the offense. Yes, Franklin did give up 3 runs in the tenth inning, but the lineup managed only 2 runs through 8 innings. AP did have a chance to win it in the ninth with runners on second and third, and popped to shallow CF. A little more timely hitting there and we win Game 1.

Game 2 - loss 4-3 allowing runs in the seventh, eighth, AND ninth - squarely on La Russa. Lohse should have been pulled in the eighth when he ran into trouble. I don't necessarily disagree with the decision to have Lohse start the eighth, but he shouldn't have finished it. In fairness to Tony, his hands were tied by the sheer amount of work his bullpen shouldered in the preceeding 5 games, but dude. Lohse was gassed. Send someone else out there. Viva El Birdos wrote a post about how La Russa handles his aces, perhaps with a romantic rememberence of the good old days where starters could throw 15 innings if needed, and I wonder if that clouded his judgment here. Should have won this game.

Game 3 - lose 3-0. Sabathia no-hits the lads for 5 and 2/3. Not much else to say.

Game 4 - lose 4-3. Another bullpen hairball, another game they should have won.

Also, LaRussa got a little testy after game 2 when asked about his bullpen, saying essentially it's the offense's fault for not scoring enough runs. Fair enough; but Tony, you must admit that the back end of your bullpen is a mess (and still is, BTW).

So off to NY. They got pounded Friday 7-2; I saw no part of this game, as I was in the air to St Louis (yeay!) to spend 42 hours with my Mom, Bro, and Sis (and her family), and extended family as well. Glad to miss this one.

Saturday they won 10-8 in 14 innings. I managed to turn the game on in time to see Tatis homer off Franklin. We were then treated to the Kelvin Jimenez High Wire Act. How the Mets managed to get 2 hits and 5 walks off him but not score in the 11th or 12th inning is a mystery. Although getting the last out in each inning on a comebacker is probably the reason (and those were two miserable at bats).

Saturday was also the day the Anthony Reyes Death Watch ended, with the team dealing him to Cleveland for a minor-leaguer. It speaks volumes about what LaRussa thought of Reyes that Jimenez (who can't consistently throw it over the plate), Randy Flores (same problem), Ron Villone (he's a lefty who's bounced around for 15 years, so he must be good), Mitchell Boggs (ERA of 6+, clearly not ready for the majors), and Mike Parisi were all adjudged better options than Reyes. Whatever. Reyes got jobbed in St Louis and I'm glad he's moved on to an organization where he can start over. I hope Reyes makes it back to the Majors with the Indians and becomes an 18-game winner. I also secretly hope that in his first start against LaRussa's Cardinals, he throws a complete game 2-hit shutout, and after every half-inning he walks off the mound while staring into the Cardinal dugout.

Sunday lost to Santana (ho hum), and have torched the Braves so far this week.

So the moral of this story is I'm not allowed to travel on business. I leave for 7 days and they lose 6 0f 7; I'm back in SD and they've won 2 in a row (it does help they're playing Atlanta, who gave up yesterday with the Teixiera deal).

One thing to think about as I get back to real work (and larry at VEB mentioned it yesterday) - why have we returned to Izzy as closer? I completely agree with Franklin returning to the setup role; he did save 14 games, but of late he's been a disaster in the ninth. But Izzy hasn't been much better. Why not have McClellan, who's been their best and most consistent reliever this season, take a turn at the back of the game? Isn't the goal here to get people out? More analysis later.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Chicks Dig The Long Ball

Cardinals win 4-3 on the strength of 4 solo HR - 2 by Troy Glaus.

My oldest currently sports a fever of 102, so I didn't see much/any of this game; I did hear Franklin's high wire act in the ninth, however. I'd like to thank the Padre front office for trading away Tony Clark before the game. As a result, they had no veteran bat on the bench; with the game on the line, they sent 3 successive hitters to the plate who started the year in AAA. Thanks for the assist, Kevin Towers.

We're taking my son to the doctor this afternoon.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bring on the Padres! YEAY!

This isn't so much happiness because we start the second half, at home, against the worst team in baseball. This is happiness because I will get to enjoy Cardinals baseball on local TV for the next 4 days.

I should take the rest of the week off to properly contemplate the enormity of this event.

And that despite the fact that Jake Peavy (he of the 2.47 ERA) starts tonight against Lohse.

MUCH-O analysis this week of the games. Can't wait.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

It's all Bud Black's Fault

The poor San Diego Padres have played 9 extra inning games, of which 5 have gone 13 innings or longer. So you just knew, since Bud Black was on the bench for this one, it was going to be a long one, didn't you?

Although after watching Dan Uggla boot back-to-back grounders in the 10th inning, I thought the game was going to end right there. Sometimes dreams (Josh Hamilton hitting in the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium, which has been well chronicled elsewhere) come true; sometimes, they turn into nightmares. Joe Buck related how Dan and his dad had dreamed of playing in Yankee Stadium. Running onto the field was probably a great thrill for Uggla; 3 errors, 0-3 with 2 K's and a GIDP probably wasn't. On the silver lining side, he's in the record book forever; will anyone else ever be given the chance to make 3 errors in an All-Star Game?

I didn't really start watching the game until the seventh (which means I didn't miss anything). I saw AP strike out in the first, and Holliday's HR in the fifth. Watched pretty much the rest of it, though. Some thoughts/impressions:

- Is it just me, or do the league's ERA leaders always give up runs in the All-Star Game? Happened again last night to both Justin Duchscherer and Edison Volquez. I hope the rest of the NL was paying attention to how the AL attacked Volquez- don't swing at the change up which is low and bends out of the strike zone, and sit on his fastball. Morneau did it and lined a single up the middle. Drew did it and lined a HR to right. Both times they were ahead in the count and sat on a fastball.

- Miguel Tejada was the MVP of this game, in my opinion, hands down. No one played harder.

- George Sherrill's 3 pitch K of Adrian Gonzalez in the 12th was impressive. Think the Mariners rue that Eric Bedard trade?

- Albert Pujols shouldn't have been the starting DH - Adrian Gonzalez should have been. That's not a knock on Albert. He's having his standard HOF year. But Gonzalez has been really, REALLY good this season, and deserved to start. I was hoping Gonzo would line a pitch into the gap somewhere in that 12th inning AB to win the game; you figure with all the extra inning affairs he's been involved in this season, he was the perfect choice to hit in that spot. Sherrill was better. That's the way it goes.

- Funny how the one pitcher (Webb, Kazmir) each side tried not to use played for a division rival of the team managers. You think that added additional consternation to their thinking as this game dragged into the 15th inning?

- Did Brad Lidge just not have his usual filthy stuff, or was he exhausted after warming up 5 times prior to entering the game in the 15th inning?

- Aaron Cook should look into a second career as a magician. I'm still not sure how he pitched his way out of the 1oth. That was really impressive.

- You're short on pitching, you just survived the Aaron Cook High Wire Act, and Marmol only throws one inning? YGBSM.

- Let's talk outfield defense for a moment. Don't they teach these guys the fundamentals anymore? I can't believe Carlos Quentin, when fielding Gonzalez' fly ball to left in the eighth inning, didn't get behind the ball, catch it coming forward, and then throw it to the plate. He may not have gotten Tejada anyway, but poor, poor form for an All-Star. Corey Hart's throw in the 15th? His approach was good, but his throw wasn't. You're playing RF. It's 314 feet down the line in Yankee Stadium, so that throw was what, 250 feet? And it bounced twice? Wow.

- For as bad as those two defensive plays were, the NL defense in the 10th (after Uggla's errors) was fantastic. And Gonzo's pick of Russell Martin's throw down with one out was a game-saver. Martin's back foot slipped as he released the ball. If Adrian doesn't field that, it's in right field and the game is over.

- I don't see what the big deal was about the pitching situation. Each side had 9 guys in their lineups; if you run out of pitching (and that seems likely, based on who would have started the top of the 16th), just use a position player! The AL had Carlos Guillen as their DH - he can play 1B, SS, 3B, LF, and RF. There's 6 more innings. David Wright plays 3B, and could probably take a turn in the OF and at short. Start looking for volunteers.

- Maybe MLB should show some more foresight when selecting the roster. Guys who pitch on the Sunday before the All-Star Game should not be included on the roster as an active player. You can't tell me it was a surprise to Francona and Hurdle that Webb, Kazmir, and Lincecum all pitched on Sunday and therefore would have been available for extremely limited duty Tuesday. Look ahead a little bit and select another pitcher (or pitchers) to fill those slots who can actually pitch. There were other worthy guys (Lose, Mussina, Jurrjens, for example) out there. Again, I'm not advocating that guys in Webb's/Kazmir's/Lincecum's position should be left off the roster; those 3 CLEARLY deserved to be All-Stars. But more roster flexibility would be nice.

I miss the old days. Is the NL EVER going to win this game again?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Weekend Thoughts

If I had known Friday morning the Cardinals would take 2 of 3 from Pittsburgh this weekend I would have been satisfied; after all, that's a series win. However, to lose like they did on Saturday is just inexcusable for a team trying to contend for a playoff spot. Up by 6 with 4 outs to go? Awful. Izzy had looked pretty good (not great, just good) since his return from the DL. He picked a bad time to turn in his worst outing since he came back.

I had also held out hope the Cubs would lose 2 of 3 to San Francisco, with Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum pitching (Lincecum should be the All-Star starter from the NL, in my opinion, but his Sunday start makes that a near impossibility), but I didn't expect Marquis to fire a 3-hit shutout for 7 innings Friday.

So the Cardinals enter the break 4.5 games behind Chicago, with the second best record in the NL, and leading the Wild Card by a half game over the Brewers. Again, there are a lot of things to be happy about regarding how the season has gone so far, which I hope to detail over the break here.

As we look forward to the second half, the biggest question is what will the Cardinals do at the trade deadline, and who will they try to acquire - a pitcher or a hitter. LaRussa, and some of my colleagues in the blog-o-sphere, are advocating the acquisition of a veteran bat to help protect AP. Why? We don't need Cesar Cedeno this season, and I have yet to hear a cogent argument how a veteran hitter brings more mental toughness to the plate than Ankiel and Ludwick are currently displaying.

What we really need is help in the bullpen, specifically at the back end. There is no way this team goes deep into the post-season with the current cadre of arsonists down there. There's too much Jekyll and Hyde in them; some games (like yesterday) they slam the door, some games (like Saturday) they leak like a sieve. I don't have faith in Izzy or Franklin or Perez (who, while giving up the winning 2-R HR on Saturday, caused me to fall to the ground and convulse while saying "TODD WORRELL! AAUGH!!!") to close out games consistently. Unfortunately, there won't be a closer available at the deadline, so they'll have to make do with one of the three of them; but they could certainly use some eighth-inning help (several of the Mariners arms are pretty good; could we fleece Brendan Morrow from them?). That's where we should be focusing.

HR Derby tonight. Probably won't be tuning in.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cardinals Taking On Water, Limp Towards Pittsburgh

(Heh heh heh - a nautical reference in the title. Go Navy).

To go into Whatever-the-Vet-is-Called-Now Park (with apologies to Bill Simmons) and limit the Phillies to 8 runs is a feat worth celebrating. But only if you score more than 8. Five? Not going to get the job done. Like the Cubs series last weekend, the club is lucky to escape with a win and not get swept.

And it's not like the Phillies sent Curt Schilling, Steve Carlton, and Robin Roberts (in their primes, of course) to the mound in this series. Cole Hamels? He's legit. But to get shut out for 6 innings by a rookie (who was sent down after the game, to add insult to injury) and score one run off a guy who pitched when Moses managed the Israelites? Wow.

Thanks to Cincinnati clubbing the Cubs yesterday (7 HR in the game, guess the wind was blowing out at Wrigley) the Cardinals remain 4.5 games off the pace. They have been no further from first than that all season. As PNC Park is usually a tonic for all that ails Albert Pujols (his numbers at that park are ridiculous, according to reports; anyone know of a website where they show statistics by ballpark?), hopefully they can win the series going into the break. Chicago enterains the Giants - Matt Cain draws our ol' buddy Marquis tonight, then Correia gets Rich Harden's Cubs debut, and Lincecum hooks up with Dempster on Sunday - so there is a chance the Giants could get 2 of those games. I'd really like to be 3.5 or less games out going into the break, even if we still have to leap over Milwaukee in the standings.


I keep turning over Mark Mulder's last 2 years in my mind. Bryan Burwell wrote an excellent column on Mark that appears in today's Post-Dispatch, and for once, I agree with everything he said. If there are folks out there who feel that Mark somehow didn't try hard enough, or stole money from the Cardinal organization during this entire ordeal, well, please don't reproduce and pass your ignorance on to another generation.

But that's not what troubles me. Ever seen The Pentagon Wars? Highly entertaining movie about the M1A1 Bradley development contract. I won't turn this into a review of the movie, but suffice it to say the Bradley continues to receive government funding for development in spite of repeated, and obvious, flaws in the design; the Army's top acquisition folks continue to push forward the project regardless of what the warning signs tell them. This approach nicely approximates how the Cardinals handled Mark Mulder (for more thoughts in this vein, see the first couple of paragraphs of this piece). Mark continued to get promoted up the ladder during his rehab, even though all the evidence said he can't get hitters out anymore. There was no reason to subject him to the beating he took at AAA and the Major League level if he couldn't do it.

One of my favorite bosses was fond of saying, "My success is a direct reflection of the great work everyone here does. I'm not this good; I'm riding on the coattails of your hard work, and I thank you." This is true for any organization. Since the contribution of everyone is so core to the success of the group, a leader is obligated to take care of his people. Hopefully what's best for the employee is also best for the organization, but in some cases it isn't, and that's why we get paid the big bucks - to make those evaluations and pick the right course of action (in the military it's a little different; people come first in peacetime, but in war the job comes first). After watching Mark Mulder stuggle for the past two years, and really after his rise through the minors when he obviously wasn't ready, the organization didn't do that.

It's the same bull-headed wrong thinking that keeps pitchers who are Major League ready (Reyes) off the ML roster, and those who really aren't (Parisi, Perez, Boggs, now Garcia) get promoted.

And it's the same medical incompetence that Scott Rolen dealt with his last 2 years here.

I'll wrap this up, because I have real work to do. Mozeliak has done a fine job rebuilding the organization's talent pool, as has been documented elsewhere and praised here. He would be well-served to take a hard look at those in positions of power who advocated the medical and personnel decisions that have backfired badly this season. And if he is the source of this, he'd better take a long hard look in the mirror. Being in charge isn't about doing the easy and making sure everyone likes you. You get paid to make the hard decisions based on sound judgment.

And that was sorely lacking for Mark Mulder.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Life is Rarely Fair

I was wrong - Mark Mulder didn't give up 6 ER.

I was right - Mark didn't make it past the third.

But I really didn't want to be right in that manner.

Life is cruel, and usually unfair. Mulder has experienced the frustration of not knowing why his pitches wouldn't locate where he wanted them to be, the relief of finding a physical problem, the pain of surgery, the hope of rehab, the frustration of a lack of response, and finally, last night, the resignation that he's never going to come back.

The Cardinals are being close-lipped, and Mulder wouldn't say, but I think everyone knows this was his last trip to a major league mound. If after two surgeries and 4 rehab assignments the shoulder still won't respond, what else is there left to do? What can be done? How much more of this agony is Mark willing/able to endure?

I guess we'll find out.

The game result was secondary to me after that first inning. Thompson pitched his butt off for 4 innings. The Cardinals still can't drive in a runner from scoring position. They should have won this game going away, and it should have been well in hand long before Ryan Howard stepped into the box in the eighth inning.

I was glad to see LaRussa go for the jugular with the bases loaded in the seventh, by sending Mather up to pinch-hit for Miles. Good at bat; didn't work out like we wanted it to (struck out on a tough 3-2 pitch).

And after Ankiel swung at a Lidge slider that bounced in front of the plate, I think everyone knew he was going to strike out. That 0-2 slider Lidge spun up that was perfect; I doubt AP fouls that one off.

So now we're back to 4.5 behind the Cubs, and have a gaping hole in the rotation to fill after the All-Star break. The club has called up Jamie Garcia to take that spot. Anthony Reyes is the more seasoned pitcher, and the more prime time ready; this, as giving Mulder the start, speaks volumes about how the on-field management team feels about his ability (and about their desire to have him in their locker room).

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Cards win 2-0; Cubs Get Harden from A's

My work-league softball game was last night, and while warming up one of my buddies casually mentioned the Cubs trading for Rich Harden. My initial response was "Get out of here!" It was only Sunday that (at least to my attention) the rumor of Chicago trying to acquire Harden from Oakland was broached anywhere (specifically Baseball Tonight on ESPN), and now 2 days later he's wearing blue?

Of course, it's true - Harden and Gaudin for Gallagher, Murton, Eric Patterson, and a minor league catcher.

There was a Calvin N Hobbes cartoon several years ago where the two main characters were having a water fight - first Calvin hit Hobbes with a water gun, then Hobbes hit Calvin with a water balloon, and so on. At one point, Calvin exclaims, "Aha! He's escalated the war!" That memory is what leapt into my mind when I realized the Harden trade was official. And it applies not only to the Brewers, who doubled down with the Sabathia trade a day earlier, but to the Cardinals as well.

John Mozeliak will be under some pressure to make a counter move in the starting rotation now. Not only because the Cardinals rotation, as currently constructed, can't match the 1-2 punch Milwaukee and Chicago can field, but also to lift spirits in the locker room, which I'm sure are a little bit down right now as the guys realize their quest for a playoff spot just got a whole lot tougher. You never want to give up on a season; it's too rare a thing to be in a position to make the playoffs (I think as a whole we Cardinals fans don't realize how lucky/blessed we've been this decade by the quality of teams St Louis has put on the field, and the runs they've made in October), and once into October anything can happen (a la 2006); but this team has, realistically, played over its head for 3 months.

So I implore Mozeliak: Don't make a rash move in a narrow-minded attempt to stay with Chicago and Milwaukee. You've done a tremendous job rebuilding the farm system since stepping into the GM position, and your trades/free agent signings have been deliberate and tactically sound. Don't misstep now and overreach, which jeopardizes the team's chances to compete in 2009 and beyond.

From yesterday's game, Piniero pitched his butt off, and the Cardinals got just enough offense to win 2-0. Solo shots by Ankiel and Ludwick provided all the offense Piniero would get; thankfully, it was all the offense he and a trio of relievers would need. However, the offense has become a big concern lately. Going back to the Cubs series over the weekend, the Cardinals have scored exactly 9 runs their past 4 games. 5 of those 9 runs have come on solo HR (Ludwick 2, Ankiel 2, and AP). In fact, the only inning they manufactured any kind of rally was the ninth inning of Saturday's game against Kerry Wood. I'm not sure if they've faced superior pitching lately (which is possible; Zambrano, Lilly and Hamels will make any lineup look bad), or if their lack of patience which first manifest itself when Albert went on the DL is now endemic in their approach at the plate, or if they continue to struggle mightily with RISP to get a hit. Whatever it is, they need to straighten it out pronto, or they'll get buried.

We already are functioning at a high level with a spit-and-bailing-wire rotation, that's been bailed out partially by a competent offense; if the bats go to sleep, we'll drop like a stone. I for one would rather not see that happen.

Mark Mulder's High Wire Act gets the start tonight. I don't want to watch, but I can't look away. I've got a $5 bet he won't last 3 innings; prove me wrong, Mark.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Pitching Rumblings in the NL Central

Unless you've spent the last 24 hours under a rock, deployed under water, or in a Montana log cabin with your wife or mistress (or both - goodie for you?), you're aware that CC Sabathia was traded from Cleveland to Milwaukee yesterday. CC (note the new punctuation, per his comments at the Brewers' introductory press conference yesterday) is scheduled to start TONIGHT for Milwaukee against the Rockies.

It is fair to say this shifts the balance of power in the Central. I must agree with Larry Borowsky, the Cardinals' playoff hopes took a severe hit when this deal was consummated. Assuming Ben Sheets can stay healthy for the rest of the season (which is a big assumption, as he hasn't made 30 starts in a season since 2004), the Brewers have a knockout 1-2 punch at the front of their rotation. Not even the Cubs can match Sheets/Sabathia.

So now that the Brewers have thrown down the gauntlet, what are the rest of the National League teams fighting for the Wild Card to do?

The answer is not much. Assuming that the sellers will be teams out of the running at the trade deadline, here are your potential trade partners this month: Toronto, Kansas City, Cleveland, Seattle, Washington, Pittsburgh, Houston, San Diego, Colorado, and possibly Baltimore, Texas, New York Mets, Cincinnati, and the Giants.

These teams are in the bottom half of the league for a reason.

Let's break it down even further:

Teams that can pitch but can't hit: Toronto
Teams that can hit but can't pitch: Texas, Colorado, Houston, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Pittsburgh
Teams that basically suck all around the course: KC, Cleveland, Seattle, Washington, San Diego, Mets, Giants

The most popular names floating around in the internets as possible trade bait are AJ Burnett (TOR), and Randy Wolf (SD). One of the more intriguing names to surface in the last 24 hours is Rich Harden of the A's. Rich is exactly like Ben Sheets - a legit #1 when healthy, but rarely healthy. It is rumored the Cubs are interested in Harden. I don't know enough about their organizational depth to say whether they have the prospects Billy Beane would demand in return for Harden's rental, but I'm sure the Cubs understand they need to do something - they can't go into October with Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, and the 3 stooges in their rotation.

There are other good pitchers on the above listed teams - Cliff Lee (CLE), Cook (COL), Roy Oswalt (HOU), Zack Grienke (KC), and so on - but I can't see any of them becoming available as trade bait at the deadline. Most of them are young starters or the faces of their respective franchises, and would be political suicide for the teams to move them.

So it appears the Cardinals will need to rest their hopes on the rehabilitating arms of Wainwright (who starts playing catch this week) and Chris Carpenter (who is throwing off the mound again) vice making a splash in the trade market for a starter.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Albert Pujols and I are like Brothers

I finally have something in common with AP. Unfortunately, it's not the ability to hit a 95 MPH fastball 450 feet. It's Plantar Fasciitis. Lucky me. The treatement for this is orthodics, stretching, and copious amounts of Motrin.

The good thing about the orthodics is they are shoe inserts, so I can move them from shoe to shoe - and play softball in them. We'll see how that goes.

Cardinals dropped yesterday's rubber game against Chicago 7-1. In retrospect, they are lucky to have taken 1 of the 3 games, as they only really showed any offense in 2 of the 27 innings played. At least both of those innings were in the same game.

The Cardinals are off today before starting a road trip that will take them to the All-Star Break. First stop: Philadelphia.

A couple of things to catch up on:

- If you need another reason to hate the Players Union, here's one.

- Mark Mulder is starting Wednesday at Philadelphia. Grrreat. I am second to none in my admiration for the effort Mark's put in trying to make it back to the majors, but he can't get anyone out consistently anymore. And starting him in that little bitty ballpark, against the Utleys, Burrells, and Howards of the world... well it's a recipe for disaster. I don't understand why LaRussa is willing to give that game away in a pennant race.

- I don't know how Rick Ankiel didn't make the All Star team, but I can't argue with the reserve outfielders selected. However, I can't believe Rick isn't one of the 5 'vote them in' players from the NL.

- The Cardinals lead the majors in wins from their starting rotation (38). How is there no Cardinal starter on the All-Star roster? Isn't Kyle Lohse a better option than Ryan Dempster? or Brian Wilson?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Saved the Season?

I hope everyone's enjoying their 4th of July weekend. Is it too much hyperbole to say yesterday's victory saved the Cardinals season? Probably, but it isn't too much to say it definitely saved their chances of competing for the NL Central title vice just the Wild Card. Especially considering they hadn't won a single game this season when trailing in the ninth.

And it couldn't have come against a better foe.

We all (at least I) knew that Zambrano would shut them down on Friday. He always does these days. But with Lohse going yesterday, I thought the chances were good for a Cardinal victory. It didn't look good when they entered the seventh trailing 2-0 on the FOX ticker.

(Segue: you know what's coming now. Why was I forced to sit through the Yankees/Red Sox yesterday? I live in a National League city. Hey FOX: 90% of the country couldn't give 2 shits about New England sports; in fact, based on the recent success of the Patriots, Red Sox, and now Celtics, we're all pretty much fed up with Boston. As a NL fan, living in a NL city, I demand to watch an NL game if it's an option on Saturdays. Unless it's a West Coast NL team; then any other game will suffice. I'll take Peoria against Gary Indiana in that case.)

But the boys perservered and got 2 to tie. Enter Franklin. Nice outing, Ryan - double, 2-R HR, walk, shower. Most of the air left Busch at that point, I imagine, at least from the red-clad faithful. Enter Ryan Ludwick. Trememdous throw to nail Edmonds. Odd play; it looked like Ludwick double-clutched, and why was Edmonds running while looking at RF? I'm sure the Cubs conspiracy theorists are having a field day with that play today (see?!?!?! Edmonds is STILL a Cardinal!!!).

Great ninth inning rally. I don't need to say anything more. I wish I could have seen it live, though.

Other thoughts:

- I don't understand what all the excitement was on LaRussa's part regarding Edmonds' desire to leave his Cardinal past behind him. Cubs fans hated him for 8 years, and still do to a degree. This hatred is fanned partially by what he did on the field to them as a Cardinal, and partially by the media. Edmonds has endured more than his share of questions about Cardinals/Cubs; I for one agree with him for wanting to move on. I took it, and Edmonds meant it, in no way as a shot at the Cardinals in general or LaRussa in particular. Why Tony interpreted it that way is beyond me. Seems he should use that energy to fix the back of his bullpen vice worrying about some comments a former player made.

- Edmonds getting a standing ovation in his first AB Friday was absolutely the right thing to do. He bled for the Cardinals for 8 years; we would have been wrong to forget that, just because he's a Cub now.

- Kevin Kennedy (studio co-host on FOX Saturday Baseball) is an idiot. Lou Piniella for manager of the year? You got to be kidding me. The Cubs were expected to contend this year. LaRussa is the NL Manager of the Year this season, especially if the Cardinals make the playoffs. Go look for a pre-season prognostication that had the Cardinals above .500, much less in playoff contention this season - you won't find one. Most of the Cardinal blogs had this team as a bad one; I myself didn't think they'd finish better than 78-84. His job this season has been superb. How anyone else can be considered for Manager of the Year honors is extremely short-sighted.

And I say that knowing I'll be accused of homer-ism as this is a Cardinal blog.

Go get today's game, boys - Cubs 1.5 games up with a week to go before the All-Star break will set us up nicely for a hell of a pennant run.