Lame and Lazy

I’ve been lame and lazy with the posts, and I apologize. 

I’m not going to bother catching up altogether now…just some early thoughts on today’s game as I listen from my summer internship cubicle!

Mark Mulder gave up two more runs in the first inning.  I have often said how much I hope the Cardinals are able to sign him this offseason, but I am beginning to wonder about the saneness of that statement.  Although he may not be saying much about his "mechanics" of late, I still believe he speaks too much of them.  Maybe it’s time he stops worrying about them and starts getting determined to get guys out regardless.  Easy for me to say…

As Kevin commented Yadi has been hitting the ball well to the tune of an almost .400 average in June.  I’m excited and would like to say more, but my lunch is over.  Ha!

More tonight…

Friday’s First Raes

No game to review but with the Chicago Cubs coming to town today there is still plenty to consider.
Edmonds Again

There has been no official news from the Cardinals as to whether or not Jim Edmonds will be placed on the disabled list. However, from what I can gather it still appears he will go on the list. I have given up saying anything with confidence on this topic, though, after all the confusion. We’ll know for sure soon enough I suppose.

I really hope he loses but…

The pitching match-up for the first of three games between the Cardinals and Cubs is exciting on two levels. On one level Cards’ pitcher Sidney Ponson (4-0) will be trying to maintain his perfect record and perhaps even lower is 2.92 ERA. On a whole other level the UBER good looking Sean Marshall (3-3) will be on the bump for the Cubbies. I genuinely hope his record is below .500 after tomorrow game, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him last until the late innings. Does anyone know if the Chicago bullpen needs rest? (Wink. Fun fact…Marshall has a twin brother who is also a baseball player. One more thing…if you are evaluating his, um, assets for the first time do not trust his head shot on MLB.com. It really isn’t flattering.)

I have probably just destroyed any shred of credibility I had as a knowledgeable baseball person. I think it’s worth it though. People everywhere need and deserve to know about this guy AND his brother.

Juan Encarnacion–From Normal to Decent and Back

After his recent “hot” streak that was actually more like a “decent right fielder” streak, Juan Encarnacion seems to be returning to normal. After his batting average reached a season high .250 on May 27th he has it back down to a reasonable .242. (His May batting average of .260 was actually much better than his .222 April total.) I’m being a little harsh for reasons that really have little to do with him. I am really growing frustrated with people who say, “Don’t worry…by the end of the year he’ll be right where he usually is at the end of a season. He’s been very consistent throughout this career.” (Obviously not a direct quote from anyone, but Tony LaRussa I’m looking at you for now.)

Where he usually is at the end of the season is sitting with a .266 batting average and an on-base percentage of .314. (Those numbers are actually is career averages.) An expected RBI number for him is really quite hard to pin down. Often I hear 75-80 RBI can be expected, but he really hasn’t consistently reached that level. I’ll go ahead and give him the benefit of the doubt, however, and say most expected him to end the season at .275 (AVG) and .325 (OBP) with 75 RBI. Is this really a good season for a guy getting to bat in the St. Louis Cardinal lineup behind (or in front of) the likes of Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen. I do not think so, but apparently I’m outnumbered.

I feel better with that out of my system.

Promises, Promises

I promised “First Raes” every single morning, and so far I have delivered. That being said, a feature/in-depth/not “First Raes” post is coming soon. I’m working on it…I promise!

Link of the Day! Albert’s opening a restaurant…and all of the profit is going to the Pujols Family Foundation. Once again proving that not just baseball and the Cardinals but literally the world is lucky to have him. (Dramatic sentence of the day award winner right there.)

Thursday’s First Raes

Thoughts and things to think about for the Thursday off day, June 1st. (This is the second time I have typed this post…after the first one was deleted because my internet disconnected. I hope no one has to feel the pain I’m feeling right now.)
(1) It looks like Jim Edmonds will end up spending some time on the disabled list regardless of what is officially determined to be wrong with him. The latest word is the he has a mild to moderate abdomen strain. (Is there an actual difference between mild and moderate? Isn’t that kind of like saying a person has a large to big bruise or something?) There has yet to be a determination as to how long he’ll need to recover, and no determination seems to be on the way. In the mean time, the Cardinals can’t afford to keep playing with a short bench while he takes things day-to-day. Hopefully, like the injuries Sidney Ponson and apparently Chris Carpenter, this will prove to be a short setback in a long season.

(2) Speaking of injuries, when David Eckstein was hit on the hand by a Mike Gallo pitch in the bottom of the eleventh inning a horrific image flashed through my mind. It was the image of him somehow landing on the DL. Just think about the way the lineup and the infield would look without Eckstein. Scary. With his two hits today he is now hitting .330 for the season which is a significant 45 points above his career average. More importantly for the leadoff man, his on-base percentage is currently .402 also well above his career average of .354. (X-rays taken after the game confirmed he suffered no broken bones.)

Molina290pujols060106_2(3) With Thursday’s extra innings 4-3 win over the Astros, the Redbirds avoided losing their first series in the New Busch Stadium. Considering June has begun, that is a significant statistic. I would also like to point out that the eleventh inning rally was started by a one out Yadier Molina double. Just saying.

Since we just completed a series against Houston and since everyone else is talking about it, I’ll say that Roger Clemens return to the Astros is fine by me. I have honestly believed since the start of the season this would be the eventual outcome. Of course I don’t look forward to facing him, but I will take any team’s best shot. (Easy for me to say…I don’t have to step into the batter’s box against him.) The most surprising thing about the whole process was how joylessly Clemens seemed to go through the motions at today’s press extravaganza. Regarding his return to baseball he said, “I don’t need to or want to, but I’m committed.” Ok, then…I guess that’s all he needs.

(4) Jeff Suppan provided another quality start today–pitching six innings while allowing three runs. The bullpen then took over and returned to form by pitching five scoreless innings. Adam Wainwright and Jason Isringhausen threw two innings a piece while Braden Looper backed up yesterday’s impressive performance by pitching a perfect eleventh. He also picked up the win.

(5) Because nothing is better than premature baseball banter…

It is hard to imagine the rest of Adam Wainwright’s career going as smoothly as the first two months, but his success has got me thinking out of the box nonetheless. Wainwright’s minor league numbers exclusively as a starter, while promising, were not exactly the numbers of a prolific prospect. Still, his early season success and his 2.03 and shrinking ERA have many people penciling into next year’s starting rotation. I’m am certainly not against that line of thought, but I think there is another option to consider.

Apparently his pitches have been of a higher quality during the short outings he enjoys as a reliever, and if the pressure is getting to him he has yet to show it. (However, it should be pointed out that each of his outings, according the Cards’ broadcasters, have begun along with an inning. He has yet to enter a game mid-inning, therefore he hasn’t inherited any runners or outs for that matter.) Still, if the Cards are able to retain or obtain five quality starters over the winter I wouldn’t have a problem with him remaining a weapon in the late innings. I am in absolutely no hurry to replace Jason Isringhausen despite his ability to regularly cause my blood pressure to rise, but right now it’s not hard to envision Wainwright as a power closer down the road. Or maybe I’m crazy. Time will tell.

Link of the Day! A column discussing how Houston signing Clemens could and should affect St. Louis management.

Wednesday’s First Raes

Thoughts and Link of the Day for Wednesday morning, May 31st.
(1) My comments during my liveblogging escapade regarding Jim Edmonds were inaccurate. Although the results to his MRI are still not known (at least not to us), doctors do not believe he has a sports hernia. That doesn’t really clear up the issue, but it does relieve some of my worries. As I said, I read that sports hernias often requires surgery (a la Donovan McNabb) so ruling that out for the most part is a wonderful feeling.

(2) Scott Rolen is finding his power stroke. His second home run in three games on Tuesday sailed out of the park after a smooth, easy swing by Rolen. He went 3 for 4 in the game with a RBI and two runs scored. He is now hitting an impressive .327 on the season. Considering his off season shoulder surgery and his lengthy bout with super-bronchitis, Rolen’s success this season is amazing and is taken for granted by way too many people…including myself.

(3) It’s not hard to find the silver lining of the Cards 6-3 loss to the Astros. (Not that said silver lining actually makes me feel better, but it is there nonetheless.) Before and after pitcher Josh Hancock’s seventh inning meltdown, Anthony Reyes and Braden Looper were impressive.

Reyes can’t really be this good all the time can he? Although he didn’t pick up his third win in three career starts he easily could have, pitching 6.1 innings while only allowing five hits. He struck out seven and walked just one. His strike out to walk ratio has been fantastic this season in his minor league starts, but it is a whole other level of impressive for him maintain his control in his first ever start in front of the St. Louis home crowd. In the end, he was charged with 3 earned runs although two crossed the plate after he was removed from the game.

Looper, meanwhile, pitched a scoreless and perfect eighth and ninth. It wasn’t exactly a pressure packed situation, but it’s good to see him be successful. Plus, it was important for him to keep the lead at three runs to preserve the possibility of a comeback.

(4) Today, in a noon-ish start, Jeff Suppan will face one of the Astros rookie starters, Taylor Buchholz. I wish I had some insight to share about Buchholz, but I simply do not. I will say that I hope Suppan has his bad outing out of his system for a while after his last start.

Link of the Day!–Alright, I’m confused this story posted just after Tuesday turned to Wednesday suggests Edmonds could indeed have a sports hernia after all. Here is a link to one of the stories that said in part, “Edmonds underwent an MRI earlier Tuesday and was awaiting results, but believed doctors had ruled out a sports hernia.” Apparently that position changed a few hours later. The only thing that seems certain here is that absolutely no one, including Edmonds, knows what ailment is affecting his abdomen.

Astros at the Cardinals–LIVE!

My first ever liveblog begins NOW. Get excited!
6:59 PM–Tonight’s game will feature veteran Andy Pettitte facing off against the Cards biggest prospect, and Chris Carpenter’s replacement, Anthony Reyes. He will be making his third big league start. All of his starts have come via brief call-ups from Triple A Memphis to replace or rest Cardinals starters. He has been impressive in his two previous starts.

Last season he went 6.1 innings and allowed just two runs during an August 9th start against the Brewers. Only a few weeks ago he pitched 5.2 without giving up a run against the Kansas City Royals. He looked like he could have gone much deeper in the game, but manager Tony LaRussa (probably wisely) pulled him a little early. In his one minor league start since going 2-0 for his career he pitched eight shutout innings. (His strikeout to walk ratio has been ridiculously good.)

Tonight, however, will be his first start in St. Louis. I’m excited to see how he will respond in front of the home crowd. My only regret is that Chris Carpenter had to go on the DL to set up the start. He will apparently only miss tonight start, though, so I’m shamelessly looking forward to seeing Reyes. I’m crossing my fingers that I don’t regret that last sentence.

7:11–First pitch! Willy Tavares leads off and plays center for the Astros, as expected. A lead-off double, however, was not expected.

7:14–Good grief! Another Cardinal has the flu. This time it is Scott Spiezio, who has been sent home from the ballpark. According to the Cards’ broadcaster he is the 14th Redbird to be stricken with the illness. Larry Bigbie blamed the outbreak on the San Francisco Giant’s postgame spread last week. The Cardinals had an off day between a series with the Giants and Padres when a large portion of the team got sick. It was said the Cards would have had trouble putting a team on the field should a game have been scheduled that day. If Spiezio is just now getting sick, though, it really puts a hole in the poisoned postgame spread theory.

7:21–Well we’re through the first inning. Reyes gave up a run with the RBI going to Lance Berkman. Not a bad start though–Tavares’ double came on a tough pitch and Berkman is, umm, good.

7:24–Andy Pettitte has been having some problems, but I expect him to pitch well tonight. He was struggling the last time he took the mound against the Cards and ended up pitching pretty well. I refuse to think we’ll hit him.

7:26–Albert Pujols walks to the plate with no one on base. Pitch 1: Foul. Pitch 2: Ball. Pitch 3: Foul again. Pitch 4: Ball. Pitch 5: Fly out to deep center. This round to Pettitte.

Any comments/thoughts on the game are welcome! I would love to hear what others have to say about the game. If I don’t mention something that deserved to be mentioned let me know, or if you have something else to say altogether.

7:32–A 1-2-3 second for Reyes! His wardrobe is the topic of much discussion. I know he has to wear the high, red and white striped socks when he pitching in the minors, so my guess is he just really doesn’t like to change things up too much. There might be more to it than that, but I have never heard anything about it. As for his ultra, straight billed hat…It stems back to his days at USC. He actually irons it to make it look that straight.

7:36–Lead-off double for Scott Rolen, your NL leader in third base All-Star voting. His power might not be back from his shoulder problems, but he is on pace for only his second (full) season with a .300+ average.

7:40–An otherwise good at-bat by So Taguchi ended badly…a long battle ended with him striking out with a runner on third and one out. Ouch.

7:42–Al Hraboski (sorry if I misspelled the name) has just mentioned for the 1000th time that Braden Looper felt so good in Spring Training since he was finally healthy that he couldn’t concentrate on pitching well. I didn’t buy it the other 999 time, and I don’t buy it now.

YADIER MOLINA comes through with a two out double to tie the game at one run a piece.

7:47–Andy Pettite at the plate. I read he was genuinely upset earlier this year when Phil Garner chose another pitcher for an emergency pitch hit appearance which I found odd. He popped out this time.

7:51–Craig Biggio didn’t like the called third strike on him that ended the third. He had a few words for the umpire, but we move to the bottom of the inning nonetheless.

7:53–Lead-off hit for Reyes…impressive. Top of the order now with Eckstein, who is leading the All-Star voting at shortstop and deservedly so…even though he just bounced into a double play. Former Card Edgar Renteria is having a good year in Atlanta as well. Look for a post on that soon.

Pujols at the dish after a bunt hit by Luna. Pitch 1: Ball. Pitch 2: Swinging strike. Pitch 3:Ball outside. LET’S GO ALBERT! Pitch 4: Hard shot to third to end the innings. Round two to Pettitte as well.

8:00–Reyes gets Berkman this time around with help from a great play from Albert Pujols at first. I don’t see every first baseman play defense in the NL, but if Albert is awarded his first Gold Glove he’ll deserve it. Seriously deserve it.

8:05–Through the visitor half of the fourth, and Reyes looks as impressive as ever. This guy is going to make Walt Jocketty’s life a lot easier in the off season when he is trying to sign his four free agent starters. Chris Carpenter is the only starter with a contract for next year, and he is grossly underpaid. Many have said that situation is as important as any to resolve, but neither Jocketty nor Carpenter seems particularly worried about it. I’m just hoping Mark Mulder is willing to take a few million less to stay in St. Louis. Please, Mark. Please.

8:09–So much for his power being dimmed. Scott Rolen homers to left. BACK-TO-BACK!! Juan Encarnacion immediately follows Rolen’s homer with one of his own to left. He crushed it. 3-1 Cards lead before an out is recorded!

8:13–Aaron Miles just struck out for the second time, this time to end the fourth. No more damage was done to Pettitte this inning. While were here though…Miles has been very good so far this season. It has been written about at length but the trade that sent J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero has benefitted the Cardinals GREATLY. In the end we got Adam Wainwright, Jason Marquis, Aaron Miles, and Larry Bigbie for our current roster.

8:20–Reyes leading off again. He wouldn’t get another hit would he? Nope. He would not.

8:23–Good to see the New Busch Stadium full again. All the seats are officially open for just the second game. Still, every game has been a sell out so far this season and every game is expected to be.

Albert’s is up again…this time with a runner on first. Hopefully he’ll break out of his struggles (2 for 15) against Andy Pettitte. An intentional walk to bring up Scott Rolen who is 2 for 2 on the night. Alright, fine by me. Rolen gets Pujols treatment from me…Pitch 1: Strike. Pitch 2: Weak fly out to right field. Not so fine, but I’ll take Rolen any day.

8:30–Reyes is pitching awesome, but he just gave up a significant double to Craig Biggio who has tied Hank Aaron for 9th (624) on the all time list and has passed Brooks Robinson on the all-time hits list.

8:37–Reyes just whiffed Morgan Ensberg to end the sixth and strand Biggio on second. Even though he has given up a run, this just might turn out to be his best big league start to date which is impressive (see top of post).

8:40–Encarnacion just lined out to center, but I want to talk about him. He really has been better lately, but I’m still waiting for my main question to be answered. At his very best, how good can he be? And just how good is that honestly? I’m not of the school of thought that his career average numbers are going to be good enough. I want more. I’m a greedy and spoiled but nice and supportive Cardinal fan!

8:45–With a strike out of Preston Wilson (his seventh on the night) to start the top of the seventh, Anthony Reyes has now pitched deeper into this game his other big league starts. His pitch count is nearing 100 so my guess is that this is his last inning no matter what.

8:51–Well officially I’m both a jinx and a liar. Reyes just gave up back to back hits and was taken out by LaRussa. So his official line will say he pitch 6.1 innings, the same as last year against the Brew Crew. Hopefully Josh Hancock can strand his runners, but even if he fails to do so it was an absolutely outstanding showing by Anthony Reyes. I’m glad he’s going to be on our side for years to come.

8:55–3-2 home team after a Jason Lane pinch-hit RBI single. Now it’s Orlando Palmairo (spell?) pinch-hitting for Andy Pettitte whose night will end with 6 IP and 3 ER.

8:58–Did that really just happen? It’s 4-3 Houston after a hit and an inexplicable misplay by Golden-Gloved Scott Rolen. It’s damage control now for Hancock. Final line for Reyes: 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, and no chance for a win. He deserved better, but there are bigger things to worry about…like the Redbirds getting the win.

9:01–I think we would’ve been better off with Reyes. Craig Biggio just put the Astros up 6-3 with a two run home run off Hancock. Apparently he can’t pitch bad enough to get taken out of the game as no one is even warming up. The Cards have statistically the best bullpen in the league, but tonight is just not Josh Hancock’s night.

9:06–Rally Time!!!

9:09–Apparently Hancock did pitch bad enough to be taken out of the game. John Rodriguez pinch hits with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Johnny Rocket, as I guess he is being called these days, is off to a terrific start this season. He didn’t like the call but he stuck out for the out number two.

Russ Springer, he of the Bond beanball (bean ball?), is doing the pitching. I didn’t feel too sorry for Barry when he got plunked, but I didn’t cheer either. It was just a weird situation.

9:13–Nice running catch by Willy Tavares to end the inning. It wasn’t exactly highlight reel material but someone with less speed would have had trouble catching up to it.

9:15–Random between innings thought…Jim Edmonds had the scan I mentioned in my “First Raes” but the results are not yet known to us. It is believed he has a sports hernia, a condition I read almost always requires surgery. However, even if he has the condition Edmonds seems to think he’ll be able to play soon. We’ll see.

9:18–Mention number 1,001 of Braden Looper being too healthy to pitch well early in season just took place (see 7:42). It’s so predictable when he comes in a game on Fox Sports Net I could cry.

9:22–Rally Time!!!???

9:24–Pujols to the plate with no one on and one out and three runs down. Pitch 1: Ball. Pitch 2: Strike. Pitch 3: Base hit between the shortstop and third basemen. A perfect example of how Pujols hits to win the game…a home run would have been nice, but base runners are what we need. LaRussa has repeatedly said he hits as the situation requires. Just another reason to love El Hombre. Bring him around for another run scored, Scott!

9:27–Double for Rolen…maybe the comments will pick back up now that the Cards have something going. Make me a believer Juan!!!

9:29–Albert’s out at the plate after Encarnacion grounds to third. The inning isn’t over yet, however.

9:32–It is now…still 6-3 heading into the ninth. We’ll have our 7-8-9 hitter in the bottom of the inning and a short bench to work with. Jim Edmonds might be available, but Scott Spiezio is not (see 7:14). It’s not over until the 27th out is recorded, though, as Albert would say.

9:35–It’s back to the mound for Braden Looper after a quick and easy eighth. He wears Yadi’s old number which gives him automatic cool points. I have a shirt with Molina and 41 on the back so when he’s in the game I can represent both ends of the battery. I know, I know…jealousy is only normal. (Sorry–I’m an idiot.)

9:40–To the bottom of the ninth! Bring on Brad Lidge…

9:44–One pitch, one out…Yadi out after smoking a ball to third.

9:46–Well that was an anti-climatic ending to a very busy and exciting night for me. Thanks to Erik and Kevin for the comments and to Lisa for being my liveblogging partner. The Cards went quietly in the ninth, but they’ll be back on the field at noon tomorrow going for yet another series win. They have yet to lose a series at home. I will not be help responsible if that happens for the first time tomorrow becuase that was merely an observation.

Reyes has nothing to show for his great night, and Josh Hancock takes a well deserved loss. He’ll get them next time though. No love lost here overall. Please keep commenting on the thoughts I shared throughout the game and stop back tomorrow morning for my First Raes. (I giggle at the name, and I’m the one who came up with it.)

[Sorry for the endless errors I’m sure I made while frantically typing throughout the game. My fingers are cramping!]

Tuesday’s First Raes

I apologize for my recent prolonged absences. I have excuses, but I’ll spare you them. Hopefully posts similar to this one will be available to you every morning from hence forth…cheesy, self-indulgent title included. [Basically just some random thoughts and a daily link from my readings. I find that I focus a lot on posts that deal with a single issue (such as a single player) and I tend to ignore the games themselves. I will keep those thoughts for this daily post. Most likely I will write it at an obscenely late hour, but it will be here each morning should you look for it. Now that I have attempted to guilt myself into actually fulfilling my promises, it’s off to the actual post.]
(1) Jason Marquis deserves credit for his more-than-successful start yesterday. I hesitate to put too much faith in him because his track record suggests that he will only let me down in the end, but he has earn his praise as of late. He certainly wasn’t at his best yesterday but at the end of the day he beat Roy Oswalt by pitching seven innings while allowing just one run. I refuse to say anything else for fear that he’ll go double digit starts without a win.

(2) Albert Pujols hit the (eventual) game-winning home run late in the game. Yawn.

(3) Jim Edmonds missed another start on Tuesday. He will apparently undergo a scan of some sort (this according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch) to see if he has a sports hernia. I don’t see this situation going in a positive direction. I hope my future forecasting capabilities prove to be worthless.

(4) Don’t look now, fans of any other National League Central teams, but the Cardinals have a five game lead in the division. I guess the fact that they have the lead before the arrival of June can be taken two ways. Either the Cards are so good they have big lead early they won’t relinquish or they are simply off to a good start but everyone has time to catch up. (For any fellow VH1 watchers…read the first sentence again, but this time use the voice of The Best Week Even announcer. Just seems perfect to me.)

(5) It was nice to see all of the seats in Busch III filled for the fist time as a result of the final section of seating being completed (ahead of schedule no less!). I can’t wait to get back to the ballpark.

Link of the Day!

Yadi Not Too Hottie Two

Yadi has been seeing a little less playing time lately which has disappointed me greatly. I won’t pout or complain, however, because I simply can’t. He has yet to turn around his season at the plate although his two hits on Monday were encouraging.
Both the St. Louis Post Dispatch and MLB.com have posted a story about Yadi since yesterday which is the main reason I even bring the subject up.

Despite all intelligent inclinations, I still believe whole-heartedly that he can hit. If you read the articles, it’s clear he has some mental issues at the dish. I promise if he can ever figure those out he will be an above average hitter. I’ve seen him swing the bat well. Just, um, not anytime near the beginning of a regular season.

I mentioned in the original Yadi Not Too Hottie post that… “It feels like he would get a hit every time if he could come up in the eighth inning with two runners on and the Cards down by a run. This is not a good thing. But is it a bad thing?” Unfortunately the RBI opportunities he was getting early in the year haven’t materialized as of late so even that statement is now shaky. Although he did get a hit with RISP on Monday…down by more than a hand full of runs in the ninth but still.

Anyway, I’m waiting on him to get hot any day now. And by any day I mean today.

[Check out the post below as well and let me know what you think if you’re so inclined!]