Tagged: Kyle Lohse

United Cardinal Bloggers – Progressive Game Blog

Today’s
was the Second Annual United Cardinal Bloggers Progressive Blog Day, where UCB
members write about one inning in today’s installment of the I-70 series as the
St. Louis Cardinals take on the Kansas City Royals at Busch Stadium.

 

I have
the fifth inning, so visit these fine blogs first and then come back here:

Pregame:  United Cardinal Bloggers

First inning: Redbirds
Row

Second inning: Bird Brained
Third inning: Baseball Digest

Fourth inning: Cards on Deck 

 

Back?  Good. 
So, by now, you know that Kyle Lohse has a two hit shutout going.  A two RBI single by Nick Stavinoha, got the
Cardinals out in front in the first.  Skip
Schumaker added on with a lead-off home run in the third.  Cardinals are leading the Royals 3-0 at the
start of the fifth inning.

 

The
Fifth

Unfortunately,
I was watching the game from home today rather than from the sold-out stands in
Busch Stadium.  However, when I am at the
ballpark, there in one thing I hate: having to go to the bathroom during the
game.  Sometimes I can make it a whole
nine innings, but more often than not, the beverages kick in, the bladder
stretches to capacity and I am left with no choice but to make the trek to the
facilities.

 

I hate to
go because I am always afraid I am going to miss something.  Depending on how far away the bathroom is and
whether or not there is a line (actually, I am female, so there is always a
line), the roundtrip can take a whole half an inning or better.  Annoying.

 

However,
had I been in the stands, the fifth inning would have been a good time go.

 

My
anticipation grew as I watched the first through the fourth inning of this
really fine Cardinal outing.  I wondered
what new excitement my inning would bring. 
Another home run?  Lohse striking
out the side?  Another fine catch by
center fielder, Colby Rasmus?

 

Turns out, the most
exciting thing that happened in the inning is that the Royals phone to the
bullpen was on the fritz.  They had to send a runner out to give instructions. 

 

Royals
at the Plate

 

Callaspo
led off for the Royals and hit a routine fly ball to center fielder, Colby
Rasmus.  This was the sixth fly ball of
the day to Rasmus, who was earning his money in center.  He plays a sweet and easy center field.  A real joy to watch.

 

Next up, Olivo
did hit a double down the left field line. 
That might have been new and interesting since it was only the third
Royals hit thus far, but Olivo hit that exact same double in the second inning. 

 

Aviles, with his odd helicopter batting
stance, struck out.  The pitcher,
Hochevar, quickly got behind 0-2, and grounded out to shortstop, Tyler
Greene.  Olivo, once again, found himself
orphaned at second base.  

 

Cardinals
at the Plate

 

The
Cardinal lineup was back to the top as lead-off hitter, Skip Shumaker,
led-off.  Schumaker had a tough at
bat.  Fouled off three pitches.  Worked the count to full.  And, ultimately line out sharply to Royals
third baseman, Teahan.

 

Colby
Rasmus was up next.  He took a curve for
a strike, a curve for a ball and then grounded out sharply to first baseman,
Butler. 
Again.  Very much as he did in his
last at bat in the third.

 

Finally,
Albert Pujols is up.  Nobody on, which is
good because he might get a pitch to hit. 
He did find a pitch to hit, unfortunately he hit it on the ground to the
shortstop who threw to first and got the third out. 

 

Ho-hum?

 

Was it a
ho-hum inning?  For most people it would
be.  No runs.  One extra-base hit.  One strike-out.  No diving plays to make the highlight
reel.  However, a real baseball fan will
appreciate the following:

 

  • A very efficient scoreless
    inning for starting pitcher, Kyle Lohse. 
    Four batters faced.  Twelve
    pitches thrown.  Of which, only two
    were balls.  Very, very sweet.
  • It took twelve pitches to
    retire the Royals.  It took eight
    pitches to retire Skip Schumaker, who took a very good lead-off style at
    bat before lining the ball into a glove.
  • Sometimes less is more.  Especially when it comes to excitement
    in a close 3-0 game.  I have seen
    enough Cardinals pitchers in trouble in close games.  I have seen enough errors on routine
    plays.  I will happily take a quiet
    inning of solid pitching and defense. 
    In particular, when the Cardinals are enjoying the lead.

 

On to
the Sixth

Visit
these UCB sites to continue on with game.  

Sixth inning: Whiteyball
Seventh inning: The Cardinal Virtue
Eighth inning: Fungoes
Ninth inning: Pitchers Hit Eighth
Extras and game wrapup: C70 At The Bat

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Astro-ordinary

When the
Astros and Cardinals last met, it was August, 2008.  The Astros were on the rise.  The Cardinals, disabled with injuries, were
on the downhill slide.  I journeyed to
the Juice Box
in
Houston, only to see my Cardinals get
swept.

This
week, the Houston Astros journeyed to Busch stadium, and the St. Louis Cardinals
returned the favor.  We all like to talk
about hitting, but we all know that pitching wins games.  The good news is:  We have pitching!

 

Game 1

Cardinal pitcher, Joel Piñeiro, carried  

MemphisPineiro.JPG

his Spring Training success into his first start of the year, going 6 2/3, giving up two runs.  I was hard on Piñeiro
before.  He would get into jams, not
check his emotions and self-destruct. 
Both in the exhibition game in
Memphis and
his first start of the season,
Piñeiro is in perfect control–both of his
pitches and his emotions.
 

 

The bullpen combination of Josh
Kinney, Jason Motte and Kyle McClellan did the rest.  Granted, Motte got into trouble again, but
was not allowed to fail as McClellan came in with two on/one out and retired
the two batters he faced.  Cardinals win
5-3.

 



Game 2

MemphisWainwright.JPG

Adam Wainwright had a rough start. 
He pitched five shutout innings and got the win.  Yep, that’s a rough start for Wainwright.  Mostly, he threw a lot of pitches, but he got
the job done.  A bullpen combo of Jason
Motte (pitching a very nice 6th this time), Dennys Reyes (three
up-three down) and Brad Thompson (pitching two innings, but giving up two runs)
finished the game.


For 4 1/2 innings, this game was a
pitching duel between Oswalt and Wainwright.
  Oddly
enough, Oswalt looked better, yet the Cardinals were up 1-0.  In the bottom of the 5th, the
Cardinals broke it open.  The kids set
the table:  Joe Thurston (1B), Brendan
Ryan (Sac bunt), David Freese (pinch hit RBI 2B), Skip Schumaker (walk), Colby
Rasmus (1B).

So, with bases loaded Roy Oswalt
faced Albert Pujols.  Thus far, Oswalt
had been successful against Pujols, who had hit into a line-out double play and
popped up.  It was a classic dual
between a great hitter and a great pitcher
, but in the end, the great
hitter found a pitch to drive into
Big Mac Land for a grand slam.  It was not a bad pitch.  It is just when you pitch to Albert
Pujols, there really are no good pitches. 

Not finished, Pujols punished
reliever Wesley Wright by hitting 3-run bomb. 
A seven RBI day for Pujols, which ties a career high for him.  The Cardinals did a great job of setting
the table.  Pujols feasted.

Quickly, a tight pitching dual
turned into a rout, as the Cardinals win 11-2.

 

Game 3

In Kyle Lohse’s second start of
the season, the Astro’s leadoff batter, Kazuo Matsui, reached on a base
hit.  No other Astro would reach until
the ninth.  Kyle Lohse retired 24 Astros
in a row.
  Two batters reached in the
ninth, but are stranded.  Kyle Lohse
pitched a 3-hitter, complete game shutout.
 
Of note, in the fourth, he retired the heart of the lineup (Pence,
Berkman and Lee) on five pitches.

Astros pitching was tough, with
starter Wandy Rodriguez only giving up three runs.  Should have been enough to win, but not
today.  Cardinals win 3-0.

 

 

The 2009 Season: 
Week 1

Just a week ago, the 2009 season
began, and we starving baseball fans have feasted.  Already, we are peeking at the standings, and
most are surprised by how week one has shook out.  It looks like many teams are channeling
their inner-Rays and trying to be the next team to go from worst to first. 
Here are the leaders:

AL East – The Toronto Blue Jays lead
with a 5-2 record, followed closely by the Orioles, just a half game back.  The three favorites, the Yankees, Rays and
Red Sox, are in the cellar.

AL Central – The Detroit Tigers lead
with a 4-3 record, with the White Sox and Royals only a half game back. The
Twins follow 3-4, and the Indians finally won today are holding the bottom
slot.

AL West – The Seattle Mariners,
energized by the return of Griffey, lead 5-2. 
The mourning Angels and Rangers trail 1 1/2 games back. 
Oakland is off to a slow start with a 2-4
record.

NL East – The Atlanta Braves and Florida
Marlins
are tied for first, two full games ahead of the Mets and World
Champion Phillies.  The poor Nationals
still have not notched a win.

NL Central – The St. Louis Cardinals
with their 5-2 record lead the Cubs by 1 game. 
The Pirates are 1 1/2 back.  Reds
and Brewers are tied with 2-3 records. 
Thanks to the aforementioned pitching,
Houston is at the bottom with a 1-5
record.

NL West – The San Diego Padres
lead the west by one game over the Dodgers. 
Rockies are 1 1/2 back.  The D-backs and Giants are tied for last with
a 2-4 record.  This could change quickly as the Giants head to L.A.

 

As for the Cardinals, week one of
the season was very much a success.  With
very few exceptions, the pitching has been solid.  The position player side of the roster has so
many moving parts, so much flexibility.
 
Tony LaRussa is known to be a man of many lineups, and this roster is
very conducive to his style. 

I have enjoyed watching how he
manages to get everyone playing time.  The
outfield rotation.  The third base
rotation.  The infield rotation.  Substitution. 
Pinch hitting.  Pinch
running.  By doing this, he also keeps
all his players fresh.  Well, everybody
except Yadier Molina, who is the only player that has played every inning. 

Watching the young players has
been exciting.  Colby Rasmus, David
Freese, Brian Barden, Brendan Ryan and Joe Thurston (who is batting .500).

Once again, we were the team that
everybody counted out.
  Once again, we
are in the mix.
  

Now, That’s More Like It

The St. Louis
Cardinals
 rebounded
from a disappointing opening day to romp the Pirates 9-3.

Pitching was everything you could ask for:

  • Kyle Lohse made a very strong start, giving up three runs, only
    two earned, while pushing through a scoreless seventh inning on fumes.
  • Dennys Reyes was perfect.
  • Brad Thompson was perfect.

Top prospect, Colby Rasmus made a very solid major league debut.  Two base hits, two runs scored, and he was
perfect in the outfield. 
 He
showed off his speed, beating out an infield hit. 
 Speed is the exciting element that the
young players are bringing to the Cardinals this year. 

Skip Schumaker may have felt like he was talking infield practice
because so many balls found him at
 second base.   The balls always find the new guy!  However, this allowed his one error to
be over shadowed by the six plays he did make. 
 He is off to a much better start
defensively than the Pirates
 third baseman, Andy LaRoche, who already has three errors

The Cardinal hitters shelled Snell, the Pirate’s starting pitcher Albert Pujols hit his first long bomb of the
season. 
 I think I am
finally getting better at identifying pitches, because when I saw where that
pitch was heading, even before the swing, I thought, “It’s gone.” 
  Pujols is officially batting .714 on the
last day the “714” stood
.  Do you not
just love baseball numbers?

Snell could not find a batter to pitch to.  He walked Pujols to get to Chris Duncan, who
homered.  
 Later, he
walked
Duncan to get to Khalil Greene, who doubled in two runs. 

Yadier Molina threatened to hit for the cycle, when he started
off by legging out a triple and hitting a home run. 
 I expected to see more pop in
Molina’s bat this year, since he finds something to improve every year. 
 I was actually thinking more along the
lines of doubles.

 

Do
Not Underestimate Molina

In the post-game press conference, Tony LaRussa was asked if the last thing he
expected to see this year was Yadier Molina hitting a
triple.  LaRussa’s expression turned icy cold. 
 His jaw twitched.  If looks could kill, the culprit’s
colleagues would be writing an obituary today. 
 
 He found the implication
disrespectful to one of the best catchers in the game. 
 LaRussa never lets anyone get away
with disrespecting his players. He said Molina “woke everybody up” and
that
Molina’s speed is “deceptive”.

When Molina was asked if he was thinking triple all the way, he
said that his legs were fresh so “why not?” 

Why not, indeed.

A triple is hard to come by even for the fleetest of feet.  What Molina may lack in pure physical
speed, he makes up for in mental speed. 
 He
always gets the good jump. 
 He
never lets up. 
 That is
what makes his speed “deceptive”.
He picked up the ball just as he was
approaching second. He knew he had a shot and it would take a perfect
throw to get him. 
 He knows
from being a catcher on a team of really good outfield arms, that perfect
throws from that far are rare. 
 So,
he never let up, he turned toward third, found another gear and dove head first
into third as the third baseman mishandled the throw. 
 Safe.  A triple.  The second of his major league career.

Watching LaRussa’s jaw twitch when asked the question about
Molina,
reminded me of my own jaw twitching on Saturday at the Cardinals exhibition game in
Memphis Yadier Molina had just stolen second
base, using his “deceptive” speed made up of the physical and the mental. 
 A woman sitting behind me said
something about how slow Molina is, then added, “He’s such a lard a**”.

I look out at Yadier Molina standing on the base he has just
stolen. 
 He is lean, fit and 

MemphisMolinasteals2nd.JPG

in the best shape of his life.  The
“baby” fat he carried in his younger years is gone. 
 There is no lard to be found on his
a** or otherwise. 
He is no longer the baby faced boy that won us a
pennant in 2006. 
This is a man, a ballplayer, in his prime.  He is due the great respect that he has
earned.
 

My jaw twitched.  Fortunately,
I am the product of a proper upbringing.
  I was not raised in a rough trailer
park or the urban projects. 
 Fighting
was never part of my life.
  My
‘hood was the kinder, gentler pastoral farmland of
Americana I am not pretentious, but I know how
to carry myself as a lady. 
  Otherwise,
I would have told her to shut her lard face.
  Or, scratched out her obviously
blind eyes. 
 Or, whatever
one does in a cat fight.
 

I know I could have taken her.  She was saved by my “raising”.  That, and the fact that when you
argue with an idiot, it is impossible to tell who the idiot is. 
 I let the comment pass, because I
wanted there to be no doubt she was the idiot.

Maybe, it bothered me because I hate to be stereo-typed, pigeon
holed or limited in any way by other people’s perceptions.
  Maybe, it bothered me because even
when I was in stellar shape, I was still the slowest kid on the field or
court. 
 True speed is a
gift. 
 It is not learned or
acquired. 
 If you are not
blessed with it, the best you can do is gain advantage by working
smarter.

I was glad LaRussa did not allow Molina’s triple to be treated as
some sort of joke. 
 Because,
it was not a joke or even a fluke. 
 Molina
earned it with hard work, preparation, good instincts and talent. 
 
When will people quit
underestimating Molina?
  How many more “amazing”
things must he do to prove that is simply “amazing”?
  Which is something I have known since a
chilly October night in 2006.

A Positive Spring and An Almost Perfect Game

 

09spring_logo250x147.gif

SPRING TRAINING UPDATE

While taking a couple days off from the World Baseball Classic, I realized that I had been severely neglecting my Cardinals.  It is an easy thing to do when only about half the games are broadcast on the radio, even fewer are televised and most all take place while I am at work. 

Work is like a sacrifice fly.  I do not get on base, but I score the funds to live in an enclosed space, eat ballpark hot dogs and wear clothes adorned with the birds on the bat.

 

Just because the opportunity to savor Spring Training games has been sadly lacking, do not think I have not been paying attention to my beloved Redbirds.  Thanks to the fine beat writers at stlcardinals.com and stltoday.com, I get the daily scoop.   

 

Blessedly, for the most part, I like what I hear.  The starting rotation is shaping up.  The headline is a healthy and sharp Chris Carpenter that has yet to give up a run.  Kyle Lohse has pitched the most innings and has a 3-1 record.  Joel Pineiro has a low 1.29 ERA.  Adam Wainwright is has good command of his fast ball.  Todd Wellemeyer has been burned by the long ball, but I know he will work that out.  How do I know?  Well, I will tell you in a bit.

 

Jason Motte has excelled in the bullpen going 4-4 in saves vs. save opportunities, with an ERA of 1.08.  Josh Kinney is 2-2 in saves with a 1.29 ERA.  Chris Perez has struggled with shoulder soreness, but he still has time to come around.  Ryan Franklin, the bullpen veteran, is coming along nicely.  As is lefty, Trevor Miller.

 

At the start of Spring Training, positional player questions were plentiful.  (Try to say that 5 times fast).  Now, it seems we have options.  Many young players have made a strong case for themselves.  Joe Mather seemed a lock for the temp job at third base.  Now, Brian Barden, batting .419, is coming on strong.

 

The innovative idea to take one of the plenteous outfielders and turn put him in the open slot at second base is working out.  Skip Schumaker is making a go of it at second.  He had some errors, mostly on throws.  He seemed to have a little too much arm for the position.  But, he is turning double plays and getting the job done.  All the extra work in the field has not taken away from his hitting.  He is batting .345.

 

Also garnering attention as a possible utility infielder is Joe Thurston.  He has some speed with two stolen bases.  Brendan Ryan is another possibility.  One more infielder worth mentioning is Craig Allen.  Allen played at Double-A Springfield last year.  I watched one Springfield game last year and Craig stood out.  He is projected to be at Triple-A Memphis this year, which is rather sad since he is batting .444 and slugging .667.  What more could a guy do in Spring Training?

 

The final question mark is tattooed on the forehead of one young highly touted prospect.  Fine, Colby Rasmus’ forehead is tattoo free, but the question gets asked over and over and over:  When will Rasmus get the call-up?  The jury is still out.  Rasmus got off to a slow start, but after a little sit down chat with the skipper, he is hitting very well.

 

Overall the Cardinals are 14-6, which puts them in second place in the Grapefruit League.  I know, it means nothing.  But, it is positive.  Very positive. Which is the opposite of a negative like this one:  Houston‘s 3-16 record.  It makes for a happy, hopeful spring for Cardinals fans.

 

MLB 2K9

 

The hardest thing to do in baseball is hit that little round leather orb with the wooden stick.  If that is true, then MLB 2K9 is very realistic.  I had a little time to play today, and I finally figured out how to swing, but offensively, I stink.  I have mastered the groundout to third, as well as the groundout to short.  Through no fault of his own, Yadier Molina struck out more times today than he did all season last year.  I am ridiculous.   

 

My fielding is getting better.  Of course, the only way to go is up when you start with 16 errors in one game.

 

However, I can really pitch.  Todd Wellemeyer is going to be just fine this season.  I know this because Welly and I pitched an amazing game today.  Complete game, no-hitter, with 23 K’s.   Yep, it is a new Major League record.

 

Our first pitch slider was un-hittable.  Then a changeup would usually get strike two.  Finally, the payoff pitch:  a little high, inside fastball to finish the hitter off.  We were dominant.  We were efficient, finishing the game on 82 pitches.

 

But, we still lost.  Our pinpoint control vanished just long enough to allow a walk, a stolen base and two wild pitches, which scored the runner.   I think Molina could have blocked the wild pitches, but he was mad at me for making him look so ghastly at the plate.  Pirates win 1-0.  Maybe, we will get ’em tomorrow.

 

World Baseball Classic

I enjoyed a couple days off, but I am excited for the finals.  With no baseball on TV this afternoon (well, there was a cubs game, if that counts), I am embarrassed to admit I watched a Lifetime movie.  I am a sucker for John Corbett, no matter how bad the movie.  Baseball will be back on tonight to save me from myself!

WBC – Two More Go Home


Thumbnail image for WBCLogo.pngThe World Baseball Classic does not disappoint, unless you were one of the teams eliminated tonight.

 

Italy vs. Venezuela

The Italians and Venezuelans played once again.  This time facing elimination.  In this tournament, the Italians were much better than anyone really expected.  Fresh off their elimination of Canada, could they send favored Venezuelan team home? 

 

For the Italians, a Redbird took the mound.  Adam Ottavino played for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals last season and earned an invite to the big league camp this spring.  Ottavino did the Cardinals proud, pitching three scoreless innings, giving up one hit and one walk, while striking out three.  It’s a shame he could not stay in the game.  But, a pitching change was made, and the ballgame was all but over by the end of the fourth inning.

 

In the fourth and fifth inning, the Venezuelans went on an offense attack, scoring four in the fourth and five in the fifth.  Take out those two innings, and it is a 1-1 ballgame.  Leave them in, and it’s a 10-1 rout. 

 

Venezuela and the USA will meet once again in the Pool C finals tonight. 

 

On a side note:  Nice to see former Cardinal, Cesar Izturis play.  Nothing against our new shortstop, but I will miss seeing Izturis pick it this year.

 

Dominican Republic vs. Kingdom of the Netherlands

When the Netherlands upset the Dominicans on Saturday, it was unbelievable.  The Dominican lineup is stacked.  Loaded.  An offensive run-making machine gun.  And, who were these Netherlands players?  Nobody much that you would have heard of.  A couple have some big league experience, but that’s all.

 

The upset seemed a fluke.  It seemed less of a fluke, when the Netherlands nearly upset the highly favored Puerto Rican team.  By the time that the Netherlands took the field for the third time at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan Puerto Rico, people were starting to take them seriously.

 

The rematch was tense.  The pitching was fantastic.  Ten scoreless innings.  Rockies pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez for the DR was amazing, fanning ten batters, a WBC record.   Netherlands starting pitcher, Tom Stuifbergen, was not as flashy as Jimenez, but the result was the same:  Four scoreless innings.  Stuifbergan, a 20-year-old pitcher in the Twin organization, who pitched 12 innings in the Gulf Coast League in 2007, faced down some of the biggest major league all-star bats and came out on the winnings side.

 

Finally, in the top of the 11th the Dominicans took advantage of an error to plate one run.  Would it be enough?  No.  In the bottom of the 11th, the Netherlands took advantage of two Dominican errors to plate two runs and eliminate the Dominicans from the tournament.

 

It is no secret that in this bracket, I favor the Puerto Ricans.  Just a few days ago, if you had said that Puerto Rico would be playing the Netherlands in the final of this game.  I would have said, “Sweet”.  Last night, I was rather hoping the Dominicans would win.  I think I would rather take my chances with them.  This Netherlands team is scary good.  I can only hope that the 11 inning game wore them down, rather than warmed them up.

 

Cuba vs Australia

Australia gave the favored Cuba team a run for their money.  It appeared that the Aussies might pull off another upset when they scored three in the sixth to go ahead 4-2.  But, those were the last runs they would score.  Cuba managed to get one in seventh and two in the eighth to pull ahead, winning 5-4.

 

Just in the category of things you do not see very often:  a slick, unique play.  The Cuban second baseman backhanded a grounder up the middle.  The shortstop runs over and gets in position to receive the shuttle throw straight from the glove of the second baseman.  The shortstop then throws to first getting the out.  It was a 4-6-3 that was not a double-play. 

 

I had to wonder if the shuttle toss was really faster than the second baseman turning and throwing.  The announcers said that the Cubans practice this play all the time, so I would have to think so.  The shortstop is definitely in a position to make a better throw to first, but that little shuttle throw out of the glove seems dangerous.  Still, it was very cool to watch, more like a fast break drill in basketball.

 

Mexico will have their chance at revenge against the Aussies in the elimination round, while Cuba waits to play the winner.

 

Another side note:  I find it hard to pull for Cuba when the score on the screen truncates Cuba and makes it Cub.  Can I buy an “a”, please?

 

St. Louis Cardinals Notes

Kyle Lohse had another fine outing today against the Tigers, giving up 1 run in 4.1 innings of work.  Chris Duncan made a case for his cause to be on the opening day roster with 3 RBI’s.  Jason Motte took the ball in the 9th, showed command of two pitches other than his blazing fast ball and got the save. The best part:  No Cardinal errors today.  And, oh yeah, we won 5-2.

 

 

At Last

The winter was long, dark and cold.  The hotstove was not so hot.  Some old friends moved on.  Some new faces moved in.

 

We sat in the dark in anticipation of the dawn.  The dawn that comes todoy. Finally… (cue the violin music)

 

At last….. my love has come along
my lonely days are over
and life is like a song

Oh yeah, at last
The skies above are blue
 
And here we are in heaven
For you are mine
At Last

-Mack Gordan/Harry Warren

 

While other girls are hoping for roses, chocolates or jewelry from their Valentines, I only want diamonds….baseball diamonds.  So, this Valentine’s Day, My Love is coming through for me.  Yes, my Cardinal pitchers and catchers are reporting to Spring Training today in Jupiter, Florida.  The off-season is over.  Winter is over.  My lonely days are over….

 

There were many heralds of spring this week.   

 

The deadly tornados that ripped through my state.  (See photos here.)

 

 

The crocus in my mom’s yard….

 


dafodil.JPG(No, you are right.  That is not a crocus, and it is not in my mom’s yard.  That is last year’s daffodil from my yard.  Mom’s crocuses did bloom this week, but they croaked before I could shoot a picture.)

 

 

The sandals that would not stay in my closet on a 70 degree day. 

 


Sandals.jpg 

 

(Fine.  I am busted. AGAIN.  I wore sandals, but I could not find these in my closet.  I might have accidentally left them at Neiman Marcus since they cost more than my house payment)

 

And, finally the words, “Pitchers and Catchers:  Report Today”.   And, the “card” telling me my Valentine’s gift had arrived.  It is not “Play Ball”, but it is close.

 

Spring is here.  Baseball is here.  And, life is like a song. 

 

Here is little overview of some of the guys reporting today. 

 

Catchers

 

Yadier Molina (C) – Actually, he’s now Gold Glove Catcher, Yadier Molina. At only 26 years of age, he has 4 1/2 years of major league experience.  He gets better every year.  Last year, he had a break out year offensively, but did not throw out as many runners.  The young and unfamiliar pitching staff may have contributed.  What will be better this year?  More pop in the bat?  More runners caught stealing?  I can’t wait to see.

 

Jason LaRue (C) – Most teams struggle to field one solid defensive catcher.  The Cardinals have two.  LaRue is everything a team could ask for in a backup catcher.  He is a veteran who understands his role and is always ready to go.  He does not hit for average, but he has a bit of power.

 

Pitchers

 

Adam Wainwright (RHSP) – In the absence of Chris Carpenter, Adam has been the staff ace.  Oh, what 2008 might have been, if not for the “pop” in his finger that kept him out of the rotation for roughly two months.  Having Waino healthy for the whole season is one of the keys to Cardinal success.

 

Kyle Lohse (RHSP) – Hopefully, “this year’s” Kyle Lohse will be as good as “last year’s”.

 

Todd Wellemeyer (RHSP) – Welly rounds out the rotation’s top three.  However, he has stated that he would love to pitch in the All-Star game, so this pitcher is not satisfied to be part of the rotation.  He wants to be the best.

 

Chris Carpenter (RHSP) – The big question mark.  He proved last year in the few innings he pitched that he still has the stuff.  Hopefully, his body is healed, rested and healthy enough to support that deadly arm.  If he can return to his previous form and make his starts, he makes this rotation lethal.

 

Joel Piniero (RHSP) – Piniero had his ups and downs last year.  When he pitched well, he got no run support.  When he had run support, he sometimes self-destructed.  The potential for greatness is there.

 

Brad Thompson (RHRP/RHSP) – Last year, Thompson was a valuable spot starter and long reliever.  He is one of the few guys still around that was with the Championship 2006 team.  (Pujols, Molina, Wainwright, Carpenter and are the others.)

 

Kyle McClellan (RHRP/RHSP) – The role of last year’s Cardinal Rookie of the Year is uncertain.  If Carpenter is not healthy, he is likely to be in the rotation.  If not, he will be in the bullpen.

 

Mitchell Boggs (RHSP/RHRP) – Boggs made six starts and two relief appearances for the Cardinals last year.  He won three and got the crap beat out of him in two.  I will probably be watching him pitch in Memphis next year.  I challenge him to prove me wrong.

 

Ryan Franklin (RHRP) – Sometimes he closes.  Sometimes he sets up.  But, with Russ Springer gone, he is the veteran of the bullpen.  I am thinking setup guy in 2009.

 

Jason Motte (RHRP) – This catcher turned pitcher came up in September 2008 throwing fire.  Eleven innings, five hits, one earned run, .82 ERA.  This guy has a legitimate shot at the 9th.

 

Chris Perez (RHRP) – Perez’s arm is another flame thrower.  He got some very valuable experience last year in the closer role.  He saved 7 out of 11, with a 3-3 record and a 3.46 ERA.  Not bad for a rookie.  He is another contender for the 9th

 

Josh Kinney (RHRP) – Kinney came back in September 2008 after Tommy John surgery.  He pitched seven innings, walked one, struck out 8, gave up 3 hits and NO runs.  People are not talking him up much as a closer, but he is in running.

 

Jaime Garcia (LHRP) – This young leftyspent some time in St. Louis last year.  Got his first save.  Got his first win.  Got his first loss.  Sixteen innings, 8 walks, 8 strikeouts and a final ERA of 5.63.   Great potential.  Tony will probably want two lefties.  I am betting on Garcia and Miller.

 

Trever Miller (LHRP) – If the Cardinals had passed on Miller, Ryan Franklin would have no one in the bullpen that could discuss the 70s with him.  Miller could sing the Johnny Cash song, “I’ve been everywhere, man.”, but his last tour of duty was with the AL Champion Tampa Bay Rays.  His numbers do not give Cardinals fans a warm fuzzy feeling, but he will most likely be on the opening day roster.

 

Blake Hawksworth (RHP), Charlie Manning (LHP), Royce Ring (LHP) and Matthew Scherer (RHP) round out the 40-man roster.  It will be interesting to learn about these guys.  Also, on the guy to watch on the list of non-roster invitees is Jess Todd (RHP).  Last year, He won the Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award.