news: It is Opening Day. Summer is here!
Someone forgot to put Opening Day
on Mother Nature’s calendar. It is still
winter in St. Louis.
I was home from work today.
Bad news: The
reason I was home was because I was sick.
It was a two Kleenex box day.
I got to see the home opener in real time between the St. Louis
Cardinals and the Pittsburg Pirates.
Bad news: Pirates
Good news: We
got the first loss and blown saves out of the way. We can concentrate on winning now.
pitching five scoreless innings, starting pitcher, Adam Wainwright, will take
the heat for walking his last two batters.
Lefty reliever, Trevor Miller, will take the heat for letting them
score. Rookie Jason Motte will take the
heat for being one strike away from a save, but instead giving up the game
news that will make Cardinals fans shake their heads, former Cardinals middle
infielders had big opening days elsewhere.
For the Orioles, Cesar Izturis hit .500 including a home run and ended
the day with 2 runs and 2 RBI’s. Felipe
Lopez matched those numbers, hitting two homeruns for the D-Backs, one from
each side of the plate. Go figure.
all go throw ourselves from the St. Louis Arch or toss ourselves in to the Mississippi river in despair or to simply make our
nose stop running, let us take a few moments to review a few things that might
get lost in the Opening Day grumblings:
- Kyle McClellan, despite a
rough Spring Training, pitched a scoreless inning
- Khalil Greene notched both
his and the Cardinals first RBI.
Welcome to St. Louis, Mr. Greene.
- Hometown rookie, David Freese,
recorded his first big league RBI on a sacrifice fly, scoring speedy pinch
runner, Joe Thurston.
- Adam Wainwright reached base
in both of his at bats. Once on an
error, which led to a run. Once on
a double. You cannot say he did not
help himself any way he could.
- Albert Pujols batted .750
with two singles, a double and an intentional walk.
- Ryan Ludwick had a .400 day,
hitting the first bomb of the year
- Skip Schumaker, coming off
the bench, is officially batting 1.000 against lefty pitching. Schumaker also stole the first Cardinal
base of the year.
- Chris Duncan is .333 with a
double and a walk. The walk led to
a run scored by pinch runner Joe Thurston.
this is one of 162. We are not supposed
to win them all. Baseball is where the “you
can’t win ’em all” phrase comes from. So,
put the razors away. Step back from the
edge. Take a deep breath. In with the good air. Out with the bad air. Put it in a bubble and blow it away. The Cardinals are going to be just fine.
cousin, who is a very busy woman, gets up early most days. In the pre-dawn quiet, she drinks her coffee
and takes the time to find an inspirational quote to email to all her friends
and family. I am always amazed at how
often the quote seems to be the exact thing I need.
is not a baseball fan, but her mother was.
Through the lean years and the plenty years, Aunt Louise was a die-hard
Kansas City Royals fan. One of my aunt’s
prized possessions was a picture taken with her hero, Frank White. My dear aunt has been gone for several years,
but today, Opening Day, I think she was helping her daughter pick today’s
“To look out at you gives me enormous hope. You look so competent, so strong, so young,
so committed, so ready to take on the future difficult times and all.”
wonder how often she looked at the Royals roster on Opening Day and felt that
hope. The Royals may compete this
year. I hope she is watching.
Day is a time for hope. I look at the
competent, strong, committed and oh-so-young 2009 St. Louis Cardinal Roster,
and I am excited. Today is the time for
optimism, so I am stomping on the naysayers.
know we can contend. No one thought we
could last year, and despite injury after injury, we stayed in the mix for a
long time. We only have to be 10-15%
better this year.
starting rotation is experienced and dependable. There is no doubt the impact the addition of Chris
Carpenter can make. I am removing the
term “a healthy Chris Carpenter” from my vocabulary. Healthy will simply be assumed, and not his
first name. The bullpen is better. Everybody pulls out the “blown save” number
from last year, nobody talks about how must of them were in the first half of
the season, not the last.
talks about how we need bats to protect Albert Pujols. Didn’t Ryan Ludwick win a 2008 Silver Slugger
award, too? Oh yeah, people say that was
a fluke and he was playing better than he really is. Hmmm…over 162 games, how is that
possible? Didn’t Albert Pujols get
enough protections to win the NL MVP?
Yes, he did. And, it was not his
we made an offensive upgrade at short. Khalil
Greene had a down year last year with the Padres (who didn’t?), but he has been
knocking the crud out of the ball in Spring Training. Oh right, Spring Training does not count for
anything. Still, I will take it as a
good sign. I think St. Louis will agree with him. Can you say, “Career year”?
Ankiel (Or, Dick. Or, Richard. Or, Ricky.
Or, whatever we are calling him now) pretty much played half a season
last year between trying to play through an injury and then going on the DL. I am excited to see what numbers he can put
up with a full year.
am not sure why, but Chris Duncan has become the whipping boy for everyone. Everyone, except Tony LaRussa. LaRussa has faith in him. I have faith in LaRussa. Duncan has a big bat. Most of the digs come for his outfield
defense. If he hits enough, most people
will not care.
Molina finds something to improve every year.
Catching – check. Hitting for
average – check. Maybe, he will find a
little more pop in his bat this year. Despite
winning a Gold Glove last year, he was disappointed in his defense, mostly not
throwing out as many runners. However,
he was working with many new pitchers and that makes a big difference. The starting rotation is familiar this
year. Expect his caught stealing numbers
to go up.
has much to say about Jason LaRue. This
is good. Usually, if people are talking
about your backup catcher, it is a bad thing.
Means you do not really have one.
LaRue is a solid backstop. He
does not hit for average, but his bat has some pop, often in the clutch. LaRue understands his role and comes to the
park ready for whatever the day brings.
Schumaker is taking one for the team by making the transition to from outfield
to second base. While others will be
allowed to make errors in the dark, his errors at second will be in the
spotlight, with a big flashing arrow pointing to him. It is not fair. Before you are too hard on him, remember the
guy he replaced is starting the year at Triple-A Durham.
Rookies. So many of them this year. I love them. The energy.
The enthusiasm. The
athleticism. The hope. I am looking forward to seeing these guys make
their mark: Brian Barden, David Freese,
Joe Thurston, Colby Rasmus, Jason Motte, Brendan Ryan (technically, I do not
know if Ryan is still a rookie or not, but he feels like one.) Surely, with that many rookies, one of them
has a shot at NL Rookie of the Year.
while I have seen very, very few predictions that put the Cardinals in the
post-season, let me go on record as saying I will be very, very surprised if
they are not. Now, let’s “Play Ball”!