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.
the fifth inning, so visit these fine blogs first and then come back here:
Pregame: United Cardinal Bloggers
Fourth inning: Cards on Deck
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.
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
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.
had I been in the stands, the fifth inning would have been a good time go.
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.
at the Plate
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.
at the Plate
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.
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.
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.
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.
these UCB sites to continue on with game.
Today is Debate Day at
United Cardinal Bloggers, when Cardinal bloggers square off against each other
to tackle some tough issues.
The subject I will be
addressing on this Debate Day is:
The Cardinals should
try to trade Chris Duncan rather than Rick Ankiel.
Let it be said that I
do not like trades. I am territorial, perhaps, almost maternal when it comes to
players with redbirds on their jerseys.
I am not comfortable bartering them like spare parts at a swap meet.
When I watched Brian
Barton traded before my very eyes in Oklahoma
City, I was bummed even though
I had watched him strike out three times in two games and get tossed for protesting
a check swing call. I did not want to
see him go, even though it was a good move for both him and the Cardinals. We got an arm. He went to a team with better opportunity in
So, when confronted
with today’s question, “Do you trade Chris Duncan or Rick Ankiel?”, the answer from
my heart is “neither”. However, trades
are an important part of baseball.
Realistically, the Cardinals have great outfield depth and can deal from
a position of strength. The only thing
that might prevent the trade of an outfielder this year is a rash of
injuries. When given the choice between
injures and a trade, I will take the trade.
So, who do the
Cardinals deal? Chris Duncan or Rick
Ankiel? I choose Chris Duncan.
Rick Ankiel roams centerfield like he was born there. He owns it and skillfully defends it against incoming fly balls.
In addition, there is his arm. Last year, base runners tested his arm and
found it lethal. This year, they are
cautious and respectful.
Ankiel can rack
up outs and keep base runners in check.
He is a force.
Although Chris Duncan
has shown some improvement in the outfield, he is still barely an average
defender. Proof of this is the fact that
Tony LaRussa pulls him in late innings and moves Skip Schumaker to replace him
and shore up the defense. Although he
has hit well so far this year, his bat does not do the Cardinals much good
sitting on the bench in the last third of the game.
While Chris Duncan is
a minus defender in the outfield, he is quite good at first base. Unfortunately for him, there is currently no
opportunity at first base with the Cardinals.
And, even if you could imagine a tragic scenario where first base opened
up, does anybody want to be the guy to try to fill Albert Pujols’ cleats? I think not.
So, I could live with
the trade of Duncan,
if we could find him a nice club where he could start at first base. There he could be a more complete player.
In the days of
free agency, the “face of the franchise” is a revolving door. Fans, the people who drive the revenues of a
club, need “faces” to get behind. These
faces are inspiring and entice people to come out to the ballpark and drop
money on a jersey with the face’s name on it.
Of course, Pujols is the main face in this franchise, but some of us
need the option to be a little more creative.
Rick Ankiel has “face”
potential. The Cardinals drafted him
right out of high school in 1997. He
is a farm raised product of our own. Jerseys adorned with #24 are scattered
through the stands, some of which go back to his pitching days.
Yes, his pitching days. Fans love the story of how the strong armed
pitcher went wild, and then went back down to the minor leagues and worked his
way back up as a outfielder and hitter.
It is inspirational. Heroic. And,
always, it is compared to the transition of Babe Ruth from pitcher to
outfielder. People come to
On the other hand,
Chris Duncan was also drafted by the Cardinals out of high school, but the fans
have never embraced him. Maybe, it was
the error in Game 5 of the 2006 World Series that nearly cost them the
game. Or, the errors that have
Perhaps, the fans are
frustrated with the injuries or the streaky bat. Maybe, it is because his dad is on the coaching
staff and they feel there is nepotism involved in decisions surrounding Duncan.
Although, Tony LaRussa does
not strike me as someone who lets the personal interfere with business.
Whatever the reason,
Chris Duncan has become the whipping boy of St. Louis Cardinals fans. Whatever is not working, be it offense or
defense or perhaps even pitching, Duncan
gets the blame. Matthew Leach tweeted it
best. When Skip Schumaker made an error
on a missed catch after replacing Duncan
in right field, Leach twittered, “Somehow, somewhere, somebody is turning that
into Chris Duncan’s fault”.
It is not right. It is not fair. It just is.
could find the fan love he deserves somewhere else, and we could find a quality
arm, because you can never have too many of those.
Truly, I like Chris
Duncan, and there is no doubt that he has gotten off to a stronger start at the
plate this year than Rick Ankiel. This,
of course, strengthens his trade value.
There are concerns
that Rick Ankiel, a Scott Boras client, may command too high a price at the end
of the season. Whether or not Ankiel is “signable”
will come down to two factors: what kind
of year he has and if it is a good one, how much does he really wants to be a
If we trade Duncan and Ankiel walks,
we still have a fine outfield consisting of Ryan Ludwick, Colby Rasmus and Skip
Schumaker. Jon Jay, Shane Robinson and
Joe Mather are doing a good job in the outfield at Triple-A Memphis. And, from a financial perspective, the
Cardinals would end up with a less expensive outfield. If the Cardinals do not feel comfortable
increasing payroll, they are going to have to find ways to save because it will
not be long before it is time to resign Albert Pujols.
The Debate Rages On
The argument for
trading Rick Ankiel rather than Chris Duncan can be found at C70 At The Bat.
The other questions on the table
- The Cardinals’ real rival is Houston, not Chicago.
- The team should try to resign Rick Ankiel at season’s
- If Troy Glaus is out for the year, Brett Wallace
should be considered for a callup.
- Khalil Greene should be approached for an extension
before the end of the year.
Links to these debates can be
found at United Cardinals Bloggers. Click over there and check it out.