Preseason ponderings and burning questions for the regular season

The last game of the preseason is tonight. The reason I called it a preseason game is because last night’s and tonight’s game are not in Florida, so they can’t be spring training games. You can watch tonight’s game for free on MLB.TV – just go to mlb.com, select the Cardinals-Blue Jays game in the scoreboard section and click on the TV icon. The game starts at 6:07 PM CST, so hopefully you’re not reading this too late to watch it.

It was a little disconcerting following last night’s game on Gameday only.  The game wasn’t broadcast on KMOX or on FOX Sports or any other cable network. It felt like the 1960’s and 1970’s when very few games were televised and you could only follow the game on KMOX. But the regular season starts in only 2 days and I’ll be able to watch and/or listen to all the baseball I want! Are you excited? I am. Here’s some of my thoughts on spring training and the season to come.

Spring training notes:

Amazingly, the Cardinals escaped spring training without a major injury, such as a pitcher needing Tommy John surgery. However, Adam Wainwright and Luke Gregerson suffered hamstring strains. Both Adam and Luke injured their hamstrings in a sprint drill. Why the heck are pitchers doing sprint drills? Pitchers do not do that much running, unless they manage to get on base. A pitcher would not need to sprint to cover first base. Gregerson also suffered an oblique injury earlier in spring training. Both Adam and Luke are on the disabled list to start the season. At least those are minor injuries.

Carson Kelly, Yadi’s backup last year, was sent down to Memphis. Yadi’s stamina has improved with age to the point that he hardly ever takes a day off. Carson’s offense has suffered as a result of not getting enough playing time, and that carried over to spring training. Carson needs to be playing every day in order to improve, and not ride the bench while Yadi plays. Be patient, young padawan; your time will come. Francisco Pena, the son of former Cardinals catcher Tony Pena, will be the backup catcher.

Jack Flaherty was lights out in spring training. He is definitely one of the starters in the rotation of the future. The future is now, however, as Jack will be taking Wainwright’s place in the rotation until Waino’s hamstring heals.

Yairo Munoz, one of the prospects obtained in the Stephen Piscotty trade, was very good in spring training. His great offense helped him make the team as an infield backup. It was reported that his mother cried when he told her the news. I would have cried too if one of my kids had played baseball and I was told that he/she had been added to the major league squad.

Burning questions:

Since no closer has been chosen, will the 9th inning be closer by committee? Dominic Leone and Tyler Lyons appear to be the top candidates for the closer position.

Carlos Martinez has shown flashes of greatness. Will he get it together and be the dominant pitcher we know he can be? Although some fans like Carlos’ funky hair colors, I think it’s a distraction. Save the funky colors for the off-season, Carlos.

Will Mike Matheny micromanage the team and keep Mike Maddux, Willie McGee and Jose Oquendo from doing their jobs effectively?

Will Tommy Pham have another season like he did last season? Or will his vision problems give him more trouble?

Will Jose Martinez get enough playing time? If Pham gets hurt, Fowler could be moved back to center field and Jose could play right field.

Will Michael Wacha’s shoulder stay healed? He has pitched very well in spring training. Here’s hoping he’s regained his 2013 form and will be the dominant pitcher he was then.

I have a great deal for you.  Is T-Mobile your cell phone provider? If not, you should hurry up and switch to T-Mobile – they are offering a great perk:  a free season of MLB.TV,  through their T-Mobile Tuesdays app. That means you can watch all out-of- market baseball games on your cellphone, tablet, etc. All you need is an MLB.com account. This deal is only good through April 7. I discovered this great perk in the app last Tuesday and it made me really glad that I had switched to T-Mobile from AT&T.

Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!

Diane

2018 Cardinals Hall of Fame fan ballot now open!

Hello friends!  Spring training has begun!  It’s so exciting to see the minor league players showing us their stuff during spring training games.  It makes me excited for the future.

It’s time now to honor the past as the 2018 Cardinals Hall of Fame fan ballot is now open for voting.  I was pleased to see John Tudor, my favorite pitcher in the 1980’s, on this year’s ballot. I and my fellow bloggers have been posting on Twitter over the years that Ray Lankford deserves to be in the Cardinals Hall of Fame and he is also on this year’s ballot. There are also some carryover candidates from last year’s ballot.  Remember, you can only vote for two candidates.  Here are all the details on voting and descriptions of all the candidates’ Cardinals careers.

2018 CARDINALS HALL OF FAME FAN BALLOTING BEGINS TODAY

Fans Can Select Two Players For August Induction From A List of Seven Former Cardinals Greats

ST. LOUIS, Mo., March 1, 2018 – The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame fan balloting process is now open at cardinals.com/HOF.  Fans can select two players for election from a ballot that includes Cardinals greats Vince Coleman,  

HOFKeith Hernandez, Jason Isringhausen, Ray Lankford, Scott Rolen, Lee Smith and John Tudor.

The seven modern ballot nominees were selected by a “Red Ribbon” committee of Cardinals baseball experts through a secret ballot process in January.  The Cardinals Hall of Fame Fan Vote, presented by Edward Jones, will run through Thursday, April 12.  The two players with the most fan votes after the voting concludes will be announced as part of the fifth Cardinals Hall of Fame Induction Class on Friday, May 4, at 6:00 p.m. during a televised 30-minute Hall of Fame announcement special on FOX Sports Midwest, and also in a pregame ceremony at Busch Stadium before the Cardinals face the Chicago Cubs.

The formal enshrinement ceremony for the 2018 Cardinals Hall of Fame Class is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 18, at FOX Sports Midwest Live! in Ballpark Village as part of the 2018 Cardinals Hall of Fame Weekend.  The induction ceremony is free to attend.

The St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame was established as a way to recognize the exceptional careers and significant achievements of the greatest players in Cardinals history.  To be eligible, players must have played for the Cardinals for at least three seasons and must be retired as a player from Major League Baseball for at least three years.  The eligible pool of players is divided into two categories of “modern players” and “veteran players”.  If a player retired more than 40 years prior to the induction year, he is classified as a veteran player.

In addition to nominating modern players for fan balloting, the Red Ribbon committee of Cardinals baseball experts also elects a veteran player for induction using a secret ballot process.  Independent of this process, the Cardinals organization may also opt to induct an individual who was an important figure in Cardinals history such as a coach, broadcaster or member of the front office.

Each member of the Cardinals Hall of Fame will be permanently enshrined in the Cardinals Hall of Fame Gallery presented by Edward Jones located on the second floor of Cardinals Nation in Ballpark Village, just outside the entrance to the team’s museum.  The Hall of Fame Gallery is free and open to the public.  The plaques that adorn the gallery are produced by Mathews International, the company that also produces the plaques for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

Fans can check cardinals.com/HOF for more details about the 2018 Cardinals Hall of Fame Weekend as they become available along with information about other events at the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum that weekend.

Following is a description of each Hall of Fame nominee’s career as a Cardinal:

 Vince Coleman (#ColemanHOF)

Years: 1985 – 1990                          

.265/.326/.339, 937 H, 549 SB, 556 R, 56 3B (878 Games)

Vince Coleman burst on to the scene in 1985 by stealing 110 bases as a rookie, a MLB record that still stands today, and winning National League Rookie of the Year honors.  Coleman would continue to lead the National League in stolen bases throughout his six seasons as the Cardinals primary left-fielder while being named to two All-Star teams.  A member of two National League pennant winning teams in 1985 and 1987, Coleman’s 549 career stolen bases rank him second all-time in franchise history behind Lou Brock.

Keith Hernandez (#HernandezHOF)

Years: 1974 – 1983                          

.299/.385/.448, 1217 H, 265 2B, 81 HR, 595 RBI, 662 R (1165 Games)

Keith Hernandez played 10 seasons with the Cardinals, winning six straight Gold Gloves from 1978-1983 at first base.  He was a National League co-MVP in 1979, batting a league leading .344 with 48 doubles, 11 home runs and 105 RBI.  The two-time All-Star was a member of the 1982 World Championship team and batted .299 that season with 94 RBI.  Hernandez’s .385 on-base percentage ranks fifth all-time among Cardinals hitters to have played at least 10 seasons with the club.

Jason Isringhausen (#IzzyHOF)

Years: 2002 – 2008                          

217 Saves, 2.98 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 408.0 IP (401 Games)

Jason Isringhausen spent seven seasons with the Cardinals. During his time with the team, the Cardinals won the Central Division in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006 with World Series appearances in 2004 and 2006, winning the World Series in 2006.  He registered a National League-leading 47 saves in 2004, tying the franchise record which Lee Smith set, until Trevor Rosenthal broke the record in 2015.  An All-Star in 2005, “Izzy” still holds the franchise record for saves with 217, and is sixth with 401 appearances with St. Louis.

Ray Lankford (#LankfordHOF)

Years: 1990 – 2001, 2004              

.273/.365/.481, 1479 H, 928 R, 228 HR, 829 RBI, 250 SB (1580 Games)

Ray Lankford was known for his combination of speed and power during his 13 seasons in St. Louis.  Lankford recorded five 20-20 seasons (with four consecutive from 1995-1998) and ranks fifth all-time in club history in home runs and stolen bases.  He is the only player in Cardinals history with at least 200 home runs and 200 steals, and hit more home runs in Busch Stadium II than any other player (123).  The long-time Cardinal center fielder was named to the All-Star team in 1997 and still ranks in the all-time Top-10 franchise leaders in Runs (9th), Total Bases (10th), Doubles (9th), Runs Batted In (8th), Walks (5th) and Game Winning-RBI (T-2nd).

Scott Rolen (#RolenHOF)

Years: 2002 – 2007                          

.286/.370/.510, 678 H, 421 R, 173 2Bs, 111 HR, 453 RBI (661 Games)

In his five plus seasons with the Cardinals, Scott Rolen dominated the hot corner winning Gold Gloves in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006, and a Silver Slugger award in 2002.  He was named to the National League All-Star team in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, and named to the All-Busch Stadium team as the third baseman by vote of fans.  In 2004, Rolen slashed .314/.409/.598 with 34 home runs and 124 RBI.  His stellar 2004 campaign continued during the postseason with his pennant-clinching, two-run homer off Roger Clemens in the 6th inning of Game 7 of the National League Championship Series vs. Houston.  In 2006, Rolen helped the club to its 10th World Championship, closing out the postseason with a 10-game hitting streak.

Lee Smith (#SmithHOF)

Years: 1990 – 1993                          

160 Saves, 2.90 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 266.2 IP (245 Games)

Known as one of the most feared closers in baseball history, Lee Smith recorded at least 43 saves in three of his four seasons with the Cardinals, leading the league in 1991 and 1992.  During his Cardinals career, Smith earned three All-Star selections and finished in the Top-4 of National League Cy Young voting twice.  His 160 saves stood as a club record until Jason Isringhausen surpassed that total in 2007.

John Tudor (#TudorHOF)

Years: 1985 – 1988, 1990              

62-26, 2.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 12 SHO, 881.2 IP (125 Games Started)

During his five seasons in a Cardinals uniform, John Tudor accumulated a .705 winning percentage and 2.52 ERA over 125 starts, both of which still stand as all-time Cardinals records (minimum 750.0 IP).  The left-hander’s finest season came in 1985 when he won 21 games (went 20-1 after June 1) with a miniscule 1.93 ERA, including 10 complete game shutouts, and finished second in National League Cy Young voting.  A member of two National League pennant winning teams in 1985 and 1987, Tudor won at least 10 games in each of the four full seasons he pitched for the Redbirds.

Cardinals Hall of Fame Members

Jim Bottomley, Ken Boyer, Sam Breadon, Lou Brock, Jack Buck, August A. “Gussie” Busch Jr., Chris Carpenter, Dizzy Dean, Jim Edmonds, Curt Flood, Bob Forsch, Frank Frisch, Bob Gibson, Chick Hafey, Jesse Haines, Whitey Herzog, Rogers Hornsby, George Kissell, Tony La Russa, Marty Marion, Pepper Martin, Tim McCarver, Willie McGee, Mark McGwire, Joe Medwick, Johnny Mize, Terry Moore, Stan Musial, Branch Rickey, Red Schoendienst, Mike Shannon, Ted Simmons, Enos Slaughter, Ozzie Smith, Billy Southworth, Bruce Sutter and Joe Torre.

2018 Cardinals Hall of Fame Red Ribbon Selection Committee

Tom Ackerman,  Frank Cusumano,  Derrick Goold, Whitey Herzog, Rick Hummel, Randy Karraker,  Martin Kilcoyne, Jenifer Langosch,  Tony La Russa, Bernie Miklasz, Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Joe Ostermeier, Rob Rains, Red Schoendienst and Brian Walton.

Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum

The 8,000-square-foot St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum on the second floor of Cardinals Nation in Ballpark Village celebrates the rich history of baseball in St. Louis and the legacy of one of baseball’s most storied franchises.  Since its creation in 2014, the Cardinals Hall of Fame, presented by Edward Jones, has inducted 37 former Cardinal players, coaches and executives.  The Cardinals’ museum collection is the largest team-held collection in baseball and is second only to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in terms of size with over 22,000 memorabilia items and hundreds of thousands of archived photographs.  Fans can learn more about the museum at cardinals.com/museum.

Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!

Diane