Cold as ice

IceSummer is hot and steamy here in the Midwest. Midwest residents who are also Cardinals fans know that as the temperature gets hotter, so do the Cards’ bats.  Unfortunately, the bats are not heating up along with the weather this season.  Even though there are a few games where the Cards scored more than 3 runs, those games are few and far between.  When the Cards’ hitters don’t do their part and score runs, the pitchers have had to carry the load and pitch extraordinarily well in order to win games.  This is not fair to the poor pitchers – they deserve more run support. It’s a miracle that the Cards have the best record in baseball. Poor Jaime Garcia – every time he loses, he gets no run support.

So why are the Cards’ bats cold as ice?  That has been a hot topic (pun intended) on Twitter and other social media lately. Are opposing pitchers really all that good?  Some of them are, to be sure, but that isn’t the solution to the problem. There’s more to the problem than that.

Matt Carpenter was hitting very well before his break for exhaustion, but he hasn’t been hitting very well after that break. Has his demotion in the batting order affected him?  Matt Holliday was out for about a month due to a quad tear.  The team really missed his bat while he was gone.  Other players have not hit up to their potential as well. This scoring only 2 – 3 runs a game may work all right during the regular season, but if the Cards are going to have any chance in the playoffs, they must score more runs than that per game.

So what’s it going to take for the Cards to start hitting better?  Fans and sportswriters are calling for an acquisition of a power hitting first baseman.  Mark Reynolds is a good player, but as mentioned in my last post, he is not an everyday player.  The players most talked about as possible acquisition candidates are Adam Lind of the Brewers and Chris Davis of the Orioles.  Davis would be a rental since he is a free agent in 2016, which would work if it were guaranteed that Matt Adams will be back in the lineup next season.  There is the possibility of Lind staying beyond 2016, which would work if the team decides that Adams is not the answer at first base. What either the Brewers or the Orioles would want in exchange for either player is the key to any deal.

Maybe the Cards should look internally. How is the poor offense being addressed by the manager and coaches?  Now I admit it’s been a little hot in St. Louis the last few days for extended batting practice, but hopefully, the hitting coaches are reviewing videos of the players’ at-bats to see if there is a glitch with their batting stance or with the way they are holding the bat.  Are the players watching videos of opposing pitchers to find their weaknesses?

Or – dare I say it? – is it time for a new hitting coach? I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking this. Maybe it’s time to shake things up, like the Allen Craig and Joe Kelly trade last season.  Maybe that’s what it will take to get things going.

Thanks as always for reading my ramblings!  See you next time!


The top 5 Cardinals stories of 2014

Top 5Believe it or not, 2014 is almost over and 2015 is right around the corner.  I’m so glad 2014 is almost over:  it was not a good year and I’m hoping that 2015 is a better year.  The United Cardinals Bloggers project for December is our choice of the Top 5 Cardinals stories of the year.  Without further ado, here are mine:

1.  The Joe Kelly-Allen Craig trade to the Red Sox. This trade shook up the team and made them realize that no player is indispensable, even if the players on the trade block are very popular with their teammates.  Kelly fell from grace during a game he started on July 29. Craig never did fully recover from the injury that kept him out of the 2013 playoffs; in fact, after the trade to the Red Sox, he reinjured his foot.  Note to husband: We must never go on vacation during the trade deadline ever again. Thank goodness for Twitter.

2.  The tragic death of Oscar Tavares. Oscar’s death at such a young age was tragic enough (which is covered in greater detail here), but when the results of the autopsy indicated that Oscar’s blood alcohol level was  .287,  his death was even more tragic.  Oscar had great potential that was wasted, and a young girl’s life was also lost due to his terrible mistake.  It bears repeating since New Year’s Eve is tomorrow night:  don’t drink and drive.

3.  The opening of Ballpark Village/Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum. Ballpark Village is a great gathering place before, during, and after a game. It’s a great place to grab a bite to eat even when there isn’t a game, with a varied selection of restaurants.  The outdoor portion of BPV that replicates Busch Stadium II has hosted movies, yoga classes and other events.  I covered the Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum in greater detail here, and it’s a great place to see Cardinals memorabilia.

4.  The anemic offense. If the Brewers hadn’t tanked in September, the Cards wouldn’t have made the playoffs at all. Amazingly, the Cards’ home runs increased dramatically during the playoffs.   Hopefully, this power shortage will be addressed in spring training.

5.  The trade for Jason Heyward. Due to the event of item #2, there was a figurative hole in right field.  Randall Grichuk is a promising player, but GM John Mozeliak felt that someone with more experience was needed to play in right field every day.  So Mo traded Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins to the Braves for Jason Hayward and RH relief pitcher Jordan Walden.

As we reach the end of another year, I’d like to thank my loyal readers for reading this blog over the years.  Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2015!


My thoughts on the trade deadline deal

I was out of town last week on vacation, but thanks to Twitter, I could follow the trade deadline deal that GM John Mozeliak made for the Cardinals and all the reactions made by others. (Note to self: Never go on vacation out of town during trade deadline week again. If by chance I am on vacation, stay home.) Now that I’ve had a few days to think about the trades that were made, here are my thoughts.

I think that it was good that Mo traded for John Lackey and Justin Masterson without giving up any good prospects. You don’t want to give up your future to get rental players. Lackey is signed for the rest of this season and he has indicated that he will pitch for the Cards next year as well. Mo was doing James Ramsey a favor by trading him to the Indians. The Cardinals have a logjam of outfield prospects.

Allen Craig was not having a good season before the trade. His RBI production was way off. I think he wasn’t fully healed from the ankle injury last year. In fact, Craig went on the DL today for a foot injury. Mo knew what he was doing here.

Joe Kelly’s pitching performance last Tuesday night was brutal. It was like he was throwing batting practice. I think it was either Kelly or Shelby Miller that was going to be traded and Kelly’s performance sealed the deal.

For those who are sad about Craig and Kelly’s departure, remember that baseball is a business. In the business world, if you don’t perform up to your employer’s standards, you are fired. In baseball, if a player doesn’t meet the team’s needs or he performs poorly, he is traded, released or sent down to the minors. If a player has made it to the major league level, he is a professional and needs to play like one. A player is judged on his performance, but he is cut some slack for a while if he is injured.

Trades like these are why I don’t get attached to too many players. I learned my lesson with Albert Pujols. I am more a fan of the team as a whole rather than any particular players, although I am fond of Yadi. If I ever had the funds to purchase a Cardinals jersey, I would only buy a Cardinals jersey with either my name and favorite number on the back or a retired player’s name and number on the back, like Stan Musial. That’s a big investment to make for a player who may not stay with the team.

Lackey’s and Masterson’s starts this weekend went pretty well, since the Cardinals won both of them. In an interesting turn of events, Miller and Kelly will start against each other Wednesday night. They were the best man in each other’s weddings, and ESPN will run with that drama.

So goodbye Allen and Joe, and thanks for the memories. Good luck with your new team. Welcome AJ, John and Justin. I’m already enjoying watching you play for the Cards and wish you well.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading! See you next time!


As the World Series Turns

WS_FINALS_Web_MasterMiniseries were popular TV programs back in the 1970’s, 1980’s, and the 1990’s. The episodes of the miniseries were shown in prime time over several nights.  They were mostly historical dramas, based on previously published books, although some were based on fiction books.  Some of the more popular mini-series of those decades were Roots, North and South, and The Thorn Birds.

The 2013 World Series, Major League Baseball’s version of the miniseries, starts tonight.  The cast of players are the two teams that battled through the Division Series and the Championship Series in their respective leagues.  The settings for this Series are the old and venerable Fenway Park featuring the Green Monster, which opened in 1912, and the newer Busch Stadium III, which opened in 2006.  Both teams also had the best regular season record in their respective leagues, the first time that has happened since 1999.

Every good miniseries has several story arcs, and this World Series is no exception.  This is Carlos Beltran’s first trip to the World Series in his long illustrious career, and it’s Yadier Molina’s fourth trip to the Series.  This is Mike Matheny’s first trip to the World Series as a manager.  Chris Carpenter took batting practice at Fenway to fulfill a long held dream and he hit pretty well.  Maybe he should have been put on the roster on the bench?  LOL!

Will rookie Michael Wacha be as lights out on the mound as he was during the NLCS? Or will he get nervous and choke?  Will Matt Adams start hitting like he did during the regular season?  How will Allen Craig perform in a DH role?

This World Series brings hope to Boston after the terrible bombing at the Boston Marathon.  It’s the battle of the Red Sox beards versus the fresh faced Cardinals rookies.  It’s a showdown between 2 of the oldest franchises in MLB.  And of course, each team claims the best fans in baseball.

This World Series is the fourth meeting between the Red Sox and the Cardinals. The Cardinals hold a 3-1 lead in the matchups.  In the 2004 World Series, the Cards were swept in 4 games by the Sox.  Will there be revenge this year for 2004?  Only Molina, Matheny, and Chris Carpenter remain from that Cardinals team.

It would be easy to get caught up in all the drama.  But underneath it all, this is still the World Series and there is still baseball to be played.  On paper, the Cards and the Red Sox appear evenly matched.  This should be a very good World Series.  My prediction is that the Cards will win in 6, for Stan.  Let’s go Cards!  My next post will give you all the logistics for the 2013 World Series games and events.

Thanks for reading!  See you soon!