Not our year

Sad baseballI have watched the Cardinals play this season, and I have come to the conclusion that this year is not our year.  I know what you’re thinking.  Diane, the 2011 Cardinals were 11 ½ games out and they managed to get into the playoffs and win the World Series.  But that was a different manager and a different team.  There are only 6 players from that 2011 team on the 2016 team – Adams, Holliday, Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia and Molina. Molina is playing well.  Wainwright is starting to return to form, but Adams is only now starting to hit better and Holliday is showing his age.  It’s hard to tell what Jaime Garcia you’re going to get when he starts – Good Jaime or Bad Jaime.  And Lance Lynn is on the DL for the year after Tommy John surgery.  Also, the only coaches left from that 2011 team are Derek Liliquist and Jose Oquendo.

The Cards are playing this year like teams who never make the playoffs; for example, the Phillies.  The Cubs are in first in the NL Central and they’re playing like a team who wants to win. As a Cards fan, I hate to admit it, but this could finally be the Cubs’ year.

Let’s look at an overview of the Cards’ performance this season.  Lowlights – there are many.  Ruben Tejada pitching in relief may have been when the season jumped the shark. Rosenthal is experimenting with pitches while he’s trying to save a game, like at the game I was at last Saturday.  Matt Holliday’s batting average has been sinking like a rock (although he did hit a home run today), and Mike Matheny refuses to move him from the third spot in the batting order.  Jhonny Peralta’s thumb injury put a major monkey wrench in the season, but hopefully, he will be back soon.  Jose Oquendo  has really been missed in the third base box and his absence has contributed to some terrible baserunning errors.  Michael Wacha’s mechanics are seriously messed up.  He should be sent to the minor leagues for some work. Carlos Martinez started the season strong, but he has not pitched well at all in his last few starts.  And how is it that Kolten Wong can make spectacular plays seem routine but mess up routine plays?

Highlights – there are a few.  Aledmys Diaz has impressed with his bat, but he is still making rookie mistakes with his glove.  Molina’s batting average is much better this year. Stephen Piscotty has been a shining star, making us forget Jason Heyward.   Seung Hwan Oh was John Mozeliak’s best off-season pick up.  He has been lights out in relief. Unfortunately, Oh showed he really was human in today’s game when he gave up three runs and a home run. Perhaps Oh should be the closer instead of Rosenthal?

This has not been my year either.  The presidential candidate I backed dropped out of the race, and I was passed over for a job I really wanted and was recommended for, along with some other personal things going on in my life that it’s not necessary to talk about here.  Cardinals baseball is a great distraction when things go south in my personal life, but this year, the Cards are not playing well so I don’t even have that.  Can we just turn back the calendar to January 1, 2016 and have a do-over?

Cards fans have seen their team go to the playoffs for the last few years and we are spoiled.  We’ve forgotten how to handle it when our team is bad.  So if you have the opportunity to attend a Cards game this season, go to have fun hanging out with your friends and/or family.  Just don’t expect to see winning baseball.  If the Cards do win, that’s a plus.

I realize that it’s almost the end of May and there still may be time to rescue the sinking S.S. Cardinals ship.  If the Cards can resurrect this season and make the playoffs, I’ll be happy to eat my words.  Just write them in icing on a large chocolate chip cookie, please.

That’s all for now!  Hopefully, I will have a more upbeat blog post next time.  See you then!

Diane

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The top 5 Cardinals stories of 2015

Top 5Where did the time go?  It’s hard to believe that 2015 is almost over.  In just three days, a new year begins.  It’s time for the December United Cardinals Blogger project, which is to write about what we feel are the top 5 Cardinals stories of the year.

This year was certainly an interesting but frustrating year for the Cardinals.  Here are my choices for the top 5 Cardinals stories of the year.  They aren’t in any particular order.

The hacking investigation.  This was likely the most bizarre Cardinals story of the year.  It was discovered that someone from the Cardinals organization had hacked into the database of ex-Cardinals employee Jeff Luhnow, now general manager of the Astros.  The hack was traced to a house in Jupiter, Florida, which is where the Cardinals staffers hold spring training.  Eventually, Chris Correa, the former director of scouting for the Cardinals, was fired. The FBI investigation of the hacking incident is ongoing.

Adam Wainwright’s Achilles tendon injury.  Once again, Adam missed almost a full season of baseball, although this time the injury was not to his pitching arm.  It was predicted that Adam would miss the whole season, but he made an amazing comeback and pitched a few innings as a reliever at the end of the season.  The Cardinals would have won even more games if Adam had been healthy, but his absence as a starter was most felt in the NLDS.  Adam would have likely started Game 1 and Lackey would have then started Game 2.  Garcia would have felt well enough to start Game 3 in Chicago and the Cards may have won the NLDS.

The Cards win 100 games for the first time since 2005.  Despite all the injuries and all the drama, the Cardinals managed to win 100 games in the 2015 season and won the NL Central for the third year in a row, which is a lot better record than most other teams had.

John Lackey and Jason Heyward defect to the Cubs.  I figured that Lackey would sign with the Cubs to go hang with his BFF Jon Lester.  But when Jason Heyward signed with the Cubs (and took a doggone long time to do so, prompting the Twitter hashtag #thingsfasterthanHeywooddecision), Cardinals fans felt like a bride jilted at the altar. We had hoped that Jason would stay around a while.  He seemed to understand the Cardinal Way.  In the end, however, Jason was a one-year rental. And his explanation that he didn’t want to be “the man” once Yadi, Adam and Matt retire rings hollow. The loss of Oscar Tavares stings even more now.

The early exit from the playoffs.  The Cards made the playoffs for the fifth year in a row.  However, the Cards couldn’t beat the Cubs in the NLDS, winning only Game 1, which is the playoff game I attended.  This was highly disappointing, not only for me since we had tickets to NLCS Game 7 but for all Cardinals fans, especially losing to the Cubs.  Hopefully, next year the Cards will go further in the playoffs.

That’s all for now! This will probably be my last blog post for 2015 unless something exciting happens that I just have to post about.  So I wish all my loyal readers a happy, healthy prosperous 2015 and may the Cardinals win their 12th World Series next year!

Diane

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

extraThere was lots of news yesterday on the Cardinals front, some of it bad and some of it good. Where should I start – the bad news or the good news?  I believe it’s best to get the bad news out of the way first.

Late yesterday afternoon, the Cardinals announced that Lance Lynn had undergone Tommy John surgery and would be out for the entire 2016 season.  Perhaps this explains all the pitching trouble that Lance had during the last few weeks of the season and during the NLDS.

Without Lynn, the 2016 lineup looks like this:  Wainwright, Wacha, Lackey (if signed), Martinez, and Garcia.  But what happens if one of these pitchers is injured?   Alex Reyes would not be able to be brought up from the minors for a while, since he will be serving a 40 game suspension (10 games’ suspension will be for fall league games) in the because marijuana was detected in his drug test. Tyler Lyons showed grit and determination in his starts last season and it earned him a place on the postseason roster.  I would like to see him get another chance to pitch in the majors next season.  If any of the starting rotation pitchers are injured, Lyons should be the first one to be called up.

Fellow blogger Tom Knuppel (Cardinals GM) asked on Twitter and Facebook whether Trevor Rosenthal could be converted to a starter.  I replied that Rosey almost gives me a heart attack pitching in the ninth inning.  My poor heart couldn’t handle him being a starter.

Lynn’s surgery really throws a monkey wrench in the Cards’ offseason plans. Any hopes of letting Lackey go or trading Garcia are out of the question now.  I would like to see the Cards resign Lackey at the very least, even if only for a one year contract.

In other bad news, fan favorite Lou Brock had surgery yesterday to amputate his leg below the knee due to complications from an infection related to diabetes.  How ironic that the Cards’ best base stealer ever had to have part of one of his legs amputated.  I wish you Godspeed and quick healing, Lou, and I hope we will see you walk on the Busch Stadium infield with the rest of the Hall of Fame members on Opening Day 2016. Lan

Now for the good news – yes, there is some.  Yesterday evening, both Yadier Molina and Jason Heyward won Gold Gloves.  It was Yadi’s eighth Gold Glove in a row and Jason’s second. Both players are well deserving of their awards.  But the Cards should have negotiated to resign Heyward before the Gold Gloves were given out – Heyward’s asking price has just gone up.

Cards manager Mike Matheny was nominated for the Manager of the Year award yesterday.  In other years, Mike would be a shoo-in for this award for leading the team to 100 wins with all the injuries and the Oscar Tavares tragedy.  However, the other nominees are Joe Maddon and Terry Collins.  Maddon led the Cubs to their first NLCS since 2003 and Collins led the Mets to the World Series for the first time since 2000.  I predict Maddon will win the MOY award.

If you are interested in learning more about the Cardinals’ farm system and you’re in the St. Louis area, visit the Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum for a special exhibit on the history of the Cardinals’ farm system.  Here’s some more information:

On Saturday, November 21, the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum will open a new exhibit entitled “Farming the Business of Cardinals Baseball” which celebrates the rich history of the franchise’s minor league system. This display, which replaces last year’s special exhibition “Stan Musial: ‘The Man’ Off the Field,” will be previewed Friday, November 20, during an exclusive ticketed event with General Manager John Mozeliak.

The Cardinals developed baseball’s first successful farm system based on Branch Rickey’s concept in the early 1920s and few ideas have had a more dramatic impact on the game,” said Bill DeWitt III, President of the St. Louis Cardinals. “We take great pride in our farm system and the impact our homegrown players have had on our franchise history; we’re looking forward to sharing those stories with our fans.”   

“Farming the Business of Cardinals Baseball” features over 100 artifacts which bring to life the rich history of the franchise’s farm system from the 1920s through today. Exhibit highlights include Branch Rickey’s 1919 road jersey worn while managing the Cardinals; George Kissell’s hand-written pocket-sized coaching manual – the genesis for the club’s organizational guidelines that are still in use today (on loan from the Kissell family); a game-worn barnstorming jersey from Jim Bottomley, the first superstar from the farm system; Dave Duncan’s pitching chart of rookie hurler Bud Smith’s no-hitter in 2001; top prospect Oscar Taveras’ Carlos Martinez-model bat used during the 2014 season; an original eight-foot-by-five-foot banner featuring the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada farm team that flew over Sportsman’s Park circa 1954; and much more.

A limited number of tickets remain for the exclusive exhibit preview on Friday, November 20. With the purchase of a $60 ticket ($50 for museum members), fans receive a private, after-hours first look at the exhibit with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in the Cardinals Museum, a farm-to-table dinner buffet and drinks in the Hall of Fame Club at Cardinals Nation, and an after-dinner Q&A session with General Manager John Mozeliak and broadcaster Dan McLaughlin. For more information or to purchase event tickets, fans can visit cardinals.com/museum.

The Cardinals Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the offseason. The special exhibit, which is open to the public from November 21, through the conclusion of the 2016 baseball season, is free with the cost of museum admission. To purchase Cardinals Museum tickets or learn more about museum membership, visit cardinals.com/museum.    

Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Diane

Housecleaning time

housecleaningNow that I’ve had time to mourn the end of Cardinals baseball for 2015, it’s time to look ahead to 2016 and think about how to make the team better.  Yes, I know, the Cards won 100 games in 2015, but the team didn’t make it past the NLDS due to the collapse of hitting and pitching.  So here are my suggestions for housecleaning chores:

1. Resign Jason Heyward. Preferably as soon as possible – the longer Cards’ management waits, the more his asking price will go up, especially if he receives big offers from other interested teams.  I made my arguments for resigning Heyward back in August in this blog post.  The Cards have the money to sign Heyward to a big contract, so let’s get it done.

2. Fire John Mabry. Maybe listening to my hubby complain about him is rubbing off on me, but I believe it’s time for Mabry to go.  I know Mo said that all the coaches were going to be given contracts for 2016, but if Mabry hasn’t signed that contract yet, it would be easy to turn him loose.  Derrick Goold wrote a very good article about the declining offense in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which you can read here.  For what it’s worth, Jim Edmonds or Lance Berkman are my suggestions for a replacement batting coach.

3. First base. Stephen Piscotty either needs to be the Cards’ first baseman on a permanent basis or Cards management needs to trade for or acquire a first baseman.  Matt Adams was in a decline even before his injury. The Cards need more production from this spot in the lineup.

4. Time for Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos to go. Jay didn’t play most of the year due to a wrist injury. When he did come back, his defense was rusty.  Bourjos can be a speedy baserunner, but he isn’t always a smart baserunner.  Bourjos never seemed to recover from his hip injury. Tommy Pham would be a good replacement in center field. He and Randal Grichuk could be platooned, or Piscotty could play CF and Mark Reynolds or Brandon Moss could play first for a change of pace.

5. Rest for the starting lineup.. We saw this earlier in the season, when Matt Carpenter was hot at the plate, but then couldn’t play for a while because he was exhausted.  If players get proper rest, i.e., a game off once a week or so, they won’t be as prone to injury or exhaustion. The day off could be rotated – the first baseman one day, the second baseman the next day, etc.  Now if a player is on a hot hitting streak, the player may not want a day off.  That would be a decision between the player and the manager.  A day off for each player on the starting lineup also keeps the bench players fresh and gives them some playing time.

6. A professional grade back-up catcher. Tony Cruz filled in admirably while Yadi was out with his thumb injury, but it’s just not the same without Yadi. Some of the pitchers are not fond of Cruz.  I guess Yadi spoiled them for anyone else.  But Yadi is getting older, and the Cards need to find a great backup catcher to fill in for Yadi and eventually take over for him when he retires.  Travis Tartamella may be the one to fill the bill, but he only played one game during the regular season and that’s not enough to judge whether he’s the one.  If Travis isn’t the chosen one, the Cards may need to pick up a backup catcher from another team.

7. Matheny needs to learn how to manage the team in the postseason. Never was this more evident than this year. The Cards played 4 games and only won one. Perhaps Mike needs to sit down for a heart-to-heart with Whitey Herzog to learn how to manage in the postseason. I’m sure Whitey would be happy to assist.

Now that it’s the offseason, I probably won’t be posting as much. Unless, of course, something exciting happens. You can always find me on Twitter and you can find my Twitter feed on the column to the right.  Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!

Diane

Resilience despite adversity

ResilienceI wrote a blog post earlier this season about how the infirmary was getting full of Cardinals players.   Maybe that was bad luck –  who knows?  The Cardinals have endured more than their share of injuries this season.  I’ll list them so we can see the magnitude of the injuries:

Jordan Walden – shoulder
Adam Wainwright – torn Achilles tendon
Matt Adams – torn right quadriceps muscle, Grade 4
Matt Holliday – torn right quadriceps muscle, Grade 2
Matt Belisle –forearm tenderness
Jason Heyward – hamstring strain
Randal Grichuk – muscle strain lifting weight, elbow strain
Jon Jay – recovery from off-season wrist surgery
Yadier Molina – slight tear of left thumb ligament
Carlos Martinez – strained shoulder
Stephen Piscotty – outfield collision with Peter Bourjos

(If there is anyone I missed, or if I goofed up on the injuries, please let me know in the comments section below.)

Yet despite all these injuries (and with some great pickups and call ups by Mo), the Cardinals are in first place in the NL Central with the best record in baseball.  The magic number to clinch the NL Central is 2, and if the Cards win tomorrow at Pittsburgh, it will be zero.  This will be the Cardinals’ first 100 win season since 2005.

The Cardinals have shown amazing resilience this season. A lesser team would crumble under the weight of all these injuries. But the Cardinals have not crumbled, thanks to the managing of Mike Matheny.  Mike is the glue that has held this team together through all the injuries and all the other craziness this season (hacking? What hacking?).

Now we Cards fans and bloggers may not agree with every move Mike makes, but you can’t argue with results. This is Mike’s fourth year managing the Cardinals (heck, managing a major league team, period) and the team has gone to the postseason every year for the last four years.  How many managers can claim that honor during their first four years of managing?  If you want to get some insight as to how Mike manages a team, I highly suggest you pick up and read his book The Matheny Manifesto (click on the title to find it on Amazon).

Mike deserves the NL Manager of the Year award for the way he has handled the Cardinals during this season of adversity.  However, we Cards fans all know that the NL MOY award will go to Joe Maddon, since he turned those loveable losers the Cubs into playoff contenders, and Chicago is a larger market than St. Louis too.

The Cards’ game tonight was postponed until tomorrow due to rain.  It will be made up tomorrow with a day-night doubleheader.  Game time for the first game is 12:35 PM CST.  I will be listening to the game on KMOX at my desk. I will be hoping and praying for no more injuries, and that the Cards will clinch the division.  Last night’s game made my stomach upset; I’m hoping for an uneventful win tomorrow.

Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!

Diane

A letter to Mr. DeWitt

letter

WOMEN WHO LOVE CARDINALS BASEBALL
womenwholovecardinalsbaseball.mlblogs.com
Diane Schultz, Founder

August 4, 2015

Mr. William DeWitt, III
President
St. Louis Cardinals
700 Clark Street
St. Louis, MO  63102

Re:  Jason Heyward

Dear Mr. DeWitt:

It is always a pleasure to hear you speak at the annual United Cardinals Bloggers event at Busch Stadium every year.  You are straightforward and very informative, and you patiently answer everyone’s questions.  You and Mr. Mozeliak treat us bloggers with great respect, for which we are greatly appreciative.

I am writing today in regard to Jason Heyward, the Cardinals’ current right fielder.  As you know, Mr. Heyward will be a free agent at the end of the 2015 season.  I and other Cardinals fans enjoy watching Mr. Heyward in right field. Mr. Heyward has a cannon for an arm and is very good at throwing out runners at home plate.  He presently has the best batting average on the team. He has the most stolen bases on the team.  He appears to get along well with his teammates.  From what I can see, he is well behaved off the field and he appears to have acclimated to the Cardinal way of comporting himself.

We Cardinals fans were hoping that Oscar Tavares was going to be the Cards’ right fielder for years to come.  Oscar’s tragic death, however, precipitated the need to sign a high quality right fielder, even though it meant trading fan favorite Shelby Miller.  We Cards fans are happy that Shelby is doing well in Atlanta and we wish him the best.  However, we are quite happy with Mr. Heyward and his talents and we hope that he will be the Cards’ right fielder for years to come.

In closing, I would request that you please sign Mr. Heyward to a long term contract at yours and his earliest convenience.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.  I look forward to the news of Mr. Heyward’s signing soon.

Very truly yours,

Diane M. Schultz

DMS

Thanks for reading! See you next time!

Diane

Second half thoughts and ponderings

The Cardinals really needed the All-Star break; they looked extremely tired and disoriented in this past weekend’s games.  The Cardinals start the second half of the season in first place by just 2 ½ games.  A 3-5 road trip, culminating with 2 ugly losses to the Pirates right before the All-Star break, contributed to the narrowing of the gap in the standings between the Cards and the Pirates.  There’s plenty of baseball left to play, however, so here are my thoughts about the second half of the season.

Matt Holliday returns to the lineup on Friday.  This will create quite a traffic jam in the outfield.  There are 3 outfield positions, and there are 6 outfielders on the roster.  Even using “new” math (or Common Core math), that doesn’t compute.  Adjustments will have to be made.

Holliday is signed through 2016 with an option year for 2017. Heyward is signed through the end of the year, at which time he will become a free agent.  Jon Jay is currently on the disabled list. Per the Cardinals’ website, his date of return is to be determined. So that leaves 3 players competing for the center field position.

The Cards can’t keep all the extra outfield players on the roster.  There have been folks clamoring that Jay be released or traded. Bourjos, despite his occasional flubs, has proven he can be an everyday player.  I would trade or release Jay, start Bourjos in at CF, then keep Grichuk and Pham on the bench to spell the starting outfielders in case of injury or a needed day off.  Grichuk could also be a good pinch hitter.  If Heyward doesn’t sign with the Cards next season, I would then put Grichuk in RF.

Trevor Rosenthal didn’t pitch in the All-Star Game due to arm soreness.  He did not look very good on the mound in Sunday’s game.  I would not be surprised if he landed on the DL.  Should the break help his arm feel better and if I were Mike, I would only use Rosey in a true save situation and not pitch him if the game isn’t on the line. The Cards will need Rosey fresh come September and (hopefully) October.

I am really starting to like scrappy Mark Reynolds, but he is not an everyday 1B and he wasn’t signed to be the everyday 1B.  Xavier Scruggs wasn’t the answer to the Cards’ first base woes; he is already back in Memphis.  Dan Johnson isn’t the answer either.  Stephen Piscotty is touted as the next first baseman; however, he is still learning the position at Memphis.  Since Adams isn’t due to be off the DL until the season is almost over, Mo may have to pick up or trade for a 1B player, even if it is just a rental until after the season is over.

I have really missed Cardinals baseball and I’m glad that it starts up again tomorrow night.  Today is the 70th anniversary of Red Schoendiest’s debut in baseball.  The Cardinals have encouraged fans to post a congratulatory video on social media.  I posted it on Twitter, and in case you missed it, here it is:

Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!

Diane

“Take Me Out to the Ballgame” video contest announcement

Take me outI’m so glad Cardinals baseball is back!  The Opening Night game was a great game. Adam Wainwright didn’t have his best stuff and gave up some doubles, but he got the win.  Jason Heyward was 3 for 5 with two doubles in his Cardinals debut.  The New Runnin’ Redbirds stole 4 bases, including a double steal by Matt Holliday and Heyward.  And Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side, which was amazing. The Cubs, unfortunately, played like the Cubs.  They left 13 runners in scoring position.  They also bobbled a few balls in the outfield.  And the Friendly Confines were more like the Unfriendly Confines, since there were not enough restrooms to accommodate the fans.  Some fans were forced to pee in beer cups.  Tonight’s game is cancelled due to the inclement weather forecast.  We will have to wait until Wednesday afternoon to see our boys play again.  In the meantime, here’s some news about an exciting new contest from the Cardinals.  I hope to be able to enter this contest!  Here are all the details:

“Take Me Out to The Ballgame” Talent Video Contest Announced

Fans Challenged to Demonstrate Singing Talent With 2nd #CardsFanFlix Fan Video Promotion. Winner’s Video Premieres at Ballpark July 29th

ST. LOUIS, April 5, 2015– As the St. Louis Cardinals begin their 124th season of play in the National League today, the team has launched another #CardsFanFlix  fan engagement promotion to encourage fans to submit videos singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”  The winning video, which will be selected by a fan vote, will be shown on the scoreboard during the 7th Inning stretch at the Cardinals – Reds game on Wednesday, July 29th.  The winner will also be treated to a VIP experience that includes 10 tickets to the game.

“We hope to encourage individual fans, church choirs, school groups, local organizations and all fans with talent to show us their creativity with their version of this baseball classic,” said Ron Watermon, Vice President of Communications.  “We are encouraging fans to have some fun putting their own fresh mark on this classic song that embodies what we all love about the game of baseball.”

The “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” Talent Contest is the second in a series of several #CardsFanFlix promotions the team has planned this season to encourage fans to create videos that celebrate the Cardinals.  Over seventy videos were submitted to the Ultimate Fan Video Contest that was launched on March 2.  A winner of that contest will be announced this week and will enjoy the ultimate fan experience on Opening Day in St. Louis next week – four tickets to enjoy the game from the President’s box.  Fan videos can be viewed at www.cardinals.com/ultimatefan

Fans who participate in the “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” Talent Contest are asked to create a video up to three minutes in length.  While fans must respect copyright laws and keep things in good taste, they are encouraged to be creative, show off their talent and convey their enthusiasm for the St. Louis Cardinals. Fans can submit a video via Vine, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or any other public platform, but in order to be eligible for the contest they must provide the Cardinals a link to the video and complete a short submission form on the contest web page.

Through the #CardsFanFlix fan engagement effort this season, the St. Louis Cardinals hope to tap into the increasing trend of user-generated video content made possible by advances with mobile technology and social media.  Social media platforms such as Facebook, Vine, Instagram and Twitter have all seen increased video content.  YouTube estimates that approximately 300 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute.

Fans can learn more about #CardsFanFlix at cardinals.com/fanflix.  Fans can join the conversation by using #CardsFanFlix.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time!

Diane

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!

Diane