The perfect lineup (with 1 subtraction)

My fellow Cardinals bloggers and I complain on Twitter night after night Scan0004about manager Mike Matheny’s constant lineup changes.  The lineup is never the same from one night to the next.  Even the casual fan can see the lack of results that this constant changing produces.  But last night, it appeared that Mike spun the wheels on the lineup machine and finally hit the right jackpot.  Here was the lineup for last night’s game:

Carpenter 1B

Gyorko 2B

Moss LF

Piscotty RF

Molina C

Peralta 3B

Grichuk CF

G. Garcia SS

Martinez P

And lo and behold, Mike is using this same lineup in tonight’s game as well, with Waino pitching.  See how easy that was?   Carpenter celebrated being back in the leadoff spot last night by hitting a home run.  Stephen Piscotty and Randall Grichuk hit home runs too, and the Cardinals beat the Mets 8-1.  It was a fun game and even though I was at Bible study, I stealthily looked at my AtBat app to see how the game was going.  Yadi getting caught trying to steal third, however – no, Yadi, don’t do that anymore, or I will have to tweet at your brother Bengie to get on you about that.

I think this lineup should be on the field every night for the rest of the season, and even into the playoffs, if these Cards should get that far.  The only subtraction that I would make is when Aledmys Diaz returns from the disabled list, he would go in Garcia’s spot, and of course, the pitcher varies every game.

Garcia, Matt Adams, and Kolten Wong could come off the bench to pinch hit or spell one of the regular infielders if they need a night off or get hurt (God forbid – the disabled list has been overcrowded this season).  Matt Holliday and Jeremy Hazelbaker could do the same for the outfielders.  Tommy Pham – the jury’s still out on him.

A couple of random thoughts: Could Jaime Garcia just be released now instead of the end of the season when his option is up?  It’s bad enough that you don’t know whether you’re going to get Good Jaime or Bad Jaime when it’s his turn in the rotation.  Lately, however, only Bad Jaime has shown up to pitch.  Alex Reyes has shown that he’s more than ready to be a starter in the show.  Maybe I’m being selfish, but since my son and I will be going to the game on Sunday (which is Jaime’s next start), it would be really great to see Alex’s debut as a starter.

And why, with the exception of Martinez, are our pitchers not ready to pitch in the first inning?  It never fails that the other team starts scoring in the first inning.  The Cards have to start playing catch up already in the bottom of the first.  Are the pitchers not getting enough throwing time before the games?  Or are they getting too much throwing time?  Could the pitchers not be mentally ready to go in the first inning? That appears to be something that Derek Lilliquist needs to work on with them. This problem needs to be solved ASAP.

On Saturday, August 27,  Chris Carpenter, Joe Torre, Sam Breadon and Terry Moore will be inducted in the Cardinals Hall of Fame.  The ceremony starts at 2 PM at Fox Sports Midwest Live in Ballpark Village.  The doors open at 11 AM, so get there early to wait in line. Last year, my son and I didn’t get there until 12 noon and we had to share a table with some other folks. I told him we needed to get there earlier.  One of these days, he’ll learn to listen to me.  However, if you can’t make it, Fox Sports Midwest will show the ceremony on Sunday, August 28 at 11:30 a.m.  If you’re at the ceremony, find me and say hi – I always love to meet folks who read my blog.

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

Diane

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Trade deadline thoughts

DeadlineSorry I haven’t posted more.  It’s really discouraging watching the Cards play.  I’m a glass-half-filled kind of gal, so it’s hard to find something to write about when your team is playing badly.  One can only complain so much before it gets tiresome, and I love my loyal readers too much to subject them to too much negativity.

As you probably know, the trade deadline is August 1 (since July 31st is a Sunday), which is exciting yet scary at the same time. So are the Cards are sellers or buyers at the trade deadline?  Despite playing badly, the Cards are currently in line for the second wild card slot and are also in second place in the N.L. Central.  A Cubs collapse/Cards surge could mean another division title.  A key acquisition or two could make all the difference to get to the playoffs.

So if the Cards are buyers, what do they have to offer in a trade?  The Cards have an option on Jaime Garcia.  When Jaime starts, you never know if you’re going to get Good Jaime or Bad Jaime.  When Jaime is good, he’s very, very good, but when Jaime is bad, he’s awful.  Jaime should be some other team’s problem.

Kolten Wong is another player who may be better off with a change of venue.  There is a lot of pressure here for him to succeed, and Kolten appears to not handle pressure well.  The only negative about trading Kolten is the 5 year contract he signed earlier this year. It was meant to give Kolten a vote of confidence, but it doesn’t appear to have worked out that way. If Kolten is traded, the Cards may have to eat some of Kolten’s contract for the deal to work. Jedd Gyorko and/or Greg Garcia can take Kolten’s place at second, or there is another alternative, which I’ll discuss below.

Matt Adams’ shortcoming is that he only plays one position.  He would be a great DH for an American League team.  If the Cards could trade Adams to an AL team for a good player, I would be all over that trade.  Brandon Moss could move to left field and Matt Holliday could play first, which could possibly extend his career beyond this season.

The Cards do not need two center fielders.  If you melded Randall Grichuk and Tommy Pham into one person, you’d likely have a great center fielder.  However, since we can’t, one of these guys needs to leave, and I think it should be Tommy Pham.  Tommy is older and is injury prone.  If you need a second outfielder in case of injury, Stephen Piscotty can play center and Jeremy Hazelbaker can play right field.  There are a lot of fans who would like to see Carlos Gonzales patrol right field (and Piscotty would then become the CF), but he would probably bring a very high price tag.

One player whose name has been bandied about as trade bait is prospect Alex Reyes. I really don’t think the team should give him up.  A team should not give up an exciting prospect pitcher  The Cards should, however, call Reyes up in September when rosters expand to gear up for the playoffs, and get him some major league experience.

So what do the Cardinals need in order to get to the playoffs?  They need a good set-up pitcher.  Jerome Williams, who the Cards recently brought up from Memphis, is not the answer.

I have heard that Aledmys Diaz’ natural position is second base, so if Wong is traded, Diaz could move to second. Not all of Diaz’ errant throws can be blamed on rookie mistakes, perhaps. Peralta could then go back to shortstop, or a good shortstop could be acquired.  This could also help with the defense problems in the Cards’ infield.

The Cards could also use Mother Nature to cooperate and not force rain outs. Today’s doubleheader is the second in two weeks. Last week’s doubleheader was a day-night double, which gives the players a break between games; however, today’s doubleheader is a true doubleheader. The doubleheaders and game delays wreak havoc with a pitching rotation.  Calling Mike Mayers up from the minors as a fill-in ended up as a major humiliation in front of a national audience.  I sure hope he can recover from it.

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

Diane

Spring training is over – hallelujah!

BalloonsThe Cards’ last spring training game today was a doozy and to make things even better, it was against the Yankees.  There were home runs a-plenty – 2 by Stephen Piscotty, 1 by Tommy Pham, 1 by Jeremy Hazelbaker and 1 by Brandon Moss.  Hopefully, the hitting slump is over and the team meetings the other day did the trick in getting the guys motivated.

Let’s hope the Birds will have some of today’s firepower in Pittsburgh on Sunday, despite the fact that the high temperature this Sunday in Pittsburgh is supposed to only be 39 degrees – and that’s Fahrenheit, not Celsius. I’ve attended games in early October in St. Louis in those kinds of temperatures and I feel sorry for those poor fans who will be shivering in the stands.  When MLB assembles the schedule for next season, they should ensure that no games are played in the Northeast, the upper Midwest and Toronto in the first part of April, since there is still the possibility of cold weather and even snow. Unless, of course, the games are scheduled in Milwaukee and Toronto, since those stadiums have roofs.  In contrast, the high temperature in St. Louis this Sunday will be 68 degrees.  That’s a perfect temperature for a ball game – not too hot and not too cold.

I was so hoping that the Cards would leave spring training without a major injury.  Unfortunately, Jhonny Peralta tore the same ligament on his thumb that Yadier Molina did during the playoffs last year. Jhonny will be out at least until June.  Peralta’s injury led to the signing of Ruben Tejada.  However, Ruben left today’s game with a left quad strain. Jeremy Hazelbaker, who has been hot during spring training, is going north with the team due to Tejada’s injury. Mitch Harris will start the season on the disabled list with compression syndrome.  And Jordan Walden, who looked like he would be good to go up until Wednesday, is now on the DL with shoulder issues.  Walden’s injury led to an opening on the roster for Rule 5 player Matt Bowman, who pitched in today’s game.

But the most devastating injury out of spring training was not to a player. Third base coach Jose “Secret Weapon” Oquendo is out for the season due to a knee replacement surgery that went awry and had to be repeated.  The Cardinals offered to let Oquendo do some coaching from the bench, but he said if he couldn’t do the job he was hired to do that he didn’t want to be there at all.  Jose’s absence will be a great loss for the team, since not only does Jose work with the Spanish-speaking players, he works with the other players on base running.   First base coach Chris Maloney has moved over to third base to replace Jose and Bill Mueller has moved to first base.  Time will tell how much Jose’s absence will affect the team.

The Cards have two days off before Opening Day on Sunday.  I’m ready for regular season baseball, aren’t you?  I’m ready to come home from work and know I’m going to be seeing my favorite team playing ball on TV.  This Sunday is going to be awesome – church in the morning and then coming home in time to watch the Cards’ opener on TV.  Are you ready for some baseball? I know I am!

As always, thanks for reading! See you next time!

Diane