Posts Tagged ‘St Louis Cardinals’

Wainwright wins 2-0, now 10-0 at home (AP)

July 18th, 2010
Adam Wainwright picked up a little pointer from San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum at the All-Star game. As if the talented right-hander needed any more help. Wainwright pitched six sharp innings to improve to 10-0 at home and Skip Schumaker and Brendan Ryan each drove in a run, leading the St. Louis Cardinals over the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0 on Saturday.

Carlos Marmol’s Obscene Season Being Wasted on Woeful Chicago Cubs

July 18th, 2010

Yes, woeful.

The Chicago Cubs spent $146,859,000 on their 2010 payroll, which works out to an average of $5,439,222 per player and is good for third in all of Major League Baseball. Only the Evil Empires—the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox—shelled out more scratch for their squads.

Only the Bronx Bombers are paying more per victory.

They boast Marlon Byrd, Ryan Dempster, Kosuke Fukudome, Derrek Lee, Ted Lilly, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Silva, Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto, and Carlos Zambrano. Each player mentioned is a current or former All-Star with the exception of Silva.

Each player on that list also makes eight figures with the exceptions of Byrd, who is the lone 2010 All-Star, and Soto.

Finally, they have one of the game's best managers (allegedly) at the helm in Lou Piniella.

Nevertheless, the Cubbies are nine games under .500 (41-50), nine games behind the first-place Cincinnati Reds, 8.5 games behind the second-place St. Louis Cardinals, and struggling in the National League Central—not exactly a juggernaut division.

They're also nine games off the NL Wild Card pace with a half-dozen teams jockeying for position better than Chicago's.

It's true that injuries and insanity have derailed the club, but similar concerns have befallen organizations with a lot less money/talent and they've managed to stay the course.

Shoot, the Sawks have seen their regular second baseman, catcher, center fielder, left fielder, Opening Day starter, and No. 3 hurler hit the shelf for extended periods. Boston did spend about $16 million extra on payroll, but don't tell me that explains the competitive disparity. (The Red Sox own a 51-39 record in the Show's toughest division.)

Especially since the Windy City's Senior Circuit rep has gotten unexpected contributions from youngsters Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin.

Given the mediocrity of the NL Central, there is still time for the Not-So-Lovable Losers to right the water-logged ship and they've come out of the All-Star break on a two-game winning streak, so there's hope.

The Cubs' 2010 epithet isn't carved in stone yet.

That caveat notwithstanding, the North Siders have to be one of baseball's biggest disappointments to date (along with the Seattle Mariners).

But don't for one second blame the Cubbies' closer, the scintillating Carlos Marmol.

In fact, the season Marmol is cobbling together is almost reason enough to root for his spend-and-burn franchise. After all, if he were saving truly meaningful games, his remarkable campaign would be far more celebrated.

Actually, if Chicago could simply climb to the fringe of contention, the 27-year-old would be getting his just deserts considering the national audience the organization commands.

At the moment, though, it's flying criminally low on the radar.

As one of his supremely satisfied fantasy owners, I've been watching this absurdity unfurl itself and it's been quite an eyeful. Check the numbers before play starts today—17 SV, 20 SVOpp, 81 K, 28 BB, a 2.11 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP, a .153 BAA, a .306 OBPA, a .207 SLGA, and a .513 OPSA in 42 2/3 IP covering 42 G.

The WHIP and on-base-percentage-against aren't all that dazzling because of the Dominican's propensity to get a wild hair up his nose, but the rest are outstanding. The low batting-average-against and minuscule slugging-percentage-against suggest Marmol is as unhittable as he looks.

As of Chicago's 91st game, only the immortal Jeff Clement has taken the closer deep in 2010.

Sounds about right.

Of course, everything else pales when compared to those lovely, lovely strikeouts.

I'll handle the math (or the navigation to his page)—81 whiffs in a shade over 42 frames equates to a 17.1 K/9.

Let that sink in.

If the filth merchant dusts a tenth of a batter more per three outs, he'll be striking out opposing lumber at the rate of two hitters per inning.

The last human we saw do that was 14 and he was playing against 12-year-olds.

Carlos Marmol is doing it against professional hitters.


Like I said, the feat should make us all Chicago Cub fans if only to get Carlos some love.

Because in this Year of the Pitcher, he's been one of the best.


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Keeping Pujols, Wainwright Will Prove Cardinals Mozeliak a Worthy GM

July 17th, 2010
On Thursday, the St. Louis Cardinals announced they were extending the contract of GM John Mozeliak by three years.  Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. described it as a "well deserved extension" and it is indicative if Mozeliak's ability to balance payroll while continually keeping St. Louis competitive in the National League.
Mozeliak's biggest splash came this past offseason with the signing of free agent Matt Holliday to largest contract in club history.  The seven-year, $120 million deal came on the heels of a midseason trade with the Oakland Athletics for the slugging outfielder that catapulted the Cardinals to the NL Central crown.
Mozeliak was very active last season in tweaking the roster to provide manager Tony LaRussa with the pieces needed to turn a good team into a favorite for the National League pennant.  Those dreams died when St. Louis was surprisingly swept out of the playoffs in the first round by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the GM had played his part well.
He dealt a package of prospects to the Cleveland Indians for veteran utility player Mark DeRosa and then landed the big fish in Holliday.  Though DeRosa injured his wrist shortly after the trade and didn't perform as hoped, the trades seemed to invigorate the clubhouse as the team went 20-6 in August and cruised into October.  Perhaps more importantly, the moves erased growing frustration amongst an agitated fan-base.

Mozeliak Provides Harmony in the Front Office
Before he was hired as GM after the 2007 season, Mozeliak served as an assistant to Walt Jocketty (now the current Cincinnati Reds GM). Mozeliak is credited with encouraging the club to sign oft-injured OF Ryan Ludwick and current closer Ryan Franklin.  Though neither were well-known at the time, they blossomed in St. Louis with both appearing in the All-Star Game during their Cardinal careers.
And in a fractious front office split in a power struggle between Jocketty and VP of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Jeff Luhnow, Mozeliak was often in the unenviable of position of go-between.
While Jockett chafed at the power and the sabermetric-minded Luhnow had been given by DeWitt, Mozeliak has embraced the new style of scouting.  He has provided harmony by balancing sabermetric analysis with old-fashioned, first-hand reports from scouts.
Despite initial fears that Mozeliak would be overpowered by the strong will of LaRussa, the two appear to have a good working relationship and mutual respect.  Mozeliak has provided the veteran role players the Redbird skipper prefers (Randy Winn, Aaron Miles) and LaRussa has worked well with young talent from the Cardinal farm system (Jaime Garcia, David Freese).
Last season's trades for Holliday and DeRosa depleted prospects from the top levels of the farm system, but most of the young talent involved had low-ceilings (Jess Todd, Shane Peterson) or simply duplicated players already ensconced on the big league roster (Brett Wallace, Chris Perez).  Despite being depleted at Triple-A Memphis, the farm system is accumulating high-end talent in the low minors, exemplifying a more cohesive approach to the draft than the Cardinals experienced under Jocketty.

The Khalil Greene Trade
Like any general manager that actively works to improve the roster, mistakes can be made.  Injuries and other unforeseen circumstances can unravel even the most sound decisions.  Mozeliak did a masterful job of adding Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny to the pitching staff, but now both are on the DL and their chances of making contributions this year seem to fade daily .
But there is one transaction that Mozeliak would love to take back.  In the winter of 2009, he traded minor league reliever Mark Worrell and a player to be named later to San Diego for shortstop Khalil Greene.  Greene was coming off a disappointing 2008 season , but had enjoyed a superb 2007 campaign .
There were some grumblings at the time of the trade because of his struggles in 2008 capped by having to go on the DL after breaking his hand, punching a clubhouse storage chest out of frustration. But Greene brought hope of an impact bat at SS, and it seemed the Cardinals got him for very little in return.
Greene was a flop with St. Louis.  His struggles with social anxiety disorder are well documented and his career is now in shambles.  If that wasn't bad enough for the Cardinals and Mozeliak, the PTBNL in that traded ended up being Luke Gregerson.  He has since developed into a superior middle-reliever with the Padres.
Mozeliak placed the blame for the failed trade on the Padres, telling The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that "the team had no inkling of Greene's issues before they traded for him." He inferred that San Diego GM Kevin Towers was not forthright about Greene's anxiety issues.  Maybe Towers pulled a fast one on the Cardinals GM, but it is also clear that Mozeliak did not do enough research on Greene before pulling the trigger on the trade.
But Mozeliak has earned the benefit of the doubt regardless of that one mistake.  He has shown a gift for finding valuable players for very little investment.  Last season, he picked up Boston Red Sox castoffs Julio Lugo and John Smolz, who proved to be valuable pieces in the team's second half surge to the playoffs.  In spring training this year, he signed Felipe Lopez for a mere $1 million, and Lopez has filled in at many positions vacated by either injuries or poor performance.
For a franchise with big dreams in a small market, such bargains are crucial to the team's continued success on the field.

Now the Hard Work Begins
The contract extension shows ownership's belief that Mozeliak is a fully capable Major League general manager.  Such confidence is necessary because in the next three years, he faces more pressure than perhaps any other GM in Major League Baseball.
Priority number one is re-signing Albert Pujols before his contract expires at the end of next season.  Pujols is best player in the game and the face of the franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole.  Negotiating a contract that pays Pujols his worth, while fitting it into a budget that allows the team to remain competitive, will be tricky.  He will need to get this accomplished before being faced with the excruciating decision to either trade the Cardinals' best player in generations for a stockpile of talent or risk losing Pujols to free agency with only compensatory draft picks in return.
There is also the issue of retaining dominant starters Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.
2012 is the final year of Carpenter's current contract the club is expected to exercise its option to retain him.  He is 10-3 this season, finished a close third in Cy Young Award balloting last year, and provides valuable veteran presence for the pitching staff while being a huge crowd favorite.  But Carpenter will turn 38 years old just after the beginning of the 2013 season and Mozeliak must decide how much to invest in an injury-prone, aging right-handed starter.
One of Mozeliak's wisest moves was one of his first.  In March 2008, he signed Adam Wainwright to a $15 Million contract good through 2013, including team options.  Now, the 28-year old right hander is one of the top starting pitchers in the majors with a 13-5 record and a 2.11 ERA.  
He finished second to Tim Lincecum for last year's Cy Young Award that many baseball insiders thought Wainwright should have won.  He signed his current deal choosing security over money, but barring something unexpected he would be at the top of the 2014 free agent class and ready to cash in a huge contract.  The pressure starts now on Mozeliak to keep room in the payroll to retain this superstar.
If Mozeliak is able to keep these core players and keep St. Louis competing for the National League pennant year after year, he will not only have repaid the club's faith in spades, but also emerge from the long shadow of his former boss, Walt Jocketty.

HELP! The Best St. Louis Cardinal Late Season Additions

July 17th, 2010
The St. Louis Cardinals know a mid-season drought should only be temporary—injuries, slumps, and the like are issues every ballclub encounters. Although they boast a strong lineup on paper, the Cardinals are in trouble at the 2010 season midpoint: Two starting pitchers and an All-Star outfielder are injured, and the Redbirds' big bats have yet to live up to their potentials. An obvious cure for injury and lack of performance is to go to the bench, but sometimes the bench simply cannot get the job done. So, franchises make larger adjustments—they make trades. These mid-to-late-season transactions sometimes turn out to make the difference—the right pitcher can win a World Series game, the right pinch hitter can score a winning run. The 2010 Cardinals need one of these late-season guys, and they need him soon. If the Cardinals want to regain the lead on the NL Central, they're going to need more than luck. The following is a look at some of the players who have had a huge impact on the Cardinal ballclub during the second half of the season.

Begin Slideshow

MLB First Half All-Rookie Team

July 16th, 2010

After I was done making a Staples run (no, I didn’t scream “WOW THAT’S A LOW PRICE!!!”), I ran into my friend Tom walking on Park Ave. South.

One of the things we were talking about other than how awkward the pre-All Star Game mingle between the People All Stars and the MLB All Stars was, was the fact that not only is 2010 “The Year of the Pitcher,” but “The Year of the Rookie” as well.

He suggested that I look at the first half All-Rookie Team. Like Casey Kasem, I do take requests, so I will follow through with the first half All-Rookie Team.

This also reminds me of back in the day when I used to collect baseball cards and the top rookies from the previous year had gold cups at the bottom of their cards. Those were the good ole days when I could buy a pack of baseball cards for 50 cents. Now they are $3 a pack.


Posey made my All Rookie team

Here are the guys that would get a gold cup for the first half of the season.

C – Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants. .350/.389/.569 with five HR’s.

1B – Gaby Sanchez, Florida Marlins. .302/.365/.467 with nine HR’s.

2B - Reid Brignac, Tampa Bay Rays. .265/.329/.365 with two HR’s.

SS – Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs. .270/.333/.383 with two HR’s & three triples.

3B – David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals. .296/.361/.404 with four HR’s.

OF – Brennan Boesch, Detroit Tigers. .342/.397/.593 with 12 HR’s.

OF – Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers. .300/.354/.403 with one HR & 14 SB’s.

OF – Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves. .251/.366/.455 with 11 HR’s.

DH – Tyler Colvin, Chicago Cubs. .263/.313/.531 with 12 HR’s.

SP – Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds. 6-1, 1.40 WHIP and a 3.53 ERA.

SP – Jaime Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals. 8-4, 1.25 WHIP and a 2.17 ERA.

SP – Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals. 3-2, 1.01 WHIP and a 2.32 ERA.

RP – Jonny Venters, Atlanta Braves. Nine Holds, 1.10 WHIP and a 1.30 ERA.

RP - Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers. 23 Saves, 1.06 WHIP and a 3.82 ERA.

Honorable Mentions – Ike Davis, Carlos Santana (tough call with him and Posey), John Jaso, Roger Bernadina, Mitch Talbot, Brian Matusz, Jonathan Niese, Wade Davis, Ryan Webb.

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