Birds Flying in a V by Bob Ryan

I’ve never been known as an “outdoorsman”….about all I do outside consistently is mow the lawn..but…it is well known that birds fly better collectively in  a “V” pattern…that’s also true with our own Birds…the Cardinals.  To carry our metaphor even further…the V for the Cards is victories. While I was on “assignment” the Birds flew to 8 straight wins and catapulted themselves right back into the race in the NL Central as they are hounding the Cubbies who clearly aren’t the 2016 Cubs.

Why or how did the Birds align themselves into this winning V…

…lineup stability….Manifesto tinkered around with the lineup almost daily through April, May, June, July…finally in August the “every day” lineup became the every day lineup…Yadi, Carp, Wong, De Jong, Gyorko, Pham, Fowler, Grichuk. This magnificent 8 has proven to be our best offensive and defensive unit…they look more relaxed, confident and aren’t looking over their shoulder constantly.

…Manifesto began using in late July some of the relief pitchers for 2 inning stints…this “saves” the bullpen..if not the game… a bit from overuse…and….why can’t a MLB pitcher throw to 6-7-8 or 9 batters…all these guys were starters as young pitchers

…the middle-infield play of DeJong & Wong has been the strongest in the last 2 years….good range, speed, some power, making the routine play and the very good play…..Wong WILL make some errors…live with it….he also takes away some hits with his range….for the 1st time, he actually looks relaxed and his play has improved

….Pham has been moved up in lineup ..where he belongs….will he be there forever?  Or even 2 or 3 years … probably not….but he has clearly earned it for this year and going into next year

….the starting rotation has about 3 good starts in each rotation….Martinez & Lynn are the strongest, Wacha was rolling along in June-5 straight wins but is 2-4 since that time, Leake is only sticking in the starting rotation due to his salary…if he was John Doe on minimum salary…he’d be gone…Wainwright’s injury will save him, the Birds and the fan base for searching for more excuses….the guy has been a strong pitcher…key words there…”has been”.. Weaver looks more frisky this time up with the Birds…start him…if he’s the best minor league starter…do it…expect 4 innings, hope for 6…isn’t that what we’re getting from Wainwright now? With rosters expanding in a couple weeks….bring up Jack Flaherty, Daniel Poncedeleon, Austin Gomber…throw each of them as “long relief” guys…I mean reaaaalllll long for Leake

Let’s hope that our Birds continue flying in the V formation….this division is for the taking….Cubbies starters are struggling and their middle-bullpen stinks under pressure…the Brewers can hit, are very well managed but seem to be just too short on the mound.

Other MLB tidbits…

…..in this power hungry league…the players gawk at these HR like it was a solar eclipse … but are HR the answer? Across the MLB…  #1 team in HR is Houston…clearly one of the best teams in MLB; #2 is Texas-one game below .500; #3 is Baltimore—2 games below .500; #4 in HR is Milwaukee..3rd place, 2 games out; #5 is the Mets—14 games under .500…so clearly HR alone aren’t the key to winning games…btw…the Cards are 20th in HR

….how about the .300 hitters…last Friday’s games lineups (usually Friday & Tuesday) have most of the regular starters on any given team…Washington Nats (1st place in East) and Colorado (2nd place in West-playoff team) had the most .300 hitters in their lineup—4. The Dodgers had three .300 hitters as did Houston (both in 1st place)..so the top 4 teams with the most .300 hitters …at this moment….are all headed to the playoffs. Results get mixed with just two .300 hitters – Cards (2nd), Reds (5th), Az (wild card candidate), Atlanta (8 games below .500). Eleven teams had one .300 hitter (in fact the every team in the AL Central division has just one .300 hitter), eight teams had no .300 hitters in their lineup…7 of the 8 were 4th or 5th place in their division.  Me…I actually prefer hits…runners flying around the bases and challenging OF to throw them out to the many HR trots that we see…too much of anything …isn’t good….my Mom always told me that as I gobbled up ice cream

Snapshots Around the League…

…It shouldn’t have been a surprise that he was removed as closer….Aroldis Chapman isn’t the same any longer… was it 2016 playoff work that emptied his tank?  His age? Too many 100+mph hangover? He did pitch in 13 post-season games last year for the Cubs. Currently he’s holding a career high 4.29 ERA, a career high 1.374 WHIP, and a career low 50 strikeouts.  He’s 29 years of age, been in MLB since he was 22…it looks like the end is closer than the beginning for him. It may spell trouble for the NYY.

…does anyone else wonder why the 27 year old Juan Segura is on his 4th team?  He’s hitting .317 again…he hit that last year.. he’s been on the Angels, Brewers, D-Backs and now Seattle….hhmmmm?

…topping the 3000 hit mark hasn’t slowed down the 39 year old Andre Beltre….Beltre is holding a .308 average in 2017-his 20th season in the MLB. He also has 13 HR in 290 AB…Father Time can’t seem to catch up with this guy

…several surprising teams…at least to me…are battling for the last wild card spot in the AL..the Yanks are 66-56, 4 behind Boston…they are clearly the top wild card team….but the other spot has a very tight, exciting battle.. the Minnesota Twins are 62-59, the Los Angeles Angels are 63-60 and Seattle is snipping at their heels with a 63-61 record. Should the Royals or Texas who are both 61-61  go on a winning streak…who knows ?? Should be fun to watch…if you can pull youself away from the NL central race standings

In the Main Event…

I have to go with Floyd Mayweather (49-0) in this fight against Conor MacGregor.  If the fight was in the martial arts area, I’d go with MacGregor.  If MacGregor makes the fight go 6+ rounds, he may have a chance…but I doubt it…your thoughts?   While he’s aged, I still anticipate Mayweather’s skills…not his power… to be too high in the ring. Are any of you intending on watching it? Your pick?

In the “Numbers tell a different story” game…

…Jerod Weaver just announced his retirement from the MLB..most of us…me included…said “OK…he was nothing special..surely not a HOF’er”…remember Weaver pitched 11 of his 12 years for the Angels…his stats look like this… 6-7-ht, 34 years old, 150 wins,  era-3.63, innings-2067, 1621 strikeouts…..compare those numbers to these numbers of another pitcher.. who probably will retire soon..6-7-ht, 35 years old, 12 years pitching,  146 wins, era-3.29, innings-1889, 1583 strikeouts…the numbers are fairly close …but I think you’d be surprised to learn that those are the numbers of Adam Wainwright! Granted Wainwright was on a much better team, seen often in the playoffs, admired for his skill by most Cardinal fans…I know…all of us can still see the curve ball that froze Carlos Beltran in the World Series….but sometimes our sporting heart clouds our intellect….the numbers DO tell a different story in the comparison.

Friday Night Lights are on again…

…our best comeback of the Friday night is split ….the Northwest Lions were down 39-28 over 3 quarters…then stunned the Howell North with 15 unanswered points in the final quarter to win it 43-39. Caleb Camacho led NW with 346 yards on 38 carries. Good things are starting to happen @ NW….last year the football team won 4 games…the most that they’ve won since pre 2000…I don’t think anything is harder than “turning around” a high school football program…speaking of turning around a program..

….last year the St. Mary’s Dragons went 7-4 after going 1-9 in the previous year…this year the Dragons fell behind 16-0 to Westminster Christian Academy. The Dragons scored the next 28 points on way to a 31-22 victory.

College Spotlight…

…St Louis U opens their Mens Soccer regular season on August 25 & 27 at home against Syracuse and Michigan State respectively. The Bills begin the defense of the Atlantic-10 Mens Soccer Championship under Coach Mike McGinty on Saturday, September 30th against U Mass. After 3 exhibition games at home(have already played 2 exhibitions), the Bills play 7 of their first 8 games at home (concluding with the Sept 30 game mentioned above)….I couldn’t help but notice….back in the day..from 1959 to 1974 SLU ruled the NCAA in Mens Soccer..they won 9 NCAA Championships and finished second place 3x and tied for the title once (game called due to weather …in those days the club was entirely St. Louis players….now there are 5 St Louis players on the team…yes….times have changed….btw….the dominance of men soccer by St Louis players and teams was carried on other levels also.  UMSL won the D-2 Championship in 1973 under Don Dallas ..from St. Louis –Bishop DuBourg HS… and SIU-E (using all StL players) who had won the first ever D-2 men soccer title in 1972. In D-3 Men Soccer, Washington U finished 2nd in the NCAA D-3 Men soccer in 1978, 1985, 1987.

…so Kansas pulled off a quickie recently…the Jayhawks took their football team to a Royals game…during the game four walk-on players were shown simultaneously on the video board.  As they were being shown a message appeared that congratulated all of them for being awarded a football scholarship! Boy…what a way to find out

Cardinal odds & ends for the end…

….I think only players belong in the dugout…the idea of bringing back former players to “help” the players verbally doesn’t cut it….what’s next.. a promotion to let the “winning” fan be in the dugout for an inning…..boo!

…Sorry Mike Mayers….there is a thing as a AAA pitcher….

….One thing for sure….Jeff Gyorko leads the league in spits per AB…with a couple fouls…he’s good for 4 or 5 spits.

Well now its time for me to use the V formation also…I’m Vanishing….until next week 

Thanks for reading and your comments on any part of this blog are always invited

Comments

  1. Jim Pleimann says:

    Oh, you didn’t trash poor Mike Mayers? Shame on you! HA. I hope he kept all the “stuff they gave him when he was up with the big club because odds are he ain’t comin back. (but never say never, right?) Remember the Hoffman kid Carps buddy) they brought up for whatever reason earlier this summer
    Hadn’t heard about the college scholarships at the Royals game – that was a nice tidbit!
    Floyd should win in about 30 seconds….
    Gotta go watch the eclipse…. With my cool glasses of course!!!

  2. Welcome back. For the first time in several years, the Cards starting pitching has become a weak point on the team. Who would have thought early on in this season that the offense would be potent and the pitching would be suspect? The only two starters that you can rely on down the stretch is Lynn and Martinez. And don’t try to tell me that Martinez is the ace. Ha, its Lance Lynn. If I had one game to win to get into the playoffs, Lynn would be on the mound for me. I suggest that Mr. DeWitt reach in to his piggy bank and sign Lynn before its too late. They have Reyes coming back next year, but then there is Martinez and maybe Whacha. I just don’t think that the pitching, starters and bull pen, are strong enough to lead us to the playoffs. Maybe we can average 8 runs a game and get in that way. In any event, the last two weeks have been exciting and that’s we we all stay so passionate about the Cardinals.

  3. Always insightful reading. The Cardinals were doing the V formation but have gone 2 – 4 since losing the last game of the series to the Braves. Lost two in Boston and spilt 2 – 2 with Pittsburgh. I think they are fading and don’t think for a minute they can hand on. I think the best they can hope for is a 500 season. Pitching is absolutely inconsistent and the run production is either up or down. The bullpen is a mess. Adam is tired and I think if it weren’t for the fans (as you mentioned) he would be shut down for the year. Weaver will be a better choice than Wainwright for the rest of the season. In reference to the numbers concerning Adam W, I don’t think he will enter the HOF. He will enter the St. Louis cardinals HOF but not MLB’s HOF. We love him in St. Louis and we all remember him freezing the lineup with his once tremendous curveball. My question is: Could he become a closer? Maybe he could take on that spot for the 8th and maybe the 9th. What do we have to lose except another blown save.

    I suppose the Cards could drop into the run for the wild card but they are three and a half out right now just like in the Central Division. I hope they can pull out a playoff berth but it’s a long shot. But if they do get in anything can happen.

    The Cards need a trade and I was hoping to get Stanton. That is a major push as the Cards don’t want a long term contract. If the Cards I think they are just going to go with the youth movement and if that works great. If not, it will be Matheny’s fault and he will be fired. No changes will bring the same results in my book. Listening to MM at the end of the games is just another repeat drill. Yadi may want out IF things don’t change unless Matheny is gone and they lean to him for leadership, maybe an interim manager in 2 years etc.

  4. Joe Parisi says:

    As always, good stuff Bob….

    Good to see the Birds reel off 8 straight, but recent pitching woes will be challenge to deal with for remainder of ’17.

    Fowler’s unwillingness to move to corner OF slot combined with Leake not agreeing to “skipping a turn” is troublesome

    They appear overly committed to Grichuk and Piscotty…. Pham will be odd man out I’m ’18.

    Herzog said hardest job for mgr is to deal with aging superstars… Waino and Yadi. It’s going to be painful to watch it unfold.

    Hopeful that Birds are active in off season and 2018 will return Cards to real contender.

    In the meantime, rooting for Tito and the Indians

  5. Ken Gabel says:

    Someone needs to teach Carpenter how to play first base. He is very little help to the infielders on throws to first base. If the throw is not between his knees and an extended arm, it is a throwing error. If the throw is in the dirt, it is a crapshoot. He even can drop the throw when it hits him in the glove. He doesn’t stretch very well. He is very tentative on deep ground balls……..”Do I throw it to the pitcher covering first base or not?”
    Where is the Secret Weapon when we need him. That is a topic for another day.

  6. Jim Pleimann says:

    If Matheny is forced out and Yadi and Carson Kelly stay, how does that change things for the new manager?
    The Cardinals have the 10th best record in baseball and have not added one single major league player to their roster this year from another major league team. The only team in MLB not to do that…. Hmmm
    The only way we make a playoff run is somehow, somewhere new arms are going to have to get them there. Pitching staff is in real trouble.

    I agree with the comments about Carp at first base, he is a butcher over there!

    All this complaining and we at least have baseball that means something each night. We are all so spoiled. LOL

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