Playoff race is OVER! by Bob Ryan

…It’s only a week after July  4th…..traditional half way mark of the season….but….the playoff teams are set….at least for the American League…now we don’t know the EXACT standings…but we do know the 5 teams that will be in the post-season games…we don’t know the exact 3 division winners and 2 wild card teams… but ….we DO KNOW which 5 teams it’ll be in October.

….from the East, it’s Boston 59-29, Yankees 56-28; Central has  Cleveland 43-37 on top; the West has defending world series champion, Houston 57-31 and Seattle 55-32.  Those are your 5 post season teams!! The next “best team” is Oakland 48-39 then the Angels 44-43 …just 1 game over .500….the only one of those 5 teams that could….maybe…. stumble are the Seattle Mariners…..sooooo…what does this do for interest in the American League for the next 3 months? Boring! Why would you watch a White Sox-Kansas City game? or for that matter…..most of the other games….  that don’t involve our select 5? Just wondering….should the 2nd wild card team be the team that has the best record in the 2nd half of the season…assuming that they didn’t already qualify? If they already qualified ….find the best team that had not previously qualified…..I’m not completely sold on this strategy myself…but I do know that maybe that would add excitement and give those other “also rans” a fresh start in July…rather than talking 2019 by July 4th!

…When you look at playoff participation…..it hasn’t been that way  in the Lou for a long time….let’s take a look at results since the year 2000. (18 post seasons)….the Cards have only missed the post-season 6 times while playing in post season 12 times! Further, the Cards have gone deep into October…they’ve only dropped their 1st round games three times while playing 3 or more rounds-5x!! Come on Cards fans…..even IF we don’t make the post-season for the 3rd straight year.. which is our longest absence from the post season since this millennium…its really not a draught by any stretch of the imagination according to general MLB standards…take a look at our results since 2000….

2017 Cards no post season

2016 Cards no post season

2015 Cards lose NLDS to Cubs

2014 Cards win NLDS over Dodgers, lost NLCS to Giants

2013 Cards win NLDS over Pittsburgh, win NLCS over Dodgers, lose World Series to Boston

2012 Cards win Wild Card over Atlanta, Cards win NLDS over Nationals, Cards lose NLCS to Giants

2011 Cards win NLDS over Phillies, Cards win NLCS over Brewers, Cards win World Series over Texas

2010 no post season

2009 Cards lose NLDS to Dodgers

2008 no post season

2007 no post season

2006 Cards win NLDS over San Diego, Cards win NLCS over Mets, Cards win series over Detroit

2005 Cards win NLCS over San Diego, Cards lose NLCS to Houston

2004 Cards win NLCS over Dodgers, Cards win NLDS over Houston, Cards lose series to Boston

2003  no post season

2002 Cards win NLCS over Arizona, Cards lost NLDS to Giants

2001 Cards lose to Arizona in NLDS

2000 Cards win NLCS over Atlanta, Cards lose NLDS to NY Mets

…from the wide view…..St Louis has been through… maybe….the best 18 years of his history.

 

Cards weekly peek…

…I loved the Cards 1st pitch swinging last Monday…right off the bat in the 1st inning, the Cards top part of the batting order aggressively attacked that 1st pitch…generally for hits….btw…Cards beat Atlanta 6-3 by scoring 4 runs in the 1st inning.

….I agree with the move of Jose Martinez to the outfield….but….watching him go after a HR ball in Arizona made me worry about his own safety out there –  btw…trade him NOW to AL team to get something in return while he’s hitting….he won’t be in our long term plans anyway…so move him now

….its been my thought for some time now that most MLB’ers don’t play with emotion through much of the long regular season…..that’s why we see so many more errors, mental mistakes  & misplays in the post-season when the players ARE loaded with emotion…the players would probably respond that it isn’t possible….well….you don’t have to be in fights, screaming at umpires, diving for balls that aren’t catchable…but….you CAN play with emotion…..Harrison Bader …I know he’s a rookie…some might say…let him play longer to get “sanitized” to the MLB “professional” not the emotional approach to change him…..but….he shows that emotion to me….It doesn’t have to be the star players…but it could be…..Yadi has it….Tommy Pham has it…. I think John Lackey had it…Chris Carpenter had it…Carlos Martinez has it but….he might have be a bit too much of a dosage…give me some emotion daily and the team will be better….further….I think Bader should be playing every day…his defense alone merits that for the Cards

…did anyone else notice that often between innings when there are 3 commercials….that the same commercial is “run” for the 1st AND the last commercial?

….Sooo…it’s now public info that Manifesto hasn’t talked with Dexter Fowler for weeks now…I’m not a Dexter fan….I think he’s too complacent…doesn’t want to LOOK LIKE he’s hustling (see above paragraph).. but the great communicator MUST talk to this entire team…not just his favorites.

….I think its child-like to parade through the dugout in a line after a homerun….it reminds me of a birthday party march for a young child…they do it not only in emotional times….but every time…. Reeeeaallly…did you hear the tone….it’s like we’re winning 5-1, some player hits a dinger and we’re parading through the dugout like it was David Freese’s HR in 2011…I do want emotion…but not this fake stuff that’s done strictly for the camera.

….the over/under for # of spits per an at bat for Jeff Gyorko is 6.

….in 2009, the Cards had three .300+ hitters and two 290+ hitters…..they also had 8 complete games….boy….how the game has changed.

Statistically look at the Cards …now and in the recent past….two key hitting stats (runs & slug%), two key pitching stats (ERA & batting average against us) & fielding…rather interesting….

2018 as of July 3rd

Cards 20th in runs in MLB, 5th in division; Cards 21st in slug%, 5th  in division

Cards 11th in ERA, 3rd in division; Cards 11th in Bat avg against them, 3rd in division

Cards 30th in Errors(last place-most errors in MLB), 5th in division

****Houston is #1 in ERA, #1 in errors and #2 in runs scored

So comparatively, Cards are better in pitching than hitting and the league’s worst defensive team

Comparisons to two other very good Cardinal teams….

In 2011—

5th in runs in MLB, 1st in division; 6th in slug% in MLB, 2nd in division

Cards 12th in ERA in MLB, 2nd in division;  Cards 20th in BAA in MLB, 3rd in division

Cards tied for 25th-27th in errors in MLB, 4th in division

2006—this was probably the best team of this milinneum.

Cards 14th in runs in MLB, 1st in division;  Cards 1th in Slug% in MLB, 2nd in division

Cards 16th in ERA in MLB, 3rd in division; Cards 15th in BAA in MLB, 3rd in division

Cards tied for 10th- 14th in errors in MLB(5 teams tied), 1st in division

***Surprising to me is the high number of errors that the Cards have displayed in all 3 years!

What a great match!!

….I haven’t seen many of the World Cup games but the Belgium-Japan match was excellent….lots of action, ebb & flow, very exciting conclusion…after a scoreless 1st half, Japan scored twice in 4 minutes to open a seemingly untouchable 2-0 lead. Jan Vertonghen broke the ice for Belgium in the 69th minute with a header from outside the box. Just a few minutes later, another header from Marouane Fellaini as he outjumped, outmuscled the Japanese defender tied the match.  Belgium dominated …at least to my untrained eyes…the last 20-30 minutes of the match….they looked more athletic, fresher and more determined…..Belgium scored the winner with less than a minute remaining in stoppage time on “fast break”with several slick passes… Nacer Chadli tapped in the winner in full stride as Belgium becomes the 1st team in the round of 16 to rally from a 2 goal deficit.

…the “art” of the flop has been mastered by Brazil’s Neymar.  This highly talented player has become more well known..at least to me… for his ability to flop rather than to dazzle us with his skill…USA Today put it this way, “That’s why all the nonsense of diving and faking and feigning was such a part of its game during this tournament, perhaps like never before. Especially Neymar, who is a gem of the sport when he stays out of acting school, and should know better.” USA speculates that this flopping actually hurt Brazil late it the game as they wrote “Would Brazil have gotten a couple of borderline calls late if Neymar’s reputation for simulation didn’t precede him? We will never know”.  What does this flopping do to the game….well, I read an article that a youth Coach in Switzerland is now emphasizing & teaching the “art” of the flop to his team….ugh…that’s sad to me. Years from now….will more contact be permitted since referees will become immune to the apparent injuries that disappear when a whistle is blown against the opponents? Will this increased contact detract from the beauty of the game?

Sports odds & ends…

…so Mizzou is promoting Drew Lock for the Heisman…..I don’t know if he’s the best college player in the country or not….but I do know that you won’t win the Heisman if your team has 4…maybe even 3… losses…will Mizzou do that?  I don’t see them beating Alabama or Georgia right off the bat.

….so what’s happened to the Washington Nationals?  Chosen by many…if not most…experts to be sitting on top in the NL East…the Nats are in 3rd place 5 games out of 1st place behind two rejuvenated teams—Atlanta Braves & Philadelphia Phillies and only 1 game over .500.  What happened?   Only Parkway Central grad, Max Scherzer has performed at a high level….on the other side of the tracks…Super-star Bryce Harper seems to be too preoccupied with his upcoming free agency bonanza than his current play. He’s hitting a dismal .211. Recently he went through a  7 for 55 stretch!!!  Injuries have been a critical factor for the decline……missing Stephen Strasburg in the starting rotation has been a major setback. Gio Gonzalez has gone 0-3 in his last 3 starts. Daniel Murphy missed the first 2 months of the season due to injury and has been slow to recover…hitting just .188 for the season. Adam Eaton…while not a star…was looked upon to “set the table” for the sluggers….his season began in June after recovering from an injury and has started of late to display his On-base % skills. The Nats HAVE won their last 2 games…will this be the beginning of a resurgence?  Or just a momentary spurt? Stay tuned….Remember last year….Dusty Baker got fired for never advancing far in the playoffs…gee….I wonder if the Nats would settle for a playoff spot now?

….after a sluggish start to the 2018 season…I think due….at least in part….to missing the entire spring training, Lance Lynn won his 6th game of the season for the Minnesota Twins. The Twinkies have only won 37 games total in 2018…Lynn still has a high ERA of 5.21 but his in his last start he gave up 1 run in 6 innings….I’m not pushing him for the Cy Young but …right now… he’d be 2nd in wins on the Cardinals with his 6 victories.

…thinking of Lynn’s free agency …..I tend to think that the mega-stars of the MLB free agency will get their millions but the mid-level players will NOT get those multi-year mega-contracts any longer…..I think most will get the 1 or 2 year deals….very good….but not super …and less than previously… money…MLB teams are realizing that the long multi-year contracts tie them up too much.

…speaking of long-term….thanks for making it to the bottom…..

 

 

 

 

 

MLB should Score a Goal by Bob Ryan

NO….we’re not confused….the MLB is a baseball league and goals come in hockey…..but….here’s a suggestion…again…that the MLB should “borrow”from the NHL..

….why doesn’t the MLB adopt the NHL policy of not “dressing out” their roster….the MLB could carry 27 players and “dress out” 25 per game….it would really save us from all the shuttling back & forth from the minors & DL …add stability to this rocky flight across the MLB season….this simple suggestion does have ramifications….like…the MLB owners would have to pay a bit more in salary…one would assume that these players getting bounced back & forth from being on the playing field and the booth would be minimum pay players for the most part…probably pitchers….the union would be ecstatic since more players would be added to the roster….along with this proposal….I would like to see the 10 day & 15 day DL rule removed….30 day ..maybe even 20 day DL should be the minimum….let’s remove all these “games” about blisters, aches that miraculously disappear in 10 days without quick flights to the Mayo Clinic, Lourdes, or some other miracle place….while we’re at……currently there is a rule that when players are sent down to the minors that they must remain there for 10 days…..I think the rule should go both ways….when a player moves up the MLB….they must remain on the roster for 10 days…..these 1 day stints cheapen the game…..fans like to identify with the players…currently players are pulled up to the majors and shoved back down to “meet a pressing need” before the common fan even knows his name…….the only fans who can identify with these yo-yo players are pilots…in one city for a stop and off again….cut it out…MLB rosters do HAVE 25 players…. and some minor league player…..is going to step in…. on a 12 hour notice and be better than one of your 25….if he is better…bring him up permanently. With this 27 man roster, a team should be able to withstand a missed turn in the rotation without modifying their roster.

…..the current trend in the MLB is to continue to shorten the expected outing of the starting pitcher… make each game a parade of pitchers who throw about 2-3 innings up to the 6th inning…then the 1 inning march begins from the bullpen…it happened yesterday—Philadelphia threw 7 pitchers..no one going longer than 2 innings!….I’ve written the past about the golden number of 75 -80 games over a couple years…it seems that at that point relief pitchers are buying a ticket to an extended stay on the DL in the following year and/or a shortened career….sure…a couple exceptions exist but here’s some data on the Cardinals….and I’m sure it parallels all other teams across the league about pitchers who throw over 75 games/year…including post-season.

….Trevor Rosenthal..2013..74 regular season+10 post season=84 games; 2014…72regular season+ 6 post season=78 games; 2015..68 games + 2 post season= 70; 2016 arm issues cut performances to 45 games; 2017—50 games–out of baseball now

…Edward Mujica…2012(with Cards)—70 games + 9 post season=79 total; 2013-65 games + 2 post season= 67 games;2014- 64 games(arm issues begin); 2015 – 49 games; 2016 missed entire season; 2017- just 5 games…

…Seth Maness… a man with a slighter build…hence, probably not the stamina as the larger, stronger relief hurlers….2014…73 games + 2 post season=75; 2015..76 games + 2 post season; 2016 arm issues limit him to 29 games; 2017 removed from MLB Royals roster after 8 games-out of baseball

…Greg Holland…2013.. 61 games(a bit below our threshold); 2014…65 regular season+ 11 post season=76 total games; 2015…48 games then sidelined by arm issues; 2016 missed entire season; 2017. 61 games + 1 post season= 62….terrific 1st half….not so much in 2nd half of season…2018 with Cards…now at 23 games with 4.42 ERA

…Matt Bowman….75 games last year….DL trips this year

….there are a couple exceptions…relief pitchers who last a long time….I’d suggest that most don’t throw 75 games a season….Aroldis Chapman…maybe the longest “power” pitcher currently…has thrown in consecutive years since 2011 this amount of games(including post season):  54, 71, 68, 54, 65, 72 (world series run), last year 58….personally…I think he left the Cubs because of his “overuse” in the post-season; currently..as we approach July 4th.. at 32 games…on track for 65ish games….it seems that some managers….like the one here in the Lou…uses the Kleenex principle…use em up quickly …then throw em away…funny when you consider that Matheny was a catcher….however….I really do believe that…. Because he landed in the post season very early in his managerial career….. Matheny manages EVERY game like he’s in the post-season…can’t do that over 162…

….while we’re at it….hockey could borrow some ideas from the MLB….

in the MLB…every stadium is different…different dimensions to all parts of the field….why can’t hockey let each team have their own dimensions for their home rink….Boston already has their own size rink….what if they were a bit longer..or wider…or both….would it REALLY change the game?

…..why not play the same team back-back….make it a 2 game series at at same site  …each team would have the same amount of rest….maybe not EVERY series….but playing the same team on consecutive nights could be fun…it’d sure save on all the traveling around for these 1 games series…especially against  your divisional teams

Weekly thoughts on the Cards…

….despite the 4 game skid…I think the Cards are poised for a strong 2nd half…..DeJong will be back in the lineup….Molina missed several games in the 1st half and is healthy now…Jack Flaherty has “grown” from last year with his wicked slider…the curve balling Miles Mikolas continues to tantalize batters and has shown no drop off in his efficiency…Ozuna seems to have settled down and is now performing close to his lifetime averages–.278, 20 HR, 88rbi’s…. Matt Carpenter has gone back to the future with Doc Brown and found his stroke…and more importantly…his attitude …about hitting as he did in 2013 when he hit .318 with 55 doubles, was the silver slugger for 2B, 1st in runs scored in NL, 1st in hits in NL, 2nd in Offensive WAR in NL…the bullpen appears to be improving as Holland returns with a strong arm (he’s become a ½ season pitcher…take ur pick 1st half or 2nd half….Colorado had the 1st half last year…and we hope the Cards have the 2nd half this year); Holland will join another veteran, Bud Norris, who’s been sharp and with a bit less use by Manifesto should provide a wonderful 1-2 closing punch….John Brebbia and Mike Mayers should be taken off the Memphis red-eye special and remain with the team as a permanent fixtures…. MO often imports a significant player at the trading deadline to reenergize the team…and the fan base….Nolan Arennado?….dont’ get my hopes up!….the Cards must find a way to utilize Dexter Fowler… platoon him with Bader for a day & Pham another day….they can’t trade or cut Fowler now due to his abysmal numbers and salary….so they MUST find a way to use him…..why waste that spot on the roster?….also …to improve the team, Sam Tuivalala and Brett Cecil need to be moved. Cecil has practically no value so the Cards may have to close their eyes and “eat the contract”…Tui could be moved easily…his stuff may be “good” but he isn’t!

….Looking back at the Cards golden teams of the 60’s & 80’s…both of those teams were very good defensively in the middle infield….Maxville/Groat & Javier; Ozzie & Tommy Herr…both managers swallowed less offense…at times….to have that defense on the field daily..are the Cards willing to make that commitment NOW or does hitting alone prevail?  What do you think?

…..Cleveland challenged Jose Martinez “pulling off the bag”….they were wrong…he had remained in touch with 1B on that throw…but….I DO think that Jose DOES …and with some frequency…lose contact with the base on throws…speaking of Martinez….he’s seeing many more off-speed change ups at the plate now….

…How is it that Kolton Wong gets hit so often? He’s been hit 12 times!  He’s walked 16 times….either… he freezes for just a moment and bingo…another HBP…or…he’s so shaken about his own skills that he willingly takes the plunk on the arm/leg/shoulder/where ever to get on base…I tend to think that it’s the latter…if so…..the Cards can’t look to him in the long run as a 2B.

…Greg Garcia seemingly performs well at any position in the infield…the Cards are afraid that he’ll be “exposed”…..MLB vernacular for ….if he plays every day, the opponents will find his weakness and “expose” it….reminds me of the same talk about John Jay….currently Jay is playing every day now for the Arizona D-Backs after KC Royals traded him recently…D-Backs happen to be in 1st place…Jay is hitting .291 for the season with 320 AB…Jay is batting Lead off for the D-Backs…guess they haven’t exposed him yet.

…uncharacteristically…Manifesto tried hanging on to Luke Weaver through the 5th inning so that he could pinch hit for him on Saturday night and save a pitcher….Braves blew open the game with 6 runs in the 5th….game over

…before shuffling off …more on the Cards…. Now… we don’t expect our “super” heroes on the ballfield to shine up their halo nightly…or even weekly … but …at a miniumum…we hope that fans can identify with them as good players and good people ….on Saturday morning we learned of a fight that took place outside an ESL strip joint in 2014… ….the fight included Carlos Martinez, Oscar Tavares and Marcell Ozuna… so clearly Ozuna was “pals” with Carlos way back in 2014….makes me wonder if the Cards target in the Miami OF chase last January was ALWAYS about Ozuna….the talk about Stanton…or even Yelich…was just subterfuge to make it appear to Miami that the Cards were willing to take “less” when the received Ozuna….maybe they thought that surrounding Carlos with his ‘friends” that would help his performance on the field…who knows? ..anyway….Makes me wonder ….we do know that “birds of a feather, flock together” … and what type of birds flock together to strip joints in East St Louis?

Quick trip through the MLB…

…btw….it seems to me that sharp dropping curve balls seem to be an antidote for the “elevated” swing angle employed currently by most MLB’ers….check out Mikolas and you’ll see my point…the Braves pitcher…Fried..used the same pitch against the Cards

…thank goodness we don’t rely  on the MLB “experts” when going to the race track….these “experts”… how do I become one?…..bemoaned how bad Miami was going to be in 2018 during the off season selling off…some would say…giving away…their entire outfield in the winter…granted….Miami isn’t a contender but…..they are a long way from being the worst team in the MLB….Miami has 33 wins while Baltimore has 23 wins…about 2 wins a week …and Kansas City has fallen way off the cliff to a meager 25 wins….and….yet another team…Chicago White Sox are worse than the Marlins..the ChiSox have 28 wins for the 2018 season…

…..Did ANYONE think in March that on July 1 that….

…. in the NL East, Atlanta would be in 1st place followed by the Philadelphia Phillies?

…. Scooter Gennet would be leading the NL in batting?

…. Shin-Soo Choo would have reached base in 41 straight games?

…. That Dexter Fowler could be hitting .167 with the 5th most AB on the Cardinals?

…. some guy named Ozzie Albies (Atlanta) would be leading the NL in 2B and be 4th in HR in the NL?

…. the Dodgers would have only the 10th highest number of wins in the MLB to this point?

…. Jason Heyward would have a higher average than Anthony Rizzo, Chris Bryant and Wilson Contreras and Cubs would still only be 1.5 games out of 1st place?

….that a ANY regular player could be hitting .340 on this date…yep…Jose Altuve

…that Swing-When(my spelling)Oh (Toronto) would have as many wins as Carlos Martinez (4) on July 1

World Cup in a glance…

….Russia beats Spain in penalties….I only saw the last 2/3 of the 2nd half and the extra periods….Russia was back in their shell while Spain controlled the ball for up to 90% of the time….not the up & down, back & forth action that I prefer….at one point, Spain made a beautiful cross into the face of goal and the Spanish attacker was practically tackled so that he couldn’t get his head on the ball….instantly, my son said, “the fix is in….Russia will advance”…after review, it was ruled “no foul”…now I don’t know if his thought has any validity but I do know that the game wasn’t real entertaining me….a non-soccer guy.

 

Thanks for making it to the bottom…..YOUR thoughts are always invited…everyone has an idea….would love to read YOURS….put it on the site or email it to me and I’ll get it on the site for you…thanks…hope that you enjoy a wonderful holiday week!

 

 

What might have been for Cards by Bob Ryan

What might have been…

So Cleveland Indians come calling this week…..makes me think about what might have been….when TLR left the managerial StL  position….the two top candidates were Mike Matheny and Terry Francona… …Matheny was coming off 2 High school championships…Matheny led the Cards to 4 consecutive post-seasons in his first 4 seasons….has missed the last two seasons in the playoffs.  He is 21-22  .488 in post season games; has won 5 post season series and lost 4 series. Francona began his managing career in 1997 with a 4 year stint with the Phillies. He accepted the Red Sox position  in 2004.. Francona won 2 world championships, 5 of 8 years in post-season @ Boston He began the Indians job in 2012, led them after a 6 year playoff draught to post season play in 2013, 2016, 2017. Cardinal management must have wanted a young face, someone better than Tony in post-game, someone that they thought would be better with young players(he isn’t), maybe a brand new manager that they could control a bit easier. Myself…..I can’t figure why the Cards passed on Francona…he’s was/is a proven winner, charming and engaging with press(not Matheny’s strength), and handles his team and his bullpen well…not even the strongest supporters of Matheny would disagree that Matheny’s use of bullpen is a liability to the team.

Quick Card “takes” from this week….

…Although he isn’t hitting a great deal…..Harrison Bader improves an OF defense that has been very weak in the corners…defense …in general  has been a real issue with the Cards over the past few years

….Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, & Luke Weaver saved the rocky boat from sinking .   Jack Flaherty’s losing performance was outstanding!!  Mikoas & Weaver provided 1 strong and one rather good performance that kept the Brewers within sight ….so…..maybe this trio will keep the Cards in the race.

…btw…Mikolas continues to demonstrate that you DON’T need a 95+ fastball to win in the MLB…he moves that curve ball around….he starts batters off with breaking balls…I’ve even noticed that he throws it above the waist on the outside part of the plate

….I’ve never seen an OF jump so high for a fly and it landed next to him….Ozuna’s play was startling.

…the more I watch Jose Martinez stumble around at 1B…he is hurting us tremendously defensively…. some think that his hitting compensates for it….yes…he has hit well…trade him now to an AL team while his value is high…we can’t win in the long run with a 1B who misses so many throws to 1B

…I’m still suspicious of all the Yadi power this late in his career…players don’t get stronger in last 30’s

…Brent Suter (Milwaukee’s starter) worked quickly…he got the ball back, looked for the sign, and delivered the ball…Cardinal batters seemed bothered by the rapidity of his deliveries…they’d step out…ask for time…look around…I liked it….the game moved along.

…How far “away” was Miami last year with the OF of Stanton, Yelich & Ozuna? Wouldn’t it have been better to just find some pitching? This franchise hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2003…ugh

…Reds sweeping the Cubs? What’s going on?

World Cup….

…Senegal just couldn’t hold off Japan late in the game….Senegal’s athletes seemed bigger & faster but also seemed to tire late in the 2-2 match

…It’s amazing that the world is so close in competitive level in these World Cup matches..tiny countries like Iceland compete…but USA  can’t make the “cut?”

…England’s set pieces were really incredible in their easy 6-1 rout of Panama

Celebrity Spotlight…….

….Does Michael Porter, Jr have the Dwight Howard syndrome? Despite earning millions. Dwight Howard has been an ordinary, non-dominating center in the NBA….he was drafted #1 overall in 2004…he forced a trade in 2012 to LA Lakers…and has bounced around regularly since then…why?  ….. his career serves as a perfect example of a talented athlete  with a character flaw—goofy, fun-loving nature athlete who fails to push himself to his limit and misses the  seriousness of a professional  athlete who MUST continue to improve/evolve as a player.  Even during his tenure with the Lakers he drew some very critical criticism from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar went on to say: “Dwight Howard is a perfect example of the fact that ‘potential has a shelf life.’ ….this topic comes up as discussions about Michael Porter Jr have emerged. .. Porter…thought by many to be the #7 overall pick in the pre-draft ratings…. has spoken quite a bit about how confident he is in his abilities. Further, he’s made some comparisons of himself  to some of the NBA’s best wing players. He is no doubt a talented player, but the possibility of him affecting the locker room negatively is a real concern  to future suitors….and Porter….save 1 game at beginning & a couple at the end of the 17-18 season @ Mizzou missed the entire season of possible growth. Being picked #14 should send a message to Porter…but will he hear it?

….Hate to be an “I told you so” but……I said as Brendan Morrow was being chased as a free agent that the overwork in the 2017 post season would catch up to him in mid-2018….well, the 33 year old RHP recently was placed on the 10 day DL…he was enjoying a another strong season….16 saves in 25 appearances….why so many non-save appearances?….anyway his 1.59 era while striking out 25 batters and issuing only 4 walks is impressive.  Morrow pitched in all 7 World Series games and 14 post season games for the Dodgers last year.  He had pitched in just 45 games throughout the entire 2017 season but that post-season overload has Morrow paying the price this year.

….Retirement of Adrian Gonzalez…June 10…..parts of 15 seasons….not a HOF’er but a very sold MLB player for a long time…..in his career…5 all-star games; 2 silver sluggers; 2014 led NL in RBI’s

As he left the MLB playing field, Gonzalez was….9th in hits-2015; 5th in RBI-1202,8th in HR—317, 6th in doubles-437 among active players

…..Rick Porcello continues his Yo-Yo career…..

In 2009, he was 14-9-3rd in AL Rookie of the Year voting; 2010..dropped below .500 10-12; in 2011repeated his  14-9 record again; 2012 fell below .500 to 10-12; 2013 back again over .500 13-8; 2014..for the only time in his career …back-back .500+ seasons 15-13; 2015 he sank to a career poorest 9-15; 2016….he won the Cy Young with a 22-4 record, career best ERA of 3.15, career high of 223 innings; 2017…below .500 again..this time 11-17…now in 2018….bouncing back…he’s 9-3. Porcello is a 10 year vet, 290 starts as an MLB’er, 9 complete games, over 1700+ innings pitched; overall record 127-102….along with this yo-yo type of career….makes one wonder why?  

Wrapping up with Red……

With the passing of Red Schoendienst a few weeks ago, a part of the Cardinal fiber left us…..a winning player and a true person, Schoendienst is best remembered for his outstanding, genuine personality.  He was a REAL man who adhered wonderfully to solid core values—family, friends, religion. In the terrific comments referring to Red’s personality…I think that his playing ability might have been overlooked a bit….but Red could play….and did play superbly for a long time. Red is 15th ALL-TIME in games played @ 2B, he’s 13th ALL-time in most hits for a 2BHe was in 10 All-Star Games throughout his career. He was in a post season as a 23 year old, he hit .286 in 1946 as Cards won the 7 game series from the Red Sox…during the 46 season, he WON the televised HR Derby! In 1950 he won the All-Star game for the NL with a HR in the 14th inning. His 1956 league best fielding percentage of .9934 stood as a record for fielding for 30 years (broken by Ryne Sandberg). IN fact he led the NL in fielding % for 6 years. In June 1956 he was traded to the New York Giants to make room for an up & coming youngster, Don Blasingame. The following year he was sent to Milwaukee…..it was the final piece that the Braves needed…..they already had Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Johnny Logan, Billy Bruton, Joe Adcock, Del Crandall, Warren Spahn,  Bob Buhl, Lew Burdette. The Braves won the World Series in 1957 beating the Yankees …Red was voted #3 for the NL MVP award in 1957.The Braves lost to NYY in 1958 Series. In 58-59 off-season Red was diagnosed with tuberculosis….I still remember seeing a picture of Red being rolled around in a hospital in a huge tube around his entire body. In 1960, his average fell way off…Braves discarded him….he was picked up by the Cards  for 61 & 62 season…hit .301 and .300 primarily as a pinch hitter when he was 38 & 39 years old!! According baseball stats…Red earned a total of $509,00 in his playing career with the highest being  $46,000 in 1958. As a manager of 12 full seasons, 2 partial seasons, he won 1 world series, 1 NL pennant , finished 2nd 3 different times, he won 1041 games as a manager

Stats you didn’t know…

…Mizzou football attendance was a healthy  360,429 for 7 games…51.490 avg…not in top 30 of DI home attendance but neverthess anyone over 50000/game is drawing some people..it was a drop of 1200+/game but that horrible beginning kept away fans for a few weeks. To give you an idea the Tigers are very comparable to K-State  51,301; N. Carolina  50,071;  Arizona St 51, 380

…St Louis U baseball is listed in a couple key batting categories in Division I baseball….the Bills were 27 in D1 in Slugging %@ .450 and 40th in team scoring with 6.7 runs/game. The Billikens finished 38-20 and qualified for the NCAA Tournament due to their championship in the Atlantic-10 tournament. It was the 4th A-10 baseball championship for the Bills …1st since 2013.

…Drew Lock (Mizzou QB) led the SEC in passing yards…he was 10th in the country with 3964 yards… the offensive coordinator isn’t expected to throw the ball quite as often

 …Mizzou basketball had the largest increase in attendance throughout the NCAA D1 world….the Tigers went up 3635/game….that put them at 9,930/game which was 40th in the NCAA in basketball attendance.  Illinois was 30th in the country with  11,381/game. The Southeastern Conference ranks #3 in basketball attendance…behind #1-Big Ten and #2 ACC…no surprise there…

…YOUR thoughts are always invited (I don’t expect you to agree)….if you have trouble posting it online….send it to me….I’ll get it done for you….Thanks for reading & responding!!

Exploring the MLB by Bob Ryan

There is no question that the fans of the Lou are Cardinal fans….generally most games are “on” as we watch intently or while doing something else….we scrutinize the pitching changes, the lineup, the attitudes of the players….etc, etc…..but finding the stories of the MLB is like our explorers of the past finding a new continent….we see them from afar and hesitate to go deep into the country…so….let’s explore the MLB..

….a team being lost in the shuffle on the MLB land scape is the Seattle Mariners. Seattle is 46-26 …20 games over .500…yet still in 2nd place …behind the Amazing Astros….Seattle is led by Jean Segura… remember him…. at one time a Brewer….2nd in league with a .340 average, 5th in runs scored, 4th in stolen bases….traded to Arizona after Milwaukee…then AZ moved him to Seattle….Seattle signed him to a 5 year deal (with 6 year option)…still just 28 years old…Seattle also obtained Mitch Haniger with Segura…hard trade to figure from Az’s side of things….Segura his .319 for the D-backs and was 13th in MVP voting for the year?? Haniger…also in prime age, 27….has 16 HR, .269 average….btw….Haniger leads the AL in Outfield Assists in 2018!.. Seattle also sees the aged slugger Nelson Cruz still belting round trippers with regularity….Dee Gordon was sizzling at the start of the season…has cooled a bit but still keeps pressure on defense with his speed…Guillermo Heredia….is CF….can’t hit much but can play some defense….the Mariners are TERRIFIC in the bullpen… Alex Colome…recently acquired and former closer of Tampa Bay… sought by Cards last winter… is the 8th inning man now…he has 7 saves in 9 outings….the closer is Edwin Diaz….let me give you a taste of his stuff…in June…9.1 innings, 1 run, 14 strikeouts….in 3 of his last 4 saves…he’s faced 3 men in the 9th inning….now…that’s a closer.also Juan Nicasio will be returning from DL soon to strengthen 7th inning level…. so…it appears Seattle will be in there for the long run….btw….I couldn’t help but notice…some of the Starting pitchers ..one is Marco Gonzalez….I MUST admit…..I didn’t think that Marco “had it” to be a MLB pitcher but….check out these stats thus far…14 starts, 7-3, 79 inn, 82 hits, era 3.42, whip 1.28….his age startled me… he’s only 26 years old…Mike Leake is another…his numbers aren’t going to WOW you…but he’s there every 5 days…has 7 wins already….. don’t know if the pitching can hold out thru Sept for Seattle.

…btw….why didn’t the Cards REALLY go after Colome?  Cards need to give up some of those “prospects”…. Ya know my thoughts on prospects….it’s like prospecting….most of what you get isn’t really gold…so don’t expect EVERY prospect to “be the one”…would you trade Weaver now for Colome?  I know it’s too late…but….pull the trigger MO…worse thing that can happen is that you miss the target…but…if you don’t shoot….you won’t hit the target either!!

…the Washington Nats go out to obtain Kelvin Herrera from KC for some young players to strengthen their bullpen….gee…does anyone know of another  team that is really struggling in the bullpen and has failed with a $14m acquisition that needs bullpen help….the Cards could have cast aside Holland…go to a different KC relief hurler to help solve their bullpen woes….why do we keep playing the Memphis shuttle…there’s a reason those pitchers are in the minor leagues !

…..while we’re on the Nationals…..so Bryce Harper may have been lining up his chips for the mega-monster contract he expected as he entered his free agency after 2018…..not so fast…..Harper is hitting .212…swinging indiscriminately at any fastball….in or out of strike zone … lack of discipline would be a kind description…generally ..he’s been called, “ a selfish, losing player” recently in the press….not exactly a label that you want to wear around….often…. it seems athletes perform at their highest level leading up to their free agency year….with goal to increase the value of the huge contract waiting for them….not so thus far for Bryce Harper …but….he is completing a 2 years $35m contract this year….so….it isn’t like he’s “hungry” for that big money….he already has It .

….Boston Red Sox are actually doing what the Cards hope to do…..Xavier Bogarts, Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi,  Jackie Bradley, Rafael Devers….all every day starters for the BoSox …. All were  drafted or signed directly by Boston!   Half of their every-day lineup was acquired via draft… true the free agent acquisition JD Martinez has provided Boston with a power slugger…but…..it’s the “farm” that’s saving the day…and saving money …. for Boston.  Martinez is a perfect fit for Fenway…his stroke plays well to both power alleys…22 HR, league leading 55 rbi’s AND a .315 average are incredible numbers… Funny… Martinez was originally by Houston…released after  a few years, hit .300+ for most of his 3+ years at Detroit… then was traded to Arizona last year…..they wanted him for the “run to the roses” in October…didn’t work out…free agency….now on the verge of being a super star.

…so most Cardinal fans keep looking @ NL Central and expect to see the Cubs on top….really, it’s amazing that they are as close as they are to Milwaukee…..check out these numbers…Rizzo .246, 11 hr; Bryant .281, 9 HR; Javier Baez .255 14 HR; Wilson Contreras .276, Ian Happ  .232…..yet with those stats and a team mark of .258, the Cubs are 4th in the MLB in average and 4th in runs scored….Cards are 16th @ .244!!….

….shockingly….Atlanta Braves are relevant again!….I mean….how long has it been since Maddux, Chipper and the boys dominated their division?…..no one….at least no one that I know….saw this coming….currently  in 1st place in the East … Freddie Freeman is being recognized as a super star, Nick Markakis has pushed himself out of the ordinary mode into a the league leading vote getter for the All-Star game….he’s never even BEEN in an all-star game previously…all this at 34 years of age…he’s in his 13th year in the MLB…lifetime .289 average..played 9 years @ Baltimore prior to his Atlanta stint..currently leads NL in hits….he’s been the league leader in 9 of his seasons at innings played in the field…so…..he’s a gamer….now though….he’s clearly  excited about being surrounded by some talent…some youthful, talented infielders around him…. 2B Ozzie Albies…hitting .286, 16 HR, 41 rbi’s, league leading 53 runs and league leading 21 doubles, just 21 years old…he was signed as an amateur when he was just 16 years old; SS-Dansby Swanson and 3B Ryan Flaherty. Swanson was the 1st choice of Arizona in 2015…traded by DBacks as part of Shelby Miller trade. Flaherty has been around the block…8th season in MLB…..probably caught up in the excitement of being on a winning team. Atlanta’s foursome of their starting staff all have 14 starts each…. being led by 25 year old lefty Shawn Newcomb 8-2, 2.70 era, 1.18 whip;  Mike Foltynewicz , 26 years old, 5-4 batters hitting .199 against him; 27 year old Julio Teheran,  5-4, batters hitting just .209 vs him; veteran Brandon McCarthy was obtained to add depth and experience to this staff…which he has done for the first 3 months of the season…..just as a comparison…Cards have 3 pitchers with 14 starts…Mikolas, Wacha, Weaver…so….not much difference 3 pitchers  vs 4 with 14 starts.

….the way that the game is played now….HR being the primary focus….maybe the MLB teams should back up….the more important factor is scoring runs (to win games)….the top 6 teams in scoring runs right now?   #1 Houston Astros-388; #2 Boston-371; #3 NYY-363; #4 Atlanta-344; #5 Cleveland—340;and #6 Cubs -337..aren’t these the leaders of MLB now?

…sad state of hitting in MetLand….highest batter …Asdrubal Cabrera is hitting a whopping .272…Brandon Nimmo is actually at .287 but he has about 100 less at-bats…so….he may not be considered a “full time” player….any more questions why NY Mets aren’t  winning?  Speaking of the Mets…what happened to Jay Bruce this year…..he’s “aged” quickly….hitting .212 with 3 home runs in 212 at-bats this year….boy…the Mets had counted on him….sorry…he’s done….

….some MLB BATTING numbers…with comments

….Top OB%(only batters over .400)–#1 Mike Trout .462; #2 Fred Freeman .427; Joey Votto .425; Mookie Betts .419…wow–.462….on base almost…almost half the time!!!

….RBI(must be over 50)—#1 JD Martinez—55, #2 Trevor Story-54, #3-4Mitch Haniger/Manny Machado-53, #5 Eduardo Suarez-52  ……Trevor Story & Eduardo Suarez….would have never guessed those two names

Runs—(over 50) #1 Mike Trout-60; #2 Mookie Betts-55; #3/4 Francisco Lindor/George Springer-54; #5-6—Ozzie Albies/Charlie Blackmon-53; #7-8 Tommy Pham/Jean Segura-52; #9 Andrew Benintendi-51; #10-11 Paul Goldschmidt/Edwin Rosario-53..I thought someone said that Goldschmidt was off to a bad start?

 

Bouncing to the NBA….

….2018 NBA Championships won the long-range Warriors demonstrated the “new” approach…..long ago….kick out passes often set up 3-pt shooters ….now the defenses are spread out so much to guard all of these 3-point bombers….the inside game benefits as players cut the basket for quick drop-down passes…the ever-changing world of adapting in professional sports.

…while we’re in the NBA…LeBron appears to be moving again…..to me…it seems like LA is the destination….he’s longing for the “big-time” adulation…where is but tinsel land? Btw….he was absolutely terrific in the finals of the NBA…he IS the class of the league right now.

….3rd NBA comment….THIS clearly is a record for me…….I hope that Michael Porter is ready for the grueling athletes of the NBA….I would be more concerned about his mental & emotional  steadiness than his athleticism.

 

You didn’t ask me but…here’s what I’d do against the Cards if I were an opposing manager……

 ….throw a  1st pitch strike of every AB to Matt Carpenter

…bunt on Carlos Martinez….early and often..

…challenge  Ozuna as often as possible while running the bases

….start a RHP with hopes of Dexter Fowler being inserted as a starting OF

…if Jose Martinez plays 1b…..trying drawing many throws to 1B from pitcher…..he’ll eventually miss one

…mostly breaking balls to Gyorko…any fastballs would be high & out of the zone

….dont’ throw strikes to Jose Martinez…..breaking balls that dip below the strike zone or high riding fastballs up & in

..1st pitch to tommy Pham…..inside fastball just above the waist or under his overhanging elbow…get ahead In count….then off speed down; fastball up

…only swing at strikes from Matt Bowman…most of his outs come on pitches outside of strike zone

…encourage batters…especially early in the game…to concentrate on swinging only at strikes…take as many pitches as possible….get into the Cards bullpen

…swing at 1st pitch from Jordan Hicks…it’ll be a fastball

…pray that  Brett Cecil comes into the game

 

In case you missed last week’s blog…loaded with Cards stuff..here’s the link ..

 http://www.prepcasts.com/breath-of-air-by-bpb-r/

 

I’d love to read YOUR thoughts….send them back to me in an email… or publish yourself just below this article…..our tour of the MLB has not concluded…..

Breath of Air by Bob Ryan

So…it’s been awhile….I’ve been heavily concerned about a family issue for the past few weeks…but here’s a quickie …. To give me a breath of air…..and to hopefully keep you in touch….some looks @ NL standings and the Cards…..1st to the NL

….the NL Central…Cards are 35-28 as we’re just past the 3/8 mark of the season…7 games over .500….really not bad…but they were 5 games over .500 way back on  Sun Apr 22 with a  13-8 record… so they’ve been 22-20 for the last 42 games and 5-4 since June 1.  They’ve actually been slightly slipping as the games pile on. Meanwhile, Milwaukee & Cubs are …at this moment…tied for 1st place..some how it feels like the Cub engine is beginning to roll at full speed after a sluggish beginning..

NL East…not surprisingly, the Washington Nats are up high but the surprise is their dancing partner…the Atlanta Braves who are right in step with them…after decades….it seems J…the Braves have found some youthful talent….Phillies are better ….but not good enough to contend..no one…at least not me…expect the Braves to hang with the Nats throughout the entire summer.

NL West….after a stumbling beginning…the Dodgers were 4-9 at one point,  on May 8 they were still 15-20 in the W-L column,  May 16 was their low tide…lost to Miami to sink to 16-26 for the season! Can you imagine how it would have sounded on the StL airwaves with that record? With a win on Sunday, LA topped the .500 mark with a  33-32 record. This is a club that has the 26th oldest roster in the MLB (30 teams) so a slow start didn’t appear to be in their expectations. Dave Roberts…who holds a higher winning percentage as an LA manager @ .602 than Joe Torre, Don Mattingly, Walt Alston , Tommy Lasorda, Leo Durocher and Casey Stengal….had to be feeling the heat. Now he has the Dodgers rolling despite his $35m star pitcher…Clayton Kershaw…. holding a 1-4 record and reports are circulating that his season is going to be severely shortened due to injuries.

 

Digging deeper now into our Birds on theBat boys…

….batting….Cards have adopted a HR swing philosophy…Home runs…for some reason….seem to come in bunches….could it be the quality of the opponents pitching??….anyway….the Cards are 5th in HR but…is it the way to score runs?….They are only 10th in runs scored, 9th in batting average, 10th in slugging % and 10th in OPS in the National league (15 teams)….seems like too many dingers come with the bases empty…Cards are 12th in NL in drawing walks….getting baserunners w/o hits as become an overlooked part of the game. I’m not going to change all these sluggers….they ALL know that a high HR total fattens the pocketbook much more than a high average these days….who cares who wins the batting title?…It’s who’s wearing the HR crown that matters…I would suggest that some players should be motivated to have high OB%….don’t have 8 sluggers in the lineup…..maybe 4 or 5 sluggers while also having 2-3-4 players other players that have as a  main purpose is to get on base…put the ball in play…move things along…get pitchers to pitch off the stretch…..

…I’ve thought this for a long time now…..the effectiveness of MLB pitchers with runners on base tumbles substantially with ANY runners on base….thus…pitching off the stretch detracts from their effectiveness as a pitcher…. Use the Cards as an example…the statistics  with runners on base are listed below..compare them to the lower table with their overall stats

 

RK Player ERA IP▼ H R ER HR BB SO AVG WHIP
1 Wacha, M 4.59 33.1 19 20 17 1 10 22 0.178 0.87
2 Mikolas, M 4.6 29.1 25 18 15 1 3 17 0.24 0.95
3 Martinez, C 4.66 29 17 18 15 0 20 28 0.185 1.28
3 Weaver, L 8.69 29 28 30 28 2 10 22 0.269 1.31
5 Hicks, J 3.66 19.2 9 9 8 0 10 9 0.148 0.97
6 Flaherty, J 6.32 15.2 15 14 11 2 2 12 0.273 1.09
7 Norris, B 6.39 12.2 12 10 9 1 3 21 0.255 1.18
8 Tuivailala, S 5.23 10.1 11 6 6 0 3 8 0.282 1.35
8 Wainwright, A 5.23 10.1 8 7 6 0 7 10 0.229 1.45
10 Gant, J 11.7 10 12 15 13 1 4 9 0.308 1.6
11 Mayers, M 1.93 9.1 9 3 2 0 2 8 0.25 1.18
12 Bowman, M 8 9 8 8 8 1 8 11 0.258 1.78
13 Brebbia, J 7.88 8 10 7 7 1 3 8 0.303 1.63
14 Cecil, B 8.59 7.1 6 8 7 1 6 2 0.261 1.64

 

It appears to REALLY change for the younger starting pitchers (Weaver& Flaherty)

OVERALL Pitching STATISTICS

 

Player ERA▲ G-GS-SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG WHIP
Hicks, J 2.18 30-0-1 33 19 9 8 0 19 24 0.168 1.15
Mikolas, M 2.27 12-12 79.1 67 23 20 6 9 58 0.225 0.96
Wacha, M 2.47 13-13 76.2 55 24 21 5 30 67 0.201 1.11
Martinez, C 2.50 10-10 57.2 40 19 16 1 34 57 0.197 1.28
Mayers, M 2.50 14-0-1 18 19 6 5 3 5 14 0.264 1.33
 Gomber, A 3.18 4-0-0 5.2 2 2 2 1 6 3 0.133 1.41
 Flaherty, J 3.20 7-7 39.1 36 17 14 5 10 42 0.243 1.17
 Tuivailala, S 3.38 18-0 18.2 21 7 7 1 6 17 0.284 1.45
 Brebbia, J 3.48 16-0 20.2 18 8 8 2 5 22 0.222 1.11
 Norris, B 3.49 28-0 28.1 26 12 11 3 4 40 0.241 1.06
 Wainwright, A 4.00 4-4 18 19 9 8 2 14 15 0.275 1.83
 Weaver, L 4.35 13-13 68.1 65 35 33 7 25 60 0.251 1.32
 Gant, J 4.74 7-3 24.2 20 15 13 1 9 26 0.215 1.18
 Bowman, M 5.82 17-0 17 21 11 11 4 9 20 0.309 1.76
 Cecil, B 6.30 13-0 10 12 8 7 1 9 7 0.324 2.1

 

Some Major differences when comparing key pitchers with runners on base vs windup this year 

Hicks—ERA  jumps from 2.18 to 3.66;

Mikolas –ERA moves from 2.27 overall to 4.60 with runners on base

Weaver-overall ERA is 4.35 with runners on base 8.69

Carlos sees his ERA move from 2.50 overall to 4.66 with runners on base

….I would surmise that there are similar changes in effectiveness across the league…..soooo…get some men on base and the big boppers will do even better!!!

 

Pitching…

….Wacha & Mikolas have won 15 of the Cards 35 wins-WOW! 43% for the total team wins from  2 guys who were not expected to be the aces of the staff

…Martinez….who was portrayed as the ace in the preseason…and for the last couple years….just doesn’t win often enough…..often….he…himself is the culprit with a poor defensive play….recently he knocked a ball down on the mound and then threw to 1B from the ground…the Miami Marlin batter hustled and beat it out….a couple hits followed…..and bingo …Carlos was in trouble…recently, seemingly after experiencing his 1st sore arm issues of his life…..wildness has been an issue for Carlos. He should be in the prime of his career….looks like he’s just treading water in the “good” waters instead of moving to the deeper, more challenging “ace” waters

….Norris and Hicks have been the life preservers in the Cards bullpen thus far…the poised veteran..Norris throws “hard” enough with movement to be strong for an inning….Hicks is the new breed….throw a blazer …as hard as you can…..question is…how long can his arm take it?   Year?  Two?  Three?   Did I hear Trevor Rosenthal’s name pop up? Cards use the “Kleenex” principle….use em up quickly and throw em away….

….the abject failure of MO to find an effective free agent for the bullpen in the winter is a stigma on his record….Holland, Cecil, Leone, Gregerson have flopped more than Fosbury in the high jump

Roster configuration by Management….

……MO is the Overall boss…from my perspective…..he does have a farm director who continues to feed him reliable, steady …often every day players but he also has the responsibilities of procuring free agents and keeping possible Cardinal Free agent from leaving the team…..how has that worked out in the past few years….

…..the defense has been and continues to turn wins into losses…..neither of the corner outfielders have strong, accurate arms…..I’m sure that you noticed how the Marlins continued to challenge Ozuna when the possibilities existed. The Cards are 15th in the NL in defensive statistics

….Jose Martinez is the worst defensive 1B that I have ever seen in the MLB….he doesn’t seem to be able to modify his stretch, dig balls out of the dirt, change the angle of his glove hand to catch ball a bit off target….from my view…some…probably many of the errors “awarded” to the infielders should have been given to Martinez.  As bad as he is as an outfielder….at least he’d only get a few plays a game out there

….Pham ..at times….appears to be having difficulty “picking up the ball” quickly…his jumps… sometimes terrific…. aren’t always instant…as they need to be for a CF

…the Cards …over the past couple years…seem to waver between young & old players….Harrison Bader looks very, very promising….but how will we know with the 2-3x a week  storyline? Now… a couple years ago…..Randall Grichuk & Steven Piscotty….also looked promising J

….Last year ALL we heard was that the defense was weak because Oquendo wasn’t around…. well….he’s back…..but so is the bad defense…..folks…..it’s not the coaches who need to be blamed when players don’t field or hit…..it’s the PLAYERS!!!!

…..Fowler has been a real “dud”…..on the field and in the clubhouse….Ozuna is just now starting to show some glimpses of what the Cards expected….but….keep in mind…we’ve seen him doing it again Miami, cincy and other poor pitching teams. These minor leaguers …Pena, Munoz, etc…..are good backups but …with 12-13 pitchers and only 4 or 5 field players on the bench….you MUST have some quality players on the bench who can help you win games. Jed Gyorko is that type of  player.

…Tommy Pham hit .195 in May……but we have no REAL backup there …don’t tell me Fowler.

AND….it’s going to continue…read the review of a baseball expert of the Cards draft…

Story of Their Draft: The first five picks for the Cardinals are big-time upside power plays with some risk: 3B Nolan Gorman (1) has the best raw power in the 2018 draft class but swing-and-miss concerns and new defensive questions; RHP Griffin Roberts (1s) has one of the best breaking balls in the class, but he’s a converted reliever who might wind up in the bullpen long-term; 1B Luken Baker has huge righthanded power but has never been consistently healthy and has no defensive value; SS Mateo Gil (3) was a divisive prospect this spring and has some tools but is a projection play; and LHP Steven Gingery (4) blew out his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery after his first start of the season, but has a strong track record in the Big 12.

….Looks like slug ‘em in the box & drop ‘em in the field for the next several years

Thanks for giving a chance to unwind a bit….I’m hoping to get back into a routine in a few weeks but til…then….thanks for reading…hope that you’ll respond either below or by email….

 

 

 

 

Shipwrecked by Pirates by Bob Ryan

It’s early in the 2018 MLB season…no one is jumping off of the top of Arch…yet….but…there has be 27 games..  17% of the season…1 of the 6 months of the season are gone….so some observations have been noticed about our Cardinals….and MLB in general

..the Cards have played 7 games against one of the worst teams in the MLB—Cincinnati….the Reds have won 6 games this month…..the Cards have won all 7 games…good!….good teams are expected to beat bad teams…..but outside of those 7 games, the Cards record is 8-12 as of Sunday night. This level of play across the league doesn’t make us appear to be a playoff team….even a wild card team.

…On the “up” side…Jose Martinez continues to hit…hitting .306….teams seem to be pitching away from his power..0 HR in last 10 games….but…has hits in 6 straight games & 10 hits in last 10 games. While his defense has been holes in it…..he has to be in the lineup every day.

…now…when Martinez plays 1B…Carpenter generally plays 3B…remember  in the exhibition season that he was going to “Bounce around” defensively….it began in that way….he has played defensively  by position in this way–1B (2x), 2B (6x), 3B (16x)…however, since Wong has returned with some life in his bat…Carp has been stationed at the power-hitting  position of 3B most of the time….his woeful batting stats make it hard to understand why/how he’s playing every day…avg-.155, 2 HR, 10 rbi, 26 strikeouts in 84 AB…he is 7th in the NL in walks with 19. Hard to think that at 32 years of age that he’s sliding…. more likely, it’s his uppercut swing that he adopted a couple years ago.  As I mentioned last week, pitchers have adjusted to this swing and are inducing far more strikeouts & popouts/flyouts. I much preferred the line drive hitting of 2013 when he earned the Silver Slugger award for NL 2b….best average for his position.

….In the pre-season I was excited about Ozuna….still am….although…I must admit….it my excitement has weakened.. when acquired….It was pointed out that last year ALONE…was his break-out year…he hit.312 with 37 round trippers, and a terrific OPS of .924…..previously his numbers looked like this…. 2016-.266, 23 HR and OPS- .773; 2015 .259, 10 HR, OPS-.691; 2014 .269, 23 HR, OPS .772… some experts indicated that his success was due to better selection of pitches in the batters box…this year….it appears that he’s lost… let’s hope… temporarily….that discipline as a hitter and is swinging at pitches out of the zone…I also believe that he’s feeling pressure since the bar of expectations was raised for him by the trade to the Lou…some players thrive on that pressure….some don’t

….the leader of the Starting Rotation….Carlos Martinez has some sparkling stats….era 1.43, opposition batting avg .176 but the most important stat is just 2 wins in 6 starts…he’s 2-1….often it’s due to the shortness of his starts…the only games that he pitched more than 6 innings….he WON!….he’s removed after 6 innings 3 times already this year and the opening game was a 4.1 stint….he’s our ace…ride that horse longer….ace’s don’t go just 6 innings.

……the W’s were supposed to guide the young starting staff…Wainwright is on DL….is anyone REALLY  surprised? Wacha has a 4-1 record..most wins on the team..in his 5 starts he’s pitched 27+ innings….so he is …again… a 5 inning pitcher…Luke Weaver was outstanding in his  early starts…currently he’s 2-2 with a 5.17 ERA, good strikeout to walk ratio—30:14; batters are hitting .248 against him. In his 6 starts he’s pitched 31 innings…another 5 inning pitcher.  Miles Mikolas has been terrific! 3-0, era 3.27, whip under 1 @ .97, 5 starts, 33 innings…so he’s going 6 innings…even that 1 extra inning per game is key to bullpen usage…I’m not expecting a Cy Young here….but hoping….maybe 12-15 wins..a good signing…to this point of the season.. by MO

….the bullpen has been led by 33 year old Bud Norris…he has 5 saves, 20 K’s in 13 innings….shattering all expectations for him…Matt Bowman is traveling down the Seth Maness, Swing when-Oh, Rosenthal path that is well worn by the pitchers traveling up & down it frequently… already 12 appearances…remember Cards have played 27 games..a pace of 71 games/season….hey…what’s that dragging  along side of Bowman…oh…that’s his arm. Jordan Hicks was outstanding in Florida…up north…he’s still holding a 1.26 ERA in 12 appearances…read “Maness Malady” above…clearly belongs in our bullpen…let’s look now at MO’s acquisitions for the bullpen…..Dominic Leone…13 appearances.. 3.86 has been steady when not used in back-back days…Luke Gregorson..this soon to-be 34 year old pitcher has over 630 MLB appearances….let’s be kind….thus far in 2018 his 9.82 ERA accurately depicts his effectiveness…his average speed for his 2-seam fastball is far beneath the MLB average speed….MO….not so good here!…then there was the very late signing of our bullpen savior…Greg Holland….he had practically NO spring training… was thrust into an early game and walked 4 straight batters since then…he’s improved.. you really only could go in one direction …..his era is 7.36 in 10 appearances…his whip is 2.32.  MO is one of the few who have swung and missed on Holland this year….yeah, yeah…it’s early….but… I don’t see any improvement…do you?

….I’m even giving Manifesto a break here…he has a roster that is so loaded with pitchers that his bench is short….and weak…Greg Garcia coming off the bench ….only excites his family…no other fans. Gyorko should be playing more…probably instead of Carpenter…I’m not sure if that’s Manifesto or MO on the call. Bringing up O’Neill to have a lefthanded bat on the bench, does fill a need but O’Neill is young…can he be a “regular” pinch hitter?

…btw…in a recent article ranking the top 100 MLB players….the Cards had just 1 player…Marcell Ozuna at #42…so….should we REALLY expect much more than a .500 team?

Around other parts of MLB…

…poor Albert…..closing in on 3000 and he’s not the most revered….or even 2nd most admiered…on his team…what mightta been, coulda been…..

… LAA’s Shohei Ohtani’s sharp 1st week of pitching and hitting has hit a road bump since then….it doesn’t take MLB pitchers long to “figure you out”

….when a player is in his final year of his contract….they seem to play better…..that’s been a concept of my brother for years…..they see that huge contract in the horizon…..Manny Machado, hitting a league leading .361 with 9 HR is a perfect example….

…the NL East standings look really strange…..the favorite….Washington Nationals are in 4th place with a 12-16 record…and St. Louisian, Max Scherzer has 5 of those wins himself!  The Mets do have some good starters but their 17-9 mark won’t hold up at that same high rate..however, if Jay Bruce starts to hit and if the Mets stay at the top …or close to it….they’ll bring in additional talent later in the season. Atlanta & Philly are each 16-11…that’s a huge uptick for both of these teams….I doubt if both….or maybe even…either one will stay that high…but it is refreshing to see new faces, new teams succeeding.

…Arizona won 9 straight series and the Dodgers (12-15) have come out of the starting blocks slowly and now are missing some starters due to injuries…..the NL West may look differently this year.

…on the high school scene

…..a sport missed by many is lacrosse….a very popular sport on the East Coast, lacrosse is growing in the Lou….currently on the High School level, MICDS posts the one of the best records at 13-2 for the season. Both losses have been against out-town teams, Dallas Jesuit & Memphis U High.  Leading scorers for MICDS are Graham Bundy Jr with 65 goals and 34 assists. Strong support comes from Thomas Niedringhaus who has 47 goals and 31 assists.  Bundy and Niedringhaus are #2 & #3 respectively in scoring in the St. Louis Area. Taking care of the goalie duties is Joe Maguire who has all 13 wins to his credit including 4 shutouts.

…currently ranked #1 by StLToday in the Girls soccer poll are the Nerinx Hall Markers. The Markers are now 15-1 after their 1-0 victory over St. Joseph. Soph Lindsey Heckel and Senior Gabby Smith are the leading scorers on the team. Heckel has 11 goals and 5 assists while Smith is close behind with 10 goals and 6 helpers. Nerinx has really spread the scoring around this year.  16 different players have scored goals in their 16 games!

…..the Draft of the Nearly Forgotton League has come & gone…..frankly….I paid scant attention to any… much less …all… of  the pre-draft shows, post-draft analysis, etc….I suspect most of you were the same.

….Love to read YOUR thoughts….put them on the site….if you prefer…send them to me…I’ll get them up for you….Thanks for making it to the bottom.

It’s Cold … in many ways! by Bob Ryan

April has brought us several days of chilly, to cold, to very cold days….that’s not all that’s cold around the sports world….

…as of April 16, there had been 24 cancellations…forcing Doubleheaders….in some cities..they will be back-back, one admission…in the cities that really love baseball…e.g. StL….it’s day-night so that 2 admissions may be charged…isn’t that backwards?….charging more to the cities that really “follow” their team…oh wait… the goal is to make money…

….last week a new record….one that no team would like to hold…was established….On Tues, April 24, the Colorado Rockies played the Atlanta Braves….at 1st pitch it was an ice-cold 23 degrees!!!… Come on, this was suited more for the Alaskan Iditarod than Baseball…in fact the huskies pulling the sled probably outnumbered the crowd…oops…wrong word…really not a “crowd”…the gathering  @ Denver

….regarding the extremely cold temps in this very early part of the season….Nancy Armour of USA today writes that all inter-league play should be eliminated….it would provide a 142 game schedule…starting april 15  ..world series ending by Oct 15….do you feel the “cold” of the owners to that suggestion? Of course the players would have to see THEIR salaries reduced proportionately for the fewer games….. oops…now do you feel the players turning cold? Even colder that when they dressed like “bank robbers” or people snowboarding in November.  There’s no guarantee that it’d be warmer after April 15th but …. even without Vegas….we know the odds are much better.

….I can’t warm up to Manifesto because of these types of moves…..after pitching  Tyler Lyons for 1 inning, 17 pitches on Friday….MM brings in Lyons again on Saturday..it’s clear immediately that he doesn’t have his “stuff”….he falls behind the first 4 batters that he faces..Reds score 3 runs..which for them is really HUGE ….I realize that Manifesto has been cut all the way back to 7 relief hurlers in the bullpen…but why the back-back after a long outing?  Mike Maddux might as well be sitting in the Arch.. or on top of it…… instead of the dugout..what difference does he make?

…Head Coach Lovie Smith must have experienced chills up & down his back when he looked at  the 2018 Illini schedule…according to my research…it’s the first time in over 50 years that Illinois will NOT have Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State …any 1 of the  3 of them…on their schedule. I’m still not sure that they can win 6 games to earn a bowl bid! Btw….how does Lovie keep “getting a pass” for these poor teams?

…many…many batters have come out “cold”….as I write this, there are 29 MLB hitters with averages UNDER .200….some unfamiliar names to this Frigid beginning….Hunter Pence .172, Gregory Polanco & Giancarlo Stanto ..each at .197…btw …. Stanton has already heard the cold boo-birds of New York….it has to be a shock for him….in Miami…he could hear the beer vendors trying to sell their wares…now he actually sees AND hears the fans..the cold list continues….slugger Chris Davis is at .145…the Cards aren’t exempt….Matt Carpenter at .182, Dexter Fowler @ .181 and Kolton Wong .133….sure you can find Randall Grichuk at an ice cold mark .086 and smirk…..but reaaallllyyy is it that much different?

…after decades of being frozen out on my TV… the NBA has returned…at least for me….I’ve began watching it again…. no…can’t go a whole game yet….but it’s really a cleaner, faster version of college basketball…clear outs, phenomenal outside shooting, tremendous athleticism, crisper passing, less fouls. Just watched the Cavs-Pacers game….it was outstanding!…coming right down to the last 15 seconds with multiple possessions….the Pacers with a raucous crowd cheering them on….beat the Cavs.  NONE of the my Hawks favorites that I cheered for in the Lou back in the day could play for ANY of these teams. A good friend of mine asked me about 50+ years ago…why I didn’t just watch the last 4 minutes of the Hawks games….he was probably right…..it seems to me that the vast majority of NBA games DO come down to that final 4 minutes.

…..Does anyone else wonder about Yadi’s sudden power surge in the last 2 years?…He hit 18 HR last year…has 6 already this year…in 10 of his seasons he didn’t reach double figures in home runs for the entire year. Maybe my judgement is just getting too cold about “jumps” late in a players career.

…death of Earl Bruce brings back the chills that I enjoyed as I talked with him about one of my Varsity players in the early 80’s….Bruce was Head Coach at Iowa State at the time…..my player ended up going to Mizzou so that his family could watch him….sad part of the story…by the time he became a starter..in his 4th year at Mizzou, his Dad had been transferred by McDonnel Douglas to Australia.

….regarding the increase in strikeouts across the league….this “new” upward swing has been in vogue for a couple years now….pitchers, pitching coaches and managers have studied the swings and have found antidotes.  Sure….hitters are still taking the round trippers…but usually it’s with no one on base and the batters averages & hard contact …outside of those HR swings….has dropped to an icy low level.

….Bryan Price’s firing by Cincy management team shows clearly that don’t understand the low level of the talent on this 3-17 team. 3 wins in 3 weeks….ugh….It seems like a Siberian cold  feeling to me…..this team wasn’t assembled by the manager.. so.. in 20 games…he’s gone….he’s clearly a scapegoat.

…the oft icy, slippery slope of many players making the transition  from college to the NFL  often derails  many players…not so at Northwestern, Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald currently has 9 of his players in the NFL..when asked if they were  “prepared” for the NFL….the response is “The No. 1 thing guys (from Northwestern who make the NFL) tell me — midway through their first year I will text and ask them did we prepare you? — and to a man the answer is the same: ‘I was over-prepared.'” He said. “The active learning environment and expectations academically, our guys take the path less traveled. We hope they achieve the goal of playing on Sunday for a long time, but that is Plan B. Plan A is life.” Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be about? Btw…Mizzou has 21 players in the NFL!!

…..Another team with a glacier like start to the season is the Kansas City Royals.  The Royals just notched their 4th win after 3 weeks of games…that isn’t cold….its freezing.  As we all know….the Royals core of players that carried them to the post season for a couple years reached free agency… and…. Bolted outta town …seems a bit cold… like most of us…they are going to sign for the most money…. wherever it may be

…so Dez Bryant gets the brumal touch from the “Boys”…..probably one of the 1st times in years  that he’s realized just how good he had it in Dallas.

…Boston Red Sox leaped off to a 17-3 start…despite the frigid weather in Boston….the Red Sox schedule for those 16 wins included the two Florida teams (Miami/Tampa Bay), ice cold Baltimore, Angels, A’s and one genuine series….against the Yankees…Boston took advantage of this weak schedule.

….the MLB attendance figures tell the true story about the imbalance of the league…..there are 10 teams averaging 30,000+ fans/game; 10 teams averaging more than 20,000 but less than 30,000 and 10 teams trying to cross the cold tundra of sports dollars  with less than 20,000 per game.

…throwing around cold cash like they are printing it….the NY Mets contract with Adrian Gonzalez have a  freezes out some other poor ones…. Gonzalez is being paid $11.44mil….it is estimated…not by me but by others…that his performance value is -$6.4m….I don’t know how negative money works…anyway… by this estimate his contract is -$17.4 in value.

….buried deep way back in the frozen part of our mind are thoughts of some of the old, very unique baseball stadiums… one that really strikes me is the Polo Grounds in NY….some history here…opened in 1890 closed in 1963…demolished in 1964… when built, writers indicated that it was much more suited for polo than baseball…and hence…that idea led to the name of the Stadium. The upper deck in Left field extended out over the field, reducing the already short lower deck distance of 279 feet to a ridiculous 250 feet, and actually making it hard to hit a home run into the lower deck…although the famous HR from Bobby Thompson in the “shot around the world” did just that…landed in lower deck…. Center field, which was already a ridiculously far 483 feet away, also had an overhang that was part of one of the clubhouses, and therefore made a home run to dead center a whopping 505 feet away. Right field, although without a deck, was still just 258 feet away. However, right center was nearly 200 feet farther away at 449 feet. Simply put, we will never see a baseball stadium with as unique of dimensions as the Polo Grounds. I’d like to see one built like that….those unique dimensions could make for a more exciting, unpredictable game…some cheap HR, long-long extra base hits to the power alleys, etc.

….so after giving the cold shoulder to Vianney baseball for the first several weeks of the season and after suffering their 1st loss….I must give them their due…..The Golden Griffins, ranked #1 by StLtoday, #7 by USA Today, #5 by Collegiate Baseball and #4 by MaxPreps with a 22-1 record, are coached by Scott Brown. Vianney beat CBC 15-3 Friday to gain their 21st victory.  That victory was VERY unusual…Vianney’s pitching staff gave up 3 runs…the staff has 8 shutouts and Vianney seldom scores 15 runs …who does?J  8 shutouts is really incredible…to get just 1 shutout in this day & age of “hitting” is tough enough. Coach Brown’s roster has 16 seniors of which at least 6 different pitchers who will be pitching at the collegiate level next year.  That pitching staff has kept the opponents bats ice cold while allowing a scant 27 earned runs in 21 games! Sr Luke Mann, who is headed to Mizzou, is the leader of the staff. He’s 4-0 with an ERA of 0.77….but check out these other earned run averages. Brendan May is @ 0.43 in 7 games….Mitchell O’deKirk is 0.25 after 5 games..Caleb Buehrle holds a 3.23 ERA, Noah Niznik comes in at 2.74, Ryan Insco is 2.4. While the pitching has been truly unbelievable, the batters average 7.24 runs per game. Soph CJ Cepicky is batting at a .474 clip and Luke Mann…..as often occurs in the high school level….the best pitchers are often some of the best batters…. hits at .448 with 4 home runs. Last the Golden Griffins finished 3rd in MSHSAA STATE championships. I go WAY back with Coach Brown….when he assumed his 1st HS Head Coaching Position in 1992… he had a assistant with the initials BR. Lucky for him….he didn’t have to put up with blogs at that point.

I’ve reached the end of my tour on the cold tundra….thx for making it to the end…now warm up.

Lose Appeal … pay the price by Bob Ryan

You know one of my favorite topics is the MLB appeal…..I don’t agree with the assumption that each “call” must be perfect….I mean…what else in life is perfect?….all the MLB pitchers make bad pitches… all the MLB batters swing & miss…why do we expect the umpires to be perfect?  It’s called the human element. I don’t like managers making us wait while some computer guy is watching the replay. Meanwhile, the Manager is standing on the top step of the dugout holding up the …..already slow….game…if he’s so sure that it’s the wrong call… have him appeal it immediately….and aren’t the games long enough already with plethora of commercials choking off your interest?  With those as my backdrop, I was very surprised to see while watching the Blues that when their appeal was denied..they were penalized due to the incorrect appeal….they put any man in the penalty box…well….why not use that same principle in baseball & football….make it simple…and make the team losing the appeal…pay a price for their “mistake”

…in baseball….if your instant appeal…no more pontificating on the top step…is wrong…the offensive team loses an out….if the appeal was the 3rd out…it’d be the 1st out in the next inning….if a defensive appeal is ruled incorrect…that runner is awarded a free base …for example…if the appeal pertained to a runner at 1b…that runner is awarded 2b…if @2b…then runner is advanced to 3b due to the incorrect appeal….other runners move up if forced to do so…. Some objections that I hear about awarding bases are that it may skew the ERA of the pitchers….well….since it’s an error…the Manager’s error….treat it like any other error with respect to earned runs.

…in football….if the appeal is wrong…the other team gets 10 yards…in other words….if the offensive team is incorrect in their appeal…the football is moved backwards 10 yards….if the defensive team is incorrect in the appeal…the ball is moved forward after the spot….simple…..

Around the MLB….in the…it’s too early to say….

….I can practically guarantee that none of the top 4 RBI leaders as of April 15th will be there on September 15th! All four of these players have 15 rbi’s—Mitch Haniger (Seattle), Gregory Polanco (Pirates), Jose Martinez (StL Cards), Hanley Ramirez (Boston)…sorry….I haven’t jumped on the Martinez band-wagon yet….he DOES look good….but…. he HAS played in the Home run derby field….Cincinnati …4 games already. Heck…I even saw little bitty Billy Hamilton hit a HR yesterday!

…Shohei Ohtani has displayed good “stuff” on the mound and has been a sharp hitter…. in 30 AB, batting average .367,3 HR , his OPS (on base + slugging %) 1.191, as a pitcher 2-0, 2.08 era, whip (walks +hits per innings pitched) 0.46 and the batting average against him as a pitcher is .093…He isn’t another Ichiro…who was an unbelievable “slap-hitter”

….apparently a  rebirth for 32 year old Bud Norris has taken place….I remember him as being a soft-throwing guy who seemed like he could beat the Cards…but hardly anyone else.  He gave himself a “re-make” last year… he moved to the bullpen … notched 19 saves last year for the Halos…. He did have an ERA of 4.21 last year while recording a good strikeout to inning ratio…74: 56…it’s just too early

….Dominic Leone’s early stats might suggest to space him out a bit….pitching on back-back days(1 time)….ugh….no outs, 2 hits (1 a HR), 2 runs..pitching with 1 days rest—3different times…3.2 inning, 3 hits, 4 runs…pitching with 2 days rest..1.1 innings, 1 hit no runs…..it’s too early to reach definitive conclusions….but  I’d try holding him to pitching with 2+ days rest and looking for strong performances from him…..that shouldn’t be hard with the 8 man posse in the bullpen waiting for action….we’ll see

….maybe this one isn’t too early to tell…on opening night, the Miami Marlins drew 6150 people… meanwhile…on the same night, the AA affliliate minor league team in Jacksonville…the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp….I couldn’t make that name up.  drew 6960 fans…btw…Jacksonvile was playing the Mobile BayPears…luv those minor league names……currently Miami has drawn an average of 13,403 per game in 11 home dates….for some reason…Miami has hosted the most home games to this point..at that rate…Miami would draw just under 1.1m for the season….ugly….but deserving to management.. meanwhile….the Cards have drawn 234,316 in 6 home games…that averages to a bit over 39,000/game thus far in 2018….and…I’m hearing how attendance is down @ Busch…too early to tell…

….the Mets don’t seem too concerned about closer Jeury Familia….last year his season was shortened due to arm issues after 26 appearances….so….take it easy on him in 2018…..not so much… he’s pitched in 8 of the first 14 Met games…sure….he has 7 saves out of the 8 appearances….but what’s the over/under on him in games pitched this season….especially at this rate?  30?  40?  50?…..too early to tell…..but at this same rate…he’d pitch in 92 games this year…it’s not too early to say ….NO WAY.

…it maybe too early to tell but….there has been an increase in the number of batters being “hit by pitches”….it’s up by 17%…..is it because batters have controlled  the attention in the last few years with the increase in home runs…or is it due to the many rivalries scheduled early in the season…or is it due to pitchers trying to pitch inside….or is it due to batters lunging into the pitch and not being able to get out of the way of he pitches…..whatever…..keep a watch on it

….speculation is hovering around the LA Dodgers clubhouse….although he has 2 years & $65m left on his contract, Clayton Kershaw also has the option to “opt out” after this year. Many are speculating that he’ll opt out….I’m not so sure…look how the 30 year old free agents fared this off season….and…would he want to leave the glamor, winning records, high profile of LA for another market…time will tell..

….when experts claim that the LA/NY markets are special….many agree…to a point…but how about Aaron Judge being listed as a category in a Jeopardy show?   I doubt that any Cardinal…Stan, Gibby, Albert, Yadi…any will ever have that claim.  I guess…ya never know…

In our effort to find high school teams who may have been overlooked while enjoying outstanding seasons…..

…the Union HS Girls Soccer team is 8-0 this year…the Wildcats have outscored their opponents 52-3 for the season!!! Emily Gaebe has scored 26 goals already in 2018. Keeper Lexi Garlock  has all 8 wins with 5 shutouts recorded this year under Head Coach Matt Fennessey. Last year Union was 14-5 for the season so the 8-0 start is a real improvement for the squad.

….it’s good to see that Valley Park….a powerhouse baseball program in the 90’s in the Class 1 level under Head Coach Brent Gregston…VP went through some tough years…as all schools do in the cycle of sports…. but now has rebounded.  The Hawks…still a small school but no longer a class 1 school ….are 6-3 for 2018 with losses to powerhouse Vianney and large school Hazelwood West. Jr Brandon Spawr leads the team in power production with 3 HR, 3 doubles, .469 average and a team leading 24 RBI’s.  Sr Austin Schmitt holds the highest average on the team at .483 and his 12 steals are also #1 on the team. Soph Ethan Schmitt holds a 3-0 record on the mound for the Hawks.

Thanks for making it to the bottom…..YOUR comments are always invited…agree…disagree..little of each… doesn’t matter…put it right under this article….thx for reading..

 

The Eyes of the Cards by Bob Ryan

Well….I’m not claiming to be like Jeb Stuart…the eyes of Robert E. Lee  in the Civil War…..but there is plenty of things to see across the Cardinals, MLB, Blues and the sports world….here goes…. 

 From Cardinal Country…..yea….we’ve only played about a week but some early observations…

….Opening Day ceremonies are really special to the ol’ time fans….seeing many of the heroes of the 60’s, 80’s, 90’s and the 00’s is still terrific …even though they’ve aged substantially over the decades… it  restores some of the wonderful memories of those talented teams of the past..btw….it wasn’t a typo….we didn’t have any heroes in the 70’s..we were bad.

…Adam Wainwright…..it’s sad…..I’m not happy to share the opinion that …. As great of a pitcher as he has been….a wonderful personality…..outstanding teammate……but….he’s done.  In the 1st inning, his fast ball actually touched  93…..but an inning later, it was in high 80’s…and by the 3rd inning his “heater”  was a limp mid 80’s. Of course the D-Backs “took” many pitches; fouled off some …all in an attempt to have Wainwright throw more pitches and wear him down. He couldn’t get through even 4 innings. I realize that the club would have to swallow a huge $19.5m contract for 2018 but if the goal is to win… Wainwright isn’t taking you THERE. Wainwright has already earned over $114m in his career.

….btw…post-game Wainwright said that there were “quick fixes” in his mechanics….well…if it’s that easy…why not watch the video between innings and make those “quick fixes” then and there?  I don’t know of any “quick fix” to get a fastball….fast ….again.

…..have you noticed our recent “bench” with Gyorko injured—Yairo Munoz is 1 of 8 at the plate; Greg Garcia 0-6; Pena—backup catcher hasn’t been in a game yet; Bader is 0-2…..but Manifesto purposely limits his bench so that he can carry 8 bullpen guys…..what’s going on with that bullpen?…..Mike Mayers has pitched 1 inning each week…OK… Apparently…much of the time while in the bullpen… he plays a game with other barely used pitchers—-he spends his bullpen time spitting seeds into a cup in some type of contest…so do we REALLY need 8 pitchers while our bench is so feeble. This is an area that Manifesto insists upon in his roster construction… as it is now…. we don’t use our 8th pitcher while at the same time we have  a very  soft bench that has a combined ONE hit the entire 1st week. If the Cards are holding a spots for Gregerson and Holland….it’s somewhat understandable… but they’ve  wasted a roster spot for the first 2 weeks of the season while losing some close games…btw…didn’t we miss the playoffs by a single game last year?

…Marcell Ozuna hasn’t been “hot” yet but I still like his quick, aggressive swing. I think that he was an outstanding acquisition. He reminds me of the acquisition of Orlando Cepada many years ago…a marvelous hitter, always in the limelight behind a star (Cepada behind Willie Mays & Ozuna behind Staton) with a happy, pleasant personality that touched his teammates. Who could forget “cha-cha” and his 1967 year when he was the league MVP?

….What is the deal with Kolton Wong?  He’s played about half the games. Recently, Munoz was chosen as a starter over Wong….are you kidding me….this guy just made the team at the last minute… forget about the right-left stuff….play Wong at a minimum 5x/week until we REALLY know his level of play. We’ve been messing around with him for several years now….let’s really find out…..is he an everyday player …. Or not?

….Tommy Pham’s article in SI was very atypical Cardinal material.  He feels like the Cards delay in bringing him to the “big time” has cost him millions. Wouldn’t you feel the same?  Being a lower draft choice, suffering season ending injuries 3x in his career and his eye problems were reasons… I suppose.. that the Cards “passed” on moving Pham upwards earlier in his career.  Frankly….it’s rather refreshing to read some truly honest thoughts …outside the usual story line….from a Cardinal player.

….Outside the Cardinal baseball world….

….a crushing 4-3 defeat to the Blackhawks last Wednesday by the Blues recently really turned the playoff road into a much tougher course. The goal with 8.5 seconds was the result of a turnover by   defenseman Chris Butler….why in the world is that guy even on the ice in the waning seconds of one of the biggest games of the year. With Pietrangelo, Edmundson, Parayko on the bench..find 2 of these guys to finish out the game…in fact…go with your best players period…over the last 4 minutes of the biggest game of the year! Coach Yeo….that key loss is on YOU.

…part 2 Blues…..after losing to Colorado and not making the playoffs the Blues mgmt. must look at all phases of the team.  1st…Clearly the power play was about as powerful as the Army of Iceland. I’m still wondering…..on power plays the Blues seem to be assigned their “spot”….very little movement.. who is more difficult to stop….moving players or stand-still players.  I heard a “caller” to a sports talk show.. sometimes there are very good comments…. indicating that Brett Hull would move on the power play…. He would probe for openings…seemingly with  free will…circling around & through the defense during power plays…we know that he was highly successful…maybe it was a unique quality to him but he I’d like to see something of that nature tried by the Blues. 2nd…..I know that they signed Jake Allen for the long term….but he looked “shaky” to me…even on saves. I’m wondering if the Blues invested their money in the wrong goaltender?  3rd….the depth of strong, good players who can play defense AND offense needs to be increased. Our 2nd line & 3rd lines MUST be improved to compete. 4th….I don’t want to hear about “more effort”, “Digging deep”, and all those other hockey clichés for playing to your maximum level…..simply put….we just aren’t good enough…we simply doen’t have  enough skilled players.

…part 3 Blues….I heard Bernie Miklasz say on radio last week that if Joel  Quenneville gets fired in Chicago that the Blues should hire him immediately!!!  What does that tell you about his thoughts on Yeo?

….the Masters is my favorite golf tournament….I’m not a “big” golf fan….I generally just watch the 4 major tournaments…. It was fun on Sunday  to see Jordan Spieth make a run until he hit a hanging chad… oops… hit a hanging  tree limb….those professional golfers are really incredible with their shots. I must admit that the winner, Patrick Reed, doesn’t have the same body build as the other golfers but…boy..could  he putt ….play golf…and put on that green jacket.

….NCAA finals were last Monday night….the previous blog was written prior to that time….so some final thoughts…again the NCAA bball title is very enjoyable to watch. Like it or not…the college game mimics so closely the pro game now—continual clear outs, shots from the outer edges of the court, players who can…and do…jump  not inches… but feet above the rim. I enjoyed the Loyola run….it solidifies my thoughts that teams with very good winning records from “smaller” conferences ….like MO  Valley…. Those teams should be considered over any other teams that aren’t .500 in their conference games.  Many of the so-called upsets occurred with these big-name programs …often sub .500 in conference… being knocked off in the NCAA by lesser known teams … because those “big-names” didn’t really belong there.

…some names popping up in the 1st week of the MLB to take notice are….Matt Chapman –Oakland 3B..hitting .412 & 3 HR; Andrelton Simmons-Angels SS…..hitting .412…of course the mini-titan, Jose Altuve is again swimming the .400 waters. Gregory Polanco is the current leader of the MLB…as I write this with 12 RBI’s.  Fred Freeman…a long time terrific  hitter…. oft ignored … in Atlanta is carrying around a .409 average….on the other side of the early picture….GianCarlo Stanton sits with a .212 average…..it’ll be interesting….sometimes…..stars excel in desolate locations of MLB where the ground crew doubles the number of people watching the game…then when they get under the bright lights….things are different…clearly New York is totally different than Miami. Remember…one of Stanton’s desires was to sign with a team that had the “appropriate” night life…hmmmm…let’s see how THAT plays out…Will it be fastballs or highballs that Stanton knocks down?  All of you Peter Bourjas fans are seeing “your boy” doing his usual thing….he’s 0 for 7 thus far…..my question is….how DOES this guy stay in the MLB?  I mean track stars can run fast  and not hit too.  Evan Longoria must still be “moving in” at Frisco….clearly something’s off….he’s 1 of 19 at the plate.  

….on the other hand….from Sunday’s box scores…..clearly hitters are swinging for the long ball and averages are becoming less significant….easy to understand….who gets paid the “REALLY BIG” …. thank you Ed Sullivan…money?  Look at the averages of this starting 8–.206, .226, .176, .250, .138, .143, .300 (backup catcher), .278— was that Miami’s lineup….maybe Atlanta’s……nope….how about the Dodgers! Some might say….well….they’re off to a slow start…true….but how about another division champion from last year….the Cubs? Here were their batting averages on Saturday..179, .364 (Bryant), .200, .364, .200, .250, .208, .154. Pitchers…..at least good pitchers….are figuring out that with this upward swing, pitches can throw elevated pitches in the strike zone….baseball talk for higher pitches….they are harder to hit with that upward swing.

….where was the ol’ little league 10 run rule when you needed it?  The  Miami  Stumblebums… sometimes called the Marlins….lost to Philly 20-1 in a single game over the weekend….yes….20-1 in the MLB!! It was 17-1 after 5 innings. Miami will have a difficult time winning 60 games this year.

…in the High school baseball world….Lutheran South has charged off to a 9-1 start. After a successful trip to Florida  to open the season they have wins over  Francis Howell & Oakville locally ….annually two of the top baseball programs in the area. Sr Justin Budrovich is banging the ball around at a .667 average to lead the Lancers. Jr Brendan Kuhlmanm holds a .515 average. The Lancers are working to improve on their 23-9-1 mark of last season.

….in Boys Volleyball….the O’Fallon Panthers have jumped out to a 9-0 start. The Panthers haven’t lost a set in 2018!  Amy Sheehan, in her 1st year as head coach @ O’Fallon after away from volleyball coaching for 6 years. She’s been very pleased thus far….I guess so.  With key wins over Edwardsville 27-25, 31-29 and Affton 27-25, 26-24 already in their pocket, the players seem to be adjusting to the new system. Those wins were important wins at the start of the season because it ALWAYS instills confidence in themselves and the coach. Bryce Backus (43 kills) & Justin Hovick (40 kills) are the leading attackers. Connor Sheehan leads the club with 139 assists.

…well…it’s time for Jeb Stuart…ooops….me… to ride off  and look someplace else with my eyes …something like Jeb did prior to the key battle @ Gettysburg…..thx for reading. YOUR comments are always invited… just put them directly under the article on the Prepcasts page. Every comment is appreciated. They don’t have to be long.

Life Cycle of Sports by Bob Ryan

Every sports team…every sport….has a cycle……the start…maybe called the “birth” of a cycle…. and…. the end …or “death” of the cycle….let’s take a close look at both ends..

….Cards obtain Greg Holland to be “born again” in the 18 Card bullpen…..I wondered why his signing came so late…. Sure….the  $14m seems high to us “everyday” Joe’s but in the world of MLB….it’s a nice salary … but not extravagant…so why so late? After some digging….apparently, last year…coming after a year off due to arm issues… Holland was absolutely terrific through May…he struck out nearly half the batters he faced and “closed” out several wins which led to a great month for the Rockies…in June, his slide began as his command began to erode and his arm weakened. He issued walks to 18% of the batters he faced that month, surviving primarily by not giving up any home runs and running a solid .240 BABIP (batting avg on balls in play). July saw further decline while his walks dropped to 13% of the batters (slightly over 1 walk for every 9 batters) but his BABIP jumped to .280. In August, Holland’s ERA of 15.43 …says volumes and his strikeout rate dropped to 18%…..sooooo…..anytime  a pitcher returning from an arm injury sags from great to horrible over a very short period of time….one has to wonder if his arm just doesn’t have it any longer…….sooooo#2……looks like we’ll have Holland closing in April, May, June and the crossover to Jordan Hicks in July as Hicks becomes accustom to becoming a “closer in the early months of 2018. All of a sudden .. ..that $14m for 3+ months of closing seems steep….but if it works and the Cards reach the paradise of playoff baseball…it’s all worth it….at least that’s the Cards brass idea.

…suddenly…just prior to the Holland acquisition….. racing onto the scene with a terrific outing  in the waning days of spring training…..against the Nationals……Jordan Hicks was born into the “big show”.  No one had questioned his ability to whip the ball in there around 100mph but the maturity process of the 21 year old needed some development….maybe more so than his pitching    Now…Holland will give him 3 months to “grow up”

….in the NCAA, two teams met the end of their season……the early  extremely fast pace even as the Wolverines fell behind allowed the deeper bench  of Michigan and the unstoppable work of the huge post man proved too much for the darlings of the dance, Loyola….Michigan was better that night….and probably would beat Loyola 8/9 of 10 times…none the less …. a terrific season for the Ramblers of Loyola. They added enthusiasm and freshness to the tournament. Villanova jumped on the Jayhawks early….established a comfortable margin and drove the ship home with a strong finish.  Around Kansas…where Jayhawk basketball team is king….fans were moaning the end of a season …one game too soon.

…..the 2017-18 NCAA tournament….in addition to the Loyola underdog story…brought some new, fresh stories.. looking a few ironical stories….Michigan needed a 3pt-30 ft shot by Frosh Jordan Poole to steal a game away from Houston 64-63 earlier in the tournament…Poole had not made a 3-pointer in the previous 5 games and played in a total of 11 minutes in the 2 games following his “saving” shot….for the 1st time EVER…a #16 topples a #1 as UMBC..sounds like a bank… ran past, over, around Virginia 74-54. The Retrievers were ranked #188 in one nationwide poll while Virginia held the #1 spot in the polls for several weeks…so how many fans ACTUALLY chose UMBC to win in their brackets? In the Capital One March Madness Bracket Challenge Game, that number was 2.18 percent of our brackets….to me….that actually seems very high…guess I’ll have to stop flipping coins to choose winners in the NCAA …Conspiracy theory of the day—-does anyone else wonder that some of the “big name” good…but not great NCAA teams are left out of NCAA so as to compete in the NIT…which is owned by NCAA. In the NIT title game–Penn State beat Utah….Penn State beat Ohio State 3x this year…yet the Nittany Lions played in New York as they snatched the NIT Championship while Ohio State was chosen for the NCAA…the one & done corp… especially Michael Porter Jr…didn’t lead their teams to the “promise land”

…..Unfortunately…the end of major league careers often occur each March & April….here a couple recognizable names reassigned/released by Cards in recent days who have seen their last days in a Cardinal uniform…..

Alex Mejia, INF up for a cup of coffee last year now REASSIGNED

Jordan Schafer trying to make the club as an OF & RP   RELEASED-trying out for 2 positions indicated to you…. immediately …..that he wasn’t strong enough in EITHER position

Jason Motte, RP   RELEASED— overmatched by all the other young arms and his old arm

…..But making the team….as a new “birth”  was Francisco Peña— made the club in the “traditional” Tony Cruz role—backup with no hopes of ever being a #1…guess we’ll have these type of guys until Yadi decides to retire.

….The beginning of any season….or event….brings our friends from Vegas into the picture as they wager on this, that or anything..so….the prognosticators’ listed  their projected number of wins for each team recently for 2018..

Houston  97.5….how can you win .5 games?; LA Dodgers  96.5; NYY/Indians 94.5; Cubs 93.5;

Washington  92.5; Red Sox  91.5; Cards/AZ  85.5 Looks like we’re wild card according to these ratings

…..the Blues have come back to life….seemingly dead just 2 weeks ago … despite losing the last 2 games, the Blues reignited their hopes had won 6 straight wins and 8 victories in the last 10 games prior to dropping the last 2 games. Allen has regained his “touch” around the net. Three veterans seem “reborn” of late….Tarasenko has 10 points in his last 11 games (four goals, six assists)…. Schwartz has 13 points in his last 12 games (four goals, nine assists)…. Steen has 10 points in his last 11 games (three goals, seven assists). Not to be overlooked in this “coming back to life” is the play of the defensemen’s  offensive effectiveness. Pietrangelo is pushing the offensive button more and more often. His anticipation of opponents passes & plays often borders on the spectacular. Alex Pietrangelo has 18 points in 24 career games (two goals, 16 assists). The solid return of Joel Edmundson & Robert Bortuzzo have given a bit longer breather for Colton Parayko….and as a fan….even though I agreed with the fans….it’s good to hear “Lets Go Blues” again…. instead of the boos for a couple weeks ago. After these last 2 losses, the season is down to just 4 games now are still 1 point out of the playoffs….it’s in the Blues hands.

….while we’re on the ice…..the Dallas Stars….who jumped out to a wonderful start to the 2018 season….have faltered of late…inching closer & closer to the final day of the regular season as being the END of their season. Coach Ken Hitchcock has seen his team go 2-6-2 in the last 10 games while falling 5 points behind the Blues….and currently…out of the running for the rebirth of the new season—called the playoffs.

….it seems like the LA Rams are burying the LA Raiders even now….the Rams are signing “star” quality players with swagger and reached the post season last year…..meanwhile, the Raiders seem to be sneaking in the back door in LA….very quietly….not a good way to start your season ticket sale drive.

…two games doesn’t make a season….160 still to go…but some of the defensive skills and strategy  shown by the Cards in these first 2 games are all too reminiscent of the past couple years…attempting a 3rd to 1st double play;  Pham practically running over Ozuna to make a catch….don’t kid yourself…..Matheny is still pulling the strings on the bullpen…Maddux or no Maddux…..granted the Mets are a tough team to start the season against because of their steller starting staff…but….the first 2 installments of the 2018 season reads like a remake of 2017 ….again!

….Mizzou baseball chartered some new waters as for the 1st time the Tigers won a baseball series over Mississippi State… a perennial SEC power program….Tigers now 19-6 won the final game of the series in the 11th inning after rallying from a 4-2 deficit going into the bottom of the 9th…..Mizzou is currently rated #25 in national polls

…..in high school…..we turn to beginning of spring sports….Holt baseball (5-1) won the challenging Troy tournament… a tourney that requires deep pitching quality with 4 separate pools that funnel the teams into playing for 1st, 5th, 9th or 13th place playoffs…..Holt went 2-1 in their pool then edged CBC 5-3 in the semis and won the championship over Timberland 7-5. Mgr Adam Joel had 4 hitters batting over .400 during the week—Drew Law, Braedon Mathys, Nick Wilke and Jacob Thompson.   So…..while these games were in week 1….and don’t won’t mean anything during district play in May….but….it does point towards Holt as a team to watch in 2018.

….on the girls side of high school sports…..the Columbia Eagles have jumped off to an 8-1 start. The Eagles are led by high scoring forward, Jr. Kennedy Jones. Jones leads the area in scoring with 16 goals this season. Feeding Jones with with 7 assists is Chloe Graff and Reagan Mauch who has 5 helpers. Last year Jones led the Eagles in scoring with 22 goals as they compiled a 19-3-1 record.

…sooo…which player has the longest consecutive opening days with the same team…..he’s “born again” every year on this day….Yadi Molina—his 14th with the Cards..Adam Jones is next with 11 openers with the Orioles.

….that’ll bring an end to my thoughts…..for now….but we always invite your NEW and differing ideas…put them right below the article….

 

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