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…..

Sweet Sixteen by Bob Ryan

NCAA Basketball has taken us to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament…of course, lots of comments…16 to be exact…. on those games & teams but what about other 16’s……..we’ll widen our scope to see the wider horizon of the 16’s across the sports world according to other sources with some mild personal modifications   …..so here’s 16 thoughts on the 1st NCAA weekend…in no particular order….

1…Mizzou’s loss had to be expected….Mizzzou  had problems with quick guards all season…Florida State not only had quick guards but quickness all over the lineup….too many “run out” layups for the Seminoles….I always thought that the team that shot the most layup baskets and/or baskets off the backboard (meaning it was a close shot)…will win the game….Miracles didn’t happen for the Tigers…Michael Porter still looked like a player far from his best ..kudos to Cuonzo Martin for the tourney bid…but this was a non-memorable game

2….statistically …it HAD to happen some day….finally….#16 upends #1…UMBC….sounds like a Juco team to be not only beat Virginia but blasted them 74-54…VA Coach Tony Bennett who uses a slower offensive style better check his NCAA results in past years….this year…lost round of 32 scoring 54 pts; 2017 lost round of 32 scoring 39 pts; 2016 lost in elite eight scoring 62 pts; 2015 lost round of 32 scoring 54 pts and in 2014 lost round of 32  scoring 59 points…you can’t win many games in the NCAA tournament scoring in the 50’s

3…..#11seed, 30-5 team from the Valley… Loyola-Chicago ..is the darling of the tournament….their 2nd round win 1 point win over #3 seed, Tennessee 63-62 follows a 2 point victory over #6 seed, Miami(22-10) 64-62 in the first full round … the 2nd win over the Vols was an gigantic win…..the 1st win wasn’t a real surprise….The U was only 5-5 in their last 10 games…at one point they were 11-0 (11 cupcakes)…so their REAL record..at least in my mind… was 11-10! Their only win over a significant team was over #9 N.Carolina on Feb 27, 91-88 but just 10 days later the Tar Heels thumped them 82-65…

4….”Doing it MY Way” …is the slogan not only of Frank Sinatra but of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim…. he’s going to play a zone and you better have 2 or 3 ways to attack it because he’ll adjust his zone movements and stymie a lone pattern of attack….once again he’s pushed hit Orangeman past the 1st weekend…..what a thrill for a guy who played for Syracuse!

5….don’t think that I’ve ever seen N.Carolina or a Roy Williams team look so bad as in their bad loss to Texas A&M…btw…the Aggies were tied for 7th in the SEC this year

6…..some were surprised when a #7 team –Rhode Island beat #10 seed Oklahoma 83-78 in OT…..while Rhode Island won the A-10…it’s difficult to find a win over a top 20 ranked team on their schedule….. OU’s wild shooting selection in the OT would have driven any coach crazy…it looked like they thought that there were 4 point shots from 40 feet out  …..I was one of those surprised by the win

7….Charles Barkley entertains me….he’s like Terry Bradshaw….they know their sport but aren’t so serious like this is a discussion on solving a world-wide issue…I must admit….the roles of those commentators…being on-live for 4 consecutive days of evaluating, pontificating, predicting,etc IS very difficult….soooooo….we do need some levity

8….I watched much of the enjoyable game between #12 seed Davidson(21-12) &  #5 seed Kentucky (25-10) won by the Wildcats 78-73.  Clearly KU had the better athletes…I’m not sure…athletically…that any of the Davidson players would have been in KU’s top 8…but….Davidson was extremely well coached….moved the ball and themselves with a purpose…fell behind at half 34-24 and I was about ready for the “switch” to a different channel when Jon Ax Gudmundsson…I didn’t make his name up… knocked down 3 straight 3 balls early in 2nd half to make it game…and it remained close until Kevin Knox hit some mid-range jumpers  very late for the Wildcats…..very entertaining…. Kentucky made zero… nada… none…3 pointers in the game! btw…..Davidson beat SLU by 3 points this season??!! Comparative scores are dangerous…very dangerous…..I’m not saying that the Bills would take the  Wildcats to the final minutes… but…ya never know…

9…I’ve thought for that the NIT should be the opening tournament of the following year with the final 16 …or 8 teams ….from the previous year NCAA tournament

10….You might hate to say it….but….Kentucky looks like they may go real deep in the tourney…Coach Cal doesn’t have his usual stable of #1’s but he’s doing a good job of mixing & matching

11….swirling around Arizona was the “shoe scandal money”…..who knows maybe the players thought that their “bonus money” would cease…at any rate, #4 seeded Arizona was completely beaten my MAC Champion-Buffalo 89-68. Buffalo converted 15 of 30 from beyond the arc…..looking back, one may think that the Pac 12 just wasn’t that tough…Arizona lost 3 games early against top-flight competition then breezed through Pac 12…then all 3 Pac 12 teams are eliminated by the round of 64….formerly called the 1st round

12….in the battle of muscle vs speed, #8 Seton Hall prevailed over fleet footed #9 N. Carolina State  94-83…no sweet Caroline after this game because it was one of the slowest…tightest called games  in history….ugh

13…the current college teams are playing 35-37 games a year now…..too many…..I recall when UCLA under Coach John Wooden won each of his tournaments …playing max # of games in each and  winning the NCAA championship  and their final record  was 30-0

14….it looked the seeds were backwards…#10 Butler had two long runs over #7 Arkansas…it was Butler defense to start the game…Arkansas did not hit its 2nd field goal until 13:13 remained in the first half…and then the Bulldogs used the offense to close it out on a 23-11 run…winning it 79-62.

15….read that the viewing numbers were way down for the “Selection Show”….of course, they showed all the teams in the first few minutes….duh…..why would anyone watch any longer? No one really cares if those athletes  are sitting together in a special spot celebrating the fact that they are “in”

16…the Pac-12 wins the prize for having the worst performances of their teams in the NCAA..UCLA & Arizona State both lose in the “play in” games…in round 1, #13 Buffalo upended #4 seed, Arizona..ugh

 

Now…..some other 16’s…….

….the top Cardinal pitchers of All Time with some anecdotal info about them…..

#16 Bill Sherdel…..pitched 13 seasons with the Cards…a feat in itself…finished 1st in saves in the NL in 3 seasons…with the overwhelming total of 6 per year; 3rd in career appearances as a Redbird and 4th in innings in this career which was a totally different era— 1918- 1930 and back again in 1932

#15  ”Wild Bill” Hallahan-pitched in 4 Cards World Series (1926,30,31 34) , 93 wins as a Cardinal

#14 Lee Smith –once the All-time career save leader with 478…racked up 160 saves in 3+ seasons (#2 in Cards history) late in career with StL… who can forget his casual stroll from the bullpen to the mound?  The sponsors could run 3 or 4 spots during that time. Currently is #3 in MLB history in SAVES with 478.

#13  John Tudor. Acquired in 1985, Tudor’s 1985 season was arguably the best single season ever by a Cardinal lefthander…that season he carried the Cards to post-season with his 21-8, 1.93era, 36 starts-14 CG, 10 shutouts in 275 innings. Remarkably, he didn’t win the Cy Young that year… a guy named Dwight Gooden was the winner. Tudor is the Cards All-time leader in ERA 2.52 and WHIP 1.08 in his 3+ seasons. He looked more like an usher than a player..with his frail, thin looking stature, who would have thought that he’d get out major leaguers in dramatic fashion in 1985…..with his control that year he would have been able to hit a dime any place in the strike zone

#12 Joaquin Andujar—dominant pitcher in the 80’s…back-back 20 win seasons….. After coming over to the Cardinals from the Astros in 1981, he went 15-10 the next year for St. Louis and dominated in the World Series, going 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA.  In 1984, he was 20-14, and in 1985, he was 21-12, pitching for the Cardinals in the World Series. He was 68-53 wearing a Card uniform. This guy was a live wire…. Apparently the club house was never quiet with Joaquin around…

#11 Jason Isringhausen—with little experience closing (only 18 saves) prior to arriving in the Lou… between 2002 & 2008 piled up 217 saves for StL—most in Cardinal history…currently tied for 26th spot in career saves with 300…personally…he frequently drove me crazy….always…it seemed that he’d allow men on base, usually in scoring position in the 9th…very few “clean” 1-2-3 innings.

#10 Mort Cooper –Cooper was a stalwart of the Cards staffs in the 40’s when they went to 3 straight World Series (won it in 42 & 44) and Cooper won 65 games in those years…in 1942, Cooper was the National League MVP with a 22-7 record, 1.78 ERA. His 105  Redbird wins place him 10th in Cards history.

# 9 Bruce Sutter pitched for the Cardinals from 1981-1984, notching 127 saves, which was, at the time, a club record. It stands in the 4th spot now. He set the NL save record with 194 in 1982, which has since been eclipsed many times since then. He ended his career with 300 overall. He won the Cy Young in 1979 He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006. His No. 42 is retired by the Cardinals. I recall many swing-misses when Sutter pitched and how quickly he dispatched the opponents in the 9th inning.

#  8″Harry the Cat,” Brecheen had an 11-year career with the Cardinals, racking up 128 wins-8th in Cards history. He was known for his deceptive screwball. His 4 World Series wins were a Club record for the Cardinals until Bob Gibson broke it in 1967. Breechen was the ace of the Cardinals staff for 3 of their 4 World Series appearances in the 1940s. They won in 1944 and 1946. He would have pitched in the 1942 Series (which St. Louis also won) were it not for his service in World War II. He is 4th in career WHIP 1.18

#7 Bob Forsch was a staple of the dominant Cardinal teams of the 1980s. His career with St. Louis lasted from 1974-1988, during which he pitched in three World Series, winning one in 1982. He gained all but five of his 168 career wins with the Cardinals, good for 3rd all-time with the club. He and his brother, Ken, are the only brothers ever to have each pitched a no hitter.

#6 Steve Carlton  While not a star for the Cardinals, Carlton is generally considered the greatest left-handed pitcher of all time (by experts…not just me) Steve Carlton pitched 23 years, won 329 games, played in 10 All-Star Games, won four Cy Young Awards and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. While he won all of his Cy Youngs with the Phillies, he began his career in St. Louis in 1965.  He currently is 8th in career strikeouts with 951 in his 5 Redbird seasons. We all know the story…he won 20 games in 1971 with the Cards—contract dispute….shipped off to Philly for his historic career….sad story last year relayed by his close friend, Tim McCarver…apparently Carlton was in his car driving to talk to Cardinal GM to indicate that he’d accept their “lower” offer when he heard on the radio that he’d been traded….OMG!!  Shame on Gussie for this one…..

#5 Chris Carpenter has led the Cardinals pitching staff to two World Series titles (2006, 2012). He currently has 144 lifetime wins with a 3.76 ERA. He won the Cy Young award in 2005 and finished second and third in 2009 and 2006, respectively.  But Carpenter vaulted ahead of many other Cardinals pitchers due to his clutch postseason pitching. He is 9-2 overall, and his highlights include a 1-0 deciding Game 5 win over Roy Halladay and the Phillies in the 2011 NLDS and a 3-0 record in the World Series with a 2.00 ERA. In the 2011 World Series, he pitched three games and won two of them. He currently is 16th in career Card wins, 4th in career Strikeouts and 2nd in career WHIP.  Not a favorite of mine… I still see him chastising Brendan Ryan on the mound…in front of the entire crowd….after a Ryan miscue….to me… that isn’t the way a pitcher….any pitcher ….. treats his teammates…at least in public

#4 Adam Wainwright…starting his Card career as a closer in the 2006 playoffs with 4 saves…Waino is in this 13th Cardinal season in 2018…. presently is “reinventing” his repertoire;  Wainwright is currently 5th in career Cardinal wins-146, 5th in career Card starts, 8th in career innings…should pass up the next two in line by end of May; 2nd in career strikeouts…..don’t get your hopes up…he’s about halfway to Gibby’s total; has been considered the Cards ace for several seasons; has pitched in 24 post season games—4-4, era 3.03;

# 3 Dizzy Dean…He came from Arkansas. He dropped out of school after the second grade, and Cardinal scouts eventually discovered him playing sandlot ball. He became the most famous member of the Cardinals “Gashouse Gang,” averaging 24 wins over five seasons. He won a World Series in 1934 and an MVP (30-7, 2.66).

His career was cut short after a line drive hit his foot in the 1937 All-Star Game, affecting his mechanics and ultimately damaging his arm. His 11-year career ended with 150 wins and a Hall of Fame induction. His 134 wins with the Cardinals are sixth all time for the team.  His No. 17 is retired by St. Louis.

#2 Jesse “Pop” Haines pitched 18 seasons with the Cardinals, amassing 210 wins and pitched 3203 innings, second in both categories only to Bob Gibson.  He won two World Series for the Cardinals. The first in 1926 with Grover Cleveland Alexander, where he won two games including the decisive seventh game.  The second came in 1934 with Dizzy Dean and the “Gashouse Gang.”

#1 Bob Gibson…who else?  Bob Gibson is not only the greatest Cardinal pitcher of all time, but one of the greatest pitchers ever. He overcame asthma as a child to become a proficient athlete (he left the Harlem Globetrotters to play baseball). He refused to leave a game after Roberto Clemente broke his leg with a line drive. He is the all-time Cardinals leader in wins (251) and strikeouts (3,117), innings pitched (3,884.1) complete games (255), shutouts (56) and hit-batsman (102). An eight-time All Star, and two-time Cy Young Award winner, Gibson was one of the most feared pitchers of his time described by players as simply “terrifying.” He glared at opposing hitters, threw inside at will and was known for working extremely fast. Teammate Curt Flood said he could throw a baseball through a brick wall. His 1968 season where he won the MVP award going 22-9 with a 1.12 ERA, the lowest ERA ever with 300 or more innings pitched. This led the MLB to lowering the mound….

Who are the 16 best pro athletes to wear #16?…..I had to go to several sports…sooooo he are players who wore #16 through their career….hopefully most of their career….but no guarantees….no

Bronco Nagurski, Henri Richard, Lenny Dawson, Whitey Ford, Bobby Clark, Hal Newshouser, Ray Lankford, Bob Lanier … in the NBA a #16?…Pat LaFaontaine, Frank Gifford, Joe Montana, Ken Stabler and our favorite #16—Brett Hull!

I can’t give you 16 ways why I’m stopping….but ….thx for reading the 16’s !

Still Up in the Air by Bob Ryan

So…spring training has officially opened….every team should have high spirits at this time of the year..but there are still many balls up in the air…not only about roster configuration but the implementation of the 10-day DL rule…

…..I’ve been asking for MLB teams to consider a variety of  ways to save the bullpen….6 man rotation, bridge man, 6-ace rotation….I’ve felt that the Birds Bullpen was overused in the past couple years and ran outta gas when it counted….well….it was right under my eyes…..keeping the balls…oops pitchers…up in the air with respect to the 10 day DL ….I think the worst rule ever dreamed up….either you are hurt or you’re not….real injuries don’t disappear in 10 days…sorry …I digress….the LA Dodgers manipulated the 10 day DL throughout 2017.  With Kershaw & Rich Hill were the #1-2 that went “on time” throughout the season….after that….the Dodgers  used a plethora of guys—Maeda, Wood, Ryu, Urias, McCarthy and finalized the season with Yu….of course Brock Stewart, Ross Stripling, Brett Anderson or Scott Kazmir also made starts for the Dodgers….and they were manipulating  the DL rule…using 10 day DL often and judiciously… a starter can often miss only 1 start in the 10 days….10 guys made starts for the NL Champions, seven of them made 9+ starts..everyone was fresher as innings were spread around like candy at a child’s party.  It’s the new course….wear the league down by quantity not quality…. The Cards are perfectly set up for the “quantity” approach….we have Carlos as #1….every 5 days….Waino, Wacho, Miles M, Weaver, Flaherty, Lyons, Norris….throw in Dakota Hudson……surely one of these guys can have a “sore” arm once every 4-6 weeks..right ….put them on the 10 day DL…move the others in & out as starters…follow the Dodging routine established last year …  We’ll we wear em’ down with quantity!  Acquiring Bud Norris & Jason Motte clearly was a sign of the “wear em down with quantity approach”…Norris is a 64-84 career wise; lifetime 4.49 era…last year it was only 4.21…now he did close games last year…19…nice total……some say that Manifesto will use the “quantity” approach with the closers…..I’ve NEVER seen him do it that way….he always seem to prefer one closer…why the Cards don’t trust Tyler Lyons is beyond me….in my view…he was the best in the pen last year…50 g; 2.83 era, 54 inn, 39 hits, 68 strikeouts (1+/inn), 4-1, 3 sv,HR /9 inn-= 0.5… man… he’d be my closer  to start 2018

….some experts were wondering why…with some many balls up in the air…if the Cards really wanted Archer…that they didn’t package two of the up & coming starting “prospects” to the Rays for Archer

…always up in the air is pitching…here’s my pick of the top 5 rotations going into 2018

  • Washington Nationals—still have the really big #1—Super-Max Scherzer…then the look of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez (don’t think he’ll be quite as good in 18 as 17), AJ Cole and Tanner Roark
  • Cleveland Indians 1)Corey Kluber ; 2) Carlos Carrasco; 3) Trevor Bauer 4) Josh Tomlin  5)Danny Salazar — all are right handers… sooo…maybe….they struggle against strong hitting left handed hitters..but they haven’t in the past
  • Arizona D-backs…if they didn’t play in that matchbox stadium with light air…it’d be much easier to recognize their skills: 1) Zack Greinke  ;  2) Robbie Ray 3)Taijuan Walker  4) Patrick Corbin; 5) Zack Godley                –all hard firing …aside from Greinke, still in peak years of performance
  • Houston—won MLB championship …brought in Verlander late last year and now they’ve added Gerrit Cole…the bottom two of rotations will be replaced by July 4th: 1) Justin Verlander; 2) Dallas Keuchel; 3) Gerrit Cole; 4) Charlie Morton 5) Lance McCullers
  • New York Yankees….  With Severino emerging last year; Tanaka sharp when he isn’t injured at the top of the order….Sonny Gray can be very good & CC is good when not on the DL …Jordan Montgomery is so-so   1) Luis Severino;  2) Masahiro Tanaka; 3) sonny Gray; 4) CC Sabathia  5) Jordan Montgomery      

…still on Card baseball….his career is definitely “up in the air”…catcher Carson Kelly can’t probably won’t start 30 games this year…..would you REALLY do that to one of your TOP prospects….sure he  may be used to “finish up” blow out games but …is that what you want?…..funny..he’s still listed as a prospect…will be stay a prospect until Yadi retires? By that time…he’ll have qualified for the MLB pension.  While I’m talking about Prospects, I think that a surprise young OF Adolis Garcia may pass up Bader & O’Neill  in the long run.  Remember our #1 pick, SS Delvin Perez of a couple years ago…..his ETA to MLB is 2021….meanwhile another SS, Edmundo Sosa has an ETA of 2019…..seems to me like Perez has been pushed down the chain…ya gotta forget about reading the hype about our draft choices.

….my thoughts were clearly up in the air last week when I noticed as I read the HS basketball box scores….most exciting part of my day …..that Incarnate Word had lost a game to Parkway North 76-63….now North is a very good team…and have been for several years now….so this is no “shot” at them but IWA beat them by 20 points 60-40 just 2 weeks earlier so kudo’s to  Head Coach Brett Katz for turning his team around against one of the supreme teams in Girls Basketball in the Lou .. and the countryfor many years now…

….in the Nearly Forgotton League….the NFL’s QB are still the ultimate position in the league…so when Washington obtains  Alex Smith from KC it appears that Kirk Cousins is on his way out….  apparently in an effort to keep his status “up in the air”, the Skins might “franchise’ him….driving his cost way up…probably beyond his value…why would they do that…..most experts…that’s not me…..indicated that it’s a move of “Pettiness”…..I guess human nature prevails over business sense in this one, heh?

…nothing up in the air here……locally, the UMSL Women’s Basketball team (18-5) is riding high these days….the Tritons have won 11 straight games to ensure themselves a spot in the 8 team GLVC post-season tournament. Coach Kate Vaughn is closing in on the all-time record for most WINS by the Women Coaches.

….Coach Cuonzo Martin has the Mizzou Tigers riding high….their 18-8 record, just had 5 game winning streak snapped by 1 point loss to LSU…wins over Bama, Kentucky, Old Miss, Miss State & Tx A&M…have legitimized Mizzou as a real “player” in the SEC conference…Martin’s intense style demands defense on the perimeter & keeping the ball out of the paint.  Even without Porter, the Tigers are “back”…no doubt about it.. nothing up the air regarding those thoughts.

…as St Louis U continues  to move upward…the coaching position could be “up in the air” …now 15-12 for the season…despite the quantum leap back to acceptability…..there has been a terrific amount of turmoil around the “program”… centering around the recruits of Head Coach Travis Ford….I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ford “move on”….I mean he was in this very same conference  as the Head Coach of UMass for 3 years(2005-2008) then jumped to a bigger…better conference…the  Big 12-Ok State…..why would he stay @ SLU….the “investigation” was soooooo sllllloooowwww…was it fair?….I don’t think we’ll ever know exactly what happened…I’m not so sure that even  the participants were lucid enough to really know what happened either  ……at any rate…we’ll NEVER know if it was fair/just… anyway..  after a wonderful “turnaround” season @ SLU this year..he was 12-21 last year…he may find Depaul, Pittsburgh, Memphis or E.Carolina more inviting…all…or most…of those will be hunting for a new head coach in the upcoming months.  SLU may…may…be back on the quick change cycle that they experienced between John Bennington & Rich Grawer….it went something like this… Buddy Brehmer – 4 years; Bob Polk-5 years; Randy Albrecht-3 years; Ron Coleman-1 year; Ron Ekker- 4 years…then Rich Grawer 10 years….Spoon for 7 years; Lorenzo Romar-3 years; Brad Soderberg-5 years; Rick Majerus-5 years; Jim Crews – 4 years and now Travis Ford in his 2nd year…btw…Jim Crews was the only coach to take the Bills to the 3rd round of the NCAA twice in the history of the school.

…finally…there’s nothing up in the air about this one….I want to recognize my wife’s cousin..and good friend…Steve Wieberg. Steve who covered  sports for the USA Today in his entire career… just completed his “tour” on the NCAA College Football Championship Committee… For his excellent work Steve received the Bert McGrane Award from the Football Writers Association…this award is equivalent to the organization’s Hall of Fame.  Steve has “put up” with my calls and snarky blogs…about the procedure used by the NCAA in choosing the Final four….First, I suggested a point system…then a system by conference champions…then ….eventually…I realized it would be a committee choosing the teams like the NCAA Basketball Committee after hours of watching film, extensive discussions, and plain ol’ hard work….Congrats Steve…it’s well deserved….

 

                 

same ol’, same ol’ … sometimes by Bob Ryan

As winter continues with us….hockey playoffs seem galaxies away….MLB baseball is still talking but not playing….March Madness a month away….some of the good ol’ stuff just isn’t here now….maybe in a lot of ways..

….there are still some significant MLB free (what an inappropriate word) agents unsigned…of course the agents…who’ve promised their clients millions of dollars..or maybe even billions….are hollering about collusion…… take a deep look @ this ol’ assumption…

….Since MLB teams NOW bring in more money from outside sources other than the Gate ….e.g.  in 2016…can’t find any 2017 numbers….guess they’re still juggling the numbers ….anyway in 2016 using the Cardinals… their revenue was $310m with $127m coming directly from the gate revenue…I’m sure that they are typical in that respect of earnings from the gate is NO longer the primary income…. there’s the local income for media rights, in-stadium sales…those $9 beers pile up, merchandising of official Cardinal stuff all year long and then there’s the big-moma….income for national media rights… what does that mean for free agents?….

…IF you are a team that  feels like that you are a contender and NEED to fill a particular spot on your roster, some of those teams WILL  pay the big price but there are already 10 or so teams this off season who have declared that they are “rebuilding”…PC term for we’re gonna lose with cheap guys and hope we can find real players later

…then there are the always wealthy franchises …LA Dodgers, Boston, Cubs, Giants, Tigers who are generally active in the free agent market to fill their needs….but…..the luxury tax penalty has taken a toll….e.g. the Dodgers paid a luxury tax of $30+m over the past few  years …these big spenders have halted their ramping upward to snatch each & every free agent who looks good to the eye…these big-spenders have been reaching for their wallet for a while now ..a long while…the Yanks have paid a”luxury tax” 15 consecutive years…of course it includes all the “dead” money that they have to pay..they paid $22.3m to players no longer on the 2017 team with $21m of that total going to A-Rod alone!! Other teams landing on the luxury tax spot…the only other place I ever heard that term prior to the last 2 years was on the Monopoly board …. are the Dodgers ..5 straight years…Red Sox/Giants for 3rd consecutive years & Cubs/Tigers are 2-time offenders…finally…it seems they teams are slowing down on their long term high payments to their stars…soooooo. Free agents don’t have the big spenders at the table

…and then there are the teams like the Phillies….NO ONE ever says ….”Oh yeah…those Phillies know what they’re doing”….well…in 2016…which team…according to Forbes mad the most money… yep…the Philadelphia Phillis made $88m while posting a 71-91 record…..why WOULD they want big-time free agents when they are making money as a non-contender?

…..Remember….for the owners….the goal is to make money……sometimes you need a winning team to do it….sometimes you don’t’…read above paragraph

…now if you want to travel to the other side of the tracks and listen to the agents…according to the agents the players percentage of the revenue has dropped from a peak of 56% in 2002 to 40% in 2015…of course…they fail to mention that the overall money pie being sliced up is FAR, FAR larger in 2015 than 2002.

…Generally fans can’t identify with the players…..their annual salaries are well publicized, scrutinized, and when a guy strikes out, is  thrown out, gets bashed as a pitcher…many moan, “and that guy is getting  paid $____(fill in the blank)…the owners seem to escape our criticism unless they DON’T pay enough payroll …e.g. Bill Bidwill…..this is an interesting dilemma for the fans… They want the owners to be generous but the players to not earn tremendous amounts of money…how does that work???

…so…the long of the short of it…..free agents may get a little less…or fewer years on their contract  this year  but…..they still are living “the good life”…and its due to US…the fans….who support MLB on and off the field.  It’s isn’t the same ol’ same ol’ approach to handling free agents.

…along the most recent Free Agent signings…Yu Darvish goes to the Cubs. He’s at least as good as Arrieta has been for the last couple years.  This has been the plan of the Cubs mgmt. team….draft field players who will be high quality and be “under control” for several years then buy the pitchers…why?  They felt that too many drafted pitchers  “never make it” due to arm issues while field players…the best ones…will have many more productive seasons for a team prior to their free agent years.  So far…it’s working out for them.

Odds & Ends…….

 For most of us….we were taught to be a man..or woman….. of your word…..doesn’t seem like the same ol’ same ol’ on that either…Josh McDaniels (NE off coordinator) accepts the Head Coaching  job verbally for Indianapolis Colts than 22 days later reverses course and turns down the job…. Meanwhile…several prominent candidates for the Colts have been gobbled up in the interim…..most are guessing that McDaniels will  be Belichick’s successor but maybe he picked that skill up from his current mentor…Bill Belichick …in 2000, Belichick resigned as coach of the Jets with a handwritten note within 24 hours of signing!!

….sometimes I wish that the Billikens had stayed with the same ol’ same ol’ and not departed the Missouri Valley Conference…discounting the manageable distance for fans, the decrease in travel expenses for the school, the addition of more days out of class due to trips, the history of SLU in the MVC…discounting all that…in ranking of the top 11 major basketball collegiate conferences in the USA…who’s the 11 on the list?…the Atlantic 10…the lowest spot….the Missouri Valley is #10 so it’s not a major jump upward…..but it is a move upward. Boy…just think if the same ol, same ol’ teams were still in the MVC…Wichita State, Tulsa, Bradley, Cincinnati,  Creighton, N. Texas St …a look way back in the MVC shows these schools being members  at one time Louisville (1963-74),  Houston  (63-74), Washington University of St Louis(1907-1942)…..and at one time most of the schools that later formed the Big 8 conference were members of the Missouri Valley Conference.

…The names of professional franchises don’t stay same ol’, same ol’ …they change…Recently the Cleveland Indians “shelved” Chief Wahoo emblem on their hat…apparently,  PC America ?….anyway look at most of the Names…there are distinct categories….for example..the animal names—Cubs, BlueJays, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Tigers, Marlins… Then there are the human vocational names—Padres, Mariners,  Pirates, Brewers, Rangers, Royals… another category are the demographics names….Mets (Metropolitans), Twins, Nationals, Phillies, Dodgers ..Phillies & Dodgers?….. well….the Dodgers name originated in Brooklyn in 1890’s when Brooklyn began installing/using trolley lines… unfortunately there were many collisions with pedestrians…even fatal ones…so the Dodgers were the people who dodged the trollies!  The name ran the almost exactly the same lifespan as the Brooklyn Dodgers…last Trolley ran on Oct 30, 1956…11 months later team moved to LA….in that vein…WHAT should the LA team be called?  LA Highway Men?  LA MovieStars?…maybe just LA Stars?LA Crush? LA fog?….. What’s YOUR idea for a LA name? Yankees actually are exactly what it says..Yanks…originally known as the Highlanders since they played in the higher elevation of Manattan,..they were also called the Americans…..so the nickname for Americans from this area was Yankees… or another possibility….Yankees may have stemmed from Civil War references… or….maybe yet….it goes way back to the 18th century…the word Yankees was a derogatory name for the colonists… you take ur pick!… The Phillies name  was an abbreviation….the NL team established there was called the Philadelphias…that was shortened to the Phillies….so actually they are the Philadelphia Philadephians.  Some names are distinct to an area— Rockies, Astros…some…well….I guess you can find reasons for Rays…sting Rays?, Sun Rays? There are the hoosiery names—White Sox, Red Sox and the Red…once called the Redlegs. Then you have the non-humans…Angels and Giants.  Braves names is probably on its way out also….if Chief Wahoo got scalped can his fellow Braves be far behind?  What nicknames would you like?  I think the NBA has some of the best nicknames that have a local reference to them….Rockets, Celtics …Boston is known for its heavy numbers of Irishmen, Lakers …originally in Minnesota…. 76’ers, Suns, Spurs, Nuggets, Pistons, Pelicans, Jazz, Trail Blazers, Pacers, Mavericks. The non-area related names—Bulls,  Magic, Grizzlies, Warriors seem appropriate.

…..The Olympics surely has NOT stayed the same ol’ same ol’…..there are many new sports….for one…I really don’t care for ski gymnastics with double cartwheels, flips, multiple side turns….save that stuff for the summer Olympics….the gymnastics section.  Even the ice skating performances are so JUDGMENTAL….was it a triple or a double sho-she turn, a double cowsill….weren’t they singers?…I really don’t care for any of the sports that have Judges scoring…..it smacks of nationalism to me….I want stop-clock or tape measure sports… the ol’ time stuff— ski jumping…do those guys…and gals…have courage or what?  Speed skating….downhill skiing…long, long ski races, hockey.. just my own taste on Olympic sports…HOW ABOUT YOU? Btw….just learned that the US Olympic committee…not the US itself….. rewards athletes monetarily when they win medals.  That just doesn’t sound right to me….guess I’m too idealistic.  Scale–$25000-gold, $15000-silver and $10 grand for bronze.

….a Super Bowl area that might be considered same ol’ same ol’….14 years ago Justin Timberlake appeared with Janet Jackson. Jackson suffered through her “wardrobe malfunction”…that performance was considered scandalous…now  in 2018 show, Timberlake again is being ripped for extremely poor sound production during his show….he’s  2 for 2!…they should have done what I did…I turned off the sound when the show started…left on the picture just so I would know when it was over.

…. the High School Basketball scene has its regular season winding down…2 more weeks prior to district….if you follow HS sports, you have an idea of where “they stand” in relation to other teams. I generally find the state wide polls to have a different flavor.  According to Max Preps, the #1 Large School is Hazelwood Central, followed by Chaminade, Sikeston, St. Marys, Rolla, Oak Park, Rockhurst, Rock Bridge, Vashon and Webster Groves.  I have not seen most of those teams …and I don’t believe that these voters have either ….so a vote is often based on comparative scores and “scuttlebutt” from other writers and coaches….at any rate,,,3 of the top 4 are St. Louis Teams.  St. Mary’s is the highest rated Class 4 team from St. Louis in the rankings….does that mean anything in the post-season…NOPE…but it’s ALWAYS nice to receive recognition.

…in girls basketball, Francis Howell Central was listed as the #9 team in the pre-season poll.  The Spartans are 18-3 now but not rated at all in the top 20 teams.  FH Central has won 5 games by 6 points or less and 3 games by 7, 8,9 or 10 points…soooo…they are winning but not “blowing people out”.   Now you know why coaches …who want recognition for their team…run the score up! Central is led in scoring by Yani Curry (12.8ppg). Lauren Ebert leads the team in 3’s with 32 conversions. Ebert also has 20 blocks!  Hannah Currant tops the rebounding numbers  with 142.In the final 2 weeks, Central will face the #10 rated…and fellow school district rival….Francis Howell Vikings (14-7)-ranked #10…two times!!  It should be exciting for both schools…it won’t be the same ol’ same ol’ wrap up of the regular season.

…..Speaking of wrapping up…..I’m taking the same ol’ same ol’ departure line…thanks for reading..have  a good week!

 

HOF — In, Out, Changes by Bob Ryan

So last week, the Baseball  Hall of Fame in Cooperstown voted in 4 new members. Without question all of the foursome are well qualified– Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vlad Guerrero, and Trevor Hoffman .. It’s only the 2nd time since 1955 that a foursome are entering the HOF. Each one had his own case…take a look  at some of these stats on these players that we all recall watching….

Chipper….drafted in 1st round by the Atlanta Braves in 1990….played ENTIRE career for the Braves … you won’t  see that much any longer….played in 21 different post-season series….so we all saw a lot of him on the tube…voted into HOF on 1st year of eligibility…in 8 All-Star games…became a regular at age 23…played until he was 40 years old.. batted a career …19 seasons….OPS of .930 batting avg .303 with 468 dingers…didn’t realize that he piled up 150 stolen bases…will be remembered for his all-around skill as a hitter & fielder

Jim Thome…an ol’ fashioned power hitter…also his 1st year on the HOF ballot..banged out 612 HR in 2543 games…that’s  8th on the MLB HR list… he’s between Albert & Sammy Sosa….also it’s a HR every 4.1 games!!  Thome played in 17 post-season series with most of his best years @ Cleveland. His 22 year  career OPS was .956…18th in MLB history!

Vlad….I really enjoyed watching him hit….great bat speed…swing at almost anything between the ankles and throat…but hit he did..he played 16 seasons…first 9 years with Montreal..lifetime average of .318…only hit below .300 three time…his 1st year, last year & 1 other year…OPS of .931…34th all time MLB history…was the AL MVP once…didn’t reach the world series until he was 35 years old with Texas…I didn’t even remember him playing for Texas.

Hoffman….probably 1st of several closers of the “modern” (after 1990)…was voted into the HOF in his 3rd year of eligibility… currently 2nd all time in Saves …behind Mariano Rivera…with 601 saves…spent most of career with San Diego…his best pitch…at least in part of his career was his change-up….his fastball topped out at his peak around 86-87 mph..so his pinpoint use of his sharp slider …around 81mph and his changeup piled up  his outs in the 9th inning….his career ERA was 2.87 in 1035 games.

No arguments on any of these four players….but there are other ideas swirling around HOF selections.. 

….Stars of years ago “stood out” as they do now…the first 5 players—Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson were clearly recognized during their careers as the “best” in the league….and DO belong in the HOF

…but….as the years went by…..the HOF attempted to “catch up” on HOF worthy players who had been overlooked…so the Veterans Committee was formed…THEY chose players that they felt belonged  in the HOF and had been overlooked…there were definitely some….but …..some others inducted through this process were not of the same ilk..couple examples…catcher Ray Schaulk played 18 seasons …career batting .253…played with Shoeless Joe Jackson on the Chicago “Black” sox scandal of 1919…another is Harry Hooper played 1909-1925…primarily on the Red Sox..played 17 years while batting .281….there are a few others…..in the modern era Pee Wee Reese and Catfish Jim Hunter appear to be in deeper waters than they belong….so……what happens once a guy gets in who doesn’t belong….nothing….he’s in..there is a list of 20 or so players who some experts believe don’t belong in the baseball HOF…suggestions…

….let the veterans committee…of which Bob Broeg …long time sports editor of the StL Post-dispatch was a key member….btw…he pushed in some former Cardinals ..Chick Hafey,  Frankie Frisch, Pud Galvin, Orlando Cepada, Roger Bresnahan, Jake Beckley  who were…no doubt… good players…but …HOF level?? …returning to the point…the veterans committee should meet once every 5 years not every year..the new  players chosen should not be recognized as players at the bottom of the HOF totem pole but ones who…for some reason…are CLEAR HOF’ers and belong in the HOF.

…possibly set of number of players as the maximum for the HOF ….there are currently 319 people in the baseball HOF…222 former major league players, 30 executives, 35 Negro league, 22 mgr/umpires…put the non-playing HOF’ers in their own section…the Negro League has probably maxed out on its stars since that league disappeared and those players justifiably became part of the MLB…..umpires/manages don’t compete on the field…put them in their own sections… maybe a max of 250 or 300 players in the elite HOF….as the number  of players pushes past that point..put the lowest ranked  of the list of players in the historical HOF..probably most coming from the Veteran’s committee choices….don’t allow an unlimited number to fill up the baseball elite HOF.

….It is extremely difficult to compare players from different eras….in fact…I don’t think that you can do it fairly….look at some of the changes  from 50-60-90 years ago …HOF opened up in 1939 @ Cooperstown NY….it wasn’t opened or owned then …or now…by the MLB…it was opened by Stephen Carlton Clark, the owner of a local hotel, with the  purposes of stimulating his tourism business in this small…out of the way…NY town.

…..along those lines….you MUST compare the players to the era that they are playing..not the past. Expectations of behavior on and off the field  are always changing….PED use vs gambling?….spitballs were allowed at one time…not now….stealing signs was viewed as a skill…not illegal…at one point..beanballs are forbidden now….at one time, they was used to send a message…the game changes….judge the players on the current mores of the time….not to the standards of 50+ years ago.

…another area to consider is that the game has changed….it’s not like it was in 1919 …or 1939…or during the war years…or even the 1960’s…..look at some of the changes…

….medically….these players have treatments now that weren’t even considered  earlier….these players play longer, through injuries that once ended their careers, recover quickly …all due to modern medicine….the ol’ timers era just didn’t have that available to them..by playing longer, many players are able to pile up far higher career stats that boost their attractiveness to Cooperstown

…ballparks have increased in size minimally but the size…height, weight, muscle mass…. of the players has really  grown…ergo…many, many more home runs

…development of the youthful players has taken on a much more rigorous routine….coaching is now vastly improved for the youth….for many talented youngsters it’s a 12 month a year commitment and a commitment of significant money to fund the camps, traveling  teams, etc, etc….btw….you wonder why we’re seeing so few African-Americans in baseball….the honing and development of the elite level baseball skills is now done primarily through expensive traveling teams….the poor families can’t afford it…. Soooo…. their sons are not exposed the intense, rigorous, extensive skills developed through the traveling leagues….hence…development lags

……modern technology has assisted players in developing the correct angles of their swings to derive the most benefit from this “good” contact….players can go in the clubhouse between innings and check the pitcher  in slo-mo….not just with their eyes…to enhance their success

….expansion of the league…..for several decades there were 8 teams in each league–400 players in the MLB….now there are 30 teams…750 players……I’m making the supposition that the real star players “back in the day”  would be star players today….just think if there were half as many teams….how good would the starting rotations be as compared to today?That’s a big difference.. I’ve noticed for a few years now that many of the “good” hitters in the MLB are so-so against quality pitchers but pile up the numbers against the weaker pitchers…those bottom half of the pitching staffs  would NOT even have been in the MLB with only 16 teams…

….Hall of Fames are interesting to the exuberant  fans….and the casual fans… of the game….it brings back memories…. or maybe… sheds new light … on the best players of all the eras of that particular sport.  Speaking from personal experience….I’ve really enjoyed the Baseball HOF…my wonderful wife sat as I read each and every plaque …  & Football HOF ..lots of hands-on stuff….but hockey HOF in Toronto was a dud..it was in a high story building …located on 1st..maybe 2nd floor…my kids were really disappointed because I knew more of the ol’ time HOF than they did.

Some other thoughts…info….about HOF….

….when I read that Chipper Jones was only the second player inducted into the HOF who was the #1 overall pick of the draft…the other was Ken Griffey JR what about othe.#1 overall picks…from the past of a few decades ago….the #1 picks that made the MLB  and their accomplishments…1965 Rick Monday(All Star); 1969 Jeff Burroughs; 1976 Floyd Bannister (All Star), 1977 Harold Baines (All Star); 1978 Bob Horner (All Star & Rookie of year); 1980 Daryl Strawberry (All Star & ROY);’1981 Mike Moore (All Star); 1982 Sharon Dunston (All Star); 1985 BJ Surhoff (All Star); 1988 Andy Benes (All Star)’ 1992 Phil Nevin (All Star); 1993 Alex Rodriguez (All Star + very good); 1995 Darin Erstad (All Star)…that means since between 1965-2000…the players drafter #1 OVERALL from 1966, 1967, 1968, 19780 1971, 1972 1973, 1974, 1975 , 1979, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, `989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 either didn’t make the majors or didn’t ever qualify for 1 All Star game…that’s with the #1 OVERALL pick!!!  How could the teams be THAT wrong? Since 1999…drafting has improved….some of the #1 drafted are 99-Josh Hamilton; 2000 Adrian Gonzalez; 2001 Joe Maurer;2005 Justin Upton; 2007 David Price, 2009 Stephen Strasburg; 2010 Bryce Harper; 2011 Gerrit Cole; 2012 Carlos Correa—sooo…it appears that MLB has started to figure out better way sto draft #1 overall picks…

….some of the best players not in the HOF and NOT on the ballot may surprise you…

…Gil Hodges ….1B of the Brooklyn Dodgers through their great days of the 50’s—played 18 years, was an All-Star 7 of 8 years in the midst of his career….273 hitter with 370 HR…lifetime OPS of .846..played in 7 world Series in his career,,,sharp fielder  at 1B

…Tony Oliva …played entire career in Minnestota…during the 2nd dead ball ear (early 70’s)…led the AL in batting title 3x, led AL in hits-5X, led AL in 2B-4x, career .304 hitter in 15 years…hurt badly by playing entire career in Minnesota…small market, little national recognition

….Lee Smith…pitched 18 years…remembered most for his first 8 years with Cubs…had  478 saves…was the All-Time Leader in Saves  from 1993-20006 when passed by now HOF Trevor Hoffman…lifetime ERA…18 seasons…3.03….did not just pitch the 9th inning…for example with the Cards…90-93…the lean years before AB sold the Cards…90—53 games-63 inn; 1991- the most saves of his career-47—67 games -73 innings. He led the league I 4 different years from 83 to 94! He’s been on the ballot since 2003…highest total was 50.4% and in 2017 dropped to 34%….was he much different than Hoffman?

…there are more…Billy Wagner a contemporary of Hoffman….seems to be on this way out…it’s believed however that hitters thought Wagner was better than Hoffman …that Wagner was tougher to hit!!??

Now…some quick hitters …

….What’s in the water in Columbia…over the last 2-3 years the Head Football Coach, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, the Head Baseball Coach and now this week the Head Softball Coach have all changed…some resign… some fired…has the SEC “brand” done this?

…Brewers look like they are “all in” with the acquisition of Christian Yelich from Miami and the free agent signing of Lorenzo Cain.  The perennial question….Do they have enough Pitching?

….SLU & Mizzou are each experiencing similar issues on the basketball court…depleted rosters… lack of a consistent “go to” guy, head coaches of each team are brand new (1st year) or relatively new (2nd); fan bases had high hopes in pre-season which have been dashed by a myriad of circumstances.

….looking at 2 of the top HS teams in the Lou…the Hazelwood Central Hawks are 20-1…only loss to an OOT …and out-of-state team..1st year coach Brandon Gilmore…who was the top assistant to 12 year Head Coach Josh Martin..has led them to tournament Championships @ Vianney,  Meramec-Coaches vs Cancer and Parkway West tournaments…this type of winning isn’t anything new @ Central…their teams have won 74 games over the last 3 years, the Hawks are led by the 4-some of Shaun Williams, Cameron Williams, Xavier Ball and Telly Wright.  Central has 11 seniors on the team….so ….this could be the year that they reach Columbia.

….coming on strong as the season unfolds are the Chaminade Red Devils (15-2)coched by Frank Bennett…last week Chaminade knocked off Whitney Young (Chicago)..ranked in top 25 by USA pre-season poll…a school that has 3 NBA players of recent history..(David Lee ..who just retired after 12 NBA years)…Bradly Beal (just earned his 1st All-Star berth in NBA)…and Jayson Tatum…do I need to say anything about him?…now Chaminade has another super talent that’s headed to N.Carolina State—Jericole Hellems.  Hellems is 6-7, carries 23ppg avg, rebounds aggressively, run the floor well….but he’s not alone…6-6 Soph  Luke Kasubke is the long-range bomber…he’s downing 3-balls at at 44% clip….his high level of skill…brings back memories for me of his Mom (Michelle Hennon Kasubke) who was one of the best women HS basketball players that I coached in my coaching career.  

…not much to lose….Phillies signed Francisco Rodriguez to a minor league contract…IF….and that’s a big if…he refinds his “stuff”and makes the Phils…they get a seasoned bullpen guy of $2.5m….he was horrible last year..7.82 ERA ….soooo.. it’s a gamble…but what do they have to lose?

….How does Lovie Smith keep getting a pass?  He was “on top” of his game with the design and use of the “cover 2” defense….but …over the years …teams have adapted….has he?  One WOULD have to say that he’s looking ahead by hiring the Trinity HS football Coach, Corey Patterson,  as an assistant… Trinity seems to be loaded with talent in the upcoming years….so…you see the landscape…former HS coach…needs players @ collegiate level…yada-yada-yada

…How can you bet against the Patriots?  For a long time I called him Bill Belicheat..but….I’ve got to give it to him….he finds a way to win….year after year with an ever changing cast of characters… except at QB…hw wins…..although he  did win when Brady was hurt a few years ago.

..the Atlantic 10 basketball conference has seen minimal success in NCAA Tournament…since their formation…only 5 teams have reached the Sweet 16 of the tournament…LaSalle-2016; George Mason-2006—actually made final 4!!; Duquesne-2014; Rhode Island-1998…so…Bills keep plugging away.. you can make some headway in this league.

…in the NHL…it’s amazing…the expansion team—Las Vegas Golden Knights are STILL in 1st place in the Eastern Conference…and are 2nd in the entire league in wins with 32….wonder if some of other NHL teams are.. “reevaluating the situation”… about their assessment of personnel ?

…..you earned HOF credentials for making it to the bottom…thx…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trade Sparks Life in Fans by Bob Ryan

The Cardinals acquired heavy hitting, smooth fielding Marcell Ozuna last week….suddenly…it seemed as if the fans were excited …..real excited….again…it was like fresh new life about the Cardinals. Why so?  The Cardinals had six different players with 20+ HR last year, two more with 18….but…none were viewed…at least by the fans… as a “true” power hitter.  Maybe it’s the lingering effect of Mark McGwire who in his two best years in the Lou hit 70 and 65 home runs. He banged out an OPS of  1.22 and 1.12…there was a buzz in the park as he approached the plate…will it be that way now?  Ozuna  banged out 37 dingers last year with 124 RBI’s….a really strong season….it was his “breakout” year.  In the previous 3 years, he slugged 23, 10 and 23 Home runs….rather mediocre…but….it’s said that he disciplined himself more at the plate…laid off pitches out of the strike zone. Another consideration is that Ozuna upgrades our defense.  He was a gold glove player last year and is recognized as a “good” defensive player.  Ozuna has 2 years remaining on his contract. All in all….it appears to be a strong move by MO and his crew.  What about the other Cardinal Moves this winter?

….Acquiring LF Ozuna  and moving Tommy Pham to CF shoves Derrick Fowler to RF.  He’ll be able to cover the ground but his weakest part of his defensive game is his arm.  The RF setting will accentuate that weakness. Last year, runner after runner challenged Fowler on the bases….I can see it happening again…and more often since the throw from RF to 3B is the longest.

…The bullpen may…or may not…need a closer…Tyler Lyons was the 13th best pitcher in the MLB in the 2nd half last season…that surprised me and probably many of you…But…how do we limp our way to the 9th ? Cards Bullpen still requires some attention…Luke Gregerson you say… Gregerson ranked #193 for 2nd half performance last season. He’ll turn 34 in May, had his highest ERA of his career last year with a 4.57 mark.  He did strike out a man per each inning of work… that’s good. ..but what’s around him….. Matt Bowman was #177 & Brett Cecil #180 for the same 2nd half rating. Swing when OH is gone, Rosey is gone. How about bringing some…OK…I’ll settle for 1 or 2 ….of these “Starting prospects”.  Put them in the pen…bring them in every 3rd/4th day to pitch 2-4 innings.  It’d help their arm (less innings expected), help the bullpen (Manifesto can’t keep running 4 different guys out there every day). Make them…or even….him..a steady, regular performer. Eventually I think Waino & Wacha will be swapping roles with these “prospects”.

…A question about the every day lineup….well…we know from 6 years of observation of this manager..the “every day” lineup is the same about 2 days in a row and then is changed..anyway..

As listed now by many “sports sites”….Matt Carpenter is back @ 3B with Jose Martinez @ 1B. Somehow I was under the impression that Martinez had developed in the Cardinals system. Not so..take a look at his career…

February 16, 2006: Signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free agent.

November 3, 2012: Granted Free Agency.

November 13, 2012: Signed as a Free Agent with the Atlanta Braves.

November 5, 2013: Granted Free Agency.

June 20, 2014: Signed as a Free Agent with the Atlanta Braves.

November 4, 2014: Granted Free Agency.

January 28, 2015: Signed as a Free Agent with the Kansas City Royals.

May 25, 2016: Purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals from the Kansas City Royals

Last year was outstanding for Martinez—14 HR, 46 RBI, .309 average in 274 AB….can he match it again is the question. Three franchises have already “given up” on Martinez ?!? I really think that he’s an AL type guy…a DH…his fielding is in the lowest echelon of the MLB…

….so what’s next….the talks continue with Tampa Bay…Colume is the primary goal as our closer but I think….nothing except inferences between the lines…the Longoria could be obtained also….Tampa Bay seems to squeak by annually on one of the lowest payrolls in the MLB. With that in mind….can’t trade Carp to them (too costly)….a package of Gyorko (become 3B),  Martinez, 2 or 3 pitching prospects and maybe Carson Kelly(He can’t caddy Yadi again for another year can he?). Kelly’s value drops the longer he sits on the bench.

…Comparisons  of Gyorko & Longoria were interesting…Gyorko will 30 years old this year; Longoria ia 32.  Most would concede that Longoria is a better fielder…due primarily to his wider range.  However.. Gyorko did surprise many with his defensive play in 2017.  Using the small sample size of last year, here’s a snap shot comparison of the two…

                        GP    AB     R    H      2B  3B  HR   rbi  BB  SB   avg   OBP  slug   OPS

Longoria       156   677   71  160   36   2     20    86   46   6   .261  .313  .424  .737

Gyorko          125   426   52  116   21   2     20    67   47   6  .272   .341  .472  .813

 Comparing salaries is amazing close also..

                           2018                2019                2020                2021              2022                2023

Longoria      $13.5m            $14.5m            $15m                $18.5m         $19.5m          $13m

Gyorko          $9m                  $13m                $13m                —-                  —–                 —

Frankly….conceding Longoria has better defense ….his numbers are NOT markedly different when one considers the difference in the number of AB….his long term financial obligations are usually not of the Cardinals ilk…granted, Gyorko wasn’t the same hitter in the 2nd half…..it seemed that the opponents fed him a steady stream of breaking balls to get ahead in the count and then threw him those same breaking balls outside of the strike zone that he chased…on the other hand, Longoria hasn’t been in an All-Star game since 2010….Longoria has the name but is he worth it?

…a team that has really “gone all in” is the LA Angels…..the Angels really changed their team….it used to be Michael Trout, Albert and a bunch of “no names”….not any longer…they picked up Ian Kinsler-2b and Zach Cosart, who will be the 3B….they resigned their clean-up hitter– Justin Upton & his 30 HR.. Andrelton Simmons is a terrific SS and hit .278 last year…Kole Calhoun is solid …of course Michael Trout anchors the lineup. Angels are much improved defensively now and some additional veterans who maybe thinking that this is their last real “shot” at winning…could be fun for the Angel fans.

…another team worth noting is the Philadelphia Phillies….no….I didn’t have some type of “attack” ... the Phillies who feel like that they have a good-enough young starting rotation(2nd half ratings starting pitchers after name-Aaron Nola (#15) Jerd Eickhoff (#91) Ben Lively (#101), Nick Pivetta (#113) Vince Valeasquez (#122) have now solidified their bullpen with the signings of Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter. Adding Carlos Santana…middle of the lineup bat….will permit Rhys Hoskins to play daily in the OF. The daily lineup should score some runs….I look for this team to be much improved…..now…don’t go out and bet the farm but  the NL East…other than the Nats.. is wide open…when these “weaker” teams improve….wins become much tougher for the better teams.

…but…the only team that StL baseball fans ask about …outside the Cardinals..are the Cubs… Well.. Chicago has leaned heavily towards the pitching side of things this off-season…SP Tyler Chatwood was signed…Chatwood had been a starter for the Rockies…his numbers away from Colorado were markedly higher than those in Denver…that convinced GM Theo Epstein to sign him.  Cubs headed next to the bullpen where they lost closer Wade Davis to free agency….why won’t they resign Davis?  Epstein doesn’t believe in any contracts for bullpen pitchers for more than 2 years …Davis is asking for 4 years, $60m…. thus… Epstein moved on….Brendan Morrow & Steve Cishek were brought in for the pen …Morrow best known now for his iron-man imitation in the 2017 post-season while Cishek is a veteran relief hurler ….Also purchased was starter Drew Smyly…Smyly is a long term investment…he’s out in 2018 with Tommy John so he’s not even on the back burner. Smyly will be 29 years old when he returns in 2019. His lifetime ERA (5 seasons) is 3.74…myself….I’m doubtful of Morrow’s arm “holding up” after such a strenuous and LONG 2017 post-season…I think Cishek will evolve into the better of the two bullpen acquisitions for our friends in Chicago..btw…the Cubs farm system has been wiped out with trades to assist them in their World Series championship. As a result…not too much help coming up soon that will substantially improve the Cubs.

…Blues time…

…. Some seemed surprised that the Blues are struggling….really?….Schwartz (#1 offensive player on Blues in my book ) and Pietrangelo (#1 defensive player) and Boumeester are out….hockey is different than baseball…these players are on the ice for about 1/3 of the game….Schwartz @ 19:12/game; Pietrangelo for 25:46…baseball you bat 4x in a game (generally) with the average number of plate appearances around 38 per game for a team…probably not the same…but when hockey stars are injured… they’re replaced the 16th/17th best player on the team….you bet that there will be a drop-off…this could be a very rough next 30 days…but….looking at the big picture…it’s all about being at your peak in the playoffs..the REAL NHL season.

….On the High school scene…

….basketball season is in full force…one program that has been unbelievably good for over 60 years is St. Francis Borgia. The Knights success began in 1950 when Coach Ray DeGreef took over the reins of the basketball program. He retired in 1982 with 700+ wins.  5 years later, Dave Neier became the Head Coach. Neier has won 5 State Titles, been in the Final Four 10x and won 21 district championships.  Neier, still leading the Knights, is just 4 wins away from reaching the 700 win plateau himself….so….since 1950…except for 5 years when Neier was assistant coach…. ….three has been only 2  Head Coaches over 67 years (save 5  years when Neier was an Asst Coach) and each coach will have chalked up 700+ wins…what a tribute to them and the school. I’ve never heard of such a legacy..congrats!

….Congratulations to Gabby Blossom…named the StL High School Sports.com Volleyball player of the Year.  Gabby starred at St. Joseph Academy s the Angels won the State Championship… again.  Gabby was recognized for her leadership skills as well as her v-ball skills…not surprising…her Dad is Jay Blossom, the long-time, highly successful boys basketball coach at Webster Groves HS…Everyone who’s seen Jay coach on the sidelines knows that he’s a leader and an “all in” type of guy. I’m thinking that it was probably a lot tougher for him to be in the stands watching his daughter compete for STATE instead of being on the bench as a coach!

…No champions are crowned in December but there is a great deal of excitement on the SouthSide.  The St Mary’s Dragons are 9-0 as we approach Christmas. The Dragons, ranked #1 in small schools by the Post-Dispatch were also ranked #7 by USA-Today-Midwest region.  St. Mary’s will compete in the Coaches vs Cancer Tournament (formerly called the Meramec CC Christmas Tournament) over the Holidays.

…more and more I’m seeing the very good teams compete against each other in non-conference games.  Why not?  EVERY team goes to district…it doesn’t matter if you are 25-0, 24-1, 20-5…the tougher competition that you’ve faced should prepare you for the very tough games in district and beyond.

…..college basketball…

….Cuonzo Martin has piled up a 9-2 record.  Some wins look good…wins over W. Virginia, Iowa St, St Johns & U Cen Florida are worth noting.   Wins over cupcakes Wagner, Emporia St, Long Beach St, Green Bay & N.Florida are just padding the win column so that your team may look better to the NCAA committee in march…..generally, the NCAA doesn’t “fall for it”…btw… why even have a chair behind Coach Martin….have you seen him sit down yet…once? Hopefully, Martin will “sit” in Columbia for a while ….after his 2 predecessors each went only 3 years apiece.

….even Duke has a slip-up now and then….after blasting a cupcake, St. Francis 124-67, the Dukies fell to Boston College 89-84 in their ACC opener. Boston College is now 9-3 for the season.

….College football…

The newly instituted “early signing” period—Dec 20 to Dec 22 begins this week.  It’s the first year of this “early signing”.  Doesn’t seem like it really matters when they sign…Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and a few others will claim most the Blue-chippers. Sometimes these highly touted players live up to the hype…it seem like D-lineman & QB are the best bets….other times…it’s the lesser heralded player who become a star…often O-Lineman, D-Backs develop later…let’s watch it closely.

Well…as the excitement continues for Cardinal fans…lets also enjoy the excitement of the Christmas Season with family & Friends….Merry Christmas!

 

Kobe or LeBron? by Ashley Wright

There’s no debate that Kobe Bryant and LeBron James are two of the greatest players the NBA has ever seen. However when current Hall of Famer and NBA great Michael Jordan was asked who is better between the two he stated [in a report by MIKE CHIARI] … 

“Would I rank LeBron over Kobe in terms of best of all time? No. There’s something about five that beats three. Now he may be better than that, but Kobe won five championships. LeBron won three.”

… Granted LeBron’s career average of 27 points, 7 rebounds and, 7 assist is better than Kobe’s 25 points, 5 rebounds and, 4 assists, Kobe holds a 5-2 record in the NBA finals which is not only better than LeBron’s 3-5 record but that also means Kobe has won more titles than LeBron in less games. LeBron averages are slightly higher than Kobe’s but isn’t the goal to win championships rather than average more points than the player across from you? LeBron is obviously below .500 in the finals whereas Kobe has a winning record. Some may argue that Kobe needed Shaq to win his first three and after Shaq’s departure the help of Pau Gasol to win his last two. Other’s may rebuttal that argument and claim LeBron needed to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to win his first two and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to win his third. It’s true both players had a hand in winning their championships but didn’t Jordan have the help of Pippen and Rodman? When it comes to Jordan’s statement of Bryant being the better player than James, it is almost inarguable because almost every NBA player will agree the common goal is to be crowned the NBA champions at the end of the season. LeBron James is still an active player in the NBA and has the opportunity to win more championships, and perhaps pass both Jordan and Kobe.

What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts below!

Ashley Wright

Instagram: SportsWithAshley – https://www.instagram.com/sportswithashley/

Twitter: SportWithAshley – https://twitter.com/SportWithAshley

 

 

What the Trading Deadline Told Us by Bob Ryan

The trading deadline…coming at the end of July….tells us a great deal about the true feelings of a MLB team..its management reveals some of its deeper thoughts by their “moves” or lack of moves…lets take a look as I complete this on Sunday night….one day prior to the deadline…what these teams have told us thus far..

…Detroit sends JD Martinez to the Diamondbacks…Martinez is 29 years old…so still has some very productive years.  He’s hit over .300 each of the last 3 years and with his HR against the Cards last week has hit over 20 HR for 5 straight years…why did Detroit deal him?   His contract expires at the end of this year…apparently, Martinez doesn’t fit into the plans for Detroit…although it does seem to be too young to be “giving him away”… The Tigers aren’t the 1st team to give up on him…the Astros drafted him in 2011 but gave up on him after 3 years and released him…Detroit signed him as a free agent in 2014.. In addition to Martinez, Arizona is telling us that they are “in” for this playoff run

…Kansas City did it in their usual way….obtaining Melky Cabrera from the CWS.  This Cabrera…there are several in the league…Cabrera holds some strong hitting numbers–.295 avg; 13 HR, .336-OB%. He’s been acquired to provide more punch for the Royals…KC has suffered from the drop off of Alex Gordon (.201) and Brandon Moss (.210). He is expected to be in the lineup daily instead of Gordon or Moss. Cabera returns to KC where he played in 2011 and hit .305. Clearly this is a short rental for KC since Cabrera is a free agent at the end of the year and he’s making $15m this year.  Kansas City just 2.5 games out of the wildcard is playing it “close to the vest” but are pedaling to stay in the race.

….the Cards shuffled from the bottom of the deck…again…released Eric Fryer…placed Dexter Fowler & Adam Wainwright on DL…released Chad Huffman…who…out of nowhere…with no credentials…shows up on the Cardinal roster in June….he was in & out quicker than a spoon stirring a cup of coffee..and finally…the good news…yet another Memphis OF joins the Cardinals-Harrison Bader. It does seem strange to me that Carson Kelly being “brought up” now…mid-season….while you would expect that Yadi will still catch 6 days a week… but…Yadi doesn’t seem to have reacted well to this move…that is –actually having a backup who could be a starter instead of a backup who is largely ceremonial…..he’s already been in a public tiff over sitting out one day with Manifesto.. it seems, he spent the game in the bullpen  with his shin guards on pouting….Cards are actually telling us that they are in a “holding pattern” and not exactly sure where they are going OR landing

…the Cubs worked it another way…in a clear effort to improve a weak spot…the starting rotation..this tells the team that we have confidence in you—we just need pitching….they acquired  Jose Quintana from the White Sox, activated Kyle Hendricks and swallowed $2.9m as they released pitcher Brett Anderson…2017 stats–22 inn, 20 ER,34 hits, 16 K & 12 walks….who they had just signed this past winter….the Cubs have been on a tear since the trade…Cubs told us that they are going for it..again

…a team rarely on the receiving side at the trading deadline is Tampa Bay….constricted by a very small MLB pocketbook…we are talking millions here….the Rays actually went out and tried to improve their team for THIS year…the Rays obtained Lucas Duda…slugging 1B from the Mets…TB sent back Drew Smith…a 23 year old RP….TB also has reworked their bullpen by acquiring 3 new hurlers…they procured a lefty, Dan Jennings of the White Sox…Jennings is a no-name for most of us…but this is his 6th year in the league with a lifetime ERA of 2.45…that ERA is up this year and he just turned 30 so the CWS who prohibit any player on their team from being over 25 years old J shipped him off. TB swapped relief hurlers as they acquired Steve Cishek (rhp-free agent end of the year) for Erasmo Ramirez. Cishek’s duties will be to handle late innings against teams with right handed hitters. Tampa Bay also signed the fading Sergio Romo for their pen…the Rays are hoping that this aging vet can squeeze out a couple saves or holds in the last 2 months..so…basically…Tampa Bay is telling us that they are working within their fiscal constraints to improve their playoff chances.

….Tampa Bay Rays is a largely overlooked team…at least by me…..the Rays have been in the post-season playoffs 4x since 2008!…that shocked me … I would have guessed 1 or 2 times…..currently Tampa Bay is in the hotly contested AL wild-card race with a 53-52 record

….the Rockiess obtained Pat Neshek from the Phils for prospects…this should provide an immediate jolt for the Rocks pen. Neshek’s “funny” delivery makes him super for an inning. Colorado is refining their weakness for the final stretch…it’s a “weak” play but they are still in the race..the wild card race.

….Milwaukee also dove into the bullpen waters and fished out a new arm..Anthony Swarzak from the CWS for prospects. This is a rental for the Brewers….Swarzak is having the best year of his 8 year career and becomes a free agent at the end of the year….good gamble for the Brew Crew..but really not a “game changer” for the Brewers…Milwaukee had procured catcher Steve Vogt  to help behind the plate a couple weeks ago (still trying to replace Lucroy)…..one would have to say that they are “in” but only with a few chips. I really think that Milwaukee doesn’t believe that they are good enough this year but have made a token move to appease their fans.

….going the other way with their bullpen..and in the standings…. is the Chicago White Sox…the Chisox have brought in the big broom and cleaned out their pen…which has been largely ineffective…receiving plane tickets for their new destinations are Dan Jennings (TB), Anthony Swarzak (Mil),David Robertson & Tommy Kahnle (both going to NYY)…the White Sox always seem to be “building for the future”…If I were a fan…I’d be asking when will that be?  Will I be alive to see it J Are they to match the 100 year drought that the Cubs experienced in Chicago? CWS is telling us…no..not us….we’re decades away

…the Mets shock most fans by snatching AJ Ramos (Miami’s closer) to 2 minor league prospects…one highly touted, one not so much. Surprising why?  Although Ramos is a very good closer..20 saves this year, 40 last year…neither team is close to contending..both are 9 games out of the wild card spot..so why the trade?  NY will lose their valuable bullpen man—Addison Reed to free agency next year…. So the Mets are setting up for next year already…Ramos is not a free agent until 2019….NY is telling their fans “wait to next year”..Miami is telling their fans what they usually do…we don’t pay big money .. unless his name is Stanton..to players…so trade them

….Minnesota obtained Jaime Garcia from the Braves(Garcia has now been traded 3x since the end of last season) for 2 prospects….than less than a week later…after 1 start… Garcia is traded to the Yankees for two prospects (one seems talented)..Garcia’s great movement on his pitches has always made him attractive…but….he goes 6 inn at the most…and wins aren’t always easy for him to pile up since he relies on the bullpen to go 3 or 4 innings…so..with all those trades of Garcia in a few months…it got me thinking after his multiple moves…who’s been on the most teams….

…two guys who are very, very familiar with the trading deadline and other trading times are linked together in St. Louis….Edwin Jackson has been on 12 different MLB clubs. He is one behind the all-time team-hopper—Octovio Dotel (13 teams)….how are they linked…both were on the 2011 St Louis Cardinals! Dotel was 3-3, 2 saves and 3.28 era…meanwhile Jackson was 5-2, 3.58…Fernando Salas led the team in saves with 24….as I was going through the  Cardinals 2011 roster…how about these names….I remembered most of these names but little about them….Bryan Augenstein, Nick Punto, Maikel Cleto, Gerald Laird, Miguel Batista, Tyler Green, Arthur Rhodes, Corey Patterson, Trevor Miller

…more on 2011 team…..the 2017 Cardinal edition is hoping to emulate the very same 2011 team mentioned above.…The 2011 Cards won just  90 games in the regular season, knocked off the favored Phil Phillies in round 1, defeated the division leader-Milwaukee Brewers in 2nd round…and then who can forget the 2011 World Series… superhero David Freese established a new record for post season RBI’s with 21 including  his famous…at least he’s famous in St Louis J…walk-off HR….it still amazes me that the Cards scored in the 8th, 9th, 10th & 11th innings to win game 6…scoring in all those particular innings has never has been done prior to 2011 and never since…it was truly historic.

In the SPECIAL CATEGORIES arena…….

….we reap what we sow category…looking back at the Cardinals “Moves” from last off season…one might conclude that our inertia about freshening the roster has left us with 2017 being close to a replica of 2016…here ya go….major league free agent signings Dexter Fowler 5 yr-$82.5m & Brett Cecil 4y-$30.5m; in-house signing-Carlos Martinez 5 yr-$51m; notable minor league signing Jose Adolis Garcia & Eric Fryer (already gone)…traded …gave away Jaime Garcia for 3 minor league players who aren’t on the radar currently; lost Jeremy Hazelbaker (Az) & Tim Cooney (Clev)on waivers and lost or cut Brandon Moss, Matt Holliday, Seth Maness, Brayan Pena…the only player of that group that doesn’t fall into the category of “addition by subtraction” is Matt Holliday…I really don’t see much from Nov thru March that has significantly changed our team for the better..the “big” signing of Dexter Fowler (a lifetime .266 hitter) I think was more of a move to retaliate against the Cubs for the signing of John Lackey….so…. do you expect it now at the trading deadline?  Maybe  but probably not…it could be a “token” move to keep the anxious StL fans appeased?… for  you optimists…..we still do have Monday left

In a money vs ring contest…..the best players in the NBA are all attempting to “partner up” with another star so that they may go deep in the playoffs…all of these starts are paid handsomely …so now it’s about winning a championship…which many have NOT accomplished…ore even come close to doing.  The latest merry-go-round saw Kyrie Irving (Clev)…who HAS won a championship and been in the finals 3 years…express his desire to leave LeBron…oops Cleveland…and play where HE could be the feature player and make more money … sensing an opening…Derrick Rose…who has never been on a winner and has made plenty of dough(1 year left on 5 year, $95m deal + $185m contract with Adidas)….signed with Cleveland as the slashing-guard type that Irving has been in the past …hoping to win the ring with LeBron.

In a “spoiled sports world” …or…you must talk PC about the pros..….David Price (Boston pitcher) seems to have gone overboard…he has reacted outwardly on a couple occasions to Dennis Eckersly.  Apparently Price was “upset” when Eckersly reacted with a “yuk” to the stats of a Boston starter rehabbing in the minors…Price has been highly vocal with f-bombs directly to Eckersly in front of many of his teammates…sounds to me that Mr. Price has has earned $114m throwing a baseball and currently holding a 5-3 record should accept that Dennis Eckersly, a HOF pitcher, has the right…and is in fact…paid to express his true opinions on the performance of the players….ya know…if ya get the big bucks….you also become a big target…don’t like it?…then don’t sign for the huge contracts.

In a make sure that you “cover” yourself world…about a week ago, Matt Carpenter was thrown out at home…it wasn’t even close….the catcher had the ball and moved up the line to tag Carp prior to him starting his slide…immediately after being tagged out, Carpenter whirled around and took a quick look at the 3B coach….without speaking but saying clearly, “What were you doing sending me home?”…Carp wasn’t going to “take the fall” for such an egregious decision..especially since he’s been castigated by many for his baserunning

opening the door

Andre Beltre has opened to the door to the Baseball HOF…garnishing his 3000 hit this afternoon. He broke in with the Dodgers in 1998 at the age of 19. He’s the 31st batter to break the 3000 barrier…28 of the first 30 batters who had 3000 are in the HOF….Ichiro is still playing & Pete Rose…you all know his story….btw…I was surprised to see that Babe Ruth had 2873 hits in his unbelievable career…I’ve always just thought of him as the MR HR…next in line is Albert Pujols…he has 2911 hits…probably next year

…well I’ve reached my deadline….thx for trading your time for this blog…have a super week

Greatest Basketball Team of all Time by Ashley Wright

On this day 25 years ago the original Dream Team that won the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona took the floor and started their historical run. The Dream Team was nothing short of a phenomenon at the time. They dominated the Olympic competition, beating their eight opponents by an average of 48 points. The Dream Team put on performances that we will never forget. In their opening game they routed Angola, winning by 68 points. NBA Hall of Famer and former forward Charles Barkley helped by posting 24 points 6 rebounds and 5 assists in the opener. Barkley also led the team in points per game during the 1992 Olympics averaging 18. A team that also included Jordan, Bird, Magic and Ewing is still one of the most popular US men’s basketball teams to date, but were they the greatest? 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the Speak Your Mind section below!

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Good to Great by Bob Ryan

Good To Great… a book written by Jim Collins was required reading one year while I was teaching. It was an interesting book…no…I’m not giving a book review here…but…some of his ideas  apply to our Cardinals.  Quickly…Collins says that you have to have a vision, decisiveness, the correct personnel on the bus to success and each of them in the right seat on the bus to execute this paradigm shift. One could say …fairly…that the Cardinals develop good field players….these type of  players have enough ability to play in the MLB, they receive good training and habits along the way…many make it to the MLB and play several years..this “Cardinal Way” works to get good field players…but not often great field players..Albert was our last great player developed in the Cards system..the current management team seems determined to play with these home-grown players….almost exclusively..it just doesn’t work…look at some of the Cardinals best teams…1964 team had only 3 home-grown field starters, in 1982 it was also just 3 starters from the farm system, 2004 it was 3 players again…2011 saw a huge number-5 Cardinals grow up in the system…generally, it’s very difficult to find those superstars from one organization and very difficult to go deep in playoffs with only home-grown boys….I’m suggesting that the Cards trade several of their younger players…some  in the majors and some from the minors…to procure a superstar…along with an aging superstar  (e.g. Lance Berkmann, Larrry Walker, Carlos Beltran, Roger Maris)…to help our team go from good to great…

A team MUST draft well and trade as required…it’s required now by the Cardinals….we don’t have a great team with this squad…so..let’s take steps to make it a great team….package 3,4 or 5 talented young players  for a superstar and.. combined with several GOOD players already on the team….it  can do the trick….it CAN and HAS been done….stop shuffling the bottom of the deck players…take a look at some of these players who were traded as young players (under 25)…Ryne Sandberg (Phils to Cubs), Jeff Bagwell (BoSox to Astros),HOF Nolan Ryan (Cal Angels to NYM),  HOF Pedro Martinez (Dodgers to Expos), Fergie Jenkins (Phils to Cubs), future HOF Miguel Cabrera (Marlins to Tigers) and of course Babe Ruth  … I wouldn’t rule out any current starting field player and only Martinez on the mound corp.  Players most attractive to other teams…not in any particular order… Carpenter, Gyorko, Wong, Pham,  Diaz, Lynn (as a short term rental), Piscotty, Grichuk, Rosey, Oh and the plethora of pitchers down in the farm(*Jack Flaherty, Mike Mayers-just promoted,, Marco Gonzales, *Sandy Alcantara, Luke Weaver) Your thoughts? ..btw…* means that player is top of the line in my eyes…look who we’ve procured over the years who helped us become a GREAT team…Lou Brock, Ozzie, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen,  John Tudor, Adam Wainwright..it can be done and it must be done if the Cards want to elevate their level of play

 

While some are really not “ good to great”…more like” bad to good” in some cases…how about…

…Atlanta’s star 1B, Freddie Freeman. offers to move to 3B to keep the surging Matt Adams at 1B…while that idea was floated around repeatedly in these blogs it didn’t gain any traction in the Cards clubhouse…so who’s being the true “team” player?

…you must give the Blues credit for trying to become a GREAT team….strengthening the center-ice position via a trade with Philly…then gambling on a forward with their 1st round pick..who by many hockey experts has a high end of talent but somehow it’s never jelled yet…and as a bonus….losing Paron & Lehtera freed up some badly need cap space

…someone with GREAT speed is Mags Sierra….he’s 21 playing at Springfield Redbirds (AA)..been in minors 4 years…hitting .324..no power…he’s another Vince Coleman type…remember the excitement that Vince brought? If we don’t make a major trade, I hope we see him shortly after All-Star break….

…Matt Holliday has been a GREAT addition for the Yankees this year….recently he “volunteered” to play 1B if needed…his mature attitude in the clubhouse has to be a big plus for the youthful Yankees…and he has 15 HR, 47 RBI’s  and a .275 average in the batters box in 2017…frankly…we just didn’t want to pay him and we don’t have a DH spot in the NL

….striving to overcome a career low in 2016, Andrew McCutchen has been on fire of late…now hitting  .270 with his 13 HR ….McCutchen is signed through 2018 ….so…. he may have played himself right out of Pittsburgh who would like to get something in return and not just have him walk away as a free agent at the end of 2018….he could be very attractive to contending teams who need an OF for 1+ years …especially a CF ….who’s only 30 years old…younger than Matt Carpenter & Dexter Fowler and shockingly…just 1 year older than Tommy Pham

…hopefully Derek Jeter will lead a group to buy the Marlins….that would be taking a team from being badly handled to hopefully good or even GREAT team.

…still running the 3000 Steeple Chase in GREAT form  is Colleen Quigley…from Nerinx Hall HS and whose Dad was a teaching colleague of mine.. She finished 8th in the 2016 summer Olympics and over the weekend came in 3rd place in the Steeple Chase in the USA Championships…her 3rd place finish has earned her a trip to London for the World Championships. Congrats on maintaining such a world class status.

….after renting Mark Melancon in late 2016 and surrendering Felipe Rivero in the trade….the Nats are in the same predicament  in 2017….seeking a “big time” closer again… would Rosenthal be a candidate for them? Melancon sure filled the bill last year.. he had 17 saves in Washington and 47 for the year with a year long ERA of 1.67…

….I have some pity for the announcers…trying to announce these Cardinal games like they are GREAT games…..many are not even GOOD games…I notice that Danny Mc is bringing in many more stats and stories to “fill” throughout each game…I mean how many times can you say, “an error or a base running mistake by the Cards on that play” 

….on the upper end of the “good to great” yard stick….Las Vegas Golden Knights have 37 players but….they also acquired a bevy of draft choices….they acquired THREE 1st round picks(6th, 13th, 15th) as they obtained a total of  12 overall picks in this draft on Friday!

whoa, whoa…hang on there Mr. Kyle Schwarber….the road to being Great…or even good… is longer than just  one post-season series…how can you not hit a fastball now?

…going from good to GREAT by recognition are the 2017 St Louis Soccer HOF class…the entire class is Pat Baker, Billy Becher, Sam Bick, Pat Gaffney, Keith Gehling, Jack Jamieson, Tony Kuster, Jeff Sendobry, Herb Silva, Mike Sorber, and Jamie Swanner. A special pat on the back to two of my friends— a classmate of mine through elem school & HS–Tony Kuster and a fellow teaching colleague Jack Jamieson who are being inducted in this ceremony….CONGRATS on the GREAT honor!!

…the blatent ignoring of the Phillies 3B coach by Odubel Herrara against the Cards was almost shocking…3B coach, Juan Samuel, had both arms up clearly and early and Herrara just kept running…reminded me of kids running the bases in T-Ball…when the defense hasn’t learn to throw the ball yet…of course Herrara was out by…20 feet…I’m being conservative….If the Phils don’t deal the rogue Herrara ..or cut him…they’ll never be good…much less great…

…Dodgers have been great recently as they’ve won 10 in a row…thank goodness the Cards are in the Central division…if they’d been in the Western division, we’d be 16.5 games out of 1st place

…for the 1st time in many years, the Detroit Tigers will probably be “sellers” at the trade deadline…key players like J.D.Martinez, Justin Wilson, Alex Avila, Shane Green and Ian Kinsler could all be on the block as the Tigers will attempt to reshape their roster and get younger…and hopefully….better…possible trade partner with Cards…as are Toronto, Frisco, NYM, Cincy (Joey Votto)

…recently promoted 1B Luke Voit was hitting .317 with OPS of .952 @ Memphis….but…he is a 1B…it doesn’t appear that the Cards want to shake up or bother Matt Carpenter…maybe Voit is one of the trade bait for that superstar mentioned above…keep in mind, Johnny Peralta in .364 in Memphis…and barely .200 vs the MLB pitchers…btw…Johnny was just resigned by a MLB team but ..to show his skills in the minors….poor Johnny…it’s just really tough to admit that your time is up…go on with your life.

….in the NBA….good players aren’t good enough….you must have superstars to compete for the title….Jayson Tatum was drafted #3 by the Celtics with the hopes that he can play a 2 or 3 position and push the Celts back into prominence. It was especially Good to me to see the wonderful hugs for Mom & Dad who have gone their separate ways…

….it’s good…maybe even great…that you made it to the bottom…YOUR thoughts are always welcome…just put them on the Prepcasts site or send them to me & I’ll post them for you(you’re your permission)..many, many of you send me very insightful, detailed ideas that are really good to read..I’d like others to share in that same experience.