Christmas comes Early by Bob Ryan

For the Cardinals…and the Lou….Christmas came early this year. The tremendous acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt from Arizona brightened up everything under the Cards Tree. Looking at it from many different angles..

…it’s a 1 year contract…an inexpensive one at that for player of Goldschmidt’s pedigree..$14.5m… that enables Goldschmidt and the Cards to see if this “fit” is good for them. Some may view him like other 1B like Orlando Cepada or Jack Clark…coming into StL to ignite the Cards championship fire as the final piece needed to go over the top. Initially…from my view… he really DOES fill several needs…a real “slugger” in the heart of the lineup, an acknowledged star, a slick fielding 1B, a player who plays every day..assuming that the Cards will do that….

….so why did the D-Backs peddle him for “prospects”?….apparently, they felt that in 1 year that Goldie was going to walk sooooo…..they wanted to get “something” for him. D-Backs appear to be on the downward spiral of “tanking” for a couple years …while making tons of $$$…prior to rebuilding (buzz word for letting the fans know that you’ll be losing this year but come and pay anyway to watch these young…and usually less talented players). They have been in the playoffs SIX times since 1999 so they do have some credibility in developing post-season teams.

….the “prospects” traded away by the Cards didn’t really seem to be in their future anyway…Luke Weaver was given an early starting role in 2018….initially, he was a” once through” the lineup type pitcher  then as the other teams saw tape on him…often he didn’t make it that far…his stats 7-11, 4.95 era, 150 hits in 136 inn and it was clear that the Cardinals were losing…or lost…faith in his future & development. Carson Kelly…had very limited AB…..sat on the bench far too much and too long IF you were really trying to develop him….he batted .114…his projection for next year by Baseball Reference is .222… further, I think that the Cards management had already moved on from him and now view Andrew Knizner as Yadi’s successor.. whenever that may be…2030 or so.

….some data on Goldschmidt…..again I am very excited that the Cards got him…but he isn’t  “perfect”…who is? I’m not throwing cold water on the move but…..everyone…every player … has good and bad….so let’s peek at some of the possible “downsides”….

….last year Goldie got off to a very slow start…on Apr 13, he was holding a .191 avg and a .404 slug mark; on May 26 it was still @ .201, OPS .700. In the month of May he hit .144 but in June it was .364 If the gets off to another slow start, will the fan base “turn on him” like they did Fowler?  Must he have immediate success to please our loyal….but sometimes…unrealistic fan base? While Goldie’s  batting numbers are impressive…the year of the most personal highs was 2013 when he was 25 years old..he’s 31 now.  Baseball reference has him projected for these numbers in 2019…. 26 HR, .281 avg,  OPS .884, 84 rbi’s…..are you happy with those numbers? And….his contract is for 1 year….I know that most of Cardinal nation think that THEY can “win him over” …and I do too…but ya never know.

…Arizona played him every day..and always have done so with him. He’s played in 155+ games each of the last 4 years.  He doesn’t seem to need that “day of rest” so often administered by Card Managers of recent vintage. Let’s hope that they pencil him in “every day”.

…he batted in the #2, #3, #4 slots for the D(done)-Backs…his best batting marks were in the #2 spot .349, OPS 1.104. He hit .298 with runners in scoring position throughout 2018. We can’t bat Carp & Goldie back-back, can we? Wouldn’t you put a hitter in the #2 spots who’d benefit from having a slugger like Goldschmidt hitting behind him in the order who doesn’t run much? Like DeJong? It’s Goldschmidt’s THREAT as well as his production that bolsters the lineup.

..Vs division teams….                     avg         OBP       SLUG     OPS

  Vs Cubs                                              .300        .440        .500        .940

  Vs Milwaukee                                .150        .292        .300        .592

  Vs Cincy                                             .409        .435        .955        1.389

  Vs Pittsburgh                                  .280        .419        .400        .819

….receiving an early Christmas gift was the Mizzou Tigers when QB Kelly Bryant agreed to play @ Mizzou next year….while I’m strongly opposed to these “graduates” competing (that’s another issue).. it is wonderful news for the Tigers. Bryant is a run/pass QB…not the cannon arm of Lock…but highly recruited and played for Clemson (can’t get much higher than that level). Also signing without the same fanfare but almost as important is WR Jonathan Nance (formerly of Arkansas). He  also played the transfer rule and will be coming to CoMO….last year the Tigers suffered when speedster Emmanual Hall missed a couple games due to injury…they needed his speed to hit the HR ball and stretch the defense.  Already with these signings and reportedly an easier schedule in 2019….Mizzou is being looked at as a 10 win team in 2019. Congrats to Coach Odum for winning the Bryant battle over many other schools…..sometimes the battles off the field are as important as the battles on the field.

….in another area, one team that is still waiting for their Christmas gift…early or late…is UCF…Central Florida Football.  This school is the ONLY school to have progressed through all the collegiate levels…they were DIII in 1988 when they opened, then DII, FCS and in 1996 moved to FBS status. They have leaped WAY beyond the norm to national status on the collegiate football level.  Clearly, the officials at this school are wondering what they must do……they’ve gone undefeated for 2 years including beating Auburn … of the sacred SEC ….in a bowl ….while changing coaches!!  They’ve captured the fans throughout Florida… their gear is outselling Florida & Fla State! Their conference is not one of the Power 5…hence looked down upon by voters so UCF is working hard trying to get top level teams to play them….the key word there is “trying”….thus far only Stanford in 2019 is willing to do so.   UCF would LOVE to play many other top level schools….but somehow…no other top 20 school can find room for them on their schedule…you know those power 5 non-conference schedules are so tough—filled with the likes of SEMO, Cen Arkansas, N.Mexico St, Kent State, etc…. so then …how do they get national recognition…they need to play/win games against power 5 teams…but none will schedule them!..these “big time” schools don’t want to take the chance that they might lose….UCF has  upgraded their facilities and are continuing to upgrade the level of their recruits. They’d like to join a power 5 conference…maybe one with only 10 teams (like the Big 10) or maybe the ACC  (S.Florida would come into the conference with them to balance the schedule);or into the  SEC as Vandy & Arkansas are pushed out for being non-competitive. (does anyone REALLY think that Vandy will ever be able to recruit the level of student/athletes  that they require to win big-time football ? or that Arkansas really fits into the SEC—they really belong in the Big 12 which would be a better fit for them…. When will UCF get their Christmas gift?  Well….here’s a real early Christmas gift idea….why doesn’t Mizzou schedule UCF on Sep 2, 2021 –drop or pay off SEMO(already scheduled on that date)… and then play a real D-1 team.  The Mizzou hierarchy has been moaning about modest attendance figures of late…. well….how about playing real team instead of a “practice” team who happens to wearing different names on the front of their jersey.  For many decades, Mizzou followed the Don Faurot belief that a team should compete against other strong teams IF they want to be considered strong themselves…no cupcakes. For example, look @ a typical Mizzou  in 1965…they were in the Big 8– Okl St, Oklahoma, K-State, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa State. Their non-conference foes that year were Kentucky (6-4), UCLA(8-2-1-tied MU), Minnesota 5-4-1 then Beat Florida(with Stever Spurrier as the QB) in the Sugar Bowl. Final  Mizzou record: 8-2-1. Myself…I’d prefer to see the Tigers competing with teams like those mentioned above in non-conference games than piling up wins over vastly inferior teams.

….never quite receiving the Christmas gift of Recognition on the highest level is Drew Brees. Rarely do people mention him in discussions regarding the best QB in the NFL…usually it’s Brady and/or Aaron Rodgers…but Brees owns many more passing records than those 2 talented QB do COMBINED! Now he doesn’t do commercials like Rodgers or have Super Bowl rings for all his fingers  like Brady but…. but….he IS the top passer of all  time in passing yards—73,000+ currently; is 2nd All-time in TD passes; has led the league in passing 7 times; In 9 seasons , an NFL Quarterback has  passed for over 5,000 yards…Brees  has done it FIVE of those 9 times!  In other words, he has more 5,000 yard seasons by himself than all the other NFL QB in HISTORY combined! Still more…he has over 500 career TD passes…..yet he’s remembered only …seemingly…. for being 6 ft tall! Who cares? His impeccable accuracy, quick release, reading of defenses , durability and production should make him be viewed as the one of the best…if not the best…. QB of all-time….oh….then there’s that super bowl thing….well, He DID win a Super Bowl XLIV over Indianapolis 31-17 in Feb 2010. Btw…on the road to that NFL championship, New Orleans… led by Brees…. The Saints defeated 3 former Super Bowl QB…..and probably 3 HOF QB….they beat Kurt Warner (AZ) in NFC divisional playoffs, beat Brett Favre of Minnesota at the time in NFC title game(they won in OT) and then beat Payton Manning (Indy…basically playing a home game in super bowl). The great Ted Williams….often…if not usually…called the greatest hitter of all-time… was only in ONE World Series and his team DIDN’T win it. It was the 1946 Series won by the Cardinals when Enos Slaughter raced around the bases with the winning run for the Cards.  Who would have thought that for Williams and Stan Musial…competing against each other in that World Series as young players….that neither would ever play in another World Series again! Soooo…..why doesn’t Brees get his gift of recognition?

…receiving the Christmas gift of “growth” was St Louis U.  After beating a good, ranked Butler team, the Bills went on the road to SIU-Carbondale and lost 61-56. This is not to discredit SIU-C but from all reports the Bills just didn’t have the get-up-go attitude and the ability to score inside much or outside with regularity. Give credit to Coach Barry Hinson (he reminds me of Charlie Spoon)SIUC clogged up the inside forcing the Bills to take the 3-balls….shooting only 6 of 26 from beyond the arc won’t win many games . I suspect that the Bills will now see a plethora of teams utilizing the same strategy. The young Billikens will still stumble and fall on occasion as they work to climb the mountain of NCAA-B.

….receiving the gift of a look of indifference …was Urban Meyer.  Meyer just announced that he was leaving coaching when he resigned from Ohio State.  It should have stunned the sports world but…it was met with indifference. His  statement was the same statement that he used when he left Florida  just  2 years later he took his “dream” job @ Ohio ST.  It seems like he has very sensitive, thin skin…. he took a press beating this fall with the handling of his staff; Ohio State didn’t make the final 4; his “dream” job had become more of a nightmare—he was actually criticized in Columbus!!…..what’s next?  Barney  Fife carrying around a bullet in his gun in Mayberry? Look for Meyer  to resurface… in time… perhaps for 2020 or 2021…and maybe even in the NFL…but…for now…the luster has faded from Meyer…so who cares?

…receiving an early…a very early Christmas gift..and shocking most of the Lou HS basketball fans …are the Mehlville Panthers Boys Basketball team as they receive some HUGE recognition for turning around the progam.  Over the years, Mehlville has fielded state level football teams, very solid baseball teams and of late, good soccer teams but this year Mehlville Basketball is back on the map. Last year the Panthers went 14-11 for the season…their first .500+ season since the new millennium. This year Mehlville is holding a shining 7-1 record!  Coach Andy Guethle’s team took 2nd place in the Tournament of Champions (16 team tourney) in Washington Illinois to open up the season. The Following week the Panthers  took home the South Side Classic Championship Trophy. Earlier this week Parkway North fell to Mehlville to push the Panthers mark to 7-1. Jr Davion Bradford, 7’0” tall, carries a double-double as an average. He leads the club in scoring with an 18 ppg mark and rebounds 10.1/game. As you would expect he has 18 blocks to lead the club….but he’s not a 1 man show…Jr Dylan Branson 6-4 carries a 17.7 average while leading the team in assists with 18. Also scoring in double figures with a 13.7 mark is Lamontay Daughtery—another very tall player at 6-7! Congratulations to the Panthers for their tremendous beginning to the season!!

Well… “early” Christmas  gift was getting you to reach the end…thanks.




  1. Good stuff Bob! Enjoyed your insights about Goldschmidt and the Billikens. And…. how about that upset in NCAA women’s cross country with the Colorado women beating the favorites and reigning champs from New Mexico! Getting excited too for the upcoming indoor track season to see if @steeplesquigs (my daughter Colleen) can repeat her win in the Wannamaker mile at the Millrose Ga GQ

  2. Cardinal fans are like sheep. Sure, the Goldy signing was a nice and much needed addition. But, we still have a MAJOR hole in Right field. Fowler, Martinez and O’Neil???
    Fowler was a huge mistake, Martinez is the best hitter on the team and is an absolute butcher in the outfield, he needs to be in the AL. And O’Neil is just unproven and I doubt is an everyday player. So, how’s the bank roll doing and can they afford Harper? If they really want to compete for another World Championship, they have to upgrade RF. Doesn’t have to be Harper, but certainly not the 3 that are listed above for long term success. Just my take. CK

  3. I love the Goldschmidt trade. I think it could benefit both teams. Carson Kelley had to go! Yadi made his situation toxic in my opinion. He was the opposite of what Matheny was for him. Not only did Yadi not mentor Carson,he appeared to denigrate him and even the other Molina brothers ripped him in public as “not that good”. I think people in the organization were nervous about Weaver’s slide this year also. Both Weaver and Kelley still have a huge upside but needed a fresh start. We gave up 2 blue chip (mostly prospects) for a silver slugger, gold glover, perennial all-star and he fits nicely into the oft ridiculed “cardinal way”.

    I never wanted Harper. I believe he is a “dig me” type guy over being a team player. He’s been involved in several team chemistry issues. e.g. He was choked out by a fat reliever just a couple season’s ago. I also believe he is a large reason for the continual coaching carousel that has forced a couple good baseball guys canned.

    Fix the bullpen and power left hitting utility player with some pop and I thinks we are good to go for 2019!


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