The Eyes of the Cards by Bob Ryan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

….Outside the Cardinal baseball world….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comments

  1. Jeff Bandle says:

    Great article, coach. Sometimes I think these baseball managers get a little too enamored with the metrics and analytics of the game that are now so in vogue and forget that the game is played by humans. Baseball is a tough enough sport as it is…where else can somebody fail 7 out of 10 times and be considered an all time great and hall of famer? It used to be that the players could get comfortable in their roles..starters and bench players. Remember Dane Iorg for the Cardinals and Royals in the 80s? He was never going to be an everyday player but he had a niche as a good pinch hitter and late inning replacement. Like you said, put Wong in as the regular everyday starter and let him get an honest shot at it. If he can’t do it, then find him another role and try to find another starter.

  2. As for me, I kind of think this is a “bridge year” for the Cardinals. By that I mean that with all of the prospects they have waiting their chance at the big leagues, management is just trying to get through this year and hopefully, in the long run, contend. Otherwise, the future of this team seems solidly in hand with players like Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes, Dakota Hudson, Jordan Hicks, and so forth in the pitching department and Alodis Garcia, Paul DeJong, among others considered the day to day players. While a couple of these guys are with the team now, I still think their significant contributions are for the most part, (excepting perhaps DeJong) a year or so away. Maybe I’m wrong, but I also think the team will ultimately be pretty good once things settle in. And, if I’m right, the future looks very bright. Patience! Really Bob…a math question?

  3. Frank Mantia says:

    What is going on with Carson Kelly? Cards need to trade him but he should not go cheap. It is not fair to Kelly to keep him in the minors. A good read today. Thanks for the Blog.

  4. Jim Pleimann says:

    I think you left out the biggest name thus far. Has Babe ruth come back from the grave? This Shoehei Ohtani has had quite a first week. He’s 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA. Not to mention he’s tagged a few balls over the fence (like three games in a row) to go along with a few base hits. He isn’t going to keep this up is he???
    Go easy on those 1970 Cardinal. Brock, Simmons, um Brock, Simmons, a little Gibson…. Reitz, McBride, Reggie Smith, did a mention all the good pitchers we had… er wait….
    I wholeheartedly agree with you on Wong. Play him everyday (OK five of the seven) and see what happens. I am really close to agreeing with you on Wainright.
    But OMG you lost me with Tommy Pham…Why in the world should the Cardinals have paid him early in his career? He was ALWAYS hurt. How do you invest in a guy who has eye trouble and is always hurt? If I was paying him, he’d have to prove himself for me like he is trying to do now. If you were the owner, would you have invested strongly in him? Was he ever going to get better/healthier? By the way, there is nothing wrong with his mouth. I personally am not a Phan…. see what I did there? If he worried about helping the team as much as he worries about his number and how great he thinks he is, we might have something. I don’t see him coming back to opening day in years to come in a red blazer. Just my opinion…

    The Blues have regressed an awful lot since the Western Conference Finals two years ago. From goaltending to the front office to the coach. Things are really going to have to change. They need a LOT more talent.
    Thanks for the read as always!!
    JP

  5. I would love to Joel Q back coaching the Blues again. He’s got hardware and would put the Blues on the map to win their first cup.
    High school sports—Vianney baseball & Vianney volleyball are rolling so far.
    I love Waino but put a fork in him–No more heaters; it’s more like batting practice.
    Funny watching these Cardinals with their robber masks on! Heck my tennis players played in colder temperatures this past Sat wind chill was 19 @ Holt High School.
    Probably one of the best Masters I have ever seen. Great drama and my buddy had Patrick Reed 40/1 in Vegas. He was happy with his $20 bet! Shame Tigger & Lefty were not a factor.
    Great seeing young kids making the charge Rory & Jordan & Ricky

    MB

  6. OMG…where to start? The 8 man bullpen is not just a problem for the Birdies. Other teams have them too. The diff? Other teams use all 8 pitchers. We use 6, maybe 7. Mayers was the best reliever we had in ST, yet he goes down when we need the roster spot. Leone looks lost. As usual, so does Matheny. Our vaunted lineup is terrible. I’m tired of the “slow starts” every year from Carp, Fowler,Pham, etc. Wong must play everyday. I have never been a fan of his, but we need to see!

    As for the Blues, the goaltending situation here has been bad for twenty plus years. We have never really developed or drafted a decent goalie, and then kept him! The lack of skilled forwards is horrible. Let’s bring up all the kids with skill, play them and let them learn together and form some sort of Team concept. This bunch doesn’t get along or play well together. That’s obvious. TM

  7. Almost glad they lost because Nashville might have beat us by 5+ goals every game of the series. RS

  8. Great read as always! Cards: pretty early to predict season outcome, but appears to be “ same ole thing”….. FOWLER is not a leadoff hitter any longer; Hope I’m wrong, but don’t see Pham repeating ‘17 results… Carpenter’s shoulder issue is affecting his 3rd base throws & his swing at the plate; Ozuna looks pretty good and a much better defender than I had heard; Wong continues to baffle me… just can’t be counted on as everyday 2nd baseman… just continues to struggle at the plate. Too much emotion in making necessary decisions… honestly feel that a bit more discipline from mgr is needed… you produce, you play… if not, you don’t. They thought TRL was too intense.. well, he just won! Veteran players are winners. Gradually blend in rookies. Cards are too dependent on kids. Seem to be heading for another 3rd place finish.

    Blues: ??? Honestly feel they really try to improve each season. The Cubs of the NHL?? JP

  9. Unfortunately, I think Waino’s time as a starter has come to an end. I think it’s best to return him to what he was in ’06 and make him a setup/(long reliever if necessary). Sure, Flaherty is very young and will hopefully have a great and long career, but how have we not seen more of him after his outstanding debut in Milwaukee against an even more powerful lineup 1 thru 9 in 2018 than 2017. And yes Reyes will be on the way too soon, but I agree these games are too close to be losing and the bullpen continues to haunt us by blowing games.

    As for the blues, I think this year is extremely disappointing and another setback. Jake Allen, who was supposed to be the long term “star” starter after trading the likes of Ben Bishop and Brian Elliot, has proved to be ineffective. For the second consecutive year, he continues to have a 2 month stretch of horrendous goaltending in the most important months of the season, which has proved costly for the team. This “young, fast” team Armstrong was trying to construct for the future has not gone well either. After the WCF loss to the Sharks, the Blues continue to move backwards, and I believe what hurt them a lot was not keeping 2 “big body, top 6” forwards. We have nothing like Pittsburgh, Nashville, Columbus, etc., who have 3 lines that contribute points on daily basis. A solution is to be like Toronto, who have the youngest team in the nhl, sprinkling in a couple experienced players, in their 2nd consecutive playoffs. We have to give these young prospects, like Jordan Kyrou and others, a chance to prove themselves in the NHL because if you don’t try, then you cannot succeed

    Carter

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