Cards crystal ball by Bob Ryan

At the start of the MLB season….for St Louisians….that means the Cardinal season…I’m going dust off my crystal ball, shine it up and then throw out some predictions about baseball with a heavy accent on the ElBirdos….some will be serious….some not so much…you’ll have to determine which category that belong in…..also….following up on last week’s fun of choosing a “walk up” song….you may agree/disagree with any of mine OR….better yet….make your own…send to me & I’ll get them published as a response….or….just send the ones that you agree/disagree

….Jack Flaherty wins more games than Adam Wainwright & Michael Wacha COMBINED

….Jeff Gyorko doesn’t see July 30th in a Cardinal uniform

….In 2018 Jose Martinez led the team in batting average and was the only regular that hit over .280…..if both those parameters are true again in 2019….the Cards won’t make the playoffs

….Adolis Garcia, on th 2018 post-season roster who fell rounding 3B with a possible key run in the playoffs, won’t play in 30 games for the Cardinals in 2019.

… Matt Wieters will have less than 18 starts behind the plate this year(unless Yadi gets hurt)

…Mike Shildt will walk out to the mound this year less times than we hear about no Corn syrup in the Dilly-Dilly Bud Light commercials

….Paul DeJong will get over 500 PA this year…the 1st time in his career @ that level

….Marcel Ozuna will hit better in 2019 (over .280) but never really become a fan favorite

..Jordan Hicks will have more stikeouts than Dexter Fowler has hits by the end of the year

….last year Tyler O’Neill struck out 57x in 61g….this year, that strikeout/game ratio will drop because a)he’ll be in more games(not so many PH roles)   b) better contact

 …Unlike many stars…..Manny Machado MAY help raise  the crowds in San Diego….but not on the  road…he’ll be a villain on the road!!

..Paul Goldschmidt receives the imaginary Stan Musial Award for being  the MLB player most like Stan Musial ….in tremendously consistent daily performance, strong in all aspects of hitting (power, on-base), plays every day, good guy—win or lose…we stole him from Arizona—it’ll rival the Lou Brock heist in the future… he won’t have the 22 years of excellence as Stan or the 11 years of domination of Albert but let’s hope that Goldy can do what Stan & Albert did at 36 years of age (Goldy’s final year of contract)..

At the age of 36, Stan hit  .351, 29 HR, OPS 1.034, 102 RBI btw..Stan missed a year due to war

At the age of 36, Albert hit .258, 31 HR, OPS  .780, 119 RBI

…the Cardinals will have more “giveaway” home games than WINS by the Cards at Busch

…unlike the last 3 years, the Cardinals WILL MAKE some type of acquisition in mid year… either in June or August. This has the underlying supposition that the Cards will be In the division/playoff race.

…Carlos Martinez’s primary role will be out of the pen in 2019…an extended (multiple inning) closer or bridge man from starter to closer.

A ramdom selection of “forecasts” outside of the Cardinals Crystal Ball

….After winning 90 games last year, Tampa Bay won’t win 83 this year

….In the battle of the Bulge (bulging wallets)….Harper hits more HR than Machado

…. In another battle of the Bulge…Machado plays more games than Harper

….The Reds will finish higher than the Pirates in the standings this year

Milwaukee series wrap-up…

…sure it’s only the 1st series….so one can’t come to any generalities after 4 games… but..

….I would have batted Carlos Martinez for Fowler..not Wong… in the 9th inning of game 1….I realize that Wong is a LHB but he seemed to be “on” at the plate….once again, Kolton Wong gets the short end of the stick after belting 2 round trippers…and to protect Fowler’s self-esteem…what else must Wong do to get key AB’s?….btw… I called it at the time….not after Dex was totally overmatched by those fastballs

…comments made by Thompson & Danny Mac about Ozuna in game 1 “not catching balls that he probably should have”…tells me a few things….a) he hasn’t improved defensively  b) the gloves are off this year on Ozuna…no more protection by the media  c)  How did he EVER win a gold glove?  Was his Mom the only voter? D) The Cards will NEVER resign him,  even if he wanted to do so…which I don’t think that he has those inclinations either.

….the Cards still don’t have the defense that Milwaukee possesses

….I don’t know her name…but the new young woman handing off to Al & Jimmy in the studio did a much better job than Scott Warman last year…now …if she could just eliminate that squeaky voice…oh well…you can’t have everything.

…game 4 really hurt and it seems like a huge difference..a tied series with a  2-2 series mark  or a 1-3 mark..2 games under .500 and it “smarted” when the winning run came all the way around from 1b on a double….Harrison Bader had dove to cut the ball off…it bounced off his arm away from Ozuna…who relayed it to DeJong..we never saw a replay of that OF relay throw…either it was dropped by DeJong or bounced into him..couldn’t tell….so the 3B coach challenged the Cards outfielders to make the play…and they didn’t…ugh

…….Movement off the field/court in NCAA

…Jaylen Hurts leaving Alabama to transfer to OU as a grad student…it’ll really be a challenge for him to adapt to a PASS 1st team that constantly runs a “hurry up” offense…btw.. I’ll repeat my disdain for graduates playing college & almost always transferring to some other school to do it…would we let a college player compete in the HS level if he hadn’t played 4 years of Varsity HS football?

… the U of Buffalo was stunned…they had just signed their highly successful head basketball coach, Nate Oats to an extension  through 2024 with a high buyout of $750,000. It wasn’t enough.. Alabama University stepped in and hired Oats from right  under the nose of Buffalo. Oats HAD accomplished a great deal in his 4 years @ Buffalo. He took his team 3x to the NCAA and reached the 2nd round in each of the last 2 years. He was named the conference Coach of the year the last 2 seasons…clearly he HAD put BUFFALO U. on the basketball map. But…we all know the expression….money talks….and coaches walk…or something like thatJ

…….NCAA Basketball…

I didn’t see all the games…..just a few passing thoughts on the games that I did see…..

….Super Game#1….Purdue beat Tennessee for 2 reasons…Ryan Cline got RED HOT in the closing parts of the game. He buried four 3-pt baskets in the final 5 minutes and scored 9 straight points for Purdue.  The Boilermakers also found a way to get some close shots late in the game from their center. It was a a very enjoyable game…at least the last 10 minutes that I watched. Purdue is coached by Matt Painter.  He’s been very successful at Purdue(2005-present) 346-163 as a Head Coach in a very tough league. He’s won/tied for the Big 10 championship 3x. He’s taken Pudue to the NCAA Tourney 11x…this being the first time that he’s reached the Elite Eight level. As a beginning Head Coach , he took SIU-C to the NCAA tourney!  His name made me reach way back…I remembered something about him & Mizzou…well, in 2011 when Mike Anderson left, Painter met with Mizzou…verbally agreed 1 day to take the job then changed his mind the next to remain @ Purdue. He would have been a good one.

…Auburn was absolutely terrific in their 97-80 sweet 16 win over N.Carolina. While using a deep bench that kept up a lightning fast pace, the Tigers shot an unbelievable 46% from beyond the arc as they were 17 of 37. In fact according to post game stats, the Tigers reflected the “new offensive wave”…layups or dunks & 3’s IS the offense. Auburn shot only 5 shots in the entire game that weren’t backboard layups/dunks and 3’s! N. Carolina… in a very rare occurrence ….did not have the bench of their opponent.

….Michigan State put on a clinic as how to protect a 2nd half lead against LSU in the Sweet 16 game..long possessions but still scoring somewhat late in the possession….constant, good defense throughout game..offensive boards late in the game

…there were two absolutely terrific NCAA games on Sunday….Auburn…led on by the cheering of Charles Barkley & his stuffed dog called AuB…edged Kentucky in OT 77-70….the game was much, much tighter than the final score.  To me…it appeared that Auburn had more depth than the one & done specialists. John Calipari, the 1st NCAA Coach to really maximize the value of one & done stars, makes the NCAA tournament each year. However, he’s only won 1 NCAA Championship…in 2012. And…going back further for Kentucky…that 2012 title is the only Kentucky title since 1998 when Tubby Smith was at the helm. Auburn’s guards will be very difficult for Michigan State to handle in the 2019 championship game

…speaking of Michigan State…the Spartans upset over the Duke Blue Devils was a different type of game.  Late in the 1st half…it seemed…the referees decided to let some “contact” take place under the boards for both teams. It actually made for a better game….far fewer “touch” fouls by the big, strong 6-10 guys of both teams and the game kept a real flow to it. It was  another GREAT game!!

….I don’t know about you but I get weary in the last 2-3 minutes of a NCAA game with the plethora of fouls.  Players are fouled intentionally and quickly. WE watch the teams march back & forth like in a parade to the free throw line…and now…throw at least 3 video reviews and action stalls even more. Boring!! Fouls were NEVER intended to reward the defensive team. The pros got it right decades ago…in the last 2 minutes of a game, a different standard is set for fouls. It could be done at the NCAA level also… e.g. On the 3rd foul after the 2 minute mark….the player getting fouled either a) gets an extra FT shot b) or maybe even, shoot 1 shot and get the ball back. I’m sure that someone else has a better suggestion….but … please….let  the game by played off the FT line without all the marching back & forth. Maybe… some fans find all those free throws exciting….I prefer action.

…..…Under the category…  some things are made for each other….

…the wonderful fans of Philadelphia booed Bryce Harper in game 1 of the season!

……Under the category….what do you think will happen…

…from Saturday’s MLB box scores…only ONE team pitched less than 5 pitchers in a game on Saturday.. Houston used 3 hurlers in its win….now….let’s see…5 pitchers …almost have the teams used six pitchers…that 800+ appearances in a season for any one team….and your SURPRISED when the MLB pitchers sustain sore arms, balky elbows,  lose their velocity, or their “sharpness” declines?

…..In High School Sports, a sport often overlooked by sports fans is Boys Volleyball. Played in the spring time while there are a plethora of other HS sports….it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. This week we’d like to highlight the Pattonville Pirates. The Pirates are 9-0 in 2019 under Head Coach Kyle Walsh while winning 18 of 19 sets and the huge Francis Howell Central Tournament(there were 4 pools of teams). The Pirates upended Francis Howell North (7-1-2)in the Championship Match 2-1. That was Pattonville’s only set loss of the season. 6-6 Soph Cole Schuler has the highest Avg/kill/gm with a 3.83 mark and a 48% average ;on his kill attempts. However,  Jr Landon Chan tops the club with 129 kills. On the defensive side, Sr Cole Cwiklowski is #1 on the Pirates in digs with 59.  Cwiklowski also leads the team in aces with 11. The team leader in blocks is 6-4 Jr Rodney Wallace with 22. It’s early in the season, so Pattonville has just a 2-0 conference record.  A key match will be against Parkway North on April 17 @ North. My crystal ball tells me that it should be a great match!

Well….my crystal ball is going hazy now…I hope that you’ll send me a Cardinal prediction or 2…I get them posted under the blog using just your initials. We had a tremendous response to the golf-walk-up-to –the-tee songs last week…THANKS…hope you’ll participate this week!


  1. Good read about the Cards. Carpenter is a liability in the field.

  2. Looking into the crystal ball is the practice of all sports fans, and is what makes sports so fun to follow/ discuss.

    Cardinals: I stand by my opinion that regulars need more live game action during spring games. 1 at bat, then to the “ back field” ( or golf course) per game, and pitchers logging 10-14 innings the entire spring ??? We saw plenty of rust this weekend.. Andrew Miller, Molina, Fowler. With the exception of Goldschmidt & Wong, a mediocre at best offensive performance the opening series.

    The announcers may have taken the gloves off Re Ozuna, but have replaced with pre-wrap, gloves & mittens Regarding Fowler.
    “ Dex is really looking good.. great at bats, a bounce in his step”, etc.
    Mgmt knows most fans are Not Fowler fans, thus, sell him hard.
    Prediction: In time, I think the pitching will be sufficient to contend.
    I’m concerned the outfield simply will be an offensive liability all year. Defense, with exception of Bader, will also under deliver. ( And Bader May not hit enough to be an everyday option in CF)

    Remember Brock, Flood & Maris? Smith, McGee &Van Slyke? Edmonds, Sanders , etc. These guys delivered pennants & World Series I don’t see this type of player in today’s Cards outfield.

    NCAA: Changing of the guard… Duke, NC, Kentucky all out. Good for the sport. More balance! JP1

  3. Cards finish: 3rd place, behind Brewers & Cubs JP3

  4. Cardinals: Third in the Central and out of the playoffs. Too much dead weight and Bader will not hit.
    NCAA: Michigan State: They are a TEAM. (This is my wish of course. I would not be surprised if one of the other squads prevails. Too many unknowables with Basketball.) TM

  5. As of today 4/1/19 the Cardinals have won 1 game and lost 3.
    People what is going on. Is this going to be a repeat like last year?
    Something is wrong with the Cardinal GM, he would rather bring up rookies from the minor league than go out and pay for some good seasoned pitchers.
    To the GM of the of the Cardinals, to win a pennant or a world series you have to spend the money to get good ball players.
    My opinion if the Cardinals come in last or 2nd to last the GM should step down or get fired. Its been 8 years since the Cardinals have won a World Series.
    This not an April Joke. SN

  6. Coach – I agree that it’s only the first time through the Cardinal’s rotation, but I was sure disappointed with what little I saw. Beyond Goldschmidt and Wong the hitters haven’t given me anything to rave about either. “It’s still early”…I agree…but that was their mantra from last year right through September. Got potential for repeats here!

    Couldn’t agree with you more about the NCAA BB tourney. Your thoughts were spot on. My only faults with the replay reviews is their length. It breaks up the continuity of the game, gives the team with the shallow bench a chance to rest, gives the less experienced team with less on-floor leadership time to plot with their coach, and if it can’t be decided in 45 to 60 seconds, the call on the floor should stand. Of course, however, that’s not going to happen because the big-name sponsors will use and sell more ad time. Izzo versus Calipari roster style may be swinging toward Izzo’s methodology. Lots of young, one and done talent, an old hand or two for stability and example-setting, but most of all an experienced point guard leader. I’ve always believed that unless something truly extraordinary occurs, the teams with the best guards are going to go the farthest in the tourney. One-and-done, a compressed tournament, and entering the tourney injury-free from their league tournaments, seems to lend itself to intelligent guards being a major step toward advancing. That on-the-floor coaching assist can keep the younger ones from diving head first into a one-on-one game, can have a stabilizing effect for the team, and can restore confidence with a few words or a pat on the back. Again, guards rule! AS

  7. Cardinals: Third in the Central and out of the playoffs. Too much dead weight and Bader will not hit.

    NCAA: Michigan State: They are a TEAM. (This is my wish of course. I would not be surprised if one of the other squads prevails. Too many unknowables with Basketball.) TM

  8. Cardinal prediction–they finish last place due to injury bug!
    I see in my Crystal Ball– Goldie hurts his back, Miklos Tommy John and Carp blows knee!
    2019 World Series–My SD Padres beats Mariners in 7 games!! Padres 1st World Series–
    Tatis Jr MVP!!! MB

  9. CoachDiff says:

    I think you are right on about Gyrko and Jose Martinez. I hope you are wrong on your Hicks/Fowler prediction. I also think you are spot on on the Ozuna analysis. The fact that he won a gold glove proves that is a defensive award that goes to the best offensive stats way too often. Ozuna is a huge liability in the field.

  10. More predictions says:

    Here’s an unpopular prediction and I hope I’m wrong, but I predict that the Cards will fall short and not make the playoffs this year … Injuries and struggling starting pitchers will be the cause… JH

    For the Birds, they break through and win the Central, advance in the playoffs but lose in the NLCS to the Brewers who qualified as a Wild Card. BH

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