Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Ricardo Rincon arrives!

The VISA problems that have delayed the arrival of pitcher Ricardo Rincon have finally ended almost two weeks after he was supposed to have been in Jupiter, FL.

The start of exhibition games means that I get the game notes once again in my inbox. The Cardinals take on Florida Atlantic University in a spring training exhbition game. John Webb takes the start for St. Louis while Andrew Tomlin starts for FAU. Thursday sees Grapefruit League action against the New York Mets. Jeff Suppan will start that game.

Three million tickets have been sold so far and about 500,000 will be remaining when single game tickets go on sale. I hope to get some tickets for July 19, 2006, which coincides with CDA starting the next day at SLU. I hope some tickets are left that day.

Beginning this Saturday, you can hear every spring traing game on KTRS when the Cards play on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Fox Midwest carries games on March 19 and 26. The WB in St. Louis will carry the game on March 25. ESPN picks up three games on March 14, 20 and 31.

Last year, the Cards went 15-11-2 during spring training.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Saint Louis U Basketball

In ESPN's Weekly Watch they have SLU as one of the Teams on the Rise:
  • Saint Louis: Beating Charlotte makes the Billikens GW's toughest foe in the A-10 tourney.

Also, in CBS Sportsline's Monday Morning Knee-Jerk: Don't hate on the messenger has a comment on page 2 about SLU basketball

  • Genius: Saint Louis coach Brad Soderberg. The Billikens, who went from Conference USA to the Atlantic 10 as an expansion afterthought, beat Charlotte to tie the more talented 49ers for second place in the A-10.
    Too bad the A-10 is a one-bid league: Right.

Bills Honor Seniors Before Dayton Game Wednesday Night

  • Saint Louis (16-10 overall, 10-4 A-10) closes the regular season with two games this week. The Billikens' regular-season home finale features Senior Day against Dayton at Savvis Center on Wed., Mar. 1, at 7 p.m. The Bills finish at La Salle on Sat., Mar. 4, in a 1 p.m. (CT) start.

Busch Stadium: Get your tickets fast!

I honestly don't know at this point if I will get to a game this season and that was before I read this:
According to team President Mark Lamping, 3,020,500 of 3,531,377 tickets available -- or nearly 85 percent of tickets available for the 2006 season -- already have been spoken for. And those remaining are expected to go fast when they go on sale in a week.

"The opening of new Busch Stadium means the demand for Cardinals tickets, and the scarcity of tickets, have never been greater in the history of the ballclub," Lamping said. "If fans decide to spend some of their hard-earned money to attend games, they need to plan ahead and buy them early or they might be disappointed."

For the first half of the season, the new ballpark will hold 40,713 spectators. By July 13, it should be up to full capacity with room for 46,861. But record season ticket sales have eaten up 27,500 seats to each game already. Group tickets, multi-game plans, party room and picnic area tickets as well as complimentary seats and tickets the Cardinals are required to set aside for players, umpires and baseball dignitaries account for another 9,788 seats per game, on average. That's 37,288 people filing through the turnstiles every time the Cardinals take the field.
Sidney Ponson has begun the long road to recovery:
Everything is new in 2006 for the 6-foot-1, 250-pound right-hander. Not allowed to drive, he is shuffled to and from camp, first by a longtime friend and former Aruban police officer and now by a cousin. He has grown out his brown, curly hair and sideburns after years of shaving his head.

And he is pitching for his career.

"I think it's a good situation for both of us," La Russa said. "We can always use a good, quality pitcher and we have a good supporting cast for him.

"This gives him a real shot, but the key is personal responsibility. At some point, Sidney is going to have to carry this responsibility himself. We're not going to lock him up after the game."

Ponson will compete with rookies Anthony Reyes and Adam Wainwright for the fifth spot.

"If he puts his head straight, I'm telling you he's going to help us out a lot," said Albert Pujols, the NL's reigning MVP.

And Ponson is willing to accept any role, even if it means pitching out of the bullpen for the first time in his career. Ponson has seen how the Cardinals, and pitching coach Dave Duncan, have helped revive the careers of starters Chris Carpenter and Jeff Suppan.

"They asked me where I was with my problems. I told them I'm taking care of my problems. I'm going to put everything in the past," Ponson said. "I told them I'm not going to be drinking anymore. I told them sincerely I'm done with drinking. I'm not going to do it."
Speaking of pitching, there is a nice article on Jason "Izzy" Isringhausen:
"He'd look at the scoreboard to see 99 (mph), then turn around and look at us," said Cardinals lefthander Mark Mulder, Isringhausen's A's teammate in 2000 and 2001. "He'd look in the dugout at me and (fellow starting pitcher Tim) Hudson. He'd also maybe walk the bases loaded, then strike the next three guys out. Obviously, he's become more efficient. He's different. Izzy's not the same as when he first started doing it."

His fifth spring training with the Cardinals represents something different to Isringhausen. He reached camp in shape, in control of his mechanics and pain-free. The preceding seasons in St. Louis included two operations and a realization that less can be more.

"I probably don't throw as hard as I once did. But then again I don't have to," Isringhausen said. "I used to check the gun every pitch to see where I was. That was pretty much it: how hard I could throw it."

Rebuilding the bullpen represents one of the biggest tasks facing the Cardinals this spring. Fretting about the closer is not a part of the mix.

"He got himself into great shape coming into camp," said manager Tony La Russa. "He's not in a situation where he has to slow this down or that down."

Sunday, February 26, 2006

An Update on Rick Ankiel

If things had gone Rick Ankiel's way, we would not be looking for a 5th starter but the fact remains that Rick lost the strike zone and is now an outfielder. He's learning the first base position right now.

Redbird Ramblings has an update on Ankiel. He thinks Rick will make the opening day roster.
the third story i heard on the radio. it involves juan mateo, the rule five draft pick. sports talk show are saying that he did not through during the offseason and does not look ready. this probably means that he will be sent back to the cubs. this also means that the cardinals might bring back 11 pitchers with them, which means they can also have 6 bench players. that opens up an extra spot for another player. can you say, RICK ANKIEL.
I await the day that Rick Ankiel becomes an everyday player for the Cardinals. I have his rookie card and I want it to increase in value once again. Speaking of which, I need to get Anthony Reyes' rookie card.

Fantasy Baseball

I am in at least three leagues so far. One of which is the Cardinals Diaspora league that was started by Ryan of Cardinals Diaspora. I thought I'd give my readers a brief rundown of why I picked the players that I did. My team is the St. Louis Cardinals. Ironic, eh?

Draft Order:
1. Chris Carpenter - I had to make sure that I chose at least one of the St. Louis Cardinals and Carp is coming off one of his best seasons having won the Cy Young award this past season. Plus, Albert Pujols was already taken.
2. Scott Rolen - Healthy or not, I wanted the Jasper native in my infield and I was surprised that he was around in the second round.
3. Jason Isringhausen - The first of my relief pitchers and a closer for St. Louis. In a league of Cards fans, for Izzy to go in the third round is a disappointment.
4. Nomar Garciaparra - I had to pick Nomar with the hopes of a healthy season. He'll put up good numbers if he stays healthy and he's not with the Cubs anymore so I can root for him.
5. Matt Morris - He was my favorite pitcher with the Cardinals so I had to pick him even though Walt Jocketty didn't want him back this year.
6. Paul Lo Duca - Lo Duca has put up some great numbers for a catcher in prior years and he's platooned at 1B as well in the past.
7. Junior Spivey - I had to pick up a 2B and most of the better ones had been selected by this point. Spivey should start with St. Louis this season and should put up some decent numbers.
8. Jeremy Hermida - a non-Cardinal who is one of the early favorites for the 2006 National League (NL) Rookie of the Year award. He had impressive numbers in 23 games during the 2005 season.
9. Darin Erstad - A former Rookie of the Year winner who had a not-so-impressive season last year but should put up decent numbers this year.
10. Anthony Reyes - the top prospect in the organization and he gets picked in the tenth round. It's a sleeper pick as no one knows as to whether or not he will start since the 5th position is between him, Sidney Ponson, and Adam Wainwright.
11. Austin Kearns - he should see a lot of playing time and I had to select at least one player who was a Kentuckian and a Wildcats fan.
12. David Eckstein - a Cardinals player who was a steal in the 12th round. I may start him at the utility position if Scott Rolen and Nomar Garciaparra can stay healthy this year.
13. John Rodríguez - I needed another outfielder and who else but J-Rod. He'll likely win the battle for left field.
14. Adam Wainwright - Another top Cardinals prospect who is battling for the 5th pitching position.
15. Braden Looper - my other relief pitcher who was still alive in this round. He is expected to see a lot of playing time with setting up in the late innings for the closer Jason Isringhausen.
16. Yadier Molina - again, another player who I will have on the bench or rotate with Lo Duca since I expect to have Paul Lo Duca as my number 1 catcher.
17. Juan Encarnación - A Cardinals outfielder who I did not think would make it to this round. I selected him anyway and will platoon him with the rest of the outfield.
18. Brian Anderson - White Sox outfielder who is an early favorite for the American League (AL) Rookie of the Year award in 2006.
19. Jason Kubel - a non-Cardinal as well who is a leading contender for the 2006 National League (NL) Rookie of the Year award and what I would call a sleeper pick.

Just FWIW, here are the top rookies per Fox Sports.

Some bloggers that are linked on the sidebar are also in the league.

Top Prospects

John Sickels previews the Cardinals top prospects for the upcoming season. As expected, pitcher Anthony Reyes tops the list of prospects.
1. Anthony Reyes, RHP, Grade B+
2. Colby Rasmus, OF, B+
3. Cody Haerther, OF, B+
4. Tyler Greene, SS, B-
5. Adam Wainwright, RHP, B-
6. Mark McCormick, RHP, B-
7. Nick Stavinoha, OF, B-
8. Bryan Anderson, C, B-
9. Travis Hanson, 3B, C+
10. Chris Lambert, RHP, C+
11. Juan Mateo, RHP, C+
12. Stuart Pomeranz, RHP, C+
13. Eric Haberer, LHP, C+
14. Tyler Herron, RHP, C+
15. Nick Webber, RHP, C+
16. Mark Worrell, RHP, C+
17. A.J. Van Slyke, OF, C+
18. Mike Parisi, RHP, C+
19. Tyler Johnson, LHP, C
20. Rick Ankiel, OF, C
I hope that Rick Ankiel is able to make the 25-man roster. He played outfield in the minors last season and he's trying out first base right now in spring training.

Around the Lou in sports

Liddell, Bills are knockout vs. 49ers

The Billikens beat the Charlotte 49ers to take a tie for 2nd place in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Bills have won 7 of their last 8 and are peaking at the right time.

Tickets gone quickly for exhibition at new Busch

First ever game at Busch, tickets gone 1200 seconds.
The mad dash to be the first guests in the Cardinals' new home led to a sellout in just 20 minutes Saturday of tickets to an exhibition game."We expected to sell out, but, honestly, we didn't expect to sell out so quickly," said Joe Strohm, vice president for ticket sales.

Welcome to Redbirds Fun

I wanted to call it Redbird Fever but that name was already taken so I decided on Redbirds Fun, from the old commercials for the Louisville Redbirds, the former AAA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

This blog is under construction and will be up to speed soon. Links have been added and a link to a short video that I made in tribute to Busch Stadium. The inaugural season photo will take you to the St. Louis Cardinals website.