Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hall of Fame Veterans Committee votes no one...

This is embarassing for the sake of the Veterans' Committee. Apparently, no one is good enough to get admitted into the Hall of Fame.

Ron Santo came the closest to the required 75% of the votes.
Ron Santo, Jim Kaat and all the other candidates were left out Tuesday when the Veterans Committee admitted no new members for the third straight election.

Gil Hodges, umpire Doug Harvey and union leader Marvin Miller also fell short of the 62 votes needed for Cooperstown.

Santo came the closest to the required 75 percent -- the former Cubs third baseman was picked on 57 of 82 ballots (70 percent).

Kaat, who was strongly backed by Hall member Mike Schmidt, and Harvey each drew 52 votes. Miller showed a strong increase in getting 51, followed by Hodges with 50 and Tony Oliva at 47.

The vets panel was revamped after charges of cronyism when it elected Bill Mazeroski in 2001. Expanded from 15 members to include all living Hall of Famers, the new committee has voted every other year starting in 2003.

"The process was not designed with the goal to necessarily elect someone," Hall chairman Jane Forbes Clark said.[...]

The 84 eligible voters on the vets committee included 61 Hall members, 14 broadcasters, eight writers and one holdover from the previous panel.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Scout.com's Top 40

Scout.com has been busy looking at the top 40 players of all-time that played for St. Louis.

Here's the results:
40. Edgar Renteria
39. Chick Hafey
38. Jason Isringhausen
37. Chris Carpenter
36. Bill Sherdel
35. Julian Javier
34. Bill White
33. Steve Carlton
32. Pepper Martin
31. Scott Rolen
30. Terry Moore
29. John Tudor
28. Joe Torre
27. Mort Cooper
26. Keith Hernandez
25. Bob Forsch
24. Marty Marion
23. Willie McGee
22. Mark McGwire
21. Harry Brecheen
20. Ray Lankford
19. Curt Flood
18. Johnny Mize
17. Frankie Frisch
16. Jesse Haines
15. Bruce Sutter
14. Jim Edmonds
13. Jim Bottomley
12. Joe Medwick
11. Ted Simmons
10. Red Schoendienst
9. Ken Boyer
8. Enos Slaughter
7. Dizzy Dean
6. Albert Pujols
5. Ozzie Smith
4. Rogers Hornsby
3. Lou Brock
2. Bob Gibson
1. Stan Musial

Not a bad list at all. David Eckstein, I hope, will earn a spot in that list later on down the road.

Of Brian Walton's list, only Lee Smith and Bill Doak did not make the cut.

Of Ray Mileur's list, several players didn't make the list: Vince Coleman, Todd Worrell, Bill Doak, Lee Smith, and Roger Maris.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

2007 Ford Frick Award

Royals broadcaster Denny Matthews has won the 2007 Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters.

Speaking of broadcasting, here is some good news regarding the MLB Extra Innings package.
The government is investigating a proposed deal between Major League Baseball and DirecTV Inc. that has had fans in a tizzy.

MLB reportedly seeks to strike an exclusive deal with the satellite television provider to offer its "Extra Innings" baseball package. Disclosure of the Federal Communications Commission's investigation of any such deal came in a letter from FCC chairman Kevin Martin that Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., released Thursday[...]

Kerry had asked Martin to investigate the "proposed $700 million television deal that could deny many consumers the ability to watch their favorite teams."

Martin, in reply, wrote Kerry: "I share your concerns regarding this proposed deal."
Jimmy Edmonds will be laying low for the first few weeks of spring training. We wish him well as he recovers.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Carp wants change

Chris Carpenter, the ace of the St. Louis Cardinals rotation wants change.
After two seasons and one Cy Young Award as one of the elite starting pitchers in the National League, Carpenter isn't content to just dispose of hitters with his cutter-curve combo. He wants a change. Carpenter said he had a changeup, lost it and plans to spend this spring regaining it.[...]

Carpenter, like most of the pitchers who threw Monday, did not have the sharpest command. It's early, pitching coach Dave Duncan said. But that didn't prevent Carpenter from being miffed about his new old pitch.

"Carp wants to leave spring training with a changeup he has confidence in," Duncan said. "It's a pitch that would be a real valuable pitch for him. He just hasn't had the feel and command of it that he had at one time."

As a younger pitcher in the minors and with Toronto, Carpenter said, his changeup was his second-best pitch, behind his curve. As a Cardinal, Carpenter has leaned on his curve and cut fastball to complement his four-seam fastball. The changeup would give him an offspeed pitch to lefties and supplement his curve. He had been experimenting with grips on his changeup for several seasons before settling on one late last year.
Juan Encarnacion appears to be recovering just fine. In the meantime, the Cardinals appear to have several prime candidates should he be placed on the DL.

Could this year finally be the year that Rick Ankiel is healthy enough to play in the majors?
If Ankiel still was a member of the Cardinals' pitching staff, he would be older than all but four pitchers. But because he is an outfielder, Skip Schumaker and Cody Haerther are the only younger outfielders on the 40-man roster.

"I'm still pretty young. I'm only 27," Ankiel said after Monday's workout. "It seems a lot of guys are making it to the big leagues when they're 26 or 27. I already have 3 1/2 years in. I don't think my window's closing. That's me. Now, it might be closing if I think I'm going to get 16 years in."

With camp's first full-squad workout scheduled this morning, Ankiel is given a strong chance of opening the season at Memphis or, at worst, a brief layover at Class AA Springfield. Offseason surgeries will slow center fielder Jim Edmonds and right fielder Juan Encarnacion until at least mid-March. Despite an outfield crush, Ankiel will be a visible figure.

"He'll get opportunities," manager Tony La Russa said. "He's an exciting talent. We all know that, and we all want to see it."

Ankiel literally has grown up within the only organization he has known since being made the 72nd overall pick of the 1997 draft.

Twice he was the Cardinals' minor league pitcher of the year, and he made his major league debut after only 52 minor league appearances, shortly after his 20th birthday.

He won 11 games at age 21. Before he turned 22, a loss of command made Ankiel a national curiosity.

Before he turned 24, several injuries complicated his return to the mound. A left elbow sprain suffered in camp five years ago cost him the 2002 season. Ligament transplant surgery cost him the second half of 2003.

Remarkably, Ankiel returned to the major leagues in September 2004 after only six starts at three minor league levels that produced a 2-1 record and 0.76 ERA.[...]

Time, which once was his ally, now looms as a challenge. Because Ankiel is out of options, the club retained him this winter by non-tendering him, then re-signing him as a free agent. His chances for a midseason call-up are complicated further by the Cardinals' inability to return him to the minor leagues without first passing him through waivers. In a best-case scenario, the Cardinals hope his health and production at Memphis merit a promotion in September and a spot on the 40-man roster next winter.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Rotation problems not yet solved

We're a couple of days into spring training and the question still remains as to who will be in the rotation and who will not. Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan are already offering differing viewpoints regarding the situation.
Manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan can typically finish each other's sentences. But La Russa took minor exception Sunday to Duncan's recent characterization of five defined front-runners for the starting rotation with free-agent import Ryan Franklin as an extra.

Duncan cited ace Chris Carpenter, Kip Wells, Adam Wainwright, Anthony Reyes and Braden Looper as the "five guys that will get the priority."

La Russa said Sunday at Roger Dean Stadium, "Had I been asked that question before Dave, I would have said we have Carp and we have six or seven guys for four spots."

La Russa is typically reluctant to handicap competition this early in camp and is sensitive to the rotation since Wainwright and Looper have yet to make a major league start.

"He wanted to say it, and if you stop and think about the sense in that ... I think it's sending the right message to Anthony Reyes, to Braden Looper, to Adam Wainwright," La Russa said. "I think what he's saying is, 'You guys have the best shot to be in the five.'"
Narveson, Thompson, and Franklin are all considered as sleeper picks for the rotation.

Troy Cate's story is very unique and for those reasons, it's a must read.

Mark Mulder believes that all his problems can be traced to the 2004 season with the Oakland Athletics.
"I guess I could look back at the end of '04 as when things started to change," recalled Mulder, who cost the Cardinals three players — starting pitcher Dan Haren, reliever Kiko Calero and prized catching prospect Daric Barton.

"I can look at that June as when things started to change. I didn't think anything was wrong at the time. I thought things were different."

A stress fracture near his right hip abbreviated Mulder's 2003 season. He won 17 games in 2004 but endured a difficult second half, leading to rumors that he was pitching hurt. Mulder, however, says that he felt "completely normal" in 2004 and that any connection now is mere "second-guessing."

Mulder, 29, began a series of alterations to his delivery that prevented him from achieving consistency. By the time he landed on the disabled list for the first time last May, Mulder described himself as "slinging" the ball with an abbreviated arm action completely different from his form at the beginning of his final season in Oakland.

"I wasn't throwing correctly, but I never would have imagined needing surgery," said Mulder, who avoided surgery for his first seven professional seasons. "My entire career has been about 'whatever I'm feeling, I'll get over it.' But when a couple surgeons tell you that you need surgery, it's a weird feeling. You don't know what to expect."

Mulder improvised to a 16-8 record and 3.64 ERA in 2005 as rival scouts increasingly speculated he was pitching hurt. Mulder denied those suggestions and won five of his first six decisions last season before a jagged start against the San Diego Padres in late May began an irreversible spiral.

"It didn't necessarily hurt to pitch. It felt weak," Mulder said.

Disabled from June 22 to Aug. 22, Mulder returned from a three-game rehab to make two abortive starts in which he allowed 14 earned runs in 4 2/3 total innings. He allowed the New York Mets nine earned runs in three innings in his first start.
Mulder should be able to recover fully and become the Hall of Famer that I believe he should be.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Don't boo Isringhausen

What happened last season was a result of pain in his hip and once I found that out, I stopped booing. Actually, I never was one of those that booed Isringhausen because it's not right. Now, Juan is a different story but that's another story for another day.

There is a nice article today on Isringhausen and what the boos meant to him and his family.
Pitching coach Dave Duncan has tentatively scheduled the Cardinals closer to return to game competition March 15, barring complications. There is no running in Isringhausen's spring program, and his participation in fielding practice will be restricted. No covering bases. No fielding bunts.

"We don't want to do anything that gets him sore," Duncan said.

In a perfect world, Isringhausen will recover in time from his seventh surgery ("three shoulders, two hips, two elbows") in time to close out the April 1 opener against the New York Mets.

But even if Isringhausen closes the game, takes a flip from catcher Yadier Molina and gives the game ball to a little girl behind the first-base dugout — his habit — bruises, scarring and soreness will remain.

A painful season left its mark on Isringhausen long before he was shut down Sept. 7, a Thursday on which he "celebrated" his 34th birthday during the back end of a Washington-to-Phoenix trip.

By then the Brighton, Ill., native and Edwardsville resident had become callused from booing in his home park, booing he says now prevents his wife from attending games and challenges a long-held desire to retire with the club.

"I'm still happy to be part of the Cardinals, but in a sense it has become more of a business," he said.[...]

Isringhausen explained that he pitched through the condition to allow a relatively inexperienced bullpen to stay in its assigned roles for as long as possible.

Said La Russa: "I'd like to think once the facts are in he will get the reception he deserves."

Teammates describe a player generous with advice and money. Isringhausen, who supplied the home bullpen with industrial fans last summer, also mentored a group that included two rookies and two others with less than two years' major league service.

"He's been like a second father to me," said 25-year-old lefthander Tyler Johnson, who emerged as a huge postseason factor as a rookie. "I owe a lot of what success I've had to him. It's hard for me to describe how much respect I have for him."

"In the few years I've been here, I've seen him riding unbelievably well and riding unbelievably bad. And he's the same person to those who see him every day," said Randy Flores. "You always see him answering the tough questions, facing it when things go wrong and taking responsibility."

Isringhausen's bullpen mates held to a clubhouse omerta, obliquely acknowledging his struggles but not giving him away.

Isringhausen returned on crutches to the team shortly after his Sept. 21 surgery and rode shotgun during its World Series ride. Watching Adam Wainwright close each round of the playoffs before striking out Detroit Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge to end the World Series served as a bittersweet symphony.

"I wanted to be part of the St. Louis Cardinals. I wanted to close out the World Series. I wanted to be the guy. That was the hardest part of last year. But I couldn't be more happy or prouder for Adam than anybody, except maybe his mom. And she always hugs me," Isringhausen said.

"Izzy was right there when we won and celebrated, part of it. And all of us were glad for it," Flores said. "Not everybody would have handled it like that. (Withdrawing) is a way of protecting yourself. When you're hurt, it's there every day for 24 hours. But he understands that it's part of the game. That doesn't make it any easier, but it goes to his presence as a leader."

But even the Oct. 29 celebration picked at the hurt.

"I don't like getting booed, especially loud booing. It's over now. I'm sure the first day I come out there I'll get booed again," he said. "How many people get booed at the parade?"
I thought I would take note of this excerpt right here.
He remembers being booed with the Oakland A's before coming to St. Louis. But that was different. A rabid newspaper, Internet and chat room reader, Isringhausen felt the hostility before reaching the park each day.
Now, I don't know if Jason Isringhausen reads this blog or which blogs he does read but the fact is, I didn't boo him then, I won't boo him now. I would expect that fans would give him a standing ovation on Opening Day. That's what I would do anyway.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Martinez, Benes join front office

Having grown up watching the Louisville Redbirds at the old Cardinal Stadium, I had the chance to watch Alan Benes come up through the system back when he was a top prospect. It's unfortunate that his career was plagued by injuries. After he announced his retirement, Cardinals management asked if he would join the staff. Benes is joined by Dennis Martinez as a rookie coach within the organization.
Martinez, with 562 big-league starts and 245 wins in a 23-year career, has joined the Cardinals' minor-league staff as a pitching coach, his first coaching gig with a major-league organization. Fresh from retirement, Martinez's fellow rookie coach, Alan Benes, has signed on as a special assistant to Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty.

Martinez said: "This year I wanted to gain experience on the field, somehow, someplace."

Benes, who made 30 appearances for Class AAA Memphis last year, will work in both the front office and on the field this season. He'll scout some. He'll coach some. He'll work with the Memphis and Class AA Springfield pitching staffs.[...]

"It was very easy," Benes, 35, said. "Absolutely no regrets, no second thoughts, no desires to still be playing."

Once Benes notified the Cardinals of his retirement, Jocketty approached him about joining the staff.

Martinez, 51, had been a special assistant with Baltimore before seeking a coaching position. A friendship with Jeff Luhnow, a Cardinals vice president and new farm director, led to an offer to be the pitching coach for the Cardinals' new Gulf Coast League club. The Palm Beach-based team offered Martinez the chance to stay close to his Miami home and his son, who pitches at a local university.
Cardinals pitcher Mark Mulder has started his usual spring training routines with the exception of throwing with his arm.

In some other baseball news, it appears that there is a strong chance thar Roger Clemens has thrown his last pitch as a major league baseball player. Another possible retirement includes Tom Glavine, a pitcher with the New York Mets, who I believe will go into the Hall of Fame wearing a cap from his days with the Atlanta Braves.
Tom Glavine is inching closer to 300 wins -- and retirement.

Needing 10 victories to reach the milestone, the New York Mets' ace sounds as though he plans to call it quits after this season.

"I don't want to sit here and say definitively," Glavine said Friday, when Mets pitchers and catchers took their physicals. "If I don't win 300 games for some reason, I will play -- unless my arm blows out and that's the end of it."

Only twice in 19 full major league seasons has Glavine failed to win at least 10 games (1988 and 2003).

The left-hander, who will turn 41 next month, was 15-7 with a 3.82 ERA in 198 innings last year. Then he went 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA in three playoff starts as the Mets advanced to Game 7 of the NL championship series before losing to St. Louis.
MLB responds with regards to the pending agreement with DirecTV.
We meet fans' demands
We offer the following assurances to our fans: Any deal for the Major League Baseball's Extra Innings subscription package, when concluded, will in no way affect a single fan's ability to watch games of his home club in his home market. Major League Baseball will continue to make available on basic cable, satellite and broadcast television more games by far than any other sport (on average, more than 400 games per year are telecast in each market); a subscription package of out-of-market games will continue to be available to a broad segment of our fan base through either MLB Extra Innings or MLB.TV, its broadband counterpart.

MLB has consistently sought to do the best job possible of marketing the game to our fans. Through the ballpark experience, TV, radio, satellite radio, broadband and the Internet, wireless, licensed products and sponsor marketing initiatives, we look to meet the demands of our fans in as many ways as possible for one simple reason: It's good business. We always act according to our belief that if we do what we think is in the fans' best interests, our business will benefit. And, guided by that principle, we have achieved record success in the past five years.

We have had fair and open negotiations with cable, satellite and telephone company distributors regarding the distribution of a new MLB dedicated channel to all our fans and the continuation of the MLB Extra Innings package. We believe that the launch of an MLB-dedicated channel as part of a basic service will be a great benefit to all of our fans, as it will provide a wide diversity of baseball programming, 24/7. Our goal remains to provide as much MLB programming as we can to the maximum number of viewers, and any consummated deal will reflect that.

Tim Brosnan is Major League Baseball's executive vice president, business.
Mr. Brosnan has it all wrong. MLB is not meeting the demands of the fans. There are only 15 million users of DirecTV. In addition, there are those of us fans that live in apartments or dormitories that are unable to subscribe to any satellite service. Currently, to watch my favorite team play, I would have to purchase MLB TV in order to watch out of market games since I am located in Reds country. The only games that I am able to see, baseball-wise, are on FSN Ohio, ESPN, TBS, WGN, FOX, and that's it. FSN Midwest is not carried in my part of the state and I honestly hope that changes for my sake.

Furthermore, I would rather watch the Cardinals broadcasters broadcast a game rather than the home team's broadcasters. I would hope that MLB would change that eventually.

Diamonds are for Humor responds to Brosnan's remarks. This is worth the read.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fantasy Baseball

Working with Ryan of Cardinals Diaspora, I've set up a league through Yahoo. Unlike last year's league, it will be head to head. We have a maximum of 20 spots available and it will be a live draft.

Here's the information you need to sign up:
ID: 17943
Password: Pujols

ST Day 3

It's the first Friday of spring training.

Former Cardinals catcher Eli Marrero has a good chance of making the team at the catcher's spot. However, he'll have competition for the backup role with Gary "Sno Cones" Bennett.
"He knows his opportunity to have big league success is as a catcher," La Russa said Thursday as pitchers and catchers began their first official workouts of spring training. "I'm going to play him other places, (but) I don't want him to be too distracted. He's going to be looked at first as a catcher."

Marrero, 33, spent last season with Colorado and the New York Mets, appearing in seven games behind the plate. Since the Cardinals traded him to Atlanta in 2003 — part of the J.D. Drew deal that netted Adam Wainwright and Jason Marquis — those are the only games Marrero has played at catcher.
I think it's safe to say that we got the better part of the deal with the Braves seeing as how neither Dreew nor Marrero are playing with Atlanta anymore.

It was early last season when Ricardo Rincon went down with a season-ending injury. As a LOOGY pitcher, Rincon will be competing for a job in an already-crowded bullpen featuring Randy Flores and Tyler Johnson. Because of the crowded pen, there's no guarantee that Rincon will pitch for the Cardinals this season either.
"No promises," manager Tony La Russa said Thursday, the first day of official workouts for pitchers and catchers. "If he's the best lefthand reliever, he'll be the No. 1 lefthand reliever. If he's second best, he'll pair up with a guy who's better. If they're all the same? We'll see."

More than a year ago, the Cardinals signed Rincon to a two-year, $2.9 million deal to replace Ray King as the specialist in the bullpen. He brought some heady stats, such as lefties hitting .208 off him in a nine-year career and the lowest percentage of inherited runners to score (19.2) by any reliever in the previous 32 years.

The Cardinals are convinced he also brought a pre-existing injury.

Rincon arrived late a year ago for spring training because of visa issues, and then he left early and threw 22/3 innings without allowing a baserunner for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. He threw 31/3 innings into the season before elbow soreness ultimately ended his run of five consecutive seasons with more than 60 appearances.[...]

In October, then-rookie Tyler Johnson emerged as the Cardinals' true lefty specialist, riddling San Diego's lefthanded hitters with a slider a few Padres called the best they've seen. Johnson struck out 12 in 7 1/3 postseason innings. Now he's vying for his first full season in the majors. Randy Flores, who the Cardinals view as more than a lefty specialist, also handled the role — notably in the National League Championship Series — well enough to earn his first multiyear contract.

Combined, the two lefties allowed one run in 13 innings in October.

Duncan said he wouldn't object to having three lefties in the bullpen, but that it depends on how the righthanders pitch.
There's a chance that we could have three LOOGY pitchers in the bullpen, but it's a small chance at this point.

In some rather sad news, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is entering the final year of his contract. Sadly, there's been no negotiations with management on a contract extension. Tony has almost won more Cardinals games than that of the legendary manager Red Schoendienst but it would be sad to see TLR retire--if it comes to that option.
La Russa, 62, is also entering the last season of a three-year contract worth about $9 million without ongoing talk of an extension.

A similar situation surrounding New York Yankees manager Joe Torre has stirred something bordering on hysteria. La Russa insisted Thursday that his case should not cause a ripple.

"I'm willing to wait and see," said La Russa, who enters the season with two World Series titles and 2,297 career wins, including 977 with the Cardinals. "It's not an issue to me."

La Russa, who suggested as recently as last September that the team's market may be tiring of him, remained vague about whether he intends to manage beyond this season either in St. Louis or elsewhere.

"I'll keep saying it until people get it right, because it's the truth," La Russa said. "If the players, the fans or the organization want somebody different — whatever the contract says — the person shouldn't hang around. Whether it's the first, second or third of three years, I feel no different."

La Russa traditionally has waited for his contract to expire before negotiating the next. However, entering a lame-duck season in possession of a World Series championship and the third-most managerial wins in the game's history offers a unique set of circumstances.

"This is 12 years (in St. Louis). That's one issue," La Russa said. "Another is, even if you go year to year, if you're going to do a good enough job in a new situation, you have to be ready to commit yourself to three to five years. I wouldn't sign a three-year contract here or someplace else if I didn't think I had three years in me.

"At the end of the year, you just check and see how you feel. I don't know if they'll still want me. One of these years the players will have had enough of me — don't you think? — unless we keep enough of the young guys here. I keep it as simple as possible. We want to do everything we can to present another October opportunity for ourselves."
It's like the case with Jim Edmonds. When they've been with the organization for so long, it's hard to imagine the Cardinals without them. This Cardinals fan would love to see La Russa back as a manager for as long as he wants to manage.

Memphis readers, please take note.
The Memphis Redbirds will host the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals on March 30 at AutoZone Park with WMC broadcasting the game locally.

The game will not be the first Cardinals-Redbirds game the local NBC affiliate has hosted on their air waves. WMC has broadcast the game between the Cardinals and their Triple-A affiliate three previous times dating back to 2000. Game time is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. with on-air pre-game beginning at 7 p.m.[...]

St. Louis will play on national television the following day in major league baseball's inaugural Civil Rights Game on ESPN. The World Series champs will take on the American League's Cleveland Indians at 4:30 p.m. at AutoZone Park.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Molina, Wainwright feuding over ball

Gordo notes that the following players must be ready if the St. Louis Cardinals are expected to repeat as the World Series champions. Gordo's 10 Most Pivotal Players, in order from most to least important, include: closer Jason Isringhausen, starting pitcher Anthony Reyes, outfielder Chris Duncan, newly acquired Cardinals pitcher Kip Wells, centerfielder Jim Edmonds, starting pitcher Mark Mulder, catcher Yadier Molina, newly acquired Cardinals pitcher Ryan Franklin, third baseman Scott Rolen, and reliever Josh Kinney.

I expect that Kip Wells will get back to his old form and put up some career numbers once he starts working with pitching coach Dave Duncan. The last thing we need to see is a Spivey'd deal. I say that because we waisted a million on Junior Spivey last season. Spivey stunk in spring training and did as poorly with Memphis (AAA).

I'm pretty sure that this is all in good humor. The best bet would be to place it in the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame...at least that's what I would have done in that scenario.

It's about another month and a half to the start of the 2007 Major League Baseball season. I don't know how the rest of you are getting ready but I've been watching DVDs from the greatest games at Busch Stadium.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Pujols arrives early

Pujols and a few other position players have arrived early to Spring Training.
Pujols actually has been in town since Friday and had been working out at a high school with his personal trainer. He was among about 20 Cardinals hitting the field on an informal basis Wednesday in an early start to their title defense.

No NL team has repeated as the pennant winner since Atlanta in 1996 and there have been seven different World Series winners this decade. The Cardinals won only 83 games, fewest ever by a World Series winner, and nearly collapsed in the closing weeks of the season.

"We probably didn't have the best year with our record, but who cares?" Pujols said. "But that's over, all of that's in the past. Now I'm here in camp and celebration is over."[...]

The off-field activities haven't prevented Pujols from reporting in top shape, with none of the foot, back and hamstring issues that have dogged him in recent year. He noted, however, that there hasn't been much baseball-related activity yet.

"I feel too strong right now, but it's better to be ready," Pujols said. "We'll see if I can hold on hopefully, for the whole year."

Catcher Yadier Molina and outfielders Chris Duncan and Skip Schumaker were among other early position-player arrivals. Virtually all the pitchers were in camp ahead of schedule.

Pitching coach Dave Duncan, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, oversaw Wednesday's workout. Manager Tony La Russa is due to arrive just in time for the first workout.

"I think it's abnormal to have this many guys here this early," Duncan said. "And they've been here for a while.

"I think they recognize it's going to be a competitive camp and it's important they be in shape and get their feet on the ground."

Happy Spring Training Day!

Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training today in much warmer weather than what is in the midwest. What better way to start than with a photo of Adam Wainwright signing an autograph?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Exclusive interview with Dan McLaughlin

(Dan McLaughlin is a broadcaster for the St. Louis Cardinals on Fox Sports Midwest. I had the chance to interview him last week and here is the transcript.)

Daniel Solzman: Growing up, when did you consider going into sportscasting?
Dan McLaughlin: About the minute I could probably walk...ever since a little boy.

DS: Who were some of your favorite sportscasters?
DM: Jack Buck, of course. Mike Kelly, Randy ?. Those three come to mind. Dan Kelly.

DS: Between baseball, basketball and hockey, what's your favorite sport to call or analyze?
DM: Well, I enjoy all for different reasons...baseball is a lot of fun...so I really enjoy it.

DS: Did you do any sportscasting in college?
DM: Oh, yea. Every minute I was awake...was at radio station at school. DJ'ing, news, weather, sports.

DS: When you call a game, is it hard to get into a game and remain professional?
DM: Not at all, easy to do. Easy to consider a fan but love what I do...doing something I love.

DS: What's the typical day like for when you broadcast a home game?
DM: Up early, play with my son until 2 and do research during the day. At the park by 3. Pregame interviews and then the booth by six. Broadcast at 6:30.

DS: Favorite catch phrase?
DM: None.

DS: Advice for aspiring sportscasters?
DM: The advice I give to everyone is simple. Practice, practice and more practice. Also, be as diversified as you can. Don't just concentrate on sports. Look into news and other items of interest. This is a business where you have to go with the flow so to speak and keep plugging along.

DS: Did you go to any of the playoff or World Series games? If so, were they as a fan or did you help out with the FOX broadcasts?
DM: I was at the final game of the world series as a fan. Unreal atmosphere. I was with family and they enjoyed it so much. A night I will never forget!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cards to honor last three World Series winners

The World Series champions from 1967, 1982, and 2006 will be honored on Opening Day.
Hall of Famers Lou Brock, Bob Gibson and Bruce Sutter are expected to attend, along with Whitey Herzog, who produced one championship and two NL pennants in the 1980s.

Championship rings will be presented in a pre-game ceremony on April 3, the second game of the season, with fans receiving replica rings.
Derrick Goold takes a look at the organization and lineups of the future. Here is what he believes are the top ten prospects:
1. Colby Rasmus, of
2. Jaime Garcia, lhp
3. Chris Perez, rhp
4. Blake Hawksworth, rhp
5. Jon Jay, of
6. Bryan Anderson, c
7. Adam Ottavino, rhp
8. Mark McCormick, rhp
9. Josh Kinney, rhp
10. Darryl Jones, of
Kinney is the only one of those players that saw a lot of time at the major league level and played a key role in coming out of the bullpen. Rasmus is being groomed to replace Jim Edmonds when Edmonds probably retires at the end of his contract.

The 40-Man roster

Here is the most recent 40-man roster for the St. Louis Cardinals:
Pitchers: Chris Carpenter (R), Troy Cate (L), Andy Cavazos (R), Dennis Dove (R), Brian Falkenborg (R), Randy Flores (L), Ryan Franklin (R), Josh Hancock (R), Blake Hawksworth (R), Jason Isringhausen (R), Tyler Johnson (L), Randy Keisler (L), Josh Kinney (R), Braden Looper (R), Mark Mulder (L), Chris Narveson (L), Anthony Reyes (R), Ricardo Rincon (L), Russ Springer (R), Brad Thompson (R), Adam Wainwright (R), Kip Wells (R)

Catchers: Gary Bennett, Yadier Molina

Infielders: David Eckstein, Travis Hanson, Adam Kennedy, Aaron Miles, Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Brendan Ryan, Scott Spiezio

Outfielders: Chris Duncan, Jim Edmonds, Juan Encarnacion, Cody Haerther, John Rodriguez, Skip Schumaker, So Taguchi, Preston Wilson

Non-roster invitees to Spring Training:
Pitchers: Kelvin Jimenez (R), Chris Lambert (R), Mike Parisi (R), Mike Sillman (R), Mike Smith (R), Mark Worrell (R)

Infielders: Tagg Bozied, Jolbert Cabrera, Edgar Gonzalez

Catchers: Bryan Anderson, Ryan Christianson, Brian Esposito, Michel Hernandez, Eli Marrero, Danilo Sanchez

Outfielders: Rick Ankiel, Ryan Ludwick, Miguel Negron, Colby Rasmus

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The 2007 Starting Rotation

Spring Training is here this week and, as such, this blog will be in the mode as it was during the 2006 World Series Championship season with blogging more frequent than it was during the off season.

Derrick Goold previews the 2007 starting rotation and who is competing for the five spots:
2006: 5-8, 5.06 ERA, 17 starts, 85 1/3 IP, 72 Ks at MLB.
Resume: Reyes tied a career-high with eight innings in his World Series Game 1 victory, working the aggressive Tigers hitters with his four-seam fastball. The club's top prospect entering 2006 has all the ingredients of a big-leaguer, but he must prove his durability and embrace the lower reaches of strike zone.

2006: 2-1, 3 saves, 3.12 ERA, 61 app (no starts), 75 IP, 72 Ks at MLB.
Resume: The only Cardinals pitcher from last season to have more strikeouts than hits allowed (64). Wainwright emerged last spring as a bullpen contributor, became a force by October — four saves, closed out World Series. But he was groomed as a starter and brings starter stuff to the mound.

2006: 9-3, 3.56 ERA, 69 app (no starts), 73 1/3 IP, 41 Ks at MLB.
Resume: Last summer was the first since his rookie year, 1999, without a save, as Looper has been a career setup-man or closer. Save for a handful of starts in minors, he has not been a starter since college. He had success in longer appearances later in season, which got Dave Duncan to thinking.

2006: 6-7, 4.54 ERA, 66 app (no starts), 77 1/3 IP, 43 Ks at MLB.
Resume: For three seasons, 2003-05, Franklin made at least 30 starts and pitched at least 190 2/3 innings every summer for Seattle, going 23-44 with a 4.49 ERA. His career year was 2003 (11-13, 3.57 ERA). Suspended for a positive steroid test in '05, he was used in relief by Philly, Cincy last summer.

2006: 1-2, 3.34 ERA, 43 app (1 start), 56 2/3 IP, 32 Ks at MLB.
Resume: Thompson is the staff's remaining sinkerball-based pitcher, and after he regained his grip on it last summer, he had a 0.73 ERA in 12 1/3 Sept. innings. Thompson set a record with 57 2/3 scoreless innings as a starter in Class AA and has had ample minor league success in the role.

2006: 3-3, 1.27 ERA, 44 app (no starts), 56 2/3 IP, 78 Ks at High-A/AAA
Resume: Once a standout prospect in Seattle's system, Cate powered through his first year with the Cardinals — 78 Ks to 24 hits allowed; .127 opponents batting average — as a lefty reliever. This winter, he has shined as a starter in Mexico, thrusting him unexpectedly into this competition.

2006: 8-5, 2.81 ERA, 15 starts, 80 IP, 58 Ks at AAA
Resume: On-the-cusp-of-the-majors prospect, returned from a shoulder strain to throw a strong half season for Class AAA Memphis and merit a September call-up. The 25-year-old lefty has to improve his control — 38 walks in 89 1/3 total innings last summer — to strengthen his big-league bid.
Chris Carpenter and Kip Wells are a given so it's really a competition for three starting spots. However, Mulder will be ready in the middle of the season so someone will likely be going to the bullpen. If Jason Isringhausen is ready to close at the beginning of the season, I believe that Adam Wainwright will be a starter like he should have been last season.

My ideal starting rotation, now that we no longer have Jeff Suppan: Chris Carpenter, Anthony Reyes, Adam Wainwright, Chris Narveson, Kip Wells.

By placing Narveson into the rotation, it gives us a LHP as a starter.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Quote of the Day

"I didn't understand him. I wonder how much Scott Boras really told him. There were some really brutal statements that weren't close to being true. Me and Dunc called him over and over again to tell him how much we wanted him. Was really upset with the way that thing went down....(Weaver) called Dunc and asked, 'Why aren't you offering me more years? Dunc told him, 'Because you had a terrible year overall. You have to prove your value.' We set a value for Jeff and it wasn't insulting. What's insulting is when someone outside your organization claims to know more about your organization than you do..... I was aggravated by the situation and it was handled very poorly by Scott Boras."
--Tony La Russa on Jeff Weaver, February 8, 2007

Pujols becomes U.S. citizen

I'd like to be one of the first to congratulate Albert Pujols on passing the citizenship exam.
Albert Pujols has won an NL MVP award, a Gold Glove and a World Series. He added a perfect 100 on his U.S. citizenship test to his resume this week.

The St. Louis Cardinals' star became a U.S. citizen Wednesday during a ceremony at the Eagleton Courthouse. Pujols' wife, Diedre, arranged to have about two dozen relatives and friends watch U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber swear in Pujols.

Chester Moyer, the officer in charge of the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service office in St. Louis, said Thursday that Diedre Pujols served as her husband's tutor. Moyer said the 27-year-old Pujols spent about a year preparing for the citizenship exam.

"He even answered a bunch of additional questions and gave us more answers than we asked," Moyer said. "He clenched his fist and said, 'I got 100 percent!'

"He just had a grin from ear to ear," Moyer said. "He was thrilled to become a citizen."

Pujols' agent and officials with his foundation, the Pujols Family Foundation, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

The ceremony was open to the public, but there was no publicity about Pujols' participation. He was the only person sworn in Wednesday.

Pujols grew up in the Dominican Republic, moved with his father to the Kansas City area when he was 16, and graduated from Fort Osage High School in Independence, Mo., in 1998. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft after playing baseball at Maple Woods Community College in Kansas City.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Exclusive interview with Mike Lindskog

(Mike Lindskog is a broadcaster for the Springfield Cardinals and I had the chance to interview him towards the end of last week.)

Daniel Solzman: Thanks for joining Redbirds Fun today. How is life out in Springfield?
Mike Lindskog: Things are pretty cold right now…it’s tough to believe the season is so close. The community recently went through a tough experience with the ice storm. We were lucky to only lose a few trees without any significant damage to Hammons Field…certainly much luckier than others around town who suffered a lot.

DS: How long have you been in sports broadcasting and what factored into your decision to pursue sports broadcasting as a career?
ML: The 2007 season will be my 15th in Minor League Baseball. Not all of those years were spent on the radio though, as I started by doing some PA announcing and On-field Hosting. I’ve been in broadcasting for about ten years now…it made a lot of sense, with my love for sports and hopefully a good personality and a lot of energy.

DS: Who were some of your favorite announcers growing up?
ML: I didn’t grow up in the Midwest, so my memories of Jack Buck are from the National baseball and football games that he did, rather than St. Louis Cardinals’ games. Being a Mariners fan in the Pacific Northwest, I very much admired Dave Neihouse, who is their play-by-play voice.

DS: Do you use phrases that were coined by others or do you prefer to use original ones?
ML: Everything that I use on the radio is my own…now that doesn’t mean I didn’t get the line from a song or a movie, but I am definitely not taking Sports Center quotes from Stewart Scott and making them my own. When I first broke in, I definitely had more phrases than I do now, but there comes a point where you have to grow as a broadcaster and I think leaving some (phrases) behind is necessary.

DS: What's a day in the life of a sports broadcaster like?
ML: For me, it’s incredibly busy. While some guys just show up to the park an hour or two before they go on air, I get to the ballpark around 8:30am every morning for all of our home games. I usually wrap it up around 11pm every night after the game is over with a post-game press release. The majority of the day is spent printing and organizing stats for the media, writing web content and putting together press releases. I also manage our website and have some ticket and marketing responsibilities as well. Things are a little easier on the road when I travel with the team, as I’m not at the ballpark so early.

DS: Has there ever been a time, while calling a game, that you got into the game or do you try and remain professional?
ML: I’m “into” every single game that we play during the year. One of the things I bring every night is a lot of energy…perhaps some would say too much at times. Experience has helped me remain professional during an obvious bad call or brawl on the field, but every game that I broadcast has intensity and is hopefully a lot of fun to listen to, regardless of the score.

DS: How is the team looking for this season--or are the rosters unknown until we get closer to spring training?
ML: At this point we don’t have a definitive roster until late March. I have a good idea of who will be back but there are some question marks in the outfield and in the rotation. It’ll depend on how guys do during Spring Training. The most talked-about prospect that will play in Springfield this year is Center Fielder Colby Rasmus, who’s a former 1st round draft pick. He will be here at some point in 2007, despite the fact that he’s only 20 years old, which is very young for the Texas League.

DS: What does the broadcast team tend to do during rain delays?
ML: We’ve done a variety of different things. We have the ability to take phone calls and pretty much have a talk show segment. If it’s a long one, we can also allow the station to continue with regular programming, which would typically be Fox Sports Radio.

DS: Last year, the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series. Were you able to attend any of the games?
ML: I think every boy’s dream growing up is to be able to take his dad to the World Series. My dad was actually going to fly in from Washington State so we could drive to KC and watch the Chiefs/Seahawks game. We were lucky enough to secure some Cardinals tickets at the last moment and we ended up driving to St. Louis and watching them clinch the World Series on Friday night. It was something I’ll never forget!

DS: Of players currently playing right now, who do you think will be voted into the HOF on the first vote?
ML: First ballot hall of famer….Before all the steroid talk, Barry Bonds would have been the most obvious choice. I’m curious as to what the writers will do as that situation continues to develop though. Barring any major injuries, Albert Pujols will be a lock for the first ballot. There are actually several Cardinals I expect to get in, but I’m not sure who’ll be first-ballot worthy and who will need some help. Rolen, Edmonds and Carpenter all have a chance and I’d honestly be surprised if at least two of those three don’t make it eventually.

DS: Thanks again for joining Redbirds Fun and go Cards!
ML: We hope to see everyone at Hammons Field this year…and indeed….Go Cards!

RIP: Max Lanier

Max Lanier, a former Cardinals pitcher, passed away.
Born Hubert Lanier in Denton, N.C., Max Lanier spent 12 seasons with the Cardinals between 1938 and 1951, pitching in the 1942, 1943 and 1944 World Series, posting a 2-1 record in seven games. The Cardinals beat the New York Yankees in 1942, lost a rematch the following year and beat the St. Louis Browns in 1944.

He led the National League with a 1.90 ERA in 1943. He had a career record of 108-82, including stints with the New York Giants and the Browns in 1952 and 1953. He later managed in the minor leagues.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Other Cards news

May former Cardinals General Manager Bing Devine rest in peace.
Vaughan P. "Bing" Devine, was general manager of the Cardinals from 1957 to 1964 and again in 1967-68, and helped acquire Hall of Fame players Bob Gibson and Lou Brock. The Brock trade with the Cubs is considered one of the most lopsided deals in major league history.

The Cardinals won World Series titles in 1964 and 1967, and the pennant in 1968.

Devine also was assistant to the president, and then president, of the New York Mets in the late 1960s. He later served as president of the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals from 1981 to 1986. He eventually returned to work with the baseball Cardinals, as a special scout and adviser to general manager Walt Jocketty.
Jeff Weaver is no longer a Cardinal as his agent, Scott Boras, was asking too much.

Preston Wilson, an outfielder who was signed on waivers during the 2006 season, has signed a one year contract to return to the Cardinals.

Cards on FOX

The following dates are games that the Cards will be playing nationally on FOX:
4/21 at Cubs
4/28 vs Cubs
6/2 at Astros
6/23 vs Phillies
7/14 at Phillies
8/11 vs Dodgers
8/18 at Cubs
9/15 vs Cubs