Morning Wood: Cards @ PIT, 6/15/06

pre-game rub down

1mulder.jpgCards fans out West are in for a morning treat with a 12:35 p.m. Eastern Time start in the Steel City today. That’s 9:35 a.m. for you folks in the Golden State, and sometime earlier than that for Cardinal fans in the 49th and 50th states.

Of course, you may be best served to sleep in this morning if you’re in those Western most markets, as Mark Muldooo gets the start for the Redbirds. In three starts since his 6+ inning outing in SF on May 22, his ERA has ballooned from 3.74 to 5.20. Now I know what my more sabermetrically inclined friends out there might say about ERA, but, hey, you get the picture – the dude’s in a skid. Mulder’s given up 19 earned runs in his last three outings consisting of 14 total innings. Walks haven’t been his fatal weakness – he’s got 6 in that time – so much as the 6 home runs he’s doled out to opposing hitters.

Maybe it’s just a ploy to get a smaller contract as a free agent next season. Yeah. Right.

Mulder’s a head case, to use the clinical term, and his bad outings tend to feed on themselves as his mind goes elsewhere. I’m no shrink, but in his last start you could see in his eyes the desire to be anywhere but the mound. Oh yeah, it’s a day time start today too. Mulder’s day/night nemesis plagues him again this year, and he’s got a 5.97 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP when the yellow guy on the cornflakes box looks down on this pathetic side of the earth.

Like they say to the folks making their yearly appearance at church on Easter Sunday, there’s no better time than now Muldoo…no better time than now.

Read the rest of this entry »


Not My Best Work


Maybe we’ve got it all wrong, eh? Trade for a Left Fielder with some pop in his bat? Hells no! We need a freakin’ pitcher that can get out of the 4th inning. That may sound like a mission even Kent Bottenfield circa 2006 could handle, but for the Cardinals it’s apparently more complicated than Anderson Cooper’s relationship with his mom. (I’m officially retiring the A. Cooper jokes unless someone specifically requests them in the comment section below.) True Ponson is technically our “5th starter” so we need not expect the world from this less than amiable Aruban, but at this rate our bullpen is racking up prodigious innings- enough to even rival the number of Shaun Kemp’s kids. Come to think of it- is one of those suckers 18 yet? Can he throw lefty? Jock: get on this.

7 runs? Against Shitsburgh? And we still are tagged for a loss? Jeepers Creepers Duncan. Did you know the Cardinals actually average more runs when Pujols is out of the lineup than when he’s in? It’s a little skewed because of the sheer number of games AP has been in, but still, we’re getting the job done for the most part at the plate- but the pitching. The pitching! I’ll admit I was nervous about 4 starters being free-agents at the beginning of the year, but now I’m a week away from thanking my lucky stars. Muldoo starts today and if he rolls over and burps again- watch out- sports talk radio and bloggers like us will be California Dreamin’ all over his ass.

Let’s stay positive. Scott Rolen is H-O-T in the past 10 days. He’s picking Juan E. up and it looks like me might actually have a RF to move forward with. His BA w/ RISP is still lacking, but his RBI’s and Average are still on the rise- and actually good since #5 ripped open his ribcage. At this moment in time, I have no real concerns about the bats. They are being aggressive, taking extra bases/suicide squeezes/steals and the such- making runs and not relying on daddy to win the game.

Maybe you read RVB’s post on the Blues, maybe you’re like most of America and hate hockey. But I happened to be watching the same game and it really did suck that all the good players on both teams were Blues that were traded for squadoosh. No point, it just sucked.

Ok, I level witch you. I’m not working today. I’m not feeling real creative. My finger is sore and it hurts to type. I think I’m going blind in one eye. So I’m going to go drink.

Would Ya?… Kathy Griffen.


Ahoy Thar!


1pirate.jpegWarning: If you’re not in the mood for over the top Pirate analogy, this post isn’t for you. If you think you can handle six paragraphs of bad puns best reserved for a Robin Williams - sans blow - hosting a Nick show, then read on.

In yesterday’s hastily assembled pre-game rub down, I expressed my pleasant surprise with Ponson. Strike that from the record. Keelhaul him! After giving up 15 earned runs through his 8 starts (42 innings pitched), he’s given up 11 in his last two - to the Reds and Pirates, mere schooners compared to our mighty red galleon on the choppy seas of the NL Central. Ponson joins the Mulder as another one of our salty starters taking on water fast. Someone in the rotation is going to make a fine, hearty meal for the sharks. Me thinks that Mulder can still bring the Cardinals a hefty box of booty, as in treasure.

It’s hard not to fault the starter when he gives up 6 ER, but some ire goes to Brad Thompson, usually a trusty young mate (you do realize what would have happened to such a fresh faced youngster on a ship in the 17th century filled exclusively with men representing the saltiest of the earth at sea for months at a time? uh huh). He failed to prevent two inherited runners from scoring when he gave up a hit to Jack Wilson. He followed that with a rough 5th inning for his worst outing of the year. Thompson’s cool headedness allows him to bounce back; it’s probably his biggest strength as a pitcher. Thompson’s never experienced a long stretch of failure in his career and I doubt he starts now. Finding his trusty sinker will be the place to start.

Read the rest of this entry »


Go (ex)Blues!


blues200.gifIn an unrelated note…

What can you possibly say positive about the previous management and ownership of the Blues? Chris Pronger and Doug Weight, two players jettisoned by the Blues right before and during the 2006 season, have been key components in leading their respective teams to the Stanley Cup finals. Pronger proved himself the league’s premier defenseman, on both sides of the puck. It’s easy to see Al Mcinnis’ influence on Prongs, and he’ll be the cornerstone of whatever team he plays for. It was nice to get a first round pick and some other “talent” for Weight given where the Blues were at that point in the season, but it’s incredibly frustrating to see him on a line with Cory Stillman, another ex-Blue, contributing to the Hurricane’s speedy offensive attack.

All that Wal Mart money and no brains to do anything with it.


Sid versus Kid: STL @ PIT, 6/14/06

pre-game rub down

It’s a veritable leftorium in the Steel City for this series, as the Cards take on another left-handed Pirate pitching phenom. The Cards faced Duke earlier this season, on April 26 in St. Louis, getting to him for 8 hits and 3 earned runs through six innings in a game the Cards won 4-3. Duke walked 5 and struck out 2 that night, but 2 of his walks were intentional passes handed to Albert Pujols.

That game featured something that the Cards won’t be seeing tonight, a game winning RBI single by Albert in the bottom of the ninth. ‘Tis no matter, as the rest of the cast of characters is stepping up and contributing runs in Albert’s absence. One of those men, is none other than Scott Rolen, much celebrated lately as he leads the race for the NL batting title. Not to buzz kill anyone, but Rolen’s not a .341 hitter. However, if he can be a .341 hitter in Albert’s absence and then go back to being a low-.300s hitter, it would be a feat worthy of an MVP award, especially since Albert’s shot at that trophy has been dramatically compromised by his injury. Hey, if someone has to win it in Albert’s stead, who would be better than Scott Rolen?

Sir Sid, El Peurco (look it up), will be looking to erase his last outing (5.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 4 K), against the Reds, from the minds of those considering offering him a contract beyond the 2006 season. Really, with a 4-1 record and a 3.54 ERA, Sid’s been a pleasant surprise thus far, far exceeding the expectations of this carbon blob.

Sure would be great to get a series victory with a win tonight, even if I need Jason Bay to perform for fantasy baseball reasons.

That’s a truncated version of the pre-game rub down.


Brain Food


Not to get all Sabermetric on you baby, but PROPS (Predictive On Base Plus Slugging Percentage) is the most interesting new stat I’ve seen in a minute. And yes, I’m avaliable ladies!

Economic Professor JC Bradbury came up with the formula to see if his boy Larry (Chipper as you may know him) Jones was actually getting penalized for hitting the ball hard instead of blooping singles to right. By smacking it hard was he giving the oposition more ability to field his contact? Was luck actually screwing Larry? He wanted to know who were the luckiest and unluckiest hitters in MLB?.

Jacob Luft of SI sorts it all out here. Please read to the end and see just how stupid Pujols really is!


Izzy Dun Got It


It goes something like this: St Louis sits down. The Pirates get on their knees, bend over our laps and we spank them. With a belt. Hard. It’s simple really. The Cardinals are 25-6 against Pittsburgh in the their last 31 head-to-head match ups. Even Lindsay Lohan doesn’t have this many daddy issues. We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again. Pittsburgh is a convenience store and wins are always in stock.

Jason Marquis had the last quality start for the Birds before yesterday on May 26. By my calculations that’s like 76 days and that’s too long. We needed our ace to come out dealing. Full house. I understand LaRussa and Duncan wanting to keep his pitch count low, but damn he mowed down the Pirates with 3 K’s in the 7th and I sure would have liked to see if he could have got 15. Of course since he isn’t Roger Clemens, Sports Center put his highlights right between the WNBA and the World Series of Dominoes.

Rolen is man. Hear him roar. If he can stay even 75% as hot as he is right now when AP comes back, I think we’ll have as feared a 1-2 punch at 3 and 4 as anybody in baseball. Including Boston (we play defense.) 4-4? Folks it’s not like he got these in a blowout. Oliver Perez looked as good as I can remember since his breakout in ’04 and 2 hits lead directly to two runs (the total for the game.)

Izzy got 161 and is now the all-time saves leader for the St Louis Cardinals. Mazel. The world’s best shakiest closer made it interesting in the 9th. (Side: Luna just sealed his ticket to the bench in the late innings with a terrible defensive effort in the 9th. By not covering second on the hit and letting the tying run to move to scoring position is, unforgivable. Sure enough, one passed ball and he’s on third. Credit Izzy here for not throwing Luna under the bus, but you can bet your ass that Aaron Miles will be in their next time.) The champagne flowed freely after the game to celebrate this occasion and I wonder if Chris Duncan had any? I mean he did screw the pooch with the bases loaded and 1 out, leaving his dad’s boy with no breathing room, plus he’s only been in like 15 games, so he’s got to feel weird drinking to this occasion, right? Anyway, here’s to another 161 heart attacks, Jason.

Other Crap: How stupid was the Miami Heat flag twirler before game 3 of the Finals last night. He deserves to be slapped. World Cup fans are a bunch of Vikings. The new Outkast song disappoints me. Heard it on the radio yesterday and it makes me think that they really are breaking up soon and that makes me sad. Bean crock. Late.


How Sweet It Is!


1rolen.jpgGames like that are always sweet, but when you’re in summer-long dogfight for the Division and have so many things that aren’t in your favor a beautiful win like that, one that keeps you on the edge of your seat, it’s even sweeter.

13 strike outs in a game is a career high for Carpenter. He racked up 12 K while pitching for the Blue Jays on September 4, 2001 in a complete game shut out against the Yankees. With the Cards he pitched an 11 K game back on August 26, 2004 against the Reds, in Cincy. In his Cy Young campaign last year he had four double digit strikeout games: vs. MIL, 4/27; at TOR, 6/14; vs. PIT 6/25; vs. ATL 8/7. He won the first three, but got a no decision against the Braves. The games against the Blue Jays and the Pirates were complete game shutouts in which he allowed a total of 5 hits and 1 walk. The Toronto game would have been perfect,  except for a single walk and one hit.

The game’s other big star, going 4 for 4 at the plate, was Scott Rolen. It was his first 4 hit game since July 28, 2004 in Cincy, but he had 6 AB in that outing (of course, he did hit 2 HR in that game). Before that, Rolen’s last 4 hit game came on 6/8/03 against Baltimore. He had another 4 hit game on 8/23/02 against the Phillies. He went 4 for 4 in five plate appearances at Detroit on 6/7/02 and drew a walk; he was still with the Phillies at the time. Last night’s perfect 4 for 4 performance (in 4 plate appearances) was Rolen’s first since getting a work release from the City of Brotherly Love. He leads the NL in batting average with a .351 mark. He’s sporting an outstanding .427 OBP and .574 SLG to go with that average.

Let’s not forget the role players in this celebration though. Juan Encarnacion had two singles, and brought in one of the Cardinals’ two runs. Looper and Flores were perfect getting three outs to bridge the gap between Cy Carp and Izzy, who supplied us with yet another Maalox moment before striking out the final Pirate batter to earn his club record 161st save. Lee Smith we hardly knew ye.

After the past two seasons of sheer dominance, it was hard to get truly excited about anything less than a no hitter in the regular season. Having to flip through the paper to the standings first thing in morning makes a game like that beauty worthy of celebrating. Go forth into the world today with a big smile on your face, and tell those idiots at the water cooler not to worry, despite what they hear the crackpots on the call-in shows muttering about, this team can still win.


Now, THAT’S a Game!


Chris Carpenter Ks 13, walks 3, and allows just 3 hits through 7.

Rolen just singled to go 4-4, FOUR for FOUR, tonight. Pujols who? (just kidding, but the excitement is palpable)!!!!!!!!!!

Whew! My stomach’s unknotting itself now, after Izzy’s ninth inning.


Ode To 1995

history and tradition

So I like granola. Does that make me a bad person? Probably, but it still makes you have to go to the bathroom. I’m on the throne and it hits me- day after and off day, what to write about? Yes, the worst Cardinals team of my life, circa 1995. Think we have it bad now? Huh, watching this ’95 squad was a persistent visual wet willy. Some people opposed the strike; Cardinal fans reveled like Anderson Cooper at an Elton John concert. (Thought I let it die, didn’t you.) Let’s take a look back at some of the names and faces of 1995.

 Ladies and gentleman, may I present the worst infield ever deployed in MLB. Remember, these were the men that played the most games at each of their respective positions- I’m not taking some bench bum and making castrating him for fun. C: Danny Sheaffer. Later Sheaffer played the role of Steve Guttenberg in the Lifetime Original Movie “Fall From Grace: The Tale of Fame, Farming and Guttenberg.” 1B: John Maybry. In an odd twist, Mabs, actually likes to wear batting gloves while making whoopee. 2B: Jose Oquendo. The Ultimate Weapon spent his days manning second, his nights drinking. Hard. SS: Trip Cromer. OMG! Tripp Effing Cromer! Remember this dude? Had to jump around in the shower to get wet? Was the poster boy for Got Milk? Kid was a beanpole. I say this with every ounce of seriousness I can muster- Tripp Cromer could have been the most embarrassing Cardinal ever. Think about what other major league teams thought of him. I bet the scouting reports on Tripp were absolutely hysterical. “Waif.” That was his nickname. Seriously. 3B: Scott Cooper. I think Scott Rolen took a dump that had more talent than Scott Cooper.

But the fun doesn’t stop their kids; Take a looks at the starters. Alan Watson, Mark Petkovsek, Danny Jackson, Mike Morgan and Ken Hill. Jack Buck just spun in his grave. I think you’d have to go to a heroin rehab clinic to find this many dead arms in one place. I mean, who was the GM this year? Jack Kevorkian? We were the Ellis Island of awfulness on the mound- bring us your poor, your tired, your huddled arms. I hereby don the arms of 1995 as the Ringling Brothers: a bunch of clowns.

The outfield was our saving grace. Oh, wait no it wasn’t. We had Manual Lee, Bernard Gilkey and Gay Spankford. My bad. Who actually lost to these guys? Who?

The cherry on the pie though has to be the fact that our bench included none other than Terry Bradshaw. He made $109,000 dollars in 1995- as compensation for a lifetime of jokes about his name, I suppose. Do you remember Terry Bradshaw? Seems like I should, but I have no recollection of this man. Moving on.

Actually, I’m done thinking about this team. This team makes baby Jesus sad. Oh, and by the way John Bucher of Regions Bank in Edwardsville pointed out how flippin’ unsweet the ’95 birds actually were. He gets credit for the idea for this post and a cookie. That’s how the CD rolls.

Tickets US
around the league

Contact Us
rv_vanbib AT yahoo DOT com