Tag:Tony La Russa
Posted on: October 21, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: November 14, 2011 10:34 pm
 

Tony La Russa's decision for 2012 coming soon

Tony La RussaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Tony La Russa's 2012 fate will be decided within two weeks of the end of the World Series, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. La Russa and the Cardinals have a mutual option that must be exercised by that point.

La Russa, 67, hasn't commented about whether he'd return for a 17th year as the Cardinals' manager, but has dropped hints that he'll return. General manager John Mozeliak told the newspaper that "I think I have an idea of his thinking."

There had been rumors that La Russa would go back to the White Sox, where he started his career, but Chicago quickly replaced Ozzie Guillen with Robin Ventura. His name has also been batted about for the open job in Boston, as well as the potential opening with the Cubs, although both seem unlikely.

La Russa was won 2,728 games as a manager, third-most of all time, needing just 35 behind John McGraw for second place. 

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Posted on: October 21, 2011 1:35 am
Edited on: October 21, 2011 2:09 am
 

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 2

Jason Motte

By Matt Snyder


ST. LOUIS -- The Rangers came through in the ninth inning offensively and all game with pitching and defense. The result was a 2-1 victory, and the series is now tied as it shifts to Texas for three games. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Busch Stadium.

• "I knew there was a lot of talk about the starting pitching not being up to par, but I'll tell you, these last two (games), I think the starting pitching has shown what they're capable of doing." - Rangers manager Ron Washington.

Elvis Andrus' big single in the ninth broke an 0-for-8 mini-slump.
World Series Game 2

• "I've got to say those of you that have bad hearts, watch yourself." - Washington on the drama in the series thus far.

• "They caught a break with a blooper, but after that they did some good classic baseball stuff to make two guys come around and score. They deserve credit for how they played in the ninth inning offensively." Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

• "No, not really. You know, load the bases, that's a really difficult thing to do," La Russa said, when asked if he considered walking Hamilton in the ninth and keeping Motte in the game. "We thought we could get -- we had a chance to do something with Hamilton with Rhodes, maybe they score a run but they don't advance the other guy, and he did a good job. That's what I'm telling you, he pulled a ball, so he got a run in, got a guy over and Young did a very good job getting the ball to the outfield. I don't think walking him there would have made it easier for us. I think it would have made it tougher."

Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals was the first Mexican-born starting pitcher in the World Series since Fernando Valenzuela took the ball for the Dodgers in 1981.

Ian Kinsler, when asked about how safe he was on his late stolen base: "Enough. I mean, my hand just barely got in there. It took everything I had. Yadier made an unbelievable throw, quick, on the money, and I was just able to get my hand in there."

• Remember, the Rangers lost Game 1 of the ALDS and then went on to win five straight games over the course of two series.

• The Cardinals are 4-2 on the road this postseason.

• "If he tells me he can play, I'm putting him in the field. All I can say is I know my players better than you guys." - Washington, responding to the sentiment from some that Josh Hamilton shouldn't be playing.

• "Up and down our lineup our guys want to win ballgames, and it doesn't matter if we're down five runs or we're up five runs. We have the attitude of, you know what, until the last pitch is thrown, last out is made, we're going to keep fighting. You know, you can't really say why that is other than the character of the guys on our team." - Hamilton, on the Rangers' fight all the way until the end of the game.

• I walked right by Hamilton in the hallway after his press conference interviews, and he had a massive ice bag on his injured groin. He was laughing, too, so evidently he agreed that it looked hilarious.

• Hamilton on the current state of his health: "It is what it is. I'm tired of talking about it. I'm going to hurt until the season is over. You know, so it's a non-issue as far as talking about it. So stop asking me, please."

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Posted on: October 20, 2011 2:05 am
Edited on: October 20, 2011 12:53 pm
 

Overheard: Notes and Quotes from Game 1

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals took down the Rangers in Game 1 of the World Series with a 3-2 victory. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Busch Stadium.

• The Game 1 winner of the World Series has gone on to win the entire series 65 times out of 106, but it's held true far more often recently. The Game 1 winner has won the series seven of the last eight World Series and 12 of the last 14. Even further, the home teams that won Game 1 of the World Series have won the whole series every single year since 1993.

World Series, Game 1
• "I enjoy talking about it because he's not just a great hitter, he's a great baseball player," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of Albert Pujols' defensive gem to end the Rangers' sixth inning. "You'll see him do something on the bases. Defensively he's a Gold Glover several times now and he's clutch. He knows exactly who the runner is, who the hitter is, the situation. He's so aware of how the game is being played. That's the play of the game, really, for us."

• With the win Wednesday night, Chris Carpenter now has eight postseason wins for the Cardinals, which sets the franchise record. He was previously tied with Hall of Famer Bob Gibson at seven.

• "That ball in the first, uh, I think we need to work on that one next spring," Carpenter said with a laugh of his diving save. "It was just an instinct, (Pujols) threw it a little out of my reach and I dove."

• The Rangers' relievers now have a 2.22 ERA in the postseason while the Cardinals' relievers have a 2.38 ERA.

• "Well, I thought C.J. (Wilson) did a good job tonight," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of his starting pitcher. "Yep, he may have walked some guys and he hit Albert (Pujols), but he was in a 2-2 ballgame and he was battling Carpenter. As far as I was concerned, it was a pretty good ballgame, and C.J. did his job."

• Wilson walked six batters. The last time a starting pitcher walked six batters in the World Series? Scott Kazmir of the Rays in 2008. Before that, you have to go back to Livan Hernandez in 1997.

• "Can you guarantee me that, if I used (Yorvit Torrealba), he would have done anything different? I used the guy that I thought could get me the base hit," Washington said of his decision to pinch hit with Esteban German in the pivotal seventh. German hadn't had an at-bat since Sept. 25.

• Cardinals closer -- even though La Russa won't overtly say he's the closer -- Jason Motte now has worked nine innings this postseason. He's only allowed one hit and has picked up five saves.

• Carpenter invoked "The Blind Side" -- a book that was made into a movie about the life of Ravens' left tackle Michael Oher -- to describe what catcher Yadier Molina means to him. Carpenter likened Molina's role to that of a left tackle protecting the quarterback -- with the pitcher being the QB in the metaphor.

• "It's just one," said Cardinals third baseman David Freese. "We need to get three more."

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Posted on: October 18, 2011 7:06 pm
 

Rangers, Cardinals tentatively line up pitching

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Neither World Series manager would commit to a firm plan in terms of how their respective starting rotations would line up in the series, but both do have a good idea what direction they are going.

Rangers skipper Ron Washington said that after C.J. Wilson -- who has already been announced as the Game 1 starter -- he would go with Colby Lewis in Game 2 and "we're still up in the air as to where we'll go after that, but Colby will throw the second game."

Matt Harrison and Derek Holland have been in the postseason rotation behind Wilson and Lewis, but Washington hasn't made any decisions for anything beyond Game 2.

For the Cardinals, manager Tony La Russa has named pitchers through Game 4, but it's still subject to change.

World Series coverage
"We are going to announce that Jaime (Garcia) is pitching Game 2, and right now (pitching coach) Dave (Duncan) is home, will be back tomorrow, and I know that we're going to look at it closely. But I think we'll be penciling in Kyle Lohse for 3 and Edwin (Jackson) for 4, but that might change when we talk a little more."

A major concern for both teams was the ineffectiveness of most starters in each respective LCS. The Rangers' starters had a 6.59 ERA in the ALCS while the Cardinals starters have a 5.43 ERA in the entire playoffs.

The Cardinals were reportedly having an additional scare, too: Chris Carpenter's elbow was recently said to be a problem. La Russa attempted to alleviate some of that fear.

"If he wasn't sound, he wouldn't be pitching (Wednesday)," La Russa said, when asked if Carpenter's health was sound. "I think what I understand is that way back in August every once in a while he would find -- his elbow was a little stiff, so he would monitor his bullpens, but he also finished really strong. He's been getting treatment, and I know put his hand on the Bible the other day, a couple days ago, with the trainers and the doctor, and they all feel he's good to go."

Carpenter seemed a bit annoyed that talk was centered on his health.

"I'll speak about it one time, and that's it," he said. "Coming out of that start in Milwaukee, I had 200-something innings, 4,000 pitches or whatever and it's the middle of October. Everybody has got soreness and everybody has got aches. I got some treatment on my elbow. My elbow is fine. Tony and 'Dunc' would not throw me out there if it wasn't, and neither would the trainers or doctors. I would have been fine to pitch two days ago or yesterday, whatever day Game 7 would have been, and I'm fine to go Wednesday. I wouldn't go out there if I wasn't. That wouldn't help my team anyway."

That's about as emphatic as one could be, so it would appear he's perfectly fine.

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 3:38 am
 

Overheard: NLCS Game 6



By C. Trent Rosecrans

MILWAUKEE -- You always see the images of the winning team's clubhouses at the end of a series, but never the losing side. What flows like the champagne on the other side is hugs. Players hug each other, at times going down a receiving line of hugs. Each of the Brewers on Sunday hugged it out as the team realized its 2011 season was over.

There were kids -- from Prince Fielder's sons, to Jerry Hairston's -- they got hugs too. There were tears, from players, from sons. And there were hugs.

But still, there are smiles. A group of players realize their season is done, but there are worse ways to end a season than in the playoffs. 

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"Ultimately we fell short of our goal, which is disappointing, but in due time we'll be able to look back and appreciate our accomplishments," Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun said.

There was little bitterness, just acceptance that defeat was earned and the other team will be moving on to the World Series.

"Really, no knock on our defense, no knock on our pitching, but they flat-out beat us -- period," Hairston said. "We ran into a hot team, a great team. They deserve to be in the World Series, no question about it. They deserve it, they won it. Once you get to the final four, just about anybody can kick in and win the whole thing. They deserved to represent the National League in the World Series."

Also overheard after Game 6:

• Robin Yount, Brewers Hall of Famer, on losing to the Cardinals: "I was hoping to get a little playback for '82, but we didn't get it. I'm still bitter about that series."

• Tony La Russa on allowing himself to digest this incredible run the Cardinals have put together: "No. Because one of the keys is you can never allow yourself to look back because that's a distraction. We remind ourselves, even today we went around different players, it's always about maintain your edge the next game you play. Even if you for a minute do either one, look ahead or look back, you lose an edge. The guys were just absolutely relentless about today, today, today, last game of our lives."

• Albert Pujols on advancing to the World Series:  "It's awesome but your goal is to win it. Nobody talks about second place. Everybody talks about who wins it. That's going to be our main goal."

• Cardinals closer Jason Motte on Adam Wainwright's injury this spring: "It was a terrible loss. But as a team, we knew someone had to step up and do the job, get us some innings. It was an up and down season, but it wasn't just when Adam went down. Albert was hurt, Berkman, Holliday ... you name it, guys have been hurt."

• Shaun Marcum in the team's pitching in the playoffs: "One of the things that got us here was consistency, we were able to be consistent almost all year long and hand the ball over to the bullpen all year long. And aside from the starts by Yovani (Gallardo) and the one by Randy (Wolf), we didn't do a very good job of that. But we've got to give those guys credit, they're not the top-scoring offense in the league for no reason."

• Nyjer Morgan on the postseason: "It sucks when you get down and then when we swing the bats and then they put more (runs) up. Sometimes the game's going to go like that. Dr. Freeze came along at the wrong time and started chilling people's bats out, man. We've just got to keep our heads up, but looking back at it all, 101 wins, a franchise record, and a bunch of men in here that went to battle every night for the last eight months, you can't say enough about that. Everybody did what they were supposed to do, but they fell short."

• Morgan on Prince Fielder returning: "I'm hoping so, mang. Plush can't spit on that one, I'll leave that for the agents and everybody else to talk about that one. Of course I want the big man to come back, but I hope he does, but that's not for me to speculate on that, but, you know, T Plush wants my boy back."

• Brewers owner Mark Attanasio: "You can see the way Tony La Russa managed against us with a lot of urgency, you know, I'm going to view that as a sign of respect. If he brings his closer in with a six-run lead, he realizes we've scored six runs against them before. I think he's showing us respect for that. It's bitter-sweet part -- the bitter part is it's very, very hard to lose when you get this far with a team this good, but as bitter as that is, I'm proud of these guys."

• Attanasio on the Cardinals: "We and the Cardinals compete very hard, there's a lot of extraneous commentary, but I think you saw a very toughly played series -- what did we play 24 times? I guess 13 times we were on the wrong side of it -- 13-11. You give them credit, they played great."

• Attanasio on missing their shot at a World Series: "(General manager) Doug (Melvin) and I don't look at it that way. My goal has always been to build a long-term winning tradition here. I think we're off to a great start, especially being in the playoffs two times in the last four years. I'm not looking at 1982, I'm looking at right now. We've been in the playoffs the last two years and that's what we're trying to build in Milwaukee. And importantly, the whole country, including other athletes, are seeing what we're trying to do here. This is a great place to play. I think this is going to help us recruit ballplayers and we're not looking at this as our last shot."

• Brewers utility man Craig Counsell on his future: "I want to get away from it a little bit and then we'll sit down and make a decision. I've always said I'll play until they say no. You question when you're hitting .170 and you're 41 years old, you question yourself, there's no doubt. There's still that tug that you've got a great job and you love coming to work every day, so we'll think about it a little more in the winter."

• Ryan Braun on watching the World Series: "I doubt it. I'll probably get away from baseball for a while."

• Braun on the being called out on a play at first in the fifth inning of Game 6: "I don't know if it was necessarily a turning point our not. It's a tough play for an umpire -- I was safe -- but I'm going to give Albert credit, he made a great play on that. I don't think it was a turning point, but it seemed indicative of everything that happened this series -- they clearly played better than us, but every play went their way, every call went their way and I think when you end up winning games and winning a series, you look back and there are always things that go your way. When you lose, you look back and feel like everything went against you. That's just how the game works sometimes."

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 2:21 am
Edited on: October 17, 2011 3:06 am
 

NLCS Grades: La Russa made all the right moves

Tony La Russa

By C. Trent Rosecrans


MILWAUKEE -- In a series that provided plenty of hits and seemingly as many pitching changes, the St. Louis Cardinals hit their way to their 18th National League pennant, defeating the Brewers four games to two onthe heels of a 12-6 victory in Game 6 on Sunday.

Tony La Russa: The Cardinals manager is sometimes maddening to watch and worse to listen to -- but he's darn good at his job, and that's not making bloggers happy. Seemingly every move he made in this series worked, especially working a trail from the dugout to the mound, using 28 pitching changes and getting 28 2/3 innings out of his bullpen while limiting his starters to 24 1/3 innings. La Russa carried eight relievers on his postseason roster to make sure he always had enough arms that he could play matchup with the right-handed Ryan Braun and left-handed Prince Fielder. La Russa gambled that the rest of the Brewers wouldn't hurt him as much as those two, so he tried to limit their effect on the series. The thinking being that the other Brewers could hurt him and cost him a game, but only Braun and Fielder would cost him the series.

Ryan Braun: Braun hit .333/.385/.583 in the series and knocked in five runs -- it's hard to say that's not good. He also got on base in the first inning in each of the first five games, something that's huge when you have a run producer like Fielder hitting behind you. However, Braun was held hitless in the final game and had just one homer in the series, making him a B player for the series. That's not exactly what anyone in Milwaukee was hoping for a guy that should collect an MVP trophy for his regular-season work.

St. Louis starters: The Cardinals' starters didn't do much -- but they weren't asked to do much. No starter went more than five innings -- the first time in postseason history a team has won a series with that bizarre statistic. Chris Carpenter's Game 2 start was the longest, at just five innings. The starters had a 7.06 ERA in the series, nothing to crow about -- but they were just good enough, especially with the potent Cardinal offense. That's why it's hard to give them anything but a passing grade, but it's not going to come without a talk to the teacher and a stern warning that they aren't living up to their potential.

Milwaukee starters: If it weren't for Randy Wolf, this would be an easy F. But Wolf pitched fantastically -- much better than any other starters in the series -- in Game 4, but the rest of his mates let him down. Zack Greinke, who whined his way out of Kansas City so he could pitch in the postseason, laid an egg -- twice. And then there's Shaun Marcum, who couldn't make it to the second inning in the season's biggest game. Marcum took the loss in Game 6, and amazingly he started half of all of the Brewers' home losses this season, including the postseason (13 of 26). Even Yovani Gallardo, who pitched so well in his two starts against the Diamondbacks was ineffective against the Cardinals, giving up four runs on eight hits in five innings in his one start. Overall, the team had a 7.24 ERA in the series.

Milwaukee's defense: Somehow, some way, Yuniesky Betancourt wasn't the Brewers' worst defensive player. And when you're saying that… well, you're saying quite a bit. The Brewers committed 10 errors in the NLCS, tying the record for an LCS set by the 1999 Red Sox. In Game 6, the Brewers committed three errors -- two of them by Jerry Hairston Jr. on the same play. He had a costly error in Game 5, as well. Rickie Weeks also had three errors in the series -- and four in the postseason. The rest of the postseason games featured just two errors by second basemen other than Weeks. The Brewers pitchers weren't great, but their fielding wasn't doing them any favors, either.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 11:50 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 1:24 pm
 

World Series preview: Rangers vs. Cardinals



By Matt Snyder


Talk about your clashes in historical pedigree.

The St. Louis Cardinals franchise began all the way back in 1882 (as the St. Louis Brown Stockings). After having just won the 2011 NL pennant, the Cardinals now have 18 NL titles and 10 World Series championships -- looking to add No. 11 in the next week and a half or so. The history of the franchise is loaded with Hall of Famers and transcendent personalities, and the city is often said to be one of the best baseball towns in the country. Manager Tony La Russa has been playing bullpen matchups since before Al Gore invented the Internet.

The Rangers' franchise, on the other hand, has only been around since 1961 (as the Washington Senators -- they moved to Texas and became the Rangers in 1972). Prior to 1996, the Rangers/Senators had never been to the playoffs. Prior to last season, they'd only won one playoff game in franchise history. The only individual Hall of Fame plaque with a Texas Rangers cap is Nolan Ryan's. Sitting right in the middle of die-hard football country, Arlington hasn't exactly been romanticized as a baseball hot spot. Manager Ron Washington took his first managing job in 2007.

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Of course, history has absolutely nothing to do with this series. The players are the ones who will win this series, not the uniforms or any flags in the respective stadiums honoring the past.

The Rangers are now making their second consecutive trip to the World Series and there's no doubt they're a current baseball powerhouse. Anyone who watched Game 6 of the ALCS can attest that the fans are as great as anywhere, too, because Rangers Ballpark was rocking.

These two teams have lots of similarities, too.

Both lost an ace before the season even began. The Rangers lost Cliff Lee to free agency while the Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright to a torn UCL in his throwing elbow -- requiring season-ending Tommy John surgery. Both offenses feature several power hitters while the bullpens got stronger down the stretch on the strength of midseason acquisitions and some roster/role tinkering. And both teams have been scorching hot for the past six or so weeks.

Sure, the Cardinals late surge got lots of attention and rightfully so. It's because they were running down the Braves from a double-digit deficit in the NL wild-card race. But check this out:

Rangers' September record: 19-6
Cardinals' September record: 18-8

Rangers' October record: 7-3
Cardinals' October record: 7-4

So if you're going to argue for the hotter team winning the series, you're picking the Rangers -- not the Cardinals. Since a Sept. 10 loss to the A's, the Rangers are 21-5. To put that in perspective, that's a 162-game pace of 131 wins. To reiterate, the Cardinals are playing exceptional baseball right now and deserve all the credit they've gotten for the huge comeback in the regular season and run in the playoffs, but let's not be fooled into thinking they come in hotter than their Texas-sized opponent.

TEAM INFORMATION

Texas Rangers (host Games 3, 4, 5*)
96-66, AL West winner.
ALDS: Beat Tampa Bay three games to one.
ALCS: Beat Detroit four games to two.
Manager: Ron Washington
Offensive ranks: 3rd in R, 2nd in HR, 1st in AVG, 5th in OBP, 2nd in SLG
Pitching ranks: 13th in ERA, 12th in K, 5th in WHIP

St. Louis Cardinals (host Game 1, 2, 6*, 7*)
90-72, NL wild card winner.
NLDS: Beat Philadelphia three games to two.
NLCS: Beat Milwaukee four games to two.
Manager: Tony La Russa
Offensive ranks: 5th in R, 13th in HR, 5th in AVG, 3rd in OBP, 6th in SLG
Pitching ranks: 12th in ERA, 21st in K, 15th in WHIP

*if necessary
[Note: All rankings were regular season and for the entire MLB]

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN -- WHO HAS THE EDGE?

Catcher: Mike Napoli vs. Yadier Molina


Big offensive advantage to Napoli here, but Molina can hit, too. Big defensive advantage to Molina here, but we've seen what Napoli can do behind the plate this postseason. This is a tough call for many reasons. We're weighing Napoli's power stroke (30 HR in 369 at-bats this season) against Molina's ability to completely eliminate the opposing running game. Ultimately, it's a toss up between two really good players.

First base: Michael Young vs. Albert Pujols


Young is a very good hitter. A great one at times, including most of the 2011 season. He just became the first player in LCS history to record two extra-base hits in one inning. He's gotten some noise in the AL MVP argument. It's just that he's not Albert Pujols in any aspect of the game.

Second base: Ian Kinsler vs. Ryan Theriot


Theriot's a scrappy singles hitter who makes lots of baserunning mistakes. He's not a defensive liability at second like he was at short, but he's still not much more than just an average player. Even if Skip Schumaker can return at full health, the upgrade is pretty minor. Kinsler had 32 homers and 30 stolen bases in the regular season and is far superior with the glove. 

Shortstop: Elvis Andrus vs. Rafael Furcal


Andrus is a solid defender and base stealer, but not a very good hitter. Furcal has provided St. Louis a bit of a power-speed combo atop the order since his acquisition. It's a really close call here, but Furcal seems to be providing his team more of a spark at this point in time. Things could easily change by the second inning of Game 1, but we're going Furcal by a nose for now.

Third base: Adrian Beltre vs. David Freese


A healthy Freese has been a monumental boost for the Cardinals' offense, especially as Matt Holliday has dealt with some injuries. Freese was a really good hitter in the regular season and absolutely exploded in the NLCS. Beltre can match and exceed his firepower, though. Beltre had 32 regular-season homers and then went yard three times in the clinching ALDS Game 4 at Tampa Bay. He's also a great defender. Before the NLCS, Freese was underrated, but let's not overcorrect based upon six games. He closed the gap, but is still slightly behind Beltre overall.

Left field: David Murphy vs. Matt Holliday


When healthy, Holliday is an elite player. He's starting to look healthy based upon the last few games, too, so this is an easy call.

Center field: Josh Hamilton vs. Jon Jay


Jay isn't a bad player by any stretch, but he's out of his league here. When Hamilton can keep himself on the field, he's one of the most feared sluggers in the league, and will also sell out his body to make a big defensive play (see Game 6, for example).

Right field: Nelson Cruz vs. Lance Berkman


We cannot discount the season that Berkman, the NL Comeback Player of the Year, put together. He was great, and especially valuable early in the season when Holliday was hurt and Pujols was struggling. But Cruz still almost matched his power production despite playing 21 fewer games in the regular season. In the playoffs, Cruz has been the best hitter in baseball, not to mention that he's a much better defender than Berkman. This one would be a toss up, but Cruz's hot hand pushes him over the top. Put it this way, Cardinals fans: What if you could trade Berkman for Cruz straight up for the series? You'd do it. Don't lie.

Designated hitter


The designated hitter for the Rangers is a mix and match thing. Young or Napoli can be used there, which would get Mitch Moreland or Yorvit Torrealba into the lineup. It's also possible Washington goes with Endy Chavez or Craig Gentry in the outfield and uses Murphy at DH. So, essentially, we're judging the bench here. For the Cardinals, the smart money is on Berkman being used as the DH, which then puts Allen Craig in the outfield. So what we're really judging here is which offense benefits more from being able to use a DH and, oddly enough, the NL team here does. Craig is a much better offensive player than Moreland, Torrealba, Chavez or Gentry. So the three games in Texas will actually favor the Cardinals in this one aspect of the game, however small it is.

Starting rotation: C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland vs. Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse


Both rotations have good ability yet have been shaky at times. Holland and Garcia particularly struggled in their respective LCS'. Wilson and Carpenter both pitched like aces at several points throughout the regular season, but the deciding factor here is that Carpenter has shown he can carry his team in a big game. Wilson, meanwhile, is 1-4 with a 5.40 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in seven career postseason starts.

Bullpen: Neftali Feliz et al vs. Jason Motte et al


The fact that both teams won four of six games against their respective LCS opponents with zero quality starts tells you all you need to know about how good the bullpens are right now. The Cardinals' bullpen has significantly improved down the stretch, as Motte has stepped in as the closer -- despite not being "officially" named as such. Marc Rzepczynski has been a solid left-handed addition just as right-hander Octavio Dotel has gotten some really big outs. Especially after the NLCS, you have to say the Cardinals have a very strong bullpen right now. The way things have gone for Texas of late, though, it's even better. Scott Feldman and Alexi Ogando have proven to be an exceptional duo to bridge the gap from the starters to the potentially dominant Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz at the back-end.

Defense


Getting Furcal helped the Cardinals, as will being able to use Craig in right instead of Berkman when the games are played in Texas, but this isn't really a match. The two teams had virtually identical fielding percentages during the regular season, but that doesn't measure range. The advanced metrics that do measure range pretty heavily side with the Rangers here. If you just go by position, only at catcher and first base are the Cardinals clearly better. Everywhere else it's either debatable or definitely the Rangers.

PREDICTION

First of all, keep in mind all categories above aren't created equal. Having a slight edge at shortstop, for example, isn't near as important as having an edge in the bullpen. The position-by-position breakdown is just a snapshot at the different strengths and weaknesses of each team. Adding everything together, including the momentum and swagger heading into the World Series, the Rangers have a better offense, defense and bullpen. And while the Cardinals have been having all their happy flights, the Rangers haven't lost consecutive games since August 23-25. The Cardinals' run has been a great story and nothing would surprise us here, but we'll go with the St. Louis run ending when it runs into a more talented buzzsaw. Rangers in six.

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Posted on: October 15, 2011 6:06 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2011 4:15 pm
 

NLCS Game 6: Cardinals not eyeing Series yet



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Cardinals at Brewers, 8:05 p.m. ET, Miller Park, Milwaukee. Cardinals lead series 3-2.

MILWAUKEE -- For the first time in probably two months or so, the St. Louis Cardinals have some breathing room. For a team that needed every single victory (and every single Braves loss) to just make the playoffs, St. Louis also trailed 2-1 in the National League division series against the Phillies and now actually have a game up on the Brewers and aren't in a "must-win" situation for once. But don't tell that to Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

"One of the neatest things about what's happened to our club from whenever we started smelling a chance to get into the eight-team playoffs, was we took the attitude that tomorrow is the last game of our lives, which means you don't think about anything beyond that," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "And that's really helpful. It's solved a lot of problems, therefore, have no thought about Game 7 and what happens, other than we're playing tomorrow. It's the last game we're ever going to play. And don't want to have any regrets when it's over. If the Brewers beat us, you tip your hat, hey, we did the best we could and you beat us. Not thinking about anything beyond our best shot tomorrow."

Game 6 on Sunday will be a rematch of the Game 2 blowout at Miller Park with Edwin Jackson taking the hill for the Cardinals and Shaun Marcum for the Brewers. Marcum and the Brewers bullpen were battered around a bit by the Cardinals in a 12-4 victory last Monday, while Jackson and the Cardinals bullpen did enough that there was little drama in the Brewers first home loss of the postseason.

A victory by the Cardinals would not only send them to the World Series, but avoiding a Game 7 would allow Chris Carpenter to start Game 1 of the World Series. Because of his heroics in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Phillies, Carpenter didn't get a chance to pitch until Game 3 of the NLDS.

WHO HAS THE EDGE

 

By just about any mark, the Cardinals have the advantage with their pitching -- as Jackson has better stuff and has pitched better recently than Marcum. Several Milwaukee players said they felt Marcum was "due," but that's not exactly how baseball works.

Still, this series has proven nothing if not unpredictable, at least as far as starters go. No Cardinals' starter has pitched six innings and the Brewers' best starter was Randy Wolf, who was absolutely shelled in the NLDS. The St. Louis starters have a 6.04 ERA in the series and the Brewers are hitting .340 off of the St. Louis starters.

What does give the Cardinals another edge is not just their bullpen, but La Russa's ruthlessness to go to the bullpen and use the eight relievers he stockpiled on his postseason roster. This is October, La Russa doesn't care about his starters' feelings, he's just going for the throat of the Brewers, and so far it's worked.

Cardinals' Edwin Jackson: Jackson allowed two runs and picked up a no-decision in the Cardinals' 12-3 victory in Game 2, and despite joining the Cardinals at the trade deadline, he will be facing Milwaukee for the fifth time in a Cardinal uniform. In the regular season, he was 1-1 with a 4.95 ERA in three starts. 

"I don't think either team has an advantage -- there's neither advantage for a pitcher or the batters (with the familiarity)," Jackson said on Saturday. "I mean there's no secret what I have, there's no secret what they can do. It's just a matter of execution. Whether they hit pitches that you miss or whether you throw pitches where you want to and get outs, it's just one of those things where you're not going to change up the game. I'm not going to change up my game plan, go out and attack the strike zone and take my chances with them putting the ball in play."

The current Brewers are hitting .295/.346/.525 off of Jackson, but he's been good against Prince Fielder (2 for 13) and Ryan Braun (3 for 12). Casey McGehee had a three-home game off of Jackson in the regular season, but will not be starting.

Brewres' Shaun Marcum: Marcum is well aware of his recent failings -- Marcum hasn't gone five innings in any of his last three starts and he's allowed at least five earned runs in five of his last six starts.

"There was more than a couple rocky ones heading into, but feel good, arm feels good, body feels good. Just a matter of going out there, keeping the ball down, throwing strikes and trying to get ahead of these hitters," Marcum said. "They've swung the bats well all year long. They've got one of the best offenses obviously in the National League but in baseball, so gotta go out there and make pitches against them."

But it's not as if he's a total basket case, Marcum was one of the team's best starters during the regular season, winning 13 games and throwing 20 quality starts.

"I think the starting pitchers, for example, and the relievers, too, have all proven, including Marcum in Game 2," La Russa said. "When they're making their pitches, they're real good offense on both sides, they're not centering the ball, they're making outs. But these are two very dangerous offenses, and if you happen to get a pitch in the middle against either side, you get damaged quite often. So he's going to try to avoid the middle. He's a pitcher, not a thrower, so is Edwin. If he has good command, he's tough to deal with. Same with Edwin. There's within some skewed numbers, because we got to their bullpen in Game 2. But they got to ours in Game 1. If you look at when either team pitches good, start, our back end, hitters aren't having any fun. He can do that, but hope he doesn't."

LINEUPS

Cardinals Brewers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Rafael Furcal SS 1 Corey Hart RF
2 Jon Jay CF 2 Nyjer Morgan CF
3 Albert Pujols 1B 3 Ryan Braun LF
4 Lance Berkman RF 4 Prince Fielder 1B
5 Matt Holliday LF 5 Rickie Weeks 2B
6 David Freese 3B 6 Jerry Hairston Jr. 3B
7 Yadier Molina C 7 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
8 Nick Punto 2B 8 Jonathan Lucroy C
9 Edwin Jackson RHP 9 Shaun Marcum RHP

NOTES

  • The roof at Miller Park will be closed. It is expected to be 52 degrees at game time, and dropping into the 40s during the game. The roof was open for the first two games of the series at Miller Park.
  • St. Louis is 22-19 all-time in potential clinching games.
  • Before Yadier Molina's second-inning RBI double in Game 5, the Cardinals had gone hitless in their previous 22 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
  • Braun has no reached safely in the first inning of nine straight postseason games, the longest such streak in baseball history.
  • The Brewers' four errors in Game 5 were the most in an LCS game since Atlanta had four in Game 4 of the 2001 NLCS against the Diamondbacks. Second baseman Rickie Weeks has four errors this postseason, there have only been two other errors by second basemen in the postseason. The last second baseman to have five errors in a single postseason was Milwaukee's Jim Ganter in 1982.
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