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Tag:St. Louis Cardinals
Posted on: August 27, 2010 3:15 pm
Edited on: August 27, 2010 3:15 pm
 

3 to watch: The dwindling off days edition

Off days are precious in late August, and not just for players headed for the September fires of the stretch run.

The Giants moved into the lead in the NL wild-card chase this week before taking a break Thursday, which surely made the coaches as happy as the players at this point. Not long ago, a couple of their coaches calculated how many ground balls they hit to infielders in need of work each season.

I don't know the exact formula used, but the number they came up with was 44,000 ground balls a year.

"Then you go, 'How many years?'" third-base coach Tim Flannery says.

He's been coaching 15 years, so, multiply that by 44,000, and by this baseball math, Flannery figures he's slapped 660,000 or so fungoes during his career. He's had six or so cortisone injections in each elbow. Thanks to ulnar nerve issues, his right pinky and ring fingers currently are numb.

"Some might argue that my head is, too," Flannery jokes.

Giants bench coach Ron Wotus has hit so many fungoes he's had surgery to re-attach a tendon to his elbow.

"Thought it was tendinitis at first," Wotus says.

Flannery was wearing an elastic compression brace on each elbow after first smearing them with Tiger Balm.

"A lot of Advil, a lot of ice," he says.

Which pretty much is the prescription for everybody at this point in the season. There aren't many off days left. The Yankees have just three (Sept. 9, 16 and 30). Trying to catch the Twins, the White Sox have just three as well (Sept. 2, 13 and 23). The Twins have four -- one on Monday, then identical dates with the Sox.

First-place San Diego has the biggest grind, with only two remaining the rest of the season -- Sept. 2 and 20. The Giants have four (Sept. 2, 13, 20 and 27). In the NL Central, Cincinnati has three (Sept. 2, 13 and 27) and the Cardinals, having slipped to four games behind the Reds in the NL Central, have only two (Sept. 2 and 20).

On to 3 to watch:

1. In a place they never thought they'd be after having swept three in Cincinnati Aug. 9-11, the Cardinals enter the weekend looking to make up some serious ground before getting one last shot at the Reds head-to-head in St. Louis next weekend. Trailing the Reds by four games, right-hander Jaime Garcia takes the ball first in Cardinals at Nationals, Friday night (7:05 p.m. ET) in Nationals Park and, when he does, maybe it'll hearten Washington fans blue over Stephen Strasburg's impending elbow surgery. Garcia is a Poster Boy survivor of Tommy John ligament transfer surgery, to the point where he's a leading contender for the NL Rookie of the Year award. It's a weirdly busy weekend in D.C. -- not only will this series be played under the Strasburg pall, but Cards manager Tony La Russa and slugger Albert Pujols are scheduled to appear Saturday at  Glenn Beck's highly controversial rally in Washington.

2. Last time out, Tampa Bay's Matt Garza hooked up with Oakland's Dallas Braden in a battle of pitchers who have thrown no-hitters this summer (a perfect game, in Braden's case). Now, in Red Sox at Rays, Saturday night (7:10 ET) in Tropicana Field, Garza faces another pitcher with a no-hitter on his resume, Boston's Clay Buchholz, who did it in September, 2007. Being that Buchholz's 2.26 ERA leads the AL, the middle game of this series should sizzle as the Rays work toward holding Boston off in the playoff race. Tampa Bay enters the weekend tied with the Yankees for the AL East lead, and the Red Sox, clinging to playoff hopes despite missing Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis (among others), are 5 1/2 back. Boston has six games left against Tampa Bay heading into the weekend and three remaining against the Yankees.

3. The Giants offense bludgeoned its way back to life against the Reds this week (38 runs, 53 hits over three games), but if Bruce Bochy's club is going to hang on to the NL wild-card lead, Tim Lincecum is going to have to become The Man again. Loser of four consecutive starts for the first time in his big-league career, the two-time Cy Young winner pitches the opener of Diamondbacks at Giants, Friday night (10:15 ET) at AT&T Park. Lincecum hasn't won in a month, since July 30. Now is a good time to start.

Posted on: July 31, 2010 1:06 pm
 

Cards land Westbrook & Padres Ludwick in 3 way

Two National League contenders strengthened themselves impressively for the stretch run with one bold three-way trade on Saturday, with St. Louis acquiring right-handed pitcher Jake Westbrook from Cleveland, San Diego landing hard-hitting outfielder Ryan Ludwick from St. Louis and the Indians receiving a couple of prospects from the Padres, including Double-A pitcher Corey Kluber, multiple sources have told CBSSports.com.

While Cleveland rebuilds, the Cardinals and Padres, two clubs with serious playoff aspirations, landed exactly what they needed.

In Westbrook, the Cardinals gain a solid starter who adds significant depth to a rotation that will nevertheless continue to live and die with co-aces Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.

A veteran right-hander who missed most of 2008 and 2009 following Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, Westbrook bounced back to make the opening day start for Cleveland in 2010 and has gone 6-7 with
a 4.65 ERA over 21 starts.

The Cardinals have been searching for a starter because things have been in flux in the rotation after Carpenter and Wainwright. Rookie Jaime Garcia has been sensational, but there is concern over his workload. Kyle Lohse has been out for much of the season due to a forearm injury. And Brad Penny has battled various nagging injuries.

Lohse has made an injury-rehabilitation start and the Cardinals hope he will return to the rotation in a few weeks.

"There is a better expectation [that he'll be good]," Cards manager Tony La Russa told reporters recently in St. Louis. "He's feeling really normal, and he says he likes the way he's responding."

In Ludwick, the surprising Padres got what they have been searching for: An outfielder who will help add pop to a sluggish offense. Ludwick is hitting .281 with 11 homers and 43 RBI for the Cardinals this year, and his defense is very underrated. In that department, he fits perfectly into a Padres team that is strong with the gloves and whose pitching staff leads the majors in ERA.

The Padres are sending Kluber to the Indians and minor-league right-hander Nick Greenwood to the Cardinals.

Posted on: July 31, 2010 12:31 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2010 12:53 pm
 

Cards, Indians, Padres three-way nears completion

Locked in a battle with Cincinnati in the NL Central, the Cardinals are on the verge of a deal to fortify their rotation with right-hander Jake Westbrook from Cleveland, but there's a twist:

San Diego is engaged with those two clubs and has become part of an expanded trade that will send Cardinals outfielder Ryan Ludwick to the Padres, Westbrook to the Cardinals and Double-A pitcher Corey Kluber from San Diego to Cleveland, multiple sources have told CBSSports.com.

The deal is very near completion, according to sources, and the Indians scratched Westbrook from his scheduled Saturday start against Toronto 40 minutes before game-time.

Among other things, the deal would have to approved by league officials and the players' union. That step is necessary because there is a significant amount of money involved: Westbrook is due roughly $3.2 million of his $11 million 2010 deal, plus clauses in his contract call for him to receive a $2 million bonus if traded plus the last year of his contract also is prorated by $1 million if he's dealt.

Westbrook is in the final season of a three-year, $33 million deal.

A veteran right-hander who missed most of 2008 and 2009 following Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, Westbrook bounced back to make the opening day start for Cleveland in 2010 and has gone 6-7 with a 4.65 ERA over 21 starts.

The Cardinals have been searching for a starter because things have been in flux in the rotation after aces Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. Rookie Jaime Garcia has been sensational, but there is concern over his workload. Kyle Lohse has been out for much of the season due to a forearm injury. And Brad Penny has battled various nagging injuries.

Lohse already has made an injury-rehabilitation start and is due back within a few weeks.

"There is a better expectation [that he'll be good]," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told reporters recently. "He's feeling really normal, and he says he likes the way he's responding."

The surprising Padres have been searching for an outfielder who will help add pop to a sluggish offense and Ludwick would help on several fronts. He's hitting .281 with 11 homers and 43 RBI for the Cardinals this year, and his defense is very underrated. In that department, he would fit perfectly into a Padres team that is strong with the gloves and whose pitching staff leads the majors in ERA.

Posted on: July 15, 2010 2:34 pm
Edited on: July 15, 2010 3:07 pm
 

Hey Gregg: Go back to the football fields

So my good buddy Gregg Doyel wants steroids back in baseball?

He wants artificially inflated behemoths flexing their muscles? He wants brawny Jolly Green Giants feeding us red meat and cheap thrills?

Hey, Gregg, we've already got that.

It's called the NFL.

I know, I know. They've got a steroids policy over there, too, and they had it long before baseball and yada, yada, yada.

What are we supposed to be, stupid? It's normal for guys to grow to 6-7 and run the 40 in two seconds flat?

You want juice, go watch Cowboys-Raiders. Or tour a Tropicana plant.

Leave baseball alone.

Go ahead, take your shots at the "purists". Compare the low-scoring games this summer to a Spain-
Netherlands World Cup match. Me? I think the sound of too many vuvuzelas have damaged your thinking.

Steroids and greenies? Really?

I mean, I know you've always lived just one area code away from the cuckoo's nest, Gregg, but I thought you were more responsible than this. What are you doing tomorrow, teaching the neighborhood kids how to make moonshine?

What I get tired of is, there is little appreciation for subtlety anymore. Anywhere. You can't go to a movie without things blowing up onscreen every two minutes. Everybody's yelling at everybody on radio and cable TV, from the ESPN shout-fests to CNN's Nancy Grace.

Must we be smashed over the head with a sledgehammer each way we turn in life anymore?

Must everything devolve into Short Attention Span Theater?

If you want to zing Tuesday night's All-Star Game, here's where you go: Joe Girardi's managing. To be given a 34-man roster and still be exposed by failing to have a pinch runner at the ready for David Ortiz in the ninth inning was flat-out embarrassing. If Girardi's Yankees play in the World Series this October, all he has to do to learn why they don't have home-field advantage is look straight into the mirror.

Baseball made several tweaks to this year's game and still couldn't get it right: What's needed is smaller rosters, not larger ones, and stars like Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki and Joe Mauer actually still being in the game when it's on the line in the late innings.

Even commissioner Bud Selig was rhapsodizing earlier Tuesday about the days when Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente played the entire All-Star Game. Well, duh. That's how you juice this thing back to the level it once was.

Still, Tuesday night's game had some terrific moments. The best of which was Scott Rolen's intuitive read of a single to center and busting it all the way to third to spark the NL's winning rally. It was the kind of key play that too often was rendered meaningless during the Steroid Era as everyone sat around and waited for three-run homers.

No, other than Girardi's death-wish managing, the only folks who couldn't enjoy this, I'm sure, are the ones who complained that there still weren't enough things blowing up in Iron Man 2. Which, no, I didn't see. The first one was lousy enough.

Anyway, Gregg, I could go on from here, but my guess is I've lost you already, my friend. You're probably already salivating over Cowboys-Raiders.

It's OK, though. I still look forward to covering the World Series with you in October. And being the generous guy I am, I'll make you a deal: If a pitching duel breaks out, the Red Bull and No-Doz is on me. OK?

Oh, one other thing: I don't completely disagree with everything you wrote in this whack-job of a piece. The Tiger Woods line? Excellent.

Posted on: July 2, 2010 9:11 pm
 

Jimenez, Price aligned for All-Star Game

If American League manager Joe Girardi chooses to start Tampa Bay's David Price in the July 13 All-Star Game -- a very real possibility given that Price led the AL in ERA (2.44) and wins (11) on Friday -- the coast is clear.

And if National League manager Charlie Manuel gives the nod to Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez -- which seems a slam dunk -- that should work, too.

In the first season in which baseball will deem ineligible any starting pitcher working on the Sunday before the All-Star break, the view from several days out looks pretty good.

Of the top AL starters, only the Angels' Jered Weaver (who leads the majors with 124 strikeouts), Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann and the Yankees' CC Sabathia currently are projected to start for their clubs on that Sunday.

Among the NL's top starters, only the Mets' Mike Pelfrey is slated to start on Sunday, July 11. But depending on what manager Jerry Manuel does with his pitching on the club's off-day on Thursday, July 8, that could change.

Price, a serious candidate to start for the AL, is scheduled to make his final pre-All Star start for Tampa Bay on Wednesday, which would leave him plenty rested for the Anaheim game. And if Girardi looks in a different direction, Seattle's Cliff Lee (last first-half start next Friday), Boston's Jon Lester (Friday) and Clay Buchholz (Tuesday), the Yankees' own Phil Hughes (Friday) and Texas' Colby Lewis (Wednesday) all should be eligible.

Jimenez makes his final pre-All Star start on Thursday and, assuming good health, should be a foregone conclusion to start for the NL in Anaheim.

As for the rest of the NL's top starters, things are setting up very nicely for Manuel: Florida's Josh Johnson (final first-half start slotted for Wednesday), St. Louis' Chris Carpenter (Friday), Adam Wainwright (Saturday) and Jaime Garcia (Thursday), Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (Saturday), Atlanta's Tim Hudson (Friday or Saturday), Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo (Friday), the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (Thursday), San Diego's Mat Latos (Wednesday) and San Francisco's Tim Lincecum (Wednesday) and Barry Zito (Thursday)  all should be fresh for the game.

Likes: Great move by Texas acquiring catcher Bengie Molina. Look out, this is the strongest team the Rangers have had in several years. ... The wheels came off the wagon horribly in Arizona, but make no mistake: Fired general manager Josh Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch are good people. ... New Arizona manager Kirk Gibson's first game in the dugout, of course, is against the Dodgers. Who else? ... The All-Star break just around the corner and Texas, Atlanta, Cincinnati and San Diego in first place. ... The new concert DVD from Bruce Springsteen and the E St. Band, Live in Hyde Park. Very, very good. Great song selections, tremendous playing and some breathtaking camera work of both the band's work and the crowd in Hyde Park. ... Quaker Oatmeal Squares for breakfast. ... Ben & Jerry's Milk and Cookies ice cream.

Dislikes: It's July, so here comes the July 31 trade deadline, a time that you would think would get a baseball writer's juices flowing. And it does mine, too -- it's fun to see the moves as they're made -- but it's also become one of my least favorite times of the year because there is so, so much wrong information that will be produced this month. And ferreting out the truth from the fiction is next to impossible. The sad, simple fact is the journalism bar at times is lowered today, and this is one of them.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Summer
"It turns me upside down"

-- The Cars, Magic

Posted on: June 30, 2010 5:23 pm
 

Stephen Strasburg is not an All-Star

Come on. Stephen Strasburg an All-Star?

In 2011, probably.

Every season from 2011 through 2021, good chance.

But 13 days from now? In 2010?

No way.

Five starts do not make an All-Star, no matter how many oohs, ahhs and strikeouts Strasburg has produced. This is still a game in which you have to earn your way. Strasburg is off the starting blocks in that department. But he hasn't earned anything yet.

There are too many good pitchers in the National League who have been doing it since Opening Day who deserve All-Star spots more than Strasburg. Break it down to rookies alone, and St. Louis' Jaime Garcia and Cincinnati's Mike Leake are in line ahead of Strasburg (yes, even though Leake has struggled in his past couple of outings).

Look, I love Strasburg. He's exceeded the hype, which pretty much was an impossible task.

As a fan, I'd love to see him pitch an inning in the All-Star Game facing someone like Derek Jeter, Justin Morneau and Josh Hamilton.

But there are only two possible reasons to justify putting him on the NL squad:

1. The fans demand it.

2. Because the winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series, you must put the best pitchers on the team regardless.

As for the first reason, the fans have their say in voting for the starting position players. They don't name the entire team.

As for the second reason, again: Judging by all appearances and rave reviews, Strasburg looks like he's already one of the best pitchers in the game. But even he said following his outing against Atlanta on Monday that he's got plenty to learn.

There are too many others deserving to jump Strasburg ahead of them. And I haven't talked to him about this issue, but my guess, level-headed kid that he is, is that he'd agree.

The game demands that you earn things, you're not just given them.

And in the end, you'll be respected a heck of a lot more if you do.

Likes: Vladimir Guerrero back in Anaheim. And the nice ovation he received in the series opener Tuesday. ... MLB Network, which does an excellent job each night cutting from game to game to game. ... XM Radio offering every game, every night. I know I've plugged them here before, but what a great thing satellite radio is -- for games, news, music, everything. ... Mexican food in Southern California. ... Excellent new disc from Gaslight Anthem, American Slang. ... The fourth season of Friday Night Lights is fantastic. Really, really good writing and acting, as we've come to expect from one of the best shows ever on television.

Dislikes: Atlanta rookie Jason Heyward saying he's out of the All-Star Game. ... Poor Joel Zumaya. Best wishes to the Detroit reliever in his recovery following an absolutely sickening injury. ... The Dodgers' Matt Kemp and Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton in the doghouse. Come on fellas, how difficult is it to work hard and be a good teammate? ... Carlos Zambrano is a dope.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You told me fortunes
"In American slang"

-- Gaslight Anthem, American Slang

 

Posted on: May 27, 2010 10:01 pm
 

Cardinals may need pitching soon

With right-hander Kyle Lohse set for forearm surgery on Friday and a long season stretched out in front of them, maybe scoring runs shouldn't be the Cardinals' chief concern after all.

Right now, even with a rotation that ranks second to San Diego's in the National League with a 3.03 ERA, the warning signs are flashing.

While the Cardinals figure to get right-hander Brad Penny back when he's eligible to return from the disabled list June 7, there is no timetable -- yet -- for Lohse's return.

And though rookie Jaime Garcia (1.14 ERA, 11 consecutive scoreless innings) has been sensational, he underwent Tommy John ligament transfer surgery in September, 2008, and only pitched a total of 37 2/3 innings combined at three minor-league levels in 2009.

Which all likely will put St. Louis in the market for more starting pitching at some point this season. Seattle's Cliff Lee, Houston's Roy Oswalt, Cleveland's Jake Westbrook and possibly even Oakland's Ben Sheets are all among the names expected to become available between now and the July 31 trade deadline, though La Russa -- whose club acquired John Smoltz last year -- isn't allowing his imagination to run wild at this point.

"I think it will come from within [the organization]," La Russa said of any eventual pitching reinforcements. "Mo [general manager John Mozeliak], can answer that better, and maybe differently. But I haven't heard anything different than from within."

It isn't that the Cardinals are anywhere close to trouble now, even with Lohse headed into unknown territory to undergo surgery for an injury to which there apparently is no precedent in major-league baseball.

With co-aces Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright breathing fire, the Cardinals are in good shape. Garcia, so far, so good.

"I think we'll get Penny back [when his DL stint is up]," manager Tony La Russa said Thursday. "That means we'll have four solid guys. There's a question mark on Lohse. But everybody has problems."

Until the Cardinals get Penny back, they're down two-fifths of their rotation. As La Russa said, for one thing, that gives an opportunity to rookie P.J. Walters, who made just his second career start on Thursday in San Diego.

The kid stepped up to the challenge, throwing five shutout innings. He allowed four hits, struck out four and walked two.

Saturday in Chicago's Wrigley Field, Adam Ottavino, the Cardinals' first-round pick in 2006, is expected to make his first major-league start. Another opportunity.

Garcia, 23, certainly has made the most of his. He's worked six or more innings and allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of his first seven starts, and the last rookie to do that was named Fernando Valenzuela, back in 1981.

The issue is, if Garcia continues pitching this well, it's hard to see how there won't be a breaking point when he reaches a certain number of innings. What are the Cardinals going to do, allow a prized kid less than two years off of Tommy John surgery to, say, quadruple his innings-pitched load from last year? He's at 55 1/3 innings pitched so far in 2010.

"You can't speculate," La Russa said. "All you can do is watch closely. He never really forced it ... you really have to wait and see how the season develops. We're going to be really careful with him."

Lohse was diagnosed this week with exertional compartment syndrome, an uncommon, exercise-induced neuromuscular condition that causes pain and swelling in the legs or arms. As St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat writer Joe Strauss reported, it is most common in marathon runners and motocross drivers. Athletes in those sports generally have resumed activity within six-to-eight weeks, though, as a pitcher, Lohse is expected to take a longer.

La Russa said Thursday he figures Lohse will return "this year. Other than that, we just have to wait."

Posted on: May 27, 2010 6:45 pm
 

Cards' RHP Lohse to undergo surgery

Ailing St. Louis right-hander Kyle Lohse will undergo surgery on his right forearm Friday in Los Angeles and will be lost to the club for an indefinite period of time.

The Cardinals have placed Lohse on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 23 with exertional compartment syndrome in his right forearm, and they say they are not certain when he will be able to return. The hope is that it will be before the season is finished.

Lohse, who last pitched on Saturday against the Dodgers, is 1-4 with a 5.89 ERA over six starts this season. Pitcher Fernando Salas has been recalled from Triple-A Memphis to replace him on the roster.

Category: MLB
 
 
 
 
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