Tag:St. Louis Cardinals
Posted on: August 19, 2009 2:47 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2009 3:09 pm

Cardinals sign John Smoltz

Determined to prove he's not finished, veteran pitcher John Smoltz has signed with the St. Louis Cardinals after being released by Boston. The deal was finalized Wednesday afternoon.

Smoltz is expected to join the Cardinals' rotation, though he also is capable of working out of the bullpen. St. Louis, in Los Angeles for a night game against the Dodgers on Wednesday, is hoping that Smoltz will help provide the depth it will need for a strong stretch run.

The Cardinals lead the Chicago Cubs by six games in the NL Central and, having already added outfielder Matt Holliday, swingman Mark DeRosa and shortstop Julio Lugo, Smoltz would represent the fourth significant move by a club swinging for the fences and threatening to run away with the division.

How significant a move it will be, if it happens, is yet to be determined. Smoltz, 42, flamed out in Boston, going 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA after coming back from shoulder surgery.

The Cards are expected to plug Smoltz into the back end of their rotation, after Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse and Joel Pineiro. A return to the National League, where lineups are softer and there is no designated hitter, should be beneficial to Smoltz. And, the Cardinals are hoping, the more he pitches, the sharper he will get.

Even if Smoltz continues to struggle like he did in Boston -- he surrendered 59 hits, including eight home runs, in only 40 innings -- the move really carries very little risk for the Cardinals. They would be responsible for only a pro-rated portion of the major-league minimum -- about $100,000 -- and the Red Sox would be on the hook for the rest of his $5.5 million salary.

It is a relatively inexpensive gamble that the Cardinals hope pays off big: Smoltz is one of the best postseason pitchers in history (15-4 career record in October) and could be a lethal weapon either in the rotation or in relief for Tony La Russa's club at some point in the fall.

Posted on: July 15, 2009 2:26 am

Next up for Pujols: Rest

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals were stuck with a Sunday night game in Chicago, they didn't land in St. Louis until 2:30 a.m. Monday and slugger and local hero Albert Pujols did every last possible thing asked of him during All-Star week.

Which left precious little time for sleep.

Pujols looked exhausted before Tuesday's All-Star Game, in which he went 0-for-3 and committed a first-inning error, and admitted he had very little sleep on Monday night after press conferences, the Home Run Derby and assorted other appearances.

Now, the Cardinals don't open the second half of the season until Friday against Arizona which, presumably, gives Pujols two full days to rest.

Will it be enough?

Is his manager worried that Pujols will begin the second half of the season tired?

"Pitch to him Friday and see if he's tired," Tony La Russa said.

Posted on: July 12, 2009 7:16 pm

All-Stars: No Figgins, no back-flips

ST. LOUIS -- The All-Star replacements are trickling in, Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena subbing for Boston's Dustin Pedroia, Milwaukee's Trevor Hoffman in for the Dodgers' Jonathan Broxton. Last week, Texas' Nelson Cruz was chosen to replace injured Angels' center fielder Torii Hunter.

Still missing is Angels' infielder Chone Figgins, who really, really was hoping to go.

As in, he's spent much time over the past few weeks watching replays of old All-Star Games on MLB Network during the day before leaving for work in the afternoons.

Figgins was hoping that maybe in a National League park, without the designated hitter, there'd be more room for a speedy scrapper like himself. He also was hoping that maybe he'd have an in with American League manager Joe Maddon, a former Angels coach.

No dice.

Figgins certainly is deserving of consideration: He's ranked ninth in the AL in on-base percentage (.392), tied for second in triples (six), fourth in steals (27) and fourth in batting average against right-handers (.342).

Besides, he recently promised that if selected, he'd do a backflip in St. Louis in tribute to Cardinals Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

"I heard that," said Smith, 54, who managed the United States team in Sunday's Futures Game at Busch Stadium. "That would have been nice to see, because I darn sure can't do it anymore."

Posted on: June 2, 2009 12:06 am

On Khalil Greene, St. Louis and San Diego

With Khalil Greene fighting to save his career in St. Louis, some of his ex-teammates say that the social-anxiety disorder that appears to be devouring him was evident only in very small doses when he played in San Diego.

"Maybe it was evident here and there but, in my opinion, no more than any other player," Padres starter Chris Young said Monday. "That doesn't mean it hasn't been eating him up inside."

Greene, batting .200 with seven errors, was placed on the 15-day disabled list by the Cardinals on Friday with stress-related issues that have only worsened during his first year in St. Louis.

Joe Strauss, in Sunday's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, writes "Greene's condition causes incessant anxiety based on a fear of failure that feeds his self-consciousness. Unable to channel his emotions, the resulting frustration makes him prone to physical and verbal outbursts in front of teammates. ... The self-punishment and the screams from within the dugout tunnel brought him only passing relief while jarring those around him."

"We all saw bits and pieces of that when he was here," Padres ace Jake Peavy said. "Khalil was a great teammate and is a great friend. He's as talented as anybody I've ever played with. The guy hit (27) home runs two years ago, and he's as good as any player I've ever seen play shortstop."

Greene, 29, always has been a streaky hitter but still knocked out four seasons ranging from fairly productive to exceptional with the Padres between 2004 and 2008. He peaked in '07, when he slammed 27 homers and collected 97 RBI. He also committed only 11 errors in 690 total chances that summer.

He never could get untracked in 2008, however, and the frustration boiled over when he suffered a broken left hand while slamming an equipment trunk in late July. He finished with the lowest batting average of his career, .213, and eight errors in 443 total chances.

"That thing that happened last year can happen to anybody in this game," Padres outfielder Brian Giles said of Greene's broken hand. "It happens. That's what makes this game so unique. It's a game of failure. And it's all about trying to control the mental side of failing."

Always exceptionally quiet, Greene, whose long, blonde hair reminded many of the surfer character Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, was a fan favorite early in his career in San Diego. By the time he was traded to St. Louis last winter, though, he seemed more misunderstood than anything.

"He's so quiet," Giles said. "You feel for him. Baseball is just a game. It's just a piece of your life. He's such a good guy. You hope he can find a way to deal with it and get back on the field.

"I feel for him. I'll probably give him a call. The guys that played here with him, we've got his back."

Said Young: "Khalil is a great guy and and I hate to see him going through this. Every player comes up the tunnel every now and then and lets off steam. I didn't see Khalil doing that more than anybody else.

"I've had some of my best conversations in baseball with him, just sitting in the sauna or clubhouse, about life in general. He's an extremely smart guy. I wish him the best."

Things went especially sour for Greene with the Padres when the club late last season attempted to dock him two months' salary for the time he missed in August and September because his injury was self-induced. The club has filed a grievance attempting to recoup up to $1.47 million in salary. A hearing is expected to be held sometime in August when the Cardinals and Padres play (so that officials from the Padres and Greene can attend).

"I just hope those guys over there support him and are good teammates," Peavy said of the Cardinals. "I think we all would love for him to get past this thing so that the game of baseball can get the Khalil that everyone knows back."

Likes: Hitting streaks. What a hoot it would be to see someone seriously chasing Joe DiMaggio's record 56-gamer. Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki jacked his up to 25 games Monday night. But you know what? They all seem to die right around the 30-game mark. ... The excitement Matt Wieters has brought to Baltimore. ... Green Day's 21st Century Breakdown rocks. ... Henry Poole Is Here is very quirky, very interesting and worth renting. ... The Girlfriend Experience? It's OK, but I wouldn't rush out to see it. Interesting concept. Could have been painful if it didn't get the job done in a Greg Maddux-like 77 minutes. ... Kemo Sabe, an Asian-Southwestern-fusion restaurant in San Diego's Hillcrest area. The blackened jerk chicken with plantains over the weekend was tremendous, as was my wife's Ahi tuna/calamari/salmon sampler dish.

Dislikes: Khalil Greene is a good dude, and I hope the Cardinals are patient and helpful with him and that the poor guy figures things out. ... Cleveland's Grady Sizemore and Texas' Josh Hamilton on the sidelines. The game is better when they're in the lineup. ... The Mets' J.J. Putz in the eighth inning. It seemed like a no-brainer. ...

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Back in the days of shock and awe
"We came to liberate them all
"History was the cruel judge of overconfidence
"Back in the days of shock and awe"

-- Neil Young, Shock and Awe

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com