Tag:St. Louis Cardinals
Posted on: July 31, 2011 11:55 am
 

Yankees join Rangers, Phils, Cards in Bell talks

With the top-shelf starting pitchers off the market, the Yankees contacted the Padres about closer Heath Bell on Sunday morning just hours before the deadline, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com.

The Yankees' last-minute entrance into the Bell derby is not surprising: Having failed to get Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez and the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda, and if they find no other satisfactory starter, the Yankees are expected to fortify their bullpen today. It's what they did last winter after failing to acquire Cliff Lee on the free agent market. Then, they signed free agent closer Rafael Soriano.

The Yankees were one of at least four clubs continuing to call the Padres about Bell on Sunday morning, according to CBSSports.com sources. The Rangers, Phillies and Cardinals continue to talk with San Diego, though to varying degrees.

"They're stalling," one rival source with knowledge of the talks said Sunday morning.

"They aren't being fair," said another.

Clearly, the Padres are taking the Bell talks up to the very last minute while seeking as big of a return as they can get.

All along, Padres sources have insisted that they will keep Bell if they do not get a deal they like, based on the compensatory draft picks they expect to get if they lose him as a free agent this winter. Because Bell will be a Type A free agent, San Diego is expecting one first-round compensatory pick roughly 20 or so picks into the draft, and a sandwich pick in the 40s between the first and second round.

Texas' acquisition of Koji Uehara from Baltimore on Saturday well could have chipped away at the Padres' return for Bell. The Rangers once were viewed as both the most desperate club in the Bell talks and as one with such a deep farm system that the Padres could get a healthy package of prospects back. The latter part of that still holds true because, in sending Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis to Baltimore for Uehara, the Rangers did not dip into their minor-league pool.

Now, with Texas' need not quite so dire, the Rangers are described as not pushing quite so hard on Bell.

Meantime, a source said the Phillies continue to stay in touch on Bell and Padres set-up man Mike Adams, but after their acquisition of Hunter Pence they appear to be unmotivated shoppers in San Diego. The Phillies are building for October, and with Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in their rotation, they easily can move Roy Oswalt and/or Vance Worley into the bullpen to strengthen it.

The Cardinals, according to another source, remain in the Bell talks, but only slightly. They added pitchers Edwin Jackson and two relievers from Toronto the other day and shortstop Rafael Furcal trade became official Sunday morning.

Bell certainly makes sense for the Yankees, especially because earlier this month he said he would be fine with working as a set-up man for a contender down the stretch this season, as long as he returns to closing in 2012. The Yankees, of course, have Mariano Rivera for the ninth innings, but Bell could help them significantly shorten games by teaming with Soriano and All-Star David Robertson to take care of the seventh and eighth innings.


Posted on: July 30, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2011 12:09 pm
 

Furcal to Cardinals deal done

The Cardinals officially obtained the shortstop they were seeking on Sunday morning when Rafael Furcal waived his no-trade clause and the deal with the Dodgers was formalized: Furcal heads to St. Louis, and the Cardinals send Double A outfielder Alex Castellanos to the Dodgers, along with $2.5 million.

In the midst of rearranging things on the fly while trying to fend off the Brewers, Pirates and Reds in the NL Central, the Cardinals shipped center fielder Colby Rasmus to Toronto the other day for pitching help, and now are close to filling a huge hole at shortstop.

They've been going with Ryan Theriot and Daniel Descalso. But they moved him to second base on Saturday against the Cubs for his first start there.

Furcal in the past has been a dynamic shortstop and top-of-the-order player, but he has battled injuries all season. An oblique strain struck him early in the year and, consequently, Furcal is hitting a career-low .197 with a .272 on-base percentage and a .248 slugging percentage. A switch-hitter whose game normally is getting on base and running, Furcal has been limited to 15 runs in just 37 games in 2011.

However, he's feeling better now than he has all season, and he's getting healthy at the right time. Over the past two weeks, Furcal has batted .270 with a .400 on-base percentage in 11 games, and over the past seven days, he's hit .333 with a .455 on-base percentage in five games.

Approximately $4 million remains from Furcal's $12 million salary through the rest of this season. His contract also includes a $12 million option for 2012.

Because Furcal, 33, waived no-trade rights as a 10-5 player -- 10 years in the majors, the past five with the same club -- the deal would did not become official for 24 hours after the Dodgers and Cardinals agree to terms, which was Sunday.

The deal allows the Dodgers to save a couple of million from Furcal's contract and opens a position for prospect Dee Gordon. The Dodgers also now will keep Jamey Carroll for infield depth.

St. Louis' interest in Furcal was first reported by Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday.
Posted on: July 11, 2011 7:54 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 8:11 pm
 

Padres' Bell open to set-up duties down stretch

PHOENIX -- San Diego closer Heath Bell, a man now expecting to be traded, said Monday that he would be fine working as a set-up man for a contender down the stretch this season as long as everyone understands that he will return to being a closer in 2012.

With St. Louis already believed to be hot on his trail, this revelation could spark even more interest in Texas (where Neftali Feliz is closing) and in New York (where the Yankees need help in front of Mariano Rivera).

Bell, a free agent this winter, briefly talked contract extension with the Padres this spring -- but those talks long since have been tabled.

When San Diego won 10 of 13 at one point in late June and early July, it delayed what appeared to be the inevitable. General manager Jed Hoyer certainly wasn't going to unload Bell, reliever Chad Qualls and outfielder Ryan Ludwick and lose what's left of the Padres' fan base at that point.

But a 3-7 trip to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles to close the first half has left the Padres both 12 games under .500 (40-52) and 12 games behind first-place San Francisco in the NL West.

Worse has been the manner in which the Padres have been losing. They lost 1-0 to the Dodgers on Friday night despite loading the bases with nobody out in the ninth, then they lost 1-0 to the Dodgers on Saturday despite pitching a tag-team no-hitter for 8 2/3 innings.

In fact, the Padres were swept by the Dodgers over the weekend despite holding Los Angeles to 12 hits in the three games. It was a historic weekend: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no team has held another to 12 hits while getting swept in a three-game series since 1966. Then, the White Sox won three over Washington.

"The last two or three months of the year, I'm good, I'll set up," Bell, who has 27 saves in 37 appearances, said Monday. "Because I think I showed everyone that I can close.

"But I definitely want to close next year."




Posted on: July 7, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: July 7, 2011 3:45 pm
 

Love Letters: The All-Star voting edition

Hot fun in the summertime. ...

FROM: Michael S.
Re: Weekend Buzz: Nice work on All-Star Voting

Are you out of your mind, Mr. Miller? Lance Berkman as a starting outfielder for the NL? He's a first baseman for ... sake! How about Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates? What are you smoking with your agreement with the Berkman selection?

Hmm, let's find out if I can see through all of the smoke from whatever it is I'm not inhaling: Berkman has started 62 games in the outfield for St. Louis this season, 19 at first base and two as a DH. So apparently, Mr. Michael, Berkman IS an outfielder. And I'm just high on life.

FROM: Frank D

Great job on your All-Star picks. I agree 100! You are by far the best writer on the site.

Don't tell that to Doyel. He just won a fancy award as the second-best columnist in the country and he might get his feelings hurt.

FROM: Thomas H.

So a team's position in the standings should factor into a player's inclusion in the All-Star starting lineup? These are INDIVIDUAL selections, not team awards. And how do you know that Rickie Weeks has made a better contribution to the Brewers than Brandon Phillips to the Reds? If you are going that route, then also include the contribution in the clubhouse, where Phillips is outstanding.

Your points are well taken. I'm a huge Phillips fan. Both he and Weeks are having great years. But on this one, I'm right.

FROM: John D.

Yankees at all positions -- second, shortstop and third. Shortstop, no Yankee should be selected. J.J. Hardy from the Orioles is better than Derek Jeter. How did you even become a sports writer?

First part of your argument is correct: A Yankee shouldn't be starting at shortstop. However, good as Hardy has been, you lose me with your second part. The correct answer is, Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera should be starting.

FROM: Adam S.

Adrian Gonzalez is the runaway MVP in the AL so far? You may want to take another look at Jose Bautista's numbers. Bautista's OBP is 63 points higher, his SLG is 85 points higher, he has more HR's, over 40 more BB's, more Runs, and fewer K's. Don't get me wrong, Gonzalez is having a great year, but I think Bautista has the edge right now, and I'm not sure it is even close. Other than that one argument, I enjoyed the article quite a bit.

I was overzealous (and careless) with my use of the word "runaway." You, sir, are correct. But given what Gonzalez has brought to the Red Sox, and given how he's propped them up into second place in the division, I'm still gonzo over Gonzo.

FROM: Capt. Hook
Re.: Padres resurgence could put trades on hold

Scott,

I'm not sure about your GM skills, much less your math skills, if you think San Diego's current resurgence will stop them from thinking trade. With 80 games left, if they go 56-24 (.700) and San Francisco creeps along at their current .586 over their remaining schedule, the Padres would win by one game. Well, playing .700 may be just a little far-fetched, ya think? Hmmm. Sell the farm, Padres, as the Fantasy of Mr. Miller is just that: A fantasy.

Come on now, read the entire column, not just the headline. I pinpointed the exact time the Padres will start to deal, about a week after the All-Star Game. All I said by pointing toward the Padres' current "resurgence" is that it will delay their plans to trade until later in July. I never suggested they would get back into the race. That would be silly now, wouldn't it?

FROM: Jason
Re. With Nationals, Davey Johnson ready to win again

I'm excited to see the Nationals hire Davey Johnson and think he's perfect for this team. I'm still in shock over the way Jim Riggleman left, but happy we got Johnson here!

How about the suicide squeeze bunt he masterfully called on Wednesday night? Guy is 68 years old and called it for the first time in his managerial career. He's a keeper.

FROM: Josh M.
Re.: Oft-injured Twins have limited options with Cuddyer

I can't see the Twins trading their highest-producing player. Michael Cuddyer has been the one guy who has been stable over the last few seasons. He is the most underrated player in the show. I don't know who they could trade for that would be better. I don't think they could get the power starting pitcher that they need. It would be a waste of a star player to trade him for some long-shot nobody.

Not only is he the most underrated player in The Show, he's the Twins most INVALUABLE player. Some really smart guy called that one way back during spring training in this column.

FROM: Jeff P.
Re.: Payroll deadline likely last straw for McCourts' regime

Scott,

I've been a Dodgers fan since 1960. Every cheap shot you threw at McCourt is well-deserved and earned. However, the parking lot beating had no place in this story. It doesn't hurt me as a Dodgers fan, but, as a compassionate human being, I hurt for the Giants fan and his family. I urge you to post a sincere apology and then refrain from such distasteful attempts of Andrew Dice humor.

Look, it was not a cheap attempt at humor, and yes, I'm sorry to those who were offended by that line. But the tragic parking lot beating this year is part of the overall body of McCourt's shoddy and irresponsible work as "caretaker" of the Dodgers. And I'm offended at being compared to a class-less, trailer-trash comic like Andrew Dice Clay.

FROM: Richard

MARK CUBAN, all that's right. Baseball don't like his type. Get rid of the CAR SALESMAN BUD SELIG. He did nothing about steroids.

Not sure that Mark Cuban is all that's right. But compared to Frank McCourt, a common house rat is all that's right, so I guess your point is well taken.

Likes: Mid-season, and the All-Star Game. Still, by far, the coolest All-Star Game in all of sports. Not even close.

Dislikes: Super 8. Just because today's technology can produce cool special effects, it doesn't always mean the more, the better. Just sayin'.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"The moon beams we can dream on, when the working day is done
"And the stars we can wish upon, at the setting of the sun
"The sunsets we could cry over, put our troubles on the run
"But more than these miracles above, good people, we need love"

-- Eddie Hinton, Everybody Needs Love




Posted on: July 1, 2011 2:31 pm
 

Short Hops: All-Star Soria back on track (& more)

This isn't about Mariano Rivera. It's about the Royals' Joakim Soria. But as with so many other things regarding closers, it makes Old Man Rivera look even more sensational than he already is.

OK, here goes: If I were to ask you coming into this season whose save conversion rate since July 31, 2007, is second in the game to Rivera's, whom would you say?

Yes, the answer is Soria, a two-time All-Star whose 92.4 rate since that date is second among all major-league closers to Rivera's 92.9.

Now, here's just one more piece of evidence that Rivera is superhuman: In late May, Soria suddenly fell into a hole and blew five of his first 12 save opportunities. It got so bad that after he blew consecutive save opportunities in late May, he admirably went to manager Ned Yost and essentially removed himself from the role. Something that in all of these years Rivera has never had to do.

Yost handled the situation superbly: He gave Soria a few days off to clear out his mind, eased him back into non-save situations in which he could pitch two innings at a time (to work on his fastball command) and then plugged Soria back into the ninth in early June.

The results, again, have been spectacular: Soria has worked 12 shutout innings in his past 10 games and is six-for-six in save opportunities, while holding opponents to an .098 batting average (4 for 41).

"It was not a big change at all," Soria says. "It was just a mind-set, getting my confidence back. Mechanics-wise, there was nothing to change. I looked at video, and I'm not doing anything different."

Soria isn't a closer with overpowering stuff, nor does he have one lethal weapon like Rivera's cutter. Instead, he throws all of his pitches -- fastball, curve, slider and change. Because he depends on location, problems can arise if he goes four or five days between outings.

"He's a command-guy closer," Yost says. "Command guys rebound so much better from that than stuff guys do.

"I've never had stuff guys who have gone through this rebound -- Derrick Turnbow, Danny Kolb, even Eric Gagne."

Soria, 27, right now is reinforcing Yost's history.

"Bad things make you stronger," Soria says. "If you've always been good, maybe you don't realize what it takes to be good until you go bad."

As for Rivera, who mostly has been immune to slumps throughout his Hall of Fame career, Soria, like everyone else, just marvels.

"He's the best," Soria says. "He's done everything in his career, and I don't think he's ever struggled."

-- Soria and Rivera have met once, at the All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium in 2008. But they did not exchange trade secrets. "We didn't talk about the game," Soria says. "We just talked about life."

-- Though they clearly could use reinforcements for a beat-up bullpen, and manager Charlie Manuel wants a right-handed bat (the Padres' Ryan Ludwick? The Twins' Michael Cuddyer?), the Phillies are telling teams that they they're tapped out financially. They're close to the luxury tax threshold and do not want to cross it. Of course, they were also telling rivals the same thing last winter before they shocked everyone by signing free agent pitcher Cliff Lee.

-- Emphasizing Philadelphia's need for a right-handed bat: The Phillies are hitting .196 in their past 13 games against lefty starters.

-- The Red Sox, too, say they do not want to push their luxury tax any higher than it already is, which suggests no pricey mid-season reinforcements. But recent history under general manager Theo Epstein also suggests the Red Sox get what they need and, right now, their internal discussions are centering on a hitter. They're not getting much out of right field, which led to the release of Mike Cameron this week.

-- Mariners officials are scheduled to talk via conference call next week to discuss final strategy leading into the July trade deadline. Though Seattle has done a nice job of staying competitive, the recent 3-7 tailspin could spur the M's to deal Erik Bedard. Though Bedard landed on the disabled list this week with a knee sprain, he could be a very good trade chip.

-- Thanks to Milwaukee's road woes, the Cardinals are back in a tie for first place in the NL Central entering the weekend. But one scout who has watched St. Louis recently remains unimpressed. "Colby Rasmus is so inconsistent," the scout says. "Sometimes it looks like he's not even there at the plate." Then there are the times when Rasmus looks like he is there, like when he homered Tuesday and Wednesday in Baltimore.

-- In St. Louis' defense, the Cards have been so beat up this year, but while Albert Pujols is out, at least third baseman David Freese has returned from the disabled list. "Daniel Descalso was playing third base when I saw St. Louis," the scout says. "And I'm thinking, 'These are the St. Louis Cardinals?'"

-- This is the Phillies' rotation we expected: Philadelphia starters compiled a 1.96 ERA in June. Which, according to STATS LLC makes the Phils the first team since July of 1992 to go a full month under 2.00. Both Atlanta and the Chicago Cubs did it back in July, '92.

-- Quietly, Padres outfielder Ryan Ludwick is resurfacing and showing why he will be in demand on the July trade market. He's at 51 RBIs in 78 games after finishing April with a .198 batting average and a .294 on-base percentage. That followed his miserable debut in San Diego last summer when he hit .211 with six homers in 59 games after his acquisition from St. Louis. There have been differences between this year and last: A calf injury nagged at him last year, while this April he was hitting the ball hard, just right at people. "I played terrible last year," Ludwick says. "I wouldn't say I've been playing great this year, but I've been doing what I've been known to do and what they brought me over to do. Drive in runs. Last year, every time I came to the ballpark I was stressed out, wondering if I was going to be able to make contact."

-- Know what's funny? The cover of Florida's media guide is a collage of small photos of historical highlights in Marlins history. And right there front and center, albeit at the bottom, is a photo of Jack McKeon in uniform. No need for updating there. Well, except he's wearing No. 15, and this time around, he's No. 25.

-- Angels manger Mike Scioscia, by the way, is still marveling about McKeon's enthusiasm for managing at 80. Scioscia and the Angels saw McKeon in his 2011 debut a couple of weeks back.

Likes: All-Star voting results coming soon, with the game soon to follow. ... Derek Jeter nearly set to resume his chase for 3,000 hits. ... Kerry Wood off of the DL and back in the Cubs' bullpen. ... From rocky NFL labor talks to rocky NBA labor talks to ... baseball labor talks still quiet and positive. ... The smell of neighborhood grills over the Fourth of July weekend. ... Modern Family boxed set, season 1. I'm just catching up to a show I haven't watched. Very funny. ... My sister's frozen key lime pie. Delicious.

Dislikes: Missed Jason Isbell coming through my town last week because of work commitments. His latest disc with his band, the 400 Unit, Here We Rest, is outstanding.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Driving in to Darlington County
"Me and Wayne on the Fourth of July
"Driving in to Darlington County
"Looking for some work on the county line
"We drove down from New York City
"Where the girls are pretty but they just want to know your name
"Driving in to Darlington City
"Got a union connection with an uncle of Wayne's
"We drove eight hundred miles without seeing a cop
"We got rock and roll music blasting off the T-top singing. ..."

-- Bruce Springsteen, Darlington County

Posted on: June 2, 2011 4:54 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 5:24 pm
 

Short Hops: Is it the bratwurst in Milwaukee?

Short hops, backhanded stops and quick pops:

-- The Brewers have climbed into second place in the NL Central thanks to ... their own beds? All that bratwurst? Milwaukee is 21-7 at Miller Park, the club's best home record EVER after 28 games. But at 9-19 on the road, the Brewers are the worst in the NL. Manager Ron Roenicke is not yet a believer in the trend, figuring "if we go three months into" the season and things don't change, then it's a problem. One reason the Brewers' road mark could be skewed: They opened with 21 of 34 games on the road, including an 11-game trip and a 10-game trip during a cold and wet spring. Assuming they stay in contention, look out for the Brewers in September: They finish with 14 of 25 games at home.

-- Milwaukee right-hander Shaun Marcum, though stuck with a no-decision in Cincinnati on Wednesday night (and though teammate Zack Greinke has received more pub for fewer starts), has pitched like an All-Star. He's allowed one run or fewer in six of his 12 starts. "He wasn't under my radar," Roenicke says. "He's the same guy I've seen pitch in Toronto. He was in the toughest division in baseball, for me. That league can flat-out hit. If you can pitch in that division, you can pitch anywhere."

-- Maybe if a team can get through the early part of a game without genuflecting to the big, bad, Yankees, it'll have a chance: New York has pummeled opponents 83-44 over the first two innings of games this year, according to STATS LLC. The Yankees are outscoring their opposition 43-16 in the first innings.

-- Clint Hurdle for manager of the year? Pittsburgh winning its 17th road game on Wednesday night ... matching the Pirates' total for all of 2010 (17-64). They're 17-14 away from PNC Park so far in 2011.

-- Kirk Gibson for manager of the year? When Arizona moved into first place in the NL West after being 6 1/2 games back through April 30, the Diamondbacks became the first team in major league history to take sole possession of first place in their league (before 1969) or in their division (since 1969) during May after starting the month at least 6 1/2 back.

-- What's up with St. Louis' Chris Carpenter, an annual Cy Young candidate who is 1-5 with a 4.52 ERA over 12 starts? "I've been up and down all year," he says, pointing to one basic element for a pitcher that he's still battling: Fastball command.

-- Lance Berkman on his experience with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa this year: "Love him. He's great. He's such a players' guy. When you think of Tony La Russa, being a players' manager is not the first thing that jumps through your head. At least, not from watching him from the other side. But he's got a bunch of guys here who will run through a wall for him."

-- One significant difference between this year's Cardinals and last year's: The clubhouse atmosphere is far better in 2011. The stuff with Colby Rasmus has blown over. The presence of Berkman, in addition to that of Matt Holliday, has really helped. "He's unbelievable," Cards GM John Mozeliak says of Berkman. "He's a gentleman and a class act. I've really enjoyed getting to know him."

-- That the Yankees' Russell Martin currently is the AL All-Star leader at catcher is attention-grabbing. But the fact that Martin actually is deserving of consideration speaks more toward the dearth of quality catching than it
does to Martin's prowess.

-- Most productive designated hitters: Red Sox (.315 combined average, 34 runs scored, .565 slugging percentage), Royals (.302, 31, .394 on-base percentage) and Indians (.299, 27 runs, .510 slugging). Least productive? Yankees (.185, 21 runs, .350 slugging), White Sox (.234, 21, .383 slugging) and Mariners (.242, 15, .328 slugging).

-- At 17-37, the Twins are 20 games below .500 for the first time since the end of the 2000 season (69-93).

-- Nate McLouth's strained oblique had better heal quick. The Braves' Jordan Schaffer is opening many eyes with his spectacular play in center field.

-- So what is retired Braves manager Bobby Cox doing? He spent a nice summer's evening last week at the Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band's Atlanta show on the Welcome to Finland tour.

Likes: Former big leaguer Darin Erstad taking the job as head baseball coach at his beloved alma mater, Nebraska. ... Ian O'Connor's new book, The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter. ... Also, for you Giants fans, Worth The Wait, written by Brian Murphy and largely photographed by Brad Mangin, is beautifully done. ... The story on how Roger Ailes built the Fox news fear factory in the current issue of Rolling Stone. ... Professor Longhair's Rock and Roll Gumbo.

Dislikes: If it's anything like this, Michigan's "throwback" jersey for the night game against Notre Dame this Sept. 10 might make the game unwatchable.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Good luck had just stung me
"To the race track I did go
"She bet on one horse to win
"And I bet on another to show
"Odds were in my favor
"I had him five to one
"When that nag to win came around the track
"Sure enough he had won
"I took up all of my winnings
"And I gave my little Bessie half
"And she tore it up and blew it in my face
"Just for a laugh
"Now there's one thing in the whole wide world
I sure would like to see
"That's when that little love of mine
"Dips her doughnut in my tea"

-- The Band, Up On Cripple Creek




Posted on: June 2, 2011 2:25 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 5:18 pm
 

The ballad of two Kyles, and a Cardinal test

While schoolkids across the land sweat through final exams, the Cardinals dive into their latest test in a season full of them: Overcoming the hip injury that sent starter Kyle McClellan to the disabled list this week.

In McClellan's place, rookie right-hander Lance Lynn will get a look. Summoned from Triple-A Memphis to start Thursday night's game against San Francisco (on short rest, nonetheless), Lynn, a supplemental first-round pick in the 2008 draft, was 5-3 with a 4.06 ERA.

Few pitchers in the game have been as valuable as the unassuming McClellan, who, along with Kyle Lohse, has done wonders in keeping the Cardinals atop the NL Central even after losing Adam Wainwright for the season this spring and while Chris Carpenter battles through a (so far) disappointing season.

"In Jupiter this spring, the sky was falling," general manager John Mozeliak said last week, referring to the immediate aftermath of Wainwright's elbow injury. "People said it was doomsday for the organization.

"To see what McClellan has been able to do, giving us a chance to win baseball games, has been special. Both guys, McClellan and Lohse, have done it from different directions: Lohse is healthy [following forearm surgery last summer], and McClellan came in from the bullpen. Both have helped steady the ship."

McClellan, the National League's first six-game winner this season, is expected to miss two weeks with the left hip flexor strain. Because he had made 202 major-league appearances before this season with zero starts, and never pitched more than 75 2/3 innings in the majors, the Cards figured they would have to limit his innings at some point this season. They hope maybe this will be a natural way of doing so.

"There's enough good rotations in this league, if you want to compete successfully, you need to trot out somebody that gives you a chance every day," manager Tony La Russa said recently of McClellan. "[Wainwright] was a huge hole, and Kyle's wanted it and he worked hard every day and he's done a real good job."

As usual, the Cardinals have had the angles figured. They've had McClellan prepare as a starter the past couple of springs to give them options, and they've been rewarded for their preparedness this year.

"I like him in the bullpen so much, but Dunc has been saying since the first year that this guy could be a starter," La Russa said of pitching coach Dave Duncan. "As he so often does, Dunc has got it figured out."

McClellan had a 3.11 ERA through his first 10 outings, but that swelled to 3.86 during a seven-run, four-inning stint while battling the sore hip against San Francisco on Monday.

Meantime, with McClellan out, the Cardinals will lean even more on Lohse. Fully recovered from surgery last May 28 to relieve nerve compression in his right forearm, Lohse so far has been dominant.

His 2.13 ERA ranks third in the NL behind Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens (1.51) and Florida's Josh Johnson (1.64), and he's 7-2 through 11 starts heading into Saturday's start against the Cubs.

In nine post-surgery starts late in 2010, Lohse was 3-4 with a 7.25 ERA.

"I think he really needed all of last year to recover," Mozeliak says. "It was a unique surgery, not common in our sport. He had to get himself strong to where his confidence was back.

"You see a difference in him now in how he approaches things."


 


Posted on: June 1, 2011 6:57 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 7:37 pm
 

Love Letters: Posey, Pujols and more

Only good thing about these collisions between the readers and me is, MY home plate involves pepperoni pizza and Cheetos instead of catcher's gear. ...

FROM: Tom O.
Re.: Posey's injury is sad, but baseball rules are just fine

I disagree with your assessment of the Posey/Cousins play. Cousins lowered his shoulder, barreled into Posey and had no visible intention to even touch home plate. I can't even see how anyone would come to the conclusion that Cousins was not trying to mow down the catcher. The NFL has taken numerous steps to protect its defenseless players -- just ask James Harrison. Why can't MLB do the same? Now, we have rising popular star Buster Posey out for the season and maybe never the same player, while Scott Cousins continues to be a mediocre pinch-itter. Great for the game. As a baseball writer you, in my opinion are wrong.

No disagreement with your premise that Cousins wasn't looking for impact. He was. My point is, Posey clearly was moving toward the plate as well. The runner has a right to the plate. And Cousins landed on the plate.

FROM: Jason

I agree the rule doesn't need to be changed because Posey was not blocking the plate. It was a dirty play no matter how much some of you a-holes try to defend it.

You're wrong. And watch who you're calling an a-hole, or I'll have Scott Cousins come mow YOU over.

FROM: Tony

Here's a thought. If you think that a collision at home plate could be dangerous and you could get hurt -- STAY IN THE DUGOUT!

Or go play for the Athletics, where GM Billy Beane has advised Kurt Suzuki to stay out of the way and make sweep tags.

FROM: A. C. K.

Sorry Scott, but I don't agree that Buster Posey should be on the disabled list because of your macho attitude! All you have to do is place another plate three feet off to the side with a line drawn perpendicular to the original home plate and add a commitment line 30 feet towards third base. That way, once the runner crosses the commitment line, it becomes a force out at home with no possibility of collision between the runner and the catcher.

A "commitment line"? Come on, you know how guys are with commitments. What are you, somebody's longtime girlfriend waiting for a ring?

FROM: Bill C.

Let me get this straight -- it is illegal for a baserunner to run into a second baseman or shortstop who is trying to make a play on a grounder, but it is perfectly legal for a baserunner to run into the catcher who is trying to catch a throw. Somehow the logic eludes me. It was illegal for A-Rod to swat at Bronson Arroyo's glove running down first base and knocking the ball free in Game 6 in 2004, but it is perfectly legal for the baserunner to bowl over the catcher and knock the ball free? What am I missing?

On the other hand, it IS legal for a runner to slide hard and take out the second baseman on a potential double play.

FROM: Stephen F.

Scott, you are a dumba. This situation would have been an ejection in all levels of baseball through high school, including travel, etc. Our kids watch these players and mimic them. I have seen six get ejected this season alone in higher levels of youth and young adult baseball. It is not a necessary part of the game and safety is first. Follow the high school or travel rules as a model and move on before we watch someone get killed at the plate.

Bad comparison, because it's not the same game. They use aluminum bats in high school, too. Do that in the majors, we'd be watching a pitcher get killed. But I commend you on your use of urban slang.

FROM:
Willie
Re.: What's the deal with Pujols' lumber slumber?

What a bogus headline. If that is what this scout gets paid for, I'm ready to tell teams where they can start sending my check. I can tell you that's NOT the problem, just from being a Cardinals fan all these years and watching the games. Albert Pujols gets into a slump every year, usually early in the season, because he's pulling everything. NOTHING NEW HERE!

Move along, move along.

FROM: Steve T.

The article on Albert Pujols' slow start is fair because it is what it is ... a slow start. Any of the [message-board] posters who think he won't still get his big contract are in La La Land!

I can tell you this: Judging from my e-mail in-box, the population of La La Land is rapidly increasing.

FROM: Paul D.
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Interleague play -- painful to watch, worse to play

I think there should be 15 teams in both the American & the National League. Each league has only one division. Each team plays 150 games, 10 against each team, 5 home, 5 away. The first 4 teams in the division make the playoffs. With this format, there would be a TRUE American and National League Champion. They would play all the teams the same amount of times.

That means interleague play every day of the season. Because if not, with an odd number of teams in each league, somebody has to have a day off every day of the week. So let's pass on your idea.

FROM: Jay

Throwback uniforms: this to prove you cannot please everyone - I LOVED 'em !!!!!!!!

Oh come on. You must dig leisure suits and mullets, too?

FROM: Scott

Respectfully, interleague play is just fine and a lot of fun to watch. I think perhaps the Cubs have more problems than a couple of games against the Red Sox -- those uniforms were so bad they were almost good.

Blech.

FROM: Patrick B.

Help me understand why baseball people complain about interleague schedule unfairness when by and large, the most popular sport, the NFL, is fine with it. The Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers both finished 10-6, and were competing for Wild Cards in the NFC. They shared four common opponents Atlanta, San Fran, Detroit and Washington. This didn't cause NFL writers/teams/fans to go crazy. Were the Buccaneers disadvantaged? I didn't hear a peep about it. Why is it NFL teams can play almost completely different schedules and it's no cause for a massive restructuring, yet MLB's unbalanced schedule is this awful, awful thing?

For starters, because all NFL teams play under the same rules. When an AL club with a strong DH hosts an NL club with a utility infielder masquerading as a DH, the playing field is woefully tilted. Any other questions?

FROM: Matt

Got to agree with you about interleague play, but what I'd rather see instead of dropping it completely is seeing each team play every team once a year. For instance, if the Braves are making a West Coast swing, add in the A's or Angels for a three-game series. Of course, I'm still for a balanced schedule in both leagues as well. It does get old at the end of the season when we're seeing the same players opposing for the 16th, 17th, and 18th times.

Put me down for the balanced schedule.

FROM: Shawn

I couldn't agree more. Interleague needs to go, pitchers need to be baseball players in the American league and the unbalanced schedule needs to go away.

Bing, bam, boom. You are one enlightened dude.

FROM: Joe W.

I am 52 years old and a lifelong Giants fan. I hate interleague play. I have hated it from the beginning back in 1997. The winner of the All-Star game determining which league gets the extra home game in the World Series is ridiculous, but that's another subject. ... If I were commissioner I would do away with interleague play, the designated hitter, the winner of the All-Star game determining home field advantage in the World Series, fans voting for the All-Star game players and Velcro batting gloves. By the way, I hate interleague play. I just wanted to vent a little and sound off. Thanks. Out.

I understand, and I feel your anger on almost every point. But ... Velcro batting gloves? Now you're just looking to kick the dog when you get home from work.

Likes: Marlins rookie Logan Morrison on Twitter, @LoMoMarlins. ... The drama of Justin Smoak's three-run homer Tuesday night with the Mariners four outs from losing to Baltimore. Cool things are going on in Seattle right now. ... Derek Jeter's run at 3,000 hits. Amazing that no Yankee has ever done it. ... Cartoon Gold, from Go Go Boots, the latest disc from the Drive-By Truckers. ... Old REO Speedwagon, back in the You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can't Tuna Fish era.

Dislikes: Sorry, but The Hangover: Part II is absolutely brutal. ... Another report that cell phones might cause brain cancer. Great, one more thing to worry about. ... Chatty people at the gym, particularly on cell phones while "working out."

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Someday I'll be living in a big ol' city
"And all you're ever going to be is mean
"Someday I'll be big enough so you can't hit me
"And all you're ever going to be is mean
"Why you gotta be so mean?"

-- Taylor Swift, Mean

 


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