Tag:Cardinals
Posted on: August 28, 2011 8:49 pm
Edited on: August 28, 2011 9:03 pm
 

3 to Watch: The Yankees start in Boston edition

Of all the pitchers who have ever made 90 or more career starts for the Yankees, A.J. Burnett has the worst ERA (4.82).

Of all the pitchers who have ever started 11 or more games in a season for the Yankees, Phil Hughes has the seventh highest ERA (6.46).

Good thing the Yankees don't really need to beat the first-place Red Sox this week, with Hughes and Burnett starting two of the three games.

Oh, they'll tell you that they do. They'll talk about the importance of winning the American League East, and of home-field advantage in the playoffs.

But the real importance of this week, and the real importance of every other week until the playoffs begin, is for the Yankees to figure out which of their shaky starting pitchers they can possibly hope to rely on in October. Boston is a good place to try to start figuring, in part because the Red Sox may be the team the Yankees eventually need to beat, and also because in 12 games against the Red Sox this season (10 of them losses), Yankee starters have a 7.54 ERA.

At the moment, Burnett would seem the least reliable, given his 11.91 ERA and 1.142 opponents OPS (Jose Bautista leads all major-league hitters at 1.092) in August.

In fact, with manager Joe Girardi once again promising that the Yankees will go from a six-man rotation to a five-man rotation after the series in Boston, Burnett is the leading candidate to be dropped.

The Yankees would like to think that Hughes is less of a concern, given that in five straight appearances heading into last week, he had a 2.08 ERA. Then Hughes was awful against the light-hitting A's (2 2/3 innings, six runs), and followed it up with the strange comment, "Hopefully I won't face the A's again for a while."

Instead, his next start is against the Red Sox, who lead the majors in scoring.

Hughes should know that; in three appearances against Boston this year, he has a 16.20 ERA.

Even when Hughes had good numbers, scouts weren't overly impressed.

"He was better," said one scout who watched him in a good performance. "But that's not the same Phil Hughes from when he was really good."

Hughes starts Wednesday night. Burnett, 0-4 with an 8.71 ERA in eight starts for the Yankees against the Red Sox, starts Thursday.

So the Yankees might want to win the first game of the series, behind ace CC Sabathia, on Tuesday.

And that, if nothing else, will make this feel just like a Yankee playoff series.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. The Diamondbacks ended the weekend with a four-game lead in the National League West (their biggest yet), which means they're guaranteed to enter September -- and next weekend's big series in San Francisco -- in first place. First, they'll play three games against the Rockies -- the team that was supposed to be challenging the Giants -- beginning with Rockies at Diamondbacks, Monday night (9:40 ET) at Chase Field. Monday's game also features Alex White, one of the two pitchers the Rockies got in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade.

2. At this point, it's probably worth pointing out that Sabathia is 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA in his four starts against the Red Sox this year, and also that his 4.95 ERA in August is easily his highest for any month this year. But there's no doubt that the Yankees trust Sabathia about 10 times more than they trust any of their other starters, so they'll expect him to win, in Yankees at Red Sox, Tuesday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park. Sabathia faces the unreliable John Lackey, with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester going against Hughes and Burnett the next two nights.

3. The Yankees talk about home-field advantage, and it's true that they're 41-26 at Yankee Stadium this year. But that's nothing compared to the Brewers, who have a 50-16 home record, with 17 wins in their last 19 games. That record has helped the Brewers turn the National League Central into a runaway, and has greatly diminished the importance of this week's series against second-place St. Louis. The Brewer record for home wins in a season is 54, and they could get close in the series that ends with Cardinals at Brewers, Thursday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Miller Park. Yovani Gallardo, who is 9-1 with a 2.51 ERA in 13 home starts, will be on the mound for the Brewers. One more thing about the Brewers: Despite playing in the smallest market in the majors, they'll sell their 3 miilionth ticket sometime this week.

Posted on: August 9, 2011 9:05 pm
 

Prince: 'The fighting, I'm over that'

ST. LOUIS -- Prince Fielder wants to beat the Cardinals.

He says he has no interest in fighting them.

"The fighting, I'm over that," Fielder said Tuesday.

The subject came up, because last week in Milwaukee, the Cardinals complained about pitches that they said were too high and tight to Albert Pujols, and responded by hitting Ryan Braun.

Fielder knows people wonder how he would react, because he knows people remember the scene two years ago at Dodger Stadium, when he tried to get into the Dodger clubhouse after he was hit by Guillermo Mota.

But Fielder is 27 years old now, and his Brewers are in first place in the National League Central.

"At this point, we don't need anyone getting suspended," he said.

Besides that, he said he has learned his lesson.

"Oh yeah, I definitely would have treated things a lot different [in the past]," Fielder said. "But that doesn't get you anywhere, and it makes you look like an idiot. Seeing myself on TV, I look like the dumb ass. People are going to blast you, say you need counseling and all that."

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke vowed that his team will continue to pitch inside to Pujols, and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said that's fine as long as it's not up and in.

"It's the up and in pitch," La Russa said. "If we do it, I yell at our [pitchers], 'Get the ball down.' I didn't say don't pitch inside. We pitch inside."


Posted on: August 7, 2011 7:44 pm
Edited on: August 7, 2011 7:45 pm
 

3 to Watch: The new rivalry edition

You're tired of Yankees-Red Sox.

You tell us that all the time. There are other teams. There are other rivalries.

There's Cardinals-Cubs. No, wait. Not this year.

There's Cardinals-Reds. No, wait. Not this month.

There's Cardinals-Brewers.

Let's go with that one, especially this week. Let's see if Ron Roenicke complains about the lights at Busch Stadium (as Tony La Russa did last week in Milwaukee). Let's see if anybody throws up and in to Albert Pujols, Ryan Braun (as happened last week), or even perhaps to Yuniesky Betancourt.

Let's see if any of the Cardinals fight -- with the Brewers, or with each other (as also happened last week).

And let's see if the Brewers can take control of the National League Central, or if the Cardinals can keep the race close.

Cardinals-Brewers may not have the history of Yankees-Red Sox, but right now it has a lot more emotion. And a lot more at stake, because unlike the Yanks and Sox, neither of these teams is close to being guaranteed a playoff spot.

Besides, Cardinals-Brewers has La Russa, just as those every one of those other National League Central rivalries did.

"The Cardinals seem to be the common thread is all these things," Lance Berkman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week.

He's right, and there are at least two reasons for that.

First, the Cardinals have had a winning record 11 of the last 12 years, so they're almost always in the race to the end. Second, they have La Russa, the manager who gets a lot of credit for all that winning but also for all that anger.

The Cardinals had some history with the Brewers, even before last week's eventful series at Miller Park.

The Cardinals see the Brewers as kids who don't take the game seriously and don't know how to win. The Brewers see the Cardinals as bullies who don't like to have fun.

It's a rivalry, and for now, it's the best we're going to get.

The Yankees and Red Sox don't play again for another three weeks.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. The Giants have lost eight of 10. The Pirates have lost 10 in a row. The Giants can barely score a run. The Pirates have allowed as many runs in the last 10 games as any team has in any 10-game span this year. The Giants have a very real chance to be in the playoffs. The Pirates have a very real chance to finish the year with a losing record -- again. And if the Pirates don't win a game in the series that begins with Pirates at Giants, Monday night (10:15 ET) at AT&T Park, they'll equal their longest losing streak in 56 years.

2. The Brewers traded for Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum last winter. The Cardinals traded for Edwin Jackson this summer. Marcum and Jackson meet up in Brewers at Cardinals, Tuesday night (8:15 ET) at Busch Stadium. Last week in Milwaukee, Jackson allowed 10 runs in seven innings on a day when the Cardinals had a tired bullpen. A day earlier, Marcum allowed six runs in six innings, leaving with a 7-6 lead that the Brewer bullpen couldn't hold.

3. Detroit and Cleveland are close enough geographically to be rivals (2 1/2 hours by car, ballpark to ballpark). The problem is that they've basically never been good at the same time. When the Tigers were winning in the '80s, the Indians were losing 100 games. When the Indians won 99 games in 1996, the Tigers lost 109. The Indians were good in the mid-1950s, and the Tigers were good in the late 1960s. They finished 1-2 in the American League Central in 2007, but that race was never really close in September. Maybe this one will be, especially if Ubaldo Jimenez makes a difference. Jimenez, who makes his Indians home debut in Tigers at Indians, Wednesday night (7:05 ET) at Progressive Field, already owns a win over Detroit this year. He gave up three runs in five innings in a June start for the Rockies in Colorado, winning 5-4. The Indians need Jimenez to pitch like an ace. The Tigers already have an ace, Justin Verlander, who starts against the Indians on Thursday



Posted on: July 27, 2011 3:59 pm
 

Cardinals are about the now, not about the stats

The stat guys will wonder how the Cardinals could ever trade Colby Rasmus, who is 24 years old and ranked just behind Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Ryan Braun in OPS+ last year.

I'm wondering if the Cardinals just made the move that puts them in position to win the National League Central.

I'm not convinced, but I do know that the Cardinals had to improve their bullpen if they were going to have any chance to top the Brewers, Reds and even the Pirates in the bunched-up NL Central race. They did that already, and as CBSSports.com colleague Scott Miller reports, the Cardinals remain engaged with the Padres in an effort to acquire closer Heath Bell.

By acquiring Edwin Jackson (who the Blue Jays got from the White Sox Wednesday morning), the Cardinals could move Kyle McClellan back to the bullpen, where he had so much success last year. They also acquired veteran right-hander Octavio Dotel and young lefty Marc Rzepczynski from the Blue Jays, adding significant depth to a bullpen that is tied for second in the majors in most blown saves.

"Dotel is pitching good," said one scout who watched him in the last week. "He's not what he once was, but his velocity is up, and his slider is sharper."

According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals tried to obtain James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson in exchange for Rasmus, but the Rays held tight to their decision not to move either one. Strauss reported that the Cardinals turned down a package of Jeff Niemann and J.P. Howell, before settling on the Jackson-plus-bullpen-help package from the Blue Jays.

For Toronto, the Rasmus trade is another example of buying low on a top talent, much as the Jays did last year when they sent Alex Gonzalez to the Braves for Yunel Escobar. Escobar was an out-of-favor talent, much as Rasmus is now.

Rasmus feuded each of the past two years with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, and the word around the Cards was that Albert Pujols wasn't fond of him, either. As talented as Rasmus is, it was starting to appear that things would never work out for him in St. Louis, much as it appeared things wouldn't work out for Escobar in Atlanta.

Jackson is headed for free agency at the end of the year, and Dotel is 37 years old, so it's not as if the Cardinals were dealing with the future in mind. But with a team that is built to win now, and with Pujols in the final year of his contract, the Cardinals are understandably focused much more on 2011 than on 2012 and the future.


Posted on: July 26, 2011 2:26 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 2:30 pm
 

Rasmus could interest Nats, Giants

It's still not clear whether the Cardinals will trade Colby Rasmus. But there's no doubt that the Cardinals are very willing to talk about Colby Rasmus.

As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Sunday, Rasmus has drawn interest from the White Sox. According to sources, they're not alone.

The Giants and Nationals are both watching Rasmus during this week's series against the Astros, and the Cards made sure to put Rasmus in the lineup Monday night (he even had a good game).

For the Giants, Rasmus appears to be strictly a backup plan. Carlos Beltran remains the Giants' top target.

The Nationals could be a more interesting team to watch, because they have long been searching for a center fielder and Rasmus fits the prototype favored by Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. Also, the Nats have pitching that they could trade (starters Jason Marquis and John Lannan have been mentioned by other teams as being available, as well as reliever Tyler Clippard).

For the Cardinals to trade Rasmus, they would likely need to get immediate pitching help in return. The bullpen continues to be a problem (the Cards have 19 blown saves, tied for second in the majors). Either a starter or a reliever (or relievers) could help, because the Cards could move Kyle McClellan from the rotation to the bullpen.

Rasmus has talent, but he hasn't exactly fit in with manager Tony La Russa. Scouts watching the Cardinals last weekend took notice when La Russa allowed reliever Jason Motte to bat in a situation where he could have used Rasmus as a pinch hitter, then put Rasmus in the game as strictly a defensive replacement.
Posted on: July 25, 2011 7:44 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 8:59 pm
 

Rays won't deal Shields, would talk others

In the ever-evolving trade market for starting pitchers, quite a few teams were holding out hope last week that the Rays would make All-Star James Shields available.

No such luck.

The Rays have now told teams that they won't discuss Shields, and also that David Price and Jeremy Hellickson are off-limits. At the same time, according to sources, they would be willing to talk about Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis, their other two starting pitchers. And, of course, the Rays are willing to discuss outfielder B.J. Upton.

The Rays have continued to hold out hope they could stay alive in the wild-card race, but after losing two of three to the Royals, they began play Monday 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

The Tigers, Reds, Cardinals and other teams had shown interest in Shields, with the Tigers sending two scouts to see his start against the Yankees last Thursday. It doesn't appear that the Tigers are nearly as interested in either Niemann or Davis.

The Tigers continue to follow almost every starting pitcher available. They scouted Seattle's Doug Fister and Jason Vargas last week in Toronto, and have a scout watching the Mariners again this week in New York. They have had scouts present at least the last two times that Aaron Harang started for the Padres, and they've also watched Hiroki Kuroda, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Marquis, John Lannan and Derek Lowe, in addition to Shields and Ubaldo Jimenez.

The Tigers don't match up well with the Rockies on Jimenez, and Guthrie and Lowe seem to be further down the list for them. It's believed that they have strong interest in Kuroda, but it's still uncertain whether he would consider waiving his no-trade clause for them (or for anyone else).



Posted on: July 22, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: July 22, 2011 1:03 pm
 

3 to Watch: The legit Pirates edition

The Cardinals are a game out of first-place in the National League Central, and one out of every five games left on their schedule is against the Pirates.

Is that good or bad?

Isn't it great that we're even asking that question?

We are asking it, because even here in late July, we're still asking whether the Pirates -- the first-place Pirates -- are for real. We're still asking if they're just a great story, or if they're more than that.

"They're legit," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

They're 51-45, six games over .500. Or as the skeptics like to point out, six wins over Houston over .500, because if you take out their 12 games against the awful Astros, the Pirates are right at .500 against the rest of the league.

They're 51-45, and if they were in the National League East, that would leave them 10 1/2 games out, and we'd consider them sellers. They'd be 4 1/2 behind the Giants in the National League West, without any real chance of winning.

But they're not in the East and they're not in the West. They're percentage points up on the Brewers and a game up on the Cardinals, who come to Pittsburgh this weekend for a series like none that PNC Park has ever seen.

The games Friday and Saturday are already sold out. The game Sunday is close to selling out.

People are excited, as they should be. The Cardinals are impressed, as they should be.

"Maybe if this were May or June, you might discount teams," Matt Holliday said. "But this is late July."

The Cardinals and Pirates haven't played since the first week of the season, when the Pirates won two of three in St. Louis. The Cardinals scored just seven runs in the entire series.

"I said it then," Lance Berkman said. "If they get pitching like that all year, they'll be tough."

They haven't gotten pitching like that all year, not yet. But they've got pitching like that through 96 games, and they are tough.

"Their young players are into their second or third year, and they have a better idea," La Russa said. "And they've pitched well. It's a very familiar formula.

"And it works."

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Chris Carpenter took the loss in one of those three April games against the Pirates, even though he allowed just one earned run in six innings. It was his first loss to the Pirates in seven years, a span in which he had gone 10-0 with a 1.85 ERA. Carpenter faces Paul Maholm in Cardinals at Pirates, Friday night (7:05 ET) at PNC Park. Carpenter will be followed by Jaime Garcia on Saturday, and Kyle Lohse on Sunday, assuming Lohse's right middle finger cooperates. He was examined by a doctor in St. Louis, and cleared to pitch. For the Pirates, Kevin Correia and Charlie Morton will follow Maholm in the rotation.

2. When the Mariners played so well in the first half, general manager Jack Zduriencik's job looked safe. Now the Mariners have lost 12 in a row, and people are asking again whether Zduriencik will survive. The more immediate question is when the Mariners will win a game, now that they're within two of tying the record for the longest losing streak in club history. The best chance might come in Mariners at Red Sox, Friday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park, when Felix Hernandez pitches against John Lackey. According to the Mariners, Hernandez has the lowest career ERA at Fenway (1.49) of any pitcher with five or more starts there. On Saturday, in the game that could tie the record, it's Blake Beavan against Josh Beckett.

3. The Twins are going for it in the American League Central, although if they collapse this weekend against the Tigers, maybe they'll change their minds. They lost Thursday night to Justin Verlander, dropping to 0-6 against Detroit this season. The most interesting matchup of the weekend may come in Tigers at Twins, Sunday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Target Field, when Francisco Liriano faces Rick Porcello.




Posted on: July 21, 2011 2:55 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 5:49 pm
 

Tigers like Shields, but will Rays move him?

The Tigers plan to have two scouts at Tropicana Field on Thursday night, to watch Rays right-hander James Shields.

They'll no doubt want to see him pitch well -- but perhaps not too well.

If Shields beats the Yankees Thursday, the Rays would be just 5 1/2 games behind New York in the American League wild-card standings, with their next 20 games against teams that began Thursday with records no better than .500. If the Rays lose, they'd be 7 1/2 games back, making their chances of catching either the Yankees or Red Sox look slim.

And while the Rays have sent out mixed signals on their trade plans, a 7 1/2-game wild-card deficit would likely leave them much more open to moving Shields or Jeff Niemann.

Besides the Tigers, Shields has interested the Reds, the Cardinals and probably a few other teams.

"You'd have to give them a lot, but you should have to," said one official from an interested team.

The Rays value the 29-year-old Shields for what he has done on the mound (he's 8-8 with a 2.60 ERA and three shutouts this season), but also for his influence in the clubhouse. And Shields isn't terribly expensive, even for the cost-conscious Rays, with club options that run through 2014.

The Rays don't need to move him, and an official of one rival team was told that Tampa Bay's top priority was to "protect its pitching."

"They're not moving Shields," that official said, adding that the Rays may even be looking to add bullpen help and a right-handed bat.

Other teams aren't so sure, with officials contending that while the Rays won't talk about Jeremy Hellickson, they may at least discuss Shields and Niemann. The scouts section at Tropicana Field will likely be full to watch Shields pitch against the Yankees.

They'll want to see him do well. But perhaps not too well.

As for B.J. Upton, people who have spoken to the Rays say it's become much less likely that he will be traded this month. Many scouts still love Upton's skills (he can run, and hit with power), but others are very down on his seeming lack of effort, his sub-par numbers and a salary that will rise next year. The feeling now seems to be that the Rays wouldn't get value by moving him now.


For more trade deadline news, click here.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com