Off Day Thoughts

It’s been awhile since I wrote something other than a game recap, right? I agree. Very little time for me as I hit the end of my last fulltime semester of college. Silly me is taking more than the maximum hours that they allow without the right kind of permission. Seems like a big mistake now, will be the best decision I made come May 4th.

But this is a Cardinals blog! Let’s talk baseball and the thoughts and concerns of Cardinal Nation as we prepare for a six game homestand where we face the Washington Nationals and the team that loves to be hated by Cardinals fans, the Cincinnati Reds.

First, the big news: Lance Berkman has been named the NL Player of the Week. Was it really a surprise? The first year Cardinal hit .417 over the 6 games the Cardinals played this week and added 6 home runs and 12 RBI. He was hitting just .214 heading into the series against the Diamondbacks where the Cardinals’ bats exploded with offense at a historic rate. He finished the road trip with a .308 average.

Injuries have hit the Cardinals offense for the first time this season in a big way. Skip Schumaker and Allen Craig are both being looked at to determine whether they will need a stint on the disabled list. Schumaker is apparently dealing with a hyperextended elbow and Allen Craig with a groin strain. The popular question is, who gets the opportunity?

Daniel Descalso probably stands to get the most increase in playing time. Descalso has played mainly second base in his professional career and started there Sunday in Los Angeles. While a similar hitter to Schumaker, Descalso has a much better glove.

But who will get the call from Memphis? That is a really good question. In the infield your options sit with Pete Kozma, Mark Hamilton, and Zack Cox at Memphis. I’d expect Hamilton to be out of the running as he is primarily a first baseman and we don’t have that need. Kozma has played short stop and a couple games at third base in his minor league career, but has mostly disappointed since being drafted in the first round of the 2007 draft. Meanwhile Cox was playing college baseball for Arizona State at this time last year.

The intriguing thought for Schumaker’s replacement would be whether Nick Punto is ready to go. They expect a late April return and he is capable of playing every position in the field and would be a valuable piece to have for that fact.

As far as outfielders, only one outfielder is on our 40 man roster other than the ones in St. Louis. That would be Adron Chambers, who is a big favorite of our minor league writer Jerry Canaday. Chambers has a lot of talent, but is probably not major league ready.

Because of this, the Cardinals have their hands tied for injuries to position players on their 25 man roster. Nobody that they have sitting on the 40 man roster in the minor leagues is really ready to come up to the big leagues yet.

Will Tony LaRussa try someone else at closer? Just a week ago, LaRussa was saying that we had no other options in the bullpen to close. “The fact is right now those young guys aren’t better,” said LaRussa in an April 10th article where he and Mozeliak both backed Ryan Franklin. Now, I’m all for having faith in a player, but all this backing of Franklin to help instill some confidence in him has to be hurting the rest of the bullpen to hear their manager say that they aren’t any better than a guy who has a double-digit ERA and has four blown saves.

Mitchell Boggs has been the best bullpen arm the Cardinals have had in this short season so far. I don’t say that simply because we sponsor his player page at baseball-reference. Boggs has thrown 9 innings and has 2 earned runs. Those are two earned runs that were scored against him in his season debut. Since then he has thrown 6 scoreless innings with 8 strikeouts. While I do like Jason Motte more now than I did a year ago at this point, he still has a long way to go before he will be capable of closing out games. Boggs has a greater ability to make pitchers miss and has alternate pitches as he spent most of his career as a starter. He should be the guy that gets the opportunities now.

The current “it” pick is Eduardo Sanchez though. The 22 year old has 8 strikeouts in his 3 innings in the major leagues. He hasn’t shown any signs of being unable to handle the role. Granted his appearances were in games where the Cardinals had a huge lead. Still, I think his stuff has earned him an opportunity to get a couple appearances in the seventh and eighth innings of closer ballgames. At this point it’s my feeling that you have to go with the hot hand, or hot arm in this case, in order to win ballgames.

We’ve already lost four that we should have won, so we need to find a way to make those back up.

That is the extent of my thoughts for this Monday. Hope everyone is enjoying it. Now I’m back to my regularly scheduled class work.