Category Archives: Columns

They say bad things come in threes

Is it a Sports Illustrated cover jinx? Is it just plain bad luck? Once again the Cardinals feel more like a MASH unit than a baseball team as injuries mount. Jaime Garcia down for the year after labrum and rotator cuff surgery, Jake Westbrook is headed to visit Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion, and rookie starter John Gast (who replaced Westbrook in the rotation) left Saturday’s game in the second inning with shoulder tightness.

It appears now that Michael Wacha is being targeted as the potential call to replace Gast in the rotation, being pulled from his turn in the rotation tonight with Memphis. That’s given people plenty to talk about. But for now, Michael Blazek has received the call to be an extra arm in the Cardinals’ bullpen until the decision is made who should take Gast’s next turn in the rotation on Thursday against the Royals.

There are definite pros to bringing Wacha up. The 19th selection in last season’s MLB Draft, Wacha impressed in spring training. He has also been solid in Memphis posting a 2.05 ERA over 53 innings and 9 starts while allowing fewer than a baserunner per inning. Continue reading

Fernando Salas: The Unsung Hero

I heard it again today after the Cardinals optioned Mitchell Boggs to Memphis. “Alright Boggs down, now can we get rid of Salas?”

And I have to say that I really don’t understand the dislike of Fernando Salas by a large portion of the fan base. I see it often, people wishing Salas wasn’t a part of the bullpen or the team. While I’ll admit that Salas really isn’t a true elite reliever like a Craig Kimbrel, he is a very good one more often than not. And those are the guys that usually make or break a bullpen.

But Salas has done so much for this team over the last few seasons that many are quick to forget.

In 2011 we found ourselves very much in a similar situation, without a closer. Ryan Franklin forgot how to pitch, much like Mitchell Boggs has this season. He kept being used early, despite his issues which probably compounded them. Boggs then got the first crack at closing, but lost it after his first blown save. Tony La Russa went to Eduardo Sanchez and his nasty slider next. It wasn’t until just a few games later that batters realized Sanchez’s slider wasn’t being called a strike and he quickly found himself getting into trouble. Continue reading

Should Lance Lynn move to closer?

It’s easier to make a defense for Lance Lynn staying in the rotation after he tossed 7 innings of 1-hit baseball opposite a guy who makes 50 times what he does in a year. But even without that game, his merits and performance stand on its own over the last season as to why he belongs in the rotation.

So why is this even worthy of discussion? In a radio interview recently John Mozeliak indicated that the Cardinals would consider Lynn at closer if nobody else settled into the role. “If things still aren’t worked out by, for example, June, we would look internally and consider Lance Lynn as closer.”

No one can forget what Lynn did for the Cardinals in 2011 season out of the bullpen. After a brief cup of coffee in the rotation, he returned out of the bullpen and quickly earned himself a spot at the back end of the rotation and became a go-to guy. He posted a 2.22 ERA over 16 relief appearances before he went down with an injury. He returned in the playoffs where he kept doing what he had been. Continue reading

Are Craig’s RBI numbers sustainable?

I’ve heard El Maquino, in fact we had a discussion about it tonight, and others claim that Allen Craig‘s RBI pace from 2012 is unsustainable because he had runners on base ahead of him 47% of the time.

So I wanted to do some digging. The statistic being used seemed like one of those that seems high on the surface, but because it’s not a readily used statistic, there is no way to know just what is average, what is bad, and what truly is unsustainable.

I found that last year’s MLB average was that base runners were on base in 42% of major league at bats last season. It stands to reason that being in the middle of the lineup, behind quality hitters would easily put you above average. As a result, the 47% by Craig seems perfectly sustainable. But how does he relate to others? Continue reading

Position Battle: Starting Pitcher #5

With the Cardinals getting into the final two weeks of camp, the final jostling for spots on the roster are beginning to take shape. For the Cardinals they have a handful of positions up for grabs. There’s the fifth spot in the rotation that is up for grabs after Chris Carpenter‘s injury. There’s a bullpen spot or two. There’s a couple spots potentially up for grabs on the bench as well.

Today we’ll look at the fifth spot in the rotation. Many, including myself, believe that this was Shelby Miller‘s spot the moment Carpenter called John Mozeliak back in February and told him he wasn’t going to be able to pitch. I’m sure none of us have forgotten that Miller took a no-hitter into the 6th inning of his starting debut on the final day of the season against the Cincinnati Reds.

Miller has struggled, however. Baseball America’s #6 prospect carries a 7.04 ERA over the 7 2/3 innings that he’s thrown. With 10 hits and 2 walks paired with 8 strikeouts, he’s plainly struggled. His worst outing was his last when he allowed 3 earned runs over 2 2/3 innings. In fact he has progressively gotten worse in each start. That may spell him beginning the season in Memphis to get back into the groove he was in the second half of last year when he was dominating the Pacific Coast League and then came up and did it in the big leagues. Continue reading

Furcal injury opens door

“The sky is falling!” That’s been the common sentiment I’ve seen over the last couple days, ┬ásince the news came that shortstop Rafael Furcal is still feeling the effects of the elbow injury he sustained last season and has been shut down. News came out yesterday that he’s going to Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion after meeting with the team’s doctor on Monday. Odds are ever increasing that he won’t break camp with the Cardinals and will begin the 2013 season on the disabled list.

The Cardinals were caught with their pants down for failing to acquire a big name shortstop in the offseason. They should have babysat Furcal through the winter to make sure they knew how the arm was. The season is doomed. We need to mash the panic button and trade everyone away for Troy Tulowitzki.

Those have been some of the statements I’ve seen Cardinals fans making over the last couple days. There may be some truth to the statements, but they aren’t all truth. They are worth considering. Continue reading