Marte optioned to Memphis, Cleto recalled

After a 14th inning appearance where he walked two and allowed a hit that put the Diamondbacks on top for the eventual win, Victor Marte is on his way back to Memphis. Since his recall on May 27th, Marte has made four appearances allowing four hits and three walks. Not a recipe for success. Kevin Reynolds (@deckacards) and I had some fun at his expense last night on Twitter.

Kevin: This game has Marte throwing error written all over it.
Jon: That’s not a throwing error, that’s just how he pitches.
Kevin: I was waiting for that… it’s like I set it on a tee for you.
Jon: Also something Marte does well.

Marte had a time last season where he provided some valuable innings for Mike Matheny in the bullpen. Unfortunately, the league caught up and figured him out while he had some trouble finding the strike zone. Continue reading

For umpires, ejections need to be last resort

It was certainly not Yadier Molina‘s finest hour yesterday afternoon. After putting what he thought was a hit through the gap between the third baseman and the shortstop, Molina cruised his way to first. Except that Giants’ shortstop Brandon Crawford made a great play on the ball and threw Molina out by half a step. Frustrated by what he should have gotten, Molina threw his helmet to the ground and turned towards the dugout. Behind him umpire Clint Fagan threw Molina out.

Rule 9.01 (d) of the MLB rulebook reads, “Each umpire has the authority to disqualify any player, coach, manager or substitute for objecting to decisions or for unsportsmanlike conduct or language, and to eject such a disqualified person from the playing field.”

By the letter of the law, the ejection was correct. Molina throwing the helmet at the ground is an unsportsmanlike gesture. Except that players get away with it 99% of the time. If umpires always ejected players for throwing things, I’d be cool with the ejection of Molina because he should have known better. But in the heat of the moment, it’s a totally acceptable response that rarely gets called. Continue reading

What’s up with Matt Holliday?

It seems that pitching has been such an issue for the St. Louis Cardinals this season that when hitting has been an issue, it’s just quietly faded into the background by comparison. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, the Cardinals have had nine different rookie pitchers on their roster this season. Such has not been an issue for the offense at this point which has really seen only Matt Adams spend time on the DL this season.

Because of that, and because the Cardinals keep winning, Matt Holliday‘s start to the season has been kept out of the eye of baseball fans. But he’s struggling to start the season, so what is up with Matt Holliday?

Through June 2nd, Matt Holliday is hitting .244 over the team’s first 56 games. That is a whole 66 points lower than his career average. It is by far the worst start of his career. In now 10 major league seasons, Holliday has a batting average under .300 at the 56 game mark for just the fourth time. His previous worst was .271, which came last year, and then .272, which came in his rookie year. Continue reading

For Boggs, confidence is the issue

Cardinals fans have seen this scene far too often in 2013. Unfortunately, I called this when I wrote a couple sentences about his return. Mitchell Boggs wasn’t fixed yet. Boggs still isn’t fixed yet and we learned that once again with his appearance in the ninth inning of a one run game, an appearance that was inexplicable to most every fan on Twitter. Matheny seemingly gift-wrapped the game for the Royals, bringing in Boggs who allowed a first-pitch home run by Jeff Franceour to tie up the ballgame.

Mike Matheny is a popular manager for players because he has a great deal of confidence in his players. Regardless of what is going on or what they’ve done recently, Matheny puts them in position to do what they’ve always done. At this point, Boggs’ issues are far more Matheny’s fault than his own.

Inexplicably Mike Matheny likes to use Boggs in tight situations to hopefully get him kickstarted and be able to parlay a successful outing into another and another until he is “back.” I understand Matheny is pulling for Boggs to get right. Every single one of us in Cardinal Nation is doing that right now. But whatever Boggs is doing now it is obvious to all of us, or at least it should be, that it isn’t working. Yet he continues to be brought into close ballgames and he continues to not be right. Continue reading

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