The ones where the Brewers swept

It was an ugly, ugly sweeping at the hands of the new front runner in the NL Central. Over the 3 games the Brewers outscored the Cardinals 17-6, with 13 of those 17 runs being scored against the Cardinals starting rotation. That leads me to my first note.

  • The starting pitcher has struggled so far in June. In 11 games in June, the Cardinals pitching staff sports a 4.63 ERA (compared to a 3.28 in April and 3.91 in May). In June they are the 24th best pitching staff in the league by ERA. While the injuries to Matt Holliday and other members of the offense are taking the headlines, behind the scenes the pitching has cost us games.
  • Speaking of the offense, the team that scored the most runs in April, the sixth most runs in May, has currently scored just the 12th most runs in June. While Holliday hitting the DL has gotten the most attention, the lack of depth after the injury to Allen Craig is really what is hurting the Cardinals right now. Craig has filled in admirably in games where Holliday has been injured. In games where Craig has played and Holliday has not, Craig has a .298 batting average with a .359 OBP. He’s added 2 HR and 9 RBI.
  • Should the sweep by the Brewers concern Cardinals fans? Yes and no. Yes, in that, it is the Brewers and I expect that they are the team we will be fighting in September for a playoff spot. No, in that the Brewers are finally at 100% after some early injuries and are really hot right now while the Cardinals are thin with Holliday, Craig, and McClellan on the shelf.
  • Andrew Brown became the sixth (if my memory is right) Memphis Redbird to make his major league debut for the Cardinals this season. His was relatively forgettable as he struck out in a pinch hitting appearance. The 26 year old has done nothing but hit for power through his minor league career. He had 21 home runs in 2008, 22 last year in Springfield, and already had 11 for Memphis this year along with a career high .357 batting average. With Holliday hoping to return Thursday and Craig on the DL for at least another week and a half, it would be nice to see Brown get a start or two for the Cardinals to show what he’s got as he makes in game adjustments.
  • Also, you can catch me with Dathan Brooks on the UCB Radio Hour this Wednesday night. Realignment was something we were kicking around on his blog the last couple weeks and now the news comes out that this is something that’s really being considered by Major League Baseball. We will cover that topic and more on Wednesday night at 10:30 eastern (9:30 Cardinals time). You can listen and check out more information on the show here.

Roster talk: Boggs up, Lynn down

The word today is that Mitchell Boggs is on his way back to St. Louis while Lance Lynn is headed back to Memphis.

Lynn, 24, had moments of brilliance and moments of disappointment in his two major league starts. At times he would cruise through the other team, and then he would struggle. In the end, he was 1-1 with a 5.23 ERA as he threw 10 1/3 innings in his two starts.

Boggs, 27, posted a 2.45 ERA in 14 2/3 innings in Memphis over 4 starts. His demotion to the Redbirds was part of an overall play to stretch him back out as a starter just in case one of the team’s starters went down longer term. It was Boggs who was the best candidate for this move as he has both starting experience and major league experience.

But Boggs will return for the Cardinals as an off day allows the team to skip the appearance of Kyle McClellan‘s spot in the rotation next time it comes up. Boggs’ return will allow for another arm in the over worked bullpen, but apparently the Cardinals would still rather him be in Memphis starting.

What this does, though, is creates some interesting storylines when guys start coming off the disabled list. [click to continue…]

The ones where I got married

Some of my more recent notes since I took the hiatus in the time leading up to, during, and after my wedding. I am now back with regular contributions. Big thanks to Jerry for hitting the draft hard. Lots of good stuff in the last few days.

  • First note goes to Albert Pujols. Since I got married, Pujols is hitting .438 with 4 HR in the 4 games since Saturday. My personal water mark for declaring a player officially over a slump is to see them perform at their regular level against three consecutive opponents. Pujols has done that. Over the last 9 games, he has hit .400 with 6 HR and 11 RBI. His slugging percentage if 1.000. He added on 5 walks. On the positive side he’s had just 2 strikeouts and just one GIDP. To me, that signals a big turnaround for him this season. Hopefully there is no turning back at this point and that this is more like the Albert Pujols we’re going to see this year. I’d rather that than the situation of the Pujols of the first two months of the season being the norm and this just be him on a hot streak. Only time will tell.
  • Listening to last night’s UCB Radio Hour and there was a discussion on Allen Craig and what happens to him once Holliday is back and healthy. Craig is the one player that has truly benefitted from the injuries. Last year it was said that he is a player that needs regular playing time to be consistent and the injuries have allowed him to get it. So far this season he’s hitting .336 with 4 HR in just two less plate appearances than last season where he hit just .246 with 4 HR. His OPS+ has jumped 70 points and while he posted a -0.1 WAR last year, he is currently sporting a 1.7 WAR so far this season. The question is whether Craig at second base is a truly viable option for the Cards. In a small sample size, the defensive metrics contradict each other, so those results are inconclusive in my mind.
  • I was disappointed that I missed the callup of Matt Carpenter. Unfortunately he has just 1 hit, that came in his debut, and has been unable to be as successful as he was in spring training. He has the chance to take command of the position until David Freese returns and could pretty much set himself up to battle for the starting position in 2012. If he’s successful, Carpenter could convince the Cards to use Freese as a trade chip in the offseason and let Carpenter and Zack Cox battle it out for the starting role. It’s an option, but only one if Carpenter turns it on and adjust back to major league pitching.
  • Lance Lynn had a solid start in his debut. He found a bit of trouble, but reports were generally positive. He gets another start tonight against Houston. Hopefully I will get a chance to watch it and he’ll turn in a solid start so that the Cards can win the series.

Cardinals’ MLB Draft Recap: Day 2

After having 1 selection on Day 1 in which we took Kolten Wong out of Hawaii the Cards had a full day of picks. Wong isn’t projected to be a tough sign nor will it take much, if any, overslot to sign him. With that said I anticipated that we would take a few gambles for upside in Day 2. The day started off well with a nice selection of Charlie Tilson but very few exciting picks the rest of the day. The biggest disappointment was the amount of upside talent that we passed on throughout the 2nd Day. They went athletic with their 3rd and 4th Rd picks and made their first pitching selection in the 5th. Local product Lance Jeffries was nabbed in the 10th Rd and is quite intriguing as is 2 catching prospects in Adam Ehrlich (6) and Aramis Garcia (20). On a side note we did get some interesting names such as Martini, dual and plural last name Peoples-Walls, a kid named Dutch and a Sherriff. Here is a list of picks for the day with some comments on key players. Overall the Cards draft has not been spectacular but they are showing they want to improve on the position player side early in the draft and then after the 15th Rd they went heavy on pitching. After 30 picks I am not that thrilled as I don’t know if anyone but Wong would project to break out Top 10 prospects for 2012. Tilson has a chance but I would think he is in the teens until he can prove some things with a wood bat in pro ball. [click to continue…]

Cardinals’ MLB Draft Recap: Day 1

The 2011 MLB Draft got underway last night and it was like just about every draft over the years. Some teams took the obvious choices at the top, some teams reached for players and some of the “signability” guys fell. The Cardinals had been linked to a number of players leading up to the draft and ended up selecting one of them in Kolten Wong. Let’s take a closer look at this selection:

Day 1 Draft Grade: B

Kolten Wong, 2B, University of Hawaii

Wong isn’t a big guy at 5’9″ and 180lbs but don’t be fooled that he can’t handle the bat. He handles the bat from the left side just fine with good bat speed. He has an advanced approach at the plate and is a very patient hitter that has a great knowledge of the strikezone. He has a little pop in his bat but profiles more as gap power. He will spray the ball all over the field which bodes well for him in pro ball with no glaring hole at the plate that could be exploited. He has been pitched around quite a bit this year but has never shown frustation or expanded his zone which shows his maturity level. He projets as a solid 2 hole hitter as he can do it all (bunt, hit and run, hit to the right side to move a runner, etc). He also stole over 20 bags this year but his speed is just slightly above avg. He is a smart baserunner and projects as no more than a 15 SB guy but will take the extra base when possible.

On defense Wong has adequate range and arm but great insticts which makes his range look better than it actually is. He will do all the small things correct and is mentally tough. He probably will never be a gold glover but also won’t be a liability. [click to continue…]