Series Notes @ San Diego

I know, one more game to go but with the events of the last two nights, I couldn’t wait any longer! While the Cardinals offense has not been prolific over the last two nights in San Diego, it’s gotten the job done and that’s the important part.

  • Albert Pujols ended his homerless streak on Monday night with his first home run in a streak that lasted 27 games, 105 at bats, or 120 plate appearances. However you look at it, that’s long for Mr. Pujols. The longest previous such streak was 22 games back in 2007, as I’ve mentioned before. As far as I can tell, I was one of the first to mention the historic place of his power slump. Does this mean he’s about to break out and go bonkers on the majors? Cardinals fans can only hope. With Matt Holliday expected to miss a little more time with his current injury, the offense needs Pujols now more than ever. If Albert wants to work his way back into the good graces of the fans, there is no better time.
  • Kyle Lohse won his sixth game of the season on Monday night to tie teammate Kyle McClellan for the league lead at 6 wins. Lohse also leads the entire major leagues with a 0.901 WHIP. Those who know a little about WHIP can understand that this is a phenomenal feat. To have a WHIP, even after just 10 starts, of less than 1 is amazing. Lohse’s pin point command has been the key to his success this year and he is answering all the questions about the Cardinals’ season resting on his shoulders. He’s gone from perhaps the least favorite member of the rotation to one of the most necessary. [click to continue…]

Cox promoted to Springfield

The Cards top pick from the 2010 MLB Draft, Zack Cox, was promoted from Palm Beach (High A) to Springfield (AA) today. In a corresponding move Niko Vasquez (2008 3rd Rdr) was demoted to Palm Beach.

This move shouldn’t come as any big surprise as we signed Cox to a ML deal with a reported $3.2M deal last August at the signing deadline. He was considered the most advanced hitter in the class that should be able to move quickly. The concerns with Cox is will he hit for enough power and will he play adequately at 3B. Early on in the year he was purely a singles hitter which was concerning for some people…not I. Pretty much his first exposure to professional baseball and he was put at High A in a pitcher friendly league. It takes time to adjust. Within the past few weeks he has shown he is getting comfortable and started hitting more doubles and a few HR’s. As of today he is hitting .325 AVG, 8 Doubles, 3 HR, .380 OBP and .819 OPS. Not bad for being in a pitcher friendly league. His defense has been at least adequate at 3B so there shouldn’t be any concerns there.

With Springfield being more hitter friendly we should certainly see him hit for more power once he gets accustom to the big jump to AA. To me this is the biggest jump in the minors so be patient and let him get his feet wet. But there is no reason he shouldn’t hit hit hit and hit some more!

With a solid showing in AA the rest of the year it should set the stage for him to put himself into consideration for the 3B job in ST 2012. Should be interesting with a healthy David Freese, Cards MiLB Hitting MVP Matt Carpenter and Cox next year in ST.

Congrats to Zack Cox!

Schumaker back from the DL

Skip Schumaker will return tonight from his month long trip on the disabled list. The question facing the team is who makes a road trip to Memphis.

I can already hear the cries for Ryan Franklin to be finding a new home, but the team is standing behind him and I understand that. Ryan Franklin has been more or less effective during his entire time in St. Louis, save the last couple months (get it, save. Oh, I crack myself up). You have to assume that he’s going to turn it around at some point, just like people are saying about one Mr. Albert Pujols. Why release someone that might be a weapon later in the season? You don’t want to make that assumption just yet.

The rumors are saying it will be Mitchell Boggs.

Boggs, 27, is having, on average, a better year than last year. So why is he looking at a trip to Memphis?

What it comes down to is minor league options. The team doesn’t want to pay Ryan Franklin to play for another team, so who can you send to Memphis. The players in the bullpen with options remaining, as best I can figure it, are Boggs, Jason Motte, Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez. [click to continue…]

April Approval Ratings

This year’s monthly project continues with April’s Cardinals’ Approval Ratings. Once again I questioned Cardinals’ fans on their satisfaction with current Cardinals’ players on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most satisfied and 1 being the least satisfied. Response was about equal with the preseason approval ratings, however I did lose some and gain others.

There was very little that surprised me with the way trends went. The biggest gain by a position player was Lance Berkman who went from a 6.0 to a 9.4 which was an increase of 3.4 points. The biggest gain by a pitcher would be Kyle Lohse who went from a 7.2 to a 9.3 to become the highest rated pitcher on the staff. With Lohse being the highest rated pitcher, the highest rated position player continued to be Matt Holliday who moved from a 9.3 to a 9.8 after the month of April.

The biggest losers? Albert Pujols fell from his 9.0 in the preseason to a 7.3 rating, a loss of 1.7 points. Obviously, his slow start impacted the results of fans’ opinions on how happy they were with his play. Meanwhile, no surprise who the lowest rated pitcher was, none other than the pariah of the bullpen, Mr. Ryan Franklin. Franklin fell from 6.8 to a 2.2 to be the lowest ranked player on the list.

Check out the other gainers and losers, movers and shakers.

On the bench, Gerald Laird is the highest rated position player with his 7.3 rating, up 1.7 from his preseason number. He’s joined at the top by Daniel Descalso who scored a 7.1 which was up 0.9 from his preseason number. There were also two new members of the bench list, Nick Punto debuted with a 6.2 and Mark Hamilton with a 6.4.

In the bullpen, the most exciting new member of the Cardinals bullpen is the highest rated reliever, that would be Eduardo Sanchez, who scored an 8.8 in his debut on the charts. The other reliever that began the season in Memphis, Fernando Salas, joins Sanchez at the top with his 8.0, up 1.2 and the highest gain by a bullpen arm. The only player to remain constant was in the bullpen too. That would be Brian Tallet who once again scored a 5.9.

It also seems as if out of sight is out of mind for Cardinals prospects. Shelby Miller, Zack Cox, and Matt Carpenter each experienced a drop from their preseason positions. Miller lost 0.9 points, Cox lost 0.8, and Carpenter fell a whole 2 points.

Back to the lineup and things that have me a little confused. Yadier Molina, despite the fact he was hitting .289 at the end of April, lost 1.3 points as he fell from 8.0 to 6.7 as he joined Pujols as the only starting players to decline in their ratings in April. Molina’s drop confused me, I guess many fans still had the echoes of his slow start in their heads when filling out the form. Should be interesting to see if and how he jumps in the May rankings.

Mr. Error, Ryan Theriot surprisingly was the position player with the second highest jump. While some of this jump can be assumed was a result of a heavy rating of 5 because they hadn’t seen him play, I was surprised that he managed to be rated as high as poorly as his defense has been. Maybe I’m mistiming my discussion of his defense, but he was not that effective in the month of April and nearly record settingly bad. With his 1.8 jump to a solid 6.7 that was a surprise.

The final piece that interested me was my ranking for how competitive do you feel this Cardinals team to be. Before the season began, that question scored a 6.9. Now? It got a 7.3, so it seems that fans think that this current Cardinals team is better than they originally thought. This is also reflected in the rating for John Mozeliak, which jumped 0.8 as the memory of no Pujols extension faded from memory. Tony LaRussa‘s also jumped 0.6 as I think he’s getting some love for allowing some of the baby birds to get solid playing time.

But speaking of that Albert Pujols extension. The one question that I’ve gone back and forth on whether to include. While the general view of the competitiveness of this Cardinals team has increased, the opinion that we will resign Albert Pujols has declined from a 7.4 to a 6.8. That was the one that really had me scratching my head.

Kozma up, Punto to DL

Somehow I missed this news today. I heard rumblings of Pete Kozma getting the call, but hadn’t seen anything on it. However, here it is.

Nick Punto is headed to the DL for the second time this season. This time for what the Post-Dispatch describes as a “strain near his right elbow.” That’s trouble for the infield defense because Punto is the best fielding infielder this team has.

In his place, the Cardinals have recalled 2007′s first round draft pick Pete Kozma up from Memphis. Kozma, 23, is a shortstop by trade and has played there pretty much his entire minor league career. He was one of the last picks under the Cardinals’ old system where drafting was a mix of signability and talent.

Four years into his professional career and he is still searching for sustained success. Many saw glimpses last year of what Kozma could do in Springfield when he hit .243 with 13 HR and 72 RBI, doubling his previous power outputs.  However, he has not had an easy go of it in Memphis where he is hitting just .220 and has yet to hit a home run. If you want a bright side to his start in Memphis, he may just be off to the best defensive season of his pro career.

Many are already calling this callup a function of the Cardinals having their hands tied by the 40 man roster. Otherwise, it would likely be spring training phenom Matt Carpenter getting the call.

How much will we see Kozma? I doubt it will be very often, though I would hope that Tony would at least give him one game to show what he’s got (who am I kidding right?). I expect this call-up to only remain for just a few days until Skip Schumaker gets a few rehabilitation games under his belt and returns to the major league club. Punto’s injury just delays the roster calisthenics that the Cardinals will have to do once everyone gets back to healthy.