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.

Quad City River Bandits at Busch

Exciting news for prospect geeks like myself came out semi-recently that the Quad City River Bandits (Cards Low A affiliate) were playing Kane County Cougars (Royals Low A affiliate) at Busch Stadium on Thursday, May 26th. Tickets are all GA and are $10 and all concessions are half price. The more exciting news is Carlos Martinez is scheduled to pitch in that outing. That alone makes it worth paying $10 to get an early glimpse of the star to be in the Cards system. If you decide to go here are some key Cards prospects to keep an eye on:

Carlos Martinez – RHP – As mentioned above he will be the highlight of the night. He has Shelby Miller upside and to me is the 2nd best prospect in our system. He supports a mid-upper 90s FB with movement and very good control at only 19! His secondary stuff is underrated as he flashes a potential plus CH and CB and his SL will be at least avg long term. The word dynamite comes to mind!
Oscar Taveras – OF – He has been hit by the injury bug this year so hopefully he will be back in the lineup by the time they play next week. He has kind of an awkward stance and swing but don’t let that fool you. At worst he will have great gap power but I see more power to come as he grows. Definitely one of those exciting players that puts butts in the seats. BTW – in his limited time this year (just over 50 AB’s) he is hitting .500 with a 1.228 OPS!

Cody Stanley/Juan Castillo – C – Both of these guys are fairly exciting offensively which is a nice bonus for a C. Stanley is provides solid D both from a catch and throw perspective. Honestly I don’t know much about Castillo’s D…but hopefully I get to see him behind the plate next week.
Nick Longmire – OF - A favorite of mine from the 2010 draft he is currently playing CF but I project as more of a RF. He is struggling this year as he needs to improve on cutting down his swing and not striking out as often and show better plate discipline to take a walk more often. But the tools are there and he is definitely an exciting player.
Other Pitchers – You may or may not see depending on if they try to get some of there guys to pitch on the big stage or just play it like a normal game: Trevor Rosenthal (#3 SP in our system on upside), Justin Wright (he almost has 2K/IP) and Seth Blair (struggling mightily with his command this year).
The moral of the story is if you like to see who you might see in STL in a few years then go to the Cardinal’s website and get some tickets. Needless to say I already have my tickets and will post a recap after the game!

Game 43 Notes: Cardinals 2, Phillies 1

Jaime Garcia picks up no decision for the fourth time this season as he baffled the Phillies and held them to just 5 runs. Meanwhile Lance Berkman provided the walk off hit as I turned to my brother and said, “If we don’t score in this inning (that started with bases loaded, none out) we deserve to lose.” Luckily, we didn’t deserve to lose.
  • Jaime Garcia is having an incredible run. In his last three starts he has thrown 24 innings and allowed just 2 runs, only one of which was earned. That puts his ERA at 0.38 over his last three starts and 1.20 in May. Needless to say, he is in the zone right now and hopefully he can keep it up. What’s more impressive than Garcia’s 5-0 record and his sparkly ERA? The fact that he left two of those four no-decisions with the lead and has left no game while being behind this season. Tonight was also the first game that Garcia scored a no-decision in that the team won.
  • Albert Pujols‘ streak now at 22 games since his last home run. Or 21 if you don’t count the game he pinch hit and was walked in. However you put it, 22 is his career high mark set in 2007. During that “slump” he hit .327 with a .475 OBP. This one? Just .289 with a .357 OBP. The good news, if you can say that it is, is that Pujols hit .351 with 8 HR in the 20 games after his career high homerless streak. So we’re waiting for that point, I guess. He did go 3-for-5 tonight.
  • Fernando Salas picked up another perfect inning of relief tonight, quietly getting the job done. He came away with the win for his troubles. Salas has allowed runs in just two of his relief appearances this season and has had 4 appearances with a total of 4.1 innings since he last allowed a run.
  • Brian Tallet made his first relief appearance tonight for Quad Cities. He struck out 5 over 2 innings. Roster decisions will need to be made shortly as he looks like he’s sharp, which he’s been able to throw so it’s really no surprise. With Skip Schumaker about to head out for his rehab assignments, it will be interesting to see what massaging management tries to do with the roster. Do we carry 13 pitchers and send two position players to Memphis?

Hero of the Game: Is there really a debate here? Jaime Garcia. (8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 K)

Zero of the Game: I would have to go with Matt Holliday tonight. Why? He had his chance in the 9th to win the game and dribbled a double play chance at the short stop. The reason it wasn’t is that Philadelphia decided not to get fancy and just took the lead runner. (0-for-5, 5 LOB)