Tag Archives: Alex Castellanos

2012 Preview: Center Field

If you’d told Cardinals’ fans in March of last year that Colby Rasmus would be traded and Jon Jay would be our everyday center fielder, you would have been laughed out of the room. Even more so after Rasmus posted a line of .301/.392/.476. Finally, our stud five-tool center fielder was going to be something. However, things went south from there, as Rasmus posted a line of .221/.306/.396 from May 1 until his trade on July 27. He got even worse in Toronto, but admitted that he basically gave up on the season and was waiting for a fresh start in 2012.

Enter Jon Jay. In the 2010 season, he was stated as the reason for being able to trade away Ryan Ludwick, contrary to many fans’ wishes. Over his time in St. Louis, Ludwick had been one of the most productive #4 hitters in the major leagues. However, young Jay was hitting .383 when the team chose to trade Ludwick. It put the spotlight on Jay and it wasn’t in a good way as he struggled down the stretch, hitting just .244, but still finishing the season above .300.

In the 2011 season, Jay was penciled in as the fourth outfielder for the Cardinals. His ability to play all three outfield positions was going to be useful for Tony LaRussa. After a slow start, by mid-May Jay was again hitting over .300 and finished May with a line of .349/.408/.514. He was starting to push Colby Rasmus for playing time and slowly fans were starting to support that idea. Rasmus, despite his hot start, was struggling and Jay was outplaying him offensively and defensively.
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2012 Preview: Left Field

One of three 2011 Opening Day starters expected to take the field in the same position in this year’s Opening Day game, Matt Holliday already has his name penciled onto the lineup card. The team’s new #3 hitter after the departure of Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday will have some big shoes to fill in the eyes of the fans.

They are shoes he is already filling, in my opinion. Myself and others have complained about the lack of visible leadership on the team. Holliday seems to have done just that this offseason, becoming more involved with other players on the team and even inviting a few of the Cardinals’ recent draft picks out to St. Louis on his own dime to work out with them during the winter. He does it under the radar, but it is there.

Last year was a freak year for Holliday. From injuring his back lifting weights to a moth flying into his ear, odd things were the name of the game. He played just 124 games, the fewest since his rookie season, as a result. It’s also the first time since his rookie season that he hit below .300, with his line of .296/.388/.525. He added 22 home runs and 75 RBI. Despite the abbreviated season, Holliday’s performance helped him post a career high in OPS+ at 153, better than the 150 he put up in 2007, when he finished second in the MVP voting.
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Approval Ratings: July

In this series, I poll all the Cardinals fans that I can get to take my Approval Rating survey, utilizing Cardinals’ forums and Twitter. Unfortunately, July’s ratings were much delayed form where they should have been, with the polling taking place in the second week of August. Obviously that will effect some of the results with a week and a half of performance from August. However, I will make every effort to get August’s ratings up at the correct time.

For Cardinals’ fans, they loved some Lance-Squared as I’ve heard them referred to. That would be the combination of Lance Berkman and Lance Lynn. The pair were the highest rated Cardinals of July, receiving an 8.8 rating. For both Berkman and Lynn it is the second straight month that they have maintained their position atop the ratings for hitters and pitchers, respectively.

And who can really blame them? Lance Berkman has been the best free agent signing of last offseason. He’s currently hitting just under .300, nearly 30 home runs, and will have a shot at 100 RBI. I think it’s safe to say that absolutely nobody outside of a psychiatric ward expected that kind of performance out him this season, including himself.

For Lance Lynn, he got two spot starts in St. Louis before being recalled a few weeks later to pitch out of the bullpen. Lynn owned that move. While some pitchers might have been effected by the perceived “demotion” to the bullpen, Lynn took his position and dominated. It wasn’t rare for him to come into games, blazing that upper-90s fastball across the plate, and getting strikeout after strikeout. It really hurt the bullpen when Lynn went on the disabled list.

The three highest rated position players are Berkman, Holliday with an 8.6 and Yadier Molina with an 8.0. The player who moved the needle the most this month? Positively, that would be Albert Pujols who is up 0.4 to a 7.6. On the down side is Ryan Theriot who lost ground for another month, losing 1.5 points to a 5.0.

The three highest rated pitchers were all out of the bullpen. Who really thought they could have said that a month ago? Lynn leads with his 8.8. Fernando Salas received an 8.5 while Jason Motte‘s scoreless streak that extends back into June received him an 8.0. The biggest shift was Motte, who jumped 1.8 points. The big loser on the pitching staff was Kyle Lohse, who fell 2.7 points to a 5.5 after a rough month.

Management took a hit this month. Despite pulling off a trade that moved Colby Rasmus that received a mixed response and bringing in someone to potentially solve all the major problems that faced the 2011 Cardinals, John Mozeliak dropped 0.2 points to a 6.6. Probably close enough that it could be considered a push. However, it was Tony LaRussa whose approval rating plunged 1.1 points to a 5.5, his lowest score of the season.

We also had five debuts on the list this month. Rafael Furcal debuts with an 8.0, Octavio Dotel with a 7.5, Marc Rzepczynski with a 7.3, Corey Patterson with a 5.8, and Edwin Jackson receives a 5.6.

As with every approval ratings, I like to ask some questions to gauge the response of Cardinal Nation. We will start with the trade deadline talk.

The Cardinals made two moves at the deadline. One involved a package headed by Colby Rasmus being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jackson, Rzepczynski, Dotel, and Patterson. The trade is also rumored to include cash or 3 players to be named later. You also have to consider the potential draft picks that the Cardinals will receive in compensation for Jackson. The response on this trade was a complete push with Cardinal Nation split on the idea. For 2012 and beyond, I question it’s value, but for 2011 it was the best option the Cardinals had on the table.

Rafael Furcal’s trade was received much more favorably. The Cardinals dealt minor league outfielder Alex Castellanos (who is killing it in AA for the Dodgers since the trade, by the wya) for the veteran Furcal who was designed to solidify the defense at shortstop. 90% of responders liked the trade with 10% saying that they didn’t.

As the August 31st waiver trade deadline approaches, the question is obviously posed whether the Cardinals will attempt to make another deal to further solidify the team. As the potential double-digit deficit stares the Cardinals in the face, they may not now. 57% of responders think the Cardinals will not make another move, with the remaining 43% expecting at least one more acquisition.

Then, to the question that is on everyone’s mind as the end of the season looms. Are the Cardinals destined for the playoffs? 95% of responders think that the Cardinals will not win the NL Wild Card. However, 62% of responders think that the Cardinals will win the NL Central. Combining the two figures, that gives us 67% of fans who think the Cardinals will still make the playoffs. You gotta believe!

Keep an eye out for the August Approval Ratings survey coming late next week.

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After the dust has settled

The MLB non-waiver trade deadline came and went at 4 p.m. eastern time yesterday afternoon. It seemed like every contender added pieces from non-contenders as they attempted to solidify their position on top, or as a challenger of, a division. After the dust has settled and the moves have had a chance to percolate, who made the best moves in the NL Central? Certainly the Cardinals were active, but so were the other teams in the NL Central. Each one making a trade over the last week. Let’s take a look at their moves and determine who was the big winner. We’ll start at the bottom, just to build up the suspense.

Houston Astros (24.5 games back)

The Astros were one of the busiest teams on deadline day, but they weren’t buyers. The NL Central’s cellar dwellars made big moves, dealing both Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn over the last three days. The Astros made out like an arms dealer selling to both sides, sending Pence to NL East leading Philadelphia and Bourn to NL East runner-up Atlanta. The two trades will bring the Astros a total of eight prospects, seven of them named and one other that will be named later.

They were even very close to dealing their #1 starter, Wandy Rodriguez, to the Indians at the deadline before that deal fell apart. However, many expect that Rodriguez could still be moved during the waiver trade deadline. However, with that contract, I’m thinking he will have a hard time reaching a division leader. He has a very club friendly contract and may not be heading anywhere this year because of that. A pitcher with his history, talent, and contract will be very attractive to a handful of clubs, some of which may not even be in contention.

For the Astros, this won’t help them this year, but there is hope that it will help them in the years to come. Houston is clearly rebuilding right now and 3 years down the road, this trade could pay off big time. The question will be, will Ed Wade and Brad Mills be around to reap the benefits? Continue reading

Furcal traded to the Cardinals

Rumors circulated all of yesterday, Rafael Furcal was set to be traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. Finally word became official this morning as the Cardinals announced that the 33 year old switch-hitting short stop was now a member of their team.

Furcal is in his 12th major league season, but 3 of his last 4 seasons have been shortened due to injury. He was drafted by the Atlanta Braves and made his debut for them in 2000, winning the NL Rookie of the Year. He spent six seasons in Atlanta before signing with the Dodgers in free agency before the 2006 season.

His season numbers are overwhelming, to say the least. He is hitting .197 with just a .272 OBP. Just what are we getting? Over his last nine games for the Dodgers he is hitting .303 with a .425 OBP.

If he’s healthy and we get more of the last nine games Rafael Furcal, the addition is a great one for the Cardinals that really solidifies the top of the lineup.

If he’s still dealing with a nagging injury or continues to struggle, he’ll provide some additional defense, but LaRussa’s insistency of putting Furcal in the lineup could sink the ship. Mainly, I’m just glad the Cardinals took a chance on acquiring someone who was actually an upgrade over what we already have on the roster. Many of the names floated around on the trade market this season, were not improvements over what the Cardinals already had. Furcal was probably #2 on my wish list to Clint Barmes. Continue reading

Young Pups Report: June

After a lot of dedication to the MLB Draft I am back to give an update on our Young Pups. I can’t remember another year in recent memory that you have seen so much movement of our youth this early in the year. We have guys getting promoted to the big league club due to injuries, guys getting promoted and demoted in the minor league system and others getting released. We also have had the Short Season clubs getting kicked off over the past week or so which gives a lot more players to try and keep your eye on and follow which can get crazy at times…but I love it! Let’s take a look at the good in our system thru late June! Continue reading