Take a look at the NL Central standings and you are likely to do a double-take. The Reds in fourth? Where are the Pirates? First? Quick! Someone check hell! It’s got to be frozen over.
No, it’s very much the way it is. An injury plagued Cardinals team and a solid Brewers team are being topped right now by a very young and very good Pirates team. Nobody expected this from them this year, but most give the credit to their manager Clint Hurdle.
It was Hurdle that brought the 2007 Colorado Rockies to the World Series with a plethora of young talent. Names like Matt Holliday and Troy Tulowitzki. They weren’t well known at the time, but have become household names for baseball fans, and Cardinals fans have gotten very familiar with Mr. Holliday these days.
It was Hurdle that has brought considerable improvement to the Pittsburgh Pirates this year. So much improvement, myself and other UCB writers had them penciled into the cellar of the NL Central once again, contending with the Astros for the honor of bringing up the rear. However, young teams are always tough to predict. On one hand they have talent and could break out, on the other they could just continue in their ways. I was one of the few to say that the Pirates had the ability to go with the division as I labelled them my darkhorse candidate for the playoffs this year. It’s been an amazing story, but not what I’m talking about today.
The point of today’s article is a look at the top teams in the NL Central. Basically, those that still have a chance, and figure what they need to do in order to continue to contend down the stretch. Do they need to make a trade? Should they? That’s what I’m going to look at. Continue reading
Much like Jaime Garcia, who the St. Louis Cardinals are announcing a 4 year extension with today, Colby Rasmus will be arbitration eligible at the end of the season. Yet Garcia is about to enjoy security while Rasmus’ future is anything but secure.
The touted 5-tool center fielder was drafted in the first round of 2005′s MLB draft. He hit well through the minors and became the fifth best prospect in baseball in the 2008 Baseball America Top-100 list. In 2009, he moved up to third. But as of now, he’s looking more like a bust than a boon.
According to Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are reconsidering their stance of trading Colby Rasmus. Last year, he was a player that the team was interested in retaining. And why not, Rasmus enjoyed a fairly breakthrough season last year. He hit .276 with 23 HR and 66 RBI. It was a good improvement over his rookie season, and despite the rumors of Rasmus asking for a trade, he stayed a Cardinal.
The 2011 season started out well for Rasmus. He lit up the world in April as he got a chance to hit in the #2 slot in from of Albert Pujols. Being the hitter in front of Pujols, he would always get something around the strike zone to hit because the last thing you want to do is walk the guy who hits in front of the best hitter in baseball (or was before this season, but that’s another story altogether).
His defense was much improved too, with many recognizing a renewed focus in the outfield at the start of the season. He was making good decisions, taking good routes, and making good throws. Something he has struggled with. Continue reading
After missing May due to life circumstances (it was mid-June before I even thought about them), the Cardinals’ Approval Ratings are back with the June numbers.
The Cardinals’ June swoon leaves me really wishing I had results from May so that I could really have an accurate look at how badly it hurt peoples’ numbers.
The Cardinals wrapped up the month of June having gone 11-15. The offense scored 114 runs in 26 games in the month of June. That’s an average of 4.4 runs per game and that puts them in a tie with the Dodgers for 9th in the major leagues. On the other hand, the Cardinals had the worst pitching staff in the majors, allowing 132 runs in those 26 games, that’s 5.1 runs per game. Their team ERA of 4.72 was 29th of 30 teams, only beating out Toronto.
On the offensive side of the baseball, Lance Berkman took over the role of the highest rated Cardinal, though he dropped from a 9.4 to a 9.3 rating. Matt Holliday dropped from a 9.8 in April to an 8.6 at the end of June. The biggest drop in the starting lineup was Colby Rasmus tumbling 1.4 points to a 6.8, reflecting his struggles over the last two months. The biggest jump was Yadier Molina who recovered his losses over the first month to receive an 8.1 rating at the end of June. Skip Schumaker jumped 1.3 points himself, vaulting himself to a 7.4 rating.
According to the New York Post, the Cardinals are looking closely at the Padres’ Heath Bell and Jason Bartlett.
It’s well known that the Padres are willing to sell off players this year and have plenty of young reliever talent to sell. That’s something the Cardinals are in urgent need of, but will the benefits outweigh the costs?
From all reports, it appears that the Padres are interested in getting Cardinals top prospect Shelby Miller and more in return for Bell and Bartlett and that has a lot of Cardinals fans (and I hope Cardinals management) balking at the deal.
Miller, 20, was the Cardinals first round draft pick in 2009 and was the #13 prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball American’s annual top prospects list. He was also by far, the Cardinals top prospect. In his 5 starts since being promoted to Double-A Springfield, Miller has a 1.69 ERA in 32 innings with a 1.062 WHIP. In what many call the toughest jump in the minor leagues, from Single-A to Double-A, Miller has dominated more than he has at any other level.
Who are the Cardinals looking at?