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
The big rumor out of St. Louis right now has nothing to do with potential trades, but rather retaining one of our own. No, not Albert Pujols. It seems that reports are circulating that the Cardinals and 25 year old left handed starter Jaime Garcia are closing on an four year extension.
Garcia was drafted in 2005 by the Cardinals and won the fifth starter’s role in spring training in 2010 after coming back from Tommy John surgery. He posted a 2.70 ERA over 28 starts and 163 innings. He also finished third in rookie of the year voting.
With Garcia being a potential “Super Two” during the offseason, one of a handful of players with more than two but less than three years of MLB service time who become arbitration eligible a year earlier. The four year deal would buy out his four years of arbitration and offer him two option years, according to the rumor. Something I’ve expected to happen this offseason, and very similar to the deal proposed to Adam Wainwright when he hit his arbitration years.
The rumored cost of the contract is a 4 year, $27.5 million deal with two option years. That puts the average annual value of the contract at $6.875 million per year. With the type of pitcher Garcia seems to be evolving into, this looks like a stellar deal for both the Cardinals and Garcia. The Cardinals lock up one of the top young pitchers in the game through the 2015 seasons and Garcia doesn’t have to worry about pitching for his next contract. 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.
The surprise news came down just over half an hour ago from the Cardinals official Twitter.
Miguel Batista has been given his unconditional release from the organization. To fill his spot on the roster, Lance Lynn has been called up from Memphis and will be available out of the bullpen tonight.
Batista, 40, was a statistical anomaly early in the season. He seemed to get hit up when given situations where men were on base, but never found himself tagged with many earned runs. Over the first two months of the season he carried a 2.01 ERA over 22.1 innings of work.
However, June has been tough on Batista who has thrown 7 innings and allowed 10 earned runs on 7 hits and 5 walks. That’s good for a 12.86 ERA over 7 appearances. Last night’s appearance seemed to be the final straw for the club as Batista failed to finish out the inning, instead getting tagged for three earned runs without recording an out.
With the release, you have to wonder if that’s the last we see of Miguel Batista in a major league uniform.
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. Continue reading