The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have purchased the contract of Scott Linebrink, the final step required to make him a member of their 25-man roster for Opening Day. It was a move that was expected after the Cardinals’ had sent RHP Eduardo Sanchez to minor league camp where he is expected to start the season with the Memphis Redbirds. With the move, the Cardinals are now at 40 men on their 40 man roster, likely having alternative effects on other jobs.
Linebrink, 35, just misses out on being the oldest man on the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster this year. LHP J.C. Romero is two months older to the day and Lance Berkman takes the honor at six months older than Linebrink. Berkman turned 36 on February 10th, interestingly enough, the day that Linebrink was signed by the Cardinals’ to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
In 2011, Linebrink was 4-4 with a 3.64 ERA in 54 1/3 innings with the Atlanta Braves. He expected to get more phone calls from teams than he did get, but ultimately chose the Cardinals as his best option. The question in many teams’ minds, I think, was the 6.17 ERA he posted after returning from a DL stint last August. However, he did have a 2.95 ERA when he went on the DL in July.
David Freese had a spectacular postseason. He then had an amazing offseason that included a stop by Jay Leno’s show and presenting at the CMA Awards with Erin Andrews. The question will now be, can he put it all together, have the season everyone thinks he can have, and then take his place as one of the league’s premiere third basemen?
Of course, that’s what we asked last spring and unfortunately it only half happened. After starting the season hitting around .320, but missed 51 games after being hit by a pitch and breaking a bone in his left hand. It was the only derailment in 2011 for Freese who had ankle injuries force him from the lineup in both 2009 and 2010.
Thankfully for Freese and the Cardinals, Freese didn’t sustain any ankle injuries in 2011. Something that has allowed him to come into this season saying that his ankles feel better than ever. Hopefully that’s something that can continue.
In the end, Freese finished the season with a .297/.350/.441 line with 10 home runs and 55 RBI in the 97 games he did play. For the 28-year-old third baseman, that was just the beginning of the story of his 2011. As has been covered and will be covered for years to come, Freese lit up the NLCS with a line of .545/.600/1.091 and added 3 home runs and 9 RBI on his way to scoring the NLCS MVP award. He wasn’t going to stop there though.
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
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
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
Some of my more recent notes since I took the hiatus in the time leading up to, during, and after my wedding. I am now back with regular contributions. Big thanks to Jerry for hitting the draft hard. Lots of good stuff in the last few days.
- First note goes to Albert Pujols. Since I got married, Pujols is hitting .438 with 4 HR in the 4 games since Saturday. My personal water mark for declaring a player officially over a slump is to see them perform at their regular level against three consecutive opponents. Pujols has done that. Over the last 9 games, he has hit .400 with 6 HR and 11 RBI. His slugging percentage if 1.000. He added on 5 walks. On the positive side he’s had just 2 strikeouts and just one GIDP. To me, that signals a big turnaround for him this season. Hopefully there is no turning back at this point and that this is more like the Albert Pujols we’re going to see this year. I’d rather that than the situation of the Pujols of the first two months of the season being the norm and this just be him on a hot streak. Only time will tell.
- Listening to last night’s UCB Radio Hour and there was a discussion on Allen Craig and what happens to him once Holliday is back and healthy. Craig is the one player that has truly benefitted from the injuries. Last year it was said that he is a player that needs regular playing time to be consistent and the injuries have allowed him to get it. So far this season he’s hitting .336 with 4 HR in just two less plate appearances than last season where he hit just .246 with 4 HR. His OPS+ has jumped 70 points and while he posted a -0.1 WAR last year, he is currently sporting a 1.7 WAR so far this season. The question is whether Craig at second base is a truly viable option for the Cards. In a small sample size, the defensive metrics contradict each other, so those results are inconclusive in my mind.
- I was disappointed that I missed the callup of Matt Carpenter. Unfortunately he has just 1 hit, that came in his debut, and has been unable to be as successful as he was in spring training. He has the chance to take command of the position until David Freese returns and could pretty much set himself up to battle for the starting position in 2012. If he’s successful, Carpenter could convince the Cards to use Freese as a trade chip in the offseason and let Carpenter and Zack Cox battle it out for the starting role. It’s an option, but only one if Carpenter turns it on and adjust back to major league pitching.
- Lance Lynn had a solid start in his debut. He found a bit of trouble, but reports were generally positive. He gets another start tonight against Houston. Hopefully I will get a chance to watch it and he’ll turn in a solid start so that the Cards can win the series.