Tag Archives: Pete Kozma

Performance-based play?

Trade rumors are swirling around Colby Rasmus like nothing else. Then comes the bombshell earlier in the week that Tony LaRussa will be going by performance to determine who gets playing time. What that means is that Rasmus is sitting more often and Jon Jayis getting more opportunities.

I supported that idea. I thought it was a good idea. I’d wondered aloud if maybe making Rasmus earn his starting job back would be the catalyst to get him focused.

Rasmus has just one hit since the All Star break and his hitting .133 in July. That follows up a .213 June and a .253 May. It’s been a slow decline for the former first round pick. One that has the rumor mills considering a change of scenery for the 24 year old center fielder.

His counterpart, Jon Jay, on the other hand is hitting .368 since the All Star break and an even .300 in July. Combine that with Jay providing more sound defense than Rasmus has been and you have yourself the makings of a mid-season starter swap, though LaRussa has been hesitant to call Jay the team’s new starting center fielder.

However, I was fine with everything until tonight’s game against the Pirates. It’s the top of the 9th inning and there are two out. Jason Motte came in to get the final two outs of the bottom of the 8th and the pitcher’s spot came up in the Cardinals’ half of the 9th. Up goes Motte to the plate for his fourth major league at bat. Before tonight, he was 0-for-3 with 3 strikeouts. After tonight, he is 0-for-4 with 4 strikeouts. Motte comes out to pitch the 9th, right? Wrong. Continue reading

Cardinals’ Approval Ratings: June

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.
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Pujols out approximately six weeks

Last night in the sixth inning, a Pete Kozma throw drifted away from first base. After catching it and tagging the runner, Albert Pujols collapsed in pain.

My first reaction at the time was that it reminded me of the type of hit my favorite player, Scott Rolen, took a couple times. He wasn’t the same player for years. Thankfully, it’s not the same injury.

The verdict? Pujols will miss approximately six weeks with a broken bone just above his left wrist.

So where does this leave the Cardinals as they now have to consider a month and a half without the man who has been the best player in baseball over the last decade?

For many fans, their eyes are on the basement as they contemplate a life without the best player in baseball. How can the Cardinals even come close to contending without the team’s game changer? Teams and pitchers alter their approach to the Cardinals lineup because of Pujols’ appearance in it. Now they don’t have to worry about it and as a result, the lineup becomes easier to get through.

While I won’t deny that the Cardinals lineup is easier without Pujols sitting in the #3 spot, the season is far from over.

During Albert Pujols’ career he has had two other DL stints. Ironically, both took place in June. But during those times, the Cardinals teams of 2006 and 2008 each carried on. The 2006 team going 8-7 and the 2008 team going 6-7. That’s a combined 14-14 and hardly something that would kill the chances of either team.

From April 10th to May 29th, the Cardinals posted a 30-16 record in 46 games while Pujols hit .272 with a .338 OBP, 7 HR and 24 RBI. In the 19 games since, the Cardinals are 8-11 while Pujols has hit .343 with a .439 OBP, 9 HR, and 17 RBI. I may catch some flack for this statement, but Albert Pujols isn’t the reason the Cardinals win games.

What’s the common thread? Matt Holliday. That first 46 game span began when Holliday returned from his first DL stint and it ends right before he goes for his second (I didn’t even realize that when I pulled the numbers out for the previous paragraph). Holliday hit .336 with 4 HR and 29 RBI over that 46 game span. Since he returned to the lineup after his second DL stint, the Cardinals have gone 2-2 and Holliday is hitting .417 with already a pair of homers (one of which was a game winner) and 4 RBI.

It’s easy to sit there and pack it in and declare the season over with this news. But the season is far from over. This team has some resilience and has held off injuries before. Fox Sports Midwest had a graphic during a recent game that showed the Cardinals played roughly .750 baseball with one of Pujols, Holliday, or Berkman out of the lineup but were just .500 with all three of them. Of course, Albert’s played every game so far this season.

The Cardinals success over the next six weeks will depend on the bit players stepping it up a little bit and coming through with key hits. It will also depend on the pitching staff keeping us in games. If they can, we have enough offense, even without Pujols to win ballgames.

The injury has relatively good timing. He will hopefully be back in the first week of August and will be manning his first base position in time for the stretch run. He also has a history of coming off the disabled list strong, hitting .372 in 2006 and .378 in 2008 in the 10 games after coming off the DL.

Additionally, the Cardinals aren’t playing a very tough schedule of teams. While we haven’t faced Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa, and the New York Mets yet, the rest of the schedule through the end of July we are 18-10 (.643) against so far this season. Those other teams also have a combined winning percentage of .487, so the Cardinals really only need to be about league average to walk out of this stretch to walk away above .500.

They also play 20 of the next 35 games at home, which can be beneficial.

We also have David Freese and Nick Punto close to coming back off the disabled list. Punto’s rehab assignment began last night with Double-A Springfield and Freese begins his tonight with Triple-A Memphis. Having Freese’s bat back in the lineup and having Punto’s excellent glove back as an option should help this team immensely.

So while having Pujols on the DL and not in the lineup will hurt the team for obvious reasons, it is far from time to call the season over. The next month and a half will tell the story, but I think the Cardinals can and will absorb the loss and still be in contention when he returns.

And a side note, many are also wondering whether this is going to impact Albert Pujols’ contract negotations. The answer is probably not. It depends on what Albert does after he returns to the club. If he’s the same old Albert Pujols, then it won’t. If he struggles like several other high profile players who have come back from wrist injuries, then it might take a little off. He’s still the big name and he still catches people’s eyes. But a slow finish to the season (combined with what has been a fairly slow start) might discourage some teams from opening the wallet as far as they had before.

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Pujols out approximately six weeks

Last night in the sixth inning, a Pete Kozma throw drifted away from first base. After catching it and tagging the runner, Albert Pujols collapsed in pain.

My first reaction at the time was that it reminded me of the type of hit my favorite player, Scott Rolen, took a couple times. He wasn’t the same player for years. Thankfully, it’s not the same injury.

The verdict? Pujols will miss approximately six weeks with a broken bone just above his left wrist.

So where does this leave the Cardinals as they now have to consider a month and a half without the man who has been the best player in baseball over the last decade?

For many fans, their eyes are on the basement as they contemplate a life without the best player in baseball. How can the Cardinals even come close to contending without the team’s game changer? Teams and pitchers alter their approach to the Cardinals lineup because of Pujols’ appearance in it. Now they don’t have to worry about it and as a result, the lineup becomes easier to get through.

While I won’t deny that the Cardinals lineup is easier without Pujols sitting in the #3 spot, the season is far from over.
Continue reading

Kozma and Cleto return to St. Louis

As discussion hit several Cardinals forums about whether it was time to shake up the roster or not, we got our answer from the organization. It was.

It is being reported that the Cardinals will recall Pete Kozma and Maikel Cleto from Memphis and Springfield, respectively.

In return, Mark Hamilton and Tyler Greene will head back to Memphis.

Many wondered why Mark Hamilton was still on the major league roster as he struggled mightily, having gone hitless in his last 18 at bats dating back to May 4th. Hamilton returns to his .391 batting average in Memphis which, while it doesn’t quality for the leaderboard, would put him second in the Pacific Coast League.

Tyler Greene, 2005′s first round draft pick, struggled to capitalize on his role with the major league club. Given nearly the same number of plate appearances as he received spread over each of the last two seasons, Greene is hitting just .198 in those 117 plate appearances.

Kozma will get his second cup of coffee with the Cardinals this season. In his last stint he hit an RBI double in his first major league AB and then walked later in the game. However, he was hitless since that point, having gone just 1-for-8 in 10 game appearances. He is just as versatile in the field as Greene, playing both middle infield positions and having made an inning-long appearance at third base, but will be given his opportunity to capture a bench role. Though with Nick Punto and David Freese both getting ready to make their first rehab appearances, Kozma’s time is once again expected to be limited.

Maikel Cleto on the other hand had a disastrous beginning to his major league career. In just two innings of work, Cleto allowed two home runs and 5 earned runs. That gives him a sizable ERA of 22.50. The right-handed flamethrower ought to improve on that as he struggled early in that appearance and then got better as he threw. He will help bring a fresh arm to a recently overworked bullpen.

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