The second half of the baseball season is about to begin and the trade deadline is right around the corner. Already newspapers, blogs, message boards, and twitter feeds are rife with trade rumors as everyone has a keen eye on watching how their teams will perform in the second half. So where are the Cardinals and what could they be looking to add to shore up the team as they drive towards another playoff berth?
I think a good way to get an idea of where the team’s weaknesses lay can be found by a quick glance at the team statistics. With 462 runs scored in 93 games, the offense is currently ranked third in the majors and first in the National League. On the opposite side of the ball, the starting rotation finds themselves with a 3.33 ERA which is good for second in baseball behind division rival Pittsburgh. Their bullpen, on the other hand, has a 3.56 ERA and is only good for 16th.
So a quick glance points you towards the bullpen which has rebounded nicely from an atrocious start with thanks to Edward Mujica‘s step into the closer’s role which he has taken and held onto. Trevor Rosenthal settled into the 8th inning and has once again in the discussion for best relief pitcher in baseball. However, the rest of the bullpen has been a big question mark with most of the rebound behind fueled by great performances by rookie pitchers fresh out of Memphis. Continue reading
On a Tuesday afternoon where it seemed the like the St. Louis Cardinals were going to quietly let the deadline pass them by without doing anything to shore up the team, they didn’t. The Cardinals announced that they acquired RHP Edward Mujica for minor league 3B Zack Cox.
My knee-jerk reaction to the trade was “Is that all they could get for Cox?” After all, I saw a Mujica who had a 4.38 ERA in nearly 40 innings this season.
However, when I dug into Mujica’s numbers further, I found a pitcher that has me thinking this could really be the trade that solidifies that bullpen and helps stabilize this team going forward. Something to realize is that the new Marlins Ballpark in Miami is quite the hitter’s park. According to Baseball References’ Park Factor, Marlins Ballpark scores a 106 for hitters and a 107 for pitchers this year. Over 100 favors the hitter. Meanwhile, Mujica will move into a Busch Stadium that has multi-year Park Factors of 99 for hitters and 98 for pitchers. A far more neutral stadium. That should help greatly. Continue reading
The Cardinals are expected to place Kyle McClellan and Allen Craig on the disabled list tomorrow before they open play against the Los Angeles Dodgers, that according to Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch.
McClellan, 27, has a 4.42 ERA in 15 appearances out of the bullpen this season, but has allowed 4 runs in his last 4 innings on the mound over his last 3 appearances. He left in the seventh inning of today’s game against the Giants with right elbow pain. His is expected to be a longer stint.
Craig, also 27, has a .373 batting average with 5 HR and 19 RBI in the 13 games he’s played since coming off the disabled list on May 1st. He apparently injured his left hamstring during Wednesday night’s game against the Giants. According to Strauss, the team has sent him back to St. Louis for further examination. Craig, though, seemed confident that it would be just a couple days to recover. Continue reading
According to a Derrick Goold tweet yesterday, Skip Schumaker and Allen Craig could both start rehab assignments within the next week. Schumaker took some ABs in extended spring training in Jupiter and appears set to start rehabbing next week, according to Goold. Craig is headed to Florida on Sunday in the hopes of being ready for a rehab assignment late next week.
For Cardinals fans, this is good news. Craig is easily the most dangerous bat the Cardinals have off the bench this season and the sooner we can get him back, the better off the team will be. Especially with there being some question about Lance Berkman‘s calf injury. I’ve read that he described it similar as to previous issues he had, so it could be more trouble than we think it will be. Meanwhile Schumaker is the most reliable bat we have that can play second base, even if there is some question to his glove work.
With the potential that both players could be looking for a spot on the 25 man roster by the end of the month, it opens up some interesting questions and battles to stay on the 25 man roster.
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.
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.