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First-Half Observations

Posted Monday, July 13, 2009, at 1:07 PM

It's been quite a while since I've written in this blog. Credit that to a combination of moving and finishing up one of my summer graduate school courses. At any rate, here are some observations I've made about the Cardinals and other teams throughout the season.

1. The Cardinals are not pretenders. The last few times the Cards have entered the All-Star break in first, they have held on to make their way into the playoffs. Albert Pujols is having a potential triple-crown season, and our pitching has been fantastic and will hopefully only get better. With Ludwick finally finding his stroke and DeRosa returning from the DL, the offense is suddenly not looking so bleak. Add in the possibility of Troy Glaus being back with the club before the end of the month, and you suddenly have a pretty nice lineup that might go a bit like this:

1. Schumaker 2B

2. Rasmus CF

3. Pujols 1B

4. Ludwick CF

5. Glaus 3B

6. DeRosa LF

7. Molina C

8. Pitcher

9. Ryan SS

Flip Schumaker and Ryan with a lefty on the mound, as well as Rasmus and DeRosa. Of course, this is contingent upon Glaus's return, and also doesn't factor in the possibility of a move for more offense. If Glaus can come back and be a healthy contributor, that would allow the Cardinals to pick up another starter for the stretch run. Don't hold your breath for Roy Halladay, though I'm sure everyone would love to see him wearing the "Birds on the Bat." His price is just too steep in terms of prospects and salary. The only that would be enticing about Halladay concerning prospects is that, because he is a Type-A free agent after next season, the Cards would receive a first-round draft pick if they were unable to renew him beyond next year (which would likely be the case, considering his $14 million would cut into funds needed to resign Pujols).

The bottom line is this: If the lineup I mentioned above comes to fruition and produces, the Cards will acquire another starter and have the potential to run away with the Central. Mark it down.

2. Adam Wainwright is an ace. Take a look at his last three starts to help the Cards surge into the All-Star break:

9 innings, 1 R, 1 ER, 6 H, 12 K

8.1 innings, 0 R, 7 H, 9 K --- * W @ MIL

8 innings, 2 R, 2 ER, 7 H, 5 K --- * W @ CHC

Take a look at his line for the month of July thus far, which consists of these three starts:

2-0, 1.07 ERA, 25.1 innings, 26 K, .217 BAA.

That, my friends, is the line of an ace. Wainwright is currently on pace to strike out 200 batters and win 18 games with a 3.04 ERA. He should definitely be an All-Star.

3. Brendan Ryan is an everyday shortstop. I've been so impressed with Ryan's defense and hitting during is extended playing time with the Cards. My only gripe with him is that he isn't very good with runners in scoring position, but he has come up with big hits as of late. I've been a fan of him since his very first day, and I think he's going to really help us out by playing great defense and getting on base however he can.

4. The Milwaukee Brewers are bush league. I've gotten to where I like to beat the Brewers more than the Cubs just so they will keep their dang shirts tucked in. I'm so sick of seeing them untuck their jerseys after their wins like a bunch of little leaguers running to get their post-game sno cones and popcorn. Have some respect for the game and look like professionals on the field. I know the story behind why they do that, but I still don't think it justifies them doing what they do. Go back to the minors with that bush league stuff and don't act like you belong anywhere until you actually win something.

5. Alfonso Soriano, like the Brewers, is bush league. I'm also sick of watching Soriano in left field trying to be cute by jumping and catching every fly ball that is hit to him. His little hop has become more recognizable as his signature move than hitting home runs, which is what he is being (over)paid to do. Actually, considering that he looks like Rick Ankiel at the plate right now, that's not so hard to believe. Quit jumping around like a fairy in the outfield and play baseball.

Also, there is more to say about Soriano. He was mad at Lou Piniella recently because Piniella didn't tell him he wasn't going to play the next day. Soriano said he was mad because he would not have come ready to play if he knew he wasn't starting. That's exactly what I want to hear from my players, particularly my $17 million left fielder who is hitting .233 and is on pace to strike out 160 times. Players like him are the reason the Cubs will continue to be the not-so-lovable losers and will always play second fiddle to their rivals across the river. Have fun paying that salary to your little ballerina outfielder.

Showing comments in chronological order
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Don't get excited about Troy Glaus, then call Alfonso Soriano a bush leaguer. I'd take Ryan Braun (another one of your bush leaguers) over Ryan Ludwick any day, and I'd take Bill Hall over Troy Glaus. Don't fool yourself into thinking the Cardinals will have a nice lineup when DeRosa and Glaus return. I love DeRosa, but don;t fool yourself. The Cardinals cant ride subpar pitching into a divison title. Past Wainwright and Carpenter, I'm unimpressed. Since you want to call Milwaukee Bush League, realize that those bush leaguers are 2.5 games back. And ten times more talented than the Cardinals. Ifthey didn't have to throw out substitue teachers (http://milwaukee.brewers.mlb.com/team/player_career.jsp?player_id=446916) to win ball games for them, maybe they could compete better. Just because it's not 1955 where the players were clean cut and perfect, don't call Milwaukee bush league. Things and times change. But about Soriano, look at this:

Ryan Ludwick .264 56 RBI 15 HR 34 R 10 2B

Alfonso Soriano .233 33 RBI 50 R 14 HR 19 2B

Soriano has more upside and poses alot more threat, and has a better arm in a position he hates. I'd much rather seen Ryan Ludwick at the plate than Alfonso Soriano if my team needed an out. Ryan Ludwick struck out 146 times last year, Soriano 103. Ludwick has better numbers this year, and 100 less at bats than Soriano, granted. But He's on pace to bust 100 K's again, while looking like a kid out there. But let's take another look at this: Last year was the first time Troy Glaus ever played a whole season and didnt strike out over 130 times. He also posted his second best average, a respectable .270. Prior to that he rarely hits over .250, sometimes dipping into the .240's. Tremendous power? Sure. Cardinals savior and key to success? Hell no. Mark DeRosa, sitting on 63 strikeouts in a little under half of a season. That's on pace for a whopping 120. So before you go tearing Soriano apart, look at what you're hyping up in the Cardinals lineup. The only person you aren't in love with for no reason is Rick Ankiel, and I'm quite surprised you aren't tooting his horn. But Ryan Braun is bush league:

.310 16 HR 58 RBI 19 2B 3 3B

You need to get your priorities straightened out man. You're way off your rocker.

-- Posted by Baseballfan88 on Tue, Jul 14, 2009, at 1:22 PM

I also don't know why you would fail to mention Kyle McClellan and Ryan Franklin's success. How about that for the story of the first half. Or what about Rasmus figuring everything out. he is where he belongs, and is proving to everyone.

Brendan Ryan is a big strikeout guy, which you apparently don't like. His OPS is barely .700, he doesn't draw many walks. But I like him too. I think that DeRosa should be the second baseman, while Schumaker returns to the outfield, where he was superb. DeRosa and Ryan should hit one and two against lefties, because Schumaker and Rasmus are hitting .210 and .183 respectively against lefties. Tony La Russa needs to stop hitting the pitcher 8th, as it works as much as it fails. I understand the American League theory of a leadoff type hitter in the 9 slot, but I disagree with it.


Schumaker LF DeRosa 2B

Rasmus CF Ryan SS

Pujols 1B Pujols 1B

Ludwick RF Ludwick RF

DeRosa 2B Glaus 3B

Glaus 3B Rasmus CF

Molina C Molina C

Ryan SS Schumaker LF

The Cardinals need to send Schumaker off while he's valuable and get a big righty bat corner OF or middle infielder. Perfect fit would be Miguel Tejada. Ryan isn't a great leadoff guy, because of his horrible on-base skills. But with Schumaker out, the lineup could go like this:

DeRosa LF

Rasmus CF

Pujols 1B

Tejada SS

Ludwick RF

Glaus 3B

Molina C

Ryan 2B

With the possibility of Rasmus leading off and DeRosa hitting 2 hole.

-- Posted by Baseballfan88 on Tue, Jul 14, 2009, at 1:48 PM

Well, I never once questioned the talent of anyone on the Brewers, so I'm not sure why you're attacking me with that point. Sure, they're talented. But they also act like they've never won before. It's far from classy, and you can't chalk that up to the times changing. Respect will always be something that needs to be earned, regardless of what year it is. That's like condoning unfaithful marriages because they are so frequent now. Times change, though -- right?

In a perfect world, I would like to have Ryan Braun based on talent and youth over Ludwick as well, but I would still dislike the way he carries himself on the field, walking halfway to first base on a home run and showing up the pitcher. That's why I call their guys bush league. It has nothing to do with talent. We can all sit here and spout off stats all day like they tell the whole story, but when it boils down to it, the Brewers carry themselves like high schoolers and not professionals.

About Glaus, I've written previously that I don't expect him to be helpful to this team. The potential lineup is totally hypothetical. If that lineup happens to come to fruition and Glaus produces like he has in the past, it's an offensive upgrade. Plain and simple. And that makes the Cardinals a better team, which cannot be argued.

Your lovefest for Soriano is comical considering that he is one of the worst investments in the majors today. Yes, I would sure like to have him on my team making more than Pujols while putting up those fantastic numbers. He's nothing but a whiner, complaining that he doesn't want to hit lower in the lineup, crying about not being notified that he wasn't starting the next day, etc. That's what I want in a player. Man, Soriano was a bargain.

I'm not really sure why I'm being attacked for referencing Soriano's strikeout numbers either. I know the Cardinals have strikeout-prone players. I just think it's funny that Soriano is that big of a strikeout threat as a $17M leadoff man who insists he can only hit in that spot and he whimpers through ABs when he doesn't hit where he wants, again, like a high schooler. I would never want him on my team with the attitude he brings. Will he get hot in the second half? There's a good chance. But that doesn't change the fact that he is NOT worth what he is paid and that the Cubs are fools for signing him to that deal.

-- Posted by Brandon Higgins on Tue, Jul 14, 2009, at 4:15 PM

Soriano is a bad investment? What about Kyle Lohse..or say..Troy Glaus? You're damn right numbers dont tell the story, because Ryan Ludwick has hit fifteen homeruns looking like a 40 year old softball player while he's doing it. I'm also pretty sure that adultry in marriages has absolutely nothing to do with baseball? Times definitely are changing, because any ole idiot can write a blog while making off the wall comments about players that are better than Cardinals. And any old idiot can fancy himself a sportswriter just because he writes a blog.

-- Posted by Baseballfan88 on Wed, Jul 15, 2009, at 2:06 PM

And Ludwick and Rasmus in CF? Get it right..

-- Posted by Baseballfan88 on Wed, Jul 15, 2009, at 2:07 PM

Pardon my mistake of accidentally putting Ludwick in CF on my original post.

I was against the Lohse deal from the very beginning. And yes, Troy Glaus makes a lot of money he's not earning right now. The Cardinals have a history of making investments that don't shape up, such as Mark Mulder, Khalil Greene and Adam Kennedy. That's obvious. It doesn't change the fact that Soriano's salary and production don't match up, which has absolutely nothing to do with the Cardinals' investments. They are completely independent of each other.

The adultery comment stems from you saying that times change in defense of the way the Brewers carry themselves. You condoned their behavior by saying that times change, so I stated that would be similar to condoning unfaithful marriages and chalking it up to the times changing. It's called thinking abstractly and questioning logic. That's Debate 101. Just because society accepts something over time does not make it right.

Now, as far as my intelligence being called into question, that's just not very smart on your part. You know nothing about me other than what I write on here. This is the quote I love:

"And any old idiot can fancy himself a sportswriter just because he writes a blog."

I'll just dissect that little by little. First of all, magna cum laude graduates of highly acclaimed southern universities aren't typically classified as idiots.

Second of all, not only did I graduate magna cum laude from this university as a member of three honor societies, I did it with a degree in --- you guessed it --- print journalism.

And not only do I have a degree in print journalism, but I've also been the sports editor for an award-winning newspaper, winning several individual awards for my writing, not to mention my page design.

Just wanted to drop some stats for you since you love them so much.

But what do I know? I just "fancy [myself] a sportswriter just because [I] write a blog," right? The bottom line is that I don't pretend to be anything I'm not. I'm a sportswriter.

Reading my blog and debating with me on what I say is one thing. I welcome that whole-heartedly. But formulating ad hominem arguments and attacking my intelligence is uncalled for and garners no respect.

Be my guest to continue reading. Journalists have thick skin and love to debate. Just don't attack me behind a screen name for having differing views.

-- Posted by Brandon Higgins on Wed, Jul 15, 2009, at 3:09 PM

Well said. I just strongly disagree with your comments about Soriano and Milwaukee.

-- Posted by Baseballfan88 on Wed, Jul 15, 2009, at 5:56 PM

Well, I'm here to facilitate discussion, so I'm just glad I'm doing my job. I hope you continue reading. Perhaps we will agree on something one day.

-- Posted by Brandon Higgins on Wed, Jul 15, 2009, at 9:27 PM

Have to side with Higgins here. Soriano is an awful contract. Bernie over at the Post Dispatch, has the opinion that aside from Vernon Wells, Soriano has the worst contract in baseball today. I tend to agree with Bernie.

I am a Cards guy. Not going to hide that. I hate the un-tucking Brewers thing. Just classless, IMO. And as and Cardinal fan, I HATE the small bears.

-- Posted by oldtrougher on Fri, Jul 17, 2009, at 2:40 PM

Cards trade for Holliday!

-- Posted by oldtrougher on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 12:27 PM

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A blog for Cardinals fans by a Cardinals fan. This blog will explore the happenings in the St. Louis Cardinals organization on a semi-daily basis, from roster moves to game-by-game analysis.
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