For a quick WTF, here’s a photo of John McGraw with a baby leopard in his arms. Even more amazing, he’s actually smiling.
I collaborated a tiny bit with PitcherHit8th. Yes, they’re a Cardinals blog and podcast but they do a good job over there and it’s worth a plug. If you’re a Redbird fan, check them out.
Interesting bit of digging by Illinois Loyalty. Seems that the firm that was hired by the University of Illinois to consult them on the search for a new Athletic Director (Parker Executive Search) was paid $90-105 grand by University of Tennessee to do the same job. No word on how much the U of I is paying but I bet we’re not getting a discount.
Finally, some are pushing for the Pirates to be the lucky (?) ones to move to the American League. What now, when they are having a winning season? The Pirates haven’t had a winning record this late in the season since 1999.blog, cardinals, Illinois baseball, john mcgraw, pirates
Tony La Russa has had enough of Ryan Franklin in the closer role. Franklin and his four blown saves and 11.57 ERA. La Russa is going to, in his words, “change the responsibility a little bit for a little bit."
According to USAToday Sports:
Franklin has already made a cosmetic change, shearing off more than half of a long beard that juts off his chin.
LOL, wut?cardinals, Ryan Franklin, tony larussa
When a St Louis Cardinal blog does one of those “Will Mark McGwire get into the Hall of Fame?” polls, I just yawn. There’s no point in relying on the data. But when an AL team blog like the Blue Jays’ Blue Bird Banter does one, I pay a little more attention.
If you trust the Jays’ fans intuition, Big Mac has a long row to hoe. At this writing, the Nos have it by a 62% to 37% margin. And despite how I feel about the matter, I think they’re right. The bad publicity and quite honestly the bad choices by McGwire have put him where he’s at and 2011 won’t be a HOF year for him.
My prediction? McGwire will eventually get into Cooperstown but it won’t be for a few years (assuming he maintains his vote minimum). If not, the veterans committee (if it still exists then… that’s another story) will shoo him in when the time comes.cardinals, Hall of Fame, mark mcgwire
This post is penned by friend and die-hard Cardinals fan Rich Williams. When asked by us Cub fans over email what happened to St Louis this year, Rich wrote this very thoughtful and analytical piece on the Cardinals. What went right, what went wrong and the look to the future.
I asked his permission if I could re-post it here and he graciously yes. Thanks, Rich!
After watching Halladay pitch a no-hitter in his first ever post-season appearance, Texas pound the Rays, and the Yankees continued Torment of the Twins, I think we can all agree that both STL and the Cubs (maybe a little more with the Cubs) have a longgggggggggggg way to go. My pleasure will become in watch Dusty make stupid pitching choices on the way to a 3-and-out.
So, I can’t let Alex’s questions go by without some insights. I have to admit, this is the most complex Cardinal season I have ever tried to dissect. I think there are a few problems I can immediately identify:
1. LOW OBP by leadoff batters caused overall run totals to sag. Felipe Lopez was not the answer offensively or defensively to Schumaker sagging to his career means in both areas. Ditto Aaron Miles, although his BA was inexplicably decent for a part time player.
2. Inconsistent performance by 3-4 hitters in RISP situations. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a clutch hitter (ala Bill James), so the only explanation I can offer is both were pressing and expanding their strike zones because ……
3. Very LOW OPS in 5/6/7 slots after Freese went down, Rasmus went down, Ludwick was hurt then was traded, Allen Craig could not hit MLB pitching, etc. Molina struggled offensively all year and finally broke down when Larue got his head kicked in by Cueto.
4. Lack of depth, period for third base (feliz????) both at bat and on the field.
5. Not getting Jake Westbrook enough innings after spending so much to get him
6. Bad chemistry in the club house with enough blame to go around. Felipe became the scapegoat, but the problems between the players and Tony eventually extended to Albert, Holliday and Carpenter. Losing Ludwick was a major contributor to negative clubhouse atmosphere just when they needed it most.
7. A curious inability to beat tail-ender teams like the Cubs while piling up an impressive record against above-.500 and contending teams.
8. Below average defensive performance compared to previous years in general, particularly against lesser teams.
The Cardinals season got decided in the six weeks following the sweep of the Reds immediately after the All-Star Break. All the problems above seemed to descend in a vengeance. Problems in finding a 4th and 5th starter (Lohse and Suppan) aggravated these issues by consistently putting a team behind 4-5 runs early when they could not score. This in turn burned down what had been one of the most effective bullpens in the NL culminating the outrageous game in Denver where the Rockies came back in the bottom of the 9th trailing 9-3 to win 12-9 on a walk-off 3-run homer. September found them so far behind and still struggling to score runs that even the Cincy mini-collapse only narrowed the ending gap to 5 games. Getting swept by Cubs (who finished 11 games in back of them) in STL was pretty much the end of the line.
1. A lead-off hitter that improves on these stats:
BA (rank) … OBP (rank) … SLG (rank)
245 (12th) … .309 (13th) … .350 (13th)
2. An everyday 2nd baseman with league average OPS at least. (Trade)
3. An everyday third basement with league average OPS at least. (Freese, Descalso, Greene are likely contenders)
4. Overall depth at infield positions as opposed to outfield positions. This is where a lot of younger players from Memphis who came on late will contend (Greene, Descalso).
5. An everyday right fielder with minimum league average OPS, if not a little more.
6. Sign Pujols to an extension.
7. Resign Westbrook.
NB: Brendan Ryan remains an way above league average fielding shortstop that the pitching staff trusts and insists is in the game most of the time. His offense can remain a semi-black hole as long as his defense comes back in 2011 instead of his 2010 where he got injured early. The Skip Schumacker experiment at 2b is over and he will either return to outfield duty of get traded as a throw-in somewhere.
1. Young players making strides: Jaime Garcia, John Jay, Tyler Greene, Colby Rasmus, Jason Motte, Kyle McClellan.
2. Starting pitching and bullpen.
3. Pythagorean for RS/RA projected a better record (92 wins) even with problems above. See defensive issues, problems against lesser teams, consistency in run scoring.
4. 86 win season matching 2006 club. Reds simply beat them despite playing sub-.500 ball against winning teams by cleaning up on tail-enders (but only by 5 games=91 wins). Reds outscored Cardinals gave up far fewer runs and dominated the heads up series 12-6.
Improve on these 2010 numbers across the board:
RUNS 736 14th Overall
ON BASE PERCENTAGE .332 13th Overall
SLUGGING PCT .402 16th Overall
Improve on following 2010 numbers
QUALITY STARTS 94 6th Overall (Find 4th and 5th starters who are healthy and go six innings)
1.30 10th Overall (Ditto)
.256 16th Overall (Ditto)
Cardinals are way ahead of the Cubs in fielding a contending team, but need to fill some obvious gaps to stay competitive. The Reds will likely come down to earth in terms of RS/RA but will look to improve as well. Offseason will be worth watching for both. Cubs need to clear deadweight payroll, Cardinals will try to deal with limited payroll flexibility given they have locked in Holliday, Lohse and Carpenter and look to lock in Albert.
And what will Tony Larussa do?aaron miles, Albert Pujols, cardinals, Chris Carpenter, jake westbrook, Pedro Feliz, ryan ludwick, tony larussa
Bruce Markusen has a very well-researched piece The Hardball Times all about a player I remember from one of my favorite era of baseball, the 70s- Al Hrabosky.
I remember the Mad Hungarian well. What I didn’t know was how he got his nickname:
The unusual routine prompted a nickname from the Cardinals’ front office. The team’s public relations director, Jerry Lovelace, began calling Hrabosky “The Mad Hungarian.” The name, which accurately reflected his heritage, caught on with writers, broadcasters and fans, giving Hrabosky one of the most identifiable alter egos of his time, or any other for that matter.
Just think, the club front office not only approved but capitalized on Hrabosky’s behavior.
No doubt I’ve said this before but I wonder if Al’s stomping around the mound and talking to the ball would be tolerated in today’s world. The 70s were a more colorful time (in more ways than one… you’ve seen the uniforms) and probably a little more tolerant of differences and eccentricities.
Sadly, if Hrabosky tried to pull what he did in 2010, someone would complain, there would be an investigation by an appointed MLB committee and a 50-page policy written up detailing what is acceptable and not acceptable.
Miss you. Al.al hrabosky, cardinals, history, pitching
The jokes have already started within my circle… even from Cardinals fans (shame). But I won’t go there.
I’ll just wish Mark a happy second fatherhood and hope he makes sure to get them into Little League as soon as possible. Who knows they could turn out like Eri Yoshida (the Knuckle Princess) and play professionally.cardinals, family, mark mcgwire
When May ends, Albert Pujols will no doubt have recorded his worst month on record. For the month, he’s currently hitting .256 with one homerun. His slugging percentage? .385. He’s managed 10 rbis and 10 runs scored and has a .396 OBP which certainly isn’t embarrassing but quite honestly, I’m afraid something is wrong with the God of Baseball ™.
Let’s put it in perspective. In May, Cubs infielder Mike Fontenot had a better slugging percentage than Albert.
Not only that, MLB.com reports that Pujols denies having words with Tony LaRussa. Let’s face it, if it gets by the editors at MLB.com than there is probably something to it.
This is a bad time for Pujols to go into the first slump of his career. It’s possible that he could be a free agent at the end of this season should the team decline his option at $16 million. I seriously don’t think that will be an issue but you never know.
Add into the mix that Dan Lozano who is Pujols’ agent, is making an exit from Beverly Hills Sports Council to start his own agency. Lozano plans to keep Pujols as a client.
I’m no Cardinals fan but with them battling it out with the Reds, this is no time for their star player to get into a slump possibly fueled by a nagging injury (purely conjecture on my part) or to get involved in any dugout dramas.Albert Pujols, cardinals
Last night I went down to St Louis to see the University of Illinois baseball team play at Busch Stadium. They were playing the University of Missouri Tigers. The game was billed as “The Battle at Busch”.
Despite a quick 4-1 lead after two innings, Illinois ended up losing 7-4. The experience was fun though. And I got to see an excellent example of a delayed double steal by the Illini. Woo!
I posted a quick summary and a few photos at the Illinois Baseball Report.cardinals, College Baseball, Illinois baseball