All posts by Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.

Good Duncan, Bad Duncan, Good Ending


Perhaps never before have the good and bad rolled together into the package that is St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Chris Duncan been more evident than in game one of the Chicago Cubs series on Thursday afternoon.

Bad Duncan

In the initial inning with a runner on first, Duncan, positioned in left field almost on the track, had a long way to run in on a pop fly to short left by Kosuke Fukudome. Khalil Greene, running out from his shortstop position, tried to make the catch with his back to the infield. As Duncan peeled off, the ball bounced off Greene’s glove.

Alfonso Soriano, the runner ahead of Fukudome, scored the Cubs’ first run of the game later in the inning. What was originally correctly called an error was changed by the scorer to a home-field double. FOX Sports Midwest color man Al Hrabosky asserted that Duncan should have gotten to that ball. Gotta’ agree.

Good Duncan

In the fourth, Duncan demonstrated his considerable power when blasting a two-run home run into the screen just over the right-field wall at the 368 foot mark off Cubs left-handed starter Sean Marshall. The pair of runs broke a 1-1 tie.

Good Duncan

Next time up in the sixth, Duncan reached base again on a 3-2 single past second. On an apparent hit-and-run with Greene, Duncan was left unprotected. While he was thrown out at second base, Duncan’s slide was an excellent one, off to the outfield side with only his left hand reachable. Unfortunately later in the at-bat, Greene untied the game with what could have been a two-run home run.

Bad Duncan

With the game again tied, a runner on base and no outs in the sixth, Duncan flat out dropped an easy fly ball to left as it clunked off his glove. For whatever reason, ever since having been converted to the outfield, Duncan has been allowed to try to catch the ball with his glove hand only. Why this has never been corrected continues to amaze me. It almost bit him and the Cardinals once again.

Making matters worse, after picking up the ball, Duncan did a complete spin and fired the ball toward Brendan Ryan covering second base. The runner was likely safe even before Duncan attempted the throw.

Though the ball appeared slightly off line and the runner was standing on second, Ryan seemed glued to the bag. The throw eluded him for the second error on the play, allowing the runners to move up. Amazingly, Cards starter Adam Wainwright escaped what would become a bases-loaded jam with no runs allowed.

Good Duncan

In the top of the next inning, the seventh, the offense rewarded Wainwright with the go-ahead run scoring on Yadier Molina’s single. Duncan gave the Cards a two-run cushion with another 3-2 single up the middle against lefty reliever Neal Cotts, brought in specifically to face him.

Duncan then left the game in favor of Skip Schumaker taking over defensively in left via a double switch with pitcher Kyle McClellan relieving Wainwright.

Good and Bad Duncan

His tally on the day: Duncan extended his hitting streak to ten games with three safeties including a home run, three RBI, a run scored, a strikeout, a caught stealing along with what should have been two fielding errors and a questionable throw.

The bottom line: A 7-4 Cardinals victory at Wrigley Field.

Fewer recent Cards top draft picks made the bigs


The St. Louis Cardinals media notes last week called attention to the fact that Colby Rasmus’ MLB debut marked the first first-round draft pick by the organization to reach the big leagues with the club since J.D. Drew (pictured) in 1998.

That is true, depending on how you classify the supplemental first round. Chris Duncan, taken 46th overall in 1999 in the supplemental first round also has been a major leaguer for the better part of four years.

That got me to thinking about how dry the top end of the Cardinals recent drafts have been. (When you have been following the team as long as I have, even 1998 seems fairly recent!)

In a series of articles called “Doctoring the Numbers” featured at Baseball Prospectus in 2006, writer Rany Jazayerli looked at 16 years of draft output across MLB. He determined that 49.3% of the top 100 players taken in the draft reached the major leagues – with any club.

Another study mentioned at Dugout Central last summer notes that 67% of first-round draft picks make the major leagues. That analysis covered 36 years worth of data, from 1965 until 2001.

With that backdrop, let’s look at how the Cardinals’ picks in the first round and in the top 100 have fared from when Drew was taken 1998 up until Rasmus’ selection in 2005.

First, I present the raw data, with future major leaguers’ names in bold. The highest level of play attained by all 21 players is noted, bookended by Drew on the front end and Rasmus on the back end. Drew and his 1998 class are included in the numbers that follow, but Rasmus and the 2005 draft are not, as the jury is still out on many of those players.

1998
Rd Ov Name Pos High
1 5 J.D. Drew OF MLB
1s 32 Ben Diggins P MLB
2 48 Chad Hutchinson P MLB
2 55 Tim Lemon OF A+
3 78 Gabe Johnson IF AAA
1999
Rd Ov Name Pos High
1 30 Chance Caple P A+
1s 36 Nick Stocks P AAA
1s 46 Chris Duncan IF MLB
2s 82 Josh Pearce P MLB
2000
Rd Ov Name Pos High
1 13 Shaun Boyd IF AAA
1 24 Blake Williams P A+
2 53 Chris Narveson P MLB
3 83 Chase Voshell IF A+
2001
Rd Ov Name Pos High
1 28 Justin Pope P AAA
2 72 Dan Haren P MLB
2002
none
2003
Rd Ov Name Pos High
1 28 Daric Barton C MLB
2 65 Stuart Pomeranz P AA
3 95 Dennis Dove P MLB
2004
Rd Ov Name Pos High
1 19 Chris Lambert P MLB
2 60 Mike Ferris 1B AAA
3 90 Eric Haberer P AA
(2005)
Rd Ov Name Pos High
1 28 Colby Rasmus OF MLB

First round

Rd 1 MLB Rd 1 MLB Rd 1 % Make
with StL Other club Miss MLB MLB
1998 1 0 0
1999 0 0 1
2000 0 0 2
2001 0 0 1
2002 0 0 0
2003 0 1 0
2004 0 1 0
total 1 2 4 43%
MLB avg 67%

As the table shows, during the seven years of 1998 through 2004, the Cardinals had seven picks in the first 30 selections, including two in 2000 and none in 2002. The Cardinals lost their first two picks in the latter year due to the free agent signings of Jason Isringhausen and Tino Martinez.

In addition to Drew, two others from this group of seven eventually made the major leagues, though neither Daric Barton (Oakland) nor Chris Lambert (Detroit) did it while still wearing a Cardinals uniform.

That 43% yield, albeit on a very small sample, is substantially lower than the 67% expected.

Though the study data referenced above does not further delineate the spot in the first round in which the picks are made, it is worth noting that Drew was the only one of the seven Cardinals picks taken in the first dozen in any given year and only three were in the top 20. In other words, four of the seven were in the back third of the first round. Still, 67 percent is 67 percent.

First round including supplemental picks

Rd 1+ MLB Rd 1+ MLB Rd 1+ % Make
with StL Other club Miss MLB MLB
1998 1 1 0
1999 1 0 2
2000 0 0 2
2001 0 0 1
2002 0 0 0
2003 0 1 0
2004 0 1 0
total 2 3 5 50%

I couldn’t locate any historical first round data that clearly delineated when supplemental picks were included. Therefore, I have no point of comparison for the 50% highlighted here, other than to note that while it isn’t all that great, it is slightly higher than the “pure” first round-only results of 43%. That seems counterintuitive, but perhaps it is an indication of the slightly larger population of players.

To go along with the three names mentioned just above plus Duncan, pitcher Ben Diggins, the number 32 pick overall in 1998, debuted with the 2002 Milwaukee Brewers.

Top 100 picks

Top 100 MLB Top 100 MLB Top 100 % Make
with StL Other club Miss MLB MLB
1998 2 1 2
1999 2 0 2
2000 1 0 3
2001 1 0 1
2002 0 0 0
2003 1 1 1
2004 0 1 2
total 7 3 11 47.6%
MLB avg 49.3%

Expanding the aperture to the top 100 players drafted each year adds five more MLB’ers, all of whom debuted with St. Louis. Of the five, only Dan Haren has been an impact player in the bigs, though.

Ten of the Cardinals’ 21 top 100 picks made starting with Drew and ending before the Rasmus selection reached the major leagues. That success rate of 47.6% is only slightly below Jazayerli’s 49.3% cross-MLB expectation.

Quantity vs. quality

Note that this article does not delineate between a “cup of coffee” player and a long-time major league contributor. To assess the longer term value of Cardinals draftees, please reference Dave Spitze’s pair of published articles at Scout.com.

The essence of the conclusion made is that the Cardinals are one of the top two clubs in MLB in terms of total player at-bats and innings pitched as well as key stats accrued by their draftees.

The catch is that many of those players had previously been traded away by the club. That reality was a by-product of the organizational strategy then in place – to swap top prospects for established major leaguers.

Using Woody to estimate Carp’s return


Waiting for official news from injured St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter’s return to St. Louis for further medical evaluation may take a day or so. In the interim, we can speculate a bit based on early information from the club.

Former Cardinals hurler Woody Williams (pictured in 2002) was mentioned by general manager John Mozeliak as a comparable situation to Carpenter’s left ribcage or oblique injury suffered on Tuesday night in Arizona.

The specifics are this: Williams went onto the disabled list on July 7, 2002 and remained there for 53 days, coming off on August 29. Projecting that timetable into 2009 would have Carp returning on or about June 1, missing approximately eight starts or one-quarter of the season considering a normal five-man rotation.

Looking at Williams’ game logs from 2002, he carried a 2.35 ERA into his DL stint. In his return on August 29, he was touched up for five runs on eight hits in four innings. It was his worst outing of the season by a considerable margin.

However, Woody bounced back quickly, allowing just one run over his next 18 innings and three starts, all wins. Williams finished the 2002 regular season with a 2.53 ERA.

At the time of his injury, Williams was 35 years of age, actually marking his 36th birthday while on the disabled list. Carpenter, now 33, will turn 34 on the 27th of this month, most likely also while on the shelf. In fact, 2009 will mark Carp’s third consecutive birthday “celebrated” from the vantage of the disabled list.

What does all this mean for the oft-injured Carpenter and the 2009 Cardinals? Only time will tell.

Breaking down the Cards bullpen


The words selected for the title might be misinterpreted, especially if I had added a colon between “down” and “the”, so let’s instead choose the less-controversial meaning – a look into the numbers behind the performance of the St. Louis Cardinals relievers through the first nine games of the season.

The timing is certainly not random. As most Cards fans know, starter/ace Chris Carpenter had to leave Tuesday’s game against Arizona after three innings with a ribcage injury. That left 18 outs or six innings for the bullpen to secure, or as it turned out with the game going into the tenth inning, the revised goal became to get 21 outs.

Unfortunately, out number 21 was never made as the tenth batter facing Brad Thompson, Eric Byrnes, stroked the winning hit into the left-field corner to end a very disappointing 7-6 loss.

The most damaging blow prior was a three-run home run served up by Josh Kinney with two outs in the eighth. The right-hander walked the opposing catcher, Miguel Montero and hit Justin Upton with a full-count offering before pinch-hitter Conor Jackson slammed a long ball to left (pictured). That turned a one-run lead into a two-run deficit and became the first blown save of the year for Kinney and the third for the Cardinals against three saves.

As a group, the 2009 Cardinals bullpen was expected to be a younger, more improved relief corps compared to their inconsistent and disappointing 2008 predecessors. As the data below shows, through nine games, the anticipated improvement is not there.

In just about every measurement, the 2009 relievers have started more poorly than the 2008 group, whether you consider won-loss record, save conversion rate or ERA. In the latter case, the 2009 pen is three-quarters of a run per nine innings worse than last season. The only area of improvement shown here is strikeout-to-walk ratio.

I also listed the National League bullpen averages as a secondary point of comparison. Not surprisingly, the 2008 Cardinals pen was worse than the NL average in every one of these categories. Only a low walk rate keeps the same statement from being made about the current crew.

Though the 2009 totals are small, note that the members of the Cardinals pen have thrown more innings than the NL average this season. That is a contrast to their level from last year, a period during which some considered the relievers had become overworked.

2008 relievers W L W % Sv BS Sv % ERA IP BB K K:BB
Cardinals 22 31 0.415 42 31 0.575 4.20 499 230 381 1.66
NL average 26 27 0.493 38 23 0.623 4.09 514 219 432 1.97
2009 relievers W L W % Sv BS Sv % ERA IP BB K K:BB
Cardinals 0 2 0.000 3 3 0.500 5.06 26.2 8 19 2.38
NL average 1 1 0.481 2 1 0.667 4.45 24 12 20 1.63

Following are the current stats from the seven individuals that make up the 2009 Cardinals bullpen. Note at the lower right that the relievers’ ERA is over three runs per nine innings worse than the starters.

2009 W/L Sv Opps Sv % Inh Rnrs Score IRS % 1st Btr Ret 1BR % ERA WHIP OBA OBP
Franklin 0-0 1/1 100 1/0 0 2/2 100 0.00 0.38 0.111 0.111
Kinney 0-0 0/1 0 4/1 25 3/2 66 13.50 2.25 0.200 0.467
McClellan 0-0 1/1 100 3/0 0 3/3 100 2.25 1.00 0.188 0.235
Miller 0-0 0/1 0 3/2 66 3/2 66 0.00 1.00 0.231 0.231
Motte 0-1 0/1 0 0/0 NA 4/1 25 11.25 2.25 0.320 0.455
Reyes 0-0 1/1 100 2/1 50 4/3 75 0.00 0.27 0.083 0.083
Thompson 0-1 0/0 NA 0/0 NA 4/3 75 6.75 1.80 0.345 0.375
Relievers 0-2 3/6 50 13/4 31 23/16 70 5.06
Starters 1.96
Team 2.98

Won/loss: Thompson and Jason Motte have the only bullpen decisions – a pair of ugly bookends. Motte earned the defeat on opening day and Thompson took it on the chin in the most recent contest on Tuesday night.

Save opportunities: On Tuesday, Kinney joined Motte and Trever Miller in the negative category. The three conversions were by Ryan Franklin, Dennys Reyes and Kyle McClellan.

Inherited runners scoring: Miller has the poorest early record here, as two of the three runners on base when he entered the game came around to score. Reyes allowed his first inherited runner to cross the plate on Tuesday night. McClellan has been the best here so far.

First batter retired: Generally, this looks ok with one exception. Tuesday night marked the first time in his four outings this season that Motte kept his initial batter off the bases. His troubles have been of his own making. Each time, Motte has been allowed to come in with the bases empty.

ERA/WHIP: There is no in-between. Kinney, Motte and Thompson aren’t getting the job done in the early going. Way too many baserunners with too many of them crossing the plate. (As a reference point, a WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) of 1.40 or slightly under is league average.)

Opponent batting average/on-base percentage: Kinney’s lack of control is killing him, Thompson’s problem has been hits while Motte is struggling in both areas.


What to do?

I seriously wondered if Chris Perez was only the eighth-best reliever on the Cardinals this spring and am continuing to ask myself the same question.

Sent to Memphis to open the season, Perez has pitched four innings over three games. He has a win and two saves on no hits and three walks. Perez has fanned four Triple-A batters.

If the Cardinals need to call up a pitcher from Memphis to backfill Carpenter, it may be someone who can start, such as P.J. Walters, but the shaky bullpen appears that it could use a shot of life, too.

All about Albert


It is surprisingly easy to seem to take what Albert Pujols accomplishes on the field of play for granted. It isn’t something I would ever plan to do, but it just seems to happen.

Looking back, since starting this blog in December, I have made almost 200 formal posts. Yet the best player in the game has been the primary subject just five times – two articles relating to the World Baseball Classic, one about his contract status and two concerning steroids.

I haven’t ignored him completely, though. One of my accomplished objectives for spring training this year was to sit down with Pujols to discuss his humanitarian efforts. He is prickly with the press as he can be inundated with requests to discuss baseball, the reaction for which I can hardly blame him, but warms up when the topic is helping others.

Pujols received substantial notice across the baseball world this past weekend as the result of two big home runs and seven RBI in Saturday’s Cardinals 11-2 home win over the Houston Astros.

The reality is that Pujols has been quietly delivering all along.

As I look around the net this morning, the main storylines from Monday evening’s 2-1 Cardinals win over Arizona are Todd Wellemeyer’s sharp seven innings of work, the “revenge” game-winning home run by Brian Barden to sink his former club and the shaky yet ultimately effective ninth inning stint from closer-by-default Ryan Franklin.

All are most valid, yet there seems scant acknowledgment of Pujols’ solo home run in the fourth inning. It was at least as important as his feats on Saturday as it set the tone, putting the Cardinals up in a tight pitching duel in their very first road game of the season.

In salute of Pujols, this post touches on just a few of his many recent feats.

Monday

Albert has reached base safely in 16 of his first 34 plate appearances to begin the regular season. His current line for 2009 is .357/.471/.821.

Pujols leads the Cardinals with 10 RBI. Only one other player (Ryan Ludwick) has even half.

With his RBI Monday, Pujols needs just 13 to reach 1000 for his career.

Since Pujols’ 2001 debut, the Cardinals are now 703-544 (.564) all-time when he appeared in a game.

Albert is one of eight active players to have appeared in 700 or more wins with their original teams.

Pujols has played in 1247 games for St. Louis, one of 13 current players who have played 1000-plus games with one team. Atlanta’s Chipper Jones (2029 games) and the Yankees’ Derek Jeter (1992) top the list.

Chipper is also the active leader in home runs (409) for a player who has played his entire career with one franchise. With his NL-leading four this season, Pujols’ Cardinals and career count is 323. Mike Schmidt is the all-time leader with 548 home runs while playing exclusively for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Among players who have played 60-plus percent of their time at first base this decade, Pujols has taken the positional home run lead over the Mets’ Carlos Delgado 323-321. Oakland’s Jason Giambi is next with 290.

Saturday

Albert’s first two home run game of 2009 included a 431-foot third-deck grand slam into Big Mac Land, and a three run shot. The bases loaded blast was his seventh in his eight-plus year career. It was his 24th career multi-home run game.

The seven RBI matched his career single-game high for a second time. Pujols also tied the Cardinals career record for games with seven-or-more RBIs. Four other Cardinals have a pair of such games since baseball began compiling RBIs officially in 1920. Three are in the Hall of Fame – Jim Bottomley, Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial. The other is Silent George Hendrick, who had seven-RBI games in 1978 and 1982.

Pujols currently leads all players with 200 career RBI at the new Busch Stadium, accrued in 231 games played there.

When Pujols has four or more RBI, the Cardinals have a 39-2 record and are 20-4 all-time in his multi-home run games.

Wednesday

The former Gold Glove Award winner at first base collected seven assists Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Five were on groundouts with the pitcher covering first base.

Pujols’ seven assists in one game set the all-time record for Cardinals first basemen and represent the most by any Major League first baseman in a nine inning game since Pittsburgh’s Bob Robertson had eight almost 38 years ago – on June 21, 1971.

Last Monday

Pujols started the season right last Monday against the Pirates with his first-ever three-hit Opening Day game.

Season records

Pujols current run of eight 30-home run and 30-double seasons ties Manny Ramirez for the longest stretch in MLB history. Pujols can own the record alone in 2009.

Most Consecutive Seasons 30 HR-30 2B – MLB

Albert Pujols 8 2001-2008
Manny Ramirez 8 1998-2005
Jeff Bagwell 7 1996-2002
Carlos Delgado 7 1997-2003
Albert Belle 7 1993-99
Todd Helton 6 1999-2004
Lou Gehrig 6 1929-1934

After a two year break, Manny collected his tenth 30-30 season in 2008. Albert is two behind for their careers, but he is just 29 years old while Ramirez turns 37 next month.

Most Seasons 30 HR-30 2B – MLB

Manny Ramirez 10 1996,1998-2005,2008
Carlos Delgado 10 1997-2003, 2005-06,2008
Lou Gehrig 9 1927,1929-1934,1936-37
Jimmie Foxx 9 1930-33,1935-36,1938-40
Albert Pujols 8 2001-2008
Jeff Bagwell 8 1994,1996-2002
Alex Rodriquez 7 1996,1998,2000,2001,2003,2007-2008
Rafael Palmeiro 7 1993,1995-96,1998-99,2001-02
Barry Bonds 7 1990,1992-93,1995,1998,2001-02
Albert Belle 7 1993-99
Ted Williams 6 1939,1941-42,1946-47, 1949
Frank Thomas 6 1991,1993-94,1997,2000,2003
Babe Ruth 6 1920-21,1923-24,1926,1931
Frank Robinson 6 1959-62,1965-66
Stan Musial 6 1948-49,1951,1953-55
Todd Helton 6 1999-2004
Vladimir Guerrero 6 1998-2002,2004,2006
Hank Aaron 6 1958-59,1961,1965,1967,1969

Pujols leads the Cardinals franchise all-time in the number of both consecutive and total 40 and 30 home run seasons and trails Musial by just two in consecutive 20 home run years.

Consecutive 20 HR seasons – StL

Musial 10
Pujols 8
Boyer 7
Edmonds 6
White 5
McGwire 5
Lankford 4
Simmons 4
Mize 4

Consecutive 30 HR seasons – StL

Pujols 8
Musial 3
McGwire 3
Edmonds 2
Lankford 2

Consecutive 40 HR seasons – StL

Pujols 4
McGwire 2

10 HR seasons – StL

21 Musial
11 Boyer
10 Slaughter
9 Lankford
8 Pujols Bottomley Edmonds Simmons
7 White Medwick
6 Renteria Hendrick Torre Mize Brock Hornsby
5 Hafey Drew McGwire Collins Kurowski
4 Jordan Flood Porter Hernandez Shannon Repulski Rolen Zeile Moon
3 Paquette Frisch Gaetti Javier Cepeda Gant McCarver

20 HR seasons – StL

10 Musial
8 Pujols Boyer
6 Edmonds Lankford
5 White McGwire Simmons
4 Mize Hornsby
3 Hafey Bottomley Medwick Collins Rolen Kurowski
2 Jordan Duncan Clark Torre Re Sanders Gant Brunansky

30 HR seasons – StL

8 Pujols
6 Musial
4 Edmonds
3 McGwire
2 Lankford Hornsby

40 HR seasons – StL

4 Pujols
2 Edmonds McGwire
1 Mize Hornsby

Addendum: Since 1954, the Cardinals have only seen two players deliver two different two home run, seven RBI or greater performances. As expected, the two are Pujols and Musial. Among current Cardinals, Rick Ankiel has accomplished the feat once.

Player Date Opp G Reslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI
Albert Pujols 4/11/2009 HOU W 11-2 4 4 2 2 0 0 2 7
Albert Pujols 8/22/2006 @NYM L 7-8 4 4 2 2 0 0 2 7
Stan Musial 6/23/1961 SFG W 10-5 5 4 2 2 0 0 2 7
Stan Musial 8/5/1954 @BRO W 13-4 6 4 3 2 0 0 2 7
Mark Whiten 9/07/93(2) @CIN W 15-2 5 5 4 4 0 0 4 12
Mark McGwire 5/18/2000 @PHI W 7-2 5 4 3 3 0 0 3 7
Rick Ankiel 9/6/2007 PIT W 16-4 5 4 4 3 1 0 2 7
Scott Rolen 9/15/2006 SFG W 14-4 4 4 2 3 1 0 2 7
Fernando Tatis 4/23/1999 @LAD W 12-5 5 5 2 2 0 0 2 8
George Hendrick 8/25/1978 @ATL W 11-10 6 5 3 4 1 0 2 7
Ken Reitz 6/28/77(2) PIT W 13-3 5 5 3 3 0 0 2 8
Dick Allen 6/2/1970 SFG W 12-1 5 5 3 3 0 0 2 7


In compiling these factoids, a tip of the cap is made to Lee Sinins’ Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, Tom Orf, Billy-Ball.com and the St. Louis Cardinals media relations department.

Rotating the Cardinals outfielders


As expected, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is drawing heat in some quarters for his first-week deployment of his four outfielders. Yet the skipper is doing exactly what he said down in Florida he would do when the regular season began – rotate at-bats among his four “starters”.

Of course, the four are incumbents Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel and Chris Duncan along with rookie Colby Rasmus. Ludwick is coming off a rough spring, while Ankiel and Duncan each missed the end of the 2008 season due to surgeries and though he remains one of the top prospects in baseball, Rasmus is unproven at the major league level.

The simple math says that to share playing time equally, one outfielder is going to sit every fourth day. Coming into Sunday’s final game of the Houston Astros series which ended the initial seven-game homestand, Ankiel led the group with 20 at-bats. Guess which one of the four didn’t start on Easter?

Through the first two series, here is how the at-bats have been distributed:

Ankiel 20

Duncan 20

Ludwick 18

Rasmus 18

With three middle infield reserves on the roster, Skip Schumaker has been serving as the defacto fifth outfielder. The starting second baseman has been moved to the outfield late in games as the manager puts in a more experienced defender at the second base position while trying to protect a lead.

No matter which outfielder’s name is not written in the starting lineup on any given day, there is going to be a segment of fans in disagreement.

Some want to see Ankiel as an every-day regular, always positioned in centerfield. Many believe Ludwick’s right-handed RBI bat has to be written on the lineup card in ink. Others point to a rejuvenated Duncan and want his power production in left while a vocal group view Rasmus as the club’s best and most athletic option in center.

Each of them has a good case, but so far, La Russa is sticking to his plan. With the Cardinals enjoying a 5-2 break out of the gate that represents the best record in the National League Central Division, it seems to be working for now.


Right field footnote
: Coming off his All-Star, Silver Slugger Award 2008 campaign, right fielder Ludwick’s presence in the outfield rotation may be the one of the four drawing the most criticism of La Russa’s approach.

As a point of reference, Tom Orf recently sent me the following, which documents the Cardinals opening day right fielder over the last quarter century and concludes it is a position of high turnover.

2009 Mon, Apr 6 vs PIT L 4-6 Ludwick
2008 Tue, Apr 1 vs COL L 1-2 Schumaker
2007 Sun, Apr 1 vs NYM L 1-6 Wilson
2006 Mon, Apr 3 at PHI W 13-5 Encarnacion
2005 Tue, Apr 5 at HOU W 7-3 Walker
2004 Mon, Apr 5 vs MIL L 6-8 Sanders
2003 Mon, Mar 31 vs MIL W 11-9 Marrero
2002 Mon, Apr 1 vs COL W 10-2 Drew
2001 Mon, Apr 2 at COL L 0-8 Drew
2000 Mon, Apr 3 vs CHC W 7-1 Davis
1999 Mon, Apr 5 vs MIL L 8-10 Davis
1998 Tue, Mar 31 vs LAD W 6-0 Jordan
1997 Tue, Apr 1 at MON L 1-2 McGee
1996 Mon, Apr 1 at NYM L 6-7 McGee
1995 Wed, Apr 2 6 vs PHL W 7-6 Jordan
1994 Sun, Apr 3 at CIN W 6-4 Whiten
1993 Tue, Apr 6 vs SFG L 1-2) Whiten
1992 Mon, Apr 6 vs NYM L 2-4 Thompson
1991 Tue, Apr 9 at CHC W 4-1 Jose
1990 Mon, Apr 9 vs MON W 6-5 Brunansky
1989 Mon, Apr 3 at NYM L 4-8 Brunansky
1988 Mon, Apr 4 at CIN L 4-5 Lindeman
1987 Tue, Apr 7 at CHC W 9-3 Lindeman
1986 Tue, Apr 8 vs CHC W 2-1 Van Slyke
1985 Tue, Apr 9 at NYM L 5-6 Braun

Since George Hendrick started five straight opening days (1980-84), no one has started more than two opening days with 19 total different players in the 25 years starting opening day in right field.

Even if you go back 50 years, the next most opening day starts in right field is just three, by Reggie Smith (1974-76) and Joe Cunningham (1959-61).

Glaus: Guilty once, so guilty twice?


On Saturday, The New York Times published an article called “Inside a Tempting World of Easy Steroids”. Its author, Michael S. Schmidt (not to be confused with Hall of Fame third baseman Michael Jack Schmidt) outlines alleged details behind the acquisition and use of steroids by several major leaguers during the years 2000-2004.

The highlighted group of players includes then-Angels and now-Cardinals third baseman Troy Glaus.

The article’s details come via previously undisclosed evidence from a federal investigation of a since-indicted anti-aging doctor from California named Ramon Scruggs.

Glaus was reportedly using steroids prescribed by Scruggs sight unseen during 2003 and 2004 to help recover from a shoulder injury. This was especially surprising as the events apparently occurred after MLB had instituted their initial testing program.

Pressure was Glaus’ reason to take the step, stating he was “willing to take the risk” because he needed to play, according the Times. The article went on to document the frequency and duration of Glaus injecting himself with the steroids nandrolone and testosterone.

The NYT report notes that in 2005, Glaus told investigators that he stopped using steroids at the end of August 2004, but the piece ends abruptly with a description of the third baseman’s current shoulder woes. The treatment left me wondering what point they were trying to make.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch picked up the story from there, quoting the previous connection of injury and steroid use by Glaus as being “concerning” to Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak.

“Anytime something like this resurfaces in the context of him currently going through rehab, it’s concerning. We’re still hopeful it’s something he can work through and at the end it’s unrelated,” Mozeliak told the paper.

Mozeliak plans to meet with his third baseman as the Cardinals arrive in Arizona for a three-game series Monday through Wednesday. Glaus is rehabbing his shoulder in the Phoenix area.


Walton’s take
: Here’s how I see it. Yes, five and six years ago, Glaus apparently used steroids at a time he knew it was against MLB rules.

Since then, he was caught, interrogated by Federal agents, named in the original Signature Pharmacy investigation and fingered in the Mitchell Report. Glaus has declined comment about the matter publicly.

Specifically, via a Sports Illustrated report in 2007, Glaus was connected to Scruggs and Signature Pharmacy, a Florida-based internet business that sent out numerous shipments of performance-enhancing drugs to professional athletes.

So, exactly what is new?

As far as I can tell, almost nothing except the NYT report appears to confirm Glaus’ use via his own leaked statements, where before all that seemed proven was that he received shipments of steroids. I guess that is mildly newsworthy, but to me, disclosing when he supposedly shot up feels more like ambulance chasing than anything. It all just lines up with what was already assumed by most everyone except perhaps the most naive, anyway.

The currency of his shoulder woes and rehab in Arizona away from the team is topical, but again, already documented. The implication that Glaus might be tempted to consider using steroids again to help speed his rehab here in 2009 seems completely inappropriate and unfair.

Given all he has been through since using previously plus stricter MLB testing policies and penalties than were in place back in 2003 and 2004, if Glaus needs a stern talking-to by the GM or prodding from newspaper articles to ensure he remains clean, he is far beyond help, anyway.

Much more likely, Glaus deserves the benefit of the doubt that he has learned his lesson and will not screw up again, but that isn’t newsworthy, is it?

Where does Motte’s baby step lead?


On Saturday, St. Louis Cardinals reliever Jason Motte tossed a scoreless sixth inning in a game against the Houston Astros that had a 6-0 score at the time. It was a necessary step backward then forward as Motte ended his first eventful week in the spotlight as a major league closer.

There were several interesting implications in terms of when he was used – the inning of the game and place in the opposing lineup – as well as in terms of his immediate availability.

Motte pitched in what became his first consecutive games this season, a realistic requirement that had to be put on hold after his 29-pitch marathon on opening day.

Pitching on consecutive days allowed Motte to get back onto the mound quickly after his shaky outing on Friday. That is in contrast to the three games taken off following his Monday struggles against Pittsburgh.

Another by-product is that Motte will likely be unavailable Sunday, ensuring a different closer will be used if needed for the conclusion of what could be a Cardinals sweep of their NL Central Division rivals from Houston.

On Saturday, the right-hander faced the middle of the Astros lineup, the number four through seven hitters. After a single to cleanup man Carlos Lee, Motte fanned Ivan Rodriguez and Geoff Blum to complete his inning of work.

This was in contrast to his second outing of the season on Friday. In that game, Motte was set up to pitch to the bottom third of the Astros order, but didn’t get the job done against what should have been the easiest part of the lineup. Rodriguez and pinch-hitter Jeff Keppinger both singled before Motte was pulled with one out in the ninth.

On opening day, Motte had taken over with the number two batter coming up and ended up facing the entire Pirates order except for the leadoff man in a game in which he was charged with four earned runs, a blown save and the loss.

While Saturday’s clean outing was a good move forward for Motte, as the Cardinals leave town for their first road trip of the season, the question of his next steps remain.

Dennys Reyes and Kyle McClellan already have a save each and Ryan Franklin, the man some expected to be the kid closer safety net, has performed only in a setup role to date.

Meanwhile, demoted closer candidate Chris Perez has logged three hitless innings over two games with Triple-A Memphis. He has accrued a save and a win. As is characteristic with Perez, he has three strikeouts, but also issued a pair of walks.

It was not part of the plan to open the season in St. Louis with both closer candidates on the roster since more long men were needed due to the heavy early schedule of 34 games in 35 days.

At some point in the not too distant future, the major league club may be better equipped for the long haul with both Perez and Motte in their bullpen.

Perdomo’s moves from StL to SF to SD reinforce mistake


Reliever Luis Perdomo, left unprotected by the St. Louis Cardinals this past winter and subsequently selected by the San Francisco Giants with the sixth pick overall in December’s Rule 5 Draft, has been claimed off waivers by San Diego and will join the Padres’ major league bullpen.

Perdomo, the Cardinals’ entire take from Cleveland in the dump trade of former top prospect Anthony Reyes last summer, then pitched for Double-A Springfield last season. The 24-year-old seemed to have assumed Reyes’ role as a prime organizational enigma, while the original, Reyes, can now be found in the Indians’ starting rotation.

In 2009 major league spring training, Perdomo did a credible job for San Francisco, and seemed to have made the team. Instead, he struggled in his last couple of outings and ended up being a surprise late cut.

When not making the Giants and before being able to return to the Cardinals, the right-hander had to be placed on irrevocable waivers, where he was nabbed by the Padres. The Dominican republic native is still required to remain in the majors for the remainder of the 2009 regular season or the waiver process will be repeated.

San Diego has been a popular recent destination for Cardinals relievers that appeared with Double-A Springfield. In addition to Perdomo, now-injured Mark Worrell and Luke Gregerson headed West in the Khalil Greene trade.

Given the struggling status of the Padres, if Perdomo pitches as well for them as he did with the Giants, he has a very good chance of sticking with the West Division club, winners of just 63 games last season and projected by some to be just as bad or worse in 2009.

Cardinals GM John Mozeliak was recently quoted as saying that given the opportunity, his organization would take Perdomo back and assign him to the Triple-A Memphis bullpen. Despite Perdomo not being required to be placed on the 40-man roster if returned, the Cards say they would do it, anyway.

That statement implicitly acknowledges the mistake made by the Cardinals in not protecting Perdomo in the first place. If he is good enough to be placed on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster now, why wasn’t he back in December?

There was room on the roster at that time, just as there is today. The Cardinals protected Matt Scherer, who was one of the first cuts in spring training camp, while Perdomo has proven to be an asset valuable enough to have been wanted by at least two other organizations to compete at the major league level.

If the Cards felt the two relievers were worthy, why weren’t both kept? At a minimum, it is clear that Perdomo had trade value that was wasted by the organization. Instead, all the Cardinals have to show for Perdomo (and therefore, Reyes) is the paltry Rule 5 sum of $50,000.

Other than closer Chris Perez and perhaps recently-converted starter Jess Todd, Memphis seems short of right-handed relievers that could be considered major league ready, a statement that excludes Scherer at this time. Therefore, to suggest Perdomo was redundant or unneeded seems inconsistent with reality.


Note
: For those interested in where former Cardinals major and minor leaguers are landing in 2009, make sure you check out Cardinals Best News Links daily.

The Cardinals organization roster matrix: regular season


Welcome to the refreshed St. Louis Cardinals roster matrix published to celebrate the start of the regular season for the major league club and the four full-season affiliates.

The initial versions of those four minor league rosters, Memphis, Springfield, Palm Beach and Quad Cities, are complete. Also included are injured and suspended players as well as those granted personal leave.

All of the invitees to Extended Spring Training camp are included together, a group that currently sits at 78 players with five more scheduled to arrive next month. The three US-based short-season rosters, for Batavia, Johnson City and the Gulf Coast League Cardinals, are left blank for the time being.

Come June, those clubs will be populated from the EST standouts as well as 2009 draftees and free agent signings. I will keep this roster matrix updated between now and then and then republish another fresh version once the short-season rosters are announced.

Most of the remainder of the EST players will return to the Dominican and Venezuelan Summer Leagues. The additional 62 players on the DSL and VSL rosters not invited to the US are listed below in their most recent league assignments.

All told, the organization currently has 282 players under contract, from St. Louis down through the Venezuelan Summer League Cardinals.

Like everything here at The Cardinal Nation, the matrix is provided at no charge. That doesn’t mean it didn’t take a lot of work to create and maintain. Please be respectful and link back here if you want to reference the matrix rather than copying it elsewhere.

Remember, this Roster Matrix can always be accessed in several ways. You can enter the term “roster matrix” in the blue search box in the upper right of the site or access this information through the top red menu bar under “Players/Staff” > “Depth Charts/Roster Matrix”.

Update 4/10: RHP Andres Rosales promoted from EST to QC to replace suspended Deryk Hooker

Update 4/13: 2B Oliver Marmol placed on Palm Beach DL, Jose Garcia promoted from EST to Palm Beach. Mark Hamilton activated by Springfield from EST, Brandon Buckman placed on the Springfield DL.

Update 4/15: Chris Carpenter to 15-day DL, Brad Thompson optioned to Memphis. Chris Perez and Mitchell Boggs promoted from Memphis to StL.

Update 4/16: LHR Royce Ring activated from Memphis 7-day DL.

Update 4/17: RHS P.J. Walters from Memphis to StL, RHR Josh Kinney optioned out. 2B Aaron Luna to Quad Cities DL, C Blake Murphy activated.

Update 4/20: OF Brian Barton traded to Atlanta for RHR Blaine Boyer.

Update 4/21: 3B David Freese optioned to Memphis to make room for Boyer in StL.

Update 4/23: RHR Kenny Maiques assigned to Extended Spring Training from Springfield. Eddie Degerman activated from PB DL to Springfield. OF Paul Cruz to Quad Cities DL. 2B Brett Lilley promoted to QC from EST.

Update 4/24: OF Amaury Marti injured (Oaxaca Guerreros of the Mexican League. LHP Katsuhiko Maekawa placed on Memphis 7-day DL.

Update 4/25: Acquired LHP Evan MacLane from Triple-A Reno (Arizona). Assigned to Triple-A Memphis. 282 players under contract.

Update 4/27: LHS Ryan Kulik promoted from PB to Spr as LHS Justin Fiske placed on DL. RHS Scott Gorgen promoted from Extended Spring Training.

Update 4/30: IF Brendan Ryan placed on StL 15-day DL. Tyler Greene promoted to StL from Memphis. OF Paul Cruz activated from DL by QC. C Blake Murphy returned to QC DL. Marco Gonzalez from Mem to Spr with Donovan Solano going the other way. OF Shane Robinson placed on Memphis DL with C Brandon Yarbrough and RHR Fernando Salas activated. SS Pete Kozma from PB to Spr. Kyle Mura to Spr DL. Trey Hearne into Spr rotation for Mura.

Update 5/1: IF Domnit Bolivar from QC to PB. IF Guillermo Toribio from EST to QC.

Update 5/2: LHP Jonny Bravo from EST to QC. RHP Chuckie Fick from QC to PB. RHP Lance Lynn from PB to Spr. Elvis Hernandez to Spr DL. PB ends tandem rotation with Mark Diapoules and Shaun Garceau to the bullpen.

Update 5/3: 1B Matt Arburr activated by PB. OF Charlie Kingrey released. New total 281.

Update 5/4: RHP P.J. Walters optioned to Mem with RHP Brad Thompson promoted to StL.

Update 5/5: 1B Brandon Buckman released from Spr. RHR Marco Gonzalez to Spr DL. LHP Joe Williams signed and added to Spr. OF Shane Robinson off Mem DL with 2B Jarrett Hoffpauir on.

Update 5/7: OF Rick Ankiel placed on the 15-day DL (likely effective 5/5). OF Shane Robinson added to 40-man roster and promoted from Memphis.

Update 5/8: IF Mike Folli from Spr to Mem. OF Brian Buck released from QC, replaced by Frederick Parejo from EST. LHP George Brown sent from QC to EST, replaced by RHP Josh Wilson. RHP Marco Gonzalez activated by Spr with LHP Kristhiam Linares onto Spr DL. QC moves Andres Rosales and Miguel Tapia to bullpen. New total 280.

Update 5/9: OF Alexander Castellano to VSL from DSL. C Jesus Montero to DSL from VSL. RHPs David Brito and Carlos Noguera released from EST. New total 278.

Update 5/12: IF Brendan Ryan assigned to Mem on rehab. RHP Kyle Mura activated by Spr. Ps Carlos Gonzalez, Jose Penaloza, Adam Prange and Senger Peralta released from EST. New total 274.

Update 5/13: OF Ryan Ludwick placed on StL DL, OF Nick Stavinoha recalled from Mem. OF Jarred Bogany from EST to Quad Cities, with OF Ryde Rodriguez going from QC to EST. LHP Ian Ostlund to Mem DL.

Update 5/14: OF Joe Mather to Mem DL. 2B Jarrett Hoffpauir and LHP Katsuhiko Maekawa activated from Mem DL. 1B Javier Brito signed for Mem as minor league free agent. New total 275.

Update 5/15: Spr 1B/OF Andrew Brown placed on DL. 1B Curt Smith from PB to Spr. OF Chris Swauger from QC to PB. OF Travis Mitchell from EST to QC. RP Kenny Maiques transferred from EST to Spr and suspended 50 games. RHP Mitchell Boggs from StL to Mem, with IF Brendan Ryan activated from Mem rehab.

Update 5/16: Mem 3B David Freese to DL. 3B Brett Wallace from Spr to Mem. Amaury Cazana activated from DL in Mexico.

Update 5/18: IF Mike Folli returned to Spr from Mem.

The St. Louis Cardinals Roster Matrix (effective 05/18/09)

St. Louis (25+5) 40-man (39)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Carpenter (i)
Franklin LaRue Pujols Schumaker K Greene Glaus (i) Ankiel (i)
Lohse Thompson
Molina Thurston Ryan

Duncan
Pineiro McClellan Barden Ludwick (i)
Wainwright Motte (4) T Greene (16) Rasmus (1)
Wellemeyer C Perez Robinson (27)
Ja Garcia (9iL) Miller (L) Stavinoha (35)

Reyes (L)
Boyer
Memphis (24+4)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Walters (17)
Todd (7) Anderson (3) Brito
Hoffpauir
Solano Craig (18) Jay (12)
Hawksworth Kinney (20)
Pagnozzi Rowlett Freese (5i) Shorey
Mortensen (11) Salas (31) Yarbrough Wallace (2) Mather (i)
Parisi (i) Scherer
Ottavino (15) Ring (L)
MacLane (L) Maekawa (L)
Boggs (10) Ostlund (iL)
Manning (L)
Others (1)
Cazana 
(Mexico)
Springfield (24+8)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Dickson E Hernandez (i) Hill (34) A Brown (i) Descalso Kozma (8) Folli Jones (6)
Herron (25) M Gonzalez T Cruz (36) Hamilton Jo Martinez (37ti) Rapoport
Hearne Degerman C Smith (40) Ant. DeJesus
Fiske (iL) Parise Henley
Lynn (14) Samuel (21)
Kulik (L) McCormick (i)
Dew (i)
Norrick (L)
Linares (iL)
Furnish (L)
Williams (L)
Mura
Maiques (susp)
Palm Beach (25+1)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Broderick Sanchez Derba Rivera Marmol (i) Sedbrook Curtis Chambers
R Castillo (19) Eager Vazquez Arburr Jo Garcia Bolivar Pham
Additon (26L) King Peterson
Gorgen (22) Reifer (24) Swauger
Kopp (28) Freeman (L)
Diapoules
Garceau (29)
Fick
Quad Cities (25+4)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Daley, Jr. T4 Carpenter Cutler Morales Luna (39i) Vasquez (13) Parejo
Bravo (L) T3 Delgado Espinoza A Castellanos Toribio Edwards (23)
Hooker (32 susp) Mulligan Murphy (i) Lilley P Cruz
J Wilson T3 Rosales Bogany
McGregor T2 M Tapia Mitchell
Nieto T2
Cardenas (L) T1
Thomas T1
Veres T4
Bradford (i)
Ext. Spring (63)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
A Cruz A Castillo A Perez D Medina Landin Alvarez Teran Babrick
Ang. De Jesus Castro Rigoli L Mateo Y Castillo R DeLaCruz (38)
Arredondo Buursma Cawley Scruggs Mambell Gomez
Blazek L DeLaCruz Mosquera Hage
Diaz Calero Moscatel Obregon Ingram
Fornataro Frevert Polanco R Ruiz Ja Martinez
Maertz Lara
Mayes
Javier Munoz R Rodriguez
Leach Orozco R Rosario
Ortiz Riportella
North Shepherd
Notti Pichardo Swinson
R Gonzalez
Rada Rondon
Richardson Russell
Rios Y Gonzalez
Santos
Zawacki J Castellanos (L)
G Brown (L) Siegrist (L)
A Ferrara (L)
EST (May 15) (5)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Estalis Alcala Valera Rivero
J Castillo (susp)
Batavia (TBD)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Johnson City (TBD)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
GCL (TBD)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
DSL (34)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
A Tapia Concepcion V Ferreira Pimentel Avila Cabrera H Martina
Franco E Rivera L Perez Hiraldo G Hernandez Villar Beras
Jimenez M Martinez Montero J Lopez Encarnacion
Pasen Pinard W Perez J Pena
Urena D Rodriguez (L) Martines
Herrera (L) Mercedes (L) Reyes
L Rosario (L) P Pena (L) Sandoval
Uribe (L) Taveras
VSL (26+1)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Avendano Cedeno R Perez M Marquez O Medina H Garcia Argenal
Bier F Marquez Rivas Vargas Yegues Cortez
Nieves Guzman Viloria Vivas (susp) Fonseca
Colorado (L) Oraa Velazco Inojoza
Weffer (L) R Alvarado A Castellano
Ramos
Solarte

The matrix: breaking the code

Players with injuries that led to a stint on the disabled list are noted with (i). The number in parentheses after each club’s name is the quantity of players assigned there. (ti) means the player is on the temporary inactive list. “susp” denotes players suspended.

The names of those on the 40-man roster are listed in BOLD.

After some names, you will see a number in parentheses. That denotes my personal ranking of the player in the annual Top 40 Cardinals Prospects voting at Scout.com. (At The Birdhouse, my individual scores as shown here were weighted one-fourth in determining the final Scout.com ranking.)

Paired members of the tandem starting rotations at Palm Beach and Quad Cities are denoted by “Tn”. Pairs are assigned “n” values 1 through 4 or 5 based on their initial assignment sequence.

When assigning positions, I put players in just one column. My attempt was to acknowledge where they are expected to play during the majority of the season.

To delineate the left-handed starters and relievers, I adopted the practice of placing the lefties at the end of the starters and relievers lists, designated by the letter (L).

Don’t read anything into the order of the names within any column, other than the LHPs at the end. They are generally presented alphabetically. The order has no correlation to playing time, duration on the roster or anything else.

This isn’t the final source on the spelling of players’ names. I have tried to remain consistent with what we use at Scout.com and what is designated at MiLB.com. Especially with the academy players, the information from the Cardinals themselves can even include mistakes.

Don’t forget the wealth of (free) information about each player that we maintain in the Scout.com player data base. It is too unwieldy to maintain every link to almost 300 player profiles directly from the matrix, but do keep using the Scout profiles as the source for additional information on individual players.

I will always designate the most current date when the matrix was last updated, but I am not necessarily planning to maintain a log of every transaction that occurs across the system all year, though I will keep the matrix current.

The good news is that I don’t have to document all the moves. UConnCard already does that over on the Scout.com message board. My goal will be to stay in sync with that list of moves visually. So remember the link to the transaction log, especially if/when detailed questions come up.


Link to previous matrix
: January – March, 2009

Carp joins 56 Cards top pitching performances


Chris Carpenter
picked up his first win since the 2006 World Series on Thursday, tossing a one-hitter for seven innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium.

Through the courtesy of statman Tom Orf, we offer the list of St. Louis Cardinals starting pitchers who have allowed either one hit or no hits in an official game over the last 50 years.

In only two of the 55 cases listed below did the Cards starter take a loss – Bob Gibson in 1968 and Anthony Reyes in 2006. Carpenter almost joined them on Thursday until the offense turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead in the home seventh.

Not surprisingly, Gibson is first on the list with four such top games. Those tied for second are less obvious, though. Silvio Martinez, Jose DeLeon and Bob Forsch all had three no/one hitters. Thursday was Carpenter’s second.

Player Date Opp Tm Score App Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR
Ernie Broglio 7/15/1960 CHC W 6-0 SHO9 W 9 1 0 0 2 14 0
Bob Gibson 5/7/1965 @PHI W 2-0 SHO9 W 9 1 0 0 3 8 0
Al Jackson 4/25/1967 @HOU W 4-0 SHO9 W 9 1 0 0 3 3 0
Bob Gibson 5/22/1968 LAD L 0-2 GS-8 L 8 1 1 1 2 6 0
Steve Carlton 6/19/1968 CHC W 4-0 SHO9 W 9 1 0 0 0 9 0
Ray Washburn 9/18/1968 @SFG W 2-0 SHO9 W 9 0 0 0 5 8 0
Mike Torrez 4/15/1970 MON W 10-0 SHO9 W 9 1 0 0 6 3 0
Bob Gibson 6/17/1970 @SDP W 8-0 SHO9 W 9 1 0 0 2 13 0
Bob Gibson 8/14/1971 @PIT W 11-0 SHO9 W 9 0 0 0 3 10 0
Rick Wise 6/13/1973 @CIN W 8-0 SHO9 W 9 1 0 0 3 4 0
Reggie Cleveland 9/27/1973 CHC W 2-0 SHO9 W 9 1 0 0 0 3 0
John Curtis 8/29/1974 @SDP W 3-1 CG 9 W 9 1 1 1 2 2 0
Bob Forsch 4/16/1978 PHI W 5-0 SHO9 W 9 0 0 0 2 3 0
Silvio Martinez 5/30/1978 @NYM W 8-2 CG 9 W 9 1 2 2 6 2 1
Silvio Martinez 7/8/1978 PIT W 4-0 SHO9 W 9 1 0 0 7 1 0
John Denny 8/12/1978 @NYM W 5-1 GS-7 W 7 1 1 0 3 4 0
John Urrea 9/21/1978 NYM W 6-2 GS-7 W 7 1 1 0 3 4 0
Silvio Martinez 6/27/1979 MON W 5-0 SHO9 W 9 1 0 0 0 7 0
Bob Forsch 8/10/1981 @PHI W 7.3 GS-5 W 5 1 1 0 1 0 0
Bob Forsch 9/26/1983 MON W 3-0 SHO9 W 9 0 0 0 0 6 0
John Tudor 8/8/1985 CHC W 8-0 SHO9 W 9 1 0 0 1 6 0
Danny Cox 4/9/1987 @CHC W 4-2 GS-7 W 6.2 1 1 1 6 8 1
John Tudor 5/1/1988 @LAD W 9-0 GS-6 W 6 0 0 0 2 4 0
Joe Magrane 8/12/1988 @CHC W 4-0 SHO9 W 9 1 0 0 1 6 0
Scott Terry 8/11/1989 @NYM W 3-0 GS-6 W 6 1 0 0 3 3 0
Jose DeLeon 8/30/1989 CIN L 0-2 GS-11 11 1 0 0 0 8 0
Jose DeLeon 9/13/1989 PIT T 0-0 SHO6 5.1 1 0 0 2 4 0
Bob Tewksbury 8/17/1990 HOU W 5-0 SHO9 W 9 1 0 0 0 3 0
Jose DeLeon 4/15/1991 @MON W 5-4 GS-7 6.1 1 1 1 4 6 1
Ken Hill 6/27/1991 PHI W 4-2 GS-8 W 8 1 1 1 3 4 0
Mark Clark 1991-10-05(2) @CHC L 5-7 GS-5 5 1 3 3 3 4 1
Tom Urbani 5/17/1994 @PIT W 2-0 GS-8 W 7.2 1 0 0 4 2 0
Allen Watson 6/18/1994 PIT W 9-0 GS-5 5 1 0 0 3 4 0
Vicente Palacios 7/19/1994 @HOU W 10-0 SHO9 W 9 1 0 0 1 8 0
Mike Morgan 7/3/1995 MON W 6-0 GS-9 W 8.1 1 0 0 2 2 0
Danny Jackson 9/28/1996 CIN W 5-2 GS-7 W 7 1 0 0 0 6 0
Alan Benes 5/16/1997 @ATL L 0-1 GS-9 9 1 0 0 3 11 0
Kent Bottenfield 6/10/1998 @CHW L 8-10 GS-5 5 1 0 0 3 2 0
Matt Morris 7/30/1998 MIL W 3-2 GS-5 W 5 1 1 1 4 4 0
Juan Acevedo 5/21/1999 @LAD W 10-6 GS-5 W 5 1 1 1 2 2 1
Jose Jimenez 6/25/1999 @ARI W 10-0 SHO9 W 9 0 0 0 2 8 0
Kent Bottenfield 9/21/1999 @CHC W 7-2 GS-6 W 6 1 1 1 2 3 1
Britt Reames 9/5/2000 MON W 7-6 GS-6 W 5.2 1 3 3 4 3 0
Mike Matthews 5/18/2001 @PHI L 4-5 GS-5 5 1 0 0 1 3 0
Bud Smith 9/3/2001 @SDP W 4-0 SHO9 W 9 0 0 0 4 7 0
Darryl Kile 4/13/2002 HOU W 2-1 GS-6 6 1 1 1 3 5 0
Garrett Stephenson 9/25/2002 ARI W 6-1 GS-5 W 5 1 0 0 5 2 0
Woody Williams 6/5/2003 TOR W 13-5 GS-8 W 8 1 0 0 1 5 0
Chris Carpenter 6/14/2005 @TOR W 7-0 SHO9 W 9 1 0 0 1 10 0
Matt Morris 9/22/2005 @CIN L 2-6 GS-6 6 1 1 0 3 4 0
Anthony Reyes 6/22/2006 @CHW L 0-1 CG 8 L 8 1 1 1 0 6 1
Kip Wells 4/8/2007 @HOU W 10-1 GS-7 W 7 1 0 0 1 7 0
Adam Wainwright 6/13/2007 @KCR W 7-3 GS-8 W 8 1 0 0 2 3 0
Todd Wellemeyer 9/23/2007 HOU W 4-3 GS-5 5 1 0 0 1 5 0
Joel Pineiro 4/29/2008 CIN W 7-2 GS-7 W 7 1 0 0 4 3 0

Cardinals minor league opening rotations


For those interested in the starting rotations for the Cardinals’ four full-season minor league clubs, here you are:

Memphis Springfield Palm Beach Quad Cities
Thursday, 4/9 Boggs Mura Diapoules/Kulik Veres/Nieto
Friday, 4/10 Ottavino Fiske Broderick/Lynn McGregor/Tapia
Saturday, 4/11 Walters Dickson Kopp/Additon Fick/Rosales *
Sunday, 4/12 Hawksworth Furnish off off
Monday, 4/13 Mortensen Herron Garceau/Castillo Brown/Daley
Tuesday, 4/14 Cardenas/Thomas

Memphis: As I noted elsewhere, I was given word that Mitchell Boggs and Adam Ottavino were each moved up one day and original opening day starter P.J. Walters was slid to Saturday based on a request from St. Louis. Though Clayton Mortensen has not been formally announced as Monday’s starter, he is the fifth member of the rotation.

Springfield: Not much to say as the order following Kyle Mura (pictured) is set. The other four members of the rotation are right-handers Brandon Dickson and Tyler Herron and lefties Justin Fiske and Brad Furnish.

Palm Beach: The most recent working roster I had listed nine starters. Thomas Eager seems to be the odd man out at least initially, as the club goes with a four-pair, eight-man tandem rotation.

Quad Cities: Here we have ten starters, paired as noted above. Hector Cardenas has some biceps soreness, but is expected to be ready to go on in the final pairing on Tuesday.

Update 4/10: With the 50-game suspension for Deryk Hooker, Andres Rosales has been added to the tandem rotation in his place. Miguel Tapia moves up one day with Rosales scheduled to make his 2009 QC debut on Saturday.


Note:
The updated Roster Matrix of the entire minor league system has been posted, including those players placed on the disabled lists and in Extended Spring Training.

Who will be the first player called from Memphis?


During FOX Sports Midwest’s always-solid Cardinals Live post-game show following Wednesday night’s loss to Pittsburgh, analyst Rick Horton was asked which minor league players he thought could be called up to St. Louis first.

Horton singled out three likely candidates – outfielder Joe Mather, reliever Chris Perez and outfielder Nick Stavinoha. Each made his major league debut during the 2008 season with the first two having seen enough action to exhaust their rookie eligibility.

All of them make sense. The last cut of the spring, Mather seems logical as the first bat in line to return to the majors. Perez seems a likely call-up to help, especially if the closing situation becomes unsettled. Stavinoha is a bit of a longer shot, but could leapfrog over Mather if he begins the regular season hot.

Still, the name I had most expected to hear was not even mentioned – P.J. Walters. The right-hander has not yet made his first MLB appearance, but seemed to vault to the front of the line as the defacto sixth starter for the Cardinals based on a strong spring during which he allowed just one earned run in nine innings. He then pitched seven strong innings for St. Louis against his Memphis teammates last weekend, with only one unearned run having scored.

Originally scheduled to be Memphis’ opening day starter at home against Oklahoma on Thursday, Walters was pushed back to Saturday to keep him fresh and ready in case he is needed in St. Louis. He would need to be added to the Cardinals’ 40-man roster first, but with just 37 players currently, there is room for Walters if needed.

Mitchell Boggs will be taking the mound instead of P.J. on Thursday night in Memphis, with Adam Ottavino, a mild surprise to have made the club, getting the call on Friday. Ottavino assumes the spot previously held by Jess Todd before the latter was moved to the bullpen. If Walters is not in St. Louis first, he is scheduled to pitch for the Redbirds on Saturday.

I single out Todd since a key reason he was reportedly moved to the pen was to accelerate his ascension to the major leagues. While he may not be quite ready yet, I can easily envision a scenario where Todd falls right in line behind Perez.

Through the first three games of their initial 2009 series, the Cardinals have dodged the rain that would have forced a double-header that almost certainly would have driven a call to Memphis for help. While there is a 70 percent chance of rain on Thursday afternoon increasing to 90 percent that evening, if that game cannot be played, it will likely be rescheduled for later in the season.

So far, the Cardinals starters have not pitched deeply into games, an early indicator of what could be a challenge all season long. The rotation members are averaging fewer than six innings over their first three games. In other words, the bullpen has been asked to pitch over an entire full game’s worth of action already – 29 outs worth to be exact.

If the Cardinals staff doesn’t require reinforcement this coming weekend, at this pace, it still could happen sooner rather than later. After all, the club has just one scheduled day off in their first 34 days of the season.

Cardinals opening day disabled list history


Looking at disabled list stays can put one on a slippery slope. After all, not all players are created equal – losing a Chris Carpenter for an extended period would be far more painful to the St. Louis Cardinals’ chances of a successful season than missing out on the gamble taken on Matt Clement, for example.

Yet at the single point in time where we stand currently, the start of the 2009 regular season, the Cardinals are relatively healthy. That “relative” comment is made in the context of a comparison to the other 13 season-opening rosters during the Tony La Russa era in St. Louis.

As the table below shows, over the previous 13 years, the Cards have averaged four players on the disabled list to start the season, with the number of injured pitchers roughly double that of the position players.

In 2009, only Jaime Garcia and Troy Glaus begin the season on the DL.

Garcia will be out for at least the majority of the year, if not all, while recovering from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. While his ability to contribute in 2009 would have been intriguing, especially given his left-handedness and top prospect status, there was no assurance the 22-year-old would be ready for a major role.

On the other hand, Glaus will surely be missed. His best-case return looks to be around mid-season as he slowly recovers from shoulder surgery. On top of it, as I have mentioned a number of times, a major question lingers over how soon his power stroke might return.

In only two of La Russa’s seasons, 2004 and 2002, did the club start the year with fewer players hurt than here in 2009.

In an ironic twist, note that Rick Ankiel was that single DL’ed player both times. In fact, each of the even years this decade seem to have been most unkind to Ankiel. He also spent all of 2006 on the shelf after knee surgery plus missed considerable time late last season due to a sports hernia. Finally, we all painfully recall what happened to Ankiel on the mound during the 2000 post-season. As an impending free agent, where he suits up in 2010 remains to be seen.

The players listed in bold are those who began the season on the DL and did not later contribute in a meaningful manner to the Cardinals that season. (Going from left to right, pitchers are listed first.)

2008 offers the greatest contrast to this season, as a TLR-Cardinals record eight players started the year by being formally placed on the disabled list. Of the eight, only Joel Pineiro and Brendan Ryan put in a decent season for the Cards.

DL Total Pitchers Hitters Names
2009 2 1 1 J Garcia Glaus
96-08 avg 4 2.6 1.4
2008 8 6 2 Carpenter Mulder Clement Pineiro T Johnson Kinney Encarnacion Ryan
2007 3 2 1 Mulder Kinney Encarnacion
2006 2 0 2 Ankiel Bigbie
2005 2 2 0 Lincoln Morris
2004 1 1 0 Ankiel
2003 6 3 3 Carpenter Stechschulte Isringhausen Girardi Torrealba Drew
2002 1 1 0 Ankiel
2001 5 3 2 Stephenson Christiansen Hackman Hernandez Bonilla
2000 2 2 0 Morris Radinsky
1999 4 2 2 Al Benes Morris D Howard Lankford
1998 5 4 1 Al Benes Brantley Morris Osborne Marrero
1997 6 4 2 Barber An Benes Honeycutt Jackson Pagnozzi Lankford
1996 7 4 3 Jackson Morgan Osborne Petkovsek Pagnozzi Gallego Jordan

Dealing with adversity – Motte’s time is now


I took the night off in terms of writing about the St. Louis Cardinals’ disappointing 2009 Opening Day. I may be alone as talk radio, message board and blogger second-guessers are all over the revamped bullpen and sort-of, but not ordained closer Jason Motte.

Though it seems unnecessary, I will recap Monday’s events for context and completeness.

Given his first save situation in the initial game of the regular season, Motte failed, surrendering four hits, including three doubles and hitting another batter. The big blow was a bases-clearing two-base hit that came on an 0-2 pitch to Pittsburgh shortstop Jack Wilson.

The Cardinals’ two-run lead quickly turned into a two-run deficit in the top of the ninth. The game ended in a frustrating 6-4 home defeat to the Pirates.

Actually, there were two blown save opportunities on Monday as earlier, veteran left-hander Trever Miller yielded a two-run, game-tying single to Bucs outfielder Nyjer Morgan in the sixth inning.

In all fairness, Cardinals fans have reason to be wary. Last season’s relief crew blew as many saves, 31, as any other club and added 31 losses. Yet this is a different group of players and shouldn’t be prematurely judged by what the 2008 pen did, or didn’t do.

The former catcher Motte is among the new additions since the start of 2008. He had a strong big league introduction in September and a dominating spring, but he is still a 26-year-old rookie with just 13 major league appearances who has been pitching for less than three years.

Chris Perez, who earned seven saves for the Cardinals last season, lost a couple of weeks of spring training due to shoulder soreness and didn’t make the club, at least initially. The 23-year-old must be dying to get on the mound for a Triple-A Memphis club that does not open the season until Thursday.

As I have said all along, when adversity hits is the time to start to make judgments about Motte, though I honestly didn’t think it would happen this quickly – in game one.

I studied the post-game comments by Tony La Russa, who appeared to be very careful in choosing his appropriately non-committal words and was actually fairly civil considering the tough defeat.

More importantly, I watched and listened to Motte. From all impressions, he seemed to carry himself in a proper manner. He was disappointed, but not despondent. He seemed to clearly understand what happened.

“I didn’t get it up and out enough,” Motte said after the game. “I got behind guys in potential fastball counts, and they’re a good fastball-hitting team.”

The real questions that should be asked are around what will happen next. The specific answers to each will likely not be obvious to any of us – only the downstream results will.

  • What happened when Motte sat down with pitching coach Dave Duncan to discuss what transpired and what needs to be done?
  • Did Motte take the information and how will he use it?
  • Can Motte find a way to beat good fastball-hitting teams? In other words, can his slider become more than a “show me” offering?
  • If a save opportunity presents itself on Tuesday or Wednesday, will Ryan Franklin get the call?
  • If so, will Motte understand why and deal with it appropriately?
  • And the most important question of all, how will Motte perform his next time out, and the next one after that?

Time will tell.

Palm Beach Cardinals 2009 opening roster


Well, I had the 2009 Palm Beach opening roster pretty close to accurate in my projection this morning. Now, sooner than expected, I have the real thing.

All 12 position players are the same as forecast previously. The final 13 pitchers come from the group of 16 candidates from earlier minus Eddie Degerman, put on the disabled list, Mark McCormick, likely returning to Springfield when ready and Jared Bradford.

NO. PITCHERS (13 + 1 DL*) YRS. B/T HT WT D.O.B. 2008 CLUB ACQUIRED
10 ADDITON, Nick 2 L/L 6-3 170 12/16/87 Quad Cities/Palm Beach 47th/2006
BRODERICK, Brian 2 R/R 6-6 205 9/01/86 Quad Cities 21st/2007
CASTILLO, Richard 2 R/R 5-10 180 10/11/89 Palm Beach/Quad Cities ND/2007
*DEGERMAN, Eddie 3 R/R 6-4 205 09/14/83 Quad Cities/Palm Beach 4th/2006
15 DIAPOULES, Mark 2 R/R 6-2 200 05/31/88 Quad Cities/Palm Beach 21st/2006
EAGER, Thomas 2 R/R 6-2 200 8/12/85 Quad Cities/Batavia 5th/2007
FREEMAN, Samuel 1 R/L 5-11 170 6/24/07 Johnson City/Palm Beach 32nd/2008
23 GARCEAU, Shaun 3 R/R 6-1 185 08/28/87 Quad Cities/Palm Beach 20th/2005
36 KING, Blake 3 R/R 6-1 195 4/11/87 Quad Cities/Palm Beach 44th/2005
47 KOPP, David 2 R/R 6-3 190 10/22/85 Palm Beach/GCL Cardinals 2nd/2007
KUILK, Ryan 1 L/L 5-11 200 12/03/85 Batavia/Quad Cities 8th/2008
LYNN, Lance 1 R/R 6-5 250 5/12/87 Batavia/Quad Cities 1st/2008
REIFER, Adam 1 R/R 6-2 195 6/03/86 Batavia 11th/2007
SANCHEZ, Eduardo 3 R/R 5-11 155 2/16/89 Quad Cities ND/2005
NO. CATCHERS (2) B/T HT WT D.O.B. 2008 CLUB ACQUIRED
18 DERBA, Nick 2 R/R 5-10 190 09/09/85 Palm Beach 30th/2007
3 VASQUEZ, Paul 2 R/R 5-10 160 03/07/85 Quad Cities/Palm Beach ND/2007
NO. INFIELDERS (6) B/T HT WT D.O.B. 2008 CLUB ACQUIRED
CURTIS, Jermaine 1 R/R 5-11 190 7/10/87 Batavia 5th/2008
7 KOZMA, Peter 2 R/R 6-0 170 04/11/88 Quad Cities/Palm Beach 1st/2007
4 MARMOL, Oliver 2 R/R 5-10 165 07/02/86 Palm Beach/Quad Cities 6th/2007
RIVERA, Francisco 1 L/L 5-11 170 12/03/88 Batavia ND/2007
SEDBROOK, Colt 1 R/R 5-11 180 7/28/85 Batavia 22nd/2008
SMITH, CURT 1 R/R 5-10 205 9/09/86 Johnson City/Quad Cities 39th/2008
NO. OUTFIELDERS (4) B/T HT WT D.O.B. 2008 CLUB ACQUIRED
CHAMBERS, Adron 2 L/L 5-10 185 10/08/09 Quad Cities 38th/2007
25 KINGREY, Charles 2 L/L 6-2 210 01/19/85 Quad Cities/Palm Beach 22nd/2007
PETERSON, Shane 1 L/L 6-0 195 2/11/88 Batavia 2nd/2008
PHAM, Thomas 3 R/R 6-1 175 3/08/88 Palm Beach/Quad Cities 16th/2006

Projecting the Palm Beach Cardinals roster


At this point, we know the opening rosters of three of the four St. Louis Cardinals full-season clubs, Memphis, Springfield and Quad Cities, with only the A-Advanced Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League to go.

With their regular season not opening until Thursday, there is no assurance the PB roster will be released quickly. With some time this weekend and the requirement to prepare the next version of the Roster Matrix looming, I began to move the player chess pieces around the board. With the rosters of Springfield above them and Quad Cities below published, filling in the blanks between was relatively straightforward.

What follows is a possible opening 25-man roster for manager Tom Spencer’s 2009 Palm Beach club. At this point, there are 28 names. For the position players, I could come up with the 12 fairly quickly, however I still have 16 pitchers for 13 spots.

Palm Beach (28)
SP RP C 1B 2B SS 3B OF
Bradford Degerman Derba Rivera Marmol Kozma (8) Curtis Chambers
Broderick King Vasquez Smith (40) Sedbrook Pham
R Castillo (19) McCormick Kingrey
Diapoules Reifer (24) Peterson
Eager Sanchez
Garceau (29) Freeman (L)
Kopp (28)
Lynn (14)
Additon (26L)
Kulik (L)

(In the table, I am using the same format as the Roster Matrix. “L” denotes left-handed pitchers, usually listed last, and the number in parenthesis is my ranking of that player in my Cardinals Top 40 prospect list prepared over the winter.)

Two of the ten starting pitchers listed seem sure to lose out as the tandem starting rotation is set. I am not clear on who they will be and I guess there is always the chance the two could be moved to the pen, bumping out a pair of relievers. As it is, I have one too many relievers listed with Eduardo Sanchez perhaps being the one on the bubble – if oft-injured Mark McCormick is ready to go and begins with Palm Beach instead of Springfield.

Among the players that would start in Extended Spring Training in this scenario include recovering pitchers Scott Gorgen and Josh Dew. The latter may return to Springfield when he is ready, which is where he finished last season.

Of course, when the real roster is made available, I will post it here on The Cardinal Nation. In the meantime, what is your take? Any players missing? Which players would you remove to get down to 25?

Trio officially added to Cards opening day roster


Formally confirming what was made obvious due to earlier cuts, on Sunday the St. Louis Cardinals announced they have purchased the contracts of third baseman David Freese, infielder Joe Thurston and outfielder Colby Rasmus from the Triple-A Memphis roster.

With incumbent third baseman Troy Glaus out until perhaps mid-season due to the aftermath of shoulder surgery, Freese, 25, will not only make his MLB debut, but should also see a majority of the time at third base for the Cardinals.

Rasmus, 22, the former two-time organization Minor League Player of the Year, will also don a major league uniform during the regular season for the first time. He is expected to share innings in the outfield with returnees Chris Duncan, Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick and play any of the three positions defensively.

Thurston is the dean of the three both in terms of age (29) and MLB experience (just short of one season in total across five different years – 2002-04, 2006 and 2008). Yet, the second baseman has just 66 career MLB at-bats over 59 games. In addition to serving as an infield reserve, the left-handed hitter should see time in the outfield for the 2009 Cardinals.

The Cardinals 40-man roster is now at 37 with the three additions and the active roster is set at 25 in advance of the club’s 2009 season opener Monday against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium.


Spring minors schedule ended by weather

Sunday’s scheduled exhibition game between the home Quad Cities River Bandits and the visiting Double-A Springfield Cardinals has been cancelled. It was the final scheduled exhibition of the spring schedule for any of the Cardinals clubs.

Morning rain and sleet led to poor field conditions, and with an afternoon forecast for snow added to the mix the game was called due to weather. The game will not be made up as the Springfield team heads to Missouri to prepare for their Texas League opener on Thursday.

The River Bandits will take the day off on Monday before having their first practice at Modern Woodmen Park on Tuesday afternoon. The River Bandits will open the 2009 regular season on the road against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers on Thursday. Quad Cities’ home opener against the Beloit Snappers will take place on Monday, April 13, at 3:00 p.m.

Traveling man Cazaña returns to Mexico


Staring prior to and continuing ever since having been drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 18th round of the 2006 Draft, the ex-Cuban Amaury Antonio Cazaña (Marti) has never worn any particular uniform for very long.

Such is the case here in 2009, as the outfielder has again been dispatched to Mexico for the Mexican League season. Instead of returning to last year’s club or the one from the year prior, Cazaña is now donning the threads of a third league entry, the Guerreros de Oaxaca.

It is at least his 15th uniform change in the last five years alone, all since his escape from Cuba in April, 2005. Initially using his mother’s maiden name, Marti, the player is now going by Amaury Cazaña.

Coming into Saturday, Cazaña had already put in four games for Oaxaca, having gone 5-for-16 at the plate with a line of .313/.313/.688 or a cool OPS of 1.001. Of course, there was never a doubt that he can hit. In 266 career games in affiliated ball through 2008, his line is .323/.393/.524.

The doubts start with his age, which is 30 years old if you believe the player’s own words as he insisted to me two years ago and readily accepted by the Cardinals. On the other hand, multiple Cuban baseball websites listed Cazaña as having been born four years earlier. In an odd twist, MiLB.com also goes with the earlier birth date.

Other questions have to do with Cazaña’s future. After having received a non-roster invitation to St. Louis Cardinals spring training camp in 2008, he did not get such an offer in 2009. Cazaña did make one appearance when he was called over from the minor league fields for a bit of garbage-time action with the big club.

Another even more telling indication of his future is the fact that there was no place for Cazaña to play with Triple-A Memphis for the second consecutive season. Last year, he managed 28 games there before being shipped out at the conclusion of a stint on the disabled list. This time, he was gone before the Redbirds left Florida.

Sure, he could always be recalled from Mexico, but there are many ahead of him.

Consider these members of the Redbirds. Brian Barton, Nick Stavinoha and Joe Mather all have MLB experience and places on the 40-man roster, while Jon Jay had an impressive big-league camp and even Shane Robinson opened some eyes in limited action this spring.

Even if he can’t see the major leagues from his current perspective, at least Cazaña can brag about having compiled a most interesting and diverse travel itinerary in recent years. He had played on numerous national teams in Cuba since at least 1997 before escaping to Mexico in 2005.


He then moved to the USA, where he suited up for a handful of games with one independent team and was embroiled in a contract dispute with another before making a celebrated appearance at the Cardinals Minor League Spring Training camp in March, 2006, where the anonymous newcomer blasted several long home runs including one that traveled out of Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.


The Cardinals thought as a Cuban, Cazaña was eligible to be signed on the spot, but quickly learned he had to go through the draft instead. This was due to the fact that he had established residency in Florida and therefore was no longer considered a foreigner.


Four years later, though he is a US resident living in Miami,
Cazaña remains an international traveling man – sort of a 21st Century baseball-playing barnstormer.

Here are some of the uniforms Cazaña has worn in the last five years alone – 15 changes by my count and I have likely missed a few along the way:

  1. Elmira Pioneers of the independent CanAm League: 2005
  2. Shreveport Sports of the independent Central League: 2005 (under contract)
  3. Palm Beach Cardinals of the A-Advanced Florida State League: 2006
  4. Springfield Cardinals of the Double-A Texas League: 2006
  5. Peoria Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League: 2006
  6. Petroleros de Minatitlan of the Triple-A Mexican League: 2007
  7. Back to Springfield: 2007
  8. Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League: 2007
  9. Indios del Boer of the Nicaraguan Winter League: 2007-2008
  10. St. Louis Cardinals: 2008 Spring Training
  11. Memphis Redbirds of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League: 2008
  12. Diablos Rojos del Mexico of the Mexican League: 2008
  13. Tigres de Licey of the Dominican Winter League: 2008-2009
  14. Memphis again: 2009 Spring Training
  15. Guerreros de Oaxaca of the Mexican League: 2009

Springfield Cardinals 2009 opening roster

In preparation for their Sunday road exhibition against the Quad Cities River Bandits, the Springfield Cardinals of the Double-A Texas League have announced their 24-man season-opening roster.

At first blush, the team may look heavy at first base and light in the outfield, but be aware that Andrew Brown (pictured) can also play in the outfield and saw considerable time there in spring training. Skipper Ron “Pop” Warner was quoted in the Springfield paper saying that Steven Hill would be given 60 starts behind the plate with the rest of his time at first and in the outfield.

# Pitchers (12) B/T Ht Wt DOB Acquired 2008 teams
24 Brandon Dickson R/R 6-5 190 11/3/1984 FA/06 Palm Beach/Springfield
31 Justin Fiske L/L 5-11 185 9/3/1984 FA/07 Quad Cities/PB/Springfield
32 Brad Furnish L/L 6-1 185 1/19/1985 2nd/06 Palm Beach/Springfield
33 Trey Hearne R/R 6-1 193 8/19/1983 28th/05 Minatitlan
29 Elvis Hernandez R/R 6-3 180 4/27/1985 FA/05 Palm Beach
23 Tyler Herron R/R 6-3 190 8/5/1986 1st/05 Palm Beach/Springfield
30 Kristhiam Linares L/L 6-1 175 5/17/1986 FA/08 Did not play
27 Kenny Maiques R/R 6-0 170 6/25/1985 37th/05 Quad Cities/Palm Beach
36 Kyle Mura R/R 6-4 215 11/24/1984 42nd/06 Palm Beach/Springfield
26 Tyler Norrick L/L 6-3 190 9/27/1983 6th/06 Palm Beach
16 Pete Parise R/R 6-1 180 12/5/1984 FA/07 Quad Cities/Palm Beach
19 Francisco Samuel R/R 6-2 150 12/20/1986 FA/06 Palm Beach
Catchers (2)
10 Tony Cruz R/R 5-11 205 8/18/1986 26th/07 Palm Beach
21 Steven Hill R/R 5-11 190 3/14/1985 13th/07 Palm Beach/Springfield
Infielders (6)
18 Andrew Brown R/R 6-0 185 9/10/1984 18th/07 Quad Cities/PB/Springfield
44 Brandon Buckman L/L 6-6 225 2/14/1984 19th/06 Palm Beach/Springfield
3 Daniel Descalso L/R 5-10 190 10/19/1986 3rd/07 Palm Beach/Springfield
8 Mike Folli S/R 5-10 175 7/17/1985 42nd/07 Quad Cities/Palm Beach
11 Donovan Solano R/R 5-10 185 12/17/1987 FA/05 Palm Beach/Springfield
25 Brett Wallace L/R 6-1 245 8/26/1986 1st/08 Quad Cities/Springfield
Outfielders (4)
5 Antonio DeJesus L/L 5-11 185 1/25/1986 16th/07 Palm Beach
12 Tyler Henley L/L 5-11 200 6/10/1985 8th/07 Palm Beach
4 Daryl Jones L/L 6-0 180 6/25/1987 3rd/05 Palm Beach/Springfield
7 Jim Rapoport L/L 6-0 180 6/25/1985 35th/06 Palm Beach/Springfield

Cards minors spring game reports – April 3


Friday’s opponents:
The three remaining Florida clubs played on the Marlins’ side of the Jupiter complex. Those are the last spring games against outside competition.

Coming up: St. Louis plays at Memphis on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. Springfield and Quad Cities will break camp Saturday morning in preparation for their Sunday exhibition in Davenport. Palm Beach will remain home to play some games against the extended spring training group, but this is the final report of the spring as the Florida games are done.

Rosters being released: Note the initial Memphis, Springfield and Quad Cities rosters are posted here on The Cardinal Nation. Watch for Palm Beach early next week. The first (but not only) batch of Extended Spring Training players’ names are listed for Scout.com subscribers here.

Won-loss tally: Following are the up-to-date won-loss records of the minor league teams this spring. The group in total concluded the Florida portion of spring training at a collective seven games under .500. Only the second Quad Cities club had a winning record.

Memphis: 5-8-0

Springfield: 5-9-1

Palm Beach: 6-7-2

Quad Cities #1: 5-8-2

Quad Cities #2: 6-2-1

Total: 27-34-6

BW on the radio: In a programming note, catch me on KMA Radio 960 in Shenandoah, IA talking Cardinals baseball with Derek Martin this weekend. There will be a five-minute segment run on Friday at 5:50 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 2:45 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. The entire discussion is scheduled at 12:10 p.m. on Saturday. (All times Central).

KMA is a member of the Cardinals Radio Network and stream their signal online at KMA960.com.

Special thanks: As always, the following game summaries are provided through the courtesy of the St. Louis Cardinals by Director of Minor League Operations John Vuch.


Springfield
lost to Jacksonville, 5-3

Springfield pitching

Kyle Mura 3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K’s

Justin Fiske 4.0 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K’s

Elvis Hernandez 1 IP,1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 K’s

Pete Parise, 1 IP, 1 H

Springfield hitting

Daniel Descalso 2-for-4 with a two-run triple and a run scored

Daryl Jones doubled

Tony Cruz singled for the only other Springfield hit


Palm Beach
and Jupiter tied, 2-2

Palm Beach pitching

Richard Castillo, 3 IP, 5 H, 2 ER ,0 BB, 3 K’s

Mark Diapoules, 3 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 K’s

Thomas Eager, 1 IP, all zeroes

Blake King, 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K’s

Adam Reifer, 1 IP, 1 H, 2 K’s

Palm Beach hitting

Shane Peterson, 2-for-2 with a walk and run scored

Charlie Kingrey and Paul Vasquez, 1-for-3

Pete Kozma 1-for-4

Adron Chambers walked twice, stole a base and scored a run


Quad Cities defeated Greensboro, 6-2

Quad Cities pitching

Arquimedes Nieto (pictured) 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K’s

Adam Veres 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R ,0 BB, 2 K’s

Miguel Tapia 1 IP, 1 H, 1 unearned run, 1 BB

Santo Maertz struck out the side in his inning of work

Jorge Rondon, 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER

Ramon Delgado 1 IP, 1 H, 3 K’s

Quad Cities hitting

Paul Cruz 3-for-5, two runs scored, double, triple and RBI

Alex Castellanos, 2-for-4 with a run scored, stolen base and RBI

Domnit Bolivar 2-for-4 with an RBI

Niko Vasquez doubled and walked

Osvaldo Morales singled and had two RBIs

Roberto Espinoza doubled

Memphis Redbirds 2009 opening roster

In preparation for their Friday and Saturday home exhibitions against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Memphis Redbirds of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League have announced their season-opening roster.

It includes 26 players, of which eleven are on the Cardinals 40-man roster. Six Redbirds have major league experience, including Nick Stavinoha (pictured), who now appears to be Memphis’ first baseman.

Updates: The Post-Dispatch reports a move of Jess Todd to the bullpen, which opened up a starting position for Adam Ottavino, who has looked good this spring. The Springfield News-Leader notes reliever Fernando Salas remained in Florida with a brace on his arm and his injured thumb bandaged.

# Pitchers (13) B/T Ht/Wt Birthdate ’08 Club(s)
23 Mitchell Boggs R/R 6-3/195 2/15/1984 Memphis
26 Marco Gonzalez R/R 6-2/205 5/28/1984 Springfield, Palm Beach
22 Blake Hawksworth R/R 6-3/195 3/1/1983 Memphis
55 Katsuhito Maekawa L/L 6-3/225 9/25/1978 Did Not Play
44 Charlie Manning L/L 6-2/185 3/31/1979 WASHINGTON, Columbus
40 Clayton Mortensen R/R 6-4/180 4/10/1985 Memphis, Springfield
31 Ian Ostlund R/L 6-1/200 10/17/1978 Toledo
32 Adam Ottavino R/R 6-5/230 11/22/1985 Springfield
52 Chris Perez R/R 6-4/230 7/1/1985 ST. LOUIS, Memphis
41 Royce Ring L/L 6-0220 12/21/1980 ATLANTA, Richmond
53 Matt Scherer R/R 6-5/260 1/20/1983 Memphis, Springfield
28 Jess Todd R/R 5-11/210 4/20/1986 Memphis, Springfield, Palm Beach
33 P.J. Walters R/R 6-4/200 3/12/1985 Memphis, Springfield
Catchers (3)
24 Bryan Anderson L/R 6-1/200 12/16/1986 Memphis, Springfield
19 Matt Pagnozzi R/R 6-2/205 11/10/1982 Memphis, Springfield
29 Brandon Yarbrough L/R 6-2/180 11/9/1984 Springfield
Infielders (5)
11 Allen Craig R/R 6-2/210 7/18/1984 Springfield
35 Tyler Greene R/R 6-2/190 8/17/1983 Memphis, Springfield
12 Jarrett Hoffpauir R/R 5-9/190 6/18/1983 Memphis
4 Casey Rowlett R/R 5-8/175 2/8/1983 Memphis, Springfield
25 Nick Stavinoha R/R 6-2/240 5/3/1982 ST. LOUIS, Memphis
Outfielders (5)
54 Brian Barton R/R 6-3/190 4/25/1982 ST. LOUIS, Memphis
15 Jon Jay L/L 5-11/200 3/15/1985 Memphis, Springfield
21 Joe Mather R/R 6-4/215 7/23/1982 ST. LOUIS, Memphis
5 Shane Robinson R/R 5-9/160 10/30/1984 Memphis, Springfield
16 Mark Shorey L/L 6-1/185 8/13/1984 Springfield

Quad Cities River Bandits 2009 opening roster


In preparation for their Sunday home exhibition against the Springfield Cardinals, the Quad Cities River Bandits of the Single-A Midwest League have announced their season-opening roster.

It includes 25 players plus one on the disabled list*, catcher Blake Murphy. Over half of the new River Bandits were members of the 2008 New York-Penn League champion Batavia Muckdogs.

No. Pitchers (13) Ht. Wt. B/T DOB Age Obtained 2008 Club
12 Brown, George 6-1 195 L/L 6/18/86 22 27th Round, 2008 Batavia
31 Cardenas, Hector 6-3 188 L/L 12/14/86 22 Free Agent, 4/20/06 Batavia
28 Carpenter, Dave 6-2 200 R/R 7/15/85 23 12th Round, 2006 QC/PB/GCL/JC
44 Daley, Gary 6-3 200 R/R 11/1/85 23 3rd Round, 2006 PB/GCL
16 Delgado, Ramon 6-3 195 R/R 9/3/86 22 41st Round, 2007 Batavia
18 Fick, Chuckie 6-5 187 R/R 11/20/85 23 15th Round, 2007 Quad Cities
24 Hooker, Deryk 6-4 185 R/R 6/21/89 19 7th Round, 2007 JC/QC
10 McGregor, Scott 6-3 200 R/R 12/19/86 22 15th Round, 2008 GCL/JC/QC
21 Mulligan, Casey 6-2 190 R/R 10/5/87 21 22nd Round, 2006 GCL/PB
41 Nieto, Arquidemes 6-0 175 R/R 4/28/89 19 Free Agent, 3/3/07 Batavia
32 Tapia, Miguel 6-1 198 R/R 2/6/88 21 Free Agent, 4/4/06 Batavia
11 Thomas, Kevin 6-3 215 R/R 7/8/86 22 33rd Round, 2008 Johnson City
14 Veres, Adam 6-4 235 R/R 3/19/88 21 49th Round, 2008 JC/Batavia
No. Catchers (2+1) Ht. Wt. B/T DOB Age Obtained 2008 Club
37 Cutler, Charles 6-0 200 L/R 7/29/86 22 14th Round, 2008 Batavia
4 Espinoza, Roberto 5-10 165 R/R 3/8/89 20 Free Agent, 3/6/06 Quad Cities
5 Murphy, Blake* 6-1 195 R/R 5/19/85 23 42nd Round, 2008 Batavia/QC
No. Infielders (5) Ht. Wt. B/T DOB Age Obtained 2008 Club
25 Morales, Osvaldo 6-3 200 R/R 7/4/87 21 Free Agent, 3/25/06 QC/JC/Batavia
3 Bolivar, Domnit 5-11 165 R/R 5/12/89 19 Free Agent, 7/12/05 QC/Batavia
8 Castellanos, Alex 6-0 195 R/R 8/4/86 22 10th Round, 2008 JC/Batavia
6 Vasquez, Niko 6-0 170 R/R 2/26/89 20 3rd Round, 2008 JC/Quad Cities
9 Luna, Aaron 5-11 200 R/R 3/28/87 22 9th Round, 2008 QC/Palm Beach
No. Outfielders (5) Ht. Wt. B/T DOB Age Obtained 2008 Club
23 Buck, Brian 6-1 190 R/R 2/3/86 23 27th Round, 2007 GCL
20 Cruz, Paul 5-10 190 L/L 9/20/85 23 40th Round, 2008 Johnson City
7 Edwards, Jon 6-5 230 R/R 1/8/88 21 14th Round, 2006 Batavia/QC
33 Rodriguez, Ryde 6-3 232 S/R 2/2/88 21 Free Agent, 7/25/07 GCL/JC
26 Swauger, Chris 6-0 200 L/L 8/11/86 22 26th Round, 2008 Batavia

Cardinals youth movement continues through NRIs


The St. Louis Cardinals movement toward a more youthful roster escalates. A year after 11 new players made their major league debut, the 2009 campaign will begin with two more.

As the 25-man opening day roster was set with the assignment of outfielder Joe Mather to Triple-A Memphis on Thursday, it means a total of three non-roster invitees (or NRIs) have made the team. They will be added to the club’s 40-man roster prior to Monday’s opening day game and the total on the 40-man will increase to 37 players in the process.

The three new additions are outfielder Colby Rasmus (pictured) and infielders David Freese and Joe Thurston. When they first take the field in Busch Stadium early in the week, the former two will be making their MLB introductions. Thurston, the “veteran” of the three, is 29 years old, but has just 66 career big league at-bats.

This is the highest number of NRIs to make the team in the last five years. Back in 2004, it was different as all three of the NRI additions that year had previous MLB experience, outfielder Ray Lankford, back for one last run, catcher Cody McKay, the first base coach’s son and second baseman-for-a-year Tony Womack, who like the others came to camp on a make-good minor league deal.

Since Tony La Russa arrived on the St. Louis scene in 1996, there was actually one year, 2003, when four NRIs came north with the Cardinals. Only one of the four, Kiko Calero, was a rookie though.

What makes the 2009 group so interesting to me is that the two farm NRI players made their way onto the team, Rasmus and Freese. This is the most in 11 years, tying the 1997 and 1998 teams for the largest quantity of such players in the La Russa era. Since Tony first joined the Cardinals, they have averaged only one such new NRI addition every two years.

2009 Avg 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996
NRI 26 21 29 19 23 20 24 23 20 22 26 18 16 12 14
NRI made 25-man 3 2 2 0 2 2 3 4 1 3 2 0 3 2 2
First MLB action 2 0.5 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 2 0

For the record, in 1997, the pair of newbies added to the roster were pitcher Matt Morris and Rule 5 outfielder Miguel Mejia. The next year, the two were pitchers Cliff Politte and Braden Looper. All except Mejia went on to have long major league careers. Looper remains active.

Now, here is the breakdown of all 26 NRIs in Cardinals camp this spring. This is the first spring in the La Russa years that as few as one MLB veteran pitchers or position players were brought into camp as NRIs that did not make the team. That was catcher Justin Knoedler, given no chance to make the MLB roster. Instead he was pegged for veteran insurance at Memphis, but ended up being released. Thurston was the other such veteran NRI and as noted, will be on the roster.

I don’t know what could be more of an indication of the organization’s turn toward youth.

2009 NRI made 25-man (3) Veteran pitcher cut Veteran hitter cut (1) Rookie pitcher cut (14) Rookie hitter cut (3) Extra catchers (5)
David Freese * none Justin Knoedler Tyler Herron Allen Craig Bryan Anderson
Joe Thurston Clayton Mortensen Jon Jay Tony Cruz
Colby Rasmus * Ian Ostlund Brett Wallace Luis De La Cruz
* 1st MLB action Adam Ottavino Steven Hill
Fernando Salas Matt Pagnozzi
Francisco Samuel
Jess Todd
P.J. Walters
Brad Furnish
Katsuhiko Maekawa
Shaun Garceau
Justin Fiske
Trey Hearne
Hyang-Nam Choi

Supporting information

For the corresponding details on how all of the NRIs in camp each spring in recent years played out, reference my post from February 15, entitled “Cardinals non-roster invitees – an update”.

For the specifics on all first-year players to have worn the Cardinals uniform since 1996, check out the article, “Cardinals first-year players and rookies – 1996–2008”.

While other players made their debuts to start the season, the majority of them were already on the club’s 40-man roster. By default, all these players receive an “automatic” spring training invitation.

Organizations are reluctant to add players to the 40-man roster until absolutely necessary because there are limits on the number of years a player can be sent down and back up to the majors again without risk of losing the player.

In addition, once the player arrives in the majors, he begins to inch closer to becoming arbitration-eligible, therefore increasing his salary, as well as starting his journey toward free-agency at six years of major league service.

The details behind options (sending a player down) and outrighting (removing a player from the 40-man roster) are complicated. In a four-part series on Scout.com several years ago, I went into these subjects in great detail. Part one, which provides the basics, is free. (Parts two, three and four are subscriber content.)

Cards minors spring game reports – April 2


Thursday’s opponents:
Partial schedule as Springfield and Quad Cities played up a level at Port St. Lucie against the Mets Triple-A and Double-A clubs respectively. The Cardinals Triple-A club was en route to Memphis to entertain the big-league Cardinals on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

Friday’s opponents: St. Louis at Memphis with the other four clubs playing on the Marlins’ side of the complex. Those are the last games against outside competition. Games will start early as Springfield and Quad Cities will break camp Saturday morning. Palm Beach will remain home to play some games against the extended spring training group.

Following are the current won-loss records of the teams this spring. The group in total fell seven games under .500.

Memphis: 5-8-0

Springfield: 5-8-1

Palm Beach: 6-7-1

Quad Cities #1: 4-8-2

Quad Cities #2: 6-2-1

Total: 26-33-5


In a programming note, catch me on KMA Radio 960 in Shenandoah, IA talking Cardinals baseball with Derek Martin this weekend. There will be a five-minute segment run on Friday at 5:50 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 2:45 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. The entire discussion is scheduled at 12:10 p.m. on Saturday.

KMA is a member of the Cardinals Radio Network and stream their signal online at KMA960.com.


As always, the following game summaries are provided through the courtesy of the St. Louis Cardinals by Director of Minor League Operations John Vuch.


Springfield
lost to Buffalo, 2-1

Springfield pitching

Clayton Mortensen, 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K’s

Tyler Norrick 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB’s

Eduardo Sanchez 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 K

Casey Mulligan 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K’s

Springfield hitting

James Rapoport 2-for-5

Andrew Brown (pictured) doubled, tripled and scored a run

Steve Hill doubled

Mike Folli singled and had the lone RBI

Brett Wallace singled and walked


Palm Beach
lost to Binghamton, 9-2

Palm Beach pitching

Brandon Dickson 4 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

Nick Additon, 3 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K’s

George Brown, one inning, three weak groundballs on seven pitches

David Carpenter, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K

Palm Beach hitting

Shane Peterson 1-for-3 with a run scored

Charlie Kingrey 1-for-2 with a run scored

Francisco Rivera 1-for-4 with an RBI


Quad Cities #2 defeated Quad Cities #1, 5-3

QC #1 pitching

Gary Daley 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K’s

Eric Fornataro 2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB

LaCurtis Mayes 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K’s

QC#1 hitting

Osvaldo Morales 2-for-3 with an RBI

Jon Edwards 2-for-2 with two walks

Alex Castellanos doubled, scored and had an RBI

Niko Vasquez doubled and scored a run

Brian Buck doubled

Charlie Cutler and Ryde Rodriguez singled

QC #2 pitching

Anthony Ferrara 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K’s

Brett Zawacki 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K’s

Joel Pichardo 1 IP (all zeroes)

Jason Buursma, 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K’s

QC #2 hitting

Travis Mitchell 2-for-3 with a run scored

Jairo Martinez 2-for-2 with a walk and two RBIs

Ivan Castro doubled and had an RBI

Edwin Gomez 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored

Jose Garcia 1-for-3

Scanning the Cardinals spring stat sheets

“Ignore all stats from September and spring training.”

I am sure you’ve seen and heard this axiom many times by now. If you are a full disciple of this credo, feel free to move on quickly.

On the other hand, if you believe there might be value or at least interest in looking at such numbers, hang around a bit.

After all, if September and spring training results are simply to be discarded, then Jason Motte is nothing more than a promising Triple-A reliever with no big-league experience.

If you believe his results to date say something, this is what you get – a dominating line:

Motte ERA IP BB K K:BB OBA
9/08+ST09 1.21 22.1 4 32 8:1 0.175

Motte’s four spring saves are tied for tops in the National League.

In preparation for an upcoming radio appearance, I sat down with the spring stat sheet this morning and here are some of my observations, both good and concerning.


The good

Chris Duncan – Not only is his line .306/.368/.506, but he is tied for the team lead in home runs with four and is first in RBI with 19 (third in the NL). Colby Rasmus may have to scramble for at-bats if Duncan keeps this up.

Khalil Greene – A quiet man hitting a cool .406 (fifth-best in the NL) and tied for third on the team with 17 RBI. I have felt all along that the new shortstop could be a 2009 difference-maker for this team.

Rick Ankiel – Another quiet player batting .341 with 11 walks (.412 OBP) and 13 strikeouts. His 29 hits are tied for second in the League. If he can carry over an improved plate discipline into the regular season, it could be huge.

Skip Schumaker – Still hanging around .300 with eight doubles, just one behind NL-leading Albert Pujols, while learning the most challenging of new positions. Five errors, but they were early on. A most admirable spring under the microscope.

David Freese – Back from the dead, also known as minor league camp, hitting .350 (14-for-40) with the big boys and playing solid defense as expected.

Chris Carpenter – No news is good news. 1.52 ERA and a 17:6 strikeout to walk ratio in 23 2/3 innings. Simply the key to the season.

Joel Pineiro – Arguably the most effective starter in camp with a 1.44 ERA to go with 20 strikeouts and just four walks in 25 innings. If that is it, I hope he remains angry about the Team Puerto Rico “snub” for a long time, though I suspect Dave Duncan might be due for a bit of credit if this continues.

Josh Kinney – Another quiet worker. Has 11 Ks in 10 1/3 innings, but has been a bit wild with four walks and 2 HBPs. Opposing hitters are managing just a .143 average against him.

Brian Barden – While Joe Thurston has received 66 ABs to Barden’s 43, the latter is batting .372 and is the team’s leading pinch-hitter, having gone 3-for-5 in that role. This decision may come down to the wire, with Thurston’s left-handed bat on a team with no switch-hitters perhaps giving him an edge.

Allen Craig and Jon Jay – Though neither should see time in St. Louis this summer, both of these youngsters hit up a storm, with the former batting .444 and the latter .349. With Freese in St. Louis, Craig should receive more time at third base than first with Memphis. In my view, Jay could be caught as a fourth/fifth outfielder with not quite enough glove to play center and not quite enough power to start in the corners. Yet in all fairness, when Jay gets to a ball, it ends up in the leather. He has yet to err in 231 career minor league games.

P.J. Walters – Same as his two Memphis teammates above, but Walters may contribute to the Cardinals 2009 season. Only one earned run given up in nine big-league innings this spring. Watch his Friday start with the major leaguers carefully.


In between

Look at these lines:

BA OPS AB R H TB 2B 3B HR RBI BB K GIDP
Player one 0.216 0.658 74 9 16 28 6 0 2 18 5 12 3
Player two 0.216 0.614 74 8 16 29 5 1 2 17 2 16 1

Both players are right-handed outfielders, but one is assured of a job while the other is trying to stick. Player one is Ryan Ludwick while player two is Joe Mather. The spring similarities are striking. RBI counts are second and tied for third on the team, respectively. The biggest difference? One is assured of making the team, while two is not.

Colby Rasmus (pictured) – Leads the team in stolen bases, going 4-for-4, double the next best players. He is second in walks with 12, trailing only Albert, who is tied for the NL lead with 15. That translates to a .370 OBP for Colby despite a .275 batting average. The concerning: 23 strikeouts in 80 at-bats and some defensive bumps while learning the corner outfield positions on the fly.


The concerning

Troy Glaus – Zero-for-everything. There is really nothing more to say. Even when he does return, the power may be slow to follow. Think second half and you may not be disappointed again.

Ryan Franklin – He has done nothing to show me he can convert saves in a pinch. A continuing problem is two home runs allowed in 10 1/3 innings and an ERA over five. Scored upon in three of his last four outings. He does have an uncharacteristic 11 strikeouts though.

Kyle Lohse – With $41 million on the way to his bank account, expectations are higher. He has allowed nine home runs this spring, tied for the most in all of the major leagues. Sure, the wind is blowing hard in Florida, but if he can’t keep the ball down and in the park, look out. 10 earned runs given up over his last three starts.

Kyle McClellan – He has been a mess this spring, yet seems destined to work out his problems in major league games out of the pen in April. Eight walks and eight strikeouts, an opposing batting average of .333 and 17 earned runs in 17 innings. You can do the ERA math. Four earned runs over his last four outings is actually showing some slight improvement, but there is still a ways to go.

Brad Thompson – Hasn’t been given much work in the games that count with only 14 MLB innings pitched. 5.14 ERA and a K:BB ratio of 6:5. Had only one scoreless outing in six. Needs improvement to hold off the young bucks challenging from Memphis.

Todd Wellemeyer – His four long balls yielded this spring pale in comparison to Lohse, but that has been in just 22 innings. His K:BB ratio is a solid 14:4, but the bottom line is an ERA of 7.36. Trend is bad with 13 runs allowed in last three starts. I will be watching his results against Florida on Thursday carefully.


On the radio

In a programming note, catch me on KMA Radio 960 in Shenandoah, IA talking Cardinals baseball with Derek Martin this weekend. There will be a five-minute segment run on Friday at 5:50 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 2:45 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. The entire discussion is scheduled at 12:10 p.m. on Saturday. (All times Central)

KMA is a member of the Cardinals Radio Network and stream their signal online at KMA960.com.