Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Monthly Archives: February 2011

United Cardinal Bloggers Roundtable:The Sophomore Class

Each day during the month of February, the United Cardinal Bloggers fire off an email roundtable discussion about all things baseball – from serious talk of lineups and rotations to the lighter side of the game such as wishlists for musical acts during the 2011 World Series at Busch.  If you missed some of the fun, check out the full list of roundtable questions and responses at http://www.unitedcardinalbloggers.com/.

This weekend, it was our turn to come up with a question.  And since we gals love our babybirds, we decided to focus on the youngsters.  We asked our fellow bloggers to predict how the Cardinals’ Sophomore class would fare during the 2011 season.


Angela threw the topic into the ring with this email question:


“Let’s focus on a less threatening question today and look at all of the sophomores on the Cardinals roster. Who of these players is due for a big season, and who is in for a sophomore slump? Your choices: David Freese, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, and Jaime Garcia.”


Bill Ivie (I-70 baseball)

I look for Jon Jay to have a bit of a slump as he adjusts to being a part time player most of the time this year.

As for breakout years, as much as I have said the opposite, my gut and hope is that Craig is due to show that he belongs in the bigs.  My mind tells me that is not going to happen and we have a better shot of a solid year from the glass ankles of David Freese.  I would look for Mr. Freese to put up a solid .280/20HR/85RBI season and be considered a solid option at third for a few years


Daniel Shoptaw (C70 At The Bat)
I’m with Bill, I think Jay slides some, due to both lack of playing time and the fact that he kind got figured out at the end of last season.  He’ll be of value, of course, but may not be quite as impressive as he was last year.  Garcia will slip a bit as well, but as we discussed in a previous question, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t still be good.


You figure if Freese can stay healthy, he’s going to easily be more than he was last year.  I also think that if Craig can get some regular at-bats, no matter where it may be, he’ll bring something to the table as well.

Dennis Lawson (Pitchers Hit Eighth)
I think that Freese has the best opportunity for a big season, because he has the best opportunity to play and make an impact.  In theory, I look for Jay to slide based on lack of playing time, but we’ve already seen that projecting playing time is a very slippery slope.  TLR has a lot of mix-n-match options, and an injury to any of the position players could completely change the formula. With that in mind, Allen Craig could have a really good showing simply by being in the right place at the right time in 2011.

Mark Tomasik (Retrosimba)
If he stays healthy, David Freese seems poised for a productive season at the plate and in the field. Could see him generating significant run production with gap-power. I suspect Jon Jay is in for a sophomore slump, primarily because of lack of playing time. I’m worried about Jaime Garcia being able to duplicate or exceed last season’s performance, but I’m in denial about it because Cardinals cannot afford him to slump after Adam Wainwright’s setback.


Christine Coleman (Aaron Miles’ Fastball)
If Freese can stay healthy, I think he will be due for a big season. He definitely showed the potential during his healthy times last year, so staying healthy throughout all of 2011 will likely be his biggest challenge. If he can meet it, he should have a big year.  I think that Jaime Garcia will have a little bit of a sophomore slump, yet still play a very significant role in the Cards rotation (all the more important now). Like others have already said, I think that Jon Jay will have a little bit of a sophomore slump just based on his presumptive decrease in playing time. Hopefully Craig will see his playing time increase this season as well.

Like most of my fellow bloggers have stated I’m going to predict a very nice season for David Freese barring injury. Unfortunately the way this season has started I’ll be more than surprised if he doesn’t land on the DL for an extended period.
Jaime Garcia set the bar so high for himself it’s going to be hard for him to repeat that success. Some regression for Jaime, but not a sophomore slump my any means.

As for Jon Jay and Allen Craig my gut feeling predicts a semi-breakout season for Craig. He’s done nothing but rake in Memphis and I’m hopeful with regular MLB at bats he can have similar production. As far as Jay goes I’m thinking Skip Schumaker type offensive numbers. To me Jay projects as a long term 4th outfielder while Craig could be the Cardinals right fielder of the future.

Matthew Philip (Fungoes)
David Freese seems the best equipped to go big this season, though his hopes are limited by the same thing that prevented a breakout rookie season in 2010: health. And that reality leads to Allen Craig potentially performing better this year, if for no other reason than he might get more playing time (filling in for Freese) and can’t do much worse than his .282 BABIP last season. Bill James even projects him for a .350 wOBA, which is more in line with his minor-league numbers. Realistically, Garcia is going to look like he’s slumping, though he’ll probably simply be performing more toward what his numbers should’ve been last year: an expected FIP an entire point above his ERA.


Bob Netherton (On The Outside Corner)
For a breakout season, you have to go with David Freese because either way it goes, you’ll be right :-)  He’ll either hit .280, 12 homers and drive in 75 runs or some part of a stadium will fall on him in a game and break some body part.   David Freese is more than just a baseball player, he’s a walking anatomy lesson. 

The sophomore slump will have to go to Jon Jay, although that’s not altogether fair.   The lack of consistent playing time will hurt him somewhat.  Add to that some expectations from last year that are unrealistically high, he will have the perception of slumping.

I do believe that Jaime Garcia will defy all of the projections and have a terrific year.  Every once in a while a player comes along that just doesn’t fit the model, and I believe Garcia is that player.


Erika (Cardinal Diamond Diaries)
Ever the Cardinal optimist, I foresee our sophomores surging ahead this year.  Jaime Garcia had a phenomenal first year.  With his maturity and professional demeanor, I expect him to continue to grow with experience and step up again this season to make up for the absence of Adam Wainwright.

I am hopeful that both Jon Jay and Allen Craig will get enough playing time to further hone their big league skills.  Jay did burst onto the scene last season with what could only be described as offensive magic last year, but slid a little back into the realms of reality as opposing pitchers became familiar. Allen Craig, on the other hand struggled offensively from inconsistent playing time. I think both their numbers normalize to some solid contributions in 2011.

And then there’s David Freese.  Pardon me a moment while I stop and smile?  OK… all better now.  ;)  Dave has worked his tail off over the winter rehabbing not one, but two ankles.  Tagged with the “injury prone” label is never a good thing.  This is the season that Freese makes us all forget about the past.  If When he stays healthy, David Freese is going to have an amazing year.  Back in 2010 we saw his power and range.  I’m looking forward to a solid year for Dave!  *fingers crossed*

Thanks to the UCB group above for joining the conversation!

The Cardinals play their first Spring Training game today!  Doesn’t that just make your Monday better?  Have a great week everyone!   =)


Compare and Contrast – Class

 

Waino no bueno? *tear*
h/t @MatthewHLeach

I sat, stunned, as I saw twitter explode with the news that Adam Wainwright was heading to St. Louis with elbow trouble. My fears were realized when another explosion occurred in my little corner of the internet with the sad tale that Waino was going to be shut down for the year to have Tommy John surgery. I then became horrified when I heard of Jonny Gomes’s comments about the matter.

So what I’m here to talk about today is this – class. Some people have it, others need it, and others need it defined for them before they can figure out how to get it.

*ahem*

What happened with Gomes frustrated me. The cover-up/spin put on it by the Reds organization/media made it seem all the more ridiculous that people allow themselves to say things like that without realizing that yes, your voice is being heard, and your words will be spread to the masses by lunchtime thanks to twitter, blogs, and the like. If you’re looking for amusing thoughts on the situation, head over to Pitcher’s Hit Eighth… Dennis did a better job injecting some amusement into the situation than I ever could.

I could handle the Gomes thing to a certain extent. At least someone was bright enough to tell him that he should probably apologize. He’s in the spotlight. I definitely hit the eject button this afternoon though when I spotted a comment awaiting moderation from a Reds fan. It was posted on Erika’s goodbye to Jason LaRue from back in September. I did not publish said comment due to the fact that it used no less than six words that I would not be allowed to speak at my grandmother’s dinner table, much less publish as representation of a website that I belong to. What sparked such heinous comments months after the fact is absolutely beyond me. All I could think to say was, “Stay classy, Reds fans.”

This morning I was directed to this post written by none other than Adam Wainwright himself. I was mesmerized while reading it. I already had a tremendous respect for Adam as a player, person, and Christian, but what I read in that post made that admiration grow exponentially. If I were him, I would have felt devastated with the news that my body had broken down on me at such a high point in my career. Instead he is looking at it as an opportunity, a way to spread God’s love to others through his actions and words off of the diamond. He won’t be gone though, as evidenced by this thought:

I absolutely hate the idea of missing this season with teammates. I think we have a real good shot to win the World Series. The group we have is really special, and I’ll have my pom pom”s out in full force. But here’s the deal. This injury, the one that makes me miss an entire year of baseball, has allowed me to stop missing what is right in front of me. I am blessed with an amazing God. A God who continues to teach me lessons in mysterious ways. 

I love that! Waino’s got class. He will be back. I hope Cardinal fans take after him, instead of spending their time firing dumb comments into the atmosphere in retaliation of what others say about our team.

Kid In A Candy Store

I know that there are about three of you out there that have been waiting for this post, but I hope the rest of you enjoy it as well…

This past weekend was the first Midwest Baseball Writer’s Conference, held at the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in Springfield, Missouri. I know, a long trip for me, but worth every second. I got to leave the snow of Wisconsin, enjoy a few days of sunshine in Missouri, see a truckload of sports history, and talk baseball for an entire day? WIN.
For those of you (I’m assuming most of you) that have never been able to check out the Hall of Fame before, I snapped some pics on my dumbphone (that would be a non-smartphone) for your enjoyment.
Stan’s corner, complete with a TV showing his enshrinement
into the hall (he played his harmonica!)
Main Cards section, including lots of momentos from the
2006 World Series
I know that I could have spent several more hours reading all of the various plaques that were in the upstairs of the museum. Some of my favorites included…
Branch Rickey
Rogers Hornsby
Jack Buck
Stan Musial (of course)
Of course, I checked out all the sports fun and games. For the record, I am horrible at the football throw, but think I could take most of you at shooting free throws. An interesting one was the simulation where you could watch a major league pitch. The Cardinal player you could pick was Darryl Kile, so of course I had to see what his 12-to-6 curveball would look like coming in to me at the plate. It’s definitely worth the trip to see the history, but the little kid in me couldn’t walk away from the games either!
Of course, if you go to a conference, you should actually talk about the presenters, right? Up first on the day was John Lofflin, a journalism professor at Park University in Parkville, MO (and writer over at i70 Baseball). John’s section was labeled “Interlopers in Eden: Sports Writers, Gamblers, Gurus and Women.” He talked on many different baseball books, what the author’s intent was, the thought process that readers go through as they journey through the stories, and how the different ‘villains’ (for lack of a better term) were portrayed. I had to laugh at the inclusion of women in the title, considering I was the only one there! Matt Kelsy made a good point in the discussion when he stated the following:

These stories aren’t about baseball. They’re about life. They just use baseball to tell the story.

I couldn’t agree more. One of the best things about this conference was the discussion feel of it. We weren’t there to be lectured at, but to be chatting about the game we all obviously loved.

Roger Erickson was up next. Roger is the head of the Kansas City chapter of SABR, that is, the Society for American Baseball Research. To be perfectly honest, I had no idea what all SABR had their little hands in, but in reality it is quite a lot. People point to them as the creators of more advanced sabermetrics such as WAR, WHIP, and many other statistics that we’ve just accepted into our mainstream baseball vocabulary. I got a good laugh when the first thing he stood up and said was, “The first thing I want you to know about us is that we are not all baseball nerds.” I looked around the room… do you really think any person in there listening to him was not a baseball nerd? Nice.
Steve Sommer from Gashouse Graphs was last up on the agenda, and my math background had a major geek-out during this one. Steve and Erik run an amazing site using all kinds of advanced statistical analysis to do anything from predict trends in current players (like this post on Motte’s fastball velocity) and do things like this post on Jim Edmonds where they prove that he is a no-doubt Hall of Famer. Steve actually sat down and explain in broad terms how WAR is calculated, which I was happy about. It seemed like this mystical number that people came up with, and in reality… umm… it kind of is. Okay, take it back, there is a method to it, but there’s still a lot of room for interpretation too. Obviously not an exact science, but there is some reasoning, so I feel better.
Long story short, y’all should have been there. I think that we all walked away learning a little more, enjoying some great history in the museum, and, if nothing else, getting to enjoy a day of talking about baseball, both past and present. I’ll let Jack Buck tell you how I felt about this day…
Yes it is Jack… yes it is.
Oh, this is what happens when I’m left unsupervised with baseball history all around me.
You know, in case you were wondering…

My, How Things Change

I laugh realizing just five years ago the name Jupiter made me think planet, not Florida.  And “Truck Day” would have meant the local Chevy dealer was having a sale.
Now those words give me happy shivers.  Baseball is coming!  We survived the long winter, football is finally over and even the groundhog wants an early Spring.
Who would think that seeing crates of sugarless bubblegum and sunflower seeds loaded onto a truck could bring such joy to the hearts of hundreds (perhaps thousands?) of American adults?
Well, we can all smile a little bigger now, knowing those trucks, loaded with vital ballplayer gear and supplies, are on their way to Jupiter….Florida, not the planet. And the first Spring Training camp workouts start February 14th for pitchers and catchers. Yes, we soon will have baseball!
Wait…February 14th….
That date used to mean something different too!
My, how things change when you fall in love with baseball!  ;)

And the Pujols Biography winners are…..

Drumroll please?

Our three winners of CDD’s first ever giveaway are:
Diane Schultz
Bryan Felker
and Debra Pearlstein

**Congratulations!!**

If you are one of our lucky winners, please send your mailing address to cardsdiamonddiary@gmail.com to claim your book.

*winners have until February 11th at 5pm to claim their copies.  If not claimed, a new drawing will be held from among the original entries.

Big thanks to all of you who took the time to enter. We found all the kissing up fun and creative entries extremely entertaining!  ;)

And thank you again to Thomas Nelson Publishers for allowing us here at Cardinal Diamond Diaries the chance to spread some baseball joy with the free copies of their new book, Pujols: More Than The Game.  


Want a copy for yourself?

Check your local bookstore or order online at Amazon.com.

The Return of Jimmy Ballgame!

The news hit twitter like a wildfire this afternoon.  Jim Edmonds has signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals.  Nothing better on a cold, snowy afternoon than seeing Cardinal Nation get all heated up about Jimmy Edmonds coming back to the nest.
We are so tired of no news that suddenly Jimmy’s new minor league contract comeback is sparking conversations that include all corners of the Cardinal roster.  Will he replace Colby Rasmus?  Is he the Cardinals next batting coach?  Ugh, another old veteran signing?  and my personal favorite:  Does this mean the Cardinals aren’t signing Pujols?
The way I see it… let’s just relax and enjoy the fun with this one.  Jimmy’s coming to Spring Training.  He might now (finally) get to retire a Cardinal.  I’m not reading too much into this yet…
Welcome back Jimmy!!!!  Thanks for heating up the baseball talk.  It warms my heart to see all the Cardinals fans come out of hibernation to chatter about our newest returning Redbird.
Pitchers and Catchers in less than two weeks?  Spring Training right around the corner?  Fantabulous!!
Go Cards  =)
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