Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Baby Birds

Old and Busted… New Hotness

When the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006, it was the definition of a ‘win now’ team. They were relying on players that were in and nearing past their prime, plus some throw-ins that had been plucked off the scrap heap and helped that rather improbable team reach the pinnacle of the baseball season. Players came in by trade at that time. The only home grown every day talent on the team was Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina. This was a team that relied on 33 year old utility man Scott Spiezio for 119 games and 28 year old minor league journeyman John Rodriguez for 102 games (Rodriguez’s total career games played in the majors? 156. In the minors? 1197. Just saying).

I did of course skip the other main farm system player on the 2006 team that year – Anthony Reyes. Reyes went 5-8 with a 5.06 ERA and averaged right at 5 innings per start that year. The only other players to get any sort of significant playing time from the Cards’ farm system that year were Chris Duncan (90 games and 314 PA) and Tyler Johnson (56 relief appearances and a 4.95 ERA). Josh Kinney came up through the farm system but was not drafted by the Cardinals, and no other home-grown player had more than 30 games played that year.

They were old, and when the calendar flipped to 2007 many of them wound up busted as well. The farm system had been depleted to get all of these quickly aging players on the team, and they were built for failure.

Last year, many of us were clamoring for our beloved baby birds to get playing time in various positions on the big league club. We screamed with outrage when Aaron Miles, Randy Winn and Mike MacDougal were getting plucked up off the designated for assignment pile, because really, what were they offering that the boys down in Memphis were unable to bring to the table?

Tyler Greene, Albert Pujols and Jon Jay - all homegrown (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

It appeared that the answer was age and experience. However, 16 players from the Cardinals farm system had an impact (by my definition that equates to >30 games played or >30 IP… my blog, my rules) in the 2010 season, far greater than the 5-6 players from that 2006 championship team.

This year? There have already been 19 players (6 pitchers and 13 pitchers) that were drafted by the Cardinals that have already appeared (or, in the case of Andrew Brown, who is getting his first start tonight) this season. 13 of these players (Yadi, Pujols, Skip Schumaker, Daniel Descalso, Colby Rasmus, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Tyler Greene, Jaime Garcia, Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez, Jason Motte, and Mitchel Boggs) have had a ‘large’ impact (>100 at bats or 20 innings pitched… more arbitrary numbers, but I could care less).

This team is built for a much longer term success rate. I can’t wait! We’ll go from old and busted to new hotness!

Gametime is just in a few minutes – 6:05 Central, vs. the Nationals in the nation’s capital.

2011 Draft Spectacular Photo Thursday

Last year Erika and I became fascinated by the draft, learning about all of the new faces that would be donning the birds on the bat and joining the ranks with our other baby birds. What we quickly realized was that many of the places we were hungrily searching for info were void of one thing that we are obviously fascinated with – pictures!

An idea was born – we don’t claim to know anything about draft boards, who has the highest ceiling, which picks are potential busts and which are sure things. We do however know how to use Google images, so we’re bringing everything to you all in one place. If you want the best places for this information, check out places like Future Redbirds, the Cardinals website, or even the Post-Dispatch. To help, we’ve even included links to Future Redbirds’ posts on the top 10 picks for the Cardinals in this year’s draft to go along with our own (obviously) top-notch analysis of our newest players to watch.

Enjoy!

1st round, 22nd pick: Kolten Wong

What we’ve heard: Wow, the snap judgments on this year’s first round second baseman have ranged from, “Why did we draft the second coming of Fernando Vina?” to “Oh good, another scrappy infielder. We don’t have enough of those.” The key point that many cooler heads have tried to point out is that he can hit. The 20 year old also made an MVP-winning showing in the Cape Cod league last year, which shows he can also play with a wooden bat, which is sometimes a tough adjustment for a young player to make.

Our take: Interviews with him made the kid seem like an ecstatic little boy who just couldn’t wait to get on a uniform and get out there to show people what he can do. It seems like it won’t be a problem signing him, which sounds great to me!

2nd round, 79th pick: Charlie Tilson

What we’ve heard: The high school senior projects as a left-handed major league capable centerfielder. He’s fast, has a smooth swing, and might or might not have decent power (well which is it?). Now, Tilson has signed a letter of intent with the University of Illinois, but he also wants to be a ballplayer (preferably with the White Sox).

Our take: Just don’t let the fact that the Sox didn’t draft you deter you Charlie! We don’t like the Cubs either!

3rd round, 109th pick: C. J. McElroy

What we’ve heard: High school centerfielder whose power is still coming but supposedly plays outstanding defense. Baseball is in his blood. His father is Chuck McElroy, who pitched in the bigs for 13 years. His grandpa Sylvester played in the Negro Leagues, and Cecil Cooper (17 years in the majors) is his uncle.

Our take: Another high school centerfielder? Well okay. C. J. is committed to the University of Houston to play both football and baseball, but considering his lineage, here’s hoping baseball is his first choice.

4th round, 140th pick: Kenny Peoples-Walls

What we’ve heard: A third high school player, although this one of the shortstop variety. He’s a speedster contact hitter that has an average build, but the frame of one who could probably wind up at second base.

Our take: Seems like this one needs time in the minors just to get sorted out what his role is and fill out the rest of the way in his development.

5th round, 170th pick: Sam Gaviglio

What we’ve heard: Sam is not about to make us squeal with delight at his speed (even for a starting pitcher), as he averages 86-89 MPH and tops out at 90. He is a groundball machine, who was drafted out of high school by the Rays but chose to head to Oregon State to pick up a bit more refinement.

Our take: Consider this pick Dave Duncan approved! Also, I got a smile where he was stated as having ‘moxie.’ A little moxie never hurt anyone!

6th round, 200th pick: Adam Ehrlich

What we’ve heard: A left-handed catcher just out of high school, Ehrlich’s value will definitely come in his defensive ability, in which he is almost called a finished product. His abilities with the bat are leaving something to be desired, but he’s got time to figure that out.

Our take: Left handed catchers are a commodity. Catchers that are referred to as graceful intrigue me for sure!

7th round, 230th pick: Nick Martini

What we’ve heard: A polished hitter that just seems to find ways to get hits, Nick is a left-handed line drive machine from K-State. His arm is average, and while his only real tool is his on-base abilities, his eye at that plate is described as very advanced.

Our take: For whatever reason, this is the first one that has truly intrigued me, if for no other reason than because I like guys that have patience at the dish. Even if he only winds up a 4th outfielder, what would you do with a 4th outfielder with the ability to take a solid at-bat in a critical situation late in the game? Exactly.

8th round, 260th pick: Danny Miranda

What we’ve heard: Very little positive to report here. If I understand what I read correctly, Danny was kind of ousted as the University of Miami this year, and really projects to be a LOOGY, nothing more, nothing less. He has a nice 3 pitch mix that make it to the upper 80’s.

Our take: This just underwhelms me all the way around.

9th round, 290th pick: Tyler Mills

What we’ve heard: Tyler is an outfielder turned pitcher, who has seen more success at Michigan as a reliever instead of a starter. This is the first time in the draft where the words ‘draft-eligible sophomore’ come into play, and history shows that it is much tougher to pull off this kind of signing than any other. The Cardinals signed him for his potential.

Our take: If he can get back to the days where he could do 84-87 mph sliders and 94-96 mph fastballs, sign me up!

Jeffries got a tour of the stadium after signing Thursday afternoon. Photo via @CardsInsider

10th round, 320th pick: Lance Jeffries

What we’ve heard: He’s a speedy centerfielder from the St. Louis area (the very definition of home-grown talent) and loves tearing it up on the basepaths. He seems very excited to be playing for his hometown team, and some speculate that he’s got a cannon of an arm to go with his speed.

Our take: He seems to be like a raw tools type that you just draft and cross your fingers hope the kid turns into something. I like the sound of it though, and hope he comes through for the Cardinals in a big way, especially since he already signed! Welcome to the Cardinals Lance! :)

Baby Birds Weekend Update

Memphis dugout celebrates a run

The Memphis Redbirds have won the first two games in their current series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks, and I was in heaven there at the ballpark this weekend for all the baby bird fun.  The two games were very different experiences, both wonderful in their own way.  The first game, Saturday, was an evening game with the family – the kiddos, Hubby, me and my Mom.  We laughed and chatted about the players, cheered on our boys and enjoyed each other’s company.  With Memphis the visiting team, it was auditorily obviously we were in the minority cheering for the Redbirds – just the crickets and us!

Aaron Luna books it towards 1st

Memphis had a big game, winning 8-4.  Adam Ottavino pitched well, into the 7th inning.  Both Pete Kozma and Andrew Brown smacked homeruns.  Aaron Luna stole 2nd.  Kozma kicked off an adrenaline packed 6-4-3 double play.  A balk was called on OKC’s pitcher (I missed it, as usual…. Balks continue to mystify me.)  Donovan Solano was on base all night, going 4 for 5 at the plate. And Cory Rauschenberger, Chuckie Fick and Raul Valdes all pitched in relief for Memphis (some better than others). ;)

Pete Kozma returns to Memphis

And bonus!  There was a new Baby Bird making his AAA debut!  Jose Garcia was a fresh call-up from Springfield during the shuffle that sent both Matt Carpenter and Mark Hamilton up to St. Louis and brought Pete Kozma back down to AAA.  Garcia had an applause-worthy game both defensively (playing 2nd) and at the plate with a walk, a double, a single and 2 runs batted in.  A .500 AAA batting average!… for the moment.

Andrew Brown

Sunday’s game was night-and-day different, both literally and figuratively.  Bright (hot) sunshine and a smaller crowd.  I was on my own (with my camera) for this one since the kiddos (and Hubby) had ball practice and a date with the swimming pool.  I grabbed a seat in the shade – first row seats were open all around the park, and I moved around a few times to catch a better camera angle here and there.  It was a shame really, to see the park so empty.  Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was Sunday… it sure wasn’t because the baseball was disappointing!  I enjoyed the peace and quiet that afternoon.  There is something almost magical about watching a ballgame by yourself, with no distractions.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the experience of sharing a game with friends and family.  But for just those few hours, I had the gift of a baseball game to which I could give 100% of my attention and it was a wonderful reprieve from a crazy last couple of weeks.

PJ Walters

PJ Walters started for Memphis and threw 7 innings, walking 2 and striking out 6.  He also managed to hit two batters. Nothing serious, but the Memphis play-by-play announcer mentioned PJ has hit 9 batters so far this year.  (yikes?!)

Our ol' buddy Nick Stavinoha

Memphis’ top of the 6th kept what few fans were in attendance on the edge of their seats.  After Pete Kozma lined out, Andrew Brown reached 1st on a throwing error. Nick Stavinoha struck out, but then OKC walked the next two batters.  The bases were loaded with Redbirds and a wild pitch scored Brown from 3rd.  Bryan Anderson then struck out, stranding two, but after four innings with only one baby bird making it to base, it was nice to finally see some action. There were more thrills in the top of the 8th (but not the rah-rah kind) when Freddie Bynum lined into an unassisted double play at first which caught Stavinoha off the bag and abruptly ended the inning for Memphis.

Raul Valdes, lefty with a red glove. Sound familiar?

Jess Todd, Raul Valdes and Victor Marte all pitched in relief. Marte had an impressive 9th inning, and the game ended with Donovan Solano’s glove being in just the right place at the right time to catch a smoked line drive towards 3rd.  Solano smiled, looking surprised to see he had caught it, and the baby birds celebrated on the field for the 2nd time, winning 3-2.

An aside:  There is one thing I am embarrassed to report.  We may need to take up a collection for our baby birds clothing fund.  It was painfully obvious their travel-gray uniforms are getting old and being pieced together with replacements.   For some of the boys, the gray in their shirts mismatched their gray pants. OKC fans around us were making fun, and I had to agree it looked, well… odd.

I’d keep a closer eye on stuff like that for them if they lived closer.  Dress to impress, boys!  ;)

Donovan Solano had a hot bat on Saturday

It’s been nice to read/hear that our Cardinals had a  monstrous weekend, sweeping the Cubs in exciting fashion while my attention was focused on the farm boys.  Albert Pujols heating up??  Well, it’s about time!

The Cardinals have the day off today.  Memphis plays at 7:05.  If you’re in town, I recommend some baby bird watching!  ;)

Lynn, Cleto and our Baby Birds

To say I enjoy watching a ballplayer make his Major League debut would be an understatement.  Whether a Cardinal or not, a player stepping to the plate in the big show for the first time mesmerizes me.  The nerves, the excitement, the once-in-a-lifetime intensity – all that (and more) combine to create that rare thrill.

Thursday night, Lance Lynn got his moment of glory, taking the mound as starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Lynn was off to a tremendous start, retiring the first ten batters he faced.  The Baby Bird was pitching like a pro and the Cardinals had a 3-0 lead heading into the 4th inning.  I couldn’t have been more proud.

But then….

If you watched the game or saw the box score, you know the result wasn’t a picture-perfect debut by Lance Lynn.  The defense let him down.  The defense…. Yes, the Cardinals’ 2011 defense remains a sore subject with me.  And yes, I’m again pointing a finger at a couple of our boys playing down the middle of the field.

Which brings me to Baby Bird Debut Numero Dos for last night, Maikel Cleto.  Cleto came from the Mariners when the Cardinals decided to dump the brilliant defensive glove of shortstop Brendan Ryan.  (insert my trademark Brendan Ryan trade protest here)  Cleto was called up, fresh from AA Springfield yesterday, hopping over AAA to make his first appearance out of the St. Louis bullpen in the 7th inning.  Unlike Lance Lynn, Cleto failed to impress me.  He walked his first two batters, gave up a double and then back-to-back homeruns before finally getting his act together and striking out the final two batters to end the nightmare. (In his defense, Cleto managed a 1-2-3 8th inning and Cardinal Nation breathed a sigh of relief.)

Two Baby Bird debuts plus a field of Cardinal youngsters made last night’s game a must-see for those of us who follow the minors as well as the big boys.  2010 Memphis mentionables playing last night included Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Daniel Descalso, Tyler Greene, Tony Cruz (catcher, starting at 3rd base!  But that’s another story…) and pitcher Lance Lynn; Pete Kozma (spent last year in AA Springfield) and as mentioned, Maikel Cleto (low A last year).

A few more fleeting thoughts…

  • Even if the camera adds 10 pounds, I say Lance Lynn still packed on an extra cheeseburger or 50 since I watched him strikeout 16 batters in his PCL Championship game last September.  Noticeably heftier. (I’m a dietitian. I notice this stuff.)
  • Maikel Cleto can throw hard and fast.  Great.  But in my opinion, he should be refining his control back in Memphis.  He didn’t look ready.  My nerves were shot from watching his 7th inning.  Someone remind me, why he was called up so quickly?     note: after I wrote this and before it was posted, moves were made by the Cardinals that included optioning Cleto back to AA Springfield.  Cleto skips Memphis on his way back as well?  I will just be content to be confused on the whole Cleto promotion idea.  onward…
  • our defense…..  *sigh*

On a happier note:   This weekend the Memphis Redbirds are heading my way to play a 4-game series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks. *happy dance*  I keep trying to convince my family how amazingly wonderful this is – the chance to see the young guys on the verge of breaking into the Majors, to watch them play in a more relaxed environment, the opportunity to begin building early baseball memories of these players.

….They just pat me on the head and give me an understanding smile.  But they do go to the games with me.  Win/win.  ;)

It’s ok though.  Even if they aren’t quite the baseball fanatics that I am, I plan to keep dragging them to the ballpark. And someday soon, when we are again watching another baby bird make his Major League debut, they’ll feel that special excitement that comes from remembering these AAA games.

Viva El Baby Birds!….and Go Cardinals!

Welcome to the Bigs, Kid. Good Luck With This.

Could someone explain to me when Tony went from the one that doesn’t trust rookies and young guys to the one trying to kill pitchers arms and spirits a la Dusty Baker?

First of all, the Cards have got an inordinate amount of infielders (or outfielders being used as infielders) on this team. So why is the backup catcher starting at third base? Why on a team boasting 7 guys that have played infield this year (and 4 of which have started or played third) was that at all necessary? This was one of those starting lineups that Tony pulled out of a hat, wasn’t it?

Poor Lance Lynn. Making his major league debut starting on just 3 days rest. He was actually very efficient, throwing only 64 pitches in his 5 1/3 innings of work. However, when he was getting lit up in the sixth, and the crack team doing play by play for Fox Sports Midwest kept repeatedly stating that there was no one warming up in the bullpen, I got frustrated again. Now, I know I ranted yesterday about how the starting pitchers are having issue lately getting deep into games, and the bullpen looks worn out. That issue has obviously not changed since then. So the team says, “Hey, let’s bring up another arm and have 13 pitchers, thereby allowing guys to get a breather!’

Solid idea, right? Well, I’m actually never on board with having 13 pitchers on the roster. Ever. However, in the last seven games…

Brian Tallet has 4 appearances and 3 innings pitched.

Eduardo Sanchez has 3 appearances and 3 2/3 innings pitched.

Fernando Salas has 3 appearances and 3 1/3 innings pitched.

Ryan Franklin has 3 appearances and 5 2/3 innings pitched.

Jason Motte has 3 appearances and 4 innings pitched.

Miguel Batista has 3 appearances and 5 1/3 innings pitched.

Trever Miller has 4 appearances and 2 2/3 innings pitched.

Individually it doesn’t seem like a lot, but add it up. Over 7 games the pen has taken on 27 2/3 innings, and that doesn’t even include the 2 that Maikel Cleto took on last night (I’ll get to him). So the pen has handled almost 30 of 64 innings (counting extras) over the last seven days. I can understand the feeling of needing an extra arm for a few days. So what does the team do?

Call up Maikel Cleto. Force a kid to skip AAA and run straight to the bigs despite the fact that there are 4 arms in AAA that are on the 40 man, including 2 (Mitchell Boggs and Jess Todd) that have big league experience. Makes perfect sense. The book on Cleto is simple – he throws the ball fast. Caveman style. Me throw ball fast. He has no idea where it’s going, and, when he’s at all worked up, excited, or even just thinking about what kind of food is going to be on the postgame spread, he has even less of a clue. He just winds up and throws it. Fast.

Hey kid. In the bigs? They can hit fastballs.

It was setting him up for failure in a big way. I don’t like it. He showed us something big in being able to calm down and come out for a solid second inning, but wow, was I cringing to see him get run back out there.

This makes two posts in two days from me… both of the ranting variety. I should cut it out or you’re all going to think I a) like writing and b) need to get out more.

Thankfully we are finished with the Giants for the year. Up next are the boys from the north side – the Cubs. The boys in blue have lost their last three (to the hapless Astros no less) and are 3-7 in their last ten games. Old friend Ryan Dumpster Dempster takes the mound for the Cubbies, while Jaime Garcia looks to bounce back from arguably his toughest start of his career. Gametime is at 7:15. Go Cards! :)

UCB Roundtable – Day 4

Welcome to Monday’s Girl Talk… except, this week, we let the boys join in! Before you gasp in shock, let me explain. Each year the United Cardinal Bloggers does a roundtable discussion in October, with the bloggers taking turns asking a question. Today is ladies’s day, so read through our question and the boys of the UCB answers, then head over to the UCB website and check out the full calendar of questions and sites. Enjoy!


Our question won’t surprise most of you, given our love of the Baby Birds. We wanted to know which of our beloved Baby Birds that were wandering the grass of Busch Stadium throughout the year should be looked at as permanent members of the squad next year, either as regulars or bench guys. We also asked which players should get the longest looks in the spring and which of the boys the team should (*gasp*) cut ties with, whether through trades or releasing them. I included the names Daniel Descalso, Allen Craig, Mark Hamilton, Fernando Salas, Joe Mather, Tyler Greene, Matt Pagnozzi and Bryan Anderson, but the responses threw out a couple other names as well. I’ll toss it over to the boys, then chime in with my thoughts at the end…

Daniel (C70 At The Bat)

I think Salas has established himself as a strong bullpen presence and should be a front-runner for a bullpen slot next year.  Craig looks like he’s good for at least a platoon slot in the outfield and Descalso should be a capable bench guy, though I’m not completely sold on him taking over second for Schumaker.


As for the catchers, I think they should keep Bryan Anderson; it’s obvious they are going to keep Matt Pagnozzi.  Anderson needs to be traded, because he’s not going to get the shot he needs in St. Louis.

The rest, I don’t mind having them in the system, don’t mind them getting spot time in the bigs, but if the club can get something for them, so be it.

Dennis (Pitchers Hit Eighth)

The one player who I think should be penciled in as a regular next year is Salas. I believe that his 30 innings pitched represent just large enough a sampling to pass judgment on him, and his 3.52 ERA is lower than both Boggs and Miller. I’d like to see Craig make the team as well, but I have reservations about his ability to be effective as a platoon player or pinch hitter.  He seems like he’s best suited for an everyday slot that affords him 500+ plate appearances a year.  Unless a slot opens due to trade/injury, I just don’t see that opportunity there for him right now.
The situation at catcher deserves some real consideration.  At 23, Anderson should probably be the catcher of the future.  If Pagnozzi is the backup coming out of spring training, and the Cardinals force Yadi to sit more games, the trade value for Pagnozzi could rise.  Pagnozzi could be traded by the deadline, and Anderson could be bumped up.  If needed, Descalso may be a viable option at 2B, but I haven’t seen enough of him to feel comfortable writing his name in the lineup there.  As for Green (27), Hamilton (26), and Mather (28), they are starting to feel like “players to be named later”.

Pip (Fungoes)

One player who showed some promise in limited action was Daniel Descalso. He demonstrated excellent plate discipline and offers versatility at two positions where the team has the most doubts, second base and third base. Assuming he’s not traded this winter, Bryan Anderson should get some exposure not for a spot on the 25-man roster but in order to showcase his talent for a trade.

Which players should the team consider cutting ties with, whether through trades or releasing them?
Anderson, certainly, because he is blocked as both a starting catcher and a backup. Craig and Mather offer largely the same skill set, so the team needs only one. And depending on what happens with Albert Pujols, Mark Hamilton will either be superfluous or a good-buy (and goodbye) replacement.

Joseph (The McBrayer-Baseball Blog)

Joey Bombs Mather, may not get anything in return.

Dustin (Welcome To Baseball Heaven)

As far as guys who could become permanent members of the squad next year I’m leaning towards Salas, Pagnozzi and Allen Craig. Fernando established himself as a viable option out of the pen as a middle reliever this past season. I could be wrong but I’m assuming with a solid spring that Matt Pagnozzi will be Yadi’s backup next year. I’m thinking Allen Craig will get the nod over Joe Mather as an outfield bench option. I’d also like to see Descalso get a long look next spring as a utility guy in the infield.
That leaves names such as Mather and Greene on the outside looking in. I do bounce back and forth a lot on what to do with Craig and Mather, but the organization needs to make a choice and possibly move one. As far as Tyler Greene I just don’t know. He seems to have a never ending case of the yips every time he makes an appearance in St. Louis.

Mark (RetroSimba)

Salas should help the bullpen in 2011. He could be an upgrade over Hawksworth. Craig is a better hitter and run producer than he showed in the majors this year. He should have a role as a bench player with St. Louis in 2011. Descalso should compete for a utilityman role.

I agree that Anderson should be given a long look in the spring, and Cards should make a decision to keep him or trade him.

I agree that Mather and Hamilton have no futures with this club, and should be traded.

Tom (Cardinals GM)

Salas is in. He looked sharp and deserves a bullpen shot. Craig I would keep as an extra outfielder,. He show the prowess to get some hits and a spot starter.  

After that, I am not handing out spots just yet. I believe the backup to Molina will be/and needs to be a veteran (can you insert walkaway Dioner Navarro here?) Pagnozzi needs more daily reps in Memphis. Anderson needs to be somewhere else, in a package trade and Delscaso just needs to show us in Spring Training he is ready. The rest can play AAAA ball

Cole (Redbird Report)


I’d say Fernando Salas. He was solid just about every time he stepped out there this year. Also, you can’t ignore his 19 saves and 0.98 WHIP that he posted in AAA this season. He clearly has good stuff, and it wasn’t just at the minor league level. 

In 27 games with the Cardinals, Salas posted a 3.52 ERA and struck out 29 in 30.2 innings pitched. With Franklin aging (and struggling) I wouldn’t be surprised to see Salas get looks in the ninth inning next year. He’ll certainly be an eighth inning guy at the very least.

Bill (I-70 Baseball)


I am of the belief that a good portion of the Cardinals Minor League system are nothing more than career minor leaguers.  


Craig, Mather, Greene could all be traded or cut loose and I honestly would not notice or care (sorry, Erika). 


That being said, as for “long looks” next Spring, I would like to see Descalso, Anderson, and Pagnozzi be given every opportunity to play themselves out of a job.  Fernando Salas needs to be a part of this bullpen.  


Hamilton is intriguing, but projects as a first baseman.  Let’s hope he’s blocked.  

Finally, I think there are a few guys that need to get a look in Spring to determine where they belong this year.  Guys like Matt Carpenter and Darryl Jones need to be evaluated and determine where there future is and how quickly it is coming.

Goodness. Not much love for some of our favorite Baby Birds, is there? Last I checked Erika hadn’t read any of these responses… I think we should all be crossing our fingers that she hasn’t made it this far into today’s post. If she has, sorry dear, but I’m going to probably agree with all of the above.


I want Pags and Anderson given shots to make it on the roster as Yadi’s back-up, but whichever one doesn’t make it should probably just be traded ASAP, because it’s not worth keeping them both around anymore.


I think Descalso will become next year’s Tyler Greene if he doesn’t make the roster. He’ll be the first one up to be the bench guy. In all honesty I want him to have a strong spring and oust Skippy for second base, but I’m not sure he’ll get that much of a chance.


Salas is here to stay. He put it a lot of miles this year between Memphis and St. Louis, and played well everywhere he went. Keep him around.


Craig needs consistent playing time. If he can get it in St. Louis and finally put up the numbers he’s been putting up in Memphis he’ll stick. If not, sayonara.


The rest? You all know I love Joe Mather, but I don’t see him ever being anything more than a AAAA guy (*sheds a tear*). Tyler Greene has never impressed me at the big league level. Ever. His defense isn’t as good as Brendan, his bat isn’t as good as Skip, and I have to believe that there will be someone standing at third not named Tyler Greene. I like the look of Mark Hamilton, but if he is manning first for the Cardinals in the coming years, that means Albert is not. I’m not sure I’m ready to deal with that idea.


Now, we just included players that were actually on the big league squad at some point this year. There are still plenty of names and faces coming up through the ranks of the Cardinal minor league system… but it might be awhile before the calvary comes riding in. Just sayin’.


Thanks to Daniel and the rest of the UCB team for letting us join in on the fun, and be sure to check in over at the official site to see some of our responses to other questions throughout the month of October! Oh hey, while I’ve got you here, yesterday my newest post went up at I-70 Baseball, checking out the Cardinals from 1900-1905. Give it a look and let me know what you think!

Small Joys

 

This picture is merely saved on my computer
as ‘Bueno.’ (AP Photo)

That’s all we have left for this year, isn’t it? Small joys like Adam Wainwright winning his 19th and keeping his Cy hopes alive, watching the boys play a little small ball and score runs with smart baserunning and sacrifice flies, and just taking in the last few games of the season, knowing that the harsh winter lies ahead and there will be months on end where we wish we could turn on a game, any game, even if it is the Pirates and the Nats playing (okay… maybe that was too extreme).

Now, despite the fact that the Cards are still technically ‘in the hunt,’ and even though I am still rooting for a comeback, please do not mistake me for one of those delusional people who refuses to admit that the Cardinals will probably not make the playoffs this year. I’m still allowed to enjoy every last moment of this season, and enjoy it I will, thank you very much.

*ahem* Okay, I’m better now.

Something I think is interesting is the fact that the Cardinals are actually kind of playing the spoiler to a few other teams around the league right now. It makes perfect sense really. They can’t figure out how to beat bad teams, but they beat the good ones (this has been well chronicled… I even did so myself a few weeks ago).  That’s bad news bears for the over .500 teams they’ve been playing. Taking 3 of 4 from the Padres have dropped them out of the lead in the West, and while they were already in a tailspin before getting to St. Louis, they’re definitely in trouble now. What will happen when the Rockies make it into town for the last series of the year? I’ve never really played the ‘It’s fun to crush other people’s dreams’ game before, but it is kind of fun now that I’m seeing it play out.

Cards are road tripping down to Florida for the make-up game that was rained out back in August today, then quickly hustling up to Pittsburgh to open up a three game set at PNC and rounding out the last road trip of the year with one last series in Chicago. With any luck at all the team will show some signs of life after recalling some fresh faces from down in Memphis. I’m hoping to see some Joe Mather and Daniel Descalso types running around on the field, and I know I am not the only one!

Speaking of our beloved Baby Birds, head on over to i70 to check out a comparison I did between our AAA kiddos and the big boys in St. Louis… ‘A Tale of Two Teams’

Until next Monday… :)

The CDD Draft Spectacular Photo Thursday

We feel fairly confident in our ability to talk Cardinal baseball here at Cardinal Diamond Diaries. We even know a bit about the minor leagues. However, we are not about to pretend to know anything about the MLB draft that concluded yesterday. That would be ridiculous. 


If you are looking for real draft coverage, we recommend http://www.futureredbirds.net. Those boys know the draft. We’ll even make it easy and link to their 2010 draft information. Just click on each player’s name to learn all the goodies we would not even pretend to know.


What we do know is pictures!  So for our own special touch in covering the draft, we have collected that vital piece of information missing from most draft reviews: pictures of the Cardinals’ draft picks – limiting it to the first 12 rounds due to space and attention span.



Round 1 (#25 overall) – Zach Cox

What we know: He plays 3B for Arkansas, who are still competing in the College World Series. He is hitting .427 with 64 runs, 9 home runs, 48 RBI, and a .603 slugging %. That’s real good.
What we think: Ang thinks he looks kinda goofy. Erika disagrees. This should be a fun project!



Round 1 sandwich pick (46 overall) – Seth Blair
What we know: He’s a right handed pitcher from Arizona State – also still playing in the CWS. He’s got a lot of pitches, but only 3(ish) of them look usable in the majors, so he might wind up a reliever.
What we think: Get a haircut, son.



Round 1 sandwich pick (50 overall) – Tyrell Jenkins
What we know: Tyrell is a high school kid out of Texas. He’s a 3 sport athlete committed to Baylor to pitch and play QB. He ran a 49 second 400 meters this year – without training. That’s nuts.
What we think: You waaaant to plaaaaay for the Cardinals, baby face.



Round 2 (75 overall) – Matthew (Jordan) Swagerty
What we know: He goes by Jordan, so that’s what we will call him. Jordan is a pitcher who moonlights as a catcher. He’s got 3 solid pitches and good command, which are very nice qualities. He’s also holding down a 2.05 ERA with 14 saves in 32 relief appearances.
What we think: He’s a cutie, but has the nose of someone who’s been punched in the face… or had it broken (Ang – been there).


Round 3 (106 overall) – Samuel Tuivailala
What we know: He’s a shortstop out of California who was also the ace of his high school pitching staff, as well as the quarterback and the point guard (show off). He’s committed to Fresno State, where they had planned to use him both for his bat and for his arm.
What we think: Samuel was drafted as a middle infielder, but he is neither small nor scrappy. Tony wouldn’t know what to do with him. Also, do you really think Mike Shannon could pronounce that last name? Not a chance.



Round 4 (139 overall) – Cody Stanley
What we know: He’s a catcher out of UNC-Willmington who led the CAA with 22 runners caught stealing. Everything we read uses the word ‘solid’ from his batting to his defense.
What we think: This is the first #chickcomment** worthy pick we’ve seen so far! Solid looks indeed! Definitely “one to watch!” 
**editor’s note: #chickcomment: (def). n. of or pertaining to the use of descriptive terms, generally by females, to describe or quantify the level of hotness or the cute-ability factor of a given subject/male.” 


Round 5 (169 overall) – Nicholas Longmire
What we know: Not much, really. Reactions are mixed. Some project him to be a raw power outfielder and okay at everything else, others see him as above average at everything except hitting for average. Hmm…
What we think: For a college kid, it’s weird that people don’t agree about him. We’ll take the high road and point out that he looks like a happy kid!


Round 6 – John Gast
What we know: The news actually doesn’t sound great on Gast. He’s already had Tommy John surgery (as a high school student). He bounced back and had a decent first two years at Florida State, but this year has seen his ERA rise all the way up to 6.33.
What we think: Finding a flattering picture was a bit of a challenge here. And if we didn’t know better, we’d think this was taken in the early 1990’s. Do they recycle uniforms at FSU? Is that why it looks like they covered up an older name?



Round 7 – Greg Garcia
What we know: He plays shortstop at U of Hawaii. After losing in the regional final to Arizona State, the UH coach admitted that he assumed most of his names would get snatched in the draft, including Garcia. He was batting .359 going into the ASU game and is projected to be a plus-plus defender.
What we think: We didn’t think they played baseball in Hawaii, but now that we know this nugget of information, we’re off to buy vacation tickets.


Round 8 – Daniel Bibona
What we know: The Cards drafted the lefty last year out of UC – Irvine, and he didn’t sign, choosing to do another year for the Anteaters. What he lacks in speed on his pitches he makes up for in command and precision. He’s been compared to Tom Glavine.
What we think: When we heard the Cards had drafted him twice, we had hoped it was for his #chickcomment worthiness. Of course we suppose it’s also pretty good that he’s a promising lefty!


Round 9 – Tyler Lyons
What we know: Tyler’s another lefty out of OK State. He had a 0.00 ERA (that is not a typo) in 2008 and had a chance to go in the first round, but stayed in school. His last two years have not been as good, and now instead of a power starter he projects as a middle reliever.
What we think: A cute Okie boy? Let the #chickcomments begin?!  (Line forms behind Erika!)


Round 10 – Reginald Williams
What we know: Reginald is a CF out of Middle Georgia College who projects to be a quick switch-hitter and a solid defender. His dad – Reggie Williams – was also a baseball player.
What we think: Reginald is an old man’s name. We’re going to call him Reggie from here on out.


Round 11 – Ben Freeman
What we know: Ben is a tall, skinny lefty out of a Florida high school. He had an ERA of 0.70 this year and struck out 126 in 59 2/3 innings.
What we think: How come our high school sports pictures never looked that cool?


Round 12 – Austin Wilson
What we know: We actually know more about this kid than any other in the draft. He was ranked 27th overall by Baseball America, but he’s committed to Stanford, which is why he fell 350 places below his projected value. He’s got raw power and looks to be a very good outfielder. He also has all the little intangibles – you know, work ethic, drive, character – that make him a very desirable guy to have in your system. 
What we think: It’s a definitely flyer pick and it would be slightly unreasonable to expect the Cardinals to sign him. People are pointing out that it’s not really about the money – he and his family want him to go to Stanford. But, as Joaquin Andujar says, ‘youneverknow.’


That wraps up our look at the first 12 rounds of the draft. If you want to know more, head back over to Future Redbirds, because they’re into this. We’re just easily entertained. ;)

A Case For the Baby Birds

Another unplanned Sunday post. Last time Erika couldn’t stop thinking about it, and the same could be said for me today.
I’m starting to believe that all the news I need (or is it want?) to learn can be found on Twitter before I find it anywhere else. The case was definitely solidified yesterday morning when this tweet came up in my feed:

Color me absolutely confused. 

Winn has been so abysmal this year that he’s batting .213/.300/.295 (batting/on-base/slugging). He was designated for assignment by the Yankees, and the Cardinals came knocking.

WHY?

I wrote over at Baseball Digest a couple weeks ago about how the Cardinals’ signing of Aaron Miles was unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong – I like Aaron Miles. He’s a good guy and he was a solid competitor for the Cardinals a couple of years ago. He was sent to AA, where he put up a rousing line of .279/.362/.344… let me remind you, this is in Double A. I was not the only one scratching my head and quietly (alright, maybe more like vocally) questioning the purpose of bringing Miles up at the expense of one of the CDD’s beloved Baby Birds. This time the victim was Allen Craig, who had just been called up the day before and hadn’t really seen any action since setting his locker back up in St. Louis.
What was the point? Craig got off to a rough start at the beginning of the year at both the major and then minor league level, but has recovered quite nicely to be built up to a .284/.346/.388 line. At Triple A.
So, fine, Tony can have his fun and let Miles run around on the big league team, play horrible defense with very little range, and be regaled by all for being the scrappy beast of a man he apparently is.
*Ahem* Okay. Sorry. I’ll be good. Promise.
Back to Winn. Now let me get this straight – Jon Jay, who has been batting .375 off the bench and gone .302 overall (on the big league squad) was sent down so the Cards could sign another aging player who’s seen better days. Rick Hummel tried to spell it out for us yesterday, but I finished the article feeling more frustrated than calmed.
Tony LaRussa had affectionately called the young guys running around the clubhouse his ‘Baby Bench,’ and many of us out in Cardinal Nation were having a good time seeing some of the guys we’ve been following up the ladder in the minors finally getting a consistent shot on the big league club. Granted, some of them (recent CDD favorite Joe Mather included) have had some struggles. This would be why the official word from the big guys is that the Baby Birds are being yo-yo’d around in order to get them more consistent at bats in the minors.
To that I call you-know-what. You cannot convince me in a million years that Randy Winn and Aaron Miles are doing or will do better on this team than guys like Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Joe Mather and Tyler Greene.
Viva el Baby Bench! 

Making Moves

We’re still new at this blogging thing, which is why I think this is the first time any of us have ever completely changed course after a game. My plan was to write about Aaron Miles, but that’ll have to wait for another day.

I crack up when pitchers hit big home runs. You never see them coming, and half the time the pitcher is just as surprised as you the fan are. Brad Penny, before last night, had not hit a home run since 2003! So forgive me for still being giggly when I saw the Fox Sports Midwest commercial break cut back to the game prematurely and players, Tony LaRussa and Barry Weinberg (the Cardinals trainer) are all wandering the field. That’s never good, and my euphoric feelings were flushed away when I saw Penny heading down the dugout steps.

Hurry back, man. (no pun intended… okay maybe pun intended).
Chris Lee, Post Dispatch

Lat strains are no laughing matter. All of my physical education and sport first aid textbooks from college (finally putting my PE degree to use) state that the less you the first responder are involved, the better. Strap the arm to the body in a sling and send ‘em in for an MRI. Injury expert Will Carroll, when asked how long Penny might miss, responded with this:

@miklasz Pitcher, so 4-6 is about right.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

Will Carroll

Safe to say the Cardinals are making a move. The immediate reaction was to put PJ Walters on a plane to St. Louis, and to that I say excellent. PJ has had a rough year in real life, but has had a very nice start to the season, so I was hoping he would be the one to get the call. The question I have seen is which pitcher gets shut down – Penny or Blake Hawksworth, who is nursing a sore groin that also troubled him in spring training.

First of all, yes I am being a Hawk apologist here to say that I’m glad there was a reason for his recent struggles. Despite his claims that the groin only bothers him when there are men on base and he quickens his motion to the plate – the fact is still there that it bothers him. He obviously needs to rest a few days and re-evaluate, which is what the Cardinals were planning to do this weekend with Monday’s looming off-day. However, I fully expect Penny to be the one that is shelved, assuming the Cardinals only make one move.

Should the Cardinals make a second call to Memphis for a relief guy? Glancing quickly at the Memphis stats, the only relievers that are standing out in any way are Rich Rundles (WHO???) and Oneli Perez. Josh Kinney and Rich Hill, our two in the Memphis pen with the most major league experience, have been less than stellar this year. Therefore, my answer is no – there should not be another phone ringing in Sacramento (Baby Birds are on the road right now) today.

Obviously the next two games could be a grind. With Kyle Lohse starting today, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte each going 2 innings and Trever Miller and Ryan Franklin as the only two that didn’t see action out of the pen last night, the pen is stretched. Now, thankfully Walters was scheduled to start today for Memphis. I imagine if Lohse has a rough game, Walters will get the call to mop up the rest of the innings, giving the pen a relative day off. Today’s game will be an interesting one to be sure, and we’ll see where we stand at day’s end.

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