Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Eduardo Sanchez

The Boys Are Back! Almost.

Little league practice schedules and reports from Jupiter’s Spring Training games: signs that the world is finally waking up from a long winter, and baseball’s back! …..almost.

Spring Training whets the appetite and refreshes the senses.  Lineups, pitching reports, actual games on green grass with familiar faces (and some unfamiliar mugs) donning the birds on the bat… it’s all so surreal, especially with the backdrop of Florida palm trees.

While that’s all very well and tropically good (and I’m still crossing my fingers for the possibility of a quick pilgrimage to Florida), I find myself longing for the real deal:  the true start of the 2012 season.   The 2011 World Series Champions have a lot to prove.  New manager and No Albert Pujols may top the list, but whether ESPN is interested or not, Cardinal Nation has a lot of curiosities about how this team will perform.

My Top 10 Highlights/Curiosities for the upcoming 2012 season:

10. Pregame interviews on Fox Sports Midwest:  this is where the players get a chance to prove they have personality.  Sink or swim, boys!

9. Who’s on 2nd?  Descalso? Greene? Schumaker??  The anticipation’s killing me.  Wishlist:  quick glove, soft hands, excellent range, add in a little offense… Honestly, I’m just glad it isn’t Theriot.

8. Eduardo Sanchez’ filthy slider.  I fell in love with that pitch only to have it ripped away too early in the season last year.  Please, oh please, let’s have a healthy Sanchez and many, many gorgeous dirty pitches out of the bullpen this year.

7.  Mike Matheny management style.  What attitude will this team have under Matheny’s reins? Will it be more youthful? Will the playbook be more predictable? One thing’s for certain, getting my non-baseball girlfriends to watch a game will be easier with Matheny front and center in dugout shots.  (Cute manager?  Heckya!)

6. Jason Motte, “The Closer”.  Bearded, fidgety, always throwing himself off the mound with the force of that fastball.  He makes me smile.  Bring on the crazy-Motte!  I miss watching him yell at his glove.

5. Lovable Lance at 1st – those are mighty big shoes to fill!  Can Berkman be more than “adequate”?  For his sake (and ours), I hope we never hear “Albert would’ve…” or “if Albert had been there…”  Honestly, Berkman surpassed any and all expectations last year, so here’s hoping he can make us forget all about you-know-who.

4. Chris Carpenter attitude.  Yes, he scares me.  Yes, he has a mouth on him.  But man, oh man, a game with Carp on the mound is like a baseball drug.  He’s our bad boy, intense. fierce.  And afterwards, please throw in a good dose of that sexy, deep, gurgly Carp-voice in post game interviews?  Thank you.

3. Adam Wainwright back on the bump.  Remind me again…How did we ever win the World Series without Wainwright??   Soooo glad he’s back.  Soooo thrilled he’s healthy.  The question now is can we expect him to pick up where he left off??  Pencil him into those pregame TV interviews ASAP.  And also into those dugout shots.  Ok?  Ok. Good!  ;)

2. David Freese smiles.  Is there anything lovelier?  Especially those ginormous joyful grins of a walk-off win.  Such a humble, talented, gorgeous MVP… and he tweets?!!  (love!) Stay healthy, Dave, stay healthy!

…and for my #1 pick, I gotta say that I am most looking forward to seeing the return of my favorite familiar baseball sight: Matt Holliday digging in at the plate, Matt Holliday leg kicks, Matt Holliday launching ‘em into the stands, Matt Holliday digging for home,  Matt Holliday… well, you get the point.

The boys are back!  Almost.  =)

Don’t Blink

There’s something to be said about how life can change in the blink of an eye.  Yesterday was one of those days on many levels in my life.  On a personal note, my family suffered the unexpected tragic loss of a dear loved one, much too young.  Late breaking news of Osama Bin Laden’s death united the nation and brought spontaneous celebrations and outpourings of patriotism.  And sandwiched somewhere in the middle of a day that will forever be remembered for everything else, there was baseball.

Being that this is a site about baseball, and if you’re reading this now, you are probably looking for something about baseball, let’s talk.

Heading into the weekend, Cardinal Nation was riding high.  The Birds have been collecting wins at an impressive rate, winning 14 of their last 18 games going into Sunday, with a chance to get their first series’ sweep of 2011 against the Braves. A young bullpen surge from Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez has helped distract from the ongoing crash-and-burn of Cardinal closer, Ryan Franklin.  Jake Westbrook, the early weak link in our rotation, has picked up the slack and added two improved outings to his 2011 resume.  Matt Holliday, solid as ever, has defied his “notorious slow starter” label and is batting .418 and slugging .646 with a.521 OBP.  (Translated:  Matt is hitting the ball and hitting it well.)  Lance Berkman too, is absolutely killing it right now.  On April 28th, Lance had another two homerun game, his THIRD multiple homerun game in this young 2011 season.  Combine the offensive threat of Holliday, Berkman and one Albert Pujols with the scrappy play of newcomers Daniel Descalso, Nick Punto and backup catcher Gerald Laird and it was easy to see why Cardinal fans were smiling.

Which brings us to Diamond Diaries’ darling David Freese…

Even cautiously playing only 2 of every 3 games due to his having both ankles surgically repaired in the offseason, Freese has again reminded the Cardinals why they took another chance on him.  David was batting .356 with 2 homeruns and 14 RBI as of yesterday’s game.

However, disaster struck in the 6th inning when Dave was hit on the back of his left hand by a fastball pitched inside, breaking his 3rd metacarpal.  Estimates of recovery time for this injury are 6-8 weeks. Go ahead… take a moment and let it sink in.  It took me a while too….

Can the guy be any unluckier?  After months of grueling rehab on his ankles (both during the 2010 season injuries and then again after surgeries) Freese was finally back in the game only to be sidelined AGAIN.  My heart goes out to him. After all, we were just getting past those “bubble wrap” and “injury prone” comments.  Luckily we have some third base alternatives not named Albert Pujols to hold down the hotcorner until Dave heals yet another injured extremity.

Let’s not talk about how Ryan Theriot dropped that routine pop fly in the 9th inning yesterday, helping to earn down-on-his-own-bad-luck Ryan Franklin the loss after pitching a gem of an 8th inning that could have been a turning point in his string of unfortunate events.  Nah…. We won’t talk about that.

And being that utility infielder Nick Punto, fresh off the DL himself, was also pulled from the game yesterday as a precaution for hamstring tenderness, we won’t talk about our dwindling supply of infielders.  (Although watching Albert Pujols briefly patrol 3rd base yesterday was an enjoyable oddity.)

All good reminders not to take anything for granted… in baseball, or life.

Get Well Soon, David Freese!  ;)

Have a blessed Monday, Cards fans.

St. Louis Cardinals on Twitter

(note: please click “Twitter Guide” tab at top of page for most recent updates)

Here’s the thing:  Twitter is my baseball connection, and I am proud of my Twitter feed.  Breaking news?  Got it.  Cardinal lineups?  Got it.  Game photos?  Absolutely!  Links to MLB.com, Post-Dispatch and StL Today articles about the Cardinals?  Check!  News about all my babybirds?  yep!  Even twitpics of Jon Jay’s newest shoes!  … Plus baseball chatter from some of the best tweeps in Cardinal Nation!  I LOVE  my collection of Twitter follows.

With this week’s new Redbird Twitter arrivals, I figure it’s a good time to take stock and share the wealth.  So, here you go:  My List of the Cardinal Twitterverse

The links should be hot, so click to follow…. and if I’ve missed someone, please let me know!   Thanks!  ;)

Cardinals

Manager: TonyLaRussa Tony La Russa - People Rescuing Animals…Animals Rescuing People

Left Fielder:  mattholliday7 matt holliday - (hasn’t tweeted since February 2010)

Outfielder jonjayU Jon Jay  - Official Twitter page of Jon Jay from the St. Louis Cardinals

Pitcher ESanchez52 Eduardo sanchez - St Louis cardinals baseball player

Cardinal Legends

OrlandoCepeda30 Orlando Cepeda - Official Twitter of Orlando Cepeda — former SF Giant & Hall of Fame 99′

STLWizard Ozzie Smith - St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Shortstop

 

AAA Memphis Redbirds

memphisredbirds Memphis Redbirds - The official Twitter feed of the Memphis Redbirds, Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals

Outfielder kingchambers_8 Adron

 

AA Springfield Cardinals

Sgf_Cardinals Springfield Cardinal - Official Twitter of the Springfield Cardinals. Double-A Affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Become a follower to get updates on Springfield Cardinal news.

Outfielder cswag8 Chris Swauger

 

Palm Beach Cardinals – A Advanced

PBCardinals Palm Beach Cardinals - The official Twitter account of the Palm Beach Cardinals, Class-A Advanced affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Game updates, player news, great deals and more

Pitcher JordanSwagerty Jordan Swagerty - Went to Arizona State now play for the St. Louis Cardinals. (edit 5/12/11 – Swagerty promoted from Quad Cities)

Pitcher ShelbyMiller19 Shelby C Miller - Texas born and raised, Brownwood, TX. Drafted by St. Louis in 2009. Born October 10, 1990. Follow my Career on here. God Bless you all!


Quad Cities River Bandits  - Class A

QCRiverBandits QC River Bandits - Single-A Affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals…Season opener April 7th @ Modern Woodmen Park! (563) 3-BANDIT

Catcher codystanley21 Cody Stanley - Being happy, main objective to life. Playing baseball makes me happy. I will continue



Front Office

CardsInsider St. Louis Cardinals - The official Twitter of the St. Louis Cardinals Front Office at Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri.

stlcardinals St. Louis Cardinals  - Official Twitter of the St. Louis Cardinals

jluhnow Jeff Luhnow - Vice President of Scouting and Player Development for St Louis Cardinals

Media/Scribes Covering the Cardinals

dgoold Derrick Goold - Baseball Writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Avid reader. Proud father. Lapsed cartoonist. Former World Record-holding second baseman. Look it up.

stlhensley Roger Hensley - Deputy Sports Editor, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

MatthewHLeach Matthew Leach - Cardinals beat reporter for MLB.com. Lots of tweets about the Cardinals and baseball, but also college football, music, and plenty more

JohnMarecek John Marecek - St. Louis sports talk show host on KTRS Radio

miklasz Bernie Miklasz - St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist

BJRains B.J. Rains - Cardinals beat writer for FOXSportsMidwest.com. My thoughts and comments are my personal opinion and in no way reflect the view or opinion of Fox Sports Midwest 

JoeStrauss Joe Strauss - Cardinals beat writer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Into pitching duels, hold ‘em, cobalt Mustangs, betting the rail, O’Brycki’s and window seats

Covering the Baby Birds

Dustin_Mattison Dustin Mattison - Senior Minor League Writer-Scout.com

B_Walton Brian Walton - Operates TheCardinalNation.com on Scout.com, TheCardinalNationblog.com, writes for Mastersball.com and FOX Sports Midwest

jrocke217 Josh Jones - St. Louis Cardinals Fan, Run the Cardinals Best News Links Blogspot, Write Various Articles For The Cardinal Nation @scout.com, Follow Latin Baseball Happenings

Future_Redbirds Future Redbirds - Hyperventilating Prospect Geek Fraternity

 

For Cardinal Game Photos

scottrovak Scott Rovak - Photographing professionally over 28 years. I’m a photographer for the St. Louis Cardinals, Rams and StL Sports Magazine.

 

For Cardinal Blogs

Get links to all new posts from member blogs of the United Cardinal Bloggers

utdcardbloggers U. Cardinal Bloggers - The United Cardinal Bloggers is a group of writers that have come together in a network to complete writing projects about the St Louis Cardinals.

stlbaseballapp StL Baseball - I love everything Cardinal baseball! Check out my Cardinals iPhone app StL Baseball!


and of course, there’s us!  DiamondDiaries Diamond Diaries - Blogging about our #stlcards from the female side of the stands.

Rating the Cardinal Rivalries

Are you sick of the Cardinals-Reds Rivalry already? Is it the epic Cubs-Cardinals history that makes a true Rivalry?  Do the Reds deserve the title just because they happen to have the hot button hotheads right now?  What do you think?  Which team is the Cardinals’ biggest nemesis?  Cast your vote in the poll below and/or in the comments section if you have more to say.

Earlier this month, my cousin in Wisconsin asked me which team we Cardinals fans considered to be the Cards’ biggest rivalry.  My immediate response was “The Cubs” but then I considered the recent scubbub with the Reds.  The Brewers didn’t make my list, but my meager 5-6 years of baseball background might  disqualify my opinion in such matters.  So, I threw it out to my Cardinal Twitter tweeps and some Facebook pals as well.

A sampling of responses:

and

Last night during the game, the same question popped up on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight Sunday Night Baseball Chat.  So, I thought the question might deserve another audience.

So many valid points.  Yet many different opinions.  One thing’s for certain, the Brewers aren’t even on the rivalry radar among Cardinal Nation.  (Sorry, cuz!)  ;)

Oh, and speaking of the Reds…. What a weekend!  Our Cardinals took 2 of 3 games as Yadier Molina ushered the Reds out of town with a game-winning 3-run homerun in yesterday’s rainy finale.  Westbrook pitched a solid outing (*whew*) while Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez and Mitchell Boggs all had the right stuff as well.  The make-up of the Cardinal bullpen has changed considerably in just the first few weeks of the season, but it is a breath of fresh air to see the new crew picking up the slack and getting the job done right.  The pace is picking up after an unbelievably slow, injury-plagued start to the season.  In fact, the Cards have worked their way up into 1st place in the NL Central today, sitting only 0.5 games ahead of ….. the Brewers?!?

Are you sitting down for this??….  Yesterday,  Ryan Franklin the deposed closer showed up without his trademark beard/goat/chinpuff/chinzilla yesterday.  The now clean-shaven Franklin may be able to hide in plain sight, almost unrecognizable.  Franklin without his facial hair???  If it weren’t so sad, I’d be talking about how much better he looks, but now just doesn’t seem like the time for that.  (Screen capture from the televised game last night. )

Also, Albert Pujols was removed from the game last night with reported tightness in his hamstring.  That should be enough to keep us worrying on a day without Cardinals baseball!

Have a great 1st-place kind of Monday, Cardinal Nation!

Tomorrow the Redbirds take on the Astros in Houston.

Go Cards!!  =)

The Thing About Closers…

The Cardinals’ shut down man is under the microscope.  Ryan Franklin has blown an incredible 4 saves in 6 appearances.  Fans are frustrated.  In postgame interviews, Franklin seems bewildered and emotionally exhausted.  GM John Mozeliak and manager Tony LaRussa are left with a hot potato.  What to do with a closer who can’t close?

Which got me thinking…

When I first began watching MLB games I wondered why closing pitchers (those who came in and blew batters away 1-2-3) were only in the game for brief appearances.  If they were that good why didn’t teams use them earlier or longer during games?  A few years’ worth of baseball games later, I have come to a better understanding of the tradition of the closer, one far different than the everlasting superhero opinion I had first formed.

Closers are magical creatures, the best of the bullpen relievers, sent in to pitch the last few outs of a close game when their team is leading by three runs or less (that special number that gets them the “save”.)  The hero/closer rewards the team with quick outs, saving the game.  <<all cheer>>  But from what I have learned, closers aren’t Terminators that run on Energizer batteries.  A closer’s specialty is mental focus in the highest pressure situations coupled with some variety of nasty, deadly deliveries.  They don’t have to go deep into games or throw too many pitches.  That’s just not in their job description.

The concept of using an elite pitcher in a regular closing role wasn’t born until the 1980’s.  The fact that Tony La Russa (then with the Oakland A’s) is credited with the idea tells me a lot about the rationale behind the position.  La Russa is either brilliant or crazy, depending on whether you agree with him or not.  To me, Tony is one of baseball’s fascinating characters.  I’d give anything to know how he thinks, strategizes and what his eyes see as a ballgame unfolds.  I’m curious if his lineup tinkering and late inning substitutions are just to confuse the fans who try to figure him out.  However the one thing I do know from reading about Tony La Russa is that Tony is a detail guy.  He reportedly relies heavily on split stats and miniscule odds to give him the edge in every single event on the field.  So it logically follows that a closer, much like a LOOGY (lefty one-out guy), would be the perfect tool in a TLR-managed ballgame… until Tony’s mythical hero can no longer channel that closing magic.

So, if there is no clear successor to don the title of Closing Pitcher, then what next?

Twitter exploded with opinions on that subject following Sunday’s blown save and loss to the Dodgers.  It made me wonder, do the Cardinals really need a designated closer?  If baseball got along fine without closing specialists until the 1980’s, is there a proven benefit to dedicating big dollars to collecting a closer just to have one?  How different would our team be if we fell back to a “closer by committee” strategy?  Tony could run his numbers on opposing batters for his late-inning relievers.  If a long reliever was going strong, the guy could close out his own game.  If we had a mixture of inexperienced yet promising shut-down talent that other teams hadn’t figured out yet (read: Eduardo Sanchez) to complement Mitchell Boggs (the heir apparent), why not mix and match?

I certainly respect the tradition of the closer, and in my perfect world the Cardinals would have a lights-out, stereotypical icon waiting in the bullpen, causing opposing teams and their fans to catch their collective breath when he emerged from the bullpen blowing fire and steam.  But the Cardinals just do not have that sort of magical beast on the roster.

Angela laughs when I try to play GM.  She says we’d have the cutest team in the Majors, full of young guys who “deserve a chance.”  But honestly, I ask, why not take a risk on young (albeit unproven) pitcher in the late innings, develop some talent, have a short leash and share the wealth, closing games by committee.  Maybe there are enough crowns to go around?

The Cardinals return home to face the Nationals at Busch Stadium tonight. Jake Westbrook (1-1, 7.63 ERA) will be on the mound for the Redbirds.  In his last outing, the Cardinals scored 15 runs against the Diamondbacks to get him his first win of 2011.  Game time is 7:15 CT.

Go Cards!!

Enter Eduardo…

Berkman

The Cardinals stomped all over the Diamondbacks yesterday in a 15-5 blow-out that included a Grand Slam from Lovable Lance (Berkman) and a 3-run blast by Skip “SkipperDoodle” Schumaker.  Last night was game 6 of a 10-game West coast road trip (late night games make for sleepy mornings) and the trouncing came as a welcome relief to tired Cardinal fans.  Truth be told, sleep won the fight in the 6th inning for me; but with a hefty15-5 Cardinal lead, I easily drifted off to happy dreams.  


This morning I fired up the DVR to watch the rest of the game unfold.  After 6 innings of heavy hitting, a scoreless 3 innings piqued my curiosity.  Sure enough, there was a diamond hidden in those zeros…

Augenstein
Enter baby bird, Eduardo Sanchez!  This rookie, called up from Memphis when injuries during Tuesday’s game sent Cardinal relief pitchers Bryan Augenstein and Brian Tallet to the disabled list, had a night to remember in his Major League debut!

Sanchez Debut
Sanchez took the mound at the start of the 8th and stayed through the 9th to shut it down.  Facing a mere 7 batters to get the job done, Sanchez struck out 5 with ease. Total pitches: 18,13 for strikes. Confidence, delivery and strength from a 155 pound, 5’11″ rookie in his big league debut – that was MUST SEE baseball!!  

Welcome to the club, Eduardo Sanchez!  We’ll be looking forward to seeing you again soon!

The Cardinals head to LA to face the Dodgers tonight, in the first of a 4-game series. Here’s to the theory that hitting is contagious and the Cardinal confidence continues to build… ;)

Go Cards!!

i70 Launch Day

There might not be a Cards game today, but we still have some exciting news for you. Today is the launch of i70baseball.com! The site focuses on both the Cardinals and Royals, will have a weekly radio show starting tonight, and is an affiliate of BaseballDigest.com.

Why are we so excited about this new project? Because Erika and I will be contributing to the site on a weekly basis! Erika will have her first piece up there tomorrow, but I have a couple links for you already:

All-Stars At The All-Star Break: A look at all five of the Cardinal All-Stars that are on their way to Anaheim right now and how they perform from the first to the second half.

Surprising Frustrations: The Cardinal Players Of The First Half: Checking on who’s been up and who’s been struggling so far this season. Don’t yell at me about which All-Stars made the ‘frustrating’ lists – read first, then argue! :)

The Cards finished off a series win against the Astros with a W yesterday. Blake Hawksworth had his fourth consecutive outing of 5 or more innings while allowing 3 runs or less. Matt Holliday continued his hot streak by blasting a 3 run home run, and Jon Jay is carrying an 11 game hitting streak through the break.

For those of you interested in the Futures All-Star game that was played yesterday evening, Shelby Miller (Team USA) and Eduardo Sanchez (Team World) both appeared and had flawless outings, facing a total of 5 batters, hitting 95 MPH on the gun and getting 5 groundballs. Somewhere, Dave Duncan has a huge smile on his face!

Tonight’s All-Star festivities include the Home Run Derby (Go Holliday!) and the Celebrity All-Star Game. It’s not Cardinal baseball, but at least we’ll see a few St. Louis hats out there tonight, and with any luck, Ozzie Smith will be there and playing!

Short post today, because we want you to head over to i70 Baseball and check out what is already going on over there. We’re excited about the new project and hope you enjoy it!

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