Cardinal baseball, from the girls
Tag Archives: Jaime Garcia
Who is this guy and what did he do with Mitchell Boggs?
Today, Day 2 of the Cardinals Winter Warm Up, was a lot of
fun hard work!
Yesterday, I figured out the system and broke in my sparkly new media pass. Today, I put it to full use.
In between player interview opportunities, I branched out to explore more of the Warm-Up environment. By staking out some hallways and talking to folks waiting for autographs, I met a slew of wonderful Cardinal fans who were willing to answer all kinds of questions about their Winter Warm-Up experiences. (Be watching for the poll results in an upcoming post!) I also made an executive decision to postpone the transcribing of over 2 hours of player interview recordings from today in order to take lots and lots of photos – which was way more
fun hard work. ;)
The media room was hopping with visits from a phenomenal sampling of Cardinal players and one Mr. Bill Dewitt, Jr. Among those who stopped by:
- J.C. Romero
- Shelby Miller
- Matt Adams
- Brandon Dickson
- Daniel Descalso
- Mitchell Boggs
- Jason Motte
- John Jay
- Jaime Garcia
- Shane Robinson
- Lance Berkman
- and ….Matt Holliday
Some of the highlights/stand-out moments of the day (for me) included getting an introduction to our new pitcher, J.C. Romero, who made a wonderful first impression with his fun personality, making jokes about being “old” and doing a bang-up job of being a likeable character. Romero spoke honestly and openly about his desire to protect his reputation and to be a role model to kids. He’s a long-time friend of Yadier Molina (Romero teased “He’s my boy. I knew Yadi before all of you guys knew him.”) and made it a point to talk about his faith in God.
Stumbling upon a barely recognizable baby-faced Mitchell Boggs signing autographs for fans had me amused mid morning, as did the interviews with Jon Jay, Daniel Descalso, Jason Motte and Lance Berkman.
I was impressed by minor league pitching prospect Shelby Miller’s openly discussing how the suspension last season (alcohol related) helped him to realize his priorities and to make necessary changes in his life and “keep his head on his shoulders.”
Shane Robinson spoke to a small group of us, detailing his horrific outfield collision in a AAA ballgame last season and the recovery process involved, mentally and physically. Shane also shared the exciting news that he and his wife are expecting their first child in May, grinning nervously as he spoke about being a new dad.
And of course there was Matt Holliday. Matt spoke to a packed house of very determined journalists, so I knew my chances of getting in any questions were honestly hopeless. So, I climbed up on my chair and balanced on my tiptoes to snap a dozen (or hundred) fairly gorgeous shots of the birthday boy. Yes, Matt Holliday spent the afternoon of his 32nd birthday with ME…. annnnd a small multitude of Cardinal fans.
Okay, I’m keeping the post short tonight, because honestly? I’m exhausted – a good exhausted. It’s time for bed so that I can wake up and do it all again tomorrow! Winter Warm-Up, Day 3 – the last hurrah!
I leave you now with a slideshow of some of my favorite photos from today AND a promise to write more later! =)
It’s the postseason and my St. Louis Cardinals have conquered the unconquerable, done the unthinkable.
This team, who was 10 ½ games out of first place in the NL Central during the last week in August put on the turbo-boosters and raced into October, beating the odds-favorite pitching monsters of the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Division Series and then moving on to snuff the mighty Brewers in the National League Championship Series.
This is the team who lost their “Ace” Adam Wainwright to Tommy John surgery during Spring Training, whose veteran closer fought a prolonged and painful struggle to “get it right” through a good part of the season before finally hanging up his cleats, whose bullpen woes and injury bugs peaked early and haunted faithful fans. This is the team who failed to reach a contract extension agreement with their legendary (pending free agent) first baseman before the start of the season, leaving a cloud of doubt over the future of the club. This is the team whose manager battled SHINGLES for what seemed like an eternity. This was the team nobody expected to be here.
And yet, here we are.
The Cardinals are heading back to the World Series, five years after another of their unexpected (and victorious) runs through the postseason.
The Texas Rangers are the bulldogs waiting for us in the final showdown. The Cardinals are (again) the underdogs, facing a powerhouse lineup that should strike fear in the hearts of any opposing pitching staff.
Except this team is the 2011 Cardinals, something unexpected, something… special. This is the team with the power trio of Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, and Matt Holliday. This is the team with Golden (glove) Boy, Yadier Molina anchoring the battery. This is the team of David Freese, whose superhero powers apparently magnify in the postseason. This is the team of churlish veteran Ace Chris Carpenter, the wise-beyond-his-years lefty, Jaime Garcia, and the resurgence of Kyle Lohse. This is the team with an MVP bullpen (Fernando Salas, Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Lance Lynn…), a work in progress throughout the entire season, rich in talent and tuned to perfection under the mad genius of Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan.
This team exemplifies the saying: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The midseason trade for shortstop Rafael Furcal added a potent combo of game-changing glove and switch-hitting hot bat. The Colby Rasmus trade, initially flunking all seemingly rational baseball criteria, now shines with the luster of La Russa brilliance (isn’t hindsight incredible?) as pitchers Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski have all contributed handily to the magic of these rally Cardinals with Jon Jay in centerfield, making Rasmus’ absence (dare I say?) forgettable.
As I sit here composing this ode to what looks more and more like a team of destiny, I am finding it difficult to know where to stop. So many players up and down the bench, the bullpen and the rotation have contributed to get this hot surging team to the magical summit: Allen “Do It For Torty” Craig, Nick Punto, Adron Chambers, Skip Schumaker, Daniel Descalso, Ryan Theriot… the list goes on and on. When you stop to think, it is beyond belief: the timely talent really does run that deep, this team has surpassed every expectation. But don’t tell them that. They have momentum and their eyes on the ultimate prize. They are aiming for the top.
This is not a team of superstars, this is a TEAM. The light-hearted frivolities: Puma suits, rookie hazing costumes, the “shredder”, tortoises, rally squirrels, “Happy Flights” and sprinkles have combined with an underlying burst of what can only be described as a perfect storm of “Do It or Go Home” mentality.
Game 1 of the World Series starts tomorrow…. and it starts at Busch Stadium.
Sometimes it takes the right baseball question to jumpstart a conversation. Yesterday on twitter, just such a question popped up.
A very good question, indeed.
First, the glorious numbers:
Matt Holliday is leading (numero UNO) all of baseball in batting average (.398) and Lance Berkman is #2 (.374). Berkman also sits atop the Major Leagues stats board in runs batted in (32) and is one of the top five players for homeruns so far this season (10). As a team, the Cardinals lead the Majors in team batting average (.285).
(psssssst….. by the way, those big numbers are primarily from two Cardinals not named Pujols.)
Two Cardinal starting pitchers are in the top five National League pitchers in wins: Kyle McClellan (5) and Kyle Lohse (4). And our lefty with the red-hot glove, Jaime Garcia, is 3rd in the National League in Earned Run Average at 1.99. Hooya! (*stats from 5/9 espn.go.com/mlb/statistics)
(psssssst…. those are three of our pitchers not named Wainwright or Carpenter, by the way.)
The flip side -because there’s always a flip side, especially with baseball stats- is that our darling Redbirds also happen to have the 2nd most team errors in all of baseball this year. (The Texas Rangers have that dubious lead at 32 to our 29.) Ryan Theriot is tied for the most errors (8) at shortstop, and Albert Pujols currently has more errors (4) than any first baseman.
So, back to that good question: With our boys smacking away and hurling the ball off the mound as they have in the first 5 or 6 weeks of 2011, do we worry about the nose-dive in defense? Does this season’s early power surge make all that whining and complaining about the front office trading away superior defense for a little better bang in the bats look, well, kinda silly?
I don’t think so.
Here are my meager sticking points.
- I’m a gal who loves flashy gloves, dirty uniforms, diving catches and gritty double plays (the defense kind, not the kind our Cardinals have been hitting into with reckless abandon this season.) Sloppy errors aren’t sexy, they’re embarrassing.
- Ask the losing pitcher in a close game what they think about defense/errors. I’m fairly certain they’d have strong opinions. During the last month, the Cardinals have lost 9 games. In 6 of those games, we scored 5 or more runs. And in 4 of those games, we lost by only one.)
- A few early losses may make a big difference down the road.
- Even if our boys are hitting, it still takes three outs (sometimes four) every inning to shut down the opponent.
- And of course, cue the chorus: Ground ball pitchers need good infield defense.
Which brings me to another thought-provoking tweet, this time from Aaron Hooks back on May 6th :
Aaron, with his tell-it-like-it-is-no-matter-how-much-it-hurts counterbalance to my optimistic cheerleader-type Cardinal fan personality, may have the perfect response to the question that started this off. Only time will tell if those errors will continue to haunt the Cardinals. However, errors alone don’t tell the whole story. Making the routine (and not-so-routine) plays, being in the right place at the right time and turning efficient outs are all crucial to good baseball.
A truly great team, one built to win a World Series run, should have it all: solid defense to complement strong offense. Without dependable, steady gloves, a team is left susceptible to unpredictable hitting droughts or arms breaking down through a long season.
If the Cards keep playing as they have in the past month (winning 2 games of every series,) life is good.
If the power dries up over the long season or injuries take a further toll, defense could take center stage.
If Albert powers up and joins Berkman and Holliday in the offense leader boards, 2011 may be a very special year.
Obviously we won’t know how it all shakes out ‘til we’ve played 162. And isn’t that part of what makes baseball so great? The what if’s. The numbers can’t tell us what will happen. The boys must get out there on the field and play the game. We fans hang on until the last out because anything can happen. And those late-inning home runs (and errors) may tip the scale.
Hopefully it just keeps tipping in our direction!
The Cardinals play the first of three games against the Cubs at Wrigley today at 7:05.
Chris Carpenter gets the ball against Carlos Zambrano in what could be called a Clash of the HotHeads.
Okay, here’s the deal – there are five of us running around here on Diamond Diaries. Five fanatic female Cardinal fans. We love our baseball and we love our boys. When the Cardinals come to us and say, “Hey, we’re having a social media night and you all have two free tickets,” we do a little happy dance.
Then we looked at the date. Tuesday, May 17. For the most part we’re all an out of town group, and it’s tough to sneak in to St. Louis on a weeknight (at least during the school year). None of us can use the tickets. Cue the sad trombone.
The good news? Our loss is your gain!
- Field Box ticket to the game
- “Tweet Me In St. Louis” T-Shirt (at left)
- Access to a Pre-Game Social Hour
- Bill Ivie will be wandering around with free stuff, but you have to tell him I sent you.
- You get to touch Matt Sebek’s hair. No really – he said so.
All we ask of you is this…
- Take a couple pictures! We’re jealous that you can be there, and want to see what we’re missing out on.
- Be willing to write up a few paragraphs on what you experienced. Did you seriously touch Matt Sebek’s hair (and did you take a picture – this really intrigues me)? Did John Mozeliak come out to give a little talk? Say so! Did you get to shake hands with Matthew Leach or Derrick Goold? Tells us about what you talked about with them! Did a foul ball land three rows in front of you? So close! All we ask is that you email us some thoughts and pictures that we can use here on the site.
How do you get these tickets? I thought you’d never ask…
Give me a story. Some story about someone that had an influence on you as a baseball fan. Maybe you got an autograph from a player after a game. Maybe your dad bought you a foam finger and taught you about how to bunt over a pretzel and nachos. Maybe the bullpen guys tossed you a ball during warmups. Maybe you just met a fellow Cardinals fan on vacation somewhere and stopped to chat for a minute about the team. These things interest me.
Leave your story in the comments section and check back Monday morning to find out if you won! Good luck!
As a more current thoughts of the team type thing to leave you with, I have two little gems. The first is from Emily, who dropped this on Twitter last night -
Also, if you missed it last night, Erika, Emily and I were on the UCB Radio Hour with Bill Ivie last night to talk a little baseball with him. Topics included the ever popular #chickcomments, a possible resurgence of the MV3 from 6-7 years ago, and me telling a story about a mean trick I pulled on Erika last summer. Check it out!
|Part of the UCB crew in attendance on Sunday
Photo courtsey of Daniel Shoptaw
Those of you that know me a bit know that I get really excited about the beginning of the baseball season. First day of Spring Training? Check (I wore red). First spring game? I found ways to watch that silly little Gameday box from my desk at work (and I wore red). First televised game? I again snuck peaks at the game (despite being unable to listen to most of it) from work (and wore more red).
Each and every first made me smile, caused me to comment, and gave me reason to talk about baseball a little more than usual. But when the game ended and the final score was posted, I shut it down. I didn’t fuss that too many men were left on base or get irritated at why Tony used this reliever instead of that one. Because it didn’t matter. Spring records mean nothing (although I imagine being incredibly bad or blowing everyone out would turn heads). I have no idea what the standings look like for the Grapefruit League, nor will I be looking them up anytime soon.
It’s not that I don’t care. I’m trying to guess my way through those last few roster spots just like everyone else. I have been looking at various names/faces/statistics, but every time I start to get wrapped up in it I remember: Never fall in love too early in spring. Two weeks ago I was pulling for Lance Lynn for the rotation, Daniel Descalso to be the last bench player, was genuinely concerned about Lance Berkman, and still found little reason to trust Kyle Lohse. Since then I changed my mind… on all of those. But let’s look at one at a time…
Pitchers: I am a huge Kyle McClellan fan. Really. I want him to succeed in whatever role he finally lands in. However, it seems that every year he gets put into the rotation mix during Spring Training, I pull for someone else. Why is that? It’s because I constantly fall into the belief that while fifth starters can be found through any number of ways (and the Cardinals have a history of… interesting… fifth starter names over the past few years), strong and reliable workhorse bullpen arms are a little tougher to come by. I don’t doubt Boggs and Motte. I love those goobers and the flaming fastballs they shoot out of their arms like cannons. I do at the same time love that McClellan can use an assortment of pitches and be the kind of setup man that TLR loves to have and use.
I was pulling for Lance Lynn to have the kind of spring that Jaime Garcia did last year. After watching him today, I’m still unconvinced that he absolutely couldn’t do it. His outing was okay, 4 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs and 4 strikeouts is nothing to be super critical of, but not eye opening either. McClellan has done nothing but mow ‘em down. I want it to be McClellan. I suppose I’m pulling for Fernando Salas to get that last spot in the pen, but as Derrick Goold noted this afternoon, the team hasn’t decided yet. I’m not sold, but I feel better about this all now than I did a couple of weeks ago, that’s for sure.
The other pitcher discussion has to be the combination of Jake Westbrook, Garcia, and Lohse. Quick, if you would have picked one of those three to have a strong spring, which would it have been? I would seriously laugh if you had said Lohse. NO ONE saw it coming. Will it last into the regular season? I certainly hope so. I don’t expect him, Westbrook or Garcia to take the place of Adam Wainwright (*sniff*… I’m okay, it’s dust or something), but feeling like we could rely on him to be more like the pitcher we saw in 2008 would be fantastic! Is it time to get concerned about Westbrook feeling like he hasn’t really been able to get his pitches under control or Garcia not feeling worried about his not great start or not working counts well? I suppose that time is getting close. The games are starting to mean something (even if the final scores still do not).
Outfield: Color me not really worried about the outfield. Holliday and Rasmus are obviously just fine, and I think Berkman will be too. He probably cannot and really should not be playing every game like he thinks he can, but I feel confident enough in Jay and Craig being the other two outfielders that it should work out nicely. Should Berkman go down, it would not be the end of the world. I just hope he doesn’t. That’s all.
Infield: The four starters are clear – Pujols, Skip, Theriot, and Freese. No questions there. The two bench spots are the trick. Most assume that Tyler Greene will take one of them, but then it comes down to Daniel Descalso or Matt Carpenter. At the beginning of spring I would have said Descalso, no question. I fell in love too early, then felt Carpenter sweep Cardinal Nation collectively off our feet. He’s not on the 40 man roster, but man, he could be. The fans like him. The front office likes him. Tony likes him (and his work ethic… so… he’s the anti-Brendan?).
Dang. There had to be a ‘but.’
Carpenter plays third. In reality, he only plays third. We have a third baseman by the name of David Freese. Freese has obviously had his share of boo-boos and injury mishaps, and the team is taking care of those and shielding him from doing too much too soon, but really, do you want two players on your team that only play third base? Greene can play second and short, but Descalso can play second, short, and third. Versatility will get you everywhere on a Tony team, just ask Aaron Miles.
Is there a right or wrong answer as to who to take north? I’m not sure there is. The point will most likely be moot anyway whenever Nick Punto (Yeah, I forgot about him too) comes off the disabled list. Both players have played well. Carpenter has gotten more print, but both have averages over .300, both have played solid defense. If you want to argue logistics, then fine – Descalso has experience at the big league level, although very limited (11 games and 37 plate appearances), while Carpenter hasn’t played a game above AA. That is definitely a factor.
Don’t sell either short. However, just because the games are starting to mean something doesn’t mean it’s been long enough to fall for either player.
That’s why they play the games.
Wow! This seemingly harmless little poll adventure caused quite its share of drama and controversy. Apparently some of the UCB bloggers (not naming any names…. Mr. Ivie) were hoping to see their names on the ballot. (We love you, but this was just for the Cardinals players, guys…)
Franky was awesome about it, and you really gotta love a Cardinal player who actually, you know…. tweets with fans. (ahem… @MattHolliday7? where you been???)
So in the fashion of Will Leitch (in his hilarious baseball book “Are We Winning?”…. which I highly recommend, by the way) let’s take a look at what we have learned:
1. Even playful crush polls, much like junior high, can ruffle some feathers.
2. Write-ins and options for “other” will not cover you.
3. Men DO vote in crush polls but get more fun from stirring up trouble.
4. Ryan Franklin (and his goatee) are both very good sports.
But enough about that….
|Courtney presents Freese with the trophy!
Dave is speechless but beams with pride. ;)
The results of our 2011 Ultimate Cardinal Crush:
1st place ( 34% of the votes) — DAVID FREESE (the hot hotcorner with the delicate ankles)
2nd place (14% of the votes) — Yadier Molina (it’s YADI!)
3rd place ((11% of the votes) — Skip Schumaker (aw, it’s Skipperdoodle!)
4th & 5th place (tied with 9%) — Jaime Garcia and Daniel Descalso
Honorable mentions go to Lance Berkman (7% of the votes), Chris Carpenter (5%), Matt Holliday (3%), Ryan Theriot (2%) and Jason Motte (2%).
Thank you for voting!!!
And Congratulations to David Freese. I promise I did not stuff the ballot box.
Cardinal Fans: if you haven’t chimed in on the Cardinal Approval Ratings for our friend Daniel at C70 At The Bat, get on over there! This is his third year to take the pulse of Cardinal Nation, getting our opinions on key members of the team and organization. It’s a quick poll, no crush questions involved. ;)