Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Jon Jay

Winter Warm-Up, Day 2

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!  =)

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.

United Cardinal Bloggers Roundtable:The Sophomore Class

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

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


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


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


Bill Ivie (I-70 baseball)

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Thanks to the UCB group above for joining the conversation!

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


My Hot Stove Wishlist

Last season I was introduced to the concept of baseball’s Hot Stove. Baseball talk all winter?  Yes, please!  ;)
So, I spent my first winter cozied up to that stove longing for any and every bit of news about Matt Holliday. Would he return?  Would Mr. Boras, his evil agent, force him to wear pinstripes instead?  Well, I got my Holliday wish last year and decided that offseason baseball dealings were not only very entertaining, but could make me very happy.
Happy is good.
This offseason has not started off with such warm fuzzies.  Joe Mather, gone.  Matt Pagnozzi, gone.  Personally, I’ll take a nice campfire and a warm Cardinals snuggie instead, thank you.
Maybe that’s what I get for not respecting the Stove?  Maybe I took it for granted that the Cardinals would always make decisions in my best interest?  I guess I still have a lot to learn about baseball.  (thankfully)
So, just in case, the Hot Stove is like Santa and needs a little help in knowing just the right gifts this winter…
My Hot Stove WishList
1.      Save our Shortstop. Yep, I know there is a different player’s contract topping everyone else’s wishlist. But since you all have that one covered, I am going to make sure ol’ Boog doesn’t get forgotten.
Brendan Ryan is irreplaceable.  The fans love him. Brendan’s attitude and personality bring the Cardinals to life and brighten team energy.  Brendan’s got the D.  Plus I have a serious need to be able to watch him leap and jump and dive and be the ballhog that he is in order to fully appreciate Cardinals baseball.  Brendan will be a better hitter than he was last year.  I promise.  Surgery and fiddling with his batting stance messed him up.  With another year of experience, maturity combined with the right ADD meds, we are bound to see a better batter.
Trust me on this.  Brendan stays.  Got it?  Good.
2.      Now, I am no expert on salary figures and balancing budgets, so I am going to head over to my happy place and pretend that I can wish for absolutely anything here.
Two free agents the Cardinals must snag?  Cliff Lee and Mariano Rivera.
Don’t burst my bubble here… I’m dreaming of a 2011 rotation with Wainwright, Lee, Garcia and Carpenter for a moment.  It’s glorious.
      You can see it too, right?  Yeah, I thought so.  ;)
3.      As long as I am not being restrained by common sense, I’ll take Ryan Ludwick back too please.  Power outfield bat?  Restored.  Luddy back in the Birds on the Bat?  Priceless.
4.      Now this is where I need a little help because I’ve read all sorts of chatter about Orlando Hudson, Dan Uggla, Edgar Renteria and other guys who might be able to step in and give us some relief in the middle infield (hands off the shortstop position though, remember?!)
This is where I sit back, let the ol’ stove heat up and listen and learn as all you smart baseball folk tell me why one ballplayer is better than the other. Just keep in mind that I’m one of those fans who gets attached to the players we already have – and I LOVE to see the Memphis boys finally get their shot.  Sentimental?  Yes.  Loyal?  Absolutely.
I am ok with bringing in someone new IF that means we keep Skippy (probably platooning) and Daniel Descalso gets a good shot at proving himself in the big club.  Can we keep Jon Jay and Allen Craig too while we’re at it?
I haven’t done the math, but I’ve probably got about 12 players on the field already.  So, I’ll stop here.

Similar to writing a letter to Santa, it is best to keep it short.  I wouldn’t want to be too greedy.  The Hot Stove may not like that.  ;)

There is a time…

I may be the daughter of a preacher, but have never been great at quoting scripture.  I can however point you to the scene from “Footloose” where you can hear Kevin Bacon mention
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:”
My mind is always drifting to baseball. So naturally, my translation would be: there is a time for every emotion during baseball season.  In 2010 we have had time to cheer; time to cry, and (lately) plenty of time to be frustrated.
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A time to reflect:
I was watching a game this week – well, I watched them all – but there was this one game – when it struck me how different the August Cardinals are from the starting lineup back in April.
Remember back then?
On April 5th the Cardinals won the first game of the regular season.  They beat the Reds with a final score of 11-6. (The Reds!)  The Cardinals had 12 hits that day, with four homeruns: Albert Pujols hit TWO, Yadier Molina had his first career Grand Slam and Colby Rasmus went yard as well.

That evening Matthew Leach, writing for MLB.com, compared the Cardinals’ performance to the anticlimactic crash of the 2009 postseason effort:
The last time the Cardinals were seen playing games that mattered, they were an offensively futile team. A great deal has changed — from the stage to the ballpark to the opponent — since that NLDS. But the Redbirds have changed, too. They’re an improved offensive club, one that can be dangerous at all eight everyday lineup spots.”
That was certainly our time to hope.
A time for change:
The faces on the field are different now. Some favorite players are gone for good and some we just haven’t seen for a while. (To be honest, this topic gave me a much needed chance to post some pictures of the Cardinal faces I have been missing!  Mtime to be sentimental, I guess.)
Freese, Luddy and Joe — We miss you terribly!
But looking on the bright side (yes, I have been accused me of overusing that Pollyanna trait lately, but stick with me here!) … there are some wonderful new Cardinal faces we have come to enjoy.  Okay, just another excuse to post pictures of my favorite BabyBirds.
Glad you boys are getting a shot!
The Cardinals still have time to play, time to win and time to rally.  So until that final Cardinal out of the 2010 season, we fans have time to enjoy the game.


Time To Welcome!
Like the Cardinals, we here at Cardinal Diamond Diaries have added a new face.  Thankfully we didn’t have to trade anyone to a Padres blog group or lose anyone to the Disabled List!
Welcome Jacqueline!!!
We are thrilled to welcome Jacqueline Hadley Conrad to our gals club here at CDD.  Like Angela, Chris and myself, Jacqueline is a devoted fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, and we are looking forward to reading more of her unique charm and humor here on the blog.  In the days ahead, we will get her information added to our “About Us” section and she will be checking in again next week.
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Until then… If you missed the chance to read Jacqueline’s inaugural post yesterday, do not delay one minute longer. Grab a tissue and be prepared – it is a beautiful and touching tribute, steeped in family tradition and Cardinal baseball history.  “Ma mere Tootsie’s Gift”
Today the Cardinals are taking on the Washington Nationals again. Game time: 6:05pm CT.
Hopefully it will once again be a time to win!

GO CARDS!  =)

Right Down To The Very Last Pitch…

When I got up this morning, I didn’t bother reading any headlines, articles or blogs about the Cardinals because I already knew what they would say.  It is what the weary beat writers and naysayers spout every morning after a loss and I am just plain tired of  the complaining about how the Cardinals can’t hit or the managers can’t manage or how our postseason chances are slipping away.
I may be one of the few Cardinal fans who will say this today, but I actually enjoyed yesterday’s game. Sure, the final score was crummy, but right down to the very last pitch, I knew we had a chance.  And the game was full of moments that made me smile.  Albert may not have hit his 400th homerun, but he had a 3-hit night.  Matt Holliday sent one flying out of the park in the first inning. Jon Jay may have only gotten one hit, but I love that he tears out of the batters box and down the line to 1st base trying to beat the throw on an easy infield hit.  Even Yadier Molina and his catcher’s knees had some extra energy as he ran the bases.  And of course there is Adam Wainwright and the way his determined piercing eyes give him an entirely different (scary) demeanor on a night he’s pitching.
In the 9th inning when the boys came off the bench and sparked a rally, I thought “we are going to WIN this one!” Skip Schumaker, Randy Winn and Aaron Miles all made things happen.  Then Jon Jay’s RBI brought the Cardinals back within one run of tying the game. Even as Felipe Lopez stood in, switch-hitting at the plate with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the final countdown, I was glued to the television, firmly believing I would be witnessing a come-from-behind Cardinal victory.
But the victory celebration would have to wait.  The Redbirds lost and that’s the way it goes sometimes.  The Cardinals record will show an L for the August 24th game against the Pirates, but that loss certainly does not tell the big picture for me.
If you haven’t figured out by now, I love baseball.  Warning: I am one of those fans who will occasionally cheer for the opposing team – not by mistake because I’m not paying attention, but because the hit or the play was just too good not to applaud.
So, even after a Cardinals loss like last night, I can smile because I saw some wonderful baseball.  Sure the wins and losses matter – they matter A LOT – but this is the game of baseball.  Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.  Anything can happen and that is why they play 9 innings and why teams like the Pirates and the Cubs and the Brewer even bother to take the field.  And that is why each game has the potential to provide countless individual moments of baseball magic that keep us coming back for more, that give every fan hope and that make us believe our team can still win… right down to the very last pitch.
The boys are back at it again for the last game of the series against the Pirates tonight at 6:05 PM! Albert will hit that 400th homerun and the Cardinals will win – I just know it!  ;)
FYI:  Today you can catch my article “What Is It About Aaron Miles?!” over at i70baseball.com.  Love him or hate him, Miles is certainly an interesting Cardinal issue.  Here’s the link – and thanks for reading!
GO CARDS!!  =)

Jinxing Jay and Operation Jack

Yesterday I was bragging on darling Jon Jay (you can see the lovefest here) and he responded with an 0-for-4 night, striking out 3 times.  Today, I am avoiding any potential jinx by switching gears and bringing you a public service announcement instead.  Well…. a public service that gets you a face-to-face with some Cardinal ballplayers!  WIN!!

I know where you can find starting pitcher Adam Wainwright and Cardinal cutie Skip Schumaker on Saturday October 2nd!  =)
Do not miss this great opportunity to meet some of our St. Louis Cardinals, snag some autographs and help a great cause.  The event is to support Operation Jack, a charity to raise money for autism.  Our Twitter friend Scott, who is also a big Cardinals fan and writes for the wonderful Cardinals/Royals baseball website i70baseball.com, has helped coordinate this event.
If you would like more information, please visit the Operation Jack website at www.operationjack.org
or to find out more information about the autograph event, click here.
Thanks for reading, spread the word and buy some tickets to meet Waino and Skippy!
And GO CARDS!!

Jon Jay – Rookie Luck or Here to Stay?

Welcome to your Tuesday Baseball Fans!


Warning! Slow baseball week ahead!

TWO Cardinal off-days (Monday and Thursday)  plus a day game on Wednesday will leave a lot of evenings to fill with something other than Cardinals games.  Last night I caught the Padres/Cubs game on WGN and watched our old pal Ryan Ludwick in San Diego blue as the Padres beat the Cubs (something the Cardinals should have been able to do in their last two games).

While I will always cherish the fond memories I have of Luddy wearing the Birds on the Bat and patrolling right field for the Cardinals, there is this new fella that has helped ease my heartache.  Jon Jay has stepped up and become the new darling of the Cardinal rookies.  *Sorry Freese… absence is not making my heart grow fonder! ;)*

Today I profile Jon Jay at BaseballDigest.com.
You can find it here.

Give it a read and let me know your thoughts/opinions.  Has Jay peaked as a rookie already or will the baseball magic continue?

Cardinals vs Brewers (2 game stand at Busch Stadium starts tonight at 7:15pm)
GO CARDS!!

July in Review: Good Cards, Mediocre Cards

Well, how about that month of July? Wow. It’s like the Cardinals were two different teams – playing, as Bernie Miklasz described it on Twitter during that 13-inning game against the Mets, bipolar baseball. The Good Cards were definitely more fun to watch, while the Mediocre Cards were just frustrating.

Record-wise, the Cards definitely were good: 15-11. A big part of that win total was the Good Cards 8-game streak, the longest since winning 9 straight in 2004, which began the Sunday before the All-Star break and continued through July 21. Before the All-Star break, the Mediocre Cards were definitely taking the field nightly. We don’t want to remember much of that, given that the sweep at Colorado was part of it. And right after the 8-game streak ended, the Mediocre Cards reappeared again – and even were shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since 1995.

And it’s interesting when the Good Cards and the Mediocre Cards tended to appear in July. The Cards record at home for the month was 11-3 – including 7 of the 8 wins of the streak. On the road – traveling to Colorado, Houston, Chicago and New York – they were 4-8. Ouch.

It wasn’t necessarily only the team that was Good and Mediocre – Chris Carpenter exemplified that trend perfectly in July. He had his worst start of the year July 3, allowing 7 earned runs in the 3 innings pitched. The start after that, he gave up 4 earned runs in 6 innings. Then he headed to Anaheim as an All-Star and, though he didn’t pitch during the game, he’s certainly pitched like an All-Star ever since: two 8-inning outings where he allowed only 1 run, a 7-inning outing against the Cubs where he allowed 3 runs and his start Friday night where he pitched 8 scoreless innings. Thankfully, though, Mediocre Carp seems to have faded away. Let’s hope the same can be said for the Mediocre Cards.

The Cardinals started July 1 1/2 games behind the Reds and ended the month a half-game ahead of them and in first place. Let’s hope the Good Cards continue what they started this weekend, with the offense being so productive.

So who helped make the Good Cards and Mediocre Cards have the kind of July we went through?

Biggest surprise
Jon Jay
We knew he was having a terrific month, and he hit .431 in July with a .500 on-base percentage and .647 slugging percentage. He’s hitting .383 overall. And he’ll continue to play regularly now, thanks to the (unfortunate) trade of Ryan Ludwick to the Padres at the trading deadline. So, yay for Jay!

Other surprises
Kyle McClellan
Although he was the losing pitcher in the 11-inning loss to the Phillies to end the 8-game winning streak, Kyle actually had a great month. He allowed only that one run – via a homer by Placido Polanco – in 14.1 innings pitched over 12 games. His ERA for the month was 0.64.

Jason LaRue
Although he gets mentioned more for the clean-cut look we all approve of, the back-up catcher hit well during his limited playing time in July. He had a .385 batting average with a home run in 7 total games.

Biggest disappointment
Trading Ryan Ludwick
Yes, it still stings. Luddy, we already miss you!

Other disappointments
Albert Pujols
While his numbers aren’t bad, they aren’t Albert-like and he began August with a .299 batting average. His average for July was .267, his worst for any month this season, and he also had a season-low 11 walks for an on-base percentage of .333 (also a season-low).

Ryan Franklin
Although he had 4 saves, he allowed 6 earned runs in 10.1 innings pitched for the month. Yes, those runs all came in one particular game we’re all trying to forget … but Ryan still had a 5.23 ERA for July.

Welcome
Mike MacDougal
He made his Cardinals debut against the Mets on July 28, picking up the win in the 13-inning game with a scoreless inning. He pitched 3 scoreless innings in 3 games at the end of July, allowing only 1 hit. And, based on Twitter, there are plenty of us who are willing to take him out for some pasta and help him gain a few pounds!

Best game
July 18
Cardinals 5, Dodgers 4
When the lineup was announced, everyone basically wrote this off as a loss – no Albert, no Yadi, Jeff Suppan pitching. And the Dodgers had a 4-0 lead in the seventh inning, but that’s why they play the games. The Cards came back and won, thanks to birthday boy Allen Craig – picking a fantastic way to celebrate turning 26 – and All-Star Matt Holliday, who drove in the walk-off winning run in the bottom of the 9th.

Worst game
July 6
Rockies 12, Cardinals 9

Does anything more need to be said? (If you somehow need to refresh your memory, here you go.)

Pitcher of the month
Adam Wainwright
Even with his worst game of the season against the Mets on July 28, Adam still finished the month with a 3-1 record and a 1.85 ERA – and with a scoreless inning pitched during the All-Star Game. His 14 overall wins at the end of July were second in the National League, his ERA of 2.23 was third and his WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) was fourth with 1.03.

Player of the month
Jon Jay
One more time: yay for Jay!

Although there’s only been one game in August so far, it was definitely a great showing by both the offense and the continued stellar pitching of Adam Wainwright. And now tonight will bring the Cardinals debut of Jake Westbrook – as well as the first of two Cardinals Diamond Diaries nights at Busch Stadium! (You mean that’s not listed on your schedule?) It’s a road trip for the three of us and the chance to watch the next two games together, which we are all highly anticipating! So we’ll be taking a little break from posting until later in the week. In the meantime, GO CARDINALS!!

Photo of the game of the month by Chris Lee, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Streak Climbs Higher and Higher

And so it continues …

By winning number 8 in a row last night, the Cardinals exceeded a 7-game winning streak for the first time since 2006. Now they have the longest streak since another memorable year, 2004. And watching the team play over the last week reminds me a lot of that amazing 2004 team. They’re playing with confidence, they’re playing with energy – even when they’re trailing or tied, you know they’re going to come back and get it done.

Winning is obviously fun. The always quotable Brendan Ryan provided some words of wisdom on winning after Tuesday night’s game. “It can be contagious and it sure seems like it’s gotten contagious. We know in the first half we never played our ‘A’ game. We’d like to find out what our ceiling is.”

That’s the intriguing thing about winning streaks: you never know how long they will last or the ultimate impact they will have. And the end to a particular streak doesn’t necessarily mean the rollercoaster is headed back down. Look at the White Sox. Before the All-Star break, they won 25 of 30 games (including winning streaks of 11 and 8 games each) and propelled themselves from 9 1/2 games back and third place on June 9 to first place by a half-game on July 11. Since the break, the Sox are 3-4 but have built their lead to 2 1/2 games.

In addition to the Cardinals’ ongoing streak, they have won 9 of their last 10 games and, in doing so, beaten three of the “charter members of the Cardinals Killer club” in the process: Bud Norris on July 9, Kyle Kendrick on Monday and now Joe Blanton last night. So things have definitely turned around!
The Cardinals’ eight wins have come in a variety of ways, with a variety of heroes, as Angela detailed in yesterday’s photos of the week. Last night was another strong pitching performance, as Jaime Garcia was outstanding in his 7 innings and allowed only 1 run on 4 hits (with the run coming on a homer to Ryan Howard). Perhaps best of all, Jaime threw only 95 pitches to go those 7 innings. Offensively, Albert gave the Cards a short-lived 1-0 lead when he drove in Wonder Boy Jon Jay (pictured above, and he went 2 for 3 last night with a sacrifice bunt). Hunky Matt Holliday continued his homer tear to put the Cards up 2-1 in the 7th – giving Jaime the well-deserved victory. In the 8th, the Cardinals added three more runs thanks to Everyone’s Nemesis Aaron Miles, Brendan (with help with a Phillies error), Felipe Lopez and Colby Rasmus. Even Ryan Franklin had the opportunity to bat that inning, since he came in to get the final out in the top of the 8th. Not that Franklin actually did anything with the bat, however – like even swing it at all. But he stood there to get the third out before heading back out to pitch his way to save number 18.

Who knows how high up the ceiling is for the Cardinals this season? Thankfully, that’s still to be decided so we can just appreciate the games and enjoy the ride. And we don’t have long to find out how if they can sweep the entire homestand: game four against the Phillies is this afternoon at 1:15 p.m. Central time, with Adam Wainwright going for his second win of the streak.

Photo: UPI/John Boman Jr.
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