Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Ryan Franklin

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!!  =)

Franky’s Snap

When Ryan Franklin lashed out at Cardinal fans for the boos (and probably other unmentionables) launched at him following Laynce Nix’ home run in the 8th inning of Wednesday afternoon’s game, the best fans in baseball took exception..

The details can be found here on the Cardinals website (and many, many other baseball sites due to the sheer volume of feathers understandably ruffled in Cardinal Nation.)

The defensive and emotional responses to Franklin’s remarks peppered the internet.  The best fans in baseball were listening (as usual) and used every mode at their disposal to provide an overwhelming, albeit divided, response.

Simply put, there are two camps.

1)      “We pay money to come to games/choose to spend our time watching games/ support this team… therefore we have the right to speak our minds when the team or a player fails to do his job.”

2)      “Booing your own team/players is unacceptable, even when they are underperforming miserably.”

The cases for either of these two camps can be made more/less eloquently and often with more colorful language, but the underlying sentiments remain the same.

I am quite certain nobody is surprised to read that I fall into camp #2.  I don’t find hecklers at minor league games entertaining.  I feel bad for our guys when they make an error.  I may moan, cringe or grumble when a ball is misplayed or a batter strikes out, stranding multiple base runners.  However I would never…. ever… boo a Cardinal during a game. Cheer for your team, or (when things are really ugly) just sit back and take a deep breath, fingers crossed that it doesn’t get any worse.  Sighs, groans and general frustration are, of course, acceptable because we are baseball fans who actually, you know, watch the game.

But that’s just me.

Now, Ryan Franklin may be frustrated. He obviously is bothered by his poor performance and the immediate backlash from the fans.  Who wouldn’t be??!  However, he is a MAJOR LEAGUE BALLPLAYER.

Chin up, Franky.  Take the licks.  I am certain that you have blocked out your share of hecklers and naysayers throughout your entire baseball career.  Lashing out publicly at Cardinal fans was a poor choice; but hopefully those comments don’t stick around to haunt you long after you get your pitching groove back.

Cardinal fans ARE the best fans in baseball.  We are intelligent, emotional participants in the ballgames we witness.  We care what happens on that field.

Honestly, I was partly pleased to read Ryan Franklin’s comments.  It reminded me that he is human, which we sometimes forget from the façade these professional ballplayers put up in order to focus on the game. Franklin has stumbled personally in a very public setting, on a Major League mound and now in front of a microphone.  This (his pitching and relationship with the fans) could go in two different directions for Mr. Franklin.

Being squarely in camp #2, I am cheering for him to recover from both setbacks.

Double-header yesterday and a day-game today?  More baseball?  Why yes, thank you!

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!!

Crowning the 2011 Ultimate Cardinal Crush

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…)

Then Kevin (@deckacards) decided to call us out on twitter to Cardinals closer, Ryan Franklin (@Franky3131)….

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.  ;)

A little perspective: no matter what, it’s the team (and the game) we love

A note from Ang…
Are the boys going to make a run at a playoff spot? They continue their absolutely baffling ways of beating good teams and losing to bad ones, so I suppose if the boys play winning teams the rest of the year (they don’t – darn) it’s always possible. Either way, we’re not giving up hope yet!!!
We have a surprise for all of you – not one, but TWO new writers! Cadence and Courtney Rippeto are a fabulous sister duo located in the St. Louis area, and have thankfully accepted our offer to join the team. More about them will be coming in the next week, but their big premiere is here now talking about their experience with photo day!
Enjoy and show them some love so they come back next week! ;)
Go Cards!
Ang



Entering the weekend 8 games behind the Reds, we took the time to enjoy the Friday and Saturday Cards/Reds games for what they were worth; photo day on the field and booing Brandon Phillips.

Courtney and I attended the first game of the Cards/Reds series on Friday night and we just knew that we were looking forward to hearing the roar of boos that Brandon Phillips would receive from the adoring Cardinal Nation after he ran his mouth in Cincy during the previous series. We all know what happened there. Needless to say, he was greeted with boos every time he came to the plate and every time he even came near to the ball. Even the foul ball that he got a piece of was thrown back on to the field. As much as I HATE it when that happens (hello, we are NOT Cubs fans), I had to applaud the guy who threw the ball back. Probably one of the greatest things I have seen. I think he would agree that it was worth him getting thrown out over. :)
Obviously, if you watched any of the games, you would know that the “love” for Brandon Phillips continued all weekend. Even the Reds fans sitting next to us on Saturday said “I hope that he gets a hit so it will shut them up.” HAHA. Sorry, Reds fans, but the hate will never disappear for Phillips, and he brought that upon himself.
To end Friday night, after another fantastic Jaime Garcia performance, Busch Stadium had another fireworks night. And after getting to see the Mizzou Tigers marching band battle the Fighting Illini marching band before the game (Go Mizzou!), it was quite a great end to an awesome night. We couldn’t wait to get to Saturday’s game.





While almost everyone else was focusing on the fact that “the season is over”, we were busy enjoying a day we had been looking forward to since early this season – yes, I bought the tickets in May. Saturday, September 4th was fan photo day on the field at Busch Stadium. Having missed out last year, I was determined to go this year and enjoy it to the fullest. (Courtney’s friend, Laura, came with us – so that is who the blonde is in all of our pics!) Courtney had gone last year and I knew I couldn’t miss out. Although my fave (Luddy), who I had been looking forward to seeing earlier in the season, wasn’t there, I still couldn’t wait to go!
We knew we were in a great position to get close to the players, having placed ourselves in kind-of a corner of the roped off area, we were certain there would be opportunity for us to at least try and get the attention of our favorites. We had NO idea what was about to happen! First the coaches made their way around the field, waving to the fans and being very courteous. Then, the first round of players entered the field; Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, and Jon Jay. Those three almost ran around the field so quick, I forgot they were even there! But, I guess since they were starters, it was understandable considering pre-game rituals and superstitions.
As more players proceeded to enter the field (Brendan Ryan, Randy Winn, Matt Pagnozzi, Nick Stavinoha – we called him Dr. Thunder and he got a kick out of it!, Pedro Feliz, Bryan Anderson) we saw Matt Holliday coming our way. Somehow, we got his attention and lured him over to take a photo with us! It was so surreal that we couldn’t believe it…he even had his hand on my shoulder! Pretty amazing. Needless to say, we were so stunned in our excellent convincing skills that we thought we would try it with other players as the rounded the field.
















Aaron Miles was one in the next group to come by. We talked to him for a second and he even stopped in his tracks to read my shirt, “It Ain’t Right til it’s Wainwright”, and he gave me the thumbs up (the pics below are him reading my shirt, and then posing for us) and told me he liked it. In fact several of the guys really liked my shirt; too bad Waino was pitching and he didn’t participate in photo day, so he couldn’t see the shirt like I had hoped. Dennys Reyes and Fernando Salas came around next. Again, very nice, but kinda scooted along without stopping to talk.

The group of Felipe Lopez, Trever Miller, and Ryan Franklin were the next to walk by. Trever Miller was a hit with this crazy curly wig he wore (which he explained on the Sunday pre-game show to be a way to loosen up the guys and make them laugh in the clubhouse – it worked with the fans too!). While Lopez and Miller were stopped taking pictures with other fans, I chatted up Ryan Franklin asking if he would take a photo with us. He replied “Sure! Just a second, ok?” What was he waiting for? He was rounding up the other guys to come over and take a photo with us! Totally awesome of him.
At this point, we were even more geeked and couldn’t wait for others to show up. Courtney wanted a picture with Jason Motte and we all wanted one with Colby Rasmus. Jaime Garcia was also tops on our list. So, as they kept coming, we continued to reach out to the players to get photos with us as well as help a fellow cardinal fan who was much shorter than me standing behind us. She was desperate for a picture with Skip Schumaker, so we made sure we helped her get one. For some reason, the guys just couldn’t say “no” to a group of girls begging for photos with them. This, of course, was good for us.
Some of the bullpen guys made their way around the warning track and I got Mitchell Boggs while waiting for Jason Motte. Both pics were achieved and they were both so sweet to us. We expressed our appreciation for them stopping to take photos with us.


When another group made their way around the corner, we noticed that Mike MacDougal wasn’t getting much love, so we asked him if he would take a photo with us… “Sure!” And we had officially made it up to 7 different players! Meanwhile, we helped our short Cardinal friend we met get a picture with Blake Hawksworth. Courtney said to him “Hey, I follow you on twitter!” He was very responsive and said, “Really? That’s awesome.” Whether he actually meant it or not, he was very nice about it.








In the last group, we were super confident that we could get the last two on our list; Jaime Garcia and Colby Rasmus. We were extremely successful and we also got Kyle Lohse in there too! All three had to be so tired of fans yelling at them and wanting pictures, but they were so sweet to us and obliged.

What these guys might not know is that they made our day! Win or lose, we were never going to forget how awesome it was to get pics with all these guys.  See, how we look at it is that this is our team. Whenever something like this happens, you seem to forget a stretch of bad play and remember that this is baseball, the sport we absolutely love.  And they are the team that we absolutely love. Yes, they did lose, but there was no shortage of amazing memories that we will never forget. Thank you, St. Louis Cardinals for hosting this event and thank you to the players for being so amazing and courteous to the fans, we truly appreciate it.

Hopefully this is just the beginning of many entries to come from us. Courtney is divulged in pharmacy school, so you will mostly see my writing, but because we do so many things together (in regards to the Cardinals) it will likely be a combined effort. We really look forward to sharing our Cardinal experiences with all of you in Cardinal Nation!
Cadence (and Courtney)

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

Counting Baseball Blessings

With the Cardinals’ recent winning ways, being a thankful Cardinals fan is a whole lot easier. Focusing on the positive, here are the Cardinals components that are making me smile:

photo from stltoday.com
Cardinals pitching has been nothing short of spectacular. Adam Wainwright continues to build on his personal record of 22 consecutive quality starts at Busch Stadium, grabbing his 10th win of the season (plus he’s holding a 2.23 ERA.) Our rookie starting pitcher, lefty Jaime Garcia has the National League’s 2nd best ERA at 1.59. Chris Carpenter’s record is 8-1 so far with a 2.83 ERA. Fans have a lot to celebrate there!
Even with two injured starting pitchers currently out of the mix (Brad Penny returning soon and Kyle Lohse likely out for most of the season after surgery,) the Cardinal hurlers have kept the team at the top of the National League Central division, now 1.5 games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds. Plus the Cardinals’ recent move, picking up Brewer cast-off (and former Cardinal) Jeff Suppan to deepen the pitching rotation, has gone better than expected with Suppan turning in 4 and then 4 2/3 innings in his two appearances so far, giving up 3 earned runs (2 HR).
Dilip Vishwanat /Getty images
The bullpen, an often thankless job, deserves recognition as well – especially with the club’s haunting lack of run support for its starting pitchers over the past month.
Jason Motte, the sometimes ‘Crazy Man’ on the mound with a radar-loving fastball continues to dominate opposing batters. This guy is entertaining, at times yelling manically into his cap or glove and pacing frenetically across the mound between pitches. He also happens to be ON FIRE, nailing his location and throwing heat. Making Motte even more lovable is his alter-personality: laid back, friendly and playful during pregame warm-ups, sometimes calm and controlled in the heat of the action. Not knowing which Motte we will see step onto the bump certainly adds intrigue to the late-inning drama.
photo by Robert Cohen – P/D
Ryan Franklin has quieted the early-season skeptics who were questioning his fortitude as closer after Ryan struggled down the stretch in late 2009. Franklin has since deservedly regained the trust of Cardinal nation. Joe Strauss’ article from yesterday (Cardinals closer is closer to the end) highlighted the fascinating personality of Ryan Franklin, an uncomplicated, unpretentious guy from Oklahoma, and shared these statistics on Franklin’s 2010 season as it stands right now:
Entering the weekend, Franklin ranked 12th among NL relievers with at least 20 appearances in ERA (1.86) and eighth in baserunners per inning (0.86) while maintaining the best conversion rate (12 of 13) among closers with at least four saves. Of the league’s 12 closers with at least 12 saves, Franklin maintains the lowest strikeout rate; however, he had walked only three in 29 innings, a ratio second only to Los Angeles Dodgers ninth-inning monster Jonathan Broxton. Franklin had allowed two earned runs in two months before engaging the A’s this weekend. To date, this season has represented a solid follow-up to a season in which he ranked sixth in the major leagues with 38 saves and ranked second in ERA (1.92) among NL closers.
In addition to pride in the pitching, I have confidence that Matt Holliday’s surging power recovery is a good sign that the big bats are indeed heating up. In case you missed it, Holliday hit FOUR homeruns in the last three games! We are certainly seeing more signs of Cardinal magic. Won’t it be fun watching this team finally get it together consistently and go on that winning romp we know is due?
I believe the Cardinals are turning a corner. This team is built to win. We have Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, Ryan Ludwick and Matt Holliday. Colby Rasmus and rookie David Freese have both earned NL Player of the Week honors this season. Combine that talent with the skill of the Cardinals hurlers and we have something to be excited about. The summer is heating up and so are our Cardinals!

Enjoy your Monday as the Cardinals take a break and travel to Toronto for interleague play versus the Blue Jays

Next game: Tuesday at 6:07pm CT (yep, I double-checked it… what a weird start time!)

GO CARDS! =)

Photo Thursday

Photo Thursday is here again!

First, a video that Fox Sports Midwest posted yesterday in honor of Mark Mulder’s retirement and Jeff Suppan’s Cardinals return. It’s a blast from the past – all the way back to 2006 – and features those two plus Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter on a golf outing. (So how can it not be enjoyable to watch?) Mark, best wishes on your retirement and good luck on your new golf career. Had our blog been around in 2005, you definitely would have been featured regularly!

Safe!
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Colby JACK, with a scenic view. We love St. Louis!
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
More amusing: whatever’s in Luddy’s mouth, or Yahoo! thinking this is Ryan Franklin?
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Yadi! No kicking!
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
We like that Albert hasn’t lost his Little League tongue-sticking-out focus, or using both hands to get that grounder!
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Nice catch, Matt … Now let’s talk about your bat …
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Brendan hit a homer? Really? We mean, YAY! Brendan hit a homer!
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
So is this a fist bump … or a stiff arm by Yadi? We can’t really tell.
Scott Rovak/US Presswire
Up, up and away!
Scott Rovak/US Presswire
Admit it – Motte is a beast.
Chris Lee clee@post-dispatch.com

Faith in Franklin

Just a mention on the TV broadcast that Ryan Franklin is warming up in the bullpen seems to send my Twitter feed into a frenzy. Once he’s in the game, there are many dread-filled tweets with each batter he faces. But the facts speak for themselves: after last night, Franklin is now seven for seven in save opportunities. He’s second in the National League at the moment, tied with Francisco Cordero of the Reds and one behind Matt Capps of the Nationals.

No position player or other pitcher is held under closer scrutiny than a closer, and no one else is blamed more when he doesn’t get his job done. I remember reading once that a closer needs to have a short memory. Maybe the same needs to hold true for fans, since many seem to hold grudges for an extremely long time when it comes to blowing games.

And that’s Franklin’s “sin” this season, and the reason for the doom-and-gloom tweets: what he did at the end of 2009. He had three blown saves in September, although he did end up as the winning pitcher on Sept. 19 against the Cubs. Then there’s October, game two of the division series against the Dodgers, when he blew the save and was the losing pitcher. Had Matt Holliday caught that infamous fly ball by James Loney, would Franklin have received praise for getting the job done? My guess is no.

Of course, Franklin was not stellar on opening day this year, which just fed the carryover panic from 2009. It was a not save situation when Franklin entered the game for the bottom of the ninth on April 5, since the Cardinals were leading 11-4 at the time. He allowed three hits and two runs (both scoring with two outs) to give him an 18.00 ERA to start the season. But, three weeks later, it’s down to 3.60.

Ryan Franklin is not the type of closer who will instill fear in batters when he comes into the game, because he’s not a strikeout pitcher. He’s not Mariano Rivera, he’s not Brian Wilson, he’s not Trevor Hoffman. (Although the Cardinals don’t seem to have any fear of the all-time saves leader.) And Monday night’s save was probably typical, with giving up two hits (although the hit by Matt Diaz, rolling along the third base line, was a fluke) yet getting a double play and another ground out. Job done, seventh consecutive save.

Is Franklin going to blow a game sometime? Chances are, yes. It’s not often a closer doesn’t at some point during the season, Brad Lidge in 2008 notwithstanding. And, if it happens, I’m sure I’ll read tweet after tweet about how everyone knew all along how terrible Franklin is. But why not forget about 2009 for now – everyone seems to have forgiven Matt Holliday for game 2 against the Dodgers, so why not Ryan Franklin?

I’m going to keep following the advice Erika gave last night in the form of a Twitter hashtag: #FaithInFranklin. Why not? He’s earned my support.

Photo: Yahoo! Sports

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