Tagged: Cardinals

The Tigers? Really?

With the signing of Prince Fielder, is Detroit the new favorite in the AL?

By Cam Cain 1-27-12

In an offseason of surprises like Albert Pujols joining the Angels, this is up there as one of those shockers. The nine year deal is reportedly worth 214 million dollars.  Only a few thought Fielder was heading anywhere other than Arlington, Miami, or the capitol. Then, Texas signed Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. Now all was left was the built-to-win-today Marlins and the built-to-win-in-two-or-three-years Nats. But he chose to head to the Motor City, already the heavy favorites in the Central. I was confused for a while about this one. Then, it hit me. Fielder’s dad, Cecil, played at the old Tiger Stadium for 6 1/2 years, the best of his career, making three allstar teams and hitting 51 home runs in 1990. It was there that  young Prince learned the game, hitting monster shots over the fence as a teenager. And the fans sure remember him. The Prince was merely heading home, albeit to a different castle.

So, who does this affect?

Milwaukee:

This loss, as inevitable as it was, is a tough one to swallow. Especially if Ryan Braun’s appeal of his 50 game suspension for allegedly taking performance enhancing drugs is denied. This is a huge step back for Milwaukee who has not made any big signings or trades so far.

St. Louis:

The Cardinals benefit  from this deal. This could possibly put this young team into the playoffs with a wild card spot. Besides, they won the World Series despite Adam Wainwright not pitching a single inning due to injury.

Pittsburgh:

Despite peaking in July and struggling towards the end of the year and finishing below .500, don’t count out the Pirates as a dark horse candidate.

Cincinnati:

This puts the Reds over the top. They have so much young talent including power hitting right fielder Jay Bruce, and speedy center fielder Drew Stubbs. They signed closer Ryan Madson,  who saved 32 games for Philadelphia. They also made a statement by trading away Edinson Volquez and first base prospect Yonder Alonso for pitcher Mat Latos of the Padres. This told the fans that they are willing to keep superstar Joey Votto and this is exactly what they needed. Their only worry in the division is St. Louis. The Reds hope they pull a long term Indianapolis Colts, struggling after losing the face of their franchise. Either way, the Reds are the favorites in the Central, if not the NL.

Detroit:

This team is strong from top to bottom. Despite losing Victor Martinez for probably the season, they will likely move Miguel Cabrera to DH. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Doug Fister are at the top of the rotation and all have had success. Also, Alex Avila is a rising star behind the plate and had 85 RBIs last season at age 24. They are my early pick for the World Series.

The King Of Anaheim

Pujols signs near-record deal with Angels

By Cam Cain 12-8-11

Well, Albert Pujols has officially signed with a team. And it’s not the Cardinals or the Marlins. Not even Theo Epstein’s Cubs. Nope. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (phew that’s a mouthful) have swooped up out of nowhere and signed the superstar to a 10-year-deal worth reportedly $254 million.  This news comes much sooner than expected as the Winter Meetings in Dallas. are only a couple days in. You can make a strong case for him as the greatest first baseman of all time. That’s saying something since he plays the same position as did Gehrig and Foxx. He is a three time MVP but has also won 2 Gold Gloves. Only once has Pujols “failed” to hit 35 or more Home Runs. 2007 was the only year in which he didn’t. He hit 32. Following that year, Pujols won back-to-back MVPs. He also has a career batting average of .328, first among active players, as well as 455 career home runs, or 42 per 162 games.

So here we see another example of a star leaving his team for a load of money. Like A-Rod in the offseason before 2004 leaving the Rangers to head to Steinbrenner’s Yankees.

So what does this deal mean to the other teams?

Cardinals:

First they will have to deal with the shock of losing their franchise player who they’ve had since 2001. But they won the World Series for reasons besides only Big Albert. They’re not just a one-dimensional team. They will definitely be crippled, especially with first year manager Mike Matheny, who has never managed at any level.

Marlins:

Sure, they missed out on the big free agent prize but Prince Fielder is still out there. They don’t even need a first baseman anyway with 2011 All Star Gaby Sanchez playing the position. They are still the big free agent getters this offseason with Shortstop Jose Reyes and closer Heath Bell. They also signed pitcher Mark Buehrle. Buehrle played under Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen on the White Sox.  I think Miami will be just fine without Pujols.

Reds and Brewers:

Both of these teams are in a great position. The Reds are hoping that the Brewers lose Prince Fielder so that they could have a clear path with their talented youth. They have also shot down Joey Votto trade rumors several times. The Brewers have the best team now and could be ready for a deep run.

Of course the Angels themselves:

These 2 additions have strongly boosted the Angels. There have been rumors of trading Rookie of the Year candidate Mark Trumbo who is a first baseman. The signing of pitcher C.J. Wilson from the rival Rangers has boosted an already superb rotation which already included Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana. Is it too early to slap on the Dream Team tag?

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NOTE: This photo is not mine. Statistics from baseballreference.com

Best of Luck, Tony

Cards Manager LaRussa retires after 33 years as skipper.

By Cam Cain 10-31-11

His legacy will surely never be forgotten. Tony LaRussa spent 33 years managing ballclubs, the most recent 16 with the Cardinals. This came as a huge surprise, not 48 hours after winning the World Series for the third time, and second with St. Louis. Just like that, 33 years of baseball for him have come to an abrupt end. LaRussa becomes the first manager to retire following a World Series victory. LaRussa also retires with the third most managerial wins of all time behind Connie Mack and John McGraw.

“I think everybody was a little sad,” said Matt Holliday. “But I think at the same time, for us to see a guy that’s had such an amazing career, 33 years of managing, you don’t see it very often, where a guy gets to go out on top with a team and a run that was very symbolic of the kind of manager and the kind of leader that Tony was.

This is truly the end of an era. He leaves behind a legacy. He is beside Sparky Anderson as one of 2 managers to win a World Series in both leagues.  He has also won 6 pennants, going 3-3 in those World Series. I never knew Tony but I wish him best of luck in retirement.

In other news…

The Mets have moved portions of the fences in at the very large Citi Field. It was getting to a point that these hitter-unfriendly confines were disliked by the players. A good example, David Wright has hit nearly 30 points better away from home and has also had a significant increase in slugging percentage on the road. “I really do believe a ballpark like ours has a more dramatic impact on the home team than on the visitors,” says Mets GM Sandy Alderson.

C.C. Sabathia has signed a contract extention with the Yankees until 2016. They still will need a decent no. 2 starter with Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon likely leaving. Maybe C.J. Wilson? If so, New York must hope he doesn’t turn out like another A.J. Burnett.

The Indians have made a move to acquire pitcher Derek Lowe from the Braves. Lowe is 38 years old currently and hasn’t pitched well in years. They lost a single A pitcher for him. Also, Cleveland did not pick up Grady Sizemore’s option making him a free agent. Sizemore has played 8 seasons, all with Cleveland.

It’s All Over

St. Louis wins 6-2, 11th World Series title.

By Cam Cain 10-29-11

Back in August, if anyone thought the Cardinals, at that point 10 1/2 games out of a playoff spot, would be your 2011 World Series champions; they would be deemed crazy. But they got hot, overtook the Braves in the Wild Card, beat the mighty Phillies and Brewers in the playoffs, and then were crowned Champions. A part of their success was, however, due to the National League winning the All-Star Game. Giving the Cardinals home field advantage against a team with a regular season record 6 games better than their own. Now is that fair? It is impossible to deny the hard work and hot hitting that got them here. Especially that of third baseman David Freese, winning series MVP. He hit .348 with 5 extra base hits, including a huge walk off home run in Game 6. Freese set the all time record for most RBI in a single postseason with 21, breaking Sandy Alomar Jr.’s 1997 mark of 19.

“He knows how to hit,” says Mark McGwire, “He’s got ice in his veins and I truly believe that’s god-given.”

 

This World Series will go down as one of the greatest ever. A back-and-forth seven games in which you never knew who was going to take home the Commissioner’s trophy.

“I’m trying to soak this all in,” says Freese, “It’s going to take me a little bit, I think, to realize what we’ve accomplished.”

 

 

Freese, Cardinals Force Game 7 in All-Time Great Thriller

Down to last strike, the Cards win on walk-off homer by playoff sparkplug.

By Cam Cain 10-28-11

They were down to their last strike – twice. But that never stopped the Cardinals. No, this has been the theme of the franchise since the end of August, never say die. The Cardinals rallied, they scored 2 runs in each the 9th and 10th before Freese’s monster shot in the 11th inning. This now becomes the first World Series Game 7 since 2002 when the Anaheim Angels beat the San Francisco Giants in 7 games. This game will definitely go down in the ranks of Game 6 in the 1975 World Series as one of the greatest Series Games of all-time. With 2 outs in the 9th, David Freese hit a triple, scoring 2, to tie the game up and send it into extras where, in the top of the 10th, Rangers Josh Hamilton chose the right time to hit his first Home Run of the series, scoring Elvis Andrus to give Texas a 9-7 lead.

 

But never make the mistake of counting these Cards out. In the bottom of the tenth inning, Daniel Descalso scored on an RBI ground out by Ryan Theriot. Now there were 2 outs and a man on third. After intentionally walking Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman scored Jon Jay from third base to bring home the tying run. Once again, the Cards had battled back from sure defeat. The champagne and ginger ale (for non-drinkers C.J. Wilson and Josh Hamilton) were now being flooded out of the Visitors locker room.

The Rangers never scored in the top of the eleventh.  So Freese’s mammoth homer off of Texas pitcher Mark Lowe was all that was needed. Now, tonight, Tony LaRussa has officially decided against pitching Kyle Lohse in favor of his ace Chris Carpenter. I think that he made the right choice, seeing how if he had stuck with Lohse, what if he got shelled through 2/3 of an inning giving up 5 runs. People in St. Louis would be looking back at this day wondering why they hadn’t started Carpenter on three days rest. He faces Matt Harrison who didn’t pitch too well in his first start of the World Series. Whatever goes down, this has been and will continue to be a great World Series and one person, it’s anybody’s guess as to whom, will come away as the hero of the 107th Fall Classic.

Lewis, Rangers Have to Wait for Game 6

Rain delay postpones the 6th game of Series.

By Cam Cain 10-27-11

It looks like we’re going to have to wait  until tonight for Game 6 of the 107th Fall Classic. This is the first rain delay in the World Series since 2006 in Game 4, which ironically, was also at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The last time a World Series game was cancelled during a game was 2008 Game 5 at Citizens Bank Park in Philly in 2008. I think that the MLB made the right call in postponing the game. Now, Colby Lewis faces Jaime Garcia in a game where Texas could clinch its first World Series since… its first World Series win. This cancellation is definitely tougher on Texas, having to spend another day with their thoughts of clinching. I would rather be in the position of Tony LaRussa than Ron Washington, despite the Cardinals being down 3 games to 2. I think that if St. Louis wins Game 6, then they win Game 7 and their second World Series in the last 5 years.

“I think people think that we’re going to sit in our hotel room, bite our nails all night. That’s really not the case,” says Michael Young

No matter what they say, there is no way either team can’t have even the slightest jitters. But, that’s only being human. However, I think that Texas will get the win today and their first World Series.

Final Score prediction: 

Texas      3

St. Louis 2

I think that this game will go into extra innings, with Texas winning in the top of the 11th.

World Series Preview

Game 1 Tonight

By Cam Cain 10-19-11

It’s a cold, rainy evening in St. Louis. But why then is everybody crowding the streets? Forming long lines besides the Gateway Arch? Nearly all wearing red and white? No, it’s not a tourist attraction, (well, yea it kind-of is)  it’s only one of the greatest sporting events being kicked off tonight. The 107th Fall Classic starts tonight from beautiful Busch Stadium, with downtown St. Louis, sometimes called the Rome of the West, in the background. Yes, Game 1 of the 2011 World Series kicks off tonight. Adam Wainwright, Bruce Sutter, and Bob Gibson will throw out the ceremonial first pitches. The latter two are hall-of-fame pitchers from the Cardinals. Wainwright would probably be taking the mound tonight had he not missed the entire season due to injury. Taking the mound will be each team’s respective aces. C.J. Wilson for the Rangers and Chris Carpenter for St. Louis. Carpenter has been spectacular all postseason and Wilson has been anything but. Here are some questions to think about for the game.

1. Which pitcher will get in their groove first? These are 2 of the league’s top offenses and it will be a high scoring game and series.

2. Which hitters will get hot at the right time? David Freese and Nelson Cruz won MVP of their league’s LCS. But the World Series MVP hasn’t been the LCS MVP since 2008 and only twice since 1989. Cody Ross was the MVP of last year’s National League Championship Series but hit a cool .235 with one home run in the World Series.

3.  Who’s bullpen is better? The Cardinals have had the best bullpen throughout the playoffs and it is crucial with both teams’ strong offenses and this being an unusually high-scoring postseason. Dont underestimate the Rangers’ ‘pen. Mike Adams is a star set-up man. Neftali Feliz as a closer, of course, and Mike Gonzalez, an under-the-radar deadline move came over from Baltimore and has pitched well,

So who do I think will win it all? I think the Rangers have the overall better team and St. Louis’s winning streak has to end sometime. Rangers in 6. However, St. Louis wins 4-1 tonight in a relative low scoring game.