The Mets released Luis Castillo today. He is now free to sign for the league minimum for another team. He has one year left on his contract. Would it be a good gamble for the Cardinals to sign him as the primary/back-up second baseman for 2011? Castillo hit .235/.337/.267 in 299 plate appearances last year.
To add to that, maybe the Phillies would accept a trade of John Jay, whom we hear they are interested in, and Skip Schumaker for a pitcher or prospect for Castillo to play. Would this kind of move be helpful to the team or are we better off playing Descalso in that role?
LaRussa has the propensity to play veterans so this may happen. What’s your thoughts on this?
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It is time to watch those great movies from the past in anticipation for Opening Day. For me, March 31st, Opening Day in St Louis is a great tradition. The Clydesdales, the organ pounding, the crowd loving every player and of course the Old Timers show up and this year Stan Musial is still around for us to see and cheer.
What movies do you like that are about baseball ? Here is my Top Ten baseball movies.
10.) The Rookie – The real-life story of Jim Morris, a high school science teacher and baseball coach who, as a 37 year old, motivated his team by telling them he would go to a major league tryout if his team won the state tournament.
9.) Little Big League – The Twins owner passes away, so his 12 year old grandson takes over the team.
8.)Benchwarmers – I like comedies.
7.) A League of Their Own – The story of the war-time All American Girls Professional Baseball League. ”There’s no crying in baseball.”
6.) Soul of the Game – As Branch Rickey was trying to find the right player to be the first African American player in Major League Baseball.
5.) Eight Men Out – The story of the 1919 Black Sox scandal.
4.) For Love of the Game – Kevin Costner plays an aging righty who has a decision to make. Should he be traded away from his Tigers team after an illustrious career, or should he retire into the sunset.
3.) Major League – Again, I like laughing, and Major League provides lots of them.
2.) Bull Durham – Kevin Costner plays long time minor league catcher Crash Davis.
1.) Field of Dreams – Costner plays a farmer from Iowa who hears voices in his corn field that tell him to build a baseball field.
9 days until I am at Spirng Training.
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At the Cardinal Caravan last night in East Peoria there was very little attempt to ignite the crowd. If there was any attempt, it was sorely missed. Rick Horton is a decent emcee but he is not a rah-rah type of guy. A few times his voice tried to get excited but its just not there.
So if I am going to criticize I should at least give some thoughts as to what they could have done differently. I know they have 5 Caravans going on at the same time but it was obvious no real advance planning was in place. A couple of local radio types stepped up to the microphone in their hoodies and introduced Ricky Horton. Horton gave a few remarks trying to stir the crowd with some anti-Cubs sentiment and then on we went with words from the other guests.
Maybe it is the former English and Speech teacher in me, but when you speak in front of a group of people, STAND UP, don’t stay in your seat and talk to the group. All six of the speakers remained in their seats and uttered a few words. We know you are proud to wear the Birds on the Bat uniform and all but let’s chat baseball. John Jay, what do you think about Berkman being added, he took playing time from you? Pete Kozma, when do you anticipate being in the major leagues? David Freese, what will you need to do to stay healthy and are you ready? Just a few things to talk about.
Pete Kozma had the most trouble. Most of what he said was unintelligible as he was timid and not very loud. He talked twice, come on Ricky, let him know after the first one! One last thing. We know Berkman came to St Louis and he was talked about a bit, that is good. Not once did they mention Ryan Theriot was a Cardinal player now. Maybe that was by directive from Front Office to let the “black eye” of trading Brendan Ryan go away.
Capacity crowd and more attend. More seats were brought in for the overflow. Don’t get me wrong, the entire evening was not a bust, far from it. Just no excitement in what was primed for a breakout cheering section. People were allowed to ask questions but it seems the majority were from very young kids. Those were softball questions like who is your favorite player and would you play for nothing.
The Cardinal personnel traveling with the team was exceptional in working with the crowd. I had the opportunity to chat with Molly Radcliffe and she is delightful to work with.
Let’s hope the “fire” comes as soon as Spring Training commences. I plan to attend and will check it out.
NOTE to John Jay: His name is Cal Eldred, not Carl Eldred. Cal reacted to it by slowly grabbing his name tag off the table and writing an R in between the A and the L and showing it to Alan Benes.
Tony LaRussa is an interesting case study. Many already know his background as a former player, lawyer and manager. It is his decisions that appear unconventional that gets the Cardinal Nation in an uproar. His constant tinkering with the lineups where nothing is consistent, his cock sure attitude about batting the pitcher 8th and his propensity to use far too many pitching matchups late in the game. Of course, we can go on but that column will write itself another time.
Will he return? Probably as soon as I publish this he will make a decision and I will be about 100% wrong. But I will state it here that I believe he will not be back as manager of the Cardinals. He is taking a long 3 day drive to California to “think about” his plans. I am not going to debate his winning percentage or for that sake his losing percentage as a manager. So what are you saying? His tenure has run its course. Cardinal fans have grown weary and it is time for a change. Now that doesn’t mean TLR can’t come back but I feel Tony wants to feel loved. He is not feeling the love right now.
The underlying fact here is twofold in my opinion.
1. I think Mozeliak is not a happy camper. He didn’t realize when he took the job that LaRussa was such a strong personality. This has caused Mo to alter some decisions he might not have made. He wants, and is ready, to show some strength from the General Manager’s position.
2. With that comes this… I think Mozeliak is not happy with the poor baserunning, sloppy fielding and at times weak hitting. He is wanting to make some changes in the coaching staff. Tony is all about “loyalty”. This is the rub. Would Tony manage the Cardinals if Oquendo, McKay, Pettini and/or McGwire were not allowed to come back in their present positions?
I say NO.
Will this scenario play out? It is a guess on my part. We shall know shortly.
They St. Louis Cardinals announced their 2011 schedule today. The Redbirds open up on March 31st against the San Diego Padres. Overall it looks like a pretty tough schedule for the Cardinals in 2011. Everyone is always interested in the Cubs and Cardinals schedule so we’ve listed out those dates below:
2011 Cardinals vs. Cubs Schedule
- May 10-12 @ Wrigley
- June 3-5 @ Busch
- July 29-31 @ Busch
- August 19-21 @ Wrigley
- September 23-25 @ Busch
2011 St. Louis Cardinals Schedule
-Sorry about the lack of activity recently. A busy stretch for me personally has coincided with a real lack of activity with the Cards.
-As you all know, pitchers and catchers reported this week, and the Cardinal camp is filled with some intriguing questions besides how the new hitting coach is doing:
-Will Brendan Ryan, who finally had his bum wrist operated on,be ready by opening day?
-Who will take hold of the 5th starter spot?
-Will John Mozeliak use his remaining “bullet” this spring, and if so, on whom?
Time will tell on the Brendan Ryan situation, as he is expected to report to Jupiter for rehab this next week. His medical prognosis seems good for now, but untill he starts swinging a bat it will be hard to guage the situation. If Ryan were to be down for an extended period of time, Tyler Greene figures to make the 25 man roster. Most projection systems call for an OPS of around .700 for Greene, who has shown promising tools but is also plagued by high strikeout totals offensively. On defense, Greene is projected to be average, which doesn’t seem right after seeing him make several outstanding plays a year ago. It’s hard to say without seeing him consistently, but perhaps Greene also struggles with consistency on his defense. In any event, if Ryan is down for a significant amount of time Greene should be the top option to fill in, as Julio Lugo’s balky knees no longer make him a passable option at short for any extended period of time.
-A lot is being made about whether Jaime Garcia, Kyle McClellan, or Rich Hill will take hold of the opening in the starting rotation, and all have positives and negatives to enter into the equation. Garcia probably has the brightest future of the three, but is entering his first full year back from TJ surgery and could probably benefit from spending at least the first half of the year down in Memphis. Kyle McClellan is probably the favorite as things stand today, but he too has had his share of injuries in the past and his entering into the rotation creates a vacancy in the bullpen. Hill is the most intriguing out of the three, as he is just two years removed from an impressive 183 strikeout campaign as a member of the Cubs. If Hill shows that he has regained his command after shoulder surgery a year ago, which is admittedly a big if, he could surprise.
-As of right now John Mozeliak is taking a “wait and see” approach before making any additional additions to the roster. He’s very “bullish” on David Freese at third base, and notes that players who want to sign quickly such as Felipe Lopez may not fit with his desire to evaluate what they Cardinals have in camp before making any moves. There could potentially be a fit for another ex-Cardinal in Russ Springer or Kiko Calero, who is coming off a solid season for the Marlins, if Kyle McClellan wins the 5th starter job and Josh Kinney fails to replace him in the bullpen.
-That’s what is going on in Cardinal Nation at the moment, and hopefully by next week we will have a sense of where Brendan Ryan and his injured wrist stands. I don’t expect any moves to be made until the games begin in Spring Training, but Mozeliak has also stated that he will be “opportunistic,” so if the right player came along at the right price he could jump. Finally, I don’t expect any headway in the 5th starter competition to made until the games begin either, so it appears it will stay a three horce race for now.
It’s late January, which can only mean one thing: it’s time for Baseball Prospectus to release its PECOTA projections for the 2010 season! Not enthused? Well that’s ok, because there are some common misconceptions about what a projection system is. I also encourage any fan to subscribe to BP, as it really is a great site for people who enjoy the statistical side of the game. (As a side note, I can’t go into specific player statistics because it’s subscriber only content and I don’t want to get in trouble for being a stat pirate, if there is such a thing)
What it is:
-PECOTA takes into account numerous player information, matches them with comparable players, and then predicts what the player will do in the subsequent season(s) based on that information. How accurate are the projections? Statistics have shown that there is a .7-.8 correlation between predicted and actual stats, which is strong, but not perfect. Basically there is too strong of correlation to completely dismiss PECOTA but too weak to trust it as the absolute truth.
-PECOTA should be used to get a general idea of what a fan can reasonably expect to see from a player next season.
-When looking at any one specific player, the projection may seem to understate or overstate what the player will likely do. This is because the PECOTA projection system divides its projection into ten categories of percentiles, and uses the 50th percentile score, which is obviously the midpoint. You’ll see what I mean by this a little later.
-As far as the Cardinals are concerned, PECOTA expects them to score 745 runs and give up 702 runs. Last year the Cardinals scored 730 runs and gave up 640, so while the system expects the offense to improve slightly, it expects some regression in the pitching/defense department. It may seem hard to believe that with a full season of Holliday the Cardinal offense is only projected to score 15 more runs, but remember the system only uses the 50% score when running simulations. Elite players such as Pujols and Holliday routinely end up performing in their 70-80 and even in their 90th percentile projections for the season, which would obviously raise the amount of runs the Cardinals would score. For the pitching, PECOTA is very conservative in their projections for co-aces Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. Since Carpenter basically missed 2 years out of the last 3 and Wainwright had his first break-out year in 2009, the projections for the two are probably low. Still, it’s nice to know as a Cardinal fan that conservative estimates of the pitching/defense have the team only giving up around 700 runs.
-Using the projected runs scored and runs allowed, PECOTA expects the Cardinals to win the Central division with an 86-76 record. Like I have said before, these projections are probably a tad conservative, but still it’s nice to know that if things don’t go as well as most fans expect the Cardinals are still predicted to be 10 games over the .500 mark and win their division by a comfortable 5 games over the Reds and 9 games over the Cubs.
-Once again it’s important to not put too much stock into these projections, but it is nice to know that the Cardinals are considered the favorite going into the year. They still have to play the games on the field, but Tony LaRussa has a roster that has the most talent in the division to work with.
Some snippets from around Cardinal nation and the rest of the league:
-Rich Hill was signed as a non-roster invitee-It’s hard not to like moves like this, as there cost is basically free in terms of baseball dollars and players in this position traditionally have something to prove. Hill was once a young, talented, left-handed starter who struck out around 8.5 batters per nine while walking under 3, but has fallen off of a cliff the past couple of seasons. While suffering through physical and mechanical issues in 2008 and 2009 Hill never regained his 2007 form, but Hill and the Cardinals swear he is healthy and ready to go at the start of spring. For what it’s worth (probably little), the Chone projection system has Hill pegged at a 4.78 ERA, a 4.82 FIP, 96 innings pitched, and to be worth 0.9 Wins Above Replacement in 2010. Hill will have to earn a spot on the big league club this spring, but if Hill can resemble anything close to his 3.1 WAR form of a couple years ago John Mozeliak will have a real bargain on his hands.
-The signing of Rich Hill looks to end the pursuit of John Smoltz, despite his reported preference to return-I have to admit I was hoping for a Cardinals-Smoltz reunion in 2010, but with Tony LaRussa wanting the remaining “bullet” to be used on a position player that can play third, Smoltz was priced out of the Cardinal budget. Smoltz would have been a nice fit, as he would give the club some flexibility in the late innings or in the back end of the rotation. The extra depth that Smoltz provides would have been nice, but typically there is pitching, F.A.T., or free available talent, that is out there during the season. Two examples of this in 2009 would be Smoltz, who the Cardinals signed after he was released by the Red Sox and our very own Brad Penny, who was also released by Boston and picked up by the Giants.
-Joe Strauss suggested today that Felipe Lopez might be out of the price range as well, with Joe Crede being a potential player of interest. Crede likely wouldn’t command much guaranteed money, as back problems have plagued him the past several seasons. Still, Crede has a tremendous glove at third base and has a little pop in his bat. Crede was worth 1.9 WAR in just 90 games with the Twins in 2009, and would represent some competition/insurance for David Freese. This is a signing that would make sense for the Cardinals, as the Cardinals wouldn’t likely be on the hook for a lot of guaranteed cash, would have some insurance for Freese, and could still give Freese ample playing time when giving Crede a rest when his back inevitably flares up. Overall Chone expects Freese to have a higher OPS -.777 to .733, but Crede to have the superior glove-5 runs above average to 0.
-The Cubs signed Xavier Nady, who I liked as a potential Matt Holliday replacement back in November. Nady looks to fill the hole created when Reed Johnson became a free agent, and figures to be a nice pickup for Chicago. Look for Nady to platoon with Kosuke Fukudome most of the time, but he also represents insurance in case Alfonso Soriano’s injuries continue to hamper his effectiveness.
-Ben Sheets signed with the A’s-Cardinal fans know Sheets well from his tenure in Milwaukee, and that when he is healthy is a very good pitcher. Sheets was worth 4.4 WAR in his last healthy season of 2008, and cashed in on that potential by inking a one year deal that will pay him 10 million plus in 2010. That may seem like a lot of money from a team like the A’s, but Billy Beane had the cash to spend after missing out on Marco Scutaro, Adrian Beltre, and Aroldis Chapman this winter. Even if Sheets completely fails, it’s only a one year deal, so it’s not as if this is a potentially crippling contract for the A’s to take on. If Sheets is healthy however, Oakland made a very nice signing. If they are in contention, Beane can hold on to Sheets for a playoff run, but if the A’s fall out of contention, Beane can trade Sheets for prospects. This is what Beane did with Matt Holliday last year, and while Sheets likely won’t command the return that Holliday did, Beane still has a nice potential asset on his hands. Personally I think Beane will trade Sheets if he is having a good year and Oakland isn‘t on the cusp of winning the division. Assuming the economic climate in free agency is similar next year, and Sheets is a type A free agent, the likelihood of Sheets getting a multi-year deal with his medical history is slim. If Sheets is unlikely to get a multi-year deal somewhere, he would be more likely to accept arbitration, where he would receive an increase from his 2010 salary, a risk that the A’s would likely be better off not taking. This provides more incentive for General Manager Billy Beane to move Sheets at the first sign of the A’s falling out of the race.