June 2006

My AL All-Star ballot

Same rules apply as for my NL ballot.

C – Joe Mauer — see Jose Reyes, yesterday. He doesn’t have the body of work, but I believe this is a special player beginning a **** of a run, not a guy having a career half-year.
1B – David Ortiz — Hafner’s a great candidate here too.
2B – Brian Roberts
3B – A-Rod.
SS – Miguel Tejada
OF – Manny Ramirez, Vlad Guerrero, Ichiro Suzuki — Grady Sizemore is JUST off my list here, along with Carl Crawford and plenty of others.

Currently playing on the iPod: Wilco, Kicking Television


My NL All-Star ballot

For the most part, I’m with Joe Sheehan. I don’t believe in voting on half a season. I believe in voting for the best player, with this season considered but not the only factor. There are some exceptions, such as at shortstop — clearly Jose Reyes hasn’t been the best player before this year, but in his case I don’t believe it’s just a big half-year. I believe he’s come into his own. Anyway. Here goes…

C – Michael Barrett
1B – Albert Pujols
2B – Chase Utley
SS – Jose Reyes
3B – Scott Rolen
OF – Jason Bay
OF – Carlos Beltran
OF – Bobby Abreu

Hard calls —

* Catcher, where Brian McCann has been awesome but I went with Barrett’s body of work over the past few years. I’m very high on McCann and expect him to make plenty of All-Star teams before he’s done.

* Third base, where David Wright may end up as the MVP of the league. It’s Rolen by the smallest of margins, again based on doing it year after year after year. But I’d never say somebody was wrong to vote for Wright, and they’re both fully deserving of being on the team. Too bad there’s no DH in this year’s game, so they could both start. Oh, and Miguel Cabrera is ridiculously good, too. Geez.

* Outfield, where frankly you could put about eight guys in a hat. Andruw Jones, Carlos Lee, Barry Bonds, even Matt Holliday, would all be fine choices.

Currently playing on the computer speakers: Living Colour, Vivid.


Pujols in, Mulder out

Here’s the skinny…

1. Albert Pujols was activated from the DL today. He’s starting at first base and batting third. He said everything feels normal and he’s good to go.

2. Mark Mulder was placed on the 15-day DL with what the team is calling a left shoulder strain, but the whole thing is pretty odd. Mulder basically can’t get full extension of his arm, and that’s all they really seem to be sure of.
No muscle or tendon or anything has been identified as the culprit. He’ll be examined tomorrow by Dr. Paletta in St. Louis. According to TLR, there’s a pretty good chance that they’ll hold him out through the All-Star break, but nothing is set in stone until they check everything out.

3. As expected, Anthony Reyes was added to the roster to make the start tonight. The final piece of roster juggling was that Chris Duncan was optioned to Memphis.

4. Sidney Ponson threw a bullpen today and will take Mulder’s turn in the rotation on Sunday.

5. Jim Edmonds is in the lineup.

I’ll have more depth on all of this, of course, in my notebook later this evening.


Plenty of news

Couple of updates, and I’ll follow through with more information in my notebook later this evening…

1. Anthony Reyes is here, though he won’t be added to the roster until tomorrow. He will start Thursday’s game against Freddy Garcia and the White Sox. No word on who will be sent out to make room, and La Russa would not give anything up as to whether this is only a one-start deal or it’s more than that. My guess is this is not a one-start thing, but we shall see.

2. The manager did deliver some very encouraging news on Pujols. He said he fully expects No. 5 to play against Cleveland next week. Pujols had another extensive workout today, even more intense than yesterday’s, and he seems to be doing well. As always, a big part of the equation will be how he recovers tomorrow.


Live from Memphis, it's Saturday night!

So, the bride and I are at AutoZone Park, and it’s really an outstanding facility. Top-quality all around. I highly recommend this place if you get the chance to come down.

Hopefully if you do, however, you’ll have better weather than we’re having here tonight. The scheduled start time was more than half an hour ago, and the tarp is still on the field — though they’re trying to remove the water from the tarp now so that they can remove the tarp from the field. Here’s hoping, because it would be nice to see a ballgame tonight.

For those who asked about Spivey, that story probably isn’t going to happen. He declined to speak when I asked him before the game. Which is not to say that he’s not worth writing about. It’s something worth pursuing, for sure. But it’s tough to tell his story if he doesn’t want to talk.

Best news of the day — really outstanding Memphis barbecue for the press meal. Can’t go wrong with that.

So anyway, that’s the update/dispatch for now. Thanks to radio man Steve Selby, media relations guy Kyle Parkinson, team president Dave Chase, and everybody else down here for making us feel extremely welcome. Memphis is a great place to be.


Fire Away

Rather than covering the Cardinals in St. Louis this weekend, I’ll be making a trip down to Memphis to check out the Triple-A ballclub when it takes on Omaha at AutoZone Park on Saturday and Sunday. I have a few ideas in mind as to what I want to check up on and write about, but you guys tell me — what are you interested in?

Are there any players or angles at Memphis that you want to see covered on StLCardinals.com? A particular prospect? A particular non-prospect veteran? I can’t guarantee that I’ll get to everything, since I’m only there for two days. But let me know, and I’ll see what I can do.

I also do intend to be blogging from down there. It should be a fun weekend.


Sir Sid

A few weeks ago, in one of Sidney Ponson’s better games, I was discussing him with another St. Louis writer. I noted that I wasn’t entirely certain how he was doing it, and we both agreed that he was really benefiting from his defense, and from balls fallling in the right places.

The other scribe then said the following to me:

"At some point this season, he’s going to be doing exactly the same thing, but those balls are going to go for base hits, and we’re going to talk about how badly he’s pitching."

Said scribe has been proven prophetic sooner than expected.

It’s not that Ponson was going great when he was undefeated. And, really, it’s not that he’s been terrible his last few starts. But there’s a fundamental issue with Ponson, and I don’t know how it can be overcome: he doesn’t miss enough bats. And when he does induce contact, often it’s hard contact. Opponents were slugging .467 against Ponson before tonight’s game.

You’ve got to be able to put away hitters, and I haven’t really seen a put-away pitch from Ponson this year. The two hits by Zach Duke showed that more than anything on Wednesday.

Ponson can continue to be a reasonably effective pitcher, I think. He can get five or six innings, and most of the time keep the team in the game. He can hold down the back of the rotation just fine. But his ERA, currently at 4.35, is more likely to go up than down between now and the end of the season.


Pittsburgh never fails

This city never fails to deliver some amusement, bless ’em.

I noticed this last time I was here, but it just needs to be broadcast everywhere. Not only do they shoot hot-dog cannons during the games here at PNC Park, but they have a wonderful, wonderful jingle as they do…

"It’s time to launch some hot dogs… it’s time to launch some hot dogs… It’s time to launch some hot dogs and catch yourself some meat!"


Second, right by the Cardinals team hotel, there is a Kwik-E-Mart.
Not a "Quickie Mart," or a "Kwik Mart," or a "Quick Stop."
A Kwik-E-Mart.


I dig this city more every time I come here.


(Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart? I doooooooooo!)

Sunday intrigue

Plenty of stuff going on at the yard today. Here’s a nutshell, and we’ll have plenty of in-depth coverage of all of it as the day goes on.

* Pujols is going on the DL. He came in feeling sore again today, eliminating that very, very small hope that the doctor had held out, so we’re talking weeks, not days. Chris Duncan was called up to take his roster spot.

* Apparently they feel more comfortable with Duncan as a first baseman than with John Gall, and of course Schumaker isn’t a first baseman at all.

* Edmonds is back in the lineup for the first time in more than a week, playing first base. Everyone says he’s getting better, and the explanation that was given to me is that playing first base won’t put the same kind of strain on his injury that playing the outfield would.

* Elsewhere, the lineup is pretty interesting too. Taguchi’s in center field and batting second. Rolen is hitting third with Edmonds cleanup. Timo Perez is getting his first start, playing left field and batting sixth. Gary Bennett is catching Marquis again, and Luna is at second base, batting eighth.

And one other very important thing — a big happy birthday to my dad! I love you and I wish I were there today.


I've got information, man! New (stuff) has come to light! (6:05 PM CT UPDATE)

So here’s the latest update, as of about 6:05 p.m. CT, with things taking a little more shape…

* Timo Perez is present and will be active for the game. He looks disconcertinglylike a smaller Edgar Renteria, but that’s neither here nor there. It now sounds as though the move will be to option Anthony  Reyes to Memphis, and not put Edmonds on the DL yet at this time. They still have not made an announcement, though.

* Chris Carpenter threw a bullpen this afternoon. It went well, he felt good, he threw his full repertoire and felt nothing out of the ordinary. Now, assuming he feels good tomorrow, the question will be where he slots back into the rotation. Duncan and TLR both said it will likely be in the Cincinnati series. Tuesday seems like the most likely bet, since that’s the next time they’ll need somebody other than Ponson-Mulder-Marquis-Suppan.

* Edmonds is feeling better. He talked to a crowd of reporters and said his condition is improved, and that he can swing a bat — he just can’t run. I’m still figuring he’s DL-bound, but it’s not a certainty.

* David Eckstein is in the lineup and good to go, though a little sore on the wrist.