September 2006

Lucky Seven, final week

1. Simple question: Who wins the NL Central?

2. Now that we’re pretty much at the end of the year, tell me your choices for the four major awards in the NL: MVP, Cy Young, Rookie and Manager.

3. Same question for the four major awards in the AL.

4. Considering expectations, cost, the whole deal, what was the Cardinals’ best move since the end of last season? By the same criteria, what was the worst?

5. What’s the most hallowed ground in American sports?

6. What’s the best show you’ve seen from the new TV season?

7. Best Italian restaurant you’ve ever come across?


Leach's Top-10

How about a little diversion? Here’s this week’s college football top 10.

1. Ohio State. I’m still unimpressed by PSU, but that’s not an easy win.
2. Michigan. Probably playing better than anyone at the moment.
3. USC. Unimpressive win over Arizona.
4. Louisville. I don’t see anyone beating them in the regular season.
5. Florida. Alabama may be tougher than it looks.
6. Auburn. Buffalo is AWFUL.
7. Virginia Tech. Remember, Cincinnati gave OSU a fight, too.
8. Georgia. I remain unimpressed by their offense.
9. WVU. I’m still waiting for them to lose one they shouldn’t.
10T. LSU, Texas. The two best one-loss teams.

Teams to watch: Cal, Iowa, Tennessee, Clemson

Game of the week: The obvious choise is OSU-Iowa, but I actually expect OSU to take care of business pretty handily. The game I’m actually most interested in is VaTech-GaTech, because I honestly believe GT can play with them even in Blacksburg.


Faith in the ace

I understand the thought process. Chris Carpenter on fumes is the best you’ve got. I get it. But I don’t agree.

I even understood leaving him in through the lefties. The thought there, and it makes sense, is that if you go to a LHP, you’ll get a RH pinch-hitter. And you’d rather have Carp vs. the RHH than one of the LHP vs. a RHH.

But once you get to Cameron, and Wainwright is warmed up, and Carpenter is clearly getting by on guts and little else, you go to Wainwright. I think it’s necessary.

I’m eager to hear all of your thoughts on the decisions. But the same rules apply — DO NOT simply give me "the manager is an idiot," or "that was the dumbest move I’ve ever seen," or "if you think it was the right move, then you don’t know anything about baseball." I don’t want it and I’m not going to tolerate it. Let’s have a discussion, let’s go over the options. If there’s a factor I’m not considering, please bring it up. If you have counterpoints, let me hear ’em. If you have another view of how it should have gone, tell me. But no blind rants. This isn’t the place for it.



Jim Edmonds.

Stunning. Staggering. Ridiculous.

I’m just glad I was here to see it.


The benefits of arriving early

As I walked from the parking garage up to the stadium today, I came upon a cool site. They were installing the individual player statues from old Busch Stadium in their new perch at the new ballpark — out in front of the team store. Some of them had already been placed on their bases, some were yet to be placed.

I took a few photos, so you can take a look. Unfortunately, I took them with my cell phone, so they aren’t exactly works of art. Still, it was cool to pass by at just that moment — in fact, the specific moment where they were hoisting the Musial statue (not THE Musial statue, of course) onto its base.


My lucky seven answers

OK, I’ve found something that I dislike about Minute Maid Park: mosquitos. Ugh. Still a great place for a game, but I always leave Houston with my share of bites. Anyway, here are my answers to this week’s Lucky Seven questions.

1. I’d put him in the rotation. As some of you have said, it’s easier to find a quality reliever than a quality starter. If for whatever reason it doesn’t work, you can always move him back.

2. I know Belliard hasn’t been as good as people would have hoped, but I think he’s a better option at second base. I’d give Miles the occasional start when there’s a good matchup, but I think this team’s best configuration includes Ronnie Belliard doing what he’s capable of doing.

3. I like Flores quite a bit, so he’d be my guy there. But I think they should be willing to use Hancock against LHH in certain situations.

4. On Thursday, I would have said Monday. Now, I’ll say Tuesday with Carpenter on the mound.

5. This is kind of a trick question, because I firmly believe that you just can’t predict how a 5- or 7-game series will turn out. With that said, I think the Cardinals will win at least one round if they are the home team for the Div. Series. And I actually think if they faced the Mets in the LCS, they’d give them a good fight.

6. Much easier call now than two days ago obviously, but I would have said Europe then too. And though I’m not a big golf guy, I greatly enjoy the Ryder Cup. It’s about as entertaining as golf on TV can get. Match play is fun stuff.

7. Ben & Jerry’s Mint and Oreo Cookie (or whatever they call it now that they aren’t actually Oreos in it anymore). If I get to include one topping, then the winner is Haagen Dazs Dulce de Leche with hot fudge on top. Heavenly.


Postgame news updates

Lots of stuff going on down in the clubhouse. Busy postgame. Here are a couple of headlines.

* Marquis will get the start tomorrow, assuming he feels well enough to go. If he gets the ball, Reyes will be available in relief and will have this turn skipped.

* There had been some serious discussion of getting Edmonds down here, but that has been tabled. He is not expected to come down this weekend or to play this weekend.

* One tactical note: per TLR, he went with Wainwright in the seventh because WW was the fresher pitcher, and he was hoping to get two innings, or at least more than one, out of him. Then one inning from Looper.


Marquis scratched, Eckstein in

Couple of quick updates from Minute Maid Park this afternoon…

* Jason Marquis has been scratched from his start due to back spasms. Chris Narveson will start in his place. It appears that Marquis will simply have his turn skipped, and pitch next week, but that’s not set in stone yet. He apparently felt some soreness yesterday while he was shagging balls in the outfield.

* David Eckstein is in the lineup, playing shortstop and leading off, for the first time since Aug. 18.


Thursday night tactics

You make the call:

Eighth inning, two outs. Berkman up, runner on second, Cards lead by one. Lefties Luke Scott and Aubrey Huff on deck. Flores up in the bullpen. But I’ll even let you step back in time a few minutes and warm up any reliever you want.

Here are your choices:

1. Do what they did. Leave Carp in, tell him to pitch him tough but don’t actually put him on.

2. Put Berkman on and take your chances with Scott. If you do this, who do you have face Scott, a hot-hitting lefty?

3. Pull Carp then and there. If so, for whom?

Personally, I didn’t have any problem with leaving Carp in there, but I can at least see the logic of walking him.


Lucky Seven from Houston

Greetings from Minute Maid Park. Here’s this week’s Lucky Seven.

1. How should Adam Wainwright be used next year? If Isringhausen has to miss a significant chunk of the year, should they keep Wainwright in the bullpen rather than converting him to starting?

2. When David Eckstein comes back, should they utilize a job-share at second base, with Miles taking some at-bats away from Belliard?

3. Two outs, bottom of the seventh inning. Cards lead by a run with two men on. Dangerous left-handed hitter at the plate — let’s say Ryan Howard. Every pitcher in the ‘pen is available. Which one do you want pitching?

4. What day will the Cards clinch the division?

5. Simple question: How far will this team go in the playoffs?

6. Who will win the Ryder Cup? Do you care?

7. What’s your favorite ice cream in the world? Brand AND flavor.