March 2007

-M. gets punked

For those of you who have read Three Nights in August, the portrayal of Dave Duncan is pretty dead on. He’s definitely a stoic character, very blunt and honest and typically a man of few words. He has a sense of humor, but he’s not a jokester by any means.

So when Dunc played a joke on me in a postgame briefing with all of the writers, well, let’s just say it worked.

Towards the end of the session, I asked him about Dennis Dove, who has thrown very well and absolutely blew away threw hitters in the ninth inning today. Dove was pitching at 93-94 and hit 97 mph, and nobody was getting around on him.

Dunc’s response, completely straight-faced: "I think we’re probably going to send him out tomorrow. Youcan’t pitch like that in the big leagues, like he did today."

Yikes, I’m thinking. There goes that feature. I wondered if maybe that fastball was straight, and he was suggesting that a straight fastball like that would get pounded by legit big league hitters. There was a pause. I am told the look on my face was priceless. Then, after a beat or two, Dunc followed it up with:

"That’s too good. We don’t like those guys that throw 95, 96."

And then I realized I had been punked. And there was laughter in the room.

Look for more on Dove on MLB.com tonight. And other outlets, as well. The dude was really impressive.

-M.

currently playing on the iPod: REM, Murmur

(go Butler!)

I am *almost* without comment.

Discuss among yourselves.

The Definitive 200

Santana’s Supernatural is more "Definitive" than anything by Prince, the Clash or Bruce Springsteen? Shania Twain’s Come On Over is more Definitive than Appetite For Destruction or The Chronic? Norah Jones’ debut ahead of Kind of Blue… the soundtrack to Grease ahead of What’s Going On? And so on and so on. Clearly, on this list, "definitive" = "commercially successful."

I understand that anytime you do a list like this, it’s subject to a lot of taste and judgment variation. But mostly, it’s very, very clear that this list was done with heavy input from music RETAILERS, rather than music producers, or music lovers. So why not just list the 200 best-selling albums of all time, and drop any pretense of quality or influence or anything like that?

Anyway, please discuss.

-M.

Roster speculation 2007

Welcome to my first stab at a projection for the Opening Day roster. As past experience goes, this is far from a guarantee of anything. Last year it changed a couple of times as the weeks went on. But hopefully we’ll at least start a little discussion here.

Starters (5): Chris Carpenter, Kip Wells, Adam Wainwright, Anthony Reyes, Braden Looper
Relievers (7): Jason Isringhausen, Brad Thompson, Russ Springer, Josh Hancock, Randy Flores, Tyler Johnson
Catchers (2): Yadier Molina, Gary Bennett
Infielders (6): Albert Pujols, Adam Kennedy, David Eckstein, Scott Rolen, Aaron Miles, Scott Spiezio
Outfielders (5): Chris Duncan, Preston Wilson, So Taguchi, Skip Schumaker, John Rodriguez
DL: Jim Edmonds, Juan Encarnacion, Mark Mulder, Josh Kinney

Assuming that Edmonds and Encarnacion are both on the DL, the only really wide-open area seems to be the bullpen, where you still have more pitchers than spots. I have Ricardo Rincon off, because I think they may find a way to flip him for something. The only guys who really seem like locks to me in the pen, though, are Izzy, Springer, Thompson and Flores. The other four — Franklin, Hancock, Rincon, Johnson — need to be wedged into three spots. If Johnson turns it around, and I expect he will, he pretty much becomes a lock too. They love him, and with good reason. But if he keeps struggling, don’t forget that he does have options.

-M.

What do you do for recreation?

…Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional Minor League Spring Training game.

I went out and saw the kids play on the back fields today, and it remains one of my absolute favorite experiences in Spring Training. Watched a few innings of the Memphis-Springfield tilt, and a little bit of Palm Beach versus Quad Cities.

Memphis’ lineup: Brendan Ryan SS, Reid Gorecki CF, Travis Hanson 3B, Nick Stavinoha RF, Rico Washington DH, Amaury Cazana Marti LF, Matt Dryer 1B, Michel Hernandez C, Jarrett Hoffpauir 2B. Chris Lambert was the first pitcher, followed by Eric Haberer.

For Springfield: Sean Danielson, Tyler Greene SS, Randy Roth, Joe Mather, Juan Richardson 3B, Mike Ferris 1B, Ian Church LF, Danilo Sanchez C, Kevin Estrada 2B. I am assuming that Danielson was in center, Mather in RF and Roth at DH, but I cannot be certain of that. Trey Hearne started for the S-Cards.

Among the noteworthy sights:

* Cazana Marti (whose jersey simply reads "Cazana") smacked a home run to the opposite field off of Hearne. It was very nicely struck. He also singled.

* Ryan tripled and scored, and Roth had an RBI triple that scored Greene.

* It was a rough one for Lambert, whose fastball seemed to get hit pretty hard and who allowed a walk, a hit batter and lots of hard contact (triple, homer, two balls to the warning track) in two innings.

* Hearne also gave up two runs, but remember it was against much stiffer competition than he’s seen, and his curveball was very impressive. Really nice pitch.

Obviously all observations are subject to being taken with grains of salt. Even so, it was fun to put faces and uniform numbers to the names you hear and read about all year. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now — if you’re down here in Jupiter, one experience you need to have is to go out on the back fields and watch some Minor League ball.

-M.

Stanford? Really?

Seriously? Stanford? Really?

Stanford? 18-12 Stanford? Stanford that went 10-12 against teams with more than 11 wins, and 13-12 against teams with more than SEVEN wins? Stanford with the 67 RPI? Stanford that lost four of its last five and six of its last nine? Honestly?

That’s a better candidate than Drexel or Florida State or Syracuse?

Ah well. Clearly this is a better system than the BCS.

Right?

-M, still enjoying Pearl Jam live at MSG from 2003. Five discs of pure joy.

Eck still out

Looks like David Eckstein’s return to action will be put off two more days. Eckstein is not in today’s lineup card, which means his expected ETA is Tuesday in Fort Myers.

Other tidbits from this morning:

* Aaron Miles is back in the lineup after missing a couple of days due to a stomach bug

* Jim Edmonds will take batting practice from coaches on the field today.

* Juan Encarnacion will also be out on the field taking BP from a coach rather than in the cage.

-M.

Eckstein back tomorrow?

In the postgame session with TLR today, he caught us all a little off guard with some positive news on David Eckstein.

The skipper said Eckstein could be back in the lineup on Sunday. Apparently, Barry Weinberg told TLR that Eckstein should be available Monday. But the mgr wants Eckstein to go to Fort Myers on Tuesday, and he doesn’t want him to play two days in a row after missing a week. So he said most likely Eckstein will play Sunday, be off Monday, and play Tuesday. The other option is he’ll sit Sunday and Monday, then play Tuesday.

Either way, it’s a little more optimistic than had seemed to be the case before this afternoon. I’ll have more on it in my notes later today, of course.

Go FAMU!

-M.

(no music right now, because I still haven’t transcribed my interviews yet. but I had Jay-Z’s The Blueprint as the soundtrack for the drive down from Palm Beach Gardens. Great driving music, that.)

Miles scratched — update

It’s a good thing Adam Kennedy is back tomorrow, because middle infielders keep dropping. Aaron Miles has been scratched, replaced by Edgar Gonzalez. No further info at this time; I’ll update this post when we learn more.

We were just told that Miles is apparently feeling ill. Still no more specific than that, but apparently it’s that he’s sick, rather than hurt.

-M.

Friday morning updates

Another beautiful day here.

Izzy’s going to throw at 11 ET. I’ll obviously get into that in detail in my notes today.

Adam Kennedy said he expects to play tomorrow. More on that in notes as well.

Wilson is DH’ing again, still not playing the field. Ludwick is getting a rare start in RF, Ryan at SS.

The music on the morning drive to the park: Dinosaur Jr., Green Mind.

Oh, and go ‘Noles!

-M.

The Pen

The injury to Josh Kinney is obviously bad news, first and foremost to Kinney himself, but also to the Cards and their bullpen. Kinney was a guy who could get a late-inning strikeout, and I don’t really see anybody else in the pen from the right side who can replicate that. Additionally, the bullpen was one area where this team appeared to have significant depth, and now that depth is compromised.

Still, from a pragmatic perspective, this means they no longer have to shoehorn six right-handers into five spots. Assuming the rotation holds up like it looks like — Carpenter, Wells, Wainwright, Reyes, Looper — then you now have five righties for at most five spots. Izzy, Springer, Hancock, Thompson and Franklin are all there. And there’s no way you’ll have more than five right-handers, since there will be at least two lefties on the roster.

That doesn’t even count a guy like Falkenborg, who has performed well since coming into the organization. Kelvin Jimenez looks like a very long shot to me even at this point.

Now if in a couple of weeks they’re down ANOTHER guy, then maybe it’s time to start being concerned — though that could just open things up to take three lefties. And the Cards no longer have such an excess of relievers that it would be easy to deal a couple for a starter.

Just some thoughts on the situation.

(currently playing on the iPod: Pearl Jam, live in NYC July 8 2003)

-M.

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