April 2007

Rest in peace, Josh

Not entirely sure what to say or how to say it, but I do want to send my personal best wishes and condolences to Josh Hancock’s family, friends and teammates. He was a funny, humble, honest guy whom I greatly enjoyed covering on a daily basis. Really don’t know what else to say. I’m glad he got his ring, that’s for sure.

If you have memories or thoughts you’d like to share, please go right ahead.

-M.

Jimenez in, Keisler out

Kelvin Jimenez had his contract purchased from Memphis. He is in uniform and available to pitch tonight. Randy Keisler has been optioned to Memphis. Tuesday’s starter remains unannounced.

Chris Duncan is fine and in the lineup.

-M.

Brutal timing

In the midst of what, if it holds up, will probably be the Cards’ best win of the year, of course the rain has begun to fall. And it’s pouring.

On the bright side, it looks like a very narrow band, so hopefully  we’ll finish this thing before nightfall.

Thoughts on the game thus far:

* Not a good game for Keisler obviously, but I don’t agree with the emails I got suggesting that he’s got to go. There’s no clearly better alternative at Memphis, and he was decent enough in his first two starts. One good, one so-so, one bad — that’s about the ratio you expect from a sixth starter.

* The run total isn’t the highest, but this may be the best I’ve seen the whole lineup hit all year. One line drive after another. I’ll touch on this in my game story, but this was the first time all year that this lineup really looked like when they were good in 04 and 05.

* Big game for Brad Thompson, who badly needed some success. He’ll likely be lost in the big picture, but without his five outs, this is a different game.

* Presumably Tyler Johnson comes in to pitch the remainder of the 9th. He could be in line for his first big league save.

* Hancock was late arriving at the park, to the point that it worried some of his teammates, but he did show.

-M.

Mountains and molehills, or, Carp plays catch — UPDATED

Greetings, all. Coming to you from the press box at 3:15 p.m. CT, and there are a few more people already here than on some days. That’s because the most scrutinized long-toss session of the season to date is going on below us. Chris Carpenter is in fact playing catch with Jeff Murphy on the field.

He started at roughly 50 feet or so, moved it out to 90 and now looks like he’s at about 120. Obviously we’ll know a lot more tomorrow with how he comes through it. And then we’ll know much, much more when he throws off a mound.

I’ll have a lot more details later in the day and as the week goes on.

Update: He will play long-toss again on Thursday. If all goes well over the coming days, he will throw a bullpen on Saturday.

-M.

Chris Duncan and LHP

Every time Chris Duncan sits against a left-hander, I get emails complaining about it. So I wanted to get this out there:

Even before today’s game, when Duncan is starting against a LHP, only four players on the team have more at-bats against lefties than Chris Duncan. Those four players are Wilson, Eckstein, Taguchi and Pujols. Duncan is third on the Cardinals in total at-bats, behind only Eckstein and Pujols. He’s not in a platoon situation, not like Edmonds or even Kennedy has been thus far. He’s just not going to play 162 games, and when he gets a day off, it will be against a left-handed pitcher.

Opening Night was odd, I admit. I was surprised by that. But, say, the last game in Pittsburgh, that made total sense. It was a day game after a night game. He had been slumping. AND it was a left-hander. So why not give the guy a break?

-M.

Happy Birthday!

A very happy birthday to my mom. I hope it’s a wonderful day and I wish I were there.

-M.

(for the rest of you: regular updates will resume today)

Rotation for the coming days

Reyes got fully warmed up, so he won’t start tomorrow. Instead, they’ll stay on rotation over the weekend, with Wells Saturday, Looper Sunday, Reyes slotting in on Monday and Wainwright on Tuesday. That’s all they announced, but obviously thay leaves Keisler for the Wednesday opener in SF.

-M.

Lucky Seven, maybe-the-world's-NOT-ending edition

Best road trip in two years. Wow. Anyway, here are this week’s Lucky Seven questions. I look forward to your answers.

1. Randy Keisler is the choice for Carp’s starts. What would you have done? Was Keisler the right call? Should they have thrown Hawksworth into the fire? Bumped Thompson or Franklin to the rotation and called up a reliever? Tell me why…

2. What Cardinal has surprised you the most, positively, thus far in 2007 Biggest negative surprise?

3. Who has the best front of a starting rotation in the NL? Top 2-3 starters.

4. Who has the deepest rotation in the NL? Top to bottom, all five guys and maybe a sixth.

5. Aside from Opening Day, what’s the best sporting event in April? Final Four, Masters, Champions League, NHL playoffs, so much to choose from…

6. What’s your favorite song(s) or album(s) for driving on an open highway?

7. Where — ie, city or neighborhood, not just one restaurant — do they have the best Italian food
in the US?

Currently playing on the computer speakers: Smackmelon, Blue Hour.

-M.

Morning updates

* Rolen is out of the lineup again. He said he isn’t feeling much better, but the expectation, based on past experience, is that he’ll be able to play over the weekend.

* Kennedy sits again, as well. TLR said if it were a RHP on the mound, he’d play, but with Kennedy struggling, he didn’t want to bury him by sending him out against a LHP.

* The weather is, for the moment, holding. No rain falling yet, and everybody has heard something different about when it’s going to start coming down. Sounds like there is some hope for getting the game in, though.

* Go Bayern!

Currently playing on the PA: Gnarls Barkley, "Smiley Faces." Nice choice.

-M.

Odds and ends from last night

A few things, mostly regarding last night’s game, before I head across the street for this afternoon’s contest…

* David Eckstein said that for a couple of reasons, the game-ending double play last night was tougher than it looked. One, the second-base umpire was directly in front of him, so when Isringhausen threw to Eckstein, he was throwing blind. That explains the lob-type throw, because Izzy just wanted to put it in the area so that Eckstein would have some chance. Two, apparently Eckstein got spiked on the play.

* Of all the performances that stand out, the one that really rings to me, even above Scott Spiezio ******* it up to play, was the bullpen. Hancock, Springer and Thompson were all struggling, and it was clear that other than Izzy, the one RHP that TLR had faith in was Franklin. But Franklin had gone twice in a row, so he was off limits. So for those guys, who had given up nine runs and gotten 22 outs all year, to get 13 outs in one night was a big deal. I asked the manager before the game whether they were still trying to protect Springer, to handle him gently, and this was the telling response:

"You try to, but tonight we don’t have Franklin. And there’s a question on Thompson and Hancock. There’s a question on Springer. Somebody’s got to pitch in a close game. So somebody’s going to go out there."

* To update many curious folks in Memphis, Randy Keisler’s dog did make the trip from to Pittsburgh. Karl the miniature English bulldog had nowhere to stay in Memphis, so Keisler brought him along. Keisler said after the game that he had yet to ask TLR’s permission to bring him on the flight back to STL, but here’s guessing that the mgr approves that request.

* For what it’s worth, TLR said the biggest point of the Pujols fly ball in the ninth was Eckstein’s move to second. He said he understood Bay throwing to third, but that to him, the striking part was Eckstein advancing on the play.

* In non-game-related matters, I just want to thank you all for dropping by here. The last week has been by far the most traffic I’ve ever gotten since I’ve had the blog, and I appreciate it. I like it even more when y’all take the time to comment. This is fun to do, so hopefully it’s fun to read as well.

* Weather update: As of right now, there’s nothing falling from the sky. According to the forecast, though, that will change soon. Per weather.com, at 1 pm there’s a 70 percent chance of rain, and it’s at least that high all the way through the evening. I’ll keep you posted on that particular issue. The Cards and Bucs both have off days tomorrow, but I’d think that if they DO postpone it, they’d prefer to push it back to a less-unpleasant time of year. One possible date is July 30. Both teams are off that day, and they start a series against one another at PNC Park in July 31. Or they could just schedule a doubleheader sometime down the road.

(currently playing on the iPod: Junior Boys, So This is Goodbye )

-M.

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