August 2007

I know that I don't know what I know

Here’s a roundup of what we actually know at this point:

* Russell Branyan has been acquired. He is expected to be added to the roster, but he hasn’t arrived yet. He’s driving from Nashville, expected to arrive around game time. It seems obvious that the corresponding move is to DL Rolen — and, in fact, according to the lineup sheet in the press box, they’ve done that. But TLR told us they haven’t heard about Rolen’s exam in Cincy today, and so it’s not a guarantee that Rolen will be the move. But Rolen, I’m very confident, will in fact be the move.

* Miguel Cairo is present. But not on the roster. He was brought up today to be protection at 3B, but then they pulled the trigger on the Branyan thing, and they didn’t need to add Cairo. Miguel is already in the organization, so he doesn’t actually have to be added to the 25 today. Branyan, however, has to be added today in order to be postseason-eligible.

* No pitching moves today.

-M.

Lucky Seven, the marathon begins edition

1. 35 games, 34 days. The Cards are 1-2 thus far. How many of the 35 do they win?

2. With Kennedy, Rolen and Spiezio all unavailable, the infield situation is pretty dicey. Given that there’s no way Pujols moves — his elbow won’t allow it — what do the Cardinals do? Play Miles at 2B and Ryan at 3B every day? Miguel Cairo at 3B? Brian Barden? Edgar Gonzalez? Rico Washington? Swing a deal for Mark Loretta (something I’ve thought they should find a way to do for a while now)? Taguchi at 2B regularly?

3. Mulder’s on the way back. What do you do with him? Bump Reyes? Bump Wells? Bump somebody else? Go to a six-man rotation? (ugh, not my preferred solution?) Get creative? What about something where Wainwright and Looper go every fifth day, and the other four guys get slotted into 3 spots based on matchups and whatnot? Or do you feel that they shouldn’t commit to Mulder yet?

4. The Brewers have Sheets back, but they still have bullpen issues. How legit a contender are they now with their ace back on the mound? Are you worried about them at all, or just the Cubs?

5. NFL season is coming soon. Give me one Rams prediction and one other NFL prediction. And also, whom should I take with the Nos. 9 and 12 picks in my fantasy draft? If you want to make suggestions for Mrs. Dude, who picks 10 and 11, please feel free. I hope she and I finish 1-2 in the league. Or 2-1.

6. My lovely bride has replaced her Song of Summer poll with a Movie of Summer poll. So consider yourself invited to follow that link and go vote, if you so desire. Now. What was your vote?

7. Mega Millions is 300-some million dollars, and Powerball just got up to some similarly ridiculous amount. If you won something like that, tell me one absolute extravagance you’d splurge on. Car, real estate, minor league baseball team, whatever. Remember, you’d have something like $150 million if you took the cash option, which would leave you about $70 or $80MM after tax. So, sadly, you couldn’t buy the Cardinals. But that’s still a lotta jack, so give me something fun, and give me details. I don’t just want to hear "car." I want to hear AMG CL65 Mercedes.

-M.

(now playing on the speakers: Maps, "We Can Create")

Leach's Top-10

Let’s tee it up! Tonight is a night for burgers, beer (OK, gardenburgers and Bud Select, because I’m dieting, but still) and college football! Color me extremely excited. I’m still not a BlogPoll member, so in the meantime, I’ll be trying to provide weekly top-10s.

The reminders: 1, this is not a prediction. I don’t factor schedule in on my preseason poll. 2, I don’t believe in inertia. Just because SC is No. 1 this week, doesn’t mean they will still be in 3 weeks even if they keep winning. If somebody else is more impressive, they get bumped up.

1. USC. Unbeatable? Of course not. Best team in the country? Absolutely, to my eye.

2. Michigan. Deep, talented, experienced. I believe they’ll be reloading on defense; lot of bodies gone but a lot of talent returning. This is a very good team.

3. LSU. Very, very good. And probably a betterbet to make the title game than the team I have ahead of them,
because they only have one daunting road game (Alabama). If Flynn is good, these
guys are awesome.

4. Virginia Tech. The more I look at this team, the more I like them. Experience in all the right places (lines, QB) and deep at the skill positions. This is a scary team.

5. Oklahoma. The QB situation is the only thing that keeps me from putting this team as high as No. 3. So much talent coming back, a big-time D, and they were better last year than anyone realized — thanks to the Oregon loss. If Bradford is even pretty good, this team is a serious title contender. I’ll take Stoops over Brown any day.

6. Texas. People love this team, but some things about them really scare me. Lots of turnover on O-line and in the secondary, and those are two places where learning on the job can be tough. A&M is the only scary road game, plus of course the OU game in Dallas, but the sked is pretty friendly.

7. Wisconsin. Not sure what to make of this team, but I expect that Donovan will be another in the line of steady, "game-managing" Wisconsin QBs, so they won’t see much dropoff from Stocco.

8. West Virginia. I’m not sold on them, even at
this position. They’ll score a lot of points, but I think they’ll give
up a lot too.

9. Florida. By the end of the year, I think they’ll be extremely good. At the start of the year, all the turnover makes me nervous. As exciting as Tebow is, we still don’t know whether he can actually run an offense. Maybe the hardest top team for me to figure.

10. FSU. Yeah, I’m a fan. But hey — SMQ had them higher than this at one point this month, and Phil Steele has them No. 8. They’ll stop the run, they should run better, they have their best secondary in ages, and, well, the QB play HAS to be better with actual coaching, right?

Just missed: Louisville, Penn State, Alabama, Cal, Oregon

Sleepers and/or much improved teams (ie, the football version of M’s I-Have-A-Feeling teams): UCLA, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia Tech, Miami

Deep, deep sleeper: Vanderbilt. Really interesting team with tons of experience. It’s now or never.

Game of the week: Cal-Tennessee. I really like the Pac-10 this year, and I expect Cal to handle them. But we shall see…

-M, with Ryan Shaw playing on the speakers. Lucky Seven still to come today.

Lucky Seven, back home and sweating edition

1. Give me a prediction for Mark Mulder for when he returns this year.

2. For strength and accuracy, where does Rick Ankiel’s throwing arm rank among current Major League outfielders?

3. Which is a truer measure of the quality of this year’s Cardinals team — their record (a fairly respectable two games under .500) or their run differential (a fairly brutal minus-67, fifth-worst in the NL)? Why do you feel the way you do?

4. What player not in the Hall of Fame most deserves to be there?

5. What song did you vote for in Mrs. Dude’s song of the summer poll?

6. What’s the defining summer drink for you, be it non-alcoholic or an adult beverage?

7. Van Halen reuniting: Thrilled, intrigued, don’t care, prefer Van Hagar…….?

A link

First, a big thumbs up to the person I saw in traffic today who had a "Nice marmot" and a "This aggression will not stand, man" bumpersticker. When I honked at you, I was honking in approval, not annoyance.

And for the rest of y’all, this is pretty cool. Chris Tunno, who works at Roger Dean Stadium and occasionally blogs over at Around the Minors, shot some video of Mark Mulder’s rehab start against Vero Beach today. Here’s a link to Mulder facing the also-rehabbing Rocco Baldelli.

DISCLAIMERS: 1, this is a huge, huge file. It’s 58 MB, so be warned. 2, I don’t know how much traffic the good folks at MEGAUPLOAD (sounds like a Transformer, doesn’t it?) can handle, so I apologize if the mass exodus from OYNAG shuts the thing down. 3, I don’t know how many hoops you’ll want to jump through to make it happen.

But even so, it is video of Mulder pitching. So big thanks to Chris, who is truly a friend of StLCardinals.com and OYNAG.

-M.

See you in September

The Cardinals-Cubs makeup game, following Sunday’s rainout at Wrigley, has been scheduled for Sept. 10 at 2:20 p.m CT. Thanks to cubs.com’s Carrie Muskat for the heads-up.

The Cardinals will stop in Chicago on the way from Arizona to Cincinnati. The Cubs will stop at home in between visits to Houston and Pittsburgh.

As of shortly after the game, Braden Looper sounded like it was in fact going to happen, but that he and the Cards hadn’t officially approved it. Looper is the Cards’ player rep.

-M.

Your lineup and weather on the 8s!

It’s 12:10 CT, and there’s even a smidge of sunshine peeking through the overcast. The tarp is off, and guys from both teams are warming up on the field. I have cautious optimism. The rumor seems to be that they won’t wait all night to try to get this in, since the Cubs go to the West Coast after the game.

The updated weather can be found here, and though the forecast looks forbidding, the radar map appears to give reason for optimism. So we’ll see.

Brendan Ryan is leading off and playing second base, with Eckstein at short in the 9 hole. As mentioned last night, Eckstein is 4-for-29 against Lilly. The full lineup: 1.Ryan 2B – 2.Ankiel LF – 3.Pujols 1B – 4.Encarnacion RF – 5.Rolen 3B – 6.Edmonds CF – 7.Molina C – 8.Pineiro P – 9.Eckstein SS

-M.

Matchups and whatnot

Curious lineup decision by TLR tonight.

David Eckstein is out, thanks largely to his 3-for-19 mark against Ted Lilly as well as the day game tomorrow. Brendan Ryan is at SS, and Aaron Miles is at 2B. Miles makes sense in this lineup. He’s 7-for-21 against Zambrano, and Big Z has an absolutely massive platoon split (188/256/313 vs RHH, 282/388/451 vs LHH). But why Ryan tonight, rather than Eckstein tonight and Ryan tomorrow morning?

Eckstein has an even worse line against Monday starter Ted Lilly (4-for-29, .138), while Ryan has hits in both his at-bats against the lefty. And Miles should definitely be in there tomorrow, since he’s been a very good OBP man against LHP.

If it were up to me, it’d be Eckstein at SS and Miles at 2B tonight, then Ryan at SS and Miles at 2B tomorrow. Instead, it’s Ryan and Miles tonight, and quite possibly Eckstein and Ryan tomorrow. There may be more considerations that I don’t know about. It’s certainly possible. But to my eye, it looks like that’d be the better way to go.

-M.

Cairo's back

The Cardinals have signed old friend Miguel Cairo to a Triple-A contract, and he’ll report to Memphis on Wednesday. Kelly Stinnett is also back in the fold; he played at Memphis yesterday. He’s likely to be called up when rosters expand.

As of this moment, the weather looks OK. The tarp is still out on the field but there doesn’t seem to be much, if anything, falling from the sky. The forecast is still pretty grim; too bad we can’t just start this thing right now. FWIW, the Cards and Cubs both have an off day on Sept. 10, though for both teams it’s in the middle of a multicity road trip.

-M.

Let's play two? — FINAL UPDATE

10:06 pm CT update — Obviously the game has been called. No doubleheader tomorrow. Makeup date TBA, will be either 8/27, 9/10 or 10/1. No change in the rotation.

6:56 pm CT update — The tarp is off, and they recently announced that the game is scheduled to start on time. -M.

Folks, you may be in for some World Series of Poker reruns on TV tonight. Because ESPN may not have a ballgame to broadcast.

This does not look good at all. And neither does the view outside my hotel room window. It’s raining steadily and heavily here in Chicago. Frankly, it doesn’t look a lot better tomorrow, either. That would seem to indicate to me that if we are rained out tonight, they may not try to scheduled a doubleheader for tomorrow, because you’d hate to lose the same game twice.

Keep your fingers crossed, but the situation doesn’t seem to suggest there will be baseball at Wrigley tonight.

-M, with some delicious Intelligentsia coffee by my side.

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