February 2008

Friday camp tidbits

Not a lot to tell, since my notebook is already up, but a few little things from today. Senor Goold and I stayed back at camp for the morning to watch guys throw before we headed up the coast for the game at Tradition Field (aka Shea Stadium South).

* Izzy really was filthy. As Adam Kennedy pointed out, it’s tough for a hitter to get up to any kind of intensity at 10:30 in the morning on Field 1 when the whole team has left for Port St. Lucie, but still… His cutter was sharp. His change was spotty, but the good ones were just evil. His sinker had good movement. Never read too much into a game at this point in the year, obviously; it doesn’t mean Izzy’s going to go out and put up a .60 ERA for the year. But it definitely was fun to watch.

* Random amusing scene: Watching warmups for the ninth inning from down the right-field line, and Tyler Johnson was playing catch with Ryan Ludwick. Which would be no big deal, except that he was throwing right-handed, while wearing a catcher’s mitt on his left. Rest assured, TJ has no plans to go all ambidextrous — his throws from the right side definitely didn’t look like a pitcher’s throws.

* Chris Duncan played 1B again. The manager sounded less against it than he did a couple of days ago. Josh Phelps may yet make this team, but my guess right now is that the backup 1B will be Duncan (more on this tomorrow).

* Wainwright was better than his line. He was pretty consistently down, and the defense behind him was shaky.


Lucky Seven, the-Grapefruit-League-lives edition

1. What’s the best on-field development of the spring thus far?

2. What’s the worst on-field or injury development of the spring thus far?

3. At the END of the year, who will be the starting middle infielders?

4. What should the Cardinals do about a backup 1B? Use Chris Duncan? Use an infielder already on the roster? Carry Josh Phelps or perhaps Joe Mather? Sign a free agent (Julio Franco, Jeff Cirillo, Ryan Klesko, Shea Hillenbrand…)?

5. Who signs somewhere first: Bonds, Clemens or Piazza?

6. What band would you most want to see reunited? No limits here — even if half of them are dead, I don’t care. Who do you miss?

7. What’s one place you most want to visit before you die?

-M, listening to Jack Johnson’s Sleep Through the Static.

Above all else today, though, I want to send out two big greetings:

* A very, very happy anniversary to my parents. Thank you so much for everything.

* And a very, very happy birthday to my mother-in-law, who doesn’t deserve that title with all its negative connotations. Happy birthday, second mom!

Thursday camp tidbits: Pineiro scratched

* Joel Pineiro apparently experienced some arm stiffness yesterday and was scratched from a live BP session. As a result, he’s been scratched from his scheduled Sunday start. TLR said the strength in the arm was good, for what that’s worth. I’ll write more as I have more, of course.

* A few of Mulder’s teammates watched his throw this morning and were very impressed. FWIW, of course, but it was unsolicited. They just brought it up to me.

* Juan Gonzalez starting at DH today, Kennedy leading off.

* Conversation has already started about roster spots in the wake of Spiezio’s release. TLR said Chris Duncan probably won’t see any more innings at 1B than he already would have. Said Joe Mather would take some groundballs there, but mostly emphasized that in his mind, 1B can be handled by nearly anybody who can play the infield. One name I find very interesting in the new situation: D’Angelo Jimenez, who switch-hits, plays three spots (not necessarily well, but plays them) and gets on base.


Spiezio released

John Mozeliak just announced that Spiezio has been released.

Wednesday camp tidbits

Bits and pieces on a gray, gloomy day…

* Brian Barton is back and cleared. He and Weinberg both referred to his checkup as essentially precautionary, and Barry said he’s cleared with no restrictions. Barton is in the lineup today as the DH, batting second.

* Lineup, though I know it’s already up elsewhere in the blogosphere: 1. Rasmus CF; 2. Barton DH; 3. Mather RF; 4. Phelps DH; 5. Haerther LF; 6. Freese 3B; 7. Barden SS; 8. Pagnozzi C; 9. Hoffpauir 2B. TLR indicated that the veterans won’t even stick around for the game. He expects to have a very short bench, so the kids will play.

* Speaking of the kids, it’s going to be a tough row for OFs to hoe, other than the seven main guys (Ank, Dunc, Lud, Schu, Raz, Gonz, Barton). TLR basically said that for guys like Mather and Haerther, the ABs will be very hard to find after the first few days.

* They held the MLBPA meeting today, so the first 90 minutes or so of the morning were spent behind closed doors. Don Fehr was not present, because he’s in Washington.

* My friend and colleague Jonathan Mayo from MiLB.com is in camp today, checking in with the Baby ‘Birds. He’ll have an organization preview and Spring Training report on the Cards organization that will run on MiLB.com on Friday, so please do check it out. He does good work and is a good dude.

As always, please do check the site later today for notes, game coverage and a Colby Rasmus feature.

-M, in a very Buffett kind of mood this morning. Hooray, Radio Margaritaville!

Tuesday camp tidbits

* Brian Barton went to get his surgically-repaired right knee checked out today. No word on the results. I’ll have more when I know more.

* TLR discussed the leadoff spot at length today, but probably the most interesting thing about it was that he confirmed more firmly than at any previous point that he plans to hit the pitcher 8th again this year.

* They’re having a "coaches’ game" — ie, an intrasquad game with coaches throwing BP — this afternoon. "Team Matheny" includes Matt Pagnozzi (DH), David Carpenter, Mark Johnson (1B), Jarrett Hoffpauir, David Freese, Brian Barden (SS), Cody Haerther, Colby Rasmus and Nick Stavinoha. "Team Walker" features Brandon Yarbrough (DH), Nick Derba, Bryan Anderson (1B), D’Angelo Jimenez, Rico Washington (3B), Brendan Ryan (SS), Amaury Marti, Joe Mather (CF) and Gabe Johnson (RF). TLR said not to read anything into Ryan being in this game, even though he’s the only guy who played in the Majors for STL last year.

As always, check the site for notes and features and plenty more later on today.


Monday camp tidbits

* Saw a few guys throw today, but one who stood out was Jason Motte. The guy has a seriously big arm. I’ll be featuring him in my notebook later today. Meanwhile, every time I talk to any member of the brass, the pitching name that keeps coming up is Kyle McClellan. They all love him.

* One thing to note — it seems like every time I or the P-D talks to John Mozeliak about outfielders, the three names he mentions are Ankiel, Duncan and Ludwick. TLR is obviously much more reluctant to single out players at this point in camp, so he’s harder to get a read on. But as far as the GM goes, it definitely appears that Ludwick is in good position. And rightly so, IMO — he’s a valuable player.

* The Cards worked out Kris Honel, former White Sox farmhand, today. One-time first-round pick who throws hard and has had trouble harnessing it.

* The FOTs (Friends of Tony) have started showing up. Today, former Packers GM Ron Wolf was around, and I hear Bob Knight may be soon to follow. Basketballer John Havlicek has also made an appearance.

* Looking like we could get rain for Wednesday’s SLU game. Ugh.

* Wainwright vs Santana on Friday. Sure, it’s only two innings each, but that’s good stuff.

Check out my mailbag and notebook, as well as a column from Mike Bauman, later today.


The Lazy Writer's Way Out — CORRECTION

NOTE — Thankfully I had this right on the site, but there was an error on the blog yesterday. I have corrected the starters schedule for this week.

It’s a long established tradition in sportswriting. If you don’t feel like coming up with an actual, fully-formed idea, throw out a bunch of tidbits. So herewith, a Sunday compendium of assorted thoughts and anecdotes from camp today and this week.

* Anthony Reyes looked really, really good today. Good stuff, good command, very impressive. A couple of us were talking today, and I think Reyes may be the most pivotal player on the roster. The difference between how good he can be, and how not-good he can be, is huge. If he’s good, and good for 190 innings, it makes an enormous difference in the depth and quality of the rotation. I’m still a believer.

* It will be all prospects pitching in the SLU game on Wednesday. Reyes will start Thursday against the Mets, Wainwright will start Thursday FRIDAY against the Mets (Met fans will surely love that), and Wellemeyer and Thompson will both get innings on Friday against New York. Dunc said not to read anything into Reyes being on his own day and Wellemeyer/Thompson sharing a day.

* Wainwright clearly sets up for Opening Day. He’ll be on schedule to pitch 2/29, 3/5, 3/10, 3/15, 3/21 (the off day falls on 3/18), 3/26 and then Opening Day, 3/31.

* TLR and Mo talked Bonds with us today. Basically, TLR brought him up, and the front office considers him a non-starter. More on the site this afternoon.

* Clayton Mortensen is definitely one of the darlings of camp, and with good reason. He’s got a big arm and a very big sinker with serious heavy movement. He’s a fast mover and absolutely a guy to watch.

* Rick Ankiel has been as impressive as any offensive player thus far.


Opening Day roster projection, second guess

Not a lot has changed, but let’s at least get some discussion going.

Starting pitchers
Adam Wainwright
Braden Looper
Joel Pineiro
Anthony Reyes
Todd Wellemeyer

Relief pitchers
Jason Isringhausen
Ryan Franklin
Russ Springer
Brad Thompson
Randy Flores
Tyler Johnson
Ron Villone

Yadier Molina
Jason LaRue

Albert Pujols
Adam Kennedy
Cesar Izturis
Troy Glaus
Aaron Miles
Scott Spiezio

Rick Ankiel
Chris Duncan
Skip Schumaker
Ryan Ludwick
Juan Gonzalez

I have some theories as to some of these spots; I think at least two spots in the bullpen are competitive, and the outfield remains wide open. But if I had to guess who WILL be on — not who I’d put on, but who will be on — this is my best guess as of today.


(now playing on the iPod: Foo Fighters, The Colour and the Shape)
(PS: watch the site later tonight for a story from my  trip to Dunedin)

Move done

Ron Villone has signed a Minor League contract with an NRI. He’s expected in camp before today’s workout is done.