June 2009

Belated Wednesday tidbits: K.Greene, Lohse, Ryan, Molina

Sorry these are so late. Crazy day today, getting ready to take a little mini-vacation with the Mrs. I’ll be off Thursday through Sunday, then back on the beat on Monday in NYC, with nose pretty much to the grindstone from there through the All-Star break.

* Khalil Greene is back with the Cardinals. He worked out today and will be activated in the relatively near future, quite possibly even tomorrow. TLR said they will probably remain at 13 pitchers when they make the move, meaning that Stavinoha and Tyler Greene would seem to be the most in jeopardy.

* Kyle Lohse threw again today, from a little further and with a little more on it. He’s getting closer, and hope to throw off a mound sometime during the upcoming road trip.

* Brendan Ryan was a bit sore after last night’s game, experiencing some cramping according to TLR. So they chose not to push it, and gave the start to Tyler Greene tonight.

* TLR on Molina catching Wellemeyer once again: “The last couple times it’s pained me not to catch him, like Thursday in Florida. It’s just, there are some times he needs a break.”

Today’s playlist:
“International Pop Overthrow,” Material Issue
“Angels of the Silences,” Counting Crows
“Lotus,” R.E.M.
“Help I’m Alive,” Metric
“E-Pro,” Beck

-M.

Wednesday lineup

According to the lineup sheet, Khalil Greene has not yet been activated. Same 25-man roster as yesterday.

Lineup vs RHP Edwin Jackson:
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Duncan LF
5. Ludwick RF
6. Molina C
7. Thurston 3B
8. Wellemeyer P
9. T.Greene SS

-M.

Cardinals announce three more signings

The Cardinals announced three more signings from the 2009 Draft on Tuesday, bringing the total number of officially confirmed and announced signees to 35.

Second-round pick Robert Stock, third-rounder Joe Kelly and fifth-rounder Ryan Jackson were all announced as signing on Wednesday, though Stock agreed to terms on Monday.

Stock pitched and caught at the University of Southern California, but he will enter the Cardinals system as a catcher — with the potential fallback option of returning to pitching. He pitched in USC’s regular weekend rotation in addition to serving as the team’s starting catcher. He will report to rookie-level Johnson City of the Appalachian League.

Kelly pitched in relief at the University of California-Riverside and throws a fastball in the high-90s according to vice president of scouting and player development Jeff Luhnow. Jackson is a shortstop from the University of Miami who is considered an exemplary defender. Kelly and Jackson will both report to Batavia of the short-season Class A New York-Penn League.

St. Louis has now signed four of its top six Draft picks. Still unsigned are first-rounder Shelby Miller and fourth-rounder Scott Bittle.

-M.

Tuesday tidbits: Lohse, K.Greene, Rotation

Greetings from partly-cloudy, warm and muggy Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals begin a very brief three-game homestand.

* Kyle Lohse threw on Tuesday for the second time since aggravating his right forearm injury. He stretched it out to 120 feet, and said he put more into the throws. He also reported feeling better today than he did on Sunday, the day of his first throw.

A date for a mound session is still somewhat uncertain, but it’s definitely getting closer.

“We’ll probably do this a couple more times [so they can] make sure everything is good and I come back strong tomorrow,” Lohse said. “We’ll see how that turns out and hopefully get on a bullpen in the next couple days or a week or whatever.”

* Khalil Greene has not yet been activated, but the day is getting closer. According to two sources (not to mention the MiLB.com Gameday presentation of tonight’s Memphis game), Greene is not with the Memphis club. Greene has played two games at shortstop and two games at third base for Memphis, going 6-for-15.

* The Cardinals will not skip Brad Thompson on Friday. Instead, they’ll use yesterday’s off day to give the entire rotation an extra day of rest. Thompson will pitch Friday at Kansas City, followed by Chris Carpenter on Saturday and Adam Wainwright on Sunday. That means Wainwright would pitch at home the following weekend against Minnesota, rather than at the Mets on June 26. Projecting it far out, both Carpenter and Wainwright would pitch in the Giants series, then Carpenter would pitch at Cincinnati and Wainwright in the opener at Milwaukee. They’d each get a start in the final series before the All-Star break, at Wrigley Field.

* Meanwhile, Thompson remains safe in his spot for the foreseeable future, that is as long as Lohse is out.

Here’s TLR’s comment:

“I think the idea is to pitch the best guy that you have. And based on his opportunities, there’s nobody better than Brad. When Lohse comes back, then you’re going to pick the best five. And if Brad’s outpitching somebody, then somebody in the rotation will go in the bullpen. It’s always the best five. Unless they’re really close and one guy fits the bullpen better than the other guy.”

Today’s playlist, well, you probably could have guessed the theme:
The Supremes: “Reflections”
Four Tops: “Reach Out I’ll Be There”
Temptations: “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”
Stevie Wonder: “I Wish”
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: “Tears of a Clown”

-M.

Cardinals agree to terms with Stock

Right on the heels of announcing agreements with 32 Draft picks, the Cardinals confirmed their biggest deal thus far from the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.

Second-round pick Robert Stock agreed to terms on a contract on Monday. Stock pitched and played catcher for the University of Southern California, but he will catch in the Cardinals organization.

Stock batted .226 with a .345 on-base percentage and a .453 slugging percentage for the Trojans in 2009. He was the 67th overall pick in last Tuesday’s Draft.

Earlier in the day, St. Louis announced that it had reached deals with 32 of its top 50 picks, including sixth-rounder Virgil Hill.

The complete list, as announced or confirmed by the club as of Monday afternoon, is as follows:

Robert Stock (C, 2nd round)
Virgil Hill (OF, 6th)
Alan Ahmady (1B, 11th)
Pat Daugherty (LHP, 12th)
Matt Carpenter (3B, 13th)
Ross Smith (OF, 14th)
David Washington (1B, 15th)
Jonathan Rodriguez (1B, 17th)
Anthony Garcia (C, 18th)
Travis Tartamella (C, 19th)
Scott Schneider (RHP, 20th)
Matthew Adams (C, 23rd)
Keith Butler (RHP, 24th)
Josh Squatrito (RHP, 25th)
Christian Beatty (OF, 26th)
Johnathan Fulino (RHP, 27th)
Justin Edwards (LHP, 28th)
Daniel Calhoun (LHP, 29th)
Tyler Bighames (SS, 31st)
Travis Lawler (RHP, 32nd)
Devin Goodwin (SS, 33rd)
David Kington (RHP, 34th)
Andrew Moss (RHP, 35th)
Justin Smith (RHP, 36th)
Richard Racobaldo (3B, 37th)
John Durham (LHP, 38th)
Jesse Simpson (RHP, 40th)
Cale Johnson (RHP, 41st)
Aaron Terry (RHP, 42nd)
Manuel De La Cruz (LHP, 43rd)
Kyle Heim (LHP, 44th)
Michael Thompson (RHP, 47th)
Jason Novak (RHP, 48th)

-M.

Sunday evening tidbits: K.Greene moving to his right

It’s another lovely night in Cleveland, following a terrific day. Your faithful correspondent, joined by friend/colleague/competitor D.Goold of the Post-Dispatch, made an afternoon run to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and it was again excellent. Highly recommended.

* Khalil Greene will return to Memphis to get some work at third base. TLR was a bit cagey about the whole thing, but there was this quote that laid it out pretty starkly: “When he’s ready to get here as a player, he needs to be ready to play third base.”

The Cardinals have understandably been pleased with what they’ve been getting from the shortstop position with Greene out. This allows them to keep playing Brendan Ryan (and perhaps Tyler Greene, depending on what move they decide to make once K.Greene is activated), while also providing another option at third base.

* Kyle Lohse began a throwing program today, playing catch from about 90 feet. He said he’s almost entirely symptom-free in his recovery from a right forearm injury. He’ll keep ramping up his throwing as long as he feels good, but no date has even been set for a throw off the mound, never mind a return to game action.

* The Cardinals won’t get any favors when the Tigers come to town later this week. Detroit will roll out three imposing starting pitchers: Justin Verlander on Tuesday, Edwin Jackson on Wednesday and Rick Porcello (remember him?) on Thursday.

* Bill Lubinger of the Cleveland Plain Dealer had a piece on Dave Duncan run today, and it’s worth checking out for Duncan’s insights on many of the great pitchers who have worked with him. It even includes a video interview. Follow this link to give it a look.

* Welcome to the newest blogger with the Cardinals: Rick Ankiel. The first entry in his new MLBlog went up today, and you can visit Rick’s blog by following this link.

* Time for my periodic reminder, while we’re linking to things. I talk ball over at Twitter. Follow me there at Twitter.com/MatthewHLeach.

Today’s playlist, with a RnRHoF theme:
U2, “Bad” (saw the handwritten lyric sheet, perhaps my favorite thing in the whole place)
Bruce Springsteen, “Badlands” (saw the same thing for this song, my OTHER favorite thing)
Rolling Stones, “Gimme Shelter”
The Clash, “London Calling”
Metallica, “Enter Sandman”

-M.

Sunday night lineup

Courtesy of media relations director Brian Bartow, tonight’s lineup vs LHP Cliff Lee:

1. Ryan SS
2. Ankiel LF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Ludwick RF
5. Stavinoha DH
6. Molina C
7. Rasmus CF
8. T.Greene 3B
9. Schumaker 2B

-M.

Saturday afternoon tidbits: Another look to the lineup

Greetings from a gorgeous afternoon at Progressive Field. We’ve got a few clouds, but it’s nice and mild and a great day for a ballgame.

* For the first time today, Colby Rasmus is hitting cleanup in a lineup that also includes Ryan Ludwick. It was one thing to hit him there when Ludwick was sitting, but it definitely stands out to have Rasmus there today.

According to TLR, there were two main reasons. One was immediate and obvious — they hit Rasmus there twice, he did well there twice. The other comes down to TLR’s fondness for splitting up left- and right-handed hitters as much as possible.

I was always under the impression that that was largely done to neutralize opposing relief specialists, but the skipper also said it has an effect on the starting pitcher. In his view, if the starter sees a run of righties or lefties, he settles in to a degree he can’t do when it’s alternating.

“Rasmus has had two chances and been productive twice,” he said. “So, why not? The other one that I like is that it really gives Ohka a lot of right-left-right-left. That was Don Drysdale’s old theory. If you have too many of one type, he gets his release point. That gives us a little edge. You pick up two benefits. Although here they [only] have one left-handed reliever.”

* Following Monday’s off day, the Cardinals will stay on turn in the rotation for at least the first three days. That means it will be Adam Wainwright on Tuesday, Todd Wellemeyer on Wednesday and Joel Pineiro on Thursday against Detroit.

Friday, however, remains in question. They’ll have two options that day: keep Chris Carpenter on his fifth day and bump Brad Thompson back, or stay on turn with Thompson on Friday and Carpenter on Saturday, thus giving everyone five days’ rest.

TLR said it will come down to a lot of things, not the least of which is how Carpenter comes through tomorrow night. If it’s a slog, they’re more likely to give him the extra day. If it’s not so draining, Carpenter could pitch on Friday.

* And a few notes from today’s festivities at Progressive Field. They’ll be showing “Major League” tonight after the game, which La Russa called his favorite baseball movie — and in my experience, he’s far from the only one. Players/coaches/etc seem to favor it over any other, including my personal favorite, “Bull Durham.”

The Cardinals and Indians are both wearing throwback 1988 uniforms as a nod to the movie, and Skip Schumaker is even rocking the high socks to complete the look.

Thus, today’s playlist is a throwback as well, all from 1988.

INXS, “Need You Tonight/Mediate”
Neneh Cherry, “Buffalo Stance”
Prince, “Alphabet Street”
U2, “Desire”
Living Colour, “Cult of Personality”

-M.

K.Greene heads back to St. Louis

The Cardinals confirmed on Friday that Khalil Greene has returned to
St. Louis after a brief Minor League rehabilitation with the club’s
Triple-A Memphis affiliate. He will work out at Busch Stadium over the
weekend while the club decides what to do next with him.

Greene
was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to social anxiety disorder.
He is eligible to come off the disabled list, since he last played on
May 27.

In two games at Memphis, Greene went 4-for-8, but he also committed two errors in the field.

General manager John Mozeliak referred to Greene’s status as “day to day.”

-M.

Friday evening tidbits: Rasmus sore

As is often the case on the first day of a series, not to mention my first day back with the team after a couple of days off, I’ve got lots of tidbits for you.

* As mentioned in the early tidbits, the Cardinals returned to 13 pitchers for this weekend’s series in an American League park. According to La Russa, the field staff went to the front office and asked for a pitcher who could a) work more than an inning at a time and b) work with a little more frequency than just every four or five days. And the front office/Memphis staff/Minor League staff recommended Walters.

I specifically asked about Josh Kinney, and this was TLR’s response:

“What we did was, we told Mo, this is our analysis of what we need. Frequency of pitching would be a help, because we do have a [long reliever]. Josh’s name was discussed, but whoever they recommended was who we took. … This is who they recommended, this is who we’ve got. I made a point to ask about Josh. He’s getting closer and closer.”

Dave Duncan said almost exactly the same thing.

* Colby Rasmus is not in the lineup because he’s recovering from a bruised left heel. It doesn’t seem to be anything major, but TLR felt it better to give him one more day. Rasmus suffered the injury trying to beat out a groundball on Wednesday.

* I ran Paul Byrd’s name by two different people who would know today, and didn’t get any kind of vibe that he is in any way on the radar.

* TLR said it’s “a possibility” that Pujols will DH in one of this weekend’s games, but not a certainty.

* The Indians clubhouse has a classic Nintendo Entertainment System, and many members of the team (and media, let’s be honest) were enraptured by the great “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out.”

* The Cardinals and Indians will wear 1988 throwbacks tomorrow. The Cards’ uniforms will feature gray pullover-type jerseys, plenty of piping and red caps. Looking forward to seeing that — though it’s got nothing on the “victory blue” ones they donned in St. Petersburg a few years back.

Today’s playlist:
Cut Copy, “Lights and Music”
The Bravery, “An Honest Mistake”
Maps, “You Don’t Know Her Name”
The Knife, “We Share Our Mothers’ Health”
Junior Boys, “In the Morning”

-M.

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