July 2009

Wednesday tidbits: Duncan, Lugo, DeRosa, Wellemeyer

We’ve got a tremendous game here in Houston tonight, and you may have heard it’s been a bit of a busy day. So finally I’ve got your tidbits. I won’t be on the rest of the trip, and will try to disconnect for a few days before getting back on it at home next week.

By now you’ve heard and read plenty about the Chris Duncan trade. A few notes on it, though.

* Duncan was a very, very popular player in the clubhouse. Guys will get over this, and it’s not like some irreparable rift has been created within the clubhouse or between the players and the front office, but some guys were definitely unhappy with the move.

* With that said, Lugo might be a very nice fit. Offensively, he certainly should be. He’s getting on base at a very high clip against LHP, and he did the same last year. That can only help the team. However, according to both the stats and people’s observation, his defense has fallen off a cliff. He suffered a significant quadriceps strain last summer and had knee surgery this spring. That’s a tough pair of knocks to a guy’s range.

* Some guys knew something was afoot regarding Duncan, but it’s my understanding that last night’s team meeting was not about this move.

* Despite the addition of Barden today (although it’s possible he’ll be gone again tomorrow) and Lugo probably tomorrow, TLR said he doesn’t expect to play Mark DeRosa in the outfield much.

* The pitcher was back in the 9 spot. The official explanation from the manager is that he wanted to bat Molina 7th, and he doesn’t like Molina in front of the pitcher because you want more speed on the bases when you sacrifice bunt with the pitcher.

* The Cardinals probably will not return to 12 pitchers any time soon. Between Philadelphia’s unfriendly ballpark and lineup, and next week’s home games, the preference is to stay at 13 for a while. The manager often argues that you’re more likely to have bullpen depth issues at home, since you have to pitch nine innings in a loss at home.

* And TLR also said Wellemeyer is definitely safe for his next start. They’re just not convinced that anybody else would offer more, and they believe he’ll improve. Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger.

No playlist today. This thing is already way too late.


Cardinals option Duncan

The Cardinals optioned Chris Duncan to Triple-A Memphis on Wednesday.

General manager John Mozeliak confirmed the transaction on Tuesday morning but did not divulge which player would be added to the active roster, saying only that the roster spot would be filled “internally.” One possibility for a recall is Troy Glaus, who has been on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. Glaus has yet to play in the Major Leagues in 2009.

Duncan, 28, underwent a rare surgical procedure over the winter, having a titanium disk inserted in his neck. He started the season well, hitting .304 and slugging .522 in April. Since then, though, he has steadily trended downward. In May, Duncan hit .227 and slugged .386, and in June his slugging percentage fell all the way to .289. Duncan is 1-for-31 since June 29.

On Tuesday, manager Tony La Russa angrily criticized portions of the St. Louis fan base and media who, in his opinion, have singled out Duncan unfairly as opposed to other Cardinals players who have slumped at the plate this year.


Tuesday tidbits: Duncan, Rolen, LaRue

Hello from Houston, where it’s a nice, cool 73 degrees under the roof.

* TLR took serious issue with the singling out of Chris Duncan today. It was in response to a question about pinch-hitting with Duncan in place of Brendan Ryan last night — an understandable move given that Jose Valverde has an enormous platoon split and that Ryan was not having a good game at the plate.

Here’s the entirety of his comments, with a couple of edits to make sure it is acceptable on a family blog and to make sure it makes sense:

“Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Valverde, [lefties are] hitting .300 versus .140 [for righties]. And did Ryan have a particularly good day? How can people ask? What’s the question there? A guy who could hit a two-run homer versus Brendan doing what? Looking futile again?

“Did anybody watch Brendan’s at-bats?

“Chris is a … whipping boy. I’m so tired of the unfairness with Chris Duncan, it makes me want to vomit. You can tell anybody … that he’s getting treated unfairly. It makes me want to vomit. That’s why I get upset as soon as he gets mentioned.

“They’ve got a great reputation in our town, but it’s not a perfect reputation.

“It’s a pretty clear difference [for Valverde between right- and left-handed hitters]. Plus Chris, even when he struggles, he’s one of our better pinch-hitters.

“This guy is treated unfairly. For fans that have the reputation that they have, that they deserve, they do have a couple quirks that are not fair. And he’s one of them.

“What’s so ridiculous is, if you watch Brendan, Brendan had no chance yesterday for some reason. So he’s going to do better in that at-bat? That’s ridiculous if you think about it. I think it’s ridiculous. And it has to do with the guy that pinch-hit. It’s really a black eye for some of our fans that are not objective about him for whatever reason. I’m not sure what it is. I can’t figure it out.”

My take, personally, not that you asked, is that he has SOMETHING of a point. Not that Duncan or anyone should be immune from criticism. He and Ankiel are both struggling badly. But it has always seemed to me that all things being equal, Duncan gets singled out more than pretty much any other Cardinal, and the tone does get really nasty at times.

* TLR also pretty swiftly shot down any notion of re-acquiring Scott Rolen. Here’s the entry I wrote about it over at the MLB.com Trade Talk blog.

* Jason LaRue got the start over Molina tonight for a lot of reasons, including the string of days without a day off, and the fact that they prefer Molina to catch Carpenter and Wainwright the next two days. When the LaRue-Wellemeyer thing was brought up, TLR quickly pointed out that Molina caught Wellemeyer’s last good start, on July 2.

Tonight’s playlist:
Pearl Jam, “The Fixer”
Matt and Kim, “Daylight”
U2, “Magnificent”
Living Colour, “DecaDance”
Beastie Boys, “Pass the Mic” (get well, Yauch!)



Tuesday lineups; tidbits to follow — updated

Tuesday lineup vs LHP Wandy Rodriguez:

1. Schumaker 2B
2. Stavinoha LF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Ludwick RF
5. DeRosa 3B
6. Rasmus CF
7. LaRue C
8. Wellemeyer RHP
9. Ryan SS

The Astros lineup, posted previously, has been taken down with the announcement that Lance Berkman will be unavailable to start for a few days.


Sunday tidbits: Ankiel, Glaus, Freese, tunes

So, uh, hi, everybody. My name’s Matthew Leach. A long time ago, I covered the Cardinals for MLB.com. And now do again. Got a little break after the All-Star Game, but it’s back in the saddle again.

* Rick Ankiel got his MRI results back, and according to TLR, “he’s got some issues” but is cleared to play. The manager acknowledged that whatever Ankiel is dealing with in his right shoulder, it’s likely affecting his swing. But he said that it’s his understanding that a bit of simple rest wouldn’t solve the issue.

* We talked to the skipper a little more about Troy Glaus playing the outfield, and he said he feels that a questionable thrower can be shielded much more effectively in left field than at third base. “There are a lot of [terrible]-throwing outfielders that have been world champions,” he said.

* David Freese got back in a game for the first time in two months on Sunday. He went 1-for-2 at the plate, and in the field he started two double plays in three innings at third base.

* TLR explained the decision yesterday to have Kinney issue the IBB, rather than leaving Miller in to do it, then making the move. He fully expected Haren to hit for himself. But IF the Diamondbacks had gone to Chad Tracy as a pinch-hitter, then Kinney could have been lifted for Reyes, because Kinney would already have faced one batter.

* And, for those who care, I was able to deduce many of the Cardinals’ walkup songs yesterday. A few are pretty obvious (Ludwick, for example). Here are ones that were not:

Skip Schumaker: “Know What I’m Doin’,” by Birdman featuring Lil Wayne
Colby Rasmus: “D.A.N.C.E.,” by Justice (this is a new one for him)
Albert Pujols: “The Professional,” by Canton Jones featuring Joey
Yadier Molina: “Ahora Es,” by Wisin and Yandel
Nick Stavinoha, “I Don’t Wanna Stop,” by Ozzy Osbourne
Mark DeRosa, “Shoot to Thrill,” by AC/DC


Sunday lineups and tidbits: DeRosa, Franklin, Ryan

It’s a pleasant day by the river in Cincinnati, breezy, mild and cloudy. But the forecast says it’ll be clearing up as the afternoon goes on.

* Brendan Ryan is still not feeling 100 percent after a battle with “gastrointestinal distress” on Saturday, but he’s well enough to be in the lineup.

* Mark DeRosa has taken some swings off a tee, starting yesterday. The Cardinals still aren’t ready to declare when he’ll return to the lineup, but they haven’t ruled out Tuesday. He’ll get a checkup on his strained left wrist on Monday.

* Ryan Franklin could, conceivably, be available to pitch today. But the strong preference is to give him the extra rest after he pitched three days in a row — and worked very hard in the third of those games.

TLR’s comment:

“We’ll see when he plays catch. I think there’s a chance, but we’ll see. If we’ve got a great chance, [he could pitch]. It’s a big ballgame to win. … It would be nice to get a lot of runs and save him. That would be our best case.”

* Cardinals lineup vs. RHP Bronson Arroyo:
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Ludwick RF
5. Ankiel LF
6. Molina C
7. Thurston 3B
8. Carpenter P
9. Ryan SS

Reds lineup:
1. Dickerson LF
2. Taveras CF
3. Votto 1B
4. Phillips 2B
5. Bruce RF
6. Encarnacion 3B
7. Hairston SS
8. Hanigan C
9. Arroyo P

Today’s playlist:
Gorillaz, “Feel Good Inc.”
LCD Soundsystem, “Sound of Silver”
Kaiser Chiefs, “Never Miss a Beat”
TV On the Radio, “Golden Age”
Cut Copy, “Hearts On Fire”


Saturday tidbits: Ryan, rotation, Hoffpauir, DeRosa

I can’t say there’s a lot of optimism regarding the start of this game. The tarp is out, and the forecast calls for rain throughout the afternoon. Here’s hoping.

* Brendan Ryan was a late scratch from this afternoon’s game due to what the club called “gastrointestinal distress.” Tyler Greene took his place at shortstop and in the No. 9 spot in the batting order.

* For next week’s series at Milwaukee, the Cardinals plan to start Adam Wainwright on Tuesday, Todd Wellemeyer on Wednesday and Joel Pineiro on Thursday. The weekend rotation is not entirely determined (or perhaps just not entirely announced) yet, but it’s a pretty safe bet that Wainwright and Kyle Lohse will get the two Sunday games. The only question would seem to be when to slot in Carpenter and Thompson for the first two games of that series.

* Jarrett Hoffpauir may get his first big league start tomorrow against Bronson Arroyo. Skip Schumaker is 3-for-18 against Arroyo, so TLR said it might be a good day to get Hoffpauir in there.

* No real change in Mark DeRosa’s status, though TLR said he’s making steady progress. DeRosa is unvailable to hit but could run or play defense.

Today’s playlist is culled 100 percent from the excellent music they played here this morning/afternoon at Great American Ball Park:

Modest Mouse, “Dashboard”
Stevie Wonder, “Uptight”
Sugar, “If I Can’t Change Your Mind”
Temptations, “Get Ready”
Cake, “Love You Madly”


Saturday lineups, tidbits to follow – UPDATE

Cardinals lineup vs. RHP Micah Owings:
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Duncan LF
5. Ankiel RF
6. Molina C
7. Thurston 3B
8. Thompson P
9. Ryan SS
9. T.Greene SS (Ryan has been scratched)

Reds lineup:
1. Dickerson LF
2. Taveras CF
3. Votto 1B
4. Phillips 2B
5. Bruce RF
6. Encarnacion 3B
7. Hairston SS
8. Hernandez C
9. Owings P


Friday tidbits: Lohse, Pujols, DeRosa

Greetings from Cincinnati, where it’s a cloudy but very nice night, mild with a little breeze. If it clears up at all, should be a great night for fireworks.

* Kyle Lohse said that his first rehab outing, on Thursday night in Springfield, went just about how it looked in the box score. He started out a little shaky, got sharp in the middle innings and faded in his last inning as he came up against his pitch count.

“It took me a little time to see what was working,” Lohse said. “Kind of a little erratic. But then, the second, third and fourth, I felt like I was back in the groove. Fastballs down, hitting corners. And then the fifth inning, a single on a fastball down the middle, got an out, then a bunt hit, then a walk. So it was just not really the way I wanted to finish it off, but I still felt good.”

Lohse’s next start is scheduled for Tuesday at Triple-A Memphis, which would put him right on line to pitch on the final day of the first half, the Sunday, July 12 doubleheader against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

“I’ll only get one start before the end of the half, so I might as well go into it feeling a little better,” he said. “Not that I don’t feel good about what I was able to do, but it will give me a chance to throw some more pitches and work on command of the fastball a little more.”

* As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Albert Pujols was named the National League Player of the Month on Friday. That makes twice in three months. The other NL winners were Tim Lincecum (pitcher) and Tommy Hanson (rookie).

* TLR said that Mark DeRosa is coming along well but remains unavailable to swing a bat.

“He’s actually making progress,” La Russa said. “He could defend or run the bases, but he can’t hit for today. We’ll go day to day.”

DeRosa won’t start until at least Tuesday.

* The Cardinals join everyone else in baseball in donning commemorative caps for this holiday weekend. Every team is wearing red caps with the team logo covered by a stars-and-stripes pattern.

Today’s playlist:
Metric, “Gimme Sympathy”
Kevin GIlbert, “Parade”
Cold War Kids, “Something is Not Right With Me”
Silversun Pickups, “Lazy Eye”
Libertines, “Can’t Stand Me Now”


Friday lineup; tidbits to follow

Friday lineup vs. RHP Homer Bailey:

1. Schumaker 2B
2. Duncan LF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Ludwick RF
5. Ankiel CF
6. Molina C
7. Thurston 3B
8. Pineiro P
9. Ryan SS



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