August 2009

Thursday tidbits: rotation, C.Duncan, 10,000 wins or not

Matthew Leach
MLB.com

Yourenotagolfer.MLBlogs.com

Twitter.com/MatthewHLeach

Oddly, it’s an overcast night in San Diego,but still very mild and pleasant.

* Following Monday’s off day, the Cardinals have an opportunity to shake up their rotation a bit, but they’re not likely to get too cute. On Tuesday it will be Adam Wainwright against Houston, with Joel Pineiro getting the Wednesday assignment. The question is Thursday.

Chris Carpenter could start that game, or he could be pushed back to Friday against Washington. Essentially, if Carpenter doesn’t get pushed too hard tomorrow against the Padres, he’ll likely pitch on his fifth day against Houston. If he has to work very hard and could use the extra day, he’ll get it. Kyle Lohse will get the other of those two games, and John Smoltz’s next start after Sunday will be six days later, on Saturday the 29th.

* Talking to a couple of different people, it sounds unlikely that Chris Duncan will return to the Cardinals after his release from Triple-A Pawtucket in the Red Sox organization on Thursday.

“That’s his call,” TLR said. “It’s not ours. My guess is he’s not real pleased with us.”

According to one former teammate, it’s unlikely that Duncan would return as long as the current coaching staff is intact. Not that he had a problem with them — quite the contrary. But it’s no secret that there was a lot of baggage for Chris, playing for not only his dad but a manager who had known him since he was a kid.

Personally, I wish Chris well. Whatever else may be said, I like him personally and he was a very well-regarded teammate. I hope he lands on his feet somewhere.

* The Cardinals issued a statement today regarding the franchise’s all-time wins total. It’s the team’s position that they’re at 9,218 entering tonight, not 9,999. The club only recognizes the wins it recorded as a member of the National League.

* Some members of the team visited the Navy SEALs training facility near San Diego today.

No playlist, this is already too late getting posted.

-M.

Thursday tidbits: Garcia activated and optioned, Smoltz, Boggs, Ludwick

Hello from San Diego, which absolutely deserves its reputation as one of the best cities in America. Terrific ballpark too.

* Jaime Garcia was activated from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Memphis on Thursday. Garcia has been rehabbing from “Tommy John” elbow surgery. On Wednesday night he started at Memphis in what technically was his last rehab start.

He pitched well in that game after a four-run first, finishing with four runs in six innings, nine strikeouts and one walk. He’ll continue pitching for Memphis.

* John Smoltz was officially added to the active roster today. He spoke extensively with reporters — look for a story on the site before long — and threw a bullpen. He remains scheduled to start Sunday.

* Mitchell Boggs was optioned to Memphis in order to make room for Smoltz.

* Ryan Ludwick is not in the lineup, but TLR said it’s not health-related. Ludwick struck out three times against Tim Stauffer last week, so that is likely the explanation.

Tonight’s playlist is a San Diego special:
Steve Poltz, “Everything About You” (hi, Mrs. Dude!)
The Monroes, “What Do All the People Know”

Louis XIV, “Finding Out True Love Is Blind”
Stone Temple Pilots, “Interstate Love Song”
P.O.D., “Boom”

-M.

Thursday lineup; tidbits to follow

STL lineup vs RHP Kevin Correia:
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Ankiel RF
6. DeRosa 3B
7. Molina C
8. Ryan SS
9. Pineiro RHP

-M.

Wednesday lineup and quick tidbits; more to follow

* TLR confirmed that John Smoltz will start Sunday, and then next weekend — probably Saturday — against Washington.

* Colby Rasmus said he’s feeling better today, and he’s back in the lineup.

* Mitchell Boggs will be sent out to make room for Smoltz.

Lineup vs LHP Clayton Kershaw:
1. Ryan SS
2. Lugo 2B
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Ludwick RF
6. DeRosa 3B
7. Molina C
8. Rasmus CF
9. Wainwright P

-M.

Smoltz to Cards, done

Matthew Leach
MLB.com

LOS ANGELES — Having already made several upgrades, the Cardinals are down to two areas of need: right-handed setup relief and the back of their starting rotation. On Wednesday they made a move that could address either, or at different times, both.

Right-hander John Smoltz has agreed to a deal with St. Louis for the remainder of the season, the club confirmed. It’s unclear what role he will fill, but one entirely conceivable scenario would have him starting for the Cardinals down the stretch, and then moving to the bullpen when and if they make it to the postseason.

St. Louis has seized control of the National League Central, holding a six-game lead over the Cubs with just under seven weeks remaining in the season. Any moves the Cards make at this point are likely focused as much on bolstering the team for October as for making it to the finish line. It’s possible for St. Louis to use a fifth starter as few as six times between now and the end of the year, thanks to six remaining off days.

Still, come Sunday, that fifth-starter spot comes up again, in San Diego. The Cardinals have not announced a pitcher for that game, though Mitchell Boggs took the last turn, on Tuesday night against the Dodgers.

The club has acknowledged interest for several days in the 42-year-old veteran, who pitched for Atlanta from 1988-2008 before signing with the Red Sox as a free agent over the winter. He struggled in Boston and was designated for assignment before being placed on release waivers. In eight starts with the Red Sox, he went 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA, though some of his peripheral numbers were quite strong. Smoltz struck out 33 against nine walks in 40 innings.

There were some strong indications he might be better suited to pitch in relief. Smoltz’s performance was worse as he got deeper into games, and he was much more effective against right-handed hitters than lefties.

However, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Smoltz would like to continue pitching beyond 2009, and to do so as a starter. Thus, everyone’s wishes could be fulfilled with a two-part arrangement. Smoltz could position himself for a starting job somewhere in 2010 by pitching well for St. Louis down the stretch. Then he could help the Cardinals win in the playoffs by setting up for closer Ryan Franklin.

Tuesday tidbits: Rasmus, Ludwick, Holliday, Lohse, Smoltz

By Matthew Leach
MLB.com

To folks reading this on Facebook: if you like this, please come visit my blog at Yourenotagolfer.mlblogs.com, as well as checking out StLCardinals.com. And of course for more Cards stuff, follow me on Twitter, where my handle is MatthewHLeach.

On with the tidbits from Dodger Stadium, where of course it’s another perfect night. There are very, very few better settings for baseball than this place. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend making a trip sometime.

* Colby Rasmus has significant swelling in his tonsils and generally isn’t feeling good. That’s why he’s not in the lineup tonight. It’s unclear exactly what his condition is, or how long he’ll be out, but he would have been in there if he were well.

“I started to feel it a little bit yesterday, and the night we got off the plane when we got here,” Rasmus said. “I felt all right yesterday, but today it’s worse. My tonsils are huge right now.”

Ryan Ludwick also has some kind of bug, but to a lesser degree. He’s hoarse and not in tip-top shape, but playable.

The combination means that Matt Holliday is in the lineup. Holliday, who fouled a ball off his toe last night, said he’s feeling fine today. Still, with Billingsley on the mound, TLR had intended to play both Rasmus and Rick Ankiel in the outfield tonight. Instead, Rasmus sits and both right-handed hitters play.

* Kyle Lohse threw a bullpen today and remains on track for a Friday start. He said he lost feel for his pitches in his last start, but declined to attribute it solely to any lingering forearm issues.

* ESPN.com reported tonight that John Smoltz is “strongly leaning” toward signing with the Cardinals once he clears release waivers.

Today’s playlist is all L.A.-related:
Guns N’ Roses, “Rocket Queen”
Motley Crue, “Home Sweet Home”
Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Taste the Pain”
Rage Against the Machine, “Know Your Enemy”
Metallica, “The Four Horsemen” (they were formed in L.A.)

-M.

Tuesday lineup; tidbits to follow

Matt Holliday is in the starting lineup tonight, as he expected he would be.

Lineup vs RHP Chad Billingsley:
1. Schumaker 2B
2. Ryan SS
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Ludwick RF
6. Ankiel CF
7. Greene 3B
8. LaRue C
9. Boggs P

All makes sense, only real point of intrigue is Rasmus sitting for a second straight night. Will ask the manager about that. Greene is 7-for-12 against Billingsley.

-M.

Monday tidbits: Miller, Smoltz, Speier, Rasmus, Hawksworth

By Matthew Leach
MLB.com

To folks reading this on Facebook: if you like this, please come visit my blog at Yourenotagolfer.mlblogs.com, as well as checking out StLCardinals.com. And of course for more Cards stuff, follow me on Twitter, where my handle is MatthewHLeach.

Greetings from Dodger Stadium, which remains one of my favorite places in baseball. It’s a spectacular night out here, clear and a little bit cool.

* Shelby Miller, of course, agreed to terms with the Cardinals today. Jeff Luhnow said there’s a chance he may pitch a few innings with one of the team’s affiliates before the season is out. He’ll be in St. Louis next week, where he’ll throw a bullpen, and they’ll go from there.

* John Smoltz was released by the Red Sox today, and he’s definitely on the Cardinals’ radar. TLR expressed interest in him once again today, and Dave Duncan acknowledged he was an intriguing guy as well — with the caveat that there’s some question about how resilient his arm would be.

Still, quite a few teams are interested in Smoltz, and some likely would be interested in him as a starter. He’s a free agent and can go where he wants — and it’s my understanding that his top two priorities are starting and winning.

* Duncan, however, expressed little enthusiasm for Justin Speier.

* Colby Rasmus is not in tonight’s lineup tonight for a familiar reason. TLR doesn’t like to take a guy who’s just starting to get hot and put him in a situation where he’s likely to get cooled off — a situation like facing a knuckleballer.

* Elsewhere in the lineup, the skipper is basically deciding the No. 2 spot based on the other team’s bullpen. If it’s a team like the Dodgers, with Hong-Chih Kuo and George Sherrill in the bullpen, he’ll split up the two lefties in the order. If it’s a team like the Padres, without a particularly strong lefty presence in the bullpen, he’ll put the two lefties 1-2.

* TLR was asked about giving Blake Hawksworth a start. His response: “We need him in the bullpen more than we need him as a starter. … It would be nice to do that, but that would really make us vulnerable in the bullpen.”

* Dodgers great Don Newcombe dropped by the Cards clubhouse today.

Today’s playlist is all Depeche Mode after last night’s concert at the Hollywood Bowl (and all stuff they played at that show):
“Walking In My Shoes”
“Home”
“Enjoy the Silence”
“Never Let Me Down Again”
“Strangelove”

-M.

Miller, Cards agree

By Matthew Leach
MLB.com

The Cardinals have agreed to terms with first-round Draft pick Shelby Miller, approximately seven hours before the deadline for 2009 picks to agree with clubs. A club official confirmed the signing, which is expected to be announced at 4:30 p.m. CT.

Miller was the 19th overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, will receive a bonus of $2.875 million, according to multiple Major League sources. That is approximately twice Major League Baseball’s recommendation for the slot. Miller was rated as one of the top high-school pitchers in this year’s Draft, and some analysts had him as the finest prep arm available. He had a commitment to attend Texas A&M, but made no secret that he preferred to play professional baseball.

The hard-throwing Texan is listed at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. He has a fastball that has been clocked as high as 98 mph, and he also throws a curveball, with a relatively underdeveloped changeup. He was the first high school pitcher selected by the Cardinals in the first round since Brian Barber, whom they took with the 22nd overall pick in 1991.

Miller is the second high-bonus player to sign with the Cardinals this summer, joining Dominican outfielder Wagner Mateo, who received a reported $3.1 million.

Saturday tidbits: Garcia, Miller, Glaus, Wellemeyer, Ryan, Lugo

It’s bordering on a more typical hot St. Louis summer day today, but still pretty bearable. One note: I’ll be en route to California tomorrow, so I probably won’t blog or tweet too much (barring news), but of course I’ll be back in the saddle on Monday from Dodger Stadium.

As always, check out my updates on Twitter if you want more Cards stuff. Now on with the tidbits…

* Jaime Garcia continues to pitch well in his recovery from offseason elbow surgery. However, TLR said on Saturday that he does not expect to see Garcia in St. Louis in 2009.

“I think that’s a push,” he said. “If he gets to the end of the year healthy, that would be a major step forward. I think the most important thing is for him to end the year healthy. If he’s healthy, he’s a young guy, he’s got a lot of future.”

* I talked to John Mozeliak today regarding the negotiations with Shelby Miller, and among plenty of other things, he said this: “I would say there’s optimism on both sides.” I’ll have a story up on this topic either later tonight or tomorrow.

As for my personal assessment, I stand by what I’ve thought all along: it’s going to get done. It’ll be above-slot, but that’s been no secret since the minute they drafted him. But I’ll be absolutely shocked if it doesn’t get done.

* Troy Glaus re-began his rehab assignment at Memphis tonight, and he’s playing third base. If you’d like to follow along, here’s the link to GameDay at MiLB.com.

* Todd Wellemeyer planned to meet with Dr. Paletta tonight, and it’s possible that he may be cleared to begin throwing tomorrow.

* Julio Lugo got the start at SS tonight in place of Brendan Ryan. Per TLR, both will play tomorrow against LHP Clayton Richard. I specifically asked about whether there was any thought toward going with Ryan tonight behind Pineiro, and Lugo last night.

The response from the skipper: “Didn’t Wainwright get some groundballs yesterday? We’ve won games with Lugo playing.”

Tonight’s playlist:
Men at Work, “Overkill” (heard this on the radio today, what an amazing song)
Pearl Jam, “Release”
Crowded House, “Don’t Dream It’s Over”
Stone Roses, “Daybreak”
Regina Spektor, “On the Radio”

-M.

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