Results tagged ‘ Jason Motte ’

Monday tidbits: Lynn, Wainwright, and… a surprise?

Greetings from Houston, where it’s sweltering hot outside but comfortably air conditioned inside. It’s Star Wars Night at Minute Maid Park, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit curious to see how all that turns out.

Shameless plug: As of now, I’m scheduled to be back on MLB Network’s “The Rundown” again tomorrow afternoon. Subject to change, but looks likely. Usually it’s 2-3 segments between 2 and 4 p.m. CT, talking Cardinals.

As for the tidbits…

* Lance Lynn threw to hitters today for the first time since he was injured. He felt good and he looked pretty good from my seat in the press box.

However, it’s almost completely certain that this IS the endgame for Lynn. He can’t, by rule, be activated before the regular season ends, because he pitched on Aug. 9 and was placed on the 60-day disabled list.  He could, by RULE, be activated for the NLCS if the Cardinals got there. But from various people I talked to today, that’s about a zero percent chance. They’re happy he’s gotten this far, and the focus is on making sure he’s healthy for 2012.

* Adam Wainwright continues progressing. He threw 40 pitches off a mound today, estimating that he was throwing at about 75 miles per hour. He’s still only throwing fastballs, not even changeups — never mind breaking balls. So even more than Lynn, there’s just no way he’s going to throw any competitive innings this year.

* Though Jason Motte has pitched each of the past two days and four out of five, TLR said Motte should be available tonight.

* TLR said that Dave Duncan may fly down to Houston on Wednesday to make a brief visit to the team. It’s uncertain whether he would be around if the Cardinals play beyond Wednesday.

* At the end of his pregame session today, TLR was asked if there was any way his starting rotation plans for this series could changed. He allowed that there is one scenario where they might. Asked if that scenario is a GOOD scenario, he granted that it is.

Asked one more followup, whether that good scenario is one that we have seen before, he said, “no commento.”

So, in short: he’s not going to go into details until it’s a reality. BUT it does seem there’s a possibility that if the Cardinals gain ground on the Braves today and tomorrow, then Wednesday’s starter could change. That is, if they’re actually UP by a game going into Wednesday, it’s conceivable that Carpenter would be held back from that game.

Personally, I think it makes a lot of sense, and it’s what I’d do if I were in the manager’s shoes, IF that situation comes up. If you do it, and you still have to go to a one-game playoff, Carpenter is available to pitch that game. And IF they make the playoffs, it wouldn’t matter whether Carpenter’s last regular-season game was Wednesday or Thursday. Either way, he’d be available for Game 3, and no sooner.

Again, TLR didn’t lay this all out himself. But it’s not all that difficult to put the pieces together and figure it out.

And, finally, the playlist…

The Horrible Crowes, “Behold the Hurricane”
Buffalo Tom, “Paper Knife”
Jason Isbell, “We’ve Met”
Greg Allman, “Just Another Rider”
Manchester Orchestra, “Simple Math”


Wednesday camp tidbits: Waiting on a lineup

* With knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on the mound for the Mets, the Cardinals will not be sending out what you would consider an ‘A’ lineup today. However, it’s still not announced. Tyler Henley will be starting in right field, though, with Jon Jay moving to center. Andrew Brown will start at first. TLR said that Matt Holliday will be in there but did not commit to any other regulars.

* Albert Pujols, who had his foot stepped on during Monday’s game, and Colby Rasmus, who was hit in the hip by a pitch, are both out. But TLR said they’re both expected to play tomorrow — and he did not indicate that they’re out today BECAUSE of those dings.
* Jaime Garcia will start the game in Springfield, weather permitting.
* Daniel Descalso beat out Matt Carpenter for a variety of reasons, TLR said, but the two main ones were Descalso’s versatility and the desire for Carpenter to get at-bats. He said that in his mind, at least, the 40-man roster was not a factor.
* TLR said his worry with Jason Motte is Motte’s pitches, not his confidence.
* Today’s game is on ESPN.
And, finally, the playlist:
The Rolling Stones, “Dead Flowers”
Dramarama, “(I’d Like To) Volunteer, Please”
Letters to Cleo, “From Under the Dust”
Soul Coughing, “The Idiot Kings”
R.E.M., “So. Central Rain”

Motte to DL, Salas back again

ST. LOUIS — The Cardinals placed right-handed reliever Jason Motte on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday due to a shoulder injury and recalled right-hander Fernando Salas from Triple-A Memphis to take his roster spot.

In a release on Wednesday, the Cardinals referred to the injury as an “AC sprain” in Motte’s right shoulder. The disabled list move is retroactive to Tuesday.

Motte, 28, felt something amiss in his shoulder on Monday night, and underwent an MRI exam on Tuesday. However, he expressed little concern about the condition on Tuesday when he spoke with reporters.

In the Cardinals’ Monday night against game the Astros, Motte reported discomfort in his shoulder to the Cardinals’ training staff but not the coaching staff. He received heat on the joint after pitching the seventh inning, then came out to pitch the eighth.

In the eighth, though, he was not the same pitcher. Motte issued walks to the first two batters of the eighth, throwing balls on his last five pitches.

Motte has been an integral part of the Cardinals’ bullpen this season. He’s 3-2 with a 2.70 ERA, two saves, 42 strikeouts and 16 walks in 43 1/3 innings. He has the most appearances of any right-hander on the St. Louis staff.

Salas, 25, will be with the Major League club for the fifth time this season. In 10 appearances covering 11 2/3 innings, he has a 2.31 ERA, nine strikeouts and four walks.


Chess Match: Playing for the win

The situation: Runner on first base, no outs, bottom of the ninth inning. Cardinals trail by one. Francisco Cordero pitching and Jon Jay at the plate.

The decision: TLR lets Jay swing away, rather than bunting.

The outcome: Jay hits into a double play, pinch-hitter Ryan Ludwick flies out and the game is over.

The analysis:
For TLR, this came down to a strategic decision, not a tactical one. The question was, whether he should play for one run and the tie, or two runs and the win. He elected to play for the win.
His reasoning was that with P.J. Walters having only pitched four innings and the bullpen having been stretched thin, he was much better off trying to end the game right away. 
Using Ryan Franklin for the eighth and ninth, despite a deficit, was a pretty good indicator that TLR had no interest in using Kyle McClellan or Jason Motte unless he could absolutely avoid it, so it’s clear that he was managing by this philosophy throughout the late innings. 
So the question is whether you buy the philosophy. Because if you agree strategically, then the tactics are sound. If you don’t buy the underlying principle, then you’re going to argue vociferously for a bunt — or at the very least, some kind of motion to avoid the double play.

The comment: “Well, we don’t have the deepest situation, do we? I mean we don’t really have any other pitchers we wanted to use, so we are going to try and win the game. Left-handers are hitting .300 against [Cordero]. Jay was having a heck of a day and he is tough to double. I mean, I don’t even think it’s a tough call.
“I think playing for a tie would be a really dumb idea with what we’ve got. I mean, who’s going to pitch the tenth? If we had tied it in some way, then we would have got Kyle [McClellan] out there or somebody. But I think you have to play for the win.”

My verdict: As you likely know by know, my general strategic bent is in the Earl Weaver vein: pitching, defense and the three-run homer. I hate giving away outs, I hate playing for one run unless the situation absolutely demands it, and I hate giving a pitcher his first out. We’ve been over this ground, probably ad nauseam for some of you.
But at the time, I thought the bunt was really a slam-dunk. You play for the tie at home, and with Ludwick available to pinch-hit, you would seem to have a good chance of getting that runner home. 
Still, the more I think of it, the more I can at least see the strategy. They’re pretty clearly worried about keeping McClellan from being overused. It’s come up a few times this year. And Motte has pitched a great deal lately, so being careful with him one time is not a bad idea either.
They really got into the tight position by getting a total of one inning out of Dennys Reyes and Blake Hawksworth. If Reyes could have gotten through the seventh, and Hawksworth the eighth and maybe more, then it’s less of an issue. But if he was really, truly committed to saving those two relievers — an understandable goal — then it’s a defensible decision.

Stats of the day, May 28

No note of the night today, so I apologize for that. As usual, to make it up, let’s squeeze in a few different stats of the day.

Stat of the Day 1: The Cardinals are 95-41 when Chris Carpenter starts for them, a .698 winning percentage — equivalent to a 113-49 regular season. Over that same span, since the start of the 2004 season, they’re 476-408 when anyone else starts for them — a .538 winning percentage, equivalent to an 87-75 regular season.
Stat of the Day 2: Ryan Ludwick is 3-for-33 with four walks, 11 strikeouts and no extra-base hits when he leads off an inning this year: a line of .091/.189/.091. In all bases-empty situations, he’s at a better but still dismal .208/.270/.358. With runners in scoring position, though, he’s at .417/.512/.778. 

Stat of the Day 3: Jason Motte has 15 strikeouts and one walk over his last 12 appearances, spanning 11 innings.

Fun with double situational splits: Brendan Ryan is batting .353 with a .450 on-base percentage and a .529 slugging percentage in day games against left-handed pitchers.

And, finally, the playlist:
It’s a Chicago special, leading with Kanye’s outstanding new track.
Kanye West, “Power”
Ministry, “N.W.O.”
Rise Against, “Long Forgotten Sons”
Smashing Pumpkins, “Bodies”
My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, “After The Flesh”

Monday Chess Match: A scary moment (and a bonus)

The situation: Runners on first and second, two out, top of the seventh inning. Cardinals lead, 4-2, with Trever Miller pitching. Washington removes left-handed leadoff man Willie Harris for righty-swinging Alberto Gonzalez

The decision: TLR calls on Jason Motte to face Gonzalez, but Jim Riggleman counters with Adam Dunn.

The outcome: In a hugely entertaining at-bat, Motte gets Dunn to chase a high fastball for strike three, ending the inning.

The analysis: The Cardinals didn’t know for sure whether Dunn was available, after he was scratched from the lineup due to illness. But La Russa had to at least be aware that the possibility existed for Dunn to pinch-hit against Motte.
So, worst-case — and TLR is always aware of the worst case — you’re choosing between Miller against the very light-hitting Gonzalez, or Motte against Dunn. 
Gonzalez has two home runs in 484 Major League plate appearances. At worst, he’s a candidate to single or double and bring home one or two runs. There’s pretty much no way he gives Washington the lead.
Meanwhile, Motte’s two biggest weaknesses in his young career are his vulnerability to the home run and an enormous platoon split. Dunn is a left-handed hitting home run hitter, basically the worst possible matchup for Motte. The two most likely outcomes are strikeout and three-run homer.
Per TLR, the plan was to pitch Dunn “tough” — a concept we’ve addressed in this space before, where the idea is not to give the hitter anything over the plate but still hope you get him out. It’s a risky way to pitch.
The comment: “We just weren’t going to give him a cookie. You’re just going to pitch him tough, and Motte’s got some good stuff to try that with. You’re throwing 90-lus like that, it’s tough to center, but if there’s one guy who can, they had the right guy at bat. … 
“I didn’t know [whether Dunn was available]. but we’ve got an open base just in case.”

My verdict: It worked, and for some folks, that’s enough — if the decision works out, it was the right decision. I try to avoid that line of reasoning, because otherwise this whole feature isn’t much fun.
I think it was a very, very risky decision. Even if Gonzalez stays in the game, I just don’t think he’s the kind of hitter you play matchups against. He’s not dangerous enough. You leave Miller in, and if Gonzalez manages a single, you can still bring in Motte to face Cristian Guzman, who is a switch-hitter but quite a bit more effective against left-handed pitching. I’m pretty sure I would have stayed with Miller.

Bonus chess match: Several of you asked about the decision to bunt with Motte in the next half-inning. I defended it at the time, arguing that it’s foolish to waste a pinch-hitter on a sacrifice attempt.
I still feel it’s silly to use a pinch-hitter to sacrifice when you only have five players on the bench, but several of you brought up a third option: using a starting pitcher. They bunt quite a bit more often than the relievers. After thinking about it more, that’s what I would have done, and that’s what it sounds like TLR would have done if he’d had a second shot at it too. Here’s his comment:
“We don’t swing as relievers, but we bunt. But we don’t bunt much during the season, so it’s not really a fair challenge for him. So it’s my fault. I should have gotten a starter in there for him. I didn’t want to use up a player.”

Wednesday tidbits: Lopez, Motte, more

We’ll get to the tidbits in just a moment, but first a couple of requests. 

I could use some input from y’all. Over the past year or two, the primary way I’ve used this blog is as an outlet for tidbit-y news. However, now that we’re writing notebooks once again, a lot of times all of that news goes on the site. So I’m trying to figure out how exactly to use the blog in other ways as we go forward.
So, my two requests are:
1. Please be patient. I know there hasn’t been enough content on here, and I’m not pleased about that either.
2. Let me know what you want to see here. Opinions? I’d love to do some column-y kind of stuff. Game breakdowns and tactics? Some statistical stuff? Let me know.
Now, on with the tidbits, which I’m posting here so as to get them up quickly before I file my notebook later this evening.
* Felipe Lopez has some soreness in his right arm and is not in the lineup as a result. He started feeling it in Milwaukee, but TLR told us today that the club didn’t know of the issue when Lopez was asked to pitch on Saturday. The hope is that Lopez will be fully available on Friday.
* Jason Motte has been throwing a sinker, and he’s feeling good about what he’s able to do with it. I’ll have some more detail on this in my notebook later this evening. Credit where it’s due. It was this post at Viva El Birdos that got me to asking Motte about what he’s throwing these days. So thanks for the assist.
* It’s unusually cool and breezy here in the desert today, so the roof is closed at Chase Field tonight.
* TLR said that Kyle McClellan is probably off limits tonight after pitching two innings, but that Mitchell Boggs might be available if needed.
That’s all for the baseball, so you can click on to another page if you don’t want to see the playlist.
Today’s playlist is an all-Arizona special:
The Refreshments, “Banditos”
Supersuckers, “Born With a Tail”
Alice Cooper, “I’m Eighteen”
Meat Puppets, “Sam”
Machines of Loving Grace, “Golgotha Tenement Blues”

Late Saturday Warm-Up tidbits

Matthew Leach

Another round of notes for you from today’s Winter Warm-Up. The main story coming a little later this evening at will be on McGwire, after a long chat with John Mozeliak today regarding the hitting coach.

* Brad Penny was emphatic that he’s never thought of himself as a strikeout pitcher, and will have no qualms about a pitch-to-contact approach in St. Louis. Asked about his low-K-rate, high-groundball-rate stint in San Francisco, he said he didn’t really change his approach but he was working with a slightly different arsenal.
“I was pitching to contact like I always do,” Penny said. “I’ve never had high strikeout numbers. I can’t remember a season where I’ve had a lot, except for the Minor Leagues. I started throwing a slider a little bit towards the end of the year, and I was getting more groundballs in a 1-0 count instead of having to throw a fastball over the plate.”
* Brendan Ryan talked a good bit about what he’s trying to do with his swing.
“He [McGwire] is trying to put me in a position to hit the ball better and be more consistent,” Ryan said. “I battle changing my stance every week. So the first thing was, let’s find a batting stance and let’s stick with that. the funny thing is, I had a hard time finding out who I am. So I just kind of started doing what Albert did, and I started taking good swings. so I’m going to hit like Albert this year, at least batting stance-wise. I’m going to try. That’s what we’ve been doing. It feels good. he’s got a pretty darn good swing obviously. If I can do an impersonation of that and fall just short, then I should have a pretty good swing too.”
* Jason Motte feels he’s finally found an offspeed pitch he can rely on — two of them, actually.
“I was going fastball-cutter,” he said, “and then a slider-curve kind of thing was my third one. Probably in that order.”
And, finally, Trever Miller had quite a lot to say in his session.
Miller on the team’s prospects: “I think we’re probably the favorite in our division. From the looks of our team, we’re strong everywhere.”
Miller on his shoulder: “It feels better this offseason. I just had my first round of long toss. All the exercise I do and all the training is what’s keeping it healthy and strong.”
Miller on McGwire: “The guy loves the game. To have to go through what he went through, coming out and telling everybody of the steroid use, there’s no doubt he loves the game. If you love the game, I love you. I can’t wait.”
And Miller on Ryan Franklin: “Frankie’s going to be our closer. He did a great job last year, one of the best in the game. he deserves the right to be the closer again, and I’m sure he’ll prove to everybody that he’s going to do it for the rest of his career.”
Today’s playlist:
Radiohead, “My Iron Lung”
Garbage, “Silence Is Golden”
Muse, “Starlight”
Cure, “Watching Me Fall”
Crystal Method, “Drown in the Now”

Wednesday tidbits: Boggs and the rotation, Motte and the bullpen, Thompson, Molina

It’s another amazingly nice night at Busch Stadium, with a game-time temp of 85 degrees. Thanks to a nice breeze it feels milder than that.

* TLR wouldn’t commit to anything in the rotation beyond Sunday. For the weekend against the Padres, it will be Wainwright, Pineiro and Lohse. Monday in Los Angeles is the question mark. It could be Chris Carpenter on four days’ rest, or they could choose to give Carpenter the extra day, pitch him Tuesday and go with someone else on Monday.

It’s telling, though, that Mitchell Boggs was not sent down after yesterday’s game. That would seem to indicate that he will get another start. The question is whether that will be Monday or Tuesday. Either way, the next turn would come over the weekend against the Padres at PETCO Park.

One difference, as things go forward. If Carpenter pitches on Monday, he could go the following Saturday, and that would allow him to pitch at home against Houston on Aug. 27, rather than over the following weekend against Washington.

* The skipper acknowledged that Jason Motte is struggling, and that the Cardinals are looking for some right-handed relief help. Per his usual m.o., he refused to give much of a “scouting report” about what’s going on with Motte, but he said he believes it’s not similar to Kyle McClellan last year, when McClellan seemed to fade as a result of a heavy workload.

As for the possibilities for help, La Russa acknowledged that both John Smoltz and Justin Speier hold some appeal. However, there’s a catch with Smoltz. If he wanted to pitch in relief, he could simply have accepted the Red Sox’s assignment to the Minors, get conditioned for bullpen work, and come back and pitch out of the pen for Boston. That did not appeal to him. Thus, it’s likely that if he’s traded, it will be to a team that would use him in the starting rotation.

By comparison, Speier was released. He is a free agent. He could be had for nothing more than a roster spot and a pro-rated portion of the Major League minimum salary. He’s a very interesting name, and probably better than his 5-plus ERA suggests. He’s remained effective against right-handed hitters, and his strikeout rate is still excellent.

* Brad Thompson’s appeal for his suspension is scheduled to take place on Aug. 25 via videoconference.

* Yadier Molina is in the No. 8 spot today, which is not at all TLR’s preference. He likes having someone with a little speed batting eighth, because it’s tough to sacrifice with a slow runner on first base. However, the only other option, in La Russa’s mind, was to bat Ankiel second, Brendan Ryan eighth and Molina sixth or seventh. And he strongly preferred to split up the only two left-handed hitters in the lineup, Schumaker and Ankiel.

Tonight’s playlist:
Depeche Mode, “In Chains”
Pilot Speed, “Barely Listening”
Gossip, “Heavy Cross” (loving this tune)
Teddybears, “Yours to Keep”
U2, “Moment of Surrender”