Results tagged ‘ John Smoltz ’

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.

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.

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”

-M.

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