Results tagged ‘ Matt Holliday ’

Notes of the night/Stats of the day, Aug. 23

Hello, all…

Back from a great mini-vacation in the Smoky Mountains, and coming to you live from Pittsburgh. I’ve been far too negligent about writing on the blog lately, so hopefully this serves as a nice, meaty return.
Note of the Night, 1: Monday night marked TLR’s 1300th win as the manager of the Cardinals, extending his own franchise record. For some perspective, there are only 27 other managers in the history of the game who won 1300 games total. Of those 27, 18 are in the Hall of Fame. La Russa reached that number after already establishing himself as one of the game’s top managers in two other stops.
La Russa became the 12th manager in history to win 1300 games with one team. And, typically, he brushed it off when it was brought up.
First, he sincerely didn’t know. As he was holding his postgame news conference, he received a text message congratulating him on the milestone. He asked me and Rick Hummel if the stat was true. Told that it was, here’s what he had to say:
“It’s a real nice number. It’s called longevity. That’s the reason for the number. Our fans are not happy with that number because we’re not in first place.”
Note of the Night, 2: TLR reached a round number on Monday, while Albert Pujols got closer to one. He’s one homer away from 400. But he insisted it’s not something he has to work to keep out of his mind.
“You don’t play for numbers,” he said. “It’s a great milestone, but I’m not thinking about it. I hope it will come with a great win with our ballclub. That’s what I play for. I thank God that I was able to hit it today in the first inning, to give a little bit of cushion for Kyle.
“It’s something that, yes, it’s a big milestone, but you get 400, you want to get 400 more I guess. I play one day at a time, one year at a time.”
There’s a pretty decent chance he reaches it this week, and even in the next two games. He’s torrid, and he crushes the ball in Pittsburgh.
Note of the Night, 3: Allen Craig had no warning he was going in to play second base on Monday night. He could do the math and figure out he might be the choice, but it wasn’t like he was given a heads up.
He didn’t mind.
“I was hoping I’d get [a play],” Craig said.
TLR said he had no hesitation to give Craig a look there.
“He’s an infielder,” the manager said. “I played second base, how tough can it be?”
Stat of the Day, 1: Yadier Molina is batting .348 since the All-Star break with a .395 on-base percentage.

Stat of the Day, 2: Matt Holliday has 206 doubles since the start of the 2006 season, the most in the Major Leagues.
Stat of the Day, 3: According to the amazing and invaluable Play Index at Baseball-Reference.com, and my hand-calculations based on that resource, Monday marked the 14th game in ujols’ career in which he’s come to the plate needing a triple for the cycle.
He’s had a single, double, and homer in the same game I believe 26 times, but it’s the 14th game that he’s done it and then come to bat with a chance to finish the deal. Three of those times, he’s homered.
Fun with Double Situational Splits: Since the All-Star break, Brendan Ryan is batting .368 with a .400 OBP and a .447 slugging percentage against left-handed pitchers.

And, finally, the playlist:
How about a road special for the beginning of a long road trip? And while we’re at it, let’s go 10 songs for a 10-game trip.
Willie Nelson, “On the Road Again”
Black Crowes, “Wiser Time”
Bob Seger, “Turn the Page”
Bruce Springsteen, “Thunder Road”
The Who, “Going Mobile”
Metallica, “Wherever I May Roam”
Rolling Stones, “All Down the Line”
Chuck Berry, “You Can’t Catch Me”
Pearl Jam, “Rearviewmirror” (single greatest driving song ever, IMO)
Johnny Cash, “I’ve Been Everywhere”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, August 11

So… that was an entertaining series, eh?

Note of the night: Matt Holliday did not return to Wednesday’s game after the rain delay. He was feeling some groin tightness, and the club decided it would have been unwise to push him on a very wet field.
“During the rain delay, he got something,” TLR said. “He wanted to go back out there, and then we saw the splashes and decided not to risk it. His legs were really getting tight.”
Holliday seemed entirely unconcerned about it, and said that he expects to play on Friday at home against the Cubs.
“With the wetness, it’s not smart to go out there and slip around,” he said.
Stat of the day: Over his last nine starts, Adam Wainwright is 7-1 with a 1.14 ERA, 51 strikeouts and 13 walks. In his last 12 starts, he has allowed no earned runs eight times.
Fun with double situational splits: Holliday is batting .370 with a .469 on-base percentage and a .630 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position since the All-Star break.
And, finally, the playlist:
Stone Roses, “Fools Gold”
Cure, “Never Enough”
New Order, “Shellshock”
Sisters of Mercy, “This Corrosion”
Nine Inch Nails, “Sin”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, July 7

Note of the night, 1: Quite a few things contributed to Evan MacLane pitching in the ninth inning on Wednesday, but one of them was that Dennys Reyes was unavailable due to illness.

TLR said after the game that Reyes might well not have pitched in that situation anyway, but that nonetheless Reyes was ill. Reyes confirmed shortly thereafter that he is dealing with an infection and not feeling well.
He said he’s been dealing with it for a couple of days, and that it’s not necessarily worse today than yesterday. Of course, Reyes pitched yesterday, so it’s not entirely clear what exactly the situation is. 
Note of the night, 2: Going back to last night (so skip this if you so desire), we had the chance to ask TLR this afternoon about a few of the ninth-inning decisions from Tuesday night.
He stood by the decision to play no-doubles with Carlos Gonzalez at the plate. His argument was that since Gonzalez was the tying run, you wanted to make sure that he didn’t get into scoring position. To my mind, it’s still the opposite — even first base is scoring position with Gonzalez on base and Giambi at the plate, and if you get the out, the game ends. But that’s the manager’s stance, and I figured I ought to pass it along.
He also stood by the decision not to remove Franklin, though I got the impression he was less certain of that in retrospect. He was frustrated (and he wasn’t the only one) with the strike zone for Chris Iannetta, feeling that Iannetta should have been struck out before he ever went deep. He essentially argued that for a good bit of that inning, Franklin hadn’t really done that much wrong.
“The only reason I would have gotten him was just the number of pitches and the game was tied. Just to preserve him for tonight.”
I still believe, and he didn’t dismiss this (though he didn’t confirm it, either) that if Motte or McClellan had been available, the hook would have been quicker. Usually when TLR is really convinced that a decision was right, he’s happy to defend it and present his case — as he did with the positioning on Randy Winn. In this case, there was less of a clear argument. I’m not sure he’s sure it was the right move.
Stat of the day: LeBron James has sco Whoops, sorry about that. Matt Holliday has eight extra-base hits in his last eight games. His slugging percentage has climbed from .488 to .527 in those games.
Fun with double situational splits: Albert Pujols is hitting .260 with a .370 on-base percentage and a .488 slugging percentage against right-handers on the road this year.
And, finally, the playlist:
Nina Gordon, “Tonight and the Rest of My Life”
Kings Of Leon, “Slow Night, So Long”
Rolling Stones, “Time Waits For No One”
Tanya Donelly, “World On Fire”
Pearl Jam, “Corduroy”
-M.

Notes of the night/Stat of the day, June 13

Note of the night, 1: I touched on this a couple of places already today, including in the game story and on Twitter, but I just find it really interesting.

When Kyle McClellan came into today’s game, I had a bad feeling about it for the Cardinals because I had a perception that McClellan had struggled in tie games. No data to base it on; it just seemed that way.
Well, the amazing thing about following baseball in 2010 is that you can look up just about anything. So I did. And it’s true: McClellan has been strikingly less effective in tie games than in games where the Cardinals are ahead or behind. For his career, entering Sunday, opposing hitters had an OPS of 810 against McClellan in tie games, including a .476 slugging percentage.
With the Cards ahead, McClellan has allowed a 645 OPS and a .328 slugging percentage. With the Cards behind, the numbers are 623 and .296.
So I asked about it. Asked TLR. Asked McClellan. Honestly, I was expecting to be blown off, to have them dismiss it as statistical noise. But they both acknowledged that there might well be something to it.
“I think it’s something to pay attention to,” TLR said. “He’s probably aware of it. That’s how you learn. Maybe you try to do too much. He made a great curveball to Reynolds, and then he threw another one later. He just overthrew, missed a couple balls high, maybe trying too hard.”
Said McClellan: “I think it’s a tough spot to pitch in. especially on the road. they’re trying to lift something. They’re trying to get the ball in the air. … The hitters are in a lot different mode than when they’re behind in the game or when they’re ahead. For me, it’s one of the tougher situations to pitch under. 
“But it doesn’t mean that you come out and expect to give up runs. You come out and attack everybody the same way. I wish I could pick times to give up my runs. You just can’t do it in tie games.”
I honestly don’t know what to make of it. But it’s real, and although I don’t know how to run the regressions, I’d bet that at this point it’s statistically significant. 
Yet it’s a conundrum, because McClellan is at least arguably the best reliever on the team, or at least the best other than Franklin. And he’s also a pitcher who can get more than three outs on a regular basis, which is an extra valuable commodity in a tie game, since you never know how long you could go in extras.
So the Cardinals can’t run away from him in tie games. But it seems they’d at least be wise to try to pick the matchups and situations carefully.
Note of the night, 2: Dennys Reyes is in a slump. There’s no way around it. He’s faced 12 batters this month, and gotten two outs. After the game, Reyes said the main thing he sees on video is that his sinker is not sinking, and it is cutting. So pitches that should be coming in on the hands of lefties are instead running out over the plate.
“I’m leaving my pitches up, up in the zone,” he said. “I’m usually low in the zone. Most of the hits I’ve been getting are on my sinker. My sinker has been coming back. Instead of sinking, they cut a little bit. I’m frustrated about it, because I don’t think I’ve gone through a stretch like this, so bad.”
Reyes hasn’t figured out what’s causing it to happen. That’s the next step.
“I feel really guilty about this game,” he said. “I haven’t been able to get people out. I need to do something about it. I need to do something to fix that and come back and throw strikes in the low part of the zone.
“I’m doing something. I don’t know. That’s the thing that I’ve got to figure out. I’ll start to do something tomorrow. I’ll talk to Dunc about it and see if he can find something to give me.”
Stat of the day: The Cardinals are 15-19 on the road despite having outscored their opponents, 137-130 in road games.
Fun with double situational splits: Matt Holliday is 2-for-17 with runners on base in June.
And, finally, the playlist:
I went to last night’s Arizona State-Arkansas game to see some Cardinals draftees, and I’ll be writing that up in the next day or two. But on the way home XM First Wave was playing the “Saturday Night Safety Dance,” and it was even better than usual. So, five songs from that program:
Duran Duran, “The Wild Boys”
New Order, “Bizarre Love Triangle”
Camouflage, “The Great Commandment”
The Smiths, “I’m So Sorry”
Depeche Mode, “Policy Of Truth”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, May 20

Note of the night: Brendan Ryan actually had some fun on Thursday. He got a hit, drew a walk, played solid defense and smiled on the field. All of those things count as progress for the Cardinals infielder.

Still, he’s not giving up on ways to try to break his early-season funk. He said he took “about 100″ swings left-handed in the batting cage on Wednesday — not because he’s trying to switch-hit, but just because, well, because he’s Brendan Ryan.
And, in response to a clamor from fans and teammates — he’s bringing back the mustache. Ryan was wearing his “Respect the Redbird ‘Stache” t-shirt in the clubhouse on Thursday afternoon, and showing the first signs of growth on his upper lip — though he joked that the full effect may not be seen for another month.
“I’m doing anything possible to make some good things happen, so whatever it takes,” Ryan told reporters after Thursday’s game.
Stat of the day: Matt Holliday has not hit a home run at home this year and is slugging .323 at Busch Stadium.

Fun with double situational splits: Felipe Lopez is 2-for-15 (.133) against right-handed pitchers at home this year, though he does have four walks for a .316 on-base percentage.

And, finally, a playlist for another gloomy, rainy day:
Sugar, “Panama City Motel”
Blakroc, “Hard Times”
The Postal Service, “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”
Aimee Mann, “How Am I Different”
Depeche Mode, “Sister Of Night”
-M.

Holliday scratched

Matt Holliday was kept out of the Cardinals’ lineup on Friday against the Mets due to illness. Allen Craig was tabbed to start in his place in left field.

Manager Tony La Russa said on Friday afternoon that Holliday wasn’t feeling well on Thursday for the Cardinals’ game against the Astros, but Holliday started the game anyway. However, he was removed from that game in the ninth inning for Joe Mather.
“Yesterday he was not feeling great,” La Russa said. “I tried to give him a day and he said ‘I can go, I can go.’ And he woke up today, he’s just not feeling good. But he’s here at the park.”
Holliday could be available to come off the bench for the Cardinals on Friday’s game.
-M.

Tuesday camp tidbits: The off day approaches

It’s another gorgeous day in Jupiter, mild and sunny with a decent breeze but not too much wind. Tomorrow brings the Cardinals’ first off day of the Grapefruit League schedule, and it’s supposed to rain. Good news bad news, I guess.

Plenty of tidbits today.
* I’ll have updates on the various injured Cardinals on the site later this afternoon. In the meantime, though: Julio Lugo is progressing well and hopes to be ready on Thursday. He’ll probably be held out a little bit past that, but the weekend is a good guess. 
* Matt Holliday is having good workouts but still hasn’t swung a bat. They’re not projecting a return date for him.
* Brendan Ryan is available to play defense today and is getting very close.
* Colby Rasmus’ high school team, coached by his father Tony, paid a visit to camp today. They got a tour, sat in the stands for some of the workout and generally seemed to be receiving the celebrity treatment.
* For the upcoming split-squad games, here’s how the Cardinals will set up their pitching: after Rich Hill’s start Thursday, it will be Chris Carpenter on Friday afternoon in Jupiter against Florida, and Kyle McClellan on Friday night in Viera against the Nationals. For next Monday’s split-squad, Kyle Lohse will pitch at home against the Red Sox, and TLR said that Shelby Miller may pitch the road game against the Astros.
* Members of last year’s Memphis team were presented with their Pacific Coast League championship rings prior to Tuesday’s game.
Today’s playlist is a pre-St. Patrick’s Day special:
U2, “Bad”
My Bloody Valentine, “When You Sleep”
Sinead O’Connor, “The Last Day of Our Acquaintance”
Thrills, “One Horse Town”
Thin Lizzy, “Jailbreak”
-M.

Monday camp tidbits: Pujols, fun in the cage, weather, Schumaker

Today was the nicest day we’ve had in a while down here, with more of that bright sunshine but also temperatures pushing the upper 60s. It gets even warmer tomorrow, but the forecast also calls for storms.

* TLR said this morning that the early game schedule for Albert Pujols will be about the same as it always is. Something like: one game, and then a day off; two games, then a day off; three games, then a day off. Pujols’ surgery this winter doesn’t make him any less available, and in fact the decreased discomfort in his elbow may make him a little bit more available.
* One of the more entertaining sessions of camp so far came on Field 6 this morning. 
Kyle Lohse was throwing live batting practice to the heart of the order: Pujols, Matt Holliday, Ryan Ludwick and Colby Rasmus.
Early in the session, Pujols hit a chopper up the middle that likely would have gone for a soft single, and said quite audibly, “That’s how you hit .300.”
Lohse shot back a comparison of Pujols to Ichiro, which drew a threw laughs — but perhaps wasn’t forgotten. The next time Pujols came up, he drilled a home run to left field, though he didn’t say a thing this time.
In line after Pujols was Holliday, who took a strike early in his ‘at-bat.’ Lohse playfully asked, “How do you take that?” Holliday didn’t say a word, but answered with his bat — he scorched the next pitch up the middle, a very hard-hit line drive that quite surely was a base hit.
Holliday still said nothing, but now Adam Wainwright piped in: “It’s a new year, Kyle. Last year that would have hit you!”
* Getting back to the weather: tomorrow’s storms could play havoc with the schedule, since it’s the only day the Cardinals have to work inside the main stadium before games start. However, TLR said it’s not really feasible to try to do anything in advance to account for that. Instead, the Cards will just try to get as much done as possible before the weather hits.
* Asked if he expected to see Skip Schumaker in the outfield this year, La Russa said he didn’t anticipate that happening very much at all.
Today’s playlist:
The Strokes, “Last Night”
The Breeders, “Divine Hammer”
The Libertines, “Can’t Stand Me Now”
Talking Heads, “And She Was”
Modest Mouse, “Gravity Rides Everything”
-M.

Sunday camp tidbits: the heart is here

Greetings on another spectacular day in Palm Beach County. We’re looking at temps getting up into the 70s, few clouds, not much wind, just perfect. 

* The heart of the order is here. Matt Holliday pulled in late yesterday afternoon and dropped off some belongings, and he took to the field today. Albert Pujols showed up this morning and hit the field as well. Meanwhile Ryan Ludwick, who has been around for several days, took most of the day off before the grind really gets going at the start of the week.
Infielders and outfielders, by the way, are perfectly welcome to do that at this point. Until full-squad workouts begin, even if an IF or OF has reported, it’s all optional. He can work out as much or as little as he wants.
* Live batting practice starts tomorrow, with four pitchers facing hitters for the first time. Four more hurlers will face hitters on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday it will really ratchet up.
* TLR was asked about the news that Joe Torre is evidently retiring after next season, in concert with Bobby Cox’s retirement at the end of this year.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that Bobby Cox will not allow a farewell tour, and neither will Torre,” La Russa said. “And I was telling somebody, Bobby’s liable to have so much fun this year that he comes back next year. he’s got a nice club.”
Asked if the retirements of his peers got him thinking at all, he responded:
“I mean it sincerely: I think one thing that I learned and I’ve been religious about is, I don’t let extraneous thoughts get into my head. this is all about trying to treasure this opportunity to win with this club, and concentrating on that. so I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about — ANY time — thinking about age, number of years ahead or behind. It doesn’t help you. so I don’t think about those guys either. Just don’t think about it. every day, with our staff, there’s plenty to think about.”
* The manager also had some interesting thoughts on the difference between the Cardinals’ late-regular-season fade (they lost eight of their last 10) and their playoff exit. He drew a line between them, saying there was very little similarity in how the club played.
“We definitely had some issues the last 10 games that were fixable,” he said. “But oher than the result, and I’ve said this before, I watched us against the Dodgers in Dodger Stadium and we were a good-looking club. I thought we competed really, really well. And then you get home and it was not a good game. We fell behind early and Padilla, we couldn’t get the ball out of the infield against him. I’m not including that one. So I felt like we were very competitive and we were 0-2. But the last three series, man, that was not good.
“I know we were ready to play against the Dodgers. But we did not do a good job the last [three series of the regular season].”
Today’s playlist: 
The Cribs, “We Share the Same Skies”
Phoenix, “Lisztomania”
Hot Chip, “I Feel Better”
The XX, “Night Time”
Editors, “Papillon”
-M.

Saturday camp tidbits: Holliday, Franklin, Reyes, Page, more

Greetings from the first really textbook Florida Spring Training day we’ve had so far. Temperatures got up into the 70s, it was bright and sunny, really a gorgeous day.

Camp is beginning to settle into a daily rhythm, with more bullpen sessions, pitchers’ fielding practice, and the like. Full-squad workouts begin in three days.
* First, some ‘breaking news’ — I just saw Matt Holliday dropped off, so he’s likely to begin working out tomorrow. Only a few players still have not been seen. Turnout so far is really excellent, it seems.
* Ryan Franklin said he’s working on refining his cut fastball this spring, something he started doing last year. He’s essentially replaced his slider with a smaller, tighter cutter. He’s thrown it a good bit inside to left-handed hitters, and now he intends to throw it more to righties.
“It’s not big, like a [Brad] Lidge slider,” Franklin said. “It’s just enough to get off the barrel. It’s a groundball, broken-bat [pitch]. The success I had last year was being able to get quick outs. Everybody knows I’m going to throw strikes and I’m going to be around the plate. So if I throw something middle-away and it looks like it’s going to stay there, then it breaks off, it might get a weak groundball.”
* Franklin said he threw this winter at the University of Oklahoma’s indoor football practice facility, a welcome advantage since the weather near his home was so bad. He’s a big OU backer.
* One more Franklin note: he was not thrilled about MLB’s new policy banning deadly weapons from the clubhouse. Franklin is one of several players who have brought hunting bows into the clubhouse, and he said he’s licensed to carry a firearm as well.
“I understand it,” he said. “But if you grew up around being outdoors and hunting and stuff, I was taught as a young kid how to respect firearms. First of all, you don’t do anything stupid with it. Always treat a gun like it’s loaded. It’s stuff that I taught my son and daughters. There’s a place for them.
“We’ve got a lot of outdoorsmen on this team, a lot of guys who grew up handling things like that. I don’t know. I kind of disagree with it, but if it gets in the wrong hands, it could be a problem.”
* Dennys Reyes has settled on No. 36 after pondering going back to his old No. 37. He said that when he left the park yesterday, he would keep an eye on how many 6s and how many 7s he saw — and he saw a lot more 6s on license plates. So 36 it is.
* La Russa said he wouldn’t rule out anyone but Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and the pitcher from batting in the No. 2 spot this year. It’s very difficult to envision Yadier Molina batting there, but La Russa jokingly (I think he was joking) said just wait until Opening Day and we’ll see it.
He also said that given Holliday’s presence behind Pujols in the order, the Cardinals may be more inclined to put on plays with their No. 2 hitter. That’s because they feel that Pujols batting with an open base is less of a problem than it would have been before Holliday’s arrival.
* TLR said he welcomes Mitchell Page back to the organization. Page was named the hitting coach at Class A Quad Cities.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “This is a guy who’s got a lot of goodness to him, and he was very popular in the system. All the young hitters really liked him. and when he finally got that big league opportunity, he had a real connection with hitters. And then he had a problem that I think is solved now. He’s a talented guy that we welcome back.”
* One last TLR note. Asked about Matt Pagnozzi, he refused to rule out Bryan Anderson from being the first catcher the Cardinals turn to if they needed someone besides Yadier Molina and Jason LaRue.
“It’s another year for ‘Andy.’ He’s a year older. He joined us at such an early age that we try not to make the mistake of penalizing him for [having been] here as a baby. He’s been here three, four, five years, and he’s still a baby. He’s still young. We’ll see what Anderson is. but he’s got a chore there, because Pagnozzi is excellent defensively.”
Today’s playlist:
Living Colour, “Young Man”
White Rabbits, “Percussion Gun”
Bob Mould, “Spiraling Down”
R.E.M., “Crush With Eyeliner”
Muse, “Stockholm Syndrome”
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