Results tagged ‘ Note of the night ’

Note of the night/Stat of the day, June 2

Note of the night: If you bring up patience or drawing walks or even on-base percentage to Tony La Russa, there’s a decent chance you’re going to get a somewhat dismissive answer. It’s not that he devalues OBP — though he values it less than, say, I do. It’s that he feels that in at least some cases, an emphasis on patience and walks can put hitters in a bad spot.

He doesn’t want hitters going up thinking “walk” any more than he wants them going up thinking “home run.” I think his reaction to the idea is overly strong, but I see where he’s coming from.
Instead, the manager’s mantra is a simple one: swing at strikes. He wants his hitters to have a good strike zone, to lay off pitches out of the zone and be aggressive with good, hittable strikes.
For once, that’s what the Cardinals did on Wednesday. The outcome may not have reflected it, as four runs is not a total that jumps off the page. But if you watched the game, you saw hitters laying off pitches out of the zone, forcing Sam LeCure to come over the plate and taking good swings when he did.
As far as the approach, and the swings, and the contact it was one of the better games I’ve seen this team have this year. And it came in a situation that sometimes befuddles the Cards: facing a rookie with only one previous Major League game.
You may look at a box score, see four runs, and be unimpressed. But I think that’s misleading.
“We did a nice job, but he [LeCure] did a good job,” La Russa said. “He really made a lot of pitches behind in the count that were quality. … He did a good job. The catcher worked him really well. So we didn’t get much from him, three runs. He did a good job. But we were working.”
Stat of the day: Albert Pujols has reached base at least twice in each of the last four games, and 13 times total in those four games, bringing his on-base percentage up from .409 to .431.
Fun with double situational splits: Both of Felipe Lopez’s home runs this year have come at home against left-handed pitchers.

And, finally, the playlist:
Sleigh Bells, “Kids”
LCD Soundsystem, “Disco Infiltrator”
Bloc Party, “Helicopter”
Tame Impala, “Solitude Is Bliss”
M.I.A., “Born Free”

-M. 

Note of the night/Stat of the day, June 1

Note of the night: You may have noticed that the bulk of the damage done against Cardinals pitching on Tuesday night came at the hands of a familiar hitter: Scott Rolen. The former Cardinal hit two home runs and a double to spearhead the Reds’ attack against P.J. Walters and the St. Louis bullpen.

Asked after the game about Rolen, La Russa had a comment that could be taken a couple of different ways. 
“He’s healthy and we have seen that,” La Russa said. “He’s an outstanding player when he’s healthy. He’s playing outstanding for them. 
“Probably their manager’s getting more out of him than I did. I know people are going to speculate that and it’s probably true. I’m sure it’s true. When he’s healthy — and he’s healthy – he’s an outstanding player.”
Now, you can take that as a really direct shot across Rolen’s bow, essentially accusing him of dogging it. Or you can take it as an attempt at the sort of self-deprecation that TLR does sometimes.
My read on it was that he did not intend the more sinister suggestion. Other people I asked in the press box disagreed. I’m sure some of you saw it on TV, so I’d be curious what you thought.
Stat of the day: The Cardinals lost for only the third time all year in a game where Colby Rasmus scored a run. They’re 19-3 when Rasmus scores. By contrast, they’re 18-6 when Albert Pujols scores, and 17-6 when Matt Holliday scores.
Fun with double situational splits: David Freese is batting .409 and slugging .667 against right-handers at home this year.
And, finally, the playlist:
This is an exact five-song sequence that came up on my iPhone this afternoon. Good stuff.
The Hold Steady, “The Weekenders”
Drive-By Truckers, “Home Field Advantage”
Guns N’ Roses, “Used To Love Her”
U2, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (live, off “Rattle & Hum”)
Blur, “There’s No Other Way”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, May 31

Note of the night: David Freese arrived in St. Louis with a deserved reputation for opposite-field power. It’s where he likes to hit, and it’s where he usually does his best hitting. In the early going in 2010, it’s where he was hitting.

But this is the Major Leagues, and when a player has success doing one particular thing, opponents will adjust. Pitchers began to see that Freese was hitting the ball hard to right field, so they started challenging him inside.
He has responded, and quite nicely.
On Monday, Freese doubled to left and drilled a hard liner to the track in left. It’s part of a continuing pattern lately, as he’s pulled the ball more. He’s not looking to do it, but he’s willing to do it.
“Some teams are trying to come in a little more, but that’s just the kind of adjustment I have to make,” he said. “If they’re going to come in, I’ve got to start pulling the ball. that’s how it’s got to go.
“You’ve still got to have an approach. When you start seeing teams over and over again, you’ve got to have a pretty good game plan.”
His willingness to be adaptable has caught his manager’s eye too.
“One reason he’s got a chance to be really tough is he uses [all fields],” TLR said. “You pitch him one way he goes that way. You may get him in there once, but you go back away he goes away. He is legit.”
Stat of the day, 1: As of 9 p.m. CT on Monday night, the Cardinals have the best run differential in the National League at plus-51.
Stat of the day, 2: St. Louis ranks third in the National League in walks with 195, and second in doubles with 105.
Fun with double situational splits: In home games in May, Freese batted .375 with a .434 on-base percentage and a .646 slugging percentage.
And, finally, the playlist:
New Order, “Round and Round”
Soul Coughing, “White Girl”
Stone Roses, “This Is The One”
Garbage, “Push It”
Radiohead, “Let Down”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, May 30

Note of the night: You’ve got a game story centered on Albert Pujols. You’ve got a sidebar story on Albert Pujols. How about a note of the night on Albert Pujols?

When Pujols goes deep three times, then talks for 15 minutes afterward, you better believe you’re going to get a lot of Pujols on this blog and site, and from everyone else who covered it. And this afternoon, Pujols was engaging, thoughtful, funny — one of the better interviews he’s given in recent memory.
Even though Pujols was frustrated by the questions and speculation about his less-productive May, he acknowledged that by his own standards he’s been struggling. But he said he’s feeling good physically, and strongly downplayed any issues regarding his right knee, which he tweaked a few weeks ago. 
“I’m still in the lineup and playing every day,” he said, when asked if he was healthy. “I told you guys in Spring Training, I told you guys early in the year. You never play this game 100 percent. Every day something bothers you. it could be a hamstring, it could be a shoulder, anything. It’s hard to play this game 100 percent. Not even the first game of Spring Training.
“I just don’t like when people try to figure out what’s going on with me. Maybe I’m struggling at the plate and hitting .305. Maybe because I haven’t hit a home run in so many at-bats, people try to figure out that.”
It’s worth noting that I haven’t seen any kind of wrap on Pujols’ knee in recent days, and that’s something he would have if he’d been getting treatment on it.
As for whether he was worried about his production, the answer is pretty much a no.
“This is my 11th season as a professional athlete, and I know what I’m capable of doing,” he said. “I believe that [God] has blessed me with this great career, and all of a sudden it’s not going to go away just because you struggle. You figure out. You find yourself out.
But, again, he didn’t deny that the production hasn’t been there.
“You obviously know when you’re chasing balls out of the strike zone and you’re not patient,” he said. “You feel that. Maybe sometimes you want to push it a little, because you think it’s not going too good. But I don’t think I have felt that this year. Believe it or not.”
Stat of the day 1: Eleven of Pujols’ 12 home runs have come on the road.
Stat of the day 2: From June 1 of last year through the end of May this year, Adam Wainwright has made 34 starts, going 21-8 with a 2.29 ERA. He has 230 strikeouts and 59 walks in that span. In 23 of those 34 starts, he’s gone at least seven innings with no more than two earned runs.
Fun with double situational splits: Skip Schumaker is batting .289 with a .372 on-base percentage at home in May.

And, finally, the playlist:
The Donnas, “Hot Pants”
Van Halen, “Eruption”
Kings of Leon, “Molly’s Chambers”
Rolling Stones, “Respectable”
Nirvana, “Sliver”

-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, May 23

Note of the night: As TLR went through his postgame news conference on Sunday, fielding questions and singling out heroes, he responded to a question about his relief corps and started to add an answer to a question that hadn’t been asked yet. Then he decided to wait.

The next question was mine, about his starting pitcher on the afternoon. It turns out, that was the question that the manager was waiting for. What’s odd is that he was waiting to sing Chris Carpenter’s praises, when I was asking because I didn’t think Carpenter didn’t look sharp at all.
To my eye, and according to Gameday, Carpenter’s location just wasn’t very good. He was consistently in the top half of the strike zone, and that simply isn’t where he operates. That’s not Carpenter’s style. So it was strange to hear both manager and pitcher with such a different take.
“I really felt that the ball was coming out of his hand outstanding,” La Russa said. “He had a couple 0-2 misses and they capitalized. And their catcher takes the ball on the outside black and hits it out, that’s great hitting. He pitched around a couple errors. I really thought that Carp had good stuff and located, made a lot of pitches, kept us in the game.
“Overall, I really thought the ball was coming out of his hand very well.”
And here’s what Carpenter said, a comment I also noted in the game story: “Interesting enough, it really was the best I’ve felt all year. I made a couple bad pitches for the homers, but I felt like my stuff was good. I felt like my cutter was better. my command was better. it was a nice win for us and I was happy with the way I felt. … I felt like I was locating well.”
So, honestly, what do you do with that? If the Cardinals had lost the game, I was committed to a story all about how they need Carpenter and Wainwright more than ever, and Carpenter just didn’t have his command on Sunday. Would have been a tough story to write, given the quotes.
What did y’all think, then? Was he overall sharp and just hurt by a couple mistakes? Or was he missing his spots on a consistent basis?
This is one of the challenges all of us sometimes face. Our own observations sometimes clash with those of the players/coaches/managers. Sometimes I re-assess after hearing the comments. Sometimes I soften it a little bit, because someone’s comment casts something in a different light that I hadn’t thought of.
But sometimes, like today, I come back up and I still disagree. I just didn’t find Carpenter to have looked all that sharp. His velocity was good. His stuff was good. But his location did not look good.
Stat of the day: The Cardinals lead the league in bullpen ERA at 2.92 and are tied for the fewest blown saves with three.
Fun with double situational splits: Six of Albert Pujols’ eight home runs this year have come against right-handers on the road.
And, finally, the playlist:
Ride, “Vapour Trail”
Stone Roses, “I Wanna Be Adored”
Charlatans UK, “The Only One I Know”
Catherine Wheel, “Black Metallic”
Jesus and Mary Chain, “Just Like Honey”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, May 21

Note of the night: It’s more Brad Penny, of course. I have 900 words or so on the topic up on the site now, but there’s still more to go into. 
Most notably, there’s the fact that Penny felt something after his last start and didn’t notify the club. Those of you who watched the postgame probably noticed that TLR said that his mood “stinks.” And when asked if Penny’s injury was the cause, he said, “Yeah, that’s part of it.”
And while the manager didn’t elaborate beyond that, it can’t have sat well that Penny pitched while knowing that he had something amiss physically.
“The first day after Cincinnati, it didn’t feel that good,” Penny said. “The second day, it felt a little better. It was getting better and better, and I didn’t feel it at all in the bullpen [on Friday evening].”
Penny threw a side session between starts, and said he felt the injury “a little bit” at that time. 
Other Penny-related stuff: According to my friend Will Carroll, Baseball Prospectus’ injury guy, 4-6 weeks is a fairly reasonable time frame for a pitcher with a lat injury. … P.J. Walters, who is en route from California as I write this, was absolutely lights-out in three starts at Memphis this year, allowing one earned run in 18 2/3 innings with 23 strikeouts and three walks.
Stat of the day: The Cardinals’ slugging percentage, as a TEAM, went up by seven full points on Friday night, from .400 to .407. 
Fun with double situational splits: David Freese is batting .464 (13-for-28) with a .500 on-base percentage and a .929 slugging percentage in day games at home this year, and against lefties at home his line is .444/.524/.556.
And, finally, the playlist:
Soundgarden, “Tighter & Tighter”
Living Colour, “Wall”
Metallica, “The Four Horsemen”
Alice In Chains, “Would”
System Of A Down, “Jet Pilot”
-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.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, May 19

Note of the night: The Cardinals announced after tonight’s game that outfielder Shane Robinson will undergo season-ending surgery on his left shoulder.

Robinson, 25, separated his shoulder while sliding into second base in a May 8 game at Round Rock. He made his Major League debut last year, batting .240 with a .231 on-base percentage and .280 slugging percentage in 26 plate appearances.
A speedy right-handed hitter, Robinson had put up a .279/.330/.407 line at Memphis this season.
Dr. George Paletta, the Cardinals’ head team physician, will perform the operation.
Stat of the day: The Cardinals have scored 65 runs in 18 May games, for an average of 3.61 runs per game. That’s 13th in the National League. They’re slugging .372 as a team for the month, and their nine home runs in May are tied for 14th in the league.
Fun with double situational splits: Matt Holliday is batting .174 in day games at home this year, with a .296 on-base percentage and a .261 slugging percentage.
And, finally, the playlist:
I’m still on a Stones kick, and tonight’s playlist is even lazier than last night’s. It also consists of equally fantastic tunes. It’s the great side one of the great “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out”
“Jumpin’ Jack Flash”
“Carol”
“Stray Cat Blues”
“Love In Vain”
“Midnight Rambler”
-M.

Notes of the night/Stat of the day, May 18

Note of the night, Pt. 1: Now it’s Skip Schumaker who’s in a fielding slump. Just as Schumaker seems to be finding something at the plate, he seems to have a bit of a case of the fielding yips. He was charged with two errors, both entirely legitimate, in Tuesday night’s win over the Nationals.

Though TLR tried to excuse Schumaker for the second error, Schumaker was having none of it. He did see some consolation, though, in being the second Cardinals middle infielder to go through something like this in recent weeks.
“It’s happened to Brendan Ryan, who’s the best defensive player I’ve ever played with,” Schumaker said. “That’s the good thing about it. but you’ve got to move forward. Thank God it was a win.”
It’s not entirely clear what the options are if TLR wanted to give Schumaker a break, other than to start Lopez at second one night and put Brendan Ryan back in the lineup. And I’m not at all sure Anibal Sanchez is the kind of pitcher you want to bring Ryan back against.
So Schumaker will just have to work through it.
Note of the night, 2: Dave McKay has a sore back, and so he was not out at first base tonight. Joe Pettini took his place coaching first.
“Dave McKay tweaked his back yesterday,” TLR said. “He barely was getting to first base and back. He didn’t throw [batting practice] today. He’s crooked.”
Stat of the day: Ryan Franklin hasn’t issued a walk this season. Perhaps more impressively, his 3-1 count to Wil Nieves was only the sixth time all year that Franklin has gone to a three-ball count. He’s faced 69 batters in 2010.
Fun with double situational splits: Left-handed hitters, batting in night games, are 3-for-26 against Jaime Garcia this year.

And, finally, the playlist:
Pretty simple tonight, what with the re-release of Exile On Main Street. My five favorite songs from Exile, which is my favorite album of all time.
“Rocks Off”
“Torn And Frayed”
“Loving Cup”
“Let It Loose”
“Shine A Light”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, May 17

Note of the night: When Ryan Ludwick had a little time to think about it, catch his breath, and see how he felt, he knew he was OK. Until a moment had passed, though, Ludwick had one reaction to being hit on the left hand by a pitch from Nationals rookie Drew Storen: fear.

“I think the intial reaction is just, kind of, scared,” Ludwick said. “I’ve been hit in this wrist before. I’ve broken that, had to have surgery, by a fastball that came up and in on me. I think any time anything is around the wrist or hands, the initial reaction when it hits you is somewhat of a panic.”
Fortunately, when Ludwick did take a moment, he realized the ball had hit him on the “meat” of his hand, rather than a place where he might be in jeopardy of a fracture. He stayed in the game and, of course, made a spectacular diving catch in right field in the next half-inning.
“A little bit of bruising in there,” he said. “Not a lot.”
Stats of the day: TLR talked up the possibility of Ludwick as a Gold Glover if he keeps playing the way he has. While it’s very unlikely that Ludwick will win a Gold Glove playing right field, the numbers indicate that the manager isn’t off as far as how Ludwick is playing.

UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) has Ludwick rated as +2.7 runs in right field so far in 2010, seventh among Major League right fielders. But John Dewan’s plus-minus system rates Ludwick as +9 (plus-minus rates by plays, not runs), which is tied with Ichiro Suzuki and Jay Bruce for the best in the Major Leagues.

As for another Cardinal whose defense gets discussed quite a bit… Skip Schumaker has a UZR of -0.9 on the year, which is to say that according to UZR he is right about one run below average defensively so far on the young season. According to the plus-minus rating, Schumaker is a +2 and has saved two runs.
Also per plus-minus, Schumaker has made a massive improvement on balls to his left. Last year, he was -16 to his left. This year, at just about the one-fourth mark, he’s -1 to his left.

(On all of those numbers, that’s entering today)
Fun with double situational splits: Ludwick is crushing right-handed pitching at home this year. He’s 21-for-51 (.412) with eight walks and 10 extra base hits for a .500 on-base percentage and a .706 slugging percentage.
And, finally, the playlist…
Tomorrow, you better believe it’ll be Stones-related, in honor of the Exile On Main Street re-release. Tonight, though, it’s a hat tip to the great “Darkwave” program that runs on Sunday nights on the Sirius/XM channel First Wave. Had it blasting for the last 3 hours of the drive home from Cincy last night. Here are five selections that got turned up especially loud:
Shriekback, “Nemesis”
Sisters of Mercy, “Lucretia My Reflection”
Jesus and Mary Chain, “April Skies”
Duran Duran, “New Religion”
Nine Inch Nails, “That’s What I Get”
-M.
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