Results tagged ‘ Playlists ’

Monday camp tidbits: Game on

* Nick Punto returned to camp Monday, his first day back after having surgery to repair his sports hernia. Punto is walking reasonably well, but that’s all he’s really allowed to do at this point. He also seemed to be in good spirits.

* TLR still seems quite committed to Lance Berkman in the fifth spot in the batting order, and sounds very open to Colby Rasmus in the two spot. Today it’s Ryan Theriot there, but that’s in part because Rasmus isn’t playing today.
* Rasmus and Yadier Molina, two of the regulars not in today’s lineup, are both expected to play tomorrow.
* David Freese, however, is not. Freese will not start any sooner than Thursday’s split-squad game, though he could pinch-hit before then.
* Cardinals players, coaches and TLR met with MLB umpire representatives on Monday morning, a meeting that TLR described as quite productive.
And, finally, the playlist:
Soundgarden, “Pretty Noose”
Rise Against, “Prayer of the Refugee”
Chevelle, “Vitamin R”
Against Me!, “White Crosses”
System of a Down, “Revenga”
-M.

Friday camp tidbits: A (gasp!) normal day?

Greetings from what, at the moment, appears to be a normal, relatively quiet day at camp. Here are some of the tidbits from this morning’s session with TLR. Of course, check the site as the day goes on for fleshed-out versions of most of this, as well as for a feature on Mitchell Boggs.

* Lance Berkman is getting a day off from most of the defensive drills. TLR described it as simply a maintenance day after Berkman went full-on the past two days.
* TLR said that David Freese is feeling great, but that they won’t want to push Freese. As a result, Freese will play some in the early games, but not a great deal. Allen Craig, Daniel Descalso and Ramon Vazquez will all be candidates for a start or two at third base. Tyler Greene will probably play more at shortstop than at third this spring.
* The Cardinals will try to have “coaches’ games” each of the next two days, though it may be tough tomorrow. The club has a Spring Training season-ticket-holders’ reception after tomorrow’s workout, limiting how late in the day they can go. A portion of tomorrow’s workout will take place within the stadium rather than on the practice fields.
* Shelby Miller’s opportunities to pitch in the main ‘A’ games will probably be reduced as a secondary consequence of Adam Wainwright’s injury. The new fifth-starter competition means that more pitchers will be stretched out longer, which could squeeze out some innings for Miller.
* Adam Ottavino is a little bit behind some of the other fifth-starter candidates, in part because he’s coming off of health issues and didn’t pitch at all at the end of last year. TLR said that if Ottavino is the best, the club wouldn’t hesitate to use him, but that he’s definitely starting at a disadvantage.
* Boggs is one pitcher who will NOT be considered to start, despite his past experience.
And today’s playlist…
The Beatles, “Oh! Darling”
Elvis Costello, “Deep Dark Truthful Mirror”
The White Stripes, “Ball & Biscuit”
Keith Richards, “999″
Gregg Allman, “Just Another Rider”
-M.

Friday camp tidbits: The circus has left town

It finally felt like Spring Training today.

As TLR walked up to the diminished group of reporters, he quipped, “I’m sorry I’m late. I thought it was all over.”
And then he went into a 40-minute chat with the scribes, covering all sorts of ground. Heck, I even saw some batting practice and bullpen sessions today! So let’s talk baseball, rather than contracts.
* The Cardinals will be announcing some news with Jim Edmonds later today. FOX Sports Midwest is reporting that the news will be that Edmonds is giving up his comeback attempt, though it was unclear whether that meant he’s actually retiring or merely pushing things back for a while. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, meanwhile, just reported that Edmonds is in fact retiring.
Either way, TLR said we won’t be seeing Edmonds here tomorrow at the least.
* La Russa flew up to Atlanta last night for a function with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, an event also attended by Gen. Hal Moore. 
* According to the manager, David Freese should expect to play two out of every three games for a good portion of the season. Asked if he’d be pleased with Freese getting 110 starts this year, La Russa said he’d be just fine with that.
* TLR spoke yesterday with Tyler Greene about playing center field. He’s excited about the possibility of seeing Greene in the outfield.
* As we were standing around talking, several home run balls from a batting practice session peppered the media session and the bullpen mounds. Upon realizing that it was Ryan Theriot launching the blasts, La Russa joked, “That’s either a good sign or a bad sign.”
Today’s playlist:
Keith Richards, “Wicked As It Seems”
The Clash, “Clampdown”
Sugar, “If I Can’t Change Your Mind”
Screaming Trees, “Nearly Lost You”
Nirvana, “Serve the Servants”
-M.

Monday camp tidbits: Pujols, Edmonds, Valdes

It must really be Spring Training, as tidbits have returned. I’ll hopefully be doing these all spring — a quick morning look at both the stories I’ll be working on as the day goes on as well as those nuggets that don’t quite make it into a story.

* I’ve already put this up elsewhere, but in case you’ve missed it, John Mozeliak announced this morning that Wednesday at noon is the zero hour for getting a Pujols deal done. A short story on that is available at this link, and I’ll have more on it later today.
* Jim Edmonds’ situation seems dicier every day. Mozeliak said that Edmonds will speak with the medical staff today, but TLR said that it’s his understanding that Edmonds isn’t even “walking around briskly” as of a couple of days ago. Still, it sounds like club and player are both open to some situation where Edmonds opens the year in extended Spring Training, or something like that.
* Raul Valdes is the only late arrival, delayed due to visa issues. Mozeliak didn’t sound too concerned about it.
* Among today’s non-pitching arrivals were Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Daniel Descalso and Ryan Theriot.
* Thirteen pitchers were on the schedule to throw bullpens today: Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Adam Wainwright, Ryan Franklin, Kyle McClellan, Ian Snell, Fernando Salas, Brian Tallet, P.J. Walters, Bryan Augenstein, Brandon Dickson, Adam Ottavino and Valdes. Obviously Valdes didn’t throw…
And now the playlist is courtesy of the iTunes “genius” function”
The Black Keys, “Stack Shot Billy”
The White Stripes, “Catch Hell Blues”
Cold War Kids, “Mexican Dogs”
Modest Mouse, “Heart Cooks Brain”
Sleater-Kinney, “Turn It On”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, Sept. 28

Note of the night: Don’t look now, but Matt Holliday is having, well, a Matt Holliday kind of season. 

His slash lines:
2008: 321/409/538
2009: 313/394/515
2010: 313/389/539
That’s almost eerily consistent. Of course, he didn’t just hit 310/390/540 every week of the season. He’s come on extremely strong lately, including a 378/486/633 line in September. It started a bit ugly, but the end result is going to be exactly what the Cardinals signed up for.
Somewhat like Albert Pujols, Holliday is a bit reluctant to talk about trends. But he acknowledged that things are going well lately.
“I’ve had a pretty good month,” he said. “I don’t know what the numbers are. I feel like I’ve driven some runs in. It’s so day-to-day to me that I don’t really look at periods. But I feel good.”
Rather than the numbers, Holliday pointed to how he’s getting them.
“I feel like I’m seeing the ball well and hitting the fastball up the middle and pulling the offspeed,” he said. “Those are my points, trying to hit hard balls through the middle of the field, and if an offspeed pitch hangs, pull it.”
Stat of the day: After a 1-for-19 start to his big league career, Allen Craig has hit. Since the All-Star break, he’s at 286/333/468 in the Major Leagues (and, of course, crushing when he’s been down at AAA). 

I remain a Craig believer. I think he can hit, and I think he will hit at the big league level.

Fun with double situational splits: When Albert Pujols leads off an inning at home this year, he’s 20-for-42 (.476) with six walks, five strikeouts and eight extra-base hits, for a .542 on-base percentage and a .905 slugging percentage.

And, finally, the playlist:
I’ve been listening to the Drive-By Truckers pretty much incessantly lately, but an all-DBT playlist will have to wait until Saturday or Sunday in honor of their upcoming show at the Pageant. So instead, y’all get to take the reins tonight. Five suggestions from Twitter followers (@MatthewHLeach) are listed below:
Pearl Jam, “Do the Evolution”
Otis Redding, “Dock of the Bay”
Avett Brothers, “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise”
Mike Doughty, “I Hear the Bells”
The National, “Available”
-M.

Note of the night/Stat of the day, Sept. 9

Note of the night: Matt Holliday was ejected in the fourth inning on Thursday night after he argued a called third strike, making a bit of a show of it in the process.


Holliday flipped his bat away, walked away demonstratively and took his helmet off before finally flipping his helmet away as well — and that was the final straw that drew the ejection from home plate umpire Mike DiMuro.

I went back and forth on this a little with some people on Twitter, and here’s the truth of the matter: it almost doesn’t matter what Holliday said to DiMuro. You have a better chance of staying in the game if you stand still or walk away demurely while dropping a string of obscenities than you do with theatrical actions like Holliday’s.
In fact, if you watch the video (see the link here), you can clearly read Holliday’s lips as he says, “I didn’t say anything!” after he’s been tossed. But it’s just a truth of the game: making a show of things is a bigger transgression than salty language.
We didn’t get a chance to talk to Holliday after the game, but TLR did address the matter, and he didn’t seem too shocked by the decision.
“There’s a rule that allows you to keep a player in the game, and just [fine] him for the equipment. But DiMuro, he’s a good umpire. That was his good call. I know Matt didn’t curse him. He just questioned the call. But then he walked away and threw it. I think there’s an argument that that’s why that rule is in place. You can just fine him and keep him in the game.”
This really isn’t to pick on Holliday, although it may seem that way. Rather it’s to make a point that players know the rules, and fair or not, they are the rules. Personally, I saw the ejection coming, and I guarantee you that TLR and folks in the Cardinals dugout did too. Doesn’t mean it was the right call, but it wasn’t a surprising call at all — and therefore it would seem that it was avoidable.
Stat of the day: On May 14, Skip Schumaker was at 219/296/273. Since then, he’s batting an even .300 with a .353 on-base percentage and a .396 slugging percentage.
Now, those first six weeks did in fact happen. But that’s more than a half season, 90 team games, in which Schumaker is hitting exactly like you would have expected him to hit based on the previous two seasons.
Stat of the day, 2: Since injuring his knee in Washington, Yadier Molina is 8-for-38 (.211) with no walks, three strikeouts and one extra-base hit (admittedly a very big extra-base hit). Over the previous 35 games he had been at .339/.388/427.
Fun with double situational splits: Albert Pujols is batting .387 with a .441 OBP and slugging .759 in night games since the All-Star break.

And, finally, the playlist:
There’s so ridiculously much good music with Georgia connections, I don’t even know where to start. So let’s just kind of go all over the map.
R.E.M., “Pretty Persuasion”
Outkast, “Ms. Jackson”
Drive-By Truckers, “Wednesday”
Gnarls Barkley, “Smiley Faces”
B-52s, “Give Me Back My Man”
-M.

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

Hello from Houston. I’ll be kind of free-floating this series, working on a couple of longer-term features plus a column (maybe more than one) and some other stuff. Meanwhile, Richard Dean has your main Cards coverage.

Still, I’m at the park, so I’ve got some things to offer. The weather upon arriving in Houston was… striking. Nasty, nasty storms. It’s moving toward fall in some parts of the country, but down here it’s still summer. Anyway, on with the entry:
Note of the night: Jake Westbrook is 1-3 as a Cardinal, and the team is 1-5 in his starts. 
Little hint: that doesn’t tell you anything about how Westbrook has pitched. He’s averaged 6 1/3 innings per start and has gone at least six every time. In five of his six starts, he’s pitched a quality start, and his worst outing was four runs in six innings.
There’s no reason the Cardinals couldn’t be 5-1 with Westbrook on the hill, rather than 1-5.
In fact, look deeper, and he’s pitched even better than the runs allowed would indicate. He’s amassed 34 strikeouts against six walks. He’s got an absurd ground out/fly out ratio of nearly 5:1. 
Everything that Westbrook can control, he’s controlled well. Everything else… hasn’t gone so well.
“He’s probably not happy here,” TLR quipped.
Westbrook didn’t say that. And in fact, he’s not thrilled with the way he’s thrown the ball. But he also knows things could look a lot different for him.
“I’m fairly consistent,” he said. “I definitely feel like I’m capable of pitching better. I’m trying to get deep into the ballgames and give us a chance to win, and I feel like I’ve done that for the  most part. Could I have done better? Of course. And it’s my job to figre out how to do that.”
As for that 1-5 team record…
“That’s what I worry about, and that’s not very good,” he said. “A lot of that has to do with me not being as good as I can be, and I need to figure out a way to be better.”
Stat of the day: The Cardinals have five players currently on their roster who have at least 350 plate appearances this year and an OPS below 700. That’s the most of any National League team and tied with the A’s for the most in baseball. Aside from the Cards, in the National League, only the Padres even have more than two such players.

I’ve harped on it all year, but this is just another example. The biggest problem with this team between the lines is lineup depth. The core of the lineup is excellent. It just hasn’t gotten anywhere near enough help from the other guys.
Fun with double situational splits: With runners in scoring position in August, Albert Pujols is 10-for-20 with five extra base hits, eight walks and NO strikeouts, good for a .500/.643/1.050 line.

 And, finally, the playlist:
This one is dedicated to my beloved bride back at home, whom I’m eager to see in a couple of days. 
The Hold Steady, “Chips Ahoy”
Drive-By Truckers, “The Wig He Made Her Wear”
R.E.M., “These Days”
Mike Doughty, “Navigating by the Stars at Night”
Gorillaz, “Superfast Jellyfish”
-M.

Notes of the night/Stat of the day, Aug. 26

Note of the Night, 1: Yes, Felipe Lopez was removed in the fifth inning on Thursday night. No injury was announced, so I theorized that it was simply a move for defense.


And, in a way, it was. Here’s TLR’s explanation for the move:

“It looked to me like Felipe’s arm was bothering him, so I made the change.”
I wasn’t able to talk to Lopez in the clubhouse postgame, so I will follow up tomorrow. 
Note of the Night, 2: This could have been a chess match, but I don’t think it really calls for one. I asked TLR about whether Bryan Anderson was an option in either of the situations where a pitcher batted.
He paused. Took a while. Sized it up. And decided to give an answer, thankfully.
Essentially, he argued that the first time, with a runner on first and two outs, it wasn’t enough of a potential scoring situation to burn his last position player. The second time, of course, there was a man in scoring position. But he said he added up the combination of Anderson being the last man on the bench AND the unlikelihood of his coming through against Doug Slaten, who has been a lefty-killer this year (9-for-60, 0 XBH, 5 BB, 21 K), and determined that it didn’t make sense.
The quote:
“I don’t think that was the move to make, going down to the last player. Catcher goes out… We had a way to go. If it had been an RBI situation… Lohse didn’t hit with a guy in scoring position. And then the last time up, it’s Slaten, and do you see what Slaten does to left-handers? I don’t think that was a good at-bat to give our last player a chance. Now if we had some protection, because I think Anderson would hang in there. but if he’s the last guy, against Slaten, a guy who’s wiping left-handers out, no, I didn’t think that was the way to go.”
In short, he seems to be arguing that if it had been a different pitcher, he’d have used Anderson, even as his last player. And if Anderson weren’t his last player, he might have used him, even against Slaten. But the combination ruled it out.
Note of the night, 3: At the end of the night tonight, Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch and I had a chat with Albert Pujols about his participation in this weekend’s Restoring Honor rally at the Mall in Washington. I have a story up on the topic on the site, but wanted to flesh it out a little bit more here. Basically, Pujols made it very clear that he wants no part of anything political, and that like TLR, he was assured that when he participates, it will not be political.
That’s not to say it won’t turn out that way. And it’s not to take sides regarding the politics of the organizers. But I came away from the conversation with no doubt in my mind that Pujols wants no part of a political event. Just for what that’s worth.
Stat of the day: The Cardinals have played 89 ninth innings this year, and scored in 30 of them, or 33.7 percent of the time. That’s their highest percentage in any inning except the 19th, where they’re 1-for-1. They’re averaging .72 runs per ninth inning, which is also their highest in any inning except the 19th. Their next most productive innings are the fifth and the first.

Fun with double situational splits: Against lefties, with runners in scoring position, Randy Winn had been 1-for-12 on the year before tonight.

And, finally, the playlist:
More Stones, sorry, but I’m on a kick lately. Five favorite live Stones tracks:
“Gimme Shelter,” Brussels 1973 (or ANY 72-73 show)
“Satisfaction/Uptight” from the 1972 US Tour, w/Stevie Wonder
“Some Girls” from the 99 No Security Tour
“Stray Cat Blues” from Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out
“It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll,” Aragon in Chicago, 2002 (w/Bono. I was there. It was amazing)
-M.
 

Stats of the day, August 24

As you might expect, the clubhouse wasn’t too chatty tonight, so no Note of the Night for you. Instead, hopefully the stats are tasty enough to tide you over. And as you might expect, I’ll be following this entry with a Chess Match.

Stat of the Day, 1: Adam Wainwright has a 5.51 ERA for his career at PNC Park. Yet Tuesday was the first time he had lost here in 10 games, eight of them starts. He had been 5-0 in Pittsburgh. He still has allowed only one homer at PNC in 50 2/3 innings.
Stat of the Day, 2: The Cardinals are tied with the Brewers for the second-best team OBP in the National League. They’re also now fifth in runs per game.
Stat of the Day, 3: Albert Pujols’ next double will be his 30th of the season. That will make him, according to Baseball-Reference.com, the third player in Major League history with at least 10 seasons of 30-plus home runs and 30-plus doubles. Not the third with 10 consecutive. The third to do it 10 times ever in his career. Admittedly, this says something about the era, since the other two players to do it are Manny Ramirez and Carlos Delgado. But even so, Pujols will be 10-for-10, while no one else in the history of the game has done it more than 10 times in total.
Stat of the Day, 4: Pujols’ OPS for August is 1.353. If he were to finish the month with that high a mark, it would be the second-highest for any month in his career, behind only April of 2006 (346/509/914, for a 1.423 OPS).

Fun with double situational splits: This Pujols fellow, he’s pretty good. In night games in August this year, he’s 28-for-56 (.500) with 11 extra-base hits for a .946 slugging percentage, and five walks for a .541 on-base percentage.

And, finally, the playlist:
I’ve been listening to a lot of Rolling Stones today, but stuff from outside the “canon.” So here are five favorites from less-heralded Stones albums.
“Connection” (from Between the Buttons)
“She’s So Cold” (from Emotional Rescue)
“Crazy Mama” (from Black and Blue)
“Too Tight” (from Bridges to Babylon)
“Almost Hear You Sigh” (from Steel Wheels)
-M.

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.
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