Results tagged ‘ Skip Schumaker ’

Monday Warm-Up tidbits: Matheny edition

Mike Matheny chatted with us for nearly 20 minutes today. Once again, there will be a little more on the site later today, but here are some of the bullet points from his session:

 

* On whether Spring Training will feature any particular emphasis:

“We’re going to hit baserunning hard again. Baserunning for pitchers as well. A lot of little things like bunting. There’s going to be a lot of bunting going on. There’s going to be a lot of situational hitting. There’s going to be team fundamentals. I think it’s going to cover the whole game.

“Even a lot of the players said they’d like to have more focus on breaking down things [about baserunning].”

(And before you freak out, I didn’t take this to mean they’d be sacrificing a lot during the season necessarily; just that they’ll work on bunting in Spring Training)

 

* On whether he’s sorted out a lineup yet:

“I’ve been writing lineups since the day I got the job. Got some projections going, potential guys, and it was nice to add another one in there. One with Furcal and two with Beltran. Start to play around with that. The lineup is going to kind of be fluid as you head into Spring Training. You don’t want to write that until you get there and see how guys kind of mix in together and how they gel.”

 

* Asked whether Carlos Beltran is a significant variable in the lineup, given that he has both table-setting and middle-of-the-order skills:

“I do see it that way. I see him being somebody that, if his legs are right, he could certainly fill that two hole. I’m an advocate of trying to get your best hitters up as many times as you possibly can. That’s just playing some good numbers. But you also have to look at the ability to drive in 100 runs, and he’s been a run producer in the past. You just kind of have to watch how it goes. You have to watch how he’s moving too. You want to be able to make sure that his knees are working to the point that he can be scored when he does get on first base. But the high on-base percentage mixed with power mixed with the knack of knocking in a big run gives you the flexibility to put him just about everywhere.”

 

* Matheny repeatedly referred to the second-base mix as a three-man competition, including Daniel Descalso, Tyler Greene and Skip Schumaker. That’s a bit of a departure from some of what we heard earlier in the winter, when it sounded like Schumaker wasn’t really in the picture at second.

 

* On Beltran’s health and what it means to him playing center field:

“I think he’s going to over-deliver on what the expectations are of what his body is going to be able to hold. I just need to listen to the medical staff and also Carlos and his body of how we can use him, and center field may be a little more demanding than right field would be.”

 

-M.

Saturday non-Furcal tidbits

I and my teammate Ken Gurnick are actively chasing this Rafael Furcal story, but this particular round of tidbits is a Furcal-free zone. Updates from this afternoon in the clubhouse…

 

* Lance Berkman sits once again, but TLR sounded a lot like he expects Berkman to start tomorrow night. Not a guarantee, but he definitely sounded more confident about that than he has in a while.

* The absence of Berkman added up, today, to Skip Schumaker in right field and Ryan Theriot taking his place at second base. Theriot mentioned last night that he has a bit of shoulder soreness, and that’s part of why he’s playing second. But, as I hinted last night on Twitter, it’s hard to see it as total coincidence that Theriot’s first appearance at 2B came just as a potential Furcal deal appeared to be picking up some steam.

* The situation with the backup catchers hasn’t really changed. Tony Cruz is improved and is close to fully available. Gerald Laird is also improving but still basically emergency-only.

* Mitchell Boggs is dealing with another recurrence of the back soreness that has bothered him off and on this year. He’s likely out a couple of days.

* TLR said that although the team is somewhat short on relievers today, he’d still prefer not to use Lance Lynn as a long man.

“But,” he said,” we want to win the game today, and if we need two innings from him, you worry about tomorrow tomorrow.”

* Allen Craig is still not especially close, but TLR said he could conceivably join the club by the end of the upcoming road trip.

And, finally, the playlist, which is another iPhone shuffle special:

Duran Duran, “Hold Back the Rain”
The Killers, “Mr. Brightside”
Joe Jackson, “Breaking Us In Two”
Cold War Kids , “Cold Toes On The Cold Floor”
Violent Femmes, “Confessions”

-M.

 

Tuesday tidbits: The road to return

It’s a little bit quieter around here today that it was yesterday afternoon, but we’ve still got plenty going on. The forecast appears to have been a bit inaccurate, since it’s overcast, but we still should be free of rain.

* Skip Schumaker is set to go out on a rehab assignment tomorrow. He’ll report to extended spring training and take several at-bats a day down there. He hopes to need only a few days in Florida before being added to the roster again. TLR sounded less sure of that, but either way Schumaker’s return is getting closer.

* Colby Rasmus is out again today, but for the most part the news on Rasmus is good. He said he’s dealing with a simple abdominal strain. That’s encouraging, because he underwent tests yesterday to rule out other possibilities. I’d guess that he returns tomorrow, but wouldn’t be shocked if it were another day or two.

* Brian Tallet is set to pitch tonight for Class A Quad Cities as he begins his rehab assignment.

* Allen Craig is at second base again, with the lefty pitching for the Cardinals. That’s because Nick Punto is dealing with some right elbow discomfort and is unavailable to start. TLR said that he won’t flip-flop Craig and Daniel Descalso in double-play situations, as Joe Pettini hinted was a possibility last week in Chicago.

* TLR didn’t have a lot to say about Marty Brennaman’s comments regarding the Cardinals. “I think the safest thing to say is he’s a Hall of Famer, and he should get the respect that inclusion in that place deserves,” he said. “And then he ought to earn it every day from his Hall of Fame induction forward. He ought to earn it and not abuse it.”

* Albert Pujols isn’t going to play 3B much at all, the manager said. It’s an option, but not one that will be very common.

And, finally, the playlist, which is a remnant from Sunday night. I drove back from CIN, of course, and spent the last three hours listening to the great “Darkwave” program on Sirius/XM First Wave. So, five favorites from the show.

New Order, “Sub-Culture”
Sisters of Mercy, “Ribbons”
Front 242, “Headhunter”
Jesus and Mary Chain, “Just Like Honey”
Joy Division, “Atmosphere”

-M.

Sunday tidbits: Quiet morning

The Cardinals didn’t take batting practice on the field today, and TLR took a little down time after his radio show. He’s still dealing with the viral condition that has bothered him for a few weeks now.

* Ryan Theriot is back in the lineup after missing one game due to being hit on the shin by a pitch Friday.

* Allen Craig is feeling better as well, but not back in the lineup yet. Craig hit himself in the calf with a foul ball on Friday.

* Most Cardinals players are using pink bats, wrist bands and/or cleats today in honor of Mother’s Day and breast cancer awareness.

* Skip Schumaker took groundballs on the field today but is still only throwing underhand. He’s hoping to see Dr. Paletta sometime today, and the expectation is that at that time, he’ll be cleared to begin throwing a little bit as well as hitting off a tee.

And, finally, the playlist… Today’s playlist is in honor of my mom. A combination of favorites I remember her playing when I was very young, and favorites I foisted upon her when I was just a little bit older (you can probably guess which ones are which). Much love and many thanks to her. Folks, if you can, call your mom today, or better yet visit her. And then again soon after — not just today.

The Kingston Trio, “M.T.A.”
The Everly Brothers, “Wake Up Little Susie”
Phil Ochs, “Draft Dodger Rag”
Kenny Loggins, “Footloose”
Michael Jackson, “Billie Jean”

Happy Mother’s Day, y’all.

-M.

Friday tidbits: Westbrook, Schumaker, storms and more

It’s starting to cloud up at Busch Stadium, and it sounds like we’re going to get some weather. The question is how severe, and for how long.

* Jake Westbrook will start Sunday’s game, assuming that it’s the third game of the weekend. That is, if either today’s or tomorrow’s game is rained out, they would adjust things, and Westbrook would not pitch Sunday. But if the games happen as scheduled, it’ll be Westbrook.

* Skip Schumaker took groundballs today for the first time since his injury, but he remains a good ways way from returning to the lineup. He said he’s hoping his total time away will end up being 3-4 weeks.

* Though TLR made some noises earlier in the week about possibly adding a lefty reliever for this series, the club decided it didn’t make sense. For one thing, they just didn’t really have any viable options.

* Daniel Descalso gets the start at second base today. It looks like that will be a mix-and-match position for the time being.

* TLR is getting better as he recovers from conjunctivitis, or pinkeye. He’s able to open his eye a little bit, which is progress.

* Fernando Salas is likely unavailable tonight. It’s only been two days since he pitched three innings.

And, finally, the Earth Day playlist:
R.E.M., “Fall On Me”
Joni Mitchell, “Big Yellow Taxi”
Marvin Gaye, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)”
The Pretenders, “My City Was Gone”
Jack Johnson, “The Horizon Has Been Defeated”

-M.

Monday camp tidbits: Looking at the lineup

* Today’s lineup looks an awful lot like what I expect to see on Opening Day, save for one thing. Gerald Laird returns to the lineup, starting in place of Yadier Molina. Other than that, I expect the same players in the same order 10 days from now.

1. Theriot SS
2. Rasmus CF
3. Pujols 1B
4. Holliday LF
5. Berkman RF
6. Freese 3B
7. Schumaker 2B
8. Laird C
9. Carpenter P
* The most interesting questions about the lineup remain in the 1-2 spots. I asked TLR today if he would be hesitant to start the lineup with two left-handed hitters, and he said he would. So if Schumaker leads off, there’s a decent chance you’d see Rasmus down in the 6th spot or so, and Theriot batting second. I think, personally, that today’s look is a much better alignment, as long as Theriot is capable of leading off. 
TLR also acknowledged that Schumaker can be a nice fit in the 6 or 7 spot as a guy who can hit line drives and maybe drive in some runs.
* Speaking of Laird (I was, briefly), he’s back in the lineup today. He’s under orders to take it fairly easy on the bases after he missed some time with hamstring discomfort, but he’s playing.
* It gets clearer and clearer that Bryan Augenstein is a name to take very seriously for this roster. Dave Duncan told me as much a couple of days ago, and TLR echoed that today. I think he may well be the favorite to be the long reliever on Opening Day.
* TLR said once again that he believes Freese’s playing time could be more than 2-out-of-3 games as the season goes along. He made the point, though, that in April they’ll likely still be quite cautious with Freese. In short, the increased optimism on Freese doesn’t really change the plans for how they’ll use him in the season’s first month or two, nor does it change what they’re thinking regarding a backup third baseman for the start of the season. Someone will need to be that guy.
And, finally, the playlist:
Tame Impala, “Solitude Is Bliss”
Foster the People, “Pumped Up Kicks”
Plan B, “Stay Too Long” (really dig this song)
Sleigh Bells, “Infinity Guitars”
Mute Math, “Electrify”
(woo XM Alt Nation!)
-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, 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 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.

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.
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