Results tagged ‘ Yadier Molina ’

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

Note of the Night: The Cardinals are playing with a short bench right now. Just how short wasn’t entirely evident until Wednesday afternoon.

With two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning, in a two-run game, Ryan Ludwick remained on the bench. The official word earlier in this series was that Ludwick might be available to pinch-hit if needed — and it’s hard to imagine a scenario that set up better than the one at the end of Wednesday’s game.
Yet he stayed on the bench.
“I felt pretty dang good today,” Ludwick said after the game. “I’m just kind of getting rest. The last two days I’ve told people, a couple days of rest.”
It’s understandable not to push Ludwick. But if he’s completely unavailable, even in a two-out, two-on, bottom-of-the-ninth situation, it seems to scream for the addition of another hitter. The Cardinals may do that after Blake Hawksworth’s start on Thursday, but they found themselves in a situation where they could have used it on Wednesday.
Stat of the day: Perception is a funny thing. 
The Cardinals are batting .309 with the bases loaded this year (third-highest in the National League). They have a .582 bases-loaded slugging percentage (second in the league) and a .344 OBP (fourth). 

They’re at 266/369/452 with runners in scoring position on the year, ranking eighth in average, fifth in OBP and third in slugging. That’s as opposed to a 260/334/410 line overall.
The problem is not the timing of the hits. It’s the spots in the lineup that have been entirely unproductive.
Fun with double situational splits: Yadier Molina went 1-for-28 against left-handers in June, though at least the one hit was a homer.
And, finally, the playlist:
Hot Chip, “I Feel Better”
LCD Soundsystem, “Dance Yrself Clean”
Fever Ray, “When I Grow Up”
Gossip, “Dimestore Diamond”
Caribou, “Odessa”
-M.

Stats of the day, June 27

Stat of the Day, 1: The Cardinals are 4-17 when their starting pitcher allows more than three runs.

The thing is, in the early part of the season that wasn’t a problem, because it was never happening. Through May 5, Cards starters only had four games where they allowed more than three runs. Put another way, it happened four times in the season’s first 32 games, and 17 times in the last 43 games.
This speaks to a couple of issues, actually. One, as has been repeated ad nauseam, this team is playing in such a way where, if the starter is anything short of excellent, they’re going to have a tough time winning.
But there’s a second point, which goes hand-in-hand. And that’s that as the rotation is currently constructed, you can’t count on them being excellent nearly as often as you could early in the year. With Garcia regressing to the mean a bit, and Penny still out, lights-out starts are less the norm than they were in April.
So while this team would certainly benefit from getting something going consistently on offense, it would also be a major boost to get Penny back and dealing — so that even if they can’t start winning 7-6 games, they can win a few more by 3-1 scores.
Stat of the day, 2: Brendan Ryan is batting .210 with a .269 on-base percentage in June. 
I like Ryan a lot, both personally and as a defensive player. But with the season six days away from its halfway point, this looks less and less like a slump or two slumps or three slumps, and more like a bad year. Whether the answer is to return Felipe Lopez to being the primary shortstop (though he’s not exactly tearing it up), or to give Tyler Greene a better look (and Greene is RAKING at Memphis), it does look like it’s time to dial Ryan back once again.
Stat of the day, 3: Felipe Lopez is at 194/267/299 for June. Yadier Molina is at 175/246/238. For all the talk about hitting with runners in scoring position, or Pujols and/or Holliday not having the kind of torrid runs that people are used to seeing, this in my opinion remains the biggest issue with this offense.
It’s not timing the hits, and it’s not the sluggers. The issue is the number of spots in the batting order that have been completely unproductive. It’s just extremely difficult to overcome a situation where three lineup spots — as was the case Sunday, with Lopez, Molina and Ryan all starting — are offering so little.
Fun with double situational splits: Against right-handers in road games, Colby Rasmus is batting .368 with a .468 on-base percentage and a .779 slugging percentage.
And, finally, the playlist:
The Black Keys, “Next Girl”
Cold War Kids, “Coffee Spoon”
Them Crooked Vultures, “Mind Eraser, No Chaser”
The Dead Weather, “Die By the Drop”
Sleigh Bells, “Infinity Guitars”
-M.

Chess Match: Turning Molina loose

The situation: Top of the fifth, Cardinals trail, 3-0. Brendan Ryan at the plate, one out, Yadier Molina on first base.

The decision: With a green light, Molina takes off for second. 
The outcome: Molina is thrown out fairly easily, likely costing the Cardinals a run or more. Ryan walks, Chris Carpenter singles and Felipe Lopez walks before Colby Rasmus grounds out, meaning the Cardinals got four baserunners but no runs.
The analysis: TLR has faith in Molina’s judgment, and points to Molina’s steals over the past two years. But while someone like Albert Pujols, with passable speed, can get some steals, it seems like a bad long-term bet to keep sending Molina. It’s probably instructive not to look at Molina’s line over the past two years (15-for-21, including today) but instead his line for his career (19-for-34).
While Molina’s reads may be somewhat better than they were, it seems unlikely that they’re THAT much improved that the 15-for-21 is indicative of any improvement in skill. More likely it’s statistical noise.
One point in favor of putting a play on: with the Nos. 8-9 hitters coming up and one out already, you’re certainly not assuming that the lineup is going to get back around to the top. And you’re also figuring that any hit from Ryan or Carpenter will be a single.
But a counter-counter-point: Even if you get Molina to second base, it’s far from a given that he scores on a single. The benefit of getting Molina from first to second is quite a bit less than the benefit of getting, say, Ryan from first to second, since Ryan scores from second frequently on a single.
The comment: “What’s his rate? He’s had great instincts about it.” — TLR
My verdict: I just don’t like giving Molina the green light there, even with the bottom of the order coming up. I believe that the 59-percent success rate is much closer to the truth, and you can’t afford to take that risk. The Cardinals were getting baserunners against Jackson. It’s not like he was totally shutting them down so you needed to squeeze out a run.
-M.

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

Note of the night: Brendan Ryan admitted when he was hitting eighth that it wasn’t his favorite thing. He made a point that he wasn’t taking issue with the manager’s decision, and that he was certainly happier to be in the lineup than out of it. But even before Ryan was moved to the No. 9 spot, he acknowledged that he likes hitting there.

Now that he’s there, he’s making the most of it.
In four games batting ninth, Ryan is 4-for-13 with two walks, good for a .400 on-base percentage. He started the winning rally in Wednesday’s game.
Stat of the day: Cardinals starters have pitched the most innings in the National League, with 158 2/3 in 24 games, but they’ve allowed the fewest home runs, with six. 

Fun with double situational splits: In day games against right-handed pitchers, Yadier Molina is 6-for-18 (.333) with two homers and a double. His slash line in those at-bats is .333/.409/.722 (batting average/OBP/SLG).

-M.

The first blog entry of the rest of my life: Chess match

Thanks very much for the feedback on the post from last week. Got a lot of different request, but one thing that a couple of different people mentioned was tactical stuff. Also some mentions of stats, and some inside-baseball stuff.

The personal/clubhouse/off-field stuff will be tough to make a regular feature. That happens when it happens. But some of the other, we can do pretty regularly — especially tactics. So I’m going to start trying to blog postgame more often, with stats, tactics, and things like that. Please do offer feedback, let me know if this is what you want to see here.
One feature we do at MLB.com in the playoffs is called “Chess Match,” and it’s a breakdown of some tactical turning points. I’m going to try to do one for each game. Here’s tonight’s. There’s more to follow.
The situation: Runners on first and second, no outs, tie game, bottom of the second inning, Yadier Molina at bat vs. Tim Hudson
The decision: TLR calls for a hit-and-run on the 1-1 pitch to Molina

The outcome: Molina swings and misses at a pitch in the dirt and Matt Holliday is easily thrown out at third base.

The analysis: The argument against this play, to me, is pretty clear: Hudson had given up three straight base hits (Albert Pujols was thrown out trying to take an extra base to end the previous inning), and I’ve made my feelings known about giving away an out when the pitcher is begging for a lifeline.
The argument in favor of it, though, is compelling too: Molina is extremely unlikely to swing-and-miss, so odds are he’s going to put the ball in play. He’s always a double-play candidate against nearly any pitcher, and doubly so against a groundball machine like Hudson, so by sending the runners you’re decreasing the chances of that bad outcome. And of course if it goes for a base hit, you’ve got the lead.
The comment: “Hudson’s a groundball pitcher. How many outs did he get on the ground? You sit around with a runner on first, [it’s likely to be a] double play. The one that I kick myself on was the reason we got into that. Yadi had no chance on that [pitch]. It was a hit-and-run. But on 3-1 [in the previous at-bat], I didn’t run Holliday. If I had run Holliday, then he’d have been standing on third and we’d have first and third, nobody out. so that was really something that I regretted.” – La Russa

My verdict: I wouldn’t have done it. But the more I rolled it around in my head, and after hearing the explanation, I at least see where TLR was coming from.
-M.

Friday tidbits: Catchers, Hawksworth, Ryan, more

Welcome to Target Field. They just had the ceremony to unveil the retired numbers, which was pretty cool. It’s getting close to game time.

Minnesota1.jpg

The weather has cleared, more or less, and it looks like we’re going to get a game in without any pregame delay at least.
On with the tidbits:
* Jason LaRue took batting practice today and said that “absolutely” he could play tonight if he were scheduled to. He’s not, but LaRue sees no reason he won’t be available for the opener.
* Yadier Molina has progressed to soft-toss. He’s not as far along as LaRue, it seems, but it’s my understanding that nothing has really changed one way or the other regarding his potential availability for Opening Day.
* Blake Hawksworth is coming along very well. Hawksworth said he threw a bullpen yesterday and is slated to get into tomorrow’s game.
* TLR has Brendan Ryan in the 2 spot today and likes him there quite a bit. Ryan likes it too. The manager also said he’d be more inclined to put on plays in the 2 spot this year thanks to having Matt Holliday hitting fourth — having the open base for Pujols, in his mind, is much less of a problem with Holliday behind Pujols.
* With that in mind, today’s lineup looks a lot like the Opening Day lineup (except for the DH of course), and TLR acknowledged as much. The top six spots may be just like this for Monday’s game, with Freese seventh and the catcher eighth.

* Allen Craig is switching to uniform number 8.

* TLR acknowledged that he may have to be careful with how he choses to deploy Felipe Lopez during the season, since Lopez is the only backup middle infielder and the only left-handed bat on the bench.

* Extra players on the trip: Fernando Salas, Oneli Perez, Tony Cruz, Bryan Anderson, Donovan Solano, Tyler Henley, Matt Pagnozzi, Rich Rundles

That’ll do it for the baseball, and now it’s time for the music. The Twin Cities are one of the great sources of music anywhere in America, so I’m thinking we can get two full Minnesota playlists out of the weekend here.

Replacements, “Alex Chilton”
Soul Asylum, “Without A Trace”
Husker Du, “Makes No Sense At All”
The Hold Steady, “Southtown Girls”
Bob Dylan, “Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat”
-M.

Monday Spring Training tidbits: Hawksworth, Molina, plenty more

It was a very busy day for the scribes today, with lots of developments coming out of our morning chat with TLR. Some of it has already been covered here and on the site: Kyle McClellan is moving to the bullpen, which clears the way for Garcia to start. And Chris Carpenter will start Opening Day, with Adam Wainwright starting the home opener seven days later.

We got a lot of rain this morning, but it’s tailed off and we got a game in. Still overcast, with a forecast for clear, slightly cooler days between now and the end of camp.
* Blake Hawksworth has some soreness in his right groin that has bothered him for the past five days. He first felt it when he was pitching on Wednesday against the Orioles. He stayed in that game, and pitched again three days later, but it flared up in that Saturday appearance and he’s currently sidelined.
Still, Hawksworth doesn’t sound too worried. He’s been able to do his cardiovascular exercises, with the only real remaining hurdle being pushing off his right leg when he pitches.
“I was on the elliptical,” he said. “I’m still able to run. I’m not, like, [incapacitated]. We just want to give it a couple of days. I pitched that day and got through it. It was fine. we just want to be careful to make sure it doesn’t become worse.
“Yesterday, not doing anything, I made so much improvement. So just take it light today, and tomorrow hopefully it will be a lot better again.”
Hawksworth was not listed as an available reliever on Monday’s lineup card.
* There’s not really anything new on Yadier Molina, except that he’s a little better every day. TLR did say that he’d be willing to wait all the way up to Opening Day before making a decision on Molina. He said the catcher wouldn’t have to swing a bat until that very day, and he could still be on the roster.
“I think there’s still a real chance [he could play Opening Day],” La Russa said. “That’s what the training staff told me, that there’s still a chance. He’s feeling better.”
The Cardinals will likely take four catchers to Minnesota: Molina, Jason LaRue, Matt Pagnozzi and an emergency/bullpen catcher.
* Ryan Ludwick is back in the lineup today, a day after fouling a ball hard off his left shin.
* The manager was asked this morning whether the remaining bench decision is 3 player for 2 spots, or 2 players for 1 spot. He said it’s 3-for-2, meaning that he does not consider Mather to be safely on the team yet. This isn’t a surprise, and I still consider Mather’s chances excellent.
But publicly, it’s still down to Mather, Allen Craig and Nick Stavinoha for two roster spots.
* TLR acknowledged that there’s a good chance that against many right-handers this year, the middle of the lineup will be ordered like it is today: Holliday fourth, Rasmus fifth, Ludwick sixth. I like that a lot, personally. I think it’s a good way to set it up, with Lopez or Ryan or Lugo in the 2-spot, and Molina/Freese 7th-8th in one order or the other.
* As for McClellan, he was clearly disappointed not to be starting, but also very graceful in his handling of it. 
“The writing has been kind of on the wall the last few days,” he said. “As well as Jaime’s pitched all spring, it’s been pretty obvious that with him on our staff, in our rotation, it’s going to be a very solid rotation. And I can go back to the bullpen and improve on what I’ve done the last two years.”
* General Hal Moore, the central figure in the movie “We Were Soldiers” (and of course the book of similar title on which it was based), made his annual visit to Cardinals camp today. He’s a favorite of TLR’s as well as the players.
And that’s all the baseball for today. Time for the playlist.
The Hold Steady, “Rock Problems”
The Hold Steady, “Hurricane J”
New Pornographers, “The Crash Years”
Drive-By Truckers, “Working This Job”
Gorillaz, “Stylo” (Love. This. Song.)
-M.

Tuesday camp tidbits: Whither the weather

The skies were very threatening early this morning (see the photo gallery for an idea of how threatening), but the Cards were able to get the bulk of their workout in. 

* Speaking of the weather, it did in fact affect the schedule today. The Cardinals started work one hour early, and compressed all of the live batting practice into a very short span. Pitchers were done throwing by 10 a.m. ET, which was good because some pretty heavy rain landed in Jupiter not long after that.
* Still, there were definitely some things to see while the workout went on. Kyle McClellan looked pretty sharp once again, while Rich Hill’s command wasn’t very sharp. They alternated simulated innings, and they should pitch on the same day going forward — starting with Sunday’s game against the Marlins. I’ve written this before, but it’s pretty clearly a two-horse race for the fifth starter spot unless they both really just implode.
* This morning brought the best play I’ve seen in camp so far, and most of my colleagues appeared to agree. On a double-play drill, Julio Lugo was playing shortstop. He ranged to his left, picked up the ball almost in front of the second-base bag, and flipped it between his legs to Skip Schumaker, who turned the double play. Terrific stuff, fun to see.
* Another from the fun-in-the-cage department, following yesterday’s jawing. Today, Albert Pujols was batting against McClellan. The right-hander threw him two fastballs, and Yadier Molina called them like a pitcher’s umpire — both strikes. Pujols took exception, and when McClellan threw him another fastball, Pujols scorched it up the middle for a sizzling liner.
I wish I could tell you exactly what he then said to Molina, but by Spanish is unfortunately still almost nonexistant. He definitely jabbed him verbally, though, and even gave him a playful poke in the chest with his bat. 
* ESPN’s Eduardo Perez made an appearance at camp today. Perez remains one of my favorite people I’ve ever covered as well as one of the most popular people in baseball. He got big hugs from everybody from the security personnel at the field to media members to players to coaches. Perez, a former Cardinal, is serving as the manager of the Puerto Rican national baseball team and also signed on for another year on Baseball Tonight.
* I was chided in the clubhouse today by Kyle Lohse, who disputed my account of his back-and-forth with Albert Pujols yesterday. Lohse is of the opinion that Pujols’ deep drive off of him yesterday was not, in fact, a home run — that it bounced on the warning track before clearing the fence. All I’ll say is, that’s a dusty, gravelly warning track — and I didn’t see one bit of dust kick up when the ball bounced.
* The Cardinals announced today that Spring Training radio broadcasts will begin on Saturday. Every Saturday and Sunday game, all spring, will be on KTRS and the Cardinals Radio Network. So will every Thursday game except this week’s Grapefruit League opener, and every Tuesday game except for March 9. It’s a total of 17 games.
Today’s playlist:
New Order, “Sub-Culture”
The Postal Service, “Nothing Better”
Joe Jackson, “Nineteen Forever”
Thomas Dolby, “She Blinded Me With Science”
INXS, “Need You Tonight/Mediate”
-M.

Early Saturday Warm-Up tidbits

Matthew Leach
MLB.com

Hello to one and all from the Winter Warm-Up, being held this year at the Hyatt Regency for the first time. Just a few tidbits from some of our sessions with players, and some other stuff:

* Mark McGwire will be at the Warm-Up on Sunday “in the 1 o’clock hour,” according to the club. He’ll appear on the main stage, and he’ll also take questions in a news conference.
* Chris Carpenter reported he’s in great shape this winter and enjoying a rehab-free winter.
“It’s actually been a lot of fun,” Carpenter said. “I’ve enjoyed my family a lot, didn’t have to worry about rehabbing stuff. it’s been a real nice winter. Enjoyed it a lot. … I feel like I’m as strong as I’ve ever been, as conditioned as I’ve ever been. My shoulder feels good. My elbow feels good. I started throwing a couple weeks ago, so I’m looking forward to it.
“Knock on wood, I’ve told my wife a bunch of times I’m not going to get too excited, because you never know what could happen. But my shoulder hasn’t felt this good since I don’t even know when. Three years. So I’m really excited about the way I feel.”
* Likewise, Jaime Garcia is optimistic about his health, and said he hasn’t been significantly restricted this winter. Garcia returned from ‘Tommy John’ elbow surgery late last season.
“The way I’ve been throwing and feeling, and the way I felt when I was in Memphis last year, I think I’m feeling the best I’ve felt, the best shape, my arm feels great,” Garcia said. “I don’t know how many innings I’m going to pitch, how many I’m going to be able to pitch. I just feel like this is the best I’ve felt.”
* Carpenter and Yadier Molina both expressed enthusiasm for the hiring of Mark McGwire, and neither voiced any real concern when asked about McGwire’s announcement of his past steroid use this week.
“Nothing,” Molina said when asked his thoughts on the announcement. “He’s a great person. He’s a great guy. I’m going to be happy to have him on my team.”
* John Mozeliak confirmed in a Q&A with fans that the Cardinals will take a look at Ben Sheets’ throw next week. However, there’s likely not much of a fit there.
-M.
* I’ll be tweeting through the weekend, so come on over to Twitter and check it out.

Thursday tidbits: Pujols, Molina, DeRosa, Freese

Matthew Leach
MLB.com

Blog: Obviously, You’re Not a Golfer
Twitter: @MatthewHLeach

It’s finally the end of the road trip. Headed home tonight, and tomorrow actually brings me an off day as I celebrate turning 35.

* Albert Pujols wasn’t feeling good last night or this morning, so the initial lineup did not include him. But Pujols took a nap and took some medicine — I actually saw him snoozing in the clubhouse — and by game time he was OK.

“I wanted to be out there for Carp,” Pujols said after the game. “But if I would have known that he was going to carry our offense like this, I would have stayed on the bench.”

* Yadier Molina didn’t seem at all concerned about his leg tightening up in the fifth inning on Thursday. The early innings moved very slowly, and it was fairly cool. He and TLR both said they expect him to play tomorrow night.

* Mark DeRosa just got a scheduled day out of the lineup. Day after night, and a chance for Glaus to get some ABs.

Today’s playlist has an obvious theme:
Postal Service, “Such Great Heights”
Jimmy Buffett, “Come Monday”
Simon and Garfunkel, “Homeward Bound”
Dave Dudley, “Six Days On the Road”
Rolling Stones, “Moonlight Mile”

-M.

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