Monday, March 30, 2009

Luis Perdomo Update

The AA/AAA reliever the Cardinals lost to San Francisco in the Rule V draft had a rough outing today in a game he *might* have had to pitch well in.
His line:0.2 INN, 3 H, 1 R, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR

Overall this spring, though, he has been very good:
4.09 ERA, 11 INN, 11 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 10 K, 3 for 4 in saves

Right now, the Giants pen is looking like it will consist of:
-Jeremy Affeldt
-Brian Wilson
-Brandon Medders
-Bob Howry
-Justin Miller

That leaves 2 spots open. One likely for another lefty(Alex Hinshaw) and another for a righty, quite possibly Perdomo.
Osiris Matos and Merkin Valdez(injured) seem to be Perdomo's competition. I thought I read somewhere that Matos could be hurt as well which means Perdomo will probably make the team. Otherwise, it'll come down to the last day.

We can talk all day about how not protecting Perdomo and instead protecting Scherer might have been a very poor move but if the Cardinals can get him back, I'll be excited.
Perdomo has pitched extremely well for a guy with zero AAA experience and very little AA experience. He could turn into a very good late inning reliever or good trade bait for the Cardinals. We've seen the value of relief prospects shoot up of late with the Kevin Gregg, Mark DeRosa and Khalil Greene deals.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Interview with Jon Jay

In 2006, the St. Louis Cardinals decided to take a chance on a Miami Hurricane outfielder in the 2nd round of the First-Year Player Draft. Since that time, that man has gone onto hit .308 with an .820 OPS in 894 minor league at-bats.
He has risen all the way to AAA Memphis and can almost smell Busch Stadium. His desire to be a big league Redbird cannot grow to a higher level. But before he could even think about taking that final step to the majors, Jon Jay had to answer a few of my questions.

-How is the spring going so far? The numbers suggest you are feeling pretty comfortable at the plate.
Jay: Spring training is going well. I'm just trying to work hard and learn as much as I can. I've felt good at the plate and I'm just trying to keep things simple and try to execute the situation.

-You were hampered by shoulder problems in 2007 and 2008, not to mention a wrist problem in 07. How are you feeling going into 2009?
Jay: I've had some health issues the last couple of years but I'm feeling good now and hopefully those problems won't arise again.

-Was strengthening your shoulder a top priority in your offseason workouts?
Jay: I spent a lot of time working on my shoulder making sure that I got it in shape which has been working so far.

-Is it discouraging to look at the depth chart and see the big league outfield is stocked with quality players or just tell yourself to keep playing the game hard and you’ll get there soon enough?
Jay: I know we have a lot of guys on our depth chart but I can't control those things. I just have to continue working hard and just be ready for what happens.

-What is one thing that you need to improve this season?
Jay: For this season I'm just working on tightening up my game and just trying to learn from the coaches.

-I’m sure you can handle all 3 outfield spots but which position are you most comfortable playing?
Jay: I feel the most comfortable in CF. It's the position I grew up playing. I've gotten used to playing RF and LF, though.

-Which major leaguer would you compare yourself to?
Jay: I don't know who I really can compare myself to in the big leagues.

-Who is the toughest pitcher you’ve faced in the minors?
Jay: I've faced some good pitchers in the minors. I think the best guy I've faced might be Franklin Morales from the Rockies.

-You didn't really have much trouble making the transition from AA to AAA. Did you notice much of a difference in the pitching?
Jay: There is definately a difference between double A pitching and triple A pitching. You just have to make adjustments quicker.

-If you weren’t playing baseball for a living what would you be doing?
Jay: If I wasn't playing baseball I would probably be involved in the financial world.

I would like to thank Jon Jay for answering these questions and wish him the best of luck in what will hopefully be a successful and injury free 2009 season.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Behold the Power

Despite the fact that Mr. Cheapskate decided to spend very little of his precious money on improving the offense(outside of adding Spicoli and his .210 average), I'm excited about the potential that exists in the Cardinal lineup. Particularly the power potential. And yes, I was joking about DeWitt. He's a good man that knows what he's doing.

There may not be a team in baseball with more power than the Cardinals. There are a lot of question marks surrounding that power but the potential is there.

You've got:
-Albert Pujols hitting anywhere from 35-45 home runs a year. It is a given unless injury strikes(knocking on every piece of wood I can find).

-Ryan Ludwick coming off a year in which he hit 37 bombs. Who knows what 2009 has in store for Ryan as he could either fall back to Earth or prove that he's for real. But we at least know he has plus major league power potential and could hit 30 home runs this year. Hopefully having Pujols near him in the lineup continues to help him. Most remember Ludwick struggling in late June when Albert missed 2 weeks with injury. Once the Mang returned so did Luddy.

-Troy Glaus who hit 3 home runs in the first two months of last season combined and still wound up with 27 home runs. Even though he's going to be missing April, Troy could still be good for close to 30 HRs this year if he gets into a groove soon after returning. Of course it would be really nice to see him hit around .270 again and keep the strikeouts down as well.

-Rick Ankiel hitting 36 homers in 585 ABs these past two years. I'm praying so hard that Rick can stay healthy this year. If he does it probably means his time in a Redbird uniform will come to an end as he'll be getting rich over the winter. But it also means big production in the middle of the order. I would also like to add that I believe Ankiel is an underrated hitter. He hit .285 in his position player debut in 2007 and was hitting .282 until he started playing through hernia problems near the end of last season. A .280, 35 HR season could be in Rick's future if he just stays healthy. I can't wait.

-Chris Duncan finally back to full health and feeling good. He hit 20+ HRs in a platoon role in 2006 and 2007. In my opinion, it is close to a given that lil Dunc could hit 30 HRs if he's feeling healthy and getting 500 ABs. Now in the Cardinal lineup he won't get that many at bats but at least in the past he has been able to handle platooning well. So like with everyone else, it is just a matter of staying healthy, feeling good and the numbers will be good. His numbers early on in spring training are encouraging.

-Joe Mather with the nickname "Joey Bombs." In just 133 at bats last year Mather was able to slug 8 home runs. Then go down to the AAA level and he hit 17 home runs in 211 at bats. Geez Joe, did you take all of Popeye's spinach? We talk all the time about how nice it would be to see Skip Schumake make a somewhat smooth transition to 2B, but how nice would it be to see Joe Mather make a somewhat smooth transition to 3B to fill in for Glaus? My big concern about Mather in 2009 is hitting or laying off the breaking ball away. If he can handle those we could see a good numbers across the board from Mather this year.

-Khalil Greene exiting the power zapping Petco Park where he has actually been able to put up solid power numbers. It wasn't too long ago that Greene hit 27 home runs in his only full big league season. Even in an absolutely terrible year in 2008 he hit 10 home runs in 389 at bats. So Greene certainly has plus power for a shortstop and he will provide plus power from the bottom of the order. The big question is can he raise the average, increase the walk totals and cut down on the strikeouts a little? We shall see.

-Colby Rasmus probably hitting 74 homers this year. Alright maybe not that many but I think if Rasmus is given consistent playing time he'll hit his fair share of round-trippers. Considering that he will likely either hit 1st, 2nd or 9th in the Cardinals lineup, if he makes the team, his power would be a plus. However, I don't know how likely it is that he will make the team out of spring training. It is certainly more possible with Mather and Schumaker playing the infield but you've still got three hitters in the outfield that hit better against righties. Plus Mather returns to the outfield in May and he could be very deserving of playing time. Perhaps Duncan is dealt during the year if he is hitting well and a platoon of Rasmus and Mather emerges in LF. Who knows? What we do know is that Colby hit 29 homers in AA at the age of 20 and most scouts project good home run totals from him in the future.

There could certainly be a lot of strikeouts and .240-.270 averages in the Cardinal lineup to go along with a ton of home runs, but if there is one thing the Baseball Writers Association of America has taught us it's that a .250 average, 50 HRs and 200 Ks is close to being worthy of an MVP award.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Aaron Hicks, Blake Beavan

After reading the title of this thread you might be thinking to yourself "doesn't this post belong in The Sports Rag blog?" Well what these two players have in common has a lot to do with the Cardinals. More specifically their draft strategy.

For those who don't know, Blake Beavan was selected by the Texas Rangers in the 1st round of the 2007 draft. He was taken one pick before the Cardinals selected Peter Kozma. Aaron Hicks was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 1st round of the 2008 daft. He was taken one pick after the Cardinals selected Brett Wallace. Both players were high school draftees.

With the college season and soon the high school season getting under way, much discussion about the 2009 draft has begun. With the 19th pick, the Cardinals once again have a good opportunity to add a quality player to their farm system. However, there are many wondering which direction the Cardinals will go and if that direction will lead them to the best available prospect.

I have seen many folks predicting Mike Leake, a RHP from Arizona State, or Mike Minor, a LHP from Vanderbilt, to be a likely selection. Those who make this prediction sight the low risk associated with both players and most off all their college standing as appealing to the Cards. Mainly because they have tended to put a higher value on these types of players than riskier, more rewarding players in past drafts.

While I would agree that Leake and Minor could very well be high on the Cardinals draft board come June, a recent quote from Derrick Goold's Birdland blog has me questioning whether or not I really have any clue what the Cardinals will do in the 2009 draft. Here's the quote:
"Four of the players picked ahead of Wallace ranked behind Wallace on the Top 100, and the only player to leapfrog him from the draft — Hicks — was the Cardinals’ fallback pick at No. 13 if Wallace went a few spots earlier, like to Oakland."

This may have been said a short time after the 2008 draft, and I think it was, but as long as it is being brought up again I just want to point out that the Cardinals would have taken Aaron Hicks, the raw outfielder from a California high school, with the 13th pick had Brett Wallace not been there. Interesting indeed.

This was actually the second time in as many years that the Cardinals had mentioned that they would have taken a high school player had they been at the top of their board of remaining draft prospects. Following the 2007 draft, a member of the Cardinals staff said that they were ready to take Blake Beavan in the 1st round until the Rangers took him. The Birds did wind up taking a high school player but it was one who was said to be polished and a fairly safe high school selection.

So in the past two drafts the Cardinals were fully prepared to select the always risky high school pitcher and a raw, toolsy prep star.

All of the sudden I'm befuddled. I can see the Cardinals going after Beavan if they were to go after a high school pitcher in the past. He had a good fastball and threw strikes. Many saw him at least being a reliever if he couldn't improve his offspeed stuff. So the risk factor wasn't as high as you might expect for a high school arm but he wasn't a totally polished pitcher and some had some questions about his mechanics.
To hear that Aaron Hicks was the backup option in the 2008 draft, though, is very surprising. Many considered Hicks to be a raw talent. In fact some teams, and the Cardinals may have been included, liked him more on the mound where he had some trouble with command but flashed two plus pitches. Either way, Hicks was far from the usual 1st round selection the Cardinals have made since Jeff Luhnow took over.

So as you put together your list for who you want the Cardinals to take with the 19th pick, I ask that you remember Aaron Hicks and Blake Beavan and don't be afraid to hope for the selection to be Jacob Turner or Keyvius Sampson, a pair of high ceiling, high school right-handers. Well as long as they are still on the board and worth the pick(and not asking for over slot money...oops).
The fact that Beavan and Hicks were both almost Cardinals tells us that Jeff Luhnow is not afraid to go after the raw and risky high school player early on in the draft.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just Sign Will Ohman!

Jerry Crasnick of has recently said that lefty reliever Will Ohman probably won't be getting more than 1 million this year. 1 million! And the Cardinals spent 475K on Royce Ring? AAAHHHH!

Ohman might just be the missing piece to a very good Cardinal ballclub(assuming a healthy Carpenter). Obtaining an experienced closer might be more important than a true #1 lefty reliever but at least the Cardinals have plenty of talented pitchers that can get 3 outs in the 9th inning. What they have from the leftside in the pen is questionable after Trever Miller.

What is great about Ohman is that he hasn't just good against left handed batters in his career: .197 BAA, 43 BB-124 K in 390 ABs, he also does a decent job against right handed batters: .262, 63 BB-95 K IN 443 ABs. And most of the damage done against him by righties was done in 2007.

Another thing Ohman does well is not allow inheirited runners to score. Even in a flukish down year in 2007, Ohman was 19th in baseball allowing just 7 of 37 runners to score. Through early August 2008(couldn't find full season numbers), Ohman had allowed just 2 of 20 inheirited runners to score.

Having a nice combo of Ohman-Miller in the pen would be a wonderful strength for LaRussa to have. Perhaps the bigger reason to get Ohman would be to have someone who can still be a go to lefty in case Miller's shoulder starts to ache. No one wants to see LaRussa calling on Charlie Manning and Royce Ring in the same game.

Here's hoping Ring, Ostlund and Manning struggle in spring training! Sorry fellas, I want Ohman.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Where the Rotation Ends

I think its a widely held belief among Cardinal fans that as long as Chris Carpenter makes even 25 starts this year, the Cardinals are going to be in great shape. As we saw last year, Carpenter still possesses a Cy Young caliber arm and could provide the Cardinals with an opportunity for victory, aka quality start, in 70% of the games he starts.
From 2004 to 2006, Carpenter threw 64 quality starts in 93 games started which equates to a 69% QS percentage. Saying he makes 30 starts, Carp should provide the Birds with about 21 quality starts. Braden Looper gave the Cards 15 in 33 games last year.

Even under the assumption that Carpenter does stay healthy, there is still a surprising many that express concern about the rotation. All of which is directed at Joel Pineiro being the 5th starter.
Now, I've had my concerns about Pineiro in the rotation but it is all because of the better than slim chance that he could be the #4 starter with Kyle McClellan/Mitch Boggs/Clayton Mortensen in the 5th spot. In that situation you are suddenly looking at three strong chances for a victory instead of four each time through the rotation. But assuming that Carpenter is healthy, I see no reason to worry.

If there is one thing history has taught us it is that a quality 5th starter is more of a luxury than a necessity. Take a look at who has brought up the rear of the rotation for the last 5 World Series winners:
-Adam Eaton (Philadelphia): 4-8, 5.80 ERA, 107 INN, 19 GS
-Tim Wakefield (Boston): 17-12, 4.78 ERA, 189 INN, 31 GS
-Mark Mulder (St. Louis): 6-7, 7.14 ERA, 93.3 INN, 17 GS
-Orlando Hernandez (Chicago): 9-9, 5.12 ERA, 128.3 INN, 22 GS
-Derek Lowe (Boston): 12-12, 5.42 ERA, 182.7 INN, 33 GS

It would seem that having a strong 4 man rotation, like the Cardinals could have if Carpenter stays healthy, is going to be good enough.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cardinals Mount Rushmore

That was easy.
P.S. DeWitt = Stud. I mean just look at him.