Diamond Diaries

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Category Archives: Matt Holliday

Matt Holliday: Beast or Bust?

The United Cardinal Bloggers Fall Roundtable discussions have been going on now since November 1st and are finishing up soon.  Great questions, superb insight, fun & informative reads.  You can review all the previous topics HERE.  Today was my turn to start the conversation.

“…before all this fun comes to an end, I’d like to turn our attentions back to one of my favorite subjects: Brendan Ryan.  Okay, okay…. I had to try. Come back. Let’s talk about hunky Matt Holliday.

How do you feel about Holliday’s 2011 season?  Are his contributions (to date) worthy of the biggest contract in franchise history?  Will Holliday be the producer in 2012 who helps us overcome the lack of #5?  Is he worthy of potentially becoming the new superstar face of the franchise?

Your topic:  Matt Holliday, Beast or Bust?”

I’ve heard continued grumblings about Holliday’s performance online and wondered if the UCB crew would come to his defense.  Here are their replies with everything from charisma comparisons to hunky ratings, stats and injury reports:

Bill Ivie, I-70 Baseball 

That is a big question mark, isn’t it?

I think Holliday has performed well.  He has been healthy (for the most
part) and has been one of the most consistent performers in the cleanup
spot in the last few years.

As for him becoming the star…I don’t think he has to.  I think the
pressure will be on homegrown players like Freese and Molina to step into
that role and Holliday just needs to be what he has been to date.  I’m not
sure the fans will embrace anyone completely for a while, kind of like that
jilted lover that just doesn’t want to date, it may take some time.

Daniel Solzman, Redbirds Fun
To the subject of Matt Holliday, he was not a bust.  In no way was he a bust.  How many baseball players start the season with their appendix bursting?  Get a moth trapped in their ear?  Not to mention the other injuries that I can’t recall. His 2012 numbers, I feel, will be on par with that of 2010.  This was the first season since his rookie year of 2004 that he hit under .300.  I think he’ll come back better than ever and put up an MVP caliber year and be sent to another All Star Game.
Tom Knuppel, Cardinals GM

Holliday just needs to be consistent. I don’t believe “star power” is a
necessity. I think he will enjoy being a bit more free of Albert and will
be ok.

Now as far as he being hunky, methink not.

Ray DeRousse, StL Cardinal Baseball

Did hunky Matt Holliday have a bad 2011? Sure, he had a WEIRD 2011, but his season-ending numbers were all pretty typical: average around .300, homers between 20-30, and slugging around .500. His RBI’s were down a bit, but that could’ve been due to the Pujols/Berkman factor in the lineup.

Let’s be honest, though – Holliday isn’t going to “make up for the loss of Pujols.” He’s going to give you another robotic year of similar production barring injury. And that’s what he’s being paid to do.

If anything, I’d like to see Holliday be more of a leader on this team. His performance during the Series was an awful example of tail-between-the-legs surrender that we can’t afford this season. So far, Holliday has seemed aloof and distant (much like Pujols). I’m hoping Holliday steps it up emotionally with the departure of Pujols.

Jon Doble, Redbird Dugout

When I look back on Holliday’s season, I’m not disappointed by his season at all. I would have liked more games but an appendix and the tendon issue
can’t really be avoided. And only Matt knows if his back injury that nagged him a lot of the late season could have been avoided.

If you project Holliday’s numbers out to his typical playing time, he would have hit .299 with 29 home runs and 98 RBI. For me, I’m happy with .300-25-100 out of Holliday and he just about met that. He hit .316 with
RISP, better than in 2010. He hit .419 with a runner at third base, better
than in 2010. He scored 19% of his base runners, tied for the team lead
with Freese and better than 2010 (where he once again led the guys who were
on the team all season).

His lack of ability to stay healthy was disappointing, but I’m not
concerned with it yet. If he has another year of freak injuries this year,
I’m going to start questioning whether we can depend on him long-term, but
right now this is an aberration and I have no reason to believe that it is
anything else. This is the first time he’s gotten less than 620 plate
appearances since he started playing everyday back in 2006.

Going forward, it’s going to need to be a total team effort. The Cardinals
have 6 starting players who can hit .300 (Jay, Holliday, Berkman, Freese,
Craig, and Molina). They also have four guys who are capable of hitting 20+
home runs (Holliday, Berkman, Freese, and Craig). However, Holliday needs
to be the offensive leader in that 3 spot in the lineup and he needs to
step up into that role. It’s obviously one that he’s filled before in
Colorado, so I am not worried about him going overboard in his approach.

Aaron Hooks, CardsDiaspora

I’m scared about Holiday.

Frankly, I’m scared about how Cardinals team in general. Pujols was
such a staple in the lineup that not one other player on this team the
past 11 years had to worry about being THE man, they just had to be A
man. Is Holliday capable of being THE man, much like he was in
Colorado? He’s got the talent to do so, sure. But 2007 and ‘Rocktober’
was 5 years ago for a team gambling with house money.

He hasn’t had to carry a team for a while. He hasn’t had to carry a
World Series contender ever.

I think we all agree with Ray DeRousse, who called Holliday’s season
in 2011 ‘weird’. It was. But if I was to have a pejorative descriptor
for my feelings in 2012? scared.

For Erika’s sake, I hope he comes out strong.

Tara Wellman, AMF

You don’t replace Albert Pujols, no matter who you are.

That said, Matt Holliday has a chance — and the potential — to carry much of the load.

Others have already quoted his stats, so I won’t repeat them. But, his numbers are enough to conclude that his year of freak incidents isn’t the norm.

The only problem I foresee is that, as the potential “face of the franchise,” he’ll put that pressure on himself and struggle. We saw that with Pujols all the time — when he started to play like it was all up to him, he struggled (usually pretty badly). I hope none of the guys are told/feel that pressure of being the ONE to step into Albert’s role.

Just one more thing on his leadership. He’s a quiet kind of guy. You listen to him talk or give interviews, it can feel like he’s distant. However, I tend to build my thoughts of players’ personalities and their “clubhouse dynamic” by what other players say about the guy. Listen to David Freese tall about Matt, and you’ll get a pretty solid idea of their bond and the understated leadership style Holliday displays. Plus, keep in mind, he wasn’t supposed to lead this team to victory. Albert was. Now that AP isn’t there, I suspect Matt will be able to have a greater impact on the guys around him.

Kevin Reynolds, Cards ‘N Stuff

Matt Holliday’s contract looks a lot better after Werth’s absurdity in
Washington. Holliday has the ability, name, and track record to become the
face of the franchise for the next couple years…but he seems to rely a
lot on skills that could erode fairly quickly over time. Many of the hits
he gets are hits simply because he hits the ball so hard and powers it to
the wall or past a fielder. That strength and bat speed could gradually
fail him – twice as much so because skills required to make his strength
look good (coordination, etc.) will also gradually fade. And although he
catches most of what he gets to (except, apparently, in the playoffs…?),
he still isn’t an exceptional defender.

I think what I’m trying to say is that Holliday, to me, is not a “pure”
baseball player. He’s a helluva an athlete…no question…and great
hitter…but I believe guys who are athletes first and baseball players
second tend to erode more quickly than guys who seem to come out of the
womb with a bat in their hands.

Also, for whatever reason – pressure, comfort level, playing in Albert’s
shadow, quirky injuries – Holliday hasn’t been able to truly settle in as a
Cardinal. He seems to be, at times, attempting to turn his bat into paper
right there in the batter’s box. Dude just tries too hard. I love that
about him, but he has to get it under control.

Okay, all that being said…I think Matt is poised for his biggest seasons
as a Cardinal with Albert gone. Watching Holliday in Colorado, I saw a
ballplayer who would do anything it took to win…to cross the plate…etc.
He seemed to shine in the spotlight. Then, when he came to St. Louis…he
seemed less sure of himself and perhaps hesitant. I don’t know if he was so
aware that it was Albert’s team and he was just here to support the dude in
the 3 hole…or what…but I think now Holliday will have more room to
shine.

With Albert out of the way and TLR’s controlling nature giving way to
Matheny’s “go out and play” attitude, I think you will see a more
assertive, aggressive, “gimme the ball” Matt Holliday. If that’s true, and
given the player contract landscape, I don’t actually have a problem with
his contract. And for me, his 2011 season was rather remarkable considering
what the guy dealt with all season.

Bob Netherton, On the Outside Corner
I will add more later when I have the time to do this great question justice, but on the subject of “face of the franchise”, Holliday does not have the charisma for that label.  Not a problem because David Freese, Lance Berkman, Yadier Molina, Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright and Chis Carpenter have plenty :). With a catcher as a manager, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter should replace Albert Pujols as the new face of the Cardinals.  A new era of pitching led championships, just like another rookie manager led after the Cardinals won the World Series in  …… Well you know 🙂
Mark, Retrosimba
Matt Holliday underperformed in 2011. Injuries played a part but he still was inconsistent and subpar. The season he had in 2010 for the Cardinals established the baseline: 28 home runs, 103 RBI, .312 batting average, .390 on-base percentage and .532 slugging percentage. That’s what I expect from him each of the next 3 or 4 seasons. He’s clearly capable.

Subpar?!  Gosh, I’d hate to see what you thought of Ryan Theriot’s season…If you adjust his 2011 season into 650 plate appearances (in other words,assume health) he winds up with exactly 28 home runs.  Sure, health is not a
guarantee, but in home run rate, he was clearly even with his 2010 season.

The difference between his 2011 and 2010 batting averages is 7 hits.

The difference between his 2011 and 2010 on-base percentage is 1 hit.

The difference between his 2011 and 2010 slugging percentage is 1 home run,
or 2 doubles, or 4 singles.

His OPS+ was 10th highest in MLB among qualifiers, his OPS was 13th in MLB
among qualifiers – both ahead of a new Anaheim Angel.

It wasn’t Holliday’s best season, when compared to his own high standards,
but to say he underperformed and had a subpar season is just not accurate by
any measureable, IMO.

Dustin McClure, Welcome To Baseball Heaven

I had a good idea that Erika’s subject would be around hunky Matt Holliday.

To answer the given question in short he’s definitely not a bust. Last
season was just such a weird campaign for him. Ruptured appendix, moths, sprains, it was so unusual for the durable outfielder. I reference 2010 as a medium of what I consistently expect from Matt Holliday which is pretty damn good. I’m always surprised at the number of people I come across that refer to him as an underperformer. I just don’t get it.

As for being the “Face of the Franchise” I’m with Bob in the fact he’s not charismatic enough for said title. Lovable Lance Berkman is a good comp of someone who has the skill set and personality to attain such a title if he was in Matt’s position as far as contract and age.  This Albert Pujols wound will need some time to heal before Cardinals fans are ready to crown another “Face of the Franchise” I believe. Or maybe it’ll be J.C. Romero who knows.

Disappointing season because he struggled with injury?  Sure, I’ll go along
with that, because who knows how much the nagging injuries hampered him.
Subpar?  C’mon.

Holliday’s been worth every penny, and I don’t care if he is the face of the
franchise or ever has a season as good as Pujols does in Anaheim – so long
as he keeps posting numbers in line with his career averages.

Malcolm Pierce, Redbird Menace

History and the changing nature of the league have been kind to Matt
Holliday’s contract.  Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford inked larger deals
despite being inferior players.  And then they both busted like overstuffed
pinatas.  Meanwhile, Matt Holliday has continued to be Matt Holliday. The
only thing disappointing about his 2011 (in which he posted the
second-highest OPS+ of his career) was a series of bizarre accidents and
maladies.

Meanwhile, the remainder of his contract runs through the five years of the
newly-approved MLB CBA.  This agreement significantly limits the ability of
teams to spend money on talent beyond MLB payroll (and NPB posting fees,
interestingly enough).  Money can no longer be significantly allocated to
the draft or international free agents, especially by competing teams.  As
long as owners invest that money into their ML teams, this should have an
inflationary effect on contracts, which was probably what the MLBPA
intended in negotiations.  We’re already seeing it: from Anaheim’s behemoth
deal with Pujols to Boston turning Nick Punto into a multi-millionaire.
Holliday’s contract, which seemed like a bit of an overpayment the day it
was signed, just continues to become more and more of a bargain.

As far as what to expect from Holliday, he’s been a remarkably consistent
player throughout his career.  I think we can expect more of the same.  As
long as he doesn’t have any more internal organs burst or insects take up
residence, we can expect an OBP near .400 and a SLG a tick over .500.
That’s pretty fantastic.  While no one can replace Pujols, I think he’s
already the kind of producer who can help make up for the loss.  He was
second on the team in OPS last year–behind Berkman, not #5.

One last note: if you told me three years ago that someday I’d be trying to
decide whether Matt Holliday or Lance Berkman would be the face of the
Cardinals lineup, I’d have thought you were crazy.

JE Powell, STL: Fear The Red

Matt Holliday helped the Cardinals down the stretch to win the division in 2009 and was an integral part of the Championship in 2011. Early in the season im 2011, the Cardinals were much better with him on the field and his several stints on the DL hurt. I think that in 2012  we will see a Holliday that will have a .300+/25-30/90-95 line. I really feel that he is going to step it up next year and have one of the best years he has had in awhile.

In 2010 he had 28 homeruns and 103 RBI in 158 games and in 2011 he had 22 HR in only 124 games. Had he had a full season, he may have been able to get 27 HR and 95 RBI. As long as he stays healthy the next few years I think he will be a beast.

Chris Mallonee, Birds on the Bat ’82

Not sure the whole charisma thing matters much in regards to “face of the franchise”…Has anyone given less interviews and less intriguing interviews than Pujols?

After game 7 of the world series he looked and talked like someone had just shot his dog. Dont buy the charisma argument in regards to face of the franchise. Pujols was the face of the franchise because of his gaudy numbers, unexpected rise to greatness, and potential as the next and last Stan the Man.

I think Holliday will put up great numbers in 2011. He’s a good enough hitter not to need pujols protection to put up big numbers. Freese and berkman should be plenty of protection.

My vote is 2012 beast

Daniel Shoptaw, C70 At The Bat

There’s really not much to add here, but that’s never stopped me before.  I
do think Holliday is going to be one of those metronomes in the lineup,
that he’s going to get to his numbers but perhaps in a quiet way, in that
way when you look up at the end of the year and say, “Wow, I guess he did
it again.”

No need for him to be the face of the franchise or anything like that.  As
long as he keeps hitting, everyone will be happy.

Diane Shultz, Diamond Diaries
Poor Matt did have a crummy year.  All kinds of bad stuff happened to Matt this year.  Hopefully, he will rebound next year and have a great 2012 season.  The long shadow of Albert will be gone and Matt can shine.  He can be a big help to the younger outfielders.
Pip (Matt Philip), Fungoes

I appreciate Nick showing just how consistent Holliday’s production has
been the last couple of years and therefore how his performance shouldn’t
be seen  as anything less than beastly — unless for some reason someone
thinks that a 5-WAR season in an injury-shortened campaign connotes a
“bust.” Maybe I don’t listen to enough sports-talk radio, but I was
flabbergasted to hear someone at a recent SABR meeting propose the idea of
trading Holliday.

Are his to-date contributions worthy of the biggest contract in team
history? That question comes with some baggage — if you’re asking whether
he has been a positive value for his salary, then yes, certainly. But
that’s going to be necessary to offset the probable negative value in the
last couple of years of his contract.

I’m not sure why Holliday would actually fare better with Pujols gone, but
he’s likely not going to suddenly lose the ability to hit for both on-base
average and power. Neither is he going to magically gain out-front
leadership skills. He’s simply going to produce as he has been, which is
exactly what the Cardinals ask and need him to do.

——
Well, there you have it…
I think Hunky would be pleased.
Happy Holliday, everyone…  😉

Signs of Life

Nine games in the early 2011 season have left our Cardinals floundering.  Some fans have already thrown in the towel in disgust, heading off in search of less painful entertainment options.  But yesterday, others who donned their “true fan” label as a badge of courage were rewarded to what we can only hope will be more typical (winning) Cardinal baseball.

The record is not pretty at 3 wins and 6 losses, but the Cards have had some strikes against them.  The most obvious has been lack of run support coupled with costly fielding errors.  Leading the league in double plays (not the defensive kind) hasn’t helped much either.  And then there’s Albert…. With a string of unAlbertlike games and a batting average of  .143,  is it any wonder that Cardinal fans are wondering if we all fell down the rabbit hole?
There are, however, signs of life.  Slugger Matt Holliday returned yesterday, 9 days after his emergency appendectomy, showing he was back and ready for action.  David Freese belted his first homerun and collected his first 3 rbi of the season, helping the Cardinals score their inaugural “6 serious runs.”  Kyle Lohse, showing strength and command, went 8 full innings with no walks, 5 strikeouts and only 5 hits.  He threw 96 pitches, 65 for strikes.  Couple that with previous stellar early outings by Jaime Garcia and Chris Carpenter (whose records are unfortunately tarnished by lack of run support) and a strong showing from Kyle McClellan – and we have reason to hope this is just an unlucky/slow start.
Two of my favorite bloggers have taken the high road from all the grumblings and cussing about the comedy of errors we have witnessed lately from our hobbling redbirds.  If you need to be nudged away from the ledge, I highly recommend stopping by their sites for a positive reality check.

Bob at On the Outside Corner posts “There Must Be A Pony In There Somewhere”

And Mark at Retrosimba reminds us of the many, many years that our “Cards Turned Bad Starts Into Great Seasons.”

Sure, one good game does not a rally make.  But the Cardinals are not dead and buried.  So chin up, Cardinal Nation.  There are signs of life!  😉

The boys continue their western road trip tonight against the Diamondbacks with Kyle McClellan on the mound at 8:40 CT.  You never know what baseball magic you may see.  So tune in with us and watch the rally continue!

Go Cards!!

Feeling Silver And Gold

Pardon me for a minute as I wipe away the cobwebs that I’ve unintentionally allowed to pile up around my little section of this site lately. Real life and such, you know.

Gold Gloves came out two days ago and Silver Sluggers yesterday, and I was borderline giddy to see so many Cardinal boys rolling through the lists. I mean, do you realize that it’s already been over a month since we last saw the boys of Busch? I’m sad just thinking about it! Suddenly though some of the favorites are in the news, and people have more to talk about besides the non-news of Pujols’ contract negotiations or which players might or might not get traded in all the Hot Stove chatter (Erika can’t take any more talk like this!!!).

First up, the Gold Gloves (Derrick Goold has all the numbers-y stuff here):

For Albert, he takes home his second GG, after picking up his first four years ago in that distant memory known as the 2006 championship year. Watching Albert play first is like watching a coiled spring that is about to *boing* and fly across the room (I teach middle school – this is a daily occurrence). He literally snaps at the ball sometimes, diving to get a ball that he had no business getting to, making crazy picks out of the dirt when the defense is just hurling junk at him (No offense boys, but did you look at what happened at third after Freese went down? I saw a lot of ‘YIKES’ throws this year). My absolute favorite play though is when he and Yadi have that crazy ESP thing going that allows them to pick guys off of first with no real signal that I’ve been able to discern.

Speaking of our GG catcher, Yadi never fails to impress. His cannon of an arm gunned down half the runners that even attempted to go off of him, but most teams are too smart to even try. His numbers don’t even look that gaudy when compared to the league leaders in terms of number of runners gunned down, but that’s also because those catchers had probably twice the chances and allowed three times as many runners to advance safely. Not quite fair to match up the counting numbers then. The fact is that you could rotate most of the lineup (minus Albert and Holliday) in and out and not notice just too terribly much when you combine defense and offense. No Yadi? Yikes. People noticed that. To be fair, Jason LaRue, Matt Pagnozzi and Bryan Anderson didn’t get a chance to log a lot of innings, but when they were out there, people took note.

The question that was posed to me (beyond the one I thought myself that had something to do with Brendan of course) was this: “What did your boy (Adam Wainwright) do to not be deserving of the award this year that he picked up for the first time last year?”

*shrug* I dunno. Guess I hadn’t really thought about it. The Gold Glove awards are kind of a ‘win one and keep winning until you retire or spend the year on the DL’ type thing. Non-New York loving AL fans are probably still seeing smoke come out of their ears trying to comprehend how Derek Jeter picked up the GG this year. He’s not the top defensive shortstop in the league anymore. He is the star power, and he is the incumbent. Case closed. But in Adam’s defense (get it? defense? never mind), if there was one award he was going to pick up this offseason, that would not be the one I would have chosen. Still waiting on the Cy to be announced of course, but I’m not going to be surprised at all if/when he loses to Roy Halladay. Dude’s a beast.

Nope. Not talking about Brendan. This isn’t the same day and age where you can hit for peanuts and glove like Ozzie and win stuff, especially when you don’t play on a coast. If he was going to lose, I’ve made peace with losing to Tulo. It’s a defense award, but you just can’t win it when you hit that badly.

On to the Silver Slugger. You know, I’ve never been one to get riled up about Silver Sluggers. I don’t even get how these awards are chosen. Some are voted on by peers, some by writers, some by managers and coaches. What a mess. The BCS doesn’t make any sense, but at least it uses a common algorithm every week.

*ahem* I digress.

King Albert picked up his sixth (third in a row) Silver Slugger, and people almost sound surprised about it. I mean, yes, obviously Joey Votto had a really really great year this year. People are still talking about him winning the MVP award. I’m not entirely sure myself if I could have written down Albert’s name over Votto’s for MVP this year, and that’s saying something. The word ‘impartial’ is not in my vocabulary when it comes to having to not pick sides and one side is my favorite team. I want my boy to win. I’m glad Albert won. It means he has the offense and defensive awards, now wouldn’t it be a trip if he loses the MVP?

Holliday picked up his fourth Silver Slugger. In all honesty, talks of his ‘clutch’ performance are beyond old. The Cardinals opened up their wallets and brought in a great player. The great player played like he was supposed to. Some people howled every time he couldn’t bring Albert home after an IBB, but there were a lot of them! You can’t expect anyone to be able to get a hit every time the guy on front of you gets on base. It just does not work that way. Matt Holliday earned this one.

These three guys aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Just writing about them again I’m ready to see them all out there every day playing.

Winter is going to be cruel. Even all this silver and gold, while making me smile more than a little, cannot help the days tick off fast enough! Maybe I’ll post again soon… or at least make sure a month doesn’t zip on by again!

Stand For Stan Day (good-bye 2010)

Courtney and I with our Flat Stan’s.  10.2.10

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010 was “Stand For Stan” Day at Busch Stadium. Having decided a few weeks ago that Courtney and I needed to go to one last game for the 2010 season, we thought going to Stand For Stan Day would be the best idea. We know that everyone was able to see the awesome ceremony on TV during the middle of the 6th inning, but being there was an unbelievable experience. I have seen several other tributes to Stan Musial throughout the years, but this was the first one I have been to that was all about The Man. As the top of the sixth inning came to an end, John Ulett announced that it was time to stand as Stan Musial was about to make his way around the warning track. The music – like from the triumphant climax of your favorite sports movie – began to play and I grabbed my camera and handed Courtney one of our Flat Stan the Man’s. We stood to join the rest of the crowd in waving them and cheering as The Man entered from the right field corner. I noticed right off that all of the guys in both the Cardinal’s and Rockies dugout were all standing out in front of it; our guys with their own Flat Stan’s and some of the Rockies had them too! Then Courtney directed my attention to the bullpen. All of the guys in the bullpen were standing on the fence on their tippy-toes waving their Flat Stan’s at Stan Musial as he rounded the warning track. I almost cried. It was the cutest thing I think I had ever seen, and knowing how much personality some of the guys in the bullpen have, it was almost like they were all little kids again. I am starting to tear up thinking about it now. Stan continued to round the outfield and each section roared with cheers as he passed. Once Stan got to the Cardinal Dugout, he shook hands with every single player, and several people around us all said at the same time “Oh, look! There’s Red!” as he shook hands with Mr. Schoendienst. We couldn’t help but hope it would last longer. No words were spoken, no speeches were made, no pause in the action – just a tribute to the greatest Cardinal to ever wear the uniform, and it was perfect.


The bullpen wave their Flat Stan’s at Stan Musial.

The St. Louis Cardinals Organization has been campaigning all season to convince President Barack Obama that Stan “The Man” Musial should be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest civilian honor. 

The organization has done a fantastic job with this campaign. The Flat Stan The Man picture that every member of Cardinal Nation could print off their computers, take with them wherever they went this summer and then post pictures on the Cardinal’s website was pure genius. I surely hope that their efforts were not in vein. Stan Musial most certainly deserves this honor as his character is not only a true representation of the Cardinal’s organization but also as a stand-up human being.

Stan finishes up his trip around
the stadium.

Throughout the game, everything had to do with Stan “The Man”; the word puzzle of the day, the vision test, the highlight videos of poignant moments in his career on the scoreboard between every half-inning. And while this was obviously the main attraction, the Cardinals also paid tribute to Ernie Hays, retiring organist, throughout the game and Jay Randolph before the game. If you think about it, kind of bittersweet considering the season we just went through. But, like anything else, the Cardinal’s did a great job in recognizing those two as well. While Jay may not have always got everything right this year, he had an amazing career and I respect the job he did. As for Ernie Hays – one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Courtney and I met him on the metrolink after a game a few years back and he was the sweetest man. He let us bug him about his job and explained to us how very few organists are left in major league ballparks. I surely hope that whoever fills Ernie’s bench next year will be able to live up to his standards. We will miss you, Ernie!



The walk-off “beating” of Matt Holliday

To wrap it up, the Cardinals ended their season on a 5 game winning streak and winning 7 of their last 8. It is frustrating (the word of the season apparently) at the same time to see the team win 5 in a row after a dismal season, but I will take it and move forward. Thankfully, Courtney and I were able to end our season on a high note; a walk-off 1-0 win in the 11th inning on a base hit by Matt Holliday and an infield beating by his teammates. One of my favorite things to see – and Courtney and I have seen a couple of those this year. While we looked back and asked each other “where was that the last couple months?”, we know that we have so much to look forward to next year. Though the majority of the starters in the last 3 games were playing in Memphis most of the year, I am very pleased with how this team finished. The 2011 Cardinals may look different, but one thing is sure; we will love them no matter what.


The 2010 season is over, and I am proud of the Cardinals for not giving up completely. Welcome to the offseason, friends…its gonna be a long winter. We have each other to make it through. 

Girl Talk – The Best Part

Oh, dear Cardinal Fans, our season has come to an end.  Our Redbirds played 162 games.  The good, the bad and the ugly all combined for a final 86-76 record. The Cardinals ended the 2010 season winning 5 straight games, including a sweep of the Rockies to finish in 2nd place in the National League Central.  It was not the most glorious of seasons, but we certainly had some fun along the way.

It is Monday and we are sticking with our ‘Girl Talk’ round table format for another week. Today we are looking for those golden moments of the 2010 Cardinal season.

This week’s topic:
What one event/game/player was the highlight of the 2010 Cardinal season (for you)?

Cadence:  I have enjoyed plenty this season – yes, hard to believe with the not-so-stellar season but I believe there have been plenty of good things too. I could repeat my first post with CDD saying my favorite thing this season was fan photo day and getting pics with all those players, but I won’t.

Instead, I will say, quite simply, that Jaime Garcia has been the best part of the 2010 Cardinal Season for me.

“Jaime Garcia celebrates his 3-hit complete game shut-out
on August 22nd against the Giants.”
St. Louis Post Dispatch

Not really a surprise that he was as good as he was. When we saw him briefly in 2008, I thought he had some good potential. Now, to see what a great job he has done – coming back strong from Tommy John surgery and stepping up as the #3 starter – I have been blown away! Garcia has definitely been a bright spot in a dismal 2010 Cardinal season; going 13-8 with a 2.70 era (ranking 4th among starters behind Johnson, Waino & Halladay) and putting up his first-career complete game shut-out (which I was in attendance for). One moment in particular that I felt he stepped up was August 10th in Cincinnati; being the starting pitcher during the game of the infamous brawl, he was able to compose himself and pitch like a veteran as the Cardinals went on to win. The kid is good, and I can’t wait to see more from him in 2011.


Erika: Matt Holliday.  Last year during the offseason I spent far too much emotional energy hoping and fretting about the chances that Holliday would be a Cardinal in 2010.  A slugging, handsome Oklahoma boy like that was destined to join my dear Cardinals.  He signed.  I was in heaven.

After watching Holliday struggle to find his groove early on, it was a pleasant relief to see his bat catch fire in the 2nd half.  So many impatient fans were disappointed when ol’ Matty was struggling offensively at the start of the season.  Shoot, even Holliday himself was frustrated.  But since the All Star break he has been the more consistent powerhouse we were hoping for.

Hunky Swing – photo by Erika

Since mid July Holliday has hit .331 with a .413 on-base percentage and a .541 slugging percentage.  In interviews Matt has frequently referred to the baseball season balancing itself out, stating every player goes through phases.  Personally, I really savored Hunky’s hot phase here at the end.  Without a doubt, Holliday has been my bright spot.  He played with 100% hustle in the outfield all the way to the final out, and (the gals knew this was coning…) watching Matt ‘Hunky’ Holliday dig in at the plate has been the highlight of my 2010 Cardinal season!


Jacqueline: Nobody does it bettah, or as I like to say he’s like buttah! Albert Pujols is simply the best player I will ever watch play the game. In 2010 he was without a doubt the best part of the season. Yes, we have grown to expect it. Yes, we are spoiled by his stellar play. But I refuse to hold that against him.

photo Credit: Chris Lee, St. Louis Post Dispatch

Since I grew up hearing about Stan the Man and Gibby, I cling to the miracle that I have Albert Pujols to watch every day. But ya don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s the individual stats that matter. I’m not gonna bore you non stat heads with a lot of numbers. I’m just gonna tell you his ranking in the National League in those categories that make him an MVP year in year out. Albert ranks 1st in HRS, RUNS, RBI and is tied for 1st in SLG and WAR. He ranks 2nd in OBP, OPS,  and WPA. He ranks 6th in BA and 19th in CLUTCH. All these stats are courtesy of our friends at FanGraphs. Here’s the link http://bit.ly/dmTSn8 if you want to peruse them or need a description of what WAR, WPA and CLUTCH mean. We all know Albert is so much more than numbers. As I watched the Stand for Stan ceremony yesterday, there is no doubt in my mind, there will be one just like it for Albert one day. He is now and forever a Cardinal. I’m verklempt. “Discuss amooangst yooaselves”.


Angela: Get ready for something really sappy (this doesn’t happen very often), but for me, the best part of the 2010 season was the people. I’m sure that I’ll remember the players and I will probably remember the disappointment of the season overall, but this season I got to attend eight Cardinal games (a personal high) in three different cities with people that are closer than close (family members), friends that I hold dear to my heart, and thanks to the miracle of Twitter and this blog, fans that I never would have had the chance to meet otherwise. I saw some fun games (Stavinoha’s HR off Trevor Hoffman in MIL), some unexpected games (Hawksworth’s nice start in the sweltering KC heat), and a laugher or two (18-4 on CDD night at Busch). In just those three examples I met or spent time with 8 different Cardinal fans to the core.

The players might be the ones that make the games happen, but the fans make it the experience. Thank you for sharing it with me. I hope to meet more of you in 2011!

Those are our 2010 highlights.  Add your own in the comments below!  We’d love to read ’em… reliving the good stuff helps ease the pain of *gulp* the reality that the season is over.  =)

Thanks for reading!
Sincerely,
The Cardinal Diamond Diary Gals

A little perspective: no matter what, it’s the team (and the game) we love

A note from Ang…
Are the boys going to make a run at a playoff spot? They continue their absolutely baffling ways of beating good teams and losing to bad ones, so I suppose if the boys play winning teams the rest of the year (they don’t – darn) it’s always possible. Either way, we’re not giving up hope yet!!!
We have a surprise for all of you – not one, but TWO new writers! Cadence and Courtney Rippeto are a fabulous sister duo located in the St. Louis area, and have thankfully accepted our offer to join the team. More about them will be coming in the next week, but their big premiere is here now talking about their experience with photo day!
Enjoy and show them some love so they come back next week! 😉
Go Cards!
Ang



Entering the weekend 8 games behind the Reds, we took the time to enjoy the Friday and Saturday Cards/Reds games for what they were worth; photo day on the field and booing Brandon Phillips.

Courtney and I attended the first game of the Cards/Reds series on Friday night and we just knew that we were looking forward to hearing the roar of boos that Brandon Phillips would receive from the adoring Cardinal Nation after he ran his mouth in Cincy during the previous series. We all know what happened there. Needless to say, he was greeted with boos every time he came to the plate and every time he even came near to the ball. Even the foul ball that he got a piece of was thrown back on to the field. As much as I HATE it when that happens (hello, we are NOT Cubs fans), I had to applaud the guy who threw the ball back. Probably one of the greatest things I have seen. I think he would agree that it was worth him getting thrown out over. 🙂
Obviously, if you watched any of the games, you would know that the “love” for Brandon Phillips continued all weekend. Even the Reds fans sitting next to us on Saturday said “I hope that he gets a hit so it will shut them up.” HAHA. Sorry, Reds fans, but the hate will never disappear for Phillips, and he brought that upon himself.
To end Friday night, after another fantastic Jaime Garcia performance, Busch Stadium had another fireworks night. And after getting to see the Mizzou Tigers marching band battle the Fighting Illini marching band before the game (Go Mizzou!), it was quite a great end to an awesome night. We couldn’t wait to get to Saturday’s game.





While almost everyone else was focusing on the fact that “the season is over”, we were busy enjoying a day we had been looking forward to since early this season – yes, I bought the tickets in May. Saturday, September 4th was fan photo day on the field at Busch Stadium. Having missed out last year, I was determined to go this year and enjoy it to the fullest. (Courtney’s friend, Laura, came with us – so that is who the blonde is in all of our pics!) Courtney had gone last year and I knew I couldn’t miss out. Although my fave (Luddy), who I had been looking forward to seeing earlier in the season, wasn’t there, I still couldn’t wait to go!
We knew we were in a great position to get close to the players, having placed ourselves in kind-of a corner of the roped off area, we were certain there would be opportunity for us to at least try and get the attention of our favorites. We had NO idea what was about to happen! First the coaches made their way around the field, waving to the fans and being very courteous. Then, the first round of players entered the field; Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, and Jon Jay. Those three almost ran around the field so quick, I forgot they were even there! But, I guess since they were starters, it was understandable considering pre-game rituals and superstitions.
As more players proceeded to enter the field (Brendan Ryan, Randy Winn, Matt Pagnozzi, Nick Stavinoha – we called him Dr. Thunder and he got a kick out of it!, Pedro Feliz, Bryan Anderson) we saw Matt Holliday coming our way. Somehow, we got his attention and lured him over to take a photo with us! It was so surreal that we couldn’t believe it…he even had his hand on my shoulder! Pretty amazing. Needless to say, we were so stunned in our excellent convincing skills that we thought we would try it with other players as the rounded the field.
















Aaron Miles was one in the next group to come by. We talked to him for a second and he even stopped in his tracks to read my shirt, “It Ain’t Right til it’s Wainwright”, and he gave me the thumbs up (the pics below are him reading my shirt, and then posing for us) and told me he liked it. In fact several of the guys really liked my shirt; too bad Waino was pitching and he didn’t participate in photo day, so he couldn’t see the shirt like I had hoped. Dennys Reyes and Fernando Salas came around next. Again, very nice, but kinda scooted along without stopping to talk.

The group of Felipe Lopez, Trever Miller, and Ryan Franklin were the next to walk by. Trever Miller was a hit with this crazy curly wig he wore (which he explained on the Sunday pre-game show to be a way to loosen up the guys and make them laugh in the clubhouse – it worked with the fans too!). While Lopez and Miller were stopped taking pictures with other fans, I chatted up Ryan Franklin asking if he would take a photo with us. He replied “Sure! Just a second, ok?” What was he waiting for? He was rounding up the other guys to come over and take a photo with us! Totally awesome of him.
At this point, we were even more geeked and couldn’t wait for others to show up. Courtney wanted a picture with Jason Motte and we all wanted one with Colby Rasmus. Jaime Garcia was also tops on our list. So, as they kept coming, we continued to reach out to the players to get photos with us as well as help a fellow cardinal fan who was much shorter than me standing behind us. She was desperate for a picture with Skip Schumaker, so we made sure we helped her get one. For some reason, the guys just couldn’t say “no” to a group of girls begging for photos with them. This, of course, was good for us.
Some of the bullpen guys made their way around the warning track and I got Mitchell Boggs while waiting for Jason Motte. Both pics were achieved and they were both so sweet to us. We expressed our appreciation for them stopping to take photos with us.


When another group made their way around the corner, we noticed that Mike MacDougal wasn’t getting much love, so we asked him if he would take a photo with us… “Sure!” And we had officially made it up to 7 different players! Meanwhile, we helped our short Cardinal friend we met get a picture with Blake Hawksworth. Courtney said to him “Hey, I follow you on twitter!” He was very responsive and said, “Really? That’s awesome.” Whether he actually meant it or not, he was very nice about it.








In the last group, we were super confident that we could get the last two on our list; Jaime Garcia and Colby Rasmus. We were extremely successful and we also got Kyle Lohse in there too! All three had to be so tired of fans yelling at them and wanting pictures, but they were so sweet to us and obliged.

What these guys might not know is that they made our day! Win or lose, we were never going to forget how awesome it was to get pics with all these guys.  See, how we look at it is that this is our team. Whenever something like this happens, you seem to forget a stretch of bad play and remember that this is baseball, the sport we absolutely love.  And they are the team that we absolutely love. Yes, they did lose, but there was no shortage of amazing memories that we will never forget. Thank you, St. Louis Cardinals for hosting this event and thank you to the players for being so amazing and courteous to the fans, we truly appreciate it.

Hopefully this is just the beginning of many entries to come from us. Courtney is divulged in pharmacy school, so you will mostly see my writing, but because we do so many things together (in regards to the Cardinals) it will likely be a combined effort. We really look forward to sharing our Cardinal experiences with all of you in Cardinal Nation!
Cadence (and Courtney)

Right Down To The Very Last Pitch…

When I got up this morning, I didn’t bother reading any headlines, articles or blogs about the Cardinals because I already knew what they would say.  It is what the weary beat writers and naysayers spout every morning after a loss and I am just plain tired of  the complaining about how the Cardinals can’t hit or the managers can’t manage or how our postseason chances are slipping away.
I may be one of the few Cardinal fans who will say this today, but I actually enjoyed yesterday’s game. Sure, the final score was crummy, but right down to the very last pitch, I knew we had a chance.  And the game was full of moments that made me smile.  Albert may not have hit his 400th homerun, but he had a 3-hit night.  Matt Holliday sent one flying out of the park in the first inning. Jon Jay may have only gotten one hit, but I love that he tears out of the batters box and down the line to 1st base trying to beat the throw on an easy infield hit.  Even Yadier Molina and his catcher’s knees had some extra energy as he ran the bases.  And of course there is Adam Wainwright and the way his determined piercing eyes give him an entirely different (scary) demeanor on a night he’s pitching.
In the 9th inning when the boys came off the bench and sparked a rally, I thought “we are going to WIN this one!” Skip Schumaker, Randy Winn and Aaron Miles all made things happen.  Then Jon Jay’s RBI brought the Cardinals back within one run of tying the game. Even as Felipe Lopez stood in, switch-hitting at the plate with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the final countdown, I was glued to the television, firmly believing I would be witnessing a come-from-behind Cardinal victory.
But the victory celebration would have to wait.  The Redbirds lost and that’s the way it goes sometimes.  The Cardinals record will show an L for the August 24th game against the Pirates, but that loss certainly does not tell the big picture for me.
If you haven’t figured out by now, I love baseball.  Warning: I am one of those fans who will occasionally cheer for the opposing team – not by mistake because I’m not paying attention, but because the hit or the play was just too good not to applaud.
So, even after a Cardinals loss like last night, I can smile because I saw some wonderful baseball.  Sure the wins and losses matter – they matter A LOT – but this is the game of baseball.  Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose.  Anything can happen and that is why they play 9 innings and why teams like the Pirates and the Cubs and the Brewer even bother to take the field.  And that is why each game has the potential to provide countless individual moments of baseball magic that keep us coming back for more, that give every fan hope and that make us believe our team can still win… right down to the very last pitch.
The boys are back at it again for the last game of the series against the Pirates tonight at 6:05 PM! Albert will hit that 400th homerun and the Cardinals will win – I just know it!  😉
FYI:  Today you can catch my article “What Is It About Aaron Miles?!” over at i70baseball.com.  Love him or hate him, Miles is certainly an interesting Cardinal issue.  Here’s the link – and thanks for reading!
GO CARDS!!  =)

Diamond Diaries Heads to St. Louis!

It doesn’t matter if the Cardinals win or lose, it’s how much fun we have …

Well, of course we would have preferred the two Diamond Diaries nights at Busch Stadium this week (Monday and Tuesday) be Cards wins. But we did get to see: a successful debut by Jake Westbrook, a birthday-present-for-me homer from Albert on Monday, several hits by Brendan over the two nights, a Colby jack, a Hunky homer and pitcher Aaron Miles. (And a lot of other defensive plays, hits and runs we are still trying to forget – ouch!) We also had a blast making all of our chick comments in person and taking plenty of photos! Plus we had the chance to meet several Twitter pals, which – in all seriousness was awesome. We also checked out as much St. Louis baseball history as we could and visited the Missouri History Museum to see the Cards history on display, took the Busch Stadium tour and even visited the former site of Sportsman’s Park.

So here’s a photo special with a few of our pictures from this week. Enjoy! (We did!)

 

Outside our favorite place!

 

And inside too.

 

It was a tweet-up, as we met Cadence and Courtney!

 

It’s probably not a surprise that Erika took a lot of Brendan photos.

And a lot of Hunky photos too!

Or that I would take as many pictures of Chris Carpenter as I could …

No matter what he was doing.

Angela took photos while doing her Adam Wainwright imitation in his seat in the dugout.

We enjoyed learning more about the history of baseball in St. Louis.

And, all too soon, it was time to say good-bye – to Busch Stadium, St. Louis and each other, but only until the next time!

 

So, we’re going to take the rest of the weekend to look through our photos and relive the memories, but we’ll be back with regular posts again on Monday. Go Cardinals!

The Streak Climbs Higher and Higher

And so it continues …

By winning number 8 in a row last night, the Cardinals exceeded a 7-game winning streak for the first time since 2006. Now they have the longest streak since another memorable year, 2004. And watching the team play over the last week reminds me a lot of that amazing 2004 team. They’re playing with confidence, they’re playing with energy – even when they’re trailing or tied, you know they’re going to come back and get it done.

Winning is obviously fun. The always quotable Brendan Ryan provided some words of wisdom on winning after Tuesday night’s game. “It can be contagious and it sure seems like it’s gotten contagious. We know in the first half we never played our ‘A’ game. We’d like to find out what our ceiling is.”

That’s the intriguing thing about winning streaks: you never know how long they will last or the ultimate impact they will have. And the end to a particular streak doesn’t necessarily mean the rollercoaster is headed back down. Look at the White Sox. Before the All-Star break, they won 25 of 30 games (including winning streaks of 11 and 8 games each) and propelled themselves from 9 1/2 games back and third place on June 9 to first place by a half-game on July 11. Since the break, the Sox are 3-4 but have built their lead to 2 1/2 games.

In addition to the Cardinals’ ongoing streak, they have won 9 of their last 10 games and, in doing so, beaten three of the “charter members of the Cardinals Killer club” in the process: Bud Norris on July 9, Kyle Kendrick on Monday and now Joe Blanton last night. So things have definitely turned around!
The Cardinals’ eight wins have come in a variety of ways, with a variety of heroes, as Angela detailed in yesterday’s photos of the week. Last night was another strong pitching performance, as Jaime Garcia was outstanding in his 7 innings and allowed only 1 run on 4 hits (with the run coming on a homer to Ryan Howard). Perhaps best of all, Jaime threw only 95 pitches to go those 7 innings. Offensively, Albert gave the Cards a short-lived 1-0 lead when he drove in Wonder Boy Jon Jay (pictured above, and he went 2 for 3 last night with a sacrifice bunt). Hunky Matt Holliday continued his homer tear to put the Cards up 2-1 in the 7th – giving Jaime the well-deserved victory. In the 8th, the Cardinals added three more runs thanks to Everyone’s Nemesis Aaron Miles, Brendan (with help with a Phillies error), Felipe Lopez and Colby Rasmus. Even Ryan Franklin had the opportunity to bat that inning, since he came in to get the final out in the top of the 8th. Not that Franklin actually did anything with the bat, however – like even swing it at all. But he stood there to get the third out before heading back out to pitch his way to save number 18.

Who knows how high up the ceiling is for the Cardinals this season? Thankfully, that’s still to be decided so we can just appreciate the games and enjoy the ride. And we don’t have long to find out how if they can sweep the entire homestand: game four against the Phillies is this afternoon at 1:15 p.m. Central time, with Adam Wainwright going for his second win of the streak.

Photo: UPI/John Boman Jr.

Photo Diary of a Winning Streak

7 wins in a row. Beautiful feeling, isn’t it? 


We’re switching things up here on Cardinal Diamond Dairies and moving our photo day to Wednesday. Today instead of just random pictures I’m trying something out – a photo from each day of the 7 game streak (plus a bonus shot – you’ll see)! Hope you enjoy it!


7/11/2010 – Cardinals 4, Astros 2
Matt Holliday provided almost all of the offense with this 3 run blast the day before the All-Star break began. I don’t know how to point out the packet of sunflower seeds in his pocket that made me laugh without sounding like a #chickcomment… so there you go.

David J. Phillip – AP Photo

7/13/2010 – NL 3, AL 1
I couldn’t help but put in a shot of the Cards’ All-Stars together at the game in Anaheim. Hey, our team won that night too, so it fits!

Kirby Lee – US Presswire

7/15/2010 – Cardinals 7, Dodgers 1
The Cardinals jumped right back in after the break, putting up seven runs against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, who had been very effective against the Cards… until this night. After a day in which we were treated to no baseball at all, it was nice to be back seeing scenes like this one of Chris Carpenter pitching in the fifth inning.

Chris Lee – Post-Dispatch

7/16/2010 – Cardinals 8, Dodgers 4
You can’t help but enjoy a game that features runs and flashy defensive plays like this one Albert Pujols made from the seat of his pants! Two games after the break we were seeing what looked like a team that was putting things together. Solid pitching, scoring runs in bunches and defense? We love it!

Scott Rovak – US Presswire

7/17/2010 – Cardinals 2, Dodgers 0
With Adam Wainwright on the mound, thankfully the Cards didn’t need more than two runs on this day. Close games like this mean turning solid double plays like Skip Schumaker does here. Note where his feet are. Where is second base? (I’ll spare you all from the “Who’s on First?” joke I almost made here.)

Scott Rovak – US Presswire

7/18/2010 – Cardinals 5, Dodgers 4
The Cards were rather rude hosts to the Dodgers, running them out of town with ninth inning heroics on Joe Torre’s 70th birthday no less! Allen Craig didn’t care about Torre. He had his own 26th birthday to worry about, and he did it in style, making the hit to tie the game in the ninth inning and set up Matt Holliday for the game winning hit in the next at-bat!

Chris Lee – Post-Dispatch

7/19/2010 – Cardinals 8, Phillies 4
Back to back days of come from behind wins. This is a treat we were not privy to in the first half of the season. The team started chipping away at an early 3-0 hole behind Blake Hawksworth, scoring a single run in both the first and second inning before exploding for three home runs (including Allen Craig’s first big league HR!) and five runs in the fifth to blow the game open. This photo? Yadier Molina picking Jason Werth off first in the third inning. I like Albert sticking his tongue out at Werth. ‘Nana nana boo boo. We got you!’

Scott Rovak – US Presswire

7/20/2010 – Cardinals 7, Phillies 1
After a couple less than Carp-like starts towards the end of the first half, Carpenter has been a rockstar since the break, throwing 62 strikes over 90 pitches in eight dominant innings last night against the Phillies. Randy Winn kicked off the fireworks in the third inning with his second home run in as many days, and Matt Holliday put the game away for good with his three run blast in the fifth that put the Cards up 6-0. 

Chris Lee – Post-Dispatch

Winning is fun. How about we keep it going tonight, say 7:15? Jaime Garcia will be there…

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