Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Chris Carpenter

Production by the Pound plus Pics!

Well, I guess I do have to say something about the disaster – at least mention the trauma so that we can move on to happier thoughts…

The Cardinals’ 8-2 pounding by the pondscum (Mets) is something we all want to forget, nobody more than pitcher Adam Wainwright.   
You know it’s bad when the postgame show’s ‘Great Play’ of the game is video of a confusing onfield delay during the 2nd inning when Yadier Molina suddenly decided he needed sunglasses behind the plate and everybody from Blake Hawksworth to Brendan Ryan and finally Albert Pujols himself was involved in fetching Yadi his shades.


On the bright side… with 2 hits in the game, Brendan Ryan now has a batting average above .200!   Oh, the simple pleasures…


Changing the subject…..

Today, I have a piece over at i70baseball.com that delves into statistics (I can hardly keep a straight face typing that!) analyzing our Cardinals’ batting based on their body weight.  Who gives the most bang for their hunk?
Find out here!


Now, how about a few pictures, yes?

Ooh, someone finally caught at least a little of Chris Carpenter’s tattoos!
Nam Y. Huh – AP
‘Can’t catch me – I’m the gingerbread man!’
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
‘Being elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame… is like going to heaven before you die.’
Congrats Whitey!
Jim McIsaac – Getty Images
If those aren’t the craziest eyes you’ve ever seen…
Dilip Vishwanat – Getty Images
Brendan says, ‘When are you going to learn? You don’t run on Yadi!’
Dilip Vishwanat – Getty Images

Finding baseball’s simplicity again

While the Cardinals 8-game winning streak was wonderful, the subsequent 3-game losing streak had me bummed. The team again looked like it had for too much of the season, underachieving and disappointing, and had me wondering just who the 2010 Cards really are. So by last night’s game, I needed a boost in my spirits.

Unlike most Cardinals fans, I started my baseball life as a (sorry, but it’s true) Cubs fan. Friday night, I caught some of a Cubs game from 1987 that Comcast Chicago broadcast as a tribute to Andre Dawson’s Hall of Fame induction. That time period was my prime Cubs fandom, so watching those players – and especially hearing Harry Caray again – was like seeing old friends, bringing back a simpler time when watching baseball was just that: watching for the game itself, unencumbered by the constant presence of my laptop and Internet and Twitter and the other technological advances of the last 23 years. It also got me wondering what it would be like to just watch a game again. My game routine is so different now, as I’m so attached to Twitter throughout the course of a game. Could it be possible to voluntarily avoid it? More importantly, could it help relieve that malaise?

The clincher to my decision came from Andre himself in his Hall of Fame induction speech when he said, “If you love this game, it will love you back.” I needed a way to recapture that 1987 baseball-watching love. But on the night of a Chris Carpenter start – which would mean foregoing an evening of connecting with all my fellow CC fans and missing all our discussions of the extreme close-ups the ESPN cameras surely would provide? Yes. Plus there would be no Jon Miller and Joe Morgan to complain about, since they were in Cooperstown. So, it was time to just enjoy the broadcast on its own.

At first, it felt odd. Instead of a laptop, I had actual paper and pen to record any immediate thoughts such as my displeasure at the Cards bad base running in the top of the first. And, as the bottom of the first was going to start, I regretted my Twitter-less decision for a Carp start even more. (Did you see him?) These were my untweeted thoughts: “Carp, bathed in sunlight – yes! And smiling and laughing before he throws his first pitch – what?? Need to see that again! Shadows of him: very cool. Chris Carpenter should always have a golden glow of evening sun spotlighting him when he pitches.” Of course, thanks to technology, I also could (and did) take advantage of my DVR to rewind those golden high-def ultra-close-ups of Carp. Then there was the bottom of the fifth inning, when he took exception to a pitch that was called ball four by umpire Bob Davidson to walk Geovany Soto. As soon as I saw Carp walk off the mound, I knew things wouldn’t be good. “The madder he is, the more he chomps his gum,” I jotted down as he did just that on screen. And, after Ryan Theriot drove in Soto to tie the game, I wrote: “And, predictably, CC’s emotions got the best of him again.”

Other than those moments, though, I didn’t necessarily miss being disconnected for the game. Too, that could be because of the vast amount of information ESPN supplies. A huge change from watching the 1987 game is, of course, the on-screen graphics. Now we expect to have the score, outs, count and pitch speed constantly displayed. I like that ESPN displays the pitch count also, once it reaches 10 (and I didn’t know until last night they do that). Plus the amount of information and obscure statistics that ESPN has is staggering. The Cards were 38-9 (now 39-9) when scoring first in the game, the best in the majors. Carp leads the National League with 12 strikeouts with a man on third base and less than two outs – just in case you were curious who did. And did you know the Cubs have spent 0 days above .500 this season? In addition, the analysis from Orel Hershiser was enlightening, such as his explanations at various times of Carp’s differing fastballs and types of breaking pitches. He even explained the annoying glove wiggle by Ryan Dempster, and demonstrated it in the booth with a glove. While I find the wiggle annoying, Hershiser’s explanation was good and made sense.

The game was definitely action-filled. Although I briefly appreciated Marlon Byrd two weeks ago for his smart fielding during the All-Star Game, he annoyed me last night for his harsh treatment of Jon Jay in particular. And when he strode to the plate in the bottom of the 10th with the bases-loaded and Ryan Franklin in his second inning of work, all I could do was watch instead of share my fear that Byrd would be the hero right then. Not focusing on a computer screen did let me see the shot of a Cardinals fan kid standing next to a Cubs fan kid, with Cards Fan wiggling his fingers toward the field. Putting another curse on the Cubs? It worked, as Franklin got Byrd on a called third strike. And I loved that smile from Franklin as he walked off the field.

As the ESPN camera showed Kyle McClellan warming up in the top of the 11th, I knew – courtesy of Cards MLB.com writer Matthew Leach on Twitter last Thursday – how poorly McClellan does in tie games. So I was worried anew. Yet Felipe Lopez came through, McClellan and Dennys Reyes got their jobs done, and the Cardinals had a hard-fought, first-place winner.

As the Cards congratulated each other on the field, ESPN’s Dan Shulman described the game as a highly entertaining 11 innings. He was right. Perhaps I wouldn’t have thought so had the outcome gone the other way, but it was – as I’d been hoping – the opportunity I needed to simply enjoy the beauty of a baseball game. And in the end, the game’s outcome honored yesterday’s Hall of Fame inductees perfectly: Andre’s team losing, as they’d done so many times during his Cubs days, and Whitey Herzog’s team winning.

***

Congratulations, of course, to Whitey on his well-deserved Hall of Fame induction also. He too had a wonderful quote, that being inducted “is like going to heaven before you die.” I appreciate Whitey and his success in his Cardinals’ years, even though I was an enemy fan at the time. (And I can’t go back and retroactively change my feelings about either the 1980s Cards or Cubs. I will always love June 23, 1984.) Whitey’s contributions were many, and I did enjoy reading the tweets yesterday afternoon from the long-time Cardinals fans as they were watching Whitey’s speech.

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…

A New Baby, Cardinal All Stars and Brendan Bashing

First, congratulations and welcome to the newest member of the Cardinals family, Arianna Molina, born this weekend to Yadier and his wife, Wanda.  Welcome to the club baby girl!  Your Daddy is a big reason for my falling in love with baseball!    
Cardinals Nation had other big news to celebrate over the holiday weekend as well:
Five Cardinals were named to the National League All Star team:
Albert Pujols – No surprise here. Albert deservedly snagged more votes than any other player in the National League.  I am of course very proud of Albert but we do expect greatness from him.  More noteworthy is that Albert turned down the invitation to participate in this year’s Home Run Derby.  I doubt anybody will blame him as he has participated three times before (’03, ’07 and ’09) and the Cardinals will need all the homeruns he can hit in the coming months!
           
Yadier Molina  – Molina may not be at the top of his game lately, but he is a worthy All Star nominee nonetheless.  I hope to see Yadi gunning down some American League All Stars next week.  After all, nobody does it better than Yadi “Arm like a Cannon” Molina.
photo from cardinals.com
Matt Holliday – I was pleasantly surprised to see that Matt made the All Star cut, figuring  his slow start to the season was too fresh in the minds of fans. (The players’ vote did get him the nod this year.)  But Matt does have a cute cameo in the All Star game commercial; so it would have been slightly embarrassing if he had not made the team.  Let’s hope he keeps showing off those All Star skills for the rest of the season!
Chris Carpenter – Despite the thankfully rare ugliness that was Saturday’s game against the Brewers, Carp is Carp.  The guy is a fierce, talented pitcher and definite All-Star material.  No argument there.
           
Adam Wainwright – Like Albert Pujols, Waino’s 2010 All Star spot was a sure thing in my book.  The Cardinals are blessed to have two pitching aces in Carpenter and Wainwright, but  Wainwright is undeniably leading the charge.  (How is this just his first All Star nomination??)
And Then There’s Brendan Ryan
I know the ‘Brendan situation’ is worsening when I get sympathy comments.  Friends are hedging their baseball opinions with “sorry Erika, but …”

The statements include:
– If Brendan keeps playing like this, he won’t be a Cardinal next year.
– Who can the Cardinals get for Brendan in a trade?
– It’s not just a slump anymore, it’s a bad season.


Being a Brendan Ryan fan has not been easy lately. With serial slumps and a procession of failed side-arm slings and fielding errors, rallying excitement for our quirky mustachioed shortstop has certainly become more of a chore.

Brendan’s amazing defensive skills last year were consistent and dependable. Even this spring when he was floundering and trying to find his swing, we were confident in the value of his glove. Call me naive or silly or just plain dumb, but I still have faith in him.  It is not time to give up on the Boog.

I prefer to be optimistic. Brendan’s troubles will fade. Baseball history is full of examples of players with prolonged slumps who bounced back and went on to have great careers in baseball.

The Cardinals do need something, anything, to shake out of this rut. If the priority is to fix what’s broken and win games, then let’s find the problem.  But Brendan’s performance is not the club’s only issue. Dumping a young player with proven talent would be a mistake.  Brendan has spirit, passion and an energy that brings more to this club than a box score could reflect. His potential far outweighs any current liability.

I may be stubborn, but I am loyal.  And while Brendan’s struggles may seem to send him further into the doghouse with fans, I would hate to see the Cardinals give up so soon.
Patience with Brendan, please.  This too shall pass.

The ups and downs of June

For the Cardinals, June was the best of times: last Tuesday’s 8-0 romp over the Diamondbacks when Albert hit two homers, Adam Wainwright’s two-hit complete game shutout over the Brewers (also an 8-0 win) and Matt Holliday’s resurgence when he was moved to No. 2 in the batting order. June also was the worst of times: that horrendously long loss to the D-Backs on Wednesday when they left 14 men on base, the sweep by the Dodgers in Los Angeles and a season-high four-game losing streak.

But, in the end, the month was perfectly mediocre as the Cards went 13-13. They also basically ended the month where they started in the division race, going from 1 game back on June 1 to a half-game back on June 30. In between, they were in first place for 15 days and even up by as much as 1 ½ games over the Reds June 19-20.

And, unfortunately, overall mediocrity has been the definition of the Cardinals since the end of April. As Bernie Miklasz wrote in his column on July 1: “The Cardinals are 25-27 since May 4, and during this stretch they’ve scored three runs or fewer 24 times. That includes 18 games of two runs or less. Counting Wednesday’s loss, the Cardinals are 0-8 when they’ve had the chance to sweep a three-game series. In the eight losses, STL hitters have scored three runs or fewer seven times. They’ve left 60 runners on base. They’re batting .214.”

On the plus side, mediocre May and June are exactly what the Cardinals had in 2009 as well – they went 25-31 for those two months yet managed to win 91 games and the National League Central. What the 2010 Cardinals need to keep the rollercoaster climbing up is one thing: consistent offense. Of course it doesn’t help that David Freese and Ryan Ludwick missed time with injuries (and now will both be on the disabled list in July). But the pitchers are still more than getting their jobs done. Ending June, the Cards’ overall team pitching was still second in the Major Leagues behind San Diego. The overall ERA increased to 3.24 (although the Padres’ ERA has increased as well) and the Cards’ team WHIP was 1.26 (tied for third-best in the Majors). The Big Three starters all still remain in the NL’s top 10 in ERA, with Adam Wainwright second in wins and Chris Carpenter tied for fourth. But pitching alone, as we’ve witnessed too many times, doesn’t win games.

Here’s a closer look at who did what in June.

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Biggest surprise
Matt Holliday
Should it be a surprise when a guy finally does what he should have been doing all along? Yet Hunky Holliday finally got going, hitting .302 and slugging .583 for the month, with 6 homers and 16 RBI (the most he’s hit of both in a month this season). Hitting second for 10 games was the spark he needed and helped earn him NL Player of the Week honors for June 14-21.

Other surprises
Mitchell Boggs
As noted by Matthew Leach in his blog, “since May 29, Mitchell Boggs has made 13 appearances. In those games, he’s pitched 13 2/3 innings, allowing one run on six hits for a 0.66 ERA. He’s struck out 10 against five walks and not given up a home run.”

Skip Schumaker
Skip just keeps improving offensively, batting .311 for the month with one homer (which I saw in person in Kansas City last Saturday) and 6 RBI.

Colby Rasmus
Colby led the team in both homers with 9 and RBI with 19 for June. Now, if he can just stay consistent too. He also briefly had the longest home run in the Major Leagues this year last Sunday, hitting a 483-foot blast in Kansas City. According to the Fox Sports Midwest broadcast on June 29, Colby held the record for 3 hours and 29 minutes – until Josh Hamilton hit one 485 feet.

Biggest disappointment
Yadier Molina
Yadi did not have a good June, hitting only .183 with 1 homer and 2 RBI. And so far, July is not off to a much better start – he was robbed of what should have been two hits on Thursday with outstanding catches by Jim Edmonds (doesn’t Jim remember that he wouldn’t have a World Series ring without Yadi?) and Corey Hart, and is hitless for the two games this month.

Other disappointments
Dennys Reyes
That terrific May that earned Reyes last month’s biggest surprise certainly didn’t carry over. He allowed two earned runs a game in three of his first four appearances of the month and was the losing pitcher on June 1. His ERA for the month was 12.46.

Brendan Ryan
While it was his best hitting month, Brendan still only hit .230 in June. As Matthew Leach wrote on June 27, “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.”

Consistently good

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Chris Carpenter
As the leader of the Cardinals Big Three, Carpenter went 3-0 with 2.30 ERA for the month. Interestingly, he was involved in both 1-0 games that the Cardinals played in June. He received no decision on June 8, pitching 7 shutout innings, and was the winner on June 23 against Toronto, where he pitched 8 obviously shutout innings against his former team.

Jason Motte
In 11 innings pitched for the month, he struck out 13 and allowed 2 earned runs. He’s a reliable presence, and also an entertaining one with his on-the-mound antics.

Ryan Franklin
He had 5 saves for the month, with one rough outing where he was removed and Motte got the save instead. That blip aside, he only allowed one earned run in eight other appearances for the month.

Disturbing trend
The aging of the roster with the additions of Aaron Miles, Randy Winn and Jeff Suppan. (We’ve discussed this plenty of times!)

Best game
June 4
Cardinals 8, Brewers 0
Adam Wainwright has his first career complete-game shutout, allowing 2 hits and striking out 8 while throwing only 103 pitches. On offense, it was obviously a night where everything was working: Colby was 2 for 3 with a homer and 2 RBI, Albert and Ludwick each drove in 2, and Holliday and Felipe Lopez each drove in 1.

Worst game
June 27
Kansas City 10, Cardinals 3
Just like in May, there were plenty to choose from – including five losses when the Cards could have swept. But I’ll pick this one. I was listening on the radio to the Royals broadcast of the game while driving across Iowa. The Cardinals had so many chances in the first two innings, having the bases loaded twice in the first inning and two runners on in the second, yet only managed one run. The Royals announcer even commented on the Cardinals troubles getting things going with runners in scoring position. Add to those troubles Jaime Garcia’s worst outing of the year and it’s a game to forget – even if both Albert and Colby homered.

Craziest win
June 28
Cardinals 6, Diamondbacks 5
Just saying that two pitchers scored runs in the bottom of the 9th – including the winning run – should be enough to earn the title of craziest win. The Diamondbacks literally threw the game away, with errors by Aaron Heilman and Adam LaRoche letting pinch-runner Garcia and pinch-hitter Wainwright score. (Brendan also scored the tying run.)

Player of the month
Matt Holliday
Let’s keep it going …

Pitcher of the month
Mitchell Boggs
Same goes for you …

Actually, let’s hope for a little more consistency this month from everyone – even though the Cardinals are off to a 1-1 start in July. It also will be interesting to see how many of the Cardinals spend their All-Star break on the “beach” in Anaheim with Albert. Wainwright? Carpenter? Jaime? Yadi? Holliday?

Photo Thursday

Photos? We’ve got your photos!

The Cardinals kick off a four game set against those pesky Milwaukee Brewers at 7:15 PM tonight. This is the Cardinals’ third such series this year, with the boys going 1-3 in Philadelphia and sweeping the Braves at home. Go Cards!

In a game where a starting pitcher is pinch running,
you know something strange was happening!
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
…and happen it did! A pitcher pinch hitting and scoring
the winning run? Only the Cardinals!
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
2 home runs in one game? Just Albert being Albert
Scott Rovak – US Presswire
Is CC whistling? Can we get a video camera on this?!
Chris Lee – Post Dispatch
Get well soon David!
Love, the ladies of CDD
Chris Lee – Post Dispatch
‘Okay, well… uh… candlesticks always make a nice gift.’ (Bull Durham)
Chris Lee – Post Dispatch
If having Albert staring you down while you are warming up
doesn’t scare you into pitching well, nothing will!
Photo by Chris
Hawk pitching with determination on Saturday.
Charlie Riedel – AP Photo
Turning the double play and making it look easy
Charlie Riedel – AP Photo
Rrrrrreach!
Charlie Riedel – AP Photo

The Cardinals Big Three

Yes, it’s only two of them.
Photo: Dave Einsel, USA TODAY

Inter-league play continues tonight, with the Cardinals taking on the Blue Jays north of the border in Toronto. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Chris Carpenter, as he again visits the city and stadium where he spent the first six seasons of his Major League career. (Anyone else remember what happened last time he pitched in Toronto?) In addition to Carp pitching on Wednesday, the other two of the Cards’ “Big Three” are pitching this series as well: Jaime Garcia tonight and Adam Wainwright on Thursday.

Coincidentally, the Big Three also are the subject of my article today at Baseball Digest. Check it out here.

In non-pitching news, congratulations to Matt Holliday for being named National League Player of the Week! He definitely heated up over the weekend, so it’s good we weren’t the only ones who noticed.

Counting Baseball Blessings

With the Cardinals’ recent winning ways, being a thankful Cardinals fan is a whole lot easier. Focusing on the positive, here are the Cardinals components that are making me smile:

photo from stltoday.com
Cardinals pitching has been nothing short of spectacular. Adam Wainwright continues to build on his personal record of 22 consecutive quality starts at Busch Stadium, grabbing his 10th win of the season (plus he’s holding a 2.23 ERA.) Our rookie starting pitcher, lefty Jaime Garcia has the National League’s 2nd best ERA at 1.59. Chris Carpenter’s record is 8-1 so far with a 2.83 ERA. Fans have a lot to celebrate there!
Even with two injured starting pitchers currently out of the mix (Brad Penny returning soon and Kyle Lohse likely out for most of the season after surgery,) the Cardinal hurlers have kept the team at the top of the National League Central division, now 1.5 games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds. Plus the Cardinals’ recent move, picking up Brewer cast-off (and former Cardinal) Jeff Suppan to deepen the pitching rotation, has gone better than expected with Suppan turning in 4 and then 4 2/3 innings in his two appearances so far, giving up 3 earned runs (2 HR).
Dilip Vishwanat /Getty images
The bullpen, an often thankless job, deserves recognition as well – especially with the club’s haunting lack of run support for its starting pitchers over the past month.
Jason Motte, the sometimes ‘Crazy Man’ on the mound with a radar-loving fastball continues to dominate opposing batters. This guy is entertaining, at times yelling manically into his cap or glove and pacing frenetically across the mound between pitches. He also happens to be ON FIRE, nailing his location and throwing heat. Making Motte even more lovable is his alter-personality: laid back, friendly and playful during pregame warm-ups, sometimes calm and controlled in the heat of the action. Not knowing which Motte we will see step onto the bump certainly adds intrigue to the late-inning drama.
photo by Robert Cohen – P/D
Ryan Franklin has quieted the early-season skeptics who were questioning his fortitude as closer after Ryan struggled down the stretch in late 2009. Franklin has since deservedly regained the trust of Cardinal nation. Joe Strauss’ article from yesterday (Cardinals closer is closer to the end) highlighted the fascinating personality of Ryan Franklin, an uncomplicated, unpretentious guy from Oklahoma, and shared these statistics on Franklin’s 2010 season as it stands right now:
Entering the weekend, Franklin ranked 12th among NL relievers with at least 20 appearances in ERA (1.86) and eighth in baserunners per inning (0.86) while maintaining the best conversion rate (12 of 13) among closers with at least four saves. Of the league’s 12 closers with at least 12 saves, Franklin maintains the lowest strikeout rate; however, he had walked only three in 29 innings, a ratio second only to Los Angeles Dodgers ninth-inning monster Jonathan Broxton. Franklin had allowed two earned runs in two months before engaging the A’s this weekend. To date, this season has represented a solid follow-up to a season in which he ranked sixth in the major leagues with 38 saves and ranked second in ERA (1.92) among NL closers.
In addition to pride in the pitching, I have confidence that Matt Holliday’s surging power recovery is a good sign that the big bats are indeed heating up. In case you missed it, Holliday hit FOUR homeruns in the last three games! We are certainly seeing more signs of Cardinal magic. Won’t it be fun watching this team finally get it together consistently and go on that winning romp we know is due?
I believe the Cardinals are turning a corner. This team is built to win. We have Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, Ryan Ludwick and Matt Holliday. Colby Rasmus and rookie David Freese have both earned NL Player of the Week honors this season. Combine that talent with the skill of the Cardinals hurlers and we have something to be excited about. The summer is heating up and so are our Cardinals!

Enjoy your Monday as the Cardinals take a break and travel to Toronto for interleague play versus the Blue Jays

Next game: Tuesday at 6:07pm CT (yep, I double-checked it… what a weird start time!)

GO CARDS! =)

It’s Tuesday at Cardinal Diamond Diaries

The Cardinals remain tied for first in the NL Central and Chris Carpenter will be king of the mound tonight for another late night ballgame at Dodger Stadium (first pitch 9:10 pm CDT).
  
For those of you trying to forget last night’s brutal 12-4 Cardinal crushing at the hands of the Dodgers or want to read something other than the *yawn* MLB draft coverage (we promise to spice that up for you later in the week) …

Here are Your Tuesday Field Trip Links:
   
Erika moonlights at Baseball Digest, giving our Baby Birds (Memphis Redbirds) some love & gushes about minor league baseball.
Chris stirs the pot and makes a case for the Cardinals’ Most Valuable Rookie.  Who gets her vote?  David Freese or Jaime Garcia?
Angela’s claws came out in her surprise Sunday post about the recent roster moves including the acquisition of Randy Winn and Aaron Miles at the expense of the Cardinal “Baby Bench.

Maybe this is Chris Carpenter’s "problem"

There’s been a lot of talk about Chris Carpenter and the velocity of his fastball this season. This article, for example, appeared earlier in the week, and my first post on our blog was about it. His velocity also been mentioned on FS Midwest seemingly every time Carp starts, during the game by Dan McLaughlin and Al Hrabosky plus in the pre- and post-game. No one has an answer to what the “trouble” is – plus it’s laughable to consider his pitching an issue when at the moment he has a 5-1 record, a 2.80 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP.

So here’s an idea, a possible answer to the “problem” Chris Carpenter is having in 2010: maybe he’s just getting older.
Chris turned 35 on April 27. Compared to 47-year-old Jamie Moyer or 43-year-old Tim Wakefield, being 35 seems almost young. But Moyer and Wakefield – like Randy Johnson, who retired last year at 45, and Nolan Ryan, who retired at 46 – are exceptions when it comes to pitching. Take a look at the similar pitchers to Carp according to Baseball-reference.com:
  1. Freddy Garcia
  2. Jack McDowell
  3. Matt Morris
  4. Josh Beckett
  5. Alex Fernandez
  6. Carl Erskine
  7. John Lackey
  8. Shane Reynolds
  9. Tom Browning
  10. Brad Penny
Of the list, six are currently retired. And here’s the ages at which they last played in the major leagues: McDowell, 33; Morris, 33; Fernandez, 30; Erskine, 32; Reynolds, 36; and Browning, 35. So, with still pitching extremely well this season at 35, Carp is ahead of many of these similar pitchers.
Back to the velocity question – it stands to reason that the mile or 2 per hour slower he’s throwing this year is based on age too. Pitchers lose some velocity when they age, right? (Unless, like Moyer, they didn’t really have much to begin with.) It was simple to find Carp’s velocity this year compared to last (and to 2008) on Fangraphs.com. Yes, his fastball is down a bit: the average velocity is 91.7 mph, compared to 93.2 mph last year. (In 2008, when he threw only 205 total pitches, it was 92.1 mph.) I tried to find velocities from earlier seasons, though, especially after reading the quote from Lance Berkman where he said Chris used to throw 96 mph and was now at 92. Finding stats on that was tough. The closest I could find was this mention on a site talking about fantasy baseball from last year, which said “his fastball is popping the glove harder than it has in his previous six seasons (92.1 mph average).” The amount of baseball information available from so many sources on the Web is staggering, so maybe information on his velocity in 2004-2006 is out there to be found.

But, velocity aside, what really matters the most? Is it more important to have a Chris Carpenter who can reach 96 mph, or a 35-year-old who can do what it takes to continue to be successful and win? The results are what matter most to me. Old – relatively speaking – or not, Chris is more than getting the job done. Hopefully the sportswriters and broadcasters can focus on those results in the games ahead.

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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