Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: David Freese

Don’t Blink

There’s something to be said about how life can change in the blink of an eye.  Yesterday was one of those days on many levels in my life.  On a personal note, my family suffered the unexpected tragic loss of a dear loved one, much too young.  Late breaking news of Osama Bin Laden’s death united the nation and brought spontaneous celebrations and outpourings of patriotism.  And sandwiched somewhere in the middle of a day that will forever be remembered for everything else, there was baseball.

Being that this is a site about baseball, and if you’re reading this now, you are probably looking for something about baseball, let’s talk.

Heading into the weekend, Cardinal Nation was riding high.  The Birds have been collecting wins at an impressive rate, winning 14 of their last 18 games going into Sunday, with a chance to get their first series’ sweep of 2011 against the Braves. A young bullpen surge from Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez has helped distract from the ongoing crash-and-burn of Cardinal closer, Ryan Franklin.  Jake Westbrook, the early weak link in our rotation, has picked up the slack and added two improved outings to his 2011 resume.  Matt Holliday, solid as ever, has defied his “notorious slow starter” label and is batting .418 and slugging .646 with a.521 OBP.  (Translated:  Matt is hitting the ball and hitting it well.)  Lance Berkman too, is absolutely killing it right now.  On April 28th, Lance had another two homerun game, his THIRD multiple homerun game in this young 2011 season.  Combine the offensive threat of Holliday, Berkman and one Albert Pujols with the scrappy play of newcomers Daniel Descalso, Nick Punto and backup catcher Gerald Laird and it was easy to see why Cardinal fans were smiling.

Which brings us to Diamond Diaries’ darling David Freese…

Even cautiously playing only 2 of every 3 games due to his having both ankles surgically repaired in the offseason, Freese has again reminded the Cardinals why they took another chance on him.  David was batting .356 with 2 homeruns and 14 RBI as of yesterday’s game.

However, disaster struck in the 6th inning when Dave was hit on the back of his left hand by a fastball pitched inside, breaking his 3rd metacarpal.  Estimates of recovery time for this injury are 6-8 weeks. Go ahead… take a moment and let it sink in.  It took me a while too….

Can the guy be any unluckier?  After months of grueling rehab on his ankles (both during the 2010 season injuries and then again after surgeries) Freese was finally back in the game only to be sidelined AGAIN.  My heart goes out to him. After all, we were just getting past those “bubble wrap” and “injury prone” comments.  Luckily we have some third base alternatives not named Albert Pujols to hold down the hotcorner until Dave heals yet another injured extremity.

Let’s not talk about how Ryan Theriot dropped that routine pop fly in the 9th inning yesterday, helping to earn down-on-his-own-bad-luck Ryan Franklin the loss after pitching a gem of an 8th inning that could have been a turning point in his string of unfortunate events.  Nah…. We won’t talk about that.

And being that utility infielder Nick Punto, fresh off the DL himself, was also pulled from the game yesterday as a precaution for hamstring tenderness, we won’t talk about our dwindling supply of infielders.  (Although watching Albert Pujols briefly patrol 3rd base yesterday was an enjoyable oddity.)

All good reminders not to take anything for granted… in baseball, or life.

Get Well Soon, David Freese!  😉

Have a blessed Monday, Cards fans.

The Berkman Bandwagon

Mark your calendars:  the date was April 4th.  Lance Berkman made it into my inner circle of Cardinal love.

Lance Berkman had a clean slate with me.  I knew he was a former Houston Astro, but that was about it.  (The “new baseball fan” status still gives me an excuse for my unfamiliarity with everything not Cardinal-related.)  The Cardinals picked him up in the off-season and the first things I hear about him are 1) Big Puma 2) Fat Elvis and 3) bad knees….. not exactly a glowing report to hang your cap on, Lance.  😉

Being a fan of our up-and-coming babybirds and pulling for those young guys to get their due chance with the big club, I am not a huge fan of Tony LaRussa’s propensity to favor new-to-me veteran additions to the roster.  Sure, those veterans have experience…. but I don’t remember any of it (new baseball fan excuse.)  So those guys have to give me a reason to love them.  They have to show me some heart, hustle like their job depends on it or at least have a personality that makes me forget that they’re blocking the babybird pipeline to the Majors.
Last night, Lance Berkman had all three.  I was shocked to see him tear around the bases in a hit and run, ending up at 3rd!  Bad knees?  They sure looked to be working well to me.  Then the Fox Sports camera (and microphone) caught Berkman as he headed to the dugout, smiling ear to ear, stop at the steps to shout a heads-up to Skip Schumaker, warning that the pitcher was throwing inside.  Big points to FSMW for showing that exchange.  Personality and teamwork on display makes me happy.
Add to that the (boring) stats from last night that Berkman drew two walks in his first two at bats and hit a rbi single to help spark hope in the almost-rally of the 8th inning and Lance has earned himself a spot in my heart.  Fellow United Cardinals Blogger Christine Coleman was quicker to the Berkman bandwagon than I was.  She pointed out to me at the game on Sunday how quirkily entertaining it is to watch Lance nervously walk in little circles in the outfield after every pitch.  (Quirky works for me…. See: Brendan Ryan.)
So, while I was warned that I would love Berkman this season because he had a “great personality,” I stubbornly held out for proof… and spunk.  Welcome to the club, Lance Berkman.  You’ve earned a new fan.  (Mr. Theriot, I am still waiting.)
The Cardinals did end up with another loss last night.  They are now 1-3 in 2011. (Note: the Cardinal win came on Sunday while the United Cardinal Bloggers were in attendance at the game – not that that matters, but I think it might?)  David Freese wasn’t feeling the love yesterday.  He went 0-4 and has a batting average of .154 which is still better than Pujols’ batting average (now at .125.)  Aren’t early season statistics fun?  They don’t mean much, but yet we all want to make something out of them.  Brendan Ryan is batting .083 for the Mariners right now if you were curious  😉
And of course I have to mention Hunky Holliday: On March 31st, Matt had a power explosion with 3 hits, a homerun and 2 RBIs.  The very next day Holliday was in the hospital for an emergency appendectomy.  Then, 3 days later reports come out (yesterday) that Matt asked not to be put on the 15 day disabled list because he believes he will be able to return before then.  Superman?  Possibly.  Stud?  Definitely!  😉

Late edit:  link to FSMW video with Hunky talking about his surgery and recovery:  click HERE.

The Cardinals take on the Pirates again tonight at 7:15 CT with Kyle McClellan on the mound.  I feel a win.  Go Cards!!  😉

Welcome Back, David Freese!

Perhaps winning the CDD’s 2011 Ultimate Cardinal Crush trophy brought Dave some luck?
Cardinal Nation breathed a collective sigh of relief as David Freese made his 2011 debut at Spring Training today in a game against the Minnesota Twins and did not injure either of his lower extremities.
Over the weekend, word that Dave’s first Spring Training appearance would be delayed after he *sigh* managed to hit a foul tip off his toe in a simulated game brought both groans and jabs at the seemingly injury-prone Cardinal hot corner.
Nevertheless, Freese’s outing today went very, very well.  Still cautious running the basepaths, Freese managed 2 hits, 3 RBI, 2 assists and played 5+ innings as the Cardinals beat the Twins, 10-4.  It was a pleasant surprise.  Dare we hope for more of the same??
The Cardinals have warned us that Freese’s playing time will be limited as he continues to strengthen his ankles following surgery this offseason, cautiously predicting he will play every other day and working up to playing 2 out of 3.
After the good showing today, I gotta say that while I’d love to see more of Freese and his magical RBI bat, I am quite content to be patient.
Be careful,
Strengthen those pretty ankles,
And swing away, Dave!  The scoreboard and the infield both look better with you in the game!

Crowning the 2011 Ultimate Cardinal Crush

Wow! This seemingly harmless little poll adventure caused quite its share of drama and controversy.  Apparently some of the UCB bloggers (not naming any names….  Mr. Ivie) were hoping to see their names on the ballot. (We love you, but this was just for the Cardinals players, guys…)

Then Kevin (@deckacards) decided to call us out on twitter to Cardinals closer, Ryan Franklin (@Franky3131)….

Franky was awesome about it, and you really gotta love a Cardinal player who actually, you know…. tweets with fans.  (ahem… @MattHolliday7?  where you been???)

So in the fashion of Will Leitch (in his hilarious baseball book “Are We Winning?”…. which I  highly recommend, by the way) let’s take a look at what we have learned:

1. Even playful crush polls, much like junior high, can ruffle some feathers.
2. Write-ins and options for “other” will not cover you.
3. Men DO vote in crush polls but get more fun from stirring up trouble.
4. Ryan Franklin (and his goatee) are both very good sports. 😉

But enough about that….

Courtney presents Freese with the trophy!
Dave is speechless but beams with pride.  😉

The results of our 2011 Ultimate Cardinal Crush:
1st place ( 34% of the votes) — DAVID FREESE (the hot hotcorner with the delicate ankles)
2nd place (14% of the votes) — Yadier Molina (it’s YADI!)
3rd place ((11% of the votes) — Skip Schumaker (aw, it’s Skipperdoodle!)
4th & 5th place (tied with 9%) — Jaime Garcia and Daniel Descalso

Honorable mentions go to Lance Berkman (7% of the votes), Chris Carpenter (5%), Matt Holliday (3%), Ryan Theriot (2%) and Jason Motte (2%).

Thank you for voting!!!
And Congratulations to David Freese.  I promise I did not stuff the ballot box. 😉

Cardinal Fans: if you haven’t chimed in on the Cardinal Approval Ratings for our friend Daniel at C70 At The Bat, get on over there!  This is his third year to take the pulse of Cardinal Nation, getting our opinions on key members of the team and organization.  It’s a quick poll, no crush questions involved.  😉

United Cardinal Bloggers Roundtable:The Sophomore Class

Each day during the month of February, the United Cardinal Bloggers fire off an email roundtable discussion about all things baseball – from serious talk of lineups and rotations to the lighter side of the game such as wishlists for musical acts during the 2011 World Series at Busch.  If you missed some of the fun, check out the full list of roundtable questions and responses at http://www.unitedcardinalbloggers.com/.

This weekend, it was our turn to come up with a question.  And since we gals love our babybirds, we decided to focus on the youngsters.  We asked our fellow bloggers to predict how the Cardinals’ Sophomore class would fare during the 2011 season.


Angela threw the topic into the ring with this email question:


“Let’s focus on a less threatening question today and look at all of the sophomores on the Cardinals roster. Who of these players is due for a big season, and who is in for a sophomore slump? Your choices: David Freese, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, and Jaime Garcia.”


Bill Ivie (I-70 baseball)

I look for Jon Jay to have a bit of a slump as he adjusts to being a part time player most of the time this year.

As for breakout years, as much as I have said the opposite, my gut and hope is that Craig is due to show that he belongs in the bigs.  My mind tells me that is not going to happen and we have a better shot of a solid year from the glass ankles of David Freese.  I would look for Mr. Freese to put up a solid .280/20HR/85RBI season and be considered a solid option at third for a few years


Daniel Shoptaw (C70 At The Bat)
I’m with Bill, I think Jay slides some, due to both lack of playing time and the fact that he kind got figured out at the end of last season.  He’ll be of value, of course, but may not be quite as impressive as he was last year.  Garcia will slip a bit as well, but as we discussed in a previous question, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t still be good.


You figure if Freese can stay healthy, he’s going to easily be more than he was last year.  I also think that if Craig can get some regular at-bats, no matter where it may be, he’ll bring something to the table as well.

Dennis Lawson (Pitchers Hit Eighth)
I think that Freese has the best opportunity for a big season, because he has the best opportunity to play and make an impact.  In theory, I look for Jay to slide based on lack of playing time, but we’ve already seen that projecting playing time is a very slippery slope.  TLR has a lot of mix-n-match options, and an injury to any of the position players could completely change the formula. With that in mind, Allen Craig could have a really good showing simply by being in the right place at the right time in 2011.

Mark Tomasik (Retrosimba)
If he stays healthy, David Freese seems poised for a productive season at the plate and in the field. Could see him generating significant run production with gap-power. I suspect Jon Jay is in for a sophomore slump, primarily because of lack of playing time. I’m worried about Jaime Garcia being able to duplicate or exceed last season’s performance, but I’m in denial about it because Cardinals cannot afford him to slump after Adam Wainwright’s setback.


Christine Coleman (Aaron Miles’ Fastball)
If Freese can stay healthy, I think he will be due for a big season. He definitely showed the potential during his healthy times last year, so staying healthy throughout all of 2011 will likely be his biggest challenge. If he can meet it, he should have a big year.  I think that Jaime Garcia will have a little bit of a sophomore slump, yet still play a very significant role in the Cards rotation (all the more important now). Like others have already said, I think that Jon Jay will have a little bit of a sophomore slump just based on his presumptive decrease in playing time. Hopefully Craig will see his playing time increase this season as well.

Like most of my fellow bloggers have stated I’m going to predict a very nice season for David Freese barring injury. Unfortunately the way this season has started I’ll be more than surprised if he doesn’t land on the DL for an extended period.
Jaime Garcia set the bar so high for himself it’s going to be hard for him to repeat that success. Some regression for Jaime, but not a sophomore slump my any means.

As for Jon Jay and Allen Craig my gut feeling predicts a semi-breakout season for Craig. He’s done nothing but rake in Memphis and I’m hopeful with regular MLB at bats he can have similar production. As far as Jay goes I’m thinking Skip Schumaker type offensive numbers. To me Jay projects as a long term 4th outfielder while Craig could be the Cardinals right fielder of the future.

Matthew Philip (Fungoes)
David Freese seems the best equipped to go big this season, though his hopes are limited by the same thing that prevented a breakout rookie season in 2010: health. And that reality leads to Allen Craig potentially performing better this year, if for no other reason than he might get more playing time (filling in for Freese) and can’t do much worse than his .282 BABIP last season. Bill James even projects him for a .350 wOBA, which is more in line with his minor-league numbers. Realistically, Garcia is going to look like he’s slumping, though he’ll probably simply be performing more toward what his numbers should’ve been last year: an expected FIP an entire point above his ERA.


Bob Netherton (On The Outside Corner)
For a breakout season, you have to go with David Freese because either way it goes, you’ll be right 🙂  He’ll either hit .280, 12 homers and drive in 75 runs or some part of a stadium will fall on him in a game and break some body part.   David Freese is more than just a baseball player, he’s a walking anatomy lesson. 

The sophomore slump will have to go to Jon Jay, although that’s not altogether fair.   The lack of consistent playing time will hurt him somewhat.  Add to that some expectations from last year that are unrealistically high, he will have the perception of slumping.

I do believe that Jaime Garcia will defy all of the projections and have a terrific year.  Every once in a while a player comes along that just doesn’t fit the model, and I believe Garcia is that player.


Erika (Cardinal Diamond Diaries)
Ever the Cardinal optimist, I foresee our sophomores surging ahead this year.  Jaime Garcia had a phenomenal first year.  With his maturity and professional demeanor, I expect him to continue to grow with experience and step up again this season to make up for the absence of Adam Wainwright.

I am hopeful that both Jon Jay and Allen Craig will get enough playing time to further hone their big league skills.  Jay did burst onto the scene last season with what could only be described as offensive magic last year, but slid a little back into the realms of reality as opposing pitchers became familiar. Allen Craig, on the other hand struggled offensively from inconsistent playing time. I think both their numbers normalize to some solid contributions in 2011.

And then there’s David Freese.  Pardon me a moment while I stop and smile?  OK… all better now.  😉  Dave has worked his tail off over the winter rehabbing not one, but two ankles.  Tagged with the “injury prone” label is never a good thing.  This is the season that Freese makes us all forget about the past.  If When he stays healthy, David Freese is going to have an amazing year.  Back in 2010 we saw his power and range.  I’m looking forward to a solid year for Dave!  *fingers crossed*

Thanks to the UCB group above for joining the conversation!

The Cardinals play their first Spring Training game today!  Doesn’t that just make your Monday better?  Have a great week everyone!   =)


Oooof Course He Did…

 

Maybe he hurt his elbow taking this picture?
Photo by @CardsInsider

Fine: I’ll admit it. When I got home from work yesterday and the first thing I heard was that Adam Wainwright – my boy, my favorite – might be shut down before his last start of the season after sleeping on his elbow wrong of all things, my only reaction was to say ‘Of course he did!’ out loud, alone, standing in the middle of my apartment. At this point, nothing will shock me.

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we? I think we need to look at when all of our busted up boys were shut down…

May: Brad Penny pulls his oblique while hitting a grand slam. He is never seen from again.

June: David Freese rolls an ankle while running the bases. While rehabbing he drops a weight on his toe and breaks it. When he is finally sent out for a rehab assignment in Springfield during the first days of August he injures the same ankle rounding third bases. He has since had surgeries/procedures performed on *both ankles. Sheesh kid. They’re called ankle braces. My volleyball girls wear them. You make more money than them. Invest.

Good thing you’re cute… still, Erika’s calling you
‘Prince Boo-Boo Foot’… are you going to take that?
Photo from STL Post-Dispatch

August: Jason LaRue takes multiple shots to the face and head from the cleats of one Reds pitcher whose name is no longer mentioned within the confines of this blog. After suffering a severe concussion, the effects of which are still lingering over a month later, LaRue decides to retire from the game of baseball. His farewell posts have almost read like eulogies to me, so I don’t even want to link ’em up for you (Sorry Erika…).

September: One year removed from Tommy John surgery, Jaime Garcia throws a career high innings total that eventually begins to catch up to him. Despite a very solid year in which he leads all rookie pitchers in pretty much every possible category, he was shut down by the team – not for physical issues, but as a preventative measure. I’m still on the fence about this one I guess, but I definitely will throw a ‘plays like a Cardinal’ tag on his locker for his plea to the powers that be to keep pitching after the premature announcement was made to the media for his abrupt end to the season before telling Jaime himself.

Ooooh the aching knees…
Photo by Scott Rovak

Also in September: Yadier Molina is a workhorse of a catcher. In the past two years he has caught more innings than all but two catchers in all of baseball. Squatting for minutes a day is no fun, so turn those minutes into hours and it’s pretty clear that Yadi’s knees have taken a beating. After being sent back to St. Louis for an MRI the announcement was made that Yadi’s kaput for the year as well.

More in September: On Saturday in Chicago Blake Hawksworth was smashed in the face by a line drive off the bat of a Scrubbie (oops, forgot I’m not supposed to take shots at the Cubs on here. Hi Grandpa!) and was immediately taken to the hospital. I screeched when I saw it happen, and my first thought was ‘broken nose’ because those just suck (Personal experience? Yes). Somehow Blake escaped with no broken bones, but around 30 stitches to his upper lip and face. Yikes! Needless to say, I will not be seeing Blake over the last week of the season.

September isn’t over yet?: Yesterday, as stated above, the announcement was made that Waino might be done for the year as well.

Please make it stop. There are only five of us here at the CDD, and we can only bandage so many boo-boos at a time. We love you boys and we want to take care of you, but we would really prefer that you take care of yourselves as well!

Of course, the announcement of Waino’s possible end of the season came as I was writing a Baseball Digest piece about him. Do me a favor and head over to read it anyway, would you? It’s called “Twenty Wins Is A Serious Number”… apologies, it was just too good a title to pass up! 🙂

Girl Talk – A Frustrating Year

We’re trying something new here on CDD – a Monday morning roundtable, covering a different question to kick off the beginning of every week. You’ll see answers from us and maybe even some guests from time to time! We are hoping to spark some discussion, so feel free to jump in on the comments and add your two cents!


This week’s question: What is the one thing you would say was the most frustrating thing about this year’s team?

Allen Craig can play baseball too!

Angela: I’m not sure there is any one thing, but for me it had to be all the jettisoned players that found their way on to the roster. Randy Winn, Aaron Miles and Jeff Suppan have all been designated for assignment this year and got picked up by the team for ‘veteran presence.’ Now, I am not of the #hpgf (Hyperventilating Prospect Geek Fraternity… and seeing as how I’m not a guy I guess I never will be), and I’ve never been overly excited about any one particular player, however I do remember being so excited at the beginning of the season seeing all of the “Baby Birds” hanging out on the roster. Joe Mather, Allen Craig, Tyler Greene… they were all there!


What frustrated me was seeing all of those boys get sent back down to Memphis to make room for all the old fogeys. I won’t be naive and say that those guys would have made the difference, and I will be enlightened enough to say that Jeff Suppan was serviceable and Aaron Miles wasn’t a total waste of space… but I think the young guys could have done that as well. The overall makeup of the roster never came together. There were the superstars and the everyone elses. You could pin that kind of blame anywhere, from the front office making poor moves to Tony using poor lineups to players just not performing, but for me it had to be watching guys that were tearing the cover off the ball in Memphis get passed by in favor of those ‘veteran presences.’




Jacqueline: First of all I love this idea. Way to go Angela and Erika for coming up with another way for us me to get to give my opinion. I look at it as our own little Cawffee Tawlk. Ya know, that great Mike Myers skit on Saturday Night Live where he played Linda, based on his Jewish mother in law, who loved two things: tawlking-giving her opinion and Barbra Streisand. So from now on just think of me(although I’m a shiksa) as Linda’s sports loving sistah, Brenda. I have the big hair, shoulder padded sweaters, big glasses, the long nails, the jewelry and animal print clothing and accessories to fit right in. First let me say that Albert Pujols is my Barbra Streisand. He’s like buttah. The man can do no wrong. And does he look good in that uniform! His toucas/tuches (bumm for us Gentiles) is a sight to behold! I get verklempt.

Seriously, my biggest frustration is this: The sum is should be greater than it’s parts.That’s what is so frustrating about the 2010 Cardinals. The sum some how adds up to less than it’s parts. On paper we look like a contending post season team. We have the games best player in Albert Pujols. The man was born to play baseball and wear the Birds on the Bat. If you designed the perfect player it would be Albert. We have two Cy Young caliber shut em down pitchers in Chris Carpenter and my favorite Cardinal Adam Wainwright.Oy vey! The toucas on Waino es Bueno! Like buttah! We have All Star catcher Yadi (don’t even think of running on me) Molina. He’s the best defensive and  game calling catcher in baseball. We’ve got Matt Holliday, one of the best hitters in the league. That is our core as Tony would say. We have a good 2nd year center fielder power or at least a doubles hitter in Colby Rasmus, an above average defensive short stop in Brendan Ryan and three very good rookies or newbies in Jaime Garcia, Jon Jay and David Freese. Add these up on paper and we looked like a great team. But…that’s why we play the games.


As Adam Wainwright said yesterday, we came out of spring training with every intention  of playing in the post season and making it to the World Series. What the what happened? We had players who didn’t play up to expectations, others regressed to the mean, were slow to get up to par or were very erratic. We had injuries. Such is life in baseball.


But still something major was missing. Spark, leadership, enthusiasm, killer instinct, will to win, never give upness, chemistry. Our parts added up to a great big pile of bupkes disappointment. “Discuss amooangst yooaselves”


Erika: Since I could easily just say “ditto” to both Angela and Jacqueline on their assessments (the early birds got the worms!), I am changing it up a bit and looking at the question from merely a spectator point of view.
Biggest disappointment – on a purely aesthetic level:  Since June 27th there has been no David Freese in the lineup.  This season could have been so much better (looking) had Mr. Freese hung around at the hotcorner for more than 70 games.
Plus Felipe Lopez then could have toodled around at SS or 2B instead of being assigned to 3B where he is not, shall we say, a “natural.”  And then Angela might have been a happier member of the Less-Is-More Aaron Miles fan club.  All good reasons to support the theory that the absence of rookie stud Freese was the major disappointment of the 2010 Cardinal season.
Prince Boo Boo Feet
The Cardinals can of course make up for this disappointment pretty easily –
David Freese (a.k.a. Prince Boo Boo Feet) gets another shot at the hotcorner next season.  Maybe a pair of good ankle splints, some steel toe workout shoes and a megapack of bubble wrap could help protect those dainty hooves of his?  I’ll help wrap!  😉


Cadence: It is really hard for me to pinpoint an exact moment where the season went wrong. There are many things that have been frustrating, especially in the last 2 months, and trying to pick one might just be the reason that the season has turned so disappointing. We all know that the lack of wins by a team with a ton of potential and talent has to be the number one most frustrating thing; a team loaded with proven veterans like Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Yadier Molina and a group of young guys full of potential including Brendan Ryan, Jon Jay, Colby Rasmus and David Freese, it is hard to grasp why a team that came into the 2010 season with high expectations might finish just above .500 and second in the NL Central standings behind the Reds. What is even more frustrating is that when the Cardinals swept the Reds in early August and the team was defending itself, it only lead to a downward spiral. Even more frustrating than that, Jason LaRue was put on the 15-day DL, then the 60-day DL, then announced his retirement after a kick in the head by Johnny Cueto ended his season and eventually his career. We lost a great back up catcher and a great asset to our team for no good reason. Disappointing.

Brad Penny after his Grand Slam on May 21, 2010.  The last time
we saw him this season. (I was at this game)
Photo Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch

So, I guess the conclusion I have come to is that the most frustrating thing about the 2010 season is the injuries and the (as I like to call them) leftovers used to fill the void. David Freese twisted his ankle and then hurt it again during his rehab assignment, Brad Penny strained his oblique muscle in May and we haven’t even seen him since, Ryan Ludwick strained his hamstring and spent several days on the bench before finally getting DL-ed and then eventually getting traded a couple days after coming back, Colby Rasmus was injured off and on for parts of the season, and Kyle Lohse had a surgery that no one even heard of that we thought could end his season if not his career. We all know Lohse came back (disappointingly…sorry, Kyle) and Colby was able to work his way back into the starting lineup even with the TLR drama, but we lost Penny & Freese for the season, and Ludwick forever (sad face again). So, instead of allowing the farm guys come up, for the most part, wholes have been filled with leftovers; Randy Winn, Aaron Miles, Jeff Suppan. Sure, they have done their part and I don’t hate them, but I still can not justify in my head that this was the best decision. A lot of spark was lost when the minor league guys left; in particular when Joe Mather got sent down, I think some of that energy in the clubhouse disappeared and I think a lot of Brendan Ryan’s spunk went away too (we all remember Brendo-vision & the home movies). I could definitely notice a change in him at photo day when he spent less time chatting with fans than he did the year before. And that kind of thing is what I felt made the 2010 Cardinals what they were…fun and exciting, and this was all lost when injuries took over, baby birds didn’t get much of a chance, and leftovers filled their place. The camaraderie wasn’t as strong as I thought it might have been. My hope for next season is that David Freese comes back better than ever and we figure out how to fill positions (bench and other) with legitimate players. Here’s to 2011!

My Happy Place

Today, as I sipped coffee and pondered possible blog subjects, I suddenly knew exactly what to share.
Autographs from Whitey Herzog, Warren Spahn,
Adam Wainwright & Kyle Lohse, David Freese
and Colby Rasmus
We in Cardinals Nation are in dire need of a lift, and this weekend my baseball joy was renewed! Clearly not from a spectacular showing by our Redbirds as they continued their downward spiral and a shockingly unwavering ability to lose games to the lowliest of teams, the spirit boost came instead from the simple exercise of redesigning space.
We just completed a lengthy and much anticipated project in my household. And on Sunday I was finally able to put the finishing touches in my new favorite nook.
Most families have it – the place that never quite has a purpose other than “catch-all” – a room or a corner that collects random boxes, papers and clutter.  In our house it was the back bedroom.  Once it was a child’s bedroom, then it morphed into an office of sorts – consisting of a hand-me-down desk and file cabinet surrounded by odds-and-ends, our kids’ never-ending art projects and the dreaded pile of papers without a home.
My dear husband, who is the smartest, handiest but also the busiest guy around took on the task of carpentering a built-in desk, cabinets and a 10-foot-long work surface along the back wall (in his spare time – of which he has none.)  Every piece of clutter and errant paper now has a home and my chaos has been replaced with zen.
This morning I dropped the kids off at school anxiously anticipating the pleasure of returning to the peace and quiet of my new paradise.  Here in my own little corner of the house, in small town USA, far from any Major League venue, I am happy.  Why? Because after hours of framing pictures, preserving keepsakes, and finally pounding nails into walls and arranging the displays, I am surrounded by baseball memories lovingly collected over the past four years of my short love affair with the game.
My Wall of Fame
Including Dad’s childhood glove autographed by Warren Spahn, Ed Mathews and Del Crandall
Baseball is a hobby that has forever changed my soul. The glorious sights and sounds of the game. The intrigue of discovering something new about the heralded pastime. The triumphs and tragedies of a long season. The players I have had the opportunity to meet. All these fan experiences have built the foundation for my devotion.  My passion is hardly unique as countless fans for generations have similar emotions about the sport. However, this weekend’s exercise of revisiting the highlights of my own baseball history reminded me that at this point in the season when my team is losing and the fun seems gone, the joy of baseball can survive.
2009 AAA Championship Game
It is a beautiful sight now. My baseball treasures have a new home, moved out from boxes and reunited from their various perches around the house.  My husband is glad to have his bedroom a baseball-free zone again, and a former junk room has been reclaimed in the name of home improvement. With just a glance, I can revisit memories of Spring Training adventures, AAA championship games, autographs and a growing stack of baseball cards that have found their way into my possession. And most importantly, irreplaceable family memories have finally been appropriately protected and preserved.
Spring Training 2010
Adam Wainwright, David Freese
and Kyle Lohse
The demands of day-to-day life (and baseball schedules) have the ability to dishearten and discourage. But a trip down memory lane reminded me that the enjoyment of this baseball hobby cannot be ruined by a slump or a bad season.  Baseball is simply bigger than that.
May you too find your ‘happy place’ until our boys regain their footing!
GO CARDINALS!  =)

There is a time…

I may be the daughter of a preacher, but have never been great at quoting scripture.  I can however point you to the scene from “Footloose” where you can hear Kevin Bacon mention
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:”
My mind is always drifting to baseball. So naturally, my translation would be: there is a time for every emotion during baseball season.  In 2010 we have had time to cheer; time to cry, and (lately) plenty of time to be frustrated.
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A time to reflect:
I was watching a game this week – well, I watched them all – but there was this one game – when it struck me how different the August Cardinals are from the starting lineup back in April.
Remember back then?
On April 5th the Cardinals won the first game of the regular season.  They beat the Reds with a final score of 11-6. (The Reds!)  The Cardinals had 12 hits that day, with four homeruns: Albert Pujols hit TWO, Yadier Molina had his first career Grand Slam and Colby Rasmus went yard as well.

That evening Matthew Leach, writing for MLB.com, compared the Cardinals’ performance to the anticlimactic crash of the 2009 postseason effort:
The last time the Cardinals were seen playing games that mattered, they were an offensively futile team. A great deal has changed — from the stage to the ballpark to the opponent — since that NLDS. But the Redbirds have changed, too. They’re an improved offensive club, one that can be dangerous at all eight everyday lineup spots.”
That was certainly our time to hope.
A time for change:
The faces on the field are different now. Some favorite players are gone for good and some we just haven’t seen for a while. (To be honest, this topic gave me a much needed chance to post some pictures of the Cardinal faces I have been missing!  Mtime to be sentimental, I guess.)
Freese, Luddy and Joe — We miss you terribly!
But looking on the bright side (yes, I have been accused me of overusing that Pollyanna trait lately, but stick with me here!) … there are some wonderful new Cardinal faces we have come to enjoy.  Okay, just another excuse to post pictures of my favorite BabyBirds.
Glad you boys are getting a shot!
The Cardinals still have time to play, time to win and time to rally.  So until that final Cardinal out of the 2010 season, we fans have time to enjoy the game.


Time To Welcome!
Like the Cardinals, we here at Cardinal Diamond Diaries have added a new face.  Thankfully we didn’t have to trade anyone to a Padres blog group or lose anyone to the Disabled List!
Welcome Jacqueline!!!
We are thrilled to welcome Jacqueline Hadley Conrad to our gals club here at CDD.  Like Angela, Chris and myself, Jacqueline is a devoted fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, and we are looking forward to reading more of her unique charm and humor here on the blog.  In the days ahead, we will get her information added to our “About Us” section and she will be checking in again next week.
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Until then… If you missed the chance to read Jacqueline’s inaugural post yesterday, do not delay one minute longer. Grab a tissue and be prepared – it is a beautiful and touching tribute, steeped in family tradition and Cardinal baseball history.  “Ma mere Tootsie’s Gift”
Today the Cardinals are taking on the Washington Nationals again. Game time: 6:05pm CT.
Hopefully it will once again be a time to win!

GO CARDS!  =)

Jon Jay – Rookie Luck or Here to Stay?

Welcome to your Tuesday Baseball Fans!


Warning! Slow baseball week ahead!

TWO Cardinal off-days (Monday and Thursday)  plus a day game on Wednesday will leave a lot of evenings to fill with something other than Cardinals games.  Last night I caught the Padres/Cubs game on WGN and watched our old pal Ryan Ludwick in San Diego blue as the Padres beat the Cubs (something the Cardinals should have been able to do in their last two games).

While I will always cherish the fond memories I have of Luddy wearing the Birds on the Bat and patrolling right field for the Cardinals, there is this new fella that has helped ease my heartache.  Jon Jay has stepped up and become the new darling of the Cardinal rookies.  *Sorry Freese… absence is not making my heart grow fonder! ;)*

Today I profile Jon Jay at BaseballDigest.com.
You can find it here.

Give it a read and let me know your thoughts/opinions.  Has Jay peaked as a rookie already or will the baseball magic continue?

Cardinals vs Brewers (2 game stand at Busch Stadium starts tonight at 7:15pm)
GO CARDS!!

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