Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Jeff Suppan

Parties, Gut-Wrenchers, and the Flat-Out WEIRD

Sometimes, the best thing about baseball is that during the regular season there’s always another game tomorrow. For the Cardinals, after a brutal sweep at the hands of the Rockies, their next tomorrow couldn’t come fast enough, but fans and scribes everywhere weren’t sure what to expect coming into yesterday’s game against the Astros and Bud Norris. Norris had been inexplicably dominant against the Cardinals… right up until last night. Eight shutout innings by Adam Wainwright and eight wild runs by the boys in red helped everyone find serenity last night!


The Cardinals have been wrapped up in their fair share of craziness already this season. Today we thought we’d look back at the good, the bad and the strange. Ready? Here we go!


Gut Wrenchers

Chris Lee – STL Today

May 21: Cardinals – 9, Angels – 5
I’m sure you didn’t expect the first ‘bad’ game to be a win. However, after shocking everyone (including himself) with a third inning grand slam, Cardinal fans watched in horror as Brad Penny went out in the next half inning and, after throwing a couple of warm-up pitches, was quickly ushered off the field by the training staff. He hasn’t seen the mound since. The team might have won the game, but was losing Penny worth it?


May 25: Cardinals – 0, Padres – 1
What on earth did Adam Wainwright have to do to win this game? Here’s what he did do: give up 4 hits and 1 run over 7 dominant innings, walking 1 and striking out TWELVE. To add to the madness, the Cardinals actually outhit the Padres 7-4, but couldn’t figure out how to bring any of those baserunners back around to home plate. It was a frustrating start to a strange six game road trip to San Diego and Chicago.


July 6: Cardinals – 9, Rockies – 12 and July 7: Cardinals – 7, Rockies – 8
What could possibly be worse to a fan than seeing your team give up a huge lead in the ninth inning? Watching them do it all over again the next day in the eighth and ninth. Salt? Meet wound. Both games were so winnable. The bats were getting things done and the baserunners were going crazy. Fans were lauding Matt Holliday and Jon Jay for having big games at the plate,  seeing so many 2 out RBI’s and stringing hits together in a way that we haven’t seen in weeks. Then, everyone watched in horror as the strong bullpen fell apart and some bizarre defensive positioning and play let to back to back walk-offs for the Rox. It was a horrible 2 days in Cardinal Nation.


Flat-Out WEIRD
April 17: Cardinals – 1, Mets – 2
The Fox Saturday game of the week provided fans with almost 7 hours of listening to Tim McCarver spout nonsense as the Cards and Mets clashed for 18 innings of no-run baseball, a 19th inning in which both teams scored exactly 1 run, and the Pond Scum finally pulling ahead to stay in the top of the 20th. 19 pitchers battled through the game that never seemed to end, including appearances by both Felipe Lopez and Joe Mather. Skip Schumaker had 10 plate appearances. Brendan Ryan, who pinch hit for Jaime Garcia after 7  innings of 1 hit ball, had six plate appearances. At the end of the game, fans couldn’t decide whether to just breathe a sigh of relief that it was over, or agonize over enough missed opportunities to cover a week’s worth of games.

Scott Rovak – US Presswire

June 28: Cardinals – 6, Diamondbacks – 5
In a game where the team was playing with an extremely short bench, Adam Wainwright became player of the game, and all he did was walk to the plate in the bottom of the 9th with instructions to bunt. A throwing error on Waino’s bunt scored Jaime Garcia (who was pinch running for Yadier Molina), and after a weak groundout by Randy Winn, Skip Schumaker came up with runners on second and third. He slapped a ball to the first base side, and Adam LaRoche threw wildly to the plate, allowing not only Brendan Ryan to score, but Adam Wainwright to swipe home plate as well! If you want the definition of a gift-wrapped win, that was it. 


Parties
May 30: Cardinals – 9, Cubs – 1
After Erika had the gall to question Albert Pujols on Friday, Albert had his revenge on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in Chicago, blasting 3 home runs deep into the bleachers and on to Waveland Avenue. Wainwright knew what to do with that kind of lead, throwing 7 innings of 1 run ball and sending Cardinal fans home happy. David Freese also got in on the fun, going 3 for 5 with 3 RBI’s and a home run.


June 4: Cardinals – 8, Brewers – 0
How did Waino choose to follow up his Memorial Day weekend game mentioned above? How about a his first complete game – a 9 strikeout, 2 hitter vs. the Brew Crew? The Cardinals were patient, tossing runs on the board in 4 different innings and putting up 5 runs on starter Randy Wolf and 3 on relief pitcher Jeff Suppan. 3 days later the Brewers released Suppan and… oh wait, this is the happy section. Moving on!


Broken!
Chris Lee – STL Today
Mark this down as the day Nick Stavinoha broke Trevor Hoffman. In a game that the Brewers had seemingly been running away with since about the 4th, Cardinal fans had felt little reason to cheer coming into the 9th, save a Matt Holliday home run in the 6th that went farther than any other regular game home run I have ever seen at Miller Park (Yes, I was there). When Hoffman came trotting in for the 9th, it felt like game over. A walk to Colby Rasmus gave me a little hope, but then two warning track shots by David Freese and Yadier Molina left the Cards down to their last out, and pinch hitter Stavinoha trotting to the plate. Who could have predicted Stavi golfing a shot from his knees deep into the left field bleachers?! Miller Park went silent, and I went crazy. Poor Trevor Hoffman went into a dive, blowing 4 of 5 save opportunities. Brewer fans still haven’t forgiven me for being at the game where it all went downhill.

We’ve had some ups and downs with this Cardinals team. By the end of the season, we’re hoping that the good outweighs the bad. We’ll find out! 

Game time tonight is 6:05. Go Cards!

All Star Musings on the Off Day

Most of the free world had yesterday off to continue on with their Fourth of July fun, so what better day for the Cardinals to have an off day, right? No, wrong. What’s worse is that the Mets couldn’t do us a favor and take a game from the Reds. Losing ground when you don’t play is no fun at all!

Speaking of the Reds, Erika spoke yesterday about the Cardinal All-Stars, and I think Joey Votto for the Reds got a raw deal by not being selected to the team. If you’re into that sort of thing, head over and vote for Votto to be the final player on the NL squad. I admit – I watch every second of the All-Star festivities and love it to death. No, the game doesn’t really mean anything, despite what MLB tells you about home field advantage. I don’t usually make comments on who is on or off the rosters, and I won’t even stand up here and argue that Jaime Garcia should be in or anything like that. I will say 3 things: 

  1. Ryan Howard over Joey Votto is a joke. I don’t really care that Howard is a St. Louis product – he’s crazy overrated, and the most annoying three true outcome player ever. You know that the managers don’t actually care about the outcome when Charlie Manuel states that he chose Howard just because it was ‘his guy.’ If he really cared he’d put the best players on. You’re not going to change my mind on this.
  2. I support Stephen Strasburg not being on the team. That probably contradicts what I just said about having the best players on, but they already are not pitching wise when the second best ERA in the league didn’t make the team. Yes, the second best ERA belongs to Garcia (fine… *honk honk*). Also, the NL squad has one lefthanded pitcher. AL squad? Five. Solid roster Manuel.
  3. I definitely support Albert Pujols not being in the Home Run Derby. He is tired of it, LaRussa hates it, and despite their denials of this, I hate what it does to Albert’s swing for the first week or two after the break.
This has probably been the least Cardinal centric post to ever appear on this site. Apologies for that, but I will make it up to you by rolling out a new post over at Baseball Digest. It talks about Cardinal teams in the second half under Tony LaRussa, and what we can hope to see for the second half. It was a labor of love for me, so please head over and check it out.

Blake Hawksworth has been officially announced as tonight’s starter for the Cards in Colorado. You might disagree with me, but I’m happy to see him getting sent out there over Jeff Suppan. Game time is 7:40 PM – Go Blake and go Cards! 🙂

It Worked!

Well well well… Tony’s merry-go-round lineup last night worked to the tune of a 9-3 Cardinals win. Maybe the boys were just tired of being out West playing at ungodly hours of the night, or needed some home cooking, but we’re pretty sure that the lineup had a big something to do with it.

What we would really appreciate now is if the Cards could show the same kind of run support tonight for Suppan… he might need it. However, considering his opposition on the bump tonight is Ryan Rowland-Smith, (uhh… k) who currently possesses an 0-5 record with a 6.62 ERA, the pitchers might be pretty evenly matched. Game time is 7:15.

It’s my week to take a turn over at BaseballDigest.com. Head on over there and check out what I have to say about the I-70 series coming up later this month!

Signing Jeff Suppan …

Winslow Townson/AP

Had this post been written Thursday, the title would have been “Really? Jeff Suppan is a solution?” The emotional reactions on Twitter that afternoon, running about 95 percent against the move, were similar to my own thoughts. Hadn’t John Mozeliak, Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan watched him pitch against the Cardinals last Friday night? Did they not realize that the Brewers, of all teams, had released him – not designated him for assignment, not hoped to get anything in return, just kicked him to the curb? (Money in hand, of course.) And what’s going on with the Cardinals? Adding Aaron Miles was bad enough, signing Randy Winn was starting a dangerous aging trend – and now this?

Then, on Friday, I thought it through a little more. My reactions have nothing to do with Jeff Suppan the person, because he seems to be a great guy. (In the poll last week on FS Midwest that asked which Cardinal you miss the most, or however it was worded, he was my untexted-in choice over David Eckstein, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen.) But I still totally agree with the last sentence in the paragraph above, still don’t like the move of acquiring Jeff Suppan the pitcher. But I can understand the rationale a little more.

Yes, there are obviously other options available who can handle Kyle Lohse’s roster spot. P.J. Walters may not have been effective, but there are others at Memphis who could rotate into that role: Evan McLane (wouldn’t it be nice to bring him back and actually let him in a game this time?), Brandon Dickson, Lance Lynn. They are doing well at Triple A. But they also are an unknown commodity when it comes to facing Major League hitters.

With Jeff Suppan, the Cardinals know what they are getting. Granted, we all have our opinions on what that is – we saw him pitch, we see the increasingly bad stats from his time in Milwaukee. But his best years were in St. Louis, while working with Dave Duncan. Tony La Russa seems to know that his pitching coach can likely help. “We have a history with him, he’s available, and I think [pitching coach Dave Duncan] has seen some things that make him think that there’s some ‘Supp’ left.’” Of course, this all just could be ego on their part, both La Russa’s and Duncan’s. They turned him around once and now seem to think they can do it again.

But, look, Suppan will be the fifth starter. It’s not like he’s coming in to supplant any of the Cards’ Big Three of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright or Jaime Garcia. Maybe that’s a weak argument, since obviously he wasn’t good to enough to cut it as a reliever for a team with terrible pitching, but it’s not like he’s going to be pitching every single day. A fifth starter is what it is – in most cases, someone serviceable to go out there and give at least five innings decently. However, with the Cards and the way the offense has not been performing in May and June, starters have to be amazing every time out and can still leave with no decision or even an undeserved loss (as all of the Big Three can attest). But maybe we should lower our expectations. Remember who was the fifth starter much of last year?

Perhaps too my opinion on Suppan, and that of the majority of Cards fans I know, is not necessarily the overall feeling of Cardinal Nation. Derrick Goold had an interesting poll in Birdland yesterday: “So the Cardinals plan to put Jeff Suppan back in the rotation, and you’re …” with voting options of for it, leery of it or against it. Currently (and with 2,031 votes) “for it” is winning by one vote over “leery of it,” 897 to 896. “Against it” only has 238 votes (including mine).

It could be that those 897 people are remembering what that picture above shows: 2006 NLCS MVP Jeff Suppan, the one who shined so well during that series and especially in the unbelievable Game 7. Maybe they’re fans of his “Word of the Day.” (Although, as a writer, I was.) It’s easy to remember and love that 2006 team forever because of what they accomplished, but that kind of magic only happens once. None of us are like we were four years ago, so of course a pitcher with four more years of work who’s now 35 isn’t going to be either.

He’s also a low-cost option. If he doesn’t work out, release him. What will have been lost? In addition, he’ll be working again with a catcher who he’s both familiar and obviously comfortable working with. Yadier Molina’s skill, in addition to Duncan’s, can’t be discounted when looking at the past success he had in St. Louis.

Hopefully a change of scenery and the familiar working partners of Yadi and Duncan can get Suppan back on track – or perhaps we’ll witness some kind of miracle and he’ll become 2006 “Supp” yet again. Who knows? The bottom line, at least to me, is that he’s going to be here. (Well, in all likelihood – he is still not officially signed and does still have to throw for the Cardinals today.) As much as I’m against the move and want to complain about it, I don’t have any say in the matter. My personal opinion is that since I’m a Cardinals fan, I’m going to hope for the best for him because it will definitely help the team. And hopefully his first 2010 Word of the Day will be “redemption.”

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