Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Pete Kozma

St Louis Cardinals, Spring Training 2014

A quick post to share player photos from our recent trip to sunny Jupiter, Florida – the Spring Training home of our beloved St. Louis Cardinals.  Photos (from the February 28th game against the Marlins and the March 2nd game against the Mets.)

Coming soon:  Photo diary with tips on how to be a baseball tourist in and around Jupiter Florida, Roger Dean stadium and the practice back fields.  (LINK HERE)

Click on any photo to enlarge and/or to shift through larger photos one at a time.  Enjoy!

Baseball is back!!  🙂

The Kozma Spring Training Support Group

kozma from pinterestSo the internets are all abuzz lately with banter about the Cardinals’ shortstop crisis.  Here’s the quick set-up:

  • Rafael Furcal’s injury looks pretty serious.
  • The signing of Ronny Cedeno  (oldish guy, mediocre bandaid) isn’t the sure cure fans were hoping for.
  • Brendan Ryan is still a Mariner.
  • And apparently it is uncool to admit you actually have some faith in Pete Kozma.

I am beginning to feel as though I might need a support group.

“Hello, my name is Erika, and I have faith in Pete Kozma.”

* crickets?… *

Okay guys, it’s just Spring Training and most normal non-baseball- addict-type folk aren’t even really paying attention to baseball yet.  Sure, some anxious fans are already gearing up for the season, practicing their panic over pitching performances and their elation as otherwise mild-mannered position players are knocking the ball out of the park with the help of some hitter-friendly Florida wind gusts, not to mention the help of experimental opposing pitching; but let’s just sit back and enjoy the moment, shall we?

1)  The long winter drought is allllmost over… finally some real baseball is being played.

2)  Pitchers are just gearing up and are likely trying out new and unusual stuff they dreamed up in the offseason.  So, spring training stats are about as useful as painting your fingernails with your feet (unless you’re really good at that.)

3) Pete Kozma may not be as horrible as his critics would like us to believe.

hello my name isIt’s definitely not time to panic.  Heck, according to the calendar it’s not even officially spring yet!  So, can we please give this Kozma kid a shot? Remember those flashes of brilliance Pete surprised us with in the post season?  And just think about all those David Freese critics just a short time back who have now moved on to newer, younger, untested targets.  Past stats are not sure predictors.  Afterall, I’m certain we could find some stats somewhere that can prove that not all breakout players had the stats to predict their first truly successful season, right?

So while the boys are warming up down in Florida, I’d prefer to warm up for the season with a little less worry and a little more faith in Mozeliak and Matheny and our shortstop-by-default.  ~Enjoying instead the pleasant mental exercise of considering the potential baseball magic ahead for our Cardinals in 2013. I’ll even predict here and now that we will be looking back on this Spring Training shortstop “crisis” in a few months thinking we should have had a little more confidence in Kozma.  It’s a lot less stressful that way.  😉

“Hello, my name is Erika, and I have faith in Pete Kozma.”

Baby Birds Weekend Update

Memphis dugout celebrates a run

The Memphis Redbirds have won the first two games in their current series against the Oklahoma City Redhawks, and I was in heaven there at the ballpark this weekend for all the baby bird fun.  The two games were very different experiences, both wonderful in their own way.  The first game, Saturday, was an evening game with the family – the kiddos, Hubby, me and my Mom.  We laughed and chatted about the players, cheered on our boys and enjoyed each other’s company.  With Memphis the visiting team, it was auditorily obviously we were in the minority cheering for the Redbirds – just the crickets and us!

Aaron Luna books it towards 1st

Memphis had a big game, winning 8-4.  Adam Ottavino pitched well, into the 7th inning.  Both Pete Kozma and Andrew Brown smacked homeruns.  Aaron Luna stole 2nd.  Kozma kicked off an adrenaline packed 6-4-3 double play.  A balk was called on OKC’s pitcher (I missed it, as usual…. Balks continue to mystify me.)  Donovan Solano was on base all night, going 4 for 5 at the plate. And Cory Rauschenberger, Chuckie Fick and Raul Valdes all pitched in relief for Memphis (some better than others). 😉

Pete Kozma returns to Memphis

And bonus!  There was a new Baby Bird making his AAA debut!  Jose Garcia was a fresh call-up from Springfield during the shuffle that sent both Matt Carpenter and Mark Hamilton up to St. Louis and brought Pete Kozma back down to AAA.  Garcia had an applause-worthy game both defensively (playing 2nd) and at the plate with a walk, a double, a single and 2 runs batted in.  A .500 AAA batting average!… for the moment.

Andrew Brown

Sunday’s game was night-and-day different, both literally and figuratively.  Bright (hot) sunshine and a smaller crowd.  I was on my own (with my camera) for this one since the kiddos (and Hubby) had ball practice and a date with the swimming pool.  I grabbed a seat in the shade – first row seats were open all around the park, and I moved around a few times to catch a better camera angle here and there.  It was a shame really, to see the park so empty.  Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was Sunday… it sure wasn’t because the baseball was disappointing!  I enjoyed the peace and quiet that afternoon.  There is something almost magical about watching a ballgame by yourself, with no distractions.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the experience of sharing a game with friends and family.  But for just those few hours, I had the gift of a baseball game to which I could give 100% of my attention and it was a wonderful reprieve from a crazy last couple of weeks.

PJ Walters

PJ Walters started for Memphis and threw 7 innings, walking 2 and striking out 6.  He also managed to hit two batters. Nothing serious, but the Memphis play-by-play announcer mentioned PJ has hit 9 batters so far this year.  (yikes?!)

Our ol' buddy Nick Stavinoha

Memphis’ top of the 6th kept what few fans were in attendance on the edge of their seats.  After Pete Kozma lined out, Andrew Brown reached 1st on a throwing error. Nick Stavinoha struck out, but then OKC walked the next two batters.  The bases were loaded with Redbirds and a wild pitch scored Brown from 3rd.  Bryan Anderson then struck out, stranding two, but after four innings with only one baby bird making it to base, it was nice to finally see some action. There were more thrills in the top of the 8th (but not the rah-rah kind) when Freddie Bynum lined into an unassisted double play at first which caught Stavinoha off the bag and abruptly ended the inning for Memphis.

Raul Valdes, lefty with a red glove. Sound familiar?

Jess Todd, Raul Valdes and Victor Marte all pitched in relief. Marte had an impressive 9th inning, and the game ended with Donovan Solano’s glove being in just the right place at the right time to catch a smoked line drive towards 3rd.  Solano smiled, looking surprised to see he had caught it, and the baby birds celebrated on the field for the 2nd time, winning 3-2.

An aside:  There is one thing I am embarrassed to report.  We may need to take up a collection for our baby birds clothing fund.  It was painfully obvious their travel-gray uniforms are getting old and being pieced together with replacements.   For some of the boys, the gray in their shirts mismatched their gray pants. OKC fans around us were making fun, and I had to agree it looked, well… odd.

I’d keep a closer eye on stuff like that for them if they lived closer.  Dress to impress, boys!  😉

Donovan Solano had a hot bat on Saturday

It’s been nice to read/hear that our Cardinals had a  monstrous weekend, sweeping the Cubs in exciting fashion while my attention was focused on the farm boys.  Albert Pujols heating up??  Well, it’s about time!

The Cardinals have the day off today.  Memphis plays at 7:05.  If you’re in town, I recommend some baby bird watching!  😉

Roster Hijinx

It was comical really – by the end of the game last night, I had witnessed a first baseman (Mark Hamilton) in left, a middle infielder (Tyler Greene) in right, an outfielder (Allen Craig) started at second, and everyone on Twitter could only guess what could happen should anything else strange go down.

New plan - plant this baby at second, put all the players on, and whichever direction they fall off on is the position they play. Worth a shot!

-Several abdicated for Ryan Franklin to be the first pitcher chucked into the outfield, a la Kyle Lohse and Roy Oswalt last year.

-One joked that this would be the last time Lohse ever played Tony as a joke.

-At least one person noted (apologies for forgetting who) that this would be the night for Albert Pujols to play every single position on the field.

My plan was just to revert to beer league softball rules. Whatever glove you grab on your way out to the field is the position you play that inning. You know that would be amusing.

There is a fundamental problem behind this problem though. The 40 man roster is a mess. Keeping 10 infielders and only 6 outfielders on a 40 man roster? WHO DOES THIS?! Say this turns into more of a problem than it already was. Today’s game is already going to be a laugh riot, as rumors are already swirling that Colby Rasmus, Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday could all possibly be unavailable for today’s afternoon tilt against the hapless Astros. I can only guess who will be pressed into outfield duty if that is the case. I’m guessing Greene gets shoved back out there and Pete Kozma possibly gets his first major league start…

Credit - mlb.com

Speaking of Kozma… oi. Seriously. Dude is hitting .220/.284/.284 at Memphis. Not only does that not warrant a call-up, that’s a guy begging to stay down in Memphis to figure things out. I mean, congrats to him on his first major league hit/RBI/walk yesterday, because you know Erika, Emily and I were all happy-dancing all over the place seeing a baby bird have some success with the big club, but let’s be real – he’s not ready. Thankfully he’s supposed to be a very short term solution while waiting for Skip Schumaker to get back, but the rash of injuries to infielders this year has just been nothing short of astounding.

*ahem* Sorry about the tangent. I haven’t gotten enough sleep lately. Anyway, say any one of Rasmus/Berkman/Holliday come down with something serious enough to warrant a DL trip, or even several days off to recover and get back out there. In that case, the Cardinals are SOL, because I don’t think they’re looking to pull up Adron Chambers (the one outfielder on the 40 man that is not currently on the major league roster). The short term solution, should one of our big 3 be ailing longer than a day or so?

As soon as Skip Schumaker comes off the DL? Put him in the outfield. A novel idea, I know. This could all come to nothing, of course, but this is just nuts.

Day game today, starting at 12:45, and I’ll be on the road again, so but sure to let me know what kind of hijinx go on today. Here’s hoping I get served a heaping helping of crow about something – I don’t care what. 😉

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