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Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Cardinals and new generations

By PH8 on

There was an excellent letter to the editor at yesterday that I felt obliged to share with you, not only because I think it’s a fitting tribute to this past season’s Cardinal team – despite the unsavory finish – but also because it sums up a lot of the sentimentality I feel toward the Cardinals as well.

I struggled to find one snippet I could quote here that would sum up the whole thing, so instead I’m going to pull out tinier bits and then you’ll just have to go read the whole thing yourself via the link above.

As a kid I remember my mom and dad putting everything on hold to watch playoff games.

This town did not just “happen” to be a great baseball town, it’s made of generations and generations of families putting life on hold to watch the Cardinals.

Yep, and actually, as I think I’ve mentioned here before – I still have the 1982 World Series program on my bookshelf. A gift from my father that I will always cherish (even if he didn’t take me to the game). You can bet I gave him my extra ticket in 2004 though, and I have the program from that one too. And save the rhetoric about the “best fans in baseball” because I’m not barking up that tree here. “Best fans” or not, it’s hard to argue that St. Louis is a great baseball town.

What we can be proud of (and Mr. Dewitt can be thankful for) is the legacy of love for the Cardinals that we have once again fostered. Because of my behavior over the last week my children will put their lives on hold for October baseball when they have families of their own. And although we do not get to watch ‘Albert Pujols do everything’ this post season, I can be proud that this great American past time has once again made a deeper notch into the hearts and minds of the next generation.

As someone preparing to welcome a new member into Cardinal Nation in the coming months, this really hits home. It’s how I grew to love the Cardinals, it’s how my folks grew to love the Cardinals – hell, it’s how my wife grew to love the Cardinals, if by default.

Every Cardinal fan on the planet was hoping for, almost expected, a trip to the World Series this year. That didn’t happen. Yeah, I’m (we’re) bummed. But gosh were they fun to watch in August. And in April. And every other dang month of the season. I’ll live and die with every Pujols at-bat and ninth inning pitch again next season, with a new fan in my lap. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to it.

When do pitchers and catchers report?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chopping Wood For The Hot Stove

By Cardinal70

It's a cold, rainy morning here in Arkansas, which finely matches the mood of Cardinal Nation after the quick exit from the postseason. There's this kind of limbo that goes on when your team is out of the playoffs early. There are still games going (though the LDS have been pretty anticlimatic this year, save the fact closers can't seem to get the job done) but your team isn't a part of them. You can't go full bore into discussions and rumors of next year just yet, though.

What you can do is a little retrospection. At least, that's what Tony LaRussa did yesterday. I saw very little of this series, unfortunately, but I have to agree with LaRussa, I expected a better game on Saturday that what happened. Like I say, I didn't see a single pitch of that one, but just looking at the score and comments, it didn't seem like they had much fight in them. To score just one run in a game Vicente Padilla is pitching just doesn't seem right, though par for the course for this year's version of the Cardinals.

The link above notes that Troy Glaus, Rick Ankiel and Joel Pineiro are not likely to return next year. None of these are huge surprises. The focus on Mark DeRosa has knocked Glaus out of the picture, though many of us would be just fine with DeRosa walking and David Freese taking over the job. Either way, though, Glaus really isn't in the plans, especially after the injury problems this year.

Pineiro has really pitched too well for the Cardinals to keep him. They have Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse already locked up and management has continually said they want to plug in at least one home-grown arm into the rotation in 2010. With John Smoltz around, most likely back if he decides he wants to pitch again, there's not much room left to keep Pineiro. Besides, we saw what happened the last time he signed after a contract drive.

Ankiel....oh, Rick. Amazingly, the separation between Ankiel and a fan base that has followed him, nurtured him, rooted for him through the good and the bad and the good is not likely to be as painful as was expected six months ago. A .233 average and a propensity for the strikeout will do that. As Pip notes, Rick leaves St. Louis with exactly the same number of strikeouts as a hitter as he had as a pitcher. I've always been a fan of Rick, but he doesn't make enough contact to make him worth a bench slot and the outfield is probably going to be full in St. Louis for some time to come.

Today actually will be a busy day around the front office, as a lot of the recap meetings and initial thoughts for next year will be happening. Don't expect a whole lot of public news out of that, though, unless LaRussa or Dave Duncan decide not to return. Bernie Mikalsz addresses that along with some other questions and he comes to the conclusion that I had, that TLR isn't leaving after that performance. He couldn't go out on that note and be able to rest in retirement, I don't think. It wasn't the loss, it was the lack of competitiveness.

Someone who probably won't be back next year, though, is hitting coach Hal McRae. Besides the fact that the offense just never clicked, even with Matt Holliday and DeRosa in the lineup, there's this quote from John Mozeliak:

"It did seem the way we were approaching things at the plate, obviously it wasn't successful," Mozeliak said. "When things aren't going right, you've got to change. Did we make the right adjustments or not? As we sit here today, we had not."

I'd suggest McRae start updating his resume, because that is not a vote of confidence.

The stove may not be heated yet, but the preparations are being made. It could be another active offseason for St. Louis, so you better get ready.