Monthly Archives: November 2010
Today is the 90th birthday of the greatest St. Louis Cardinal who ever lived, Stan “The Man” Musial.
One quick glance at Musial’s career statistics is all it takes to realize his numbers speak for themselves. Yet, for some reason, Musial doesn’t seem to garner the same mythical national status of players like Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron, and others. The funny thing is, any time a player broke a National League record over the past 50 years, it’s highly likely it was a Stan Musial record being broken. Musial should be celebrated more outside of St. Louis. He deserves a birthday tribute on SportsCenter, a column from every national baseball writer, tweets and blog entries from every truly knowledgeable fan, and his due as one of the greatest living baseball legends. Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a couple months will go a long way toward fulfilling that recognition. But Musial would probably tell you, in his ever-humble manner, that he doesn’t want anyone to go to any trouble over him. All the more reason to do just that.
I’d love to use this space to relay a funny or heartwarming personal story about Stan The Man, but I’ve never met him in person. Like almost everyone in the St. Louis area, however, I do feel this strong connection to him when I see him on TV or circling Busch Stadium before a Cardinals game. He’s a Hall of Fame player, one of the best ever…and probably an even better human being. The inscription on his statue in front of Busch Stadium is a sentence burned into the minds of Cardinal Nation like the Pledge of Allegiance or a bedtime prayer: “Here stands Baseball’s Perfect Warrior; here stands Baseball’s Perfect Knight.” Musial’s baseball records may have been eclipsed over the years, but that description has yet to even be approached by anyone else.
Check out some awesome Stan The Man links to truly understand what he means to St. Louis and Major League Baseball:
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch gives us 90 reasons to love Stan The Man.
Musial celebrates his 90th birthday with friends and family. (video)
Stan The Man’s MLB.com Hall of Fame biography. (video)
Happy Birthday, Stan The Man…any here’s to many more.
Every year, the United Cardinal Bloggers cast ballots on all the best the St. Louis Cardinals and its merry band of citizen journalists has to offer. My picks are bolded & underlined, and some explanation for each vote appears in italics below it. I didn’t offer any commentary for my votes on the blogs because I believe you, the reader, should visit them. I think you’ll see, in each case, the blog I voted for speaks for itself.
Cardinal Bloggers Awards
1. Player of the Year
Like there’s ever any doubt.
2. Pitcher of the Year
He’s the Cardinals’ ace. He’ll be here for a while, and they need to build the rotation around him.
3. Game of the Year
-April 5 at Cincinnati-Opening Day, 2 HR from Pujols, slam from Molina
-May 30 at Chicago-Pujols three home runs
-July 18 vs. Los Angeles-Five runs in eight and ninth to win
-July 19 vs. Philadelphia-Four home runs
-August 10 at Cincinnati-Brawl, home run from Molina
I think this game represents the best of the 2010 Cardinals; unfortunately it was also a turning point in the wrong direction.
4. Surprise Player of the Year
I think “cautiously optimistic” is the most anyone would say about Garcia before the 2010 season. In 2011, the question will be whether he can still be an effective #3 starter. That’s quite a jump in perception.
5. Disappointing Player of the Year
What was most disappointing about Ryan was that stretch where even his defense wasn’t good. Ryan’s increased offense in 2009 was probably an aberration, unfortunately. Now we know.
6. Rookie of the Year
There’s really nothing to say here…easy call.
7. Acquisition of the Year
In April, the Penny signing looked like it was going to make the Cards the favorite to go all the way. The rotation looked completely unstoppable. But that didn’t last very long. Westbrook brought stability, and now he’s a Cardinal for at least two more years. That may not have happened without being traded to STL in 2010.
8. Biggest Off-Field Story
-Jaime Garcia’s shutdown without him knowing
-Mark McGwire’s return to baseball
-Colby Rasmus’s trade request
This was just weird. Rasmus looked bad, Tony LaRussa looked bad, and the team suddenly appeared even more chaotic than everyone speculated. It will be interesting to see how things play out next season.
9. Most Anticipated Cardinal
I’m going to go ahead and say it: Shelby Miller will make his St. Louis Cardinals debut in 2012, and will be a full member of the rotation in 2013 alongside Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia. We may see the other two guys before then, but Miller is a lock. Write it down.
10. Best Individual Cardinal Blog
11. Best Team Cardinal Blog
-Write-in: Joe Sports Fan
12. Best Media Blog
13. Best UCB Project
-Cardinal All-Decade Team
-Progressive Game Blog
The roundtable discussions really are my favorite. I love getting a preview of everyone’s thoughts on a topic, especially how those thoughts relate to my own. It’s the closest thing to live debate we have at UCB.
14. Most Optimistic Cardinal Blog
-Write-in: C70 At The Bat
15. Funniest Cardinal Blog
-Write-in: Cards Diaspora
16. Rookie Cardinal Blog of the Year
Sunday, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the Cardinals may be focusing on an upgrade at shortstop this offseason. This would presumably keep Skip Schumaker at second base and a Jon Jay/Allen Craig platoon in right field, barring any other acquisitions. And I don’t think I like it.
First, let me say I do not dislike Schumaker or the potential of Jay or Craig at all. I also realize Brendan Ryan’s 2010 offense left much to be desired, and to expect him to get back to his 2009 numbers is probably unreasonable. But I do think Schumaker’s 2010 offensive numbers were an aberration, too, and it’s reasonable to expect him to be closer next season to his career slash line (.291/.349/.383) which is passable–not great–for a leadoff hitter. The biggest reason an “upgrade” as SS would hurt the Cards, however, is defense…even if Ryan’s 2011 offensive numbers are identical to his disappointing 2010.
Ryan is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, and the numbers support that whether you like “counting stats” or advanced metrics. None of the available shortstops would represent an upgrade on defense…which, assuming Schumaker is still playing at second, would further weaken the middle infield of a team that pitches to contact almost exclusively. So, yes…someone like Miguel Tejada would certainly be an offensive upgrade over Ryan. But that would downgrade the defense at SS, which would consequently make Schumaker’s already shaky D even worse, and the Cards would be relying on two unproven commodities in right field.
The best move, in my opinion, would be to first listen very closely to what the Florida Marlins want for Dan Uggla. I know that’s kind of a no-brainer, but assuming the Marlins aren’t asking for the moon in return, Uggla would be perfect for the Cards: 1) his defense wouldn’t be any worse than Schumaker’s, but his offense would be a major upgrade even if Schu does snap back to form; 2) they can move Schumaker back to right field, his best defensive position, and keep Ryan’s stellar D at short; 3) Uggla would almost certainly be a Type A free agent after 2011, and though the Cards likely won’t be able to pay him beyond that they can do it this year…plus they’d get the compensation picks for him if he refuses arbitration (all but a given). If long-term stability and depth is the priority of the team, then they need to sign Juan Uribe to play second base & still move Schumaker to right. Uribe plays good defense at 2B, SS, and 3B…so if someone is injured or ineffective–like what happened this season–there’s someone capable that can slide in. He’s not the power threat Uggla is, but he will hit 15 homers with decent average & on-base numbers. That, too, is an upgrade over Schumaker. And a middle infield featuring Uribe and Ryan may be one of the best in the game.
Ryan’s offensive struggles hurt the 2010 Cardinals because they were compounded by Schumaker’s similar struggles early in the season and an overall dearth of production at third base. A healthy David Freese and an average Skip Schumaker would lessen the impact of Ryan’s numbers, as would more production from an offensive upgrade at second base. But how can the Cardinals’ front office think that a little more offense at the expense of a lot of middle infield defense would help the team at all?