Monthly Archives: January 2011

January UCB Project: Top 5 Cardinal Headlines in 2011

It’s United Cardinal Bloggers project time again. This month, we put on our prognosticator hats and try to come up with what we believe will be the top five headlines Cardinal fans will see in 2011. I decided to play this one straight, because I think the Cards could be at a bit of a crossroads this season…Albert Pujols hasn’t been signed yet, David Freese is coming back from inury, Ryan Theriot and Lance Berkman are new kids on the block, and Chris Carpenter is in the last guaranteed year of his contract. So without further ado…

1. St. Louis Cardinals Sign Albert Pujols to Record Contract – No, not a recording contract; we’re talking Guinness-type stuff here. I’m not sure if the total value of Pujols’ next deal will be the highest ever, but he will make more per season than any player ever has…and he will make it wearing the Birds on the Bat.

2. Punto Named Opening Day Starter; Freese to Report to Extended Spring Training – All this offseason, I have advocated the Cards signing a “true” third baseman to back up Freese in case he isn’t ready for Opening Day. Now that they have signed Nick Punto, I believe this is the ultimate sign that the Cards know they needed this insurance because Freese could need more time before he is 100%. I put Freese’s Cardinal debut sometime in the month of May.

3. Yankees Confirm Interest in Chris Carpenter – Carp still has an option for 2012 left on his current contract, but it is a pricey one: $15 million. If the Cards re-sign Pujols, I have no idea how they can afford that. Now if the team is in contention and Carp is pitching well, I can foresee the Cardinals declining that option and extending Carpenter for a couple more years at less per year. But if the Cards tank in the first half of 2011 for whatever reason, expect the Carpenter trade rumors to start flying. Regardless, the New York Yankees figure to be in the market for a big acquisition because they didn’t make one in the offseason and the Boston Red Sox made some serious upgrades this winter. Carpenter will almost certainly be one of their targets because of his contract situation. The Cards’ response will depend on if they are winning or not.

4. Albert Pujols Collects Hit #2000 – This one is a slam dunk, barring a catastrophic injury–Pujols currently sits on 1900. But it brings up a good point: Pujols will get his 2000th hit sometime in his 11th season in the big leagues. If his season hits totals continue to average somewhere in the mid 180s, he should get to 3000 in about six years, and he probably would still have at least three or four good seasons ahead of him. That puts Stan Musial’s 3630 within reach. And if that number really is that likely to be passed again, I want it to be done by another Cardinal.

5. Cardinals Clinch Playoff Berth – Notice I didn’t say “Division Crown.” The truth is, the NL Central will be a much better division overall this season. Everything hinges on player health, of course. But no team in the division has the 1-2 punch of Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, Yadier Molina is still the best catcher in the league in terms of defense and calling a game, and there’s only one Albert Pujols. That gives the Cardinals an edge, even if it is only a slight edge. But the Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, and Chicago Cubs cannot be counted out. Could the Wild Card team come from the Central? With all the pitching upgrades, why not? I see the Cards making the playoffs this year but I’m not ready to go all in with a division championship prediction. It could be a knock-down, drag-out year in the NL Central this year.

What do you think…how many of these headlines do you expect to see in 2011? Do you expect to see some I haven’t listed here? Comment away!

-Chris

The Nooner #20: Cardinals announce a signing…

Two, actually. The Cards have added pitchers Miguel Batista and Ian Snell on minor league deals with invites to Spring Training.

Curious. I figured, with the recent announcement that the Cards and Albert Pujols have opened contract extension talks, not much else would be happening until that whole deal–you know, the biggest and most important contract in the history of the franchise–is worked out (or not worked out). I wonder if this means those negotiations are finished? I think we should keep a close eye on the sports news outlets over the next couple of days.

Speaking of the next couple of days, the Winter Warm Up is this weekend. All the details can be found on the Cards’ website. I’ll be there tomorrow on assignment; if you see me feel free to say hello. It looks like Pujols will be on hand for autographs Sunday. Hopefully by then he has a lot more to smile about.

Ramblin’ Friday

I’m sick. Not in the way most of you already know; I mean I’ve got some form of bad cold/flu/plague that has kept me down since Tuesday morning. The good thing about working from home is not having to worry about going into the office when I don’t feel good. The bad thing about working from home is I still have to work even when I don’t feel good. I’ve already been up for three and a half hours because my nose was so stuffy I spent most of the night breathing through my mouth while I slept…which, along with all the medicine I’ve been taking all week, dried my mouth out terribly. So I woke up at 4:15 with a scratchy throat and haven’t been back to sleep since.

But enough complaining. This blog represents me using my time more constructively.

–The Cardinals and Albert Pujols opened “positive” dialogue this week in an attempt to extend his contract before Spring Training 2011. I still expect this deal to get done. I think the guaranteed years will end with six, maybe seven…but I also think at least one or two option years will be tacked on. And I hope the Cards are able to structure the money so the contract is front-loaded…I can much more easily accept Pujols making $28-30 million now rather than at the end of this next deal when he’s approaching 40 years old.

–Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week. Though he’s never been implicated by failed test, accusation, or any other means, Alomar played the bulk of his MLB career during the “steroid era” and many of his teammates have been linked to PEDs over the years. Unfortunately, it automatically made me wonder…and that led to a realization: this marks the beginning of what will likely be a number of candidates who, no matter what they say or do, will be hounded by the cloud of suspicion when they are elected to the Hall. The scab will continue to be ripped off for the next 5-10 years at least, and that’s sad.

–I try to leave politics out of my writing as much as I can, but if I see new Speaker of the House John Boehner cry one more time I’m going to vomit.

–When I look outside, I see snow flurries. I love snow. Then I realize I leave for Cancun in three weeks and two days. I love the beach more.

–Pitchers and Catchers report in less than six weeks.

–You may or may not know this already, but I’m going to “break” the news here anyway: I have a new writing gig! Last month I joined the fine staff at I-70 Baseball as one of their Cardinals writers. The site features some great Kansas City Royals articles as well. I look forward to contributing there and hope I can live up to their lofty established standards. My column will post every Saturday morning. I will also continue to write for InsideSTL Mondays and here, of course, whenever I feel like it.

–In the past couple weeks I’ve attended both a St. Louis Rams game and a St. Louis Blues game. I like football, and I love hockey. But even though both put on a great show in their own right, the overall experience still doesn’t compare to going to a baseball game. There’s just something about walking up to Busch Stadium on a warm St. Louis evening…the sights, sounds, and smells of the ballpark…ahh, just a couple more months.

–Speaking of hockey, I’m not sure what it takes to get on the list of potential host sites for the NHL’s Winter Classic, but I really hope St. Louis is on the list and moving up quickly. I was always concerned that the outdoor New Year’s Day game would never be held at Busch because we have the tendancy for odd warm days in December and January. This year we had mid-60s and tornadoes on New Year’s Eve! But Jan 1 was a cold, clear day in St. Louis. Pittsburgh, this year’s host, got some rain and warm temps too. The game was pushed back to later in the evening but still got played, even with a little drizzle falling. This tells me “ideal conditions” aren’t necessary, even though the odds of good New Year’s Day weather here are far greater than the odds of another early appearance by April. The Blues and Cardinals need to get together to make sure the NHL knows St. Louis is ready to host a Winter Classic at Busch Stadium in the near future.

That’s all I have for now. This has been very therapeutic. But my nose is still stuffy. 

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