Blog Archives

On The Job With Yadi

After St. Louis won Game 5 of the NLDS, the Cardinal Nation Twittersphere was obviously jubilant and busy. I happened upon a tweet by fellow Cardinal blogger Dennis Lawson that talked about the hug Adam Wainwright got from Yadier Molina at the conclusion of Wednesday night’s clincher and compared it to the hug Jason Motte got from Molina at the securing of the last out of the 2011 World Series. After a quick exchange, Dennis remarked “Seriously, I want toyadi-walk celebrate the end of a work day with a Yadi hug.”

It’s a funny mental picture, depending on your job. And it got me thinking: that would actually make a great “This is SportsCenter” commercial.

You’ve seen these spots advertising ESPN’s flagship news and highlights show; athletes or mascots or pop culture luminaries interact with SportsCenter anchors in the offices or on the set of the network’s headquarters and awkward hilarity ensues. Albert Pujols as “The Machine,” somewhat vanilla football commentator John Clayton as a metal head, and this misunderstanding in the lunch line are a few of my favorites. Proposing ideas for these commercials is certainly nothing new, but I’m going to give it a whirl. I’m emulating the “This is SportsCenter” model so of course the settings and cast will follow suit.

 

Scene 1

SportsCenter anchor John Anderson gets out of his car to head into work at the start of the day. He is met by Yadier Molina in full uniform and gear (but carrying his mask), who walks Anderson into the building like he would walk from the bullpen to the dugout with that day’s starting pitcher. While they’re walking Molina says “OK John, you have a tough day today: full NFL schedule, MLB playoffs, hockey highlights. Here (hands Anderson a sheet of paper) is your list of catch phrases; stick to the game plan and we should get through OK.” Anderson agrees with everything Molina says.

 

Scene 2

Cut to the lunchroom, and anchor Scott Van Pelt is looking in the fridge. He says “Hmm, I wonder what John brought me for lunch today…” Suddenly the door is slammed shut, almost smashing his hand. Van Pelt straightens and turns; Molina is standing there (full uniform and gear, but again no mask) slowly shaking his head and says, firmly, “NO STEALING.” Van Pelt mumbles an apology and sulks out of the room while Molina looks at him disapprovingly.

 

Scene 3

Cut to the SportsCenter studio, showing Anderson in the middle of anchoring but from over his shoulder so the ESPN cameras and teleprompters are visible too. Among the cameras is Molina in his crouch (full gear with mask). As Anderson is setting up a highlight, Molina puts down a two fingers sign; Anderson pauses for an instant to glance at the catch phrase sheet Molina gave him earlier and smoothly delivers catch phrase #2. NLDS Pirates Cardinals Baseball

 

Scene 4

Anderson, obviously tired and a little disheveled after a long day, punches out at a time clock and, turning, raises his hands in relief and joy. The camera then pans back to show Molina doing the same thing and running toward Anderson; they hug and jump and yell as if they just won the World Series while “This is SportsCenter” appears on the screen.

 

I’m not sure if all of that could be squeezed into 30 seconds; maybe the lunchroom scene would have to be a short follow-up commercial. But I think it works. Because let’s face it…we’d all be a little happier at our jobs if we knew even the toughest day might end with a hug from Yadi.

–CCR

March UCB Roundtable: Weigh in on Wainwright

Once again, it’s time for the United Cardinal Bloggers to get together for another roundtable discussion. Today is my day to pose the question to the troops…so here it is:

Time to shove all your chips to the middle of the table. Adam Wainwright’s injury and surgery guarantees he will be on the DL at the end of the year and, consequently, his options for 2012 and 2013 are no longer automatic. But Wainwright is still young (turns 29 in August), and has a lot of career left after rehabbing. From the position of what’s best for the team, what should the Cards do with Wainwright from a contract perspective (pick up options but that’s all; pick up options and attempt to add years; decline options and try to sign an extended deal; decline options and let him walk) and, if they keep him, from a role perspective (give him 15 months to heal and let him start after 06/01/2012; bring him back in 12 months as the closer for 2012 then go back to a starter for 2013)?
 
“The one thing that they can’t do is let him go to free agency.  I don’t care that he’s hurt, the odds are that he’s going to come back at the same level in the next couple of years and he’s at a pretty good price.  If nothing else, they need to pick up the options at the end of the year.  Hopefully, though, they’ll do something where he gets a smaller salary the next couple of years with some incentive clauses and then a third year that is more in line with the market.  That way they keep him under control but can hedge their risks a little bit.” – Daniel Shoptaw, C70 at the Bat

 

“I’m already on record as stating that I’m fine with the team picking up the options as a way of sending a couple different messages.  Message 1 is that the team has faith that he’ll be back, and the team takes care of its own.  That message (loyalty) won’t be lost on a certain guy at first base, and it won’t be lost on other players around the league, either.  Message 2 is that a reduced base salary plus incentives will nearly be the $9M Waino would be guaranteed to make in 2012 anyway.  Why not just guarantee the money and take the pressure off Waino to earn it all by spring training next year?  He’s already earned his place on the team, so don’t risk pushing the guy away, and tell him that his name is on the 25-man roster in black ink.  Toss in the $12M in 2013 for good measure, because he’ll be back with a vengence by then.   
 
If the team wants to hedge, then I understand, but this is the same team that is paying Lohse $11.875M both this season and next.  Wainwright has already been way more valuable than that.  Even coming off of Tommy John surgery, Waino is a far better investment than Lohse ever was.  I know that I’d buy stock.” – Dennis Lawson, Pitchers Hit Eighth
 
“If there is one player on the Cardinals roster that the front office needs to go all in over, it is Adam Wainwright.  I would like to see them restructure his existing contract to extend it a few years, while he is out of pocket.   Wainwright has become the pitcher that we all hoped he would be, and it is now time to lock him down for his prime years.  The mentoring opportunity for some young pitching prospects like Shelby Miller are too valuable to leave to chance – lock him up.

At this point, Tommy John surgery is not something scary that goes bump in a night.  The rehab timetable and general prognosis for recovery are well known, and there is a lot of experience with it on the Cardinals roster right now.

I would let him do his normal recovery and start working him in as a starter in 15 months.  Don’t even mess with the idea of turning him into a closer.

If you want to mess with anybody in the closer role for 2012, it might be his mentor, Chris ‘Old School’ Carpenter.” – Bob Netherton, On the Outside Corner

 
“Assuming that Wainwright returns for most of next season, the double option on his existing contract is still team-friendly. I agree with Dennis that the Cardinals should therefore exercise it — but only because it would be a smart move for the team, not because it is necessarily a sign of loyalty (though if it’s taken that way, so much the better) or because it will somehow convince Albert Pujols to stay (because it won’t). 
Although Wainwright stands a good chance of returning to his old form, I’d hold off on restructuring or extending the contract until after next season because of the risk.” – Matthew Phillip, Fungoes
As always, great feedback from the UCB crew. Personally, I believe the Cardinals should explore an extension with Wainwright. The 2012 and 2013 options are worth $9 million and $12 million, respectively. Both would be a bargain for a healthy Wainwright, to be sure. But what if he isn’t ready to start at the beginning of 2012? The generally accepted timetable for pitchers to return from Tommy John surgery is 12 months for relievers and 15 months for starters, so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that the earliest he could return is June 2012. With that in mind, I think the Cardinals should decline the options but sign Wainwright to two years (at the same $9 and $12 million salaries) plus another option or two with similar triggers. This would give the Cards a couple more of Wainwright’s prime years yet still protect them from the injury risks. As for next year, with Ryan Franklin’s contract up, I think the Cardinals should talk to Wainwright about coming back to the team as the closer. If he did it all year, he could then prepare for 2013 (and beyond) as a starter but still contribute for all of 2012 in what will be an area of need. Maybe he can beat the odds and return as a starter in 12 months. But should he? It’s been said before that starters sometimes need two full years before they feel totally back to normal. Why take that chance with the team’s ace?
 
–Chris

Pop goes the elbow (and the season…and maybe more).

Breaking News from Spring Training: St. Louis Cardinals GM John Mozeliak today announced that Adam Wainwright has been sent back to St. Louis for evaluation after feeling a pop in his elbow while throwing a pitch yesterday.

Mozeliak characterized the situation as “not encouraging.”

And the Cards now have a really big problem on their hands.

Injuries happen, we all know that. Kevin Millwood is still a free agent, Ian Snell is still in the Cards’ camp, Kyle McClellan has been groomed to be a possible starter for the last couple seasons, and Lance Lynn has looked close to ready in AAA for a while now. So the team has options to explore to make them competitive for 2011…though everyone knows none of those pitchers can fill Wainwright’s shoes on the mound.

adam-wainwright_1.jpgBut this is potentially a franchise-changer going forward. First, if Wainwright needs Tommy John surgery, he is done for this year and some of 2012. But the options on his contract that became guaranteed when he finished in the Top 5 in the Cy Young race in 2010 and 2011 are now not guaranteed because a clause in those options says they only kick in if he does not finish 2011 on the disabled list. It now looks all but inevitable that Wainwright WILL be on the DL for the whole year. So do the Cards pick up those options? Do they decline them and try to extend him while his stock is diminished, like they did with Chris Carpenter? Or will Wainwright also be a free agent in the 2011/2012 offseason?

Speaking of free agents, how will this affect the Albert Pujols contract situation? The Cards may find themselves in comlpete franchise overhaul because of this. It would likely make the team fall completely out of contention in the revamped NL Central for 2011. With that in mind, the Cards could conceivably ask Pujols to re-visit his stance on promising to veto any trade. This is also Chris Carpenter’s final guaranteed year; could he be on the trading block?

Imagine the St. Louis Cardinals losing Pujols, Carpenter, Wainwright, and Jim Edmonds all in the same season. A month ago that seemed like a crazy, never-in-a-million-years thought. But today I’m not so optimistic. 

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 2010 UCB Awards

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

2010 Ballot

 

 

1. Player of the Year

-Matt Holliday
-Albert Pujols
-Colby Rasmus
-Write-in: _______________

 

Like there’s ever any doubt.

 

2. Pitcher of the Year

-Chris Carpenter
-Jaime Garcia
-Adam Wainwright
-Write-in: _______________

 

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
-Write-in: _________________

 

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

-David Freese
-Jaime Garcia
-Jon Jay
-Write-in: ________________

 

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

-Kyle Lohse
-Dennys Reyes
-Brendan Ryan
-Write-in: _________________

 

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

-Jaime Garcia

-Jon Jay
-Fernando Salas
-Write-in: _________________

 

There’s really nothing to say here…easy call.

 

7. Acquisition of the Year

-Aaron Miles
-Brad Penny
-Jake Westbrook
-Write-in: ________________

 

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
-Write-in: _____________

 

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

-Zack Cox
-Lance Lynn
-Shelby Miller
-Write-in: ________________

 

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

-Write-in: Fungoes

 

11. Best Team Cardinal Blog

-Write-in: Joe Sports Fan

 

12. Best Media Blog

-Bird Land
-Cardinal Beat
-Obviously, You’re Not A Golfer
-Write-in: _______________

 

13. Best UCB Project

-Cardinal All-Decade Team
-Progressive Game Blog
-Roundtables
-Write-in: ______________

 

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

-Cardinal Diamond Diaries
-
i70baseball
-RetroSimba
-Welcome To Baseball Heaven
-Write-in: _______________

 

–Chris 

SERIES PREVIEW: Cards v. Phillies

Tonight’s lineups, courtesy of Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Cardinals:

Lopez 3b

Jay rf

Pujols 1b

Rasmus cf

Craig lf

Schumaker 2b

Molina c

Hawksworth p

Ryan ss

 

Philadelphia:

Rollins ss

Polanco 3b

Ibanez lf

Howard 1b

Werth rf

Victorino cf

Ruiz c

Valdez 2b

Kendrick p

The Cards are playing the Phillies at the right time, though both teams have been plagued by injuries this year. After dropping three of four to the Chicago Cubs, the Phillies are likely craving wins. But the Cards have momentum coming off a four game sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers this past weekend. Plus, the pitching matchups favor the Cardinals: after Blake Hawksworth’s start tonight, the Phillies will have to face the Cards’ big three of Jaime Garcia, Chris Carpenter, and Adam Wainwright. Roy Halladay started the final game in Chicago on Sunday, so the Cardinals will not have to face him at all.

I say the Cards take three of four in this series.

For more on the Cards’ sweep of the Dodgers, take a look at my column over at InsideSTL.

 

–Chris

The Nooner #3: The questions are slowly being answered…

So far, so good. The Cardinals have announced that the starting rotation is set: Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, Todd Wellemeyer, and Joel Piniero have been anointed, barring any unforeseen events. And some not-so-surprising hints about the everyday lineup have started to trickle out as well. It looks like Tony LaRussa is planning on batting the pitcher 8th again this season, and the most obvious choices for batting 9th are Brendan Ryan, Skip Schumaker, or Colby Rasmus (depending on the make up of the rest of the lineup on any given day). In Ryan, the Cards have a guy that is quite capable defensively but hasn’t quite put it together at the plate. He can play anywhere in the infield. Schumaker was the leadoff hitter almost all of 2008, and is currently working on a switch from the outfield to second base. Rasmus, of course, is the golden boy prospect who has been described as a five tool guy and the Cards’ centerfielder of the future…possibly the very near future. If LaRussa can find a way to not only keep these guys on the roster but also find them adequate playing time, this team may have the most balanced combination of power and speed they’ve had in the past decade…and it’s been a pretty successful decade for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Now I suppose the biggest question mark is who will close…

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