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Bird Watching

Bird Watching: Let’s Just All Calm Down…

Last night’s game was just gut-wrenching. Waino looked outstanding for 6 innings, evoking thoughts of a perfect game (if not for the near miss by Miles at second), and then allowed the Pirates to load the bases and rip our collective hearts out through our throats. As Adam said on the mound after watching Michael’s grand slam land in the visitor’s bullpen – DAMN IT! And then panic began to set in…

The Cardinals, after going 18 – 11 in April, turned in a less than stellar 15 – 13 May. Not the direction you want to be heading when you’re chasing baseball’s best team, the Chicago Cubs (ugh…I think I just threw up a little in my mouth right there). We’re 3 1/2 games back and gradually sliding in the wrong direction. But that’s not even the worst of it…take a look at what’s coming in June.

Seven of the Cards’ games the rest of this month are at home…while a whopping 18 are on foreign ground. Our opponents in June include the resurgent Mets, the Bruce-Fed Reds, the Berkman’esque Astros, Manny’s Mad Sox, and the slumbering Detroit Tigers. And, as if our schedule wasn’t enough, it couldn’t come at a worse time…or have you forgotten the Cubs have hit their stride to the tune of an 8-game winning streak?

It would seem all hope is lost…I mean, if we can’t count on our Ace to hold a 4 – 0 lead in the 7th against the cellar dwellers of our division, how in hell do we expect to catch the Cubs during this baseball maelstrom?

Hold on there, Cards fans…let’s not throw in the towel just yet…let’s all just calm down…take a breath…and let’s take a look at the Cubs’ June schedule.

Over the next month, the Cubs will play just nine games at their beloved Wrigley and 13 on the road. Sure, that’s not as bad a split as the Cardinals’ schedule, but it’s not good either…especially when they’re carrying an 11 – 13 road record (compared to the Cardinals’ 13 – 12). During this road-heavy lineup, the Cubs’ opponents include the San Francisco Giants, LA Dodgers, the Atlanta Braves, the Tampa Bay Rays, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Chicago White Sox. What does that mean in stat-speak? It means the Cubs will play 9 games against first place teams (Cards play 3), 15 games against teams with a winning record (Cards have 9), and 7 games in the time-zone pesky state of California. But there’s more…

While the Cardinals do play the Red Sox in Boston, they will apparently do so without the esteemed David Ortiz staring at them down the barrel of his massive bat. While the Cubs have added an aging Jim Edmonds to their roster, the Cardinals have finally called up the ball-crushing Joey “Bombs” Mather to replace the struggling Chris “Slam” Duncan. And last but not least, the Cardinals have made the heart-breaking roster move of DL’ing Jason Isringhausen…but the Cubs are still stuck with that ticking time-bomb, Kerry Wood, as their unpredictable closer.

But you know what the greatest news of all is…? In the long run, the Cardinals have a plethora – that’s right…a plethora – of young, durable pitching and position talent to call up from Triple A and sustain them throughout the season. The Cubs…well…they have Felix Pie…the guy that lost his job to a .167-hitting Jim Edmonds.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Don’t panic…it’s all going to work itself out in the end. Remember what C.U.B.S. stands for…

Completely Useless By September

Whew…I’ll say this, though…that July 4th series against the Cubs in Busch sure is shaping up to be a hot one…I may just have to check that one out.

GO CARDS!!!

BIRD SEEDS

“Holy Hitting Streak, Batman!”  Colby Rasmus continues to tear it up with a nine game hitting streak in Triple A. The kid’s swinging the bat at a 15 for 35 clip (.429). His average is up nearly 30 points (.224) since my last post, and he’s even flashing some speed with 7 stolen bases on the year. He keeps this up, he’s gonna’ force us to trade either Duncan or Schumaker…or both.

Ain’t that Peculiar…  Looking at Rasmus’ stats got me thinking about odd splits this season. Colby – a lefty – is hitting .300 against left-handed pitchers but has no home runs. At the same time, he’s hitting just .195 against right-handed pitchers but has 7 home runs. Odd…but no more-so than Ryan Ludwick, the “bats right, throws left” outfielder with an unusual split of his own. Ryan is hitting .234 against lefties and .378 against righties, but the kid’s power (HR) numbers are almost identical (6 LHP – 7 RHP). What, pray tell, is Tony going to do with both these guys in St. Louis next season? Throw in Ank’s unusual ability to hit left-handed pitching, and this team’s outfield is going to give opposing manager’s fits trying to figure out how to pitch to ’em.

Stalking the Yadi  Bryan Anderson is turning some heads on his own in Memphis. The kid was promoted to Triple A earlier this year, and he hasn’t missed a beat. He now has almost as many AAA at bats this season as AA at bats (74 to 80) but has played in 2 more AAA games (19 to 21), and he’s still carrying a .351 average at the AAA level. One has to wonder, if we don’t end up trading him, at what point does the “ever ready to make a move” Johnny Mo call up the kid to replace the offensively anemic Jason LaRue? If we don’t see him before, I have to think he’s guaranteed a call-up in September as a third catcher and pinch hitter.

Troy Likes it Hot, Hot, Hot!  Troy Glaus had an outstanding weekend. The third baseman from Toronto went a combined 4 for 6 with 2 home runs (doubling his season HR total). Before Saturday’s game, Glaus said his bat warms up as the weather gets hotter…if that’s true, this guy’s gonna’ love St. Louis in July!

Just Who is the Best Player in Baseball?  This morning, Mike and Mike (ESPN Radio) said this about the young slugger from Texas, Josh Hamilton: “Let’s just say it…he’s the best player in baseball.” Okay, okay…Hamilton is a stud…and his story, as long as it continues, is truly inspiring…but let’s look at the numbers, shall we?

Hamilton:   .331 AVG   .623 SLG   .375 OBP   16 HRs   65 RBIs   20 BBs
Pujols:       .366 AVG   .644 SLG   .486 OBP   14 HRs   39 RBIs   47 BBs

Pujols has a higher average, higher slugging percentage, a higher on-base percentage, and more than twice as many walks. Despite having more than 30 fewer at bats than Hamilton, Pujols only trails by 2 homers. However, I will give the kid this…that RBI total is unreal. But let’s not get carried away with our praise just yet…especially considering Pujols has been doing this consistently since 2001 and Hamilton hasn’t even gotten a full major league, 500 at bat season under his belt. He’s going to be great…no doubt about it…but let’s see him do it for the next seven years when every pitcher in the league has a 6-inch thick scouting report on all his holes and tendencies…THEN we can talk best player in the game. But until then, I’ll take the gold-glove and MVP award winner, Albert Pujols. 

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