Warming Up the Winter

I’ve often thought I might like to make the effort to go to the Cardinals’ traditional Winter Warm-up. It’s baseball talk in the winter, a chance to actually see the players and hear some news. I’ve never been able to afford it, though, nor take out the time to get up there. Plus I’m not much on crowded areas.

The good thing about the Warm-up, combined with the internet, is that we finally get some Cardinal news. So let’s take a look at what came out over the weekend.

First off, Chris Carpenter is throwing again. The whole dynamic of the season could change if he’s healthy and effective earlier than schedule. He’s not pushing himself too hard, which is great. It’d be outstanding if he was back in June, but I wouldn’t count on it. My prediction is still mid-August, enough time for him to get back into baseball shape and let the Cardinals see what he’s got for 2009.

Staying on the injury theme, it looks like Josh Kinney could be back by time the season starts. A valuable part of the 2006 bullpen, he could help bolster the 2008 version as well. It’ll be interesting to see what he has when he comes back and if he can be effective.

The same article talks about the rehabbing of Chris Duncan and Braden Looper. Both sound like they are doing well and are basically ready to go, but there was no reason to think that they wouldn’t be. Still, nice to hear there aren’t any unexpected setbacks.

At the end of that article (wow, Goold really packed it in, didn’t he?) was a note about Ryan Franklin planning to be a reliever again this year. Larry at VEB has repeatedly made the case that Franklin should start, but with the number of starting pitchers already in camp, it probably does make sense to have a solid part of the bullpen return to that role. There’s nothing to say TLR won’t move him into the rotation halfway through the year anyway.

Which is bigger news, that Scott Spiezio is doing well in his personal rehabilitation, put out a CD, or that he doesn’t have the famous red facial hair anymore?

Then there are plenty of WWU posts over at Bird Land. Definitely check out the quotes quiz. I don’t see the answers yet, but the quotes are worth reading.

Oh, and some Santana news, one that the Cardinals did inquire, the second that they’d “kick the tires” if he became a free agent.  It makes you want to see what’d happen if he didn’t get traded, doesn’t it?

The Warm-up finishes today, so maybe more news will be made!

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Cardinals Sign Clement

According to sources, the Cardinals have signed pitcher Matt Clement to a one-year deal with a club option for 2009.

The best thing about it, in my mind, is the club option.  If Clement is healthy and effective, he’ll help out ’08 but would really be a boon in 2009, when Carpenter is healthy and the team has hopefully signed another top pitcher to go into the rotation with him and Wainwright.  A 2009 staff of Carp-FA-Wainwright-Clement-? would probably be enough to put the Cards back into contention fairly quickly.

This also may mean that the Cardinals are close to dealing Anthony Reyes.  Right now, the rotation is Wainwright, Mulder (if ready for ST), Pineiro, Clement and Looper.  That leaves Reyes and others such as Todd Wellemeyer and Brad Thompson out of the picture, at least for now.  Of course, we don’t know how Mulder is going to start the season or if he’ll be ready, but I’d think a deal like this would give Mozeliak more breathing room to send Reyes somewhere for a hitter or perhaps package him with Duncan for a bigger name.

It’ll be interesting to see how this deal compares to the Mark Prior deal.

Happy New Year!

Hope everyone is having a great 2008 so far.  We are creeping closer and closer to spring training, which means that the Cardinals should start picking up the pace on transactions pretty soon.

Here are some predictions for 2008.  Some are serious, some aren’t.  (The ones that don’t happen are the non-serious ones, in case you can’t tell.)

*The Cardinals will win between 73-76 games.  The only chance for a contending season, in my mind, is a fast start somehow, then hanging on until Carpenter gets back.  The Cardinals would need Mulder to start strong from the get-go for this to happen, I think.  Still, even with another sub-.500 season, we’ll have a lot to talk about and enjoy.

*Albert Pujols will hit .300 with 30 HR and 100 RBI.  In other news, the sun will continue to rise in the east and set in the west.

*Scott Rolen will not be traded.  After he starts off the season closer to his normal form, his attitude improves and he’s much more able to tolerate LaRussa.  With his increased performance coupled with the lack of an immediate successor, Mozeliak decides to keep him on, though rumors will fly close to the trading deadline.

*Jim Edmonds gets at least two standing ovations in his first game back in Busch Stadium.

*Even with the rag-tag nature of the starting rotation, the team will post a better team ERA than they did in 2007.

*Colby Rasmus will be on the major league roster by the middle of June.  He’ll struggle at first, but will show the form that has everyone excited by mid-August.

*The Reds will surprise people, coming in a strong second to the Brewers in the division.

*The Red Sox will not win another World Series title.  Boston has to return to losing sometime.  (Doesn’t it?)

*Brian Barton will play all season in the majors and become a fan favorite off the bench.  He will get some starts, but TLR will not overexpose him.

*Chris Carpenter will not pitch in the major leagues until August.

*The Cardinals make a big splash in the 2008 free agent pool, signing an ace for the rotation and temporarily shutting up those that question ownership.

*I’ll keep blogging away on a regular basis.

Got your own predictions?  Let’s see them in the comments.

The First Annual Cardinal Blogger Awards

The votes have been cast. Now let’s see who won!

First off, a comment from Kujo at Rockin’ the Red for a new title for the group:

How about Cardinals Bloggers United, in the likeness of the soccer hooligan firms in England?

That’s not bad. Those involved, what do you think? Or perhaps United Cardinal Bloggers would be more your style? If we are going to keep doing projects, we gotta find a name. And I do hope we keep doing projects.

OK, to the awards. I’ll post some quotes from those bloggers that elaborated on their selections.

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My Ballot for the Cardinal Blogger Awards

This is the first attempt at a Cardinal blogger collaborative project. I hope that the bloggers involved enjoy it enough to try doing more things together in the near future.

Those scheduled to post their selections today include Readin’ Redbird, Redbirds Fun, CardinalsGM, Rockin’ the Red, Redbird Ramblings, and CardinalsNationGlobe. Check all of them out (I’ll direct link to their post when they get them up) and then come back here next week for a consolidated ballot. (Future Redbirds has theirs up now as well.)

So, without much further ado, let’s see my selections for the CBA. My selections are noted in bold.

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LaRussa on XM Radio

Last night, TLR was on with Ronnie “Night Train” Lane on XM’s MLB Live. Some bulletpoints on what he talked about:

*His contract extension. He said he was a little surprised that he was asked back, but pleased. He was happy with the response of the players on the issue as well.

*2007 was “by far” one of his most difficult seasons ever. Called it “relentless” and that it showed the character of the coaches and team that the results were as good as they were. To turn the page, he focuses on what the team has control over, trying to get players healthy. He does think that there are things that can be done better (not sure if by the coaching staff or the organization) to get those players ready to play.

*Mozeliak did a good job with Walt and Mo likely learned a lot from Walt. Said Mozeliak is “primed for it” and said that now it was about talent and how well he did the job, that talent comes out and you stand on your own two feet.

*There is work to do this offseason, lot of coordinating and getting on the same page.

*Got to get some more pieces. Looking for impact guy. Talked about Eckstein in brief, saying they have to see what works out there. Noted the problem was that most every team is looking for an impact hitter and an impact pitcher, like the Cardinals are. Not as worried about the bullpen as the starting rotation.

*Would like to have Eckstein back and talked about players (Matheny, Suppan, Renteria) that they lost when the player got on the market. Did say you have to assign a value to the player in relation to your payroll. Doesn’t know what Eckstein’s market is going to be.

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The Void

I once read a quote, which I can’t find right now, that went something like this:

“There are only two seasons, baseball season and the void.”

The void is now upon us, after Isringhausen made it interesting, as he usually does, but got the final out and preserved the victory, like he usually does. And with that final out, the 2007 season came to an end.

It’s not going to be a season fondly remembered by fans years from now, but it was baseball. One thing I’d forgotten until it was mentioned this weekend was just how good the pitching looked in spring training. The team ERA was around 3 or so, just amazing for the spring. Which proves that spring training stats aren’t worth the web page they are published on.

A season with so much promise ended on opening night, for all intents and purposes. When Carpenter had a rough outing and came up lame soon after, we should have realized what we were in for. Injuries with the Cardinals are never simple things, where the player is back soon and all is forgotten. Injuries with the Cardinals drag out, start to look better, then get worse. I personally don’t buy into the “Carpenter on the mound by late July” talk going around. If he’s there by September, like Mulder this year, I’ll call it a surprise.

Then the pitching fell apart, Hancock died, everyone that wore Cardinal red came down with some sort of injury, and through all of that, they hung in there.

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