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!

Can We Do That Again?

This month really was symbolized by a couple of the almost-home-run balls hit by Albert Pujols yesterday.  They started off with a lot of promise, slightly curved and then wounded up very foul.  Though I guess the ball would have had to hit an elderly woman, breaking her hip and pitching her to the ground to be an accurate analogy.

Was it really just 10 days ago that this flawed, battered team was a win away from first place with our current ace on the mound?  What a difference losing 10 of 11 in September can make, huh?  And even those losses wouldn’t bother me so much, if we hadn’t lost three of four to the Cubs, keeping their postseason hopes alive.  It’d been great to sneak out with two wins, at least, and get Milwaukee back tied for the top slot.

Look, most of us knew that the Cards weren’t going to October, though we held out some hope to sneak in and “shock the world” again.  But the winter winds will blow very cold if the Cubs win.  And, even though I know there are much better teams in the postseason, after the ’06 Cardinals you take nothing for granted.

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Did I Miss Anything?

You know, I start a Cardinal blog, and it’s been occasionally tough to find something interesting to write on. I want to keep this site fresh, but sometimes it’s tough to know what to put down on cyber-paper, if you will.

Then I go on vacation, and all the news spills out:

  • LaRussa returns to the 1998 experiment and starts hitting the pitcher in the 8th slot.
  • The Nationals sweep the Cardinals.
  • The Cards tie a MLB record with ten consecutive hits in a game.
  • Scott Spiezio goes on the restricted list so as to enter drug and alcohol rehab.
  • The prodigal outfielder Rick Ankiel finally makes his second-life major league debut, smacking a homer to boot.
  • Ankiel then has a two-home-run day.
  • LaRussa and Juan Encarnacion battle it out in the press.
  • The pitching staff actually comes around, with quality start after quality start.
  • Adam Kennedy is sidelined with knee problems, perhaps for the rest of the season.
  • The Cards win 4 of 6 against good teams from San Diego and Los Angeles.

And, in the midst of all of this, even after the slide in Pittsburgh and Washington, the Cards sit 5.5 games out of the NL Central and about 4 games behind the Cubs. After being written off by a lot of people, including me, the Cardinals are still in the thick of things come mid-August.

Let’s hit a few of the points above before moving on to a look-forward of this week: Read the rest of this entry »