The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals minor matters – January 15


For those who haven’t embraced the news reader age but are pressed for time (who isn’t?) and don’t want to check many different St. Louis Cardinals-related websites, a perfect answer is “Cardinals Best News Links”. There, a short description and links to many of the top Cards stories of the day are offered in one place.

With the computer of its proprietor, Josh Jones, out with a winter virus, I thought I’d pinch hit with a few of the more off-the-wall, out of the way links to articles I’ve run across in the last 24 hours or so. CBNL will be back up to date very soon.


Where are they now? – Pitts, Bialas, Riggins, Leyva and Riggleman

The current whereabouts of five ex-Arkansas Travelers, the old Cardinals’ Texas League affiliate are provided. Mark Riggins left the Cards for the Cubs in the big changes around the time of the Walt Jocketty departure. Jim Riggleman was treated a bit rudely in Seattle, but is in another Washington, DC, now. In a move one could see coming, Gaylen Pitts was recently replaced as Palm Beach manager and is now a roving instructor for the organization.


Scully’s commentary of Larsen’s perfect WS game

If you’re like me, you’ve taken a shine to the new MLB Network. The network’s inaugural broadcast was of the telecast of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series. In a nice touch, they had the battery of Larsen and Yogi Berra in the studio to comment between innings.

Yet the then-28-year-old broadcaster who covered the final innings on television that day, the Hall-of-Famer Vin Scully, was noticeably absent. MLB should have had Vin there, plain and simple.

The next best thing happened when the LA Times interviewed Scully after he watched the MLB Network replay. It is well worth the read.


Springfield at Quad Cites

The Cardinals Double-A club will invade the Quad Cities for an exhibition game on April 5th. The teams will already be well-familiar with each other, having just flown north from training camp in sunny Florida.


Winter Warm-up: during and after

The Cardinals have released the signing times and speaking slots and locations for this coming weekend’s fan event in St. Louis. The entire Winter Warm-up schedule is too unwieldy to fully reproduce here, but MLB.com has highlighted the top speakers at the link provided. If you have further questions, drop a comment below and I will try to assist.

Our friends at Fox Sports Midwest just announced their WWU plans. Starting on Tuesday, January 20, they kick off their 2009 coverage of St. Louis Cardinals baseball with two 30-minute specials recapping the Cardinals Winter Warm-up and looking ahead to the upcoming season.

For those who cannot be there in person, these two specials will be the next-best thing and even if you do attend, you can catch all you missed. Details here.


Duncan clears waivers

As I mentioned the other day, Chris Duncan’s brother Shelly was booted off the New York Yankees’ 40-man roster in favor of some guy named Teixeira. Shelly cleared waivers and is now in Triple-A.


Izzy groundswell in Detroit?

This is especially good timing coming off my account yesterday of Jason Isringhausen’s final Cardinals save. The Detroit Free Press is endorsing the Tigers signing Izzy to help fill their closing need. For a club that stuck with shaky Todd Jones for years, Izzy seems a natural fit for Jim Leyland’s Tigers.


“Can Jason Varitek Escape his Predicament?

Scott Boras/Jason Varitek passed up an almost assured $10 million via arbitration for Boston’s catcher and now could be forced to sign a minor-league deal. Few if any starting catching jobs are open and Pudge Rodriguez is among those also still looking.

The concept of Type A free agent ‘Tek having to sign a minor league deal because no club is willing to lose their first/second round draft pick in signing him is intriguing.  It could apply to pitcher Juan Cruz, too, a guy the Cards might be interested in if the price is right.

I wonder if Boras doesn’t do better with the biggest names than with mid-tier guys like Kyle Lohse and Varitek. Given Varitek’s career decline, passing up arbitration looks like a terrible miscalculation for the esteemed Super Agent.


Interesting P-D editorial

Already interesting on its own, but even more so since it originates from a St. Louis Post-Dispatch editor, the subject of this piece is the quality of sportswriting. Wonder who he had in mind?


At Scout.com

Recently, I’ve written about the Cardinals abandoning their bid to purchase the Memphis Redbirds and posted a pair of detailed articles about Cardinals prospects and the club’s comparative position to their NL Central peers.

The latter two are subscriber-only and cover the extensive work of minor league expert Deric McKamey. His fourth-annual book, the Minor League Baseball Analyst, is now out and is a must-read for minor league fans.

I will offer just one tease. Here are McKamey’s overall system rankings across MLB for the NL Central organizations: Cardinals (10), Reds (11), Brewers (13), Pirates (20), Cubs (27) and Astros (29). I am probably doing a disservice with this snippet, as what is most interesting are the comprehensive details behind how those numbers were developed. It is a much more rigorous process than most every set of system ranking systems that I have seen.

In comparing our top 15′s, we actually agree on 14 of the 15 players. Ones Deric ranks higher than me: Daryl Jones, Pete Kozma, Mitchell Boggs, Jon Jay, Lance Lynn, Richard Castillo and Niko Vasquez. Players I put higher: Jason Motte, Jess Todd, David Freese, Jaime Garcia and Adam Ottavino. Where we agree exactly: Colby Rasmus, Brett Wallace, Bryan Anderson and Clayton Mortensen. What would an off-season be without prospect lists to discuss and debate?


Password problems

In an administrative note, the one regret I have so far in starting this blog is in the number of password-related problems you all have had to deal with. The system that my platform, WordPress, uses is unwieldy to be polite. I have tried to document how to change passwords, but if you can’t get in, you can’t make your change.

If you are stuck in that boat, email me at brian (at) thecardinalnation.com and I will reset your password so you can log in. Again, I apologize for the difficulties.


MyYahoo news reader

I am also fighting an incompatibility problem between WordPress and the MyYahoo RSS news reader. I am not alone with the problem, but as of yet, have not developed a solution. All other news readers are working fine. (I’d much rather write about baseball than battle technology, but it seems to go with the territory!)

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