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

What course will the Cardinals chart next?

A few days ago, I presented attendance numbers that indicate the St. Louis Cardinals are currently seven percent behind last season while Major League Baseball attendance is slightly up.

A reader poll, which is still running, indicates an overwhelming view that the decline in attendance is most attributable to the uneven play on the field. The 2011 Cardinals seem destined to miss the playoffs as they did three of the previous four seasons as well.

Cardinals ownership has often stated that attendance has a greater influence on their player payroll than it does for many other franchises. Against that backdrop, this post is to consider and discuss what may happen next.

Obviously, the biggest question is whether or not the club can afford to keep Albert Pujols with secondary decisions on key players such as Lance Berkman and Chris Carpenter. The focus here will be on Pujols, with Berkman’s fate perhaps tied to him. I will assume the Cardinals will not pick up Carpenter’s $15 million option, instead trying to negotiate a lower-cost, longer-term deal.

Sound off. What do you think will happen?

What will be the Cardinals’ off-season strategy?

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77 Responses to “What course will the Cardinals chart next?”

  1. crdswmn says:

    I just had an argument on Twitter with a fan who believes that any fan who stops coming to the games for any reason is a “fairweather” fan. This fan roundly condemns any fan who complains about the team. Believes the organization knows best and “good” fans must accept what is done without question or complaint. Jumbo, are you on Twitter? :)

    I consider my brother to be a “fairweather” fan. He will watch the games as long as they are playing well, but if there is a protracted dry spell, he immediately stops watching. I watch every game regardless and don’t intend to stop doing that. But I will complain and insist on a better product. If we don’t insist on a better product in times like this, the team will become the Cubs. That seems like a no-brainer to me. But then I have never been passive, it’s against my religion.

    I would like Berkman and Carp back next year. I suspect Carp will be willing to negotiate a different deal to stay, but I have been wrong before. To me Carp is as much the backbone of this team as Pujols is and I like Carp better. I am not wanting Pujols to leave as much as accepting that he very well might and not being upset about that. If he stays and the club doesn’t overpay, then I will be happy with that.

    • blingboy says:

      Carp has been the backbone in past years, but I can’t say I’ve seen any evidence of it this season.

      His line, 197 IP, 214 H, 3.92, is very ho hum.

      Failing to avenge his teammate (former temmate now), and himself, is not Gibby-like at all.

      We may need an inning eating middle rotation guy, but we are also going to need a stopper to be #2 behind Wainy. There will also be the prospect of going to the well once too often, as with Franky.

      I’d say we still need a loogey, too.

      Glad to see Cleto up again.

      • crdswmn says:

        I was not referring strictly to performance Bling. I was talking more about his leadership qualities, his competitiveness and his emphasis on the team rather than personal accomplishment. As for his failure to avenge LaRue, it is quite possible he was told not to do it by TLR. Risking ejectment, especially early in a game, is not very wise.

        • blingboy says:

          What I mean is, I haven’t seen any evidence of leadership, by anyone.

          I’m sure he was told by TLR. And meekly obeyed. Did more to establish himself as a Tony suckup than a clubhouse leader. That is the sort of thing that has nothing to so with the manager.

        • friendmouse says:

          Ejectment? Sounds like “legal-eze” to me. ;)

          I thought TLR once said something to the affect that players police themselves mostly, as it relates to “sending messages” or plunking someone, or etc. If so, then why would he “instruct” Carp as to what to do in that regard?…he should just leave it up to the ballplayers to handle it themselves.

  2. Brian Walton says:

    Saturday lineup: Furcal ss; Jay cf; Pujols 1b; Holliday lf; Berkman rf; Freese 3b; Schumaker 2b; Laird c; Garcia lhp.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Tony made the right call on Furcal. He is a great player and has answered the bell, after being slowed by injury earlier. He has helped defensively and been mashing on offense. Great job, Rafael. Love your work ethic!!

      Last night was tough, but I loved how we battled. Carp is a great man, but he has been ridden hard and gave up 5 in the 2nd. Despite this tall mountain, the Cards responded intrepidly and clambered back to tie at 5 and at 6. For once, the bullpen, which has been taxed, could not hold on and the Reds got a win that they earned.

      And nobody’s Daddy posted nonsense about how his bonus baby would love to be traded because TLR wants to compete during 2011. How absolutely refreshing was that?

  3. easy says:

    Part of the problem with maintaing late season interest in the Cardinals over the last few years is that they’ve been in the race for most of each season and it’s hard for both the team and the fans to switch gears when it’s apparent to most of us that the season’s over. If we’d been 15 games out in July we’d be planning for next year, bringing up prospects, trading veterans etc, giving some interest to the rest of the season. We’ve generally only faded late, though, the teams ahead of us have seemed vulnerable and Tony’s uber competitiveness keeps him trotting out what he thinks are the best lineups he can to get back in the race.
    We are in a position now to do a few things that would make this month interesting. Many people have wished that Tyler Greene could be given one more chance to prove he can be a major league shortstop. I think that it’s equally important to see what Matt Carpenter can do in an extended stint. Stick him in the number two spot in the lineup and see how many runs he can score getting on in front of Pujols, Holliday and Berkman. It’s important that we get the most value out of our pool of young third basemen and that we sort out the log jam there. Keep up with the Motte as closer experiment. Give Sanchez work if he’s ready. Find a way to keep Craig in the lineup. Use Boggs in more meaningful situations.
    It seems counter intuitive but I, and I think a lot of fans, would have more interest if we conceded this year’s race and started planning for next year.

    • friendmouse says:

      Very nice opinions, easy…I’m in mostly in agreement with you. I, personally, believe T.Greene has been given MORE than ample opportunity to show what he can(not) do as a major league shortstop. He just isn’t MLB material, which is too bad, because he’s a border-line superstar in the minors.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    More fun today. We fell behind by 2, came storming back. This team has a good approach.

    Garcia pitches best at home. With a good start, the game seems easy. Motte comes in to blow them away at the end. I always enjoy that.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Thus far, the Cards have added 3 minor leaguers. This trio were added to fill needs in the ML roster.
      Cotton Dickson has eaten innings at Memphis for two years, so was the guy to add to provide a starter. The Cards rotation has frayed, one reason Jackson was added and why Dickson was. He was the best prepared minor leaguer to start a ML game.
      Shane Robinson was added to provide a platoon mate for Jay in CF.
      Cleto was added since the bullpen can use another arm.

      After today, the Brewers will have 3 games in St Louis and then face the Phillies at home for 4 games. This should be a good test for the Brewers.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    Chris Carpenter ranks 2nd in the National League, behind only Kershaw of the Dodgers, in innings pitched. He has shouldered a load, in terms of innings. Great job.

  6. Brian Walton says:

    Sunday lineup: Furcal ss; Jay cf; Pujols 1b; Holliday lf; Berkman rf; Schumaker 2b; Laird c; Descalso 3b; Jackson rhp.

    Note: This is the 20th and final game blacked out on AT&T U-Verse this season.

  7. blingboy says:

    Missed the game. From the box score and gameview recap there are a few observations.

    Besides Jay’s solo, we got one run on ten hits and an error. 0-8 with risp. Got the leadoff man on 3 times, nothing came of it.

    We faced a sub .500 pitcher with a 5+ era.

    Reds pitchers gave no walks in ten innings.

    Jackson put up a pretty good line.

    Seems like nobody stepped up when it would have mattered.

    Jay, Skip, Freese and Craig are all .300 hitters but therir OBPs are only about 50pts higher than their averages. If they could all pick that up it would make a difference. Taking walks isn’t something video helps with though.

    Either Salas has petered out or teams have enough of a line on him now and he hasn’t done anything to trip them up.

    Thoughts and prayers are with the Duncan family.

    • crdswmn says:

      You didn’t miss anything. Announcers questioned TLR’s move of pinch running Corey Patterson for Lance Berkman in the 8th. Lance hit some balls hard in the air but nothing to show for it. (He did get one base hit). Offense took the day off.

    • RCWarrior says:

      Bling, Watched the game today and it was typical Cards this year. Just a bunch of tough breaks. The Furcal ball up the middle would have plated 2 runs, the ball Lance hit just missed going out for 2 more runs, a ball lance hit down the line could have plated a run but was caught.

      Arroyo is a tough competitor and mixes it up. He worked out out a few jams today. Jacko was outstanding today as he has been his last 3 starts. He is a local boy so we all keep up with him around here. He is making himself some money with this finish.

      I think teams are sitting on Salas’ change since thats the pitch he prefers to get you out with.

      • LarryBird says:

        Nice to see you back RCWarrior. I agree. The breaks just always seem to go the other way this year.
        I still am upset about the trade. I know this is a business and blah,blah,blah but I still believe Colby is special and will be an all star for years to come. Please let him know the fans appreciated his effort and wish him nothing but the best for years to come.

        • RCWarrior says:

          Well Larry, Its tough to understand…..why the cardinals with the talent they’ve had haven’t played better. We all have our theories but the truth is that in a few weeks the cardinals will have gone 5 years without winning a playoff game, and I believe have underachieved during that time.

          As far as the trade goes, it was best for all involved, and should have happened last offseason. Mo fought against the current for 3 years but he was never gonna win in the battle against TLR.

          .Colby hasn’t played up to his ability these last few years and hopefully this will at least give him a chance. If he doesn’t make it in Toronto then he just wasn’t that good to begin with.

          • friendmouse says:

            Very fair analysis, RC. I tend to agree with you on all points.

            I will continue watching with great interest to see how Colby does up north, and in the AL. I truly do hope for all the best for him, and I expect great things to occur. I miss him, but you’re right in that it just was not going to work out for him in St. Louis at this time. Let’s hope the same predicaments do not affect your younger son within the organization in any such negative fashion.

  8. LarryBird says:

    Berkman was 0-16 against Cordero.

  9. LarryBird says:

    I voted other because I think we will get Pujols at a reasonable rate fill in with proven major leaguers while greatly increasing current payroll.

    • RCWarrior says:

      I don’t know Larry, it would seem to me that Albert knows the cards have to sign him so that alone makes for his add in the leverage game. He may not get an 8 year deal but he definitely will make more than a reasonable amount of moola. Unless you think 25-28 mil is reasonable. If Albert outlasts Prince in signing he may command a tad more than that imo.

      Jay is a solid CF and Freese is a solid 3B, Descalso can play either short or 2B imo and be as good as what the cards had this year. Looks like Lance wants to come back so you have LF, CF, and RF taken care of if thats the case. You sign ALbert, Put Descalso at 2B, Freese at 3B, and resign Furcal for short. Yadi behind the plate with Cruz as the back up. You get Waino back next year and the team is in the mix again without skipping a beat. Payroll may inch up to 125 mil but the team wins again and is in the running for a Central Division title again. Sounds easy to me. :)

      • LarryBird says:

        I think reasonable for Albert is 25 million a year. 8 years 200 million is what I think is reasonable.

      • blingboy says:

        I think there is a pitching issue next year, even with Wainy back. Nobody was a stud this year.

        And then there is the pen. Jeesh. Can’t keep sending out the road kill truck to scoop up help.

        And a lot depends on if Tony is back. It’s safe to say a pattern has emerged. No good reason to think it would all be different next year, even with some new role players on the fringes.

        • RCWarrior says:

          Agreed bling, until the manager changes, the system in place will follow its usual pattern. And lets be honest, that pattern has been one of success over Tony’s tenure in St. Louis with a World title in pocket. The system may not bring a championship every year but the club has been a winning club more times than it hasn’t and I think that is the goal…..consistency.

          • crdswmn says:

            RC, you should have a job at the U.N. :)

          • friendmouse says:

            I’m not so sure that “consistency” is the “goal.” And if it is, then I think we need to reassess our goal. Personally, I’d gladly surrender a bit of consistency for a World Series appearance about every 3rd or 4th season. I’m still undecided about TLR going forward. I give him all the credit in the world for his accomplishments…but those are passed. It’s the ol’ “What have you done for us lately” dilemma, and rightly so in this world of Pro sports. Well, mostly rightly so. While I have great confidence that if we keep TLR as Manager next year, we will have a winning season, I have no such confidence that we’ll make it to the World Series…and maybe not even an elusive Playoff win! And we Cardinals fans won’t put up with it much longer, I’m thinking. Give us the same “product”…or even a slightly improved product next year, and it could get REAL UGLY within Cardinal Nation. We MUST make the playoffs and have some real success once we get there. I’m not saying we have to win the WS, but we need to show all concerned that we could and SHOULD be capable of winning it all. I’m ready for that.

            • crdswmn says:

              Consistency may be the goal of ownership but not the fans. This is where the rubber may meet the road. I think ownership is very willing to keep the status quo as long as they can keep those 3 million fans buying tickets. If the current trend of attendance drop off increases, the status quo may eventually become unacceptable even for ownership. That is what I am hoping anyway.

            • Brian Walton says:

              Very interesting discussion. There may be multiple goals. For example, the financial goals may be different than the baseball goals, but I bet when push comes to shove, it is looked at as a business. Not saying that is bad.

              Some related questions, for which getting answers would probably be impossible: How much incremental revenue and profit does a playoff appearance make a club? What about a World Series win? It also sells seats for the next season. When all is considered, does making the playoffs matter much incrementally from a financial perspective – compared to a good season like this one in which the team falls short?

              In other words, does consistent winning regular season baseball bring financial consistency?

              • friendmouse says:

                I’d say that consistent winning regular season baseball MAY bring financial consistency in the near-term…but UNLESS the “masses” are treated to an occasional foray deep into the playoffs, then a winning regular season becomes “ho-hum” and in time will reflect a general malaise and lack of interest on that “product.” In some ways, it may be akin to what Mr. Pujols is experiencing…GREAT year-in and year-out numbers…very consistent in the macro sense…but no EXPLOSION! We need the explosion…or risk implosion. Just sayin’.

  10. LarryBird says:

    I made my annual trip down this weekend and sat next to the Reds bullpen. I can tell you if Chapman ever figures it out he will be un-hittable.

  11. blingboy says:

    Nice to hear from you RC. Drop in now and then this winter.

    Best wishes to all the Rasmus family.

  12. LarryBird says:

    Just rambling here but………..If we had a healthy Furcal at Shortstop all year we would be tied for 1st. His defense is a difference maker. If Wainwright was healthy all year we would be tied for 1st. If we had both all year we would be in 1st!
    I have been Larussas biggest fan but I would not be sad if we did not re-sign him. The same goes for picking up Carps option and as far as Albert is concerned I would love to see him remain a Cardinal for life but if it meant giving up a couple World Series Championships I would not be sad to see him go.

  13. friendmouse says:

    I think Albert stays with the ‘birds, and I say for a “reasonable” price. THAT is the big, subjective decision, I believe. Nobody can convince me that they know Albert is (was) asking for 10 years at 30 mil per. I don’t believe it for a second! I do believe he’d like his contract to be a “statement” that demonstrates he has been / IS the best player in MLB. There seriously must be nearly a million permutations and scenarios on contracts which could be reasonably offered to Albert. Were I Moz or DeWitt, I’d go for something like $30 million for year 1; $25 mil for yr.2, and then years 3-10, have the deal laced with incentives which would allow him to earn up to $30 mil per if he accomplishes those incentives…like MVP, All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, WS MVP, etc. Or…give him a “base salary of, say, $22 mil, and he earns bonuses of $2 mil for each “metric” he meets: .300+ BA; 100+ RBI’s; 100+ runs scored; 30+ HRs; and all 4 or the above, another $2 mil. That would give him $30 mil per. And he’d have earned it. Or, you could even let his “base salary” slide to $20 mil per (or less) for the last couple of years (although in 8-10 years, $20 mil may be chicken feed!) and jack up the incentives. Likely his agent wouldn’t go for all that, but I think Albert would. And it would be “reasonable” to do so.

  14. friendmouse says:

    Concerning Carp, I think he, too, will return with a restructured contract probably for something like two years with two options, at maybe $10 mil per. While he has had his ups and downs this year, had he gotten reasonable run support and had the ‘pen not blown some of his starts with late-inning meltdowns, he could easily be in line for 18-20 wins this year. He’s still a solid #2 starter, and I think will be again next year, with his buddy Waino back “competing” with him. Year 2 (2013) may see a decline, but a solid #3, I would think.

    Concerning Mr. Lance Berkman, I definitely want him back next year, regardless of what Albert does! In spite of the funk he’s been in the past couple of weeks (to me, it seemed to coincide with news that he was on the waiver wire…just a coincidence?), he meant so very much to this team this year. I personally think he’s irreplaceable in some regards.

    I want Furcal back as well. The guy still has it when healthy, and is an inspiration to us fans, and to his teammates also, I believe.

    I don’t much care what others think, but I think Schumaker also MUST remain a Cardinal. He’s a heck of a ballplayer, and absolutely plays the game the way it was intended to be played. He may not have the best range at 2B, but I’ll argue that those plays he does NOT make are offset by those “error-less” plays he DOES make. When looking at the total package, I truly believe he is in the upper-third of 2nd baseman. Fine, play De-cal at 2B some, and let Skip spell Lance, J-Jay, and Matt in the outfield from time to time.

    • Brian Walton says:

      fm, I am not anti-Skip. I just think he has been asked to do more than he is capable. As far as him being a top-third second baseman, I really doubt you are going to find an objective measure to support that opinion.

      • friendmouse says:

        You’re probably right, Brian. Likewise, I really doubt you are going to find an objective measure to debunk that opinion.

        Also, I’ve never thought of you particularly being “anti-Skip.” But some are, and that’s fine. Opinions are what they are. Obviously, mine is that “I like Skip!”

        • Nutlaw says:

          Of note, WAR is an objective measure that would disagree with the assertion that Skip is not a top third second baseman. That said, he does have a 1.2 WAR on the season, which is solid and worthy of a place on the team.

    • crdswmn says:

      The only way I would accept Skip back is as a bench player. I agree that Skip plays hard, but he does not have the defensive skills to be a starting 2B. The problem is that TLR will not use him as a true bench player. He will play him too much and at the wrong times.

      • Brian Walton says:

        What I see as the most likely scenario for next year is status quo. TLR remains and so do “his guys.”

        • crdswmn says:

          I agree, which is why next year will be more of the same.

        • Bw52 says:

          Brian-for a guy who reports the news you sure seem like you have a axe to grind.The snarnky snippy constant tone that come across makes me wonder who ticked you off in the Cards organization.Thats my opinion and the way you come across on most of your responses.Between Westy`s nonsense and the constant negative BS here it gets pretty predictible here.Jeez i wonder if some here can remember when the Cards really were bad.You say it would be boring if everybody thought alike-well reading here the negative nellies run rampant.

          • Brian Walton says:

            Bw, I will recap what I said in this thread.

            I suggested Skip is not a top third second baseman.
            I suggested TLR will probably be back and will want the players he favors to remain as well.

            Since you regularly seem offended by what you read here, you may be happier posting on another blog or forum where there is a closer match to the tone you desire.

            • Bw52 says:

              Brian-i think i will stay here and post contrary to the prevailing negative tone just because it be different..Nice try though.

              • Brian Walton says:

                Then please consider bringing something to the discussion above vague complaints and name-calling.

                • Bw52 says:

                  Brian-posting a contrary view to the negative tone is bringing a different viewpoint to this blog.

                  • JumboShrimp says:

                    Way to go Bw. You provide a certain je ne se qois. Its refreshing to have a redblooded Cards fan, to provide a contrast to a few of the thumb sucking, bed wetting, whining habitues here a Chez Brians.

                    • crdswmn says:

                      It’s je ne sais quoi to you. Them furrin words are tough I know.

                      You sound more menopausal than me. Black Cohosh works wonders.

                    • JumboShrimp says:

                      I wonder what Ferme La Grand Bouche would mean in English? Why do the French eat frogs legs and not play beisbol? Life holds so many questions.

                    • crdswmn says:

                      Je vous dirais mais je devrais vous tuer. La vie simple est meilleure pour vous.

              • crdswmn says:

                If you do desire to seek another blog I have a suggestion for you. A young man I follow on Twitter has a blog called EL Maquino/ http://elmaquino5.wordpress.com/ He worships TLR and never says anything negative. He doesn’t have regular posters but I know he would welcome you with open arms and you could be his first one.

                Don’t take this as a hint for you to leave though. I personally don’t care for forums where everyone thinks alike, so I don’t have a problem with you sticking around.

          • crdswmn says:

            I do remember when the Cardinals were bad, BW. I also remember when they were better than they are now, in the 80′s. Three pennants and one WS championship in ten years, which is a better record than TLR has. And the games were much more fun to watch. Frankly I think one of the problems with the prevailing thought about TLR is that so many fans I encounter now never experienced Cardinal baseball in the 80′s and therefore do not know what superior Cardinal baseball looks like. They are comfortable with what they know and are afraid to try for better. It’s a shame really.

            • RCWarrior says:

              I think the question that needs to be asked is this……….why have the cardinals underachieved this year? I’m not sure there is a real good answer to why they haven’t won a playoff game in 5 years but the team they put on the field this year was better than it showed. Albert, Lance, and Holliday are as fearsome a trio of hitters as you will find on any ML team. Yadi and Freese have been excellent as Jay has been his solid self as well.

              The problem is will the cardinals be much better next year? Will Waino be enough to put them back on top? How much money will Mo be willing to spend to bring back what this team will finish with? Albert will be back, but at what cost? Definitely more than this year. Carp’s option…….does it get picked up? Berkman surely won’t be back at 8 million bucks. Do the cardinals resign him and for how much of a raise? I read Mo wants Furcal, but what is he willing to pay him? Furcal sounds to me like somebody who attributes this year to injuries and believes he is still a good player when healthy. I read he may sign for 3 million a year. I don’t believe that will ever happen.

              I believe I read Crdswmn write somewhere that next years team will look a lot like this years team with TLR at the helm. I concur. I think you will see a similar team next year to the one that took the field this year, as it should. If TLR is to be your manager then he needs to have the type of players he wants and does better with.

              Trade Green, Boggs, and Bryan Anderson to start as these guys will never make it under TLR. Some players can deal with getting mind effed on a daily basis but some can’t.

              • friendmouse says:

                You said a mouthful, RC, and agree once again.

                And, Bw, I like your “slant” on topics at times.

                As for Westie, did he fall off the edge of the world over there, or what?

                Brian, seriously I think you do a fantastic job with this blog…it’s the only one I care for. The diversity of opinions is great, balanced mostly, and even borderline respectful, which cannot be said for many blogs! I love the varying personalities, and from my perspective, most of the posts are intelligent and thought-provoking, and most all with the best of intentions for the future of our great ballclub!

              • Bw52 says:

                RC-so come out and tell everybody exactly how Boggs,Greene and Anderson all got mind effed.I want to hear the exact facts instead of a general broad statement.Spill the beans RC.

                • RCWarrior says:

                  BW I stated way back that brendan Ryan wouldn’t make it under TLR, same with Colby. Both are now gone. I’m telling you that about Tyler Green and Boggs as well. Just wait and see. Bryan has been on TLR’s crap list for a while now. All three players would be better off elsewhere. Like I said, square pegs round holes. Thats not a knock on TLR either, just a fact that everyone doesn’t respond positively to mind games.

                • crdswmn says:

                  Someone on Twitter reported that Joe Strauss stated in one of his chats that there was a big blowup between Boggs and TLR in Houston early on on the season after Boggs had that epic meltdown there. I don’t care for Joe Strauss so I don’t attend his chats but he does seem to have an inside scoop on information that other don’t have.

                  Haven’t heard anything about Greene and Anderson.

                  • RCWarrior says:

                    Tyler also, and when that happens you will never have any piece. Tyler was over at Colby’s along with Motte, Jay, Craig, and a handful of others one day not too long ago and you should hear the stories. Incredible is all I can say.

                    • crdswmn says:

                      Does Colby still have his house in St. Louis?

                    • JumboShrimp says:

                      Motte has done a good job. As has Jay and Craig. Great job by TLR ushering these whippersnappers into the majors!

                    • RCWarrior says:

                      Crdswmn, Colby knew he was gonna be traded probably a month a head of time so that gave him time to put the house on the market. And it has sold. For more than he paid for it actually……and in this housing market……..he was fortunate.

                    • RCWarrior says:

                      Jumbo, And I don’t believe any of those you mentioned have anything but the highest level of respect for Tony.

            • friendmouse says:

              Oh, I remember the Whitey-ball Cardinals of the 80′s very, very well. As was just as rabid a fan then as I am now. I do (even allowing for the tendency of “nostalgia” to color one’s perception of reality) believe that those teams, while maybe not as “consistent” in the W-L columns, were more fun and exciting to watch. But, sadly, those days are gone, and the game has changed much since then. Without artificial turf and spacious outfields, I believe that style of play will remain a fading memory.

              So, c-wmn, let me ask you…since you, too, were such a big fan of those Cardinals, how would you (please be as objective as femininely possible…JUST JOKING!!!), please compare and contrast the baseball skills of our “then and now” 2nd Basemen…in the 80′s, it was mostly Tommy Herr, with cameos by Mike Ramsey and Tom Lawless (The Secret Weapon came late in the decade, and not “fair” to compare him!) to our present-day Mr. Skip Schumaker. I contend that Skip is very much on a par with Herr and company. To make up a “scale,” I might give Tommy Herr a score of “89,” Skip a score of “85″, Ramsey an “81,” and Lawless a “79.” So there. In terms of “hustle, heart, and athletic ability,” I think Herr and Schumaker are neck and neck, with the athletic ability edge going to Herr, but not by much. He was very fast, and a great base-stealer, but I bet he’d not steal near so many were he playing in his prime today. I LOVED Tommy Herr! Exact same emotions for Skip. I’ll bet you do not feel that way, however. Which would be wrong. ;)

              • Brian Walton says:

                I am not crdswmn, but…

                Putting aside defense, where Herr was superior, and putting aside speed… because you wanted to, Herr was also a better run producer. He drove in more runs in his two big seasons with St. Louis (’85 plus ’87) than Skip has in his entire five-plus year career to date.

              • crdswmn says:

                I was a big Tommy Herr fan and had a huge crush on him. ;)

                I like Skip well enough I just don’t have as a positive opinion of his baseball skills as you do. Herr was most definitely better defensively and although Skip hits for a higher average and has slightly better pop in his bat, Brian has a point about his run producing skills. I have to go with Herr by a pretty wide margin.

                I do wish they could bottle Skip’s attitude and spike the team’s Gatorade with it. :)

                • Brian Walton says:

                  Yes, but only if they could extract the goofy part about sliding head-first into first base… Otherwise, the entire team would probably end up on the DL. At least it might cut down on all the double plays, though…

                  Plus, games would go four hours with all the batting glove adjustments on every pitch. ;-)

                  P.S. Skip’s and Herr’s Cards’ OBPs are just about equal (.348 to .349).

                  • friendmouse says:

                    Speaking of “double plays,” while looking at a few numbers earlier, I saw that in 2000, Jim Edmonds hit into exactly 5 twin-killings all year long…with over 500 AB’s! And batting 3rd in the order most of the year. I know there are multiple reasons for that to be deemed as a “so what!?”, but still…I’m just pondering…right there, Brian, may be THE KEY to our ineptitude this season…the RIDICULOUS number of double-plays we’ve hit into. I suggest that if we’d only reduced this year’s numbers by 1/3 (approx. 100 vs. present 150), we’d have a whole ‘nuther paradigm we’d be living. Is there an answer to effectively reduce that number…from a positive, practical sense? I’ve never played competitive, organized baseball, so I admit to my ignorance on this matter. RC…could you weigh in? Is there something…ANYTHING…which McGwire et al could teach our hitters concerning their “approach” in the batters box to AVOID hitting into the DP?? While, technically, this could fall under the broad category of “timely hitting…the lack thereof” from your earlier poll, Brian, I believe this is the crux of the matter.

                    • Brian Walton says:

                      Those who wave off the double plays point out that the Cards lead the NL in runs scored, suggesting the problem is elsewhere. I disagree. The roster was put together to sacrifice defense in favor of offense. Still too often the runs scored just aren’t enough.

                      Bottom line, I agree that the DP rate is a problem, though I cannot quantify it. I imagine many who voted for “lack of timely hitting” as the single biggest problem with the 2011 Cardinals had this in the back of their mind.

                • RCWarrior says:

                  I actually believe there is a better than 50% chance Skip is the 2 bagger next year. You know Tony is staying for one more year and there is no bigger Skip fan than Tony, who has even went as far as mentioning Skip as a core player, so I’d go better than even money Skip is back at the keystone next year. I actually believe he has shown improvement and his little man with max effort persona will allow for Tony to put him back at second with very little blowback from the fans who appreciate Skips all out type of play.

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