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

Cardinal Talk: KXnO FOX Sports Radio: Cleaning up on the Cubbies?

Weekly St. Louis Cardinals-focused chat on KXnO FOX Sports Radio 1460 in Des Moines.

In our normal late-Friday time slot, I joined Ken Miller and Jim Brinson on KXnO FOX Sports Radio 1460 in Des Moines in our weekly series to discuss the St. Louis Cardinals.

We touched on the Cardinals’ most recent series against Cincinnati as well as the upcoming National League Central Division weekend set against the Chicago Cubs.

Once again in 2014, Cardinals followers in central Iowa are able to catch St. Louis Cardinals radio broadcasts on KXnO as well as my regular segment each week throughout the season, either over the air or via streaming. Or, if you miss it live, you can always catch the replay right here at The Cardinal Nation blog.

Click here for audio: Brian Walton with Ken Miller and Jim Brinson (8:28)

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38 Responses to “Cardinal Talk: KXnO FOX Sports Radio: Cleaning up on the Cubbies?”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    Who will hit for a lower batting average during 2014? Allen Craig? Johnny Peralta? Its a race to the bottom.

  2. blingboy says:

    Jhonny can’t touch Allen’s .097 SLG

    Tied up 1-1 in the 8th, the Cards need to roll out the lumber off the bench. Jay is the only one hitting above .000 so I hope Mike goes with him.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    It can be hard to shift back from the near glory of 2013 to practical problems during 2014.

    One practical problem is Mike does not have a lot of trust in Maness or Butler, so is overburdening others like Rosenthal, Siegrist, and Martinez. This is not sustainable, every pitcher must be used and contribute. If he will not use Maness or Butler, then they need to be replaced on the roster, to save the others.

    One positive about last night was Oscar stroked three singles at AAA to lift his batting average above .300. If Craig and Peralta remain in funks, and if Oscar continues to warm up, he may be with the Cards before May. The offensive doldroms also are putting too much pressure on the ML pitching staff.

    • blingboy says:

      Mike may also have an issue with Choate. He let Rosenthal bat with the winning run on 2nd when he had Choate in the pen and lefties Schierholz and Sweeney due up first and second in the Cub’s 11th. I have to think that Mike’s strategy was to have Rosie get thru the Cubs 11th and let the middle of our order try to win it in the bottom of the 11th.

      I understand that Kozma is no offensive threat, but if he doesn’t give a better chance than the closer of getting the winning run home or extending the inning, then he’s a wasted roster spot.

      The bottom line is that having the winning run in scoring position in the bottom of the 10th was thrown away by Mike due to his complete lack of faith in Choate and Kozma. Mike passed on the bird in hand in favor of the bird in the bush.

      A few days ago I argued on the main site board that since Mike was unwilling to use certain players when it mattered, Mo needed to make some moves. We’re still waiting.

      • Brian Walton says:

        I agree with your points generally, with the following exceptions.

        Reasons Kozma is on the club. 1 through 10) Ellis is hurt. 11) He is a competent defender. NOT reasons Kozma is on the club. 1-1000) His hitting. Still, I agree he was a better option than Rosenthal.

        “…since Mike was unwilling to use certain players when it mattered, Mo needed to make some moves. We’re still waiting.” Your part of “we” is still waiting. My part of “we” is being patient. Ellis is going out on rehab and Motte is getting closer.

        It is easy to vaguely assert “some moves” should be made. It is a lot tougher to lay them out in detail. Consider yourself challenged. ;-)

        • crdswmn says:

          I submit “making moves” at all, absent injury, after 10 games, is premature and nothing more than an overreaction.

          Sometimes pitchers (especially relief pitchers) take longer to get ready than the time of Spring Training allows. Maness and perhaps Butler may be in that category. We have had so many close games that perhaps Matheny is not comfortable with those guys in those types of situations. Games where there are several runs of cushion are needed for those guys to be used, until they get their kinks worked out. That is why getting the offense going is so important. Once that happens, I think the bullpen will be better utilized.

          The key is not freaking out in the meantime.

        • blingboy says:

          Excluding any 40 man roster moves, because it requires more thought than I am willing to put in right now:

          Butler and Maness down, Freeman and Lyons up. (I know, lefties r us)
          Kozma and Robinson down, G Garcis and Grichuk up (figuring Taveras should continue playing 9 every day for now) (And I know G Garcia is Ryan Jackson in disguise so it will never happen, and Grichuk has 2 weeks above AA)

          No drastic or irreversible moves. Couldn’t possibly be worse.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            I agree with sending down Butler. He was the 12th man on the staff because they could not think of a better choice. Yet its unclear who to promote in his stead, the reason why Butler is still around. Freeman has not been good at Memphis.
            We need Lyons and Cooney starting in Memphis in case one of our starting five go down. They are depth for the Cards as our 6th and 7th starting pitchers.
            Kozma will be going down soon, once Ellis is ready for activation.
            Grichuk should stay right where he is at Memphis. Ditto Garcia. We do not need either of these guys.

            • blingboy says:

              “Grichuk should stay right where he is at Memphis. Ditto Garcia. We do not need either of these guys.”

              We don’t need them less than we don’t need Kozma and Robinson.

              We need a reliever who can do some innings in St. Louis more than we need a 7th starter waiting in Memphis.

              • JumboShrimp says:

                No, we do not want Grichuk siitting on the bench as 5th OF in St Louis. That’s Robinson’s role. Shane is doing it fine.
                Let us suppose, however, Holliday gets hurt. There are two or three OFs ahead of Grichuk for a callup. If we want a right swinging corner OF, we would promote either AAA experienced Butler or Piscotty, a better hitter than Grichuk, based on the large sample size of 2013. The only reason to promote Grichuk in event of an injury to Holliday would be is on the 40 man roster already. We might also select Oscar Tavares over Grichuk, because Oscar is readier. Grichuk is about 4th for OF promotion, right now.

                • JumboShrimp says:

                  Peralta, Wong, Ellis, and Descalso are higher on the depth chart for middle infield than is Garcia. It will take an injury to one of these men for there to be reason to promote Garcia.

                  Today, Mike did the smart thing of giving Peralta a day off and using Descalso at SS, a lefty matchup against the RHP. Matheny was rewarded by two hits, while Peralta can use a day off to snap out of his slump.

          • Brian Walton says:

            After looking terrible striking out in three consecutive bats so far tonight for Memphis, Garcia is batting .229. Quick, promote him!

            • blingboy says:

              Which is .229 points higher than Kozma is batting.

              • Brian Walton says:

                Promoting a .222 hitter in Triple-A to provide a jolt of offense to a major league club would be ludicrous, no matter how you try to spin it.

                Kozma will be in Memphis soon enough, anyway, replaced by Ellis.

                • blingboy says:

                  Since we are talking about hitting .222 over about 20 at bats and basing an arguement on it I thought we were doing ludicrous. Sorry, my mistake.. Garcia hit .271 over a full season in AAA last year.

                  I want to make clear that the pressing reason that Mo should do something is that MM is essentially playing with about 21 guys. That does not work. If there is a better solution, fine. But staying with the 21 man roster is not viable.

                  • Brian Walton says:

                    This whole discussion is knee-jerkiness at its best/worst. I should have known I could not top you at it! ;-)

                    • blingboy says:

                      As soon as I figure out if that is a compliment or a slight I will respond. :)

                      Besides, Maness looked OK today. Maybe he is shaping up. That would chip away at the problem. Maybe it will just go away after all.

          • Brian Walton says:

            Sam Freeman’s night:

            Fielding error by Freeman, hit by pitch, wild pitch, two-run single, wild pitch, ground out, sac fly, strikeout.

            Quick! Call him up! Only three runs allowed in one inning!

            P.S. Garcia fanned his fourth and final time up, too. He can wear that Golden Sombrero on his way to StL!

        • blingboy says:

          I am surprised by the many voices I have heard and read alluding to Motte’s return as a reason why current pen issues are temporary. When Motte returns, he should be the Keith Butler. The guy not counted on for anything at all. Then go from there. To be planning on him returning fromTJ and immediatly being effective and reliable enough to fill an important role in the pen is not sound IMO.

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    Its all very well to think the season is early, but losing at home to the Cubs should be a wakeup call that adjustments are needed.
    When we cannot hit enough, one recourse is more matchups. Descalso can get some starts at SS against RHPs. Taveras can be promoted to face RHPs from RF. Jay can get some starts in CF against RHPs. They can join Wong, Carpenter, and Adams in giving us a formidable 6 left swingers against a starting RHP.
    The vet Ellis is being mobilized and sent to Memphis to collect ABs. This is encouraging too. If we get Ellis ready for duty, then Super Pete can head to Memphis, making two teams better.. Ellis is a slump-buster.

  5. kray66 says:

    I dozed off at the end (it’s the end of tax season for a very-tired CPA) and missed Rosie batting. Woke up and heard them talking about it and decided to just go back to sleep. If you’re batting the pitcher late in a game for a reason other than to bunt or it’s a 20-inning game, something has gone wrong.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      There is an obvious error and it is not only not pinch-hitting, which worsens the error. There are 162 games. The season is a marathon. It is not a good idea to use Rosenthal for more than one inning in a tie game. Why on earth would a closer be asked to pitch two innings? Closers should mostly be for one inning, the 9th, to close a win. There will be times when you might use a closer in a tie game, but they should be minimized and never for two innings. Sending Rosenthal out for a second inning of a tie game is, to be kind, tactically unsound. We need to preserve Rosenthal’s workload for his primary job, closing wins.
      Last night is one of those occasional times when Mike’s managerial inexperience trumpets itself. Like players, managers must be self disciplined. A tough-minded manager would not over-use the closer. Its a long season. Your closer can pitch one inning, but then the manager has to turn the mound over to another hurler. This guy may lose or he may win that night, but either way the team benefits in the long-run by minimizing workload on the closer. You have to manage pitchers both for the short run of the game you are playing, yet also for the long run of the entire season. Now we have no closer available today, after he was squandered via 2 inning use in of all things a tie game.

  6. JumboShrimp says:

    I will consider a defense of Matheny last night. He knew the Cubs had their best starting pitcher going yesterday, whereas Villanueva and Jackson the next two. Friday was the best shot for the Cubs to win a game in this series, hence a logical game to commit Martinez, Siegrist, and Rosenthal, premised on the assumption we could roll the next two days, as we did in fact today. This is the argument for supporting Mike and it has some logic.
    On balance, however its not persuasive to me because we should be taking better care of Rosenthal. He should be asked to toss only one inning, as a general rule, especially in tie game. Its a long season, lets let others do their share. Also the best the way to beat the Cubs is to respect that any team can beat you and not take Saturday and Sunday games as givens.

  7. CariocaCardinal says:

    Reality check. If we had won one more game (I repeat for affect – ONE GAME) we would be on pace for about 103 wins.

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