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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: Heading into the Break

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

As usual, I joined Ken Miller and Jim Brinson on Friday afternoon prior to the St. Louis Cardinals pregame show on KXnO FOX Sports Radio 1460 in Des Moines in our weekly series to discuss the club.

We discussed the Cardinals up and down home stand, the recent roster changes and injuries and the Milwaukee series, to conclude the pre-All-Star segment of the schedule.

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 (7:29)

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32 Responses to “Cardinal Talk: KXnO FOX Sports Radio: Heading into the Break”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    Smushed 9 to 1 Thursday, what was the chance of rallying on the road against the first place Brewers after spotting them a 6 run lead in just the first two innings? Very low.

    The bullpen kept them down, Neshek continues his great season. Wong has come alive to provide a much needed spark. Jhonny keeps swinging hard. Second half hitter Matt Holliday could be warming up.

    The Reds are surging. Its not going to be easy for the Wacha-less and Molina-less Birds to hold off either Brewers or Reds.

  2. blingboy says:

    The Cards have been wheezing along with flat tires and parts falling off and there are only 2 teams in the NL and 5 in MLB that have more wins.

    It is a good thing the offense has shown signs of waking up, because the rotation might need the help. Other than Wainy and Lynn, it is uncertain what we will get the rest of the way.

    I have seen it said that Miller’s problems are due to over reliance on the fastball. Efforts were made to correct that as I recall. No go it seems.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      It used to be, lots of fans and reporters were awaiting the arrival of Miller from the minors. He would be the Second Coming. Now the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. He is doing ok and could improve. Right now, he is an important member of the pitching staff, with upside potential.
      Miller made a fantastic defensive play to stop a suicide squeeze recently. One seldom sees a well executed squeeze bunt niftily turned into an out.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Recently Wong is looking like a new version of Joe Morgan, little lefty 2Bman with sock. It looked like Wong reached the upper deck yesterday.
      Wong begins with an open stance, then adds a quick bat. RHPs need to be careful. He clearly has pull power and with the quick bat, he can even pull an outside fastball. Remarkable.
      Now Wong has confidence. He knows for sure that he can excel in the majors. At some point, he might settle at 2nd in the batting order, where Morgan often was for the Reds.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    Kottaras must not be a nifty defender at catcher.
    Kottaras is Canadian, like the GM of the Brewers, RHR Axford, State College RF Rowan Wick, and 2014 unsigned draftee catcher Shaw. Wick was moved out from behind the plate, though he has a strong arm.
    The reason one infers Kottaras is not a nifty defender at an important defensive position is he can hit, yet he kicks around baseball and was waivered away by the Indians, who got nothing in return. If a catcher can hit, but has demonstrated zero market value, defense cannot be a strong suit.
    Maybe Kottaras could learn to improve a little, given defensive tips by Matheny and Molina?

    It seems a minor miracle Kottaras would be jettisoned by the Tribe about when we lost Molina. Sometimes its good to receive some luck.

  4. blingboy says:

    Miller is worrisome. Few pitchers have been able to consistently get hitters out with the fastball when the hitters knew it was coming. Obviously, Shelby is not one of them. The over reliance issue goes back to the minors, and there was some friction between him and the org as I recall. Whatever efforts were made to develop and get comfortable with secondary pitches have not been effective.

    Shelby is only 23 and I agree there is a lot of upside potential. But he is going to have to overcome this problem. There are two possibilities:

    1) Develop effective secondary pitches and learn to use them effectively, or

    2) Learn how to utilize poor secondary pitches in a way that will allow his fastball to be effective.

    Perhaps the combined effect of essentially sitting out post-season last year and struggling to be a .500 pitcher this season will convince him of the necessity behind what the org has been trying to tell him from the beginning. A sufficient commitment on his part is the first step.

    What I am talking about is a project. It is not going to happen in the next couple weeks. So he is going to struggle for the rest of the year. Then, I think this off-season and perhaps into next spring the organization will assess his level of commitment to do what they want him to do.

    • Bw52 says:

      We can hope Miller learns to be a pitcher instead of a thrower.Maybe the back issue is causing him lingering problems affecting his control.Maybe better health means better control.Like you say Bling Shelby is still only 23 and that is way too early to give up on .

      • blingboy says:

        You’re right about the back trouble being an issue. Another factor is his poor job of holding runners on. Lots of moving parts here to somehow get squared away.

    • blingboy says:

      Bernie’s article the other day talking about Shelby’s situation is pretty much in alignment with my thinking as far as the problem and the need to develop quality secondary pitches or learn to pitch with what he has or can develop.

      Where we diverge is with what he thinks Mo and the org could do.

      ” Imagine if he’d go down there, and develop that curve and a change, and polish his mechanics for a more consistent fastball. He’d come back to St. Louis as a more complete pitcher, and that would be a huge plus for the final stretch of the season. ”

      Really? Its the middle of July, Bernie. The “final stretch” is maybe 6 or so weeks away, depending on your definition. This guy, who has had no success with efforts at developing secondary pitches in the past, is supposed to go to Memphis, develop a selection of secondary pitches and re-make his mechanics, return and be effective all in time for the stretch run. Come on.

      This, Bernie thinks, is why Mo might be interested in a back of rotation starter, to take Shelby’s slot.

      My thinking is that it wouldn’t be bad to let Shelby get started now doing what he needs to do. But Mo will absolutely not send him out in the middle of a hot pennant race unless he is very sure that a replacement will produce at least equal results. The ability to be confident about that rules out most of the back of rotation starters I know of. And he would also have to have confidence that Martinez and Kelly will get it done as well, because I am sure he doesn’t think Miller will be ready to come back in 6 weeks.

      I don’t see it. Shelby’s makeover will have to wait. But I do think the organization is going to lower the boom this winter. I don’t think we will see him back in St. Louis next season unless and until he accomplishes what the org wants. It is quite possible he could end up somewhere else.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Bernie earns a living by writing and talking a lot. Sometimes he has useful things to say, other times he does not. When you have to churn out a lot of blah-blah, its hard to always say something sensible.
        One dopey idea from Bernie would be returning Siegrist to starting pitcher. He had a hard time staying healthy as a starting pitcher at the A level. This is why the Cards moved him to relief, instead of turning Siegrist into Carlton or Reuss, two other tall lefties.
        Another dopey idea is moving Miller to Memphis, simply to please Bernie. Miller is better than anyone else we have for his place in the rotation. Miller is only going to become a better pitcher by pitching. Surprise, Bernie, Miller can pitch in St Louis, this is just as good a place to improve as would be Memphis. Miller can practice throwing curves, cutters, and changeups in the majors, just as easily as in the PCL. Sending Miller down would only be disrespectful to the young man, for no reason whatsoever.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    Chase Utley gave the Phils a slugger at 2B, when in his prime. Wong is rated 5’8″. He is probably going to hit fewer HRs than Utley per year. He is a lot niftier as a defender and baserunner, to narrow their gap.
    I had to look up Joe Morgan’s stats for the Astros and Reds. Morgan was also a sawed off 2B, 5’7″. Morgan would have 50 plus steal seasons, so was speedier than Wong, though Wong looks capable of 25 per annum.
    I though Morgan hit more HRs than he actually did. My memory was off on the HRs. This makes Wong more comparable to Morgan in the HR category.
    Some guys have open stances just to be able to get the bat into a hitting position. It can be a sign of weakness in a hitter, that he has to compensate by opening the stance, which can then make him vulnerable to pitches away. But this does not seem the case with Wong. He is opening the stance because this enables him to pull it over the fence. His bat is sufficiently quick, he can still handle pitches away.
    Provided Wong does not mess up his shoulders diving for balls, he has a lot of upside. He is not just a younger Skip Schumaker, but looks like he can rip 15-20 HRs in a season, which is super for 2B.
    Jon Jay has had shoulder injuries which seem to have robbed him of 10+ HR power, which is what he looked like he would have, coming up. Wong needs to look after himself and not dive after too many grounders, because if he can keep a quick bat, he could grow into an impact player at 2B. Nice.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Not commenting on most of your post because I did not look up Utley and Morgan. I was surprised about the Jay comment, though.

      1) What made you think he would have 10+ HR power in majors? His best year in the minors was only 12 and that was mostly in the Texas League. His doubles count was never very high so it wasn’t like he was going to see those grow into homers.

      2) How do you know a shoulder injury sapped whatever power he had?

      • JumboShrimp says:

        1. Jay hit 10 HRs during his first full season in the majors, 2011. Players often improve during early years, so t0 could have been a floor.
        His 11 in the Texas league were in only 96 ball games, compatible with 15 on a full ML season basis.
        Jay hit 10 in the PCL, in only 136 games. Given the ML season is weeks longer, 10 looked pretty conservative.

        2. Jay had a shoulder injury during 2007, IIRC, sliding head first into 2B. Then he ran into a wall injuring his right shoulder; this must have been 2012; he spent time on the DL. Before this injury, his 2011 slugging percentage was .424. Currently its .366. The loss of pop seems real. The only publicly reported injury is shoulder.

  6. Bw52 says:

    Bad game today.Poor hitting and pitching.Cards looked like they where satisfied winning 2 of 3 and didn`t give a damn about today`s game.Cards simply can`t expect to hang near the top with only 2 solid SPs Waino and Lynn,2 big question marks …………….Miller and Kelly and a big unkown ..Martinez.Add a iffy rotation to a streaky powerless offense and you get a pretender not a contender.
    Too many iffy factors have to go right for the Cards to be serious contenders.I really hope it happens but I doubt it happens.I think Pirates sneak by the Cards and Cards might holdoff the Reds.Cards have too many big injuries……..Molina,Wacha………

  7. Bw52 says:

    I want to believe……………………..I wanna believe…………………1 wanna believe………………nah not happening until more hitting and better pitching shows consistently.Until then……I say pretender.

  8. Bw52 says:

    As of right now Cards are 6th team in NL standings.

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