Pitching has presented some interesting predicaments for the Cardinals’ big-league team this season. Recently, young guys like Lance Lynn have had the chance to prove themselves. And while the immediate future may still have a few question marks, Sunday night’s All-Star Futures game gave St. Louis fans a shining glimpse at what is to come with their top pitching prospects.
Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez pitched for different teams in the exhibition — Miller for the U.S. team and Martinez for the World team — but each had an impressive scoreless inning.
Miller took the ball for Team USA in the 3rd inning. He quickly earned a strike out and a ground out, but that ever-challenging third out proved slightly problematic. Reds prospect Yonder Alonso battled the count full and then walked on seven pitches. But not to worry, Shelby quickly drew a ground ball force out to end the shutout inning.
He clocked 94 mph on his fastball, which he uses almost exclusively. Of 20 pitches, only five were not fastballs.
Miller is 4-1 for the AA Springfield Cardinals with a 1.90 ERA.
Sunday’s battle was about more than just the fellow top prospects he was facing, though.
Miller’s father Mitch is a firefighter and was a close friend of Shannon Stone — the fan who fell over the railing at the Rangers game last week. The impact of Stone’s death was certainly difficult to put aside in preparation for Sunday’s Futures performance.
“It’s definitely in the back of your mind. You think about it, and then you get down, and then you just try to forget about it and it’s not easy. It’s something I’m going to have to get through, me and my family are going to have to get through and the Stones are going to have to get through.”
Hard-throwing Martinez pitched the bottom of the 4th for the World Team. Martinez, who impressed the powers-that-be for the Cardinals back in Spring Training, used his blazing fastball, his powerful curveball, and his work-in-progress changeup to get a strikeout for out No. 1. He had a moment against a Reds prospect, too, hitting Devin Mesoraco. But, he followed that by getting Red Sox future third baseman Will Middlebrooks to ground into a double play. (It’s nice when it works in our favor, isn’t it?)
Matthew Leach writes that Martinez is focused on making his changeup as effective as his fastball.
“Right now I’ve really been working on my changeup,” he said through an MLB.com interpreter. “It’s a pitch that’s really helped me [at Class A Quad Cities]. It’s helping me now. And it’s something I’m really focusing on. I know it’s going to help me in the future.”
Carlos began the season with the Quad Cities River Bandits, starting eight games, going 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA before being promoted to the High-A Palm Beach affiliate. He’s 1-0 in his two starts there so far.
Good pitching is always a good sign, and these two will definitely be seeing some big-league action. For now, though, they did their baby bird teammates awfully proud in their All-Star Futures outings.
Great job, boys!
It’s the performances of Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez that scare me a little bit. For years, the management of the Cardinals has been on a win-now kick led by the field manager’s predilection for Proven Veterans(TM). It’s this attitude which led to the short-term stupid-long-term-stupider trade of David Carpenter for Pedro Feliz, and Luke Gregerson for Khalil Greene. You know there are teams out there dangling Proven Veteran(TM) middle infielders and middling starters trying to lure John Mozeliak into giving up Miller or Martinez, whispering “all you need is Hiroki Kuroda, and the playoffs are yours, big boy.”
Most fans are short-term focused, shrieking on internet forums and on sports talk radio (is there anything stupider than sports talk radio? Well, besides anything airing during the daytime on the cable TV news channels …). They want quick fixes based on their own panic that a Cardinals loss means the Cubs fan lunk in the next cubicle will shut up, rather than gurgle, “hey, see your Cardinals lost yesterday …”
These would be the same fans with the maxed-out credit card and no savings, because they’ve lived their life the same way — all short-term gratification.
Having a long term plan and sticking with it is the only way to succeed in life, and in an age where the free agent market is rife with Proven Veteran(TM) mediocrity, the only way to build a long term contender is through careful drafting and development. It’s nice that for the first time in my life the Cardinals are focused on doing just that.
Now, what we need to do is cancel John Mozeliak’s cell phone plan and keep him away from any land lines, lest he fall sway to the siren charms of the latest, “best available,” Proven Veteran(TM).
In a lot of ways, I think you’re right. Mo has traded away some incredible potential for some, well, temporary stop-gaps? And the veteran obsession from TLR doesn’t help. (I could go on and on with this about TLR’s negative impact on guys like Colby Rasmus or even Jon Jay.)
We’ve certainly had more success this season with guys like Lance Lynn than with “proven” veteran Miguel Batista. Or Trevor Miller.
But, to touch on Christine’s point, Lance Berkman saved the first month of our season, not only with his offense, but with his attitude, his experience, and his ability to maintain perspective. Rookies don’t have a lot of perspective to go on…
I watched a lot of golf this weekend, and yesterday’s win came down to, essentially, a foot race between a 44-year-old veteran and a 23-year-old rookie. It ended up being about who could out last the other guy — mentally and emotionally even more than physically.
The old guy won. On the final hole. With some GUTSY play.
Having the experience kick in that says, “Okay, I’ve been here before. I don’t have to panic. I don’t feel like running away is a better option. I can finish this.” isn’t always a bad thing.
No one wants to watch a team SO focused on the future that they aren’t any good now. Especially with talents like Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright (healthy), Berkman, Holliday, Freese, etc. who make you feel like they have the potential to win every game they play. But if you know they don’t have a chance to win because sure as they start to, a rookie without the polish needed to win comes in and screws it all up, it stops being fun real fast.
That said, I’m with you in that this organization HAS to look to the future in order to be able to sustain a level of excellence. As things are going now, this season may work out (and it may not…) but after that, we must have some kind of confidence in our homegrown talent. That confidence in rookies is something I don’t know if I’ve ever seen from Mo and TLR.
As a rule, older players get injured more often, and when they do, they stay injured longer. It’s like when you replace the light bulbs in your home with cheap, Dollar Store bulbs. At first you don’t notice, but after a few months, all you’re doing is swapping out burnt-out bulbs.
And Proven Veterans(TM) cost more. A lot more. If you want replacement level players, they’re down in Memphis just waiting. What’s the point in paying somebody a million or five when Tyler Greene can strike out or hit into a double play just like that Proven Veteran(TM) for a fraction of the cost?
And with veteran players, sometimes, while the will, spirit and desire is there, the flesh often is weak.
There are exceptions to every rule regarding veteran players, of course. And those exceptions increasingly are going to stand out like beacons in the night, precisely because they are rare.
As we leave the steroids era to return to the days of yore — pre-mid-1990s — we’re going to return to the days when a player is 32 or 33, he generally hits the wall hard. The last thing we want is a team with its core on the wrong side of 30, like, say, the Cubs for example. And the last thing we want is a bare cupboard of talent because we traded it all away for Proven Veterans(TM). Like the Cubs, for example.
I am disappointed that I didn’t get to see Carlos Martinez pitch while he was in the Quad Cities.
Michael, to your point, can you compete without having some veterans on a team? I think that there occasionally are necessary acquisitions. While signing Lance Berkman wasn’t something I liked back in December, would the Cards be where they are today without his production in the first half?
That’s the difference between the Lance Berkmans and Matt Hollidays and players for which I use the term Proven Veterans(TM). Proven Veterans(TM) are those acquired more based on hope than a plan, so that Dave Duncan can use his magic pixie dust, you know, those gritty “innings eaters.” Or those who have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they’re replacement-level at best. Pedro Feliz. Aaron Miles. Jason LaRue. Randy Winn. Jeff Suppan. Khalil Greene. Jake Westbrook.
Now, yes, Berkman was more of a hope than a plan this offseason, and there’s no guarantee in the second half like the Coyote in a Road Runner cartoon, that he won’t look down and realize he’s past the cliff. But Berkman isn’t the rule — he’s the exception. Besides, he cost no young talent, just $8 million, which may have gone to another Proven Veteran(TM) anyway.
Sure, there occasionally are necessary acquisitions. But the Age of Jocketty is long over — you’re not going to get a team to talk itself into thinking some valuable veteran is a cancer and must be rid, such as the Angels with Jim Edmonds, the Phillies with Scott Rolen, or, to a lesser extent, the Rockies with Larry Walker. Teams are much smarter now. So what’s left for available players even for the stretch drive isn’t imagined roster detritus, it’s really the rotted garbage of the Dumpster dive. This includes players who can contribute but whose contracts are terrible, such as Carlos Beltran and suchlike.
And speaking of proven, Bernie Miklasz is proving he’s kind of an ass in the way he slants this column: http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/article_847d9b1a-abce-11e0-a1b3-001a4bcf6878.html
“Daddy”? Seriously? Why don’t you write a column like a grown up. You sometimes do. This isn’t one of those times.
Don’t make me write about you what I did to Joe Strauss: http://aeryssports.com/aaron-miles-fastball/thats-just-not-good-enough-for-joe-strauss/