Eight Cardinals in MLB’s Top 100 Right Now

The Cardinals are good — this we know. But just in case we’d somehow forgotten, the fact they have eight players on MLB Network’s 2014 list of Top 100 Right Now is definitely a reminder.

collageThe criteria MLB Network uses for determining the rankings are a player’s stats for the last three seasons, with 2013 weighted more heavily; projected performance in the 2014 season; the defensive position played; accolades earned by the player; and intangibles.

There was a youth movement on the overall MLB list, as 21 of the 100 total are age 25 or younger. Four of the eight Cardinals fit into that category too.

It’s probably no surprise who those four are either. Three are pitchers, and they appeared in a row at the start of the countdown from 100 to the top spot: 23-year-old Shelby Miller at No. 93, 22-year-old Michael Wacha at No.92 and 23-year-old Trevor Rosenthal at No. 91. (Just FYI, Pirate Gerrit Cole was right before them at No. 94.) Impressive debuts on the Top 100 for all three, especially Wacha. Would postseason performance be one of the intangibles?

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Your Chance To Win “Purpose, Perseverance and Power Arms: The 2013 St. Louis Cardinals”

While sunny images of Cardinals pitchers and catchers and Peter Bourjos definitely make it seem like the 2014 baseball season is actually here, the weather throughout too much of the country tells us winter is still upon us.

71dpIfiVoPL._SL1500_So what better way to make it through more cold, snow and ice than looking back on the wonder that was the 2013 pennant-winning Cardinals season?

The United Cardinal Bloggers have published our fourth annual season recap, “Purpose, Perseverance and Power Arms: The 2013 St. Louis Cardinals.”

And 2013 wasn’t just another year for the Cardinals — it was another deep run into October, all the way through the World Series as they stormed past Pittsburgh and Los Angeles to become National League champs.

From the first days in Jupiter to that last night in Boston and beyond, the United Cardinal Bloggers chronicled and analyzed St. Louis’ season and now are bringing that knowledge to you in this collection. From the season of Shelby Miller to the career of Chris Carpenter, from the MVP-worthy work of Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter to a recap of each postseason series, the UCB prepares you for the upcoming season with a look back at the successful season that we don’t want to forget.

With a foreword from Will Leitch, senior editor at Sports on Earth, Cardinal bloggers from across the Internet present “Purpose, Perseverance and Power Arms” to give you a unique look at the team. It features a variety of work from 17 different bloggers, plus a capsule on every player who wore the Birds on the Bat in 2013. Plus you’ll get an overall look at what’s to come in 2014.

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Spring Is In The Air

Derrick Goold warmed the hearts of many a cold St. Louis Cardinals fan Friday!

Dgoold tweet

That’s right! Joe Kelly, Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller are three of several Cardinals who arrived to Spring Training camp in Jupiter, Florida, a little early to get a head start on their workouts.

Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist worked with Kelly, Waino and Miller along with a still-rehabbing Jason Motte and a recuperating Jaime Garcia. Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist also threw some.

Tony Cruz and Yadier Molina were also around to catch bullpen sessions and take some batting practice.

Check out this story by Goold discussing a little amphibious friend Wainwright made today.

Miranda is a contributor to Aaron Miles’ Fastball. You may follow her on Twitter, @missmiranda! 

Shelby Miller Turns The Page on 2013

shelbyIt’s an interesting question.  Why didn’t Shelby Miller see time in last year’s playoffs. During his media session Sunday afternoon, that was the topic of discussion.  That and the fact that Adam Wainwright called him the second strongest guy on the team.

“The biggest thing is trying to have a bigger offseason.  Two years ago, I lost too much weight.  This past month, I have gotten better with it.  Putting on more muscle. Weight room wise I am a lot stronger than last year.  It could allow me to throw more pitches.”

He did address the Holliday effect quickly.

“Just being around Holliday.   He makes the weights scared of him.   He lifts 100 pound dumbbells.   Whoever wanted to go for 2nd on the team I would definitely work out with them.”

What were his feelings on October?  “The media asks you.  Family asked you.  I don’t have a good answer for you.  We had a good thing going with the rotation and the bullpen was throwing hard, so with these dominant guys, I didn’t have the opportunity to pitch.”

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Catching Up With The Cardinals: December Edition

If you’re like me, the quietness of the Cardinals’ offseason combined with the business of the holiday season lends itself to feeling out of the loop.

No worries! Let’s catch up on the latest news together, shall we?

saint_louis_cardinals_logoThe biggest story this week is one that ended without actually ending. The Cardinals appeared to be all set to finalize the purchase of the Memphis Redbirds, as announced in mid-November. With John Mozeliak in attendance at last night’s City Council meeting, the plan was to finish up the details and obtain the council’s approval.

That plan hit a snag when the council members began arguing they hadn’t had sufficient time to review the changes to the plan or the Xs and Os of how it would/could all work.

With a Dec. 31 deadline to complete the purchase, the timeline grows tighter and tighter with each delay, this time until the council reconvenes on Monday. Continue reading

Which Three Years Were Better: 2004-2006 or 2011-2013?

The past 10 seasons are an extraordinarily rich time in St. Louis Cardinals history, as we all know. Seven trips to the postseason, six times in the National League Championship Series, five National League Central titles,  four World Series appearances resulting in two World Championships — obviously a glorious time to be a Cardinals fan.

Yet also two very distinct ways to that success, with the Tony La Russa/Walt Jocketty era reaching its pinnacle in 2004 with its reliance more on veteran acquisitions to make an impact and now the John Mozeliak/Mike Matheny way that’s blossoming with talent developed from within. Which has me wondering: of these past seasons, which three-year stretch was better: 2004-2006 or 2011-2013?

Here’s a refresher on these two championship stretches.

2004-2006

MV32004
Record: 105-57 (best in MLB), finished first in NL Central.

Postseason: Won NLDS 3 games to 1 over Dodgers; won NLCS 4 games to 3 over Astros; lost World Series in sweep by Red Sox.

Top hitters: The MV3 — Albert Pujols .331/.415/.657 with 46 home runs and 123 RBI, WAR of 8.4; Scott Rolen .314/.409/.598 with 34 homers and 124 RBI, WAR of 9.1; Jim Edmonds .301/.418/.643 with 42 homers and 111, WAR of 7.1. Also, Tony Womack hit .307 and had 26 stolen bases. Edgar Renteria hit .287 with 72 RBI and 17 stolen bases.

Team batting average: .278, first in NL.

Team OPS: .804, also first in the NL.

Top starting pitchers: Chris Carpenter, 15-5, 3.46 ERA; Jason Marquis, 15-7, 3.71 ERA; Jeff Suppan, 16-9, 4.16 ERA.

Saves leader: Jason Isringhausen, 47.

Team ERA: 3.75, second in NL (Braves first at 3.74)

Postseason moment to remember: Jim Edmonds 12th inning walk-off home run in Game Six of the NLCS.

Award recognition: The MV3 finished third (Pujols), fourth (Rolen) and fifth (Edmonds) in NL MVP voting. Tony La Russa was second in the NL Manager of the Year race.

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Our Choices for the 2013 Cardinal Blogger Awards

Every November the United Cardinal Bloggers vote for the best of the season just completed as well as the best of our peers. Here are our ballots for 2013.

20130831-161018.jpgCardinals Team Awards
Position Player of the Year
Chris: Yadier Molina

Yes, Matt Carpenter had an incredible, and unexpected, breakout season and earned a well-deserved fourth place finish in National League MVP voting. But Yadi is Yadi — on offense, on defense, as a leader. He’s intrinsic to the Cardinals success and one of the biggest reasons the 2013 team made it to Game Six of the World Series.

Tara: Matt Carpenter

This might seem hypocritical of me, considering the excessive lobbying I did for Yadier Molina for MVP, but it’s hard to beat the transformation Carpenter made this year. Not only did he learn a new position — and fare exceptionally well in it — but he also took over the leadoff role, carried much of the offensive weight, and went from a “probably not an every day guy” to a fourth place finish in the MVP voting. I’ve always seen something special in Matt, but this year exceeded even my lofty expectations!

Pitcher of the Year
Chris: Adam Wainwright

With a starter plus two eighth-inning-guys-turned-closers, it’s not necessarily an equal comparison to choose among these three options. But, in the end, results speak for themselves. Nineteen wins (regardless of your opinion on them, that’s not a total many pitchers reach in a season), 2.94 ERA, 219 strikeouts with only 35 walks, five complete games, two shutouts and 6.2 WAR speak pretty loudly — as does a complete game in the decisive Game Five of the NLDS after a dominant Game One start.

Tara: Trevor Rosenthal

There was nothing more impressive than how Rosey handled the postseason. His first appearance in the NLDS, I thought he was going to pass out on the mound! But (after that magical talk from Molina), he did more than just settle. He absolutely owned the 9th inning. The confidence, the accuracy, the power … he was phenomenal. It wasn’t just the posteason, though that’s most distinct in my memory. He started the season as a key piece of a bullpen in flux. Not knowing what his role was, or what it might morph into, he steadily improved, and, for the most part, consistently executed. What a year he had!

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Bizarro World Takes Over Cardinals In Game Two

Emotions are always higher in October. Friday’s NLDS Game Two unfortunately gave us an unwelcome reminder — just as wins are sweeter in the postseason, losses are even more painful.

NLDS game 2

Photos: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

It was another sunny and beautiful afternoon at Busch Stadium, but Game Two quickly became a bizarro world replay of Game One. Everything was reversed, as the Pirates won 7-1.

Well, Lance Lynn didn’t quite do an A.J. Burnett impression, as the five runs he allowed were over three separate innings instead of just one, but he looked more like the Lynn of August instead of September. Unfortunately.

The defensive misplays? The Cardinals this time, although only one official error — by David Freese — compared to the three by the Pirates on Thursday. But Jon Jay misjudged a fly ball in the second that fell in and bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. Yadier Molina — yes, Yadi — didn’t get a pop-up behind the plate. Matt Carpenter couldn’t get the ball out of his glove in what could have been a double play.

The bullpen management by Mike Matheny also was interesting, to say the least.

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And Then There Were Two: Cards Face Pirates In NLDS

Pirates vs CardsWith the Pirates handily beating the Reds in last night’s Wild Card game, they are now set to return to face the team that snatched the division title out from underneath them. A team they’ve beaten 10 times this season, including four in a row during one abnormally difficult stretch for the now NLC Champs. The Pirates have been a thorn in the Cardinals’ side all season. And it’s not over yet.

Sure, the Reds would have likely been an easier challenge. They seemed to run out of steam about a a week ago. Not to mention, the Cardinals have fared far better against Cincy than Pittsburgh in 2013. Avoiding the pesky Pirates in another five-game series would have boosted the Cardinals’ chances.

But, as they say, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. And between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati? The best team is headed to St. Louis.

One more time this season, the Cardinals better be doing their homework on the Pirates.

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One Is Definitely The Number For The Cardinals Lately

One is an important number for the St. Louis Cardinals these days, and it has nothing to do with Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

It’s the magic number for the Cardinals to clinch the National League Central title outright.

9-25-13

Photo: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

It’s the number of runs allowed by Shelby Miller in six innings during yesterday’s 4-1 sweep of the Washington Nationals.

It’s the total number of hits allowed in the three innings after that, from four relievers.

And one, or less, is the total years of experience from the five Cardinals who pitched yesterday — rookies all. (Of course, “one” and “rookie” also means Michael Wacha’s grand total of hits on Tuesday night.)

One is not a lonely number at all — sorry, Three Dog Night. It’s a great number.

And great can be a word to describe this September for the Cardinals too, as their record is now 18-8.

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