Small Ball: Robinson to DL as well

This was just announced moments ago by the Cardinals’ twitter: Yadier Molina (knee) AND Shane Robinson (right shoulder) have been placed on the disabled list. The Cardinals have called up Adron Chambers and Brock Peterson from AAA Memphis.

As deadline approaches, Cards lose Molina

We’re just under two hours away from the trade deadline and the Cardinals have yet to make an impact move. They traded left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski to the Indians yesterday and got a minor leaguer in return, but that was just to give “Scrabble” a change of scenery and clear some salary space. The Cardinals have been kicking the tires for a pitcher but have yet to find a deal. While doing this, they’ve also kept an eye on the shortstop market and we’re reportedly interested in the Angels’ Erick Aybar. Last night, all-star catcher Yadier Molina was put on the 15-day disabled list because of his recurring knee problems. That move sent the Cardinals into the market for a catcher with just hours left to make a deal. So far, all is quiet on the Cardinals’ front, but stay tuned, I’ll be all over it here at 2 Birds 1 Bat.

Cardinals need pitching

The title could serve as this whole post. Now, I wouldn’t do that, but it really is that simple; the Cardinals need pitching. Before the clock strikes 3 p.m. on Wednesday it would be in their best interest to acquire a veteran pitcher. That is their biggest (and arguably only) need. Shortstop can wait. Centerfield can wait. Even a bat off the bench can wait. But pitching cannot.

Both Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller have faltered recently. The bullpen could also use some help with the ongoing marry-go-round of pitchers not stopping. Before Tuesday’s doubleheader the club sent down two relievers. But for me, it’s the rotation that needs help. And here’s why:

The important part of the bullpen is settled. Trevor Rosenthal has control of the 8th inning and Edward Mujica is doing exceptional as closer. Sure they could use another shut down reliever, every team could, but I’d rather see a rookie fill a spot in the ‘pen than in the starting rotation.

The Cardinals have a lot of young pitching talent at AAA. They certainly have enough depth to carry them into the postseason, but it’s young depth. Don’t get me wrong, I think their young pitchers could perform well in a playoff game, but boy would it be nice to acquire a veteran starter to be able to step up and start a game. It sure would ease my mind, that’s for sure.

We know John Mozeliak is very hesitant to part with prospects and that’s okay. They don’t need to acquire an ace or even a strong number two. In my mind a number three or even four starter will suffice. Go after someone who wouldn’t require dealing a top prospect. I’m not going to play “Junior GM” and throw out crazy trade ideas, but I’m sure there’s a deal to be made.

The clock is ticking.

-Zack

Salas to be recalled Friday

On Monday the Cardinals sent down Keith Butler to AAA Memphis. The person replacing him was up in the air and they would decide after the All Star festivities. Well, with the Cardinals getting back into action on Friday, they decided to recall reliever Fernando Salas from AAA Memphis.

After appearing in only 15 games with the big league club and performing under par, he was sent down in the midst of an internal bullpen makeover.

Before he was sent down, he wasn’t doing terribly with an ERA of just over 3 and opponents were only hitting .234 against him. But GM John Mozeliak decided to reconstruct an underperforming bullpen and unfortunately for Salas he was apart of that reconstruction and was sent to Memphis.

In AAA, he has posted an ERA of 0.77 and a WHIP of just 0.69. That line was impressive enough for the 28-year-old to get another chance with the big-league club. He will join the bullpen on Friday when the Cardinals get back to action when they will host the San Diego Padres.

Carpenter to make second rehab start

Also announced at today’s workout was that Chris Carpenter will make his second rehab start on Sunday, this time with AAA Memphis.

The gripe with umpiring

You don’t know this, but not only am I a 16-year-old blogging extraordinaire, but I also umpire youth baseball with my local park district. So although I don’t umpire at a very high level, I still have an idea of what it’s like. Some of these may sound biased, but I assure you I’m staying objective. This is just some of my thoughts on umpiring today.

  • “C’mon Blue, tie goes to the runner!” I can’t tell you how much I hear this on a daily basis and I’m sure some of you say it yourself. Well, here’s the thing; tie does not go to the runner. That is not a rule. If the ball beats the runner to the bag than he is out, if not he is safe. It’s that simple. There are no ties.
  • You cannot argue balls and strikes. This one is forgotten a lot even by major league players. You can have small gripes and moans, but as soon as you face the umpire and complain you probably won’t be in the game for long. A big no-no is pointing to wear the ball crossed the plate. Even at the major league level this is almost always an immediate ejection as it’s a way of showing the umpire up.
  • The amount of good, solid calls made by umpires on a daily basis enormously outweigh the bad calls. There’s never a SportsCenter highlight for an umpire making a good call. You know an umpire had a good game when no one talks about them. That means they did their job.
  • I think that umpires need to be more accountable. When a player makes a mistake he has to go into the locker room and face the media. It’s unfair that if an umpire makes a questionable call he can just simply choose to not speak to the media. He should have to face the press and explain why he made a certain call.
  • This one really grinds my gears here: When there’s a close play and the broadcasters have to look at six different replays to finally determine the umpire made the wrong call and then proceed to complain about how “terrible” of a call it was. The umpire had to make a call within seconds after seeing it full-speed, in real-time.
  • And my last point: Sometimes I think people should complain more about the lack of instant replay then about the umpires. Expanded replay would lead to less blown calls and take an enormous amount of pressure off of the umpires.

Umpires do deserve criticism and they do make mistakes. Some of them are a little arrogant and full of themselves, but there are way more solid, respected umpires than there are bad ones.

It’s a tough gig.

-Zack

Cardinals seek relief, call up Martinez

Carlos Martinez has already ventured to the big leagues this year. He appeared in 7 games for the Cardinals and had an ERA of 4.50. After a short stay with the Cardinals he was sent down to AAA Memphis in order to build stamina in preparedness to come back up as a starter. Instead, he’ll be coming back as a reliever.

For now at least.

General Manager John Mozeliak said Martinez would be used in relief in the immediate future. It’s possible that he will eventually find his way to the starting rotation. The Cardinals still don’t have a fix for the fifth spot in the rotation. For now, it’s Joe Kelly’s job to lose, but since Martinez was sent to AAA so he could come back as a starter, it would make sense that he’d be a candidate for that job as well.

In order to make room for Martinez, the Cardinals optioned reliever Michael Blazek to AAA. Blazek only appeared in 4 games for the Cardinals.

Martinez was scheduled to start tonight for AAA Memphis, but he was called up in order to provide a fresh arm for the upcoming series against the Cubs. Since he was sent down in late May he went 3-2, with a 1.98 ERA.

 

 

Long time no see

Well after a long extended period away from the blogosphere I have returned and I’m hoping to be posting semi-regularly. For about two months I was just bored with blogging and I didn’t have an urge to post. That urge has since came back, but I didn’t want to force myself to post because that would be bad for both you and me.

While I was absent a lot of things occurred so I won’t be recapping that but in more recent news…here’s some Small Ball to get us back in the blogging mood shall we!

  • Ty Wigginton was released by the Cardinals. He was used as a scapegoat by a lot of fans which is a bit unfair. I think Cardinal fans have the tendency to pay too close attention to the 25th man. Wigginton also brought some leadership and character to the clubhouse which is often overlooked. With that being said, it was time for him to go. He just wasn’t doing much  to help the team win and with Molina’s knee ailing him, calling up catcher Rob Johnson was a sensible move and Wiggy being released became a no brainer. The Cardinals still owe him $5 million dollars which has to be the ultimate put down to a player when a team is literally paying you to not play for them.
  • Mitchell Boggs was traded to the Rockies for roughly 200k in international draft slot money. It just was not going to work out for him in St. Louis and I think a change of scenery could do him well. He seems like a great guy and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the guy earlier in the season.
  • Miraculously, Chris Carpenter is getting closer and closer to what would be an unbelievable return. Before the season many people concluded his career was over much less his season, but here we are four months later and Carp will be making a rehab start on Monday with AA Springfield.

It’s good to be back.

A look at Carlos Martinez’s Twitter

The Cardinals desperate search for bullpen help has led them to top pitching prospect Carlos Martinez. He has been called up straight from AA and after not getting a single out in Thursday’s game struggling reliever Mitchell Boggs was optioned to AAA Memphis. Boggs becomes the second Cardinals pitcher this week to be sent to Memphis after Marc Rzepczynski was sent down earlier in the week.

Martinez, 21, has a 2.31 ERA in 3 games as a starter at AA Springfield. As I’m writing this the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s Derrick Goold has confirmed that closer Jason Motte will undergo Tommy John surgery on Monday and is officially done for the year and likely a portion of 2014. This was predictable in a way after hearing this narrative over and over again. A pitcher is “testing” his elbow or they’re still “evaluating” their options. Too many times has this led to surgery for me to believe anything the Cardinals ever say about injured players.

That’s a different story for a different time.

Anyway, this makes Martinez’s call up much more applicable because he is likely here to stay unless they have plans to trade for a reliever which is still a possibility. The Cardinals did this same thing last year, it’s almost an exact replica. They were desperate for bullpen help so they went to AA and called up Trevor Rosenthal, who then was a starter. Now they’ve done the same thing with Martinez.

When a player gets called up I always like to find them on Twitter and see what they’re saying. I had no idea what I was stumbling upon. Martinez is on Twitter and it’s really him, you can follow him @Tsunamy27. His profile is absolutely littered with some, um, interesting things.

First his bio is quite humorous and involves him giving a subtle brag and at the same time spelling “Cardinals” wrong. Here is what his bio reads, ahem, “CARLOS MARTINEZ: prospect #3. of St.Louis Cardenals” Look, I get that he’s from the Domincan, but when you see the correct spelling of the word “Cardinals” every day, spelling it wrong is unacceptable, Carlos. Unacceptable. Then, if that wasn’t enough, he has an abundant amount of “selfies” or pictures taken by himself. Carlos Beltran has made his selfies quite famous. Let’s take a look at some of Martinez’s “best” selfies…

Exhibit A:

 

 

Martinez 1

This one was from today at Miller Park. It’s a pretty big deal for him so we’ll let this one slide. Moving on.

Exhibit B:

Marinez 2

As if taking a selfie wasn’t bad enough, but in a skin-tight Superman shirt? C’mon dude!

Exhibit C:

Martinez 3

This is yet another subtle brag. Shirtless mirror pics are about as bad as it gets, really. Put some clothes on!

Finally, Exhibit D:

Martinez 4

Well the clothes are there at least. Collared shirt tucked into dad jeans. Kudos.

-Zack

For the record, I’m not trying to make fun of him, just a bit of teasing. Hopefully he can help the bullpen.

 

The Oscar Taveras effect

He’s been described as a phenom. High-ranking officials in the Cardinals’ organization often refer to this man as the best-hitting prospect they’ve had since a guy named Albert Pujols. The Cardinals’ top prospect Oscar Taveras is often argued to be the best raw-hitter not in Major League Baseball. Since he’s joined the Cardinal organization in 2010, he has obliterated the pitching at every level and now he’s considered a crucial piece of the future for the Cardinals.

I don’t claim to be a scout or anything and I haven’t seen Taveras hit in person, but I’ve seen a lot of him on TV and online and he can hit the ball. And when he does hit the ball, he hits it very, very hard. His swing is very explosive. It kind of resembles Prince Fielder except for, you know, Taveras is a bit…smaller. He hits every ball with authority. The ball comes off his bat and you think it’s a lazy fly ball to left and it turns into a 400 foot home run.

Last year at AA Springfield, Taveras had a slash line of .321/.380/.572. This year at AAA he’s doing good, but not great. He isn’t exactly tearing up the pitching, but it’s still early and he’s faring very well at a new level, hitting .281.

Many project him to be the starting right-fielder for the Cardinals in 2014. It seems pretty obvious with Carlos Beltran’s contract expiring and his age increasing. But this year there was a wrinkle thrown into that plan. Matt Adams is killing the ball right now. He is currently on the 15-day disabled list, but before yesterday he was hitting .542 in 8 games. If he continues to hit like this, the Cardinals will have a tough decision to make. And Taveras is here to stay.They could always trade Adams while his value is high, but you’d hate to do that and he turns out to be a star. There is a possible solution, however.

Jon Jay is overrated. There, I said it.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Jon Jay is a good player. He’s played well since taking over in center in 2011. He is a good player, but he’s not great. His defense is superb, but he sometimes takes questionable routes to balls and his lack of speed often forces him to make frequent diving plays. Opponents don’t hesitate to take an extra base due to his arm strength, or lack there of. He hit very well in 2012, but is struggling thus far in 2013, hitting just .220. It’s still early and Jay has earned the right to try to turn it around.

I’m not saying they should trade Jay. I’m not even suggesting they bench him. What I’m saying is that if Craig and Adams keep hitting and Taveras continues to hit in AAA, I have a feeling Jon Jay could be the odd man out. A lineup featuring Craig, Adams, AND Taveras is pretty scary. Maybe Jay will turn it around, or maybe not. These things have a way of sorting themselves out.

-Zack

 

Baseball has important role after tragedy

If you’re a sports fan, every key at-bat or power play is an important moment. If it’s your favorite team then it could feel like it’s life or death. Sports are a huge part of American society. Sometimes it’s the top story and other times like on Monday it’s a complete after thought. Sometimes sports is a way to get your focus off something terrible, also like on Monday.

When two bombs were set off during the Boston Marathon, killing two and injuring hundreds more, every one put aside their petty differences and sports alliances and joined one big team: Team America that is.

The Padres and Dodgers were going into a game after a they had a brawl a few days before. Many people thought there would be some bad blood on Monday and that may have been so. Maybe the Dodgers planned revenge, maybe there would be another brawl. But after hearing of the tragedy in Beantown everyone realized how silly it would look. Sometime’s baseball just isn’t that important. It’s never a matter of life or death, unfortunately the Boston Marathon turned into just that.

The rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees is huge. It’s a very heated rivalry on and off the field. The players don’t like each other and the fans don’t either. The rivalry often leads to fights on the field and in the crowd. But not on Tuesday. Not after what the city of Boston had to go through on Monday. It all started with the Yankees official Twitter giving their prayers to the city and their plans to honor them. The Red Sox official Twitter responded by simply saying, “Thank you.” The electronic signs out front all read the same thing. They had a Red Sox and Yankees logo together and it read “United we stand.”

United. Not as a fan of a team, not as sports fans, but united as Americans. Yankees fans all brought signs showing their support. Not for the Yankees, but for Boston. ” Yankees fans love Boston,” one sign read. Another just simply said, “Pray for Boston.” After the third inning at Yankee stadium, a song played, but this song was special. They played the Bostonian’s favorite tune, “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, a song played often at Fenway Park.

Baseball offers a great escape from a painful reality. There is no terror in baseball. Although a fan may thin terror is in baseball when the home team struggles holding leads, but they’re hit with a tough reality check when events like Monday’s bombings indicated.

It’s been this way for a while now. Baseball has been used as a pleasant distraction since World War II. Just a couple of days after 9/11, the New York Yankees took the field to revive a nation’s favorite pastime and give American’s happiness. The President of the United States took the mound for the first pitch. He was greeted with a roaring standing ovation, not because they all agreed with his politics, but because he is the leader of this great nation.

Baseball isn’t that important in the realm of what’s happened recently, but it serves a far greater role than anyone can imagine. Time and time again people turn to the sport to get their mind off tragedy. After terrible events like this, unity goes up and so does American pride. Everyone is anxious to show off that pride. And what’s more American than Baseball?

-Zack

Small Ball: Who should close?

I put a Mitchell Boggs poster on my door and now it won’t close!

Hey, you see what I did there? Well you see Boggs isn’t closing games and doors are suppose to…nevermind. That was a round about way of telling you that the role of closer has again surfaced as a problem for the Cardinals. With Jason Motte down temporarily and possibly for the year, Mitchell Boggs has assumed the role as closer. He isn’t doing so swell. As I’m typing he just closed out a 10-6 win over the Pirates and looked better, but that wasn’t a save opportunity.

I think Boggs deserves a chance to get his composure back and win the job as closer. If he can’t do so effectively, then it’s time to make a change. Trevor Rosenthal has to figure out how to be a good set-up guy again before he can be thrown into this conversation. By the way, just because a guy throws hard, doesn’t mean he’ll make a good closer. The Cardinals shouldn’t shy away from using Lance Lynn as the closer and moving Joe Kelly to the rotation. I think this is worth a shot.

I went and saw “42” on Sunday and it was fantastic. I viewed with my friends who, most of them, aren’t big baseball fans and they all enjoyed it. I have no complaints with this movie other than it was two hours-plus long, but I didn’t mind it too much. The film does an outstanding job of showing all the hate and bigotry Jackie Robinson had to go through in order to break baseball’s color barrier. I’m not much of a film-buff so I won’t go too in-depth, but it was an outstanding movie. It was very uplifting to see white players stand up for their controversial teammate. Very well done. I guess since I’m talking about a movie I have to give it a rating: Five stars out of five.

The Pirates fan base is strange. The team is progressing every year. Their fans have waited twenty years to have a contending team and now they have one. They have a good team and a beautiful stadium, yet no fans. Truly, puzzling.

-Zack

My thoughts along with the rest of the world’s are with the people of Boston affected by the terrible attack today. This senseless violence is truly heartbreaking. I join many others in saying that it was hard to focus on baseball today. God bless America.

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