A glance at today's standings shows
the St. Louis Cardinals at the top of the National League Central
Division, sharing the top spot with the Chicago Cubs. Both teams
have to be happy with that. Although, as I have shared with several
friends, call me if the Cards are still in the thick of it at the
All-Star break. Or better yet, call me in June if they're still
I am not one to sugarcoat things, and I just have not bought what
this ownership-management group has been selling the last few years.
You get plenty of fans that buy tickets, parking and concessions,
but you don't want to spend any money on pitchers, solid bats or
reliable closers? Are you kidding me? What am I missing?
Now, I do like to see the kids down on the farm making good and
gradually making it to "the Show." But, I'd also like to see some
big names headed to the Gateway City as well. Tony La Russa is one
of the best managers in the game, but he'd be a lot smarter with
Matt Holiday, Jake Peavy and Manny Rameriz on the roster ... just
take my word for it.
The window of opportunity is so small in today's world. Albert
Pujols won't be here forever. You've already seen what the Cards'
starting staff can do when every year it seems like one of the top
three pitchers misses the entire year on the disabled list. I just
don't get it. When you spend the big money and WIN ... doesn't that
get you INto the playoffs? And if you get there, doesn't that mean
that you make more money? Please help me with my math, those of you
who know how to calculate this stuff.
Yes ... I know that nothing is guaranteed. But, I also believe in
giving an organization the best possible chance to succeed. I just
wanted to state my case... I'm probably preaching to the choir, but
I had to let it out. I'm not saying to sign everyone and send all
the kids down. I'm just saying that a good balance, that a good
mixture can maximize the open window that seemed to be there. They
have had great success hiring hit men in the past; I just wanted to
see them go to the "well" a couple more times.
With all that being said, I do somewhat like the makeup of this
team. The problem is that they will have to be greater than the sum
of their parts, and that is asking a lot, especially in today's
How 'bout the way Yadier Molina is hitting the baseball and
getting people out at the plate? Don't underestimate his value in
getting the very most out of that pitching staff either! How 'bout
the play of Brian Barden, Brendan Ryan and even Joe Thurston? As you
can see, these are not the type of "hit men" that fans and media
like me have been clamoring for. Now don't get me wrong ... if they
continue to do well, I'm not gonna complain. But is it even right to
expect such big contributions from guys like that? I know they're
professional ballplayers and they're supposed to do their jobs. I
know all that. But I also know that you get what you pay for!
[to top of second column]
And speaking of that, how 'bout the play so far of Ryan Ludwick? The
experts all painted him as a one-year wonder, and maybe that's the
way it will turn out. But not so fast, my friends... So far, Mr.
Ludwick is hitting a robust .378 with five big flies and 16 ribbies!
Not only that, but he protects Pujols' bat in the lineup. He
actually makes our whole lineup better. What more can you say about
that? Try nothing!
It was nice to see Rick Ankiel get off the snied and lead his
team to a rallying win over the "pond scum." Yes, I know that is so
"'80s," but I haven't forgotten and likely won't in this lifetime.
Ankiel had three hits and willed the team to victory. If the
Redbirds can get that kind of production out of him on a more
regular basis, then we are talking!
I did tell my colleague Joel Otto, a former LCC and Olympia High
School sports star, that it will all boil down to pitching. Can the
starters overcome the loss of Chris Carpenter? Can you continually
put this much pressure on Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse? Will
either Joel Piniero or Todd Wellemeyer do more good than bad out
there? And will the relief corps get it done by "committee," will
someone emerge as the outright closer, or will relievers come in and
just throw gas on the fire? Ryan Franklin has looked pretty good so
far, capturing another save in the opener versus the Mets, but can
he do it over the long haul? And is there any more help down on the
farm? Can P.J. Walters, Mitchell Boggs and company give us some spot
help when the chips are down? I sure hope so!
OR ... if Albert Pujols starts averaging a homer every game... I
saw a stat that the Cards are something like .750 when Albert goes
yard. Something tells me that's not going to happen...
BUT, I would've felt a lot better if we would've spent some money
in the offseason!
(I'll check with Greg Taylor and see if he can give us a Cubs
update; and I run with one of the biggest White Sox "homers" you've
ever seen, and I'll get his take on the South Siders in an upcoming
Have a great one, everybody!
[By JEFF MAYFIELD]
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