Every month, the United Cardinal Bloggers (UCB) get together for a group project. This month, we conducted interviews of other members. I was lucky enough to draw Joe Schwartz of STL Cup of Joe.
Joe is a pharmacy student at Butler University who writes in his free time. He was gracious enough to give us a few minutes. I added links to some of his recent articles.
WCR: There are lots of Cardinal fans out there but not all of them blog. What caused you to start writing?
Joe: Great question. I chose to start blogging because I have always loved writing. My high school (St. Louis University High School) had a rigorous English department that really challenged us to become the best writers possible. However, with me still being in college, most of my summers consisted of having summer jobs to make some extra money for school. This summer, I decided to get shoulder surgery to repair an injury from my high school baseball playing days, so I knew I was going to have plenty of free time. Baseball has been a part of my life since birth so it ended up being the perfect storm. I had free time, I love baseball, and I love to write. Thus, I decided it was the perfect time to start blogging.
WCR: What is your earliest Cardinal memory?
Joe: My earliest Cardinal memory was when I was either 4 or 5 and was down on the field of Busch Stadium II taking swings with my dad. It was one of those family days during the off-season where a bunch of families were allowed on the field, and they had batting cages set up. I remember being overwhelmed by the atmosphere, even at the age of 4 or 5.
WCR: Did you have a favorite Cardinal growing up, and if so who?
Joe: My favorite Cardinal growing up was Gary Gaetti. To be honest, it was Gary Gaetti, then everyone else. I had his jersey and dressed up as him for every Halloween. My parents got me his autograph for my birthday one year, and it still is one of my favorite pieces of sports memorabilia. I also was #8 in almost every sport growing up because I wanted to be like Gaetti.
WCR: I’ve spent most of my life in the Cardinal diaspora. Are there things you like about following the Cardinals from afar? What do you miss the most about not being able to follow the Cardinals in St Louis county, aside from attending home games?
Joe: To be honest, it is killing me having to follow the Cardinals from afar. This year’s team is one of my favorite Cardinals teams ever, and I really miss being able to watch them on a regular basis. Sure, it would be a lot easier if I had the money to pay for MLB.TV so that I could watch the games on a regular basis However, my money is tied up in tuition, rent, food, and pharmacy school is not easy, so it is probably a good thing. Most nights during the game I will either be working at Walgreens or studying. That’s really my life during the school year.
What do I miss most? That’s easy. I miss watching the games with my family. I, along with my sister and brother-in-law, built my parents a deck that wraps around our house’s bay windows. It is the perfect height to look in and watch TV while still enjoying the outdoor atmosphere. We even bought a wireless speaker so that we could hear the broadcast from outside. Watching the game with the people I love is easily the thing I miss most.
WCR: Are you able to take in an occasional game live while in school, and where have you gone most often to do so?
Joe: A few years back, I was able to drive home (4.5 hours from Indianapolis) to catch a playoff game so that was pretty cool, but other than that, not really. School breaks usually occur after the season is over so I have not been able to go home that much to catch any games. However, if the Cardinals go far in this year’s playoffs, you bet I will be home checking them out.
WCR: Will the Cardinals find a way to play Matt Adams every day, or will they be forced to trade him?
Joe: I have this dream scenario that I have been begging the Cardinals to do for the past few weeks now. I have already interviewed the scouting director, Dan Kantrovitz, this year so I have his email address. I know that he works with Mozeliak on a daily basis, so I am extremely tempted to shoot him an email, but I feel like that would be out of line.
I am not a big fan of Adams. I do not like that he is limited to one position, and I do not like that he is yet another left-handed bat that struggles against left-handers. However, his value would greatly increase for an AL team who could use him as a DH and a first baseman. If the Baltimore Orioles have a glaring weakness, it is at DH. Matt Adams would fill a need for them. Their 5th rated prospect, Jonathan Schoop, can play shortstop, second base, and third base, and his bat has pretty good pop. I feel like the Cardinals could put together a package of Adams (+ pitching) to convince the Orioles to part ways with their coveted prospect, all-the-while improving at a position that really needs improvement.
WCR: How do you see the OF being manned next year? Do you think Beltran returns? Does Taveras take over CF from Jay? Where does Jay fit in long term?
Joe: I wrote a blog on this a couple days ago. With Taveras’ injury, I would like the Cardinals to bring back Beltran. His numbers haven’t dropped in the second half like last season, and since he is getting older, Taveras will still get plenty of reps in the outfield when Beltran or Jay need a breather.
Even in the long run, I honestly still see Jay being a starting outfielder. Most scouts project Taveras as being a right fielder anyways. Jay’s defense is acceptable (not great by any means), but he has proven over 4 years now that he is basically a .290-.300 hitter. With a lineup like ours, that is exactly what we need out of the center fielder.
Beltran and Holliday cannot play forever. I am a huge fan of James Ramsey. Thus, 5 years from now, I could totally see an outfield of Jay, Ramsey, and Taveras. I don’t exactly know who would play where, but with all having CF experience, that would increase our range much more than what it is now.
WCR: Will Rosenthal ever get a chance to start, or given the Cardinal pitching depth is he resigned to the bullpen?
Joe: In my opinion, Rosenthal doesn’t have enough confidence in his secondary pitches to be a starter. He has proven to be a good late innings guy, and I think he will be the closer of the future. Especially if he can develop a consistent secondary pitch.
WCR: Do the Cardinals win the Central this year?
Joe: In short, yes. I think the Pirates are teetering, and I think the Reds have too many holes in their roster.
WCR: How far do you think the Cardinals will get in the 2013 playoffs?
Joe: I will be bold here. If they win the division, they will win the World Series. If they only get a Wild Card spot, they will lose the “play-in” game. As Billy Beane would say, the playoffs are really just a crap shoot anyways, so my predictions don’t really mean that much.