We are just days away from actual Cardinal baseball on our TVs and radios, folks. If you have MLB.tv, you’ll see professional teams facing off as early as tomorrow. (And the MLB At Bat app for 2014 is available today! Yippie!) So our limited news for today is going to be more rare going forward, which is a great thing.
The biggest news going around all centers around one man: Yadier Molina. The Cardinals have no replacement for a long-term Yadi loss and everyone knows it. Tony Cruz is all well and good for short stretches, but more than that and there’s a really big hole. So it’s not surprising that the Cards are going to do everything in their power to protect him and keep him healthy all year long.
That starts with making sure he doesn’t work too hard during the spring. Obviously he’s got to get into his rhythm and get a little work in, but there’s no reason to see him work overly hard in games that don’t matter. Yadi’s going to hit and field at his normal levels, we know that, and there’s no reason not to, as they say about the pitchers, leave some bullets in the chamber for late in the season.
The more indirect way of protecting Molina is the Cardinals’ new approach to home plate collisions. In anticipation of a new MLB rule, the Cards went to a “must slide, must tag” method of getting runners out at the plate. While the rule, which was finalized yesterday, did not go as far as St. Louis and its coaching staff had expected, they aren’t changing their teaching methods. Cardinal catchers are just going to let the runners have a clear line to home plate, hopefully being able to sweep the tag around and get them as they slide by.
It was also interesting to hear Mike Matheny say one of the reasons they are making this so public is the idea that if they do so, if there is a collision people will know the onus is on the player from the other side. If nothing else, it’s going to give them the benefit of the doubt should a collision happen, though if both their runners and their catchers abide by this, there should be very few of them.
A couple of prospects went in opposite ways yesterday. Jordan Swagerty, who is coming back from surgery already, had to be at least temporarily shut down due to inflammation in his elbow. If you want to be positive, it doesn’t look like it’s structural at all, more just the result of him not being able to throw for so long. Unfortunately, the elbow apparently has kept him away from the keyboard as well, because he’s not used his blog to post updates.
The bigger news to most fans is that Oscar Taveras increased his running intensity yesterday with no problems and is getting closer to being restriction-free. If he’s cleared by the first game on Friday to go all out, it’s going to be fun to see what he does with health and a goal of making the club. Could be some exciting things to talk about!
Ozzie Smith is working on getting Opening Day to be a national holiday. I’ve often thought that way, but given football’s 1000-lb gorilla approach to our national sporting scene, they’d want their own day as well, which would wind up being another excuse for car and store ads and eventually some sort of family gathering expectation. Baseball has a unique tie to America and should be recognized in such a way, but most folks aren’t going to see it that way. Besides, this time of year, I don’t get to take federal holidays from work anyway, so it doesn’t make much difference!
No news on the fronts we discussed yesterday. Aledmys Diaz still hasn’t signed and the news on Jaime Garcia’s shoulder was pushed off until today.
Hey, you want polarizing? It’s time for the Cardinal Approval Ratings and today, we’re looking at Lance Lynn!
Lynn tends to be a guy that Cardinal fans that agree on most anything deviate on. Many look at his late slumps, his body language, things of that nature and rate him down. Some look at his underlying numbers, the fact that he has won a significant number of his games, things of that nature and rate him up. There’s very few that don’t have some opinion on Lynn.
This season, he comes in at 71.5%, eight points lower that last year. He did have one perfect score, but there were many more in the sub-50 range, including his low of 15. Comments included “Leave Lance Lynn alone” and there was an expectation that this could be Lynn’s breakout year, so his supporters are still out there.
Our media member of the day is Dan McLaughlin, otherwise known as DannyMacTV. Getting on Twitter might have been the best thing McLaughlin could have done, as it allowed him to interact with the fans, more clearly show off his sense of humor, and let people know him by himself, rather than having the association with Al Hrabosky.
Then again, maybe it didn’t matter as much. Dan wound up with a 76.1%, virtually the same mark that he had last year. Two perfect scores, but one zero and one 10, meaning that not everyone is fond of our main play-by-play TV guy. However, in the FSMW bragging rights, he did come out about 1/2 a percent better than Jim Hayes.
Finally, we look at Fox Sports Midwest and their presentation of the game. Obviously, it’s hard to separate them from their on-air personalities, so in some ways this could be double-counting, but it also takes into account graphics, the pre- and post-game shows, just the fact that they show almost every Cardinal game, etc. This is the first year the network itself is on the ballot and its inaugural mark is 82.1%, a fine first showing. Six perfect scores and only one (a 40) below the 50 level.
We’re back in the NL Central this afternoon with Playing Pepper, checking on those pesky Reds. Come back for that!