2011 Revisited: Off On The Wrong Foot

We continue to look back at 2011 with a glance at the first game played by the squad on the fields of Jupiter.  Thankfully, it wasn’t an omen.

Off On The Wrong Foot

After months and months of the cold winter void, even a loss to the Marlins looks good.

Cardinals stumbled out of the gate yesterday in their first Grapefruit League exhibition, losing 5-3 to the Marlins.  Raul Valdes didn’t do much to put his name into the fifth starter conversation, giving up four runs in his two innings.  The Cardinals hung tough, putting two on in the sixth, but David Freese flew out to end the threat.

If you were going to take anything positive out of the first game of the spring, it’d probably be that Lance Berkman wasted no time in making an impact, hitting a home run in his first at bat and singling in his only other.  Adron Chambers also had a good day and, while the outfield slots look to be full, it can’t hurt to make an impression on the coaches.

When you can run out a middle of a lineup that includes Berkman, Albert Pujols, and Matt Holliday, you can expect a lot of good things to happen.  The fans aren’t the only ones thinking that, as Berkman agrees that this could be a really great lineup.  Obviously that’s one of those spring cliches, along with “best shape of my life” and “we can surprise some people”, but I am looking forward to seeing if this offense can’t produce on a more regular basis than they did last year.  I hope that we don’t have that “well, missed our chance here in the third, game’s over” feeling that we had a lot last year.

Found it interesting that the game long noted that Allen Craig struggled a bit in the field, as three balls early went past him.  It sounds like in the writeups (that’s the problem with no TV, can’t know for sure) that there were some difficult plays right there in a row.  Watching what Craig does at third will be one of the focuses in camp.  Can he fill in there on a regular basis? Can he step in if Freese goes down?  A lot of people are high on his bat, so getting it into the lineup, whether at third or in the outfield, sounds like a good thing.

Speaking of Freese, he apparently is making good progress, even though he didn’t start yesterday’s game and probably won’t play until Thursday.  The Cardinals definitely do not need to rush him, because that lack of margin for error means that if he goes down, the team is really in a world of hurt.  Hopefully he’ll be able to get back to full steam before Opening Day or very shortly thereafter.  His bat would help the offense too, because no matter what he does, he has to be better than Pedro Feliz, right?

Adam Wainwright had his surgery yesterday and it apparently went well.  Then again, it’d have been a major surprise if the team had something otherwise.  Assuming that Dr. Paletta didn’t leave his watch in Adam’s elbow, then yes, things were going to go well.  It’s going to take some time to see how he heals and then the real test will be when he can start rehabbing and throwing a baseball.  I have to say, there’s definitely going to be something missing without Waino on the mound this year.  It’s always a treat to see him pitch.

In news that’s not news, Chris Carpenter clarified that he doesn’t want to be traded, wants to stay in St. Louis, doesn’t figure this will even come up, but if it does, he’s not going to be standing in the way of things if the Cards want to trade him.  I know we discussed this on Sunday’s Gateway To Baseball Heaven, but I don’t think this is Carp sending a message to Albert.  They are in two completely different situations.  I also think it’s a completely moot point as the Cards should be in contention all year, but that’s the great thing about blogs–we can talk about moot points for days!

Speaking of podcasts, if you’ve got the chance you should tune in to hear Steve Keane talk tonight on the BBA Baseball Talk show.  Steve’s always good for some baseball discussion and is looking to have a special guest on tonight as well.

If you were paying attention last night and get Fox Sports Midwest, you could have seen a little baseball.  The final votes are in for the Cardinal Classics.  They are running five condensed games, one each Monday between yesterday and the beginning of the season.  Last night was Nick Stavinoha‘s game-winning homer against Trevor Hoffman.  Next week is the 2010 opener against the Reds, followed by Wainwright’s first career shutout against the Brewers, the home opener against the Astros and, of course, the brawl game against Cincinnati.  All games are on at 8 PM Central save next week’s, which is on at 6.  Nice way to relive the highlights of last year while getting ready for this one!

Remember, the Cardinal Approval Ratings are still taking submissions.  Make sure your voice is heard!

Today, the Cards and the Marlins tangle again, this time with the Redbirds being the visiting team.  Colby Rasmus and Yadier Molina go today, Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman do not.  Best of all, it’s on KMOX.  John Rooney and Mike Shannon will be in your living room, work, or phone (if you’ve not gotten the MLB At Bat app, it’s a must).  Baseball really is back!

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