2011 Revisited: Spring Love

When you start looking back at the 2011 season, you stumble across names you’d forgotten.  I completely forgot Brandon Dickson was actually competing for a spot on that team.  To be fair, I’d pretty much forgotten Dickson entirely.

Spring Love

The old baseball saying is, never fall in love too early in spring.  A day after a rough outing for Lance Lynn, Brandon Dickson had one of his own.

Dickson worked through a couple of innings just fine, but that third inning was a disaster and enough to cost the Cardinals the game.  As with Lynn, there was an error behind him, but still, allowing five runs overall and four in the eighth isn’t going to help him unseat Kyle McClellan.  The second time out for both major challengers to McClellan was a shaky one, so if he comes out with another strong performance this time around, it could be he all but slams the door on the opportunity.

That old saying has to be recalled with another Cardinal prospect as well, since Matt Carpenter is just tearing up the Grapefruit League.  Another great day at the plate, as he went three for three and drove in a run with a walk, plus he played some very solid defense.  Obviously, Carpenter is going to start in Memphis, but if I were Nick Punto, I’d be rehabbing about as hard as I could.  If Freese goes down, right now it looks like Carpenter could step in and get the team through.

Mixed day for Nick Stavinoha, who is trying to make a longshot bid to make the team.  Two hits off the bench does you right, but missing home plate on a headfirst slide when you are the tying run late in the game….that doesn’t.  There’s not much room for Stavinoha anyway, as noted by the fact he’s learning how to catch to up his value.

Jaime Garcia wasn’t great either yesterday, continuing what’s been a bit of a rough spring by going three innings, but allowing three walks and three runs in that time period and throwing 63 pitches.  Garcia has been able to work out of some jams–just allowing three runs with as many baserunners as he had yesterday is something–but he’s got to more efficient with his pitches.  The bullpen can’t be going 3-4 innings for him and 3-4 for McClellan on a regular basis.

There’s a story in the Post-Dispatch talking about the Cardinals’ outfield defense, Honestly, the outfield defense hasn’t even been a consideration for me.  Matt Holliday did very well out there last year, Colby Rasmus is still learning but is above-average out there, and while I don’t expect much out of Lance Berkman save catching the balls he can get to, Jon Jay and Allen Craig should fill in fine in the late innings.  With this groundball staff, I’m much more concerned about the lack of range for Ryan Theriot and Skip Schumaker than I am about Lance Berkman.

Let’s get to today’s Approval Ratings, shall we?

Going into, the fanbase didn’t quite know what to make of Matt Holliday.  He’d only been a Cardinal for the last half of the season and one of the last memories they had of him was dropping the fly ball in the NLDS.  He had resigned with the Cards, which helped him, and he tallied a 84.5%, which was pretty solid.

Holliday had a slow start last year, but came along and became a great addition to the lineup.  That was reflected in this year’s scoring, as he moved all the way up to 91.1%, getting a mention from all 62 voters.  I personally rang up a 97 for him, because he’s done just about everything you can expect out of a major signing like that.  Some other comments were that he was one of the only ones that displayed putting their personal best into every game and that he’s given all we could ask for.  One voter even expects him to be the face of the franchise in 2012.

Tony La Russa always draws his share of criticism and controversy, and it’s no surprise that all 62 voted on TLR as well.  Last year, La Russa had ticked upwards and moved over the 80% level, but whether it was because of a different mix of voters, a missed October in 2010, or his comments about the Pujols situation, he freefalled (freefell?) this year to 70.8%.  I’ve always been more on the Tony bandwagon, rating him at a 90 this year.  Others were not so generous, with some mentioning that he’s worn out his welcome.  Even those that were pro-La Russa, that believed he always wanted to win, said he drove them nuts at times.

Finally, our media member is Rick Horton.  Normally, I wouldn’t have put Horton in this list, but with the news that he will be basically a third equal member of the Fox Sports Midwest broadcasting team, doing play by play with Al Hrabosky and color with Dan McLaughlin, it seemed a good idea to get a feel for what Cardinal Nation thought about him.

While it could have been much worse, it wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.  Horton wound up with a 72.2% mark.  The strongest comment in favor of him was that he “wasn’t as bad as people make him out to be.”  I personally gave him an 84, because I’m a generous grader and he could be much worse, but I will say I was not enthused when I heard for the FSMW announcement.

Cards and Braves are playing two today, with a B game this morning and the regular game at the regular time.  It’s on Braves radio, so fire up your MLB At Bat app or head over to MLB.com to listen to it.

I’m on the UCB Radio Hour tonight, regular time, regular place.  Join me and let’s talk Cardinal baseball!

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