2011 Revisited: Cards Lose a Close One

We continue to look back on the 2011 season.  Today, a player that’s now turned media member gets some time in the spotlight.

Cards Lose a Close One

Maybe it’s a sign that spring training is hitting its serious stage, but yesterday’s game could have easily been mistaken for a regular season affair.  Sure, the pitchers didn’t last as long and there were still substitutions, but there aren’t too many 2-1 affairs in Florida (and, looking at the scores, seems like that’s impossible in Arizona!).

Kyle McClellan did nothing to challenge the assumption that he is the fifth starter, going four innings and allowing only three hits and a run.  What was even more encouraging is that he did that on a day when a couple of his pitches weren’t working.  He made do with what he had and was still able to get major league hitters out, which is a strong data point in his favor.

My main hangup with McClellan moving into the rotation is that I don’t know what he’s going to be able to do the second and third times around the lineup.  My next hangup is if he’s going to be able to go 6-7 innings on a regular basis.  Coming in after that, though, would be how he does with just one pitch. There are days like that, and McClellan proved that, as long as he has the sinker, he’ll do pretty well.  Hopefully there won’t be too many days like that.

There was a discussion at the Post-Dispatch about what McClellan has to do to be successful.  I tend to agree that, if we see him get 20-25 starts and around 175 innings, he’s obviously had a good season.  I’d just like to see him keep the team in the game and be able to bounce back after rough outings.  Again, I’m not completely sold to the idea, but I’m definitely warming to it.

Just when we thought the injury bug had eased up a bit, Francisco Samuel left yesterday’s game with a shoulder strain.  I don’t know where Samuel ranked on the depth chart and they won’t know how severe it is until he is examined today, but that’s a tough break for him.  With McClellan moving to the rotation, there was a spot that Samuel might have been able to take with a strong spring, but if he’s out of any length of time, he can write that off.

Also, Allen Craig scratched with a tight hamstring, though that sounds like it was more a precaution, especially with the wet field yesterday.  Reportedly he’ll be ready to go for the game against the Tigers today.  Like to think that’s the case, because the last thing the Cardinals need are more injury issues, and he is in the lineup for today’s game.

Matt Carpenter is having a big spring and is definitely making an impression on the coaching staff.  We’ve talked about Carpenter before, but what I found the most interesting in this article is that Tony La Russa is trying to get him to lighten up a little bit. When the most infamous stern guy in baseball is trying to get you to crack a smile, you are intense!

Lance Lynn starts today against Detroit.  He’ll need a pretty solid outing to stay in the #5 race, if there is still a race.  Looking forward to listening to that one, as KMOX has the broadcast today.

We are getting to where there’s a little less news, a little less excitement on a daily basis.  But while the camp may be calming down, there are still some questions to answer, which will make for an interesting last three weeks.

I don’t think I mentioned part one of this, but the second part of my interview over at Popblerd is up.  There’s a link to the first part as well, so you can see how I did and how much of a fool I made of myself.

While I’m linking, go on over and check out MLB Hall of Fame March Madness over at 85% Sports.  Who will be the last HOFer standing?  I’m interested to see how this pans out.

Let’s quickly hit the approval ratings for today.

Yadier Molina has always been one of the more popular Cardinals.  If nothing else, he should be able to live off of that Game 7 NLCS home run for a long, long time.  His approval rating has reflected that, as he’s been in the 92-93 range the past few years.

Last year’s offensive struggles, especially in the first half, must have gotten into his approval though.  This year, Molina only manages a 83.7% mark.  One commenter docked him for “being lazy on the basepaths,” which is fairly interesting given Molina’s steal numbers the last couple of years.  I’m fairly sure that is more about going up the line on a grounder, but it was still interesting.  I note that I gave Yadi an 86, which is surprising because I’m a big fan.  Don’t know why I didn’t go a little higher.

Jeff Luhnow has kinda been the face of the new guard in the Cardinal organization.  He has been in charge of scouting and development, pushing the organization from a sabermetric point of view.  All that to say that, for a front office type, he’s been able to do enough to get the general fanbase to have an impression of him.

For whatever reason, that impression was fairly neutral, as Luhnow racked up a 66.4% mark. However, save the person that noted I had spelled his name wrong on the form (thanks, Nick!), no one had a strong enough opinion to leave a comment.  I marked him at 92, because I think the minor league system has begun a major turnaround under his watch and he should get at least some of the credit for it.

That brings us to today’s media member, Matthew Leach.  Matthew writes for the official MLB site as well as keeping his own blog.  I’ll say up front that I think the world of him.  He’s been spectacularly great with the UCB, being the most common guest on the UCB Radio Hour and always seeming to enjoy his time there.  He’s even done a UCB project or two.  Couple that with his interactions on Twitter and email and he rated 100 with me.

For the most part, my opinion of Leach was reflected in his mark, as he garnered a 85.5% tally.  Someone felt he had to “dumb down his commentary for the MLB.com audience” while another said that he and Derrick Goold are “some of the most knowledgeable and fair reporters out there.”

Note: A couple of modifications to prior marks as I caught a mistake.  Kyle Lohse drops from 56.1% to 55.1%, Dan Lozano drops from 59.8% to 58.7%, Ricky Horton from 72.2% to 69.1%, and Al Hrabrosky from 65.8% to 63.2%.

Playing Peppers for the Mets and Athletics are scheduled for today, but it’ll likely be this evening before they go up.  Give you something to look forward to for the weekend!

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