Riding the Pine UCB Cardinal Blogger Award Ballot

Every year the UCB runs their Cardinal Blogger Awards, where the UCB members and their readers can vote on various Cardinal related topics, from players and games to blogs and podcasts. This is my ballot; winners are bolded.

1. Cardinal Player of the Year
Matt Carpenter
Jason Heyward
Jhonny Peralta
Stephen Piscotty

For me, this one was easy. Heyward was the vote; after a slow start with the bat, he was the closest regular to hitting .300. His 5.8 WAR was highest on the team. Plus I can watch his putout at home of Anthony Rizzo all day.

Carpenter was second; he led the team in homers, but changed his approach at the plate and lessened his value. Peralta completely fell off on the second half, when the team needed him most. Piscotty had a great debut, but he needed more than a partial season to win this.

2. Cardinal Pitcher of the Year
Jaime Garcia
John Lackey
Carlos Martinez
Trevor Rosenthal

This was a tough one. Rosenthal was incredible out of the bullpen. Lackey and Garcia were both great in the rotation; Lackey’s numbers weren’t as stellar on the road while Garcia missed a large chunk of the season.

Martinez really saved the team. He stepped up when Adam Wainwright went down and was the best pitcher on the eam for most of the season. His excellence was exposed when he went down and was unavailable for the post-season; had he been there, things could have gone differently.

3. Cardinal Game of the Year
—May 31 vs. LAD (Martinez pitches on Oscar Taveras Day)
—July 8 vs. CHC (Peralta game-winning home run)
—August 31 vs. WAS (five-run rally)
—September 9 vs. CHC (Piscotty caps late rally)
—September 20 vs. CHC (Heyward throws out Rizzo at home)
—September 28 vs. PIT (Scoreless until 9th with division on line)

This one came down to May 31 and September 20; I mentioned the Heyward throw above and it was the most memorable play of the season. It didn’t have the emotional punch as May 31. It’s tough enough to celebrate a life of someone taken too soon, but to watch his best friend throw a gem after it hit home for Cardinal Nation.

That game also showed that Martinez had matured and was ready to be in the rotation, a big question with Cardinal fans until that point.

4. Surprise Cardinal Player of the Year
—John Lackey
–Stephen Piscotty
–Trevor Rosenthal

Lackey and Rosenthal were much better than expected this season, but the emergence of Piscotty was more surprising to me. I questioned his power for most of his minor league career and was worried that he was an over-valued prospect. He proved me wrong.

5. Disappointing Cardinal Player of the Year
Peter Bourjos
Jon Jay
Brandon Moss

Bourjos was close here; I thought he had turned the corner at the end of 2014 but he regressed. It was fine though since you had others capable of handling centerfield.

Moss on the other hand, was a disaster from the moment he was acquired. Costing a top prospect, everyone expected more power and a little ability to get on base; we didn’t see that. Had the price been a little less, I don’t think people would have cared quite as much.

6. Cardinal Rookie of the Year
Mitch Harris
Tommy Pham
–Stephen Piscotty

This was a no brainer, especially since Piscotty was up for Player of the Year. Pham struggled in his initial call up and Harris had a -0.3 WAR. Piscotty carried the offense down the stretch.

7. Cardinal Acquisition of the Year
Jonathan Broxton
Steve Cishek
–Jason Heyward
–Brandon Moss

The cost for Heyward was higher than the rest, but he also brought the most value. Many would prefer to ignore the other 3 deals, even if Broxton was not as horrible as most remember.

8. Most Anticipated Cardinal
Anthony Garcia
–Michael Ohlman
–Alex Reyes
Luke Weaver

Even with a dumb move of a pot suspension, I think there is no player in the system that people want to see over Reyes. So far, he’s the number 1 prospect on all Cardinal lists and he’s considered a top 10 prospect in the game. He was expected to make his debut at some point in the upcoming season, but sitting for 50-games could push his timeline back.

9. Biggest Cardinal Injury
Matt Adams
Matt Holliday
–Carlos Martinez
–Adam Wainwright

This could be debatable. Adams left a whole at first base, but it opened up a place for Piscotty. Holliday missed significant time and was a shell of his former self. I mentioned that the post-season could have been different with Martinez available.

The winner though is Wainwright; he’s your ace, and no matter how good the rest of the pitchers did during the season, this was a big blow to the team. Figure in that he would have been your game 1 started in the NLDS, that pushes Lackey to game 2 and Garcia 2 days further from illness (game 2 and the travel day).

10. Best Cardinal Blog, One Writer
Daniel Shoptaw – C70 at the Bat

There are 2 guys I see almost every day with a new article, but Shoptow also does it while maintaining a family, running the UCB, and leading the Cards Conclave. Honorable mention to Dan Buffa of just about half the web.

11. Best Cardinal Blog, Two or More Writers
Viva El Birdos

While the cast does occasionally changes, the great content doesn’t. VEB not only supplies great, though provoking articles, but they also have a good community of readers who make the comments enjoyable.

12. Best Cardinal Media Coverage
–Derrick Goold
–Jenifer Langosch
–Bernie Miklasz
–Rob Rains

I considered writing in for Brian Walton of the Cardinal Nation; he provides great content at both his Scout.com site and his personal Cardinal blog. I’m going with Jen though, as she’s got everything a Cardinal fan needs. I like the Post guys too, but MLB.com doesn’t have the constant ads and surveys to read articles (not that Mr. Hummel – HOF, gotta show the respect – or Goold can do about that).

13. Best Rookie Cardinal Blog
—Me and Willie McGee
—The Redbird Retreat

Josey did a great job of grinding through the season, recapping each series better than most (including myself; I wish I had the time to this).

14. Post of the Year
—Are the Cardinals Supposed to be Scared? (Kevin Reynolds, About.com)
—Talking Twitter with the Cards (Daniel Shoptaw, C70 At The Bat)
—In Defense of Mike Matheny (Dan Buffa, KSDK)
—Carlos Martinez, Human Tsunami (Josey Curtis, The Redbird Retreat)
—Why Billy Southworth Managed Cardinals with Heavy Heart (Mark Tomasik, RetroSimba)

I’m in the majority that can be very critical of Mike Matheny, even if it’s not always fair; it’s easy to be the armchair GM/Manager. Buffa made a lot of valid points in support of Matheny and made me rethink some of my opinions. The piece was really well written.

15. Best UCB Podcast
—Best Dans in Baseball
—Bird Seeds (video)
—Conversations With C70
—Gateway To Baseball Heaven
—STL CardGals
—Talking About Birds
—UCB Radio Hour

Unfortunately, this is the only UCB podcast I listen to, so it wins. The rest have been added to my app though and will be added to the rotation.

16. Best Non-UCB Podcast
—Best Podcast in Baseball
—Cubs Cards Cast
—St. Louis Cardinals Extras (MLB.com)
–Viva El Birdos

I listen to Extras and the VEB podcast here (and have added the other 2 as of today). What I like about Extra is the run time; they typically run 10 minutes, hit a number of topics, and are informative. These are quick listens that fit in well between conference calls.

17. Best Podcaster (not best show, best actual podcaster)
Jeff Todd – MLBTR Podcast

Not really Cardinal related, but Todd’s podcast touches on all baseball. He’s entertaining and does some good interviews.

18. Best Twitterer
Dan Buffa

Buffa is everywhere, and whether it’s movies, beer, or baseball, he’s got some good opinions.

There you have it…my ballot. Want to voice your opinion? You can vote here; all the readers votes will be compiled into one ballot and that will be put in with the UCB blogger ballots.

Eugene is also a writer and podcaster for Nyrdcast, where he talks pop culture; you can also find him on Twitter or email him here.

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