Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Aaron Miles needs to stay in the Cards

Aaron Miles impressed with his debut yesterday (4-5, 2 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 R), but his job is still day-to-day
If Spivey clears waivers, he will be sent to Class AAA Memphis, and the Cardinals want him to play his way back to the majors. With Luna now serving as the utility infielder, Miles will get ample time at second. If Spivey returns, Miles probably will shift to the utility role. Unless he’s too productive to move from where he is.”Nothing is etched in stone,” Miles said. “You’re just the starting guy right now. Never do I believe that it is my job totally. … Who knows if I’ll ever be the guy who can have a bad spell and still keep my job. That hasn’t ever been the case in my career.”
The Cardinals should let Miles know that the job is his. In his only year as a starter (2004), Miles hit .293 with 153 hits and 75 runs scored.  That’s about the same as Grudzielanek hit last year (.294, 155 H, 64 R). Granted, Miles was helped by Coors Field that year, but still hit a respectable .277 on the road.
Spivey, on the other hand, has shown declining production every year since his career-best year in 2002. Last year, he appeared in only 77 games for the Brewers and Nationals. He had a respectable OPS thanks to 7 HR and 15 doubles in 259 AB, but the role LaRussa looks to fill seems better suited to the 29 year old Miles than to 31 year old Spivey.


The Cards nicely followed a blowout with a close victory over the Phils in Game 2 of their series. You’re not going to score more than a dozen runs every night, so they’re going to have to win some close ones. Pujols went yard again, which means he’s hit 5 homers in his last 5 regular season games (including the last 3 from 2005). It also means he’s hit 6 homers in the last 3 games, including the final spring game.

So the MVP is already in MVP form. More exciting, though, is the performance of the bottom-of-the-lineup newcomers.  In the second inning, Skip Schumaker singled, stole second, and eventually scored from third on a single by fellow newcomer Aaron Miles. Schumaker hit a solo homer in the fourth, and kept the game-winning two-out rally going in the ninth with a five-pitch walk.

The bottom four hitters in the lineup, Schumaker, catcher Yadier Molina, Miles and pitcher Mark Mulder reached base nine times, with two runs scored and three RBIs. Schumaker has three hits in six ABs over the first two games. Miles is hitting .600, with two doubles and a triple. If they can keep it up, Walt Jocketty will look like a genius. Juan Encarnacion is the only snag, as he’s just 1 for his first 9, and stranded 9 runners last night (0-4 with RISP).

Cards end Rollins’ streak

Another day, two more hits for Albert. No home runs this time, but a single, and RBI and a run scored in the four-run fourth means Pujols was involved in half the Cardinals runs in the 4-2 victory. Albert’s hitting .500 in the first three games, with 6 RBI.  Aaron Miles had another good day at the plate, going 2-for-2 and scoring another run. Miles is hitting .636 on the young season, and LaRussa’s going to have a hard time prying him off second base with a crowbar. Juan Encarnacion even showed signs of breaking out a little, with two singles in 5 AB. Unfortunately, he left 5 more on base, for 15 over the first three games.

Jason Marquis pitched well, giving up his 2 ER in 5 1/3 innings, with 5 hits, 3 walks and 5 strikeouts. He even managed the Cards’ only extra-base hit with a double off losing pitcher Cory Lidle.

The biggest news, however, is that Jimmy Rollins was 0-4, snapping his 38 game hit streak.  Rollins needed two men to get on in the ninth, and Isringhausen shut the Phillies down in order. I was rooting for Rollins to get another at bat, but it didn’t happen.

Next up: home opener for the Cubs at Wrigley. Jeff Suppan (16-10, 3.57 in 2005) faces Greg Maddux (13-15, 4.24 in 2005) in the first 2006 start for each.

Don Surber Blogs Baseball

Don Surber is Baseball Blogging. Hopefully, he’ll keep it up for the remaining weeks of the season. I’m going to limit my blogging to the Cardinals, but deep down inside I’ll remain a long-suffering Tribe fan, so it’s nice to see another one praising Pronk.

Mark Mulder, slugger

Quick - what do Mark Mulder and “Tacky” Tom Parrott have in common? They’re the only two pitchers in major league history to hit a home run and earn the victory in the inaugural game at a new ballpark. Mulder pitched eight strong innings, giving up two runs on seven hits while striking out five Brewers in a 6-4 Cardinals win at Busch. He also went 2-for-3 at the plate, with a double and a two-run homer in the seventh inning to give the Cards a 6-2 lead. The homer proved decisive, as Braden Looper and Jason Isringhausen combined to give back two runs in the ninth.

And Tacky Tom? He earned the win in the Cincinnati Reds’ 10-6 victory over the Chicago Colts on April 20, 1894, in the first game played in the second iteration of League Park. He also homered for the red stockings that day, and went on to post a 17-19 record in 41 games, hitting .323 in 229 at bats, getting playing time at every position but catcher. On September 28, 1894, Parrott hit for the cycle against the New York Giants. Unfortunately for Parrott, the next day was memorable for other reasons:
Tom had one of his most memorable days on September 28, 1894, when he connected for the cycle in a game against the New York Giants. The very next day was memorable for less positive reasons. Due to pitch the first game of a double-header, Parrott reported for duty midway through the game. Pitching the second game instead, Parrott was about the start the second inning when, responding to a bit of encouragement from Arlie Latham, the Reds’ third baseman and captain, Parrott got in a heated argument with Latham, ultimately refusing to pitch further. He was ordered off the field and suspended for the duration of the season. The local Sporting News correspondent was fed up: “Parrott has been kindly treated by the patrons of the game in this city, and very often he did not deserve it. He wanted to be known as a clown, and in this role he was a dismal failure.”
Returning to the 2006 Cards, Mulder’s day was the most memorable, but not the only performance of note. Albert Pujols hit a towering drive to left that barely stayed in the park - it cleared the fence, but nearly left the stadium entirely. Pujols is likely to hit one onto Clark Avenue eventually. Scott Rolen made the play of the game, a diving stop followed by a strong throw from his knees to first. Rolen also hit the two-run double that put the Cards in front for good.

But in the end, the first game at New Busch Stadium was about the fans and about Mulder.

Selig claims steroid investigation will go wherever the evidence takes it

Selig’s building a house of crap of a foundation of lies. Selig didn’t know about steroid and supplement use until it came out in 1998 that Mark McGwire was using andro? Then why did both the June 7, 1991 and May 15, 1997 memoranda from the Office of the Commissioner to all major league clubs state that baseball’s ban on illegal drug use by players “applies to all illegal drugs and controlled substances, including steroids and prescription drugs for which the individual in possession of the drug does not have a prescription”?
This just smells of cover-up. Selig still refuses to take responsibility for his role in the Steroids Era, and he’s appointed a Friend of Baseball to “investigate” steroid use by players.

There’s no place like home

The Cards sure seem to like the friendly confines of New Busch. After getting swept in Wrigley, they’ve returned home to post two straight wins, including last night’s 8-3 win over the Brewers. The offensive key was Jim Edmonds’ bases-clearing double in the fourth. Edmonds was the beneficiary of some very favorable scoring on that play, which featured two errors, the latter of which allowed him to score as well.

More encouraging for the Redbirds was the performance of Juan Encarnacion. Coming into the game in a miserable 4-for-26 slump, with no extra-base hits, no RBIs, and 23 runners left on base. Last night, however, Encarnacion had two singles in four at bats, including a hit-and-run single moving David Eckstein to third in the two-run third inning and a single in the fifth ahead of Edmond’s Little League grand slam. Encarnacion may be ready to settle into the two hole in the order - up to now, he’s just looked lost, leading to some calls to move someone else into that spot in the order (perhaps Skip Schumaker, hitting .316 with an OPS of .855).

Jason Marquis had six fairly strong innings, giving up all the Brewers’ runs on Carlos Lee’s three-run homer in the fourth that cut the Cards’ lead to 4-3. Braden Looper pitched a scoreless seventh, suggesting he may be ready to fill the setup role LaRussa envisioned when he was signed. Brad Thompson pitched out of trouble in the eighth, as a single, error by Scott Rolen and hit batter loaded the bases for Prince Fielder. Thompson induced an infield popup to end that threat. Josh Hancock then pitched a scoreless ninth marred only by a throwing error by Aaron Miles.

Next up: the Cards go for the sweep in an afternoon start at Busch. Jeff Suppan (0-1, 7.20) gets the start for St. Louis, facing the Brewers’ Doug Davis (0-1, 4.91). It’ll be my first personal taste of the new stadium.