A Rant About My St. Louis Cardinals

Pay attention, I am going to make this quick.  As I light up Twitter and Facebook, I will speed up the latest launch of Buffa prose to your skulls.  As my kid tries desperately to hurt himself on hardwood floors, my time is here to unplug for a little bit and inform you on my take.  I’m letting the hands go now.  This will be random, brutal and quite well…direct.  

*The St. Louis Cardinals played an ugly weekend of baseball at Busch Stadium to wrap up an uneven week.  Last weekend, they lose 2 of 3 to Philly and ride into Washington to sweep the series.  They beat Steven Strasburg on Wednesday and after a day off, they destroy the Pirates on Friday night.   
Let’s go further into this series.
*The Friday win had weirdness to it.  Granted, the Pirates lost Jonathon Sanchez after four batters because the umpire Timmons thought he threw at Allen Craig after surrendering three bullets to start his game.  I say this because I don’t think he should have been tossed.  I have watched the replay seven times and don’t think it was intentional.  He let a fastball go and it went off Craig’s wrist, where he has enough padding to hold off a baseball made of steel and stone.  The benches didn’t clear, the Pirates lost a manager and the Cards packed on a few more runs to win 9-1.
-On Saturday, they let a 2-0 lead evaporate after Jake Westbrook leaves and lose 5-3.   A disappointing loss to be sure and one that had the bullpen’s finger prints all over it.  Joe Kelly came in and gave up two quick runs in the 7th.  Trevor Rosenthal poured more gasoline on in the 8th inning.  The Cards lost a game.
-Sunday, things got ugly.  The Cards bats were shut down by a pitcher named Locke.  Shelby Miller gave up 3 runs(2 earned) in 5.2 innings.  The bullpen came in and demolished things.  Fernando Salas, a pitcher who carries little worth in my mind these days, comes in with an inherited runner in the 6th and on the first pitch gives up an RBI double.  The next inning, he surrenders a home run.   Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepcynzski give up 5 more in the 9th and we lose 9-0 at home.  When this team goes bad, they rub it in our faces and get down on dirt level.   Opening day was a game where they just got ripped.  Today is more of the same.  It’s just ugly.
*The Cards lineup ripped through the Nationals and Pirates on Friday but then went completely cold for 2 games, scoring 2 runs in 18 innings.   This offense can be exposed and shut down for multiple games like any other team.  It happens.  The lineup scored tons of runs and then couldn’t buy a run versus Locke today.   The more disturbing news comes in the bullpen work this weekend.
*Mitchell Boggs needs a Memphis assignment badly.  Demote him.  Reset his clock.  His head is in the gutter and his arm is close.  This guy was ruined by Matheny when he was shoved into a closer role he was ill prepared for.  Save me your bullshit about being able to pitch any inning because he is in the major leagues.  That isn’t the way it works.  Boggs found a niche in the bullpen when he was a setup man.   He got it done in the 8th inning last year.  Why change that? Why  mess with that?  Now, his confidence is shot, his mechanics are way off, and every time he pitches, bad things happen.   Friday and Sunday featured Boggs performances and he didn’t finish an inning.   It’s at the point where you can just send him down.  Make a switch.  Shake things up.
*Send Fernando Salas to the desert or Memphis if necessary.   Salas is a shade of the reliever the Cards brought up three years ago.  He doesn’t get hitters out in clutch spots on a consistent basis anymore and his pitches have zero action.  He got raked today and let a close game go wide.  If Eduardo Sanchez’s forearm gets healthy, send him up and get rid of Salas.  Of course this will not happen.  Salas is one of Matheny’s boys.
*Mike Matheny just said in his post game Serious John Wayne speech that his team wasn’t expecting the results that occured today.   Count us in that boat Mike.  This team is a freak concoction of unpredictable madness.  They win big, win close, lose close and lose big.  Four weeks into the season, and the convoluted Redbird Blues  have begun.  Matheny must do something to shake this up.  Send a couple pitchers down, flip a table over, yell at somebody, punch a wall, and get a message sent to this team early.   24 games in, and the questions are piling up.  
Let me fire off some definitive statements.  
*Edward Mujica did a good job as the closer last week.  Don’t expect that to continue.  His history doesn’t support his current performance.  I am glad if I am wrong here.  
*Trevor Rosenthal is having issues, but not in the same capacity of error as Boggs, Salas and Rzep are having.  Rosenthal has learned to rebound from his faulty innings and blow guys away.  He had trouble in Wednesday against Wash and ended the inning by striking out 2 batters on six pitches.  Yesterday, he got a little wild and rung himself in with a couple ground balls and a flyout.  Rosenthal, unlike Boggs, isn’t flaming out and torching an inning.  He stays.  
*The bullpen needs work.   Plain and simple.  What happens before Monday’s game to shore up this area?
*The Rotation, ladies and gents, is the best part about the team.  After dominating Washington, the staff came home and did this against the Pirates.  If you judge games by the starting pitcher, the Cards could have swept this weekend series.  Lance Lynn threw 7 innings on Friday night, striking out 9 and giving up a run.  Westbrook threw 6 scoreless innings on Saturday and struck out six.   Shelby Miller struck out 7 on Sunday and allowed 2 earned runs in 5.2 innings.  Add it up and you have another solid weekend series from our starters.   
*Its a small sample size with the rotation but 24 games in and they are the support belt of this team.  A question mark heading in is shaping up to be a potential strength.  Adam Wainwright has settled in.  Jaime Garcia has pitched well minus one start.  Lynn showed consistency with his fine start on Friday.  Westbrook has done his job.  Miller has been amazing for a rookie.   With more innings, hazards will accompany answers but right now this team is powered by their starters.  Without them we have maybe 6 wins.  
*Ty Wiggington doesn’t deserve to be on this team.  His 2 million dollar contract looks like a charity case the team took this offseason.  ‘Support a dead weight aging hitter” fund.   The bad part is he has been this way for 3 years.  
*Pete Kozma is doing just fine.  He is hitting .255, collecting some hits, keeping the errors at a minimum and doing what was expected.  If he goes on a terror, good for us and him.  He can hit .260 all year, play solid defense, drive in 30 and hit 5 homers and with his salary look like a bargain.  If THE REST OF THE LINEUP HITS THE WAY THEY SHOULD, Koz doesn’t need to do anything extra special.  Just be yourself Pete.  
*Jason Motte is throwing from 65 feet and playing catch.  Two days in a row.  Great.  Don’t expect me to get excited until he is firing 99 mph heaters into a catcher’s mitt from a mound and feeling zero pain the next day.  I’m sorry but the history of the Cardinals with players and their elbows is about as iffy as a Brazilian kidney transplant department’s activity.  Chris Carpenter wasted most of 2007 before going under the knife in August and missed almost all of 2008.  Rafael Furcal avoided Tommy John Surgery all fall and winter and finally succumbed to it this spring and is gone for the season.   Unless you can tell me Motte’s elbow received some voodoo magic, he will probably need surgery.  It’s science people.  Elbow’s with torn pieces don’t heal with REST.  When he ramps up the velocity he will feel the twinges and pain.  Again, as with the Mujica Trials, I hope I am wrong and Motte sprinkled some of his beard trimmings on his elbow along with Lou Diamond Phillips ancient herb formula.  Motte’s departure set off the bullpen’s destruction and that will have to be corrected through trades or signings.  
*Mitchell Boggs is giving a little more attitude to the media as I write this.  That’s wonderful.   Too bad it doesn’t translate to IMPROVED performance.  Boggs is troubled.  Mitchell Boggs doesn’t look the same without a beard by the way.  First bout of prescription meds.  Grow a beard son.  Keep your mouth shut.  Head down.  Ask Mike for a road trip.  Boggs won’t improve here.  Why?  He walks out there with a mountain of adversity on his shoulder.  It doesn’t matter if Matheny has faith in him or is shooting arrows at his knees.  Think of Brian Elliot in February.  When Halak(Motte in this situation) went down, Elliot(Boggs) was thrown into the starting role and got rocked.  He was horrible.  What happened?  He didn’t start for two weeks.  He went to Peoria.  Found something.  Came back and currently leads the Blues into the first round with home ice advantage as the starting goaltender.  
That is as good as a point as I can make folks.  
Here’s something positive.  The Cards take the mound tomorrow night with Adam Wainwright on the mound.  Baseball is good because it reloads every day.  A team can recover the next night with a win after losing 2 in a row.  162 game season is still young.   As La Russa said two years ago famously, “It’s only the fourth week of the season.”   That is to myself as much as anyone else.  As a diehard, you find it hard at times to remember where you are in the season.   It’s early, and while this team is troubling and needs work, there is plenty of time.  
Wrap Up-
Cards offense is inconsistent that but’s expected.  Bullpen is horrible and that can be helped with a shakeup.  The rotation has been great but that won’t last.  The end.  
Side Notes-
*The Blues will get their own blog tonight or tomorrow but let me say this.  Their 29-18-2 season was fantastic because of their ability to bounce back at home.  After dropping several games in the early and middle going, the team finished on a 7-1 route on home ice.  That helped their collection of the 4th spot in the Western Conference and their home ice advantage.  The acquisitions of Jay Boumeester and Jordan Leopold helped the defense.  The Fourth Line play of Ryan Reaves, Chris Porter and Adam Cracknell helped the slumping goal scorers like David Perron and David Backes.  The goaltending was locked in by the resurgence of Brian Elliot, which surprised the hell out of me since I asked for his head in March.  The Kings are a good opponent because they will present the Blues with a stiff test early on.  Why mess around with the Sharks and win a round only to get smashed in the second round.   Last year’s team raised the bar for hockey in STL.  We expect more than a series win.  We want it all Blues.  Bring it.  The Blues went 0-3 against the Kings this season.  That’s a good thing.  They have lost 7 straight against them.  If we beat them, the Blackhawks don’t scare me at all.  Actually, no other hockey team would.  Beat the Kings and earn our enthusiasm.  
*I wrote a Buffa Quarterly Movie Report for Film-Addict.  Review of this paltry four month run of films.  Read it here. 
The band of the moment for me is The Fossil Collective and their debut album, Tell Me Where I Lie.  Great folk rock music that needs an open road and the window down to go with a dark sky.  
Tonight, I get over my rough baseball weekend by watching Mad Men and Game of Thrones.  All new episodes.   Tortured soul ad men from the 1960’s and warriors from the Westeros.  
I’ll take my whiskey and sword and settle right in.  Take care my friends and thanks for reading.
-D. Buffa

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