Month: August 2015

10 Reasons To Love Lance Lynn

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

While he may not be as popular as his Cardinals rotation colleagues, Lance Lynn is valuable for many reasons. Here are 10.

10. He has a fun time with the media. He isn’t mean or extra courteous. He treats the questions like a playful round of poker instead of an interrogation.

9. Lynn throws strikes. He’s never walked more than 76 batters in a season and owns a career 2.7-1 strikeouts to walks ratio.

8. He’s old school. Don’t ask him about pitch counts. Lynn has fired 115 or more pitches 6 times this season, more than any other Cardinal.

7. Lynn is a winner, compiling 60 wins and a 63 percent win rate over his 5 years of play.

6. He doesn’t need help from his defense. Lynn leads the Cards in fielding independent ERA at 3.27.

5. Durability. Lynn is headed for his fourth consecutive season of 30 or more starts.

4. Lynn is a bargain. For a guy who averages 13-15 wins per season, he is only making 7 million dollars this season.

3. He doesn’t allow a lot of home runs. Over 763.2 career innings, Lynn has only allowed 57 home runs.

2. Did I mention he strikes guys out? Lynn has faced 630 batters in 2015 and struck out 23 percent of them. An average of 9.0 per nine innings

  1. He’s an emotional beast on the pitching mound, letting his emotions fly and power the tenacity of his pitches. How can you not like that.

Lance Lynn has 11 wins and pitches through injuries and disregards pitch counts. Don’t ask him about it. He throws fastballs and that’s it. 85 percent of the time in 2015 Lynn throws a four or two seamer. Old school, bearded and unconventional, Lynn doesn’t make it look easy but he gets the job done. Year to year. Appreciate it folks and have a good Monday.

Which returning Cardinal makes the biggest impact?

As August ages into its final stretch, I wanted to look at the fleet of returning Cardinals and the impact they could have on the team. Most of the injured squad are hitters and that is something the team sorely needs as the page is turned onto the final few weeks of the season. As the Cardinals sit with a 5 game lead on the Pittsburgh Pirates, any help to an ailing lineup is welcome. Who is coming back and what can they offer?

Matt Adams

Rescue at first! The big guy headed to Florida Thursday for extended baseball activities and could be back in very early September. Adams’ effect is vital due to the inconsistent and quite missing production from first base. Brandon Moss hasn’t taken off, Mark Reynolds has showed a little more life and the Memphis duo of Xavier Scruggs and Dan Johnson provided little pop. Adams, if healthy, could charge this lineup up at a weak spot.

Matt Holliday

Lineup stability! When Holliday goes into the lineup, he offers stability in a number of ways. He is also an on base machine who takes a good bat, stings line drives and is clutch. Holliday’s versatile hitting attack and veteran presence would be a big boost. He could back in mid the 2nd or 3rd week of September.

Jon Jay

Versatility! When healthy, Jay offers Mike Matheny a number of things, including starting all three outfield spots, on base percentage and a steady diet of hits. Jay’s wrist has deflated all of his tools in 2015, so if he is healthy, Jay can ignite this team up and down the order. Keep in mind his career stats, including a .289 batting average and .356 on base percentage. With Jay and Holliday, you get ON BASE beasts. Jay could be extending his activities more this week.

Randal Grichuk

Stand by! He’s on shut down mode right now with elbow soreness and swelling. He can’t do much until the swelling goes away so while it’s only a 15 days disabled list stint listed, I see Grichuk needing more time. Elbow’s are tricky. He could be a mid September lineup guy.

Adam Wainwright

Health concerns abound here! As I noted in a column this week, expecting Waino back this year is a little foolish. He simply doesn’t have the time to get ready. He needs major league starts. He is recovering from a tricky injury, with the Achilles heel. Why rush that when deciding who doesn’t make a playoff start of your current 5 is hard enough? Cancel Waino out for 2015.

Jordan Walden

Unlikely! With the acquisitions of Steve Cischek and Jonathan Broxton, General Manager John Mozeliak was sounding the alarm that Walden and Matt Belisle were not coming back anytime soon. I would be surprised if I saw Walden on a postseason roster much less in September. He’s not throwing right now. See him in 2016.


That’s it. The Cards start play in San Diego Friday night with a 77-43 record, the best in baseball. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any leaks in the tank. Returning Cardinals could play a huge role these last 6 weeks.

Questioning Trevor Rosenthal’s paternity leave is ludicrous

Congratulations, ladies and gentlemen, we live in a day and age where baseball players and their teams are lambasted for feeling the need to be with their wives as they give birth to their children. Yep, it’s not 1930 anymore. Players are allowed to leave the team via paternity leave to witness what every man should see at least once in his life. The birth of a baby. Nothing can equal it. Then again, if you ask some Cardinals fans, it’s just not right. The latest from the Twitter desk….

This is what started the firestorm today. John isn’t alone. There were others who said in not so subtle terms that Rosenthal leaving the team during a pennant race wasn’t convenient. I’m not going to track all the comments down. I’ll be subtle yet direct. At the end of the day, if people are sincerely mad at a player for wanting to see their child born, that speaks about something about that particular person that runs far deeper than baseball. That’s just ludicrous.

Mike Matheny has done this before. Peter Bourjos left to be with his wife. So have other players. It’s a staple in this organization and others around the league. That is why there are 25 men on the roster. That is why teams carry a deep bullpen and bench. That is why there are three farm teams at a team’s disposal. The grueling schedule of baseball covers more than just six months a year. It’s a year round job that doesn’t wear off until Christmas and sparks up again during the first month of the year. Baseball players are highly paid professionals but that doesn’t mean they can’t be with their families at a moment that is as precious as it gets.

So The Rosenthal Propane Fastball Distillery was closed for a few days. Get over it. The Cards can make due. They got others who can throw the heat and get the job done. It isn’t like this just sprung up on Rosenthal and the Cardinals. This had been in the making for months.

When my wife gave birth to our soon to be four year old son Vinny(Rosenthal’s first girl, Chloe, has a birthday on September 13th, one day shy of my son), I was at work doing my job. I was looking for a certain brand of ant killer spray and oblivious to how that would go. My supervisor came and got me, and told me what was happening and immediately followed it with, “Goodbye”. He knew how special the occasion was. I wonder if they didn’t tell me and I left my shift and it was over. That would have been wrong.

Why rob Rosenthal of that moment just because he plays for the Cardinals, one of the most popular teams in the country? At the end of the day, it’s human beings playing a game that they call a living. There will be times when the team has to make due without one of their guys. Good thing there is no “I’ in team, right?

Congratulations to the Rosenthal’s on the birth of their second child and girl. Lots of sleepless nights for Rosenthal and Cardinals fans this fall.

Hat tip to Joe Schwarz(@stlCupofJoe) for the tweet used here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Where would the Cardinals be without Jhonny Peralta?

While Stephen Piscotty is the hot toddy of the moment and Jason Heyward is turning up the jets on the extra base hit plank, I beg to ask a simple question. Where would the St. Louis Cardinals be without shortstop Jhonny Peralta’s steady flow of production in the field and at the plate? It’s become something you expect, like the sun rising every morning. Peralta just keeps hitting, making plays in the field and generally gets zip on the major networks because he isn’t loud enough and doesn’t hit enough home runs. And his name isn’t Kris Bryant.

The Cards offense has been leaking oil since June, but Peralta has kept the vehicle moving. He was doing this before Piscotty showed up, as Heyward’s bat was still thawing out and Matt Carpenter’s bat was missing. Without Peralta, I think this team is without a few key wins and the success wouldn’t be as sweet.

Peralta’s finest trait is durability. Since he put on the birds on the bat, Peralta has played in 276 games out of 285 possible games, and assembled a fWAR of 7.8. That’s not bad for a guy who wasn’t exactly met with the cheeriest of greetings back in November of 2013 upon signing a 4 year deal worth an annual value of 13 million.

Entering Monday’s action against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Peralta’s offensive stats aren’t going to blow minds but they have been steady. Jhonny has 16 home runs, 56 RBI, 24 doubles, .285 batting average, .342 on base and .446 slugging percentage. He has lost a bit of power in August but just polished off a 5-10 performance in San Diego.

On the defensive side, Peralta has gotten job done. He isn’t going to add a gold glove to his shelf any time soon, but Peralta has a lean and mean .991 fielding percentage. Four errors in 452 chances. He makes the plays and makes it look as if his feet aren’t even touching the ground.

People may want more attitude, emotion and all together swagger out of Peralta but it isn’t going to happen. He’s a quiet soldier who goes about his business like a pro. He isn’t flashy but he produces. He is on pace for a similar season to last year’s efforts, with Fangraphs having finishing with 20 home runs, 73 RBI and an average right around .279. Take it. I’ll take that every year from Peralta.

People love the theme park ride allure of Randal Grichuk, the all around tenacity of Piscotty and Carpenter, but this lineup could use a couple more Peralta’s. Guys who can pop a home runs when needed(the Wrigley rescue shot), get a hit, make a play and resist going into a massive slump. He just keeps playing and it’s a good thing, because the only guys standing behind him are Pete Kozma and Greg Garcia, who the Cards can’t seem to resist sending back and forth between Memphis and St. Louis. At a position needing consistency and on a team full of injuries, Peralta has been there every day for the Cards.

While it may not be flashy and Sportscenter worthy, Jhonny Peralta’s value is quite clear. He’s not a life saver, but he sure is important to this band of Birds.

Cardinals need to resist bringing Adam Wainwright back

It’s hard to deny Adam Wainwright in any arena. Fantasy football, barbecue preparation, dugout comedian, team leader or dominant starting pitcher. Having said that, the St. Louis Cardinals shouldn’t expect Wainwright back in 2015. They don’t need him this year, unless he can play the outfield and hit. The need for pitching just doesn’t exist on a team carrying the best team ERA in the National League.

All I have heard for the past two weeks is the idea of Waino coming back way before he was expected to return. When he tore his Achilles Heel back in late April, the book on his 2015 season was closed quite tightly. The recovery time was several months and would not allow him to return this season. If he were rushed back, infection and aggravation could cause more surgery, as was the case with Ryan Howard in 2012.

Wainwright has talked about it. Radio shows have discussed it. The question has been brought to General Manager John Mozeliak’s attention, and even he seemed surprised on the Fox Sports Midwest telecast Tuesday night. When asked about Waino saying his return this season isn’t out of the question, Mo’s silky smooth retort was, “Does he?” The honest response is Waino still has to clear a lot of major hurdles in order to get back. He has to throw from a mound several times, getting the feel back. He has to face some live competition. Live bats. He needs the proper rest in between. He needs the leg to not react badly to ANY of this. See how I am stepping into far fetched land here?

Why rush back your staff ace when the pitching staff is thriving? When there isn’t a need? Right now the Cardinals would have to make a tough decision on a playoff rotation. Who would get kicked out of a strong five man rotation? Why make Waino a sixth? Would he be at 100 percent? Would 65-80% Waino be any better than Tyler Lyons and Tim Cooney? No. People will then say, how about the bullpen? They look pretty stout down there from the right side, so why put Waino in a role he hasn’t been in since the 2006 World Series? There is no need.

Unless Wainwright is being brought back to hit, there is no reason. Can he play the outfield? Can he pinch hit? He certainly may be a threatening bat when mixed in with the Cards bench, but that’s how he hurt the heel in the first place so again, why push it?

Any answer lacks logic and I have heard them all. Adam Wainwright needs to focus on getting ready for 2016 and if keeping the competitive edge in his mind that a return this year isn’t out of questions helps him, so be it.

For all intents and purposes, Wainwright is still out of action this season. There’s no reason to change that. Wainwright’s 2015 season has been lost. There’s no reason to put his 2016 in jeopardy as well. Especially when it’s not needed.

Photo credit-USA Today

Simeon Rice transitions from the NFL to Film Director

Most NFL football players leave the playing field and depart directly into a broadcast booth. They trade the pads and sweaty jersey for a suit, tie and microphone. Players like Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Phil Simms, Tiki Barber and Michael Strahan have done this quite smoothly. Others like Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk take their time once they depart. Former NFL All Pro Defensive End and Super Bowl Champion Simeon Rice is doing something different. He is producing and directing feature length movies. His first movie, Unsullied, arrives on August 28th in select theaters, including St. Louis’ AMC West Olive.

Rice’s production company, Dreamline Pictures, is behind Unsullied and the goal is to produce independent films. The kind of films that rarely introduce superheroes or feature bald headed action heroes racing fast cars. Rice’s production company will release the kind of movies he likes and wants to see more of in theaters.  He plans to share directing duties as well on these endeavors. “Unsullied is a modern suspense thriller. I based it on the films I like – hoping to evoke some of the cult classics of times gone by,” said Rice.

What’s the movie about? It looks at life off the grid in a world controlled by money and greed and an insatiable thirst to catch the ultimate prey –human beings. Its story is a very dangerous game of kill or be killed, and I hope this action packed drama, with its cast of exciting new talents, captures the audience and leaves them wanting more.

Unsullied-posterSay what you want about athletes taking on film work but the results have been favorable. Lebron James’ face was all over Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck and it worked. Several NFL players are filling the lens of HBO’s Ballers at the moment, including Denzel Washington’s son and former NFL running back John David Washington as well as Super Bowl champ Victor Cruz. Rice is taking that idea one step further. Instead of showing up and acting in a few scenes, Rice is putting his time and money where his mouth is. He is executive producing and directing the films, and keeping his face out of the actual film. He’s going for it the hard way.

Unsullied features Murray Gray in her debut as well as Rusty Joiner and James Gaudioso. Rice’s next production is not set but I do believe the former defensive end won’t stop before he becomes a legit filmmaker. He is making these films cheap, using up and comers and taking his time. In his former life, he attacked quarterbacks. These days, Rice has exchanged his spikes for a different kind of microphone. The one that screams “Cut” and “Action”.

Whether you like the film or not, it’s hard to not respect the ambition of Simeon Rice as he starts career #2.

Learn more about Unsullied here.




Weighing the Gun Reform issues

In North St. Louis, a 21 month old toddler picked up a loaded gun and accidentally shot himself. Carter Epps was taken to an area hospital, but it was too late. The bullet round ripped through his chest and it was over. This will set off the “let’s get rid of guns” crowd and the gun rightsholders will rally against them, no matter how hard the news is. Each side has a point, but it all comes back to one thing and that’s this. GUN SAFETY. Being responsible with a weapon.

Whoever left a loaded weapon out for a kid to find and the safety was off or easily triggered needs to be punished. NOT ALL GUN OWNERS. Weapons these days are made with several safety clicks and triggers that must be pushed or pulled in order for a weapon to fire. This is why before you buy a weapon there is a class and a waiting period. People want to/need to see if you are fit to hold a weapon and own it.

This is why there are safes that people can buy with thumb print locks so no one except for the owner can get into them. This keeps people safer than the weapon itself. The safes that house a weapon. Whoever left the gun out and available for a toddler to grab instead of his shaky toy or kids book needs to stripped of their license and sent to jail. A brutal lapse in judgement that will linger in the mind for the rest of their life.

I know several cops and often go shooting with my brother in law, Brian. The first thing we always go over when we shoot is gun safety. What kind of weapon is it and where are the safeties on it? When we fire, we say “gun is hot” and fire. Upon concluding the firing, we yell to each other “gun is safe”. This has to practiced. All the time. If a weapon is not treated with the utmost respect and care, it can be a ticking timebomb for tragedy. This goes for a family owning a weapon or a single person just keeping their home safe. Guns are dangerous and once that trigger is fired, no one runs faster than the bullets that explode out of that barrel. It’s all gone then. You must know what you are shooting at, how to stop it and you must control the weapon.

The biggest misconception is thinking a gun is as easy to fire as it looks in the movies. WRONG. As a 100% movie buff, I can tell you it’s different. Much more technical and complicated. The minute you pick up a weapon, you are a different person. A deadly one. Precautions must not be passed up just because Jason Statham made it look so easy. Keep in mind the people on movie sets are taking extra care when the actors are using fake guns. Yeah, extra care even if the gun is fake because it’s still a dangerous method to partake in. Real life is real life. No action. No cut. No do overs.

It’s sad but true. Every gun shot death can teach us something. About the person who was shot or the person who fired the weapon. The aftermath has to be used for a good cause. As people in St. Louis mourn the death of a 21 month old boy, it’s important to remember who the wrong party is here. That is this particular gun owner. Not all gun owners. When it comes to gun safety and its reach, it’s all relative.

I’ve said it many times but I’ll say it again. It comes down to who pulls the trigger. Not the weapon itself. In this case, it was who left the gun out to be picked up and used for a tragic cause. Don’t blame the guns or the millions of owners across the world. Examine the particular case and work from it.

This is where logical meets illogical. Both parties will come out today. Which side are you on?

BIG GAME is a huge Samuel L. Jackson mistake

I need to speak with Sam L. Jackson’s agent. It won’t take long.  I am going to ask him why he passes on these dreadful scripts to his popular client. Jackson has done some drivel in recent years, but Big Game takes the cake. It’s a riff on Air Force One with Jackson’s President being stranded in the woods after his plane is blown out of the sky and it’s up to him and a young kid to survive and defeat the bad guys.

Jalmari Helander writes and directs a movie that may have been digestible in 1987, because back then trash dialogue and kindergarten special effects weren’t frowned upon yet swallowed whole like a McDonald’s double cheeseburger at 11 o’ clock at night.

Hey, there’s cool bad guy Ray Stevenson(Rome and Dexter) slumming it as a man who wants a piece of the Executive Chief. There’s highly respected actor Jim Broadbent, the man back home in the Pentagon who knows what is going on and chews on an apple for the entire film. Felicity Huffman and Victor Garber show up as well. Onni Tommila is the Finnish kid who helps our guy but he can’t even work a bow and arrow. How did so many good actors find their way into this film? Was it code named “Marvel spinoff” and they got duped?

There’s one cool shot of a man diving out of a plane and as he falls to the ground missiles fly past him up into the sky. That’s it. Everything else is bad music, lazy editing, laughable dialogue, corny action and slow motion amateur hour. I’m getting tired of the President in duress plots as well. It’s been done, overcooked, deep fried and saturated in muddy cinematic waters. Let’s can it.

Is there any delight here to be had? Sure. If you ever wanted to watch a movie while typing away on your phone or while cooking dinner in the other room, this is the one for you. It’s only 90 minutes and doesn’t stay on your mind long afterwards. All you will think about as this film concludes is why all these fine actors partake in this mischief. What was the catch? It didn’t cost much to make but it reined in some big names. Did it get lost in the editing room? Did the Cliffhanger/Air Force One aspect get lost quickly? I am not sure.

I can tell you this. Big Game is a big waste of your time.

Jaime Garcia: A great yet breakable investment

By now, Cardinals fans know the drill. When Jaime Garcia is on, he’s as good of a lefthander as you will find in this league. He makes MLB hitters swing awkwardly and ugly at several of his pitches. He doesn’t need a ton of pitches to get through 7 innings of work and he seems to have conquered the maturation on the mound aspect as he nears the ripe age of 30. However, the biggest problem with Garcia has little to do with pitching and everything to do with health. Can he stay healthy and for how long? Should the Cards invest in that going forward?

Garcia will be making his 10th start in Milwaukee tonight and his 2015 season has been impressive, albeit incomplete. While he doesn’t have the win total due to a lack of run support(19 runs in 9 starts), Garcia hasn’t been reached for more than 3 earned runs in his 9 starts, and he’s only needed more than 100 pitches once. He has a 3 to 1 strikeouts to walks ratio and doesn’t allow a lot of clean contact. His WHIP is a rude 0.92 and hitters have only scraped a .199 average against him. How is he doing it? Every Garcia pitch has movement, whether it’s is 91 mph four seam fastball or his devastating sinker and slider. He doesn’t get a ton of swings and misses but he does induce plenty of groundballs.

Garcia is a wicked bowl of talent that seems to slip off the counter far too often. It’s hard to get excited about Garcia because when you do, it seems to be a flicker of greatness. The southpaw is nearing the end of another season where he won’t make more than 20 starts for the fourth consecutive season. Garcia has an 11.5 million dollar option for 2016 and a 12 million dollar option for 2017, both carrying 500k buyouts. With Marco Gonzales coming up fast and ready to assume a role in this rotation, does Garcia return next year? Do the Cards take that gamble with his health? Let’s answer that question.

If he finishes the season(which is like saying if you finish that 1 pound hamburger inside 5 minutes), The Cardinals should bring back Garcia, as long as it’s just the one year. Until he establishes an ability to stay healthy, the team shouldn’t extend him beyond a year. At the same time, they can’t cut loose a guy who has honestly figured something out. He hasn’t been this sharp in years and whether it’s brief and not long lasting to this point, Garcia is a riddle for Major League hitters. In his weakest outings, his first against the Mets and last against Colorado, he still managed to keep the Cards in the game and pitch well. He hasn’t been beat up once this season and that can’t be discounted.

For now, enjoy the lefty while you can. He’s that traveling rock n’ roll band who may flame out at any moment, cursed by its internal structure and wiring. Garcia is easily one of the best pitchers in the National League…when he’s actually pitching. While a decision on 2016 will loom soon enough, Cardinals fans need to hope, not bet, on Garcia staying healthy the rest of the way.

Someone please put a sock in Donald Trump’s mouth

If you know me at all, you know I couldn’t give two shits about politics, don’t fully believe in God on earth and think of religious wars as futile excuses to blow shit up and put a name on it.

So I’m sorry if I couldn’t be more tired of hearing about Donald Trump’s latest speech, hair piece adjustment or stupid statement. When does a politician NOT make a stupid statement? When does a politician, elected or not, say something they will regret or not be able to back up later on? It’s an ongoing robotic robust pile of bullshit being handed to the hard working people of America for decades now. Does it matter who gets elected? Will they be anything resembling the person they were when the campaign started? NO.

Image result for Donald Trump 2015

Screw Hilary Clinton too. She’s full of it. If she wins, it will be more about the first woman President than anything she will actually change. Do we really think she will reform health care, help schools or create more jobs with her personal touch? Go see crazy somewhere else. The table is full here.

I voted for Barack Obama twice and instead of seeing the valiant fiery speaker I watched for months up until the election back in 2008, I see a robot these days. One that has been twisted, turned, bent over backwards and reformulated into something else entirely. Presidents aren’t human until they make a speech following a school shooting or bombing. Then they talk to us like people for just a brief moment. Everything else is star spangled banners and baloney.

I wish I could be more heroic here and tell you that voting next year will make a different. Letting your voice be heard will only work if you vote for someone with a chance of winning. Somebody who has money.

Trump may have a shred of a chance because he is loaded and is colorful and has several parties interest. He’s a fantastic businessman, shrewd, Republican and can draw crowds with ease. I still don’t think he will win but hear about him every day.

The election is a year away and I have to hear every single update on these candidates. It’s annoying. Politics is something I know I can’t control so therefore I don’t donate much time to it. I’m sorry. You can get up in front of small crowds, make speeches and you are still as full of shit as the rest of us.

You want to know who I think makes differences and gets zero attention. City Alderman’s. Select mayors. A few dedicated suits at City Hall. People who don’t have a team of 50 following them around. The one’s who have to crawl around, scratch, sweat and reach for every nickle they use in their campaign. I can find some dignity in that. Presidential elections are a joke and always will be until an elected official proves me wrong.

Who are you voting for? You only have over 400 days to figure that out.

Rant over.