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Since the St. Louis Cardinals, as a whole, are likely to break your heart every other day of the week, let’s talk about a guy named Adam. Back on Sept. … Continue reading 40 reasons why Adam Wainwright is awesome
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One last ride for The Moon Man
For months, I’ve written that the St. Louis Cardinals need to do whatever is necessary to keep their longtime and sure-fire Hall of Fame catcher, Yadier Molina. But sometimes, feelings … Continue reading Why the Cardinals don’t owe Yadier Molina a thing
I remember where I was when Adam Wainwright got hurt in Milwaukee in April. I was buying a couch and driving a Home Depot truck around Little Rock and afterwards I went to dinner. Throughout the game that the Cardinals eventually won, all I could think about was, how will this team win 80 games without their ace? With the news today that Wainwright has fully recovered from the ruptured Achilles heel and will be active for tomorrow’s game in Pittsburgh, it makes me think about this amazing 2015 Cardinals team. They have 99 wins with five games to go on the season. How did this happen? Sometimes pinching yourself just doesn’t work.
Adam Wainwright made four starts in April before going down and had a record of 2-1. Before the aborted Milwaukee start, Waino had just shut down Cincinnati for 8 innings at Busch. That night, the Cards hosted the bloggers in their suite and it was a great time. It was the second Blogger Night in a row where a huge pitching injury was around the corner. In 2014, Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia were both announced as new disabled list shareholders the evening of Blogger Day at a June game. This year, it was the last start Wainwright would make this season at Busch Stadium or the last time he’d figure in a box score. Until now.
I haven’t been a huge fan of the Waino rehab renaissance, mostly out of fear. I worry about the Achilles reinjuring or something else going wrong. It’s the human body where nothing goes as planned for a pitcher in his 30’s. I wrote about it for KSDK and still agree with points made in that article with one exception that is pouring out me now. Adam Wainwright did everything by the book, medically, and cleared the hurdles without being rushed. This wasn’t a rush job, because there was simply no need. This is a guy who wanted to prove to himself he could get back and did. Remember when he climbed the mound at his daughter’s game a couple months ago and the net was set ablaze? Seems like a long time from today’s announcement that Wainwright will be coming out of the bullpen this week. His doctors in May said he could come back and they weren’t wrong. Buy them a drink.
Can we expect Waino to be good? Hard to answer that without seeing a pitch. He can pitch in a few simulated game against his teammates and do drills all he wants, but until he steps into a hot contested September ballgame, that answer remains a fill in the blank location. He needs to pitch Wednesday and should with the Tuesday postponement and pending doubleheader. He needs to get in there and go 1-2 innings. He then needs to recover and go back out there 1-2 times this weekend in Atlanta. He needs to get as much action as he can before the playoff start. With Carlos Martinez’s injury, there is a potential roster spot open for an arm and if Waino is even close to the efficient ace St. Louis knows well, he gets that spot.
First, Waino has to prove his worth this year. He can be Han Solo but we first need to see if he can fly the Millennium Falcon before we give him a mission. It’s common sense. Logistics of a comeback. The good thing is he is 100% and ready to pitch and for a team getting hit with injuries on a weekly basis, the addition of Adam Wainwright during crunch time is hard to deny. It’s actually quite exciting.
What do you think?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
There comes that time of the year where you need to look back on a season and count the topical story lines that resonated with you. Big or small, personal or professional, it is one’s job to put their own spin on a story and how it surprised them or brought them closer to the sport. This season, the St. Louis Cardinals made it to the World Series and came within 2 wins of their 12th World Championship.
This is a season where we saw unlikely players turn into star performers. Before the new year came into focus, the Cards were hoping on Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia to be key starters, for Jason Motte to be their closer and for Rafael Furcal to make a miraculous comeback from an elbow injury to play shortstop. In short, that didn’t happen. None of that happened. With the exception of Garcia making a few starts, those players ended up contributing nothing. This is where miracle workers came into play.
Nearly two months after the sting of that near victorious run ended, I look back at the top 5 stories, in no particular order, from 2013.
1.)The Emergence of Matt Carpenter
With Furcal gone, Matt Carpenter turned in one of the most historically prominent seasons by a second baseman, made all the more legendary with it coming from a first time lead off man and second baseman. Carpenter ranked in the top 5 in the league in hits, doubles, on base percentage, and runs scored. With his 55 doubles, 199 hits and 126 runs scored, Carpenter did more fill a role and spot in the lineup. He took ownership of it. Before the season, Carpenter had been a fine bench player in 2012 but no one expected him to become the league wide threat he was in 2013. This is another great find, sign and put to use piece of talent by the Cardinals coaches and front office. While incoming talent like Kolten Wong and Peter Bourjos might make fine leadoff men, it will be hard to push Carpenter from that spot in 2014.
2.)Edward Mujica Rescues the Closer Role
Sure he flamed out in September, but let’s not forget what Edward Mujica did for the Cardinals. When the fire alarm sounded in April with Motte’s Tommy John Surgery and Mitchell Boggs’ implosion, the Cards had a serious problem. They didn’t have a closer and saw limited options in house. Instead of making a desperate premature move on the market, the Cards looked to a guy they signed to be their 7th inning guy in 2012 and had never closed before. All Eddie did was convert 37 of 41 saves while only walking 5 hitters in 64.2 innings. Sure, he wasn’t as effective in September when a few injuries and harder contact from the hitters doomed his season and saw a change happen in the final week of the season. However, far too many Cards fans forget to mention what this guy did for the team in a dire time. While Trevor Rosenthal was the imminent revelation, what Mujica did took everyone by surprise. All hail the Chief and good luck to him in Cleveland.
3.)Waino Finds His Way Back
After a tumultuous return from Tommy John Surgery in 2012, where he went 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA and was inconsistent, the staff ace found his way back to the circle of domination in 2013. He went 19-9, made 34 starts, pitched 241. innings(not including the playoffs) and tallied 5 complete games with 2 shutouts. He returned to being the dynamic rotation horse we have come to know him as. After signing a huge contract extension, Waino didn’t cool off and become ordinary. He went back to being extraordinary for a St. Louis Cardinals team that lost two prominent starters before the All Star Break. After a rough early September start against the Reds, Waino finished the final month 4-0 with a 2.15 ERA. In 2013, the Cards got their ace back.
4.)Michael Wacha and Matt Adams Became Real Deals
These two players turned into big time contributors in a time of need in 2013 and provided only a sample size of the rookie renaissance that happened with this team. Wacha came up for the second time in late August and entered the rotation for good in September. What Wacha did will never be forgotten. His brilliance lies in the ability he showed to shut down good team more than once in such a short period of time. His work against the Pirates and Dodgers in the playoffs, which followed a near no hitter against Washington in September, is why people are calling him the hybrid of Waino and Chris Carpenter. Wacha, who was selected with the pick from the Angels in exchange for their signing of Albert, went from big potential to the real deal in less than a season. Expect big things from him in 2014 and beyond.
Adams took over at first base for an injured Allen Craig in early September after providing bench pop and gave the lineup a real boost. Adams took flight in the same game he relieved Craig, on September 4th in Cincinnati. He launched a pair of 2 run home runs, each in extra innings and the second of which won the game in the 16th frame. In 296 at bats in 2013, Adams hit 17 home runs and drove in 56 with a slugging percentage of .503. He also proved to be quite nimble at first base. With him in line for starting time come 2014, Adams gives the Cards potentially one of the best RH-LH combos at a position in a long time. However it pans out, Matt Adams became a legit threat in 2013 after teasing us mildly in 2012.
5.)Thank You Carlos Beltran
When he was signed in the winter of 2011(or mere days after Albert signed with LA), Cardinal fans didn’t know what to expect out of Beltran. Sure, he was the former Houston Astros outfielder who torched us in 2004-05 with big hits but this guy looked like he was breaking down and the chances of him staying healthy were sketchy at best. What happened was too good of a story to believe at first glance, as Beltran ripped 56 home runs, drove in 181 runners, and hit .282 over the two seasons. Most importantly, he played in 296 of a possible 324 games. He answered the call of duty and then some in his time in St. Louis. In the playoffs in each season, Beltran was the Cards top hitter. While he had months where he slumped, Beltran always came back with a vengeance and gave the Cards one of the most feared arms in the outfield. “Saved By the Beltran” became a coin phrase in the latter moments of 2013 as he gunned down runners at the plate and hit timely home runs. He was a great presence in the community and also a strong presence in the clubhouse. He will be missed in 2014 but I wish him luck in his endeavors and thank him for making the departure of Albert Pujols look seamless.
That’s all I got. Sure, there were other great stories, but those 5 stood out to me. Those 5 things were so important to us getting there. Yadi Molina was amazing again and MVP worthy. Kevin Siegrist, Seth Maness and Rosenthal became bullpen bulldogs. Matt Holliday provided another solid season. Craig was amazing before his injury and played on one leg in the playoffs as he contributed a few big hits. Mike Matheny juggled injuries, problems, raw talent and ever changing circumstances as good as any manager in the league. A lot of things happened this season that were important and good. The 5 stories I listed above were the best in my mind. Take it for what it is.
Dan Buffa is the co-creator, administrator and writer for the movie website, film-addict.com. He also writes for the local blog United Cardinal Bloggers in addition to Arch City Sports and also writes for his personal blog, http://www.doseofbuffa.com. He is a STL born and raised writer with a need to inform and the ability to pound out 1,000-1,500 word pieces with ease. When he isn’t writing or drinking coffee, he is spending time with his wife and son in South City. Follow him at @buffa82 on Twitter and reach him for thoughts, comments and general feedback at email@example.com.
With the series tied at a game apiece, The St. Louis Cardinals walk into the temple of doom in PNC Park today in Pittsburgh to attempt to slay the dragon that is Francisco Liriano. Every giant has a nemesis that’s hard to break than others. Muhammad Ali had Joe Fraizier. Mike Tyson had Evander Holyfield. Why use boxing references in a friendly game? When the playoffs begin, everything is a fight. The Cards have to find a way to beat this crafty lefty or they risk putting their 97 win season to rest without barely a whimper. It’s not time to panic ladies and gentlemen, but it’s okay to reach for the pain medication and talk to your priest. This was never going to be easy.
How do you beat man who dominated you during the regular season three separate nights? Watch more film, find a different approach at the plate or use a different bat and rub voodoo beads on it. There are several ideas but no true course of action. Cardinals starter Joe Kelly will bring his A game to Pittsburgh but can the bats support his methods? Will they wilt under the left-handed sun of Liriano’s changeup or rise up and stomp him in the first inning? If I knew the answer I’d tell you but this movie isn’t over yet and the script hasn’t even been finished. As die hard fans and bleeders for the game, we will just have to watch and see if Liriano’s 3-0 record and 0.75 ERA against the Cardinals is a thing of the past or a preview of the future. Let’s just hope for the best.
PNC Park will be rocking, with their fans pledging this two day period the ultimate sports holiday with the fate of their football team looming in the dungeon of the NFL and the hockey team just getting started. For the first time in over 2 decades, the Pirates can clinch a chance to go to the National League Championship series. It’s the Cardinals job to show up today and remind the Bucs who rules the Central and who has been to the postseason 10 times in the past 14 seasons. In 2006 and 2011, the Cards were propelled by unexpected rookie contributions and a never say die will to survive in close games on the road, so they are built for this madness. Remember Shea Stadium in 2006 against the Mets? 2011 with Chris Carpenter taking on his friend and foe Roy Halladay in high noon showdown for a chance to advance to the pennant? The Cards have clinched big time series’ on the road and did the deed in hostile environments. Areas unfit for a visiting team but tromped by the notion that when you are used to the playoff fever and have it running through your veins, settings don’t seem to matter. What is the best way to quiet down a screaming crowd? Take the field today and put up a 3 spot on the scoreboard. Send Joe Kelly to the mound with a changeup that has befuddled the Pirates for the past two months. Bat Yadi Molina in the cleanup spot and slide down the youthful power of Matt Adams to the sixth spot to load the guns. Have young guns Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal ready to light up home plate with 100 mph fastballs. Don’t feed the Pirates team too many fastballs because they love them.
Why did Lance Lynn not do well in Game 2? No matter how effective his curveball was, he kept going back to his fastball to finish off hitters and it was punished for big hits. Why in the world do you throw Pedro Alvarez a fastball in the 3rd with a man on and the game only 1-0? It makes no sense to feed that hound some bloody cheese there. Pound him with the changeup and curve. Don’t feed these big Pirate hitters heaters unless you can throw it past them. Shelby Miller showed a shade of why he isn’t starting Game 4 when he allowed an eighth inning solo home run to Starlin Marte. Miller relies on his fastball to get outs and the Pirates love fastballs. Kelly is a guy who sets up his fastball with his changeup and keeps the hitters off balance. Michael Wacha is the same way. Set up your heater with your changeup and also have the ability to finish them off with your changeup if the situation calls for it. In the playoffs, it’s about adjusting to what works and what doesn’t work. Kelly and Wacha have the mindset and arsenal to get it done. Lynn and Miller do not. End of story.
Will the Cards get another game at Busch Stadium this year? It’s so hard to make predictions in sports because anything can happen and expectations can easily be tromped. The Cards need to at least do what the Bucs did at Busch over the weekend? Win one game and bring it back home. Don’t worry about Gerrit Cole’s and his evil rookie sharpness looming in Game 5. You’ve seem him now and have tape to work off of. He isn’t invincible. He is young and talented yet beatable and hasn’t pitched a Game 5 winner take all before. Another guy wearing Cardinal Red named Adam Wainwright has pitched in several of those games. Yes, I am typing hopeful thoughts because at this point it’s important to remind fans that the series is tied 1-1 and up for grabs. Forget the PNC Park madness and go out and play baseball. Keep it simple.
I leave with these words. Every day is another chance to turn it all around. The Cards sucker punched the Pirates in Game 1 and they turned the tables in Game 2. What does Game 3 have in store for the Postseason Kings(Cards) and the mad hatters in Pittsburgh? Does Liriano dominate and sour the minds of Cards fans everywhere and send us prepping for a cold winter? Do the Cards scrap, take a patient approach, find a way to hit his slider and score runs and get Joe Kelly up early? You just don’t know or can tell what will happen next between these two teams. That is what makes baseball great. That is what makes October baseball legendary. Unpredictable sporting events keep the blood flowing in a world where so many things can make your body go cold.
Thanks for staying,