Tag: STL Cards

Yadier Molina: True Value


Disclaimer-I wrote this last August for the Conclave but saved it on the dose here for a future publishing. I saved it for when people started to doubt Molina’s brilliance. They were worried about his lack of power or his ability to frame a pitch. Well, when you are king of a position in America’s favorite pastime, all people can do is chip away at your legend. I wrote this when Molina returned in 2014. Read on.

When I think of Yadier Molina’s importance to the St. Louis Cardinals, I think of one of my legs. He isn’t the heart and soul of the team because that position belongs to the logo on the front of the chest and is spread across the entire team. Yadi is a leg and it was broken on July 9th when he went down with torn ligaments in his right thumb. The loss of Yadi didn’t dismantle the team completely. They were able to soldier on and win more games than they lost. Tony Cruz couldn’t fill the starting role so A.J. Pierzynski was brought in to help. Together, they did a decent job in a pinch. In the end, they showed how important Yadi is to the Cards. He is easily the most valuable player and someone I attribute “true value” to every time he steps on the field. He is a leg on this team because since early July, this team has been hopping on one foot and barely getting by. They are scrapping the floor and the other healthy limb is getting tired. With Yadi, the team walks straight and glides. Without him, they are off, in pain and slowly falling apart.

You can try to calculate the value of Yadi but good luck getting anywhere with MVP voters. They prefer glossy baseball card mafia statistics instead of intangibles. They want home runs, RBI and hits. MVP voters like the long ball and Yadier’s career high is 22 in 2012. The WAR(wins above replacement) can’t be correctly graded for a catcher, but last year in that category, Yadi ranked first among catchers with a 5.7. In 2012, it was 6.7 wins above replacement. Yadier Molina should have at least 2 MVP’s but voters don’t want to look at the little things. (more…)

The Bullet Round: STL Sports

Let me introduce this new round of action:  Since I started blogging to a pack of buddies via an email blast over 10 years ago, I have always liked firing out a post on a
Sam+Bradford+St+Louis+Rams+v+Arizona+Cardinals+QFtwXuRJVTnlwide range of topics.  I’d call it “The Buffa Bullet Round” or “A Buffa Blast”. Bullet points, quick and smooth, about different things. One-topic articles are great but sometimes, firing away on a wide range of things can make for a fun read. On a radio show, they do the same thing. Over the course of the 2-3 hours, a host goes over a range of topics offering his take. Here is my first dispatch/bullet round, STL sports talk.

  • As spring training heats up and games start on the 28th, center field continues to be a hot topic. The Cards brought in Peter Bourjos by shipping out the hometown boy David Freese so they could improve the defense in the outfield. In 2013, the Cards were wretched in the field out there and hurt their team’s chances by not doing the pitchers many favors. Bourjos was brought here to help that. Some are claiming Jon Jay can hit better than Bourjos, which if you compare the two’s baseball cards is true; however, remember the context of the trade that was made. Bourjos gives you fantastic defense in center field and if he can get on base, could change the lineup speed-wise. Jay has been good here and is a good teammate, but I just don’t see where he gets too many at bats if the Cards and Matheny need great defense in center. That was the idea. A platoon doesn’t work because Bourjos can’t hit lefties any more than Jay can. With Jhonny Peralta giving shortstop an offensive boost, I would be willing to sacrifice a bat for a glove in center until Oscar Taveras is ready. And that’s another thing: when Oscar is ready, how many starts will Jay receive? Like Daniel Descalso on the infield, I see Jay as injury insurance. Mark Ellis is rookie meltdown prevention insurance with Kolten Wong taking over the reins at second base. Jay is going to have a hard time finding at-bats unless he discovers some new defensive ability.
  • Thank you, T.J. Oshie, for slashing away at the Russian express in the Olympics. Oshie did a lot more than sink some pucks in a shootout: I have a feeling the “Oshie in Sochi” sensation destroyed the Russians’ morale and paved the way for their loss today against Finland. Coming into the Games with monstrous expectations, Russia didn’t see the Oshie Express coming and got cut in half. Oshie didn’t just perform amazingly in the shootout, say the right things about heroes, and earn an additional 160,000 Twitter followers in a matter of days, I think he handed the Russian hockey team a full-on case of depression. Good for the Americans, the St. Louis Blues and the tournament overall.
  • Let’s not forget about David Backes and his efforts. The man doesn’t go anywhere without making an attempt to change a team and affect the environment he is in. He scored his third goal today against the Czech Republic and shut down their best player, Jaromir Jagr.  Backes has three goals, one assist for the Games and consistently changes the other team’s complexion every time he hits the ice. It isn’t always about goals and assists in hockey, it’s about the rugged intangibles:  inspiring your team to do better,  pushing your teammates and setting an example. Backes is the perfect captain because he looks the part and works his ass off to prove it to others. Every game is a chance to be a presence. Backes is also helping find a home for abandoned dogs in Sochi when he isn’t dominating on the ice.
  • Thank you, Rick Majerus.  I am not a huge college sports fan but I appreciate the effect this man had on St. Louis Billikens basketball.  When he came here, the team was in shambles and not faring so well.  His hard work, maturation, belief in the school and fearless personality turned this team into something the entire NCAA tournament field will have to worry about.  Nice job, Rick.  Everyone should remember this guy by devouring some barbecue because that is what the man loved. Food, life, basketball and making everything around him better.  (Writer’s note: Eating barbecue in moderation, as in once a year to celebrate a man’s passion for life, isn’t going to end any lives.)
  • Every Cardinal fan who claims to hate Robinson Cano’s lack of hustle on groundouts can feel very good knowing their high paid outfielder, Matt Holliday, sprints down the line every time no matter what.    Holliday hustles the most on the team. Pure, true grit.


Hello Jhonny Peralta


Quick take reaction to the close to finalized signing by the Cardinals of free agent Jhonny Peralta.

First, let me commend John Mozeliak for showing urgency in resolving the needs of this team.  He tested the trade market and found a match for David Freese and improved his horribly 2013 ranked outfield defense with Peter Bourjos.  However, when it came to finding a shortstop, the requests of teams seemed to be too much for Mo to bear.   So he went to the free agent market and found a decent acquisition in Jhonny Peralta.   For money that will be 4 years for around 52 million, Peralta will take over at short until the 2018 season.   This is a quality acquisition.

Did Mo overpay for the guy?  In my opinion, he did not overpay and basically met the market demands while improving his team drastically.  Take away the .230 hitting combo of Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma and enter the .300 hitting Peralta who is capable of cranking 20 home runs.

Sometimes the price can’t be measured by the player you get but by the market he exists in.   On the market, you had overrated Scott Boras represented Stephen Drew and you had Peralta.   Mo wisely picked the latter who could provide his team with pop and a glove that provided a .988 fielding percentage as recently as 2012.  I do not love this deal but it has grown on me over the last 18 hours.   Let’s break it down.

Peralta isn’t young.  He is a 10 year MLB veteran with time split between Cleveland and Detroit who is 31 years old and will finish the proposed Cardinals deal at 35.   That presents concerns going forward but it’s what he has done with the bat that provides the biggest upside here.   Four times in his career, he has hit 20 or more home runs.   As recently as 2011, Peralta hit 21 home runs, drove in 86 runs, and hit .299.    He doesn’t score a lot of runs and strikes out a lot.  He has played 140 or more games in 8 of his 10 seasons.  At his best, his on base percentage is around .350.   At his best, he is around 4 wins above his replacement.   I see this guy and I see somewhat of enigma.   He didn’t have a good 2012 season when it came to batting average but he produced 13 HR and 63 RBI.  In 2013, he hit .303 with 11 HR and 55 RBI in only 107 games.  He gives you pop, a decent average and someone who can make plays in the field.   This isn’t an overwhelming player by any means but one who can thrive in the right surroundings.

Peralta helped his offseason cause by hitting .333 in the 2013 postseason with 10 hits while playing shortstop and left field.

For people who hate the money in the deal, would you rather us give up Shelby Miller, Matt Adams or Carlos Martinez in order to acquire J.J. Hardy?  Do you want to take on Andrus’ 120 million and give up 3-4 players in return?   This signing signifies how badly Mozeliak wanted to hang onto his young talent and not bend over backwards for other teams demands.  Mozeliak surveyed the market and made his choice.   You can tell he wasn’t going to give away a player like Adams, whom Mo coveted, to anyone and in the end the asking price for a shortstop under team control was too steep.

Peralta solves a problem at shortstop for the Cardinals.   He isn’t anyone’s first choice for the job but he will be a fine improvement and fill a need.   He gives you an offensive upgrade at a position left out in the cold by the Cards for too long.   No more Pete Kozma or Daniel Descalso.   Expect Peralta to get 155 starts if his body can hold up.   He is the shortstop for the next four years.

Inside 3 days, Mozeliak solved two needs.  Outfield defense and shortstop offense.   Those problems have been solved.    And guess what?   The Cards didn’t part with one single piece of their heavily equipped young arsenal of talent.    That is the best part about the Peralta deal.

I expect our GM to sit back  now and survey the trading/free agent landscape for a couple smaller deals or possible trades but he doesn’t HAVE to do anything.   His needs have been filled.  This team didn’t have many holes to begin with.  The Cards are ready to contend again.   This year The Birds will have Oscar Taveras.   The Cards could have Stephen Piscotty in the outfield as well.   They will have Bourjos and Wong in the same lineup giving pitchers problems.  Matt Adams and Allen Craig patrolling first base.  Matt Carpenter back at third base.   Holliday in left.  And a most valuable asset behind the plate in Yadi Molina.   A pitching staff including at least 7 starting candidates with a loaded bullpen.   Things are good in Cardinal Nation and it’s not even Thanksgiving.

Well done, Mo.   Peralta is a producer and somewhat with an element of surprise.   He comes here with the Cards not having to hand over a draft pick to the Indians and no players on their current roster.   Before you cry out about other players or the money, remember what Mozelaik didn’t give up.

That’s all for now.  Have a great Sunday!

Thanks for reading this,

Dan L. Buffa

@buffa82 on Twitter


Pregame Dose On The Cardinals


Let’s shed some light on a few things heading into tonight’s interleague showdown with the most one legged team in the majors, The Seattle Mariners.  They have Felix Hernandez and….well….other players too.   I kid around a little but you get my drift.  The Mariners are the most non-descriptive team in the AL and join the Padres as the biggest band of misfit toys since Billy Beane bought into moneyball.   Our old friend Brendan Ryan departed this week for the Bronx, leaving this weekend to be a non jersey licking affair.   Excuse me readers.  This is a little Friday madness from my end of cyberspace.  It’s fight weekend in the Buffa house with Canelo Alvarez and Floyd Mayweather Jr. squaring off tomorrow night, so I’m a little amped and loose at the same time.   Let’s look at some pregame notes on the Cardinals.

*Don’t chase down Joe Kelly with pitchforks just yet.   The right hander who was unbeaten in nearly 2 months finally broke down last night and was solved for 4 runs in 5 innings.  The last time he allowed 4 runs came against the Marlins and that was a long time ago.   Kelly’s curve wasn’t as tight as usual, which made his fastball easier to locate.  The Brewers are bad but are not pushovers.  They know their role and stole a game last night that caused the Birds to move into a first place tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Kelly will be good again.   He didn’t help himself with early throwing errors and things basically didn’t go the Cards way last night.  A plain unfortunate if digestible 5-3 loss.

*Speaking of those Pirates, they just won’t die.  After getting swept in a weekend series and moved out of first place, the Bucs swept Texas on the road and took the first game against the Cubs at home last night.   If the Pirates were going to wilt and die, Sunday was the day the grave was set.  Instead, they bounced back and are playing very good baseball.  Things won’t be easy down the stretch for the Cards because the two teams in contention with them will not perish.   There are sixteen games left and the Cards only have 3 against a winning team, but have to sit back and watch the other teams square off 6 times in the final three weeks.  It will be an eventful finish.

*David Freese lost a lot of steam from his weekend revival and had a horrible Brewers series, going 0-8 with 3 strikeouts.   His supposed breakthrough against Pittsburgh was short lived and he is again searching for that big hit and having issues turning on an inside fastball.   He finds himself in the lineup again as the defensively superior and speedy Kolten Wong rides the bench looking for his swing.  Freese isn’t showing me anything new and hasn’t come alive in September.  Take away the two long home runs and a lot of noise rides away with it.  He is hitting .260 in September so far with 6 hits and 8 strikeouts.  Stop saying this is his month.  Story is dead.

*Edward Mujica may be suffering from a few minor injuries but keep in mind he was bound to be hit.  He has sharper stuff than our old friend Ryan Franklin but still pitches to contact and throws that 90-92 mph fastball a lot.  When he gets hit a little, people freak out and forget we didn’t even know this guy had a social security number before July 31st of 2012.   He will still be effective if more hittable down the stretch.  Give him more 2-3 run leads.

*Yadi Molina is back with the team and in the lineup.  The 3 Molina brothers were in town this week as their mother had surgery on her heart.   All things went well and Yadi is back hitting 5th in the lineup tonight.  The splits with Yadi getting a spot in a game and not participating at all are amazingly one sided.   The Cards sharper than any club with Molina in the game and just bad without him in it.   I don’t have the exact stats but let’s just say that this guy is still the team MVP.  Sorry Carp Jr., but Molina is the rock of this squad.   I am pretty sure Matt wouldn’t argue with that conclusion.

*Matt Holliday is turning it on folks.  It is the second half and this is a typically hot time for the left fielder who attracts as many haters as supporters.   Since he makes 17 million per year and not the same salary as Rogers Hornsby, he gets flack when he doesn’t come through or doesn’t show off Edmonds like skills in the outfield.  A man who will prove to be a better bargain than Jayson Werth, Josh Hamilton, Jason Bay and Carl Crawford doesn’t get much love for slowly putting together another solid season.  His numbers are down but not flat.  Holliday hit .320 in August and .308 so far in September but has more RBI than anyone in the game since the end of July.  With 16 games to go, Holliday is hitting .287 with 19 HR and 82 RBI to go with 90 runs scored.  He has 81 K(down from last year) and 59 walks.  His double plays have rapidly decreased in the second half as well.   He is finishing well again and could easily get 22 HR, 95 RBI and hit .290.   I will take that.  Is it 17 million dollars worth?  Not exactly, but it’s not bad either.  I like the fact Holliday saves his best days for last.

*Adam Wainwright has thrown bullpen sessions out of his regimen and basically doing some long toss this month.   Whatever gets the guy into dominant mode is fine with me.  Unconventional methods are practical in the final stages of a 162 game season.  He takes the mound tonight against a team he rarely, if ever, faced.   All bets are off but I expect him to be his usual reliable if dominant self.  After Kelly picked him up for several starts since August 1st, it would be nice to see our ace clean up the wound from last night’s loss.

*The Cards don’t have to be amazing and go 13-3 in their final 16 games.  Think of it like an NFL schedule.  Win 9 and be sure of a spot.  Win 10-11 and win the division.   We just have to stay with the Pirates and hope to push away at the end.  We will make the playoffs either way but I don’t want to see another one game playoff where we may have to use Wainwright in that game and lose him for the start of the NLDS.

What else?   Pete Kozma is good for a few scrap hits but his defense is cracking.   Ryan Jackson makes a mean pasta in the clubhouse I hope because he isn’t getting a shred of playing time.   Why bring him up to sit him on the bench?  I wanted change but not a zombie.   Jake Westbrook is growing a garden in the bullpen.  Lance Lynn earned another start with his impressive performance Wednesday but don’t get too excited until he pitches well in Colorado.  Daniel Descalso is due to heat back up because he has been cold since early July.  Jon Jay isn’t hot or cold right now at the plate but looking sharper than ever in center field and will get the bulk of the playing time down the stretch.  Audrey Perez is plain old catcher insurance.   As in extended insurance.  If Molina can’t go and Tony Cruz and Rob Johnson both get hurt and Descalso can’t do it, Perez will play.  The more I see Kevin Siegrist the more I think he would make a killer 7th inning guy but its hard to dismiss him as a starter with his experience and killer assortment of pitches.  If there is anyway we can trade the problematic Jaime Garcia, The Cards have a steady supply of cheap effective lefthanded starters hungry for a shot.  Siegrist is this year’s Rosenthal.  A white hot phenom.

That’s all I got.  Thanks for taking this in and come back for more next. Until then, visit my site, doseofbuffa.com for a more versatile set of news.


(Image provided by stlcardinalsbaseball.com)