Tag: UCB Cardinal Blogs

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Shut Down “The Cardinal Way” Title

First, let me adamantly remind you folks that I am a die hard St. Louis Cardinals fan. I live and die by this team. I allow my mood to be handed over to them for roughly 7CardinalsWay months out of every year. They find a way into my nervous system every summer. So when I say I am fucking tired of the Cardinal Way and the Best Fans in Baseball titles, trust me, they come from a sophisticated yet firmly planted point of view. I am simply tired of them.

St. Louis Post Dispatch writer Bill McClellan is a Cubs fan and he has made that known in several columns. Last week, he had some fun with Cards fans when he wrote a piece about being worn down by this Cardinal Way and idea that the Cardinals were perfect knights. I usually don’t like McClellan. He is known to troll topics, slide his take in and run away from the scene. This time, however, I couldn’t agree more. Enough with these fictitious labels.  The Cards are a good enough baseball team that they don’t need these tromped up mantras.


5 Things About The 2014 Cards

It’s official folks.  Pitchers and catchers report to Jupiter, Florida in exactly a week.  The waiting is nearly over with and the anticipation is going to start boiling over.1386088930000-cardinals-logo   Sometimes fans forget about the 45 days that happen before the real 162 game stretch begins.  This is where rosters start large and full of promise and end up shredded and cut to size.  With no disrespect to the Blues, the Super Bowl is over and that means one thing in St. Louis.  Baseball is near.

With that goal in mind, I am going to take a look at five things that strike me as interesting about this 2013 Cardinals team.   There are a lot of things worth talking about but here I will give you five for now.

5.) Daniel Descalso has one very good agent.   One thing that struck me about John Mozeliak’s media session at the Winter Warmup was his icy feelings towards the Descalso camp.  Dirty Dan wanted 1.6 million and the Cards were offering 900,000 and sticking to it.  Yesterday, Descalso signed for 1.2 million, a price met by the Cards due to the fear of the first arbitration trial for the Cards in like….forever.  Was this a good deal?  For Descalso, it sure is.  He gets financial security but I am not sure where the Cards are going to justify him with the at bats and playing time.

Descalso isn’t fighting Pete Kozma for starts anymore.  He is fighting the future in Kolten Wong and the seasoned veteran edge of Mark Ellis.  He may have won at the bank but in the field not so much.  Ellis didn’t come here to play behind two younger players.  Descalso’s OPS(on base percentage plus slugging percentage) was downright horrible last year and his batting average(.238) wasn’t much better.  In a dog fight there isn’t much he offers to the team in reality over a defensive wizard like Kozma or a younger buck like Greg Garcia.

I like Descalso and appreciate his fine contributions over the years, but his defense has gotten worse and his bat doesn’t do enough to justify a spot.  His 1.2 million isn’t as bad as Ty Wiggington’s 2.5 last year but it still leaves me scratching my head.

4.) Hey Joe.  I am talking about California Wildfire fighting Joe Kelly.   The jack of all trades who happens to work out with pizza in his mouth(at least according to twitter) is coming into spring with his role undetermined.  It’s a good thing Kelly doesn’t let those kind of shenanigans affect his preparation.

In 2013, Kelly served as part time Porsche parked in the garage and part time excellent fill in starter.  He went from missing in action to taking Shelby Miller’s rotation spot in the playoffs(yeah that’s just happened).  Unlike 2 of his fellow rotation dogfight participants, Kelly has a strong mental makeup and doesn’t let his spring training status stop him from working hard.  If it were up to me, I would carve out a spot for Kelly in the rotation right away but since he is so versatile, I can’t be too sure.

3.) Jason Motte’s beard.  Okay, I mean his right arm but I couldn’t resist a poke at the best wave of facial hair in baseball(sorry Brian Wilson).  Motte is only starting to throw this month but his spot is an interesting one come May and June.  Where does he fit into this packed bullpen?   Trevor Rosenthal is the closer and Carlos Martinez could be a likely bullpen long arm.

Making matters more interesting is this is Motte’s final year of a 2 year deal, which begs the question.  If he pitches very well when he returns, what happens in 2015?  Rosenthal and Motte going head to head doesn’t bode well for the Bearded One even though his 2011-12 performance was stellar.  Motte could be a victim of pure bad luck but I personally hope he develops into a killer setup man later this year while building his recapture of the 9th inning role.


Tony La Russa-“The Relentless Grinder”

I really don’t care what people think about Tony La Russa choosing to go with no logo on his Hall of Fame cap.   Get over it.  I have no problem with it.  He managed in three cities and each meant something to him.  Respect a man’s choice for honoring where he came from and where he made the most of his time.  With that said, I had a chance to participate in a 25 minute media session with La Russa last Sunday.  Here is what I got out of that session.

Tony La Russa never wasted any words when speaking with the media during his career as a manager.   While those words could be short ended and sparse at times, he is direct and carried a dry sense of humor about him.

When these media sessions go well, the player/coach treats them like a conversation and not an interrogation.   La Russa simply sat there and talked to us before he signed for the fans.  Here are are his thoughts on various subjects.

On Sunday, La Russa gave an intimate 25 minute conversation about his years in St. Louis, instant replay, and getting into the Hall of Fame.  It was one of thoseimage (7) conversations that you didn’t want to see end and wouldn’t soon forget.

On getting into the Hall Of Fame-

“I had convinced myself it wasn’t going to happen.  This has been a surreal experience.  All the pieces they give you and the other guys.  It’s heavy stuff.  You get the call and they don’t tell you anything else.  They tell you to come down.   They tell you that your life will be different.  There’s some far out stuff that is impossible to comprehend.”

La Russa, even after making it into the Hall, isn’t comfortable being a part of it.

“I still think the Hall Of Fame is a place for players.  I always thought the managers in there were guys like Earl Weaver and Sparky Anderson, who lit the room up with baseball.   When we won the Championship in 2006, there was a feeling something was there, having won one in each league(like Sparky).  It may be hard to avoid it.   I am not comfortable with it and the biggest reason is I never thought good fortune was hall of fame criteria.  I have been lucky enough to be in places like Chicago, (Oakland), and St. Louis.  The only thing I want is to not disrespect Chicago or Oakland.  They will make their decision soon.”

One year after Stan Musial passed away, the legendary Cardinal still comes to Tony’s mind.

“You don’t ever forget about people like him(Stan Musial).   One of the best things DeWitt has done is make sure to remind his players that they are just a part of history.  The greatest example of what a player should be.  With Stan, he is the model.  Stan had all the qualities.  10 out of 10.  He is the perfect guy.”


The 2014 Winter Warmup Coverage


Before I drop a ton of links on you(because I am really too lazy to post every single story I did individually), let me tell how amazing it was to cover the event.

For the first time, I had a chance to ask players questions, get inside the head of John Mozeliak and get a feel for how these guys are in person.   For the most part, they are simply regular people doing a job.   That applies to my work the past three days, a whirlwind event that overwhelmed me at first but left me saddened to let go by the end of the 72 hour stretch.   I got back in touch with old Busch Stadium faces like Melody and Dan McLaughlin.  I got Tony La Russa to open up with a 8 minute storytelling session about toughest stretches as a Cardinals manager.  I asked Matt Holliday, Trevor Rosenthal, Daniel Descalso, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Oscar Taveras questions and got detailed answers and insight.   I met and had a good time talking with local writers Brian Stull and Derrick Goold as well as Bryan Burwell.   Jim Hayes and I talked about our kids.  I shook nearly every Cardinal player’s hand that went in front of the microphone.

The hardest part for me was separating my die hard fan nature from my professional need to report on the event.  I wanted to make my readers feel like they were there with me as I went through the process.   I got congrats and kind words from sports writers and friends on Twitter that couldn’t make the event.   That to me is the greatest return on hard work.   People you admire and look to telling you that you did a good job.

There were perks.  All the Starbucks coffee I could drink.   Fruit baskets.  Sweets.   A flat screen TV behind me with the Broncos and Pats game on.  The ability to talk sports with national sports writers.  All in all, a wonderful experience and one that I didn’t want to see end.  Some people get 15 minutes of rock star experience.  I got three days.  This experience convinced myself that I could do this for a living.  I can write solid coverage as well as commentary and make each compelling.   You be the judge.  Check out my coverage starting with the Descalso Interview piece and ending with the Day 3 Wrap Up.  I will also be writing a Tony La Russa spotlight and Mike Matheny piece because those two gave 25 minute plus media sessions.  All the coverage can be found at aaronmilesfastball.com, the blog site that I wrote for.

Saturday, January 18th Coverage-

Daniel Descalso Interview Clips


John Mozeliak Feature With Quotes


Adam Wainwright on 2014 and ahead-


Day 1 Wrap Up


Sunday, January 19th-

Mark Ellis Feature


Shelby Miller on 2013 and his 2014 plans


A Tale of Two Closers


Day 2 Sights, Sounds and Insights


Monday, January 20th-

Matt Holliday including his stance on PED(probably my best piece)


Peter Bourjos Spotlight


Day 3 Wrapup


Enjoy the coverage and come back for more later this week.

-Dan L. Buffa

Judging Jhonny Peralta and PED’s in Sports

MLB: World Series-San Francisco Giants at Detroit Tigers

I won’t sit here and waste your time.  I will make it this as blunt as I can and start it with a question.  If you thought I was under suspicion of plagiarism, would you still read my material or wait until there was proof I stole/cheated?   This is a similar issue with athletes using performance enhancing drugs and the fans perception of it.    Whenever people have the chance to jump to conclusions and roll around in the dirt with athletes, they run at the opportunity.

People think it is acceptable to scrutinize athletes because they are rich and famous and that it’s perfectly okay to accuse them of cheating.  Before you throw your weight into calling a player dirty or using PED’s, remember that suspicion doesn’t equal indictment in this world.   Sports are a business and not a classroom full of kids.   You may think Joey stole the bubblegum from your locker but unless you have proof lay off the accusations.

When the St. Louis Cardinals signed shortstop Jhonny Peralta, a former PED user who was caught and served a 50 game suspension in 2013, a lot of people went haywire.   “We signed a cheater!” “He will do it again.”  These are the people who wanted an unproven young prospect to play shortstop or wanted John Mozeliak to wager the future of the franchise on one player.   When Mo made the quick trigger deal for a known substance abuser(caught, confessed and time served), this gave all the blood hounds plenty to run at with all their blogger wisdom.  This guy reserved the right to step back and just observe the situation.

What did the Cards do here?   Peralta used, got caught and was suspended and missed a portion of the 2013 season after using during the 2012 season.    Here is the funny part.  For all the people who say that PED make a player better, they will have a hard time with the newest Cardinal shortstop.   Peralta performed better in 2013, when he was clean, than in 2012 when he was dirty.   As the great sports columnist Bernie Miklasz wrote today, fans and writers have a hard time finding the thin red line when it comes to cheaters in sports.   Peralta broke a rule for sure and was punished, but did the PED make him a better player?  NO.

Good luck shredding the weeds this upcoming baseball season when twitter and facebook explode with instant hits whenever Peralta plays bad or good.  It’s an unfortunate situation but one that the Cards were full aware of when they signed him.   Mo and Bill DeWitt Jr. are business men and not passionate beer drinking loud mouth’s sitting in a pub chewing on stale peanuts.  They have to be diligent because they are taking a fair wager on a man’s good faith here that he won’t cheat again.   My message to my readers is this.  Forget about what Peralta did and keep your eyes on what he does in 2014.   That is what he was paid to do.   No one likes to live in the past, especially when the case is closed.

When a player takes PED’s, that doesn’t automatically make him better.   You don’t grow hand eye coordination as well as bigger biceps.  You have to be able to play.   Why are all the cheaters in the Major Leagues not playing well?   If you told me, I could go out and take steroids and be able to hit 15-20 home runs and bat .280 in an instant, I am not sure I could resist the allure.   It’s too bad that is not true.   There are tons of dirty players in baseball and there used to be a lot of more.   We don’t know all their names because the prosecutors don’t carry a huge need for the players who cheat and don’t produce.  All I am saying is keep an open mind and keep things simple.

If I had made the mistake of cheating in my writing in the past but learned from it and was thoroughly punished, it would be unfair to hang that over my head forever.  If you heard I plagiarized, don’t stop reading until you hear it from me or I am officially caught.  Anything else is a waste of time.   Don’t talk bad about my writing because you think it’s pure theft unless you can point it out and put the cuffs on me.    Don’t label Peralta a cheater for life just because he did so once.   And please, for the love of god, don’t keep players out of the Hall of Fame like Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza because they “may” have cheated.  It’s soft, old, lame and pretentious.    Suspicion isn’t equal to and never will be equal to indictment.

Let Jhonny Peralta play it out this year and let the chips fall where they may.   If he disappoints, don’t instantly point out that it’s because he isn’t juicing anymore, because his 2012/2013 stats don’t support it.   If he explodes for a monstrous year, don’t think he must be juicing again because he proved he has a lot of ability outside of his one time mistake.    In the end, keep an open mind with flawed athletes like Peralta.  They are human just like all of us and deserve a second chance even if their bank accounts carry a few more zeroes.

Pitchers and catchers report in 33 days.  It is time to get a little excited.  Go Cards!


Your local blunt information highway specialist.

Stan Musial: The Epitome of Greatness


Wednesday marked The Hall of Fame induction day in the world of baseball and that always gets this Cardinal fan thinking about one man in particular.   Stan Musial.   The legendary Cardinal passed away nearly a year ago and that makes this particular January(or the eve of Spring Training reporting) especially nostalgic.  He was and always will be the epitome of greatness and what a baseball player and general athlete should strive to achieve.   In my opinion, The Cardinal Way started with a player like Musial.

These days, when people talk about inductions, all I hear is who should have made it and who still isn’t in the Hall.   Fair enough, but every January I remember what the benchmark for induction should be.   If basketball players and fans wanted to be like Mike, baseball players should want to be like Stan The Man.   In a sport with a dirty history of cheaters, suspect role models and crazy dirty players, Musial was the greatest because he exceeded his amazing ability on the field when he was off.  What is so hard about being a good man while you are famous?

Athletes can be larger than life these days, and young kids far too often chase the wrong ideals in being a great player and form bad habits in the process.  It’s classic human nature to miss the point behind what being great and Hall of Fame worthy is all about.   They think large muscles will get them fame and legendary status.  Benching 300 pounds doesn’t buy you a fine earned run average or batting average folks.  It’s about skill, perseverance and character.    This is where young athletes in high school and college chase performance enhancing drugs and damage their careers and reputations forever.   They forget what is most important in being a good ballplayer.    For that benchmark, they need to look no further than Stan Musial.

I don’t have to bore you with all of Musial’s stats.  To St. Louis Cardinal fans, his numbers and achievements are like oxygen and water intake.    However, let’s roll over the highlights because they truly never get old.  .331 batting average, 24 All Star games, 3 World Series rings, 3 MVPs, 475 home runs, 3,630 hits, and a .417 on base percentage.  Lifetime.  He hit 6 home runs in All Star games.  He hit 5 home runs in a doubleheader.  He hits a ton of triples, scored a ton of runs and didn’t strike out.  He got his 3,000th hit at Wrigley Field.

Unlike Ty Cobb, he didn’t play dirty.   Unlike Mickey Mantle, he took care of himself.  He fought for his country and retired with 11 Cardinals franchise records.   This is my favorite stat line.  When he retired in 1963, he held 17 Major League Baseball records, 29 National League marks and 9 All Star Game marks.  That’s greatness.   Off the field, he was a fan favorite, didn’t shun the media and respected other baseball players.

If there is a perfect athlete, it’s Stan Musial.  Plain and simple.

As I made my way through my office yesterday, I found my son Vincent playing with Musial’s bobblehead statue.    Instead of grabbing it from him and polishing it with a wet wipe, I sat down and let him toy around with the prized piece of memorabilia.  I wanted to see where this encounter went.   After shaking it incessantly, Vin looked at it and back up at me.  For a split second, he was curious.  As in, tell me a story dad.   10 seconds later, he left the room but here’s the thing to remember.  It’s important for fathers and mothers to teach their kids what greatness in an athlete is and how to achieve it.   When Vin gets old enough, he will get the full story on Stan The Man Musial.

Today, I remember Musial.   He passed away a year ago this January at the tender age of 92 and while he had lived a full life and went peacefully, something tells me if someone deserve to hit 100 and beyond, it was Stan.   In some way, I am glad Pujols left because that allowed Stan Musial to remain the #1 Cardinal of all time.   Sure, Albert Pujols would have never cleanly approached Stan, but at least it is unanimous today and when he passed.

Outside the 3rd base gate, facing west, stands the statue of Stan Musial.   It is the biggest statue around the venue and rightfully so.   If anyone wants to know what it means to be a Cardinal, look no further than Musial.

Photo Credit-Associated Press


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 buffa82@gmail.com.

Jason Motte’s Comeback

2011 World Series Game 7 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals

When the Cardinals lost Jason Motte to Tommy John Surgery in May last year, a fine set of panic settled in.   He was pitching in spring training last year when he suddenly felt a pop in his elbow as he fired a fastball towards the plate to exit an inning.   In an instant his season was redirected towards injured reserve.

Motte’s injury set off a chain reaction that included the demise of Mitchell Boggs, the rise of Edward Mujica as a legit closer in the big leagues(2 year contract with the Red Sox to show for it) and the emergence of Trevor Rosenthal as the type of pitcher that resembled what existed inside Tom Cruise’s pool stick case in The Color of Money….doom.

The Cardinals rode that concoction of arms to the playoffs and came within two wins of a 12th World Series.  All the while, Motte didn’t throw a single pitch while spending a fair amount of time inside the dugout and cheering for his teammates.   He also put his public persona to use and kept his money in the right place during the past year.   When Motte steps away from baseball down the road, 2013 will become known as the year he became a great man in front of the world.

Unable to throw a fastball for many months, Motte took his fight to the community and set up a cancer foundation.   The slogan “K Cancer” became pasted on t-shirts, posters and draped across the St. Louis area.  Motte befriended young cancer patients and connected with so many others.   While other athletes spend their down time checking their bank account while laying on a yacht in the middle of an ocean, Motte stayed home and fought the medical disease known as Goliath.   To a kid or adult with the horrible disease, seeing an athlete not just donate their money but their coveted time to your predicament only inspires them to push harder.  It is one thing for an athlete to write a check and quite another to spend up to 10 months of the year making a lot of friends in a hospital.  In short, we need more men like Motte around.  More athletes that can put out the right message about using your popularity in the best way.


Back to baseball, and keeping the new found 9th inning arm of Rosenthal’s in mind, one wonders what role Motte will return to in 2014.  First, he needs to get to spring training and fire a few fastballs without incident.  Once he goes through that, an innings workload awaits him and the new season will present him with many options.  Those possible roles are simple and fall in this order.

1.) A propane tank arm out of the bullpen available for multi-purpose usage.  Motte can be what he was before he was a closer.   A man who can come into a dicey situation where 1 out and a three digit heater are needed.  He did this job superbly in 2010 and part of 2011.   There is nothing wrong with building his arm strength back up this way.

2.)Setup man to Rosenthal.   This is more likely to happen in May after Motte gets a few outings under his belt and gets a feel for where his arm is.  Rosenthal was so good in the last stages of 2013 that for many it’s hard to think of him doing something different.   The final week of the season and the playoffs provided Cards fans with a Rosenthal that is set up to dominate for ages.   He didn’t just strike hitters out. He made them look like extras from a baseball movie.  For more on his domination, check out my friend and United Cardinal Blogger colleague Joe’s blog about the greatness of Rosenthal right here.


Motte can set up Rosenthal for at least half the season before he is considered for his old position.   This also won’t hurt the team at all.   Carlos Martinez is in line to be a utility reliever(jack of all late inning trades) or in fact enter the rotation.   He could be the flamer thrower to get one out, the man who can pitch 2 innings or a setup man himself.  The Cards have options and this is good for Motte and the team in his recovery.

3.)Motte can reclaim the closer role.  This is something I can see happening around the All Star Break or I can see not happening at all this season.   Rosenthal still wants to start, but his value in the 9th inning is too great to consider that right now and with the Cards load of starter candidates, it’s just not smart baseball.   Motte would have to pitch lights out to be considered for this or have Rosenthal encounter an injury.  All things considered, Rosenthal did it for a month while Motte accumulated 59 saves(playoffs included) after taking over the role in August of 2011.  Both men are playoff proven finishers.   Rosenthal currently has the leg up due to health and momentum in the role.

All in all, it’s important to not forget about what Motte did and what he can still bring to the team.   He started out as a catcher in the organization before entering the majors in 2008 with one decent pitch.   After mastering a cutter as his secondary pitch, Motte was tied for the National League lead in saves in 2012 with 42.   He is entering the final year of a 2 year, 12 million dollar contract which will pay him 8 million this season.   Whatever role he finds, it will be a prominent one and if I had to bet, Jason Motte will come back with a vengeance in 2014.

Personally, I missed this guy’s tenacious ability on the mound.   The mannerisms, the beard, the intensity and the quirks that he brought to a tight late inning matchup.  It’s one thing for a man to throw 100 miles per hour towards your body.  It’s quite another for that man to look as mean as that particular pitch while throwing.

A good part of me wants to see him close for the Cardinals again, while the majority is simply glad to see him pitching for our team in some capacity come April.   2012 marked his arrival as a closer.  2013 saw him become a wonderful ambassador of the city and a defender of a sea of victims to a horrible disease.   2014 will be another important chapter in the 31 year old’s career.   I am quite excited to tell you I am not sure what this year will bring from the Motte Man but I am so ready to find out.

He reports to Jupiter, Florida in 37 days for spring training.   That day cannot come soon enough for St. Louis Cardinals fans and the Jason Motte fanbase.

Thanks for reading and stay warm in this snow packed St. Louis winter season.  Check out a few links below on how to connect with Motte and his foundation.

*Contribute to Motte’s Cancer Foundation by buying a “K Cancer” t-shirt right here.


*For another passionate take on Jason Motte’s efforts in 2013, read my Arch City Sports colleague Carly Schaber’s heartfelt piece.


*For general information on his foundation, head over here to his K Cancer Facebook Page.


You can also follow Motte on Twitter at his handle, @JMotte30.

Lots of links but comes with a good reason.   Jason Motte is a lot more than just a baseball player.  He’s a role model for us all.



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 buffa82@gmail.com.


2013 St. Louis Cardinals: Top 5 Stories


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.

Photo Credit-www.newsday.com 


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 buffa82@gmail.com.

Mozeliak and Cards Sitting Pretty



Good morning folks,

As Major League Baseball’s offseason dial starts to pick up with fierce intensity, Cardinals fans can be safe and assured that their general manager isn’t sleeping with his cell phone attached to his eye lobe.   John Mozeliak filled out his big need cards before Thanksgiving hit, and at the moment is sitting pretty at his desk waiting for smaller deals to materialize.  After acquiring Peter Bourjos through a trade and signing free agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a multi-year contract, Mo is now looking to fill out smaller spots on his roster but doesn’t necessarily feel the need to bend over backwards for any team.   That’s a good feeling for him and the fans.

This is where being a Cardinals fan has its supreme virtues.   When the games are over and the suits take the field for offseason trade jockeying and free agent bidding, fans get tense and probably lose more nerves than they do during the season.   For Cards fans, we can look back just 2 years and remember the anxiety following the Albert Pujols trade rumor mill.  It wrapped up in early December but for more than 4 weeks, that was all anyone could think about.    Since then, the Cards have done pretty well, stocked their team with young talent and now sit as a team ready to start spring training.

What else is there for Mozeliak to possibly look at improving?   Finding a power bat that can come off the bench and put in some time at third base or second base would be nice.  A player like Michael Young, who spent the last part of 2013 on the bench of the Dodgers.  He has pop, can play multiple positions and be a fine asset to have to protect against injury and give you depth on a bench that ranked as one of the worst in baseball in 2013.  Sure, you have Matt Adams on days where Bourjos, Oscar Taveras and Allen Craig play but Adams could easily be at first base for a decent portion of the season unless zero injuries happen.  If Mo needs to look at anything, it’s finding another veteran bat that can be counted on in late innings.   This isn’t a huge need but one that I am sure our guy is keeping an eye on this month.

Jon Jay is another question.   Does he stay or does he go?  He will be asking for 3-3.5 million dollars, which isn’t bad money for a 4th or 5th outfielder.   If you keep Jay, do you also keep Shane Robinson around with the steady diet of young outfielders coming up through the ranks of Springfield and Memphis.   If I am Robinson, I don’t want to start the season as the 5th outfielder or go down to Memphis.   Shane played very well last year in a smaller role and deserves more playing time.   If Jay stays, I see Shane on the way out for his own sake.   It will be different in 2014, with Bourjos and Taveras playing factors in the playing time slots.  If I were Mo, I would look for a trade suitor for Jay, who could have some value with his overall performance the past 2.5 years in center field.  Sure, he was once a very good bench player but that was before every team in the majors built  up a book on pitching him.   Now may be the time to sever ties with Jay.

The one thing the Cardinals don’t need is pitching of any kind.   That is a sweet fact.   It’s nice to not have to be the team to hand an aging pitcher like Scott Karmir 2 years and a lot of cash to fill a roster spot.   The Cards have 8 pitching candidates for the rotation and a heavily loaded bullpen with plenty of arms working their way through the ranks of the minors.  I don’t think this team needs to be thinking about acquiring serious pitching talent for many years.  When Shelby Miller is being set up as a contender for a rotation spot, you know you are in good hands.

What will Mo do?  The options aren’t great.  Michael Young, Jeff Baker and Kevin Youklis are among the available hands.  Anyone higher will cost too much?   I doubt we see anything done by our GM before the New Year hits.   He will be patient and can afford to be with his quick movement.

Other M.L.B. offseason news tidbits-

*The Jacoby Ellsbury/Yankees deal is atrocious.    Right when the Yankees were starting to move away from outrageous contracts, they step back into the bank theft role and give Brian McCann and Ellsbury huge deals.  The McCann one is sound on a few levels, with his LH hitting and relatively young age and value.   The money there isn’t too smart but when compared to the 7 years and 143 million given to Ellsbury, it’s definitely wiser.   Look, I think Ellsbury is a good player and worthy of a decent contract.   However, he isn’t a spring chicken and is very injury prone.  This contract reeks like the Carl Crawford/Boston Red Sox deal did and that is horrible.   Every time a crazy contract like this is finalized, I look back at the deal John Mozeliak struck for Matt Holliday in January of 2010 and cherish the bargain that it was.

*If Mike Napoli seriously thinks he is getting 17-20 million per season, then I should put myself on the market to see what I am worth.   Napoli isn’t worth 15 million much less 20 million and not if the deal is over 2 years.

*If it is true and the Royals really did offer Carlos Beltran a 3 year/48 million dollar deal, good for them.    There isn’t a guarantee he will take the money but he is exactly what that team needs and he would be returning to the place where he started his career.  He would also get to face the Cards twice a year and that is a scary if comforting though.  Most of all, I respect Kansas City for putting themselves out there and doing their best to secure a big prize.   If it is true, that’s a good move for them. Update-The Royals did not offer Beltran the contract and he will go elsewhere.

*The Houston Astros have acquired Ryan Jackson, Adron Chambers and Dexter Fowler in the past 2 weeks.  Watch out contenders!  They will lead the American League in infield singles and strikeouts easily.

*While the Nationals gave up a few young players to make it happen, I really like their acquisition of Doug Fister, an underrated starter from Detroit who was overshadowed by Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.  Fister put together decent numbers in the American League and could improve coming over to the NL.   Sure, Comerica Park was a pitcher’s park, but Washington isn’t necessarily a sandbox and in my opinion, Fister will fare well there.

*It is not true that the Yankees are trying to lure Barry Bonds out of retirement to come be their DH and accept a 6 year, 280 million dollar deal with a guarantee of high quality “clean protein shakes” on a daily basis.  Completely false.

*It is also false that the Yankees offered Charlie Sheen a healthy wage to reprise his role as Rick Vaughn in a real life relief role.   Let me be the one to shoot that down.

*Robinson Cano just signed a 10 year/240 million dollar contract with the Mariners.  Blame the game, not the player.  People always get in an uproar about player contracts in baseball and forget that the suits started this game and the players are only playing it very well.  Cano gets out of Yankee land(where he got a ring) and now goes to a Seattle team begging for some true firepower.  Jay Z got him his money and that is that.

*Curtis Granderson leaves the Yankees for the Mets for 4 years and 60 million.   Solid deal and puts the Yankees in play to land Carlos Beltran.

It is indeed the season to be jolly and for owners and agents to be crazy.    That’s December in baseball.   Let the games begin.   It’s a good thing the Cardinals and Mozeliak are mostly spectators.

Thanks for reading this,

Dan L. Buffa

@buffa82 on Twitter

Reach me at buffa82@gmail.com

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