Yesterday, Hernandez answered my 5 questions about the Mets, and tonight, I answer his Cardinals’ questions:
1. I don’t really know anyone on the Cardinals besides Albert Pujols, Rick Ankiel and Yadier Molina. (And I only know Ankiel because of his meltdown against the Mets in 2000 and Molina because of his lucky-as-fuck HR to beat the Mets in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.) So who should I be keeping an eye out for in this series? Sleepers, rookies, under the radar guys, etc.
The first guy you should look out for is Adam Wainwright, who struck out Carlos Beltran on a looking curve ball in the 2006 NLC– wait, you’ve probably heard of him. You’re just being coy.
The main guy to watch right now is 22 year-old CF Colby Rasmus, who is the highest-touted prospect in St. Louis in awhile, and a viable Rookie of the Year candidate. He has decent power, great speed and a decent eye at the plate, but he also patrols CF in a way that reminds me less of Jim Edmonds and more of Beltran — he always takes a great path to the ball, has great range and as a result never has to or tries to make highlight-reel circus catches.
The other guy to watch is Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter. After winning the Cy Young Award in 2005 and pitching extremely well in ’06, he missed almost all of ’07 and ’08. After a 6-week injury at the beginning of this year, he’s been lights out.
SS Brendan Ryan has hit two of his five career homeruns against the Mets; one in his first MLB game at Shea and one in the first game of this series. He’s nothing special, but seems to love it in Queens. Also, he wears a neck chain made out of bicycle chains and cockrings.
2. How have the Cardinals fixed the bullpen woes you alluded to? Is it because of the genius of Dave Duncan, who we all know is actually the brains behind the overrated drunk Tony LaRussa, or is it something else? However it happened, kudos to them for not overspending to fix the bullpen like the Mets did with Putz and K-Rod.
LaDunc had nothing to do with it. Journeyman and ex-juicer Ryan Franklin has emerged as a bona fide closer to the point where he may get some All-Star consideration, and it’s one of the reasons we’re lucky to find ourselves at the top of the NL Central.
Beyond that, the Cardinals have “fixed” the bullpen by carrying 13 pitchers all year. We’ve seen a hodgepodge of unproven rookies (Motte, Hawksworth, Boggs, Perez, among others), promising but recently injured guys who haven’t quite come back (McClellan, Kinney) with a couple of veteran leftys.
My favorite of the bunch is definitely Motte. He’s an ex-catcher who won the closer role in spring training but got bombarded in his first few save opportunities. He still isn’t pitching that well, and it’s because he only throws one pitch: a 96 mph fastball. But he has that crazy catcher’s delivery like he’s hallucinating Speedy Gonzalez stealing home on every pitch that makes me root for him.
But none of them have been that effective. In short, don’t worry about the bullpen.
3. Along those lines, why do the Cardinals only have the 17th highest payroll in MLB? Their fans are supposedly the best in the league. (Just ask one – they’ll definitely tell you!) St. Louis also has a brand new ballpark that practically prints cash, and an owner who is a huge George W. Bush backer. So what gives? High payroll doesn’t automatically mean a better team, but shouldn’t a rich owner be putting more of that money back into the club? Do St. Louis fans even care, or is their self-righteous image as the most forgiving, mild mannered fanbase more important to them?
A doozy! Let’s break this one down.
Their fans are supposedly the best in the league. (Just ask one – they’ll definitely tell you!)
No argument there. We are the best fans in baseball, and it’s gracious of you to say, Hernandez.
St. Louis also has a brand new ballpark that practically prints cash
and thank Fredbird for that! Let’s hope other franchises don’t build new ballparks to make money and accidentally name them after financial institutions that are living off TARP money…oops!
an owner who is a huge George W. Bush backer,
Ouch, and correct.
So what gives? Why do the Cardinals only have the 17th highest payroll in MLB?
Albert Pujols. Before this year, the Cardinals have had one of the top 10 payrolls in MLB. Albert is only under contract for two more years. Diehard Cardinals fans like myself have to believe that owner Bill DeWitt is making space to offer Albert the chance to stay with St. Louis for the rest of his career, because what other hope is there for this franchise?
Do St. Louis fans even care, or is their self-righteous image as the most forgiving, mild mannered fanbase more important to them?
Well, of course we care! Uh, we care… right? Maybe we should move on to the next question.
4. The Cardinals lead the league in pitchers who have suddenly died during the season. Which member of the current roster do you have next in the Dead Pool?
Whichever member of the bullpen charters a plane in New York this weekend, and convinces the Big Bopper (Joba Chamberlain) and bespectacled Buddy Holly (K-Rod) to join in.
That, or lefthander Dennys Reyes.
He’s an Egg McMuffin away from getting his number retired.
5. How disappointed will you be when Albert Pujols is finally exposed as the steroid cheat you know deep down that he is? As disappointed as you were in that other Cardinal fraud Mark McGwire, or less?
You know what? I’d feel relief.
Believe me, I’d be extremely, extremely bitter that the best hitter I ever saw with my own eyes was juicing, especially because he’s been the core of my team for so long. But if he *were* juicing? At least then, all of baseball would know that Albert was cheating, and would know why he’s been the best hitter on the planet. There’d be that same reaction we had to the years that McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, Clemens, Bonds, Giambi et al. had way past their prime; the same reaction to that time Brady Anderson hit 50 HRs; the same reason we know why A-Rod appealed to Madonna and other muscular strippers (other than his unique lactating ability).
But if Albert is juicing, he’s done a Hall-of-Fame job of keeping the dosage consistent. No one in baseball has put up the numbers in the first 9 years of their Major League career as a hitter. And yet there’s no evidence of crazy peaks in his numbers. He hasn’t spent too much time on the DL. This year, his home runs have been up, but at the same time he hasn’t been able to extend his arms and hit the other way on outside pitches like he did so effortlessly earlier in his career.
My feeling is that Albert is the real deal. But no matter how long he plays or what numbers he puts up, there will always be doubt in his abilities because of the era he’s playing in.
How can I explain it? Albert Pujols is like Mr. T. It doesn’t really matter to me what he does or doesn’t do anymore. He’s godsauce.