Stan Musial is What Made St. Louis Sports

Posted in MLB, Sports, St. Louis Blues, St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Rams on January 20, 2013 by Travis Green

You hear it in every city. “We have the best baseball fans…” “We have the best football fans…” “We have the best hockey fans…” or my favorite “Home of the best sports fans…”

Well obviously one will never know who has the greatest baseball, hockey, basketball, or football fans. Nor will we know what town is home to the best sports fans, but one thing is for certain if you grow up in St. Louis it is hard to avoid the lunacy that is St. Louis sports.

St. Louis is a decent size city with a small town feel. If you go over on “The Hill” you will walk into shops where regulars are known by name, go to “the Landing” and there will be a beer sitting at a spot in a local establishment waiting for their regular 5 pm visit from a local. Walk into a gas station wearing a Blues, Cardinals, or Rams jersey and instantly a conversation will be struck about the latest news surrounding the team. This city loves its sports.

Opening Day in baseball should be considered a local holiday in St. Louis, because you can guarantee the city will be decked in red, Keiner Plaza will have the red dye in its fountains, and every radio station will be talking Cardinals.

Jump about month ahead to May, and the town will “Bleed Blue” if the Blues are in the playoffs. Let’s Go Blues will be chanted all over town, signs will be hung from buildings and businesses supporting the team. The buzz will be all about the city, with everyone asking “is this the year?”

And finally head north down Broadway, and listen to the screaming faithful every Sunday cheer on their Rams, and in times of struggle the paranoia of their beloved Blue and Gold leaving town in favor for a West Coast dream.

You can’t escape it. If you don’t like sports in a town like this at one point in your life you will be consumed. Rather it is the dominating performance of “Mr. Goalie”, Glenn Hall between the pipes, the beloved Cardiac Cardinals, Whitey Ball, The Greatest Show on Turf, the heroics of a hometown hero David Freese, or the genuine loving nature of one of their own Stan “The Man” Musial, you WILL be consumed.

Athlete’s come and go in this town like many other, but one thing seems to be consistent…they all want to stay and call St. Louis home. Many athletes such as: Keith Tkachuk, Jim Edmonds, Marshall Faulk, Ozzie Smith have all found St. Louis too good to move away after their playing career.

Why?

Because St. Louis embraces you, but the key is to embrace them back. St. Louis like many cities love athlete who will work hard,  fight for their team, and of course win championships. But St. Louis is a city that expects more, they want to see you in the community, treating life outside your sport like a normal human being.

Stan Musial created the path for athletes in St. Louis. Everyone you talk to that knew Stan will tell you, “He was kind, gentle, and genuinely cared for the people of St. Louis.” For that matter he cared for everyone he came in contact with, “you won’t meet a nicer person than Stan” is something that is stated all around town.

He was “The Man” for a reason, no one will replace what he meant to this city. But also no one can replace what this town meant to Stan, It was a match made in heaven.

Being too young to see Stan play I can only go off what I’ve heard and learned over my years about Stan, and that is Stan is St. Louis sports.

Growing up in this city, attending opening days with Stan in attendance, being involved in the many standing ovations Musial was showered with, there is one thing that is a fact after yesterday’s loss of an icon: St. Louis will never be the same.

I am blessed to grow up in a town where the love of sports is impressed upon you, and where idols such as Stan Musial were present, and help create in my mind: The World’s Best Sports Town.

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The Sports Naughty and Not So Nice List

Posted in MLB, NFL, Sports, St. Louis Cardinals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2011 by Travis Green

You better watch out you better not be sly, I’m telling you why because the media will get a hold of it. And that will land you on the naughty list.

We are making our list we’re checking it twice, you we’re definitely finding out who’s naughty, but not so much in the sports world.

The nice list that sports Santa put together are guys like Kurt Warner, Drew Brees, yes even the betrayer Albert Pujols. These are all examples of prominent athletes with a foundation for a cause that reaches out to thousands.

Nice stories of the year:

First up on the nice list, a year after being on the naughty list Justin Blackmon earns a spot. Blackmon, a wide receiver out of Oklahoma State, was featured on ESPN as he helped out a girl with cancer. Olivia Hamilton has leukemia and Justin Blackmon and OSU invited her out to a Coaches for Cancer event, and their friendship began. Today Justin Blackmon wears a bracelet that says, “Live Laugh and Love” this given to him by Olivia. Both are now share a friendship off the field that go far beyond the gridiron.

Just as touching as Justin Blackmon’s story of success is a coach for Wake Forest’s baseball team, Tom Walter. With Kevin Johnson in need of a kidney transplant Walter stepped up. In a selfless act, the coach of Wake Forest voluntarily offered up his kidney to help a kid in need. The story written by the New York Times is truly one of the more inspiring things to happen in 2011, and earns Tom Walter a spot on sports Santa’s nice list!

Now on to the bad things: there are the obvious scandals at the college level, the Ohio State University,University of Miami, Syracuse University, and of course Penn State University all deserve a spot on the naughty list. Associated with these organizations and topping the list of naughty people Jim Tressel, Nevin Shapiro, and the Miami coaching staff. But none may be bigger than Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno, Mike McQueary, and Syracuse’s Bernie Fine. The acts by these men were despicable and every last one of them deserve to be on and never be removed from Santa’s naughty list!

Now on to the lighter sports Santa naughty list: Starting the list with the more recent news of the alleged fail performance enhancing drug test of Ryan Braun. Just about a month removed from winning the MVP award in the National League, reports of Braun’s failed test were leaked. Of course as most athletes first do Braun has denied the allegations and the results of the test, saying that they are wrong. He has gone as far as saying that he will be acquitted of all this once he wins his appeal process. Should we exclude him from Santa’s naughty list? It is innocent until proven guilty, but what’s the fun in that? Ryan you are on sports Santa’s naughty list.

Another very naughty sports athlete is Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds’ pitcher. Leake was arrested in early April shop lifting $60 worth of t-shirts from Cincinnati’s downtown Macy’s. Mike’s claim was he was just exchanging them for previous bought shirts, and the young pitcher couldn’t wait in the line to do it legally. Come on Mikey, you expect Santa to believe that? No way, you’re on Santa’s naughty list.

Of course when talking naughty sports, the NBA and the NBA Players Association have to go on the list. They locked the league out missing parts of the season, delaying the anticipation of fans until Christmas. This allowed fans to become disgusted and possibly retaliate by not attending or supporting their sport, just as their revenue was starting to get to an all-time high. Sorry NBA and NBAPA on the naughty list you go better luck next year.

David Stern goes on that list as well, for vetoing a trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers. Maybe it was for the better, maybe it was because of jealously, maybe it was because of something we all don’t understand, but Stern just stated basketball reasons? Really David sorry but on the naughty you go!

Albert Pujols, yes you go on the naughty list! Sorry but here is why, YOU SAID IT WASN’T ABOUT THE MONEY! Santa Clause doesn’t like a liar. It was about the money and Santa doesn’t blame you for that, after all if Mars offered Santa a lot of money to go there he may leave the world. Hmmm a world without Santa? But then you allowed your wife to go public, and discuss contracts. Why? That got you no where, El Hombre, (El Diablo) you have been naughty this year. You did not stick to your word and stay a Cardinal, sorry but good luck explaining to Albert Jr. why you get a sack of coal from Santa this year.

Feeding off Albert Pujols the St. Louis Cardinals must go next of sports Santa naughty list. The Cardinals won their 11th World Series, their second in five years. They had the fans in their corner, they were on top of the world with the world’s best player. But suddenly the Cardinals laid back approach back fired, and now they are left with a void at 1st base, and Pujols is an Angel (well in baseball). An organization so rich in tradition allowed the best player in the game go out from under their grasp, there is no do-overs, there is no bargaining, it’s over and not finding away to mend a deal with the best player in baseball lands you a spot on the naughty list!

The tree topper of the naughty list and sports DUMMY of the year goes to Sam Hurd of the Chicago Bears. Mr. Hurd was the Scarface of the NFL, he made more money in drug sales than he did in a year of playing in the NFL, heck maybe his career. Sam Hurd was arrested on Wednesday December 14th, 2011 after making a drug deal with an undercover agent. The agent was working apart of  a drug sting that busted the NFL WR selling 20 pounds of Cocaine and 1,000 pounds of Marijuana. However, Sam’s lawyer did make a statement saying his client never sold any illegal drugs to fellow NFL players. Well thanks for clearing that up Sammie, but sorry not only will you end in the slammie, but you are the on top of the sports Santa naughty list.

Ho Ho Ho

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!

Carlos Beltran and the Cardinals a Good Fit?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2011 by Travis Green

There comes a time in a player’s career when money isn’t the only concern, a championship becomes a big part of it too.

Many players make it in and out of the league with out ever getting to try on that championship ring. Money can buy you a lot of things, but a World Series memory is not one of them.

Carlos Beltran has made an estimated $135 million in his 13 year career. But one thing Beltran has never done, win a World Series.

At the age of 34 Beltran is no longer in his prime years, he is no longer looking to sign the deal that will set him and his family up for life, it’s now about one thing and that is to play for a winning team and come away with some hardware.

Carlos Beltran is a lifetime .283 hitter with an average of 28 HR and 105 RBI’s. His average WAR (Wins above replacements) is 4.3, which a pretty good number. Last year in 142 games Beltran hit 22 HR and 81 RBIs while batting .300. While those numbers are not off the wall remember Beltran wasn’t hitting in the middle of lineups loaded with talent, nor was he hitting in hitter-friendly ballparks, having to play his home games in the cool air of San Francisco or the big ballpark in the Big Apple.

Injuries are always the question surrounding Carlos Beltran, but his production when he is on the field speaks for itself.

Beltran’s market for teams has been slow to develop, with the Rockies joining in the hunt yesterday according to Jon Heyman. Other sources report the Boston Red Sox have interest in the 34-year-old native of Puerto Rico.

John Mozeliak and the Cardinals are in a unique situation, they have the money to spend and the team that could appeal to a Carlos Beltran.

There is no official word on how much the Beltran camp is seeking, but some sources have it at a one year deal for $12 million or 2 years for around $20 million. If these numbers are true the Cardinals would be crazy not to put a call into Dan Lozano, Beltran’s agent, and begin to negotiate.

The Cardinals are in need of a little more security in the middle of their lineup, as well as some depth in the outfield. With OF Allen Craig out 4-6 month recovering from knee surgery, the Cardinals option in the outfield are Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Skip Schumaker, Adron Chambers, and Eric Komatsu, recently acquired through the rule 5 draft from Washington. This is of course assuming Lance Berkman is the successor to Albert Pujols’ vacancy at first base.

With those options in the OF on opening day the Cardinals can boost morale throughout the clubhouse and fan base with one simple, but not exasperating offer to Beltran.

The Cardinals are clearly not in the hunt for Prince Fielder, and with Jose Reyes off the market, the next best option on the market that fits their need is Carlos Beltran. A two-year $20-22 million contract with incentives would be a deal that may work for both Beltran and the Cardinals.

First for Beltran, it puts him in a place for more than one year, something many players passed the age of 34 seem to really push for. The deal would also him to settle into a lineup surrounded by other talent such as Holliday, Molina, Jay, Freese, and let’s not forget former teammate Lance Berkman. He could comfortably fit in and not be “the guy” like he may have been in San Fran and New York. Beltran would also be put into a winning situation. The Cardinals are coming off a 2011 World Series title, and regain ace Adam Wainwright. Even with the subtraction of Albert Pujols the Cardinals are the early favorites to win the N.L. Central, which give Beltran a chance at the hardware. Finally Beltran would be back in the Central somewhere he has played before, he knows how the parks play, and he knows the opposing teams, but more important throughout the NL Central the ballparks are a lot more hitter friendly which can only help the aging slugger.

For the Cardinals, this is a deal that will help settle fans down after the loss of Albert Pujols. It will show the dedicated fan base that the Cardinals are still focused on winning, and that they will not go into a shell much like the Pittsburgh Pirates did after losing Bonds. The signing would also help take some of the pressure that will be put on Berkman, Holliday, Freese, and Craig mainly to pick up the slack left behind by Pujols. The Cardinals are without Allen Craig until at least April, maybe dragging into May. Can they rely on an often injured Allen Craig? Can the rely on an aging Lance Berkman? Is Matt Holliday going to put up Albert Pujols type numbers? What about David Freese? Is he the real deal, after his showcase in the World Series? And if he is, can he stay off the disabled list? All these questions can not be answered right now, but the Cardinals can help alleviate some of the pain if one of them do get answers, and not in a good way.

Lance Berkman played in 145 games last year, Tony La Russa knew how to keep him fresh, can the Cardinals do that with the current team roster? Jon Jay at times looked lost at the plate and needed a day or two off can they do that and not feel the lack of production with the current roster? Allen Craig played in 75 games last year, and is injured to start the season, is it reasonable to think that he will jump right in after the recovery and be an impact player? And finally David Freese played in 97 games last year can the Cardinals rely on him to be healthy and make up for the production missed by the absence of number 5? And if Freese is healthy his production is higher when batting sixth than it is when batting 5th, so is batting Freese 5th best option for the Cardinals?

Carlos Beltran can start in RF, play CF when Jay needs a day off. And when Berkman needs a day off Craig is there to fill that role. Craig can still get ABs with the aging Berkman and Beltran in the lineup, as well as spelling Holliday and Jay throughout the season. The Cardinals need protection in the middle of the lineup – Beltran adds it, Cardinals need depth in the OF – Beltran adds it, and the Cardinals need more pop off the bench with the signing of Beltran in essence – Beltran add its.

This is a match made in “Baseball Heaven.”

How do the Cardinals fill the void of Number 5?

Posted in MLB with tags , , , , on December 14, 2011 by Travis Green

Iconic figures can be found throughout sports, but as iconic and Hall of Fame worthy as an Albert Pujols is rare. Even more rare today in sports is an athlete sticking with one team, the St. Louis got a taste when Albert Pujols left for a “more committed” Angels team. Now the Cardinals are left with a void to fill, the question is how do they do it?

First the Cardinals management, players and fans alike must realize there is no replacing Albert Pujols. No player in the game put up the numbers over their first ten years like he did, and it’s unlikely anyone will (At least for a while.)

A fresh start is what the Cardinals are looking at. This team will have to win a different style of baseball; they’ll  no longer have the big force at the third spot in the lineup and that’ll affect the team from one through nine.

It’s not all as bad as it seems. With new manager Mike Matheny, the Cardinals will now see a different style of baseball. While it may have some similarities to Tony LaRussa’s style, Matheny is his own man and he will bring a new culture to the clubhouse, one that says we can win without Albert!

For this to ring true throughout 14th and Clark, the Cardinals must have a few key element and the most important is execution. No longer can you rely on the MVP stepping into the box and winning you two games in a row against the rivaled Cubs, you must execute in every facet of the game.

But also leadership is a key component. And who better than Lance Berkman? The good ole’ boy from Texas was the Cardinals Superman at times last year, he stood in front of the media when things weren’t going well, and joked about his age and other players when things were riding high. Lance Berkman is the perfect guy to fill in at the 3 position that has been filled by a legend over the last 11 years.

Berkman will step up to the media in spring training and tell them the Cards can win without Pujols, he will rally his team around Matheny’s message, Lance Berkman will take the heat if things start going south. Lance may not hit .330 40 homer run 120 rbi’s but he will load his shoulders down and take the blunt of the negativity when it approaches.

On the field the team collectively must come together. No one person will fill #5’s shoes and no one player will be asked to either. The likes of David Freese, Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, and Yadier Molina will all have to pick up the slack if no one else is signed. They will all have to stay healthy and do the things that win championships.

Mike Matheny’s job isn’t easy, taking over a manager with Hall of Fame credentials such as TLR is hard enough. Now add losing a potential Hall of Famer, and the best player in the game, Mike is instantly behind the black ball, but if the 2011 World Series champions St. Louis Cardinals taught you anything that is: never count anyone out. Because all it takes is the a group 25 men on the field pulling together for one common goal, believing in each other, and letting nothing get in their way to make the unthinkable happen.

Is He Dunn?

Posted in MLB, Sports, Uncategorized, White Sox with tags , , , , , on July 19, 2011 by Travis Green


By: Jon Peterlin

“ I would make the same move tomorrow again. ”

Those are the words of White Sox general manager Kenny Williams in regards to his slumping DH and his .158/.308/.316 batting line.

When it was announced that Adam Dunn would be leaving Washington and coming to the southside after inking a four year, 56 million dollar contract, the Sox proclaimed they were “all in.” With the 6-6 285 pound gigantic lefty in place, moving to one of the friendliest hitter ballparks in baseball at U.S. Cellular field, the Sox looked to take advantage of a weak AL central division.

The 31 year old showed no signs of slowing down after posting a good 2010 season knocking in 38 homeruns and 100 RBI’s for the fourth consecutive year. If Dunn was anything, it was consistent. Since 2004, it was a given he would hit around 40 homeruns, drive in close to 100, have a mediocre batting average hovering around .250 to .260 and strike out an alarming high 25-30 percent of the time.

This is nothing close to a consistent year for Dunn.

As the Sox take on the Royals tonight against rookie left hander Danny Duffy it didn’t take long for White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen to give Dunn the night off.

Even though Ozzie Guillen has been very vocal in stating he won’t sit Dunn at any point during this extended slump, Dunn’s stats against lefties make it easy, at least for tonight.

To say Dunn hasn’t hit lefties this year would be an understatement. Dunn has never fared well against southpaws hitting a career .224 against them, but in 2011 Dunn makes the mendoza line look good. Against lefties he’s hitting 2 for 64, his lone hits both being singles, to tally for a .031 batting average.

So he doesn’t hit lefties well, that’s okay right? He can make a Curtis Granderson-esque turn around and start hitting lefties with a minor tweak in his swing and everything will be okay.

If only it was that simple.

The fact of the matter is that he’s still below .200 on the year against righties as well. If Dunn continues at the pace he’s at striking out a whopping 124 times through 82 games, he could break Mark Reynold’s Major League record of 223 punchouts set in 2009.

So why is everyone in the White Sox organization so convinced he’ll turn it around in the second half? Are they wishful thinkers? Are they convinced that his past record would tell us that he’ll get on a streak and start contributing to the club?

I’d like to think so. Looking deeper into some of Dunn’s at bats, nothing suggests, except for the numbers themselves, he should be hitting this poorly. From fangraphs.com, here’s a look at his plate discipline numbers compared to his average numbers.

Z-Swing% – Percentage of pitches a batter swings at inside the strike zone.
2011 – 66.5% Career Average – 66.2%

Swing% – Total percentage of pitches a batter swings at.
2011 – 42.8% Career Average – 41.0%

Z-Contact% – Percentage of times a batter makes contact with the ball when swinging at pitches thrown within the strike zone.
2011 – 77.2% Career Average – 79.7%

Contact% – Percentage of contact made on all pitches.
2011 – 70.3% Career Average – 71.1%

SwStr% – Percentage of strikes that were swung at and missed.
2011 – 12.7% Career Average – 11.6%

All pretty similar to normal averages right? There’s one I left out that stands out the most and is the key to Adam Dunn’s failure at the plate this year.

O-Contact% – Percentage of times a batter makes contact with the ball when swinging at pitches thrown outside the strike zone.
2011 – 59.0% Career Average – 44.7%

As these numbers show it’s not even as if Dunn is receiving any unusual number of pitches outside the strike zone. Pitchers haven’t started solely attacking Dunn on the outside assuming he’ll swing at it and hit it into another embarrassing dribble back to the pitcher. American League pitchers haven’t exhausted themselves this way, Dunn has done it for them. When behind in the count 0-1 Dunn has gone 13-151 for a .086 batting average. When he’s down 0-2 in the count, they might as well stop the at bat right there, Dunn is just 1-73 on the year batting .014. It’s not rocket science, but his O-Contact% has resulted in too many weak grounders and a career low HR/FB rate hovering around 10% on the year.

As the Sox try to make a push in the division race trailing the Indians by 4.5 games entering Tuesday night in a division where they can make up ground, you have to wonder when will Dunn turn it around. With Alex Rios’s less than mediocre play, how long can Ozzie put up with two struggling performers? Only time will tell if Adam Dunn will turn it around, but for now the Sox still have confidence in their slugger, if only he had it in himself.

Twitter : @JPeterlin

The Race for the N.L. Central Crown

Posted in Brewers, MLB, Pirates, Reds, Sports, St. Louis Cardinals with tags , , , , , , on July 18, 2011 by Travis Green


By Travis Green

As we sit here on July 18th, 2010 the Milwaukee Brewers lead the Cardinals and Pirates by a half of a game, the Reds trail by three and a half games, and well the rest of the division doesn’t have a chance!

The question around St. Louis is who is the biggest divisional threat to the Cardinals, but the question around the country is who will win the Central?

There are many factors that play into this discussion, many in which I will bring up, but of course the one element we can not include is injuries.

Of course these are all predictions, but many of them are backed by stats and other meaningful reasons.

Which brings me to contestant number one and a team we will discredit right away, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

An up and coming Team, but a few too many hurdles to clear this season

Pittsburgh it’s been fun, please keep showing up because you are on your way and with maturity and a few veterans to go along with a very good manager, the Pirates will be a very fun team and interesting team to watch in the next few years, but sorry not 2011.

The Pirates have too many hurdles in the way, including a low payroll brought about by very poor years in attendance, and ownership going cheap. Yes the Buccos will be in on a bats that could be shopped this trade deadline, but the Pirates will not surrender their farm system for a rental. So that takes them out of the running for a guy like Carlos Beltran, or Carlos Pena, in whom they reportedly have very little interest in.

There are a few other options such as Michael Cuddyer (if available), Josh Willingham, Conor Jackson, all which are intriguing, but probably not enough to push them ahead in the Central.

However, there have been reports that two players who are on their radar are Hunter Pence, and Aramis Rameriz. Personally I discredit Rameriz, who has a option for 2012, and a no-trade clause. But Pence would be a great get, but will the Astros be will to trade a player whom they’d have to play against a lot up until at least 2013? This trade is highly unlikely, but if it did happen the Central would be that much closer.

The other question for the Pirates is “Are they buyers?” At this point you may say “Of Course!”, but not so fast. Ten of the next 13 games the Pirates play are against teams above .500, and the other three being against a division rival the Cincinnati Reds. The other three in order are the Cardinals, Braves, and Phillies, which coincidentally leads up to the July 31st trade deadline.

And further reason more to count out the Pirates: The Pirates are 11-17 against teams above .500 and the still 36 games against teams above .500. And 33 games against teams below .500 in which they a 38-27 record against this season. As I said this team has a lot going for them but this season and their remaining schedule is not one of them.

The next culprit on the list is the Milwaukee Brewers. The first place team in the N.L. Central. The team that struck first among all teams in baseball as far as the trading frenzy is concerned, and more importantly took the first swing in the N.L. Central title bout.

Will K-Rod Push Them To A Title?

The Brewers improved their bullpen drastically with the trade of Francisco Rodriguez, but of course everyone was so concerned about the game finished clause in K-Rods contract. If K-Rod were to finish 55 games on the season he would have gotten an $17.5 million option for next season. But if you noticed I said “would have.”

That clause is no longer in play as he and his agent Scott Boras have waived it for added compensation this season. So Milwaukee got a steal, however that does not solve their bullpen situation. The team is still weak from the left side, and can you get K-Rod to buy into being a set-up guy or can the two “closers” be merge into one, and still play nice?

Humans are egotistical, especially when they make a lot of money, and are brought on to do a certain job, if they feel threatened they become very territorial, will this cause more problems than it alleviates? That’s a question that will have to play itself out.

With the addition to the ‘pen, additional money being spent of K-Rod, and bleak farm system to make any more deal, are the Brewers finished making deals? If GM Doug Melvin has proven anything, the answer is no!

The Brewers will be in on a couple of guys, but do not expect them to go big. Yes they have kicked the tires on Beltran, but do they have the money or prospect needed for the big outfielder?

So expect the Brew Crew to look for infield help, nothing too big, but I would not count out Aramis Rameriz considering he could be had at a relatively cheap price and would waive his no trade. That would be the best option for the Brewers, however I do not expect a big name such as that. Look for a guy like Jamey Carroll, Wilson Betemit, or Ty Wiggington to be a solution to some problems at 3B or Shortstop. A few other SS could pop up on that list.

If the Brewers can add another average bat to the lineup, and take out Betancourt or a slumping Casey McGehee it would certainly help their cause.

But would the extra bat ignite an anemic offense which averages 3.5 runs on the road compared to 5.25 at home. They are a drastically different team away from their Brewery compared to the road, 33-14 at home and 18-31 on the road. ]

Breaking down the numbers would take hours, but they do have the advantage of playing two more home games than road games with their remaining schedule with 32 away from Miller Park and 34 in front of the home fans.

The Brewers are 19-18 against teams above .500 and have 33 games remaining against both teams below and above .500. So their record of 32-27 will help against the under .500 teams, but if they want to win the division they will need to improve on that.

We move on to the Cardinals. A team that by all means should have left the conversation months ago, with the injuries, and inconsistent starting pitching, and of course the most notable bullpen troubles.

How will the Cards answer the trade made by the Brewers, and heated contest of the division?

However the Birds on the bat sit just below the coop, at a half game out. How might you ask? Well Lance Berkman is the key, as well as some very good pitching from Kyle Lohse early, and Fernando Salas keeping there late it the games.

With all that being said, it’s still an uphill battle for the Redbirds. There is much speculation and many questions on what this team needs to push it back to their familiar territory on top of the division.

Defense, bullpen help, starting rotation help, and of course where in the world is Colby Rasmus? And will he be traded?

The Cardinals can improve defensively, as they have the sixth worse defense in the Majors, but if you improve the D, will you affect the O? The Cards purposely took a hit in D to add to the offense with acquiring Ryan Theriot. Many have questioned their unwillingness to move Theriot over to second, and keep his bat in the lineup, but with Skip Schumaker playing perhaps the best defense at 2B of his career why take a hit there too, while losing offense?

The Cardinals would love to have it both ways with defense and offense, but right now it just isn’t seemingly possible, so barring a Colby Rasmus trade, the lineup maybe the same come seasons end (well that is as close to the same as it can be with Tony La Russa.)

So where do the Cardinals improve on their pitching in the bullpen? Or remove Kyle McClellan and acquire a starter? It is good to have options such as that, but they are very risky options. Do you mess with K-Mac’s psyche and move him back to the ‘pen and hope he returns to last years form? Or do you trade for a relief pitch i.e. Heath Bell, Mike Adams, etc., and suffer with McClellan as your fifth starter?

I choose option one, because there are more options out there in my mind. The bullpen is a strange situation, guys such as Heath Bell and Mike Adams are questionable since they pitch in a pitcher friendly ballpark in San Diego, and trading for a closer is always a gutsy decision, because they are not machine a lot go into their makeup, and you take them from their surroundings and things could snow ball fast. Salas has not been horrible, Dunc and La Russa seem comfortable with him back there, and K-Mac would help guys settle into their roles, especially with the recent flare up of Eduardo Sanchez’s shoulder, and he helps the left handed batter situation.

Prime dealing options: Brett Myers, Barry Zito, Jon Garland, Carl Pavano, and Edwin Jackson are all options among Starting Pitching. Or hey maybe the Cardinals can finally get their guy Mark Buehrle from the White Sox? Doubtful.

As far as relief pitching is concerned the Cards could look to Toronto and their surplus of bullpen arms, or talk to a team who has apparently called the Redbirds about Rasmus in Washington and ask for Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen.

Sticking with the trading Rasmus idea, other teams such as Colorado and Tampa seem to have interest in the young star, and may be in play in the Cardinals could pry away either a Jeremy Hellickson or Ubaldo Jimenez, but the Cards GM John Mozeliak said a deal for Colby is “highly unlikely.”

The Redbirds need to acquire another starting pitcher to remain in this discussion for the title, and according to Paul Morosi of FOX Sports are one of the more aggressive teams in searching for a starter. Mo has been known to wheel and deal, so I’d be surprised to see him stand pat.

The Cardinals are in one of the more comfortable situations in the Central as far as remaining schedules are concerned, they have 35 games left with teams under .500 and have a 35-26 record thus far against those teams. They will however face 32 teams with records above .500 including a dangerous four game road trip to Philly in mid-September.

Finally the Reds will round out the discussion. They have had a tumultuous year to this point, but only find themselves 3.5 games back.

Under performance has killed them thus far but do they have a few moves up their sleeves?

This team probably has one of the better teams on paper, but under performance has been a problem.

With Zach Cozart taking over at Shortstop they look to put a few of the woes behind them, but with a slumping Scott Rolen, and Edgar Renteria they will need a lot more to help them out.

Those two players were being counted on to be leaders, in the nice mixed locker room of young and old, but how can you expect them to lead with batting averages below .245?

Walt Jocketty will need to pull off some magic as they look for another OF, possible starter, and more bullpen help.

Bullpen help has been a common theme among the Central division, and the Reds are keeping with the trend, and will most likely acquire small help like they did last season leading to the Central division berth. But this season they need more than just that.

The offense has been there most of the time for the Redlegs, but they are still in search of an Outfield bat and do not be surprised to see them talk about the CF from the Mets Carlos Beltran. The Mets are willing to deal Beltran and eat some of his contract if it means better prospects in return for the aging OF, and the Reds have the ammo to do it, but will they? Or do they save that for a starting pitcher?

Many have discussed the need of an ace for the Reds, I have been one of them but with Johnny Cueto emerging as possibly that guy they may not need to go all in on a possible ace such as Ubaldo Jimenez and come up slighted. So best case scenario for the Reds is Cueto becomes that guy, Bailey or Volquez fill in nicely as a number 5 and the Reds acquire a veteran type starter.

There are a couple of positives to this scenario, the Reds will take one of the starters off the market from the Cardinals, they still have money, and prospects to acquire Beltran, and they get a Cardinal killer in Beltran. And as we know there’s nothing better the Reds love doing more than beating the Cardinals, this is evident when Brandon Phillips said he felt like Joe Carter in the ’92 World Series after he hit a walk-off home run against the Cards???

Maybe they should set their expectations a bit higher?

Moving along the Reds will be in contention with the list shown previously in the Cardinals section: Brett Myers, Barry Zito, Jon Garland, Carl Pavano, and Edwin Jackson.

Add to this list a guy named Ted Lilly something many may sneeze at, but if you can get Lilly to keep the ball in the park, which has been tough this year, and throughout his career, he is a very good late season option.

He adds stability, a veteran leadership, a left handed arm (once again to beat the Cardinals), and his second half numbers are night and day compared to his first half: 51-37 4.11 ERA compared to his career first half numbers of 68-69 4.29 ERA. And let’s not forget what he did for the Dodgers last year after be dealing by the Cubs: 7-4 with a 3.52 ERA.

No he’s not Jimenez or Pavano, but Lilly can be had for cheap, and still give you the prospects and money to acquire a bat such as Beltran or other outfield options like B.J. Upton, Carlos Lee, Alfonso Soriano, and Ryan Ludwick who may all be had at the right price.

The Reds are still the favorites, but a move by the Redbirds and Brewers could flip flop a few of these teams

In my overall review of the Central division I still like the Reds chances. They have the most in the farm to improve their team this season. Us Cards fans know Jocketty is never shy about making a move that catches his eye. They didn’t get near the production from Votto the first half that they did last year, and you can expect that to change, and if they acquire another bat, along with improving the pitching staff, they become the favorites.

The Cardinals have some decisions to make but are also in deal mode, and with John Mozeliak at the helm, anything is possible, and don’t believe the “highly unlikely” words from Mo on Colby if I am not mistaken Brett Wallace was deemed untouchable before Matt Holliday became available. The right deal comes along and the Centerfielder may be in new confines.

The Brew Crew improved first, but do they have the pieces to finish that improvement off? Or will they be like many things in America, left unfinished until further notice or more money and supplies become available?

And the Pirates, they say they’re willing to deal prospects for the right deal, and really interested in Pence, which if the Pirates are for real, that move would be great, but let’s wait until this current 15 game stretch is over to consider them 100% buyers.

Here are my projections:

Reds
Cardinals
Brewers
Pirates
Who cares where the other two finish?

I want to go with the Birds but I just have a sneaking suspicion the Reds may be the most active come the deadline, and we all know what Jocketty can do. Deplete a system for the future, for the now!

Finally the projections according to the first half stats if they were to continue into the 2nd half:

Brewers (86-76)
Cards (84-78)
Reds (83-79)
Pirates (82-80)

It shall be fun stuff the rest of the way out, with the Central division leaders playing meeting often down the stretch, hoping to stake claim on the title that earns them a spot in the 2011 MLB Playoffs.

(Please Note the numbers being used for .500 teams both below and above are based winning percentages as of July 18th, and not while the teams played, or after that.)

(Note: MLBTradeRumors.com, BaseballReference.com, STLToday.com, FOXSports.com, as well as the websites that the pictures are linked to were used in this article.)

McIlroy Not Playing Until British Open

Posted in Golf, Sports with tags , , , , , , , on July 1, 2011 by Travis Green

By: Jon Peterlin

Redemption.

We all put the Sunday collapse of Northern Ireland’s favorite 22-year-old behind us. Rory McIlroy had put his early April meltdown at Augusta behind him. He was now the 2011 U.S. Open champion winning by a record 16-under-par. After the 18th at Congressional he made the nation melt as he thanked his father and said all the right things.

We were all smitten. He had charmed everyone watching in all the right ways. Then the realization of breaking twelve U.S. Open records set in, and like any golf talk it came full circle back to Tiger.
“I know how good Tiger was in 2000 to win by 15 at Pebble, I was trying to go at that today and emulate him in some way.” McIlroy said after his win.

Taking a page out of Tiger’s playbook, the curly-haired McIlroy opted to not play again until the British Open. Where does this leave us to believe McIlroy’s game is headed? He’s too young to only be focused on Majors like Tiger has for the better part of his career.

So what’s the reason?

Three weeks isn’t long enough where the wheels are going to fall off McIlroy’s game. In reality the only tournament he’d attend is this weekend’s AT&T National in Pennsylvania. Nothing to lose sleep over, but it was finishing 5th in tournaments like the Memorial that got him over the crushing meltdown at Augusta.

The pressure’s off McIlroy. After the Masters, golf critics were fast in labeling McIlroy as the next Colin Montgomerie or Lee Westwood. Not a bad comparison, except it was only for being players that have played great, but haven’t won a major.

So why lay off for the British Open? Some would say Mcllroy wants to ride the win at Congressional for as long as possible. He should relish in his accomplishments. He should take more pride than a little leaguer hitting his first home run. He should be happier than an architect constructing his first building or a lawyer passing the bar exam.

Wrong. All wrong.

Rory can’t take this mindset if he ever wants to be known as more than the 2011 U.S. Open winner. He has all the skills, but is too early in his career to be taking tournaments off after achieving goals.

He is not Tiger Woods.

Despite claims by golf critics, he hasn’t replaced anyone as the next great young golf superstar. There are too many Ricky Fowler’s, Dustin Johnson’s, and Anthony Kim’s who are relishing in Mcllroy’s time off looking to be golf’s next great one.

His time is now. The more dominant he can be during this time period, the more proof we have in labeling him as the next big thing. He has a chance that everyone in the game has been trying to get to; the next Tiger Woods. In anticipation for Mcllroy’s visit, ticket sales for July 14-17th British Open is up 20 percent since it was last played at Royal St. George’s eight years ago. His stock is high right now and a good showing at the AT&T National would only increase it.

A sprained knee and strained Achilles tendon has sidelined Tiger without a timetable on his return. With Tiger out of the picture golf nation needs someone to take his slot and they are desperately hoping Mcllroy steps up. Golf nation has all but shoved it down the 22 year old’s throat, why doesn’t he embrace it?

We’ll find out if the time off hinders Mcllroy’s performance at the British Open. All eyes will be waiting to see if he is over his fourth round collapses. One thing’s for certain: We’ll all be rooting for Mcllroy, let’s just hope we’re not rooting for redemption after someone else hoists the Claret Jug on Sunday.