Cards News & Notes
Silver and Gold
Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols earned Gold Glove awards for outstanding defensive play at their positions.
Molina continues to be seen as the top defensive catcher in the game with his third straight Gold Glove. Former Cards catchers Mike Matheny and Mike Pagnozzi each won three with the Cards during their careers. Molina will look to match Matheny’s total of four next season, a feat accomplished by just seven catchers in history. Yadi threw out over 48 percent of attempted base stealers this season. The respect for Molina’s arm was apparent as only 68 steals were attempted on the Cards backstop. He also led the league with 1,138 innings caught. Beyond the numbers, Molina handled one of the best pitching staffs in the game, helping Adam Wainwright win 20 games and mentoring rookie Jaime Garcia to a brilliant season.
It was the second Gold Glove for Pujols who first won the award in 2006. Pujols was steady at first and led the league with 157 assists. Joey Votto, his nemesis for postseason awards this year, was second with 128. He was also tops at his position in double plays. He had the most chances at his position and tied for the fewest errors with just four all season. The game’s best hitter is a complete player. It remains to be seen if that total package will be enough for the MVP this year – or if the Cards failures derail his chances and give Joey Votto the clear path to the award.
From gold to silver, Pujols and Matt Holliday were honored with Silver Slugger awards. Pujols led the league with 42 home runs and 118 RBIs in another amazing season. He and Holliday batted .312 to lead the Cardinals. Holliday finished third in the league with 186 hits and drove in 103 RBIs. The Cards sluggers were the only bright spots for an inconsistent offense that was the driving force behind a disappointing finish for St. Louis. Pujols again beat out Votto, but the Reds star received the Hank Aaron Award as baseball’s best hitter. The MVP race should be close, but Votto is the favorite after leading the Reds to the division title and the playoffs. The MVP winner is announced Nov. 22.
Down on the Farm
Keeping with the awards theme, top prospect Shelby Miller and Matt Carpenter were recognized by the organization as the Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year.
Miller is the most exciting player – and now the best pitcher – in the Cards farm system. He is still just 20 years old and showed great progress as the summer went on. After a rough start, Miller finished the season with a 7-5 record and 3.62 ERA in 24 starts for Class A Quad Cities. Even more impressive is his strikeout to walk ratio of 140-to-33. Miller created quite a buzz in Jupiter during the spring and proved it was warranted over the summer. He also represented St. Louis in the Futures Game in Anaheim.
Carpenter doesn’t have the same level of hype surrounding him, but he probably should. The 25-year-old out of TCU went from Class A to Double-A Springfield and impressed the organization as a pure hitter. He hit .309 with a .418 on base percentage on the year. As a third baseman, I would like to see him get a shot to compete to make the big league club. Though David Freese performed well, he hasn’t proven he can last a full year and the hot corner turned into a weakness all season. Felipe Lopez had a terrible season that ended with him getting cut in September. The Cards resorted to playing journeyman Pedro Feliz there and later gave Daniel Descalso a look. Descalso played well, but Carpenter deserves the chance. At 25, he’s not getting any younger. This award means nothing if St. Louis doesn’t make room for him.
Cards flying to Springfield
If Carpenter doesn’t start in St. Louis, Springfield could be his destination for a few weeks. He’d still get a taste of major league competition when the St. Louis club travels to Springfield for an exhibition game March 29, 2011.
So get ready Springfield, the entire Cards club is coming to you for a day. The Springfield team is excited for the opportunity to welcome back alumni, see some of baseball’s best, and compete against them.
It’s a fun event that should be done more in baseball. It’s like exhibition games in college basketball. Sure, they don’t count, but for the Division II programs that travel to and compete against powerhouses in Division I, it’s an unforgettable experience. Take Syracuse for example. I watched Kutztown University from my hometown of Reading, Pa., take on the Orange in the Carrier Dome last week. KU was overmatched, but it played tough and stuck with Syracuse deep into the first half. The final score didn’t matter. Playing in that venue and against that level of competition is a dream for the Kutztown kids.
Le Moyne’s night in the Dome last year is another example, but everyone already knows that story. Pretty unforgettable, right?
Changes in the Booth
Cards fans may be treated to 150 games on Fox Sports Midwest in 2011 — an addition of 20 games. Final details of the deal are being finalized for Dan McLaughlin, Al Hrabosky and Rick Horton. All three will be in the booth for at least 100 games. McLaughlin would solely handle play-by-play duties. Horton would serve as play-by-play announcer when working with Hrabosky and provide color commentary as an analyst with McLaughlin. Horton has also been rumored to be interested in taking a job as a television analyst for the Washington Nationals.
Tags: Albert Pujols Basketball Carrier Dome Exhibition Fox Sports Midwest Gold Glove Kutztown University Le Moyne College Matt Carpenter Matt Holliday Reading Pennsylvania Shelby Miller Silver Slugger Springfield Cardinals St Louis Cardinals Syracuse University Television Yadier Molina