Oct 28, 2011; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals players cheer and pose with the commisioner

Rants Daily: St. Louis Cardinals begin title defense today


What seemed improbable at the beginning of September 2011, is reality now. The St. Louis Cardinals are the defending World Series Champions.

March 17, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager

The Cardinals open their defense of the championship against the Miami Marlins at the new Marlins Park today at 6:05 PM CDT. Manager Mike Matheny sends out Kyle Loshe to toe the rubber for the Redbirds against Marlins ace, Josh Johnson. For an in-depth look at the Marlins, check out Justin McClary’s interview with FanSided’s Marlin Maniac editor Ehsan Kassim. Here is a link to Ehsan’s reciprocal interview of Justin.

Loshe is coming off the best statistical season of all the members of the 2011 starting rotation. He led the team with 14 wins and an ERA of 3.39. That is correct, it was not Chris Carpenter who led the team in either category. Carpenter and Adam Wainwright get most of the credit for doing the heavy lifting and most of it is warranted. Lohse actually prefers to do his work and not worry about what others are saying about it. Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com provides a quote from Lohse.

“I’ve been that way my whole career,” Lohse said. “I don’t play this game for acknowledgements or things on the outside. I play this for my teammates and myself. It’s a pride thing. I just care about what the 24 other guys think about me, and I give it all I’ve got every time I go out there.”

 

With Wainwright returning from surgery and Carpenter on the shelf for an indeterminate amount of time, Lohse may be thrust into the spotlight this season and maybe more people will take notice of his consistency. If he replicates his 2011 numbers or better in 2012, it will not come as a shock to him and finally maybe not to others.

STARTING LINEUP

Matheny revealed his starting lineup yesterday and it goes as follows:

  1. (SS) Rafael Furcal
  2. (RF) Carlos Beltran
  3. (LF) Matt Holliday
  4. (1B) Lance Berkman
  5. (3B) David Freese
  6. (C) Yadier Molina
  7. (CF) Jon Jay
  8. (2B) Daniel Descalso
  9. (P) Kyle Lohse

 

After all the insinuating that Matheny could bypass Furcal at the top of the order, he sits in the leadoff spot. Matheny was encouraged by some of his final at-bats of the spring where Furcal was not lifting the ball as much. For Furcal to be effective he needs to be hitting line drive and hot shots through the infield. His speed is not his biggest attribute anymore, but he may still be able to beat some slow rollers out or balls hit in the holes.

Otherwise there are no real surprises in the lineup. Descalso gets the start at second base with the right-handed Johnson on the mound. Descalso, a left-handed batter, will probably see a good amount of time against tough righties, like Johnson. Matheny iterated that this did not mean that Tyler Greene lost the second base battle. It merely means that Matheny felt that Descalso had a better chance of reaching Johnson for hits than Greene.

Holliday (4-for-11, 3 RBI), Berkman (3-for-10, 1 HR, 4 RBI) and Molina (5-for-12) each have hit Johnson well in the past. Lohse’s biggest nemeses in the Marlins lineup are Hanley Ramirez (5-for-13, 1 HR, 4RBI) and Giancarlo Stanton (3-for-5).

OTTAVINO CLAIMED BY ROCKIES

Starting pitcher Adam Ottavino was claimed off outright waivers today by the Colorado Rockies. He was the Cardinals’ 1st round pick in the 2006 draft.

UCB RADIO HOUR

Shameless plug time. I will be co-hosting tonight’s United Cardinal Bloggers Radio Hour with UCB founder Daniel Shoptaw, also the creator of C70 at the Bat, a Cardinals’ blog site. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. CT (10:30 p.m. ET). Here is a listen live link to the show. We’ll of course be discussing the results of the game and other Cardinals news.

MY TWO CENTS

For what it’s worth, while I do not like the lineup as it is written, there really isn’t much to complain about it either. The lineup can be and possibly will be written a number of different ways by Matheny. I’m ok with Matheny caving and allowing Furcal to get the initial leadoff position. He’s a veteran and should get the benefit of the doubt. I just hope that Matheny doesn’t wait to long to switch things up if Furcal hits like he did for a better part of last season and the postseason. It wasn’t like he was hitting the cover off the ball in Spring Training either.

Beltran in the number two spot is where I truly disagree with Matheny, and a lot of others. If it was 3 or 4 years ago, I could see it. But Beltran is not suited for the number two spot in my opinion. He has slowed in recent years and no longer looks to steal bases. He does get on base at a good clip, but his power and run producing abilities are being wasted in that position.

Part of Beltran hitting second could have something to do with Holliday hitting third. If Matheny is insistent that Holliday should hit third (no arguments here) then having the switch-hitting Beltran and Berkman on opposite sides makes sense especially when there is a righty on the mound. I also wouldn’t argue with Holliday hitting clean-up. Holliday is the best hitter on the team in my opinion, but he also possesses the most power. I could see either Jay or Descalso hitting second and sliding everyone else down.

Again, these are knit-picky comments. There is nothing truly wrong with this lineup, I just hope that Matheny doesn’t tie himself too it and that he reacts quickly if it isn’t working out. Let the title defense begin. Good luck to the Cardinals.

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Tags: Adam Ottavino Adam Wainwright Cardinals Carlos Beltran Chris Carpenter Daniel Descalso David Freese Jon Jay Kyle Lohse Lance Berkman Matt Holliday Mike Matheny Rafael Furcal St Louis Cardinals Tyler Greene Yadier Molina

  • Marilyncolor

    I think you and I are the only people on the planet who don’t like Beltran batting second.  I have expressed this opinion elsewhere and have been told in no uncertain terms that I don’t know what I am talking about.  

  • http://www.redbirdrants.com/ Chris_Carelli

     @Marilyncolor
     Well, you do know what you’re talking about…