Jeff Roberson AP

Behind The Plate - The Redbirds Will Fly

 

The St. Louis Cardinals baseball team is looking up at a 5 game deficit, with many people scratching their heads and questioning what is really plaguing the team.  Some say it is all the injuries, others the underperforming bullpen, and still more the lack of runs of late; the list goes on.  However, there is no team with more fight, more magic, and more chutzpa than the one that graces the Gateway City and Busch Stadium field with its presence.  Anyone who has ever been to a game at Busch, new or old, will tell you that there’s something magical about the place.  It’s the atmosphere that the people of St. Louis create that rubs off on the team.  The team mentality of everyone who lives in this great city makes me believe that the Redbirds will fly again quite soon.  Mark my words!

 I’m not so naïve as to think that the Cardinals will make a dramatic run without an at least somewhat healthy lineup and an improved bullpen, but I do look at the positives and recent history as a benchmark to predict what will come next.

 

Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny

Mike Matheny:  Though he’s just a first-year manager and is taking over for the legendary Tony LaRussa, the versatile former St. Louis Cardinal backstop is a quick study, and will get his team performing.  I’ve been paying very close attention to his interaction with the players and media after games, and one will quickly notice how he never speaks ill of anyone, doesn’t make the same mistake twice, and rallies around his team.  He has already been put in many unenviable situations that would seem daunting to even the most seasoned manager and he has faced all the challenges head on. 

 

The idiosyncrasies, superstitions, and mindset of baseball personnel is not lost on a man who has been around the game of baseball since he was a young child, growing up in Ohio.  His faith has forged him into a man with tremendous dedication who doesn’t allow for a short bout of struggles become a prevailing way of life or thinking.  He won’t be LaRussa in year one, and maybe not ever, and that’s a good thing.  I don’t mean to sound blasphemous, but he will be Mike Matheny, like it or not, and he’s not going to apologize for it – nor should he.  In the end, his workmanlike mentality, strong faith, baseball brain, and will to win will prevail.  The Cardinals will be a perennial contender under his tutelage and anyone who thinks or talks otherwise will just have to eat crow very shortly.

 

 

The other upsides: 

Adam Wainwright Courtesy of AP

The Wain is getting (W)right With the exception of his June 1 start against the Mets, Wainwright hasn’t allowed more than 3 runs since May 22.  He’s also got a 40:10 walk-to-strikeout ratio in those 6 starts.  Not too shabby for a guy who had Tommy John surgery last Spring. 

 

 

 

 

 

Lance Lynn Courtesy US PRESSWIRE David Banks

The Redbirds have their own version of Lynnsanity  Lance Lynn has been an absolute force on the mound.  When you consider the fact that he has taken over for the perennial ace of the staff, Chris Carpenter, it makes what he’s been able to accomplish on the mound even more impressive.  In his 13 starts, he’s composed a brilliant record of 10-2 in 81.2 innings pitched, an 86:27 strikeout-to-walk ratio, a 1.09 WHIP, and a sparkling 2.42 ERA that has him near the top in almost every pitching measurable.  There’s no reason to think that his success can’t continue either, and he’s durable.  Given the number of St. Louis Cardinals on the DL right now, that is something that’s a huge plus.

 

 

 

Beltran has been belting.  The NL leader in homeruns (19) has been a more than pleasant surprise.  He’s been healthy up to this point, and is near the top of the leader board in RBI and OPS as well.  If everyone else can fall in line and take a page from Beltran’s book, there’s no reason to think the Cardinals bats can’t heat up.  With a little luck, and some health on their side, it’s not out of the question to think that their early season (first 30 games) average of 5.56 runs per game would be again the norm.

 

 

 

 

Last year’s historic comeback:  Let’s not forget that at Labor Day last year, the St. Louis Cardinals trailed the Atlanta Braves by 8 ½ games in the Wild Card standings and didn’t let off the gas until their torrid September run culminated in an October World Series Championship.  They not only passed the Braves in dramatic fashion with an 8-0 win against the Houston Astros on the last day of the season, but they also won their 11th title.  While the 12 in ’12 seems like a distant and ever fading hope, the reality is this my Redbird brothers and sisters, the Cardinals will fly and won’t look back until they soar once more!

 

 

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Tags: Adam Wainwright Atlanta Braves Busch Stadium Cardinals Carlos Beltran Lance Lynn Mike Matheny St Louis Cardinals Tony La Russa World Series

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  • http://yardsellr.com/yardsale/John-Weitzman-124454 johnwvideo

    Its an interesting read, and I love your optimism !   Though this is not 2011 and we should not expect to see such a run to the finish as last year assuming we are that far back in Aug.  They are 4.5 as of today and still falling.. The Reds just dont seem to be loosing, though they will cool down. At that point the team must make its move with returning players and upgrades in pitching. Both the Pen and starters..
    I agree with you on Lynn, he has been great!!  Question is can he hold up an entire season ? we dont know !!   I sure hope he can !! I dont want to see what happened to K Mac last year..  Once Carp is back, I will take him anyway he comes, He is such a gamer..
    Beltran, no brainer, we are so lucky to have him in lite of Berkman going down..
     
    I believe all that you mentioned above has to do with the shotty ball we are seeing. Not just the injuries.. Thast an excuse.. But it is part of !
    You said  ”  doesn’t make the same mistake twice”:  thats not true he has made that call twice and failed with a runner on 3rd. Or at least the situation accured even if its mixed signals. He is responsible
     
    Your correct about what Mike knows and how to play the game..  And he will be Matheny not TLR,  The only issue I have is his strength towards management and what control he has. I dont want to see him as Mo’s yes man. Which seems to be where he is now, though the media and management would like us to think otherwise as if he was his own man.. I dont think he has what it takes to stand up and say, “this is what we need”  That I respected Tony for, even if I did not like it,..
     
    “In the end, his workmanlike mentality, strong faith,  The Cardinals will be a perennial contender under his tutelage and anyone who thinks or talks otherwise will just have to eat crow very shortly”
     
    I REALLY hope your right on with that statement.. Its still early with over 100 games BUT its also slowly getting into the dog days..

  • JABenoit01

    Thanks for commenting. I’ll do best to reply to as many comments. I think the Reds & Pirates don’t have staying power or experience of the Cards.  I know both have stars: Reds Votto&Phillips and Pirates McCutchen&Burnett. I don’t think either is a threat to capture the Central. I agree that the bullpen is lacking in continuity, but don’t see any change to SPs. Carp looks like rehab is good, Lynn’s on cruise, and Wainwright’s getting better. Shelby Miller is struggling right now in AAA, but may be ready soon if they keep the ‘no shaking off’ rule in place, making him throw secondary pitches. As for Lynn, the proof is there. He had 123 IP in 07 at Ole Miss, 147 in 09, & 164 in 10.  He’s got 81 thus far, but I find it hard to believe he’s got a cap. The calls at 3rd base: Craig was lackadaisical in running, & you can’t fault Matheny for that.  I think he will clean mistakes quickly & not sweep them away. They brought him in for 09 as a special assistant to groom him as leader, and I don’t think he’d be Mozeliak’s ‘yes man.’ It’d be hard for him to make waves just yet, but I believe that he’s his own man and unafraid to light a fire under players. I wouldn’t lose hope yet!  It’s his first. Look at LaRussa year 1 as MLB manager the Sox played .500 ball when he took over for Kessinger 2/3 through ’79, and he was fired by ’86. It takes time, but the pedigree of the Cards speaks loudly, & Matheny is gritty as they come. Thanks again for commenting. Follow me on Twitter @JABenoit.

  • http://yardsellr.com/yardsale/John-Weitzman-124454 johnwvideo

     @JABenoit01 Lynn did not look so good last night,, Not that the offence started out well all swinging on the first pitch from Verlander other then Holliday..
    The only change I do see possible in the Rotation is another leftie, I dont know how Garcia is at, though he reminds me of J Happ. And of course when Carp is finally back, who goes to the Pen, Westbrook or Lynn. If Lynn does not have the stamina he will be an upgrade in the pen. Lynn has shown he can get it done, though he is  not overwhelming..
    You could not have said it better about Shelby, “shaking off rule”  I hope he is not another Colby Rasmus, with such high expectations and yet cant be consistent..
     
    I have not lost hope, what happens is , since I am in NY, watching on my laptop, I cant seem to get excited for many games, so the game is on in the back ground and I will be watching the Mets or Yankees. Especially Dickey this year.,. I was at that Mets game Dickey/Lynn, paid top $$ to sit 5 row behind Cardinals Dug out with my son.. I NEVER get to see them win here in NY, Go figure., same when we drive to Phillie for a game..
     
    I want my excitement back :( call me a baby  ha ha

  • JABenoit01

     @johnwvideo Yeah, Lynn didn’t look so hot at all, but I think that was a fluke.  If you look at his season to date, he’s been marvelous.  I guess I’d better not jinx him though!
     
    I love Garcia, and just hope he can get healthy.  I saw him back in 2008 or 09 against the Pirates and he came in as a reliever.  He was fabulous, and I remember him throwing around 94-95.  I think he’s just as good as Wainwright when healthy.
     
    You said Lynn hasn’t been overwhelming.  His fastball isn’t Verlander’s, that’s for sure, but he’s got 4 fantastic pitches, with pretty darn good command for his first full season in the bigs.
     
    As for Shelby, gosh I hope he’s not another Rasmus!  I think he’ll be fine once he works out the kinks.
     
    I too am in your  area…I live in CT, and have moved around a bit.  I’ve seen Dickey in just about every start this year, and have been following him since I heard a while back that he was writing a book.  It’d be a travesty if he doesn’t get an All-Star nod, and serious consideration for the NL Cy Young if he keeps this torrid pace up!
     
    I definitely won’t call you a baby.  It’s hard sometimes to see the forrest through the trees.  I really hope this weekend’s series brings back that hope, and I think it will.  My latest article is up too if you want to read it.

  • http://yardsellr.com/yardsale/John-Weitzman-124454 johnwvideo

     @JABenoit01 I have watched Garcia since his first day. I like him, dont get me wrong.  He is however NO way on Wainos level. Wainwright’s 09 and 2010 seasons where both CY seasons.,. 39 wins..  He got so screwed by Tim L. and Carp being on the ballot that year .. He is extremely overbearing, One of the best in the NL. also one of the most underrated by the media…. Not this year, but he is slowly getting it back. I dont think Garcia will ever be at that level.. Thats why I say he reminds me of J Happ..
    Off to read your new article