As the Cardinals continue their disappointing August debacle, there is no shortage of talking points for baseball fans in St. Louis. Obviously we would all prefer the talk to be about things like winning and the postseason, but since that is out of the question at this point, we really don’t have any other options. All of the latest Cardinals news, good and bad, is headed your way after the jump.
To begin on a positive note, Lance Berkman recently told Matthew Leach of MLB.com that he fully intends to play in 2012 and would prefer to do so with St. Louis. After recently hinting that he was prepared to walk away from the game if he did not receive any offers to his liking as a free agent, it now appears that Lance is willing to give it another go if he lands in one of four destinations.
"I’m sure I’ll play next year somewhere. Hopefully it will be here, but part of that is not up to me. This is a great group of guys. I think it has a lot of potential. Even if things don’t go like we want them to this year, I still feel like this is not a team that is rebuilding. It’s not a team that’s very far away from being right where it needs to be. This would be my first choice."
Even if I don’t agree with his opinion that this team is close to where it needs to be, it would be nice to see him in a Cards uniform for one more year. I know he’ll be 36 before the start of next season, but with 29 home runs, 79 RBIs, and a .292/.405/.572 batting line, the Big Puma has shown no signs of slowing down. He projects as a grade A free agent so he won’t be especially cheap, but if the Cardinals see themselves as a win-now team once again in 2012, I’d have to imagine that they would re-sign Berkman.
Moving on to some moderately encouraging news, reliever Eduardo Sanchez is pleased with his progress as he recovers from a mild shoulder strain. The 22-year-old rookie and reliable setup man was originally placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 16th, but he was transferred to the 60-day DL at the trade deadline to make roster space for Rafael Furcal.
For the first time since the injury, Sanchez is throwing freely without pain and is feeling good when doing so. He threw 25 pitches off a mound on Tuesday, yet another good sign. Sanchez has not pitched in a Major League game since June 12, but he hopes to get into a game of some sort within the next two weeks.
Although you may not be able to pronounce his name, Marc Rzepczynski could very well become a household name for the people of St. Louis. The 25-year-old lefty who came over as part of the Colby Rasmus trade has not been used as the left-handed specialist that the Cardinals got him to be. In 10 appearances for the Cardinals, Rzepczynski has been used primarily as a long reliever and innings eater. He has already gone multiple innings in three outings with St. Louis, but he has allowed just one earned run and collected seven strikeouts.
Clearly, the Cardinals have bigger plans for the lefty in the future.
"He’s got the weapons to pitch innings. That’s why he’s definitely a candidate to be a starter someday. History might show he’ll be an important part of that trade.~Tony La Russa"
As long as Rzepczynski himself is comfortable with his varying usage patterns, there shouldn’t be any problems. We’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds for this guy.
Finally, Busch Stadium has always been one of the better ballparks in MLB, but it has become clear that winning does have at least some correlation with attendance in St. Louis. The Cards have the fourth-highest attendance decline in the Major Leagues from 2010 to 2011, with the numbers down 2,881 per home game. This may seem insignificant, but for a team with eight consecutive years of three million plus in attendance, it is noteworthy. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to pay to go see a brutal collapse for the second straight year, but that’s just me.