UCB Project—Meet Tara Wellman


The United Cardinals Bloggers, of which I am a member, have monthly projects for posting.  This month’s project is to post an interview with another UCB Member.  I had the pleasure of being assigned to interview another female blogger this year and I took advantage of it.  Tara Wellman blogs for Aaron Miles‘ Fastball, and as a follower of Tara’s on Twitter I have been impressed by her baseball knowledge, her enthusiasm, and her calmness in the face of stressful times as a Cardinals’ fan.  So, without further ado, I present to you, Tara Wellman.

From one female blogger to another, what are the challenges, if any, you have faced in writing about a sport such as major league baseball, which is still predominantly a male centered sport?

It’s a challenge, definitely.  The primary obstacle is simply establishing myself as a knowledgeable fan and writer, which is easier said than done.  I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a number of very supportive people who respect my opinion as equal to their own, but that’s not to say everyone does.

I’ve been lucky, though, that my “challenges” primarily end with a few raised eyebrows or lengthy conversations to “prove” myself (most of the time when I start quoting numbers and stats, the doubters back down!).  Even my interactions with players have been positive, with just one exception.

We have come a long way indeed!

How familiar are you with sabermetrics, and do you use them at all in your blogging?  Do you see them as useful in evaluating players?

I am fascinated with sabermetrics.  I love the advances that have made databases and statistics so useful.  That said, I have to admit I’m not much of a numbers mind, so I don’t yet understand all the advanced stats like I wish I did.  I’m learning, slowly, and certainly see a benefit in being able to place numerical value on certain skills and production.

However, no matter how many numbers you crunch, just as games are not won on paper, neither is success created there.  They provide help in analysis, but they don’t always tell the whole story.

How would you grade Mike Matheny as a manager? What do you see as his strengths and weaknesses?

I’m more a fan of Matheny as a manager than many, it seems.  Perhaps I’m a bit more forgiving of “rookie” mistakes (and yes, I still see him as a rookie after just one year of management).  He does have his moments, though, where he appears to over think things, and makes matters more complicated than need be.

His strength is, as many have said, the trust and relationship he builds with his players.  They know he has their back and that he works tirelessly to create opportunities for them to succeed.

His weakness, though, stems from that strength–he is loyal to a fault sometimes.  Combine that with simple inexperience, and he, again, sometimes out-thinks himself.  Fortunately this season, even his mistakes often work out okay.

In general, I believe in his ability as a manager and think he’s learning with every decision he makes.  I’d give him a solid B+.

As a fan, what changes in the game have you seen that you favor?  Are there any that you disfavor?

You know, I haven’t seen too many dramatic changes in my lifetime as a fan. I was pretty uncertain on the idea of realignment this last go ’round, and it’s still odd to think of the Astros in the AL, but it hasn’t impacted the season too terribly much! I was not a fan of the second wild card and in many regards still am not. I hate the one-game playoff with a passion. But, I will admit last season stayed interesting far later into the year than in years past. In general, though, I like baseball the “old fashioned way,” so I don’t warm up to changes quickly … if at all!

On a personal note, I know you live in Iowa.  Iowa has a Cubs minor league team, and up until this year had a Cardinals minor league team.  Would you say Iowa is more Cardinals fans or Cubs fans?

You know, there’s a pretty good mix. If I had to pick one, it would probably lean in the direction of the Cubs. But, I find Cardinals fans just about everywhere I go, so it’s not too overwhelming!

How do you feel about the extensive criticism by fans of players like Pete Kozma or David Freese?

On one hand, it comes with the territory. A public figure on a successful team with a winning legacy, when struggling to live up to the high expectations, will be criticized. However, I find myself exceedingly thankful that my career is not a “spectator sport,” because I’d have a hard time handling people coming to my job and shouting their displeasure every time I fail to live up to their expectations!

If you were the GM of the Cardinals and money was no object, what player would you most like to obtain in the offseason, either through free agency or trade?

Oh boy. Well, I’d love to have a guy like Max Scherzer. Stud starting pitcher to fill in a hole in the rotation. Then again, the Cardinals have oodles of pitching talent and not so much on the Short Stop front, which appears to be the largest area of concern going forward. So, perhaps I’d have to give a look to a couple young short stops (meaning, not a short-term veteran fill-in). Actually, I don’t hate the idea of Jean Segura. The 23 year old is out-hitting every other SS out there and, in theory, the best is yet to come. Interesting imaginary scenario, anyway!

Ending on a light note, best dancer, Waino or Joe Kelly?

Oh man. Tough call! But, as much as I love Waino, the video of Joe in the outfield takes the cake. Although, I’d be totally in favor of a dance-off to prove who’s best once and for all!