The St. Louis Cardinals travel to the Bronx over this Easter weekend to take on the New York Yankees who come stocked with two former Cardinals.
The St. Louis Cardinals will open their series against the New York Yankees on this good Friday. This series promises to be a fun series if for nothing else than the fact that both clubs are seemingly well-matched. This is evidenced through both clubs’ records to date: the Cardinals sit at 3-6 and the Yankees sit at 5-4 (the advantage going to the Yanks).
The Yankees currently sit in third place in the AL-East while the St. Louis Cardinals sit dead-last in the NL-Central. The Yanks own a win percentage of .556 where the Cardinals own a miserable win percentage of .333.
Of more interest to me outside of the percentage match-ups will be the moments of reunion with former St. Louis Cardinals players: Matt Holliday and Pete Kozma. Will these moments be kind or will they be like seeing an ex-girlfriend in the mall a few months after a break-up?
For comparison sake, let’s look at the numbers. Through twenty-nine at-bats, Holliday owns a slash line of .276/.462/.448. In these, Holliday has recorded two double and one home run. His St. Louis Cardinals replacement- Randal Grichuk– owns a slash of .212/.235/.424 in thirty-three at-bats. To his credit, Grichuk has recorded one double and two home runs.
Kozma is well-known in Cardinals lore for being the “hero” of the St. Louis Cardinals postseason a few years ago in the famous Nationals wild card game. After that time, however, he became a punching bag for fans (I very much include myself in this list).
Though only two at-bats this season, Kozma has yet to record a hit. He has made his way around the bases by drawing a walk and then being brought in by teammates. His replacement for the St. Louis Cardinals- Aledmys Diaz– has a slash of .278/.278/.583 through thirty-six at-bats.
If we were to toss in Kolten Wong as a “replacement” to Kozma who did appear at second a few times during his tenure with the St. Louis Cardinals, Wong would out-perform Kozma this season as well. Through twenty-four at-bats, Wong has generated a slash of .167/.286/.250.
If we are looking for an advantage for the St. Louis Cardinals in these match-ups then we can certainly point to Kozma-v-anyone. This would be great if Kozma was the starting short stop for the Yankees. He is not. In his stead, Ronald Torreyes is the starting short stop. Let’s take a quick look at him.
Torreyes has appeared in twenty-eight at-bats and has recorded seven hits (one triple and one home run) for a slash of .250/.250/.429. Kozma, then, serves as backup for the Yankees at third, short stop, and second (albeit he is the third backup at second).
These are my advantage predictions: the Yankees seemingly own the advantage in having Holliday rather than Grichuk (but I believe that is for the interim only as I predict that Grichuk’s abilities will grow this season). On the flip side, the St. Louis Cardinals- hands down- own the advantage at short stop (and anyone over Pete Kozma).
So then, will the reunions be genial or awkward? Two seasons have passed since Kozma wore the birds on the bat and, like ex-girlfriends, the longer the time apart the lesser the hurt feelings. My guess is that this reunion will come and go with little fanfare.
Matt Holliday, however, will be an awkward reunion. This won’t be the case, I think, with the players as everyone seemed to love Holliday. I do predict, however, that the reunion between Holliday and Matheny and Mozeliak and Holliday will likely be a stressed one. Holliday wanted to keep playing and the Cardinals weren’t interested in him doing that with them.
Like seeing an ex-girlfriend just a few months after a break-up (and one which wasn’t ugly but wasn’t necessarily agreed-upon) is always a little awkward and that is what I think will happen with the Holliday reunions.
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As to the games themselves, I look for these contests to be fairly matched. If the St. Louis Cardinals starting rotation can hold things together then I look for the games to be close. The rotation should keep a keen eye on Chase Headley, Starlin Castro, and Aaron Hicks as these batters own averages of .375, .333, and .313 respectively.
From the pitching side of things, the St. Louis Cardinals will open the series tonight facing Masahiro Tanaka who has been roughed-up in his two starts. He owns a bloated 11.74 ERA. The Cardinals need to take advantage of this from the start. Saturday should have CC Sabathia (1.64 ERA) and Easter Sunday should have Michael Pineada (3.97 ERA) take the mound.
The St. Louis Cardinals need to attack Tanaka early and then show great patience with Sabathia. I believe the birds have the best chance of wins against Tanaka and Pineada.
What do you think of the reunion to come? And what do you think of the match-ups? Will the Cardinals find a way to get their first series win of the season? Follow me on Twitter and give me your thoughts. Thanks for reading and Go Cardinals!