Despite the 8 inches of snow outside and my perennial symptoms of seasonal depression, I know life is gonna get good again real soon. Pitchers and catchers for the majority of Major League Baseball reported today and with that I know that the smell of hot dogs, the aftertaste of Miller Lite and the dizzying effects of indigestion are right around the corner. Yes, baseball is upon us folks. Soon I will be at arms with most everyone in this city (Chicago). I will be banned (again) from many a bar in Wrigleyville. Yes. I will live again.
Three cheers for:
Which brings me to my next point: Expectations. Despite his inferior team affiliation, Allen is right in that he has something to be excited about. The Tigers loaded their team with big money bats and big money arms. And while the Cubs, Astros, Brewers and Reds went out and got big name talent (Fukudome, Tejada, Cameron, Baker and many more), the St. Louis Cardinals, the most decorated team in the National League with 10 World Series championships, led by rookie GM John Mozeliak, did practically nothing. Oh wait, no…
I’m wrong. We got rid of Rolen. That’s okay. I’m not upset about that (I’m not being sarcastic, really). Scotty Ro-Ro, let’s face it, will never be the Scotty Ro-Ro of 2004, 2005. We got the better end of the deal with Glaus, with or without HGH. Good luck against that Boston pitching staff.
Jimmy Edmonds. Adios, pal. It was a good run. I’ll love you forever for that bomb you hit in Game 6 of the 2004 NLCS. That was heaven, man. My cousin Holly will miss you very much because she thinks you’re super cute.
Eckstein. Dude. You shouldn’t have played us. We wanted you to stay, but you overplayed your hand. And now look…you play in Toronto. Good luck against that Boston pitching staff.
Encarnacion. Man, I hope your eye gets better. I hope you can get back in the batter’s box but I’ll understand if you never do again–ever. I wouldn’t. At least you have workman’s comp.
Additions? Welcome to the team Matt Clement. I think this was a ridiculous move but I thought that about an ailing Chris Carpenter several years ago and was proven drastically wrong. I hope this is a repeat. Welcome Cezar Itzuris. He’s no Ozzie Smith (or Eckstein) for that matter, but he’ll fill a gap until Brendan Ryan is ready to be the Superstar everyone thinks he’ll be. And at least Cezar isn’t a Cub anymore, right? I already talked about Troy Glaus. Welcome, Troy. Keep the needles outside of the clubhouse and don’t I REPEAT DON’T write a personal check to any of the clubhouse coolies for your drugs like my man Lo Duca.
When we come down to it, the Cards didn’t do much to excite their fans in the offseason. Maybe it’s true that we’ve been spoiled for the last ten years, expecting, KNOWING, we’ll finish at or near the top. We’re not ready to accept an offseason as a ‘rebuilding’ year. No, not with Albert in the lineup. But the fact of the matter is, our pitching is scary. Sure, the bullpen looks solid still, but after Wainwright at the top we run into some major worries. (Uncle Iggy, get out the beer) Looper proved to be a pleasant surprise as a starter. If he does half of what he did last year we’ll be happy. Piniero has promise. The National League did him some good last year, but I think that may wear off as hitters get to know him. Even in the AL, he was a modicum of mediocrity, just what we don’t need. I hope I’m wrong on this one. Then we get into really REALLY scary territory: Clement and ???
Matt Clement has a lot to prove. Having been off for so long, there are a lot of disbelievers (myself included). I will say that I hated this guy when he was a Cub. Hated him–almost as much as Zambrano and Neifi Perez, the ultimate Cardinal Killer. I give Clement until mid May. If he has a 500 record and a sub 4.50 ERA, I’ll say it was a decent move.
As for the fifth spot in the rotation, we’re picking at the bottom of the barrel. In theory, I like Reyes. But I want the Anthony Reyes who pitched that brilliant Game 1 of the 2006 World Series. I want the guy who had Sheffield and I-Rod buckling at the knees. I want the guy who blew us away with his 2005 debut. I want that Reyes, not the guy who went 2-14 with a 6+ ERA. Please, not THAT GUY. I do gotta give props to the guy’s style:
So, what else can I say? Do the Cardinals look like the team to beat in the NL Central this year? Maybe not. But I got two words for you: Albert Pujols. The guy is a rock. Oh, and two more words: Chris Carpenter. He’ll be back by the All-Star game. Oh, and two more: Mark Mulder. He’ll be back too. Oh, and two syllables: YA-DI. Molina, for his game-winning blast that put us in the ’06 WS, will always be a catalyst for winning to me. And nobody hustles more than Taguchi. And nobody has a better story that Ankiel. And Colby Rasmus is on the way. The guy is gonna be perennial MVP candidate. And Chris Duncan, the ugliest greatest ballplayer in St. Louis since Willie McGee will provide lots of fun.
So…yes, I’m excited. We play in the NL Central. Anything could happen. I love this *******’ game.