Author Archive

Issues Between St. Louis Cardinals and Shelby Miller Exposed

The St. Louis Cardinals have long been a team of rich history and respect. The phrase “The Cardinal Way” has become well known. It stands for the way a player handles himself on and off the field. It also seems to give insight into why the franchise loses faith in some players.

The Cardinals bring in numerous instructors to spring training every year. The history of the franchise comes to life to help the stars of tomorrow succeed. The coaching that is provided from both veterans on the roster and former players serving as special instructors can become invaluable to a young player coming into stardom. The team fully expects players to take advantage of the help and to trust in the system provided.

Many players have come through the system only to be traded away. Some were labeled “clubhouse cancer,” others were simply unwilling to be coached. Most of the time, those details begin to surface after the player and team have parted ways.

During the 2013 postseason, fans were confused by the absence of Shelby Miller. He was on the roster but was not used by manager Mike Matheny. Miller was reportedly healthy but remained unused for most of the playoffs.

Miller had his problems in the minor leagues. He found himself suspended indefinitely in 2011 for reported incidents involving alcohol, according to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Even after that, the team seemed willing to move forward with the pitcher.

Miller, now a member of the Atlanta Braves, recently spoke with Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. During the conversation, Miller spoke highly of St. Louis and described the move to Atlanta as a great step for him and his career. Cunningham shares a bit of information that provides a look into Miller’s relationship with the Cardinals:

Miller said he’s been a ‘stubborn pitcher’ in the past, sticking to what he knows even when teammates and coaches who might know better offered him advice. That included Miller sticking with a four-seam fastball that opposing batters constantly fouled off, raising his pitch count.

Suddenly, Miller’s situation in St. Louis gains some clarity. If he was unwilling to change his approach, the team would have likely seen that as a problem. Carrying him on the postseason roster may have only been a move to ensure the team had a pitcher there for an emergency. 

It is likely that Matheny did not trust Miller in high-leverage situations. Edward Mujica shared his thoughts with Jenifer Langosch of after a blown save in 2013. He explained what many others felt at the time, you simply throw what Yadier Molina tells you to throw. The game plan is well laid out.

Miller wasn’t willing to throw what Yadi was calling. He continued to stick with his four-seam fastball. He was, in his own words, stubborn. That simply is not the “Cardinal Way”.

Miller’s folly can benefit some of the young pitchers coming through the Cardinals organization. Youngsters like Marco Gonzales and Michael Wacha will benefit from listening to their mentors during their time in the system. Veteran leaders and former players will continue to lay out the plan for success for these young men.

Not listening seems to be how young prospects find their way out of St. Louis.


Bill Ivie is the founder of I-70 BaseballFollow him on Twitter to discuss baseball anytime.

Read more MLB news on

Adam Wainwright’s Value for St. Louis Cardinals Goes Far Beyond His Performance

Adam Wainwright has been the ace of the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff for a few years. Once the understudy to Chris Carpenter, Wainwright now finds himself the veteran of the pitching staff. That role requires much more than just pitching at a high level.

Wainwright has often found himself among the top pitchers in his league statistically. A veteran of 10 years with the Cardinals, Wainwright has found himself among the top three finishers for the Cy Young Award on three separate occasions. He has won two Gold Glove Awards and represented the National League in three All-Star Games. He has even been recognized in his league’s Most Valuable Player voting, having finished in the top 20 four times in his career.

Those types of accolades make a player rise to the top of the rotation. The top spot in the rotation for a team like the St. Louis Cardinals requires a bit more.

Wainwright seems like a clubhouse leader in most aspects. You can find him talking, dancing or carrying on with any number of teammates during warm-ups or in the dugout. He is very open with his Christian beliefs. His dedication to God and his family is inspiring to many.

He also takes the time to work with the young pitchers who come through the organization. He actively seeks players out. He seems to take his role as a leader of the ballclub very seriously.

His work with his teammates is something that has become more apparent recently. Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins were traded to Atlanta this offseason for outfielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden. 

Speaking with Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Miller and Jenkins both had praise for the work that Wainwright put in with them. According to Cunningham, both young pitchers had a hard time coming to terms with leaving St. Louis initially but have warmed up to the idea as spring approaches.

Miller admits to Cunningham that he was quite stubborn at times while with St. Louis and was not willing to make changes. Miller credits Wainwright with encouraging him to begin throwing a sinker. It was a new pitch in Miller’s arsenal that might help him approach hitters differently. While he did not embrace it until another pitcher, Justin Masterson, introduced him to a grip he was comfortable with, he now sees the benefit in what Wainwright was teaching him.

Miller told Cunningham the pitch is “a huge pitch for me this year that hopefully is going to take me to the next level.”

Wainwright reportedly helped Jenkins out in a different way. Jenkins had altered his mechanics considerably from the approach he had in high school before he was drafted. Wainwright took the pitcher aside and encouraged him to go back to the way he used to pitch, allowing him to be more comfortable on the mound.

“I thought I had to fit in, so I started changing my mechanics, and my arm slot got a little higher, and things were a little out of sync,” Jenkins told Cunningham. “Adam Wainwright told me, ‘Hey, you are going to be who you are, so just pitch the way you want.'”

Jenkins has pitched well since reverting back to his original delivery. The Braves hope that he can continue to have a strong showing entering the 2015 season.

The Cardinals will look for Wainwright to do more of the same. His production on the mound will be paramount to the team’s future success. His work with young pitchers will continue to be important as the team looks for more prospects to mature into major league players in the near future.

Wainwright is an ace in every sense of the word. The Cardinals need him to be just that.


Transaction and award information in this article courtesy of

Bill Ivie is the founder of I-70 BaseballFollow him on Twitter to discuss baseball anytime.

Read more MLB news on

Allen Craig, Former St. Louis Cardinal, Has No Clear Role for Boston Red Sox

The St. Louis Cardinals made their biggest roster move in 2014 when they sent Allen Craig and Joe Kelly to Boston in exchange for Corey Littrell and John Lackey. It was a move that fans questioned, both logically and emotionally.

Craig and Kelly were fan favorites in St. Louis. Kelly was loved for his antics, Craig simply for his ability. In 2012 and 2013, Craig was one of the most prolific run producers in St. Louis. Slowed by an injury sustained in late 2013, Craig simply did not regain his form in 2014.

His lack of production led to his trade to Boston. Shortly after arriving, he found his way back to the disabled list. By the time the season came to a close, Craig had only played in 29 games for Boston, posting a paltry .128 batting average and driving in two runs. 

The Red Sox went into the offseason looking to revamp their lackluster offense. They spent $183 million on free agents Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez will make the move to the outfield and assume the starting left field position. Sandoval will become the new third baseman, a position that manager John Farrell had reportedly told Craig to prepare to play.

Craig has spent time primarily in the outfield and at first base in the major leagues. He played a total of 198 games at third base between 2007 and 2008 in the minor leagues. He has also played a few games here and there at second base during his career. His versatility makes him a valuable commodity. 

If he is producing offensively, he is worth that much more. It seems the only thing keeping him from doing so is his health, a problem he insists is no longer a concern, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.

I can’t reiterate enough that I feel really good physically,” Craig said, via Lauber.

A healthy Craig is a good thing for a team that has a place for him to play. Boston doesn’t seem to be that place.

With Sandoval at third, Mike Napoli at first and Dustin Pedroia at second, the infield is well covered. The outfield—consisting of youngster Mookie Betts, veteran Shane Victorino and the aforementioned Ramirez—seems fairly well set as well. Jackie Bradley Jr. and Daniel Nava will be challenging for time in the crowded outfield as well.

Indeed, the Boston Red Sox have one of the game’s best hitters and nothing to do with him. It is a similar situation that led to his departure from St. Louis, as the Cardinals didn’t have a clear fit for Craig, either. 

The Red Sox may very well use spring training as an audition ground for Craig to show his health and ability to other teams that may have an interest. His back-loaded contract, which will pay him $5.5 million this year but escalate to $9 million and $11 million over 2016 and 2017, makes him an expensive bench option. 

Alternatively, the Red Sox could use Craig in a super-sub role this season, the final one on Napoli‘s contract. If he starts to hit the way he claims he can, he could take over at first if the Red Sox elect to not bring Napoli back. It’s a long shot, but it may be the best option over all.

Craig may very well be a productive hitter for the future of a franchise. A player with his abilities tends to find a home in a lineup pretty quickly.

It’s not often that a player who can have that level of impact follows a similar path that Craig will have to.


Transaction and salary in this article courtesy of

Bill Ivie is the founder of I-70 BaseballFollow him on Twitter to discuss baseball anytime.

Read more MLB news on

James Shields and the Kansas City Royals Are a Pairing That Sill Makes Sense

The Kansas City Royals made a big splash in 2012 when they traded away top-rated prospect Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis. It revealed a desire to transition from rebuilding to contending in Kansas City. 

But Shields was always perceived as a bit of a “rental player.” The Royals would keep him until his current contract ran out and then move on, happily receiving the draft-pick compensation the pitcher would be attached to.

To this point, it seems that perception is reality. Shields delivered Kansas City two good seasons. The team found some success in the postseason. Now, Shields’ contract has expired and he will pitch elsewhere on a brand new, high-dollar contract.

But it’s January, Shields doesn’t have a new contract and the market for the hurler has yet to truly materialize. There is plenty of speculation, as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has pointed out, but it seems to be nothing more.

It would be fair to assume that Shields will receive a contract worth less than originally thought the deeper into the offseason he goes. It may also come with a lower dollar value or fewer years than what he was hoping for. Those factors could lead to a reunion with the Royals.

The Royals are not a team that is known to splurge on its players. They tend to bring players on at a low cost and allow them to accumulate value. Shields may be open to a short-term contract that would allow him to re-approach the market again later.

The problem is that Shields in not getting any younger. He will open the 2015 season at 33 years old. Coming back to market at the age of 34 or 35 is certainly not going to help the right-hander find a long-term deal. His market may very well diminish before he can get back to it, even in a year or two.

Rosenthal states in his piece a belief that Shields will eventually sign a deal worth $70 to 80 million over the course of four years. The low end of that speculation would certainly drive some interest in Shields.

He goes on to speculate where Shields may wind up, citing a recent MLB Network Radio interview with Royals general manager Dayton Moore. Moore told the show, “I can’t say it hasn’t crossed my mind. At this point in time, though, it’s doubtful we bring back James.”

Doubtful does not mean impossible. Shields would solidify an impressive rotation in Kansas City. He would do the same for a lot of clubs. Ultimately, there may not be another team that understands Shields’ value as well as the Royals.

As Moore stated, Shields returning to Kansas City is doubtful. But doubts are the stuff dreams are made of, and January is when doubts turn into reality.


Transaction and age information in this article courtesy of

Bill Ivie is the founder of I-70 BaseballFollow him on Twitter to discuss baseball anytime.

Read more MLB news on

Xavier Scruggs Offers Internal Solution to Power Outage for St. Louis Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals have been successful by almost any standard. The team has consistently found itself in the postseason. It has managed to develop talent at most key positions on the field. It has often been the blueprint by which other teams hope to do business.

However, one thing has been noticeably absent. The Cardinals have seemingly turned away from the long ball. Home runs are an attractive stat that do not always indicate success. That said, power can change a game in a hurry. The team has lacked that consistent, powerful punch to its lineup.

Meet Xavier Scruggs.

Scruggs is a power-hitting prospect who earned a brief introduction to St. Louis fans during the 2014 season. More importantly, he is a power hitter that stands on the right side of the plate. Right-handed power hitters have not been an abundant resource for the team recently.

Scruggs has posted impressive power numbers throughout his minor league career. He has hit over 20 home runs and driven in more than 70 runs in each of the last five seasons. His strikeout rates are alarming, but he has shown the ability to reach base as well. He is 27 years old, so he is not a young prospect, by any means.

As much as the Cardinals could use Scruggs’ bat, there are obstacles in his way. Namely, Scruggs is a first baseman, and the team fully intends to give the bulk of those at-bats to another power hitter, Matt Adams.

Adams is a lefty, and the Cardinals could use a right-handed complement. That would seem to open the door for Scruggs, but the team ventured into the free-agent pool to sign Mark Reynolds, specifically for that role. 

Scruggs showed some desire to unblock his path this winter. According to Brian Stull of St. Louis Baseball Weekly, Scruggs played a considerable amount of outfield during winter ball in the Dominican Republic. Scruggs reports a feeling of success with playing the new position, as he shared with Stull: “I didn’t get to rob any home runs, I made some diving catches which was pretty cool. I felt comfortable out there–I think I made maybe one error…it’s good to finally put into play something that I’ve been practicing for a long time. Whatever comes my way, whether it be outfield-infield, I’ll be ready.”

It is not that the outfield really needs the extra competition. Manager Mike Matheny will already be looking at a starting outfield of Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Jason Heyward. Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, Peter Bourjos and Tommy Pham will all be competing for a roster spot. 

The deck, at least entering spring training, is stacked against Scruggs. He finds himself unlikely to be the preferred option to back up either at first base or in the outfield.

Adding a new position and subsequently raising his value makes Scruggs an interesting option in 2015. While he will likely find himself in Memphis playing for the Triple-A Redbirds to start the season, the flexibility of where he can be used on the field will make him a candidate for major league promotions throughout the season. It will also raise his value in trade discussions. In addition, the Cardinals could use other outfielders in a trade knowing that Scruggs could fill the role, if necessary.

No matter how you look at it, Scruggs has enhanced his value this winter and given the Cardinals yet another homegrown commodity.


Statistics in this article are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.

Bill Ivie is the founder of I-70 BaseballFollow him on Twitter to discuss baseball any time.

Read more MLB news on

St. Louis Cardinals’ Extension for Lance Lynn Is Good for Both Sides

The St. Louis Cardinals have reached an agreement on a three-year contract worth $22 million with pitcher Lance Lynn, as first reported by Jon Heyman of The length of the deal has since been confirmed by the team in a press release.

The deal, which buys out the remaining arbitration years for the hurler, does not cover any free-agent years and does not contain any options, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Extending a young player is a key component of roster and cost control for many teams, and the Cardinals are no different. The process becomes a gamble as the team tries to find the perfect dollar amount that will save it money if the player continues to produce yet is not a huge financial risk if he should falter. The reported deal here seems to follow that mindset.

Lynn has eclipsed the ever-important 200-inning threshold in each of his last two seasons. He has 48 wins to his credit over the last three seasons. He averages just over eight hits, just over three walks and more than eight strikeouts per nine innings in his career. Including the postseason, Lynn has pitched 18 consecutive games without surrendering more than three earned runs or pitching less than 5.2 innings.

He may not be a powerhouse, but he has certainly shown that he understands the game and knows how to succeed. Behind Adam Wainwright and surrounded by impressive young arms, Lynn continues to be the backbone of the rotation. If consistency is the key to starting pitching, Lynn has found his niche.

Matt Swartz broke down the arbitration case for Lynn over at MLB Trade Rumors earlier this offseason and predicted the hurler was in line for a record-setting $5.5 million payday. Another season like the last two, and that number would continue to balloon through the arbitration process. Should Lynn continue to produce at his recent pace, however, the new deal will not pay him nearly the amount he was set to earn through the process.

That said, Lynn could have reached his peak already and may begin to come back down to earth in the next few seasons. A subpar season or a season lost to injury would drastically impact his earning ability as he continued through the arbitration process. In that scenario, he stands to make a lot more money under the reported contract than he would going year-to-year on arbitration.

The arbitration process itself is not a desirable process for players and teams. It can create bad blood and trust issues as the negotiations drag on. The team will produce facts that prove that the player is not worth the amount he is requesting. The player will present evidence as to why he is worth far more than the team wants to award him.

It is a process that teams try to avoid as much as possible. The Cardinals have not reached an arbitration hearing with a player since 1999.

Ultimately, Lynn was rewarded with guaranteed money for the next three years for his performance. Meanwhile, Lynn also knows that he will reach free agency at the age of 30, potentially setting himself up for a very large payday in the future.

The team now knows exactly how much money will be spent on the hurler over the next three years, making payroll more certain. If Lynn continues to produce the way he has, that amount of money is an impressive savings for the club.

It is not often that a deal is produced between a player and a team that seems completely mutually beneficial. In this case, however, it seems both the team and the player have accepted some risk, some reward and a potentially big future.


Statistics in this article provided by

Bill Ivie is the founder of Follow him on Twitter to talk baseball.

Read more MLB news on

St. Louis Cardinals Starting Pitchers May Not Be as Healthy as They Say

The St. Louis Cardinals have found success over the last few seasons with a strong pitching staff. The rotation, while successful, has been a source of injury concern. The team has seemed confident that the starting pitchers are healthy for the 2015 season. Their rumored interest in top-tier starters may suggest otherwise.

Most of the rumors caught attention when Ken Rosenthal mentioned the Cardinals as a potential landing spot for James Shields on MLB Network’s Hot Stove. The comment was made during a prediction segment of the show and was not based on any inside information, according to Rosenthal.

Now, Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi have shared thoughts, via, that the Cardinals are looking to upgrade their rotation. The names the writing duo are connecting to St. Louis in this piece are David Price, Cole Hamels and Max Scherzer. Rosenthal and Morosi also point out that this interest sheds light on the team’s concern with its current staff.

As of right now, the Cardinals would look to open the season with a starting rotation of Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, John Lackey and Carlos Martinez with Marco Gonzalez providing some competition to Martinez for the final spot. Looking at that rotation, it is easy to see why the team shouldn’t need to add a pitcher.

However, Wainwright underwent minor surgery following the Redbirds’ elimination from the 2014 postseason, as reported by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Wacha pitched limited innings and continues to deal with a stress reaction in his throwing arm, an ailment that is extremely rare and comes with no guarantees of health. Lynn has avoided injury but has battled with bouts of inconsistency over his career. Martinez and Gonzalez are unproven commodities.

But interest in Price, Hamels and Scherzer does not suggest that the Cardinals are hoping to round out their staff. Those names belong at the top of the rotation and would suggest that there is concern with the trio of Wainwright, Lynn and Wacha. More specifically, it raises concern that Wainwright may not be recovering from his surgery as well as expected or that Wacha is not comfortable with his ailment.

It is all speculation. General manager John Mozeliak, while surprisingly candid on some subjects, tends to play his cards very close to his vest. Seldom does word leak out of the St. Louis offices about trades, negotiations or even injury updates until the team is ready to release the information.

The fact of the matter remains: It appears that the Cardinals are interested in some of the best starting pitchers available. Why they are interested in that market is currently a mystery.

Read more MLB news on

Top 5 St. Louis Cardinals Stories from 2014

As the world prepares to turn the final calendar page of 2014, it creates a time of reflection. The 2014 calendar year was a busy one for the sport of baseball, and the St. Louis Cardinals are no exception. The top five stories of 2014 give a snapshot of a dynamic time in St. Louis.

The Cardinals have been one of baseball’s most successful teams in recent memory. Consistently finding their way to the postseason, developing talent from within the organization and being strong-willed enough to make trades to try and improve the team have all become standard operation for the team.

During 2014, the Cardinals faced tragedy, traded away fan favorites and former top prospects, saw a prospect start to realize his potential and continued to provide surprising news. The team had big moments on and off the field. 

Here are the top five stories from 2014.


All statistics in the following article are provided by

Begin Slideshow

5 Options for St. Louis Cardinals Outfield in 2015

The St. Louis Cardinals face a few questions during the offseason as they prepare for 2015. The team has found a successful formula by cultivating talent in their minor league system. General Manager John Mozeliak has also shown that he is not afraid to go out and find a complimentary piece on the free agent market or in trades.

The recent tragedy that cost Oscar Taveras his life has shaken the foundation of the Cardinals. While players, coaches and front office staff continue to struggle with the loss of a friend, the team also looks to the future and the struggle to move on without a talented individual.

Recently, the United Cardinal Bloggers (UCBshared their thoughts via i70baseball on building an outfield without Oscar Taveras. The thoughts were varied and diverse. They provided a snapshot of the fans’ thoughts.

Each suggestion has merit, but five of them stood out as honest possibilities. Those options are listed here, ranked from least likely to most likely.

Begin Slideshow

Kansas City Royals Offseason Outlook: 5 Options for Replacing Billy Butler

The Kansas City Royals are coming off of their most successful season in almost 30 years. Now, with an American League Championship in hand, the team faces a new set of challenges. Possibly the largest challenge of all is sustainability.

They won the American League Championship. They were within 90 feet of potentially tying the deciding World Series game. They have shown the world that they are ready to compete on the big stage. Being there once is impressive, but finding the formula to be there again in the near future is much more so.

The decisions facing the Royals this offseason are numerous. They made the first decision of the offseason when they announced that they had declined the $12.5 million option on designated hitter Billy Butler’s contract.

The decision to decline the contract option was anticipated. Now, general manager Dayton Moore has to go to work on replacing Butler in the lineup and the clubhouse. Butler, one of the longest-tenured Royals, had been employed by the team since 2008. His leadership will be missed. His bat can be replaced.

There are five options to replace Butler in Kansas City in 2015. Those options are listed here, ranked from least likely to most likely.

Begin Slideshow

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress