Tag: Brendan Ryan

MLB Trade Rumors: Updating All the Hottest Waiver-Trade Buzz

As of Aug. 16, 15 major league teams either hold a playoff spot or are within 8.5 games of one and could be looking to improve their playoff chances by making a waiver-wire deal in the near future.

Four trades have happened thus far.

The Rangers acquired outfielder Alex Rios from the White Sox for prospect Leury Garcia. The Royals picked up utility infielder Jamey Carroll from Minnesota and utilityman Emilio Bonifacio from Toronto, both for a player to be named later or cash considerations. The Rays, meanwhile, acquired lefty Wesley Wright from the Astros for cash considerations. 

With plenty of trade possibilities still lingering, here’s all the latest waiver-trade buzz from around the league.


Dan Haren Clears Waivers Amid Return to Top Form

After it was reported that Nationals right-hander Dan Haren was placed on waivers last week, I wrote that he had a good chance of clearing because of his salary and early-season struggles. Still, he could draw interest because of how well he had been pitching of late.

A week later, the 32-year-old has officially cleared waivers. He has made two more terrific starts, giving him a 2.30 ERA with only 29 hits allowed, 10 walks and 42 strikeouts in his last 43 innings since returning from the disabled list (seven starts). Haren was on the verge of being released before he turned things around. 

The 59-61 Nationals don’t have a ton of starting pitching depth to fill Haren’s spot. That said, I’m certain they’d fill the gap with whatever journeyman they can find off the Triple-A scrap heap if a team is willing to eat Haren’s remaining salary (approximately $3.25 million) and offer up a midlevel prospect. 

For a team like the Dodgers, who could use an upgrade at the back of the rotation after Chris Capuano got knocked around in his last two starts, or the Indians, who are just 3.5 games out of a playoff spot, Haren could be a nice pickup down the stretch.

A reunion with the Oakland A’s, who he played with from 2005-2007, could also make sense. 


Who Needs Justin Morneau? 

As expected, Twins first baseman and former AL MVP Justin Morneau (pictured) has cleared waivers. Now the Twins will try to find the best deal for the 32-year-old and decide if it’s worth trading him away unceremoniously after 11 mostly very good seasons with the team.

If his August numbers are any indication, the acquiring team would be getting Morneau at just the right time. He is 18-for-66 with six homers, four doubles and 15 RBI this month. He had a .712 OPS with eight homers in 98 games prior to this current hot streak.

The Rays could be interested in acquiring another bat, but Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweeted that a right-handed hitter such as Paul Konerko, who was placed on waivers a few days ago, or Delmon Young, who became a free agent recently, would make more sense. 

A team that could be the best match is Baltimore, which has been going with rookie Henry Urrutia (.612 OPS, 0 BB, 9 K in 21 games) at the designated hitter spot. Wilson Betemit, who is due back soon from the disabled list, will likely take over for Urrutia, but a red-hot Morneau down the stretch might be preferred. 

Of the National League contenders, the Pirates could move Garrett Jones to right field if newly promoted rookie Andrew Lambo doesn’t produce right away, opening up first base for Morneau. Lambo, who had 31 homers between Double-A and Triple-A, is 1-for-8 with a double since his call-up.


Astros Could Deal Lone Veteran Remaining

The Astros have one player left on their roster making at least $1 million this season, and there’s a good chance that the number becomes zero before the end of the month. Lefty Erik Bedard (pictured), who signed a one-year, $1.15 million deal this past offseason, has pitched well enough to draw some trade interest. 

In the same tweet mentioning that Haren passed through waivers unclaimed, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the 34-year-old Bedard had also cleared. Prior to a rough outing on Thursday, Bedard had a 3.56 ERA with 42 walks and 82 strikeouts in his last 93.2 innings pitched. 

The Rangers, who could be without Alexi Ogando if he’s forced to miss time with an inflamed nerve in his shoulder, could be interested in Bedard. They’ve already completed one deal with Houston this month, acquiring non-roster lefty Travis Blackley for cash considerations.

Since the start of the season, the Astros have traded away three of four players making a seven-figure salary in 2013.

Bud Norris ($3 million) was traded to Baltimore, Jose Veras ($1.85 million) was dealt to Detroit and Wesley Wright ($1 million) went to Tampa Bay. Catcher Jason Castro, who will be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason, is currently projected to be the team’s highest-paid player in 2014.


Braves Seek Second Base Help 

With Dan Uggla out at least another 12 days recovering from LASIK eye surgery and Tyler Pastornicky out for the season with a torn knee ligament, Mark Bowman of MLB.com is reporting that the Braves are searching the waiver wire for some second base help. 

The potential list of options has thinned out greatly over the past couple of weeks, however.

The Royals recently acquired two backup types, Jamey Carroll and Emilio Bonifacio, who could play second base. Chase Utley agreed to a contract extension with the Phillies. Rickie Weeks, meanwhile, suffered a season-ending hamstring injury.

If it’s just temporary help they’re seeking, there are a few options readily available that could be an upgrade over Paul Janish and Phil Gosselin.

One intriguing match could be Brendan Ryan (pictured) of the Mariners, who has already cleared waivers. He would allow the Braves to put two of the best defensive shortstops in baseball on the field at the same time. Andrelton Simmons is already considered by many to be the top defender in baseball. Ryan has also been a popular choice in recent years.

The 31-year-old Ryan hasn’t played second base since 2009, though, and he hasn’t hit at all this season. It might not be worth the trouble to acquire him unless they believe he’s an upgrade over Janish as the starter now and as Uggla’s backup when he returns. 

They have such a big lead in the division that acquiring temporary help is nearly pointless otherwise. 


Elvis Andrus Clearing Waivers Is Not Big News 

Teams don’t have to place a player on waivers, so it’s probably worth mentioning whenever any player is. But in most cases, they like to keep their options open just in case a team approaches them with an offer they can’t refuse. 

So when a big name like Elvis Andrus (pictured) passes through waivers, we shouldn’t completely write it off as totally irrelevant. But it’s pretty close.

It’s doubtful that the 24-year-old, who already has two All-Star selections on his resume, is going anywhere. The fact that his contract will pay him either $14 million or $15 million per season from 2015-2022, combined with his poor season at the plate, ensured he wasn’t getting claimed.

The Rangers do employ the top prospect in baseball, shortstop Jurickson Profar, who is already in the majors and could probably give the team more offense than Andrus right now. But even if they wanted to trade Andrus, and they had teams interested in acquiring him and his contract, they’d be selling low on a very talented player whom they expected big things from now and in the future. 


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Seattle Mariners: The Show Must Go On, It’s Dustin Ackley Bat Night!

Did you know that Saturday night at Safeco Field is Dustin Ackley Bat Night?

All kids 14 and under will receive a full-sized Dustin Ackley Louisville Slugger, complements of Jack Link’s Beef Jerky. 

Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.

Don’t believe me?

Feel free to check the official 2013 promotions and special events schedule at Mariners.com.

Honestly, sometimes you need to laugh to keep from crying with this team.

However, if you’ve already given up all hope, feel free to simply take the bat home to smash your “Smoakamotive” (eBay) from last year to pieces with it to vent your frustration. 

That’s assuming you will make the journey to Safeco in the first place.   

If I had to venture a guess, I’d imagine that more people in the region probably watched the NFL draft the past two days to see who the Seahawks selected in their quest for a Super Bowl than any of the Mariners’ games.

Making matters worse as we approach the month of May it appears we’re already potentially on course for an expansion team performance this season, according to Larry Stone at the Seattle Times.

I suppose it didn’t help that beyond Monday night’s offensive outburst in support of Felix Hernandez‘s 100th career victory and Hisashi Iwakuma‘s 11-strikeout performance the next night, the trip to Texas was a complete disaster as the Mariners dropped five of six games.  

Things got so bad that manager Eric Wedge decided to bench one of his players (Seattlepi.com) and scold the team (Seattle Times).

Whether these moves have any meaningful impact remains to be seen, yet I suppose Wedge is simply trying to work with what he has at his disposal given that the list of potential reinforcements fail inspire much confidence, according to Stone in another report filed this week:

At Tacoma, there are several players with major-league experience who are off to decent starts. The problems is that in most cases, they are players who have already had struggles at the major-league level. Now, that doesn’t mean they are doomed to have their weaknesses exploited for perpetuity. But it gives you pause.

Perhaps then, I should pause in wondering whether the demotion of Brendan Ryan in favor of Robert Andino is really just the M’s way of paving a path for Brad Miller to take over in the second half?

Regardless, it just doesn‘t make sense to get too far ahead of yourself this season with this crew, especially when you look at the upcoming

After finishing up this homestand against Los Angeles and Baltimore, the M’s will head to Toronto and Pittsburgh, then come back to Seattle for a three-game set to face Oakland before swinging back east to play New York and Cleveland. They will finish off their road trip with two mid-week games against Los Angeles before having Texas show up at Safeco for a weekend series.

I’m feeling jet-lagged just typing that, I can only imagine how the M’s will deal with it in real time.

Oddly enough though, that brutal stretch could set the tone for the remainder of the season.

Coming out of spring training, I had hoped the Mariners would avoid this level of desperation, assuming (more like, hoping) the veterans brought in this winter could help bridge the gap until the team’s top prospects could be integrated into the lineup over the course of the season.

However, beyond the occasional solid pitching performance from Hernandez and Iwakuma, along with the recent hitting streak of Kyle Seager, the rest of the team has generally failed to show any sort of consistency. 

With no solid options to promote, does that mean Wedge and general manager Jack Zduriencik get to take the fall instead if things continue to spiral downward?

As always, Dave Cameron at USS Mariner, is one step ahead of us:

If it happens, I’m not going to be against the decision, and I don’t think having an interim manager or GM would lead to impending doom. But, I don’t know that it would really help anything either.

During a season, there’s only so much an organization can really do. The Mariners made this bed when they let the front office try and build a winning team around dingers and voodoo. It has blown up in their faces in a comical way, and it’s probably going to cost the people in charge their jobs. But, I don’t know that it needs to cost them their jobs in a RIGHT NOW THIS MINUTE I DEMAND CHANGE kind of way.

I can’t argue with any of that, although part of me would like to see Cameron given a shot to see if he could turn things around.

Meanwhile, I can only imagine what will be going through Dustin Ackley‘s mind tonight at Safeco as his teammates likely joke with him about the fact it’s his bat night.  Hopefully, in spite of their struggles, the players will still have a sense of humor. 

Truth be told, I almost pity this team.  As we saw in spring training, they seem to be a decent bunch, but bless their hearts, they can’t quite get their act together.

For his sake, I hope Ackley can at least give Saturday night’s crowd something to cheer about.  It may not be much, but at this point, any small gesture is welcome. 

To think that only two years earlier, Ackley was still struggling at Tacoma before catching fire prior to his arrival in Seattle.  I remember him continuing his impressive stretch after joining the M’s in what looked like the beginning of a promising career. 

Deep down, I still think there’s a solid ballplayer in Ackley searching to rediscover that spark, as evidenced by what we’ve seen the past week. 

Once again though, I’d like to avoid getting too far ahead of myself and take this one step at a time. 

Yet, if you’re of the tender age to receive a bat on Saturday night, you may be left to wonder why the adult accompanying you struggles to find the joy that he or she once had for the game and this particular franchise. 

It’s not that anyone should expect the Mariners to win, it’s more that a ticket to the ballpark should afford you an experience worth savoring, regardless of whatever swag/trinket the team hands you at the turnstile.  

It doesn‘t necessarily have to be this way, but the “dingers and voodoo” approach that Cameron described, has struggled to generate wins or excitement; therefore fans are staying away.

Could things change?

Anything is possible, yet barring a minor miracle, I think this team will look very different by midsummer. 

Until then, the show must go on. Just don’t expect anyone to show up to watch unless a bobblehead, key chain, hat or T-shirt is involved with bonus points on night’s like tonight when King Felix is pitching. 

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MLB Hot Stove: St. Louis Cardinals Deal Brendan Ryan To Mariners

The Cardinals sent offensively anemic shortstop Brendan Ryan to the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, receiving fireballer Maikel Cleto in return.

Ryan became dispensable earlier this offseason when the Cardinals added shortstop Ryan Theriot.

This past season, Ryan delivered on defense—leading the league in several categories—but was a black hole on offense, batting just .223 with 11 steals. After acquiring Theriot, it just didn’t make sense to keep Brendan around off of the bench.

Cleto, who is just 21 years old, spent last season in the California League and had a 6.16 ERA in 23 appearances, 21 of which were starts. He received an invitation to the Arizona Fall League, and has been known to hit 100 mph on radar guns.

Despite his struggles, the Cardinals believe he can be a successful pitcher.

“Cleto has a power arm that at times has reached 100,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. “He’s someone that could project as a back of the bullpen talent with additional development and experience.”

Cleto, a Dominican native, struck out 7.3 batters per nine innings during the regular season and went 2-1 with a 7.91 ERA with the Peoria Javelinas in the AFL.

The worst case scenario for the Cardinals is that this turns into the reverse of the Ozzie Smith deal. The Cardinals acquired Smith, who one of the worst offensive players in baseball but a very good defender, from the Padres, and Smith went on to improve his offensive game to go along with a fantastic glove.

However, that’s not the case with Ryan. His offensive issues have been called “uncoachable”. He constantly fidgets at the plate, despite the insistence of hitting coach Mark McGwire. Smith had far more speed than Ryan, stealing 580 bases over his career. And, Ryan is two years older than Smith when he was dealt.

Simply, Ryan will probably continue to struggle, now that’s he’s been traded to the worst offensive team in baseball, with one of the least friendly parks in the league.

I’m glad that the Cardinals give Ryan a fresh start elsewhere, but I’m pretty surprised that the Mariners—who had the worst offense in baseball last year—decided to take a chance on a no-hit, good-glove 29-year old shortstop.

If Cleto develops into any kind of major league pitcher, this will be a successful deal for St. Louis.

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Keeping Brendan Ryan is Not the Worst Option for the St. Louis Cardinals

When the Cardinals acquired Ryan Theriot from the Dodgers and proclaimed him their staring shortstop, the question arose of what to do with former starting shortstop Brendan Ryan.  

Cardinals GM John Mozeliak, has explored trade options for Ryan to get either a big leaguer or depth for the minors.  Teams that were looking for shortstop help like the Orioles, Padres and Pirates, filled their needs through other acquisitions of more established players.  

The other option is keeping Ryan as utility infielder for the 2011 team.

Ryan’s play has lead to me yelling out loud at my television on a number of occasions. 

Often in awe.  Just as often in anger.  

So many times I’ve wanted Ryan to just put the ball in his pocket instead of trying a difficult, unnecessary throw.  He has great range and a strong arm, but is erratic.  

For too long, his default throwing motion was a sidearm, slinging action.  His thinking was, if his throw was off, he’d be better off missing to the side rather than throwing over the first baseman.  I never liked that theory, as it incorporates planning to fail.  

Last year, he took his troubles at the plate into the field.  He searched for the proper feel at plate instead of sticking with an approach and just locking in on the ball.  

Much has been made of how his quirky, hyperactive personality blends in the clubhouse.  I’m personality more bothered how personality leads to his unfocused play on the field.

I would think he’s probably a great guy and fun to hang out with, though it may be difficult to be around that kind of personality 162-plus days in your workplace.  I’d most likely be one of his teammates that has told him to sit down and shut up at some point.

Tony La Russa says his personality and maturity level is not the reason for him being on the trade block, and that he’s matured. 

And I believe him. 

Ryan has grown up quite a bit, and has mellowed out. 

It just takes a while to come down from a sugar buzz of Ryan’s magnitude.

But his game hasn’t fully matured either, as he’s slowly grown as a player.  

That, however, is part of his upside.  He’s still a young player. It’s one of the reasons him being a Cardinal in 2011 isn’t a bad option at all.

The parts of his game he needs to fix, such as plate discipline, smarter decisions in field, and base running, are things a young, part-time player usually improves on if he becomes a regular.  

He has the range and strong arm, good speed, and has hit well every other season in the bigs.  And he’s most likely going to remain inexpensive this season.

If Skip Schumaker or Theriot struggles during the season, he’s there to fill in.  Schumaker is a clubhouse—and La Russa—favorite.  He’s a hard worker and smart player who normally gets on base and makes good contact.  

But he’s still new to second base.  He needs to shuffle his feet more on his throws instead of planting and throwing like and outfielder and he must improve on bending down to get grounders.

Though I like the acquisition of Theriot, he had his worst year at plate last season, and doesn’t have the defensive range of Ryan.  So there’s a need for a backup plan at both of these positions.

Spring performances can’t be ignored either if one of the starting middle infielder struggles mightily and Ryan plays well.

He would also be very helpful to a Cardinal team that had an uncharacteristically poor year in the field last season.  Based on the reputations of the players added during the winter meetings and the positions they will be playing, the Cardinals have downgraded defensively.  

Picture a La Russa-style, late-inning defensive change while ahead by a couple runs.  Ryan can come in to play short, with Theriot moving to second, and Skip heading out to right field for the newly-acquired Lance Berkman.  It’s a lot better than bringing in Aaron Miles, right?

I felt shortstop was the higher priority for an upgrade this offseason.  Schumaker has at least hit consistently at the major league level.  Last year was his worst full season in the big leagues, and was probably an aberration.  

Schumaker can play second base and all of the outfield positions.  He also and makes more money, so it wasn’t as important or as feasible to jettison Skip.

I’ve been pretty hard on Brendan Ryan in the past. 

He’s frustrated me with his inconsistent play and poor decisions.  

But he can bring value for the Cardinals as a player on the 2011 team, and I’m certainly in favor of him sticking around—as many Cards fans probably are.

This relegation to a utility role could be just the motivation, and kick in the pants he needs, which makes Ryan a nice option for the Cards to keep in their pocket.



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MLB: Should the St. Louis Cardinals Sign Edgar Renteria, Juan Uribe, or Both?

Life for the last two World Series MVPs has been overrated.  Winning the trophy has been like a mini-Madden jinx for these players.    

MVP Edgar Renteria helped the San Francisco Giants earn their first World Series title since 1958.

Without his tiebreaking homer in the last game, the Giants may not have won.  It was the second World Series-winning hit of his career.

To thank him, the Giants let him go.

The Cardinals should go try to entice him back to St. Louis before the Cincinnati Reds sign him.  The Reds own a patent on scooping up ex-Cardinals.

A two-time World Series champion, Edgar Renteria had his 2011 contract option rejected by the Giants on Nov. 4.  For the Barranquilla, Colombia, native, the option was worth a reported $9.5-10.5 million.

San Francisco bought the veteran major leaguer out for $500,000, according to reports.

No longer a million dollar baby, Renteria turns 36 years old next Aug. 7.  He’s no spring chicken, but he is still a million dollar ballplayer—ask Cliff Lee. 

Renteria has been missed in St. Louis since 2004.  The Redbirds got horrific production and youth-type mistakes from their shortstops most of last season.

He is a clubhouse leader who is batting .287 for his career and is still more clutch than many younger players.  In fact, he’s probably forgotten more of his clutch hits than the current Cardinals shortstops have made.  In 1997, he hit a walk-off single in the seventh game of the World Series—in extra innings in his sophomore season—with two outs.

A 15-year veteran this season, he was on the disabled list for much of 2010.  He played in the fewest games he ever has.  The Giants almost left him off the playoff roster, but they’re glad they didn’t.

Now he has a big decision to ponder.  The temptation to walk away on top of his game —like many pro athletes wish to—may be too much to allow any team to sign him.     

“It’s always hard to think about retiring,” he said after the Giants’ World Series victory parade.

Not many teams are in the market for aging ballplayers.  Derek Jeter is 35 years old, and his contract negotiations with the Yankees could get messy, according to Hal Steinbrenner.

Hideki Matsui was let go by the Yankees after he won the 2009 World Series MVP.  He was 35 years old.  Matsui signed with the Angels, and they didn’t make the playoffs. 

It wasn’t his fault; in 2010, he batted .274 with 21 home runs and 84 RBI.

Q: Will what happened to the Yankees befall the Giants in 2011? 

A: Most likely.  The Yankees let Johnny Damon walk, too.  Now the Giants are looking at the same scenario: losing a World Series MVP and another important cog in the offense.  

Both organizations put the squeeze play on the money for their World Series MVPs.  That’s a big reason why no one should be expecting the Giants to repeat.

While they may have strong pitching, they could be losing two of their best bats.

Giants shortstop Juan Uribe will turn 32 in January—allegedly.  He has a $3.25 million contract, but free agency is pending. 

The Cardinals need a big-time bat to replace Ryan Ludwick’s. 

Uribe is probably more of a slugger than any middle infielder the Cardinals ever had.  Listed at 6’0″ and a generous 230 pounds, he is built like a running back.  He hit .248 with career highs of 24 home runs and 85 RBI in 2010. 

He lost his starting job with the White Sox to Alexei Ramirez in 2008.  Nobody else wanted to sign him until the Giants gave him a minor-league deal. 

He earned his current contract after batting .289 with 15 home runs in 122 games for the Giants.   

Albert Pujols’s contract is the team’s first priority, and it should be.  Pujols is possibly the best player baseball has seen in the last 15 years.  He wants to win, but he needs help.

The Cardinals opening day starting infield, other than Pujols, hit a grand total of 11 home runs last season.  11.

Pujols re-upping with the Cardinals could hinge on who else the Redbirds sign. 

I hope Tony LaRussa finally learns (1) to feature Brendan Ryan in a reserve utility role, and (2) that Skip Schumaker isn’t a championship-caliber leadoff man.

Under hitting instructor Mark McGwire, last season, Schumaker batted .265 with five home runs and five stolen bases.  He fanned more than he walked. 

Ryan batted .221—a big drop from the .295 he hit in 2009.

Uribe could possibly play third, shortstop or second base, and Colby Rasmus could be groomed for leading off.  If the Cardinals were to sign Renteria and Uribe, they would be adding much needed offensive punch.

By signing Renteria, who hit .330 in 2003 for the Redbirds, the Cardinals would add clutch hitting off the bench.  His veteran leadership skills and winning ways would bring the Cardinals’ quiet swagger back.

Besides swag, both Uribe and Renteria would add solid defense at third—something the Redbirds sorely lacked nearly all of last season.

I want to hear what you all—my seasoned readers—want to comment about.  What do you think about Renteria/Uribe wearing the birds on a bat in 2011?

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Holding All The Cards: Who St. Louis Will and Won’t Move For Roy Oswalt

Billy Bob Thornton. Bob Knight. Nelly. Bill Clinton.

Recently another big name has been added to the above list. Apparently, Roy Oswalt is a Cardinals fan.

The Astros’ ace has stated on numerous occasions that he’d favor a trade to the St. Louis Cardinals, and because Oswalt has a full no-trade clause, he holds all the cards.

So now it’s up to St. Louis to make a move. With a farm system that has been depleted by several trades over the past few years, the Cardinals cannot afford to make a mistake here.

Cardinals fans won’t soon forget how Oswalt dominated them in Game Six of the 2005 NLCS, eliminating St. Louis from the playoffs. Come October, no team would want to face a Cardinals rotation anchored by three aces in Oswalt, Chris Carpenter, and Adam Wainwright, all perennial Cy Young candidates. The road the the National League pennant would run through St. Louis. So who should and shouldn’t the Cardinals move to get the Astros’ ace?

On Their Way Out: Players the Cardinals Shouldn’t Hesitate To Offer

Brendan Ryan: It’s no secret that Brendan Ryan has struggled. Trading him could be a great move for the Cardinals. He’s been batting below the Mendoza line for most of the season, and his usually stellar defense has been less than great. So, if the Astros see potential in him, let them figure it out. Ryan is already 28, so moving him would be an added bonus to acquiring Oswalt.

Fernando Salas: In the first few assignments of his career, Salas has been very good. The Cardinals could relay this into a possible trade, although he wouldn’t be the centerpiece of a trade. Tony LaRussa has brought slowly worked him into higher and higher pressure, but he has continued to be effective, giving up just one earned run on a home run over 8.2 innings pitched. The Cardinals already have two young fireballers in their bullpen, so Salas is expandable.

Robert Stock, Brian Anderson, or Matt Pagnozzi: I list these three here together because they all fall into basically the same category. Three catchers, who find their path to the majors blocked by Cardinals mainstay Yadier Molina. They’re all considered top prospects in the Cardinals organization, but there’s not spot for them now, so they’re better used as trade chips.

Daryl Jones: A year ago, I didn’t want to see Daryl Jones included in a trade for a big name player. This year, things have changed. In 2008, when Jones batted .316, stole 24 bases, and hit 13 home runs, he looked like a five-tool player who could see starting time in the Cardinals outfield in the coming years. Since then, he has struggled against AAA pitching, and his batting average has dropped the past two seasons. He did bat .209 at Rookie ball in 2005, so he could just be adjusting. The Astros would jump at the chance to get him, and he wouldn’t be to big of a piece for the Cardinals to give up.

Blake Hawksworth: Hawksworth has progressed well this season, and no longer has prospect status. He’s filled in well for the Cardinals as a fifth starter this year, but has an ERA of nearly 5.00. If Oswalt joins the fold, Hawksworth would have to be moved to an already crowded bullpen. It would be better for the Cardinals to simply include him in a trade. He was the Cardinals top prospect in 2004, so the Astros may still see improvement left in him.

Adron Chambers: Adron Chambers is not the future of Cardinals Nation. However, he could be another team’s future. His speed makes him valuable, although his defense is suspect. He’s played most of his games in center field, where he has a .964 fielding percentage. He’s only 23, so he has time to improve, but would likely be the third player in a three-player deal.

Deryk Hooker: If the Astros are looking for pitching help, as rumored, Hooker could be included in a deal. He currently leads all Cardinals prospects with 94 strikeouts, and put up a 2.83 ERA with a .220 average against for Quad Cities. This has been a breakout year for Hooker, who just turned 21 this June.

Daniel Descalso: Descalso is an interesting case. He appears to be a slightly better hitting Brendan Ryan, expect that Descalso plays second base. His numbers in the minors have been good. With Triple-A Memphis, he’s posted a solid .357 on-base percentage, and has driven in 52 runs, putting him on pace for a career high. If the Cardinals don’t move him, the 23-year old is their future at second base.

Packing Their Bags: One of These Players Could Be Moved, But Not More

Allen Craig: As the best hitting prospect the Cardinals have, Craig is a prime candidate to be moved in a deal for Oswalt. However, Craig’s primary position is first base, and he’s not going to play there any time soon. It’s possible that he gets time in the outfield, but right now he’s got a big league bat, but not enough time to show it off. He could have that opportunity with Houston, who is rumored to be moving first baseman Lance Berkman. Craig could come back to bite the Cardinals, but, if it means acquiring Oswalt, it’s worth it.

Lance Lynn: He could be the centerpiece in a move for Oswalt. The Astros are said to be looking for pitching, and there may be no better option than Lynn, who was named St. Louis’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2009. He currently has 90 strikeouts for Triple-A Memphis to lead the team.

Jon Jay: In two stints with the Cardinals, Jay has exceeded all expectations, with a slash line of .378/.441/.607, and he has gained more and more playing time as the season progressed. However, he’ll have to come back to earth eventually, and the Cardinals could be wise to sell high here. I would miss the enthusiasm Jay brings to the team, and would hate to see him come up big for the Astros against St. Louis, but I think the Cardinals would be willing to move him, if it means the pennant.

Eduardo Sanchez: Eduardo Sanchez is listed as the Cardinals sixth best prospect by Baseball America, and for good reason. Out of the minor league bullpen, Sanchez posted a .920 WHIP in 2009, among the best in the organization. He has faltered this year in split time between Springfield and Memphis, but if the Astros want him, the Cardinals could move him with little thought.

Mitchell Boggs: As a major league ready arm, Boggs may fit the bill for Houston. He can develop into either a fourth or fifth starter, or even a closer. With a fastball in the high-90’s, and a devastating slider, Boggs has put hitters away out of the St. Louis pen, posting a 1.168 WHIP while striking out 6.6 batters per nine innings. At the age of 26, he could develop into a strong closer in the Houston bullpen.

Deal Breakers: Players Who Aren’t Going Anywhere

David Freese, Colby Rasmus, and Jaime Garcia: These three are the future of Cardinals Nation. Rasmus has been called, along with Andrew McCutchen, the future of center field in the National League. Garcia, who made the club out of spring training, has looked like a Rookie of the Year favorite, posting a 9-4 record with a 2.21 ERA. He  looks like a future front of the line starter for St. Louis. Freese was of to a hot start before injury derailed him. It’s very likely that he’ll be moved in the foreseeable future, because the Cardinals don’t have a suitable replacement for him at third.

Shelby Miller: He’s the reason a trade hasn’t gotten done yet. It appears the Astros want Miller, last year’s first round draft pick, but the Cardinals are unwilling to part with him, and for good reason. Miller is only 19, but has the top rated fastball in the organization. Baseball America lists him as the Cardinals’ top prospect, and he looks like he will replace Chris Carpenter within the next four years. Even if it prevent the deal from getting done, you do not trade Miller.

So can the Cardinals get Oswalt? If the Astros are willing to look past Shelby Miller, I think a deal can get done by the July 31 deadline. There may yet be another wrench thrown into the equation. If the Cardinals manage to surprise everyone by signing twelfth-round pick Austin Wilson, a top 15-pick talent that the Cardinals have been recruiting vigorously, trading Jay, Craig, or Jones would become a no-brainer.

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Top Roost: Late Rally Vaults St. Louis Cardinals To First Place

After nearly wasting Jeff Suppan’s first effective outing of the year, the St. Louis Cardinals needed a late rally and an admirable performance from rookie Allen Craig on his 26th birthday to move back into first place in the National League’s Central division.

After leaving seven men on through the first seven frames and trailing by four, the Cardinals finally struck in the eighth, when Craig, who was filling in for star first baseman Albert Pujols, doubled home both Brendan Ryan and Jon Jay. Two batters later, Randy Winn’s two-out single brought home Craig to make the score 4-3.

With two out and one on in the ninth, Albert Pujols stepped up as a pinch-hitter. After running the count full, Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton got the three-time MVP to ground out to short.

After Cardinals’ fireman Ryan Franklin locked down Los Angeles in the top of the ninth, the Cardinals rallied for the win in the bottom of the inning.

It started with Yadier Molina’s pinch-hit single, which came on a sixth-pitch slider out of the zone from Broxton. Then shortstop Brendan Ryan, not known for his offense, sacrificed Molina over to second. Felipe Lopez, who got the start at third base, flew out to right, bringing the Cardinals down to their final out.

Jon Jay, who has impressed St. Louis with his hitting abilities, showed good plate discipline by running the count full and then coaxing out a free pass.

Allen Craig then singled to center, tying the game at 4-4 and bringing sweet swinging left fielder Matt Holliday to the plate. At this point, Holliday had left four men on base. It was his single to deep right that scored Molina from second and won the game for the Cardinals, giving them their first four-game sweep of Los Angeles since taking consecutive doubleheaders July 7-8, 1987.

Ryan Franklin received the win, and combined with Cincinnati’s loss at the hands of Colorado, the Cardinals moved back into the top spot in the NL Central standings. Broxton threw 44 pitches in his first loss of the season.

Suppan pitches six innings of one-run ball, allowing five hits and walking one to receive his first quality start of the year, but not did not factor in the decision.

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Second Half Begins Positively for Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals

Strong Start By Carpenter

As Chris Carpenter breezed through the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup on Thursday night, all of Cardinal Nation gave a deep sigh of relief while they celebrated the 7-1 victory.  

The St. Louis right-hander had not been sharp since getting hit on his pitching arm by a line drive in late June, but the veteran was efficient and in command for eight innings, only surrendering four hits and an Andre Ethier solo home run.  Carpenter struck out six and has apparently corrected the mechanical flaws that had plagued his starts earlier in July, as he did not walk a Dodger.

Carpenter was able to locate his curve, something that he had been unable to do in his last two starts.  He had allowed 11 earned runs and 18 hits with four walks in only nine innings during the July funk, leading to fears among Cardinal fans that the former Cy Young winner was injured.  But the team insisted he was fine, and pitching coach Dave Duncan said just before the All-Star break that Carpenter’s issues were in his delivery, specifically the way he was landing on his left leg.

So one great fear of the second half is eliminated right away.  Carpenter was masterful, crisp, and efficient, getting out of innings with very few pitches.  And that was important on a typical St. Louis July night rampant with heat and humidity.  

Carpenter only threw 101 pitches in his eight innings but wasn’t asked to do more in the muggy conditions, giving way to Mitchell Boggs, who finished the game with no drama.


Offense Does Its Part

Another positive development was the Cardinal offense.  Dodger lefty Clayton Kershaw has bedeviled the Redbirds in the past, but he wasn’t sharp tonight and St. Louis took advantage.  Albert Pujols had three hits and Yadier Molina and Aaron Miles each added two to the team total of 12.  The offense was able to string hits together and put runs on the scoreboard in four different innings.

In the first game of the second half of the season, the lineup showed patience and discipline at the plate.  The batters allowed a wild Kershaw to work himself into trouble, and they took advantage of his mistakes.  They went with pitches to the opposite field and made productive uses of their at-bats, getting runners advanced when they made outs.

Shortstop Brendan Ryan’s problems have not gone away, though.  Ryan got the start but did not get a hit.  After taking the collar in his four at-bats, Ryan’s average has dropped to .190 on the season.

The Cardinals recalled Allen Craig from Memphis to replace outfielder Nick Stavinoha, who was placed on the 15-day DL with a shoulder sprain.  Craig had two RBI and hit the ball hard, but he did not record a hit, and he has only one hit hit in 21 Major League at-bats.  He was replaced in the sixth inning by another rookie, Jon Jay, who extended his 12-game hit streak with an RBI double in the seventh.  Jay continues to be a spark to the lineup, as he is now hitting .386 on the season.

With Cincinnati having the day off, St. Louis is only one-half game out of first.  With Carpenter back to being himself and the offense looking like it should, Cardinal fans are feeling a bit better about the team and the second half of the season.



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Brendan Ryan of St. Louis Cardinals Must Embrace ‘Stache, Not Just Respect It

So this is what it comes to.

An American athlete adopts the Mustached American lifestyle, enjoys the warmth and attention it brings to his upper lip, and then decides to abandon it, shaving his lower nose forestation, which, of course, kills an angel in heaven (as the Dead Sea Scrolls, Leviticus, and the Book of Mormon suggest).

After abandoning said lip garment, his athletic prowess—once bold, powerful, and ruggedly attractive while living lipfuriously—takes a precipitous plunge.

This is a trend the research department at the American Mustache Institute has seen, very sadly, hundreds of times.

“It’s a sorry state of affairs,” said Dr. Dan Callahan, AMI director of research. “At some point Americans must realize that our lust for performance cannot be periodic or fleeting, but consistent and unflinching.”

Thus the case of St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan.

Last year, long after the rest of his team shaved off their unity mustaches, Ryan’s labia sebucula (Latin for “lip sweater”) remained and thus fueled a breakout year for the former utility also-ran.

Flash-forward one year, after an offseason during which he had wrist surgery due to his penchant for self-pleasure, and even more concerning, he forcibly removed his upper mouth carnival.

So it stands to reason that Ryan, as first reported by R.B. Fallstrom of the Associated Press, decided to try facial hair again in an attempt to recapture his previous superiority as he struggles along.

“I’m doing anything possible to make some good things happen,” Ryan told Fallstrom. “Whatever it takes.”

It appears that “anything possible” refers to the same path that catapulted Ryan’s batting average near .300 in 2009, raised former teammate Rick Ankiel’s batting average 70 points last year, and pushed Jason Giambi near All-Star status while with the Yankees in 2007.

Minus his dental curtain, Ryan landed on the bench Sunday with just a .167 batting average and only six RBI, combined with erratic play in the field that included consecutive two-error games during the last home stand.

Ryan first tried to revive his swing by shaving his head, but clearly, he now plans to dig deep and bring back “the closer”—his mustache.

“We’ll go with the ’stache,” he said after last Thursday’s game while wearing the “Respect the Stache’” T-shirt.

Ryan should do more than just respect his ’stache. He should indeed embrace it, as history and statistical analysis have demonstrated there is no greater performance-enhancing instrument of destruction in the world of athletic performance.

Carry on.

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Where’d His Bat Go? The Top 10 Underperforming Hitters in Baseball

It always hurts to see a batter struggling to hit at the plate. It is always annoying to see a batter swing at pitches they have no business swinging at. It is just as annoying for a hitter’s average to drop 100 points in a season.

These are the hitters who just cannot catch a break this season. They’ve hit in the past, but suddenly cannot find the ball. Some are struggling yet not doing terribly, others are just playing horrendously.

These are the 10 baseball players whose bat has, to be blunt, just went dead.

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