Tag: Dave Duncan

St. Louis Cardinals’ Kyle McClellan Dazzles in Spring Training Debut

After Adam Wainwright went down for the season, Kyle McClellan looked like the leading candidate to take the open spot in the starting rotation. After his first outing of the spring, that spot is now McClellan’s to lose.

He looked strong in three shutout innings, needing only 38 pitches against the Astros today. He threw 25 of those for strikes, and only two balls even made it out of the infield off the bats of a Houston lineup that only started two of its regulars. McClellan only faced one batter over the minimum.

St. Louis also got strong returns from its relief corps, getting a scoreless fourth from lefty Trevor Miller. Prospect Bryan Augenstein sat down six batters in a row, and John Gast gave up a single but erased the runner with a pickoff in the seventh.

Southpaw Raul Valdes allowed two hits in the eighth but got a double play to get out of the jam, and Fernando Salas earned his second save as the Redbirds came away with a 1-0 victory.

Matt Holliday knocked in the only run.

McClellan had a 4.04 ERA in 68 games during as a rookie in 2007 and improved to a 3.38 ERA in 66 the next season. His best season came last year, when he posted a 2.27 ERA (3.92 xFIP) in 68 games.

For the last three years, McClellan has been an integral part of the St. Louis bullpen, but he was a starter in the minor leagues before undergoing Tommy John surgery, and he believes he can return to that role in his fourth full season with the Cardinals.

“It really doesn’t change a whole lot for me,” McClellan said. “This is what I want to do. The whole time I have been here, this is kind of where I want to be and the situation I want to be in. Obviously it’s extremely unfortunate with Adam but it’s somewhere where I feel like I could succeed and I have the stuff to do it.”

The biggest question for McClellan going forward is his durability. He’s never pitched at least 74 innings in a season, and only has 217-2/3 innings under his belt in the big leagues. McClellan doesn’t see this as a problem.

“I think it’s a legit question but you can’t really compare relievers to starters because as a reliever, you’re mentally and physically prepared to pitch every day,” McClellan said. “Yeah physically you may only throw 70 innings, but you’re throwing consecutive days, with no rest, with only a day rest, and as a starter, you can prepare yourself for that one day. You can go out and drain yourself for that one day and have four days to recover.

“I don’t think you can just look at it and say, ‘He’s only thrown 70, how’s he expected to throw 150?’  As long as I’m prepared physically, we’ll just go as far as I can go. You just go out and keep pitching until you can’t pitch anymore.”

McClellan also has the backing of pitching coach Dave Duncan, who recently transformed Adam Wainwright from rookie closer to a Cy Young candidate and ace starter.

“Right now he’s the guy that I think is best suited for the role, provided he can show us this spring what we need to see,” said Duncan. “He’s done that before but like I said, I’m one vote and not the final vote. In my opinion, it’s more important to get him slotted than it is anybody else.”

Duncan also dismissed any claims that McClellan will suffer from the drop in velocity that pitchers usually experience after moving from the bullpen to the rotation.

He relies mostly on deception and movement in his pitches, and he has possesses a fastball that tops out at about 93 mph, a strong curveball, and a complementary breaking ball.

This isn’t the first time that McClellan has entered camp with a shot at a starting job. Last year, he entered spring as the favorite for the fifth starter’s job, but lost the spot to lefty Jaime Garcia. It’s poetic justice, however cruel, that he could make his first start after entering spring with a solid spot in the bullpen.

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Adam Wainwright: Dave Duncan Struggles with Tommy John Surgeries in 2011

With news of Adam Wainwright’s elbow injury and his impending Tommy John surgery, Dave Duncan has his work cut out for him to get a starting rotation ready for the 2011 season.

Duncan has been the pitching coach for manager Tony La Russa since 1983, when he took over as the pitching coach for the Chicago White Sox. Duncan has been with La Russa ever sense, with stints in Chicago as well as in Oakland and St. Louis.

In St. Louis, Duncan replaced Bob Gibson. Gibson was a Hall of Fame pitcher turned coach, as well as a local hero in St. Louis, where he led the Cardinals to World Series championships in 1964 and 1967.

So when La Russa took over as manager in St. Louis, Duncan knew he had big shoes to fill. He knew about pressure. In fact, Duncan is one of only a few pitching coaches that weren’t pitchers themselves. Talk about pressure and criticism.

Duncan has been very successful. It’s no big secret that Duncan has been able to work his magic on MLB pitchers for years. He has even had a few Cy Young winners he has waved his magic wand on.

He will have to start waving that wand yet again in this 2011 season.

With Chris Carpenter and Wainwright, as well as Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook, on the roster last season for the Cardinals, they carded the major leagues’ lowest ERA at 3.50

In light of Wainwright’s injury, Cardinals fans have to be concerned. After all, it wasn’t more than three seasons ago Carpenter was out with the same Tommy John surgery. Garcia and Westbrook also had the same surgery in August 2008.

Lohse underwent surgery on his forearm last year because of a compressed nerve, and in 2009 he was out with two forearm flexor problems, as well as leg and back maladies and a pulled groin.

So injuries have to be on the mind of Duncan as he scrambles to find a replacement for Wainwright with that all-important fifth starter.

The good thing for Duncan and the Cardinals is after having Tommy John surgery, players usually come back strong for years to come.

The question is, with three pitchers on the Cardinals staff having had Tommy John surgery, will they be able to put up numbers like last season now that Wainwright is headed for that same surgery?

Will they be strong enough? Results of the surgery say yes. They should be able to handle the pitching chores in St. Louis; however, they will be very careful with Carpenter and Westbrook, Lohse and Garcia for the rest of this spring training.

Dave Duncan is going to be responsible to work that magic wand he has on the rest of that rotation without the services of Wainwright. Will he find that special magic yet again? We will see in the season to come.

Then you have to ask, with Wainwright on the shelf for the rest of the season, will the Cardinals entertain trade offers for Albert Pujols?


Sonny Clark is also a writer for examiner.com. Check out his Dallas and local stuff at http://www.examiner.com/sports-in-garland/sonny-clark . He also does an online sports show called “The Couch Potato Sports Show” heard on BlogTalkRadio Monday and Thursdays at 7PM CST, as well as Saturday morning at 10AM CST. Click Here to go to the show page.

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Tony LaRussa: How His House of St. Louis Cardinals Collapsed in 2010

The Cardinals came into this season expecting to challenge the Philadelphia Phillies for the National League pennant and to dethrone the New York Yankees in the World Series.

Yet they were out of contention by the middle of September, in the clutches of a collapse from a first-place tie with their longtime rival, the Cincinnati Reds, and were far removed from being the hottest Redbirds team in three seasons.

Collapse is a more powerful word than the phrase “second-half swoon,” but collapse is more appropriate in this situation, without question.

Redbird Nation is baffled:

How a team expected to swim deep into the playoffs needed CPR, personal oxygen tanks, and a breathing apparatus by the beginning of September is beyond us.

Instead of challenging the Phillies in the playoffs, the Cardinals were eliminated by the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates with a week remaining in the regular season.

Watching their barroom-brawling rivals run away with the division crown this particular season is a James Bond movie-like bitter and poison pill for diehard Cardinals fans to swallow.

They were 12-6 against the Reds, but their record was an ugly 26-33 against the rest of the division, and 46-50 against teams with a losing record.

Again this year, thanks to a second-half swoon that has become the norm over the last three Redbirds seasons, the Gateway City’s Gas House Gang’s gritty baseball team flavor lost its savor under their now-embattled tragic Cardinal of a manager: Tony LaRussa.

The Cardinals were playing like the best team in baseball from the first pitch after the 81st All-Star Game.  Starting on July 15, their first eight games after the break were played in St. Louis against two of the top NL teams: the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Eight revenge games to start the second half: The Dodgers had swept the Cardinals out of the playoffs in 2009, and the Phillies were the defending NL Champions.

After the infield dust settled, Major League Baseball eyes watched in admiration at the Redbirds’ sizzling performance.

First, the Birds swept the Dodgers by outscoring them 22-9 in the four-game series.  In July, Joe Torre’s squad was still considered the front-runner to win the NL West.

Then, the Cardinals bopped the Phillies in three straight games, taking the series 3-1, and outscoring Philadelphia 23-8 in the four contests. 

Then, in the very next series, in Chicago against their top rivals (the woefully struggling Cubs), the Cardinals were dismantled by yet another team that owned a losing overall record.

The Cardinals’ August began in Houston against the cellar-dwelling Astros.  Houston shoved an 18-4 loss down the Cardinals’ throat; an embarrassing effort that drew the ire of Cardinals fans who experienced the bitter commentary of MLB analysts as well as those from other team’s fans.

But the Redbirds made up for it a week later, by running Cincinnati red—in Cincinnati.  This was the “Scrap Series,” where the Cardinals swept the clashes but ended up losing the conflict.

Cincinnati’s cocky infielder, Brandon Phillips, a breathing conflict on the diamond, fired the then-second-place Redbirds up with his comments that I will not repeat here.  And when he stepped to the plate, the Cards’ rugged catcher, Yadier Molina, dared Phillips to shine across the line.

Phillips did so and the brawl was on to the Reds’ detriment, or so it seemed.

Being swept by his managerial Mad Hatter in Tony LaRussa, Cincinnati’s skipper Dusty “Batman” Baker’s blood boiled as he was seen bristling in postgame interviews.

The Reds went on a division-clinching run after the series’ infamous summer brawl, while the Cardinals started to swoon.

To end August, the Cardinals got swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates and by the Astros, plus Albert Pujols and the St. Louisans were almost swept by the Washington Nationals.  In the last 10 games of the month, the Cardinals record was 1-9.

The swoon was now lasting way past June.  Even though the Redbirds destroyed the Reds by a score of 6-1 in a game played on national television on the Saturday before Labor Day, for all intents and purposes, the division race was over.

How could a relatively young team with a Cy Young candidate (Adam Wainwright), a first baseman vying for the Triple Crown (Pujols), a $25 million enforcer (Matt Holliday), a top NL closer (Ryan Franklin), and a former Cy Young winner (Chris Carpenter) miss the playoffs? 

Before asking yourself “What just happened?” chew on this:

As you know, I believe that the blame has to fall squarely on the grudge-holding mind of manager Tony LaRussa. 

Both LaRussa and McGwire are pond scum, and now we see them for what they truly are. Hopefully, in this long offseason, consequences and repercussions will be the result. 

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Trouble Brewing in St. Louis? 5 Reasons Why the Cardinals MUST Make the Playoffs

With news that Cardinals outfielder Colby Rasmus has requested a trade, a team with an already cloudy future did not get any clearer. 

Here are five reasons why Cardinal fans’ motto for the rest of the season should be “playoffs or bust.”

Begin Slideshow

Albert Pujols: Will His Support For Glenn Beck Hurt His Popularity?

Yes, I said support for Glenn Beck, it’s simple, if you go to an event you support it. Period.

Am I wrong?

Mr. Albert Pujols might have made the wrong choice, it is clear he had the right motive, the Hope award was given to Mr. Albert Pujols for his countless charitable work in the St. Louis community.

But why did the award had to be given in this venue?

He could of just received it in a quit ceremony before a game or at a charitable event with no political undertones.

Can we agree on that?

Now Mr. Pujols’ name and video clip showing him speaking at the Beck event are in just about every

Blog-Political action web-site in the planet, all with similar headlines.

“Albert Pujols picks up award at the Glenn Beck”… Headline from -The Hill-

“Albert Pujols wows the crowd at “Restoring Honor” rally in DC”… Headline from -Gateway Pundit

“Pujols honored at Glenn Beck rally” … Headline from-Fox Sports-

Get the idea. Yes Mr.La Russa, they promised you it wouldn’t be political, what can you tell us now dear sir?

This Sunday morning someone has to ask Tony La Russa one simple question, Sir was it political?

The answer of course should be just as simple; Yes or No.

Guess who Fox News Sunday had as their special guess this morning?

You got it! Glenn Beck.

Not political indeed.

I spend a few hours this morning reading comments and blogs on this subject, all opinions are right along political or racial lines, so we can say “mission accomplished Mr. Glenn Beck” that’s what he is good at , dividing people(with anger)along those two lines.

Many baseball fans are disappointed and others very angry at Albert, specially in the Latino community.

I don’t expect he will get any awards from them soon.

It’s a shame Tony La Russa hoodwinked Mr. Albert Pujols into participating in an event hosted by a man who profits by playing folks against each other.

I guess it will have to be a lesson learned for Mr. Albert Pujols.

As always this is just a fans opinion and from what I understand everybody has one and I thank God for that.

Enough said.


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Albert Pujols: Tony La Russa Leave Albert Be, You Go Adore Glenn Beck !

According to a report on ESPN.com Tony La Russa announced that Albert Pujols will appear with him in a Glenn Beck event at the Lincoln Memorial where Rev. Martin Luther King made his famous civil rights speech.

Here is a quote from the great Tony La Russa:

“I made it clear when we were approached: I said, ‘If it’s political, I wouldn’t even approach Albert with it,’ ” La Russa said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, of the “Restoring Honor” rally set for the Lincoln Memorial. “I don’t want to be there if it’s political.”

I said the great Tony La Russa, but after reading that quote the words naïve or not intellectually curious came to mind, but then again he may just be a real Glenn Beck zombie.

Nothing wrong with that, everybody has the right to their opinions.

Can we all agree on that?

Reasonable folks do understand that anything Glenn Beck does is political, a way of self promotion and lets not forget a plan to laugh his way all the way to the bank.

Oh! Just in case you want to know, the yearly income information varies from 18 to 35 million, either way that’s a lot of dough folks.

Good for him, I don’t like the guy, just my choice, but you got to admire his business plan; hate always sells and he is the master of it.

The great boxer Muhammad Ali said he could hit you with a jab before you could blink your eyes

Mr. Beck tops that in spades: he can throw a jab, a hook, kick you in your privates, and walk away with another million and a big smile.

Good for him, God bless him.

Albert Pujols should ask his manager to mind his own business and not get him involved in what could turn out to be an embarrassment for MLB. Some of the posters brought to those events are very offensive; look them up I won’t give them play here.

That alone should give Pujols a hint; staying home may be the prudent thing to do.


Sr. Pujols por favor no se deje usar come un instrumento politico por Toni LaRussa, usted sole le debe ser un buen jugador en el campo.

Nada mas!

Mr. Tony La Russa should go and enjoy his day off at the big Glenn Beck event and let Albert hang out with his buddies; that should make everybody happy.

As always, especially on this article, this is just a fan’s opinion and from what I understand everybody has one and I thank God for that.

Enough said.


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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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St Louis Cardinals Second Half Predictions, Part 1 : The Good

As the St. Louis Cardinals begin the second half of the season, we have prognostications for all three categories of the roster : the good, the bad, and the injured. First we’ll look at the ten players to count on in the stretch run to the playoffs.
From boosting their flaccid offense to maintaining solid pitching, the Redbirds have the talent and ability to make the playoffs. We’ll access each players chance to make a difference in the hopes to take advantage of the extra home game won in the All—Star Game and win their 11th World Series championship.

Begin Slideshow

St. Louis Cardinals Should Pursue Javy Vazquez

With the possible addition of Cliff Lee, baseball’s top southpaw, the Yankees would have formed the most formidable rotation in baseball, and perhaps one of the best ever.

Sabathia. Lee. Pettitte. Hughes. Burnett.

Four of their five starting pitchers would be headed to Anaheim for this year’s All-Star Game.

But what about the sixth man?

With the addition of Lee to the front of their rotation, someone would have to be moved out. That man is Javier Vazquez.

Now, the Yankees are shopping Vazquez around. The first team to pounce on him should be the St. Louis Cardinals.

For Vazquez, this is the perfect storm. He would have the opportunity to head to a great baseball town, the home of the greatest pitching coach ever, and try to rekindle what once was.

He may not be able to revisit the success he had in Montréal, where he struck out 1,076 batters from 1998-2003, but he could help a Cardinals team that is hurting in the rotation.

Since Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse went down with injuries, the Cardinals have been forced to give Adam Ottavino and Blake Hawksworth turns in the rotation. The two are good prospects, and project as useful arms in the future, but for a team in the midst of a pennant race, this is simply not enough.

With Lohse out for the remainder of 2010, no definite time line for Penny’s return, and Ottavino having been recently delegated to the disabled list himself, St. Louis should pounce on Vazquez as soon as possible.

Vazquez is not suited as a relief pitcher, so the Yankees may be willing to part with him for one or two nominal prospects. Brian Cashman is a smart man, and he is not willing to let Vazquez’s $11.5 million sit in the bullpen.

A return to the National League might also bring improvement out of Vazquez. Not only was Vazquez a top-notch pitcher in Montréal, but he was quite successful as recently as last year for the Atlanta Braves, posting a 15-10 record with a 2.87 ERA. He finished fourth in Cy Young voting, behind Cardinals aces Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.

Under the tutelage of Dave Duncan, and out of the pitcher’s hell of the American League East, Vazquez could be a very successful pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Should Lee not be moved to New York, it still seems Vazquez is on the market, and St. Louis would be wise to pounce.

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Soup’s Back on in St. Louis: Cardinals Closing in on Jeff Suppan

With starters Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny on the disabled list and poor showings from rookies P.J. Walters and Blake Hawksworth, the St. Louis Cardinals may be close to bringing a familiar face back to Busch Stadium: Jeff Suppan.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that parameters of a deal were in place that could have the veteran right-hander, who was released by the Brewers on Monday, join the team this weekend in Arizona.

Jon Mozeliak, the Cardinals General Manager, warned that any deal was unofficial as of yet.

“We have interest,” Mozeliak said, “but no decision today.”

Assuming the deal goes through, the Brewers would essentially be paying Suppan over $9 million to pitch for their rivals.

In 2006, the Brewers signed Suppan to what was then the largest deal in Milwaukee history at $42 million over four years.

Suppan is best remembered for his time in St. Louis, where he went 44-26 with a 3.95 ERA from 2004-2006. His biggest impact came during the Cardinals’ 2006 championship run. He was named National League Championship Series MVP for his performance against the New York Mets, and delivered a quality start in the World Series against Detroit.

However, since signing with Milwaukee that off-season, Suppan’s performance has steadily declined. He was barely respectable in 2007, going 12-12 with a 4.62 ERA. However, his 1.505 WHIP revealed a deeper problem. His ERA and WHIP increased each year, finally climaxing at 7.84 and 2.000 in 2010.

He started the year on the disabled list with a neck injury, and made two starts upon his return, after which the Brewers moved him to mop-up duty in the bullpen.

If the Cardinals can complete the deal, they would pay Suppan a prorated portion of the Major League minimum, and the Brewers would cover the rest of his $12.5 million salary. He would be the latest in a long line of reclamation projects for Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan.

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