Tag: Yadier Molina

Yadier Molina Injury: Updates on Cardinals Star’s Foot and Return

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has returned to the lineup after dealing with a right foot contusion.

Continue for updates.

Molina in Lineup vs. Nationals

Tuesday, March 29

Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the news of Molina’s return to the lineup against Washington after passing training room tests.

Molina Is Vital Element of Cardinals‘ World Series Hopes

Molina’s foot issues added to his well-documented injury history that includes thumb injuries and multiple surgeries this offseason to address the issues with his left catching hand.

When he’s healthy, the 33-year-old backstop is arguably the best at his position in all of baseball. He boasts stellar defense in addition to a better bat than many catchers, posting a .283 career batting average entering the 2016 campaign.

The Cardinals brought in former Cincinnati Reds catcher Brayan Pena this past offseason to provide insurance for Molina if he goes down during the season. Pena weakened a National League Central rival and is a competent player who can fill in adequately as part of St. Louis’ championship-caliber lineup if needed.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Yadier Molina Injury: Updates on Cardinals Star’s Recovery from Thumb Surgery

St. Louis Cardinals star catcher Yadier Molina had thumb surgery on Oct. 15 to repair a partially torn ligament originally suffered on Sept. 20 against the Chicago Cubs. He has returned to action, but his status for Opening Day is unknown.

Continue for updates.

Molina to Play vs. Marlins

Wednesday, March 9

Mark Saxon of ESPN reported Molina will catch but won’t hit Wednesday versus Miami. Saxon added Molina hasn’t taken live batting practice, but he “appears likely to be ready for Opening Day.”

Molina Remains Among Baseball’s Elite Catchers

Despite the recent health trouble, Molina has managed to remain among the best at his position in all of baseball.

The seven-time All-Star entered 2016 with a .283 career batting average but is even more renowned for his tremendous defense, which has earned him eight straight Gold Glove awards. He is absolutely irreplaceable behind the plate.

St. Louis did well in the offseason to upgrade its depth behind Molina by acquiring Brayan Pena with a two-year contract through free agency. The prior Cincinnati Reds backstop figures to fill in until Molina fully recovers and is a switch-hitter who brings an interesting twist to the Cardinals lineup.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Scott Miller’s Starting 9: Yadier Molina, Cards Holding Breath for Healthy Year

JUPITER, Fla. — Is that coconut smell sunblock or a pina colada? Tough to tell in the Grapefruit League…


1. Yadier Molina Is All Thumbs

Along about December, Yadier Molina noticed his left hand just didn’t feel right.

Now, here is where it may have been a blessing that he damaged his right thumb enough to warrant surgery in 2014. Because when he did the same thing to his left thumb—a torn ligament, a year later—and underwent surgery just after the 2015 season ended, he recognized a few weeks later that the surgery didn’t take. Because in recovery, it wasn’t feeling like the right thumb had.

So he underwent the knife a second time, in December. And now here baseball’s best catcher is, rehabbing 45 minutes a day, working his hand through a bucket of rice, racing the calendar to be ready for Opening Day.

“It was discouraging,” Molina told Bleacher Report the other day on the subject of being forced to undergo a second surgery this winter; and after all this, thank goodness he doesn’t have a third thumb.

“You’re always nervous. Every time you have surgery, there are always risks.

“Right now, I’m happy where I am. The thumb is responding to all of the therapy work they’re doing.”

The Cardinals are determined to take it slow with their prized catcher. If he misses Opening Day, so be it. They want him for the long haul. And after a couple of consecutive injury-plagued years, keeping Molina on the field is one of the chief priorities for St. Louis this spring.

Molina is as valuable to this team as any single individual player to any other club in the majors. He is the quarterback in a baseball town that just lost its NFL franchise, an eight-time Gold Glove winner, a seven-time All-Star and a permanent security blanket for manager Mike Matheny and pitchers from Adam Wainwright to Michael Wacha.

“I will tell you this: As far as catching goes and the manager-catcher relationship, he has been a priceless asset to me as a manager and to us as a club,” Matheny said. “For him to do his job as well as he does it makes just about everybody around here better.”

Talk about freak stuff. Molina, 33, suffered the injury to his left thumb on a play at the plate when tagging Anthony Rizzo as the Chicago Cubs first baseman slid last Sept. 20.

Just 14 months earlier, in July 2014, he suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb while sliding into third base.

“It happens; it’s baseball,” Molina said. “It’s weird, but it can happen.”

He is walking, talking, squatting proof. He eased into a few light catching drills Friday, and while the Cards will keep a tight leash on him, Molina is determined to be ready by Opening Day.

Meanwhile, playing the role of the catcher few in St. Louis want to see (nothing personal, of course) is veteran Brayan Pena, whom the Cards signed over the offseason.

And don’t worry, Cardinals fans. He knows you don’t prefer him in the lineup very often, and he understands.

“Yadier is one of those guys who is so great and so awesome that everybody is pulling for him,” said Pena, 34, an 11-year veteran who also has spent time with the Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds.

“Me, personally, I understand my role. I have a responsibility to be ready whenever my name is called. I’m excited about it. You’re excited to have the opportunity.

“But I understand I have a future Hall of Famer in front of me, and I’m playing next to a legend.”

While the rice bucket is one key to Molina whipping his hand back into shape, he’s also using weights and laser therapy to try to push things along.   

The big worry, of course, is that Molina is creeping toward his mid-30s, and he’s playing one of the game’s most punishing positions. The right thumb cost him 40 games in ’14, and his 110 games played that summer were his fewest since his rookie season in 2004 (51 games).

Last year, he played in 136 contests but came up lame at the end and was nowhere close to himself while gallantly playing three games in the National League Division Series loss to the Chicago Cubs.

“You spent the whole year healthy, and then at the end you get hurt,” he said. “Two, three years in a row now (he spent time on the disabled list in August, 2013, with a knee sprain).

“I’m not giving up on myself. I’m trying to get better. I’m trying to get back on track with my thumb. I’m looking forward to the season.”


2. New Program for the Panda

We’ll see how this turns out: Maybe going grim-faced and laser-focused will help Pablo Sandoval produce a strong bounce-back season in 2016.

But following some unfortunate introductory comments upon his arrival to camp this spring, the Panda has shut things down. He is not talking to the media—at least, that’s what he told B/R on Monday—after his weight again tipped the scales of poor PR against him.

Sandoval told Boston reporters when he arrived that he didn’t worry about losing weight over the winter:

He also didn’t seem that bothered by his disappointing 2015 season, basically saying, hey, that’s baseball; sometimes you have good years, and sometimes you don’t.

That is exactly what they don’t want to hear in Boston, where the 2013 World Series title barely has made up for last-place finishes in three of the past four years.

Stay tuned.


3. Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood Has Gone Cuckoo

New sliding rules take effect this year—call it the Chase Utley Rule—and it is something else for everyone to try to figure out this spring.

The biggest issue is the “neighborhood play,” which now is subject to instant replay, which means second basemen and shortstops will need to actually touch the base with a foot instead of swiping the general area before throwing to first.

The reason they’ve been allowed to brush past the base without touching it for so long is self-preservation: With a baserunner barreling in, everybody agreed it was in the infielder’s best interest to get out of the way quickly.

The new rules force the runner to slide into the base and not target the infielder, which isn’t a bad thing. But as sure as cheeseburgers are delicious, you can be sure that subjecting it to instant replay is going to bring unintended consequences this season.

“We’re making a slide rule that keeps you on the bag…and now you’ve got to make a decision on the neighborhood play that you’ve got to stay on the bag,” Mets manager Terry Collins, a former infielder, said the other day in Port St. Lucie, Florida. “You know what that is going to mean? Somebody is going to get their clocks cleaned.”

In Jupiter, Florida, Matheny said he is still digesting the rule but that the team will continue to teach its middle infielders the same things it always has in terms of technique around second base.

“Protect yourself and do what’s expected,” Matheny said.

As for veteran Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia, he says he hasn’t paid much attention to it yet and will figure it out as he goes along. Surely, he won’t be the only one.


4. Clayton Kershaw Left His Impression on Cuba

Cardinals catcher Brayan Pena traveled along with Clayton Kershaw, Yasiel Puig, Miguel Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Jose Abreu and others on an MLB goodwill trip to Cuba in November and still cannot get over Kershaw’s kindness and accessibility.

“I really love that guy because he was unbelievable in the way he embraced kids and my people,” Pena, a native of Cuba, told B/R. “You have to appreciate that. He’s a future Hall of Famer, he’s taking time away from his family to help kids, he’s speaking Spanish.

“The guy stole my heart. I know why God put him in that position. I was so impressed with the way he embraced the Cuban people.”


5. Rumbling Afield with Miguel Sano

It is 8 a.m. on a chilly Florida morning, and there Twins phenom Miguel Sano is, out in right field on Field 6, with newly minted coach Torii Hunter as his tutor.

Sano, 22, is in the midst of one of the game’s most fascinating transitions. He is 6’4″ and 260 pounds with a big enough body and an important enough bat that you wonder two things: Can the man who primarily has played third base throughout his professional career play right field without hurting the Twins defensively? And can he do it without hurting himself?

The Twins like Trevor Plouffe at third base, and with Joe Mauer at first and newly signed Byung Ho Park ready to step in at designated hitter, right field was the natural move for Sano.

“We feel the move is doable,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan told B/R. “Miguel wants to play; he doesn’t want to DH. We don’t want him to DH. He’s athletic enough. He’s a surprisingly good runner for the size of the man.

“We understand it’s going to take time.”

The recently retired Hunter, in camp as a special instructor, is charged with attempting to shorten that time. Sano told Hunter that back home in the Dominican Republic, he played shortstop, third base, first base, outfield and whatever else was asked of him.

“He’s not afraid because he’s been there before,” Hunter said. “I’m trying to show him things like how to block the lights, how to line up, how the ball comes off of the bat differently from a left-hander than from a right-hander, the spin, slice, topspin. Trying to help him recognize that.”

Hunter and Butch Davis, who is the Twins’ outfield coach, are working overtime, and they have a willing student.

Given that Sano slammed 18 homers and racked up 52 RBI in just 80 games for the Twins last year, the possibilities are tantalizing.


6. Heart of 29

The most touching moments of the week were watching Hall of Famer Rod Carew in uniform as a special coach for the Minnesota Twins. Carew nearly died after suffering a massive heart attack five months ago.

Carew was in uniform Saturday while the Twins held their first full-squad workout, and in tribute to him they all wore red “Heart of 29” T-shirts, citing the name of the charity through which Carew is working to raise money for the research and prevention of heart disease.

“I wanted to be here real bad,” said Carew, 70, who is four months away from a heart transplant. “I knew it would help as far as my spirits went to be around all of the guys.”

The Twins have been pushing Carew’s Heart of 29 cause since they nearly lost the man who took a serious run at hitting .400 in 1977 when he hit .388 to win the sixth of seven batting titles.

“I told them I want to save lives,” Carew said. “I want people to understand that they’ve got to take care of their ticker.

“The worst thing I did was not take my medication. I just threw it away. And I never went back to the doctor. You think you’re healthy, and it knocked me on my butt, just like that.”


7. Weekly Power Rankings

1. New Sliding Rules: Utley should tour Grapefruit and Cactus League camps to demonstrate.

2. Academy Awards: #OscarsSoWhite, #ChrisRockSoFunny.

3. Ian Desmond: The loss of Josh Hamilton (sore knee) is Desmond’s gain in Texas. Still, a hollow gain it is on a one-year, $8 million deal after Desmond declined a seven-year, $107 million extension offer from the Nationals before the 2014 season.

4. Exhibition games: Welcome back, games. Who isn’t ready to take this thing onto the field this week? But, hey, who is No. 75? And 81? And 92?

5. Grouper: Thanks for being so delicious during spring training in Florida, grouper. Now, can someone please pass a slice of key lime pie?


8. Mets Look to Ride Yoenis Cespedes’ Coattails

Lou Truppa is on the front lines of what has been the biggest story going on right now with the New York Mets.

No, he is not the latest phenom for the defending National League champions. He is 80.

And he stands sentry at the gate to the players’ parking lot in Port St. Lucie.

“It is on everybody’s mouth,” Truppa, now in his eighth year guarding the players’ parking lot, told B/R. “They’re all looking for him.

“What’s he driving today?”

First day here, the flamboyant slugger stopped and asked Truppa where he could park his Ford F-250 pickup truck.

“He stops to say hello every day,” said Truppa, who since has watched Cespedes roll by in a three-wheel Polaris Slingshot, a fire-breathing Lamborghini and, Thursday, a $250,000 cherry red, two-seat Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, complete with his No. 52 on the wheels.

Some of the Mets are amused by the show; others simply do their best to ignore it.

Come April, the only thing the Mets will care about Cespedes driving is fastballs. They did not sign him to a three-year, $75 million deal following their inspirational run to the World Series in October simply to drive up the value of their parking lot.

Cespedes already had a reputation as something of a diva, which some in the industry said over the winter is why he wasn’t getting the expected five- or six-year monster contract offers.

The gaudy cars will do nothing to quell that.

Nor will the fact that he sent someone to Target the other day to purchase a round waffle-maker for the clubhouse chefs. Previously this spring, the Mets had been forced to eat, horrors, square waffles.

Quirky is amusing early in camp, and who doesn’t love waffles (ahem, round or square); and, yes, the auto show has given Cespedes the attention he apparently craves.

From here on out, though, it’s all about parking baseballs.

Not whatever Cespedes is parking in the Mets’ lot.

“Always different cars,” said Truppa, whose favorite Mets in 16 years of working spring training here are Mike Piazza, John Franco, Al Leiter and Pedro Martinez.

Meanwhile, over there in a space under a palm tree is Truppa’s car: a 2009 dark blue Kia with 165,000 miles on it.

“I’ve never had a more comfortable ride,” he said, smiling, as the Mets shifted hard into 2016 gear.


9. Joe Girardi Will Take Depth from Anywhere

But can this little guy hit?

Guess he won’t be in today’s lineup…

9a. Rock ‘n’ Roll Lyric of the Week

Don’t blame me for this one. I’m just passing along what I heard in the Minnesota Twins clubhouse at 7:30 a.m. the other day in Fort Myers, Florida (and, why, yes, it is jarring to hear this blasting that early in the morning)…

“Cottonwood fallin’ like snow in July

“Sunset, riverside, four-wheel drives

“In a tail-light circle

“Roll down the windows, turn it on up

“Pour a little crown in a Dixie cup

“Get the party started

“Girl you make my speakers go boom boom

“Dancin’ on the tailgate in the full moon

“That kinda thing makes a man go mmm hmmm”

—Luke Bryan, “Drunk on You”


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Yadier Molina Injury: Updates on Cardinals Catcher’s Recovery from Thumb Surgery

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina underwent a second surgery to address a ligament injury to his left thumb on Wednesday.

Continue for updates.

Molina to Miss Most of Spring Training

Wednesday, December 16

Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com provided the latest news on Molina’s status, indicating the initial operation “didn’t take.”

Molina was initially expected to be restricted from baseball activities for two to three months after hurting himself in a September 20 game against the Chicago Cubs while applying a tag at home plate.

The 33-year-old veteran has been an All-Star in each of the past seven seasons and has been instrumental to St. Louis’ winning culture. Manager Mike Matheny has little reason to rush Molina back into the lineup.

The Cardinals have already upgraded depth at Molina’s position through free agency by signing Cincinnati Reds switch-hitter Brayan Pena to a two-year contract. There’s a complete enough team in place from last year’s 100-win club to bring Molina along at a cautious pace.

With the experience he has under his belt, his consistent production and leadership in the clubhouse, Molina can afford to take as much time as is necessary to fully recover for the long regular season.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Yadier Molina Injury: Updates on Cardinals Star’s Hand and Return

Yadier Molina, who is battling a thumb injury, was not in the lineup for Game 4 of the National League Division Series as the St. Louis Cardinals saw their season end at the hands of the Chicago Cubs.

Molina was originally in the lineup for the contest, but was scratched in favor of backup Tony Cruz.

He originally injured his hand when Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo slid into home on Sept. 20, suffering a partially torn ligament in his left thumb.

Continue for updates.

Molina to Undergo Tests to Determine Severity of Injury

Wednesday, Oct. 14 

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Molina will undergo an MRI on his hand on Wednesday.

Matheny Comments on Molina’s Injury

Tuesday, Oct. 13

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said on Tuesday that Molina has “considerable weakness” in the injured left hand, per Goold

Molina Is Crucial to Cards’ Title Hopes in 2016

It wasn’t a surprise to see Molina struggling offensively in the NLDS, as this season had been a difficult one for the 33-year-old. He did play in 136 games, but his .660 OPS was his worst since 2006 and the third-worst mark of his career. 

Molina is a seven-time All-Star, a former Silver Slugger winner and a seven-time Gold Glove winner. The Cardinals’ pitching staff boasted a sparkling 2.79 ERA in games Molina caught before he went down with the thumb injury, per Nightengale

Now that St. Louis’ season is over, the team can allow Molina to get healthy before reloading for another run at a World Series title.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Yadier Molina’s Injury Hangs over Cardinals, but Adam Wainwright Offers Hope

With the good news came the bad news.

The St. Louis Cardinals received a boost to their playoff pitching picture on Monday, but the leaders in the National League Central also took what could end up being a significant hit to their lineup and defense.

Ace Adam Wainwright, believed to be shelved for the entire season after he ripped up his Achilles tendon coming out of the batter’s box on April 25, has been cleared to resume baseball activities. That gives the Cardinals hope that Wainwright could pitch for them out of the bullpen, as he did during their 2006 World Series run, during this postseason and possibly even before the end of the regular season.

The hurtful blow was losing catcher Yadier Molina, one of the premier defensive catchers in the sport, to a torn ligament in his left thumb. Molina will be sidelined for at least seven days and be reevaluated within the next week. If his prognosis does not improve, it is possible the Cardinals won’t have their starting catcher for the playoffs.

Molina does not need surgery, and the tear is less severe than the one Molina suffered last year in his right thumb, which ended up costing the seven-time All-Star 40 games. That is the encouraging part for the Cardinals.

If the Cardinals clinch the division, they would not play their first playoff game until Oct. 9. General manager John Mozeliak gave a status update after the game:

“There’s a reason to have some optimism,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny told Jennifer Langosch of MLB.com. “When he slid into third base last year, there was instantly, ‘OK, this is going to be a while.’ That is not the same message we’re hearing right now. Right now, it’s not definitive that he’s going to be out for a long period of time, which, for us, is good news.”

The Cardinals need that, because if Molina is out for any significant time and has to miss some or all of the postseason, it is a crippling blow to not only the offense, but the pitching staff as well.

Molina is hitting .270/.310/.350 with four home runs and an 80 OPS+, his worst season since 2010. But Molina’s numbers in the postseason are good. He has hit .290/.344/.375 with a .719 OPS in 86 games (335 plate appearances). In a struggling Cardinals offense, that kind of production could end up being much needed by the time the playoffs roll around.

The bigger issue is losing Molina behind the plate. He has a stellar reputation for handling pitching staffs, blocking balls and controlling the running game as well as anyone who has ever put on the tools of ignorance.

This year’s Cardinals pitching staff had a major league-best 2.92 ERA entering Monday. When throwing to Molina, it has as 2.79 ERA. That goes up to 3.70 when throwing to Molina’s backup, Tony Cruz, who will be the starting catcher until Molina returns.

Losing Molina for any part of the postseason would greatly impact the team’s chances of advancing just based on how he works with the pitchers—the team’s biggest strength.

“Hands in the game of baseball are so important, whether it’s receiving or throwing, because you need them both to hit,” Mozeliak told Langosch. “We’ll see when we can start testing it from an offensive standpoint. In the meantime, we’ll look at different ways that we can help protect the hand.”

Wainwright’s return could soften the blow of losing Molina, assuming he’s out for any meaningful time. Wainwright is scheduled to throw a simulated game this coming weekend, but because of the time remaining in the season, he would not be stretched out enough to start.

That is fine for the Cardinals, because the last time Wainwright pitched out of the bullpen in the postseason, he was as dominant as a reliever could possibly be with a 0.00 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 9.2 innings, although he did blow a save in the World Series (yet ended up with the win).

That was in 2006, and if he is 100 percent healthy, 2015 could give the Cardinals that same kind of weapon next month.

“I think I would have a much higher confidence level to have him throw in-season before you would put him on the [playoff] roster,” Mozeliak told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“He’s awfully optimistic. If you’ll recall last time he was in the bullpen, he was pretty good. I would imagine it would look just like that.”

If Wainwright were to be that good again, it would go a long way in absorbing the possible loss of Molina in the postseason. For now, the Cardinals are in the fluid state of wait-and-see.


All quotes, unless otherwise specified, have been acquired first-hand by Anthony Witrado. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Yadier Molina Doesn’t Know Own Strength, Snaps Bat While Tapping Home Plate

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is apparently pretty strong, and he doesn’t even know it.

During a game against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday afternoon, Molina broke his bat while “tapping” home plate.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The unusual event went down in the bottom of the seventh inning after Yadi fouled off a pitch from Cubs pitcher Jon Lester, apparently cracking his bat. While getting ready for the next pitch, Molina snapped his bat when he hit home plate with it. All he could do was smile as he picked up the other half of the bat in awe.

The Cardinals ended up winning, 4-3.


Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

St. Louis Cardinals Boast 1 of History’s Best Pitching Staffs

When Adam Wainwright tore his Achilles tendon in April, the St. Louis Cardinals were left without their true acelet alone one of baseball’s top pitchersfor most of the season. Despite the setback, the National League powerhouse has relied on a pitching staff on pace to challenge MLB record books.

At 73-41, St. Louis owns the majors’ best record in 2015—at least five games ahead of any other team and six in front of a tough NL Central that might produce three playoff teams.

Yet the Cardinals have done so not by scoring runssorry, Bill James apologists—but rather by preventing them.

St. Louis pitchers have allowed 2.93 runs per game this seasonthe best in the league by more than 0.5 runswhile scoring just 3.97 (21st in the league).

But it’s the 2.93 per game that could go down as one of the best marks ever when considering it’s 29.2 percent lower than the league average of 4.14.

The St. Louis pitching staff is one of the best of the past 20 yearsa span that includes both the height of MLB’s “steroid era” and today’s “dead-ball era.”

Its dominance blows away the average MLB team at a rate that’s almost unheard of.

A study by Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal pointed out the Cardinals arms corps is one of MLB’s best of the past century: “Only one team since 1900, the 1906 Chicago Cubs, performed better, allowing 2.46 runs a game compared with a league average of 3.62—a difference of 32 percent.”

Even without Wainwright, who went 2-1 with a 1.44 ERA in four starts before his injury, for much of the season, Cardinals starters own a collective 2.77 ERA so far this season.

If it holds up, that would be the lowest ERA by a starting rotation in 30 yearsthe 1985 Dodgers accumulated a 2.71 mark.

Paul Casella of Sports on Earth noted the unusual path the St. Louis starters have taken, though: “The Cardinals have seemed to collectively master run prevention, all without a single pitcher ranking within the top 15 in strikeouts, WHIP or strikeout-to-walk ratio.”

Either way, all five starting pitchers, from the 36-year-old John Lackey to the 23-year-old Carlos Martinez, sit below a 3.00 ERA at the moment.

Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh pointed out the St. Louis pitching staff strands baserunners at a rate no other team in history can match.

Some of the contributions might come from a resilient starting rotation. But the Cardinals employ a bullpen that isn’t shabby, either.

The relievers’ 2.26 ERA is the best since that of the 1972 Pittsburgh Piratesthe only bullpen better since the league lowered the mound in 1969.

More interesting are the members of the Cardinals pen.

There’s the starter-turned-closer, Trevor Rosenthal, who’s tied for the league lead with 35 saves. There’s Randy Choate, a 39-year-old workhorse, and Kevin Siegrist, a 26-year-old setup specialist. Then you have two recent additions in veterans Jonathan Broxton and Steve Cishekformer dominant closers who are now role players.

No matter the name or story, each reliever is capable of entering a game in a jam and shutting down opposing offenses.

The statistics show that Cardinals pitchers, as an entire unit, get more dominant once runners reach base, per Baseball-Reference.com:

St. Louis pitchers allow a .257 batting average when the bases are empty23rd in MLB and 10 points worse than the league average this season.

When runners get on or, even worse, get in scoring position, they turn into monsters and allow batters to hit just .212 and .194, respectively, in those situationsboth marks rank first in the majors by a wide margin.

Sports Illustrated‘s Tom Verducci credited catcher Yadier Molina for his game management behind the plate:

No other club is close to the Cardinals when it comes to the key moments of run prevention: when the opponent has scoring chances. Credit has to go not only to the pitchers, but also to veteran catcher Yadier Molina, whose skills at framing and calling pitchers are most valuable in those pressure situations.

Baseball’s new-age thinking based in analytics claims that scoring runs ultimately leads to winning ballgames. Yet the Cardinals are dispelling that notion in 2015. 

Even the offensive stars in St. Louis have bought in. Per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter said the following:

We’ve played in close ballgames before. Just scoring runs is not a good plan over the course of the season. You have to play good defense. You have to pitch. That’s how you win close games. That’s how you lead the league in wins, in my opinion.

A team that struggles with creating runs, as St. Louis does, needs to excel in run preventionsomething the Cardinals do.

“I honestly think this is how you win in the playoffs,” outfielder Jason Heyward told Goold, “so we’re going to have a lot of experience built up.”

The Cardinals may be without their bona fide ace, but they have more than made up for the loss. 

Their pitching has them on pace for a 99-win season, according to FanGraphs’ projections, and one of the best overall performances by a staff in MLB history.

It’s safe to say, no matter how many runs the Cardinals score in a given game, they’ll be darned if they don’t allow fewer.


You can follow Dan on Twitter. He’s still bitter the 2011 Phillies and their four-headed monster of aces didn’t pan out as hoped.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Top 5 Fantasy Baseball Disappointments of 2014

Like all fantasy sports, the key to success in fantasy baseball is understanding value. Failure to understand value can lead an owner to mislabel a player as a disappointment, while understanding value can give an owner a late-round steal.

To determine value, you must consider what you gave up when you selected a certain player in the draft. Did you grab an elite catcher early because of the scarcity of that position? Or did you simply draft the best players, regardless of position? 

Jose Abreu, whose ESPN average draft position was 134th (only five spots ahead of Alfonso Soriano), has obviously exceeded the expectations of a 13th-round pick. Yet Yadier Molina and Dustin Pedroia, players considered to be the class of their positions, have vastly underwhelmed. The price paid to grab these players early in drafts has been far higher than their actual production.

For the sake of clarity, the following list of disappointments is composed only of position players. A player can only be considered a “disappointment” if his current ESPN Player Rater ranking is at least 100 spots worse than his average draft position. Also, all players must currently be owned in 100 percent of standard ESPN fantasy baseball leagues. Players who have missed time due to injury, such as Carlos Gonzalez, Jay Bruce and Bryce Harper, are excluded.  

Here are the top five fantasy disappointments as we approach the halfway point of the 2014 season.


Statistics are accurate through June 19 and are obtained from MLB.com, ESPN.com, Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.com.

Begin Slideshow

St. Louis Cardinals Looking for Home Run Rebound in ’14

The 2013 St. Louis Cardinals scored 18 more runs than in 2012 despite hitting 34 fewer home runs. A season after being ranked No. 7 in homers in the National League, they plummeted to No. 13.

Five Cardinals blasted 20 or more long balls in 2012 compared to two last season. And one of them—Carlos Beltran—left via free agency.

Is there a rebound in store for the Redbirds in the power department?

Before that question can be answered, let’s examine the causes for the drop-off in production.

Allen Craig’s total dropped from 22 to 13. He didn’t go deep in April and had just 14 at-bats in September due to injury, so that certainly played a role. But it doesn‘t explain everything.

Craig’s fly-ball rate went from 33 to 28 percent, marking a third straight season in decline. That percentage jumped to 2012 levels in June when he enjoyed his largest home run output with six. However, in July and August, when fly balls travel well in the humid St. Louis summer, he managed just four big flies.

Craig also has dealt with significant leg injuries. In 2011, a broken kneecap cost him several months. Last season, an ankle injury cost him most of September and the postseason. As he approaches 30, if leg issues persist, it becomes more difficult to recover power.

For Yadier Molina, the 22 home runs in 2012 could serve as the outlier. His fly-ball rate remained consistent with previous seasons, but his home run-to-fly-ball ratio (HR/F) spiked to new levels. That percentage leveled out in 2013, hence the 10-homer drop.

David Freese‘s below-average fly-ball rate didn’t suggest a 20-homer season was on the horizon in 2012. However, a career-high 500 at-bats coupled with a 20 percent HR/F rate combined to create a career year—and one he wasn’t likely to repeat.

The good fortune ran out for Freese last season, as the HR/F rate dipped to 10 percent, and the ground-ball rate rose to 55 percent.

Beltran put 24 over the fence last season, falling well short of 2012 totals. The 20 percent HR/F rate that helped him achieve 32 homers dipped to 13 percent.

The Cardinals’ home ballpark also did its part to suppress the long ball.

Busch Stadium ranked No. 24 in the majors last season, surrendering 0.837 home runs a game. That’s down from 0.915 in 2012. But even 2013 levels represent a slight increase for a park that averaged 0.797 homers a game its first six years of existence.

Busch Stadium HR/G (since 2006)
Year HR/G MLB Rank
2013 0.837 24
2012 0.915 21
2011 0.774 27
2010 0.758 26
2009 0.736 28
2008 0.915 19
2007 0.717 28
2006 0.887 19

Losing a perennial 20-homer slugger like Beltran doesn‘t bode well for the Cardinals reaching 2012 levels this season. But new additions, developing youngsters and a reversal of fortune for players like Craig and/or Molina give the Redbirds the potential for an increase from last season.

Matt Adams is the full-time first baseman in St. Louis. After hitting 17 homers in 296 at-bats last season, there’s no reason to believe he won’t surpass 20. And if he improves against lefties, a 30-homer campaign is realistic.

Jhonny Peralta and his nine straight seasons of 10-plus homers—and four seasons of 20 or more—replaces shortstop Pete Kozma, who has three major league long balls. Enough said.

Rookie Oscar Taveras, who hit 23 homers in Double-A in 2012, projects as a 25- to 30-homer player in the majors. While an unrealistic goal for this season, he could reach double digits with enough playing time. Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch addresses how the rookie could impact the Redbirds in multiple ways.

While some stats explain Craig’s drop in power, another hints at a rebound. His 11 percent HR/F rate last season was significantly lower than the previous two seasons, suggesting he’ll be closer to his 2012 numbers.

Matt Holliday hasn’t had a 30-homer season since 2007 with the Rockies. But he did come close to that mark with the Cardinals in 2010 and 2012. A player with eight straight 20-plus home run seasons only needs a smidgen of good fortune to crack 30 again.

Overall, statistical trends indicate the 2014 Redbirds will be closer to last year’s home run production. However, the development of sluggers like Adams and Taveras reflect the potential for a significant power boost in the future.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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