Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Around the Horn, Part Two: Pitching - Aces Wild

We last left this series after getting familiar with our infield.

Today, we'll talk about our pitching. Again, La Russa should have a deep bullpen for when Isringhausen goes down with an injury...again. The big question mark for the Cardinals will be their starting rotation. Other than Mr. Amazing Chris Carpenter and the hopeful, eventual return of Mark Mulder, there will be some new faces on the mound (say goodbye to Jason Marquis, Jeff Suppan, and Jeff Weaver). Of the three, Suppan's loss is the biggest. Marquis showed flashes of bumness far too often, and while I liked Jeff Weaver, we can find another one of him. So meh, on to 2007.

Fans will be happy to see Adam Wainwright getting the nod to join the rotation. Many had been wanting to see him take Marquis' place there last year, but I think we'll all agree that he worked out pretty well. Also joining him will be Anthony Reyes, who dabbled in starting last year but had some great starts during the postseason, so expect to see him in the rotation. Braden Looper, who I've blown hot and cold on since his acquisition last season, may get the nod, along with new pickup Kip Wells. Injured for most of last year (managed only nine starts), he's an established starter who can put in some quality starts if healthy. But enough talk, let's check these boys out:

SP - Chris Carpenter - Cy Young winner in 2005. Undisputed ace of the Cardinals. 51 wins, 3.12 ERA, and 549 K in three seasons with St. Louis. 'Nuff said.
SP - Mark Mulder - Honestly, I don't know what's going on with Mulder's recovery, but as long as he's in a Cardinal jersey, he's a potential starter in my book. Great sinker, curve, and decent fastball. One of the greatest pitching performances I ever saw was delivered by Mulder against Roger Clemens and the Astros. He pitched a 10-inning, 1-hit shutout to win 1-0. Very cool. But last year, Mulder probably returned to action too early from shoulder surgery and looked bad. So if he can recapture some of his prior magic, look for him to have a premanent place in the lineup. But right now, it's too early to tell.
SP - Adam Wainwright - To be a rookie and record the closing outs for the NLDS, NLCS, and the World Series? Wow, that's pretty cool. But for those who watched him throughout the season, that's not entirely surprising. This guy has some electric stuff. After a season holding it down in the bullpen, he's more than earned a chance for a spot in the rotation. Look for nothing but good things to come from this rising star.
SP - Anthony Reyes - Flat brim, high socks. Old school. Reyes filled in throughout the year for missing starters, and went back to the minors when he was told, too. After a solid postseason, Dave Duncan wants to keep this kid around. Sure, he's not the flashiest player, but he's a quality pitcher who will continue to improve the more he has a chance to play in a winning system like St. Louis.
SP - Kip Wells - Like I mentioned above, Wells had only nine starts last year with Pittsburgh and Texas. But if he stays healthy, he's a guy who can be your four or five spot in the rotation. Don't expect the greatest numbers, but he is someone who can throw the ball for seven innings, which is always good.
SP - Braden Looper - Of all the pitchers here, he's most likely to be the Cards go-to guy in the bullpen for long relief. I'm not sold on Looper as a starter, but as a fresh arm when games go awry, or to setup for the closer, I think he'd fit in well. But he'll compete for the rotation. If he works out, more power to him, but I'm not sold on Looper starting. Of course, there are other relievers battling for his spot, like Brad Thompson and Ryan Franklin, but he's probably the frontrunner of them right now. We'll see how things shape up.
Closer - Jason Isringhausen - Last year we saw a very fallible Jason Isringhausen, walking far too many batters, loading the bases, blowing saves, etc. This was not the closer Cards fans were accustomed to seeing. Lucky for us he got hurt and was replaced by Wainwright, who filled in wonderfully. I expect the Cards to give Isringhausen this season to get his act together. I hope he does, otherwise we'll be looking at a new closer come 2008.

Yes, I know I'm missing all the relief pitchers, but La Russa still has many moves to make until the season begins. The Cardinals have had a deep bullpen in years past, and each year brings new faces, so let's just get familiar with these guys later, yes? We'll tackle the outfield and bench players in our next edition of AtH. Vaya con dios, fellow Redbird fans.

The Seedy Side of Selebrity

Okay, so you may not like celebrities and all that gossip and paparazzi and shallowness that surrounds most of them, but I know what you DO love: watching celebrities fall from grace.

Enter The Superficial. Basically, their goal is to show the worst our famous, talentless hacks have to offer, bring it to light, and make oh so much fun of it. It's a very cool site. Be prepared for an overdose of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Britney Spears, but also be prepared to see them get ripped apart. Funny, funny stuff.

Have You Sniffed Your Dollar Today?

Take out a dollar bill. Look at it. See anything funny? Chances are it may contain cocaine.

Whether it was used to actually sniff the Peruvian dancing powder or not, the residue from cocaine is so fine that when it comes in contact with other bills, money counters, or cash drawers, it can spread to the other bills. Plus, dollar bills are very fibrous, when cocaine touches the bill, it embeds itself very easliy.

So sure, there may only be a nanogram on Washington's face, but it's just one more interesting aspect to the journey our money takes. Cool, eh? That's all.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Around the Horn, Part One - Infield: Man, Those Corners Are Hottt!

I've been putting this post off, not wanting to start getting giddy about the Cardinals too early. But now with pitchers and catchers reporting, I think it's time. *glee* Well, that, and I've joined a group called MLB Bloggers, so I guess I should try posting some baseball goodness.

So with Spring Training a little more than ten days away, and the first game of their repeat Championship season beginning on April 3 against the Mets (which reminds me, I need to buy my MLB.TV pass), I think it's time we get familiar with our Redbirds, so let's go around the horn:

Fitst, let's look at the infield.

1B - Albert Pujols - What is there to say about Albert Pujols that hasn't already been said about the bomb we dropped on Hiroshima? After winning his first Gold Glove last year, along with a .331 avg, 49 HR, 177 hits, and 137 RBI, Albert continues to get better with each year, if that was still possible. With him signed through 2010, who knows, Cardinal fans may see him hit 100 HR in a season. Okay, maybe not, but this perennial MVP candidate really is the cat's meow.
2B - Adam Kennedy - Eckstein's teammate from the Angels when they won the World Series,
Kennedy was signed for a three-year deal with the Cardinals, bringing chemsitry and familiarity to the double-play combination. In year's past, the Cardinals have had a bit of a merry-go-round at second base, but still continued to execute a decent number of double plays, ringing in 170 last year. Look for that number to increase if Kennedy becomes a fixture at second. With numbers of .273, 123 hits, and 55 RBI, he should provide a decent bat in the lineup, wherever he's placed (we'll see how spring goes).
SS - David Eckstein - I'm sure Mr. Eckstein has looked stylish speeding down 270 and 40 in his new Corvette, the gift for being last year's World Series MVP. And he earned it. A sentimental favorite for the Cardinals, Eckstein plays with all his heart, hustling every play and not afraid to sacrifice his body. As a leadoff man, he can get on base. With only 41 Ks last year, along with a .350 OBP and .292 avg., he gives the rest of the lineup a chance to make plays and move him around the bases. Defensively, while he doesn't have the strongest arm, he has a wide range for a small player. With Adam Kennedy at second, look for the two to have a solid defensive year. And look for Eckstein to hit above .300 this year.
3B - Scott Rolen - And we come to the hottest of corners, Scott Rolen. Winning his seventh Gold Glove and in the running for Comeback Player of the Year in '06, Rolen had a great seaon, hitting .296, with 22 HR, 95 RBI, and 48 doubles. If he stays healthy, the Cardinals have the best corner tandem, bar none. Scottifer has always been one of my favorites, and watching him make diving catches, throwing from his knees, and throwing runners out at first while doing handstands, we're watching probably the best defensive third baseman, and maybe the best overall, of our generation. Injuries aside, look for another Gold Glove from Mr. Rolen and hopefully a little more offensive output. Of course, should he or Pujols go down or need rest, Scott Spiezio and his mighty red soul patch can fill their spot in a pinch (but more on him and the rest of the benchies later).
C - Jadier Molina - After the Cardinals let Mike Matheney go to the Giants, I was quite sad. Matheney was a defensive force behind the plate, but instead they bring in this Jadier Wholina? Oh wait, did he just throw a guy out at first who wasn't paying attention? Oh snap! Seriously, I had never seen that before until Molina and his rocket arm squatted behind home. This man keeps baserunners honest, allowing only 39 stolen bases and catching 27 would-be theives last year. Okay sure, he had a forgettable offensive regular season, but for those who watched the postseason, they saw a Molina reborn. With a CLUTCH homer in Game 7 against the Mets and a huge .358 avg. throughout the playoffs, the entire city of St. Louis hopes that momentum carries over into 2007. But even if the bat is slow to start, expect Molina to continue to anchor the team with his solid catching. With another strong Cardinal lineup, he can disappear for a while and get away with it.

Well, that's all I got for now. Stay tuned in the next few days as I tackle the outfield and pitching staff, and maybe even some of the bench players (why not?).

April 3. I can't wait. I may go watch Game 5 from the WS now, just to start getting in the mood. GO CARDINALS!!!

This Peanut Butter Will Kill You!

Oh sure, it may look innocent and unassuming, but lying within its plastic container lies an extra-large serving of salmonella, rat poison, arsenic, and I think even a trace of Hitler's blood. Bad stuff.

Don't believe me? Well just ask Con Agra Foods:

Peter Pan Peanut Butter and Great Value Peanut Butter Products Beginning with Product Code 2111 Recalled for Possible Salmonella Contamination.

And here, as further proof of my proximity to this potentially fatal concoction of buttered peanut, is the lid of the above jar of peanut butter. You should be happy I lived to tell the tale.

(spooky, huh?)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Ain't No Party Like a Communist Party...

Cuz a Communist Party don't stop!

I'm sure that song was HUGE in 1988. Anywho, I found this while surfing Comrade Patrick's MySpace page and I hearted it mucho. And now it's here for you to enjoy. One question: do they share the alcohol equally? Because Mao looks like a boozehound. Just my thoughts.

Hail to the King, Baby

I had the day off work last Wednesday. Due to some faulty wiring, electricians had to spend the day getting us back up to code before one of us fried ourselves while warming up our coffee in the microwave. Thank the gods I'm still here.

You'll be glad to know I spent the day being completely unproductive. Save an early trip to the gym, I don't think I did much more than play Madden, write a little, and watch movies. But one of the movies I watched was one I had meant to get to for awhile, starring the super-chinned and super-awesome Bruce Campbell.

The movie was Bubba Ho-Tep, and for those who are unfamiliar with it, the premise is that an aged Elvis is living out his days in an East Texas rest home and must battle a 3000-year-old mummy who is preying on the souls of the home's residents. Oh, and a black JFK helps him along the way. The movie pretty much writes itself.

Bruce Campbell is great in this movie about what Elvis has really been doing these last 30 years and how he ended up where he did. And for those who have watched, and subsequently enjoyed, Bubba Ho-Tep, you may have heard they're coming out with a prequel: Bubba Nosferatu and the Curse of the She Vampires, which finds Elvis shooting a film in Louisiana before happening upon a coven of she-vampires. Cinematic gold. Here's the trailer to the Bubba Ho-Tep for a better idea of what I'm talking about.

And for more Bruce Campbell lub, head over to Error 204 for a couple of fun posts, including an Old Spice commercial with one of the coolest paintings ever.

It's a Trick, Get an Axe
Bruce Campbell Has It

The Great, Grand, Glorious YouTube Debut

And we net a profit of $200. Sweet deal for two hours of work.

Many of you got either an email or bulletin today from me about a video my friend Eric and I did for a contest from the CW, a local TV station. He had to make a commercial promoting The King of Queens, possibly winning a trip to L.A. to view a taping and meet the cast. Now myself, I've never really watched the show, but my friend LOVES it. As do the Germans, so I'm told. Hence, the horrible accents.

I do apologize for the rushed nature with which you received the message. Apparently the contest ended at 5:00 today and the video wasn't put on there until around noon. So we had to get the word out, and I did the best I could while at work. What can I say, y'all came through.

Thanks to everyone who visited it/promoted it/passesd it along. With your visits we won the $200 runner-up prize. Sadly, we won't be going to L.A., but I promise the money will be used on only the finest booze and hookers Albuquerque has to offer (although I was looking forward to making out with Leah Renimi).

And for those (un?)fortunate souls who missed the silliness, here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, February 05, 2007

This Is What It Feels Like When Red Corvettes Cry Purple Rain in 1999 While Going Crazy and Wearing Seven Raspberry Berets.

Whew. I could go on, but you get the point. Anywho...

Well fooligans, I was right. Kinda. But if I had made a bet yesterday, I would have lost, because I thought the Bears would lose but cover the spread. Little did I know Rex Grossman freaks out at the sight of rain. Okay, that’s unfair, he had a pretty decent game, but the Bears offense was too afraid to make big plays down the field. Once Devin Hester ran that kick back in the opening seconds (which was awesome), it seemed the Bears were content to just to sit back and play small ball. And where was Brian Urlacher during the second half?

I'm sure you all watched the game, no need to rehash. Besides, you can read and watch highlights ad nauseous on ESPN/SI/CBS Sports/Sporting News/etc. Plus, I didn’t really care who won, but I was happy to see the Colts hoist the trophy, there are a lot of players on there I really like (Peyton, Harrison, Bob Sanders, Dwight Freeney…).

But the show I was looking forward to seeing was Prince’s halftime show. Okay, it’s not the same Prince who oozed ambiguous sex back in the late 80s, but being a big Prince fan, I was looking forward to the halftime show, which I think is the first time…well, ever. I don’t know if any of you saw the Rolling Stones wheeze their way through the halftime show last year, but it truly was a sad sight. And people pay hundreds of dollars to see these geriatrics attempt to rock.

But I digress. Prince. Rocked. Damn. He crammed a bunch of good music into a short time, leading off with “Let’s Go Crazy,” "Baby, I'm a Star," and inserting parts of “Proud Mary," "All Along the Watchtower," and "Best of You," before finishing with “Purple Rain” in the middle of pouring rain. Very cool. I was hoping one of the dancers (who were taller than Prince, but that’s not hard to do) would slip on the stage and eat it on national TV, but alas, they kept their footing. I still really liked the show, though. Even in the rain, Prince sounded great and played the hell out of his guitar. Rock.

And for those who flipped to the Lingerie Bowl, Puppy Bowl, or found something productive to do during halftime, here it is, in two-part harmony (which is odd, but all I could find. meh.). Enjoy.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Super Bowl. Puppy Bowl.

Who ya got?

Tomorrow's the big game and probably the biggest unofficial holiday in America. Personally, I lost a lot of excitement once the Chargers lost, but I think this is shaping up to be a good game. With the Colts offense and the Bears defense, it really hinges on which team shows up tomorrow. It can go either way, but I like the Colts. Not by much, but I think Peyton will find a way to squeak past that swarming Chicago defense. Granted, I watched Chicago come back against the Cardinals solely due to their defense, but that was against the Cardinals. I just hope it will be a good game: not a big blowout, but not another repeat of the Colts-Ravens divisional (15-6. Woo.).

But the game I can't wait to watch is happening at the same time on Animal Planet (but they'll be showing it all day long, I'm sure). I speak, of course, about Puppy Bowl III. Yes, you read it right. I watched this last year after I was flipping around the channels post-game. For those with no prior knowledge of Puppy Bowl, it's three hours of puppies playing in a small play area painted up as a stadium, set to light, childish music. That's it. Three hours. Puppies playing.

Oh, and every now and then a referee comes in and throws flags for penalties, like if a puppy bites another puppy's ear, or if he poops on the playing field, and there's also a camera in the water bowl so you can watch a puppy refresh itself. Three hours of this. Then a repeat.

Give it a watch; I kept going back to it last year, just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating and actually seeing three hours of puppies playing. I'll probably do the same this year. You can also go to the website and vote for your MVP. Personally, my money is on the chow. Sure, she's cute, but underneath that hairy facade lies the heart of a warrior. I can feel it. Enjoy the games everyone.