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!!!


Au$10 said...

Booyah, dude. Boo. Yah. And the Cards are playing FOUR games in Atlanta this year. That shit is the fire, I tell ye...

Grego said...

En fuego!! I'm totally psyched for this year. That should be fun watching them sweep the Braves at Turner. Oh yeah.