Thursday, April 27, 2006

Inspired by an argument I was in last night...

Is using performance-enhancing drugs cheating more than a pitcher doctoring the baseball? Both are illegal under the rules.

I maintain that doctoring the baseball is nowhere near the level of steroid use simply because no pitcher can successfully scuff every ball they throw to every hitter during every at-bat. A player who is on steroids has an unfair advantage every time he steps into the box. A pitcher who puts a little moisture on the ball or can scrape a rough spot is taking a much bigger risk of getting caught, since the ump is handling every ball he throws, and therefore there's no way to do it on every pitch.

Are they both cheating? Yes. The thing is, though, a hitter knows when he steps into the box that the pitcher COULD scuff a ball if he thinks he needs that edge during that at-bat, but it's not a guarantee. A pitcher doesn't have that luxury when a hitter on steroids comes to the plate. When Giambi, Bonds, Palmeiro or Canseco stepped into the box, their cheating was already in effect. There's no way to decide not to use steroid-enhanced strength. That's why they're different: steroid users cheat every time they step onto the field.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Fantasy baseball is a harsh mistress.

Somehow, I lead the league in strikeouts, but am in the bottom half of every other pitching category. And let's not even get into how awful my offense has been (next to last in RBIs? What is that?)

I really wish TLR and Dave Duncan would decide if Carp or Soup is starting today. Moonman and the Cards' site say it's Carp, but Yahoo is reporting that Soup will get the start. I'm betting on Carp, since today would be on regular rest, thanks to the off day last Thursday.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Which guys do you think have been on steroids, and why?

- Kevin Millar: suddenly became a decent power hitter, but last season lost any ability to drive the ball (and wasn't injured.)

- Eric Gagne: Failed starter who becomes a shutdown closer only to break down spectacularly when steroid testing started in earnest.

- Brady Anderson: could be really juiced balls that one year, but guys don't come out of nowhere with a 40-HR season and then lose it the next year.

- Barry Bonds: I think this one's fairly self-explanatory.

- Roger Clemens: The rumor was going around last year that he'd tested positive. His breakdown over the last couple of months of the season seemed to be more than just an old pitcher wearing out, and it would certainly explain how he was able to maintain his velocity as well as he did.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

3 games, 3 wins. That's how you start a season.

This weekend is the first meeting with the Flubs, at Juicy Fruit Field. Fortunately, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior won't be starting, so the Cards have a good chance of winning at least 2 games. Sunday night's game is on ESPN, which means we get graced with the dulcet tones of Jon Miller and the rage-inducing tones of Joe Morgan.

Don't get me wrong: Joe Morgan was a great second baseman. His announcing, however, is pretty much the exact opposite of his playing career. He can't keep names straight, he stumbles over every other sentence and offers no insight into what happens on the field. He's Tim McCarver with slightly less brain damage.

A surprise in the ESPN booth this year, however, has been Orel Hershiser. He really dazzled me with his ability to explain not only a pitcher's thinking but also how fielders react in different situations and the ways they handle specific plays.

Fantasy baseball whinings:

* Barry Zito, one more start like that last one and you are dead to me.

* Timmy, Timmy, Timmy... don't make me hate on a knuckler.

* Memo to Boston Red Sox: why did you trade for Wily Mo if you aren't going to use him EVER?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

C - Yadi Molina has had a solid spring, and looks like he could start hitting a bit more this year, thanks to working with Albert Pujols on his swing. Gary Bennett will attempt to be a credible backup, and Michel Hernandez will get some seasoning at Memphis while he waits to see if he gets a backup role.

1B - Albert Pujols is peaking at just the right time, and looks to be on his way to another NL MVP-caliber season. Not a lot of backup for him, though, unless Brian Daubach gets called up.

2B - This is the first of the question marks for the Cards, with Aaron Miles getting the nod right now over a struggling Junior Spivey. Miles has traditionally been a pretty light hitter with an average glove, while Spivey may be released if the front office finds someone else on the trade market.

3B - Scott Rolen's had a pretty good spring, but there are some doubts about just how solid his shoulder is. Most of his hits have been singles, and he's had problems handling inside pitching.

SS - David Eckstein enters his second year as a Cardinal much as he started last year: not highly thought of for his defense, but a decent leadoff hitter. His lack of arm is a bit of a liability for the Cardinal infield, but if he can turn double plays roughly as well as last season, he'll be more than adequate.

LF - A huge unknown going into the season, as the strategy appears to be left field-by-committee. So Taguchi, John Rodriguez and Skip Schumaker can all expect to see time in left, and this will probably be the target area at the trade deadline.

CF - Jim Edmonds is another year older, and he's coming off his worst non-injury offensive year. He's going to have to stay healthy and at least maintain his production to warrant being re-signed.

RF - Juan Encarnacion is the starter, but there's a chance he may give way to other members of the LF platoon at times. He's slotted to bat #2, which means he's going to have to cut down on his strikeouts and work on some situational hitting. He has a career .986 FP in right, which is identical to the man he's replacing, Larry Walker.

Starting rotation - Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter is the ace, with Mark Mulder, Jeff Suppan, Jason Marquis and Sidney Ponson backing him. With Anthony Reyes waiting in the wings at Memphis to take a spot, along with Adam Wainwright biding his time in the bullpen, there's a good chance one of the back 3 guys in the rotation could be dealt this summer.

Bullpen - Jason Isringhausen has improved his cutter even more, and should post his usual 40+ saves, assuming that the guys ahead of them do their jobs. Braden Looper has underperformed his big contract so far, while Ricardo Rincon will attempt to be the second lefty behind Randy Flores. Wainwright and Brad Thompson will be the middle relief.

This team should post 90+ wins and take the NL Central without serious trouble, barring injuries. The age and lack of production in the outfield will be the biggest problem, and a deal for a young outfielder should be a high priority.

Well, with a 2-1 loss to the Mets, the Cards' spring training is over. Final roster cuts have been made, and:

* Josh Hancock is the last bullpen pitcher, beating out Alan Benes and Brian Falkenborg.

* Aaron Miles will be the opening-day starter at 2B, meaning Junior Spivey's days in St. Louis could be numbered. He'll be on the bench right now because Hector Luna has options left, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's not gone within a couple of months.

* J-Rod's shoulder is bruised but structurally sound, and he may play Monday pending the outcome of Sunday's workout.

* Anthony Reyes News Alert: Reyes pitched the first 5 innings of a combined no-hitter for Memphis. However, the Norfolk Tides scored 3 runs on errors in the 9th to lose 5-3. Kinda takes the luster off the no-no.

* In other news, the Phils got David Dellucci from the Rangers for Robinson Tejeda and Jake Blalock, meaning that the Rangers sold high for very little and the Phils got an aging outfielder who was discussed as a stopgap for the Cards. Interesting note: Jake Blalock is the younger brother of Rangers 3B Hank Blalock.

A thorough analysis of the Cards roster will happen tomorrow, and I will definitely have an analysis of the opener Monday night.