Cardinals Implosion and what to do next

The first thing that Cardinal fans have to do is to take a deep breath. The 6 game losing streak is not good, but the situation with Yadi is of the most concern. I have made a couple of comments about the handling of Molina by Matheny on a couple of Bernies columns in today’s post.  I also have the comments on my face book page.

I am going to explain what I would do if I was Matheny. If you have read my articles on my website you will see that I am very creative.

What Mike should have done after yesterdays DH sweep by the Pirates was to tell the guys to go home and relax. They need to get a good night’s rest and be ready to play some Cardinal baseball on Wednesday.

It is important for Mike to appear calm and to keep the players relaxed and focused on what they need to do in the game. The players need to prepare as if this is just a regular game and to forget what has happened the last few days.

After the game on Wednesday he needs to call a pre game meeting for Thursday. He needs to take charge and let the guys know they are a lot better baseball players than how they have been playing  in the last few games.  He needs to look at them and say we are all going to work our rears off at practice to get our game where it should be. Mike needs to also stress all the positives and compliment them on how happy he is with their play up until this little detour! At the end of the meeting he tells them to be prepared to work tomorrow.

Personal note – When I was in the dirt if we had a game that we didn’t field well, guess what we worked hard at in practice? It is the same with hitting and the other parts of the game. I loved practice more than the game, that is where the real players shine in preparation. Here are a couple of articles that can make a difference in the way the game is played in the major leagues. I talked to Joe Garagiola Jr.  in the MLB office a couple of years ago and he told me most MLB teams don’t take infield practice before games. Check out this article on this subject-http://baseballcommentary.com/2013/03/mlb-needs-to-start-taking-infield-practice/  This article is about how MLB needs to improve the way they take pregame batting practice.-    http://baseballcommentary.com/2013/03/mlb-pregame-batting-practice/

I found out the Cardinals do not have a good old fashion infield practice the coaches just hit grounders while the hitters are hacking away! I wish they could have seen how I ran my infield practice; the players just loved it and enjoyed the challenge. You push and repeat, repeat and repeat some more. I have refined the infield practice to get the players more work. You can never get too many ground balls.  This is how you get in the groove in baseball.

Here is some input on what to do with certain players and how to get them back in the groove. Craig needs to get into the cage and relax and concentrate on hitting the ball to the right side. Holiday is close to breaking out and that is exactly what he is doing, pounding the ball to the right side. When you concentrate on hitting the ball to the opposite field in the cage and on the field, it makes you stay on the ball longer. This is what should be done with Jay, hit the ball to left field. His past says he is a slap hitter that uses the whole field.  Kozma is just missing the ball and would benefit by using the beans or small ball procedure in my hitting program. My players always said that after using the beans or the small balls that it made the baseball look larger. http://baseballcommentary.com/2013/03/the-best-hitting-program-in-america-3/

There are two problems that I see in the future and one is not having a strong #2 in the rotation. We need to hope that Lynn and or Miller will step up and be that person. The other is the Yadi situation, he is irreplaceable.

Mike needs to be optimistic and push the guys to be the best they can be. There is so much in between the ears, even at this level of play.

Bob Brown

White Sox – Royals Game 7-27-13

I was watching the White Sox and Royals game and a couple of plays caught my attention. One of the plays should not happen in a major league game. The other was a repeat of a play in the post season of 2012 between the Cardinals and the Giants.

The first situation had Alex Rios on third base with less than two outs. Jeff Keppinger is the batter and he hits a hard sinking line drive in front of the Royals right fielder David Lough. He comes dashing in and dives and makes a great catch and is rolling around on the ground afterwards. Then he gets up and throws the ball to home plate, and to my astonishment Rios never tagged up on this play and did not score. I was shocked as was the announcers because this shouldn’t happen in high school ball.

Rios was half way down the line and didn’t have time to get back and tag up to score. What needs to be understood is the ball was deep enough if the ball is caught the runner has to be tagging up or very close to the bag.

The only time there can be some confusion is on shallow pop ups to the outfield. In these situations there is a need to give this some practice time. A good rule of thumb is if the outfielder is coming in and he catches the ball. His motion is coming towards home plate and there is a chance that the runner will not be able to tag up and score.  It is a different story if the infielder is running out to catch the pop up. His motion is going out to the outfield and he has to stop and plant and then make his throw. There is a real good chance of scoring on this play.

The next play had Adam Dunn on first base with less than two outs. There was a ground ball hit to the left side and the Royals attempted to turn the double play. Dunn is running hard and slides over the bag and nails Chris Getz, and he breaks up the double play. Getz got barreled into pretty good and shakes it off. The announcers call it a good all out play by Adam Dunn to break up the double play. I agree that it was a very good all out hustling play by Dunn!

My point is this was no different than what happened in the playoffs in 2012 between the Giants and the Cardinals. Matt Holiday was on first and a grounder was hit to the left side and the Giants attempted to turn the double play. Holiday did the same as Dunn and barreled over Marco Scutaro. A large number of the press was all over Holiday, but it was his responsibility to break up the double play. In this situation the runner on first is all geared up and saying to himself, that they will not turn two with me running!

My next point is the players take care of issues like this on the diamond. I am not sure but I think Holiday got hit by a pitch in the series to even things up. Guess what that is baseball!

Bob Brown

Tom Herr Cardinal Second baseman

The Cardinals of the 1980s had a very good defensive infield and was led by Ozzie Smith. But the glue and clubhouse leader was Tommy Herr. Tom was a switch hitting second baseman that sprayed the ball to all fields. He was a very good fielder and could turn the double play with the best of them.

Tom played 13 years in the show and had a career batting average of 271. He was a very good hit and run man and could also steal a base. This was all being accomplished with some bad knees. I always thought he could have been a much better player if his knees were sound. His game was his speed and athleticism. There was one thing that Herr was not good at was going into the outfield to catch short fly balls.  He was a very good athlete but was lacking in this part of the game. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/herrto01.shtml

Tom had a career year in 1985 when he hit 302 and had 110 runs batted in and only hit 8 home runs! After this he went back to his regular numbers and for his career had just this one year of hitting over 300.

Tom Herr was a true Cardinal and I always enjoyed watching him play the game! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Herr

Bob Brown

 

Bill Buckner One of my Favorites

Billy Buck is one of my favorite players of all time! He was a left handed hitter and fielder. He had a major league career of 22 seasons and played for 5 different teams. My fondest memories of Bill are his time with the Dodgers and the Cubs. He was able to muscle up and hit 174 home runs in his career and hit a solid 289. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/bucknbi01.shtml

When he first arrived on the scene with the Dodgers he could run, hit and throw. He had the speed to cut the off and run down the balls in the gaps and to also steal bases. He was the popular Dodger left fielder and then unfortunately he hurt his ankle. He was never the same afterwards, and was limited to playing first base the rest of his career. I have always wondered how much better of a player Bill would have been if he didn’t mess up his ankle.

I considered Bill a real professional how he handled himself on and off the field. He is what I call a professional hitter because he had patience and would use the whole field to his advantage. He always gave it all on the field and never cheated the game. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Buckner

Bob Brown

Willie McGee a Fan Favorite

Willie played 18 years in the Big Show and 13 years with the Cardinals. Willie was a lifetime 295 hitter that had great speed.http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/mcgeewi01.shtml

I really liked Willie as a person; he was soft spoken and wouldn’t say too much. Ozzie Smith took Willie under his wing and became a mentor for him. When Willie would smile you knew everything was right.

You have to understand I am a fundamental enthusiast about how the game should be played. This is the reason I started Big Dog Baseball USA to improve the quality of the game.

With that said, Willie drove me crazy! He would get you so excited with a big hit or play and then make you mad with a stupid play. When he would make a bad play, he would hang his head and sulk. I always felt so sorry for him, but man he  could he mess up.

Back in the 80s the Cardinals played on some real bouncy artificial turf. I would see Willie rushing in to do his best to catch the blooper. But he would get too close to the fallen ball and it would bounce over his head. He would chase after the ball and then he would sulk and I would feel sorry for him! I have seen Willie miss the relay man so often and this just drove me nuts! He would also over run a base and get picked off.

He should have had an inside the park home run in a World Series game, but stopped at third base because he never picked up his third base coach. I can still see him clapping his hands because he was happy with the triple.

Willie at bat was always a real adventure and was not fun to watch. He was unorthodox and was a big time free swinger. He would hit pitches that were out of the strike zone for triples. If the pitcher was up on the count and Willie had two strikes, just throw a hook in the dirt, and he would swing and strike out.

I loved watching Willie run the bases and go for a triple or from first to home.  He was always very good because of his speed in covering the gaps.

Willie won gold gloves and was an Allstar a couple of times. He always gave all when on the diamond and was a huge fan favorite! The fans would be chanting Willie in clutch situations, and he would come through quite often.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_McGee

Willie you were fun to watch and I am glad you were a Cardinal!

Bob Brown

Baseball Massage Therapist

M.T. Professionals,

I have a baseball business that has former MLB and MILB players as writers. http://baseballcommentary.com/write-for-us/ We will have writers from all over the country promoting and teaching the game. There will be a similar program for business owners who want to report on the game in their community.

I have discussed what I want to do with your AMTA association and got a very good response. This is an opportunity to expand what you are currently doing and to make a difference in the game of baseball. Read this article on the subject- http://baseballcommentary.com/2013/05/professional-baseball-and-pitch-counts/

With your help we can work to have MT Pros in all of the MLB and MILB dugouts. This can really help your industry and also help the game of baseball. Part of the training for your field could be working with high school and college programs. We can do this and I can use your help. I am getting a lot of connections and I will do my best to help your industry to work hand in hand with professional baseball.

There is more we are going to do for your industry! This program will include many in your field and will give the participants a lot of exposure to increase their business!

Number one is I want to find one person that will write for Big Dog Baseball USA.  This professional will write articles about massage therapy and will also represent us in our dealings with professional baseball.  He or she will be working with me to get our program into the game. Another responsibility will be to represent and promote business to the other MT Pros in the country.

We now get to the part where this program will go country wide! There will be a limited number of MT Pro Writers. They will need to be self employed and will need to write between 1-4 articles a month. The articles will be about your field and to show your personality and willingness to help others. Our MT’S will be grouped into states and then when more come on we will go to counties.  I will do my best to not crowd our professionals.

Big Dog Baseball USA will be receiving a lot of exposure all over the country. Our former players writing articles will give us a lot of attention.

The cost for our professionals to be involved in this very unique program is $100.00 a year. This is a great deal and I will need some help and your expertise to assure success.  Send me an email and let me know you want to be involved, in this excellent opportunity!  I will have a pay pal button up soon and a registration form.

Thanks

Bob Brown

573-308-9999

Ken Reitz Cardinal

Kenny was one of my favorite players on the Cardinal teams of the 70s. He was fiery, worked hard and would do anything to win. At the plate he was a free swinger that didn’t have a lot of patience. To translate he would not get many walks but got his share of strike outs. He would get madder than heck when he would strike out, which kind of humored me!

Reitz was known for his glove at third base, and was given the name of “The Zamboni” I believe Mike Shannon gave him the name. He had the best pair of hands of any third baseman and his throws were always chest high for Hernandez. Reitz only won a gold glove in 1975 and the reason for this is a guy called Mike Schmidt was winning the rest. Reitz would field any ball that he could reach, but that was the problem he didn’t have the range of a Schmidt.

Kenny was not fleet of foot, matter of fact he was extremely slow. I use to joke about having Reitz run a foot race with the football Cardinal quarterback at the time Jim Hart.

I remember some interviews on TV and Kenny was always very entertaining. I recall one where he was chewing on some gum like a mad man.

He had one season that he started out on fire and was hitting like a big dog. I mean he was hitting over 400 for a couple of months into the season. He had the stroke and was hitting the ball to right field and using the whole field like a good hitter does. Reitz did an interview on TV and was asked if he could hit 400 this year? His reply was heck I have never hit 300!

He would start out a season and hit well, but would always finish around the 270 mark. I always wished he would have stayed more within himself and just hit the ball up the middle or to right field and occasionally pull the ball. I think the grind of a long season and his intensity hurt his hitting later in the season.

I met him once in the old Schnucks store at Woodsmill and Clayton Road. He was there with his wife and I enjoyed our conversation. I worked in the produce department at that time. Kenny thanks for the memories of your time as a Cardinal!  http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/r/reitzke01.shtml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Reitz

Bob Brown

George Hendrick a Different Kind of Guy

George was a first round pick of Oakland in 1968 and had an 18 year career in the Big Show. The best years of his baseball career was spent with the Cardinals from 1978 – 1984. In the 7 years with the Cards he hit 122 home runs and had a batting average of 294. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/h/hendrge01.shtml

When George was drafted there was a comparison to Hank Aaron because he was a wrist hitter and would hit off his front foot. They looked alike except George was tall and very lanky.

I will tell you he danced to his own music and would not give in to others. The press would try to interview him but he cut them off after getting some bad ink, and said he will not talk to writers in the future. He was a man of his word and he did not give anymore interviews.

This is when he was given the name of Silent George! I am pretty sure Jack Buck gave him the name because he would not give him an interview. The nickname was picked up by the press and the Cardinal fans used it when addressing this different kind of guy!

I remember George in a Cardinal uniform as being very entertaining. He would wear his pants all the way down to his spikes; this is when all the players had high socks. You couldn’t help but laugh when you saw him run with his arms up high and pumping like crazy. Then you add in his long and lanky body. Nobody could smile like George, when he would get a double and stand on second base with the big toothy grin, you knew all was right!

Jack Buck was announcing the Cardinals game and George was on first base. Hendrick never took big leads, because he didn’t want to move to fast to get back to the bag. Here is George taking his normal lead, of about 2 feet, and Jack says now George don’t get too far off the bag you will get picked off!  Guess what happened, he got picked off! I didn’t like it but you had to laugh, it was good humor!

This man was an outfielder and to watch him pumping his arms and tracking down drives in the gaps was a real treat. George played centerfield and right field for the Cardinals. The memories I have of George is mainly as a right fielder. Most right fielders or should I say all right fielders when leaving their position would jog to the dugout. No not George, he would lumber over to the bullpen, because it was closer! You have to understand he was a different kind of guy! I am sure that he mixed in real well with the bullpen bunch. From what I have read and heard these gentlemen are all a little different also.

The press didn’t really care for George because he quit giving interviews. The fans like him because of George being George! I have heard a lot of former Cardinals speaking of George as a great teammate. I have heard Al Hrabosky say this numerous times.

I have left the best for last! I was at a ballgame and was sitting behind home plate way up at the top. We were playing the Pirates and Big John Candelaria was hurling for Pittsburgh. Things were getting kind of rough, there was some batters being hit by pitches. What ended up happening was Candelaria hit a Cardinal hitter and all heck broke out! I am watching all the action and all of a sudden I see George with a headlock around Pirate Bill Madlock. Here is George with a huge smile on his face and he is acting like he is punching Madlock in the face! Hendrick is about 4 inches taller than Bill and it was a sight! Then after George had his share of Bill in the headlock, it was time to reverse this little event. So next is George in a headlock and Madlock pretending to punch Smiling George in the face! This was excellent humor!

I think I noticed George coaching first base in the Majors and I wish him a lot of luck. He gave a lot of Cardinal fans a reason to smile!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Hendrick

Bob Brown

Ted Simmons HOF ?

Ted played 13 years with the Cardinals and 21 years in total. Simmons was a hitting machine that had a quick bat and was short to the ball. Ted is one of the best switch hitters to ever play major league baseball. He came up to the Big Leagues at the age of 18 and was the starting catcher at the age of 21 in 1971 for the St. Louis Cardinals.

The shortfall that Simmons had was he wasn’t a real good defensive catcher. This is a position like shortstop, defense is number one. Catcher is the most demanding position to play in all of sports. Ted played almost every game for years with the Cardinals, and I can only imagine what kind of hitter he could have been if he wasn’t a catcher.

I remember Simmons with his long hair flowing as he was running the bases and his total effort to play the game the right way. I remember a game that I was at in Wrigley when he tried to stretch a double into a triple and got thrown out. He was not fleet of foot!

In the 13 years as a Cardinal he was our best hitter and the leader on the team. In his time with the Cardinals he had an average of 298 and an OBP of 366. http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/simmote01.shtml

Simmons is so close to being a Hall of Famer and I can understand both sides on whether he should be in the Hall. If I had a vote, Mr. Simmons would be a Hall of Famer.

Bob Brown

Cardinals All Star Break 2013

This Cardinal team of 2013 success stems from the whole organization. The front office all the way down to the coaches in the farm system. Included in this also is the scouting department that is responsible for drafting major league talent in the middle to late rounds.

I am a huge fan of scouting and even more of player development. I love player development and the Cardinals have taken this to the next level. The organization before the season started was rated number one by Baseball America in all of the major leagues.

There have been some injuries with the major league club and all that Mo has to do is wave his wand and bring up a power pitcher. I have never seen a club as successful at the top level and to also have such a good farm system.

Matheny naming Boggs as the closer was the proper decision at the time because of his success the year before. I was all for this and felt that Boggs was going to be a very capable closer after Motte went on the DL and had Tommy John surgery. Boggs was not the answer and was sent down to the minors to find his control.

The organization made a decision to bring Boggs back up to the big club. I couldn’t believe they brought him up at this time because he had not found his control. His last appearance he got slapped around real good! This was a bad decision by the club and they should have known better.  Boggs at the major league level proceeded to fail and was sent down and finally traded. I hope that Boggs will get himself together and find success.

Another mistake that should not have been made was with David Freese.  He managed to hurt his back in spring training and wasn’t able to play. He missed considerable time and was set to rehab in the minors to prepare for the season. Freese played a couple of games and the organization decided to have him with the team on opening day.  I was shocked as he could have been kept in the minors on rehab for as long as a month. “I think I am correct on the amount of time.” This was a no brainer to keep Freese down on the farm for a minimum of a couple of weeks. He had a terrible time and it hurt the club, and he had to try to get his timing at the major league level.

The starting staff was lead by Wainwright, and followed by Lynn, Garcia, Westbrook, and rookie Shelby Miller. Garcia got injured early and was replaced by an assortment of rookie pitchers. This was all fine and dandy early in the season as the young pitchers had success, but the boat started to leak with Miller and Lynn having some rough outings. To make matters worse Westbrook had to go on the DL. Joe Kelly is now our fifth starter and is capable of being a good major league pitcher.

The staff to start the second half is Wainwright, Lynn, Miller, Westbrook and Kelly. We also have Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez in the wings ready to step up if needed.

I have a big concern of going into the post season with only Wainwright as a proven post season winner on the staff. The number two is Lance Lynn and he has been very inconsistent but has a very good record because of getting a lot of run support.  In the playoffs there is a need to have a strong number one and number two in order to advance to the World Series. This does not say that Lynn or Miller will not step up, because the talent is there.

Chris Carpenter is trying to come back and pitch in the stretch run. Here is an article I wrote that will explain what his role should be-http://baseballcommentary.com/2013/07/chris-carpenter-and-his-role-for-2013-and-beyond/

Mo has been looking at Matt Garza and I think this would be a very good move. But do not give up any of the top prospects for a player that could be a rent a player as this is his walk year.

Our relief pitching looks solid with the Chief, Rosenthal and the rest of the bullpen making solid contributions.

The offense in the first half has been a huge plus as the clutch hitting has been the best in baseball. It is lead by several players Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holiday and Yadi Molina. I don’t know if the team can keep up the pace that they set in the first half. It is a high bar and to reach that bar would be quite amazing!

The Cardinals have three hitters that are worth the price of admission, Craig, Molina and Carpenter. These guys are professional hitters and if you are a hitting coach have your hitters observe these players at the plate. It is a real treat for me to watch these guys use the whole field and work the pitcher.

The second half I expect our hitters to keep up the good pace and for David Freese and Matt Holiday to really have good second halves.

Matt Adams is going to be a real good baseball player. I saw Matt a couple of years ago down in Springfield, and came away very impressed! He was short to the ball and with quick hands. Defensively I had him figured as average or just above. The national baseball people never gave Matt a lot of ink as an up and rising star. I had him rated to be a very good player and with power to all fields.

Pete Kozma is a player that I thought was going to be a solid contributor this year. I was correct up to a couple of weeks ago. His average got up to about 275 and it has been nose diving since. Pete is a very solid defender and should play just for his good defense. I had him figured to hit between 260- 270 and to be a good above average shortstop. We all have to hope that he will get out of his funk and start to make contributions on offense.

Ryan Jackson was rated higher than Kozma last year until Pete had a great late season and then proceeded to have a good spring.  Jackson is an option as he is doing very well in Memphis, and will get the call up if Kozma fails to hit.

I have always been a fan of Jon Jay but on a good team he is your fourth outfielder. He is in a serious funk and has been that way all year except for one hot streak. It is obvious to me he is trying to pull everything, when he is hitting well he is spraying the ball all over the field.

I predicted before the season started that the Reds were going to win our division because of their pitching staff and good solid defense. Ludwick got hurt and then his replacement Chris Heisey got injured.  Johnny Cueto is on the DL and was on the list earlier in the season. The Reds have other pitching injuries that have hit them this season.

The Pirates are just one game behind us and are playing very well. I predicted they would be above 500 for the year and this would be from the strength of their young pitching. I don’t think they can hold up to the end and compete with the Cardinals. The Pirates don’t have the hitting and depth of the Cardinals.

The Cardinals will be battling with the Reds for the central division into the final week of the season. This current team is very good and with a couple a little tweaks will win the division and advance to the World Series. I would like to see one strong starting experienced pitcher to give the Cards a number two for the post season run.   

Bob Brown