Thursday, March 28, 2013

CFCL Bold Predictions: Postseason and awards

Today I'll wrap up the United Cardinals Bloggers March project with my predictions for the playoffs and awards. 

First off, is the playoffs.

Here are the playoff teams from each league, based on my projected standings:

American League

East - Tampa Bay Rays
Central - Detroit Tigers
West - LA Angels
Wild Cards - Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers

National League

East - Washington Nationals
Central - St. Louis Cardinals
West - SF Giants
Wild Cards - Cincinnati Reds, LA Dodgers

Based on the above, here is how I see the playoffs playing out:

Wild Cards

AL - Toronto over Texas
NL - Dodgers over Reds


Angels over Toronto
Tampa over Detroit


Nationals over Dodgers
Cardinals over Giants


Angels over Tampa


Cardinals over Nationals

World Series

Cardinals over Angels

Call me a homer, but I think the Cardinals have a much stronger team that most people give them credit for.  Last year they came within one game of going to the World Series for the second straight year and I think they can be even stronger this year.

Postseason Awards


Albert Pujols

Pujols had his year to adjust to the new league, now he is going to show them what he can really do.


Matt Kemp

The City of Los Angeles sweeps the MVP awards for both leagues.

AL Cy Young

Justin Verlander

David Price is great, but Verlander will take the prize.

NL Cy Young

Clayton Kershaw

R.A. Dickey is gone and Kershaw should regain his throne.

AL Rookie of the Year

Aaron Hicks

Hot spring carries over into the regular season for the Twins prospect.

NL Rookie of the Year

Kyuji Fujikawa

Fujikawa overtakes Carlos Marmol early to earn the closer role and doesn't look back.

So, there you have it.  Remember to check out the other Cardinals bloggers predictions at the United Cardinals Bloggers site.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

CFCL Bold Predictions: NL West

Today I take a look at the final division in my predictions for the United Cardinals Bloggers March project.  Previously I covered the American League, the NL East and the NL Central

Today its the NL West.  Here are my predicted standings:
  1. San Francisco Giants
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers (Wild Card - 2)
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. San Diego Padres
  5. Colorado Rockies
The Giants won the West by 8 games last year and I see no reason for that to change this year.  The Giants have a rep as being a weak hitting team but they actually finished 6th in the NL in runs scored last year.  Last year's spark plug, Marco Scutaro was resigned to play second and NL MVP Buster Posey will split time at catcher and first to keep his bat in the lineup.  The pitching remains strong, also finishing 6th in least runs allowed.   Matt Cain will again anchor the staff and Madison Bumgarner is quickly becoming one of the best left handers in the league.  The key will be how Tim Lincecum bounces back from the worst year of his career.  If he can regain his pre-2012 form, the rotation goes from good to potentially great.  Predicted Record:  95-67

The Dodgers pitching staff finished with the 2nd best ERA in the NL and the 3rd fewest runs allowed in 2012.  Clayton Kershaw finished second in the Cy Young voting and the addition of Zach Greinke should make the staff even better in 2013.  The concern with the Dodgers is the offense, which finshed 13th in runs scored in 2012.  A return to healthy by Matt Kemp should help, as will last year's trade deadline additions of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez (when healthy).  After throwing all their money around the last two years, the Dodgers' ownership should see the team close the gap between them and the Giants, but I do not think it will be enough to overtake them.  Predicted Record:  92-70

Arizona made some questionable moves this offseason, mainly trading away young star Justin Upton and the loss of his replacement, Adam Eaton, for 2 plus months due to injury won't help either.  There is still some talent on the team, as Paul Goldschmidt is a rising star and Aaron Hill posted some monster numbers for a second baseman.  Their pitching is solid, but unspectacular with no true ace.  Ian Kennedy pitched like an ace in 2011, with a 21-4 record and a 2.88 ERA, but he came back down to earth last year (15-12, 4.02 ERA).  Trevor Cahill pitched well in his first NL season and Wade Miley shined bright in his rookie year.  Top prospect Tyler Skaggs waits in the wings should any starter falter.  Predicted Record:  85-77

The Padres moved their fences in this year to help change Petco into less of a pitchers' park.  This would have third baseman Chase Headley grinning from ear-to-ear, if not for an injured thumb which will keep him out of action for at least a month.  After Headley, there's not much to speak of on the offensive side.  Carlos Quentin did hit 16 homers in 284 at bats, but it remains to be seen if he can stay healthy for an entire year.  On the pitching side, the prospects are not much brighter.  After finishing with the 6th worst runs allowed, despite pitching half their games in a pitchers' park, the Padres did little to improve things.  Predicted Record:  75-87

Colorado had the worst pitching staff in the majors last year, giving up 45 more runs than the next closest team (Cleveland) and nearly 100 more than the next closest NL team (the Astros).  Part of the problem stemmed from injuries, which eventually led the Rockies to use a 4 man rotation down the stretch.  The good news is that the Rockies can score runs, finishing 6th in runs scored in 2012.  The bad news is that they'll have to score a heck of a lot more runs to make up for their poor pitching.  Predicted Record:  67-95

That wraps it up for the division predictions.  Tomorrow I'll take a look at the playoffs and award winners.

Cardinals sign Wainwright to a 5 year/$97.5 million extension

Well the clock may have been winding down, but the Cardinals didn't wait until the 11th hour and agreed to a 5 year, $97.5 million extension today with Adam Wainwright.  Ken Rosenthal first reported the agreement via Twitter.

Overall, this is a win for the Cardinals, who appear to have gotten Wainwright for a discount.  Chris Cwik projected a salary in the $21-23.5 million range and I expected something closer to $25 million (excluding signing bonus).  The deal also is well below what Zach Greinke (6 years, $147 million) and Matt Cain (6 years, $127.5 million) got with their recent signings.

For his part, Wainwright probably agreed to a lower per year amount in order to get a longer deal.  Waino admitted a while back that the length of the contract is "pretty important". 

“The last thing you want to do is go into the last few years of your career and be a free agent,” Wainwright said. “You’d like to have a deal that takes you close to the end of your career so that way you don’t have to go through this process again.”

Wainwright will be 37 at the end of the contract, which runs through the 2018 season.   If he is still pitching effectively at that point, the Cardinals could re-up him on a two-year extension similar to how they handled Chris Carpenter's contracts.

Obviously, I'm pleased with this signing.  Wainwright will be an important cog in the Cardinals staff for the next 6 years and should help the Cards young power pitchers transition to the majors.

Clock is winding down on Adam Wainwright extension

With 5 days until opening day, the Cardinals and agent Steve Hammond are under the gun to try to get a contract extension worked out for Adam Wainwright.

So far, there has been a lot of positive vibes coming out of the negotiations over the last week, here's some of what's been reported on the ongoing negotiations:

A week ago, according to Derrick Goold, Hammond stated that he hoped the sides built momentum during a lengthy meeting. 

"We want to get something done before Spring Training ends, and that’s our goal," Hammond told Goold. "They have communicated clearly that they want to keep Adam here, and we’ve communicated that he wants to be here. We have to keep working on that."

Jon Heyman reported that the negotiations appeared to be moving in the right direction with Wainwright saying "I think both sides feel confident something could get done." 

Chris Cwik of CBS Sports estimated that the cost of an extension for Wainwright would run in the $21 to $23.5 million range.

Finally, Derrick Goold reported today that both sides expressed optimism that a deal can be reached before opening day.

Overall, I like the sense of optimism, but I'm not going to count my chickens before they're hatched.  The Cardinals have been down this road before with Albert Pujols and we all know how that turned out.

If the Cardinals do not get an extension done before opening day, I do not like their chances of retaining Wainwright beyond this year.  Once the season ends and he can become a free agent, I think the temptation would be too great for him to test the waters at that point.

Personally, I hope that they can come to an agreement with Waino, but I wouldn't go beyond 4 years and say $95 million.  I would give him a little more per year, if it meant a shorter contract.  Even if Wainwright doesn't live up to his usual standards for those 4 years, the wisdom and knowledge he can impart on the Cardinals young pitchers will be invaluable.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

CFCL Bold Predictions: NL Central

Continuing the United Cardinals Bloggers March project, today I'll take a look at the NL Central or the only division that matters.  All of my fellow Cardinals bloggers will be making their predictions as well and you can follow them at the UCB website.

Now, without further ado, here are my projected standings for the NL Central:

  1. St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Cincinnati Reds
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates
  4. Milwaukee Brewers
  5. Chicago Cubs
First off, I'm a Cardinals fan so I have to pick the Cards to finish first.  However, its not just my heart saying that, I think the talent is definitely there to claim the Central crown, they just need to stay healthy.  A full year from Allen Craig should help bolster the offense and with Adam Wainwright one more year removed from Tommy John surgery, he should be capable of resuming his role of staff ace.  Predicted Record:  95-67

The Reds will be the closest competition for the Cards.  They traded for Shin-Soo Choo in the offseason to give them a legitimate center fielder and Todd Frazier should be able to replace the retired (?) Scott Rolen.  However, the key to their offense will be keeping Joey Votto healthy.  Their pitching should be strong again, with Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos headlining the rotation and Aroldis Chapman throwing heat out of the pen.  Predicted Record:  93-69 (Wild Card)

Pittsburgh keeps tantalizing their fans with the hope of a .500 season and 2013 might finally be their year to get over the hump.  Starling Marte is a budding star and will join superstar Andrew McCutchen in the outfield.  Their current pitching staff is pretty pedestrian, but when you consider that veterans Francisco Liriano and Jeff Karstens are probably just vying their time until top prospects Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon are ready, the pitching staff could end up being their strength by the end of the year.  Predicted Record:  87-75

The Brewers traded away their best pitcher, Zach Greinke, last year and lost Shawn Marcum to free agency.  Recent signing Kyle Lohse should help lessen those losses and Yovanni Gallardo remains, but there are questions beyond that.  Marco Estrada and Michael Fiers caught the league by surprise last year and it remains to be seen if they can repeat  that performance now that the league has the "book" on them.  The offense will continue to be good, with Ryan Braun leading the way, but it may not be enough to overcome the lack of quality pitching.  Predicted Record:  85-77

The Cubs continue to rebuild.  They added some much needed arms to the pitching staff in Edwin Jackson, Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, Carlos Villanueva and Japanese import Kyuji Fujikawa, to go along with Matt Garza and budding ace Jeff Samardzija.  However, their anemic offense will hold them back.  They have some building blocks in Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, but not much else.  Predicted Record: 67-95

Up next will be the NL West.

Injuries continue to plague Cardinals

After a spring that has already seen Chris Carpenter and Rafael Furcal lost for the season, the Cardinals have had more injury concerns crop up in the last week.

Yesterday, David Freese was placed on the disabled list with a back injury.  Ryan Jackson was added to the roster to replace him.

What this means for the start of the season is that Matt Carpenter, the Cardinals starting second baseman, will shift over to third while Daniel Descalso mans second.  The Cards hope to have Freese back in time for the April 8th home opener, but considering he injured his back 3 weeks ago and its still bothering him, that is not a given.

The other injury concern is Carlos Beltran.  He's been bothered by a sore right pinkie toe since before the World Baseball Classic and is scheduled to take part in the game today.  It doesn't sound like its a major concern, as Beltran played through the WBC with the injury, but its still worth keeping an eye on.

If a trip to the DL is necessary for Beltran, which doesn't seem likely at this point, it would likely guarantee a roster spot for the Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras.

However, what intrigues me with the Beltran injury is that maybe the Cardinals could decide to go with Taveras as their 4th outfielder, instead of Shane Robinson or Adron Chambers.  As Brian Feldman suggested a while back, Taveras could get plenty of at bats at the major league level by splitting time with Beltran while also spelling John Jay and Matt Holliday on occassion.

The Cardinals still have Taveras in major league camp, probably just as insurance in case Beltran is not ready to go, but there's still the possibility that, as Feldman's suggests, Taveras' time is now.

Monday, March 25, 2013

CFCL Bold Predictions: NL East

Now that I've gotten that other league out of the way, its time to move on to the only league that matters, the National League.  Starting with the NL East.  I already tried to predict the NL standings statistically, back in February.  Now I'm going to go with my (sizable) gut.

Here are my predicted standings for the NL East:
  1. Washington Nationals
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. New York Mets
  4. Philadelphia Phillies
  5. Miami Marlins
Although it should be a close race between the Nats and Braves, I give the edge to the Nationals.  Denard Span replaces Michael Morse in the outfield, giving the Nats a better overall defense, without much drop off in offense.  Dan Haren replaces Edwin Jackson in the rotation, which should be a step up, and Rafael Soriano strengthens and already strong bullpen.  Add in a full year, without restrictions, for ace Stephen Strasburg and it easy to see this team winning 100+ games.

Atlanta will not be far behind and should get at least a wild card birth.  The addition of the Upton brothers makes an already strong offense even stronger and left replace the loss of Martin Prado and Michael Bourn.  The rotation of a healthy Kris Medlen to go with Tim Hudson, Mike Minor, Paul Maholm and spring phenom Julio Teheran should be able to hold its own and put the Braves at around 95 wins for the season.

The Mets are in rebuilding mode, but with a trio of young, quality hurlers in Jonathan Niese, Dillon Gee and Matt Harvey, the rebuilding should not take long.  David Wright and Ike Davis will anchor the offense, which should also feature top prospect Travis D'Arnaud around June.  They should hover around the .500 mark all year and finish with around 82 wins.

The Phillies are getting old and it started to show last year.  Roy Halladay has lost velocity and Ryan Howard has struggled with injuries.  Chase Utley may never be the same again.  However, they still have Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels to go along with the newly acquired Ben Revere, so all is not lost.  Domonic Brown will help the team get younger, but will it be enough?  The Phillies should battle the Mets for 3rd place and finish with around 80 wins.

The Marlins continued to dismantle a team that lost 94 games last year and will battle the Astros for the worst record in the majors.  There is some young talent in the system, such as Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick, but they are all at least a year away.  They will be lucky to win 60 games this year.

Tomorrow I'll take a look at the NL Central.  Until then, check out the United Cardinals Bloggers site for more NL East predictions from my fellow Cardinals bloggers. 

And the winner is....Shelby Miller

After much speculation, the Cardinals finally made it official today by naming Shelby Miller as their 5th starter.  Miller beat out Joe Kelly for the role.

With the recent injury to Jason Motte opening up a spot in the bullpen, for which Kelly was better suited, many had already guessed the direction the Cardinals would go.  It was even more clear after how Miller and Kelly were used in today's game.  Miller started and went 4.1 innings, before Edward Mujica came in to get the last two outs in the 5th.  Kelly then came in to pitch two innings of relief.

While Miller didn't fare as well as his last time out, giving up 6 hits and 2 walks, he still limited the damage by giving up only 1 run.  Kelly, on the other hand, gave up two runs while allowing 2 hits and a walk.

The Cardinals are obviously banking on Miller's upside over Kelly's experience.  Let's hope that Miller can hit the ground running.

Birds Eye View

Last year the United Cardinals Bloggers started the Birds Eye View newsletter.  A weekly e-mail newsletter written by rotating Cardinals bloggers, Birds Eye View takes a look at the upcoming series' for the Cardinals, including pitching matchups, players to watch and the history between the two teams.  I will be participating in the newsletter this year and am looking forward to this unique experience.

To subscribe to the Birds Eye View, please click this LINK

Could Kyle Lohse become the next Jeff Suppan?

Kyle Lohse finally found a team.  After waiting almost to the brink of opening day, Lohse signed with the Milwaukee Brewers for 3 years/$33 million. A bit less than what he and agent Scott Boras were hoping for, but at least they got a deal done.

However, when I first heard about the signing, I immediately thought back to the Brewers signing of Jeff Suppan.  In case you forgot about him, Suppan signed with the Brewers for 4 years/$42 million back in 2006 and is generally considered one of the Brewers' worst signings.

The similarities between Lohse and Suppan are eery.  Both of them resurrected their careers while pitching for the Cardinals and pitching coach Dave Duncan.  Lohse, who owns a career 4.45 ERA, posted a 3.90 ERA in 5 years with the Cards, while Suppan, who finished his career with a 4.70 ERA, had a 3.94 ERA in 4 years with the Cards.

In addition, they both had their career year with the Cardinals.  Suppan's best year came in 2005, when he went 16-10 with a 3.57 ERA (114 ERA+).  While Lohse's best year, to date, was last year when he went 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA (134 ERA+).

The good news for the Brewers is that Lohse has better overall peripherals than Suppan.  For his career, Lohse has given up 9.7 H/9 and 2.6 BB/9 for a career Whip of 1.369.  Suppan had a career 10.1 H/9 and 3.1 BB/9 for a Whip of 1.461. 

In addition, Lohse has posted a career 5.6 K/9 compared to Suppan's 4.9 K/9.  However, strikeouts aren't their thing, as they are both sinkerballers, thus Suppan's career 1.31 GO/AO edges out Lohse's 0.99 ratio and offsets Lohse's higher K rate.

One other area of concern for the Brewers is that Lohse is currently 34 years old, whereas the Brewers sign Suppan just before he turned 32.   Can Lohse continue to pitch well for 3 more years?

If I were a Brewers fan, I would definitely be nervous about the Lohse signing.  Maybe it won't turn out as bad as the Suppan signing, but the warning signs are definitely there.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

CFCL Bold Predictions: American League Standings

With about a week left until opening day, its time to break out the first annual Cardinals Fan in Cubs Land projected standings for the season.  As part of the United Cardinals Bloggers March project, several Cardinals bloggers are making their predictions for the upcoming year.

First off is the American League.  As I do not follow the AL much, these truly are "bold" projections.

AL East

  1. Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Toronto Blue Jays (Wild Card - 1)
  3. New York Yankees
  4. Boston Red Sox
  5. Baltimore Orioles
This is truly the toughest division in baseball.  While the Yankees are perennial favorites, age and injuries catch up with them and make them into the 2012 Red Sox.  Tampa's pitching and timely hitting lead to another division title while Toronto's big offseason moves lead to their first playoff appearance since 1993.  The Orioles can't repeat last year's surprise run to the playoffs and Boston struggles to return to .500.

AL Central
  1.  Detroit Tigers
  2. Cleveland Indians
  3. Kansas City Royals
  4. Chicago White Sox
  5. Minnesota Twins
 Detroit is clearly the class of the Central, as no team can match their talent.  After them, its a dogfight for second between Cleveland, KC and Chicago, I give the edge to Cleveland, but with KC close behind.  Chicago has a big drop off after last year's second place finish and Minnesota continues to bring up the rear.  Only Detroit makes the playoffs though.

AL West
  1. Los Angeles Angels
  2. Texas Rangers (Wild Card - 2)
  3. Oakland A's
  4. Seattle Mariners
  5. Houston Astros
In a battle for first, the Angels edge out the Rangers thanks to a bounce-back MVP season from Albert Pujols.  The Rangers finish second but claim a Wild Card spot.  Oakland suffers a drop off after last season's division title.  The Mariners, while improved, still cannot finish above .500 and the Astros manage to claim the first pick in the 2014 draft.

So, there you have it, my bold predictions for the AL. Coming up, I'll take a look at the NL East on Tuesday, the NL Central on Wednesday and the West on Thursday, with playoff and awards predictions on Friday.  You can check out the other Cardinals bloggers predictions at the UCB.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Does Jason Motte injury make Shelby Miller the 5th starter for the Cardinals?

Although they are both scheduled to pitch again on Monday, a couple of recent news items have people speculating that Shelby Miller will beat out Joe Kelly for the 5th starter job.

The first is that Miller will be making the start on Monday with Kelly working in relief.  This is the second time in a row that Miller has gotten the start and an indication that the Cards want him to get into a pre-start routine.

The second, and most important news, is that Jason Motte will likely start the season on the DL.  While it may not seem to have an impact on the 5th starter role, it does.  For one thing, it means that Kelly, Miller and Fernando Salas will all most likely make the opening day roster and since Kelly is better suited for relieving, it follows that he would be the long reliever in the pen.

Motte's injury pushes Mitchell Boggs into the closer role, with Trevor Rosenthal as the likely setup man. 

Here is the projected starting rotation and bullpen:

Starting Rotation
  1. Adam Wainwright
  2. Jake Westbrook
  3. Jaime Garcia
  4. Lance Lynn
  5. Shelby Miller
  1.  Mitchell Boggs - Closer
  2. Trevor Rosenthal - Setup
  3. Edward Mujica - Middle
  4. Fernando Salas - Middle
  5. Joe Kelly - Long
  6. Randy Choate - LOOGY
  7. Marc Rzepczynski - LOOGY
The injury to Motte obviously hurts the Cardinals bullpen and put more pressure on Rosenthal who is now expected to step into a prominent role in his rookie year.  However, as he showed in the playoffs last year, he is not afraid of pressure situations.

In any case, the roster is nearly set.  We'll see what kind of impact the game Monday has on Miller and Kelly's statuses.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Could the Cardinals lose their draft pick compensation for Kyle Lohse?

When the Cardinals made their qualifying offer to Kyle Lohse, they were counting on two things: (1) that Lohse and greedy agent Scott Boras would like turn it down and (2) as a result they would get a draft pick from the supplemental round (between the first and second rounds of the draft).

However, that may no longer be the case.

Any team who signs Lohse would lose their first round pick, along with the allotted dollars for that pick and that is the main factor deterring teams from signing Lohse (along with his still high asking price).

According to the CBA, if a team waits until after the June draft, they would not lose their first round pick for signing Lohse.  In addition, the Cardinals would lose their draft pick compensation if Lohse does not sign before the next June draft.  Thus, there's been speculation that Lohse would wait until after the June draft to sign.

However, according to Peter Gammons, Boras insisted that Lohse wouldn't have to wait that long, indicating that "we have too many teams in play."  However, Boras has been saying that for a while now and we still have no indication that any team is close to signing Lohse.

Even though the loss of a first round draft pick is the major deterrent to any team signing Lohse, his asking price still remains high.  According to Yahoo's Jeff Passan, one week after spring training, Boras was asking for 3 years and $45 million for his client.  That figure has dropped, but per Ken Rosenthal, Lohse is still looking to match Ryan Dempster's two year, $26.5 million contract. 

For his part, Lohse is getting himself ready for the start of the season, throwing 90 pitch simulated games in Arizona, according to Yahoo's Tim Brown.  But the question remains as to whether he will sign with a team before then.

Scott Boras is usually pretty good at pulling a rabbit out of his hat and getting a large contract for his clients when there is seemingly no market for them.  However, I feel he has seriously misjudged the market for Lohse this year and its going to cost him.

It may come down to whether Lohse and Boras are willing to agree to a contract that they feel is "below market" or if they want to wait a few months and see if they can get that 3 year/$45 million deal they wanted in the first place.

The Cardinals are hoping its the former, but its looking more and more like its going to be the latter.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cardinals cut ties with infielder Ronny Cedeno.

In a move that is mildly surprising, the Cardinals released infielder Ronny Cedeno yesterday.

Cedeno, who was brought in as a backup to Rafael Furcal, quickly became expendable when it was determined that Matt Carpenter could handle the second base job and Pete Kozma won the short stop job.  This allowed the Cardinals to use Daniel Descalso as their backup short stop and, with Ryan Jackson and Greg Garcia waiting in the wings, Cedeno became redundant.

What this also means is that the Cardinals now have a bench spot open for hard-hittin' Matt Adams.

Adams has hit well this spring (.304/.333/.565 with 3 homers) and deserves a bench spot.  What's more, the Cardinals probably could use his left handed bat off the bench.  With a projected lineup that features only 2 lefties (John Jay and Matt Carpenter), having a left handed bat off the bench, especially one with power, could definitely come in handy.

In addition, with 2 open spots on the 40 man roster, the Cardinals will be keeping a close eye on the waiver wire to see if a team tries to pass anyone useful through.  However, that is pretty unlikely.  More likely the Cardinals will use those 2 spots for a couple players that could help them this year, such as Michael Wacha and Oscar Taveras.

With Cedeno out of the picture, the only battle for the Cardinals bench appears to be that of Shane Robinson and Adron Chambers for 4th outfielder. 

On the pitching side, there are still a few things to sort out, such as the 5th starter and whether the loser of that battle will end up in the pen or at AAA.

But we've still got 11 days to figure that out.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Shelby Miller outpitches Joe Kelly in latest battle for Cardinals 5th starter spot

Shelby Miller pitched brilliantly while Joe Kelly struggled in the latest battle for the Cardinals 5th starter spot.

Miller, who started the game, pitched 4 innings and allowed only 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 3.  Kelly, who came on in relief, lasted only 3 innings while giving up 8 hits and 4 runs.

This is almost a carbon copy of last Thursday's performances where Miller struggled and Kelly pitched well.

A few interesting notes about this whole contest between Miller and Kelly:

First, despite Kelly outpitching Miller for most of the spring (until today) and having a proven track record from last year, the Cardinals continue to delay their decision.  Its almost as if they want Miller to win the job.

Second, after his 4 innings were up, Miller continued to throw in the pen to build up his pitch count.  Another indication that the Cards want him to win the job.

Finally, here's how their numbers stack up through today's game:

Miller - 11.2 IP, 11 hits, 3 walks, 11 K's, 4.63 ERA, 1.20 whip
Kelly - 11.0 IP, 13 hits, 5 walks, 2 K's, 4.91 ERA, 1.64 whip

Based on the above, one would have to think that Miller now has the lead.  However, that is what I said about Kelly last week.

I just hope the Cardinals announce a winner soon, because the suspense is killing me.

Cardinals 5th starter job still up for grabs

All eyes will be on Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly today as they make their final (?) push for the 5th starter job.

Miller will get the start with Kelly working in relief.  This is a flip from last Thursday alignment when Kelly started and Miller relieved.

Although from all appearances Kelly should be in the lead, its interesting that the Cardinals keep delaying their decision.  Perhaps the Cards would be more comfortable with Kelly in long relief and Miller as the 5th starter, but they want Miller to prove himself worthy.

Its all speculation at this point, but we should have a better idea of who will win the job after today's game.

Stay tuned as I will provide my thoughts on their performances today after the game.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Did the Cardinals make a mistake in signing Ty Wigginton

With a batting line of .105/.205/.128 this spring, Ty Wigginton has been drawing the ire of Cardinals fans everywhere who believe his signing is blocking more deserving players, such as Matt Adams, from making the opening day roster.  Believe me, it had me scratching my head too.

However, when you look more closely at the construction of the Cardinals roster, it makes more sense.

Assuming the Cardinals go with an opening day lineup of Yadier Molina (C), Allen Craig (1B), Matt Carpenter (2B), Pete Kozma (SS), David Freese (3B), Matt Holliday (LF), John Jay (RF) and Carlos Beltran (RF), that leaves them with a bench woefully short of right handed pop.

Consider the following bench:

Tony Cruz (R)
Daniel Descalso (L)
Shane Robinson (R)
Ronny Cedeno (R)
Matt Adams (L)

The right handed trio of Cruz, Robinson and Cedeno have combined for just 41 homers in 2,681 at bats, with Cedeno hitting 37 of those in his 8 year career.

In contrast, Wigginton has hit 169 homers in 4,422 at bats in his career, including 11 last year in 315 at bats.  He may not strike the fear of God in pitchers, but he at least makes them think twice about grooving one down the middle, plus he keeps opposing managers from throwing a bunch of LOOGY's (left handed one out guys) at us.

If anyone should be dropped from that bench, its Cedeno.  Assuming that Descalso is capable of backing up at short, Cedeno is unnecessary.  If the Cardinals were to give his spot to Adams, they would have a nice lefty/righty one-two punch off the bench.

Adams has certainly done his part to earn a major league job this spring.  He leads the Cards with 12 Rbi's and is hitting .304/.333/.565 this spring. 

In any case, don't blame Wigginton for the Cardinals roster crunch, the Cardinals actually needed him.  What they didn't need was another light-hitting short stop.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Are the Cardinals really pursuing Astros' Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell?

Let me preface this by saying that I really respect Peter Gammons.  He is one of the best reporters in the game.  However a tweet from him this morning had me scratching my head.

Here is the tweet from Gammons at 11:23 AM this morning:

"Cards are asking about a SS as well as P. Interested in Lucas Harrell and Bud Norris of Astros."

The Cardinals currently have Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller locked in a battle for the 5th starter spot and the other 4 starters have had a pretty good spring.  Jaime Garcia has shown no ill affects from his shoulder issues from last year.  Adam Wainwright looks like he has returned to his 2010 form and Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook have not showed any signs of slippage. 

With the starters fairing well this spring and the emergence of Michael Wacha, it begs the question as to why the Cardinals would feel the need to pursue more pitching?

Derrick Goold suggested the Cards could be bargain hunting from the salary dumping Astros.  However, while that makes sense in the case of Bud Norris, who is making $3 million this year, Harrell is only making 1/2 a million this year and is not arbitration eligible until 2015. 

Perhaps the Cardinals could acquire Norris for cheap, giving them another young arm to add to their pitching mix without having to give up one of their young arms in return.  Norris would be under team control through the 2015 season at a reasonable price.  But he has had only one above average season in 2011, when he posted a 3.77 ERA with 176 K's in 186 innings.

Harrell had a bit of a breakout season in 2012, with a 3.76 ERA and 140 K's inn 193.2 innings.  But he would probably cost a bit more in terms of prospects and I don't know if he's worth it.

Goold also bought up another good point, if the Cardinals felt the need to add pitching, they could have pursued Kyle Lohse, which would only cost money, not prospects.  However, his asking price and years have not appeared to have come down much, despite his lack of a contract offer.

My only hope is that the Cardinals do not pull another Dan Haren move and trade an up-and-coming young pitcher for a so-called "proven" pitcher (we all remember Mark Mulder, don't we).

Friday, March 15, 2013

Projecting the Cardinals opening day 25-man roster

With a little over 2 weeks left until opening day, the Cardinals are still trying to decide on a 5th starter.  Despite my speculation that Joe Kelly won the job with his performance yesterday, Mike Matheny stated after the game that no decision had been made, adding that the team could allow both Kelly and Shelby Miller to pitch again before reaching a decision. 

Even with that job still unsettled, the rest of the roster is beginning to take shape, with only a couple spots still in doubt.

Here is my projected opening day roster:

Starting Lineup

C - Yadier Molina
1B - Allen Craig
2B - Matt Carpenter
SS - Pete Kozma
3B - David Freese
LF - Matt Holliday
CF - John Jay
RF - Carlos Beltran


Daniel Descalso
Ty Wigginton
Tony Cruz
Shane Robinson
Ronny Cedeno

Starting Rotation

1. Adam Wainwright
2. Jake Westbrook
3. Jaime Garcia
4. Lance Lynn
5. Joe Kelly/Shelby Miller


Jason Motte
Mitch Boggs
Edward Mujica
Trevor Rosenthal
Fernando Salas
Randy Choate
Marc Rzepcynski


The "on the bubble" guy, in my opinion, is Ronny Cedeno, who does not have a guaranteed contract and has not been very impressive this spring.  If the Cardinals decide to go with 13 pitchers to start the season, I could see them release Cedeno and carry the loser of the 5th starter battle as a long reliever.

Ty Wigginton has not hit at all this spring (just 4 for 32), but with a 2-year, $5 million deal, he's not going anywhere.

Adron Chambers has played fairly well this spring, but Shane Robinson's insane hitting (.516/.571/.968) this spring has pretty much locked up the 4th outfielder spot.   The only thing Chambers has going for him is that he is a left handed hitter and the Cardinals may need another lefty on their bench.

There was some speculation that Michael Wacha's strong spring could earn him a spot on the opening day roster, but alas he was reassigned to minor league camp yesterday.

Oscar Taveras is still in play for a roster spot, but he has cooled off a bit since his hot start to the spring and is likely ticketed for AAA as well. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Joe Kelly impresses in final battle for Cardinals 5th starter spot

In their final outing before the Cardinals make their decision on the 5th starter spot, Joe Kelly out pitched Shelby Miller and looks to have locked up the spot.

Kelly started the game and pitched 4 innings allowing just 3 hits and, more importantly, no walks.  He gave up 1 earned run while also striking out one.  His sinker was in good form as he induced 6 groundouts to just 2 flyouts.

Miller, who came on in the 5th in relief, was throwing strikes as well, but was too hittable, allowing 6 hits in his 2.2 innings pitched.  He struck out 4, but allowed 3 earned runs.

I have never believed that a team should base a decision just on a player's performance in Spring Training and I don't think the Cardinals will do that in this case either. 

However, it appears now that all of the factors seem to be leaning in Kelly's direction.

First, Kelly already proved himself at the major league level last year. 

Second, the Cardinals can delay Miller service clock and avoid super two status by sending him to the minors to start the year.

Finally, Kelly has out pitched Miller this spring.

When you consider all of those factors, you have to believe the Cardinals will go with Kelly as the 5th starter and Miller will be sent down to Memphis to start the year.

However, I expect we will see Miller soon enough and he should be an important part of the Cards staff by the end of the year.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rafael Furcal's injury has Cardinals rumor mill abuzz

With Rafael Furcal lost for the season, there has been a steady stream of rumors linking the Cardinals to every shortstop that is or could be available.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests that the Red Sox could trade Stephen Drew should Jose Iglesias prove ready.  The Cardinals pursued Drew this offseason, before losing out to Boston.

Dan Szymborski of ESPN Insider says that Elvis Andrus is the perfect fit for the Cards and they could get him in exchange for a pitching prospect, such as Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller or Carlos Martinez.

Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLBTraderumors notes that the Diamondbacks are looking to trade John McDonald and that the Cards could consider him as well.

Finally, there is Troy Tulowitzki, the biggest name being bandied about in trade rumors, however, per Jon Heyman, the Cardinals have not contacted the Rockies about Tulo and Colorado has no interest in trading him anyway.

Despite all the rumors, the Cardinals do not appear to be looking for immediate help.  According to Ben Nicholson-Smith, GM John Mozeliak told reporters after the Furcal injury that "From the immediate standpoint, I think we’re OK.  Now, as the season develops, if we don’t feel that things are going as we hoped, then we explore other options. But I think in the short-term, we feel comfortable where we’re at."

In addition, Joe Strauss states that the loss of Furcal is not a crisis and that, as long as Pete Kozma can play acceptable defense until the trade market develops, the Cardinals will be fine. 

Thus, as I surmised last week, it appears that the Cardinals will wait until at least the July trade deadline to try to shore up their short stop deficiencies.  At that time, the Cardinals should have a better idea as to where they stand as a team and whether Kozma can cut it at short. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

D-Day is Thursday for Cardinals' Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly

According to B.J. Rains, Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist indicated that Thursday will be the "final audition" for Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly for the 5th starter spot.  Kelly will get the start while Miller will work in relief.  Not sure if that is any indication as to who the leader is, but we should know more after Thursday's game.

Personally, I'm pulling for Miller.  I think he has more upside and he certainly showed in the second half of last season, both in the minors and at the major league level, that he is ready.

However, I get the feeling that the Cardinals will end up going with Kelly, for the following reasons:

First, Kelly has already proven himself as a capable major league starter, having made 16 starts in 2012 and posting a respectable 3.74 ERA in those starts.

Second, the Cardinals can delay Miller's service clock and thereby have him under team control longer.

Finally, waiting until June or so to call up Miller would allow the Cardinals to avoid the dreaded "Super Two" status for Miller.

Of course, that could all change on Thursday if Miller pitches lights out and Kelly struggles.  But there is a lot more to this decision process than just who pitches better this spring.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cardinals second base battle to continue into the season

According to Derrick Goold, the Cardinals second base battle will continue into the regular season, with "performance and need dictating the starter."

What does this all mean?

Well, it means that what once started as an experiment to find another way to get Matt Carpenter's bat into the lineup and make him into a super utility player is quickly becoming a potential regular gig for Carpenter.

With the recent news that Rafael Furcal is done for the season, the Cardinals are probably looking for more offense from their middle infield positions.  Pete Kozma could provide some offense at short, but he is still an unknown quantity, having only played 42 games in the majors.

Carpenter, on the other hand, has hit .283/.359/.447 in 311 at bats in the majors, including a .294/.365/.463 line in 2012.  Getting regular at bats at second for him could help offset the loss of Furcal.  In addition, it gives the Cards the opportunity to use Daniel Descalso at short.

With both Descalso and Carpenter hitting left handed, the Cardinals cannot use a straight platoon with them.  More likely, Carpenter will start the majority of games with Descalso coming off the bench as a defensive replacement late in games. The Cardinals could also choose to start Descalso when sinkerballer Jake Westbrook is on the mound.

In any case, the Cardinals appear comfortable with Carpenter at second and it may be Descalso who now holds down the super utility role.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Trevor Rosenthal is a reliever, but for how long?

After his stellar performance last year as a reliever both down the stretch during the regular season and during the playoffs, Trevor Rosenthal will be returning to the pen this year. 

But, is this a career change for Rosenthal or just a temporary assignment?

As we have seen previously with Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn, the Cardinals have no qualms about using one of their stud righthanders in the bullpen to get their initial big league experience and then converting them back to a starter later. 

However, given the Cardinals seemingly endless supply of young, hard-throwing pitching prospects, maybe this time the move might be permanent.

For this season, the Cardinals will have either Joe Kelly or Shelby Miller man the 5th starter spot and, given the way he has pitched this spring, Michael Wacha will likely be the first starter recalled from AAA when needed. 

Assuming that a slimmer Lance Lynn can withstand the rigors of an entire season and Jaime Garcia's shoulder doesn't start barking at him, there should be no need to use Rosenthal in the rotation.

Next year though, things get a little murkier.

Jake Westbrook will become a free agent and, unless they can get an extension ironed out soon, Wainwright could head in that direction as well.  If the Cards have just one hole to fill, then the loser of this year's Kelly/Miller competition will likely compete with Wacha for that spot.  However, if they have two holes to fill, then all bets are off and you will probably see Carlos Martinez and Rosenthal enter the fray.  And don't forget about control freak Seth Maness--you know the guy with the incredible 112/10 K/BB ratio last year.

The Cardinals could also look to trade some of this excess pitching for an area of need (shortstop), which could also clear the path for Rosenthal to return to starting.

So, just because Rosenthal's being relegated to the pen this year, doesn't mean that's his final destination.  It just gives the Cardinals more time to sort it all out.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cardinals 5th starter battle becoming clearer

The battle for the Cardinals 5th starter spot just became a little clearer.

According to Jennifer Langosch, Trevor Rosenthal did not attend the Cardinals starting pitchers meeting on Tuesday morning and, according to Derrick Goold, Mike Matheny confirmed that Rosenthal will move to the bullpen.

That leaves Joe Kelly and Shelby Miller as the remaining competitors for the job.  Kelly started today and gave up 2 runs, 1 earned, on 2 hits and 3 walks in 2 IP.  Miller is scheduled to start against the Nationals tomorrow.

But wait, don't forget about Michael Wacha!

Per Derrick Goold, Matheny says its "unlikely" that Wacha earns the 5th starter job, but that he has "opened eyes" this spring and deserves more innings.  Take that for what its worth, but Wacha has impressed everyone while pitching the most innings this spring, so, even if he starts the season in AAA, he will not be in the minors for long.

So, we're basically down to a two-horse race (with Wacha lurking around, just in case) and after tomorrow's start by Miller, we will probably have a good idea as to who Matheny will choose.

Rafael Furcal to undergo Tommy John surgery.

Jennifer Langosch broke the news this morning and it was confirmed by Derrick Goold that Rafael Furcal will undergo Tommy John surgery, as soon as next week, which will knock him out for all of the 2013 season.

With that issue finally settled, albeit in a bad way, the Cardinals need to move forward and, as I see it, the they have 3 options:

1.  Go with what they've got

Sure none of Ronny Cedeno, Pete Kozma and Ryan Jackson don't inspire confidence as the Cardinals full-time option at short, but, as my blogging cohorts at Viva el Birdos point out, the Cards have had worse shortstops and succeeded. 

While it may not be the best option, going with the current triumvirate for this season gives the Cardinals time to sort out their strengths and (other) weaknesses.  Although the Cardinals are said to have an abundance of pitching, it will take them time to sort it out and determine if they want to trade some of that pitching to fill their shortstop hole.

They can then address the shortstop situation next offseason.

2.  Make a move now

Another option would be to try to shore up the shortstop position now (or before the season starts).  The Cardinals are nearing a decision as to who their 5th starter will be.  Once that decision is made, could they use the "loser" of that battle as trade bait for a shortstop?

Texas is looking for pitching after recently losing Martin Perez to injury and they have stud prospect Jurickson Profar waiting in the wings to replace their current shortstop Elvis Andrus.  Colorado is also in need of pitching and they have Josh Rutledge capable of taking over for Troy Tulowitzki at short.

However, are the Cardinals prepared to take on Tulowitzki's salary--he's owed $144 million over the next 8 years (including a $4 million buyout of his 2021 option).  Andrus' salary is a bit more reasonable, but he is only signed through 2014 and the Cardinals would probably want to sign him to an extension.

3.  Make a move in July

To split the difference between the first two options, the Cardinals could decide to make a move to acquire a shortstop in July.  That is how they acquired Furcal a few years ago.

This option would give the Cardinals time to see who establishes himself as their 5th starter and thereby help the Cards to better identify their trade chips.  Also, teams are always looking for pitching for the stretch run and this would give the Cardinals more leverage in trade negotiations.

Finally, if the Cardinals cannot reach an agreement on an extension with Adam Wainwright and if they are out of contention, they could flip Wainwright for a young shortstop that can fill the position for several years.

Basically, it would give the Cardinals more time to sort out their options, while also giving them more leverage than an offseason trade.

Overall, I think the Cardinals will go with the third option and make a trade for a shortstop in July as it makes the most sense, given the circumstances.  Until then, we'll just have to live with 3+ months of below replacement level play at short.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cardinals nearing a decision on 5th starter?

According to B.J. Rains, Mike Matheny indicated today that the Cardinals are "getting close" on a decision as to who the 5th starter will be. 

If that's true, the timing seems a little odd.

First of all, the favorite for the job, Shelby Miller, has only pitched 2 innings so far this spring.  Another candidate, Joe Kelly, also only has 2 innings in spring games.  Is that enough to base a decision on?

The Cardinals third option, Trevor Rosenthal, was only scheduled to pitched two innings today, after pitching 3 last week.  Is this an indication that he is being pushed to the bullpen?

Of all the pitchers in camp, Michael Wacha has pitched the most innings so far, with 7.2.  Does this mean that Wacha could be named the 5th starter?  He has certainly been the most effective of the Cards pitchers this spring.

What I think this this all means is that the pitchers will probably have one, maybe two more starts to prove themselves.  Kelly is scheduled to pitch tomorrow and Miller on Friday, with both possibly throwing again next Tuesday and Wednesday.  While Wacha and Rosenthal will each get another outing in between.

Or, what it could also mean is that the Cardinals already had made their choice before the start of Spring Training, but wanted to make sure that pitcher (Miller) was healthy and ready to go.

In any case, by next Friday, we could have an answer. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Can we really blame Rafael Furcal for the Cardinals shortstop mess?

With the latest setback for Rafael Furcal likely knocking him out for the early part of the season, if not longer, there has been a lot of vitriol spewed in Furcal's direction.  But is it really warranted?

According to Jennifer Langosch, back in 2012, when he suffered the injury, Furcal was examined by team medical director George Paletta who diagnosed him with a grade 2 UCL strain.  Paletta did not recommend surgery, but instead recommended aggressive therapy and platelet-rich plasma injections.  Furcal was re-evaluated a month later and the Cardinals saw enough improvement to continue that course.

Surgery was never an option at that time, as echoed by GM John Mozeliak yesterday when he stated "At the time, you couldn’t have found a surgeon who would have recommended surgery, so I don’t think that was an option.”

Did Furcal experience pain during his rehab or any other indications that this course of treatment was not working?  We do not know for sure, but everything seemed to be going fine until Furcal made a sidearm throw last Thursday, which appears to have led to new ligament damage.

So, we cannot blame Furcal for the Cardinals predicament.  Sure, he did not want to have surgery, but none of the doctors consulted recommended surgery anyway.

No, the real blame here falls on the Cardinals for not having an adequate backup plan.

The Cards must have known there was a risk that this rest and rehab process would not work, but the only steps they took to put a backup plan in place was to sign Ronny Cedeno. 

Now the Cardinals have a hole to fill in their lineup, possibly for the entire season, and the best they can come up with is some combination of Cedeno, Pete Kozma and possibly Ryan Jackson.  None of whom inspire confidence.

Perhaps the Cards can swing a trade either now or around the trade deadline, but they will have lost what little leverage they might have had.

In any case, the Cardinals have managed to win without a quality shortstop in the past and it looks like they will have to do so again this year.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Eight Cardinals make the final Composite Top Prospect List

Each year I put together a composite top prospect list by taking the top 100 prospect lists from around the web, assigning points to each ranking (100 points for 1st, 99 for 2nd, etc.), adding up the points and sorting from highest to lowest.

I find this composite prospect list helpful for my fantasy baseball preparations as well as seeing what the "experts" think of the Cardinals top prospects.

This year, 8 Cardinals made the composite prospect list, with 6 finishing in the top 100, as follows:

Oscar Taveras (3), Shelby Miller (10), Carlos Martinez (29), Trevor Rosenthal (50), Kolten Wong (66), Michael Wacha (89), Matt Adams (128) and Tyrell Jenkins (159).

You can check out this year's full composite top prospect listing at my sister site MLB Composite Prospect Index, but here is the top 10:

#Pos PlayerTeamHi LowPts

1 SS Jurickson Profar TEX 1   21299

2 RHP Dylan Bundy BAL 1   41281

3 OF Oscar Taveras STL 2   81267

4 OF Wil Myers TB 2   71261

5 RHP Gerrit Cole PIT 3   91233

6 RHP Taijuan Walker SEA 5 181201

7 RHP Zack Wheeler NYM 5 221186

8 RHP Jose Fernandez MIA 5 211181

9 SS Xander Bogaerts BOS 5 271167

10 RHP Shelby Miller STL 5 251139

Friday, March 1, 2013

Early look at Cardinals Spring Training battles

Heading into this spring, there were two key spots that were up for grabs for the Cardinals, second base and 5th starter.  After one week of games, here's how those battles are shaping up:

Second Base

This is a 3 horse race between incumbent Daniel Descalso, convert Matt Carpenter and rising prospect Kolten Wong. 

After a down season offensively last year, Descalso is fighting to hold onto his job this spring.  He plays solid defense, but his lack of offense hurts him.  He is hitting .250 (3 for 12) so far this spring.

Carpenter, on the other hand, has shown the ability to hit in the majors, but it remains to be seen if he can handle the position defensively.  He is hitting .273 (3 for 11) so far.

Wong, who is excellent defensively, is expected to develop into a solid hitter.  However, he probably needs more time to develop.  He is hitting .333 (3 for 9) this spring.

Overall, I expect Descalso to hold onto the job.  Carpenter will end up as a super utility player and Wong will likely start the season in AAA.  However, if Wong gets off to a fast start in the minors, a mid-season callup is not out of the question.

5th Starter

Here's where things get really interesting.  The Cardinals have 3 pitchers vying for the 5th starter job, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly. 

Miller is considered the favorite, but early shoulder discomfort set him back a week or so and he has yet to pitch in a spring game.

Rosenthal has made two appearances so far this spring.  His first outing, in which he admittedly was pressing, was a bit of a disaster, allowing 4 runs in 2 IP.  He bounced back nicely yesterday, allowing just 1 run in 3 IP. 

Despite his stellar efforts filling in for injured starter Jaime Garcia last season, Kelly is kind of the forgotten man in this year's battle.  He is making his first appearance this spring today and we'll see if he can impress the Cardinals enough to edge out the higher upside competition.

It should be noted that, after two stellar outings, Michael Wacha has entered into the conversation for the 5th starter spot.  However, I think it is in his (and the Cardinals) best interest for him to start the season in the minors.

Overall, I still can see Miller winning this battle, with Kelly being the long man in the Cards bullpen and Rosenthal starting the season at AAA as the Cardinals "6th" starter.  However, at this point the race is still wide open.

I will continue to keep an eye on these battles each week, so stop by each Friday for updates.