Sunday, May 18, 2014

Cardinals Mailbag

As part of the United Cardinals Bloggers May project, we created a mailbag format where each blogger is asked a question from a group of fellow Cardinals bloggers and provides a response to each.

As a result, here is the first CFCL mailbag (sponsored by the UCB):

Bill Ivie, I-70 Baseball - Your site is dedicated to your father, who you say "without whom my love for the Cardinals would have never been born."  My father was very important to my love of the game and I'm intrigued.  If you don't mind, could you share with us a story about your father and how he helped you come to love the Birds on the Bat instead of the Baby Bears?

Growing up in Normal, Illinois, the Cubs and Cardinals fans were pretty evenly split, however there was never a question as to which team I would root for.  My dad spent the formative years of his life in Clayton, Missouri and once got to see Dizzy Dean pitch against Carl Hubbell.  His love for the game and the Cardinals rubbed off on me and stays with me to this day.

As the beneficiary of a June birthday, my gift each year was to go down to St. Louis for a weekend Cardinals series with my family.  While my sister never was really into baseball and my brother outgrew the sport and turned his interests to music, the love of baseball and the Cardinals is something my dad and I always shared.

Daniel Solzman, Redbird Rants - In your years of following the St. Louis Cardinals, what is your favorite moment?

There have been many great moments in my years of following the Cards, including the 2011 World Series game 6, attending Lou Brock day back when Brock was my favorite player and getting to shake hands with Willie McGee and Ozzie Smith at the Adams Mark hotel bar after a game.

However, my favorite memory has to be watching the 7th game of the 1982 World Series with my dad and brother in our living room.  I sat in silence for a few seconds after Bruce Sutter struck out Gorman Thomas to win it, before joining my dad and brother in celebration.

After becoming a diehard Cardinals fan in the mid-1970's, getting to finally see the Cards win a World Series for the first time (in my lifetime) was a special moment for me and to be able to share it with my dad and brother made it that much more special.

Ben Chambers, The View From Here - What is the hardest part of being "behind enemy lines"?

Probably the hardest thing about living in the Chicago area, is the inability to follow the Cardinals as closely as I use to.

When I was growing up in Central Illinois, I listened to the Cards on the radio every night and watched the games regularly, when the Cardinals games were picked up by one of our local TV stations. Nowadays, I can only catch the Cards on national telecasts.

Other than that, the fans are tolerable (I'm married to one), especially now that they are rebuilding and you don't have fair-weather fans coming out of the woodwork.  But, if they were to become relevant again, that could certainly change.

Dan Buffa, Dose of Buffa - Can you see any huge differences between this team under John Mabry as hitting coach as opposed to Mark McGwire?

You mean other than the fact that the Cardinals can't seem to score runs this year compared to prior years?

In all seriousness, I don't put a lot of stock in hitting coaches having a significant impact on a team.  For the most part, hitters know their swing and can tell when they are out of sync and the coach can help them tweak things on occassion.

Its rare that you are going to change a hitters approach once they reach the major leagues (see Colby Rasmus), so the main thing that I think a hitting coach does is to help hitters who are struggling sort out their mechanics and all that entails is watching some video.

Daniel Shoptaw, C70 At The Bat - What one move would you make to shake up this team and get it out of the .500 doldrums?

I don't know if there is one move that will shake up this team and get it back on track, as the biggest issue has been the lack of offense.  The only thing Mike Matheny can do about that is to keep trotting the under-performers, like Allen Craig, out there in hopes that they can get hot.

Other than that, guys getting healthy, like Jason Motte and even Jaime Garcia, should give the other problem area, the bullpen, a boost as Garcia's return to the rotation would allow the Cardinals to move Joe Kelly back to the pen (when he's healthy again).

The only move that the Cardinals have yet to try (and that fans have been clamoring for) is to promote Oscar Taveras and start him in center field.  However, while he might improve the offense, he would probably make an already poor outfield defense even worse.

Basically, the talent is there for the Cards to go on a run, they just have to play up to their abilities.

John Nagel, Cardinals Farm -Since you are a history buff, what is another Cards team that had plenty of talent but couldn't put it together?

The Cardinals team that stands out to me as having the most talent and not being able to put it together was the 1986 team.

This was basically the same team as the World Series team of 1985.  After leading the NL in runs scored in 1985 with 747, the 1986 team struggled to score runs (sound familiar), finishing last in runs scored (601), average (.236) and OBP (.309).

Only a solid pitching staff that finished the season 4th in ERA (3.37) helped the Cardinals avoid total disaster that year.  They dug themselves a big hole with a 36-50 record in the first half, but showed that they had the talent to win, going 43-32 in the second half of the season to end up with an overall record of 79-82.

After adding Tony Pena via trade after the 1986 season and promoting Joe Magrane to join the starting rotation, the 1987 Cardinals once again rose to the top and made it back to the World Series, but, to me at least, the 1986 season for the Cards will always be one of the biggest disappointments.

Kevin Reynolds, Stl Cards 'N Stuff - How has blogging about baseball changed your experience of baseball?  Bonus Question: What single position (non-position) on the Cards roster do you see being filled with a future core player from the farm system not currently with the big league team? Who/why/etc.?

I think that, living in the Chicago area, I have not been able to follow the Cardinals as closely as I have in the past.  Starting a blog on the Cardinals has helped me "reconnect" with the team.

The easiest answer to your second question is that the Cardinals will eventually make room for Oscar Taveras at one of the corner outfield spots by trading one of Matt Holliday, Allen Craig or Matt Adams. 

However, to dig a little deeper, I'm not currently sold on either of our center field options nor is Jhonny Peralta a long-term solution at short.  I think the center field will eventually be filled by James Ramsey.  He is making some noise at AA Springfield this season (.305/.393/.583 with 11 homers in 151 at bats) and is well regarded for his leadership and makeup.

As for shortstop, I think the Cardinals will eventually have to look outside the organization to fill that hole (again).

That's it for this mailbag.  If anyone has any questions they would like me to answer for future mailbags, please send them to:

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