Playoff speculation

I was doing some planning for next weekend and began guessing what the most likely playoff game times would be for the Division Series.

First, you can find the entire playoff schedule here: playoff schedule
Now, for the basis of this prediction, we are going to assume that the Dodgers finish with the top record in the NL, followed by the Phillies, Cardinals and Rockies. Even if the Phillies top the Dodgers, the match-ups would be the same for the first round.
So in the NL, we would have Cardinals at Dodgers and Rockies at Phillies in Game 1.
In the American League, we will most likely have the Tigers at Yankees and the Red Sox at Angels in Game 1.  The Twins win today moved them to within two games of the Tigers with three games to play but we’re going to assume that the Tigers hold on. Actually, it doesn’t matter if the Twins or Tigers win because the game times wouldn’t change.
The one wrinkle for the first two days is that the Yankees can choose if they want their series to start on Wednesday or Thursday, making it a seven or eight day series. I am predicting that they will want the seven day series so that Verlander doesn’t have a chance to pitch game four on regular rest for the Tigers.
Now based on those four match-ups, and using the playoff schedule on MLB.com that I linked above, here is my guess for the game times for the Division Series:
Wednesday Oct 7 (all times eastern)
1 p.m. – Rockies at Phillies
4 p.m. – Cardinals at Dodgers
8 p.m. – Red Sox at Angels
Thursday Oct 8
1 p.m. – Rockies at Phillies
4 p.m. – Cardinals at Dodgers
8 p.m. – Tigers at Yankees
Friday Oct 9
5 p.m. – Tigers at Yankees
8 p.m. – Red Sox at Angels
Saturday Oct 10
5 p.m. – Phillies at Rockies
8 p.m. – Dodgers at Cardinals
Sunday Oct 11 (if both NL series are still going)
1 p.m. – Dodgers at Cardinals
4 p.m. – Yankees at Tigers
7 p.m. – Angels at Red Sox
10 p.m. – Phillies at Rockies
Monday Oct 12 (if both AL series go four games)
5 p.m. – Yankees at Tigers
8 p.m. – Angels at Red Sox
Tuesday Oct 13 (if both NL series go five games)
5 p.m. – Rockies at Phillies
8 p.m. – Cardinals at Dodgers
Wednesday Oct 14 (if both AL series go five games)
5 p.m. – Tigers at Yankees
8 p.m. – Red Sox at Angels
Now obviously this is just a guess and it could be totally wrong. But based on who I think TBS will choose which game, I think that it looks like a pretty good bet that at least most of these games will be correct.
Feel free to let me know what you think by either twittering me at http://www.twitter.com/bjrains or by emailing me at BJRains33@gmail.com
Have a good Thursday evening.
-B.J.

Cardinals top plays of 2009?

I am putting together a package of the top 12 Cardinals plays from 2009 and have narrowed the list to 15. If you would like to help decide what the top 12 plays were from the Cardinals regular season, please rank them in what order you think they were and email them to me at bjrains33@gmail.com.

Thanks a lot.

-B.J. Rains

The finalists:

Pineiro two-hit shutout at Mets, June 23
La Russa gets career win number 2,500, June 21
Tyler Greene amazing diving stop and throw vs Phillies, May 4
Ryan makes three great plays against Braves, April 27
Holliday 4-for-5 in Cardinals debut, July 24
Carpenter 10 K’s vs Reds, Aug 12
Molina scoops ball in dirt and picks off runner at first vs Cubs, July 11
John Smoltz, seven straight strikeouts in Cardinals debut, Aug 23
Pujols has grand slam and three-run homer, seven RBIs vs Astros, April 11
Holliday walk off homer vs Cubs, Sept 18
Ankiel robs Jason Werth of HR with amazing catch, July 25
Cards clinch NL Central, Sept 26
Carpenter throws one-hitter vs Brewers, Sept 7
Rasmus walk-off homer caps amazing comeback vs Padres, Aug 16
Pujols grand slam vs Reds, July 3

Saturday tidbits – Lohse, Glaus, Memphis call-ups

B.J. Rains

MLB.com

ST. LOUIS – Manager Tony La Russa announced on Saturday that righty Kyle Lohse
will get the start in Houston on Monday night.

Lohse, who was skipped on Friday night in favor of John
Smoltz, is trying to work on his mechanics after a forearm
injury has caused him to lose the location on his pitches.

“He’s hoping to get healthy and stay healthy,” La Russa
said. “He’s feeling better. He’s missed so much time and had so many tough
breaks that it’s disrupted the natural flow of his pitching. He’s got a better feel
for his delivery right now.

“We’re going to start him Monday. We’re excited about him because
he’s feeling healthy for the first time in a while. He’s feeling better about
his delivery too.”

Joel Pineiro will start on Tuesday and Smoltz will start the
series finale on Wednesday.

Other Saturday tidbits:

*The Cardinals are expecting to have a few Triple-A call-ups
join the team on Friday in Colorado. The Cardinals Triple-A Memphis affiliate will
play in the one-game Triple-A Championship on Tuesday night after winning the
Pacific Coast League Championship on Friday night with a 3-0 series sweep of
Sacramento.

After Tuesday’s game, the selected call-ups will head back
to Memphis before joining the Cardinals in Denver.

“What an amazing run that was,” La Russa said of Memphis. “I
talked to (Manager Chris) Maloney last night and they were all real excited.
They play Tuesday. Wednesday they will get back to Memphis and hopefully
celebrate and collect themselves and get to Colorado on either Thursday or Friday.”

La Russa also said that Double-A Springfield manager Pop
Warner will join the team for their three-game series in Houston and Maloney
will help out on the bench in Colorado and Cincinnati. Both Warner and Maloney
will be in St. Louis for the final homestand of the season.

*Infielder Troy Glaus played catch for the first time in a
couple of days and had a light workout on the field. He remains inactive with a
strained rib-cage and TLR didn’t know when he would be available.

“He can’t hit,” La Russa said. “He’s working out today and we
will see how he feels when it’s over but he’s not available to hit today.”

*I’m not a big music guy so I don’t have any music suggestions for you like my faithful
leader Matthew Leach usually provides in his blog. You shouldn’t be listening
to music today anyway. Go watch some football.

*Don’t forget you can follow me on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/bjrains. Not sure what I will bring to the table but I’ll give it my best shot.

Have a good afternoon.

-B.J. Rains

Cards GM Mozeliak in Springfield

I am in Springfield doing some stories on some of the prospects down here, and Cards GM John Mozeliak is here to check in on the kiddies.

Mo brought his daughter along and the two will be returning to St. Louis tomorrow morning. He  chatted with Matt Baker from the Springfield News-Leader and myself shortly before tonight’s game about a variety of topics.
Most of what I talked to him about will be in my upcoming stories about the prospects, but a few newsworthy notes:
*On the Cardinals interest in the newly DFA’d John Smoltz: “Right now I would say no, but things could change.”
*On negotiations with Shelby Miller: “We obviously have another week before the deadline, but once we start getting to that ‘the clock is ticking mode’ it will force us to try and get something done, but Im very optimistic that we can get something worked out.”

*On whether Daryl Jones should have played in the Futures Game since he got hurt and hasn’t played since – it will be in my story next week but Jones was hurt and didn’t come right out and say it but probably shouldn’t have played in the game. Mo agreed : “I think that might have been a little premature to put him in that game, and thats unfortunate because it is a great opportunity, but you’d probably give it back if you knew you werent going to miss all of this time. I’ve thought about that myself, in that probably, if we could do it again, we’d just not let him play.”

I have gotten a lot of good stuff on the two hard throwing relievers, Samuel and Sanchez, as well as stuff from Kozma, Henley, Jones and Lynn. Also some more telling comments from Mo, so check for my stories next week on stlcardinals.com.

From the Hammons Field Pressbox, have a great rest of the evening. 

Bruce Sutter bobblehead night tomorrow!

-B.J. Rains


*

Saturday Cards – D’Backs lineups and tidbits

Greetings from a cloudy but cool Busch Stadium. It’s a fall like 70 degrees as I write this at 4:15 p.m. central time. As you probably know, Mark DeRosa has been activated and is in the Cardinals lineup tonight. You can find my full story on that here.  The rest of the lineups and a few notes:

Arizona

Felipe Lopez 2B
Stephen Drew SS
Justin Upton RF
Mark Reynolds 3B
Miguel Montero C
Gerardo Parra CF
Josh Whitesell 1B
Alex Romero LF
Dan Haren P

Cardinals

Skip Schumaker 2B
Mark DeRosa 3B
Albert Pujols 1B
Ryan Ludwick RF
Yadier Molina C
Colby Rasmus CF
Nick Stavinoha LF
Adam Wainwright P
Brendan Ryan SS

*Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was asked if the team stayed at 13 pitches when DeRosa was activated because of their current stretch of 17 consecutive games.

“It has everything to do with it, seventeen days in a row. If they all pitch eight innings
like carp did then we have too many pitchers. But it would be nice to get
through this period and have our relievers as fresh as possible for the last
couple of months.”

*La Russa on why Stavinoha is playing over Duncan or Ankiel: “

Both of the other guys are struggling a little bit and its not a good guy
to go against when your struggling.” La Russa was talking about having to go against Arizona starter Dan Haren, who is having arguably the best year in the National League.

* Troy Glaus is expected to report to Memphis on Monday but La Russa didn’t know anything about how long he might be there. Hopefully we will have a better idea of that tomorrow.

That’s all for now. As always, feel free to email me (bjrains33@gmail.com) or twitter me with your comments, suggestions or questions. Thanks for reading.

-B.J. Rains


Friday Cardinals – D’Backs lineups and notes

Arizona (38-51)

Felipe Lopez 2B
Stephen Drew SS
Justin Upton RF
Mark Reynolds 3B
Miguel Montero 2B
Gerardo Parra LF
Chris Young CF
Josh Whitesell 1B
Jon Garland P

St. Louis (49-42)

Skip Schumaker 2B
Colby Rasmus CF
Albert Pujols 1B
Ryan Ludwick RF
Chris Duncan LF
Yadier Molina C
Joe Thurston 3B
Chris Carpenter P
Brendan Ryan SS

NOTES:

Former Mizzou basketball star Jimmy McKinney worked out on the Busch Stadium field for the second straight day as he tries to impress the Cardinals enough to earn a minor league contract.

La Russa on McKinney: ““Good athlete. I didn’’t know he was a
shortstop/infielder. He’s getting a good foundation because Jose is
working with his defense and Hal’s working with his hitting. It’s a
really hard thing to do, but he’s trying. It would be more fair (if he
was 21 or 22). It’’s really difficult. To get an opportunity, it’s really difficult to
make something out of the opportunity. He’s been out a long time. But
he’s such a great athlete. You never know.”

*Troy Glaus is 3-17 in four games with Palm Beach. La Russa didn’t have a time table for his return.

“I haven’t had enough information about how he’s
throwing,” La Russa said. “That’s the problem. With that information, it’s easier to
answer the question. I don’t know. It’s not the American League, though. We can’t DH him. It really
depends on how well he throws. If he could throw, it would be great to
get his bat in the lineup.

*Bullpen coach Jeff Murphy was injured during the All-Star break when he was bucked off a horse. No bones were broken but Murphy wasn’t available to catch bullpens on Friday.

Murphy fell off his horse and injured his back,” La Russa said. “There’s
nothing broken, but he’s all twisted and sore. Probably, it’s the horse
complaining about so much weight on it. A Clydesdale is the only thing
that can carry him.”

Cardinals outfielder Nick Stavinoha caught the pregame bullpen sessions and La Russa said he had no problem putting him in to catch in an emergency situation.

Thats all for now. It’s a beautiful night for baseball. Enjoy the game.


-B.J. Rains

FanFest Tour and pics

The media was given a private tour of the FanFest this morning and among my first reactions was how big it was. If you have tickets, make sure you go early in the morning so you can have all day to experience it. There were too many exhibits and events for me to see in the short tour and I definitely don’t have enough space in this blog to list them all. But among my favorites:

(Remember, all of these are free with your ticket price)
*What’s your call? – Watch close plays and decide if the runner is out/safe or the ball was fair/foul etc. MLB umpires will be on hand to discuss rules and close plays with fans.
*Bring the heat – Get a chance to strike out your favorite hitters by throwing a ball at a video of the batter swinging.
*Game saving catch – Have your photo taken as you rob a home run ball. 
*Video batting cages – try to hit against your favorite MLB pitcher.
*Baseball Card – Have your picture taken and your very own baseball card made.
*The Baseball Diamond – an actual indoor field with clinics and also a Mascot home run derby at 11am every day. (Justin Morneau, Evan Longoria and Ozzie Smith among hose hosting fielding clinics on the field at some point)
*Steal home challenge – Get timed as you run from third base to home plate and see how your time stacks up with some of baseballs best.
*Home Run Derby – Step into one of four batting cages and try to hit balls over the fence (I think its about 150 feet away).
*Infield practice – Field ground balls and make the throw across the diamond to first.
There are several memorabilia stands as well as an awesome Hall of Fame exhibit with more than 100 items from the HOF in Cooperstown. Included is a Babe Ruth game-worn jersey and several Cardinals related items.
Here are some pics that I took of the inside of FanFest as well as the construction of the MLB tent and softball field behind the left-field fence at Busch Stadium:
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Construction of the MLB tent and softball field:
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Thanks for reading. Feel free to email me with any questions about the All-Star weekend. I will be living at FanFest the next two days for MLB.com so feel free to ask me anything. Have a good afternoon.
-B.J. Rains

Tuesday lineups and notes (Randy Johnson vs Chris Carpenter)

Greetings
from the Busch Stadium press box. Should be a great pitchers duel tonight as
former Cy Young Award winners Randy Johnson and Chris Carpenter toe the rubber
for their respective clubs. Its a beautiful day for baseball and I get excited
coming to the park on days like today.

First, the lineups:

Giants (41-34)

Aaron Rowand CF
Randy Winn LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Bengie Molina C
Nate Schierholtz RF
Edgar Renteria SS
Travis Ishikawa 1B
Juan Uribe 2B
Randy Johnson P

Cardinals (41-37)

Brendan Ryan SS
Mark DeRosa 3B
Albert Pujols 1B
Ryan Ludwick RF
Yadier Molina C
Rick Ankiel CF
Tyler Greene 2B
Chris Carpenter P
Joe Thurston LF

Cardinals Notes:

*Per the lineups above, Joe Thurston is starting in LF and Mark DeRosa at 3B.
Tony La Russa was asked about why not play Thurston at 3B and DeRosa in left,
and his response was that DeRosa would be playing most of the time at third so
he wanted him to concentrate on that.

*The same can be said about Brendan Ryan playing SS and Tyler Greene playing 2B
instead of what seems to make more sense, switching them and having Ryan play
2B and Greene play at short. La Russa said that Ryan would be getting most of
the playing time at SS if he stays healthy and he didn’t want to mess with him
playing other spots.

*Colby Rasmus was available to play but not in the lineup with the lefty
Johnson on the hill. Tony hinted that he would start tomorrow. Yadier Molina
was back in the lineup after missing two games because of a brusied thigh. I
went into more detail on both of these in a story for stlcardinals.com that
should be posted shortly.

Thats all for now, heading down to get some grub. Enjoy the game. Pitching
matchups like these don’t come around often.

-B.J. Rains

Giants-Cards lineups – Mortensen promoted from AAA

Giants (40-34)

Aaron Rowand CF
Randy Winn LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Bengie Molina C
Nate Schierholtz RF
Edgar Renteria SS
Travis Ishikawa 1B
Juan Uribe 2B
Tim Lincecum P

Cardinals (41-36)

Skip Schumaker 2B
Mark DeRosa 3B
Albert Pujols 1B
Ryan Ludwick RF
Chris Duncan LF
Rick Ankiel CF
Jason LaRue C
Brad Thompson P
Brendan Ryan SS

Umpires: Mark Carlson (HP), Tim Tschida (1B), Bob Davidson (2B), Todd Tichenor (3B)

*The Cardinals have promoted pitcher Clayton Mortensen from triple-A Memphis  and put IF Khalil Greene on the 15-day disabled list with anxiety issues. More coming after we head down to the clubhouse and we get a story posted on stlcardinals.com.

*Also, Kyle Lohse is in the bullpen throwing a side session and looks set to start on Thursday in Springfield. More on that coming on stlcardinals.com as well.

-B.J. Rains

Sunday Twins-Cards lineups, notes

Twins (38-38)

Denard Span 8
Brendan Harris 6
Joe Mauer 2
Justin Morneau 3
Jason Kubel 7
Michael Cuddyer 9
Joe Crede 5
Matt Tolbert 4
Francisco Liriano 1

Cardinals (41-35)

Skip Schumaker 4
Khalil Greene 5
Albert Pujols 3
Mark DeRosa 7
Ryan Ludwick 9
Rick Ankiel 8
Jason LaRue  2
Joel Pineiro 1
Tyler Greene 6

CARDINALS NOTES:

*I stopped by the Cardinals clubhouse this morning to see if Mark DeRosa had arrived and he took the first flight out of Cleveland and was at the ballpark before 9am. I saw him shaking hands and meeting some of the younger players whom he hadn’t met before. He said he was pretty tired but that he would make it through.

*Tyler Greene was excited that he was hitting ninth and not seventh. He said hitting in front of the pitcher, who hits eighth in the Cardinals lineup, was one of the hardest spots to hit because you don’t know when they are going to try and pitch around you and when they will go right after you. He said when he was called up the first time earlier this year, he really struggled as he tried to learn how to bat in front of the pitcher. He also said that the ball that hit him in the head last night just grazed his helmet and that he was fine. Greene did say that he watched it on video and that it was a little scary. He was expecting the pitch to break back away from him but that never happened.

TWINS NOTES:

*Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had planned to start Michael Cuddyer at second base today but decided against it when he heard that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina took some offense to his slide into home plate on Saturday. Had he put Cuddyer at second, Cardinals runners could have turned him into a target and slid hard into him during potential double plays as payback.
“That’s why I’m not putting him at second,” Gardenhire said Sunday morning. “I can’t make him a dart board out there. If they thought that he slid hard or something bad there, I don’t know how that goes into the thought process of Yadi if Cuddy is playing second. I’m not going to make him a dart board. I’m not taking that chance.I don’t want any extracurricular activity today. It’s a nice Sunday in St. Louis.”

*Nick Punto is not in the starting lineup for the 5th straight game as he continues to battle some pain in his ribs. Full details, including when he might return, in my story on twinsbaseball.com that should be posted shortly.

*Gardenhire is thrilled that Interleague Play is over. He is not a fan at all. I will have more on that in my preview for tomorrow’s Twins matchup in KC agaisnt the Royals.

That’s all for now. Have a good afternoon and try to stay cool.

-B.J. Rains


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