Often our emotional attachment to the local professional team (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) often skews our view of the actual production. In the Lou, we open up dialogue about the Cards before meetings, while using the cell, as we greet our daily collegues, yada-yada-yada..it’s been thought by many that the Cards have really improved this season….think again….
….the StL Cards ARE vastly improved in the standings…..but due to the drop-off of the Cubs not the Cards improvements….last year the Cubs were 26-5 to start the season….basically…. It was game over….this year Chicago has stumbled… more than sprinting …out of the starting blocks…the Cards are the same team as last year….. both in 2016 and 2017, the Cards are 21-19 after 40 games….sure the roster was tinkered around a bit…Fowler for Holliday, Gyorko has swapped roles with Johnny, Diaz from day 1…not day 15….Lance Lynn instead of Jaime Garcia…Wainwright & Leak have exchanged pitching numbers from last year to this year…. the Cards have decreased in power numbers…the loss of Holliday (20), Moss (28), Adams (16) and Hazelbaker (12) cost them 76 dingers ….so StL is averaging 4.5 runs/game as compared to the 4.8 of 2016…a decline but not a major difference…meanwhile the ERA has gone in a much better direction…in 2016 it was 4.08 now it’s 3.60…but…keep in mind 2 things 1) last year Wainwright, Wacha, Leake dropped precipitously in Aug & Sept so if history repeats…it could be similar 2) the Cards have played very sparingly outside the cozy NL Central Division….another point of playing the same…the Cards still don’t field well…in fact, StL is 29th in the MLB in fielding right now..last year it was 25th…just .001 out of being tied for 28th…same ol’…same ol’..baserunning appears similar to me….so….for the first ¼ of the season….this 2017 version is a very close to being a clone of 2016 …I just keep thinking…maybe hoping… is a better word… that MO will make a mini-blockbuster….this particular group of players just doesn’t seem to have some of the necessary fundamentals to win big…..but I can’t ever see MO playing …”all in”… so I’m trying to moderate my hopes…the “big” signings of Fowler, Cecil, & Fryer aren’t exactly shooting for the stars…but right now…..this club is very, very similar in production, roster construction, strengths, and weaknesses as last year…this is the same ol’, same ol’
….one are of change however….this is a puzzler to me…why the Blues are “sharing” their minor league team with Las Vegas Golden Knights…in fact Vegas has actually more control of team….how will the top prospects of the Blues mature as quickly under this system…will they be put in the same roles that the Blues envision for them?…will they get the bulk of the playing time?….I guess it saves money…Heh…Wouldn’t it be cool if the Blues scheduled 5-10 games of their top minor league team at Scott Trade? Lower the prices to encourage younger adults, kids, families to be able to afford to watch some hockey….way back in the day…the Blackhawks top minor league team played in St Louis…St.Louis Braves… if memory serves me correctly…wouldn’t it be worth a try?
…..another area of change is the sports-stations (ESPN especially) coverage of college basketball in the off season with the proliferation of the heralded “one & done” players…ya know….we have a major signing day production for them….but they’ll be gone in a year….it is becoming increasingly harder to “identity” yourself with a team…we all identify with the stars or favorites of “our” team…when they are there but one year…not as much hype about guys who one haven’t played yet , there’s just not as much info that moves the our interest “ticker” upwards”in the off-season…so…ESPN “let go”…nice way of saying fired….two well respected college basketball analysts Andy Katz & Seth Davis. The “One & Done” …in most cases…comes down to a just a few of the same schools annually—Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, and a few others –reaping in 3-5 of these “one & gone” each year….and many really are gone…a few become NBA stars…but surely not the majority of them. The 2nd factor that slows down off-season TV talk about college basketball is the vast increase in foreign players that step right into playing roles at these USA schools…in most cases…there is about a 6 line bio on these players from outside the USA..nobody has ever seen them. The lack of returning “star power” players at the collegiate level makes the signing day the only really big discussion point of the off-season.
…the oft-thought idea that baseball is dying by some sports fans…usually done by the ones that don’t like baseball…they usually complain that the game is too long…but often that same fan watches golfers for 3 hours on weekends, or watches cars circling the same track for multiple hours, or watch 8+ hours of football over a weekend in the fall…anyway…the idea that baseball is struggling is really just wrong if you consider the financial status of MLB right now…the average MLB team is worth $1.537bil(up 19% from last year)…the only pro sport ahead of them is the NFL ($2.38bil/team)… behind the MLB are—the top soccer leagues are at $1.468bil/team; NBA $1.355bil/team and NHL $517mil/team. Further several to MLB teams are benefitting tremendously by forming agreements WITH the local TV companies…we know that the Cards deal with Fox Sports Midwest, signed in 2015 begins next year and is worth $1 billion through 2032…many other teams are doing… or will do shortly… similar deals…the MLB is thriving financially…btw…the Cards increased their spending by 4% in 2017….to $150.4 million….13th in the MLB…Cards & Cubs really do have a competitive edge in the division—Cincy, Milwaukee & Pittsburgh …all 3 of them are in the bottom 6 payroll teams of the MLB.
….quick peek at High school baseball as it is winding down towards state tournament games-the exciting part of the season for the talented teams…#1 rated Rockwood Summit (26-4) has won their conference and hopes to make a deep run in the MSHSAA playoffs. The large-school team on the East side of the River with the most wins…thus far..is Vianney (29-6) under Coach Scott Brown. Some thought that this would be a rebuilding year @ Vianney when several pitchers graduated last year…not so much. Westminster Christian has the most impressive record at 29-1 at this moment….I’m happy to see a “name from the past”…Valley Park excelled in baseball through much of the 80’s & 90’s under Coach Brent Gregston (412-199-2) but they’ve stumbled lately…good to see them back in the top 10 of small schools again. Two more Rockwood schools-Lafayette & Marquette are again “in the hunt” for a long post-season run.
…Rivals ratings for the basketball recruiting classes in 2017 has Mizzou @#7…not #7 in SEC …#7 in the country! The top 6 have mostly the standard names-1) Kentucky 2) Duke 3) Texas 4) UCLA 5) Arizona & 6) Alabama.. it should be really exciting in Columbia…some surprise to me …at #9 was Xavier but shockingly…almost as much as Mizzou…at #10 was W. Kentucky.
….what a “steal” and it was legal!!…Charlie Weis…remember him…asst @ NE patriots…hired as Head Coach at Notre Dame…he didn’t do well …so as you can anticipate…he was fired in 2009….the final buyout payment occurred in 2015…Weis collected $18,967,960 for not coaching Notre Dame between ‘09 & ‘18…but it’s not over…Charlie left ND and landed a job at Kansas U…so he was collecting from ND for NOT coaching while getting paid by KU to coach…he had the same success at KU as ND…bad…so …yep..he was fired and….u got it…his buyout from KU was another $5.625 million….no wonder the major universities can’t pay the players…they are too busy paying the “buy out” contracts of former coaches
…Before you laugh too hard…Gary Pinkel…after stepping down from his football position… signed a contract with Mizzou for 3 years, $950,000 to be an “ambassador” …do they need any more ambassadors? I remember the times when a HS player of mine visited Mizzou. He was escorted by an “ambassador”…. somehow….I don’t see Gary Pinkel having as much success as these young female ambassadors did in influencing decisions to attend Mizzou …btw….in a sad story related to this HS player of mine visiting Mizzou…my player did sign with Mizzou after visits to Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Cal, Iowa State and some Ivy League school…he did it….so his family could watch him play…sadly…his Dad was reassigned by Boeing from St Louis to Australia after this player began his Mizzou experience…the player became a starter in his 5th year…it still seems sad to me.
….speaking of Mizzou football….the 2018 High school football players list coming out of St Louis is said to be the “Best St. Louis Class in a Generation”…the last class close to this was the 1992 class…some of the major names that you want to follow (these aren’t in any order of skill or anything else)….Michael Thompson(Pk North)-leaning to Mizzou; Kamryn Babb(CBC)-leaning to Ohio State; Trevor Trout (Chaminade)-leaning Mizzou; Ronnie Perkins (Luth North); Dallas Craddieth (Haz Cen); Ayodele Adeoye (Ritenour); Kaleb Eleby (Pattonville) … there are many, many more but these are the early headline-grabbers…it appears that Mizzou could really have a strong recruiting year if they just take care of business at home.
….NBA prognosticators have projected Jayson Tatum as a top 5 draft pick….if David Lee plays one more year…Chaminade will have 3 graduates as NBA players! (Lee, Bradley Beal & now Jayson Tatum
…some fans of the Cards thought that this SF series should have been a very good one for St Louis…the Giants had Hunter Pence & Madison Bumgarner on the DL and the Cards missed Johnny Cueto in the rotation and still beat the Cards 2 out of 3 games.
….We indicated last winter that Matt Adams didn’t have a spot in the Cards plans with Carp the every-day 1B….trying to making room on the roster with players returning from the DL and Atlanta missing all-star Freddie Freeman for 10 weeks due to injury…it opened up an easy deal…Cards got a minor league player in return…we wish Adams well
….with the MLB International signing rules changing dramatically after this year and the Cards suffering from their “hacking” punishment (no draft choice until end of 3rd round)….the StL Cards made a major play for Cuban Louis Robert but were outbid by the White Sox. He was viewed as a “5 tool” player so the Sox …who are really struggling…while their comrades in Chicago are thriving…decided to roll the dice with the big bucks…The Sox who enjoyed a major part of a terrific career of another Cuban (Minnie Minoso) hope it works again. It’s a gamble…some Cuban players have developed into stars, some into solid MLB players and some have flamed out…but many scouts think that Robert is the “real thing”…
…Some oddities of the MLB standings on May 21…..most wins in MLB-Houston-29, #2 Colorado with 28; Cleveland is 8-10 @ home but 15-9 on the road; Texas has won 9 of their last 10 games; Washington Nationals have scored the most runs in MLB-246 and …poor San Diego 12.5 games out after playing 46 games…ugh
….there isn’t a day that passes that someone in the MLB isn’t put on the DL…this new 10 day DL seems to have opened the door for minor aches that players “played through” in the past….EVERY team has injuries…obviously some more than others…some teams hit the hardest…Cincy…not ever considered a strong pitching team…the Reds have lost 3 of their original starters on the 60 day DL—Homer Bailey (it’s an appropriate 1st name for his pitching ), Brandon Finnegan, and Anthony DeSclafani. Another team with lots of money sitting “out” are the Mets—starters Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard; closer Jeurys Familia; regular field players Yoenis Cespedes, Travis D’Arnaud, Asdrubal Cabrera. Far from us and seldom seen are the Seattle Mariners—they are missing their star-Robinson Cano; from the rotation-King Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Drew Smyly; and from their every-day lineup-Mitch Haniger & Danny Valencia. The Washington Nats are missing Adam Eaton & Bryce Harper right now…talk about wiping out your OF!
…it’s the same ol’ same ol’ ending for me….thanks for reading….YOUR thoughts are always invited..put them on Prepcasts site, facebook, or send an email….you can’t be wrong…they are YOUR thoughts…have a great week