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Bird Watching

Bird Watching: No place like home…

It’s been a while, but with a new baby, a new internship, and countless other changes to my everyday life…my blogging time has justifiably suffered. However, with the bitter taste of our most recent road trip lingering like bile on my tongue, I can’t help but throw a few Bird Seeds items out there to tide you over. So, here it goes…a little welcome home message for the Cardinals and their fans:

Greene is a Serious Color  I was thrilled when we picked up Khalil Greene for (at the time) next to nothing…but I’m 90% ready for Tyler to show us what he’s got. I watched Tyler Greene in person for a while in Springfield, and he’s always had a sharp bat and strong, natural talent in the field. He’s the real deal…and it may be time to let him prove it. Honestly, I think Brendan’s reassignment to AAA for rehab may be, in part, to allow Tyler a longer look at the Big League level. If he continues to play as he has…good things.  Barring a serious production reduction (hehe), the Cardinals need to find a way to keep him at this level for the foreseeable future.

Enough with Joe Thurston  Look…Joe Thurston is a talented andaggressive player with an occasionally dynamic bat. That’s it. He’s not consistent. He doesn’t play smart. He attempts to over-hustle to compensate for a lack of baseball maturity at this level, and he thinks he’s Albert Pujols on the base paths. Brian Barden, on the other hand, is almost the exact opposite. I don’t think Barden is our long-term answer at third base…but I absolutely think he is our short-term solution. The guy gets rookie of the month andthen gets his at-bats limited to 17 for the month of May to Thurston’s 38!!! Come on…if it wasn’t for TLR’slove affair with Thurston, Barden would be getting the majority of the at-bats at third base. And the worst part of it…Barden’s level of play has suffered for it. The guy needs consistency to produce. Plug him in the lineup, sit Thurston down, and use Joe as a pinch-hitter and 2nd base late inning sub.

4-Man Rotation  No, I don’t mean the starting pitchers…I mean the outfielders. Ankiel is due back next week, and Ludwick won’t be too far behind. With the way Rasmus is grabbing hold of his consistent playing opportunities, our four-man rotation in the outfield is looking pretty promising. We could roll through the rest of the season giving every outfielder every 4th day off to keep them fresh and sharp. Play 3, take a day…play another 3, take a day. With the bats in our outfield, we suffer little by subbing one for another. I see no reason to trade one of them away if Carp’s return can help right the ship in our starting five.

Woeful Wellemeyer  I like Todd. I really do. But maybe it’s time for him to start taking a hard look at his eccentricities. Starting pitchers don’t talk to others on the day of their start for a reason…focus. Wellemeyer, however, is the abnormal one. He has no problem talking, interviewing, and even occasionally twittering (I hate the term “tweeting”) on a scheduled start day. In the past, we (fans) and the media have received this unique trait with a certain fondness. Enough. I don’t know if it’s mechanics, delivery flaws, or just a simple inability to focus…but Wellemeyerhas got to start doing things differently. He had about two thirds of a decent season last year on the mound…and then moaned about “not feeling right” or his bum elbow the rest of the time. That’s all we know of the guy. His first half season with us…he was a wild gamble every start. He walked the side and survived on a wicked fastball and the occasional slider. Now, he’s toned down his fastball and all but eliminated his slider in the early innings. The result…fewer walks and more hits. A bit more on Wellemeyer:

The time has come to face reality with Todd Wellemeyer. The guy is either hurt, experiencing major flaws in his mechanics, and/or taking a flawed approach into every game (e.g. throwing too many fastballs early). Or…he’s just not the pitcher we all thought he was in the first place. Personally…I think it’s a combination of approach and a stubborn inability to conform to the routine of a starting pitcher. To get the first out of the way (and this is thanks to Matt Leach of mlb.com), Todd is throwing way too many fastballs early in the game andall but abandoning his slider. As Matt put it, he must throw his slider. I understand the approach…throw the fastball early andsave the slider for the second and third time through the order…but it’s not working for him. Guys are jumping on his fastball (typically up in the zone) and stringing together too many hits in one inning. My concern here is this: If he has to use his full repertoire of pitches early in the game, doesn’t that make him more hittable the third and fourth time through the order? Are we solving early inning runs and replacing them with late inning runs? I don’t know…but I’m not all that concerned about his game plan. I’m more concerned about the personality he’s taking into the game. Wellemeyer’s eccentricity was cool and a good discussion topic when he was pitching well…now, it’s a target. At some point, Todd has got to figure out that he is a starting pitcher, now. He would do well to mimic the likes of Carp and maximize focus before, during, and in between starts. I just haven’t seen it yet.

On a Positive Note  The bullpen seems to have turned it around…and not in ideal conditions. With quality starts a recent “thing of the past,” the ‘pen has done an outstanding job limiting the damage. Considering where this ‘pen was last season and the start of this season, it is commendable the way they’ve pulled themselves together. Let’s hope the starting five gets themselves figured out before the ‘pen can get beat up and worn down from over use.

A Final Comment…  Can we stop with the “mechanics problem” and/or “flaw in my delivery” issues for starting pitchers? Look…you either get guys out, or you don’t. Enough with the arm angles, flying open, pulling off, etc. You know what those are? Various ways of saying the same thing: I can’t get hitters out. That’s it. I honestly believe all these varying excuses and supposed explanations for ineffective pitching have done one thing…propped up pitchers with multiple crutches. Kick one out from under them and they topple. Enough already. Either you’re effective or you’re not. I don’t want to hear about your arm being 3 or 4 inches lower…or the one secret “thing” you discovered to fix your delivery. I don’t care! Fix it. It’s all sugar water anyway. It’s all mental crutching that serves one purpose only…to get your head in a place where you believe you can get it done. You’ve been pitching since you were 6 years old (most)…your body knows how to pitch. Just get your damn head out of the way. Sheesh.

Now, I realize it’s not always that simple…and I know a small adjustment here or there can make a significant difference. But come on…a lot of the time, you’re just not getting it done. Suck it up and pitch.

Okay…that’s all for now…here’s hoping the home stand is a welcome stretch…but with the Brewers, Cubs, and Royals coming to town, it’s going to take more than a little home cookin’ to rejuvenate this Cardinals team.



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