April 6, 2009

Snow-penig Day not all chilly for Cards

Okay, so Motte had a downright, awful experience in his first chance at closing. Hopefully, most of any future bad days won't be as disappointing.

And no matter how well other facets of the Cardinals first game of 2009 played out, the lingering thought in the collective mind of Cardinal Nation will be that the Cardinals simply can't close a game on a positive note.

It's only one game, but one can't help but wonder how many Ws the Cards will toss away due to shortcomings in the bullpen.

No sense in panicking, though, especially when it comes to the overall team performance, which was pretty good.

+++ Waino's first time out was decent, his off-speed possibly overused, but in good form.

+++ The infield wasn't noticed for anything bad, so that's good. Brendan Ryan covered second base well, and Khalil Greene made good plays on everything, including a tough chance in which he wasn't able to throw out a baserunner. Pujols ranged well to his right, as usual, taking some pressure off whoever the second baseman might be on a given day that he won't have to cover the hole quite so much.

+++ Molina's overall catching performance wasn't spotless, but busy, considering he handled five hurlers, each with their own measures of Opening Day wildness. Not terrible wild, but there were enough dirt balls and missed targets to keep the Golden Glover awake.

--- The bullpen was scary --again. It may be the Izzy Syndrome hasn't completely drained out of the pen. If Motte would've polished off the Pirates in the ninth, said syndrome would have been exorcised, so to speak.

+++ There was worry that Ryan Ludwick had put far too much pressure on himself during the off-season and Spring Training to play up to his new multi-million dollar deal. In fact, he'd hit so far below his capability that TLR batted K-Greene cleanup and left Luddy to bat fifth. Greene has re-established himself as a solid doubles, RBI kinda guy, but temping as a cleanup man is no long term answer. Luddy must hit. The Cards must have his type of power behind Pujols. C-Duncan would have to be hot to take that spot. A righty swinger behind Pujols is necessary to create problems for the opponents on relief pitching selection.

++/-- Rick Ankiel batting second is perfect; going 0-for-Opening Day was just how it went for Ank this time. Add a hit or two a game and things change dramatically for potentially productive offensive scenarios for the Cards.

+++ Before the game, I would've argued that Brendan Ryan (who I respect as a decent Cardinal) should not have been the selection to play at second base over Schumaker, and definitely not in the leadoff spot. His Spring Training just didn't seem to warrant such deployment. Yet, Ryan show me up. His ideas about how to go about leadoff ABs is not traditional, but you can't say he's not aggressive, and I usually have no problem with that, as long as it isn't used for an excuse for not utilizing good common baseball sense.

+++ I like the way Yadi played the rundown on Paul Maholm: very cautiously. The last time a pitcher came down the line on Yadi, the Gold Glove catcher was taken off on a stretcher.
photo by Iscan