Folks: Slight delay here at the start; Benjamin will be here shortly. Thanks for your patience.
OK, I am here, please send in any (any!) Qs about Blues, Cards, Mizzou, NBA, favorite sitcoms moms...
Well, here's what is tricky about this series between the Blues and the Nashville Preds -- both teams dominated in the first round, but they did so different ways. Yeah, they both ended the series pretty easily, but the reality is -- the Preds had better puck possession and more scoring from their big names. That line with Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsso looked like an all-star line at times. But you make a great point about Paulie. The Blues struggled at the dot, no question. And he can help there. But he's also a play-maker and scoring threat -- he had one of the first good looks of Game 5 and then, of course, a key goal in Game 5. And the trickle down is huge -- and sure enough, it was the Sobotka-Lehtera-Paajarvi line that got the GWG. How do I see this series going? I say Preds in 7.
Maybe, but the Cubs aren't necessarily running away with things right now. The Cubs are only 11-8, though they looked like world-beaters once again last night, when they won 14-3 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Look, I've been saying it all winter -- the Cubs have the best defense and offense around, but there are question marks with their starting staff. That's not only with age, but also with simply sustaining the run prevention amazing-ness that we saw last year (which was similar to the Cards in 2015). Hendricks' ERA right now is 6.19 -- he goes tonight against the Buccos. An Arrieta is back to earth. Have the Cards closed the gap? Maybe not. But I think they'll still be in the mix in Sept.
I think this is the question of the series -- both Pekka Rinne and Jake The Snake Allen have been extroadinary in the postseason. Check out this stat from my cohorts over at the Tennessean newspaper: "Rinne is one of four NHL goaltenders in the league's expansion era (since 1967-68) to win all four games of a playoff series with a goals-against average of 0.70 or less. He allowed three goals to the Blackhawks on 126 shots, which translates to a .976 save percentage." The difference is, he faced less of a barrage that Jake Allen faced in the Minnesota series. Jake essentially won Game 1 for St. Louis, and take away his bonehead pass in Game 4, which led to a goal, and he's got a sterling GAA. I think I'm going to go with Jake as the better goalie -- he's been playing at such a high level since the coaching change. It really is an extraordinary turnaround.
Hahaha I keep hearing Judge Smails in Caddyshack screaming: "Porterhowwwwwwse!" Incidentally, who is the best Caddyshack character? I've argued that if you ask 100 people, you'll get 25-25-25-25 with Smails, Spackler, Webb and Czervik. But yes, as for the Mizzou Tigers, it's certainly exciting. A lot of people (myself included) are getting so caught in the weeds about Knox or Tilmon or whomever, we keep forgetting that this team got the No. 1 player after winning eight games! Yes, The No. 1 player comes with an asterisk -- but consider this, he fell for Mizzou hoops, even after living in Columbia for much of the Kim era! (Obviously MPJ wasn't going to play for Kim, but he still felt the bigness of a SEC basketball team in his hometown). He likes the storyline of coming home. But yeah, the most important person to come home was Michael Porter SENIOR. He's the Reggie Jackson -- the "straw that stirs the drink," to make a 1970s sports reference. But yes, at minimum, Mizzou Arena will feature two Porters on the women's team, a Porter aunt in the coaching box, and then on the men's side, the best player in the country (Michael Porter Jr.) and his dad -- and possibly Jontay, who had his visit yesterday!
Well, the Cards offense is not going to remain as bad as it currently is -- it's TOO bad right now. Guys like Piscotty and Dexter are going to ascend. But the big question is the slugging in the middle of the lineup. I've been bullish on Grichuk and he's been swinging and missing a bunch -- if you listen to the latest edition of the Best Podcast In Baseball, Derrick Goold of our paper provides an interesting description of how Randal feasts on mistake pitches, but rarely makes something out of tough pitches. As for other slugging producers, Jhonny looks lost and Pisco's numbers are down like I mentioned. It's a fair question that Jack asked about the matching lineups -- but again, this sport isn't just about offense. Run prevention can be vital, but right now, we're not seeing that with the defense.
Right away, I love last names that end in the "eir" sound. Luis Robert. Bobby (and Guy) Hebert. It's just fun to say (not as fun to type). Do the Cards have a chance of signing Cuban prodigy Luis Robert? Sure, definitely. Because of the timing of this, they'll have money to spend and they'll be able to make a strong pitch. The fact that the Cards have been active in the Cuban market can't hurt. The fact that Aledmys Diaz made the All-Star team in his first year with the Cardinals, and that Adolis Garcia signed with STL are both positive things. It sounds like, if there was ever an international player to splurge on, it would be Robert. And considering the Cards lost some draft picks and such due to the hacking scandal,here's a way to try to compensate.
A fair point. And obviously the 2011 Cardinals were Wild Cards -- and the Cards had a good run after winning "The Other Pete Kozma" Game, baseball's first-ever Wild Card play-in game, against Chipper and the Bravos. So yes, once you're in the tournament, you have a shot, but you can't necessarily proclaim "we're playing for the wild card," because that's not how competitive executives operate. And also, the Wild Card game is tough because you're forced to use a key pitcher just to get you into the next round -- and thus won't have that pitcher for a little while into the series.
They don't, really. For a few years there, they had some trash-talk stuff going with the Giants if I recall, but because the Rockies are wedged into that time zone, it's hard to create rivalries. The Diamondbacks are nearby, but neither team has been consistently good.
I would say so, but the problem is his two-year contract!! But yeah, I'd be afraid to pitch him in a game for Clayton versus Ladue.
It's exciting indeed. My man Frank Cusumano said the press conference for Smith will be Wed. I'm guessing it is ILL.
I think it just depends on the dude. When you're hot, you're hot, and a lot of guys would want to just keep playing. But yeah, clearly Paulie and Steener are playing through some pain (as was Granlund on the Wild -- did you see he played the series with a broken hand? Holy moly.). So perhaps they could've used the days off. So really it just depends.
Love it, that's good stuff for sure! As for Carlos, he's gotta find the strike zone, but I have faith that he and Yadi and Lilli will come up with a plan of action that gets Carlos back to Opening Day Carlos.
I'm with you, I think the next decade will showcase a restructuring in bullpen usage, focusing on what you pointed to -- the high-leverage situation. I actually got excited in the first series of the season, when Matheny brought in Oh for the five-out save, because Mike was essentially saying: "We need our best guy out here, and we've got a day off tomorrow, so let's use him." YES, yes, Brett Cecil had the "handed-ness" matchup, but the reality was, Oh is a boss. Well, he blew it, yes. But still! I liked the outside of the box thinking! The one problem with newer bullpen roles -- that of the high-leverage-situation-guy or the multi-inning-Andrew-Miller-guy is the concept of rest. Andrew Millers can't do that every game. So what do you do when he's resting and you have a similar situation?
OK I'm off to do 2 Bens in a Benz with BenFred! See you all next week!!!!