Author Archives: stltickets

Cards kickoff Grapefruit League action today

Blake Hawksworth, St. Louis Cardinals

Blake Hawksworth, St. Louis Cardinals

You know it is spring training when 6 outfielders make up 9 of your batters in your opening game lineup. At least you would think this would be just a strange spring training game, but the truth is, 5 “outfielders” could make up the starting 8 on opening day at Busch Stadium on April 6.

The Cardinals open exhibition play today against the Florida Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter at 12:05 p.m. CT. Blake Hawksworth will get the start and try to continue the success he had at the end of the 2008 season, posting a 2.89 ERA with 23 K’s and 11 walks in his last 5 starts. Hawksworth was the clubs number 1 rated prospect after the 2004 season. Let’s hope he can get off to a good start and maybe live up to the potential the Cardinals saw in him earlier this decade.

The Cards lineup will have Ludwick, Ankiel, and Rasmus covering the outfield, and outfielders Skip Schumaker manning second base, Joe Mather manning third base, and Chris Duncan as the DH. Excluding the DH, there is a real possibility this could be a likely lineup during the first month of the season. The think I like most about this is the defensive alignment in the outfield. You have three guys who can all cover ground and all have above average arms.

I’m excited about keeping an eye on the spring training activities and how all the question marks in the Cardinals camp playout.

I’ve become pretty addicted to the new MLB Network since coming onto Directv on January 1st. Some must see TV I have my Tivo set for is the 30 Clubs in 30 Days show on the Cardinals which will air for the first time on 2/26 at 7:00 pm CT. They usually replay the show 2 or 3 times as well. The network is also carrying spring training games and your first chance to watch the Cardinals will be on Friday 2/27 when they visit Port St. Lucie to take on the Mets.

30 Clubs in 30 Days - MLB Network

30 Clubs in 30 Days - MLB Network

I received my season tickets on my door step yesterday and the return of baseball season is really starting to get to me. Let’s hope the Redbirds can stay healthy this spring and bring a solid squad to St. Louis in April.

If any readers are interested in tickets, I usually end having extra tickets that I sell for season ticket holder cost. I have full season tickets in section 595 of the bleachers and a 27 game weekend plan in section 509 of the bleachers. Just leave me a comment and I’ll add you to an email list that I send to when I have extra tickets available for sale.

Blake Hawksworth photo – stlcardinals.com
30 Clubs in 30 Days – mlb.com

Matt Wilson

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St. Louis area spring baseball options in ’09

With the economy in the shape it is, finding baseball alternatives in 2009 might help out your budget this year. I know baseball is a very important part of my entertainment budget. I’m a Cardinal season ticket holder and try to get to as many games as possible. However, for me to go to a game, it’s usually going to set me back $35, minimum. This is just my ticket, transportation/parking, 1 beer, and something to eat. I’m not giving up my season tickets any time soon and will still get to about 15 games this year. That’s going to be a drop from the 20 – 30 I’ve attended at Busch Stadium the past 2 or 3 years. I’m going to get my baseball fix in 2009, and here are some of the other games I will be trying to attend in the St. Louis area.

With the Cardinals not getting to St. Louis until April 6th, there is a lot of other baseball taking place in the region. In less than 2 hours, you can get to Taylor Stadium in Columbia, MO to watch a top 25 college baseball team in the Mizzou Tigers. Mizzou is led by top college prospect Kyle Gibson. Gibson is a top 10 college prospect according to most sources. There are other options for baseball in the St. Louis area that don’t include a trip to Columbia, MO. You can catch Mizzou in the St. Louis area a couple of times this spring.

Kyle Gibson - Mizzou Pitcher

Kyle Gibson - Mizzou Pitcher

You can catch Mizzou at TR Hughes Ballpark in O’Fallon, MO. The Missouri Tigers face Eastern Illinois in a game on April 28th. The Tigers also visit the St. Louis area earlier on April 1st to take on St. Louis University at Busch Stadium. Not exactly sure how the tickets work for this game, but it is another opportunity to catch one of the top collegiate teams in the country.

One of the best places to catch baseball this spring is at GCS Ballpark, the home of the Gateway Grizzlies, in Sauget, IL. The Grizzlies have posted their extra events schedule on their website. Games start on February 28th with a college baseball tournament hosted by Webster University. Webster University plays many of their home games at GCS Ballpark, but the stadium also will host collegiate games between Saint Louis University and SIU-Edwardsville, University of Indianapolis and SIU-Edwardsville, and the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament. Not only does GCS host all these college games, they have 22 high school games, including many border war contests with Illinois high school teams matching up against Missouri high school teams. The great thing about these games is that the max cost of attending is only $5 and many are free.

The schedules for local colleges are loaded this spring, so catching a good game in your area won’t be to difficult.

Missouri Tigers
Saint Louis University
Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville
Southeast Missouri State University

SEMO actually just defeated the 16th ranked Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday. You can catch some good baseball all over the area this spring.

One more game you may may want to catch would be a Westminster Christian Academy game started by high school pitching phenon Jacob Turner. Turner is projecting to be a top ten pick in this years amateur baseball draft. I’ll try and keep this site updated with dates he will be pitching this spring.

Jacob Turner - Westminster Academy

Jacob Turner - Westminster Academy

I was going to include the Gateway Grizzlies and River City Rascals as other St. Louis area baseball options, but I’ll save these for another post. The Grizzlies and Rascals don’t kick off their Frontier League season’s until late May. I’ll have a full Frontier League preview in a few weeks.

Until then, go out an enjoy some good baseball this spring, while we wait for the Cardinals to leave Jupiter and head back to St. Louis.

Matt Wilson

Kyle Gibson Photo – Baseball America Top Prospecs
Jacob Turner Photo – AFLAC All America Team

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Izzy signs minor league deal with Rays

Jason Isringhausen signed a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. Izzy joins a long list of former Cardinals who have joined the Rays, including Tino Martinez, Al Reyes, Troy Percival, and most recently Adam Kennedy.

Izzy was a great Cardinal and I hope he can get his 300th save in a Rays uniform. Good Luck!

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Pujols has the Right Picture

imgp02861Earlier this week Albert Pujols interviewed with Joe Strauss and had discussions regarding his contract status that runs through 2011 including the Cardinals club option.

Pujols told Strauss that he is more concerned with winning and wants to see the Cardinals commit to winning every year if he plans to sign another contract with the Cardinals. I think I even heard a hint of willingness to give the Cardinals the “Home Team Discount” they are always looking for.

The thing that really got me worked up about this story was the media attention that it got nationally. I expected all the local media to blow it up and try and turn this story around any which way possible. What I didn’t expect was to turn on MLB Network’s Hot Stove program and see Billy Ripken discussing how Pujols should have kept this behind closed doors with the organization. He stated the Pujols was acting out trying to bully the management into making bigger free agent signings. Harold Reynolds did follow Ripken with the approach that I believe, which is Pujols just wants to win and he doesn’t really care how it’s done, he just wants 9 more rings to put on all his other fingers. Reynolds also said that Pujols is the face of the organization and there is no problem with the him saying what he feels the organization should be doing. I agree that Pujols is the face of the Cardinals and his opinion of the organization counts and should be expressed.

Pujols interviewed for the first time with the ITD Morning After radio show on Team 1380, Tuesday morning and expressed these same feelings. He wants to win and if the Cardinals management wants to rebuild and not dedicate all resources to winning, then he will possibly look at a better situation where he has a better chance to win a championship. It was a really good interview, by a usually grab-ass morning radio show. Part 1 and Part 2 can be heard by linking back to insidestl.com.

I’m glad Pujols came out and stated the comments he did. Why not? The guy has played, arguably, the best baseball in the game over the past nine years and wants to win. The Cardinals need to heed his advice and try and put a winner out there every year. I don’t think Pujols expects the Cards payroll to be $150 million, but I do believe he expects a deal to be made if it makes sense for the organization and I completely agree with him.

Matt Wilson

Photo by Matt Wilson

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Ludwick signed, avoids arbitration.

Ryan Ludwick signed yesterday afternoon, continuing the Cardinals streak of not going to an arbitration hearing with a player since 1999.

The Ludwick deal is around the $3.7 million mark with some extra incentives possible. The Cardinals went over the 1/2 way point between their offer of $2.8 million and Ludwick’s request of $4.25.

This is a good move for the Cardinals. I believe making these moves keeps your players happy and will end up helping you in future contract negotiations.

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Top 5 spring training stories

When was the last time the Cardinals came to camp with as many questions as they have this year? With pitchers and catchers reporting to camp today, I wanted to list my top 5 stories to watch and also provide my predictions for these 2009 stories to watch. Leave comments and let me know your predictions.

Story 1

Skip Schumaker at the 2009 Winter Warmup

Skip Schumaker at the 2009 Winter Warmup

With Adam Kennedy kicked to the curb, there is a job to win at second base. This battle is wide open with possibilities being outfielder Skip Schumaker, former highly touted prospect Joe Thurston, Brendan Ryan, Brian Barden, Jarrett Hoffpauir, and Tyler Greene. I’m going to say that Greene and Hoffpauir are not going to get a good look. Barden and Ryan just don’t have the bat that Tony wants to see, which leaves me seeing a competition between Schumaker and Thurston. Can the outfielder convert to a second baseman or can the productive minor leaguer finally convert that talent in the big leagues. I know some are picking Thurston as the Cards ’09 second baseman to watch for, but I think Schumaker is going to win the job. On April 6th the Cardinals leadoff hitter and starting second baseman will be Skip Schumaker.

Story 2

The injury to Troy Glaus leaves another hole in the starting infield for opening day. The Cards are going to need someone to man third base until Glaus is able to return. Your key options look like David Freese, Brett Wallace, and Joe Mather. There are many other options, but I think these are the key players. I think the Cardinals are going to keep Wallace in the minors this year for more seasoning. Mather is going to make the team, but he will be a super sub who will possibly be getting time at second, third, and of course in the outfield. That leaves Freese as your starting third baseman on opening day. I don’t know if Freese is going to win the job, but I think the Cardinals need him to be their opening day third baseman. Wallace is the superstar in the waiting and Glaus is a free agent after this year. The Cardinals need to see what they have in Freese to see what they have. Freese could be a valuable trading chip if he performs well to start the season. David Freese will be the starting third baseman at Busch Stadium on opening day.

Story 3

Who is going to be the Cardinals 2009 closer? There are a few different options going into spring training. Chris Perez, Jason Motte, and Ryan Franklin are looking like the most likely candidates. I think we experienced Franklin closing too much last season and the bullpen is going to be in trouble if this is the final outcome. Jason Motte just doesn’t have the second pitch needed to succeed. Major league hitters are going to catch up to Motte’s heat, so if he doesn’t develop a second pitch, he’s not going to be a productive major league pitcher. That leaves Perez, who is my choice for winning the job. Perez has been doing the job since pitching at Miami. Perez has two quality pitches to work with and gained valuable experience partially closing out games in 2008. The big club will break for St. Louis with Chris Perez as their closer.

Story 4

Chris Carpenter. What are the Redbirds going to get from Chris Carpenter? This story will affect so much. The Cardinals entire rotation depends on the health of Carpenter. We don’t even know if the bullpen could be changed due to Carpenter’s condition. A rotation of Carpenter, Wainwright, Lohse, Wellemeyer, and Pineiro doesn’t look half bad, but remove Carpenter and push everyone up and add whoever into the 5th starter spot and things look scary. If Carpenter is healthy, this team can be successful. If not, then they will need to look for another starter over the next couple of weeks. I think they will bring in another arm in the next couple of weeks, but who that will be is anybody’s guess.

Story 5

Needs, needs, needs. The Cardinals definitely have needs. Just in the above 4 stories there are possible needs at second, third, closer, and in the starting rotation. What will the Cardinals do? The free agent market still has many options available. I don’t really see the Cardinals going after a free agent options to fill their needs at second, third or in the pen. I do think we’ll see a new pitcher coming to Jupiter pretty soon to help solidify the rotation. There is just too much uncertainty with Carpenter to leave the rotation as is.

Let me know your thoughts on spring training by leaving comments on this post. I love reading others opinions and trying to keep up with the spring training happenings, so let me know.

Matt Wilson

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A sad day in the Wilson household with the Kennedy release.

Adam Kennedy released. Who really cares? How big of a difference is this going to make? Probably not going to make a difference for the 2009 St. Louis Cardinals at all, because replacing Kennedy’s production as an every day player should be easy. I don’t quite understand the dump of $4 million, but Tony just didn’t want Kennedy to show up to the Redbirds camp.

The real issue I have is how to break the news to my son.

Growing up, all I remember about the 1982 baseball season was that I loved Ozzie Smith. Yeah the Cards won the World Series, but a 3 year old isn’t too worried about that. I don’t really remember why I was such an Ozzie fan, but I only wanted to wear my Ozzie tee shirt and buy Kangaroo shoes from that point forward.

My son last season was given two baseballs by Adam Kennedy at spring training. This is all it takes for a three year old to become your biggest fan. Every time we played baseball in the house, he has to run out of “dugout” and announce that Adam Kennedy is on the field. When trying to make contact with pitches I throw him in the back yard, calling him Reese instead of Adam Kennedy will get me yelled at. He was upset at games we went to when Kennedy was not in the lineup last summer.

How do you tell a 4 year old, his favorite player on his favorite team is no more? I’ve already had to hold off past his fourth birthday on Tuesday.

I guess we’ll just have to work on finding a new player for my son to root for. I’ve been worrying about this day for a while with Kennedy’s poof performance, but thought I was out of the woods after not re-signing Miles or Lopez. Any help on a favorite player for a four year old will be much appreciated.

I know this isn’t the typical post on this site, but we will have plenty of real Cards talk, stats, updates, and minor league analysis. I just want to make sure that I don’t hurt my son’s love of the game. I don’t really push him to the sport at all, but he’s loving it like I want him to. My father told me the story about how he was pretty tore up as a boy when the Cardinals traded Ken Boyer, and I wonder if my son will remember the Cardinals releasing his favorite Cardinal.

Matt Wilson

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