Cardinals Series Preview Q&A
- First off, what are your general feelings about the team and how they’ve been playing?
This team really has gone as Matt Holliday has gone. When he was out at the beginning of the season with an appendectomy, the offense struggled and the team did as well. When he returned, they went on a tear. Now, he’s out with a quad injury and the offense is sputtering some as well. Still, they keep winning two of three, so you can’t be too disappointed.
- Is there a player that doesn’t get very much attention, or perhaps one that gets too much attention, that you think we’ll be surprised by?
I don’t know if he fits into this criteria, but Yadier Molina has been extremely effective at the plate this year. You probably already know about his defensive prowess–though if you’ve not seen the play that he and Albert Pujols run to pick off a guy at first, you are missing out–but offensively he’s been hitting at career high levels.
- There’s been a lot of talk this season so far about Albert Pujols and his performance. Care to share your thoughts?
Pujols has been, obviously, the most discussed topic in Cardinal Nation, from his contract situation during the offseason to his struggles offensively. Most observers now say that they think he’s close to breaking out, but it seems every good game is followed by 2-3 weak ones.
He’s hitting the ball on the ground way too much, as evidenced by his 16 double plays. He’s not getting the fly balls and line drives that we’d like to see out of him, even if they were being caught. He had three deep balls (including a home run) in the first game in San Diego which seemed to indicate he’d come out of it, only to not follow it up with anything special.
He’ll likely come around, but it does seem like this year he won’t hit that .300/30 HR/100 RBI level that he’s always hit.
- The Giants pitching staff has continued to be lights out this season, but the offense has struggled and now the injury bug has struck and struck hard. How do you like your chances?
I think this should be a fascinating series that will likely be decided by the bullpens, which isn’t always a great thing for St. Louis. Both pitching staffs are doing remarkable work (for the most part, last night’s 15-run debacle in Colorado aside) and it should be a low-scoring affair. If Holliday returns, I think I’d give the slight edge to the Cards just due to how weak the offense has been for the Giants. I think it could go either way, though.
- Could you share a favorite Cards memory with us? Not necessarily something from this season.
Lots of great memories from watching the Cards, including McGwire’s run in 1998, the playoffs in 2006, and Albert being Albert. Still, some of the most recent great memories have come from the Cardinals starting to reach out and having social media events. They hosted bloggers earlier this season and had us up in some suites, allowing us to question John Mozeliak before the game. Between the fun at the ballpark and getting to be there with these bloggers that I’ve come to know over the past three to four years, it is hard to top experiences like that.
- And finally, what are you looking forwards to most about this year? Any prospects coming up or players you’re waiting to see break out?
Most all of the exciting prospects for the Cardinals are on the lower levels of the minors. For instance, their top position player, Zack Cox, was just moved to AA a couple of weeks ago and this weekend the top pitcher, Shelby Miller, was also bumped up there. There are some that are interesting behind them as well, but I don’t think we’ll see any of them in 2011.
I think we watch this year for some answers. Will the Cardinals make a move at the trading deadline? Will Albert be Albert and can the Cardinals resign him? Can Jaime Garcia be in the Cy Young race (assuming last night, again, was just a blip)? There are a lot of things that Cardinal fans have questions about and it’s going to be fun seeing how the season plays out.