Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Garcia Makes Doubters Blush, But The Team Makes The Faithful Gush

Starting pitcher Jaime Garcia shined in his 2011 debut, but the rest of the team is struggling.
Following a horrendous spring training, in which Jamie Garcia gave up 37 hits and 15 earned runs in his final 17 innings, many questioned whether or not Garcia would be able to build on top of his impressive rookie campaign, where he accumulated 14 wins.

But Garcia took to mound against the San Diego Padres on April 3rd for his first start of the 2011 season, and he struck out nine batters in nine innings. It was an undeniably impressive effort by Garcia to start the season, and it earned him his first win of 2011, as the Cardinals beat the Padres 2-0. It was a quick reminder to us that spring training is not always a telltale sign for things to come.

However, it was not just his first win. It was the team's first win. Their only win of the season, actually, which begs the question- Are the baseball gods taking shots at the Cardinals early on?

The Albert Pujols contract dispute was bound to haunt the team all season. It would not be surprising if the situation is mentioned by the commentators at least once every single game; and the players will obviously say that it has no effect on them, but how could it not?

Luckily, Pujols is the type of player to put that aside and focus on business. Although, he has not been getting down to business so far, as he is batting with a .125 average. He does have a home run though, although it came during the Cardinals' 11-3 loss to the Padres on Saturday, April 2nd.

Then there is Adam Wainwright. His Tommy John's surgery will keep him out of action for the entire 2011 season, and it may even affect his performance in 2012.

With Garcia's impressive performance the other night, there may be some that believe he can fill the void left by Wainwright. But the "half glass empty" kind of fans might look at Garcia's success as even more reason to be disappointed with Wainwright's injury, as they may find themselves thinking of what could've been with Chris Carpenter, Wainwright and Garcia all in the line-up.

Then there is the disaster in the middle infield. Ryan Theriot and Skip Schumaker are playing terrible defensively. There has to be some agreements amongst the front office that the middle infield needs to be addressed at some point, especially since the team has a pitching philosophy that tries to get the hitter to make contact, which forces ground balls. That philosophy probably doesn't do a lot of good when the middle infield can't field ground balls. 

If only the front office had as much faith in Ryan Ludwick as they do in Skip Schumaker, and the failed attempt to make a second baseman out of him, then the Cardinals' might at least be decent shape at the plate.

Then there is Matt Holliday. Holliday played in the first game of the season, and he even hit a home run. But he has been absent from every other game, as he was rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy (Come on, really? The gods hate the 2011 Cardinals that much?). But if Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel's situation has any correlation, then Holiday should be back before Cardinal fans know it.

Not an ideal start to the 2011 season for the Red Birds, but it wasn't exactly an ideal off-season and spring training either, so what did anyone expect?

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