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Mike Matheny rips critics of Cardinals coaching staff

Mike-MathenyThe St. Louis Cardinals are struggling at the plate. The defending National League champions rank 29th in baseball in runs scored this season and have scored three or fewer runs in nine of their last 16 games. The Cards are also hitting just .243 with runners in scoring position this year, a full 87 points lower than their remarkable 2013 average.

Mike Matheny is well aware of the stats and struggles. He also realizes his team is just two games out of first and is very much in the playoff hunt, so the Cardinals manager is growing tired of hearing negative feedback.

“You’re putting as much work if not more now than what you did last year when things were going so well,” Matheny said earlier this week, via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “You’ve got people taking cheap shots all the time. You’re human. You wear that. Plus you know that the (players) are not happy with where the guys are right now.

“If you have coaches who don’t care, then they’re just putting in their time and chalking it up to a number of issues. That’s not what we have.”

The Cardinals have been shut out 11 times this season, but they are still pitching fairly well (12th in the majors with a 3.59 team ERA). While it might be time to make some adjustments, Matheny certainly doesn’t feel that his team needs to panic.

“I don’t care what anybody else thinks about the statement I’m about to make but our best offense is ahead of us,” Matheny said. “I’m 100 percent convinced of that. … We can’t do our job in defense of criticism. It’s never going to work out. Just keep doing the job and in the end it will come out in the wash.”

The Cardinals will be just fine. Their manager knows how to wear one on the chin. No, really, he does.

John Lackey traded to Cardinals for Allen Craig, Joe Kelly

John-Lackey-beer-drinking-reports-retardedJust nine months removed from winning a world championship, the Boston Red Sox are now selling off all of the assets that got them there. Shortly after Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes were sent to the Oakland A’s in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes, the Red Sox traded John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals.

According to Peter Gammons, the Cardinals are sending 26-year-old starting pitcher Joe Kelly and 30-year-old outfielder Allen Craig to Boston.

On the surface, it looks like the Red Sox are having a fire sale. They have now traded Jake Peavy, Felix Doubront, Lester and Lackey — all important pieces in Boston’s improbable World Series run. But in reality the Red Sox are simply changing their approach in hopes of contending again next season.

We all know what Cespedes is capable of. While he is 28 and merely a .250 hitter with pop at this point, he could be the righthanded power hitter that the Red Sox desperately need in the middle of their lineup. His numbers could also skyrocket if he uses the Green Monster to his advantage. Cespedes is also an above-average fielder with a tremendous arm.

Craig became a full-time player for St. Louis in 2012 and hit .307 with 22 homers and 92 RBI that season. He followed it up with a .315/13/97 line in 2013 and is on pace for around 90 RBI again this season, despite a low average of .237. In Kelly, the Red Sox are getting a young starter who went 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 15 starts last season. Kelly is struggling a bit this year, but he has obvious potential.

If the Red Sox were looking to rebuild to contend again five years from now, they would have demanded top prospects for Lester and Lackey. Instead, they have acquired proven MLB players who could help round out their roster in 2015. On the flip side, the A’s and Cardinals have added important pieces that could help in the postseason this year. I don’t think anyone got hosed in either deal.

St. Louis Cardinals turn first triple play since 2005 (Video)

The Toronto Blue Jays are 19-4 in their last 23 games and the way things have been going lately it’s tough to imagine them on the wrong side of a highlight. However, that’s what happened during Friday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Jose Bautista was at the plate with the bases loaded. More often than not, you would probably expect the Jays slugger to deliver in that situation.

cardinals-triple-playThis wasn’t one of those times. Bautista hit a line drive that was caught by Daniel Descalso, who flipped to Jhonny Peralta for the second out. Peralta then threw to Allen Craig before Melky Cabrera was able to return for the third and final out.

The result was the first triple play turned by the Cardinals since 2005 and the first the Jays have hit into since 2008.

What shouldn’t go unmentioned is the effort by second base umpire Manny Gonzalez to avoid being hit by the ball. Those were some pretty good reflexes.

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Don Mattingly wonders if Cardinals were stealing signs in NLCS

Don-Mattingly-DodgersThe St. Louis Cardinals made relatively easy work of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS this year, winning the series in six games and finishing the job with a 9-0 thumping in Game 6. Traditionalists would argue that the Cardinals were simply the better team. However, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has wondered if St. Louis gained an advantage with its knack for stealing signs.

At the MLB winter meetings on Wednesday, Mattingly said his team was well aware of the Cardinals’ reputation for stealing signs when they began the NLCS. While he said he does not believe St. Louis won the series because of sign stealing, he did admit that the Dodgers complained about where Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo was standing at certain times.

“We felt like we had to be sure we kept an eye on their first-base coach and their third-base coach,” Mattingly said, via Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. “They’re the ones with the easiest way to steal signs. Josie’s a guy, at third, who’s always looking for my signs from our dugout.”

Mattingly said he had someone else besides himself relay signs from the dugout during the series to try to stop Oquendo from stealing them. There has also been speculation that the Cardinals mastered the art of relaying signs to hitters when they had a man on second base. They hit .190 in the NLCS with no runners on base and .259 with runners in scoring position. As Saxon pointed out, St. Louis hit .236 with nobody on and .330 with runners in scoring position during the regular season.

“If you think a guy’s looking from second base, then you have to have a combination of signs,” Mattingly said. “If you think guys are cheating from first base, then you have to have multiple signs even with a guy on first. It’s your job to make sure they can’t do it.”

Mattingly reiterated that he was not using the prospect of sign stealing as an excuse, but he could have just as easily refused to discuss it. Stealing signs has been part of the game for years. The best teams can adapt accordingly.

Adam Wainwright: Bad barbecue makes me want to fight somebody

Adam-Wainwright-CardinalsSt. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright loves baseball. If he didn’t, he probably would not be pitching professionally. But there is something in life he seems to love much, much more. That something is barbecue.

During a Q&A with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch earlier this week, Wainwright discussed how big of a foodie he considers himself to be. When Derrick Goold asked him what food he would equate to pitching Game 7 of the NLCS in 2006, the right-hander gave a convincing response.

“It would be a combination of steak and barbeque,” Wainwright said. “Because I can eat good barbeque every single day of my whole life, without question, no doubt. I can tell you that right now. I love it. I’m obsessed with it. Also, bad barbeque makes me want to fight somebody. When I have a really bad rib or a really bad pulled pork, it just makes me angry. It’s such a great piece of meat to ruin.”

You think this guy is messing around about his brisket? It certainly doesn’t sound like it. Remember, this is the same guy that hammers down a certain type of sandwich to survive a hot summer day. Food is a major part of Wainwright’s life — there’s really no denying that at this point.

Photo credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

Jaime Garcia reportedly will be removed from NLDS roster; Cardinals furious

The Cardinals reportedly plan to remove pitcher Jaime Garcia from their NLDS roster because of a shoulder problem, and his teammates are said to be furious with him over the issue.

Garcia missed over two months of the season from June-August because of a shoulder injury that landed him on the 60-day disabled list. He pitched fairly well upon returning from the DL, lowering his season ERA from 4.48 to 3.92. He was the Cardinals’ Game 2 starter for the NLDS, but he was removed after two shaky innings against the Nationals and replaced by Lance Lynn, who got the win.

Garcia was sent for an MRI on the shoulder, and the Cardinals reportedly are waiting for the results before deciding his future. St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Joe Strauss said on Twitter that Garcia was going to be removed from the postseason roster. Strauss also reported that several Cardinals players are upset with Garcia for starting a playoff game without telling the team that he was injured. Others reportedly question whether the injury was enough to prevent him from pitching deeper into the game.

GM John Mozeliak called Garcia’s handling of the situation “frustrating.”

We can understand why Garcia may have kept the shoulder issue to himself. He was probably trying to tough it out, give his team everything he could, and avoid letting down his teammates. But by keeping the news of his shoulder problems to himself, he let down his team because it prevented them from making an informed decision about the playoff rotation.

What’s odd is that he pronounced himself “healthy” in this pregame interview. He was obviously lying.

Photo Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE

Cardinals wore tacky tuxedos for their road trip to LA (Pictures)

The St. Louis Cardinals decided to dress up for their short road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles on Thursday. Even though it looks like they were headed to a costume party, the actual theme for the trip was “tacky tuxedos.” As you can tell, some of those were pretty ugly looking outfits.

Here’s a rundown of what some of the players were wearing:

Jason Motte went camo, Allen Craig had a leopard print trim on his white jacket, Marc Rzepczynski was in all red, Yadier Molina had a plaid coat and white pants, Victor Marte had the green shirt and plaid vest, Jake Westbrook wore white, Tyler Greene was in the red spandex, Lance Berkman was in pink, David Freese had the Dr. Seuss hat, and Matt Carpenter wore the Pee-Wee Herman outfit.

If you’re talking tacky tuxedos, naturally you’re going to see a few guys pull off the “Dumb & Dumber” look. Kyle Lohse (right) and Mitchell Boggs (left) accomplished that:

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