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Series Preview #11: Talking Cardinals with Dan Moore of Viva El Birdos

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vs. Cards



13-18 (5th place, NL Central)
18-14 (1st place, NL Central)

GAME 1: May 6, 2011 @ 7:15 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

: May 7, 2011 @ 3:10 p.m. CDT

(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

GAME 3: May 8, 2011 @ 1:15 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

Busch Stadium   St. Louis, Missouri

SBN Coverage: Brewers vs Cardinals coverage

A View from the Other Dugout: Viva El Birdos

Game 1 Randy Wolf (3-2, 2.39)
vs. Jaime Garcia (3-0, 2.48)
vs. Cardinals
(0-0, 0.00)
vs. Brewers
(0-0, 0.00)
Game 2 Yovani Gallardo (2-2, 6.10)
vs.  Kyle Lohse (4-1, 2.44)
vs. Cardinals
(0-0, 0.00)
vs. Brewers
(0-0, 0.00)
Game 3 Chris Narveson (1-2, 4.64)
vs.  Kyle McClellan (4-0, 3.79)
vs. Cardinals
(0-0, 0.00)
vs. Brewers
(0-0, 0.00)


Dan Moore of Viva El Birdos was kind enough to answer some questions about the Cardinals this season.

NH:  What kind of impact has losing Adam Wainwright had on the Cards' season?

DM: The immediate impact was losing something like four wins the team has no means of getting back, but since then it's almost completely reshaped the Cardinals pitching staff—and not entirely for the worse. Kyle McClellan, who'd been tried out as a starter every year since joining the bullpen, has been solid as the fifth starter, and his absence from the bullpen while Ryan Franklin collapsed has led to Tony La Russa placing more responsibility than he might have otherwise in young pitchers like Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez.

The rotation is definitely worse, but Salas and Sanchez's emergence mean that the bullpen might have gotten a little better as an indirect result of Wainwright's absence.

Follow the jump for more on closers, Lohse and Pujols

NH: Ryan Franklin was removed from the closer's role and the other guys that LaRussa's tried in that spot haven't been successful. What's the status of the Cardinals' closer situation? Are there any obvious answers or are you going to have to stick to closer by committee until a front-runner emerges? Is it just the closer role thats a worry for you right now, or is it the whole bullpen?

DM: Prolonged exposure to Tony La Russa has been known to cause paranoia, conspiratorial tendencies, and hand tremors, so I might be off here, but I'm beginning to think that Franklin's absence is something La Russa is taking advantage of, rather than something he's been forced to deal with. La Russa more or less invented the closer role as we know it now, for all its flaws, so I can't imagine him taking leave of it for very long, but so far Franklin's absence has allowed him to deploy his young right-handed relievers in an extremely flexible way.

The Cardinals' bullpen doesn't appear to be a serious issue right now, given the performance of its twentysomethings, but eventually they'll have to figure out whether Ryan Franklin can still pitch at all. They've done the right thing and moved him to the back of the bullpen, but he still has to pitch eventually.

NH: Kyle Lohse, with his 2.01 ERA,  has been a pleasnt surprise for you so far this season. What changed? Do you expect it to continue for the length of the season?

DM: Lohse dealt with a truly bizarre forearm injury all last year, one that's associated primarily with motocross riders. Cardinals fans didn't expect much out of him this season, but he's looked really sharp so far; his breaking pitches have more bite and his fastball command has been superb. He won't be perfect, but it's not out of the question for him to be Dave Duncan's latest low-walk-rate fluke season, in the tradition of Brad Penny before he got hurt last year and Joel Pineiro in 2009.

NH: In Milwaukee we've come to terms with the fact that we're not going to be able to afford our power-hitting first baseman. What's the mood like in St. Louis over the impending free agency of Albert Pujols? Will signning him strap the Cards in terms of other free agents in the coming seasons?

DM: There was a lot of gnashing of teeth as we counted down to his self-imposed negotiation deadline before Spring Training, but since April Cardinals fans seem to have come to the conclusion, as a group, to just pretend it's not happening for the rest of the season. That's made baseball more fun, but it hasn't settled the question of Pujols's future with the club.

I have no evidence backing up my opinion on this one, but I think he'll stay. The Cardinals are going to need to raise payroll eventually, and I'd rather it be for Albert Pujols than the next Kyle Lohse to come along.

Thanks to Dan for taking the time to answer my questions. Make sure you head over to Viva El Birdos to see my responses to his questions.