Laps with Lippo

Laps with Lippo

We touch briefly on a few topics and give our unsolicited two cents.

Lap One: St. Louis Blues training camp started on Friday and this camp should be a field day for those that have countless questions about the club. I am very intrigued to see the mesh in training camp between the Hitchcock philosophy and the future Head Coach Mike Yeo’s. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the World Cup of Cash Grab but this tournament might have benefited the Blues the most because it gives the middle of the pack players some additional looks.

I was asked a few times who I’m watching the most in camp and at forward it’s going to be Ty Rattie and Dmitrij Jaskin. It sucks that this is most likely the popular answer starting camp but so be it. The Blues have a gaping hole on right wing and it’s time for either Jaskin or Rattie to live up to their billing. Yes, the Blues could go the video game route and try different players out of position but the time is now for both these players.

On Defense, it’s Joel Edmundson. The Blues are loaded on the right side with Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk and Parayko but have as many questions on the left side. Blues fans favorite punching bag Carl Gunnarsson is a perfect fit as a 3rd pairing left defenseman and can provide quality minutes on the second pair. I want a closer look at Edmundson because I don’t really think anyone knows his ceiling. Can he be that second pairing defenseman that plays 16 – 22 minutes a night? His development into a top four defenseman could be the most underrated story of the season if everything progresses.

Lap Two: Alexander Steen just re-upped with the Blues for four years at 5.75 million per year. The #NoShit response is that it’s a questionable deal at the end of the contract. Granted, it is a risk paying that money to a 37 year old but the Blues protected themselves by making it very buyout friendly in case of decline. Plus, knowing the shit show as the NHL. They could have a lockout by then and Steen might just say fuck it and hang them up when they start back up.

The big focus should be on the PRESENT. This is a great deal for the club the next two years. Everyone on the Blues last year said Alexander Steen is their best all-around player. He plays the point on the power play, 20 minute a game forward and will get some Selke Trophy love this year now that David Backes has left. Look at most the free agent signings. You’re not going to get an Alexander Steen on the market the next few years at 5.75 million dollars. Sorry to break it to the prospect freaks but the Blues do not have a forward version of Steen anywhere ready. Enjoy the present and worry about year 4 of the contract when it arises.

US Hockey
USA giving up one of many goals in the World Cup of Hockey

Lap Three: United States shits the bed during the World Cup of Hockey. I really hate this tournament but I think it was a blessing in disguise for USA hockey. There were questionable moves up and down the board pre-tournament but I think regardless it was shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. They were going to lose and most likely lose in this fashion. Coach Torts went with the roster he thought could be most successful and it backfired. Here’s the good news. This bed shitting in a pointless tournament should ensure that this mistake will NEVER happen again in international play.

This isn’t a bad time for USA hockey, it’s just a time where there’s a bridge in top end talent. There’s loads of skill in the system top and bottom but that skill is not ready yet for prime time hockey. Every professional team goes through re-tooling or transitional stages and for USA Hockey, this is a transition time.

Lap Four: The St. Louis Cardinals enter their last stretch and who the hell knows what is going to happen. Is this the most baffling team you’ve ever witnessed? You expect them to win and they lose. You rule them out and they go on a streak. Making predictions is pointless so all I can hope is that we see playoff baseball.

Does anyone else but me daydream how things could’ve been different if David Price signed here? The Cardinals monster offer for him was proof that they knew there were potential issues in the rotation. A Price – Martinez – Wainwright – Reyes rotation going down the stretch would’ve been fun to see. We will be touching more on hot stove league topics later but don’t be shocked to see the Cardinals chasing some big names that might be for “Sale” in November.

Bonus Lap

Lap Five: I am a degenerate and love me some waging on the football. Here are a few of my picks for the weekend.

  • Florida St. -4
  • Michigan St. -3.5
  • Oakland Raiders -1
  • Minnesota Vikings +7
  • Teaser Special (3 Teams / 10 Points) Seahawks +.5 / Steelers +6 / Dolphins +1

Our #ObscureFormerBlues Alumni Roster

Reliving the days of Blues past can always be fun, well if you’re not talking about ghosts of playoff’s past. But nothing beats sitting amongst a group of friends and trying to come up with the best #ObscureFormerBlues.

For those not too familiar, the hashtag speaks for itself. The object is to try and think of the most obscure player of Blues lore and giggle uncontrollably when you hear a name and think of how in the hell did he ever don a jersey.

No clue how this originated, but I was instantly hooked reading  the tweets from  my friends over at St. Louis Game Time with the hashtag along with my friend @projoeiii having his annual #ObscureFormerBlues countdown until the start of hockey season. Special hat tip to @tintedvisor89 for a few great names to add to the roster.

#ObscureFormerBlues

In the next few months, you are going to read a shit load of articles of whom some would like to see in the Alumni game on December 31st. Figured I’d echo the sentiment but bring back a twitter fan favorite. Today my friends, I present to you Roo Court’s own #ObscureFormerBlues Alumni roster. The only limitations used was a minimum of three games played and had I only went back to the 1990 season.

Forwards

Vitali Karamnov                Vitali Prokhorov                Kevin Miehm

David Mackey                    Jim Montgomery             Robert Pearson

Sergei Varlamov               Joakim Lindstrom             Alexander Vasilevskii

Steve McLaren                  Stefan Della Rovere        Jeff Herrema

Simon Gamache               Mike Glumac                      Jeff Hoggan

Defense

Dominic Lavoie                 Terry Hollinger

Robert Robinson              Libor Zabransky

Randy Skarda                     Vladimir Chebaturkin

Jeff Batters                         Steve Poapst

Goalie

Bruce Racine

Rich Parent

Marek Schwartz

Trust me, I would’ve added a second team if I had the time. There are some terrific names that didn’t make the list and look forward to seeing some of the omissions. I would love to hear some of your nominations for the #ObscureFormerBlues alumni squad. Please add your own in the comment section and hope you had as much fun trying to remember some of these players as I did researching them.

Ranking the catchers in the Cardinals minor league system

Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to profile each position group in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system. I will rank the players based on their future contributions at the major league level. Players with MLB experience will be left out. As several players play multiple positions, I will put them in the position group where they have played the most this season. 

The catching position has been a much talked about group among Cardinal fans over the last couple of years. Yadier Molina is 34-years old and has a limited shelf life. For the last couple of years, fans have been asking/wondering who would be the heir apparent to one of the best Cardinals catchers of all time.

Continue reading Ranking the catchers in the Cardinals minor league system

Cardinals should continue Kolten Wong experiment in CF

Before the weekend, I posted an article saying that as the trade deadline approaches (3 pm today) that the St. Louis Cardinals should look to upgrade, long-term, the center field position. As we saw on Sunday afternoon, once again for the millionth time, the Cardinals do not have anybody on the roster that is reliable and consistent in center field. The ball to end the game on Sunday was not the only ball that Tommy Pham let fall that should have been caught. Continue reading Cardinals should continue Kolten Wong experiment in CF

Cardinals: Zach Duke a nice upgrade at a small price

On Sunday, a day before the 2016 trade deadline, the St. Louis Cardinals acquired a nice bullpen arm in Zach Duke. The club parted ways with Triple-A outfielder Charlie Tilson. The Cardinals made a significant upgrade in the bullpen without giving up too much. Here is a little more on both players.

Continue reading Cardinals: Zach Duke a nice upgrade at a small price

Cardinals trade deadline: CF should be only focus for upgrade

The St. Louis Cardinals find themselves in a precarious spot for the first time in many years. It has been over half a decade where you would consider the Cardinals and general manager John Mozeliak anything other than a “buyer” at the MLB trade deadline. But the 2016 season has presented some unique circumstances and despite struggles at home,  an onslaught of injuries and inconsistencies, the club sits just 6.5 games out of first place in the NL Central and in one of the two Wild Card spots.

In most towns, given the circumstances, this would be considered a job well done by Mozeliak, manager Mike Matheny and the Cardinals. But when it comes to baseball, St. Louis fans do not view themselves as “most towns.”

More is expected of this organization despite an unprecedented run of success, including 12 of 16 playoff appearances and four World Series appearances, including two titles.

Cardinals fans are expecting Mozeliak to make a move, and the popular notion would be to upgrade the Cardinals beleaguered bullpen, which is short resources for Matheny to navigate, which is not one of his strong suits to begin with.

While I agree that it would be nice to see a Wade Davis or Andrew Miller sitting behind the outfield fence, waiting to finish off the back end of games down the stretch at Busch Stadium, I think the Cardinals would be better off holding on to their prospect capital, unless they can find a competent option to take over control of the miserable situation in CF.

Trading an overachieving and likely overlooked prospect like Luke Weaver just feels like a massive mistake. While the Cardinals have plenty of high-end, near-ready pitching talent (i.e. Alex Reyes, Jack Flaherty, Austin Gomber, etc, etc, etc…), we have to remember that a reliever only gets three outs a night and a potential No. 2-3 starter like Weaver is not as easily replaced.

The cost of pitching has been enormous based on deals that have been struck at this point and Mozeliak is historically brilliant when the pricing gets overextended.

But if Mozeliak can find a CF option, preferably someone who can swing it left-handed and hit at the top of the lineup (cough.. Charlie Blackmon.. cough) then Mozeliak should pounce.

Tommy Pham has played sufficiently over the last couple of weeks, but he is overdue for a patented Tommy Pham injury. Randal Grichuk has struggled to the plate that it is difficult to justify his below-average defense in the all important CF. Jeremy Hazelbaker does not belong in MLB and for the love of God, I love Stephen Piscotty, but he has zero defense playing CF any more often than in an emergency cameo appearance.

The Cubs are in front of the Cardinals in the Central, despite their best efforts to let the Cardinals back in the race. As for the arms race moving forward, the Cubs also have the edge in talent, although as the Reyes’s, Harrison Bader‘s, Weaver’s and Paul DeJong‘s arrive, the Cardinals are certain to close the gap sooner rather than later. I would be more inclined bet on the future of this system than mortgage it for a chance at a one-game, winner-take-all format that could end in disaster.

Not improving the bullpen will not be a popular opinion, but sometimes the right decision is not always the popular one.

Thanks for reading, @CoreyRudd

Full disclosure, if you follow myself or colleague @ArtLippo on the Twitter tweets, we have been championing an acquisition of Blackmon or somebody of his ilk since the offseason.

Cardinals Mailbag: A look at a Post-Yadi world and a couple sleepers

After releasing my top 20 Cardinals prospects, I was curious what questions Cardinal Nation had regarding prospects. I knew there would be questions regarding my rankings and other prospects not ranked. I received a ton of good questions. If you still have questions based off of these questions, please feel free to hit me up by leaving a comment here or sending a message on Twitter. I love to answer your questions.

Continue reading Cardinals Mailbag: A look at a Post-Yadi world and a couple sleepers

St. Louis Cardinals top 20 prospect list in review

Over the past couple of weeks, I have released my Cardinals top 20 prospect list 5 prospects at a time, beginning with 5 players who did not make the list  but are probably really close. I really appreciate you tagging along and checking them out if you did.

I am going to put the complete list here with some additional info on some of the top 20 prospects. I am also going to link to the individual articles so you can learn more about each prospect. I would also like to do a mailbag post in the coming days answering your prospect questions. They could be questions on prospects who didn’t make it or ones that did.  Here are the links to the individual articles:

Continue reading St. Louis Cardinals top 20 prospect list in review

Ranking the top St. Louis Cardinals prospects: 1-5

Over the next week or two, I will be releasing my top 20 St. Louis Cardinals prospects. I will release them in groupings of 5 with the “Best of the Rest” first. I do not consider myself a prospect expert, by any means. I do follow the minor leagues on a daily basis and like to read up on the players in the Cardinals system. My end goal is to rank the players based on major league impact over a full career.

Finally, we hit the top five players in the Cardinals minor league system. This group of prospects features three hitters and two mound men, plus three players who would be “new” to the top five. I believe in this group you could find a future ace, a possible All-Star shortstop, a quality MLB outfielder and catcher, and a #2 starter. Great stuff here.

Continue reading Ranking the top St. Louis Cardinals prospects: 1-5

St. Louis Cardinals: 5 prospects who need to be promoted

A few years ago, I was able to interview Gary LaRoque, a member of the St. Louis Cardinals’ front office (#blessed), and he told me something in regards to player promotions. He told me they tell the players that where they begin the season is not necessarily a true reflection of where they are in the system, rather where they are in June and July. Meaning, the player will be at their appropriate level by mid-season.

With so many players in a minor league system, there will be certain players who should be at a higher level, but for one of many reasons they are not. Occasionally, I like to find these players who should be promoted.

Continue reading St. Louis Cardinals: 5 prospects who need to be promoted

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