Earlier today I sat down with Cardinals blogger Josh from Red Birds Row to talk about tonight’s game, the Cardinals season and their future. Josh also hosts a weekly radio show for the United Cardinals Bloggers. You can tune in Sundays at 3:30 Central Time and listen, here.
The Nats Blog: The Cards rotation has been lights out for the most part all season, can they keep it up?
Red Birds Row: Injuries will determine how far the rotation takes St. Louis. Losing Carpenter hasn’t hurt so far, but it is still very early. Loshe and Pineiro have to come back to earth sometime, right?
The Nats Blog: The Cardinals are at the top of the league in team hitting right now in many categories, what’s working so well for them?
Red Birds Row: Three words — Help for Pujols. The Cardinals are not having to rely on Albert for the entire offense, and there are very few holes right now. Yadier Molina is looking like the best catcher in baseball, and the Troy Glaus injury hasn’t been a factor…yet.
The Nats Blog: How good do you think Colby Rasmus can be, and how soon?
Red Birds Row: Rasmus is the future at the top of the lineup, and he will be a big factor in who St. Louis keeps possibly as early as the trade deadline. I’m glad he is getting plenty of chances, and I see him as a future All-Star — 2-3 years down the line.
The Nats Blog: Compare Colby to another past or present player in his prime.
Red Birds Row: Colby reminds me of Grady Sizemore in more ways than one. The big difference is that the Indians do not have an AP like player batting behind him like Rasmus does. That will only help the rookie grow and see plenty of pitches.
The Nats Blog: What will the Cardinals need to do to be successful this series?
Red Birds Row: St. Louis got lucky last night in my opinion. Washington missed out on a few opportunities, and the Cardinals one question mark currently is the bullpen. If the starters can go 6+ innings, the Nationals will have their hands full.
The Nats Blog: What will the Cardinals need to NOT do to be successful this series?
Red Birds Row: The Cardinals are without a lot of bench support, so if another injury occurs — watch out for unusual pinch-hitting. Also the closer situation is not solid, even though Ryan Franklin has been lights-out so far.
The Nats Blog: Albert Pujols may very well be having his best season ever, how has he, if at all, changed Cardinal baseball atmosphere since his arrival in 2001.
Red Birds Row: Albert gets it done in every aspect of the game. He makes everyone around him better and never complains. That is the mark of a true superstar, and he makes St. Louis competitive on a daily basis. Pujols is one of the few players you have to keep track of no matter where he is — about to steal a base, coming up fourth in an inning, or playing gold glove defense at first.
The Nats Blog: The Cards are playing overall excellent baseball in 2009, what are there chances for the playoffs, and beyond?
Red Birds Row: The Cardinals have seen hot starts before, and the pitching staff holds all the answers. If the rotation allows the offense an opportunity to win the game, last night’s effort is a good indication of what the rest of baseball could be seeing. St. Louis only needs one inning to break through and can typically find the outs needed in the bullpen. I give them about an 80% chance to make the playoffs, injuries being the key factor. AP will be a Free Agent in a couple of seasons, so the next couple years are vastly more important than the last decade. Pujols wants to be a winner and will go somewhere else if the Cardinals are not doing the things to stay near the top.
The Nats Blog: Favorite all-time Cardinals memory?
Red Birds Row: Even though it was an awful game, I was lucky enough to be at Opening Day in 2007 to witness the raising of the last World Series banner and all the festivities that go on — oh, it was also my birthday so that helps.
The Nats Blog: Tell us a little about tonight’s pitcher, Wellemeyer.
Red Birds Row: Wellemeyer has all the tools but lacks consistency. He can mow down lineups with a high strikeout rate but can also load the bases in a hurry. I’m not a huge stat-driven guy, but Todd needs a big game today to improve on the 37 hits over 22 innings he has given up already. Carpenter will be back towards the end of the month, and Wellemeyer may be pitching for his spot the next few times out. All in all it will be a fun one tonight!