This is the first week that I, Peter Fleischer, am hosting the roundtable. We haven't came out with one in a while, so hopefully this one will give you positive memories of the other sessions we've done, and we'll do more in the future.
WRITERS NOTE: I will not be coming out with a Sunday Summary this week because it's All-Star week (a shortened week), and I'm still too pissed from last night's game. Thank you.
1) Now that the Mark Mulder experiment has officially failed in St. Louis, what are your thoughts about him? How do you view him and his time spent in St. Louis?
PF: Initially, I was really annoyed and pissed, like many other fans. But after thinking about it, I am simply frustrated, and I feel bad for Mulder. As written by Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mulder's motion and delivery used to be one of the most graceful and easy in all of baseball.
To see him fall so far from grace is sad, and it leaves the Cardinals with a gapping hole. On the other hand, Mulder got $13 million to make four starts in the last two years, so I don't feel that bad.
BW: I think that he was a huge flop for the Cardinals. He was either injured or tossing sub-par games. If I were to assign a letter grade for his time with the Redbirds, I'm giving him a D.
DC: Mulder's glory days in Oakland seem like a light year ago. In his earlier days, he seemed like one of the most untouchable pitchers in the majors. Talk about falling from grace. I really don't think that his career will end with a pitiful 16-pitch outing in a meaningless game in the middle of summer 2008.
He will be back, but he will never get back to his potential Cy Young form. His time spent in St. Louis will be remembered as one of missed opportunity.
JL: It's too bad that Mulder is done! He looks like the kind of pitcher trying to hang on to his career when his career isn't trying to hang on to him. When he came to St. Louis in 2005, he did his job, helping carry the Cards to the playoffs. The rest of his career has been disappointing to say the least. The ultimate view of him is failure, due to his inability to stay healthy or to come back healthy.
2) Since his call up last August, Rick Ankiel is leading the team in home runs and RBI. Is he now a better power hitter then Albert Pujols? Explain why the numbers are deceiving. Or maybe you can make a case that he IS better as a power hitter?
PF: While I definitely know that Albert is the best hitter in the game, I think it's interesting to see that Rick Ankiel is actually putting up better power numbers in his time up. No, I don't think he's a better power hitter, but I think it shows that he is getting challenged at the plate, and taking advantage of mistakes. He's only getting better, so these numbers are really encouraging.
BW: This has nothing to do with my indifferent opinion about Ankiel, but he is by no means as good of a power hitter as Pujols. Ankiel just gets his pitches right down Broadway, where Pujols usually has to work to find his pitch. Rick has been putting up some incredible numbers, but strikeouts are his Achilles heel. Pujols puts up 30+ HR and 100+ RBI, so he is still the better power hitter in my book.
DC: Rick Ankiel has hit nearly as many RBI and home runs as Ryan Howard, who is scorching hot right now. Howard is already an MVP, and if Ankiel is putting up similar numbers, I do believe in a couple years you might see Ankiel fight for that title.
It is so odd that he was a pitcher just several years ago, and now he's widely regarded as a true power hitter (even though having Troy Glaus and Ryan Ludwick hit in that same lineup does help, not to mention the most feared hitter in the majors). A great story, which I hope ends with a happy ending.
JL: Ankiel is no doubt a great story with his power numbers, but if you look at it, he will get better pitches to hit than Albert. If Ankiel could bat .330 for his career, he might be pitched around more often, but Pujols is just a better hitter, maybe not a power hitter, but just a pure hitter.
While that doesn't answer the question, I do think Ankiel is at times a better power hitter. However, having better pitches to hit could make you a better power hitter simply because you're seeing more strikes.
3) The trading deadline is coming up. Name one person you'd like to see leave St. Louis, and one prospect you REALLY don't want to see go (excluding Colby Rasmus).
PF: I wouldn't mind if Anthony Reyes, Chris Duncan, or Adam Kennedy left St. Louis. All three are players that I think have talent, but need fresh starts away from St. Louis.
I really don't want to see Double-A starter Jess Todd go anywhere. The Springfield club hasn't really supported him to the point that his win-loss record is impressive, but with a 2.31 ERA, the success is definitely there.
BW: I wouldn't mind if Ron Villone were let go, or Cesar Izturis. Izturis is pretty good defensively up the middle, but Brendan Ryan is just as good, or better, not to mention much younger. Also, he has a .239 BA, that's below both Jason LaRue and Chris Duncan.
If he can be considered a prospect, I'd love to hold onto Joe Mather. He has performed pretty well when up with the big club. If he doesn't qualify, I'd like to see Jaime Garcia stay in the Cardinals organization. His stuff is sick, absolutely nasty.
DC: One guy I would like to see leave St. Louis (other than the obvious choice of Mark Mulder) has to be Chris Duncan. The guy is solely a power hitter and would make a great DH, if this were the American League.
He's absolutely horrible in the outfield, and since Pujols doesn't seem to have any major injuries, he's only effective in pinch-hitting situations or in substitutions. The Redbirds have plenty of guys on the bench that have comparable power and plate discipline that are light years ahead of Duncan in defense. Mitchell Boggs proved a lot in my eyes when he had a great outing against the Royals back on June 28. Six innings, only allowing one run is a great outing, even if it is against the Royals. He also got the win against the Red Sox on June 21 by pitching five+ innings while giving up three runs. With an offense like the Red Sox have, three runs are really good.
JL: This is a difficult question because the prospects are still young, but the one prospect St. Louis could stand to lose is Bryan Anderson, a left-handed hitting catcher. He has just an average arm, but his leadership and game calling are well above average. With Molina behind the plate for several years, Anderson may not have room to play. The one prospect that I wouldn't want to see go would be Adam Ottavino. He's a big kid, 6'5'' 215-lbs. and is a power pitcher and in his first full season last year had 12 wins. Get this kid some control and he will be solid in the rotation.
4) One person you want to see the Cardinals acquire at the deadline. Simple as that.
PF: Let's get Matt Holliday into St. Louis. The Rockies and Cardinals have done business before (Larry Walker) and that was fun and painless for both sides. Trade any OF except for Ankiel, including Ludwick or Skip. You can also throw in a couple of prospects, and Anthony Reyes, who might fit into their rotation right now.
Yes he'd be expensive, but he's still pretty young, and would make Albert exponentially better.
BW: I have seen possible rumors about getting Matt Holliday. This would be sick! Holliday is a bona fide superstar with power and tenacity on D and on the basepaths. If we could wrestle him away from the other suitors, that would be a clutch pick-up for the Birds.
DC: I'm not sure if they'd be willing to give him up, but Justin Duchscherer is a beast. He's 10-5 with a 1.78 ERA with an 0.86 WHIP. Incredible numbers for any pitcher in the American League. With Kyle Lohse pitching the year of his life, and Wellemeyer, Thompson, and Pineiro yet to step up their game, the Cardinals need another No. 1 or potential No. 2 to fill the void.
Offense really isn't an issue because you see the numbers being put up by Ankiel, Ludwick, Glaus, Schumaker, and Miles. Adam Wainwright's return is coming along, so there may not be a huge need if he can get back before the deadline.
Regardless, St. Louis desperately needs another "stopper" in their rotation.
JL: I like Brian Fuentes from Colorado, but it may cost the Cards too many prospects. Matt Herges is another guy the Cardinals will inquire about. Due only $2 million with a club option in 2009, lefties are only batting .210 against him with five RBI.
Another name could be Damaso Marte, which may be difficult since Matt Capps is now on the DL.