Memphis Redbirds Notebook: 2011 Week 14

Despite significant roster churn, the Cardinals Triple-A affiliate came into the break just 1 ½ games out of first place and with a big series against first-place Omaha ahead. Tyler Greene has sparked an improving offense.

The big picture

This report covers the week from Thursday, July 7 through Wednesday, July 13.

The seven-game road trip leading up to Triple-A All-Star break for manager Chris Maloney's Memphis Redbirds concluded with the final four games at Round Rock (Texas) Thursday through Sunday. The PCL was off Monday through Wednesday with the All-Star Game set held in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night. Starting outfielder Andrew Brown was Memphis' lone representative.

After a 2-2 road series spilt, the Redbirds finished a very successful first half at 48-42 and remain in second place in the American North Division. Memphis was 1.5 games behind first-place Omaha both coming into and exiting from both this week and the week prior.

Game summaries

Thursday, July 7: Round Rock 6, Memphis 5
Andrew Brown and Matt Carpenter blasted back-to-back home runs in the second inning. Carpenter and Adron Chambers each collected two hits. Brian Broderick took the loss as he allowed four runs on 10 hits over five innings.

Friday, July 8: Memphis 3 at Round Rock 1
Tyler Greene hit a two-run home run in the seventh for the final margin and finished the game 2-for-5. Andrew Brown had two hits including a solo shot in the second. Mike Blazek earned the win as he allowed one run on four hits while striking out five over six innings. Victor Marte added his 16th save as he threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings to close it out.

Saturday, July 9: Round Rock 5, Memphis 4
Nick Stavinoha hit a two-run blast and Tyler Greene launched a solo shot but starter and loser Nick Additon gave the lead right back. The lefty yielded four runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings while walking two and striking out five for his fifth loss of the season. Stavinoha went 3-for-5 with three RBI and one run scored while Bryan Anderson went 3-for-3, but the Redbirds stranded ten baserunners.

Sunday, July 10: Memphis 10 at Round Rock 9
The Redbirds ended the half and the series on a good note after the high-scoring contest in which they plated four in the eighth inning. In his return from St. Louis, Brandon Dickson had one of his worst outings of the season, allowing six runs, four earned, in 4 1/3 innings. Chuckie Fick received the win despite allowing two to score during his 1 2/3 frames, Victor Marte picked up save number 17, but made it interesting in by allowing a run in the ninth. Bryan Anderson went 4-for-5 with a double and two RBI. Jim Rapoport plated four and Tyler Greene doubled, tripled and plated two.

Monday, July 11 and Tuesday, July 12: PCL all-star break
No games were scheduled.

Wednesday, July 13: Triple-A All-Star Game: International League 3 at Pacific Coast League 0 (at Salt Lake City)
Andrew Brown started in right field for the PCL. Batting sixth, he went 0-for-2 with a strikeout swinging and grounding out into a fielder's choice.

On the Mend

On Thursday, catcher Gerald Laird returned to St. Louis after a two-game Memphis rehab stint during which he went 3-for-7.

Also on Thursday, the Redbirds placed catcher Steven Hill on the seven-day disabled list with an undisclosed injury. The 26-year-old last played on July 3. Hill played in six games for the Redbirds since his promotion from Springfield, going 5-for-17 (.294) with three home runs and six RBI. Since the move, the Redbirds have just one catcher on the active roster, Bryan Anderson. Though outfielder/first baseman Nick Stavinoha has some experience behind the plate, he hasn't worked there in a game since spring training.

Again, on Thursday, Memphis put right-handed pitcher Adam Ottavino on the seven-day disabled list with forearm tightness. The 25-year-old last pitched on July 4, with an effective outing of two earned runs over six innings. On the season, Ottavino has a 3.91 ERA and an 89:40 strikeout to walk ratio over 94 1/3 innings pitched.

Second baseman Freddie Bynum had been on the DL since June 28, but was activated… yes, on Thursday. The 31-year-old went out of action on June 28 with an undisclosed injury. Bynum is batting .243 this season in 152 at-bats over 40 games. After a hot April (.347), the veteran was hitting just .196 from May 1 until he was DLed.

Outfielder Shane Robinson continues to recover from a concussion, facial fractures to the right side of his face and a fractured left hand as the result of his April 16 collision with Andrew Brown. In the first six games of his rehab stint with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals, the 26-year-old is showing the rust at the plate. Robinson is batting .136 (3-for-22) and in an oddity, has yet to single.

The rehab of reliever Francisco Samuel took a brief step backward as the right-hander was reassigned from A-Advanced Palm Beach to the rookie-level GCL for one game, a one-inning "start". Samuel was then returned to PB, where he threw a scoreless inning on Wednesday.

Reliever Adam Reifer is out for the season with a torn knee ligament.

On the Move

Thursday has been an amazing day for Redbirds pitchers recently. In addition, even more transactions this week impacted the Memphis roster on Thursday alone than were listed above.

For the third consecutive Thursday, a Redbirds pitcher was placed on the 40-man roster and promoted to St. Louis. Three weeks ago, it was lefty reliever Raul Valdes. Next was Brandon Dickson. This time, it was right-handed starter P.J. Walters, called to the bigs to serve as a long reliever.

With the Cardinals bullpen depleted after a 13 inning game the night before and Brandon Dickson having thrown 2 1/3 innings in that contest, the 26-year-old was returned to the Redbirds. Walters, who had been Thursday's scheduled starter, went the other way. In his initial stint with St. Louis, Dickson fared well, allowing two hits, two walks and no runs over four total innings. He fanned two. The right-hander had been called up on June 30.

In order to make room for Walters on the organization's 40-man roster, the Cardinals designated pitcher Bryan Augenstein for assignment on Thursday. Augenstein, 25, made the major league roster out of spring training, but suffered a groin strain on April 13. He began a rehab assignment with Palm Beach on June 2 and moved up to Memphis on June 17. Augenstein was optioned out on June 23, when Raul Valdes was called up. After being off the roster for most of the week, Augenstein cleared waivers and was outrighted to Memphis on Monday. At that time, he returned to the Redbirds' active roster

The Cardinals optioned out Mark Hamilton upon Thursday's activation of Laird. The 26-year-old first baseman had returned to the majors on June 21 when Albert Pujols was disabled. Overall, Hamilton was 10-for-47 (.213) with St. Louis, including a a much better 7-for-21 (.333) stint this time, his third stretch with the Cards in 2011.

Sent down to Springfield on Thursday was outfielder Daryl Jones, who was the organization's 2008 Player of the Year while in Double-A his first time around. With the Redbirds this season, the 24-year-old had posted a line of .250/.379/.400 in 120 Triple-A at-bats.

A pair of reinforcements were called up from Springfield on Thursday and returned on Monday. Starter Mike Blazek made a spot start on Friday and pitched well, as noted above. Reliever Nick Greenwood appeared in one Pacific Coast League contest, charged with two earned runs in two innings of work.

As noted last week, the Cardinals signed two veteran relievers to minor league contracts, left-hander Ron Mahay and right-hander Blaine Boyer. Rather than activate the veterans at Memphis, the two were dispatched to A-Advanced Palm Beach. Boyer is being tried as a starter, a role he once played in the Atlanta Braves' minor league system.

Who's Hot

Anderson
Don't look now, but Bryan Anderson's average is up to .270 on the season. In eight July outings, the catcher is 12-for-28 (.429).

Shortstop Tyler Greene's line in ten July contests is .357/.449/.667/1.116. He has two doubles, a triple, three home runs, nine runs scored and eight RBI.

Cardinals organization June Player of the Month Adron Chambers is continuing his hitting into July, having gone 12-for-34 (.353) in nine games this month.

Outfielder Nick Stavinoha has four home runs and seven RBI in his ten July outings. The veteran's line this month is .317/.364/.634/.998.

The outfield is the place to be as Aaron Luna is 13-for-31 (.419) over his nine games played this month. Luna has added three home runs and seven RBI.

Who's Not

As noted above, just about everyone in the Redbirds lineup is hitting except for Pete Kozma. The shortstop is just 4-for-31 (.129) in nine games this month. His season average with the Redbirds is down to .208.

In two July starts, lefty Nick Additon has allowed eight earned runs in 10 1/3 innings for a 6.97 ERA. The main problem has been a whopping four home runs allowed.

Brian Broderick has a Jeckyll and Hyde thing going. In 9 1/3 innings as a reliever earlier, his ERA was just 1.93. In four starts, however, he has been hit hard - 13 earned runs in 16 1/3 innings, including three opposing long balls, for a 7.16 ERA in that role.

Reliever Jess Todd has been scored upon in all three of his July outings. In 20 games since returning to Memphis, the right-hander has a 5.56 ERA and blew his only save opportunity.

Pacific Coast League individual leaders

The hitting leaders slid this past week in absolute numbers, but still improved in relation to their peers. With the exception of Dickson, the club's top four starters are unavailable with Lynn and Walters in St. Louis and Ottavino on the DL.

Offense # PCL rank
BA Brown 0.324 17th
OBP Brown 0.412 13th
Carpenter 0.419 10th
SLG Brown 0.588 8th
OPS Brown 1.000 10th
BB Carpenter 55 T3rd
Rapoport 42 T10th
Pitching # PCL rank
ERA Lynn 3.84 4th
Dickson 4.04 7th
Ottavino 3.91 5th
Walters 4.27 13th
Strikeouts Ottavino 89 3rd
Walters 87 4th
Dickson 75 13th
Saves Marte 17 2nd
Wins Lynn 7 T6th
Walters 7 T6th
Walks Walters 42 T10th most
Ottavino 40 T13th most
HR allow Dickson 15 T9th most
Ottavino 13 T18th most
Hit batters Walters 12 Most
Ottavino 5 T17th

(Red/yellow/green denotes period-to-period change of the season-to-date totals, where red is decline, yellow is steady and green is improvement since last report.)

Team stats and rankings – Season to date

Though there was some mild but continued improvement in team offensive rate stats, overall the hitting remains firmly among the bottom three in the PCL. The pitching staff continues to be the most effective in the league with a team ERA exactly a half run lower than the second-best club and with the fewest walks issued. Most impressive.

Offense Prev week PCL rank Season PCL rank
YTD # of 16 # of 16
BA 0.264 14th 0.267 14th
Runs 417 14th 438 14th
OPS 0.751 14th 0.759 14th
Doubles 140 15th 150 15th
HR 74 14th 81 13th
Steals 40 16th
Pitching Prev week PCL rank Season PCL rank
YTD # of 16 # of 16
ERA 3.81 1st 3.86 1st
Ks 620 5th 650 4th
Walks 282 Fewest 300 Fewest
HR allow 84 6th fewest 89 5th fewest
Saves 20 7th fewest 22 T7th fewest

Up Next

The Redbirds open the second half with a nine-game homestand beginning Thursday. It includes five against Round Rock (Texas), including a doubleheader on Friday. First-place Omaha (Kansas City) arrives at AutoZone Park for four starting Monday night.



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Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column on Thursdays at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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