2011 Springfield Cardinals Team Review

The Double-A Cardinals logged a disappointing season with a strong hitting but weak pitching overall, with significant problems in relief.

Springfield Cardinals (AA Texas League)
Overall Record: 62-78 (.443)
First half record: 32-38 (.457), -5.5 games
fourth place, North Division
Second half record: 30-40 (.429), -8 games
fourth place

The 2011 season debatably saw more top prospects come through Springfield than any other season in the club's history. Unfortunately, strong individual performances did not translate into victories for the Cardinals. Springfield never seriously threatened post season play during the season. The Cardinals were plagued by back of the bullpen issues all summer long, blowing a league leading 25 saves, converting just 29 of 54 (53.7%) of their opportunities.

The Springfield Cardinals finished a disappointing 62-78 overall, but 2011 will more than likely be remembered for the players that wore the Springfield uniform.

The Start

Springfield headed north with nine players on The Cardinal Nation Top 40 Prospect List, and would see many more by the time the season came to a close. Springfield's Opening Day roster had a pitching staff that was very short on experience, and it would come back to bite them. Springfield ended up finishing dead last in the league in ERA at 5.11.

 

Springfield had many newcomers to the Texas League on offense as well, but they fared much better, with the exception of Niko Vasquez. Others, including Matt Adams, Ryan Jackson and Alex Castellanos, all excelled in their first taste of Double-A.

         

The Regular Season

 

Springfield never exactly set the world on fire, but they did play two months above .500. The Cardinals were 14-13 in May and 15-14 in July. The story of the season was the inability to win games, despite solid and consistent individual performances. The club was certainly not helped out by their lackluster bullpen, which as noted above, blew 25 save chances.

         

With the warmer weather, the Cardinals' bats warmed up as well. Springfield hit .292 in June and .323 as a team in July. August saw the Redbirds cool off to a .255 average, but it was still enough for the Cardinals to lead the league in hitting for the season, with a .278 average.

 

In the first half, a 10-18 June helped sink the Cardinals' playoff hopes, and a 12-17 August did in their second half bid.

 

Attendance

 

In their seventh season of existence, Springfield went over the three million fan mark. The Cardinals were down four percent from 2010, averaging 5,109 and drawing a total of 337,166 for the season. The Cardinals finished fourth in attendance in the eight-team league. The largest crowd of the season came on the last day of the season, when 9,554 came through the turnstiles on Fan Appreciation Day. It was the fifth largest crowd in Hammons Field history.

 

Transactions

 

As it to be expected, the 2011 season saw a lot of turnover on the roster. Springfield received 17 players from Palm Beach, while sending nine players to Memphis and one player (Maikel Cleto) straight to St. Louis. It was only the second time that has ever occurred (Steven Hill in 2010 was the other).

         

Springfield would also see a pair of MLB rehabbing players come through. Allen Craig returned to Springfield for a short stint and Nick Punto wore the Springfield uniform for a week.

         

The Cardinals lost their cleanup hitter in July, when Alex Castellanos was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Rafael Furcal. Castellanos had a very strong season for Springfield, hitting .319 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI before being traded.

         

At the end of May, reliever Blake King was placed on outright waivers by the Cardinals organization. He was claimed by the Houston Astros, and as luck would have it, he wouldn't have to travel far to catch up with his new club. He just had to walk from the right field clubhouse to the left field clubhouse. He would pitch against the Cardinals that series, still wearing his Cardinals red cleats.

         

At the end of June, Springfield received Jose Garcia from Memphis. Garcia would prove to be a spark plug for the offense down the stretch.

         

For the most part, the heart of the Springfield roster remained with the club for a majority of the season. When Shelby Miller was called up from Palm Beach in June, the nucleus was finished. The only central member to be moved afterward was Castellanos.

 

Injuries

 

The Cardinals were hit fairly hard by injuries, seeing 17 players put on the shelf, totaling 790 days on the disabled list.

         

Ramon Delgado and Casey Mulligan essentially missed the entire season, as Mulligan missed 118 games and Delgado 132. Deryk Hooker was out for a sizeable chunk of the year as well, totaling 79 games. Among position players, Tommy Pham was lost for the season on June 6, missing the remaining 92 games. Matt Adams, Steven Hill, David Kopp, Chase Reid, Francisco Samuel and Aaron Luna all had DL time as well.

 

Individual Recognition

 

Matt Adams practically rewrote the record book in Springfield. He set the new single season home run record, with 32 home runs, passing Colby Rasmus' 2007 total. He also became the first Springfield player to drive in 100 runs in a season, ending with 101. Adams finished with a .300 batting average and was named a Post Season All Star and the Texas League Player of the Year.

         

Shelby Miller arrived with all the hype of a first-round draft pick, and rightfully so. As a 20-year-old in the Texas League, Miller often embarrassed his older competition. Miller was 9-3, with a 2.70 ERA in 16 starts. He finished with 89 strikeouts in just 86 2/3 innings of work. Miller was named a Texas League Post Season All Star and is likely to keep shooting up prospect lists this winter. He was the Cardinals organization's Pitcher of the Month in June

         

Ryan Jackson was another Cardinal that was named a Texas League Post Season All Star. Many would tell you that Jackson had the glove, but it was a question of whether or not he could hit in the high minors. It would appear that that question has been answered. Jackson hit .278 with 11 home runs and 73 driven in and was named the organization's top position player in April.

         

Zack Cox was one of the hottest hitters in all of professional baseball. At one point, he had the highest batting average of any full season league from July 1 on, flirting with .400. Cox finished the season hitting .293 with 10 homers and 48 RBI and was selected by the Cardinals as their August Player of the Month.

         

Top Performances

 

June 10 brought the first cycle for a Springfield Cardinal, as Domnit Bolivar went 4-for-5. That also happened to be Shelby Miller's home debut.

         

Jose Garcia swiped four bases against Midland on July 5 to set a franchise record for steals in a single game. Garcia finished with 19 of the team's 53 stolen bases.

         

Mike Blazek struck out 10 on August 25, as he was the first Cardinal to register double digit punchouts on the season. There had been a logjam of players that recorded nine.

         

The most runs scored by the Cardinals in a single game came on June 20 at home against Arkansas, as they put up 14 against the Travelers.

 

Team hitting and pitching

The Cardinals offense had a tremendous season, leading the league in batting average and home runs, and was second in runs scored, only trailing the explosive San Antonio Missions.

Unfortunately, the pitching staff was generally able to do little with the offense. The Cardinals finished 5th in saves. If only they would have been able to convert some of the 25 blown saves, then perhaps they could have competed for post season play.

Offense

Season

TL rank

 

Pitching

Season

TL rank

 

#

of 8

 

 

#

of 8

BA

0.278

1st

 

ERA

5.11

Last

Runs

740

2nd

 

Ks

983

6th

OBP

0.343

4th

 

Walks

534

Most

Doubles

246

2nd

 

HR allow

161

Most

HR

166

1st

 

Saves

29

5th

Steals

53

Last

 

 

 

 

 

Individual hitting and pitching leaders

Club leaders with 2.7 plate appearances per team game.

Offense

 

#

TL rank

BA

Adams

0.300

5th

OBP

Adams

0.357

15th

SLG

Adams

0.566

1st

OPS

Adams

0.923

3rd

Steals

Garcia

19

13th

Doubles

Jackson

34

2nd

HR

Adams

32

2nd

RBI

Adams

101

1st

Walks

Jackson

44

23rd

Runs

Adams

80

6th

 

 

 

 

Pitching

 

#

TL rank

ERA

Miller

2.70

*

Strikeouts

Blazek

128

2nd

Saves

Rondon

7

T10th

Wins

Blazek

11

T5th

Walks

Blazek

64

5th

HR allow

Blazek

25

Most

 

*Miller did not have enough innings to qualify, or his ERA would have been 2nd.





Link to master article with all 2011 award winners, team recaps and article schedules.



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