The Memphis Redbirds Report – Week 17

This week's Triple-A Memphis Redbirds report from our on-site beat reporter, Brent Diederich. Right-handed starter Mike Smith could be the next Memphis Redbird to be called up to St. Louis.



This week saw the Redbirds come within an eyelash of a no-hitter, their star player pass the 30 home run plateau, and a wrestling match after a game.  It was quite the exciting week in Memphis as the advertising campaign kicked into full gear with Harry Potter night and Wrestling night as well as a Memphis club that look revived and played well.  The Redbirds went 4-3 on the week against two West Coast teams in Fresno and Sacramento, affiliates of the Giants and A's respectively.


Where Do They Stand?


Memphis now sits at 46-64, 20.5 games behind division leading Nashville, who is 66-43.  The Iowa Cubs are 60-50 and the Omaha Royals are 54-56.


Injury Update


INF Travis Hanson has been placed on the disabled list and OF John Rodriguez had successful surgery on his knee this week.  Also, LHP Tyler Johnson appeared in Monday's game as part of his rehab assignment.


Player Movement


Early in the week INF Brendan Ryan was sent down to make room for LHP Randy Keisler.  After appearing in the first game of a doubleheader Keisler was sent back to Memphis and RHP Anthony Reyes was activated.  RHP Brian Falkenborg had returned to St. Louis for several days while RHP Kelvin Jimenez has also rejoined Memphis.


Who's Hot


OF Rick Ankiel has five home runs over his last 10 games to go along with 11 RBI.  Ankiel has turned it on again and has shown a new approach at the plate.  It appears that he is waiting on his back foot more to combat off speed pitches, something that has plagued him all season.  The results are coming back positive as Ankiel now has 31 homers on the season as well as 81 RBI.  Rick did have an error this week as he lost a ball in the sun but he has also made two or three diving plays to track down balls in spacious centerfield at AutoZone park.


INF Tagg Bozied has been on a roll as well as of late.  Bozied is batting .325 over his last ten games with five home runs as well as eight RBI and only striking out four times.  Bozied's recent surge has helped Ankiel see better pitches as he is the cleanup hitter and Ankiel is usually in the three hole.  Both Tagg and Rick celebrated birthdays last week and the karma seems to just be swinging their way now.


RHP Mike Smith has picked up two wins in two starts this week.  Smith went seven innings in each start, giving up only three hits in each start.  He's struck out 11 while walking only four over those two starts.  With Smith pitching well it takes pressure off the Memphis offense and they have responded, hitting much better as of late.


LHP Chris Narveson has made two starts since returning from a rehab assignment and the two games have been polar opposites.  In his first start, he was rocked for nine hits and six runs over two and two thirds of an inning.  His second start though, was something special as he went five and two thirds of no hit ball.  Unfortunately Narveson tweaked something in his leg and had to leave the game, so Matt Ginter and Troy Cate finished the game off allowing only one hit.  Narveson was sharp with his fastball and had good break on his curve and didn't give up much solid contact at all.


Who's Not


Over his last 10 games and 40 at bats, OF Nick Stavinoha is batting only .150 with one RBI.  Stavinoha has hit a really rough patch in his season and has zero extra base hits in that span.  As the five hitter in the lineup, Stavinoha's lack of production has been reminiscent of the problems facing the Redbirds all season. 


RHP Chris Lambert just cannot seem to get over the hump.  Lambert has had a tough month, giving up runs in four of his last five outings including giving up three runs in his last two three-inning outings.  As the team's long reliever/mopup duty pitcher, Lambert has struggled to find his "stuff" and has been hit consistently.  The former first round pick has talent; it just has yet to shine through.


What We Know


After some disappointing weeks, this one was big for Memphis as they have put together good offense and pitching at the same time.  A big key for the ‘Birds is Bozied and Ankiel hitting extremely well in the middle of the order.  Stavinoha has struggled behind them and Joe Mather is beginning to come along but the duo of Ankiel and Bozied are the reason the offense has been so successful as of late.  Both players have big time power and sometimes struggle with strike zone discipline, but recently the two have put it together, combining for 10 homers this week.


The emergence of Mike Smith once again has put him at the top of the list for the Cardinals in terms of the next starter called up.  Reyes was the most talented Redbird and Keisler is valuable because he's a lefty but Smith may have had the most success this season.  Smith saw time in Minnesota last year and could be a guy to eat some innings down the stretch for St. Louis. A slight negative is that he is not on the team's 40-man roster.



© 2007 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories