2009 Springfield Cardinals Team Review

In their fifth season, the Double-A Springfield Cardinals posted their third consecutive winning campaign and returned to the Texas League playoffs after a one-year absence.

The team


It was a year of contrasts as the Cardinals began with a first-place divisional finish and a 38-32 record, clinching a post-season berth in the process. After several of their league-best nine all-stars were lost due to call-ups to Triple-A and injury, the Cards limped home with a second-half record of 33-37.


Springfield tied for last place after the break, though they were only four games out of first. Had the Texas League used full-season standings, Springfield would not have made the post-season. The overall regular-season record of Ron "Pop" Warner's club was two games over .500 at 71-69, their poorest record since 2006.


Springfield then quickly exited from the North Division finals as they were swept out of the playoffs by second-half winner Northwest Arkansas Naturals in three games.


Team hitting


The Cardinals finished eighth of eight Texas League teams in batting at .253, but when they did connect, they did much better with a slugging mark of .393 (fourth-best). They were sixth in on-base percentage (.333) and fourth in OPS (.727).


Springfield's 119 home runs led the league and they were third in doubles with 235. Still, they were only sixth in runs scored. Not only were the Cardinals dead last in stolen bases with 59, their success rate of 50.8 percent also brought up the rear in the circuit.


Individual hitting


Outfielder Tyler Henley's .303 batting average was fifth-highest among league qualifiers and his on-base mark of .367 was 15th. Henley and catcher Steven Hill's slugging marks of .482 and .470 were sixth and seventh-best in the league and Henley's .849 OPS was fourth.


Jim Rapoport ranked fifth in walks with 71, but batted only .255. Hill's 19 home runs were good for seventh and his 64 RBIs tied for 11th. Henley was right behind at 63 RBI and tied for sixth in doubles with 31. Second baseman Daniel Descalso batted .323 with eight home runs and 51 RBIs in 73 games prior to his call to Triple-A.


Team pitching


A major trouble area was consistently throwing strikes. Springfield led the league in walks issued by a huge margin - 110 more walks than the second-worst club, 630 to 520. They were also third in opposing home runs served up at 105.


The staff finished a collective fifth in ERA at 4.30 and strikeouts with 897. Their 41 saves led the Texas League.


Individual pitching


Trey Hearne and Lance Lynn became a powerful pair of co-aces, finishing second and third in the league in ERA at 2.82 and 2.92, respectively. Hearne's 12 wins tied for tops in the circuit and Lynn was right behind at 11. Brandon Dickson's 112 strikeouts was the fourth-highest total in the Texas League.


Francisco Samuel was second in the league with 22 saves but also walked 46 in 47 2/3 innings. Tyler Norrick walked 44 in 59 innings. After taking over the closer's role, top prospect Eduardo Sanchez chipped in with ten saves. 


Individual recognition


Springfield sent nine players to the mid-season Texas League All-Star Game. Starters for the North Division were Henley, Descalso and first baseman Mark Hamilton. Reserve position players included Hill, shortstop Pete Kozma and outfielder Daryl Jones. Three Cardinals pitchers were also selected, as Lynn, Hearne and Samuel were on the squad.


The league also has an annual Post-Season All-Star Team. The four Cardinals members were all repeaters - Hearne, Lynn, Henley and Descalso. The latter selection was especially noteworthy since Descalso was promoted to Memphis at the start of July.


Jones, injured much of the second half, was joined by Samuel and former Cardinal Brett Wallace in the MLB Futures Game in St. Louis in July.


Descalso was our Scout.com Cardinals Minor League Player of the Month for April while his teammate Hill earned the honor from the organization for the same period.


In his first month in the league, Lynn was named the Cardinals organization Pitcher of the Month for May. Hearne picked up both the organizational and Scout.com monthly honors for June. Sanchez was our Scout.com Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Month for August.


Texas League Players of the Week included Hill (April 20-26), Kozma (June 8-14), Henley (July 13-19) and first baseman/outfielder Andrew Brown (August 24-30).


Texas League Pitchers of the Week included Hearne (June 22-28), Ryan Kulik (June 29-July 5) and Casey Mulligan (August 31-September 7).



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"2009 Batavia Muckdogs Team Review" – by Brian Walton

"2009 Johnson City Cardinals Team Review" – by Shawn Kerrick

"2009 Gulf Coast League Cardinals Team Review" – by Dustin Mattison



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.


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