Cardinals Series Preview: Erik Manning

As done Friday, the upcoming series with the St. Louis Cardinals will be kicked off with a short interview with a blogger. Erik Manning of the Cardinals blog Play A Hard Nine was nice enough to participate. You can find Erik at FanGraphs and on Twitter as well.

Given the brevity of prepare time, we settled on three questions apiece. You can find my responses here. His will follow.

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1. My favorite page on Baseball Reference is that of Albert Pujols. He has simply put up remarkable numbers year in and year out. How much fun is it to watch him, and are you at all worried that he won’t be a Cardinal in the future?

It is extremely fun to watch Albert play the game of baseball. I’ve never seen another hitter quite like him; he’s supremely talented, and yet he doesn’t rest on his talents alone to carry him. He’s extremely intense and I think his hard work ethic is demonstrated by how good of a defender he’s become at first base.

Thinking about seeing him in anything else but a Cardinal uniform is enough to keep a person up at night. Albert seems to be talking out of two sides of his mouth right now. He is quoted as saying he wants to be a Cardinal for life, but yet when he’s been approached by the team about signing a life-long contract, he’s non-committal and says things to the press like “I’m not afraid of becoming a free agent”. He and Holliday could possibly account for about half the team’s payroll, which also is another concern. But if any one is worth $30 million per year, it’s Albert.

2. Game 7 of the World Series. Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright?

That is a very tough call, I think both pitchers are rougly about equally as good. I’m afraid my memory is tainted by last year’s NLDS against the Dodgers. Wainwright struck out 7 batters in eight innings, and allowed just a run on three hits and a walk. Carpenter lasted only five innings, and walked four, allowed nine hits, and was lucky to get out of the game having allowed just 4 runs. Outside of that rocky outing, Carpenter’s resume in the postseason is pretty good, but then again so is Wainwright’s. I’ll always cherish fond memories of Beltran caught looking in the 2006 NLDS. It’s a coin flip.

3. In Philadelphia, we obsess over Jayson Werth’s beard. It appears, in St. Louis, your equivalent is the mustache of Brendan Ryan. Can you relate the epicness of the mustache to those of us more in favor of the beard?

Brendan Ryan, nicknamed Boog, had himself one terrific cookie duster growing on his upper lip last year, but alas, he has since shaved it off. The good news is he can grow a new, crazier mustache in short order, and while spinning at that. I’m actually a big fan of the Werewolf. He’s from Springfield, Ill, and his grand-father Dick Shofield came up with the Cardinals and spent a good part of his career in St. Louis. I thought Werth was some good F.A.T. (freely available talent) when he was let go by the Dodgers, and I remember banging the drum for the Cardinals to sign him. My feeling on Werth proved correct, and the Cardinals ended up signing the underwhelming Juan Encarnacion.

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Thanks to Erik for the education on mustaches. Oh, and the Cardinals. Here’s hoping the Phillies continue to hold Albert Pujols in check. After hitting 10 home runs in three seasons from 2005-07, he has hit only one and OPS’ed under .600 in each of the past two seasons.

As mentioned during the ESPN chat last night, I’m looking forward to seeing the Phillies lend a helping hand in the ERA regression of Brad Penny and Jaime Garcia, just as they did with Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana.