Daily Grind 5.2

Waino’s elbow, the Cubs of hockey?, and a reality check for those who didn’t like  another “unsexy” pick in the NFL draft.

These growing pains have to be killing Adam Wainwright. The guy is such a competitive gamer. Owning an earned run average over 6 must be frustrating. With each start though, he knows the new ligament in his right elbow is getting stronger, and more prepared for the rigors of a Major League Baseball season. Dave Duncan recently said that it typically takes a pitcher around 10 starts to really find the command following Tommy John surgery.

Yadi Molina is hitting a cool .321 with 17 RBI's. (photo via williamgreenblattphotography.com)

Matt Holliday had a productive beginning to May going 3-5 with a home run. Holliday’s average is low (.235) but he does have 15 RBI’s.

Carlos Beltran is fighting it a bit at the plate. He is 3 for his last 32 and his last home run came on April 18th.

The Cardinals roster is flooded with talent. I think we all knew what this team was capable of after Albert fled to Anaheim, but I really don’t think anyone envisioned the depth this team is showcasing. From Matt Carpenter’s 14 RBI’s in April, to Shane Robinson’s .419 average off the pine, and the return of Skip Schumaker and Allen Craig. I mean it just doesn’t end. Somebody asked Matt Carpenter if he was planning on taking Lance Berkman’s spot at first base when Puma was shelved with a calf injury. He laughed it off at the time, but we all remember Wally Pipp, right?

Joking, obviously. When you’re biggest problems are Waino and Holliday, well, you’re not down 2-0 in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.

Speaking of which …

Watching the Blues play the Kings, it’s like playing that older brother that shows no mercy. The Blues and Kings play almost identical schemes. Defensive hockey, rely on goaltending, blah, blah.

The problem? The Kings are executing the game plan. The Blues have yet to show up. If you think Periods 2-3 meant a damn thing to the psyche of LA, please enter the quiet room. They had a 4-0 ass whooping at the end of 1 period.

David Backes told the media after the game, “It’s about intestinal fortitude & coming together as a group & going to the hard areas & showing some cojones.”

The Kings’ first goal just 31 seconds in was an odd play. The Kings 2nd goal at 14:16 was the killer. That’s now 2 shorthanded goals in 2 games against the Los Angeles Kings, who owned a 2.07 goals against per game during the regular season.

HITCH:

The uninspired, lackadaisical style of play is alarming. Perhaps the team is worn out. Perhaps Los Angeles is just the better team. But man, at least show up.

Hey, at least 45 years doesn’t sound as bad as 104…yet.

I could sit here and rip individual players but it’s not even worth it, the entire team has to be better, because right now they’re getting pushed around.

Another cheesy segue to the Rams draft.

Rip it, love it, smart, dumb, great, terrible, who the hell knows. Were talking about a pool of talent that regardless of how many films we watch, notes we read, and prepping we do, nothing will tell us how they will perform under the bright lights on a national stage come Sunday. This game they play on Sunday is just a bit different from that they play on Saturday. Faster, stronger, smarter, you name it.

In 2010, the Rams lost a pathetic “play-in” game Week 17 at Seattle, and never quite woke up for 2011. The 2010 squad was solid defensively. Fred Robbins, 34, played his butt off at tackle, Chris Long broke out with 8.5 sacks, James Hall, 34, had 10.5 sacks, one short of a career high. The defensive line was stout. They collapsed the pocket on opposing quarterbacks quickly. The cornerbacks weren’t forced to play man for 8-10 seconds every down.

The Rams’ defensive unit in 2011 was awful. Sure injuries played a role, but so did having Robbins and Hall back at 35, a slow 33 year old Ben Leber at linebacker, a ghost in 33 year old Justin Bannan at d-tackle. AGE.

Opponents averaged 4.8 yards/carry and scored 17 touchdowns against the unit. Opponents averaged over 30 carries a game to wear down the Delmar Gardens defensive line.

So drafting Michael Brockers, the 6’5, 320 lb. tackle from LSU, gives the team an anchor inside. It clogs running lanes, giving James Laurinaitis some help at middle linebacker. The Rams signed free-agent Kendall Langford to clog the gap too. Between Brockers, Langford, Long, and Robert Quinn, the Rams suddenly have a promising defensive line.

GM LES SNEAD: COMPLETE THE UNIT

Thank god the Pillar system Steve Spagnuolo implemented was reduced to rubble. Between Janoris Jenkins’ 4 kids with 3 different women and Trumaine Johnson resisting arrest, the Rams have some “culture” around Rams Park.

HC JEFF FISHER ON JENKINS:

When you have a Jeff Fisher in charge, and a Cortland Finnegan in the secondary, the potential for these promising corners are very high.

People will rip the Rams because they left the #2 pick and “failed” to get Justin Blackmon. That’s how it works in the NFL. Teams panic and trade up and swoop your prized possession a la Jacksonville. Arizona snags Michael Floyd. So, you stick with the board, which was prepared for those exact moments. Clearly, the Rams had a plan, they executed, and now we wait to see if they’re right.

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