1) Let’s start with what will surely be most enjoyable for Mizzou fans: Dorial Green-Beckham
First, we must throw out this qualifier. It is only the spring. None of this counts or matters come SEC Saturdays in September. But the sophomore wide receiver looks phenomenal so far in spring practice.
Offensive coordinator Josh Henson is no longer lining DGB up in the slot, like he often did his freshman season. Green-Beckham is now lining up on the perimeter as an “X” or “Z” receiver, allowing him to operate against isolated smaller cornerbacks.
We all know the size/speed/athleticism ratio that Green-Beckham brings to the table. That is what made him the nation’s most sought after recruit in the country in 2012, after all. If you need reminding: 6 feet 5 inches tall, 220 pounds, 4.4 second forty speed.
So far in two spring scrimmages, DGB has amassed 15 catches for 217 yards and two scores. Those numbers clearly, and easily, lead the team. He has been, without hesitation, the best player on the field this spring.
Frankly, that’s what is expected of a player with his recruiting credentials and physical potential.
But now, DGB is living up to the hype, because the game is slowing down and he understands the finer points of the position.
The wasted movement in his routes from last year is gone. He has a purpose for every move he makes with his legs, arms, and head when attacks a defender.
Everything is quicker. Everything is more fluid. Everything is more precise.
His talent is too overwhelming for any of his defensive teammates (besides, perhaps, CB E.J. Gaines) so the separation he is creating this spring is startling. He’s also making every catch in traffic it seems because he’s too large to defend in tight spaces.
It won’t be that way when the games really count against superior competition, but the naked eye can tell how much better he is at being a wide receiver now than he was just months ago.
*The Black and Gold spring game at Faurot Field is scheduled for Saturday, April 20 at 1 p.m.
2) On the defensive side of the ball, senior defensive end Michael Sam has been the best performer, and most consistently vocal leader.
In the two spring scrimmages, Sam has amassed 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and three fumble recoveries.
3) The St. Louis Cardinals are in first place in the NL Central, the lineup is second in the league in runs, and the starting pitching staff has a combined ERA of 1.82. There is, however, one glaring issue with this team: the back end of the bullpen.
That unit has a collective ERA of 6.09 -- the worst in the league -- completely nullifying the starters' number, which is the best in the league.
Last week we discussed this very same issue with the Kansas City Royals.
Here’s the good:
- Randy Choate: 5 GP, 2 HLD, 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0.50 WHIP, 0.00 ERA. He is clearly doing his job as the left-handed specialist (a.k.a. LOOGY).
- Edward Mujica: 5 GP, 4 HLD 5.0 IP, 5 K, 0.80 WHIP, 1.80 ERA.
Mujica has been good enough that it appears manager Mike Matheny is considering making him the closer because of this, the bad:
- Mitchell Boggs: 7 GP, 2 SV, 2 BS, 6.1 IP, 6 BB, 2.05 WHIP, 11.37 ERA
- Joe Kelly: 3 GP, 3.2 IP, 2 HR allowed, 4.91 K/9, 2.18 WHIP, 9.82 ERA
- Fernando Salas: 4 GP, 0-2 W-L, 4.1 IP, 4.15 K/9, 1.62 WHIP, 8.31 ERA
- Trevor Rosenthal: 7 GP, 8.0 IP, 4.50 ERA
Clearly, Mitchell Boggs cannot handle the ninth inning. This is not the first time he’s been given a shot to record the final three outs, and faltered.
Before Jason Motte emerged as the answer in 2011, it was Boggs that was first given the chance to be Ryan Franklin’s successor. He did not earn Tony LaRussa’s trust, so LaRussa turned to Salas before eventually settling on Motte.
4) Drastic times take drastic measures, and my proposed solution is out there, to say the least.
Promote Michael Wacha to begin his career in St. Louis as the Cardinals closer until Motte can come back – which may not be until next season.