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Balls & Strikes Mailbag: Furcal, Molina and Scrabble

Posted Sunday, June 10, 2012, at 4:51 PM

I've gotten a handful of questions over the last week, so I decided to do a mailbag column this weekend. I really appreciate those of you who send these in. If you would like to ask a question, see the bottom of this column for instructions to submit.

Corey - Furcal has been fantastic so far, but how do you feel about him in the long-term?

Ernie F.

Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Ernie, that's an interesting question. It's safe to say that Furcal, since coming to the Cardinals in 2011, has been one of the most productive trades we've seen mid-season for quite some time. He played a key role in the Cardinals climb from obscurity to excellence in 2011 and has been invaluable to the 2012 team. Furcal's success as a lead-off hitter has given the Cardinals a puzzle piece they have lacked for several seasons (several is me being conservative). Furcal has a huge upside, but it comes with an equally huge risk.

Furcal has a long injury history and has struggled in the past. With that being said, he's made a lot of impressive plays and has dove all over the field and seems to be holding up well. With a little luck, he could be just fine. He's a piece that would hurt badly to lose.

Corey, Yadier Molina seems to be on fire this year. To what do you attribute his success?

Louis J.

Poplar Bluff, Mo.

Louis, there is no single thing to give credit for Yadi's success. There are several. He has a great work ethic. After a few years of struggling to hit, he stepped up his game. Hitting coach Mark McGwire thinks the world of Yadi and feels that his potential is literally endless. He doesn't think what we are seeing is a fluke, but is instead the real Yadi. Another big step for Yadi was being more patient at the plate. As of right now, he is on pace for more strikeouts than last year, but he is doing a better job of waiting for the right pitch.

Yadi's offense has been a pleasant surprise for this team. I'm not saying he wasn't expected to hit well, but to expect this from him would have been unrealistic.

Hey Corey - I have a question about Marc Rzepczynski. He seems to be struggling quite a bit this season. After such a good 2011, why do you think that is? Has something changed?

Mike L.

Dexter, Mo.

Yes. The manager. I'm not necessarily being critical of Matheny here, but I have questioned his use of Rzepczynski this season. He seems to be coming in for more extended stays even though his past success came when being mostly used as a lefty-specialist. I'm not saying he isn't capable, but he's throwing more than he is accustomed to.

The thing that makes this interesting, at least to me, is that there has long been talk about moving him to rotation at some point. I can't help but wonder if he can't handle an inning or so, how can you expect him to find success as a starter? If he wants to be a starter, he needs to be able to get out right-handed bats, too.


To submit a question for the Balls & Strikes Mailbag, either e-mail cnoles@dailystatesman.com, call (573)624-4545, or fill out the form at dailystatesman.com/blogs/coreynoles/

Follow him on Twitter @coreynoles

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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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