Blog Entry

8/18 - Cardinals Jekyll and Hyde Act Continues

Posted on: August 18, 2010 9:11 pm
Edited on: August 18, 2010 9:18 pm
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Cardinals Jekyll and Hyde Act Continues


It probably shocks no Cardinal fan that after sweeping the Reds IN CINCINNATI (in a year where the Cards have been pretty bad on the road and extremely good at home) they turn around and embark on their first four-game losing streak of the season that saw Carpenter and Wainwright both get beaten - at HOME. 

On the bright side, they certainly didn't get shelled like has happened on occasion.  The dark side?  Once again a feckless offense is to blame.  As stated in this space recently, the Cardinals have decided to be a team with a handful of super-salaried stars fortified with a whole bunch of cheap fill-ins. 

Can the Cards AFFORD to have a shortstop and second baseman that can actually hit?  Nope. 

Are Jon Jay and Allen Craig legitimate major-leaguers?  They haven't been the past four years but suddenly, this year they are?  That seems fishy. 

One of the biggest concerns many experts had with the Cards when the season began was a lack of depth and a lack of veteran experience and the team has been exposed in both categories.  The only veterans they can afford to pick up are only those that have literally been thrown out with the trash.  Guys like Randy Winn, Aaron Miles and Jeff Suppan.  Super-sub Felipe Lopez could have been very effective as a part time guy, but has been overwhelmed as a starter.

The number of guys on this team that are borderline major leaguers is staggering.  Those I'd put in that category?  Tell you what.  It's easier to state those NOT in that category and we're talking position players (pitchers are a different animal).  Strictly limited to position players, Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, Colby Rasmus, and...that's about it.

The Cards have literally only four everyday major league quality position players.  That's barring injury, the Cards' lineup is only comprised of 50% quality bats (not counting the pitcher, of course).  That's four legit bats out of eight in the lineup for those who are bad at math like me.  And you can almost not count Molina as he is not in for his bat, but his defense.  Certainly, that's been the case this year.

I mean, who is afraid of (deep breath)...Skip Schumaker or Brendan Ryan or Felipe Lopez or Jon Jay or Randy Winn or Nick Stavinoha or Aaron Miles or Allen Craig?  Right.  No one.

At our best, our offensive lineup is going to be 50% effective.  That's an "F" in my book - and probably any book.  And as I said before, this is the path John Mozeliak and the Cards have committed to for the next five+ years, assuming the contract Pujols will get this off-season. 

For comparison sake, in 2004 the Cards had one automatic out in the lineup in Mike Matheny.  This year, we have four or five every night. 

Here's to hoping Jay and Craig morph in players they've never been before.  Here's to hoping David Freese can stay healthy next year. 

Here's to a LOT of hoping for next year.

And now, with a bitter taste in my mouth after a Brewers two-game sweep...

The Hard Nine


1.  When Quality Starts Become "Quality" Losses -
I hope our top three pitchers don't lose their sanity this year.  According to Baseball-Reference.com's team neutral pitching stats this year Chris Carpenter should have 15 wins, Jaime Garcia 13, and (drum roll) Adam Wainwright 19 (instead of the 13, 10 and 17 they currently have).  Each of their last starts were quality starts - and they all took the loss.  Jake Westbrook is fast joining them.  He is only 1-0 in three starts even though he's been plenty good in all of them. 

2.  Worst Contract in Club History - I was feeling nostalgic about the "good old days" when Kyle Lohse was actually a decent pitcher and something occurred to me: he has never been a decent pitcher.  Ever.

In his best season in 2008 he was 15-6 but his team neutral pitching record that year says he should have been just 11-10.  That means he got lucky (everyone is entitled once a decade, right?).  But even without sabermetrics, he had absolutely no track record of success in his career.  Really, 11-10 IS a good year for Lohse, which is sad, of course and a record of 15-6 was a mirage.

He's never - NEVER - allowed fewer hits than innings pitched in a season.  His career batting average allowed against is .283 (and was a slightly better .272 in 2008).  A pitcher that allows a .280 batting average doesn't seem like he would be worth $10 million a year.

And of course, Lohse is not worth it.  Which is why he has the distinction of being the beneficiary of the worst contact in Cardinals history and Mozeliak has the distinction of giving it to him.  Congrats to both.  How fun it will be to see the Cards throw games away by giving the ball to Lohse every fifth day through 2012.  Wait, I forgot - he'll probably be hurt half the time.

Whew.  I was worried.

3.  Get Out Of Jail Free, Derek - I am happy for Derek Lee who has finally been granted his release from Cubs-Purgatory (though he could have left earlier for the Angels).  He was traded to the Braves today and he should probably send the Cards a thank you gift for allowing him to hit four homers in three days off of us, which probably sealed the deal.  But seriously, DLee has always been a real classy guy and I hope he can give the Bravos a jolt and help them hold the NL East lead over the Phillies.  And maybe old friend Troy Glaus will feel more like a real ballplayer moving back over to 3rd base, which might wake up his long-dormant bat.

4.  Year of the Pitcher?  Try Year of the Wierd Injury -
Kendry Morales of the Angels broke his leg running out a walk-off home run.  Super Sophomore Mat Latos of the Padres landed on the DL holding back a sneeze.  2009 Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan of the Marlins tore up his knee giving a celebratory shaving cream pie in the face to teammate Wes Helms during his post-game interview.  He's out for the year.  And this week, the weirdest and saddest: Francisco Rodriquez (K-Rod) of the Mets injured his finger punching his girlfriend's father in front of other players' family and kids and had season-ending surgery. 

5.  What If The Reds Were Even Better? - The Reds showed their commitment to build a quality pitching staff three years ago which led them to trade Josh Hamilton to the Rangers for talented starter Edison Volquez.  Volquez had a stellar year in 2008 going 17-6 and was an All-Star.  But this year he was suspended 50 games for testing positive for PEDs.  But even beyond him, suddenly, the Reds seem to have plenty of pitching.  Bronson Arroyo, we've talked about before.  He's solid.  Mike Leake is a great young talent with lots of upside.  Jonny Cueto is a tough pitcher (and a pretty good kicker, too).  Homer Bailey just came back from the minors and pitched a great game on Sunday tossing six shutout innings allowing just three hits and no walks. 

Meanwhile, Hamilton has emerged as an AL MVP candidate this year.  He's having an Albert Pujols-type year (.359 average, 26 homers, 80 RBIs).  Drew Stubbs, Jonny Gomes, and Jay Bruce may all develop into everyday outfielders but for now they are all very inconsistent which has stunted Cincy's attack.  If the Reds still had Hamilton, I'd wager they'd be the best team in the NL, period. 

6.  The Cards' Last Hope This Year - The Cardinals are about to embark on an epic road trip and their only hope is to continue the success they found in Cincinnati and since they apparently have lost their mojo at home maybe this is the best scenario.  Can they somehow summon a grinding offense in San Francisco this week?  Can they return the favor in Houston sweep the Astros?  They do have a ton of games left with the Pirates at PNC Park where Pujols is a monster so that bodes well too.  But, if they can't get it done on the road the rest of this season, they will finish second - or worse.

7.  God Bless Us, Everyone -
Christmas has come early for NL batters this year.  Tiny Tim Lincecum of the Giants has been a lot less like Scrooge and been more generous with opponents.  Hopefully that also means the door is finally open for Adam Wainwright to win a Cy Young Award.  His ERA has ballooned to 3.62 and he's almost given up as many hits this year as all of last year (in 80 less innings).  Adam should send him a fruit basket or something.

8.  We're Having Twins - For the postseason!  The Twins are proving me wrong in fending off the Chicago White Sox.  They are first in the AL with a team batting average of .282 and fourth in ERA (3.88).  The only thing that disturbs me about them is Carl Pavano.  He's tied for the league lead in wins (15) and has been sharp all year, but especially recently.  His ERA of 3.27 is fantastic (especially for the AL) and a full run lower than his career ERA of 4.31.  That dude sure gets motivated for his next contact don't he?  At least the Twins are the beneficiaries and his next team will be the chumps who sign him.

9.  Going to Confession - Jonathan Sanchez of the Giants (along with every other baseball "expert" that dissed the Pads) needs to finally confess that the Padres are legit and headed to the postseason.  Sanchez, if you didn't know, said the Giants would sweep the Padres in their most recent series.  But a funny thing happened: the Padres swept THEM and the Giants are now 5 1/2 games out of first place.  The Pads (now with one of my favorites, Ryan Ludwick) will be one of the "underdogs" I'll be rooting for.  But anyone will tell you they are anything but.



WG



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Comments

Since: Nov 24, 2008
Posted on: August 25, 2010 5:35 pm
 

8/18 - Cardinals Jekyll and Hyde Act Continues

Thank you for the great feedback, guys!  The NL Central race will be anything but boring this year and will go down to the wire, most likely.  And Eugene, yes, DLee made the better choice in going to the Braves.  They are looking as a good a bet as any in the postseason.



Since: Mar 21, 2010
Posted on: August 20, 2010 11:36 am
 

8/18 - Cardinals Jekyll and Hyde Act Continues

Of course I am not a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, so I really ldon't know much about the constistency of their play. However, I really thought that after big-mouth Brandon Phillips and his Cincinnati Reds were swept last week, that the Cards would be the ones up by three and a half games by now instead of the way it currently stands.

As far as Albert Pujols and this offseason goes I believe that the option for 2011 will be picked up, so don't lose sleep over that. However, the bigger question will be the ability to discuss an extension. The one thing working for the Cardinals is that he is represented by Dan Lozano and not Scott Boras. Boras would use the contract that Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies signed this year as the point of reference just to start the negotiations, and then add about a 30% premium or more to that contract to come up with the numbers he is looking for. And if Boras doesn't get his way then he will then use the phantom "other team" (which is never revealed) as a ploy to try and get his way.

So I say all that so say is as long as Lozano represents Pujols the Cards have a shot retaining him long-term. If Pujols drops Lozano and signs with Boras the Cards are screwed.

Finally to your point about Derrek Lee (formerly of the Chicago Cubs), I believe the reason why he rejected a trade to the Los Angeles Angels and instead approved a trade to the Atlanta Braves is the same reason Lance Berkman (formerly of the Houston Astros) gave a short list of teams he would approve being traded to (which eventually became the New York Yankees). Both of these guys want one last shot at winning it all. Lee tasted the glory of winning it all when he was a member of the Florida Marlins in 2003 and because that taste is so sweet (as told my so many professional athletes who have won a championship at the highest level) he wants to taste it once again before his career comes to an end in about 2 or 3 years. The Braves provide him with a better of getting to the post-season then the Angels who are 7 games back in their division and for all intent and purposes buried in the Wildcard chase.

As for Berkman although he has never won a World Series, like Lee he probably has another 2 or 3 years left in him and sees the window of opportunity to get back to the post-season closing very quickly, thus his short list of teams (all of which were playoff contenders) that he would approve a traded to.

Good post once again.

Keep up the good work.



Since: Jun 24, 2010
Posted on: August 20, 2010 8:18 am
 

8/18 - Cardinals Jekyll and Hyde Act Continues

another good one here, defintely enjoy some legit criticism of the way these cards have been built. It is alright to surround big Al and Holiday with sub par talents, as long as they dont go entire series against teams like the cubs and brewers without getting any hits. Playoff teams find ways to win, and the cards are doing just the opposite. we let talent-less pitchers come into our house and dominate us, and not the usual suspects (pitchers we havent seen before), these were guys that we have seen, and hit well against in the past. Minus dempster, he usually pitches us pretty well.

We literally have a month of baseball left here, cards will only get one day off the entire next month. I think that could work in our favor though, guys can get a hot streak going and keep carrying it into the next series, and we will get to go against at least 1 complete garbage team each week, so that should limit any more of these 4 game losing streaks.

Personally, I'm getting excited to see what happens, if they are legit playoff contenders, we should be seeing some good wins coming up here.

Still standing by my prediction: Cards will win the division over the reds by 5 games. Reds will crumble under the pressure.

Go Cards! Go Cards! Go Cards!



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