What’s Causing The Stinky Offense?

Since I started this blog back in March, I have predominantly been posting opinion pieces, because, frankly, they are easy to do and I never suffer from a lack of opinion on anything.  If I had the time or the inclination to start another blog, I could really bore folks to death with my endless opinions on just about any topic.  Truth be told, I don’t have a life.  I am an older, unmarried, childless woman, with nothing much else to do with my time.  So I write.  It just so happens that baseball is my favorite topic to write about.

I want to do more analytical pieces, but in addition to all of the above facts about myself, I am also technically challenged.  I just haven’t been able to figure out how to get those neato charts and graphs into my blog.  I have come to the point where I have decided to give it a go anyway and to cobble together something resembling an analysis.  I warn you, don’t expect much.

So here goes.  I am going to attempt to analyze why the Cardinals have scored so few runs this season, 29th in all of MLB in run-scoring as a matter of fact.   I used Fangraphs team batting stats as my reference.  What I did was use their ranking tool to rank all 30 teams in the number of runs scored.  Then I decided to start by testing a hypothesis that power was a factor in the number of runs scored.  The best stat to measure power is ISO (Isolated Power).  ISO measures extra base hits (doubles, triples and HRs).  I didn’t use SLG (slugging percentage) because it includes singles, which aren’t a measure of power.  Once I did that, I found a decent, but not perfect, correlation between power and runs scored.  I then looked for teams that had fairly low power but ranked much higher in runs scored, then scanned for what might distinguish them from the high power, high runs scored teams.  The stats that stood out for those teams was SB (stolen bases), and AVG (batting average).  I did the same for any team that had a higher power number, but was much lower on runs scored.  Again, the distinguishing stats for those teams seemed to be SB and AVG.  Of course, this made a lot of sense, because stolen bases and average are the bedrocks of small ball.  I also decided to add OBP to the list, to see how it correlated with runs scored.

At that point I put together a rough table of highest to lowest ranked teams in runs scored, and then the rankings of each of those teams with respect to ISO, SB and AVG and OBP.  Here is that table.  (*note:  I pulled all of these numbers before the Cardinals/Cubs game last night).

 

Team                      Runs                    ISO                  SB                 AVG               OBP

Athletics                  1st                       6th                  17th               20th               5th

Angels                      2nd                     9th                  21st               4th                  6th

Rockies                    3rd                      1st                   19th              1st                   4th

Tigers                      4th                      5th                   9th                2nd                 2nd

Blue Jays                 5th                      4th                  23rd              6th                  7th

Twins                       6th                      15th                10th              16th                8th

Brewers                   7th                      3rd                  8th                11th                17th

Indians                    8th                      11th                11th               12th                10th

Orioles                     9th                      2nd                 30th              8th                  21st

Nationals                10th                     13th                12th              14th                13th

Pirates                    11th                      12th                5th                7th                  1st

White Sox              12th                      7th                  20th              9th                  16th

Dodgers                  13th                     16th                1st (tie)         5th                  3rd

Royals                    14th                      30th               1st (tie)         3rd                  18th

Marlins                  15th                       20th              27th               15th                12th

Astros                    16th                       8th                6th                  27th                22nd

Mariners               17th                       19th              16th               22nd                27th

Rangers                 18th                       27th              14th               10th               15th

Giants                    19th                       14th              29th               21st                23rd

Yankees                20th                       18th              4th                 18th                19th

Rays                      21st                         25th             24th              19th                 9th

Phillies                  22nd                       23rd            7th                 24th                 24th

Dbacks                 23rd                         17th             22nd              17th                 26th

Red Sox               24th                         24th             28th               25th               14th

Reds                     25th                         21st              3rd                26th                28th

Braves                 26th                         22nd             15th              23rd                20th

Mets                    27th                          26th             13th              29th                25th

Cubs                    28th                         10th             25th              28th                29th

Cardinals            29th                         29th (tie)       26th             13th                 11th

Padres                30th                         29th (tie)      18th             30th                 30th

 

That’s a lot of numbers and a lot to take in.  The first thing I noticed (other than the Cardinals being at the bottom of the list) was that the Cardinals and the Padres did not have the lowest ISO on the list, despite being the last two teams in runs scoring.  The lowest ISO belonged to the Royals.  However, the Royals were ranked 14th in runs scored.  That is because the Royals are tied for 1st with the Dodgers for the most SBs and are 3rd in AVG.  The Royals are playing effective small ball.

The next thing I noticed was the Cubs were 28th in runs scored, but were 10th in ISO.  However, the Cubs are 25th in SBs and 28th in AVG. The Cubs are also 29th in OBP, and 7th in HRs, which suggests they are hitting a lot of solo HRs as their primary means of scoring.

One would think that OBP would correlate highly with scoring runs but there is more to it than that.  Teams like the Cardinals, Rays, and Red Sox are in the top half of OBP but at the bottom in runs scored.  That is because all 3 are at the bottom in both ISO and SBs. Getting on base is only the first step.  Moving the runners quickly and efficiently is the key.

This is a very rustic and unscientific analysis, but it appears that the Cardinals’ offensive woes are due to low power numbers and a lack of aggressive baserunning.  The Cardinals are getting on base, but not moving runners.  Trying to score runs by stringing 3 or 4 singles together, as the Cardinals have been doing, is a very inefficient way of producing runs, absent the otherworldly hitting with RISP of last season..  The Cardinals need to either hit for more power, or in the absence of that, they need to run, and run a lot.  They are doing neither.

This conclusion should be a surprise to no one.  I think most of us had already figured this out, so these numbers are just the confirmation.   The solution ultimately may require personnel and/or staff changes in the offseason.

One final note.  How the Cardinals have managed to stay in the playoff hunt despite these low run-scoring numbers is simple.  Defense.   The one thing that the Cardinals are doing extremely well is run prevention.  The Cardinals rank 1st in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS).  The Cardinals’ top 5 players in DRS are Jhonny Peralta (16), Matt Adams (10), Yadier Molina (8), Mark Ellis (7), and Peter Bourjos (6)

Defense doesn’t matter, right?

 

 

Thank you for reading.

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A Bilge-Sucking Road Trip

Sigh.

I missed two of the three games in the Pittsburgh series.  I had somewhere else to be.  Even the one I did watch was painful.  Winning in PNC Park is always difficult, but winning almost anywhere this season has not been a walk in the park.  This team scores runs like many of my students do their classwork.  They do just enough to look good and then sit back and relax.  Then the end of the class is near and they realize they need to hurry up and finish the assignment, but there is not enough time left.  Or, like some other of my students, do nothing at all and then say they REALLY tried.  Sound familiar?

I have to put up with that behavior at school, I never thought my baseball team was going to treat me the same way.

I miss the days when the Cardinals scored twelve runs in one inning against the Cubs.  What the heck happened?  It’s possible that this team is just not as talented as I thought they were.  If so, John Mozeliak has some work to do in the offseason.

The ironic thing is that the Cardinals could still make the playoffs, despite their lackluster play.  This is the astounding part.  The pitching and the defense have kept them in it.  There has not been a powerhouse team in the NL this year.  No contending team this season has blown anyone’s socks off.  The World Series could be pretty lopsided.

I have been doing too many of these hand-wringing posts for my taste.  It’s redundant and I need to stop.  This team is what it is.

Tuesday night was the game I did get to watch.  I, like many others, was astounded when Mike Matheny left Seth Maness in to pitch to Ike Davis.  It was such a terrible decision that one of the Pirates fans that I follow on Twitter even remarked about how bad it was.   Pirates fans were expecting a pitching change, because Ike Davis is lost against left handed pitching, and when it didn’t happen they were extremely grateful for the gift they were about to receive.

Matheny explained his blunder….err…….decision by saying he knew if he brought in Randy Choate that Clint Hurdle would counter by calling back Davis and putting in a right handed pinch hitter.  My response to that is……So?   Hurdle was working with a short bench that night, and the only players he had left after Davis were Jordy Mercer and his back up catcher, Chris Stewart.  There was no way Hurdle was going to burn his back up catcher in a tie game in the 8th inning, so he would have brought in Mercer.  Mercer hits lefties well, but he is not a power hitter.  He has only hit 2 HRs against lefties this year, and none as a pinch hitter.  On the other hand, Ike Davis has hit all 10 of his HRs this year against right handed pitching, and 3 of them as a pinch hitter.

Of all the right handed pitchers for Matheny to allow to pitch to Davis, Maness was the absolute worst choice.  A fastball (sinker)/changeup pitcher who lives in the strike zone pitching to a dead pull hitter?  Yeah, that was going to end well.  I mean, does Matheny even have this hitter profile information available to him or does he just wing it?

If Matheny had put Choate in and Hurdle had countered with Mercer, that would have forced Hurdle to essentially burn his bench (remember the only player left was the back up catcher) in a tie game.  Unlike Matheny, I have doubts that he would have done it.  Even if he had, I like my odds with Mercer/Choate much better than Davis/Maness.  Much. Much. Better.

Remember that Pirate fan who couldn’t believe Matheny didn’t make a pitching change?  Well, he also thought Matheny should be fired for that move.  Must be a closet Cardinal fan.

Oh well, time to move on to the next head scratcher.  I’m done here.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

UCB Project: Bloggers Play Ball

As a member of the United Cardinal Bloggers I from time to time participate in monthly “projects” with other bloggers.  This is one such project.  The assignment is to put together a lineup (or roster, if one prefers) of a team made up of UCB bloggers.  Now, I don’t know many of the bloggers in the UCB, nor, I must confess, have I read all of the member blogs.  I follow a number of the bloggers on Twitter, so what I know about them comes strictly from interactions there.  I have never actually met any bloggers in person, as I have been unable to attend any of the annual bloggers weekends that occur each baseball season.  So for this project I have put together a lineup of bloggers on just a small modicum of information about them and their blogs.  It’s rough, but here it is.

 

Lead off:  Eliza (last name unknown)  “A Blog of Their Own”  in LF

The lead off hitter should be quick and on the ball (and base).  Eliza is quick-witted, and pulls no punches.  Many of us female bloggers are that way, perhaps it comes with being a sports blogger in a predominantly male world.  Eliza knows what she means, and says what she means.  I put her in left field because the strength of her mind reminds me of the strength of her Cardinal counterpart, Matt Holliday.

Batting Second:  Christine Coleman “Aaron Miles Fastball” at 2B

I believe the hitter in the 2 hole must be someone who can be trusted to get on base in front of the heavy hitters.   Christine and I have been in agreement about many issues this season, so she is someone that I wouldn’t hesitate to rely on to get the job done.  I put her at second base because although Aaron Miles is well known for his heroics in taking one for the team on the pitcher’s mound in out of hand games, Miles was predominantly a second bagger.

Batting Third:  Bob Netherton “On the Outside Corner” at 3B

This spot belongs to a power guy, one who can knock it out of the park.  Bob is the guy who does this on a daily basis with his profound knowledge of the history of Cardinal baseball, his humor, and his ability to get to the heart of the matter.  You won’t find a more knowledgeable guy about baseball than Bob.  Bob and I both grew up on Cardinal baseball and got to know it in the same era, the 60s.  I put Bob at 3B in recognition of that era and of the Cardinal icon from that era, Mike Shannon.

Batting 4th (Cleanup):  Daniel Shoptaw “C70 at the Bat” at Catcher

This spot belongs to your best heavy hitter, and no one in the Cardinal blogger universe exemplifies that better than our fearless leader, Daniel.  Daniel makes it all work, and is our “field general’.  That is why he is my catcher, my Yadier Molina.  Daniel works harder than anyone and is tireless in the amount of time (innings) he puts into the job.  Just don’t go on the DL, Daniel, we couldn’t operate without you.

Batting Fifth:  Kevin Reynolds “StL Cards ‘N Stuff” at 1B

Kevin is very passionate about what he believes in.  We may not always agree on things, but Kevin sticks to his guns, and I respect that a lot.  I put Kevin at 1B, because that position requires toughness and fortitude.  The first baseman has to handle a lot of action from all positions on the field, and Kevin is the guy with the wherewithal to do it.

Batting Sixth:  Tara Wellman “Bird Tales” in RF

Tara is a sports journalist, and for a woman, that’s a tough job.  Tara is also one of the most fair-minded people I have encountered on Twitter, and that will serve her well in her chosen profession.  Tara examines all sides of an issue, and doesn’t jump to conclusions.  I put Tara in right field, because she has the toughness to handle those balls in the right field corner and because she strives to be right in how she deals with things.

Batting Seventh:  Daniel Solzman “Redbird Rants” at SS

Daniel is the rangiest guy I know on Twitter, so that is why he is my shortstop.  Daniel covers a lot of ground, whether it be sports, politics, entertainment or books.  Daniel writes and talks about many subjects and he is tireless at all of them.

Batting Eighth:  Nick Waeltz  “Pitchers Hit Eighth” at P

Come on, you knew I had to do this one, didn’t you?  I don’t know Nick at all, but I do follow him on Twitter.  While he doesn’t tweet a lot (after all, a pitcher only plays every 5th game), when he does, I usually am very impressed with what he has to say.  I usually agree with it too.

Batting Ninth:  Ben Chambers “The View from Here” in CF

I had to do this one too.  Ben is my compadre in defense of Peter Bourjos.  That’s why he’s in center field.  Ben and I might be Peter’s biggest fans (Bob Netherton is a Bourjos fan as well, so he needs a shoutout here too).  We never give up in our quest to see Peter play more.  Ben believes Peter should bat ninth, after the pitcher, so as to give him the opportunity to steal bases, and be driven in by the lead off hitter.  I have put him here for that reason.  Keep the fires burning, Ben.

 

So that’s my UCB lineup in all its glory.  Looks like a winning lineup to me.  Take us to the Blogger World Series, guys and gals.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

To The Future And Beyond

I haven’t posted in several days, but there is a reason for that.  I substitute teach, and school started in the school district I work for last week.  I worked on Monday and Tuesday, so my mornings (when I usually write my posts) have been spent at school.  But I have a day off today, so I am taking this opportunity to get a post in.

The Cardinals have been winning a few lately, and that’s good.  Unfortunately the Brewers have been winning too.  The thing with me and this season is that I lost much of my enthusiasm months ago.  I continue to watch, as I am not a fairweather fan and never have been.  I am pleased when they win, and unhappy when they lose, but beyond that I don’t get overly excited one way or the other.   This team just doesn’t do it for me this year, despite Mike Matheny‘s assertions that this team is “a hard team not to love”.  Um, no, I don’t find it hard at all.

So the Cardinals won 3 out of 4 against the Padres and now have won two against the Reds.  There have been some strange happenings in these games lately.  Big hits from Daniel Descalso and Shane Robinson.  Lots of hit by pitches on Jon Jay (the most recent was a walk off in the 9th inning).  Baseball is weird like that.  Daniel Descalso and Shane Robinson are both replacement level players, but even replacement level players can have hot streaks.  Pete Kozma had a month long one in 2012.  Jon Jay has a knack for being hit by a pitch.  Some think his rather large posterior end might have something to do with it, though he isn’t always hit there.  Jay himself said he thinks it’s because he gets pitched inside a lot.  Maybe that’s true, I don’t know.  Jay has certainly benefited from it; if you discounted all his HBP’s, his OBP would be significantly lower than it is (It would drop from .378 to .349).   That’s not a knock on him it’s just reality.

I have been watching baseball for over 40 years, so I know stuff like this happens all the time.  Over a 162 game season, strange things are bound to happen.  That’s why I like stats, because when you study the numbers, especially over large sample sizes, those oddities don’t matter much.  You can learn much more about a player from his performance over time, than you ever will from individual game performances, or short bursts of a season.   I don’t get excited by hot streaks and I don’t freak out over cold ones.  You have to know the player’s history before you can make any kind of a judgment.  Players have a career mean of performance and they almost always regress to it eventually.  Over time and with aging, that mean can shift, but the trends (usually downward) are pretty noticeable.

I can tell you that Matt Holliday is declining.  He is still a pretty good player, but his seasons of 20-25 HRs and .300 hitting are behind him.  Matt Carpenter is close to his peak, and Jon Jay has reached his.  Yadier Molina has probably peaked as well, though he could have a year or two of really good left in him.  Jhonny Peralta will most likely begin declining along with Holliday.  Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong have plenty of upside left and will likely only get better.  As for pitchers, Adam Wainwright has peaked, and John Lackey has passed his.  Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, and probably Shelby Miller (if he isn’t broken) still have upside.  Of course, there are always reinforcements to be had in the minors, and trades and free agency to fill in the gaps.

I might not see this year as being the Cardinals’ year, but I am optimistic that the Cardinals have the talent to continue to contend for years to come.  Continued success by John Mozeliak in roster changes and (hopefully) better managing by Mike Matheny gives me hope for the future.

Unlike the hapless Cubs fans, “There’s always next year” has real meaning for me.  The present, not so much.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Mathenaging, Part I

It was a win that almost wasn’t.  For a team starved for runs and wins, a loss last night would have been just one more sign that this team is all talk and no action.  It was a win that manager Mike Matheny had to have in order to deflect the ever growing criticism of his managing and the teachings of his coaches.  It wasn’t a easy win or a decisive win.  There have been very few of those types of wins this season for the Cardinals.

I have made this criticism of Matheny before and after last night’s squeaker win I am going to make it again.  Mike Matheny has no clue how to properly utilize a bullpen.  Mike Matheny has demonstrated no ability to think outside the box.  Matheny is stuck in a rut of repetition and roles.  Trevor Rosenthal is the closer.  Pat Neshek is the set up guy.  Seth Maness is the ground ball double play guy who gets outs of inherited runner jams.  So on, and so on.

As a consequence of this ritualistic bullpen management, Matheny overuses some pitchers and underuses others.  No matter what, if it is a save situation, Matheny is going to go to Rosenthal, no matter how many days in a row he has pitched or how many innings or pitches he has thrown.  He did the same thing to Edward Mujica last season, and we all know how that turned out.  Is Rosenthal on a similar path?  It’s difficult to tell, but last night’s performance by Rosenthal did not inspire confidence in anyone.  Twice in the 9th inning Rosenthal had the bases loaded.  The first time resulted in a run scoring.  The second time he fortunately got the 3rd out and saved the game.

The Cardinals’ top three relievers in terms of innings pitched are (not surprisingly): Seth Maness (61.1), Trevor Rosenthal (56.0) and Pat Neshek (50.1).  The rest of the bullpen have about half or less the amount of innings as those three.  The top three relief pitchers in terms of appearances are:  Trevor Rosenthal (56), Pat Neshek (54), and Seth Maness (53).   The next closest is Randy Choate with (45).  The top three relief pitchers in pitches thrown are:  Trevor Rosenthal (1002), Seth Maness (855), and Pat Neshek (712).  The next closest is Sam Freeman with (486).

Let’s compare Rosenthal’s usage to other top closers in baseball.  Atlanta’s closer Craig Kimbrel has 48 IP, 49 appearances and 836 total pitches thrown.  The Royals’ Greg Holland has 47.1 IP, 49 appearances and 797 total pitches thrown.  Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez has 55 IP, 56 appearances and 842 total pitches thrown.  Fernando Rodney of the Mariners has 50.2 IP, 52 appearances and 852 total pitches thrown.

Only Rodriguez has similar numbers to Rosenthal but has 160 less total pitches thrown.  Rodriguez is also 32 years old and has been pitching for 12 years.  Trevor Rosenthal is 24 years old and this is his second full season as closer.  At the pace he is being used he would surpass Rodriguez in total career IP and appearances in less time.

What does this tell us about Matheny’s use of Rosenthal?  That would be up to the interpretation of the reader.  What it tells me is that Matheny’s over reliance on certain pitchers is harmful to the pitcher and to the team.  It tells me that Matheny is a poor bullpen manager and doesn’t appear to the have the ability to change his methods to adjust to situations.

This is not my only criticism of Matheny’s managing skills.  In future posts I will demonstrate his poor usage of his position players and how he could maximize the resources that he has but has failed to do so.  His whining about criticism no doubt will be reserved for critics that matter more than me.

 

P.S.  I was asked by a regular reader to please say something nice about Jon Jay today.  He is very good at rising to a challenge.  And he has cool hair.

 

Thank you for reading.

It’s Time For Some NoDoz

ZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz…………..

 

Wha?  Sorry, I was napping there.  I was thinking about the St. Louis Cardinals and just dozed off.

 

Lost to the Marlins against last night.  No offense, no runs.  Adam Wainwright tried, Donovan Solano muscled a home run just inside the foul pole.  Casey McGehee wouldn’t have been on second base after a base hit, if Matt Holliday hadn’t played that base hit with his head up his….. well, where it shouldn’t have been.    Garrett Jones then ground out and if McGehee was on first base instead of second, that likely would have been a double play.  The third out would have then been made before Solano came to bat, and no home run would have happened.

Who knows what would have happened after that though.  The Cardinals couldn’t score any runs.  Maybe the Marlins would have scored eventually anyway and won the game.

What to do?  I don’t know, that’s Mozeliak’s job.  I just watch em, I don’t fix em.  That is I watch them as long as I can stay awake.  Or until catatonia sets in.

Has anyone checked some of these guys for a pulse lately?

It’s just sad, it really is.  Such promise at the start of the season and we now have this.  Whatever this is.  It doesn’t look much like a baseball team.  I look forward to watching some of the Little League World Series, where I might actually see some baseball worth watching.  I mean, there is a girl pitcher and everything.  There is also some baseball being played in Memphis, I hear.  Need to watch more of that.

One more game in Miami.  Justin Masterson is pitching.  Can’t wait to see what brilliant lineup Mike Matheny comes up with.  Well, yes I can, that was just sarcasm.  Need to see more of Daniel Descalso…….nope, more sarcasm.   I got nothing.

San Diego Padres back at Busch Stadium.  Already lost a series to them.  That doesn’t look promising.  Reds at Busch after that.  Maybe we can stir up some of that rivalry.  Get the competitive juices flowing. Stick pins in some Brandon Phillips dolls.  Wait, he’s on the DL.  Never mind.  Joey Votto?  DL also.  Johnny Cueto?  He might not pitch in that series.  I give up.

The thing is, fans are getting pretty tired of this team and its underachieving.  Blame Matheny, blame Mozeliak, blame John Mabry, blame (insert player here), it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that this team is boring, lifeless, and they stink (not the malodorous type, the you play baseball not so very good type).  Only so many ground ball outs a person can tolerate before the eyes glaze over.

Yeah, yeah, there is still plenty of baseball left to play, and we are not that far out, and yada, yada, yada.  I get it.  Have to keep the hopes up that the savior (or saviors) will ride in on the white horses and save the day.  Huzzah!

I am about cheerleaded out I have to tell you.  My positiveliness (I make up words, it keeps me awake) is about to run dry.  So sue me, I’m a lawyer and I need the work.

Now, about that girl pitcher………

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

Make Me Smile

Prior to the Baltimore series I posted that I didn’t feel very engaged with this St. Louis Cardinals team.  I said at that time that perhaps I would feel differently after that series.

Well, I don’t.

Two embarrassing blowouts later I see the same problems magnified.  Offense (when it shows up at all) with no life to it.  Even the win on Sunday was accomplished with little to no pop (except for the 3 run HR by Peter Bourjos, you know, the guy with the elite defense and blazing speed who spends most games pulling splinters out of his posterior end).  But hey, Daniel Descalso had a couple of nice games, so all is right with the world (insert eye roll here).

Speaking of Daniel Descalso, I had to chuckle when I saw references to Descalso’s below Mendoza line season being the result of “rust” and that his two games against Baltimore proved he was a better player than he had shown.  Seriously?  Descalso has been a replacement level player his entire major league career.  Granted, his season thus far had been below even previous years, (and “rust” could account for some of that) but over his career Descalso has managed to accumulate a grand total of -0.3 WAR (Wins Above Replacement).  Even his mythical “plus” defense is belied by his career -2.9 UZR and -3 Defensive Runs Saved at his “best” position, 3B.  Daniel Descalso is not a league average player whose performance is being hindered by “rust”. Descalso is a replacement level player whose lack of playing time only showcases his lack of major league baseball talent.

I’m sure Daniel Descalso is a super guy that everyone likes.  I have no reason to think otherwise.  However, being a nice guy doesn’t qualify you for a spot on a major league roster if you don’t have the baseball talent to deserve one.  As much as folks groan over the idea of Pete Kozma as a major league player (his offense is certainly groan-worthy) he at least has a major league level skill, his defense is above average, and would be an asset as a backup shortstop to Jhonny Peralta.

So I am being a Debbie Downer and I know it.  There were many things to like about yesterday’s game.  The 2 inning shut down performance by Pat Neshek was fun to watch.  What a great pick up by John Mozeliak.  I just hope he can maintain that level of performance (or close to it) throughout the season, given Mike Matheny‘s propensity to overuse his preferred pitchers.

I always enjoy Kolten Wong‘s success, he is a particular favorite of mine.  Jhonny Peralta’s performance both offensively and defensively has caused me to overcome my initial reservations about his signing.  Matt Carpenter pretty much always makes me smile.  Lance Lynn also has shown much improvement from the beginning of the season.  See?  I can be happy about some things about this team.

Tonight begins a 3 game series against the Marlins, in a ballpark that makes me cringe when I look at it. I really hate orange and lime green as a color scheme.  Nasty.  Aside from the decor (and that hideous thing in the outfield) the Marlins also tend to give the Cardinals fits.  That’s even in years when they are terrible, and this year they aren’t terrible, so watch out.  I will be happy to get back to Busch Stadium and the San Diego Padres (who have been no slouches lately either, by the way).  The Cardinals really need to bust out before it’s too late.

I’m still waiting to feel love for this team.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

What’s Broken Can’t Always Be Fixed

Yeah, it was ugly for the second game in a row.  Let’s face it, the Orioles are a very good team, and the Cardinals are, well, the Cardinals.  The team that looked good on paper at the beginning but hasn’t looked that good in practice.  The possible reasons for that are as numerous as the runs given up by Cardinal pitching in the last two games.  It’s been a frustrating season for Cardinals fans, and that is an understatement.

There has been much discussion concerning what, if anything, John Mozeliak could have or should have done to improve the Cardinals at the trade deadline.  Many believe offense should have been the priority.  I can certainly understand the thought process behind that, but the realities of the market can’t always be counted on to produce the desired outcome.  More than once as the trade deadline approached I saw discussions amongst the national media pertaining to the lack of bats available of any worth in the trade market.  Marlon Byrd was the only decent bat that was known to be available, and he was being bartered by Ruben Amaro Jr, widely believed to be one of the worst, if not the worst, GM in MLB.  Amaro is well known for overvaluing his assets, and in all likelihood he was asking an exorbitant price for Byrd, a price that no sane GM would pay.  The other very good bat that moved at the trade deadline was Yoenis Cespedes, traded to Boston for pitcher Jon Lester, a trade that came out of nowhere during the last hours of the trade deadline.

In essence, folks, there was no offense to get.  Continuing to bark up that tree will get you nowhere.  It is a statistical truth that offense is down throughout major league baseball.  Teams that have offense are holding on to it.

So Mozeliak attempted to improve the team in another area that needed shoring up—starting pitching.  Injuries and reduced effectiveness had taken it’s toll on the rotation.  The two pitchers who were acquired have not set the world on fire, but they are giving innings and that is what matters now.  It is too early to judge the trades at this point.

The Cardinals’ offense has to find a way to produce beyond what it has up to this point.  Reinforcements are not likely coming.  The door to Memphis is not revolving, it can’t.  I think this is the one point I want to make above all others in this post.  Folks seem to have this belief that all will be fixed if Mozeliak just brings up guys from Memphis, and why isn’t he doing it?  I am going to tell you why.

There is this thing called the 40 man roster.  In order to play for the big league club, you have to be on it.  It only holds 40 players, hence the name.   The team can only have 25 of those players on the big league roster at a time until September 1st.  If you bring one of the 15 players who aren’t on the big league roster up to the club, someone who is currently on it has to come off.    Those are the rules.   If you want to add someone to the 40 man roster, there are rules on how to do that.  If there aren’t spots on the 40 man roster, someone on it has to come off to put someone else on.

To further complicate matters, there are rules about who CAN come off those rosters and what you do with them.  Some players would have to go on waivers to come off.  Some can’t come off at all.  Furthermore, if you add a player to the 40 man roster, he has to stay there for the duration of his career with the Cardinals or you risk losing him to another team.  It is a constant juggling act that the GM has to master, AND he has to plan for the future as well as the present when it comes to the 40 man roster.  Moves on and off the 40 man roster have to be planned carefully, with an eye to what the consequences will be for the future.

It isn’t as easy as just moving players around like pieces on a game board.  Even aside from all the roster rules, there are contractual matters to consider as well.  Fans like to play junior GM, but the reality is the vast majority of those fans have no earthly clue how it all works.  It’s fine to say “Player X should be called up”, but knowing whether that is even possible or feasible is a whole other can of worms.

Moreover, I haven’t even yet mentioned that you can’t completely trust what a player is doing in Memphis as something he can also do in the big leagues.  Those gaudy Memphis numbers look pretty, but they very often don’t translate over to the major leagues.  Hitters in the Pacific Coast League do not see the caliber of pitching they would be facing once they hit the big leagues.  It’s a completely different ball game.

I am not suggesting that moves can’t be made.  I am suggesting that fans need to temper their expectations and their demands, and let the man who is paid to make these decisions make them.  He is operating with a great deal more information at his disposal than fans have or even understand.

This team is floundering offensively, no question about that.  The problem is clear, the solution is not so clear.  There may not be one, other than the team has to play better.

Don’t get me started about the managing part.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

Marking Time

It was certainly different than the World Series last year.  The three game series against the Boston Red Sox, I mean.  The Cardinals played better than the Red Sox, though “playing better” is relative.  The Boston Red Sox are a last place team.  The Cardinals are a first place caliber team that often plays like a last place team.  The Cardinals aren’t going to play the Red Sox in the World Series this year.  If the Cardinals play at all in the World Series this year, it is going to be against a much better team than the current Red Sox.  That’s what scares me.

I could write a typical rah-rah post about how wasn’t it great that the Cardinals won.  I can’t do that.  I’m getting kind of tired of doing that actually, because I just don’t feel it with this team, haven’t for quite some time.  This team bores me.  Even when they win they bore me.  Oh there are occasional exciting moments.  There were a few in last night’s game, Kolten Wong’s two home runs were quite exciting.  But really, ask yourself honestly, how many times this season have you said to yourself, “I really love this team!”  Compare those times to previous seasons.  Personally, I haven’t said it once this season.  Not once.

There is something different about this team.  Something intangible that I can’t name, I can only feel.  It’s like one of those shiny birthday balloons that you get with flowers sometimes.  All bright and colorful and flying proudly, and then you come back to it a few days later and it’s kind of droopy and sad.  It is still a functioning balloon, but it doesn’t look the same.  That droopy and sad version of the balloon is this team.  It functions the way it is supposed to, but it isn’t the balloon you thought you had.

I will readily admit that part of my unhappiness with this team is the manager that I can’t stand. He does and says so many things to piss me off, that it’s hard to separate my disdain for him from what I see with the team itself.  However, he isn’t the one taking the terrible ABs or playing bad defense.   Maybe it’s all interrelated, I don’t know.  I only know that the sum total of all the parts of this team do not excite me.

I keep watching though.  I can’t help myself.  I keep looking for that bright shiny birthday balloon to re-appear.  I don’t think it will.  I think I will have to wait another year for a different balloon.

That’s all I can muster for right now.  May the Cardinals have a good series in Baltimore.  Maybe I will be in a better mood after that.  It can’t get much worse.

 

Thank you for reading.

The Trade Deadline Is Not The End

Even though the trade deadline was July 31st, this doesn’t mean that more trades aren’t possible.  What the July 31st deadline essentially means is that it is the final day whereby trades can be freely made among all 30 clubs.  After July 31st (technically, after 5 pm Eastern on July 31st) until the end of the regular season, trades can still be made, but players must be put on waivers before such trades can be made.

The trade waiver process (referred to as “trade assignment waivers” or colloquially, “the waiver wire”) works like this.  Clubs can put any or all players on their 40 man roster on waivers.  Only 7 players per day can be put on waivers.  Trade assignment waivers are revocable.  The waiver period or “window” once a player is put on waivers is 48 hours.  During this 48 hour period, if a player is claimed, the waiving club can (a) withdraw the waiver request and keep the player; (b) arrange a trade for the player with the claiming club (and only the claiming club); or (c) allow the claim to proceed, wherein the claiming club pays the waiving club a $20,000 waiver fee and assumes the claimed player’s existing contract.

It should be noted that players who have an existing “no trade” right, either contractually, or through 10/5 service time rights, can refuse a waiver claim or a trade based on a waiver claim.  So, those folks who want Matt Holliday traded are out of luck, unless Holliday would somehow agree to it.

If a player is claimed but the waiver request is withdrawn, the said player cannot be placed on waivers again for at least 30 days, and if said player is placed on waivers again during that season, the waivers become irrevocable.

If a player is not claimed, he is said to have cleared waivers, and may be traded freely for the remainder of the regular season.

If there are multiple claims on a player, the club who is awarded the claim is the club who has the lowest winning percentage on the day the claim was made.  Clubs in the same league as the waiving club get first priority, then clubs in the other league.  This means that a club in the same league as the waiving club will be awarded the claim even if that club has a higher winning percentage than a claiming club in the other league.  If there is a tie in the winning percentage of the claiming clubs, the previous season’s MLB standings will be used to break the tie.

A player who is on the disabled list cannot be placed on waivers unless he is both eligible to be taken off the disabled list and healthy enough to play.  Players on other MLB lists cannot be placed on waivers.

A club is not permitted to claim a player on waivers and then trade the player to another club if the purpose of the claim was to block another club from claiming the player.  If the Office of the Commissioner determines that such was the purpose of a waiver claim, the claim will be revoked.

That is the waiver wire in a nutshell.  More often than not the public is unaware of what players are placed on waivers and withdrawn.  If a claim is allowed to proceed or a trade is made that will of course become public when it is concluded.  Sometimes a club allows knowledge of who is placed on waivers to become public.  MLB Trade Rumors publishes this information when it is made known.  Most such waiver transactions occur in the month of August, though they can occur until the end of the regular season.

So, Cardinals fans, don’t despair if you think the Cardinals should make more moves.  It does happen.  For instance, reliever John Axford was traded to the Cardinals in a waiver transaction last season.

Stay tuned.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

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