Posted on July 31, 2007 at 5:55 PM
As Lando said, "This deal is getting worse all the time!"
All it takes was a simple sentence from Cardinal beat reporter Bernie Miklasz. "Pineiro will start a game this weekend." So a reliever who hasn't started in a couple of years (stop me if you've heard THAT one before) is going to move straight into our rotation at a time when we are trying to get some momentum going. That just doesn't seem logical. Sure, he might get a little boost because he's never pitched in the NL before and players won't have seen him, but that doesn't seem like the reason you'd throw him right into the mix, especially since he's not shown in his performance, well, ever, that he deserves to be there.
But then I took a look at the rotation for this weekend in Washington. Anthony Reyes, Kip Wells and Adam Wainwright. Assuming that the weekend rotation is right and people won't be moved up or back, who do you think will miss the start? Wainwright is the closest thing we have to an ace right now--he's pitching every time out like clockwork. Wells has struggled most of the year, but is improving lately as we've documented here. Plus, even when he was struggling it took a long time before LaRussa and Duncan gave up.
Which leaves us with the 2007 Whipping Boy of the Year, Anthony Reyes. Even though he got his first win this last time out against the Brewers, the same team that leads the division. Even though he looked extremely sharp and conserved pitches. Even though we have to have players like him (read young, cheap and talented) to compete in this division going forward. Even though even in his rough year he's had more success than, say, Mike Maroth. All of this apparently will be going out the window and he's being told that a crappy reliever can come in and do his job better than he can.
I don't know that Reyes is going to be the savior of the staff. I don't know that he'll ever be more than a #3 starter. But until he gets a chance to get out there and pitch the way he knows how and the way he's proved he can in the majors, we are never going to know. And being that he is out of options and must be on the major league roster in 2008, this would be a good time to find out what he's got.
I seriously can't believe they didn't trade him off today, if this is true. They've obviously got no use for him. Hopefully it's just a situation where he gets moved up or back a day, something like that. Otherwise, I really question the management of this team.
EDIT: Thankfully, there are a few sane heads around there. According to the official site, Reyes has been moved to Thursday, with Pineiro scheduled for Saturday.
Posted on July 31, 2007 at 12:07 PM
The Cardinals have acquired Joel Pineiro from the Red Sox for a minor leaguer to be named later. And Cardinal Nation collectively says, "Huh?"
I mean, he was a name that was floated in the offseason, but we've gotten quite a collection of starter/reliever types with middling-to-worse results. I know Pineiro had some success in Seattle and he's only 29, but asking Dave Duncan to fix yet another one seems to be pushing the boundaries of believability.
Walt had some practice with designated-for-assignment types last year, as apparently Pineiro is. Jeff Weaver came over after being DFAd, as did Jorge Sosa. One worked out, one not so much. And Weaver took a while to click as well, though thankfully he did in October.
This just seems like a deal that doesn't need to be made, unless a reliever is about to be traded elsewhere. We have enough of these types--adding more makes it seem like Walt has a completionist mentality--have to collect them all!
Posted on July 31, 2007 at 10:13 AM
The Cardinals had a great weekend, taking three of four from the division leading Milwaukee Brewers, winning two games with multiple runs in their last at bat, getting a win for Anthony Reyes finally. They even pulled within 6 games of the division lead. Apparently, that was enough to change management's default setting from selling to perhaps buying at today's trade deadline. But is that a good idea? Has anything really changed?
Six games is still a pretty good row to hoe for a team that has only one 4 games in a row one time this year. Granted, with Adam Wainwright on the mound tonight, they've got a good chance to win it and have 5 wins in their last 6 games. They still have 6 games against the Brewers and 7 against the Cubs. So there are possibilities, but unless the team plays inspired baseball after this weekend's dramatics, it seems like it might be a winning streak at the worst possible time.
It's hard to say that you should scrap the season and start looking to the future. I mean, it's a young Brewers team that's already coming back to the pack and the Cubs who historically have had their issues down the stretch. And if this team could start to put it together, get some of that October magic back, maybe they could make a run.
But without Carpenter, how likely is a run really? The Cards might get a boost late in the year if Mark Mulder makes a return, but you don't know what kind of Mulder you'll be getting. Mike Maroth still hasn't gotten things figured out, if this weekend was any indication, and I'd think he's about one blowup away from staying in the bullpen, though I don't know which reliever would move up to the rotation.
The pitching is improving, the offense seems to be waking up. Scott Rolen should schedule cortisone shots on a bi-weekly basis the rest of the year, if they are going to boost his bat this much. Albert is Albert, and he'd make any team dangerous. Chris Duncan is providing pop and Juan Encarnacion has been hot.
So there are a lot of factors in favor of making a run. But I don't think the consistency is there for this team to actually get over the hump, and I'm afraid there will be a short-sighted deal of some young players for a "veteran" that may or may not make an impact.
Sometimes, you have to make a stand and say "We've got to rebuild, we're not chasing after fairy tales." The relievers in the pen could probably bring in some young promising players, as could perhaps Encarnacion and Eckstein. Should everyone be dealt? No, but if you've got a chance to get a good player, I think you should be pulling the trigger. Take for example yesterday's deal of Mark Teixeira to the Braves. Even if the Rangers were on the fringes of the race, that was a deal they probably should have done because it will make them better longer. Tough to sell that to fans with a short-term instant gratification complex, but it's really the best idea for the long-term health of the organization.
All this is probably moot. With the trade market the way it is these days, the odds of Walt making a big deal either way is pretty slim. Of course, he's been known to do big things after the waiver deadline (Woody Williams, Larry Walker) but I think the deadline will come and go today and the roster of the Cardinals, for good or bad, will be the same.
Posted on July 27, 2007 at 9:51 AM
The Cardinals brought the bats last night. It was a grand thing, not only because of Chris Duncan's slam. It was great to see Pujols's five RBIs and see him get closer to that 30 HR mark that is his trademark. Possibly the best thing though, at least in my book, was the fact that they did a nice portion of that damage against Mr. Jason Marquis.
Most players, when they leave St. Louis, don't have much animosity follow them. Mike Matheny was beloved even after he went to San Francisco, because we knew it was time for Yadier Molina. (And speaking of Molina, can you believe that steal of third last night? He's a speedster!) Matt Morris left for more money, but Cardinal Nation pretty much agreed it was time to part ways, while appreciating what he did for the team. Edgar Renteria more blatantly left for more money, even going to the team that had just defeated the Cards in the World Series, but for the most part he still has high esteem among Cardinal fans. Heck, John Mabry played for the Cubs and still got a standing ovation in Busch.
Jason Marquis, though, drove us so far to distraction the last couple of years, there is very little good will following him around. I was a Marquis defender the first year he was in Cardinal red, pointing out that he had really pitched better than some of his stats indicated. However, by last year, when he was feuding with Dave Duncan and seemingly avoiding the best way for him to pitch, he used up any patience I had with him. Numerous people in the media pointed out that his ERA last year would have been better "if he'd not been kept in a couple of blowouts to save the bullpen." Well, who made it a blowout in the first place? And, without doing the number crunching, I'm betting his ERA wasn't affected too much by staying in. The difference between 7 in 3 innings and 9 in 6 innings isn't much. He probably got a couple of scoreless innings in that he normally wouldn't have.
So it was a no-brainer for the Cards to let him go in the offseason. We laughed when the Cubs overpaid for him and considered it more Cub foolery. Then, we started to wonder if we were wrong when he started out like a house afire, even beating the Cards twice in April.
However, as the weather has warmed up, so have the bats and that's not a good thing for Mr. Marquis. He's got an ERA pushing 6 the last two months and we can only hope that he will crush some more Cubbie hearts by blowing a game they need to win to play in October.
Having said all that, even as satisfactory as last night's win was, it didn't change the landscape very much. The Cards still trail the Cubs by six games and the Brewers by 8. Even a 4-game sweep of the Brewers this weekend--which would give the Cards their first five game winning streak since the middle of last year, I believe--wouldn't do much but probably get the Cubs into first place. Hopefully Walt realizes this and is still in "sell" mode. If he can move parts like Eckstein, Encarnacion, etc., more power to him. I just hope some quality prospects come back to us.
Posted on July 25, 2007 at 9:15 AM
Tough loss for the Cardinals last night, which, as my father has told me in the past, is why they play the games. On paper, the Cubs should have dominated, especially the pitching matchup. Carlos Zambrano came in with 12 wins, Kip Wells with 12 losses. The ERA spread between the two was over two runs. Yet Wells did all he could to win that game and just about pulled it off.
The Kipster seems to be a different pitcher since his temporary reassignment to the bullpen. I know I said I wouldn't be doing this terribly often (or very well), but let's crunch some numbers:
Before the bullpen: 14 games, 76.2 innings pitched, 84 hits, 59 earned runs, 12 home runs, 42 walks, 57 strikeouts, 6.93 ERA, 1.64 WHIP
Bullpen and after: 7 games, 25 innings pitched, 22 hits, 6 earned runs, 0 home runs, 8 walks, 19 strikeouts, 2.16 ERA, 1.20 WHIP
If you take out that disastrous Philadelphia start right after the All-Star Break, it's even more stunning, as Kip has a 0.75 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP. So that bullpen session apparently clicked for Wells. But what's been the difference?
Before doing this stat compilation, my guess was that he wasn't dilly-dallying around, but going right after the hitters, trusting his stuff to move enough to create problems for the hitters. That's not borne out by the pitches per batter data, though. Before the switch, Wells was at 3.71 pitchers per batter faced. Afterwards, it's 3.91.
What is the reasoning behind that? You'd think that as P/BF went up, the results would get worse. My guess is that his stuff is creating problems for the hitters, so they are taking more pitches instead of hacking at the first strike they see and putting it into play with not-so-pleasant results.
What else is different between the two stat lines? He's not walking people, which again makes that increase in P/BF counterintuitive. Bad Kip was walking about a batter every two innings (.55/IP) and his K/BB ratio was only 1.36. Good Kip is walking one batter every three+ innings (.32/IP) and the K ratio is up to 2.38. (BTW, it's .29/IP and 2.57 without that 4 runs,1 inning Phillies game.)
He has also improved his GB/FB ratio, which is big with this regime, as we all know. Before it was 1.64 GB/FB, which is still a good number, but since then it's 1.95, so he's really killing some worms.
All in all, it appears that Wells has really turned a corner. If this keeps up, the Cardinals should approach him about an extension soon. Next year's rotation has few answers. Adam Wainwright will be in it, of course, and Mark Mulder should be back to take a slot. Mike Maroth could return, but that's really going to depend on how he does down the stretch. Anthony Reyes has to be in the majors, but if LaRussa is returning, it very well may mean that Reyes has a different uniform on next year. Brad Thompson is earning a look for next year as well. The innings appear to be getting to Looper, and I'm not sure I'd want to see him starting games again next year.
No matter how you slice it, though, Carpenter's loss leaves a hole in the rotation. This new-look Wells could be the guy to fill it.
Posted on July 24, 2007 at 10:45 AM
It's a rivalry not quite like any other. It's Red Sox/Yankees tempered with Midwestern civility. It's Dodgers/Giants without all that postseason baggage. It's the Cardinals and the Cubs, and it starts up again tonight in St. Louis.
It's hard to believe that this is only the second trip for the Cubs into St. Louis. Their last visit was a tragic one, as in the midst of that series was the death of Josh Hancock. Since then, the Cards have basically treaded water while the Cubs have played some good baseball and now sit five games ahead in the standings.
It was just a couple of years ago when a member at CardsClubhouse penned a letter suggesting that the rivalry with the Cubs had been surpassed by one with the Astros. While the 2000s (whatever we are calling them) have been marked by a strong battle with the 'Stros for playoff berths, all it takes is one year where the Cubs are ahead of us in the standings and threaten to make the playoffs for those old anti-Cub feelings to start stirring. Those feelings are probably more marked now after the last few years.
With the Red Sox and White Sox ending their curses in 2004 and '05, respectively, the secure feeling that there was some sort of supernatural prohibition on the little bears taking the title has gone. After the Cardinals won last year with a team that squeaked into the playoffs, the consolation that "they aren't the best team" is pretty shaky as well. In other words, if the Cubs get into the playoffs, they have possibly their best chance to end the almost-100-year-old championship drought, and that's something few, if any, Cardinal fans want to see.
So that makes this series extra important. Not only do the Cardinals have to play extremely well against the Cubs and then the Brewers to even think about being in the NL Central race, but keeping the Cubs out of first place is almost as important of a goal. The 2007 season has been frustrating enough. Having the Cubs win the World Series would complete the sharpest drop possible from the high of last October.
Posted on July 23, 2007 at 12:32 PM
Sorry for the weekend quiet, but between some personal issues and just general weekend stuff, I wasn't able to get around to making a post. Get used to that--the weekends will be pretty low-content, for the most part.
This Atlanta series illustrated the most daunting problem for the Cardinals--lack of consistency. You are up, you are down. Great pitching, bad pitching. Some offense, no offense. It's enough to give you nausea if you let it, especially when you remember the smooth rides of 2004 and 2005. Heck, even 2006 may have been more regular than this, though in the negative fashion with two 8-game losing streaks and a 7-game one.
We've already talked about game one of the series, where the pitching exploded and the hitting didn't. Before we discuss any more, a caveat--I didn't see more than 5 minutes of the three games this weekend combined, I don't believe. All I'm going on is results and what I'm reading around the net.
Adam Wainwright pitched a solid game on Friday night. He may have been pumped up facing the team that traded him away, but he didn't allow that to get out of control, something I saw Tony LaRussa talking about in the pregame show. When the Cardinals decided in the offseason to move him back to the starting rotation (something he'd done his entire career prior to 2006), I was a little dubious. I knew he had the great curveball, but I wasn't sure he had enough pitches to get through a lineup three times.
Apparently, he does. VEB had some stats up showing his improvement as the season has gone along and I know on Friday's pregame they showed where before May 15, his ERA was over 6, while since then it's been under three. He's definitely the closest thing to an ace that this team has with Carpenter down. Some would argue he's the closest thing we have to a pitcher without Carp, but that's a different story.
Saturday, the unraveling of Braden Looper's season continued. Looper was our best starter at the beginning of the year, but the innings really seem to have piled up on him. It was just another case of the Cards being out of a game early, giving up 7 before the third inning is over. That seemed to be a trademark of last year's summer swoon and it's played out quite a bit this year as well.
Sunday, well, it's Albert Pujols time. Brad Thompson did a great job keeping the team in the game--VEB today notes he has the second-best starter ERA behind Wainwright--and Albert, with his eighth-inning home run, showed that he still isn't taking the losing as an excuse to give up. After that slow start this year, I was afraid Pujols wouldn't make his .300/30/100 that he always has done, but I have little fear of that now, barring injury. El Hombre is still here, and that's worth watching.
Quick hits: Good to see Scott Rolen not only back on the field, but smacking a home run. Those shots seemed to do wonders for him. It may be a general thing, though--I remember Larry Walker doing the same thing during his time in St. Louis....The Cards start a three-game set with the Cubs tomorrow, followed by a four-gamer with the Brewers. They'd about need to sweep to stay in the race, but I guess stranger things have happened. As long as they beat the Cubs, that's all I'm asking....Mike Maroth has been demoted to the pen temporarily. I've never seen an organization that had a more flexible idea of pitcher roles. Most teams, you are either a starter or a reliever. Here, you are a pitcher and you never can be sure where you'll be pitching. So far Wainwright and Looper are the only regular starters that have not been in the pen this year, but Looper's a career reliever. So much moving back and forth, you never can be sure what constitutes the rotation on any given day....Anthony Reyes is coming back up for one of the double-header games on Saturday. Here's hoping he can finally get that zero out of the win column.
Posted on July 20, 2007 at 9:44 AM
This weekend, as you most likely know unless you've been hanging out under that proverbial rock, the final chapter of the Harry Potter saga is released upon the masses. People will be hanging out at bookstores at midnight with wands and brooms. Too bad none of these are real wizards, because the Cardinal pitching staff has been hit with the crucio curse, invoking much pain among the members of Cardinal Nation.
If you were going to sort yesterday's news into the good, the bad, and the ugly, you'd have to really stretch to have anything in that first category. At best, I guess you could say that given the news that we'll go over in the bad and the ugly, Walt Jocketty should have been able to once and for all surrender any ideas of a quick fix for 2007, which should mean no prospects-for-short-term-veterans type of trades. Hopefully this will also mean that some of the young guys will get called back up and given more of a look as the team prepares for 2008.
The bad news is obviously Chris Carpenter having to go through Tommy John surgery. News reports keep saying he'll be out "part of 2008". That's the most optimistic scenario possible, and as we've seen with the Cardinals and injuries, those scenarios really never pan out. Mark Mulder was supposed to be back by now or very soon, and right now there still is no timetable for when he returns. I think you can safely say that you won't see significant innings from Carp until 2009, which could leave '08 to be a long year. Not only does this have the obvious effect on the team, but it's a demoralizing blow at a time when the Cardinals don't need any more of those. Having him so close to returning only to have this happen really can take out the couple of puffs of wind that were still in St. Louis's sails.
And then there is the ugly. When the Mike Maroth trade was made with Detroit, I thought it was a good move. For one thing, you hear so much about how pitchers from the AL should get noticeably better when they move to the NL. Second, he'd been a serviceable pitcher in the past, with real flashes of ability. I expected that he could put up some quality starts, at least keep the team in the game. I didn't expect a Carpenter replacement, but I also didn't expect that he'd pitch so badly it appears I could at least scratch a single off of him. The home runs are flying out, which is something he's been prone to in the past, but he's not limiting the damage. Last night, he gave up nine runs when two were out in the inning. That should never happen.
With the loss and the Brewers' win, the gap is 9.5 games. It might as well be 90.5, because this team is done. Hopefully they'll still win some games, especially against the Cubs to keep them out of the postseason, but right now, the Brewers have to become our second favorite team so as to keep that Cubs streak alive.
Posted on July 19, 2007 at 9:38 AM
Apparently, there was a slight change in the Cardinals roster last night, so subtle no one noticed. But that couldn't have been Kip Wells pitching that game last night. Not the Kip Wells that went into the game with an ERA approaching six and a half. Not the Kip Wells that had been removed from the rotation at least once this year. Not the Kip Wells that was dangerously close to being DFA not long ago. However, this did bear some resemblance to the Kip Wells the Cardinals thought they were getting when they signed him to a bargain contract in this offseason. Kip has shown some good stuff in the bullpen, and while that didn't carry over to his Philadelphia start right after the All-Star Game, let's hope that whatever the changes were have stuck now and this will be closer to the Kip Wells we'll be seeing from now on.
On the other side of the pitching equation was Dontrelle Willis. Now, I've never though Dontrelle was as good as the hype put him out to be. I like him, love the smile and fun that he brings to the game, but I've never thought he was a #1 pitcher. A #2, probably a #3 on a real good staff, sure. But a difference-maker? No. I know he challenged Chris Carpenter for the Cy Young a couple of years back, but the underlying stats (i.e., other than wins) really weren't that close.
So the trade rumor last year that had the Cards sending Anthony Reyes, Chris Duncan and Colby Rasmus to the Marlins for Willis really had me cringing. Thankfully, nothing came of that, especially since Dontrelle sported a 4.81 ERA going into last night's game, and giving up 6 runs in 3 innings is going to make that creep on up. Not that the Cardinals are just flush with pitching, obviously, but we can get those kind of results for basically free. (And have been all year! ) If we had mortgaged any potential at a future for those kind of results, things would be more depressing than they already are.
Looks like Scott Rolen, at least according to the manager, is just going back to get a shot and could be back in the Atlanta series. This apparently is similar to what he did last October, and we know that he responded well then. (I still think he should have been World Series MVP over David Eckstein, but voters like the "scrappy" storyline.) Let's hope we get some similar results this year.
Cards start a four game series in Atlanta tonight. (CCHers, be sure to get your YNOT entries in!) The Braves just got swept by the Reds, but I don't think that means they are going to be easy pickings. If St. Louis wins 3 of 4 down there, I'll be impressed.
Posted on July 18, 2007 at 1:26 PM
Apparently, Scott Rolen is headed back to St. Louis to consult with Dr. Paletta about his shoulder. Dr. Paletta has a mixed reputation in Cardinal Nation. Well, "mixed" could be considered generous. The botching of injuries such as Rolen's shoulder originally have led to some looking for a change in medical management. The fact that the Cardinals seem to be the worst about letting someone sit the bench because "they'll be back in a couple of days" and then, after they've sat for over a week, finally put them on the DL has to come from somewhere. It was noted somewhere (and I can't remember where at the moment) that the Cardinals were on the cutting edge of injury analysis research. They've had plenty of test subjects this year.
Anyway, Rolen is out. Probably going to wind up on the DL, throwing another obstacle in the Cardinals' path. (Though if it's one of those "cortizone shots and here we go" things, that might be all right since that tends to help the player get back to form, at least for the short term.) But that's not all on the injury/sky-is-falling front.
There are rumors floating around that Chris Carpenter is going to need Tommy John surgery, which means he probably won't pitch again until 2009. With Carpenter going to the doctor in the last day or so, the timing for these rumors is believable. Whether they are true or not is a totally different story, but if they couldn't tell when he had his earlier surgery that TJ was needed, Paletta needs to pack up his office today and find somewhere else to ply his trade. That could be the final straw, especially with the contract extension Carpenter signed in the offseason.
Fewer and fewer things to be excited about in 2007. At least until some of the minor league guys start coming up.
- The Cubs [Posted on July 24, 2007 at 10:45 AM]
- Buckle Your Seatbelts [Posted on July 23, 2007 at 12:32 PM]
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Pitchers [Posted on July 20, 2007 at 9:44 AM]
- Who Was That Masked Pitcher? [Posted on July 19, 2007 at 9:38 AM]
- Last One Out Turn Off the Lights [Posted on July 18, 2007 at 1:26 PM]
- LaRussa and the Future [Posted on July 18, 2007 at 12:17 PM]
- Looking Ahead [Posted on July 17, 2007 at 12:17 PM]
- My Thoughts on Bonds [Posted on July 15, 2007 at 11:55 PM]
- Stop the Insanity [Posted on July 14, 2007 at 10:32 PM]
- Piercing the Bubble [Posted on July 14, 2007 at 12:58 AM]
- What You’ll Find Here [Posted on July 14, 2007 at 12:02 AM]