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September 2007

The Void

Posted on September 30, 2007 at 7:17 PM

I once read a quote, which I can't find right now, that went something like this:

"There are only two seasons, baseball season and the void."

The void is now upon us, after Isringhausen made it interesting, as he usually does, but got the final out and preserved the victory, like he usually does. And with that final out, the 2007 season came to an end.

It's not going to be a season fondly remembered by fans years from now, but it was baseball. One thing I'd forgotten until it was mentioned this weekend was just how good the pitching looked in spring training. The team ERA was around 3 or so, just amazing for the spring. Which proves that spring training stats aren't worth the web page they are published on.

A season with so much promise ended on opening night, for all intents and purposes. When Carpenter had a rough outing and came up lame soon after, we should have realized what we were in for. Injuries with the Cardinals are never simple things, where the player is back soon and all is forgotten. Injuries with the Cardinals drag out, start to look better, then get worse. I personally don't buy into the "Carpenter on the mound by late July" talk going around. If he's there by September, like Mulder this year, I'll call it a surprise.

Then the pitching fell apart, Hancock died, everyone that wore Cardinal red came down with some sort of injury, and through all of that, they hung in there.

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Posted on September 28, 2007 at 9:44 AM

It's a different feeling here in late September. The Cardinals are playing games that matter, but they matter for the other team. However, it's a credit to the "hard 9" mentality of the team that they've been able to pull out wins the last couple of nights, crippling other teams' postseason dreams. Not that you take a whole lot of joy in that--especially the Brewers, because it looks like the Cubs are going to October--but it's something to take solace in.

Nice to see the Cards take care of business against Pedro Martinez last night. Not having Pedro was one of the reasons the Cardinals were able to take care of the Mets last October, I think. So it was nice to know that they, at least for one night, could beat a top pitcher.

More impressive was Joel Pineiro spinning 8 scoreless innings with only three hits. There has been a lot of talk about Pineiro coming back next year. It seems to me that he's gotten better as he's gone along. I thought that when he first came around, a lot of balls were being hit hard at people. Then he had some games where the ball was hit hard--period. A rough calculation of his BABIP is .278. If he could maintain that, he would be a serviceable fifth starter. If the price is right, the Cards probably should bring him back.

Albert scored another run, bringing him to 97. He's also just 2 shy of 100 walks, which was his goal coming into the year. For all the talk about his good eye and discipline, 98 walks is a career high. He's disciplined enough to wait for his pitch, but he usually gets it and doesn't miss. Also, in the past he's had more potent of a lineup around him, so he's never gotten the Barry Bonds treatment since Edmonds or Rolen would come up and make pitchers pay.

If Pujols can hit like he has in the past in Pittsburgh, he'll get both of those marks this weekend. I'm still not sure he can get 3 runs in 3 days, but it's definitely in the realm of possibility.

Apparently the NL Central is going to be won the way it was played most of the year--by last team standing. The Cubs have done their best to give the division away, being swept by Florida. Milwaukee, though, won't take advantage of it. They hit Pujols in Wednesday night's game, opening the floodgates, then make 5 errors last night against the Padres. I can't see the Brewers winning all three games left against San Diego, so I think we are resigned to Cubbie blue going into October. Hopefully it won't last long. I'm not sure I could handle a deep Chicago run!

Number Crunching

Posted on September 27, 2007 at 12:10 PM

OK, after doing the daydreaming yesterday, I thought I'd see if Santana would even fit into the budget. I was a little encouraged to hear Bill DeWitt say that they were increasing payroll by some amount anyway, but would make a significant increase for the right player. Surely, we can agree that Santana would fit that description.

Problem is, I'm not much on projections, at least salary-wise. So please let me know where you think I'm too low on any estimates. The actual numbers are taken from Cot's website.

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Posted on September 27, 2007 at 8:28 AM

It was great to see Pujols get that pesky 100th RBI out of the way early last night, swatting a solo home run to lead off the game.  What I was really surprised about was the fact that he scored 3 runs, pulling him within 4 of the 100 level there as well.  I'd written off his chances at the run milestone this year, but if he's playing entire games and running the bases well, there is still an outside shot that he'll get there, especially if he's healthy enough to take advantage of Pittsburgh's PNC Park, where he typically goes nuts hitting.

It was also nice to see the Cardinals get everything clicking and win one against a tough team.  Sure, it helped out the Cubs, and it'd been nice to see the Brewers pull within one game, but if you can't root for your team in these situations, what good are ya?  I hate seeing the Cubs in the postseason as much as anyone, but I was glad to see the Cards start putting up the runs.

It'll be interesting to see if they can do that today against a Mets team that desperately needs a win.  The Cardinals send out Pineiro, who could be good, could be ugly.  It depends on how many of the hard-hit balls will be caught by the fielders.  I understand that the Cardinals are considering bringing back Pineiro as a fifth starter.  As long as that's all he is (and he comes at a price that is appropriate), I could handle that.  He's not as good as he's shown, but we've seen a whole lot worse.

The Mets rely on Pedro Martinez.  Not usually a bad thing, and possibly won't be today either.  Pedro had a little better recovery from his surgery than Mark Mulder did and will have some adrenaline going today, I'm sure.  The good news for the Cardinals is that he'll probably be out after 5 or 6, so hopefully they can hit some of the Mets bullpen before they get to Billy Wagner, who can be gotten too as well, just not that easily.


Posted on September 26, 2007 at 12:55 PM

Mike Claiborne of AM 550 said it last night on the pregame show.

"I want Santana."

Well, duh, who doesn't?  That's something I've been talking about here for a little while.  However, can we make it happen?  I was expecting that we'd have to wait until the 2008 offseason, when he'd be a free agent, to even be able to consider it.  That's probably still true, but that doesn't mean we can't do some daydreaming.

I've never been good at coming up with trades, so I would expect ridicule in the comments for this one.  (Hey, at least then I'd be getting comments!)  I'll explain why I think it might be feasible, but let's lay it out there.

Johan Santana for Chris Duncan, Anthony Reyes, Bryan Anderson, and another prospect.

OK, so let's look at this semi-rationally, if at all possible.   Minnesota will have to decide 1) if they are going to contend next year, 2) if they have a chance of resigning Santana and 3) whether it makes sense to maximize the yield by trading him in the offseason rather than the trade deadline.

Santana's contract for next year is $13.25 million, per Cot's Baseball Contracts.  There are a few bonuses, and as I read it he does have a no-trade clause.  However, after his comments at the deadline, he possibly could be persuaded to have that bought out.

Money-wise, this would be a slam dunk for the Twins.  From the same site, Duncan made $400K this year.  You'd expect that will go up a bit, but he is not arbitration eligible yet, so the Cardinals don't have to do anything big.  Reyes made just under $400K, and the same applies to him.  Anderson would make the league minimum, whenever he made the majors, and likely the other prospect, maybe Jamie Garcia or Mark Hamilton, would do the same.  So, add that all up, you get not even a million for next year.  That's a large savings for Minnesota, which has often been pinching pennies in the past.  That would let them make a run at Torii Hunter, if they wanted, or come to terms with people like Joe Mauer, Joe Nathan or Justin Morneau.

So, financially, it's good for them.  How about talent?

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PECOTA And The Injured

Posted on September 26, 2007 at 12:12 AM

Baseball Prospectus has a prediction tool they used called PECOTA. PECOTA has a ton of different facets to it, most of which I would be at a loss to explain. However, I always enjoy picking up the yearly preseason book, looking at the projections and reading the comments that go with them.

This year, CCH took a page out of VEB's book and did some community projections. While we didn't do all the players, as it ran out of steam after a while, it gave us a good idea on what we thought a few players were going to do in 2007.

In hindsight, it'd appear that neither system stood a chance this year.

With injuries, death and general lack of playing time, the odds of any prediction system getting much correct was pretty much slim and none. The only players that could have been close to their preseason projections would have been Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright, Braden Looper, Yadier Molina, Jason Isringhausen and possibly David Eckstein and Chris Duncan.

Since the season is over for a large number of the Cardinals, I thought I'd get a head start in seeing how far off these projections were. I'm taking the projections from the Baseball Prospectus 2007 annual, which doesn't list at bats or hits, for some reason.

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Posted on September 25, 2007 at 12:37 PM

Another night, another opponent putting up double-digits on the Cardinal pitching staff. Sound familiar? It should.Last year, I undertook a study to see how many times the Cardinals were giving up double digits and how often those were blowout losses. While VEB has set their standard of blowout wins or losses at 5 runs, I had 8 as my criteria, so that's what I'm sticking with. The results are ugly enough with that standard.

I'm going to replicate the tables shown in the CardsClubhouse story above, but updated for the end of 2006 and 2007 through last night. I'm fairly sure there should be some sort of parental advisory warning sticker here, because even with the subject matter, what you may see could be very unpleasant.

First off, let's see how many double-digit games there have been in the last 12 seasons (the length of time Tony LaRussa has been here) and how many can be attributed to the thin air of Colorado:

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The Men That Play The Game

Posted on September 24, 2007 at 10:34 AM

In this internet-driven, video-game type of fandom that we see so much currently, it's sometimes hard to remember that it's not just automations out there playing games, but real human beings very similar to ourselves. It's easy, from our padded chairs and in front of our big screen TVs, to question a person's manhood or effort. And, to be fair, the players know what they are getting into when they get into this game and are well-compensated to make up for it.

But does that excuse us calling a player weak when perhaps he has pain so excruciating most of us would need a morphine drip, but he still shows up to play? Can we fault a player who may have the argument with his wife on his mind when he throws a pitch that winds up in the bleachers?

Or can we really be surprised that a player can go into a tailspin when his integrity and honesty is questioned, only to pull out of it when he gets that weight off of his mind?

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Posted on September 23, 2007 at 4:42 PM

Recently, ESPN moved today's home finale with the Astros to the Sunday Night Baseball slot.  Whether that decision was made during the Cardinals' push for October at the beginning of the month or not, it should be a fact used in the "ESPN hates the Cardinals" argument.

The Cardinals, at best, would have been looking like a .500 team at that time the decision was made.  Maybe they had a chance in the division, but anyone looking at them would have been hard pressed to think they could keep it up.  And yet ESPN, in the middle of exciting pennant races, decides to feature them in their weekly signature game, the last one of the 2007 season.

I think it's a nod to the fact that they are the defending champs, even if it's just for another month.  It's a rivalry with Houston that has so often produced great games and been important baseball.  Plus you have the whole "last home game for LaRussa?" storyline that you can carry through if you want.  Even if the Cardinals don't get the press some teams do, I think the lack of respect line is really tired and played out.  If you want no respect, there are other teams that have a better claim.

Roy Oswalt's going tonight.  That's about as much of a guarantee of a Cardinal loss as you can get, especially when it is coupled with the ragtag, piecemeal lineup that LaRussa is forced to put out there.

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General Note

Posted on September 21, 2007 at 3:15 PM

I mentioned before that I did an interview with Larry Borowsky of VEB for CardsClubhouse. That interview has now been joined by ones with Erik Manning of Future Redbirds and with Ben Chiswick, broadcaster and PR man for the Swing of the Quad Cities, the Cardinals' Single-A team.

At least one more should be coming soon after the season is over, with another one possible. If anyone knows any one connected to the Cardinals or their minors that would like to do an e-mail interview, please let me know.





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2012 Top Hero: Matt Holliday (17)
2011 Top Hero: Lance Berkman (24)
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2009 Top Hero: Albert Pujols (28)
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Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
Adam Wainwright 88.2% (down 3.7%)
Jose Oquendo 87.1% (up 2.4%)
Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
United Cardinal Bloggers 85.2% (up 6.3%)
Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
Mike Shannon 85.1% (down 0.2%)
John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
Joe Strauss 54.3% (down 13.4%)

Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
B.J. Rains 69.5% (down 0.9%)
Kyle Lohse 68.9% (up 13.8%)
Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%

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