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October 2007

Missed Opportunities

Posted on October 31, 2007 at 5:12 PM

As you should know by now, the Cardinals announced today the hiring of John Mozeliak as general manager, to replace Walt Jocketty, after first choice Chris Antonetti rejected their offer.  Derrick Gould has a primer on the new GM up at the PD website.

I expected an announcement today, but I sure didn't expect it to be Mozeliak.  In my opinion, this whole offseason has been a chance to do things differently, to shake up the structure that was getting stale.  Now, we have the same manager and the assistant GM that's been here forever as well.  As I said at VEB, instead of a shakeup, the organization is getting lightly stirred.

Ownership really should take a hard look at something.  You have a storied franchise.  You are willing to pay the top guy a good salary.  He comes and interviews and sounds enthused.  Then, he doesn't take the job.   And while there is a lot of talk about possibly Cleveland's GM moving up and Antonetti taking that spot, there's also a lot of speculation that Antonetti and others in the interview process were turned off by the potential lack of control that they'd have in their duties.

So when you have top talent telling you this, you can do one of two things:

1) Make major changes and guarantees that the GM's word goes or

2) Go for the backup guy.

Unfortunately, the Cardinals chose #2.  While I don't hold anything against Mozeliak (though his moves as interim GM were uninspired and some unnecessary), the Cardinals had a chance to make the big play, to get the splash they needed to start the next Cardinal tidal wave.  Instead, it's a small pebble dropped into the Mississippi.

Who Would You Be?

Posted on October 30, 2007 at 10:41 PM

It's Halloween, which got me to thinking. If money was no object, and you didn't have to worry about race or gender, which Cardinal would you be for Halloween? You've got your classic types:

  • The Hero. In Cardinal Nation, Superman and Batman are Pujols and Musial. Add in other superstars like Brock, Gibson and Ozzie and you have your own Justice League.

  • The Scientist. No need for the lab coat and Bunsen burner, but you could take the braintrust types like Bing Devine, Walt Jocketty, Tony LaRussa or add a dash of "mad" with the White Rat.

  • The Historical Figure.  Lincoln?  Reagan?  Who needs them when you could be Ducky Medwick or Jesse Haines.

  • The Bad Guy. Staying in the Cardinal realm it is a little harder to come up with the evil villain. Perhaps Garry Templeton for his bird-like salute to the fans. Obviously, anyone in a Cubs uniform would qualify here, but that's not what we are going for.

  • The Scary Beings. No ghosts or monsters are required here when you could choose from the terribly frightening Danny Jackson, Jeff Brantley, Estaban Yan or Kip Wells. Not as many scary hitters to select, though perhaps the flop that was Bob Horner would qualify.

Me, I think I'd be painting my glove gold, practicing my back flip, and throwing a #1 jersey on my back. Ozzie was my favorite Cardinal growing up and he'd always be my first choice. And after all, what's Halloween without a Wizard?

Final Update

Posted on October 29, 2007 at 10:43 AM

1995 8 7 6 4 6 31
1996 8 6 5 7 6 32
1997 9 6 6 6 7 34
1998 7 7 6 6 4 30
1999 8 8 5 6 4 31
2000 8 7 6 5 5 31
2001 10 8 5 5 7 35
2002 9 8 5 5 7 34
2003 9 9 7 7 6 38
2004 7 9 7 7 4 34
2005 8 7 5 6 4 30
2006 7 7 4 7 5 30
2007 7 6 7 4 4 28

The final update of the post-season chart.  You'll notice that, save the ALCS that went 7, all other rounds had their fewest number of games ever.  So, in an offseason that MLB added off-days, fewer games were played in October since the pre-strike days.  No wonder there was never any big buildup or drama on the postseason.  There may only be one October, but this wasn't the one you'd showcase as a classic.  Even the ALCS, the Red Sox just thumped Cleveland late enough in games to make the final scores look lopsided.  Hopefully October will be a little more dramatic in 2008.

That Was Quick

Posted on October 29, 2007 at 9:46 AM

And, again, an American League team celebrates on foreign soil.  You'd think they'd start losing the All-Star Game so they could party at home, don't you?

As for this whole "AL is dominant" stuff the major media keeps spewing....unfortunately, there may be something to that.  Since the strike year of '94, the AL is 43-26 in the World Series, including five sweeps.  The closest the NL has gotten to a sweep was the Cardinals' win in 5 games last year.  Right now, when coupled with their streak of winning All-Star games, it's pretty apparent the AL is the top league, even though it's painful to admit it.  These things are pretty cyclical, though.  A lot of the good young talent is in the NL, so they should be making some strides in the next few years.

Somewhere out there, a seven year old has seen two Red Sox championships and no Yankee titles.  Who'd have thought that'd ever happen?

A-Rod has already opted out of his deal.  However, I'm wondering if that might not come back to bite him.  The Yanks have been adamant that they aren't going to deal with him.  The Cubs are in ownership flux, so they probably can't go out and put together a record-setting package.  The Red Sox just won the title and they've said that they want to resign Lowell, so I'd be surprised if they made a major run at Rodriguez.  The Mets have been floated about, but they have Reyes at short and Wright at third.  Where would they put him?  It may just boil down to the Angels, and if they think they are the only ones in the race, there's no way they'll go $30 million per.  We'll see how it pans out, but I think with the Yankees uninvolved, Rodriguez doesn't get as much as he thinks he will.

Should be a busy week in baseball.  The Cardinals should announce their GM soon and the Yankees their manager.  The free agent market opens in two weeks.  While the season is great, the off-season has become a lot of fun in its own right!

The Rest of the PECOTA Story

Posted on October 27, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Earlier, I compared the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA numbers and the community projections by Viva El Birdos and CardsClubhouse to the actual stats of some of the Cardinals. The ones in the previous post were players that had already been shut down for the year. With the season well over now, it's time to reflect on the others that we projected before the season began.

Jim Edmonds

CCH 427 73 117 25 1 24 82 64 .274 .369 .506
VEB 425 79 116 21 1 25 86 69 .273 .375 .504
PECOTA   62   19 1 21 65 59 .253 .358 .482
Actual 365 39 92 15 2 12 53 41 .252 .325 .403

Edmonds, like most every player on the Cardinals, battled injuries throughout the year. The extent of his offseason surgery was probably underplayed in the minds of the Cardinal projectors, as Edmonds never quite got his groove on in 2007.

Edmonds is the only hitter that was left (surprisingly, we didn't do Mr. Pujols, probably figuring it was too easy!), but there are three pitchers left to examine.

  Continue Reading

Short Series?

Posted on October 26, 2007 at 10:12 AM

The Rockies gave it a valiant effort last night, but they came up short again, which puts them in a large hole, as I mentioned yesterday.

It did give me something to think about, though.  Ever since the whole "this game counts"/All-Star Game determining home field fiasco (don't get me started on it, I'll go all day), the American League has won home field advantage.  The downside to that is that no AL team has clinched the Series on their home field since 1999 (pre-ASG change) when the Yankees swept the Braves.

In 2003, the first year of the changes, the Marlins won in Yankee Stadium.  2004, the Red Sox swept the Cardinals and celebrated, movie stars and all, in Busch Stadium.  2005, the White Sox did the same to the Astros.  And, of course, in 2006, the Cardinals got to involve the home fans by clinching at home.

Can the Rockies force the Series back to Boston?  Sure, they can.  But will they?  I don't know.  Baseball has a way of evening things out.  You'll see long winning streaks followed up by a few losing streaks during the season.  21-1 wasn't sustainable, obviously, but the pendulum may be swinging the other way.

I hope that if the Rockies are going to lose it, they lose it in Colorado.  Red Sox Nation can be obnoxious enough without them tearing up Fenway in celebration.

Quick Hits

Posted on October 25, 2007 at 9:52 AM

Sorry for the short posts, but I'm out of the office this week doing an audit and trying to get these in before I head out.

  • Josh Beckett is just about untouchable.  Give him a run in the first, and it's basically over.  He's given up 4 runs in 30 post-season innings this year.  The first inning he threw in the 2003 NLCS, he gave up 4 runs.  In the rest of his post-season career (71.2 innings), he's given up 11.  He's never lost a post-season game.  There's a reason he's up there with Christy Mathewson and Mariano Rivera in post-season ERA.

  • The Rockies have to win tonight.  It'll be tough with Schilling on the mound, but you can't afford to get down 2-0.  You assume Beckett would win game 5.  That means, if the Rox lost tonight, they'd have to win every other game in the Series.  And winning two elimination games in Fenway would be very tough, especially since they could bring Beckett out of the pen for a couple of innings if they had a slim lead.

  • The Cardinals released Mike Maroth.  I don't think that was a huge surprise.  He seemed like a great guy on a personal level, but save that first start against the Reds, he never showed anything that made you think, "Hey, he can turn it around."  Even Kip Wells gave some hope now and then.

Quick GM Note

Posted on October 23, 2007 at 9:51 AM

If you've not been there yet today, check out VEB.  Larry lays out a logical case that the new GM will be Chris Antonetti.  He also links to this USS Mariner piece that helps gives some background on the guy.  Sounds good, all the way around.  Hope that gets done this week.

Some interesting things coming out of the press conference yesterday.  Check out the bloglinks for good discussion on TLR.

LaRussa is Back

Posted on October 22, 2007 at 10:13 AM

At least, that's what Bernie is saying.  A 1 PM press conference will tell us more about it.  I'm sure the various forums around the net (most certainly CardsClubhouse) will be great places to be today before and after the press conference.  As for me, I think it's probably the best move, if, and only if, TLR realizes that 1) he may have to submerge his wants to what the GM wants, especially if the philosophy is to swing toward player development and 2) the GM gets the final call.  I'm afraid that we'll have a situation where the GM feels like the owner is listening more to the manager than to him.  Hopefully the chain of command and areas of responsibility will be all lined out.

Purely on the field and dealing with the players, though, I think it's a fine move.  There aren't too many better in the clubhouse, really.  He knows the organization, etc.  Now, it would be nice if he'd spend some time grooming a successor (Oquendo?), because I figure the end of this contract should be the end of his career.  Three years, at his age, gives him a chance to have a nice swan song.

(I know, it's rare for me to have two posts up within an hour.  Regular readers--if there are any!--get a treat today!)

Not So Surprising

Posted on October 22, 2007 at 9:26 AM

A few days ago, I wrote this:

"Problem is, the ALCS isn’t over yet. If the Sox could pick a pitcher to keep their season alive, it’d be Josh Beckett. He’s looked great this postseason, and he’s already beaten Sabathia once. Put that with the fact that a lot of this team remembers climbing out of the 3-0 hole in 2004 and it’s not like they are going to roll over and play dead."

And that's just what happened.  When the Indians weren't able to solve Beckett in Game 5, I knew Cleveland was in trouble.  Carmona had shown he had trouble pitching in Fenway, and that flared up again in Game 6.  Then you get to a Game 7, when anything can happen.

This is very reminicent of the 1996 NLCS, Cardinals vs. Braves.  It was the first year of LaRussa in St. Louis and the Cardinals had made it to the postseason.  They swept the Padres out of the way and got up 3-1 to the Braves.  However, the Braves had the better pitching setup for the last three games, and their bats just pounded the Cardinals.  They outscored St. Louis 32-1 in the last three games and went on to lose to the Yankees in the World Series.

While Cleveland didn't lose quite that badly (they were only outscored 30-5), it was pretty darn close.  And Cleveland has to wait another year for a chance at a title.

Rockies and Red Sox.  You'll hear a lot of Todd Helton talk, since the two teams almost made a deal involving him in spring training.  Hope he has a huge series and Colorado takes the title.  Unfortunately, I'm afraid that it's getting close to midnight on Cinderella's dance.





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