Go Cardinals
All St. Louis Cardinals Baseball all the time


by cbk


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CLASH OF THE TITANS
Woody Williams and Mike Matheny battle it out for title of best hitter. The line so far:

Williams: .250/.315/.417/.732
Matheny: .266/.330/.361/.691



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- (6/27/2003 04:03:00 PM))/font>


The Cubs lost this afternoon, meaning the Cardinals are deliciously alone in first place. Roll it over your tongue. Savor it. A win against the Royals tonight and you can feel that way all day tomorrow.

Kerry Robinson is back in Memphis after batting .194. In his place is Jimmy Journell, who will come up as a reliever likely because newly activated Lance Painter has pitched in 3 straight games, and in 4 of the last 5 days (1 ER, 2K's, 0 HR, 1 BB, 3.1 IP). I'm curious to see how the Cardinals use Journell, and how Journell does. Painter/Calero/Kline/Izzy isn't a bad bullpen, with Eldred and Fassero around Journell could tip the scales towards not sucking if he pitch's OK. Maybe Journell is there to give Kiko a chance to start again (please?). Maybe he's being showcased as part of a trade. Maybe Duncan really enjoys the alleterative sound of Kiko Calero's name and thought it would be fun to have two of those guys around.


--cbk


- (6/27/2003 11:36:00 AM))/font>


Before I say anything I think it's important to point out that the line at the bottom of my email to David Pinto "We're not concieted, we're convinced" was lifted from Copywrite's Album the High Exalted. Credit where credit is due (lifted from the Big Lebowski).

The sun is shining, the Cardinals are in first place. Bo Hart is on fire. It's gotten to the point where I glance at the score and proceed immedietly to the in game box score to see if he's still hitting. He is. 3-5 last night. And as hot as he is he still can only wish he were Albert Pujols who went 4-5 last night and has got people talking about hitting .400.

Now the Cardinals get to play the Royals for 3. The first place Royals, in Kansas. Since I know next to nothing about the Royals I wanted to break down the series a little more than I usually would. It's going to be Stephenson, Simontacchi, and Tomko vs May, Affeldt, and George.

1st Game: May vs Stephenson (all stats below are scaled per 9 innings pitched, except innings pitched)

IP HR SO BB
May 84 1.07 5.46 2.46
Stephenson 93 1.45 6.00 3.87

This is a close one, May walks less batters by quite a bit, and gives up fewer home runs by a small margin. I'd rather have May pitching for us but it's not such a huge mismatch.

2nd Game: Simontacchi vs. Affeldt
IP HR SO BB
Affeldt 68 .52 6.61 2.51
Simontacchi 72 2.25 4.88 3.25
Calero 38.1 1.17 11.97 4.70

There is nothing in that comparison that inspires hope. Affeldt is clearly a better pitcher. Simontacchi is clearly bad. Calero isn't starting but he strikes out twice as many as Simontacchi, gives up
half as many home runs, and only walks a batter and a half more per nine. But he's stuck in the bullpen where he went one inning last night and K'd 2, all on 9 pitches. Affeldt is still better than
Calero, but theres room for argument.

3rd Game:
IP HR SO BB
George 78.2 1.71 4.00 3.54
Tomko 99 1.45 4.72 3.00

Tepidly in the Cardinals favor.

Luckily offense comes to the rescue. Using EQA (mostly to even out the differences in competition and locations) the Cardinals are far ahead of the Royals .287 to .253.

On defense the Cardinals defensive efficiency is .7174 while the Royals sport an even .7000. That puts the Cardinals slightly above league average the Royals slightly below.

What does it all mean? It means that the Cardinals should be favored, but not by a ton, considering they are running out 3 starters with the ability to get absolutly lit up. Both teams have miserable bullpens. Given the roll the Cardinals hitting is on I can't see anything the Royals will throw at them slowing them down much, but the collection of poor pitchers means that anything could happen. With all the subplots (dueling columnists, first place battles, Pujols coming home, Bo Hart negotiating a fantastic deal for his immortal soul) it should be a good series, but the Cardinals offense gives them the edge in the shootouts to come.



--cbk


- (6/26/2003 10:58:00 AM))/font>


Sweet! Blogger is updated and they fixed the input textbox so it's full screen. How fun.

Lot's of stuff to talk about. The Cardinals beat the Reds yesterday to pull back within a game of first place. Bo Hart is invincible. Albert Pujols is better. Here we go:

First off notes from last nights game

I really want to believe in Bo Hart. When he comes up my throat closes and I start dreaming a little dream that he'll hit 300 all year with a good OBP. Watching him last night I'm more convinced. He had a good feel for the strike zone, got ahead of the pitcher, and hit pitches in the zone. He didn't look bad on pitches, didn't chase anything, and despite the fact that he has 1 walk in 31 PA he did seem to have a grasp of the strike zone. The way he's hitting right now he can be forgiven for hacking away.

Matt Morris has the most viscous 12-6 curveball ever. ever. But what's the matter with him? Looking at the stats it's clear he's not striking people out as much, but he's not walking more batters, or giving up more home runs. The drop in strikeouts means its not luck, it's a drop in his performance. but what's causing it? There are three theories: Arm Problems, Mental, and Mechanical. My gut feeling is mental caused by some mechanical tics. Morris always seems to struggle in the first inning. The stats back that up:

1st Inning OPS .928
1st-3rd OPS .787
4th-6th OPS .679
7th-9th OPS .508

Morris is getting brutalized in that first inning, but he settles down. The point I'm trying to get accross is that Morris does make mental lapses, if you consider those first inning "jitters" mental lapses. So there's a precedent. My theory is a tired shoulder caused him to overthink his pitching, and now he's not quite right mentally. But that's just a guess, and a guess based on no knowledge of his in game velocity either.

Mind Blowin

I'm sure everybody here is familiar with the concept of replacement level players. One of the things that's always bothered me about the concept is that while there may be replacement level players in the minors those players are under contract to teams and not always trivial to aquire, especially in midseason. Nate Silver has addressed the issue of replacement players in a way that intrigues and amazes me. The quick summary is that bad players tend to wash out of the majors quickly, while good players stick around. Thus as the number of at bats a player accumulates grows the quality of his play has to increase to keep pace with his peers (players with the same amount of at bats). The result is a player you bring up to say fill in for your back up middle infielder for 2 weeks doesn't have to perform as well as the guy you break camp with to be your starting right fielder in order to be above replacement level. The quality of players you would use in short stints isn't as good as the players you would keep around all the time. Read the article to understand it better.

Assuming you buy in, the doors this opens are limitless. The one that sticks out at me is the chance to use the numerical value above replacement level to grade GM's on their success at providing contingency plans and their succes at identifying and fixing weakpoints in mid season. For example if a GM consistently get's above adjusted replacement from all of his non starters he's doing a good job stocking the bench/farm system with guy's who can help. You could break that down by in game call ups only and get a numerical handle on exactly how well a GM has prepared his farm team for breakdowns at the major league level.

It also provides a better way to look at bench's. Currently bench's are graded against the entire pool of available players. But that's not a fair comparison, becuase it compares the 25th guy on the Cardinals bench (Hi Kerry!) to Barry Bonds. Instead you could compare him to players who had recieved the same amount of at bats as he had and see his performance relative to those who would replace him.

I'm giddy.

Speaking of Giddy...

Regular readers will remember my obsession with Defensive Efficiency. To recap for the new comers:
The Cardinals Defensive Effeciency % starting dropping and I was wondering if there was a correlation between Vina's absence and the drop in defense. It turns out that results aren't that clear cut, it looks like the numbers started going south the second week in may. They had been declining to that point as part of the natural level off the long season produces. But starting around the 8th of may there was a noticible drop. I don't know why, but I'm still investigating. I guess I wanted to let people know I hadn't forgot.


--cbk


- (6/24/2003 11:47:00 AM))/font>


Week 10 - Like a schoolgirl


Recap
bohartfanclub.[org|com|net] are all available right now, but bohart.[com|net|org] are not.
Something to think about as we race headlong into the Bo Hart appreciation society.

What's not to like? He hits, he hustles, he aw shucks the interviews, and at a time
when the Cardinals were shuffling a little trying to decide if they would compete or
hang around 500 he energized fans.

As good as Pujols is (and he's good), he's not the most exciting player to watch, he
doesn't hop after homeruns, and he doesn't have the Ken Griffey Junior bouncy gait (young
griffey maybe? My favorite Griffey story: I was at a spring training game when he
was with Seattle and he came out to take batting practice with his hat on backwards and
somebody yelled "Hey Griffey turn your hat around", Griffey looks ups, finds the guy,
and rotates his hat 360 degrees (so it's still backwards), laughs, and put on a BP show).

It's exciting to see a player racing around like the laws of energy conservation don't
apply to him. I hope he keeps hitting.

Player of the week

Is there any doubt? .471 BA, .500 OBP, .824 SLG, 2 triples, 2 doubles.

The Playstation Award (given to the player who hit's like he's mashing buttons):

Just for reference while Hart's going nuts and becoming a folk hero Albert is hitting .433/.469/.833 with
three home runs in the last week. He's become a player I expect to see hit a double or a home run. He's
the guy you want at bat. He is a monster.

Goat of the week

Tony La Russa please accept your second tropy of the year for this:

"The issue is to set the record straight," La Russa told the newspaper. "It's important for
the owners, the front office, the fans and the other pitchers to know that the thing mechanically
had already been discussed. The suggestion had been made."


Tony, swallow your pride, I don't care if little green trolls perched on his shoulder and gave
him suggestions during the game. You shouldn't either. Who cares who he credits. La Russa
can be very petty in the Media (Ron Gant and Ray Lankford remember I'm sure), but this is lame
even by La Russa standards.

Notes:

How long can it last? How long can Hart hit lights out? He has yet to be held hitless in his career. He's 8-17 with
1 walk and 2 strike outs. His average on balls in play is .533. He's obviously not going to hit .471 all year but
what can we expect?

He's sporting a .237 major league EQA in Memphis which isn't that great (.260 is average). He struck out 54 times in 269 at bats
in Memphis and walked 15 times. I wish I could say that these things point out he could continue, but that's a brutal walk
ratio and he strikes out too much to really get any advantage from spraying the ball around. Let's just sit back and watch the
hot streak run, and enjoy it. But recognize that it's not going to last.

Coming up:

Cinncinatti and KC. You'd have thought KC was a mark but after last weekend who knows. I'm going to go out on a limb and
predict Pujols has a monster weekend in front of the home crowds (he has family in Kansas). Imagine Pujols exploding.. where
do his numbers go? Does he hit home runs every at bat? Pitch? Cure Cancer? I'm excited to find out....


--cbk