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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Still in First - (8/30/2003 10:54:00 PM))/font>


For a brief while it looked like the Padres might overtake the Astros and the Cards would have a chance to be alone in first, but it didn't happen. The Cards held up their end of the bargain though.

Tomko went 5 2/3 gave up no home runs (Barely, Edmonds saved one). The ugly part of this game is the fact that Jason Simontacchi went 1/3 of an inning and threw 2 pitches. La Russa has done this a few times, bring him in to close out an inning and then pull him right away. Simontacchi can go for longer, and it would be nice to see La Russa stretch him. When he came in the Cards were up 5-3 so he had room to work with.

Instead La Russa brought in DeJean. DeJean has been with the Cardinals 7 games, and he's pitched in 5 of them. No home runs, 3 earned runs in 5 and 2/3 innings. He's walked 2 and struck out two. He's had about half a runner on base everytime he's come on (from Baseball Prospectus Reliever Evaluation Tools). He's prevented (on an adjusted basis) -.1 runs for the Cards. On most teams I'd be complaining that he pitches. But in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king, and in the Cardinals pen DeJean is actually a decent option when Kline or Izzy aren't available (due to rest or situational reasons).

Scoreboard watching constantly. The cards and the cubs next week should be great, all the games are on WGN, but during the day. I feel a nasty flu coming on.


--cbk


What? - (8/30/2003 06:00:00 PM))/font>


"Major League Baseball stipulates teams carry the same number of pitchers and position players in the playoffs that they use on Aug. 31, the day before rosters expand. Last October, the Cardinals were forced to carry 12 pitchers in the playoffs because they played a day-night doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 31. With Andy Benes and reliever Luther Hackman used as starting pitchers, manager Tony La Russa could not risk exposing his bullpen. "

from This Article.

Is this true? I've never heard this from anywhere. This is good news though because it means that Kerry Robinson and So Taguchi and Wilson Delgado could all make the post season roster. Right now the Giants are trembling.

Tomko's gone 6 innings and given up 3 earned runs. Not great, but after he gave up one in the third I thought this game was going to be a Tomko implosion. 6 innings and 3 runs though I'll take.


--cbk


Kerry Robinson - (8/29/2003 10:39:00 AM))/font>


Last night I was sitting at the dinner table (OK, the Samurai Sams booth but same idea) being kind of quiet and my wife asked me: "You're thinking about Kerry Robinson again aren't you?".

And the only thing I think was, you mean you're not?

It was like that all night, every once in a while, in the middle of nothing, it would hit me: Kerry Robinson hit a walk off home run to put the Cardinals into first place. Kerry Robinson. Even today I can't quite get my mind around it. As soon as the game was over we left the house and I reflexivly deleted it from the Tivo, at the time I was a little broken up about it, but in hindsight it was a wise move. If I hadn't deleted it I might never do anything again except watch that home run. Watch Kerry, infuratingly non chalant as he rounded the bases, get mobbed at home plate. I wanted Kerry to manifest my feelings right there, I wanted him to run around the bases jumping up and down and egging the crowd on, defensive linemen after a big sack style. I wanted explosions, and rock music, and wailing. I wanted long lingering shots of Mike Remlinger, I wanted to see Kenny Lofton jog off the field, I want everything captured and packaged and preserved. I want to buy the DVD and relive that moment again and again forever.

Kerry Robinson.

God I love baseball.



--cbk


So sweet and so kind - (8/28/2003 09:34:00 AM))/font>


It is at times like this when my faith is tested. When the abstract euclidian ideal that there is no such thing as clutch hitting melts behind the heat of the moment. I refuse to believe that in the bottom of the eighth Pujols didn't step up to the plate and reach back into the depths of his ability and pull out one bouncing meandering hit. I refuse to believe that this victory was anything less than the physical manifestation of a teams will. Because with the season on the line the middle of the Cardinals order produced, not with mammoth doubles and home runs, but with the nicks and cuts of walks and singles with the vinegar of wild pitches rubbed into the wound out of spite.

This was a game where everything worked, where La Russa and I finally made the psychic connection I've been trying for years. Where everything I thought he thought:

He pulled Williams after 114 pitches.

He pinch hit for DeJean with Palmiero. Given how wild everybody had been Palmiero was the perfect guy to work the walk.

Then with the bases loaded La Russa put down the hammer. He brought in Eddie Perez. One thing that people havn't been talking about this year is how Eduardo Perez is hitting for us this year. His .822 OPS is great for a bench player (It's better than Tino's as a matter of fact). But against lefties: 1.112 OPS, that's obscene and (cross your fingers) in a playoff series a powerful weapon off the bench. With one out bases loaded facing a lefty it's not exactly rocket science to pull Robinson, but it does further agitate Kerry and weaken your defense and the conservative call is to let your hitters go. Sure Baker switched to a righty and Perez grounded out for a meaningless insurance run. But La Russa didn't play for tomorrow, he made the agressive move that paid off.

Back to Palmeiro, in the above mentioned groundout Palmiero made a fantastic base running play to make sure only one out got made and allowed the run to score. If he ran through the double play is on and if he loited to far back Martinez would have thrown to second, but by hanging up just out of arms reach he tantalized Martinez into the mistake.

On to Kerry. Robinson has a reputation as a good defensive player, mostly because he's fast. But on Ramon Martinez's double in the first it looked like he was well out of position. Edmonds said something to him and didn't look happy. From the TV screen I had two guesses. Kerry called for it early and then backed off, causing edmonds to get a bad jump, or Kerry was running straight at Edmonds forcing him to pull up. The latter seems more likely, when Robinson fielded the ball after it got by Edmonds he was maybe a foot behind him and had to veer towards the wall to get the ball. Then Kenny's double to shallow left caught him napping.

Tonight another must win game. Another tense scoreboard watching affair. It's almost September and 3 teams are locked in a pennant race. It's times like this when I thank God I'm not a Brewers or a Pirates fan. Go Cardinals. Beat the damn cubs, send them stumbling back to their losing ways.


--cbk


I love tino martinez - (8/27/2003 07:00:00 PM))/font>


With all of my heart.


--cbk


Onto the game - (8/27/2003 04:52:00 PM))/font>


Bo Hart looked really bad in the first on breaking balls, but still managed to not look as bad as Robinson. Robinson hit the weakest grounder by a non pitcher I've ever seen.

It was great to see Lofton miss the ball Pujols hit. I hate him so much.

Wood is really wild tonight, hopefully the Cards can be patient enough to take advantage.


--cbk


Defensive Efficiency - (8/26/2003 04:31:00 PM))/font>


I was looking at the Defensive Efficiency reports on Baseball Prospectus and two things stuck out at me:

The Cardinals are barely above league average. That's a little odd, especially considering they play 3 gold glove players pretty much every day. My initial guess was that Pujols, Palmiero, and Perez were bringing the outfield down. But guess who has the best Zone Rating in the NL among left fielders? Albert Pujols. Range factor slides him to fifth, I won't vouch for the efficacy of those stats, but to see Pujols ranked well in any defensive measure is suprising. Everytime I've seen him play it's always an adventure.

The other thing that suprised me is the fact that the Oakland 'punt defense' A's lead the Majors in DE, ahead of even the vaunted defense of the Mariners. I've read rumblings that the A's have been finding value in defense rather than hitting now, and this measure seems to back that up.

Game in 40 minutes. Tomorrows game is on ESPN, so I'll be watching it live, and probably blogging as I go, be sure to check back.


--cbk


Cardinals vs Cubs: The division can't end in a tie - (8/26/2003 10:41:00 AM))/font>


Game 1: Stephenson vs Prior

There is no way you can make this match up look good for the Cardinals. Look at Priors splits. The closest thing he has to a platoon split is the fact that he walks lefties slightly more. His line in august so far: 4 games, 29 K's, 31 innings, no home runs, 3 walks.

The Cardinals lone hope is the cubs .737 team OPS. As Dusty has finished up his suckification of the Cubs infield that number has dipped, it was .691 in August, .768 in July, .729 in June.

Game 2: Williams vs Wood

The battle of the tired pitchers. Wood has not been right since roughly the All Star break. His last two outings have been especially brutal 6.6 combined innings, 10 Earned Runs, 2 Home Runs, 6 walks, and 7 strike outs. Which Wood will the Cardinals see?

More important which Williams will the Cubs see? In the beginning of the year Woody was on fire, but he too has seemed to tire after the all star break. He's picked it back up in August a little.

Game 3: Morris vs Zambrano

Is there a Cardinal starter who doesn't have issues? Morris looked OK in his last start, a healthy Morris makes this race much better. Zambrano lost a no hitter last weekend but don't worry about him being fatigued after the effort. 9 innings, 93 pitches. He is 17th in the Majors in Pitcher Abuse Points though, of course that only makes him good for 3rd on the Cubs staff, with Wood and Prior both ahead of him. Looking at that collection of pitching talent I have to wonder why nobody in the Cubs front office has patiently explained to Dusty why he should ease off of them. The idea of facing those three in the Cubs rotation for years is scary, but does anyone honestly think they'll all survive Dusty? Isn't that a disturbing thought, that these young mens careers are being threatened in obvious ways and there is no outcry? Shouldn't people be outraged that Dusty is throwing away their dreams and hopes?

The Cardinals need to win 2 out of three. A sweep would be better, but if Chicago pulls ahead then it could be curtains.


--cbk


Tools of the Devil - Redux - (8/25/2003 01:20:00 PM))/font>


Diamond Mind has an article evaluating Voros McCracken's DIPS theory. The gist of the article is that pitchers can affect the results of balls in play but at much lower rates than other outcomes (strike outs, home runs allowed, and walks cheifly).


--cbk


STLtoday - sports - (8/25/2003 12:01:00 PM))/font>


STLtoday - sports: "To bring Matt Morris off the disabled list for Saturday's start, the Cardinals first optioned, then disabled reliever Jimmy Journell after the rookie righthander balked at the initial move. Journell complained of shoulder pain following last Sunday's outing in Philadelphia, received a cortisone injection Monday and said before Saturday's game that a lack of improvement may require him to take another. With the likelihood of him pitching again this season diminished, Journell declined to sign option papers."

What exactly does this mean? Why does Journell have to sign option papers? Can anybody shed some light not this for me?


--cbk


How Big? - (8/25/2003 11:30:00 AM))/font>


Sooooo Big.F.

Nothing like a little network havoc to keep my blogging time low. Add to that helping friends move, my first trip to Dodger Stadium (very nice), and Madden 2004 practice time (nothing like having your friends pound the crap out of you to provide motivation) and I barely looked at Cardinals baseball this weekend.

So of course a lot happens. Sterling Hitchcock and Mike DeJean were both added. I havn't looked at the financial aspects of that deal but I have to imagine that the Yankees are paying quite a bit of his salary or they wouldn't have gotten prospects in return. I'm glad to see the two pitchers added because if nothing else it got rid of Esteban Yan. That's a pretty deep analysis I know, but it's all you can get for right now. And on another level I don't even want to analyze them, because in the end the Cards didn't have a lot of options. The bar was set so low in the bullpen and back end of the rotation that getting anything would be an improvement, and there's so little of high value to trade that anything they gave away wouldn't hurt them. Could Jocketty have done better? Maybe. But he made the deal he could make and improved the team and all the low level fretting about K rates and Walk rates and Astrological signs won't make a difference as long as they're better than the players they replaced.

The Cards are tied for first place right now. And they made their team better this weekend. How much better? Who knows, but forward progress is paramount right now and the Cardinals made some.


--cbk