Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The Cardinals have been met with some criticism from players, fans and media after inking shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $52 million contract this past season. The problem in the minds of the dissenters is that Peralta was seemingly “rewarded” for a season in which he served a 50-game suspension for his ties to PED via the Biogenesis clinic.
As for his side of the story, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak replied with the following in a press conference Monday morning: “I don’t think it’s the Cardinals responsibility necessarily to be the moral police on potentially future employment.”
More from Mozeliak:
“The shortstop market was one that was not deep in free agents. For us it was really focusing on someone who could hit from the right side, someone who was a steady defensive player, someone who had experience and could fit right in.”
Character and makeup are something we weigh into our decision-making. In his case, he admitted what he did, he took responsibility for it. I feel like he has paid for his mistakes, and obviously if he were to make another one, then it would be a huge disappointment.
He does, however, believe the game is cleaner nowadays than it was in the past.
Thanks to VB.
Posted: November 26, 2013 at 12:14 PM | 41 comment(s)
Sunday, November 17, 2013
If only Jeff Cross hadn’t been born…when he was born.
I was curious whether Pete Kozma in 2013 had the poorest hitting performance by a Cardinals shortstop in the last 50 years.
Kozma was weak.
Overall, Tyson performed worse.
In 1974, Tyson arrived at Cardinals spring training so overweight that his teammates called him “Hoggie.”
His season went downhill from there.
During the Cardinals’ first road trip of the year, Tyson was assaulted and robbed in his hotel room.
...Instead, the Cardinals stayed with Tyson as their everyday shortstop. He hit .180 (11-for-61) in July.
For the season, Tyson was especially inept against the Reds, hitting .065 (2-for-31) overall against them and going hitless (0-for-15) at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium. He also batted . 111 (4-for-36) versus the Braves.
(Tyson did hit .360 against the Astros and .344 versus the Padres.)
After the season, the Cardinals acquired veteran Ed Brinkman from the Tigers and named him their starting shortstop for 1975. But Brinkman flopped and Tyson ended up playing more games at shortstop for the 1975 Cardinals than any other infielder.
Posted: November 17, 2013 at 06:57 AM | 23 comment(s)
Sunday, October 27, 2013
And in doing so…went from get smart to got dumb.
At this point I feel like John Farrell started to appreciate the power of chaos. And maybe began to think that he could use it to his advantage. Because at this point he seemed to embrace chaos with both arms and to eschew the notion of matchups and the ideal deployment of resources altogether. How else can we explain Farrell allowing Brandon Workman to face Matt Holliday in the eighth with runners on base when his best reliever — Koji Uehara — was sitting in the bullpen? But wait! It worked. Holliday flied out and the threat was over. And maybe it emboldened Farrell even more. What else explains Farrell allowing Workman — an American League pitcher, mind you, — to bat in the top of the ninth inning of a tied World Series game while his best available hitter — Mike Napoli — sat on his bench?
Hell, Farrell wasn’t just eschewing the ideal. He was rejecting the whole idea of the ninth inning mattering at all. Why else would he punt his team’s half of it so decisively? Why else would he head into the bottom of the ninth, on the road, against a team which seems to have more crazy voodoo working in its favor than any team, without using all of his weapons? And continue to do so, not even calling on Uehara until there was a runner on base.
Whatever his reasons, baseball’s unpredictable chaos decided it had led him on enough. It went back to wreaking havoc as it will, this time in the form of the most improbable demolition derby of a game-ending World Series play in recent memory. In a fielder’s choice/nailed at home/interference/walkoff win.
Going with the best matchups doesn’t always work. Embracing chaos doesn’t always kill you. But there’s a reason why managers usually play the percentages. They respect the power of chaos and do what they can to keep it at bay. And I bet John Farrell does so more regularly as long as this World Series continues.
Posted: October 27, 2013 at 02:32 AM | 32 comment(s)
Saturday, October 26, 2013
And so it goes for the St. Louis Cardinals, who haven’t developed their own good shortstop since Garry Templeton. If you don’t recognize that name, don’t worry; when Templeton was a rookie, someone named Chevy Chase was actually running America. Those were strange times.
Seriously, that was a long time ago. Templeton manned shortstop through the ‘81 season. But he could be a bit much, and the Cardinals traded him to the Padres for Ozzie Smith. Which worked out exceptionally well for the Cardinals, as Smith built his Hall of Fame résumé while holding the position through 1994.
And in the 19 seasons since then, the Cardinals have employed and deployed some pretty good shortstops. It’s just that none of them came up through the system. Beginning with Ozzie, the Cardinals have been signing, or trading for, their shortstops for more than 30 years. With only one real exception.
Consider: Since 1994, 15 shortstops (or semi-shortstops) have batted at least 100 times for the Cardinals. Leading the way: Edgar Renteria, David Eckstein, and Royce Clayton ... none of them homegrown. Here’s the complete list of the Cardinals’ homegrown shortstops with at least 100 plate appearances since 1994:
Brendan Ryan (1332 PA)
Tyler Greene (556)
Pete Kozma (552)
Tripp Cromer (369)
Luis Ordaz (203)
Thanks to Los.
Posted: October 26, 2013 at 02:43 PM | 17 comment(s)
Pop those Theophylline’s and breath easy Cub fans…Sterling is on the case!
We’ll not quite all of it, because the Cardinals Way isn’t just about baseball; it’s about living and owning by a set of principles the Cubs are so far beneath they can’t see the Cardinals ass.
Sure, the Cardinals know to hit cutoff men, where they should be deployed, and how to run the bases, but what they also know is that treating the fans well is good for business if it reflects the overall goodness the team wishes to represent. The DeWitt Family not only provides the financial support needed to run the team, they also make sure that the business is run by credible and decent people. As with any for profit operation, there is a level of pragmatism that the Cardinals need to indulge, but as an overall philosophy, they seem to earnestly believe that by treating people well, the business will thrive.
Conversely, the Cubs seem to be of the opinion that lying and manipulating will achieve the results they crave. Owner Tom Ricketts threatens to move from Wrigley Field to strong-arm the city into approving his planned improvements, but not before guaranteeing a championship if the improvements are made. Ricketts would sooner overpay for a free agent than abandon the only asset of value that draws the misguided fans who plunk down the third highest ticket prices in baseball. Wait, Edwin Jackson was signed for four years and $52 million, so overpaying for mediocrity is a pool into which Ricketts has plunged. And guaranteeing a championship is as good an example of shameless pandering in the long history of a franchise that has had nothing going for it but the ability to pander for decades.
Buying tickets and watching this odd collection of underachievers who will be managed by the least bad manager willing to accept the job should wait for the day when the plan – this grand scheme – begins to show signs of working. I might be inclined to trust Epstein if not for the hollow rhetoric that spews from Ricketts’ mouth like perfumed bile.
The day a Cubs fan should feel good about trusting that the team and organization are headed in the right direction might be coming, but not until baseball and the business office are operated in a fashion that shows a genuine empathy and generosity of spirit for the fans who make it all go around.
That’s the real Cardinal Way, and until the shrewd moves to build the farm system are mirrored by reason and decency in the business office, it’s just another plan that circles the drain until the next bunch come along thinking they are the smartest men in the room.
Posted: October 26, 2013 at 07:54 AM | 6 comment(s)
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Amazingly enough, Beltran’s teams have never qualified for the World Series, despite his heroics. This feels like a different sort of year, with appreciation for his accomplishments reaching ever-higher levels. But nothing is guaranteed, the Dodgers are a very talented team. He’s three wins away now, but he’s been even closer as recently as last year, just one win away then, as well as in 2004 and 2006.
So when I asked Matheny again after the game whether he was surprised on the occasions when Beltran doesn’t come through—though I considered asking him whether he still thought my Babe Ruth comparison was so silly—he talked in terms of his team as a whole, which makes sense. His job is to get to the World Series and win it, not to build a Carlos Beltran Appreciation Society.
“As far as my expectations, I expect all these guys to come through for us,” Matheny said. “We’ve seen them do it all season long. Different guys step in, and it’s not just on Carlos. It’s not going to be just Carlos.”
But Friday night, not for the first time, and probably not for the last time, it was.
Someday, Carlos Beltran highlights are going to look as ancient as Babe Ruth highlights do to us, and uniformly successful, all home runs and game-winning hits and epic throws. Another baseball player might even put together a postseason record like this. And a manager will laugh if a reporter throws out a comparison between that flesh and blood player and the legendary Carlos Beltran.
Posted: October 12, 2013 at 02:59 PM | 13 comment(s)
The game that puts Carlos Beltran in the HOF…and Don Mattingly out.
Nearly half-past midnight here, the fireworks blazed, the rock music blared, and the red-clad crowd roared.
All of which was surely nothing compared to the noises rattling around inside the Dodgers’ psyche — and surely inside their embattled manager’s head — after they watched a precious postseason win slip into a loss.
...More than anything, though, it was the defeat of a team whose managerial decisions led it there.
Don Mattingly, whose curious moves led to the Dodgers’ only loss in the division series against the Atlanta Braves, pulled another ugly rabbit out of his cap to become the main player in their second postseason loss. Mattingly made questionable late-inning moves during the regular season, but under the postseason spotlight, his moves have been magnified and the heat has been turned up considerably.
Friday night, the spotlight initially focused on the eighth inning, when Mattingly pulled Adrian Gonzalez, his most consistent postseason hitter, for Dee Gordon, a pinch-runner who was quickly wasted. It was a decision that came back to haunt the Dodgers again and again during a game in which Gonzalez’s bat was sorely missed in several extra-inning situations.
Then, in the 13th inning, Mattingly let his best reliever, Kenley Jansen, sit in the bullpen while Chris Withrow, pitching his second inning, allowed a one-out single and walk. Jansen finally came into the game and promptly allowed a game-winning single to Carlos Beltran, whose line drive to right field rocked the house.
Even as the Cardinals were celebrating on the field, though, once again the focus was on the Dodgers dugout.
“If the rest of the series is like this game, it should be a pretty good one,” Mattingly said.
Good for who?
Posted: October 12, 2013 at 06:09 AM | 35 comment(s)
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Duke, from Carmel…you’re on the air. “He stood there like a Beltran by the side of the plate!”
Beltran’s post-season credentials are a product of his strong play, but also of the era in which he played. When baseball moved to the expanded playoff system following the 1993 season, it pro-actively sought to change how its past is viewed. Despite the sepia-toned footage which baseball fans are inundated this time of year, baseball has a complex relationship with its history. MLB likes to celebrate its history but also recognizes that the present is easier to sell. By expanding the playoffs, and lumping all post-season baseball together, baseball all but guaranteed that most post-season records would be set by contemporary or recent players.
Within a few years, all of the records for most hits, runs, RBIs, home runs, wins, strikeouts, stolen bases and other counting statistics will be held by people who played in the expanded playoff era. This may lead Hall of Fame voters and others to pay more attention to post-season play because it will be an important part of many players candidacies, such as pitchers like Pettitte and Curt Schilling as well as Beltran. It will also highlight how post-season play simply does not mean what it used to. The days of players like Ernie Banks playing 19 years without ever appearing in the post-season or even of players like Ted Simmons who appeared in more than 2,400 regular season games and less than 20 in the post-season are gone, but so is the time when the post-season always meant the World Series against the best team in the other league.
Expanding the playoffs may have been unavoidable given expansion and growth in the population, but treating all post-season games as the same, and ensuring that decades of records would be forgotten or overwhelmed was not. A more nuanced approach to Beltran’s record, for example, would be to point out that in roughly one fourth of a season against anywhere from moderately above average to top notch competition, he has been excellent. That spin is less likely to tip him into the Hall of Fame, but is probably closer to reality.
Posted: October 10, 2013 at 06:02 AM | 19 comment(s)
Monday, October 07, 2013
Which means bringing in the lost Spinks brother!
The Cardinals have been here before in 2013, absorbing the Pirates’ best shots and taken down hard in the tough Steel City. This wasn’t the first time they’ve been stunned at PNC Park. This wasn’t the first night they’d gotten swallowed by the black-and-gold maw in a buzzing ballpark that’s baseball’s new field of screams.
The Cardinals have picked themselves up before, brushing off the dust and purging the disappointment to find a way to survive, then thrive. It’s been almost impossible for opponents to keep them down. For the 2013 Cardinals, there’s always been another comeback.
And now they must do it again. Fight back, or fade away. Rally, or carry deep regret as they leave October. Following Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the increasingly confident Pirates in Game 3 of the National League division series, the Cardinals will walk into PNC today and stare at what might be their final hours of the season.
They can do something about it by playing up to the high standards established by the many winning, champagne-drenched, Octoberfest Cardinals teams that preceded them.
...The rookie relievers didn’t come through in Game 3, but manager Mike Matheny was right to entrust them. Matheny made the right moves in Game 3, but the results didn’t break in the Cardinals’ favor. The Cardinals decided to fast-forward their pitching future into 2013 and achieved outstanding results as a reward for the aggressive approach. You can’t turn back now.
And so here we are, with the long, tall Wacha taking the ball in the most important start of his team’s season. With the way the Cardinals’ season has played out, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate and dramatic way to make a last stand: with the shiniest pitching gem of the heralded player-development system on the hill at PNC.
Posted: October 07, 2013 at 08:16 AM | 7 comment(s)
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Thought some already did.
That’s right, we’re officially a long, long way from the basic six stat categories (batting average, home runs, RBIs, wins, losses and ERA) that I grew up reading and memorizing on the back of every card.
Honestly, it’s probably an overdue addition given how valued sabermetrics are now among front offices around the league. But I definitely think it’s a necessary and positive addition, mainly because I suspect the two biggest reasons that many young, casual or even old school fans aren’t receptive to advanced stats are because they don’t understand them or don’t view them as a meaningful part of the game.
With Topps taking this step, it could serve as validation to many of those hold outs, and perhaps serve as motivation to educate themselves on what WAR and other stats mean and how they can be used effectively to evaluate performance and production. I say that as someone who was admittedly slow to accept advanced stats myself. I’m still not a one-hundred percent stathead, but I’ve come to understand their meaning and the purpose they serve.
Posted: July 28, 2013 at 09:32 AM | 16 comment(s)
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