Diaspora Returns! Tell your friends.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

 

Where's the LOB?

Rolling around Cards Blog-land, I ran across a comment somewhere about the Cards' LOB numbers, a question I've caught myself wondering about too. I combed the web for a stat regarding team LOB numbers and couldn't find one. That's not to say some site out there doesn't have it, of course. But I digress... I then looked for other stats that might lend some insight into the matter. A couple things come to mind. Runners in scoring position was my central point of analysis, because in light of being able to find a stat for LOB, I felt that this would give us some measure of how effective the Cards are at capitalizing on these scoring chances. On with the analysis. I find the slugging to be rather telling, because we've been so focused on "small ball" these past two months. I went into this expecting to find less in the way of BA and SLG, but these would indicate that the Cards are indeed getting some important hits. Of course, these numbers are for the entire season and not over a particular period of time. Okay, so since the comment was made just recently and I was thinking the same thing last night, let's look at August, a month with a lot of replacements players filling in and some games with the star power back in the lineup too. It was also a month with some wild wins, most notably this Sunday versus the Nationals. In August (not counting tonight), the Cards lead the league with 136 runs scored. RISP numbers for August. My point here is twofold. First, the Cards are, statistically, doing just fine in scoring situations, almost consistently leading the NL, so the LOB concerns look to be unfounded. Second, I think perceptions are to blame for the head-scratching over LOB numbers. Why? Where are we getting these perceptions? Albert Pujols hasn't been having a lot of highlight reel baseball hero moments lately, numbers are down a bit and hasn't been knocking in dramatic home runs. Of course, a "slump" for Pujols is a career year for anyone else, but again perceptions are relative now aren't they? No doubt he's putting a lot of pressure on himself to carry the team and gripping the bat a little tighter. The first inning argument at RFK Sunday, to me, is indicative of the stress. In fact, the team as a whole is not having lots of storybook wins, walk off home runs and what have you. The runs we're scoring, while effective, just haven't been all that memorable, the price of small ball.

Monday, August 29, 2005

 

We'll Take It.

In a season of unusual games, one can't really make a statement with any certainty that an individual game is the most peculiar of them all. However, I present for your consideration, the Cards vs. Washington Nationals, Sunday, August 28, 2005, RFK Stadium, Washington, DC. Getting the field early, I had no idea that the game was going to be a bullpen start. How could I have know? I left the apartment at 11 a.m., just enough time to get some breakfast and scan the morning news. My quest was to be at the ballpark early, to see the boys take batting practice and maybe grab an autograph or two from a memorable team in the midst of a memorable season. Batting practice was a sight to see, but it seems the bench (i.e. the new starters) were taking most of the hits. Walker worked first getting the relays from the OF via Grudzy, looking most jovial, my assumption was that he would be in the lineup that day. Tony talked to some people on the field, and I pondered "how in the hell did they get down there, who are they?" Anyway, I quickly lost interest in them when one Reggie Sanders began taking BP, and he was hitting the ball pretty well, putting to the warning track at RFK, which would be in the stands in the other band boxes around the NL. The clock wound down, and the players began to make their way into the clubhouse. I moved over above the dugout, narrowly missing Matt Morris who signed a few items and then seemingly chatted with someone familiar before retiring inside. They disappeared for a bit, and reemerging first was none other than John Rodriguez. After asking for us to duck down for a moment so he could look for his family in the stands (a large group we sat next to the day before), he signed a few balls, mine included. Of course, I now feel in someway inclined to make him something of a sentimental favorite, and was duly rewarded with a solid performance yesterday. Personally, if he's on our bench next year, we could do a lot worse. Eldred and Duncan popped out on their way to throw some down by the bullpen. I knew something was up, as Duncan seems to spend some quality time with the starting pitcher before the game, saw it with Marquis on Saturday too. In one of those "day at the office" moments that major league ball players no doubt have, Eldred and J-Rod began wondering which hat they were supposed to wear that day, Cal caught by surprise by the Bird on Bat hat J-Rod was wearing. Ahh, marketing departments are confusing the players too, not just us fans. Overpriced soda in hand, I headed up to my seat to watch one exciting, albeit strange, game. Eldred looked sharp, Thompson did too. And while the bullpen padded their stats, the rest of the team got in a little baserunning practice. We were completely taken off guard by the argument at first base between Albert and the ump. From our vantage point (above 3B), it was tough to tell if he was out at second or not. Nevertheless, it got heated real quick down there, and I assumed Pujols was tossed when TLR and Oqeundo came over to restrain him. He was mad, really mad, and even from our side you could see the veins in his neck pulsing. I doubt he said the magic word to the ump to begin with, but before the whole thing was over, I am quite positive that someone should have said it to him. I am not going to go into the detail of the game here, you can get that elsewhere, just a few notable things from the perspective of someone in attendance. When Edmonds didn't get up after stealing home, there was a huge gasp from the Cards fans in the place. I swallowed a pretty big lump in my throat, but it sounds like JEd's going to be just fine. I am assuming they are holding back on some of the guys a little bit in anticipation of this week at FLA and at HOU, hence Walker only playing one game of the series. I'd also be lying if I said I wasn't worried about the team's offense, but the record seems to indicate otherwise and an analysis at Beyond the Boxscore of our team Net Runs Above Average has us way out ahead of most others. Eckstein's two doubles were huge, going to the same place in LF where he smacked the HR on Saturday. Anyone else notice that LF seems to be where a lot of his big hits go? The last HR I saw him hit in Busch went there as well. The game ended, with only a one gasp inducing moment from Ray King, but it wasn't really that exasperating in context. We had a nice walk out the stadium as most Nats fans had cleared out in the 8th. A lady in front of read the Wall Street Journal, and I'd like to make a public service announcement in light of that. Stay home. If you're going to read the paper (which can block the view of those around you) or you can't muster enough interest for a couple hours of baseball, just stay home or go grab a latte while the rest of your party enjoys the game. Should be a good week for baseball. Florida and Houston will be solid tests for the various incarnations of our lineup. Thursday is September 1, any bets on Reggie being back by then? I saw him play catch and take BP, so I can by no means judge him qualified. Even so, if it's not Thursday, I predict it will be soon thereafter.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

 

What a day for baseball!

It was a beauty of a day at RFK, the air was cool and the stadium was alive with Cards fans. Of course the story of the day is Jason Marquis. When we got to the field and they announced that he was starting, I stopped in the midst of heavy foot traffic to express my suprise. He looked great. After the 1st inning, we ducked down to a couple seats above first base, and could clearly see that his pitches were looking good, lots of first pitch strikes, good looking ones. I didn't pay much attention to the staium radar gun, and RFK doesn't seem to update it with every pitch anyway. We kept asking when TLR would pull him out. I thought he would go after the seventh, mostly because of the short rest. Nope. He went the distance, economically too. The offense looked good, with the everyone chipping in a little bit, or a lot (Eck's homer was mighty exciting). Still would love to see Pujols light it up while I'm at the game, but oh well. Today was also notable for my autograph attempts. When we got there, Mabry was signing by the dugout, but the game was about to get underway and I just missed him. We went down after the game, the Cards shuffled right into the dugout. Marquis came over for some interviews, but didn't come over to sign a few for the fans. Then, Grud and Reggie came out to play some catch. They waived to the devoted, but were obviously concerned with getting some workout time in. (Yes, they both looked mighty healthy to me, but my medical oppinion means nothing). Oh well. Maybe tomorrow some of the boys will feel like signing. I really don't want it for ebay or anything, just as a fond memory of a great Cards team. Has anyone else out there gotten any autographs from the Redbirds on the road? Maybe it's a good excuse for a trip to Florida next spring.

Friday, August 26, 2005

 

the view from section 422

Well, we just got back from the Cards/Nats game at RFK tonight, after a nice walk through the neighborhood to collect our thoughts on the game. The evening was perfect for a night at the game, if only the game had been as perfect. Loaiza looked like the Loaiza that was so dominant for the White Sox a couple years ago. The bats were nearly silent, and I was waiting in an absurdly long line at a beer stand when the Nats put two runs on the board in the 4th (BTW, RFK won't let you carry more than two beers if you're by yourself). Personally, Supe looked okay to me, and that strike zone seemed more than a little tight. The five walks might have been only three on another night. Anyway, Supe did what Supe does, pitches good enough to give the talented lineup a chance to win the game, but that's tough to do when you can only muster three hits. Highlight 1: Getting to see Ray King pitch well. Amy and I are both Ray King fans, and love to see the jolly one pitch. It was good to see him get through an inning and look good doing it. Highlight 2: Thompson looked sharp too, and anytime the other team is held to four runs, the Cards always have a shot at winning the game. Highlight 3: I was duly impressed with the number of Cards fans at the game tonight. We sat a few seats down from a family of Redbird fans and there were any number of hats, shirts and jerseys peppered through out the stadium. Highlight 4: A note of self-congratulation...I maintained a calm, cool demeanor. Applauding my team (when there was something to applaud) and maintaining a proper amount of respect for the other team and their fans. Hey, I do live here for a while, don't want to make too many enemies. Sure, I was tempted to ask, loudly, on the way out, "which team is going to the playoffs?" Highlight 5: Chad Cordero, my fantasy closer, got a save tonight. My bargain basement pickup will be fondly remembered when I'm spending that prize money on stuff I don't need come November. Now for the lowlights. Lowlight 1: Albert Pujols getting booed. Who the hell boos Albert Pujols? Not only should a baseball fan appreciate the fact that he's a great player, the guy's a class act and never shows off, acts like a jerk or anyother sort of disrespectful behavior toward opponents or other players. Come on, you can't boo Albert Pujols, especially when you have Jose Guillen on your team. Lowlight 2: Getting to see Albert Pujols live and in person, and having him go 0 for 4. Oh well, the mean can be a cruel thing sometimes. Hmmm, there really weren't to many lowlights, except for that whole loss thing. It was a beautiful night for baseball, and getting to the Cards play is like having an old friend visit you in a strange new town. Tomorrow, Mulder is going to prove that the daytime thing is just a fluke, a stat trumped up by the press and computer geeks (like me). Sunday, Marquis shakes his run of bad luck, and I'l be there to witness it all. More to come...
 
Off to see the Cards play at the Nats tonight, and for the next two games as well. Right now, it's a quarter after four, and my thoughts have turned completely to getting the hell out of my office. My enthusiam for the office has completely waned for the week, the year, etc. Not to bore you with the sordid details of my labor situation, so I'll keep this post short in the anticipation of a report after the game. Hey, speaking of labor situations... Think your job sucks, well being a professional baseball player in before 1975 was hardly ideal either. Curt Flood, the Cardinal great that dared to challenge the system at the expense of his own status as a player, is back on Cards' fans radars with the discussion of the All-Busch Stadium team. Check out the posts about Flood's status and impact on the game in the comments section over at this post on Viva El Birdos. There's a quality discussion going on there, and you owe it to yourself to check it out. I shared my two cents (well in terms of column inches it might be more like four inches), and you might want to weigh in also. You can check out more on the All Busch team at Fungoes.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

 

Pitch, Pitch, Pitch

Marquis seems to be the subject of much grumbling around Cards nation, and while I don't live close enough to the Lou to know, I suspect that talk radio is abuzz with calls for his head as well. I really loathe talk radio, from sports to politics, it cheapens the dialogue of a rich subject and turns rational adults into foaming at the mouth lunatics. However, I have to add the voice of the Diaspora to those who are finished lending their support to Marquis. I don't know if he was ever a really talented pitcher, and in spite of his 15 wins here last season, I agree with the notion that we should find every possible way to get rid of him. The real shame is that, if they were indeed true, rumors earlier in the summer had us swapping him for Melvin Mora. An emphatic D'oh is in order there in light of how the Scott Rolen situation now stands. As a faithful Cards fan, I hoped that he could pull it together and get a win against the Pirates, not so much because I was rooting for Marquis personally, rather just the desire to see the team win. Tuesday night in Steel City may have been his worst start to date, and one would have a hard time finding fault with the management this time, unless you believe that he should have been pulled after the first (there's a case to made there). Trade the kid; let him get a fresh start somewhere else. If the Cards get a solid bench player to round out their offensive depth (remember, our bench guys have had considerable exposure this season and will be pressed to serve more than usual in the wake of the injury plague) that might be the best thing in terms of our immediate needs, or maybe another solid lefty for the pen (good luck getting a LHP through waivers). If not, here's a chance to help out the farm system. I realize that we're probably not going to get another Barton-caliber player for him, but we cold definitely get a some raw talent really young guys or some college age players who could have an impact on the Big League club in the near future. Marquis' next start is on Sunday against the Nationals, and on a selfish note, I'm worried because that means when I am at the game I won't get to be the obnoxious out of town, loudmouth fan when the starting pitcher's getting his ass handed to him in what may be the league's most pitcher-friendly park. I keep obsessively checking the official to site to see if the team has called up Reyes or Wainwright yet. But such insistence about bringing one of these guys up this season brings to mind a salient point with Marquis, good young pitchers have an incredibly high frequency of fizzling out real, real fast, sometimes through mismanagement and sometimes injury and sometimes they just can't handle the Show. So we must ask ourselves, Cards fans, what are the risks involved in bringing one of these sure-fire, can't miss hurlers up to pitch this season, and are the risks outweighed by the potential benefits? Nobody wants another Jason Marquis on our hands, especially a homegrown one. I'll be at each of the Cards/Nats games, and will post wrap ups here in the hours following each one.

Monday, August 22, 2005

 

The Positively Strange Saga of Mark Mulder and the Missing K.

Good times in Pittsburgh start tonight. Mulder opens the series on the mound for the Cardinals. In two starts against the Pirates this year, he's picked up two wins, including a two-hitter on April 18 in Steel City and seven inning, four K victory (hey that's a lot for Mulder) at Busch on May 25. Let's hope he continues to be the surprising "what ever works" Mark Mulder. He's got a ground ball/fly ball ratio of 2.72! That's fourth in the league. The thing that keeps me up at night with Mulder is that 1.55 K/BB ratio, especially when paired with his 4.77 K/9 number. That's low, and a pitcher needs to be able to get a few more K's than that to be truly effective. Maybe, he's on his way back to the approximate 3.00 K/BB ratio he had in seasons preceding the 2004 melt down (he had a 1.69 K/BB rate last year). [I got these stats at ESPN, but I honestly don't know why I bother going to their web site at all. You can glean almost nothing from it, as every article can only be had for signing up for a subscription to their terrible magazine (Us Weekly for men) or paying $7 a month. Apparently, they don't make enough money from the assault of pop-ups ads that bombard you with each click on their site.] First things first, though. On Saturday, he'll be pitching during the DAY right here in Washington, DC, and, being as though the wife and I will be in attendance, it sure would be nice to see him break that weird day game streak he's got going, lest it be called curse. Another little item I saw in the game notes, Marquis gets the least run support of any Cards' starter. St. Louis' favorite Staten Islander gets 4.1 runs of support when he takes the mound. The next lowest is Mulder and Carpenter with 5.2 runs of support. I can clearly remember a few starts recently where a run would have made all the difference for Marquis (that and not being held in until the 8th inning for God knows why). If you haven't checked out the breakdown of the '04 Cards versus the '05 Cards at Beyond the Boxscore, you're sorely remiss in your internet reading today (or maybe you're just busy). Note in particular today's entry regarding the starting pitchers.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

 

Oh What a Feeling!

Who among us does not enjoy the comeback? The excitment of a win in the bottom of the ninth is far more euphoric than a win secured in the bottom of the third. Especially after all of the consternation of watching your team throw away opportunity after opportunity in all the previous innings. Job well done, boys! Carp pitched great again last night. It's nice to have a first rate ace on the staff. Morris is on the mound tonight, and it's no secret he's been a little less than perfect lately. He had his velocity back in his last start, now, it seems to me, if he get a handle on his pinpoint control again, he's sitting pretty. Maybe Molina back gives Matty a leg up, we'll see. Still, I can't help but wonder if maybe the Cards should be giving Reyes a start or two in the next six weeks. Rest the others a bit, and it'd be nice to have a real fireballer ready to pitch some innings. Still don't want to wreck him, since he'll figure pretty heavily into the 2006 plans. Maybe give the bullpen a start, get them dialed in and rest the starting five. Lot's of rumors out there this week. Yesterday, Peter Gammons made mention of Suppan being put on waivers, which is a normal process for teams this time of year, but Gammons mentions it in the "possible movement?" sense. I doubt it though. Thursday on ESPN the announcers were mentioning rumors about Cliff Floyd coming here. Dunno, doesn't seem like we really need him, but I suspect management is a little worried about the loss of Rolen's power in the lineup heading into October. Too bad those Marquis for Melvin Mora rumors didn't hold true last month. And finally, the Roids rumors are out there pretty heavily again. Clemens and Damon?!? (CardNilly has the scoop) That's a huge blow to the bigs, two of the most recognizable players out there. If it's true for Damon, I want an asterick on the 2004 World Series results.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

 

Oh, Jason...

Jason, Jason, Jason... what's the matter? Personally, I'm not convinced of the exhuastion theory. I think it might be an injury to the delicate psyche of a pitcher (see Mark Mulder, circa August 2004). You know, where there's nothing really physically wrong, but the interference of rationality over instinct. I've long been a believer in this theory when it comes to pitchers. Beyond the Boxscore has an interesting rumination on this today in the context of Gladwell's most recent book, Blink. Rumors batting around on ESPN tonight are mentioning Cliff Floyd coming to the Cards. Anyone else know anything about this? Doesn't make the most sense to me, but who knows what's going on? Let's hope the Cards can break open Vargas' 3 hitter that he's got going so far through four. Yep, run scores on a passed ball, a passed ball that get lost too. Just a few more there boys. Let's help out Jason Marquis.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

 

Game Notes

"Watching" the game tonight on MLB.com's Gameday (keep waiting for those checks), I noticed Edmonds hit himself a double, his 27th on the season. Edmonds has had 346AB so far this season, in 376 AB through 8/16 of last season, he had 31 doubles. Mulder's having a decent night so far (please don't let me jinx that by mentioning it), and it looks like Ks may out number the BBA tonight. Keep you fingers crossed. VEB, citing a story on Baseball Prospectus, wonders what has happened to Abe Nunez to make this a career year. It got me thinking about what the Cards' front office, scouting and coaching staffs have been able to do with journeymen (Sanders) and guys relegated to the scrap heap of MLB (Nunez). Throughout each of those levels, the Cards have been able to bring some guys in here and get star-like numbers out of them, numbers that are at the "good" end of the performance spectrum for these players. The article on BP points out Nunez is striking out less and walking more. I can't help but think of li'l Tony Womack, who has become a pariah in NY, but whose loss here prompted pundits to wonder how in the world the Cards would be able to compete with the Cubs and Astros without their 2004 second baseman. It's really more of a norm that these type of guys come in here and perform like this, than come in here and get giveaways thrown at them from the peanut gallery. Something to think about. I wondered at the beginning of the season if we would notice a big difference in Hal McRae being the hitting coach this year, but that doesn't seem to be the case either. Certainly, the credit is to be shared by the managers, scouts and coaches, but is there one element that has more of an impact in this than another? Gives you a good bit of confidence in teams taking the field with the Birds on Bat season to season.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

 

Yaddie, Come Back.

Quick, off the top of your head... of the all the injured players, who do we miss the most? Besides all of them. Yaddie Molina. Why? Clearly there's the role he can play managing the pitchers on the field, an intangible quality of obvious impact. In term of fielding though, his replacements are merely adequate at best. Let's take a look a the stats. (Ed. note: Blogger sucks because I can't put tables into it, or at least I can't figure out how to do so) Diaz G:38 PB:3 SB:10 CS:6 Rate2:100 RAR2:6 RAA2:0 EqR:3 Mahoney G:19 PB:0 SB:3 CS:0 Rate2:95 RAR2:3 RAA2:-1 EqR:1 Molina G:74 PB:7 SB:11 CS:20 Rate2:123 RAR2:33 RAA2:16 EqR:23 Obviously, the rate at which Molina can throw 'em out on the base paths is huge. Rate is a handy fielding stat (definition of Rate2) sorting out, in runs, a player's level of production per 100 games, with 100 being average. Look at Molina's Rate2, 123! That's the highest of anyone at any position on the team, Edmonds is second best with a Rate2 of 117. This mean that Molina is 23 runs above average. Diaz is plain average at 100, and Mahoney is 5 runs below average. His Runs Above Avg and Above a Replacement are way out in front of his replacements, with Mahoney actually having contributed one run less than average at the catcher position; Yaddie's way ahead on those than the other guys. Now, I know Molina's bat is not going to contribute more runs at the plate than a healthy Rolen or Walker, but in the field he plays a pretty darn important position. In the 13 stolen bases against the other two, as many as 8 of those could have been thrown out, with the assumption that Molina would have played all those other games (he wouldn't have) and he continued at his 65% rate of throwing out would be base theives. Nevertheless, that's a decent number of outs, and given the number of losses we've experienced with a close score those additional outs may have had a big impact. You'll also notice I didn't compare the offensive stats of the men with masks. Really, is that necessary? Do I really need to bludgeon you, dear reader (or two), with the reminder that Mahoney seems to hit into a DP everytime he picks up a bat? Besides, Molina's offensive stats won't do him justice in the wake of his poor start with the stick in his hand. Alright, my arm has been twisted, and I'll throw out only this bone, VORP. Molina 2.4 Diaz and Mahoney both have a VORP of -5.7, 'nuff said. Mahoney and Diaz are to be comended in the role they have been asked to play. It's an incredibly tough job. Rodriguez and Gooch and those guys in the outfield have big shoes to fill because of the individuals they replace, but as for the positions themselves, while not easy, they are easier to fill in at than catcher. (Sheesh, in the AL they'll stick anyone with a glove in the OF). Their experience will serve to make them fine backup catcher, but Molina's absence is having a big impact on this lineup. I'll continue to surf the web everyday, anxiously, for updates on that healing, golden hand.
 

11 Game Lead with Your Best Players Injured...Priceless.

In these pages and the myriad of bytes around cyberspace devoted to the Cardinals, there is consternation of all sorts about various issues from the pen to filling the gaps in the field. However, you kind of have to step back and marvel at this team. We're winning games and maintaining the massive lead in spite of a level of injuries that befuddles even coincidence. At the beginning of the season the talk was that this would be a good team, albeit challenged to perform at the 2004 level without likes of Matheny and Renteria, not to mention Tony Womack, but there were still a number of pundits who saw success based on the sheer power of a lineup containing Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen and Walker. Well, we've now been without 50% of that power foursome for sometime, over a month, and we continue, for the most part, to out distance the biggest part of the league. Think about it. There has not been a for than handful of days during the summer where the Redbirds have been less than 10 games ahead in the NL Central, even with a red hot Houston that I really thought could be within 6 six by the middle part of this month. That's pretty impressive. Now, what happens when we get Walker or Reggie or Rolen back? The optimist/realist in me thinks that with the month of September to adjust and get their timing back they could be playing at levels acceptable for players of their caliber come October. The bench players that have been filling in so admirably in the last weeks, will be more than just bench players when they're back to stepping into the game in the 8th inning again. Oh, and there's that whole thing going on with team building and chemistry, which is something the Red Sox or Yankees and their mercenaries just don't have. 2005 is shaping up to be a big year for the Cardinals. BTW: If Pujols doesn't win the MVP this year, given his impact in the wake of the afore mentioned situation, there really is no justice in baseball. As Jimbo, one of the bullies on the Simpons once said, "I don't belive in nothing no more. I'm going to law school."

Thursday, August 11, 2005

 

Game Rants

Update: This post was completed before the game started, make that 32 HRs for Pujols! And 34 for Lee, d'oh! Late Update: Damnit! Every time I talk any trash here it totally backfires. No more. We don't need my mouth running to know that Pujols is way better than Lee, one game and one fluky season do not a good sample make. Besides, Dusty will probably find some way to ruin him. Maybe Dusty will find a way to blame the Cubs' melt down on the media attention around Lee and find a way to get the Tribune Co. to fire him as well. Man, if Chicago fans don't demand Dusty's head on a platter after this year, barring miracles, I don't know what's wrong with them. Waiting for the game to start. I wonder if the Tribune family is deliberately holding up the game on account of a little rain, let the Cubs save some face for a day. Hey, they can’t loose if they can’t play. Finally sneaking in a little time for the Diaspora, here’s my brain dump for the day. More Roids Other than laughing at Palmeiro’s absurdity, I haven’t felt that I could add anything to the MLB ‘roids debate. And then I saw this article on Yahoo sports today, noting the players union and MLB have issued a joint statement to try and combat the rampant speculation out there about steroids. Hmmm, I wonder why in the world anyone could possibly be speculating about that? It seems so irrational, especially when we learn that Raffy’s test results were sat on for a while, players are out with mysterious injuries (Thome) or just aren’t hitting like they did in the past (Beltre). If they want fan speculation to end, then they should test all the players and share the results. That way there is no need for speculation at all. Billy Wagner makes this enlightening quote in the story I linked to above, “It's unfortunate, but that's how society is today. They want to see the big man fall.'' Yeah, Billy that is what most of us had in mind. As fans, we are not disappointed at all that our favorite players, guys we cheer for, even worship, are providing us with fantastic moments and memorable seasons and then lying to us about how they were able to bang out 70 home runs that year. That’s called disappointment and betrayal, Billy, and it breeds contempt. But then again, you wouldn’t know about that when you get $9 million to play for the Phillies, now would you? Will the Real MVP Stand Up? Given the series with the Cubs, and some national TV coverage on Sunday night, one thing we are going to be buggered to death about is the Triple Crown chase. Given the national media establishment’s tastes and preferences, that discussion is bound to center on Cubs’ first baseman Derrek Lee. However, suddenly his triple crown stats are fading away, and steady eddie Albert Pujols continues through the season at his normal, semi-overlooked pace. Let’s go to the stats: Lee Avg: .348 HR: 33 RBI: 84 EqA: .353 EqR: 104 VORP: 78.2 Pujols Avg: .340 HR: 31 RBI: 89 EqA: .350 EqR: 101 VORP: 77.3 I included the non-triple crown stats so you could see the significant lack of difference between the two players that might not be readily obvious in the standard stats. Note that Lee’s Equivalent Average is only 3 points higher than Pujols’ and a mere nine tenths of a run separates their VORP. Now who should be hearing M-V-P chants from the stands?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

 

Who is this kid!?!?!

I'll be honest, I was completely prepared to see a loss in MIL tonight. I thought Reyes would come up, pitch 3 or 4 innings, do good enough to be remembered for later in the year or 2006, and the Cards would (unintentionally) help the Brewers make their case for the wild card. Really and truly, I thought tonight's game was going to be more important for getting our starters some much needed rest. Let's face it, outside of Carp, and to a lesser extent Mulder, the starters are in need of a little break, and showing it. Morris isn't getting into the 90s on the gun in the last innings of his starts, and Marquis is throwing like he's been assigned his pitching duties by Dusty Baker. Tonight was almost as essential for that as it was to get a win. How wrong I was. Like a trip to the Lake of the Ozark outlet malls, Reyes and the Cards game not only served a utilitarian purpose, they came out with something off the rack that could really get in the main rotation of your back to school wardrobe. 6 1/3 IP, 5 K(!), 1BB, 2HA, and 2 ER...that's good, really good. The kid's got a taste of the bigs, and heads back to Memphis tomorrow. The Cards secure a series win against a decent division rival (and come on, wouldn't you rather see these guys get the WC than Houston?) with a...um...a...modified line-up. Oh, and Marquis gets a pinch hit single in the 9th. Is this guy the inspiration for Rick Ankiel, or what. "Hmm, if Marquis hit .300, why can't I? Hell, I don't even pitch anymore." Okay, the Diaspora has been a little less than thorough lately, and it's largely because I have been swamped at the orifice, (the unfortunate need to have a job weighs heavy on me everyday) where I do some of my best posting. Well, I did manage to sneak in a game at RFK this Sunday...well worth it, got to see Peavy's CG SO. That kid can pitch. Anyway, there will be lots of great content on these page as the week progresses.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

 

How do you spell clutch?

ECKSTEIN. Not a bad time of year for the li'l guy to find his inner slugger. Suddenly this team's finding ways to win from behind, a quality missing throughout July, but seems to have returned in August.

Friday, August 05, 2005

 

Another Mulder Win, yawn...

Seven innings, seven hits against, 3K, 2BB and 1ER, it's a game line more like one would have associated with Jeff Suppan in 2004, but it has quickly become the signature line for Mark Mulder. The feelings of Cardinal fandom, particularly here in blogland, have been all over the map this year, marked with some venom in June, they morphed into a state of perplexity through July. Making his first start of August tonight against the Braves, acceptance and perhaps even an approach to appreciation is the norm when the former Oakland ace takes the mound for the Birds on bat. If you've come to the Diaspora for answers, as you may have realized by now, I don't have them. However, I do have some thoughts to share. First and foremost, I have confidence when he takes the mound. Not anything like a Carpenter start, but if you remove June (or just look back at the last month) the Birds have a pretty good shot at winning when Mulder starts. There are a lot of other factors in there, defense, offensive support, etc., but the numbers give Mulder some credit too. His VORP is 25.1, second best on the Cardinals, and 36th overall in the league. Comparatively, Carpenter's VORP is 58.7 (2nd in MLB) and Morris' is at 20.3 (60th). He's got a 3.91 ERA (prior to this evening) and his RA is 4.11. The stumper is the effectiveness in the wake of a 2.97 K/9 ratio in July. For his part he's winning games relying almost exclusively on his ability to get ground balls. His velocity is gone, but his mechanics are settling. During the Braves game tonight I noticed a lot of late movement on his pitches, a break or a sink or little extra pop at the right moment. This in spite of fastballs being clocked in the upper 80s, nothing particularly impressive in terms of sheer speed. Earlier in his career, circa 2003, he could reach the 90s. He was never a fireballer or even a high strikeout guy, but he was putting up K/9 ratios over 6. He was even getting a few games here and there where he'd get 10 or 12 Ks. What do we discern from this? Well, he's locating pitches well, and with the help of Duncan's notes and the video room this is helping face lineups. He's getting the ground outs. He's also allowing a fair number of hits, but they're the kind that tend to find the right spots taking the low road out of the infield. Last year, after the All-Star break, Mulder was leaving pitches up in the zone, and his sinker disappeared along with the velocity. This year, mostly, location and control seem to be there, otherwise there's little the defense behind him could do to help his numbers. If the sinker could tell us where the velocity is hiding out, we're in business. Seriously, there was a lot of speculation last year that he was tired, hurt late in 2003, working out too hard in the off-season and then throwing 226+ innings in 2004. Is this still the case? I've also heard more than one person note the climate adjustment. Maybe, doesn't strike me as the best rationale, but I am a Missourian, hence bias. I will say that adjusting to the heat and humidity in DC has been an ordeal, especially after the 2004 summer in MO and two years before that in Western Colorado. It really drains the energy, and we never feel much like getting out and moving around in the heat after a day at work. Of course, I'm not a professional athlete. There is one other explanation, and I'm loathe to even mention it. However, given what has happened around the league in the last few years, it's not out of line or beyond the realm of imagination. Could he be adjusting to life after some kind of, you know, stuff you inject or rub on that helps one perform a little better... I hate to suggest it, like I say, but if you're not a little cynical now after all that's happened then the next Pollyanna book is waiting for you. I once thought that the juicers all had to have the huge necks and giant build, but we know that's not always the case. Ryan Franklin certainly didn't have a size 20 neck. What's next? Well, that's the $6 million question. If he can work on his mechanics and strength maybe some of that velocity can come back. That's still my bet. The guy is 28 years old as of today, and it's not out of the ordinary for a player to have a slump year or year and a half. I don't know, but given that he's signed to play here for awhile I have to hope that's the case. Even so, it's hard to be disappointed with results he's getting.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

 

Back to the Mean

Well, well, well. Some things a creeping back toward normal. Derrek Lee, BA .358 Miguel Cabrera, BA .353 Pujols, BA .341 Here's another interesting stat I saw, just off the top of my head. Lee has 70K Pujols 43K Cabrera 82K Yeah, watch Pujols get slighted again this year for the MVP award. By the way, should league award winners have to undergo mandatory piss tests? Watch Selig squirm if that happens. It's easy to suspend Ryan Franklin for 10 games, but what about the marketable stars (sorry, Raffy didn't fit that bill)?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

 

About those contract negotiations...

Wed, August 3, Card vs. Marlins Matty Mo looks like shit in the early going, with more than 25 pitches his first inning was hardly the model of efficiency, even during the past two losses he was under 100 pitches through 7 and 6 innings respectively. Except for the lead-off home run to the 8th batter, the rest of the inning was much stronger. I can't tell via the web, but I'm wondering if his velocity is off, as surmised by some last game out for the bearded one? If you're lucky enough tobe watching this game, leave a note as to what you think. Edmonds scores! Yes! The veteran has handed Beckett his arse in the past. .545 AVG, 4 RBI, 1 HR 11 At Bats Looks like that trend is continuing, and it also looks like Edmonds is embarking on a fine streak, probably knowing he's got to make up for a slow July and pick up the pace for a team on the mend. Matty Mo has a good line against the Florida Horned Fish, too. 1.20 WHIP, 3.61 ERA, 6 W 52.1 IP Let's hope he gets back on track for that. Mid 4th Well, now that's more like it. Matty Mo gets the best player in the NL not named Pujols to hit into a double play. The retires the order in the top of the fourth with 2K. And Eck homers again! Well, I was starting to wonder there. Morris was looking like the 2004 Morris, and yet, he held in there. I was sure he wouldn't be up to bat in the sixth. He held in and made it to the seventh. And then... Matt Morris: "Where would you like to go to dinner?" So Taguchi: "Chez Panisse, in San Francisco." Morris: "Okay." If Matty Mo has to drop a $K on dinner for Taguchi after saving his bacon in the seventh, it'd be a bargain for him. Had he lost tonight, it would have been the first time in his career that he lost three straight. The game's not over yet, but I have a good feeling about this one. Annnd...done. Nice job. Matty's velocity was up, but now we learn (via the PD this a.m.) he was tipping his curve ball, ah ha! Now, if he can put those two things together for his start on Monday in Milwaukee, he should have a win secured before the sausage races begin, and hopefully a little reminder of who owns the NL Central for Saturday at Wrigley.

Monday, August 01, 2005

 

Reggie, Can You Hear Me?

I mentioned earlier that maybe the Cards we're so dumb standing pat at the deadline after all, well at least in terms of offense. It's a fairly controversial statement, and somewhat contradictory to what I have said here and at other Cards' sites before. I really thought the Cards should try to get an OF, preferably a young guy to be there when Larry Walker was done after the season. I think, given the performance of Birds in the wake of the injuries (remember, since Sanders went down the only series we lost was that last one against the Cubs) and the capable playing of John Rodriguez, and the decent bench bench role Gall has played so far, the Cards will be okay. There are lots of reasons, but Sanders is the reason I want to focus on today. In the case of offense, Sanders makes a big difference for the Cards. He brings the hits, the power and run creation that the Cards lack, even with their solid role-players filling in for all the injured folks. Let's go to the stats for Reggie "The Colonel" Sanders. VORP: 25.6 EqR: 44.5 RAR (Runs Above Replacement): 21.3 WARP3 (wins above replacement for 162 games): 4.2 Clearly, those all indicate the offensive production that Sanders brings to the team, but I want to explore another stat that comes via Beyond the Box Score (one of the coolest baseball sites on the web, much more interesting content than ESPN and not a bit of the cost). Net Runs Above Average (NRAA) is a useful stat (here for an explanation) in this situation to explore what Reggie's bat could have contributed to this lineup over the last 15 games he has missed. NRAA/Game: 0.286 NRAA/100 Games: 28.6 Extrapolate that per game rate to the 15 games Reggie has missed since July 15 and the Cards would have an additional 4.3 runs. Okay, that doesn't sound so impressive, until you consider that 4 of the six losses were either by one run or extra innings (or both). On top of that, consider the much ballyhooed problems against lefties and look at Reggie's line against "funny" pitchers, .295/.354/.591. Okay, now take Reggie's numbers and consider Rolen, Molina and Walker back in the line up...now you're just worried about the pitching again, huh? Yeah, me too. [especially watching Marquis tonight, how can anyone be against trading this guy?] So, maybe Jocketty's lack of activity isn't so disconcerting after all, and waiting it out for the injured Cards to mend their broken wings is plausable. However, the nature of some of these injuries and the lack of info surrounding them concerns me. Am I wrong to be a little worried about the injuries, or just making too much of the cautiousness given their cushion in the standings? While I sure hope J-Rod's the real deal, are you confident taking the lineup as is into the playoffs against any team not in the NL West? I'm still thinking that Jock may yet make a move. I have a lot of confidence in the batting lineup IF we get three out of four back in good health. Now, let's go worry about the pitching, sheesh!
 

Anti-Climax

A whole lot of build up for a whole lot of nothing. Nobody did much of anything exciting for the trade deadline at all. Personally, I won't be suprised if the Cards make a move in the next couple weeks. Check back during the game tonight for more on that, and why I think they might be okay not making any move at all. Now a few shots from the cheap seats. Boo to the teams that teased everyone in league with the promises of moving players. All that positioning for guys like Huff, Mesa, Soriano, Dunn, Beaz, etc. and then nothing. How many GMs wasted a lot of time talking to those teams only to find the dead end too late in the game? Boo to Manny Ramirez. He turned into pop diva again this year. What a sudden change of heart he had too. Did they tell him that they could send him to NY so he could really see what it's like to have the media spotlight burn a little bright? What a crybaby! This guy should be a Cub. (He might be next year too, d'oh!) Cubs get Matt Lawton. What I'd like to see is the Cubs and Astros take it to each other in the 10 games that they face each other between now and October 3, giving some resurgent NL East team a chance to sneak into the Wild Card by half a game. I have not now, nor have I ever shared a bathroom stall with Rafael Palmeiro. Peter Gammons inducted into the HOF. Who knew they had a category for shamelessly promoting the Red Sox from your position in the BBWA?! How does ESPN feel about dedicating an hour of program time to their much-hyped "Trade Deadline Special Edition?"

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