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Friday, September 30, 2005

 

Strikes and Gutters

Mulder has 5k and 4BB through 3 innings tonight. Although the walks are a little high, the Ks are good to see. I know Mulder's not a strikeout pitcher, but it's always a little easier to rest knowing that a started has the velocity and skill to get a few guys out without calling upon the fielders. His pitch count seems a little high, but judging from MLB's gameday device, it looks like he's working the whole plate pretty well. That doesn't tell me anything about velocity or location, but it's about as informative as it gets for the distant fan checking in on the game. Ugh! Nevermind, 7BB sucks. Anyone that saw the game got any insight? Yeah, Jimmy! RBI single. Edmonds is second in the lineup again tonight. Pujols is protected with Sanders in the clean-up spot, and it comes back to another lefty with Walker after him. Dunno. Edmonds is obviously in an off year, but always represents that power threat in the number two spot that LaRussa loves, and his OBP is good this year in spite of lower average. Walker, is more a threat to drive in the runs from the number five spot that Edmonds occupied last year and early in the season. Any thoughts on that? It's all about getting ready for Tuesday now, and celebrating Busch Stadium. I willing to wager that Houston takes the Wild Card. Anyone else? Post-game: Well, well, well. That's the kind of offensive production we like to see! Papi who? Every position player, except Mahoney was in the game at some point tonight. Albert's back, and Reggie got a double. Is this what was expected by getting a resurgent Reggie behind Pujols? Is the lineup protection idea at work here? Obviously, Cincy's pen isn't much, but that's nice to see with two more games until they count again. Did I argue that momentum doesn't matter? Well, it still doesn't. Reyes and Flores worked a solid inning each, striking out 3 and 2, respectively. Two dominant innings from two guys we're likely to see several times in the postseason is also reassuring, and, if you recall, Cincy has one of the more productive offenses in the NL, far better than San Diego's hitters. Two lowlights stand out. Mulder's 7BB and Julian's 9th inning with 3 HA and 2 ER. Like I said, I didn't see the game, but it looked like, via Gameday, that Mulder worked the edges of the plate quite a bit, hence the 7BB. He did get 5K, a high number for Mulder this season, so it seems that he wasn't completely lost out there. If you saw the game, please let me know what Mulder looked like. Tavarez fell apart. Obviously, he hasn't been mentally sharp (ha!) all season; was this outing a mental lapse from the big lead? It happens... I feel real bad for Ray King. King is going through a really difficult circumstance with his father dying, and my heart really goes out to him. He faced two batters, giving up a hit and a walk, before he was ejected when he let his frustration with the ump be known. I wish he could fight through it and pitch like he did last year for his father. He gets the day off tomorrow to go visit him, and perhaps that helps him refocus. If not, he has get limited duty through the rest of October. Come on Ray, we believe!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

 

Close to Swell, Golly Gee

Hair in pigtails, with two pretty yellow ribbons knotted into them, I'm going to get all Pollyanna-ish about last night's game, a tough 7-6 loss to the Spacemen from Houston. When I got home from trying to reclaim adolescent athletic glory (since the debate team didn't offer a lot of that in high school) at my softball game last night, I quickly turned on ESPN to see the score, as if it actually mattered. I went to bed disappointed, and due to poor eyesight, thinking that Carp only lasted 2 2/3 innings. This morning, after having a chance to review the box score on the train, I found some relief in his line. 6 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K ... and he hit two doubles. Why am I somewhat relieved? Look at the BB & K numbers; that tells me that Carp still has the "stuff," man. In his last three uncharacteristic starts, he had 3K vs PIT, 2K vs CHC, and 4K/3BB vs MIL. Those numbers really had me worried because they made me think fatigue, arm trouble, mental break down or a combination of the three. Last night, however, Carp threw 96 pitches, 67 for strikes, making it an all around respectable outing, and proving, to me, that he remains a hard throwing, top starter. He was frustrated, but in his mind he was battling. The two doubles, from a pitcher that is pure AL at the plate, are also a testament to his toughness and evidence that he's got the grit he needs in his role as the top starter for the top team in the NL. For some of those nine hits, Houston was getting lucky, plopping them into a gap (metal gaps included) off the end of the bat. The two dingers undid Carpenter. Both of the came from lefty hitters (technically Berkman's a switch hitter), representing Carpenter's weakness this season, lefties are hitting .264 (whooo) and account for 14 of the 18 home runs allowed by #29. Anyway, that was a much better outing than the past three, which were really cause for some concern. Last night's outing was just a "bad game" for a top starter, as opposed to the beginning of the end for a used up pitcher. If he goes out there next week, building on this start, Carp stands to have a pretty good outing. Now, as for Izzy... Afternoon update: Check out this article on Baseball Savant about pitchers on a streak heading into the postseason. And this one at The Hardball Times analyzing momentum.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

 

How Much "Mo" Does One Team Need?

I'll admit, it's pretty tough to get psyched up for games right now, and it's even harder to generate ideas for blogging. Carpenter pitches tonight and I don't think I'm alone in saying that I'll breathe a little easier if he looks sharp. I'll also let out a big gasp if the bats come alive tonight. Walker was on last night, and Sanders had a nice double, not bad for guys that are probably under strict orders not to strech any hits out and risk injury. So, here's my question...how much of a factor is momentum? Right now, the Cards ain't got it, looking at their record these past two weeks. However, some of that can certainly be attributed to having clinched the Central Division title, and the need to rest some important players, and also the need to get a look at guys to make roster decisions, let the Memphis call ups get a taste of the Show. There's also, like I mentioned above, no need for guys to press and risk injury when we've got a date set for October play. Okay. Fine. Are those factors responsible for the additions to the 'L' column this month? I think it's safe to say that each of them, by themselves or as a combination, have been the reason for some of those losses. My real concern is this the performance we're going to see when the playoffs start? Obviously guys will run harder and Hector Luna won't be in the starting lineup, but will Carp look like a Cy Young candidate again and Albert put a few less plate appearances between his home runs? The Cards certainly didn't pick up a ton of kinetic energy last September, but they handled the Dodgers pretty easily. The Houston series was a little different, but that Houston team was pretty good. It was no fluke that they came back from where they were in the standings to take the Wild Card. Maybe I answered my own question, but you still have a little "hmmm" in the back of your head when you see the stat sheets for the last couple weeks. For the record, I think TLR has them playing like a first class caliber team come next week.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

 

Super 6

Looking for a positive rumination while waiting for the Houston game? Check out the shortstop rundown at BtB and Matty Fred. BtB looks at the 6s in light of Jimmy Rollins 31 game hit streak. While Matty Fred considers who got a steal in this off-season's shortstop shuffle (hint: even if we were paying by the foot, the li'l guy is tops).
 

Mind Games

Carpenter says the problem is not so much here(pointing toward arm), but right here (pointing toward head). I'm at a loss here, which is not a good thing for a blog, but what do you say to that? "Okay, that's good. He's not a selfish player who's only reason for pitching is to get a Cy Young. By this logic, he should be sharp as a tack for the playoffs!" "Why can't a professional get into any game, regardless of postseason status? Oh, come on now, we all have our off days at the office. But wait, shouldn't a good starting pitcher be able to throw his good cut fastball in a meaningless practice session against the Brewers? What if muscle memory fails in game one of the NLDS?" See, maybe that pitching shrink wouldn't be such a bad idea after all. Of course, a fan shrink might be necessary as well.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

 

The Bounce

So, let us not come here to disparage Mulder. He gave the Cubs 7 ER in a four inning loss on August 11. Then, he bounced right back pitched a CG shutout against the Diamondbacks. Mulder's come a long way (baby!), and it would seem his head is in order on par with his status as a qausi-elite pitcher. There is some good baseball in store this week, and for some teams, every single game is going to count. In the NL, the Astros and the Phillies are going to be duking it out for the Wild Card. The Astros may be without Clemens for his start this week. Houston faces the Cards and the Cubs this week, and somebody named Bagwell is back for them as well. I know he's pretty much limited to pinch hitting duties, but that's not a bad guy to have coming off your bench. The Phillies face the Mets at home and wrap it up in DC. They have the offense, in 6 of their last 13 games they have 10 or more runs, to take the WC, but they have some baaad starting pitching. The AL has some real excitement too, in as much as you can find excitement in the AL. Will the Indians overtake the White Sox in the Central? What about the Yanks and the Red Sox? And who gets the WC as the divisions shake out? Should be good.

Friday, September 23, 2005

 

Dusty's Revenge

Is Tony LaRussa taking managerial tips from Dusty Baker? Why in the hell, with a division win almost a certainty for weeks now, did he keep pitching Carpenter like he was a machine? Up till tonight, Carp has pitched 101 innings since the All-Star break. I know he wanted him to win the Cy Young, I know Tony's not a huge idealogue with pitch counts, but there's no reason not to have rested Carpenter more in the days since the break. And since the September call ups arrived, why not let Carpenter (or all the starting 5) have an extra rest day? Reyes or Wainwright or the pen could have easily started a game; we certainly didn't need the win. I understand the Cards had a brutal schedule through August and September, but we also had the padding to keep our key guys fresh. Last year, which was Carp's first "full" season since 2001 because of injury, he was 10-2 with a 2.77 ERA starting games on more than five days of rest. Duncan and La Russa damn well better help him get it together before the playoffs start. If the Padres (nowhere near as good as the Brewers) get 8 runs in game one at Busch, it ain't gonna be pretty. And if that means letting him take some extra down time, then they damn well better fill up the hot tub for him (maybe a "streak breaker" wouldn't hurt either). Another really tough part to swallow about this whole thing, there's no way he wins the Cy Young now.
 

Left of the Dial

Lefties, lefties, lefties...Cards blog land is abuzz as of late with talk of them. Birdos deconstructs the pen, with, of course, the "shame about Ray." Danup looks at some of the lefty hitters the Cards could face in the first round. Needless to say, it got the left side of my brain stimulated. (ha ha ha wasn't that witty!) It seems like there was some consternation about the Cards ability against lefty pitchers. I recalled that when I turned on Gameday for the magical eigth inning last night in Cincy, ugh. Anyway, the Reds' pitcher, Claussen, was a lefty, and he had 5K with 2BB and 6HA in 7IP. Of course, Claussen really wasn't the Cards' undoing last night...but I digress on the pen issue. Quickly, I took a look at our team stats versus lefties. vsLHP: 205 runs, .266 Avg, .760 OPS, 1583 PA vs RHP: 550 runs, .270 Avg, .760 OPS, 4352 PA Total: 755 runs (5th in the majors), .269 Avg (10th), .760 OPS Notice the difference in OPS? No, because there isn't one. I checked twice, since my computer at the office was a little iffy today. Our OPS versus righties is fourth best in the majors, but only the 15th best versus the southpaws. The team batting average isn't all that different either. Probably, my concern about the Cards versus lefties is the result of some forgettable losses to lefties a few times throughout the season. More good news, out of all of our potential opponents for the National League side of the playoffs, only three have a left starter. The Braves have Horatio Ramirez, the Phils have rookie Eude Brito, and the Stros have Petit and Wandy Rodriguez.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

 

Daytime Might Be Right Time

I can't believe this passed without mention. Mulder seems to have proven the daytime split to be bunk. Saturday afternoon he beat the Cubs, going seven innings giving up 8 hits, 1 ER, 2 BB, and 3 K. In the process he lowered his ERA to 3.43 on the season. I feel alright about this guy in the playoffs, especially since East Coast bias says we're going to be given daytime games in the NLDS. Hey Mark, how about weekday afternoons?
 

"My Strike Year" by Keith Tkachuk

"Of course, I was pretty disappointed about the season being nixed, but what could I really do about it? "I guess the idea of not getting paid for a whole year really alarmed me the most, so we decided to head back to Boston for the better part of the year. This would allow us to spend time with the family and watch our beloved Red Sawx. My favorite player is Manny. I wonder how he manages to hit home runs in the postseason? I should ask him, because I really want to try and contribute offensively next time we are in the playoffs. "All that thinkin' and no goonin' sure made me tired, so I decided to head down to South Beach, where my lucrative deal with the Blues allows me to maintain a li'l love shack. (I also missed the groupies we meet on road trips, especially the porkers from Western Canada.) It is really nice to have the Wal-Mart fortune and a lot of male ego backing up our team; thank God that'll never change. I rue the day when those corporate suits start running hockey like a business, which I read all about in our most recent players union newsletter. "Anyway, South Beach was great, but I am glad to be getting back to playing hockey now. Only a few short weeks before the season starts. Here's a picture of me at a beach bar. See you later."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

 

Talkin' Cy Young

The Cy Young race remains muddled after last night. Talking head favorite Roger Clemens got beat up by the Pirates in 5 2/3 innings, giving up 11 hits, 4 earned runs, 1 walk, and 5 strike outs. Perhaps this start erases Carpenter's last outing among the chattering classes.

Monday, September 19, 2005

 

Morris in the Fall?

I have been hesitant to enter the Matt Morris postseason pitching foray, but I can't hold back any longer. In talking with a Giants-fan friend, we were laughing about the 2002 NLCS. He reminded me of Matty Mo's game one outing in which he surrendered 7 ERs! So I went to look at his postseason stats (as a starter), and let me tell you, they aren't good. 2001: 2 G, 2 GS, 0-1, 1.20 ERA, 15 IP, 13H, 2 ER, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 5 BB, 12K Not to shabby. He was comeback player of the year in '01, getting 22 wins that year. It was Matt's highwater mark, and the last time he would put up stats like that in the postseason. 2002: 3G, 3 GS, 1-2, 4.50 ERA, 20 IP, 23 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 2 HR, 3 HBP, 8 BB, 9K He pitched well in game 1 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks, getting the win in 7 innings, with 7 hits against, 2 earned runs and 2 walks and 3 Ks. In the first game of the NLCS, he got murdered. His ERA against the Giants was 6.23. He fared better in game 5, but still took the loss. 2004: 4 GS, 0-2, 5.91 ERA, 21 IP, 21 H, 14 R, 14 ER, 5 HR, 2 HBP, 14 BB, 14 K Quick, who was the only team Morris didn't surrender a home run to last October? The Red Sox, oddly enough. The two no decisions he got were against Houston in the NLCS, games 2 and 6. He also never had a quality start in the postseason last year, and only made past five innings in game 3 of the division series against the Dodgers (he went seven). Those aren't very convincing numbers, but I have a feeling he's not going to be the odd man out come October. His veteran status with the team almost guarantee La Russa giving him the nod over Marquis. Perhaps, if he continues to falter over the next two weeks, that changes. However, if he makes two or three more starts, and pitches like Morris circa-June '05, I'd still be pretty nervous when he takes the mound.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

 

Slow Grounder to the Third Baseman

Matt Morris, please schedule an appointment with Bob Tewksbury ASAP! I know Tony and Dunc can lean a bit to the old fashioned, but maybe employing a shrink for the pitchers isn't such a bad idea. Hey speaking of talented pitchers who freak out, did you catch this article about Ankiel on The Hardball Times? Check it out. It provides some good historical perspective about pitchers becoming position players. Ah links, it's a ground ball right to third base for the lazy blogger. I'll confess, it's tough to generate material on a daily basis when you're ust waiting for the playoffs to start. One more link for you. Have you ever read The Heckler? Sure, it's a Cubs site, but it's quality stuff. They even include the perspective of the Windy City's South-side fans!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

 

No. 2 Postseason Catcher Named by Cards Today

In an unusual move for a manager as tight-lipped about the postseason as Tony La Russa, the Cardinals skipper today named the small, net backstop as the team's back-up catcher for the October roster. The backstop was selected over Einar Diaz and Mike Mahoney to serve as Yadier Molina's replacement, should that be necessary. La Russa explained his decision in a postgame debrief with the media after Wednesday afternoon's game at Busch Stadium, "Well, we think this backstop will be our best option as we look to configure this team for the postseason." This particualr backstop has no prior major league experience, and was last employed by a the Greene County, Missouri Babe Ruth league. "This backstop offers us an upgrade both behind the plate and at the plate," the Cards' skipper went on to say. "I think when you're seeing the kind of little league [stuff] out there on the base paths that Diaz gave us today, I just don't have much of a choice." Diaz, hitting .197 on the season, will still have a role on the team as a bullpen catcher. Triple A carbon blob, Mike Mahoney, will probably remain in the stands as the team navigates its way to a title. Mahoney is hitting .161 through 24 games with the big league club. Team hitting coach Hal McRae offered his take on the situation as well, "I don't see how he can hit any worse than these two guys." The backstop, owned by the Greene County Parks and Recreation Department, most recently saw some heated action in the regional Babe Ruth palyoffs. In pregame batting practice for the semi-finals on August 27, the backstop stopped twelve straight pitches that came by 14 year old Cody Johnson (pictured here with the backstop), including a wild throw from the team's assistant coach, Cody's father. He was recommended for duty by the elder Johnson that day when, in a tirade directed at his son's lack of ability, he exclaimed, "that goddamn backstop is a better player than you!" He went on to add, "the damn thing has a better chance of making the major leagues than you ever will, that's for sure." The backstop was not available for comment.

Monday, September 12, 2005

 

Things in balance, balance in things.

Okay, so Matt Morris is a little off right now, and maybe he has been for a couple months. However, have you noticed the other Cards' starters have picked it up? Marquis who had his own little disasterous slide is pitching well again. Suppan remains Suppan, steady approach, gets results, nothing fancy (or as Skynyrd says, "nuthin' fancy"). Mulder who made us all cringe in horror in the first part of the season, now hardly begs notice when he starts. Carpenter, well, what do I really need to say here. The Morris thing is a bummer, but things are seeming to have a way of balancing out for our top five, yeng and yang of starting pitching. I'm taking some solace in this. It's a remarkably good sign for the Birds on Bat. It's better to have the flow this way at this time than all five up in May and all five down in October. That's about as "unsabermetrics" as you can get, (or is it? too much Zen) but if you can't trust your gut who can you trust? As of right now, it looks like Mulder will get a daytime start at Wrigley Field this Saturday. Should be interesting, and gives him a chance to prove the ridiculous coincidence of the whole daytime starts thing. Balance man, balance. Say it with me now, "om."

Friday, September 09, 2005

 

Goodbye and Thanks, Al.

Let me just slip in a non-baseball related thought here, as St. Louis says thanks for a whole mess of great years to the retiring Al MacInnis. Al was, without question, one of the best defensemen to ever play the game, and we were really, really lucky that we got to watch him play for nine full seasons with the Note on his sweater. It's too bad he only played three games in the 03-04 season (the last season anyone cared about professional ice hockey). But I'm sure few Blues fans will ever forget that wooden stick, in an age of aluminum and other fake-o materials sticks, improbably bent at fourty-five degree angle luanching a puck at 105 mph toward the net. It's a shame such a poorly managed franchise was never quite able to build around you with a Stanley Cup winning team. You'll always be one of the best, and Blues fans will never forget you.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

 

Filler

Sporadic posting continues, sorry, Diaspora returns in full force Monday, 9/12. For now, jump into the Pujols vs. Lee MVP debate over at BtB. For my money, it's Pujols. Clearly, I am biased, but the Cards would be in the silly NL wild card race right now if Pujols' contributions were merely average or slightly above. Even with Derrek Lee's flukey season, the Cubs are playing in the race to bottom with the Pirates and Reds. This has to count for something, doesn't it? Larry Walker only played in one game against the Flubs. Surely, he's just resting up for the post-season? Let's hope. Come one Tony, we wanna see Kid Reyes pitch another.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

 

Putting the 'K' in Mark

Man, not having the internet at my immediate disposal must be what it's like to give up smoking cold turkey. As I kept forcing my wife to tolerate the bottom line on ESPN (which takes forever now that college football has started), I kept reaching over for my laptop, but like a recently lost arm, it just wasn't there. My point, besides bitching about not having a computer for another six days, is to ask you few and faithful readers not to give up, the Diaspora will be here through the rest of the week, but next weekend we'll be offline again, as the computer isn't going to be out of the shop until Monday. I suppose since I don't have a car now, there has to be some other mechanical peice of shit in my life that I am totally dependent on, actually, my last car worked pretty well. Anyway, there was lots of excitment over the long weekend. Seeing Pujols get a clutch homer run did wonders for the soul. I had been silently curious about Albert's clutching the bat too tightly as of late, but yesterday, as I watched the game on WGN, Albert reminded us why he's the Great One. What I am most excited about was the 8K performance by Mark Mulder on Friday. Sure, it turned out to be a bad loss, but you've got to be excited about the potential return of the Mark Mulder we traded a helluva let to get. Now, he's been pretty darn good over the past two months or so, but the lack of Ks was a small reason for concern. Then word of a neck "twitch" gave us all a pause, as one thing we couldn't afford was an injury to one of our starters. It would have burned particularly for Mulder to go down because of the politics and popularity of the trade that brought him here. In the words of Mike Keenan to Chris Pronger, "Do you know who I traded for you?" Now granted, this was one start against a fairly impotent offense, but he only had 3k in his last start (a win) against the Pirates. It's a great palce to build from, since he's never been a power pitcher, but he will need to get the occasional strikeout to have post-season success, not to mention longer term success. Had this been a daytime start, we could get really excited. I counsel patience. He's slated to go tomorrow night against the Cubbies, and while they have given up completely, they always get geared up enough to give the Cards a tough series or two. (note: there may be some shuffle with the starters, especially given the Memphis call ups, so we'll wait and see if Mulder does indeed face the Cubs this week.) If gets in there and pitches against them like this, and provides similar results over the course of his next few starts, we can get officially excited about the return of Mark Mulder.

Friday, September 02, 2005

 

Little Things

Well, I may be computerless for a few days now. My home computer has ceased to work, and I'm stealing a little time at the office today. My advice, NEVER purchase a windows product and aviod XP at all costs. Just a quick note or two for the weekend. Duncan is suspended for four games. Not clear as to why, obviously the rumble in PIT, but rarely do the decrees handed down by the MLB front office make sense. I doubt it has much of an effect, but watch the pitchers through the suspension. I am anxious to see if those of frail psyche can manage, i.e. Mulder, Marquis, et al. Hopefully, there's nothing to it, as Dunc will still be availble to them, just not during the game. The PD makes note of the need to get some run production around Pujols in the lineup. They note that he's expanded his strike zone to compensate for slumps by Edmonds and the missing Sanders. Hopefully, Edmonds is getting ready to go on a streak, at least his OBP is still over .400. I thought his walk rate seemed up, but they don't appear to be out of line with his normal walk rates. He does note that he's been hurting this season, sticking it out in the wake of the other injuries. Anyway, his Rate2 is still 115! That glove is hard to replace. Well, I'm off to enjoy a lazy weekend. Hopefully, the computer gets fixed, but I still intend to give the repair shop people where I bought it a lecture and plead for an exchange, stranger things have happened. If it proves to be to costly, the Diaspora will return mid-week, after payday. Should be some good games this weekend, especially Saturday. Enjoy!

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