Breath of Air by Bob Ryan

So…it’s been awhile….I’ve been heavily concerned about a family issue for the past few weeks…but here’s a quickie …. To give me a breath of air…..and to hopefully keep you in touch….some looks @ NL standings and the Cards…..1st to the NL

….the NL Central…Cards are 35-28 as we’re just past the 3/8 mark of the season…7 games over .500….really not bad…but they were 5 games over .500 way back on  Sun Apr 22 with a  13-8 record… so they’ve been 22-20 for the last 42 games and 5-4 since June 1.  They’ve actually been slightly slipping as the games pile on. Meanwhile, Milwaukee & Cubs are …at this moment…tied for 1st place..some how it feels like the Cub engine is beginning to roll at full speed after a sluggish beginning..

NL East…not surprisingly, the Washington Nats are up high but the surprise is their dancing partner…the Atlanta Braves who are right in step with them…after decades….it seems J…the Braves have found some youthful talent….Phillies are better ….but not good enough to contend..no one…at least not me…expect the Braves to hang with the Nats throughout the entire summer.

NL West….after a stumbling beginning…the Dodgers were 4-9 at one point,  on May 8 they were still 15-20 in the W-L column,  May 16 was their low tide…lost to Miami to sink to 16-26 for the season! Can you imagine how it would have sounded on the StL airwaves with that record? With a win on Sunday, LA topped the .500 mark with a  33-32 record. This is a club that has the 26th oldest roster in the MLB (30 teams) so a slow start didn’t appear to be in their expectations. Dave Roberts…who holds a higher winning percentage as an LA manager @ .602 than Joe Torre, Don Mattingly, Walt Alston , Tommy Lasorda, Leo Durocher and Casey Stengal….had to be feeling the heat. Now he has the Dodgers rolling despite his $35m star pitcher…Clayton Kershaw…. holding a 1-4 record and reports are circulating that his season is going to be severely shortened due to injuries.

 

Digging deeper now into our Birds on theBat boys…

….batting….Cards have adopted a HR swing philosophy…Home runs…for some reason….seem to come in bunches….could it be the quality of the opponents pitching??….anyway….the Cards are 5th in HR but…is it the way to score runs?….They are only 10th in runs scored, 9th in batting average, 10th in slugging % and 10th in OPS in the National league (15 teams)….seems like too many dingers come with the bases empty…Cards are 12th in NL in drawing walks….getting baserunners w/o hits as become an overlooked part of the game. I’m not going to change all these sluggers….they ALL know that a high HR total fattens the pocketbook much more than a high average these days….who cares who wins the batting title?…It’s who’s wearing the HR crown that matters…I would suggest that some players should be motivated to have high OB%….don’t have 8 sluggers in the lineup…..maybe 4 or 5 sluggers while also having 2-3-4 players other players that have as a  main purpose is to get on base…put the ball in play…move things along…get pitchers to pitch off the stretch…..

…I’ve thought this for a long time now…..the effectiveness of MLB pitchers with runners on base tumbles substantially with ANY runners on base….thus…pitching off the stretch detracts from their effectiveness as a pitcher…. Use the Cards as an example…the statistics  with runners on base are listed below..compare them to the lower table with their overall stats

 

RK Player ERA IP▼ H R ER HR BB SO AVG WHIP
1 Wacha, M 4.59 33.1 19 20 17 1 10 22 0.178 0.87
2 Mikolas, M 4.6 29.1 25 18 15 1 3 17 0.24 0.95
3 Martinez, C 4.66 29 17 18 15 0 20 28 0.185 1.28
3 Weaver, L 8.69 29 28 30 28 2 10 22 0.269 1.31
5 Hicks, J 3.66 19.2 9 9 8 0 10 9 0.148 0.97
6 Flaherty, J 6.32 15.2 15 14 11 2 2 12 0.273 1.09
7 Norris, B 6.39 12.2 12 10 9 1 3 21 0.255 1.18
8 Tuivailala, S 5.23 10.1 11 6 6 0 3 8 0.282 1.35
8 Wainwright, A 5.23 10.1 8 7 6 0 7 10 0.229 1.45
10 Gant, J 11.7 10 12 15 13 1 4 9 0.308 1.6
11 Mayers, M 1.93 9.1 9 3 2 0 2 8 0.25 1.18
12 Bowman, M 8 9 8 8 8 1 8 11 0.258 1.78
13 Brebbia, J 7.88 8 10 7 7 1 3 8 0.303 1.63
14 Cecil, B 8.59 7.1 6 8 7 1 6 2 0.261 1.64

 

It appears to REALLY change for the younger starting pitchers (Weaver& Flaherty)

OVERALL Pitching STATISTICS

 

Player ERA▲ G-GS-SV IP H R ER HR BB SO AVG WHIP
Hicks, J 2.18 30-0-1 33 19 9 8 0 19 24 0.168 1.15
Mikolas, M 2.27 12-12 79.1 67 23 20 6 9 58 0.225 0.96
Wacha, M 2.47 13-13 76.2 55 24 21 5 30 67 0.201 1.11
Martinez, C 2.50 10-10 57.2 40 19 16 1 34 57 0.197 1.28
Mayers, M 2.50 14-0-1 18 19 6 5 3 5 14 0.264 1.33
 Gomber, A 3.18 4-0-0 5.2 2 2 2 1 6 3 0.133 1.41
 Flaherty, J 3.20 7-7 39.1 36 17 14 5 10 42 0.243 1.17
 Tuivailala, S 3.38 18-0 18.2 21 7 7 1 6 17 0.284 1.45
 Brebbia, J 3.48 16-0 20.2 18 8 8 2 5 22 0.222 1.11
 Norris, B 3.49 28-0 28.1 26 12 11 3 4 40 0.241 1.06
 Wainwright, A 4.00 4-4 18 19 9 8 2 14 15 0.275 1.83
 Weaver, L 4.35 13-13 68.1 65 35 33 7 25 60 0.251 1.32
 Gant, J 4.74 7-3 24.2 20 15 13 1 9 26 0.215 1.18
 Bowman, M 5.82 17-0 17 21 11 11 4 9 20 0.309 1.76
 Cecil, B 6.30 13-0 10 12 8 7 1 9 7 0.324 2.1

 

Some Major differences when comparing key pitchers with runners on base vs windup this year 

Hicks—ERA  jumps from 2.18 to 3.66;

Mikolas –ERA moves from 2.27 overall to 4.60 with runners on base

Weaver-overall ERA is 4.35 with runners on base 8.69

Carlos sees his ERA move from 2.50 overall to 4.66 with runners on base

….I would surmise that there are similar changes in effectiveness across the league…..soooo…get some men on base and the big boppers will do even better!!!

 

Pitching…

….Wacha & Mikolas have won 15 of the Cards 35 wins-WOW! 43% for the total team wins from  2 guys who were not expected to be the aces of the staff

…Martinez….who was portrayed as the ace in the preseason…and for the last couple years….just doesn’t win often enough…..often….he…himself is the culprit with a poor defensive play….recently he knocked a ball down on the mound and then threw to 1B from the ground…the Miami Marlin batter hustled and beat it out….a couple hits followed…..and bingo …Carlos was in trouble…recently, seemingly after experiencing his 1st sore arm issues of his life…..wildness has been an issue for Carlos. He should be in the prime of his career….looks like he’s just treading water in the “good” waters instead of moving to the deeper, more challenging “ace” waters

….Norris and Hicks have been the life preservers in the Cards bullpen thus far…the poised veteran..Norris throws “hard” enough with movement to be strong for an inning….Hicks is the new breed….throw a blazer …as hard as you can…..question is…how long can his arm take it?   Year?  Two?  Three?   Did I hear Trevor Rosenthal’s name pop up? Cards use the “Kleenex” principle….use em up quickly and throw em away….

….the abject failure of MO to find an effective free agent for the bullpen in the winter is a stigma on his record….Holland, Cecil, Leone, Gregerson have flopped more than Fosbury in the high jump

Roster configuration by Management….

……MO is the Overall boss…from my perspective…..he does have a farm director who continues to feed him reliable, steady …often every day players but he also has the responsibilities of procuring free agents and keeping possible Cardinal Free agent from leaving the team…..how has that worked out in the past few years….

…..the defense has been and continues to turn wins into losses…..neither of the corner outfielders have strong, accurate arms…..I’m sure that you noticed how the Marlins continued to challenge Ozuna when the possibilities existed. The Cards are 15th in the NL in defensive statistics

….Jose Martinez is the worst defensive 1B that I have ever seen in the MLB….he doesn’t seem to be able to modify his stretch, dig balls out of the dirt, change the angle of his glove hand to catch ball a bit off target….from my view…some…probably many of the errors “awarded” to the infielders should have been given to Martinez.  As bad as he is as an outfielder….at least he’d only get a few plays a game out there

….Pham ..at times….appears to be having difficulty “picking up the ball” quickly…his jumps… sometimes terrific…. aren’t always instant…as they need to be for a CF

…the Cards …over the past couple years…seem to waver between young & old players….Harrison Bader looks very, very promising….but how will we know with the 2-3x a week  storyline? Now… a couple years ago…..Randall Grichuk & Steven Piscotty….also looked promising J

….Last year ALL we heard was that the defense was weak because Oquendo wasn’t around…. well….he’s back…..but so is the bad defense…..folks…..it’s not the coaches who need to be blamed when players don’t field or hit…..it’s the PLAYERS!!!!

…..Fowler has been a real “dud”…..on the field and in the clubhouse….Ozuna is just now starting to show some glimpses of what the Cards expected….but….keep in mind…we’ve seen him doing it again Miami, cincy and other poor pitching teams. These minor leaguers …Pena, Munoz, etc…..are good backups but …with 12-13 pitchers and only 4 or 5 field players on the bench….you MUST have some quality players on the bench who can help you win games. Jed Gyorko is that type of  player.

…Tommy Pham hit .195 in May……but we have no REAL backup there …don’t tell me Fowler.

AND….it’s going to continue…read the review of a baseball expert of the Cards draft…

Story of Their Draft: The first five picks for the Cardinals are big-time upside power plays with some risk: 3B Nolan Gorman (1) has the best raw power in the 2018 draft class but swing-and-miss concerns and new defensive questions; RHP Griffin Roberts (1s) has one of the best breaking balls in the class, but he’s a converted reliever who might wind up in the bullpen long-term; 1B Luken Baker has huge righthanded power but has never been consistently healthy and has no defensive value; SS Mateo Gil (3) was a divisive prospect this spring and has some tools but is a projection play; and LHP Steven Gingery (4) blew out his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery after his first start of the season, but has a strong track record in the Big 12.

….Looks like slug ‘em in the box & drop ‘em in the field for the next several years

Thanks for giving a chance to unwind a bit….I’m hoping to get back into a routine in a few weeks but til…then….thanks for reading…hope that you’ll respond either below or by email….

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Jim pleimann says:

    The cardinals are boring to watch.
    Fowler has got to go.
    I am starting to say who cares if the runs are only score via the long ball. Runs are runs and their record is good if they hit a home run in a game.
    Very interesting research you did on pitching from the stretch.
    Wong needs a “change of scenery”
    Jose Martinez just keeps hitting. It’s as good as his defense is bad!
    Hurry back Paul DeJongn
    Carlos Martinez is concerning me.
    Miles is still making us all feel bad we doubted him.

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