Sunny Side Up for Cards by Bob Ryan

eggI come not to bury the Cardinals but to praise them….. Generally I’m accused….probably rightly so…of presenting ideas, facts, proposals that are the other side of the coin with respect to the Cardinals….I feel like the Post-Dispatch does plenty of “kissing up” EVERY DAY to the Birdies (no doubt prolific customers with their many ads)…you don’t need another cheerleader who isn’t as slick, cute, and thin..more and more thin….almost as anorexic… as the Post ….I’d like to think that I’m just providing alternate considerations about our heroes on the diamond…all that being said….Despite the SI prediction of Cards as the 13th best team in the MLB (Cubbies are rated as #1)…I thought that I’d try to point out the strengths of the Cards as the curtain goes up for the 2016 spring training season…

 

  • 1] Bullpen….in the last decade especially….the bullpen has risen in its duties..now they are responsible for 4 of the 9 innings (generally)..so we have the emergence of the 6th/7th guy; the 8th inning guy; the closer; the DP guy; the specialist sitting side by side spitting out their seeds in the pen for the 1st 5 innings. Starting at the back end—

Trevor Rosenthal…he’s really been terrific #2 in MLB in SV last year with 48; appearances-68, just 3 blown saves..he’s been in 214 games in the last 3 years….this is type of usage can’t be sustained in my mind….sure… he likes to keep us “excited” by going deep in counts, walking people, WP….but somehow ..to this point …he gets it done

Seung Hwan Oh….has been added to become the 8th inning man…and I think an occasional save opportunity after Rosey has pitched two consecutive days will also be in the offing ….appears to be a real up-grade for nothing but money…and it’s easy for us to spend the money of other people…we all do it all the time…and if Rosey starts to slip…our next closer is already on hand….I can hear the song now, “OH whatta night…” …btw…the signing of Oh as other implications…the Cards are hoping to make a big splash in the Asian market…by signing a long-time star, the Cards are assuming that it may impact other younger Asian stars (hoping to be with one of their idols)

Kevin Siegrist…has been very good…actually does much better against RH hitters than LH hitters (bat avg against him—RH-.164; LH-.278 !) so when the opposing MGR plays the “match-up game: (right vs LHP)…he’s really helping out Siegrist..who surrendered a scant .198 overall batting average for the season ….I’m a bit concerned …163 games for him in last 3 years including 81 last year….sometimes the impact of this type of usage shows up the following year beginning around July…probably 7th inning guy

Jordan Walton….”x-factor”….was used 12 times from Apr 5 to Apr 29 last year and his arm…or part of his arm….went kapuk…will he return? If so…with his delivery…which I still think is a balk….can his arm withstand more than 2-3x/week?…he was good..very good last year…let’s hope for more than a month of contributions..6th/7th inning

Jonathan Broxton…..this seasoned vet can pitch every other day….seemed weak to me in back-back days on the mound….generally effective but has an increasing number of poor outings….he’s going to be whatever ya need…5th, 6th, 7th

Seth Maness…this guy is an anomaly… a sinkerball guy … I think his best pitch is his first pitch (when he gets so many DP) ….will pitch at any time of the game…generally to rescue a starter who’s run out of gas quickly…the longer Maness goes in a game…the less effective he becomes so he’s gotta go in and put out the fire and get the heck outta Dodge…pitched 76 games last year and I anticipate a similar workload this year

Tyler Lyons….has assumed the left-handed specialist role….when he returned in August from the minors…his breaking ball was radically improved…thus…Cards think that he’s the man for left-handed power hitters…untested in key spots…could be the best surprise or a bust by June!

 

  • 2] Middle- Infield—Wong & Peralta—as compared to most teams …this duo…not real dynamic but productive….are better…much better… than most teams….check it out…

 

Kolton Wong – Negative Comments heard commonly about Wong….too sporadic hitting, streaky, hot-cold fielding, doesn’t steal enough…trade-bait (move Carp back to 2B)…potential but not there….

League wide STATS from 2015 vs all 2B: #13 AVG–.262 #13 OBP- .321 T#8 GP—150

#14 SLG .386     #14 OPS .707       #12 in BB/PA–.59   #14 in BB/K–.38   T#16-HR–11

2B generally listed above Wong in most categories are Dee Gordon, Jose Altuve, Jason Kipnis, DJ Lamaieu, Ian Kinsler, Brandon Phillips, Robinson Cano, Logan Forsythe, Daniel Murphy Brock Holt, Ben Zobrist and Neil Walker—clearly Phillips, Kinsler, Cano, Walker are past the apex of their careers—Gordon had a career year….unless Gordon really is a superstar ?! Wong is fighting the dreams of fans who want All-Stars in every spot.

Conclusion….Wong is in the top half of 2B in the MLB….hopefully there is still improvement down the road….for one…I’d like to see him get hits to left field more often..maybe they’re pitching him inside so that’s not practical but most hits seem to be to RF or Rt-Cen..he’s probably better than all the 2B that rotated through here annually for Tony…he’s facing up to unrealistic expectations….he’s good…should get better…durable (150 games)…appreciate his skills—some power, some speed, athletic, plays daily…stop whining about what he can’t do….we’re really getting a bargain ..Considering his current salary..many of the other 2B who are listed above him are being rewarded much more handsomely than Mr. Wong is currently receiving

 

Jhonny Peralta

Negative Comments heard commonly about Peralta last year….he really “feel off”….he was toast in 2nd half of season…no range but makes routine plays..he’s slow….he’s OK but we can do better there…really?…could you catch my tone on that word “really”…somehow women have the tone mastered much better than men…at least around my house.

 League wide MLB STATS from 2015 vs all SS:   #3 AVG-.275; T#4 HR- 17; #3 RBI-71;             #1 BB-50    #3 OBP-.334; R-#11-64;   K-#5-111;     AB-#7-579;     #1-GDP-23;                   pitch/PA-#6-3.82 SB-1    AB-#7-579 GP-T#5-155

 

Conclusion—probably his red-hot April-May pushed our expectations to levels not achievable for him or any SS in the league….he’s an atypical SS….he’s not slender, speedy, light hitting…he’s heavy, hit’s for power, strikeouts often, …yes…he wore down BUT overall he’s in the top 5 SS with respect to hitting and for a team that lusts for any kind of hitting..ya’d think that he’d be more of a fan favorite but he isn’t flashy in any way and his language likely hinders his likeability to the common Lou fan…probably should be a #3-#4-#5 hitter in this lineup…I must admit as I checked out these stats I realize that I grossly underestimated what Jhonny ….despite carrying around two “n’s” all the time and not getting tired….accomplished last year….I was actually on the “trade em” wagon but just fell off….how would we do better? Especially when one reflects on the inept StL ability to score runs

 

  • 3] Our division! Yea..yea…the Cubs ARE in our division but so are the Reds & Brewers—arguably two of the worst teams in the NL..and we play both of these bare-boned teams 18 times each! We have the Reds 12X in Aug-Sept …by that time they’ll be so far out that they won’t even be able to see the Cards “behind” with a telescope. We have to win 24-26 of these 36 games…and we should. If we do….all we need to win is 54 of the remaining 126 games to make the playoffs…I assume 90 wins will get you a spot in the playoffs 

 

  • 4] Starting pitching….I know…I know…just two weeks ago I said that each pitcher had plenty of question marks….AND THEY DO…..but….all we need is 3 of the 5 to be good, and 1 to be a B- pitcher…..I’m counting on our top prospect Reyes…after he sits out his 50 games for drug use and miss April & May games…I think he’ll pitch June in the minors and be up with the big boys in July and he’ll fill out the rotation. So…if one of our starters (Wainwright, Martinez, Wacha, Garcia, Leake) goes completely belly-up and another is struggling…we can still make it….more than likely we’ll have constant DL trips between Wainwright, Wacha, Garcia for varied length of time…Leake is being expected to be a younger (much more expensive)2015- John Lackey. I still wish that Manifesto would implement some type of 6 man rotation…maybe Lyons replaces Wacha on one rotation, Wainwright on the next, then Martinez on the 3rd…etc….this wouldn’t be a complete 6 man rotation but would provide an extra day every month for the starters.

 

  • 5] Bench is better than last year..which wouldn’t take much….I mean the bottom 3 guys–Kozma, Cruz, Reynolds brought very little to the table. This year Greg Garcia starts with us (upgrade of Kozma), Reynolds who was whisked outta here quickly & quietly…he’s now a Rockie..wonder why such a hush?..anyway he’s been replaced by an updated version of the same car—some power, plenty of K’s, versatile (which means he doesn’t excel in any of them)—Jedd Gyorko. Gyorko’s one distinct advantage is that he can play SS-Reynolds could not; Brayan Pena replaces Cruz…he’s listed as Molina’s age….not sure we moved the needle upwards much here.. but Pham is a 4th OF as Piscotty & Grichuk assume daily duty..and Brandon Moss…who is highly praised by Manifesto will be on board for the entire season.

Looking outside of the bubble of Cardinal Hope that is sky-ing high at this moment…

 

If ur interested in Stan’s World in Inglewood…here’s a detailed description….. good article filled with facts, skepticism, description, pros & cons…try it….no, no…I’m not getting a kick back if you do read it http://www.prosportsdaily.com/Headlines/ExternalArticle?articleId=394791 

For those of you boycotting football…or the NFL…or Stan’s companies….couple quick notes…. stadium will primary below ground level….only 12000 parking places (whatta think they’ll cost?)….some type of clear material that’s much lighter than glass will be much of the roof….the walkway approach to stadium is intended to be relaxing & delightful…the only way that’d work for me is if someone was picking me up in a cart and driving me.

… taking a look around at one of the aggressive teams this winter in the MLB…. the Arizona Diamonacks…..here’s a thumbnail sketch of their starters with 2015 stats—

                                                         AB     R      H     HR     RBI       SB       Avg    age   MLB exp

LF–David Peralta                   462     61    144      17      78           9     .312      28      2

CF- AJ Pollack                         609    111    192     20       76       39     .315       28       3

RF- Yasmany Tomas             406     40    111        9        48         5     .273      24     1

3B- Jake Lamb                         350     38     92       6         34         3     .263      25       1+

SS-Jean Segura                       560     57     144       6         50       25     .257     26       3+

2B-Chris Owings                    515      59      117       4       43        16     .227       25       2+

1B- Paul Goldschmidt           567     103   182     33       110       21     .321      29       5 OPS-1.005 !

C-Welington Castillo             342       42     81       19         57         0     .237     29       5

 

STARTING PITCHERS

                                       W-L      ERA     G          IP            SO       WHIP   AGE     MLB Exp         

Zach Greinke              19-3     1.66     32        222         200      0.84        32        12

Shelby Miller              6-17    3.02     33        205           171      1.25          25        4

Patrick Corbin            6-5      3.6       16        85               78       1.27         26        2

Rubby DeLaRosa     14-9     4.67     32        188            150      1.36        27        5

Robbie Ray                 5-12     3.52     23        127            119       1.33        25        1

 

TOP RELIEF PITCHERS

                                    W-L     ERA     G          SV        SO       WHIP   HD       AGE     MLB Exp

Brad Ziegler                0-3       1.85     66        30        36        0.96     0          36        8

Tyler Clippard            5-4       2.92     69        19        71        1.13        8          31        9

Daniel Hudson            4-3       3.86     64        4         71        1.32     21          29        6

 

What’s the quick glance say to us?…..good…very good hitting team with speed across the lineup…have one of the premier hitters in MLB…youth in field but age in bullpen…OF is multi-talented at the plate with power, speed, average…starting staff has a nice blend of 3-R, 2L; D-Backs still look short of pitching to me (especially in the bullpen—I mean do they bring them in on wheelchairs or let them walk in for a trip that’ll take them about 5 minutes) but their hitting should keep them in just about every ballgame. Tomas is lucky to catch a cold on a winter day so he’s a liability out there. Tony’s acquisitions of Greinke, Miller, Segura, Clippard improved this team tremendously. But….their pitching staff is still needs plenty of help.

 

…other MLB tidbits as spring training opens up the 7 months of baseball

…wonder if Dr Phil will be hired by Wash Nats to appease….or at least find a way to exist…

the two spoiled children-Harper & Papelbon

…how did Tampa Bay procure the 27 year old Corey Dickerson (.304, OPS .869, salary $512,000 and not a free agent until 2020) from Colorado for RP Jake McGee…I know both have been injured….but man…the Rays appear that they’ve made a heist on this one

….looks like Albert’s looking around and thinking, “ why did I do it”….he’s injured to start the season and the Angels, who have a wonderful top 4 hitters in the lineup but also an extremely weak #5-9, are headed south

…I’m of the opinion that Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija are NOT going to be Sandy Koufax & Don Drysdale for the Giants…both seem to be on the down slide to me

…when you look at the Braves & Brewers roster and all you see is notes like “ wonderful prospect in class AA (or AAA) should really improve this team this year”….ya know that’s poppycock…both teams are BAD.

 

On Saturday, I watched a good portion of the Mizzou game…it’s the first time that I’ve watched them all year and I really haven’t watched them other than glimpses over the last few years….maybe Mizzou should hire me to watch more often….they won !!!….anyway Ryan Rosburg, from Marquette HS in West StL county, average 1-2-3 points a game for 3 years…..now suddenly 21, 24, 17 points in the last 3 games…how?….why?….well, in my 1 game evaluation, he has developed some sharp power inside moves without being the quickest post player AND more importantly…for some reason .. the other players are actually looking to get the ball inside to him …they’ve been gunning those long-range ballistic bombs all year with very limited success…guess better late than never, heh? (that’s my hockey talk)

 

Since I’m in the hockey mode…..I’m clearing the puck outta here….

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Comments

  1. John Rocco says:

    Bob, good article. I agree with your assessment on the Cardindls. Not sure what to expect from Molina. I have low expectations for him, so maybe I will be surprised.

    Thanks.

    John

  2. Larry Eveker says:

    Thanks Bob, another good one. Keep up the good work.

    Larry

  3. Jim Pleimann says:

    Thatta boy Bob! I knew you could spit out a few positives about our hometown nine. Next week hopefully you can say that it has been a week of spring training and nobody is hurt yet. Another positive! Sure there are Question marks but who doesn’t have them? – oh wait – the Cubs they are already the world champions silly me, I forgot!

    Poor Albert…. Too bad the Angels are wasting trout’s years!

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