Although, the inevitable will eventually happen, it has not happened yet. I’m not sure why, but for some reason it makes me happy that the Reds were not able to clinch today because of the Cardinals victory over the Cubs. It doesn’t really matter when the outcome will be the same, but it makes me happy nonetheless. And of course, it’s always great to get a win over the Cubbies, considering how poorly we’ve played them this year.
The elimination number is now 1 and it is completely out of our hands. We could win every game the rest of the season (not likely) and it wouldn’t matter. One single win from the Reds and they will be throwing champagne all over each other. Still, I hope we win. I’d like to see them earn it as opposed to just giving them the postseason.
In other news, Albert hit another home run and has that easily under lock. He’s in a dead heat with Gonzalez for RBI leader and needs to beat him out in that to have a shot at MVP. I think he’s earned it, but they will be itching to give it to anybody, but Pujols, so he’ll have to do all that and then some to take home the hardware this year.
Close to over,
Sometimes it’s hard to believe a team with so mach talent on paper has lost so much, but sometimes a scrappier team just seems to have what it takes. We saw it when the ’04 Redbirds were shockingly swept while the ’06 version went the distance. Baseball’s funny that way. Funny or makes you want to beat your head against the wall. Either way.
But with the Reds only 3 games away from celebrating, the Cardinals still have a lot of talent. And that is seen in their accomplishment of many different personal milestones and pursuit of personal achievements.
Albert has hit 40 homers again, Holliday has hit 100 RBIs and now today, Wainwright has reached his 20th win. Honestly, it should have come before now, but either way, he’s now reached that mark for the first time in his career. He continues to make this Cy Young Race neck and neck. Halladay and Wainwright are tied atop the league in both wins and strikeouts. Wainwright leads Halladay in ERA by a smidge. The difference is that barring unforseen circustmances, Halladay should get two more starts, while Wainwright is only guaranteed one. However, it’s not inconceivable that he could go on one less day of rest and get two more starts in. So this race is far from over, as we see how it ends up playing out.
The last couple of days have been fun, watching the Memphis youngsters come up and give the club a boost. Add into that Wainwright’s 20th win and it’s about as much fun as you’re going to have when your team is 7 games out of 1st place.
So far I’ve looked at the Cardinals chances of bring home the MVP and the Cy Young in order to ease my pain as I watch the Cardinals lose game after game. Tonight, I will look at the final of the big 3 individual awards: Rookie of the Year.
The Cardinal contender in this category is Jaime Garcia.
Garcia, of course, is a pitcher. Therein lies the interesting thing about this award. In the MVP, we compared hitters to hitters and in the Cy Young, pitchers to pitchers. And all of the other likely candidates besides Garcia are hitters. Still, we will try and make a good analysis of this award.
The NL has a lot of great talent this year. In fact, there are many names, I won’t go into detail about, like Stanton, Colvin, Castro, Desmond, among others. I’m going to look at the top 3 hitters contending for this award, plus Garcia.
First, the hitters. They are: Jason Heyward (Braves), Gaby Sanchez (Marlins) and Buster Posey (Giants). The stats break down like this:
Sanchez 139 games .283 / .350 / .470 19 HR 81 RBI
Heyward 132 games .286 / .401 / .475 18 HR 71 RBI
Posey 97 games .324 / .373 / .522 15 HR 62 RBI
There are obviously a lot of other numbers too, but all of that will still point to the same thing. Sanchez and Heyward have played the entire year, while Boster Posey was called up at the end of May. Clearly, Posey has the better average, but is it fair to compare his 364 at-bats against the other guys who have around 500 at-bats?
Sanchez’ Marlins aren’t going anywhere, but that’s not why I wouldn’t give him this award. I think Heyward and Sanchez are pretty similar, but I give the edge to Heyward. I think he’s the overall better player, and has really delivered in the 2nd half for an Atlanta team dreaming of October.
It is a tough call between Heyward and Posey though. Both of these guys are good. And 80% of the time, I would give the award to the guy who has done the tough work of the 162 game grind that is baseball. But Posey may be that one exception to the rule. This is not just a guy with good numbers. This is a guy who has encompassed exactly what a catcher should be. He came in to replace Bengie Molina (not an easy task) and started playing like a seasoned veteran. He has led this team as a catcher, handling the pitching staff with ease. He has come through in the clutch many times. But if you want to talk numbers, let’s talk numbers. In all of those less at-bats, he is still only 3 homers and 9 RBis shy of Heyward.
So while I think you can make a case for either guy and I wouldn’t think it a travesty, if one guy got picked over the other, if it were my vote, I would cast it for Buster Posey.
So now, what about Garcia?
How do you compare his line with Posey’s? Obviously, you can’t. What you can do is look at what kind of numbers rookies need to have to get the ROY. It varies year to year, but at least we can get a ballpark. The last NL pitcher to win the award was Dontrelle Willis in 2003. But we have a couple more recent examples.
Last year JA Happ got 2nd in the vote and in 2006, Justin Verlander received the award for the AL. (Huston Street won it as a pitcher in 2005, but as a closer, which is a whole other dynamic.) Let’s look at Garcia compared with Verlander and Happ.
Jaime Garcia 28 GS 163.1 IP 13-8 2.70 132 K 64 BB
JA Happ 23 GS 166.0 IP 12-4 2.93 119 K 56 BB
Verlander 30 GS 186.0 IP 17-9 3.63 123 K 60 BB
His initial numbers are better than Happ’s, but of course Happ only got 2nd place. Verlander had an amazing 17 wins, but his ERA was astronomical. And Garcia kills them both in strikeouts.
The other question is, will Garcia pitch again this year? He has skipped two starts for “fatigue.” This is the most innings he has ever pitched and it’s catching up with him. Now that the Cardinals are out of it, management might feel it’s best to shut him down for the rest of the year. Garcia wants to pitch again, but they will be careful with the valuable southpaw.
Garcia’s number are great. But in a year, where there are many different worthwhile candidates, I don’t see the voters giving it to a rookie with his numbers. But if he pitches again (or even twice more) and adds 1-2 more wins and lowers his ERA even more, I think he forces the voters to take him seriously for the award.
It will be interesting to see how this one plays out. What’s your take? Who do you like for NL Rookie of the Year? Is there a guy on your team not getting enough love because he’s playing a non-contender?
The youngster has game,
You know how I feel? I feel like you do when you see someone knock a glass of grape juice off of a table and it’s going to hit the carpet and you can see it
but you know that no matter what you do, you won’t be able to react in time to do anything about it. You know that feeling? Well, that’s how the Cardinals make me feel right now. As they slowly crawl their way to mathematical elimination by the Reds, that is exactly how I feel. Like I can see it happening, but I can’t do one thing about it. Anybody else know what I’m talking about? No? Just me? Ok, then.
Oh and for the record, how in the world have 28% people voted for Ubaldo Jimenez for the NL Cy Young on mlb.com’s poll. Are you kidding me? I mean….seriously, are you kidding me? You want to vote for Halladay, fine. I can respect that. But Jimenez? 19 game winner. Great. Decent ERA and decent strikeouts. But that’s it. Decent. Not great. At least not as great as the other two horses in this race. This is 100% a toss-up between Halladay and Wainwright and it’s going to come down until probably the last day of the season, depending how many more times LaRussa struts Wainwright out to the mound.
So if you voted for Jimenez, please tell me why, ’cause I know I can’t figure it out.
19 wins doesn’t make you Cy Young,
Since the chance of October for our Redbirds is slowly disappearing before our eyes, I have turned my attention to rooting for the individual awards. The Cardinals have a very legitimate chance of bring home the 3 biggest pieces of individual hardware this year. The Cardinals competing for these awards are:
- Albert Pujols for MVP
- Adam Wainwright for Cy Young
- Jaime Garcia for Rookie of the Year
Two things to note before I talk about each of these guys. One, I would give up each of these awards for another World Series ring. And by their comments, I know each of them feel the same way. Two, even though I would like to see the Cardinals win, I try not to be biased. So that’s why I’m going to compare the number and look at who I think, legitimately, should be the winner in each of these categories. But, of course, as always, you can feel free to agree, disagree or tell me I’m crazy. On to the awards!
Albert is a candidate every year for this award. The awesome thing about Pujols is that even when everyone says he’s having a “down year,” his numbers are still through the charts. Most players would kill to put up half the numbers he does in a season. The same thing happens whenever people say he’s “slumping.” Or most recently, they said he wouldn’t be able to hit as well because of his left elbow. Then, he promptly went out and hit 2 home runs in the same game. That is Albert Pujols in a nutshell.
The last time I argued for Pujols as MVP (here, if you’d like to read it), I felt his only major competition was Joey Votto. Since that time, however, Carlos Gonzaelez, has definitely wiggled his way into the conversation. And this late in September, I feel very confident asserting that the MVP will go to one of those 3. So, if the season ended today, who gets it the award? Let’s break it down.
Triple crown categories
Pujols .308 .AVG (6th), 39 HR (1st), 104 RBI (1st)
Votto .321 .AVG (3rd), 34 HR (2nd), 103 RBI (2nd)
Gonzalez .337 .AVG (1st), 32 HR (4th), 101 RBI (3rd)
Pujols 85 walks (2nd), 69 Ks, .401 OBP (3rd), .595 .SLG (2nd)
Votto 83 walks (3rd), 112 Ks, .423 OBP (1st), .594 .SLG (3rd)
Gonzalez 77 walks (4th), 103 Ks, .374 OBP (14th), .610 .SLG (1st)
Pujols RISP .341/.508/.651, RISP & 2 outs .348/.595/.652, Bases loaded .125/.200/.250
Votto RISP .381/.503/.678, RISP & 2 outs .326/.475/.674, Bases loaded . 300/.364/.600
Gonz. RISP .317/.359/.561, RISP & 2 outs .263/.344/.456, Bases loaded .250/.286/.500
Even though the numbers should be based on 2010 alone, some voters will not be able to help but look at Pujols’ body of work. He’s been consistently great for 10 seasons. They might see this as a lucky year for Votto. However, that could work for Votto. Some voters will be tired of seeing the same guys get it year after year and want to go with someone new like Votto or Gonzalez. There is also the factor of getting your team to the postseason. It shouldn’t be a factor, but it is for some. If the Cardinals are out, but the Reds and Rockies make it, that could make a difference.
Still too close to call. One day it looks like Pujols is the winner and the next day Votto will put up good numbers and take the lead. So this is a race that I think will not be able to be determined until the last day of the season. After all 162 games have been played, the winner will be determined and even then there will likely be disagreement. It’s not a “shoo-in” year for anybody.
So that’s my analysis of the MVP award this year. I will be excited to properly debate it once the season is over and we have the final numbers to look at.
I will look at the Cy Young and the Rookie of the Year in a future post. Wainwright’s performance (or lack thereof, so far) tonight will change his numbers and how he stacks up in that competition.
Bring home the hardware,
Just when the Cardinals make you think they’re out of it, they do something like this. Somehow, even though they have looked like little leaguers the last couple weeks losing to teams that have long been out of the postseason hunt, they come up huge against the Reds.
That’s not to say this was an easy win. They didn’t beat the Reds badly like they did when they swept them not like back. They kicked, screamed and clawed their way to this 3-2 win. But hey, it all shows up as a “W” when it’s all over and that’s what counts.
The Cardinals have a long, long way to go to be thinking about October, but they have kept hope alive among Cardinal fans everywhere, even if only for a moment. In order to win, they are going to have to start playing some really good baseball. And they will have to do it against good teams who are also battling for one of those 4 NL postseason spots. And they are going to have to start producing more than 3 runs of offense per game.
But again, how good is Jaime Garcia? To limit the Reds to only to runs was phenomenal. I really hope they at least consider him for Rookie of the Year. I don’t know that he’s well-known enough to get the win, but if it wasn’t for Garcia, the Cardinals would be about 20 games out right now and thinking about golf during the off season.
As it stands, we’re still 7 games out. But it’s better than 9. We have our two best pitchers going the next two days and so a sweep at Busch is not out of the question. That would still put us only at 5, but you have to start somewhere, right? I just want to see the bats come alive again. I’d love to give Carp or Wainwright about 15 runs, so they can just cruise to an easy victory.
In these 1 run games, every time a Red reached base, I was basically having a heart attack. (Yes, I am very dramatic when I watch Cardinals baseball. You should have seen me in 2006.)
Then, of course, we have to talk about Brandon Phillips. Obviously, everybody knew he was going to get booed. But what was great was that he strikeout swinging for the fences and proceeded to do sqat the rest of the game. Phillips continues to show that he has no ability to back up his big talk and I love it. I saw one play where he fouled a ball off to the stands on the 1st base side and a fan threw his foul ball back on the field. All of that would have been moot with a victory, but winning makes it even sweeter.
A recent poster said that I need only “believe” that the Cardinals can do it. They’ve made that difficult recently, but with last night’s game that glimmer of hope is still there. What do you Cardinal fans think? Had you given up home or do you still believe?
Series win today boys,
I didn’t get to see last night’s game against the Pirate and I am not sad about that at all. Losing a series to the worst team in baseball is not how I anticipated this series going. How frustrating to see the Cardinal offense to run hot and cold. A couple games we’re scoring 9+ runs and then we can’t even squeak out more than a few hits. The pitching has been more than adequate, but the offense is simply not producing. We have plenty of guys who can hit, but they actually need to do it. The only good news if we do make it to October is that against good pitching, we seem to do alright.
It’s frustrating, but it’s over. Hopefully, we can put this Pittsburgh series behind us and move on to playing the Nationals. It’s still somewhat worrisome though because this is another sub. 500 last place team, playing spoiler and playing with nothing to lose. But if anybody can get us back us track, it would be once again, Chris Carpenter. He did against the Giants in his last start and let’s hope he has his good stuff again because you just simply never know about the Cardinal offense these days.
We remain 3 1/2 games behind Cincinnati in the central and 1 game behind the Phillies for the wild card. Luckily, Houston has been our friend, beating the Phils in some very tight games. Did you see the extra inning game where Roy Oswalt had to play left field? I love stuff like that. These guys grew up playing baseball; they’re athletes at the professional level. Don’t tell me he doesn’t know how to catch a fly ball. And he got a chance to prove that he indeed can, in the very first batter of the inning. It never should have happened though. He was inserted when Ryan Howard was ejected by the third base umpire. Watch the replay. That guy was itching to throw Howard out. I’ve never seen a more visual display of an ego or a power trip in my life. It was ridiculous.
Both Pujols and Wainwright, serious contenders for the awards of MVP and Cy Young, respectively, are starting to have serious competition. There was a time I was ready to give the award to both of these guys hands down, but for now, I would say in both races, it’s simply too close to call. Pujols and Votto are neck and neck. Pujols leads Votto in home runs and RBI, but not by much, especially after Votto went yard twice last night. Pujols was gaining ground in average, even being as close as .01 point away. But is 0-fer tonight did not help his cause there.
And the same goes for the Cy Young race. At this point, I see it only as a two-horse race between Wainwright and the Phillies, Roy Halladay. Again, Wainwright and Halladay are neck and neck in this race. Wainwright narrowly edges out Halladay in ERA and wins, while Halladay has a pretty comfortable lead in strikeouts.
In both of these races, hands could still change several times the rest of the season. I don’t see any of these four guys letting up, so it looks like it will probably come down to who gets extra-hot this last month of the season. To make matters even more interesting, all three of the clubs these four represent (Reds, Cardinals, Phillies) could theoretically see the postseason.
Moving past Pittsburgh,