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,
As I mentioned in my previous post, I have given up hope on the season and have begun to look at the Cardinals chances in the big 3 individual awards. I already covered MVP and now will look at Cy Young.
The contender here for the Redbirds is Adam Wainwright. Many feel he was robbed in 2009 from the award and he definitely is putting up Cy Young caliber numbers this year. The problem is that the NL is STACKED with pitching in a year that many have called, “The Year of the Pitcher.” This is a year that has been filled with no-no’s galore, perfect games, (that’s right, plural) and all kinds of crazy pitching feats.
I personally believe that the only real competition for Wainwright is Roy Halladay. But let’s go ahead and look at a few of the dark horses that could garner some 1st or 2nd place votes. They are: Tim Hudson, Mat Latos and Ubaldo Jimenez.
First, we will compare where they stand in the traditional triple crown pitching categories.
Triple Crown Pitching
Wainwright 2.50 ERA (4th), 18 wins (1st), 199 K (4th)
Halladay 2.44 ERA (3rd), 18 wins (1st), 201 K (2nd)
Hudson 2.62 ERA (5th), 15 wins (4th), 122 K (34th)
Latos 2.43 ERA (2nd), 14 wins (7th), 174 K (11th)
Jimenez 2.75 ERA (7th), 18 wins (1st), 186 K (6th)
Wainwright and Halladay are the only two pitchers in the top 5 of all of these categories, which will probably go a long way with voters. And for those who are still obsessed with wins (I am not one of them), if one of these current 18 game winners (Waino, Halladay and Jimenez) gets to 20 wins, that might appeal to some of the voters.
Then, there are other factors that we have to look at when discussing the best pitcher this year. There’s the often-debated WHIP stat.
Wainwright 1.05 WHIP (3rd)
Halladay 1.05 WHIP (3rd)
Hudson 1.13 WHIP (11th)
Latos 0.99 WHIP (1st)
Jimenez 1.15 WHIP (14th)
But I think more importantly are these 3 stats. Complete games, shutouts and innings pitched. A guy that can eat up a lot of innings, while maintaining a low ERA is invaluable to a club. And this is where the five guys stack up. I call these the ‘endurance and domination categories.’
Endurance and Domination
Wainwright 5 CG, 2 SHO, 216.1 IP (2nd)
Halladay 8 CG, 3 SHO, 228.2 IP (1st)
Hudson 1 CG, 0 SHO, 203.0 IP (5th)
Latos 1 CG, 1 SHO, 166.2 IP (35th)
Jimenez 4 CG, 2 SHO, 196.1 IP (9th)
As I said before, it could come down to which guy gets to 20 wins. It’s
up for grabs. Any of these guys could have already been there and
several of them will have a few more chances to hit that mark before the
season end. I don’t think 20 wins is the end-all, be-all, but Wainwright and Halladay are ridiculous close this year. Some voters might seek to right a wrong from last year by giving Wainwright the award this year, that he finished 3rd for last year. Other votes might look at Halladay’s career and say that Doc deserves the award. It can be hard to predict.
As it stands right now, I give Halladay the award by a smidge. Right now, Halladay edges out Wainwright in ERA and strikeouts (both by the slimmest of margins) and they are tied in wins. He has pitched more innings, throwing an incredible 8 complete games, 3 of them shutouts. Thought it shouldn’t be a factor, he has also thrown a perfect game this year. Don’t think that his perfecto won’t be on the minds of some voters, when comparing two guys who are literally a hair’s breadth apart.
But that’s if the season ended today. If Wainwright could string a couple of good starts together, he could inch ahead in the race. Here’s hoping for that.
Looking for Wainwright to finish strong,
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,
If the Cardinals fail to make the postseason, we certainly can’t blame anybody but ourselves. Colorado completed a 4 game sweep of the Reds this afternoon, giving St. Louis ample opportunities to close the gap in the NL Central. We had our chance against the Brewers and will now have to face a very good team in the Atlanta Braves. We need this win more than ever.
The last I had seen the Reds were up by one run against the Rockies. Then the next time I looked at the game, the Rockies had taken the lead. Surely it must have been a 2 run homer. But I was incorrect. It was a solo shot and……a steal of home. What? Seriously? So not only did the Reds lose, but they lost by one of the coolest plays in baseball. That is fantastic.
The game just got over and the video isn’t up yet, but I can’t wait to see it. I want to know if it was a straight steal or not. Because if it was, major props to rookie Chris Nelson. He did his job in a big way. After Giambi got on, Nelso was put in to run for him. As a pinch runner in a tie game, your job is simply to score. By whatever means possible, get your butt across homeplate. And that’s exactly what he did. He moved to 3rd on Votto’s error and then stole home.
Again, I don’t know if this was a straight steal or not, but the last person that I know did a straight steal of home was Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox last year. He stole it off of Yankees lefty, Andy Pettitte. I remember watching that play and the disbelief on Pettitte’s face.
I’m definitely a fan of the running game. Home runs are great, but so is a team that can play small ball when the time comes. If you only rely on homers, you will suffer when your big guys go through a drought. I miss the old school days of Whiteyball and watching guys like Coleman, McGee and Smith make it look so easy. Another play I’d love to see live is a guy getting on and then stealing 2nd, 3rd and home in the same inning. I think Werth did it once a year or two ago, but before that, it hasn’t happened in probably a decade.
But, bottom line is Reds lose and the Cardinals MUST capitalize tonight against Atlanta. Wainwright is the man for the job. Here’s hoping the offense can score him at least a few.
Rocks come through again,
Well, the Rockies have done their job. They have won 3 in a row against the Reds and will go for win #4 and the sweep today. It’s just too bad that the Cardinals can’t do the same. Instead, they continue to lose to horrible teams, dropping another series to the Milwaukee Brewers.
A great chance to catchup while the Brewers have gone on a 4 game losing streak is null and void with the Redbirds going 3-7 in their last 10. We now turn our attention to the Atlanta Braves, a team who is very much in the thick of the postseason race, a team who had control of 1st place in the East until very recently.
The Cardinals have been known to play to the level of their competition (i.e. sweeping the Reds, then taking 2 of 3, while losing to everyone else) and they will need to do that now more than ever. The Reds are a good team. They will not continue to lose. That means that whenever we have a chance to gain some ground, we need to do it.
If the Rockies sweep this afternoon, we have a great chance of gaining a game with Wainwright on the hill. That would put us 5 back with 24 left to play. We’ll see shortly if that’s how it plays out.
Sweep them Reds,
Pieces of the St. Louis Cardinals puzzle are starting to come together. We’re seeing more offense from people other than Pujols. Holliday has been very clutch the last couple of games, which is something we have to have from him, especially if there’s a week Pujols is scuffling. We’ve seen Yadier Molina and Pedro Feliz have big-time hits in key at-bats.
The front end pitching has been good, enough to keep us in games. The back end, which has been a season long strength tried to give away our last game against the Brewers. Ryan Franklin produced heart attacks all around the midwest (a tribute to Jason Isringhausen, perhaps???) but eventually got the job done.
Indeed, things are looking up.
We have taken 2 of 3 from the Reds and now came with avengeance against the Brewers. Yes, the fight is still an uphill battle. And will be so the rest of the season. But at least we are in the battle and what more could we ask for after basically trying to give the division away? We need other teams to defeat the pesky Reds because they are in every game they play and they don’t quit until all 9 innings have been played. The Rockies came to our aid this time as they beat the Reds in a well-fought match. Once they walked Ubaldo Jimenez to lead off the inning, I felt that the Rockies had a good chance to get something going. Of course, there’s always the wild card, but I want the division. It’s one team to climb over instead of two.
In the Brewers game, we saw glimpses of what the Cardinal offense can do, but we have yet to see the entire team clicking on all cylinders. Doing that and getting hot at just the right time will be the only chance we have at all in winning the division. We need big games out of every guy in a Cardinal uniform. Pitching, hitting and defense all have to step up huge, creating a perfect storm of Cardinal domination.
They will aim to do just that tonight against the Brew Crew once again, although I have my doubts about sending Kyle Loshe to the mound. How much I wish he was not pitching. But if the offense can score him about 15 runs, we might be ok. And of course, here’s hoping that the Rockies pull off another great win as well.
September collapse for the Reds,
A sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Yet watching this game, you never would have guessed these two teams were competing for a division title. The Cardinals are hot right now, playing like they can´t be stopped. It´s the kind of play where good playing leads to luck and luck to good playing. Bloop singles are landing in the right spot, balls hit by the other team are taking the right bounces and overall, things are just looking and feeling good right now for the St. Louis Cardinals.
You can´t say the same for the Brewers. The are playing in a completely different zone right now. And it´s not a good zone. They´re missing balls and messing up plays. Somebody like Fielder doesn´t just get up in the ump´s face all of the sudden. Bad play leads to frustration which leads to more bad play.
Before this series I stated the best case scenario and the worst case scenario. I was hoping to fall somewhere in between. Instead we got the base case scenario with the sweep and now sit just 2 1/2 games behind the Brewers and first place. The Cubs have helped us out by losing (thought they finally beat the Reds tonight) and we´re only 2 games behind them as well.
The good play has got to keep going through the rest of the weeknd, when we take on Chicago for a 4 game series at their place. Something about those pesky Cubs is that even when they´re terrible, sometimes we have trouble beating them. So, let´s hope we don´t have any trouble handling them tomorrow. I´ve said since the beginning of the week that we need 5 of 7 on this road trip, which now can easily be accomplished by splitting with the Cubs. That´s still the bare minimum of what we need to do. Even better would be to take 3 of 4. And if the Reds will handle the Brewers we could actually be in first by the end of the weekend. I never thought I would have been saying that a couple of weeks ago when we were getting it handed to us by a couple of last place teams.
The best part of this continues to be the pitching. Wainwright became the first Cardinal to 11 games tonight by mostly breezing through 7 frames. He had one bases loaded jam, but managed to get out if it with a strikeout on the corner of plate to get Braun. He gave up a mere 2 hits and walked 3, but most impressively had 8 K´s.
The offense wasn´t clicking quite the way it was a night ago, but it was certainly there enough. Molina was the big star of the game, going 3 for 3, with a walk. The game was actually too close for comfor most of the game, with it only being 3·0 going into the 9th. Then the Cards really let loose. Thanks to 3 walks by Derrick Turnbow and a couple of outfield miscues, the Cardinals kept putting runners on and pusshing them across. Eckstein delivered the big hit, a bases clearing double (which should have been only 2 runs and an out) that eventually led to the 5·run 9th.
All in all, a really great game.
Tomorrow Looper tries to copy join Wainwright with an 11th win of his own. The Cubs will sending Rich Hill to the mound 6·7 record. Much like Gallardo from yesterday, Hill got roughed up the last time he faced off with the Rockies. Hopefully, the Cardinals will have similiar success against him.
Until then, enjoy the sweep,