This is not the first time this season, we have seen the Cardinal offense errupt. Normally, it is over 9 innings and not in one, but nonetheless, when these guys are clicking, it’s clear what they can do. And that’s good because our pitching is shaky at times, especially the relief pitching, as well as our defense.
The defense is actually painful to watch at times. The Cardinals have the fourth highest number of errors in the NL and the only teams that have poor are sub .500 teams. Over the years the Cardinals have been known for outstanding defense. In the 80s you had the Wizard and even more recently, guys like Edmonds and Rolen were just fun to watch. Rolen was a vacuum at 3rd base. Not only did he make the routine plays with ease, but he made the ridiculously hard plays look easy. Edmonds had a flair all his own, laying out to catch fly ball after fly ball or hopping the fence to rob a home run.
These days the defense is abysmal at best. Only Yadier’s cannon is exempt. With the rest of them, if they make the routine plays I’m happy because that doesn’t always happen. And spectacular plays are certainly few and far between. Most of our outfielders aren’t going to be throwing runners out at the plate and our infield has struggled to catch anything hit sharply.
This combined with a not so strong effort from the bullpen last night again allowed a last place Houston team to feel like they had a shot to win, even as the Cardinals led by 6 runs in the late innings. And indeed they did. For the second day in a row, the ‘Stros had the tying run at the plate. Fortunately, after a wild pitch by Salas, backup catcher Laird dove over home plate as Hunter Pence raced home, just in time to get the inning ending out. If it wasn’t for that, who know what would have happened that inning?
Of course for the Cardinals the big inning was the 6th inning, where they put up 9 runs on 9 hits and 1 walk. Most remarkably, all of the hits, minus Berkman’s home run, were singles. Small ball at its best. In that inning, 4 players (Freese, Pujols, Holliday and Berkman) each had 2 hits.
Overall, the Cardinals scored 11 runs on 15 hits. Lance Berkman had quite the game against his old team, as I mentioned here that he probably would. The only two extra base hits of the game, a double and a home run, belonged to Berkman. He went 4 for 5 with 5 RBIs, heavily contributing to that powerful middle of the order lineup. The 3-4-5 guys went a total of 8 for 14 with 8 RBIs. And that’s what these guys are paid to do. To continue to go after opposing pitchers, unrelenting hit after hit. Many people have questioned the contract of Matt Holliday, but I think he has showed himself worthy of every penny. He hasn’t had the career of Albert, of course, but he has proven himself quite valuable and a much more affordable price. And you can’t say enough about Berkman. He was gambled on, in the offseason and Cardinal fans everywhere are so glad he was. He has continued to rake and has now hopped to 2nd in the NL in average, behind none other than? Matt Holliday.
In today’s game, it would be nice to finally get Chris Carpenter a win. It’s an unfair world where Carp is 0-2 and Kyle McClellan is 4-0. The biggest reason for that, of course, is run support. Carp has only allowed more than 2 runs, in one of 5 starts this season. But his teammates have not returned the favor. He has the worst run support on the Cardinals staff and the 11th worst in the NL. On the other hand McClellan has the 6th best run support in the NL, at a crazy 9.10.
Taking on the Braves,
Do you remember right after the Ludwick trade that I said if Ludwick came back to beat us in a big game that suddenly this trade wouldn’t look so hot? It was one of those “intangibles” that you just can’t predict when you trade a guy.
Well, here’s the situation.
4-4 game in the top of the 9th inning. Runner on 2nd. The Cardinals intentionally walk Adrien Gonzalez to get to Ryan Ludwick. What. Seriously? It’s not secret that old Cardinals traditionally do a great job of beating up on the former team. (Scott Rolen, anybody??) I saw that 3 home run coming a mile away.
The Padres ended up tacking on 1 more run, making it 8-4. Ahhhhh. Come on.
Only 3 more outs to try and come back. Holliday, Rasmus and Molina. Time to show some fight.
So, I mentioned in previous post (here) that it makes you wonder “what if” Roy Oswalt was a St. Louis Cardinal instead of a Philadelphia Phillie. Now, today, i read a story on MLB.com, that makes you wonder that same “what if” about Scott Rolen.
Now, I am a little more biased here. If you read my blog back in the day (like, say in 2006), you would know that as a Cardinal, Scott Rolen was my favorite player. Still, this MLB.com article backs up something that does not surprise me in the least.
The young, upstart Reds are .608 when their veteran, Scott Rolen, is in the lineup. When he’s not? They’re not even playing .500 ball. That is HUGE. It’s no secret that 3rd base has been a struggle for the Redbirds this year. At the beginning of the year we looked to have a great 3rd baseman in Rookie of the Year candidate, David Frese. Then we turned the position over to Tyler Greene. Then he got hurt. Then we suffered and screamed and yelled, as we saw guys who didn’t belong there flub play after play at the position. Yeah, I’m looking at you Felipe Lopez.
At least now we have an adequate player there in Pedro Feliz. He makes the routine plays. He’s good. But he’s no Scott Rolen. Rolen was literally a human vacuum cleaner at 3rd. He ate up everything that was hit to him and some things that weren’t. He was a big man, but he could dive for a ball on the line and jump up to throw him out faster than anybody. His arm was a cannon.
To have someone in that spot like Scott Rolen? It would be incredible. That says nothing about his bat. There have been some offense struggles this year. And I have no doubt that when Pujols or Holliday have struggled, Rolen would have been there to pick up the slack. Instead of Pujols, Edmonds & Rolen of ’06, we could have Pujols, Holliday & Rolen in ’10. But that never would have happened. It’s no secret that Rolen and LaRussa did not like each other very much. And now there’s the same sort of thing being said of LaRussa and Rasmus. Personally, I’m not much of a LaRussa fan and I wouldn’t be sad to see him leave after this year. But that’s for another blog.
In the end, I am sad. I am sad that we do not have Rolen on this team. We could use another veteran force. Yes, he’s a quiet guy, but that strong, silent type might be exactly what was needed to kick the Cardinal’s butts into gear. Rolen would never sluff off. He’s in it to play hard and to win. He hits a home run, puts his head down and runs the bases. That’s what I wish these young Cardinal guys had to look up to this year.
Another what if day,
I enjoyed last night’s lineup. I love Skip Schumaker leading off because at this point, I think he’s our best leadoff guy. And this lineup seemed to work as well. Why you feel the need to tinker with the lineup every single day is beyond me. Why you feel the need to tinker with the lineup after a win, especially, is beyond me. Colby had a good day. He’s always hit Atlanta pitching well. Why not give him another shot? Probably because you will want to do something ridiculous with the lineup. I’m old school and I believe that pitchers should hit 9th, but I know that’s too much to ask, so I won’t. All I do ask is for you to find a lineup, let the guys build some chemistry and trust (which is so obviously lacking in this team) with each other and then only do slight tweaks from time to time. No more overmanaging!! Or else you make me want to do this.
I don’t think it’s too much to bat your best guys 1-8, stick the pitcher 9th, and then bring in the other guys from your bench as needed. In 2006, he had no problem sitting the very talented Scott Rolen in favor of the extremely hot hitting Scott Spiezio. In fact, he did this, despite the rift that it caused between him and Rolen. Yet, with this lineup, he feels the need to start guys who have no business starting, unless they’re giving a regular a break every couple months.
Normally, I have no problem having an opinion. Especially when it comes to my Redbirds. But this whole Pedro Feliz thing has thrown me for a loop. If you read my blog, you will note that I have complained about the lack of a 3rd baseman more than anyone. Once a position held by Scott Rolen, not only did it mean we had solid defense up the line, but a power bat as well to combine with Edmonds and Pujols. These days we have big guys Holliday and Pujols and….well, not much else really. Colby has some pop from time to time, but now he’s strained something. Hopefully, he’ll be back to full-time action for this weekend.
In any event, it’s no secret that we lack anything resembling a 3rd baseman or even anybody with a halfway decent ability to play the hot corner for an entire 9 innings. It just so happened that our main two guys, David Freese and Tyler Greene were both sent to the DL. Freese is done, but Greene is supposed to be making his way back here at some point. But how long are we talking about? Will it be too late?
We needed someone and we needed there now. And apparently John Mozeliak heard our cries. His answer? Claiming Houston Astro Pedro Feliz off of wires. This is certainly not a permanent solution….everyone knows that. His contract is this year only, so we’re strictly talking about a rental.
Nevertheless, is this good for us? His defense has to be better than anything we have going on now with Lopez playing way out of his comfort zone and Allen Craig, who looks like he might pee his pants every time he has to hit or field a ball. But from what he showed in Houston, his offense is certainly not top-notch. The best we can hope for is this: that his desire to prove himself to his new team and anybody that might want him this off season combined with actually being on a post season bound club again will make his numbers start to climb upward.
But I have my doubts.
When Walt Jocketty made certain moves, they were often criticized, but I almost always backed his play. He made the impossible possible. In the hands of Dave Duncan, Jeff Weaver is suddenly pitching like he’s Cy Young. He brought us Edmonds and Rolen to have their best years in St. Louis. Of course, he had the bad call from time to time. (Oh, Danny Haren, how we miss you….) But overall, you felt like even when it didn’t make sense it was going to turn out ok.
I do not have that same feeling with John Mozeliak. But I don’t know what else we could do. The situation was (is) bleak. After an inspiring sweep at Cincy, we have spiraled downward as we have lost to very, very sub-par teams. It’s not over yet, not by a long shot, no matter what Reds fans might try to tell you. But 3 games out is not where we want to be. And if we got to 5 games out, I would be worried. We definitely need to be no more than 2-3 games out when the Reds come to play us in September.
In the meantime, I will look forward to seeing our new man suit up and hopefully be one of the missing pieces to this puzzle.
Side note: Apparently, Jason LaRue is done for the season as he is not recovering from his concussion. This is worrisome and hopefully for his sake, this is only a season ender, not a career ender. Bad blood, aside, I sincerely hope Johnny Cueto makes some sort of apology for this. You can blame Molina or Carp all you want, but it is not their, nor even Brandon Phillips fault. Cueto kicked him in the head. Even though it wasn’t on purpose, it’s not acceptable and he might have just ended this guy’s career. Best wishes Jason.
And, here’s hoping Arizona can close the deal tonight.
2 1/2 just looks better than 3 1/2,