August 23, 2019

Cardinals Struggling In LA

June 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

You know, when the offense is clicking, you think things are just going to roll on forever.  However, even with an offense like the Cardinals’, when you take out a couple of pieces, the Jenga tower apparently falls down.

Another game without David Freese or Colby Rasmus turns into a 1-0 loss.  Chris Carpenter deserved better, of course.  No runs in seven innings usually should be rewarded with a win, but so often this season it hasn’t been.

Being a late game, I didn’t get to see much of it at all, but from reading the recaps it doesn’t look like there were a lot of opportunities.  Two on and one out late might have been the best chance, but Yadier Molina grounded into a double play.

More distressing is that Albert Pujols struck out three times, including with a runner on second in the first inning.  A hit there might have changed the complexion of the game, but even without it, it is rare that AP goes down on strikes three times in a game.  It’s the first time he’s done it this year, though he’s struck out twice in a game four times.  More surprisingly, given his history, he right now has only ten more walks than strikeouts.  Maybe Arizona will get him back on a tear or he might get started tonight.  (More on that in a bit.)

Before I leave last night’s game, though, I want to direct you over to Dodgerfan.net.  Chris was a credentialed member of the media last night and got pre-game and post-game quotes from the Dodgers.  First off, it’s extremely cool what some teams are doing for their bloggers (and I’m pushing the Cardinals to move in that direction) and second, it’s always good to see what the opposition is saying, right?

Even after Carpenter’s outing, though, the pitching is still the biggest concern.  Dave Duncan doesn’t think that PJ Walters, Blake Hawksworth or Adam Ottavino really should be any part of a championship-level rotation right now.  The team followed up on that by sending Walters back to Memphis and bringing back Fernando Salas.  However, that’s a short term fix, if that. What’s next?

The story indicates that the club doesn’t want to make a trade if they think Kyle Lohse will be back in August.  One, Lohse isn’t coming back this year.  I know that it is still up in the air and I’m far from the most qualified person to make any kind of diagnosis, but let’s be honest.  The man had a surgery that no other pitcher has had.  Two months seemed to be the shortest amount of time that he could be out, and Cardinal history indicates that most of the time, the shortest amount of time turns out to be way too optimistic.

Secondly, I don’t think you can wait until August to patch this rotation.  They believe that Brad Penny is going to be back in two weeks and they’ll be able to juggle and not need a fifth starter much while he’s out.  While that’s all possible, you have to remember that Penny was starting to struggle some even before he was hurt.  He’s not likely to recapture that April magic entirely, especially after being out six weeks or so.  With Jaime Garcia having to come back to earth some, having another established, solid pitcher in the mix is really advantageous.

It’s not that the Cards are up 10 games and are in the position to just fine-tune.  The Reds aren’t likely to just go quietly into that good night.  They’ve had their troubles on the West Coast this week as well, but they still are tied with the Cards for first place here in early June.  Right now, the Cards wouldn’t win the wild-card either, though they’d be in the hunt.

In my mind, what it boils down to is that you’ve got to push.  You sit around and be comfortable with what you have and hope on returning guys and chances are you’ll be sitting around in October–which won’t sit well when Pujols is sitting down for contract talks.

On another front, the Cardinals picked 29 players yesterday in the second day of the 2010 draft, but the most intriguing name may have come mid-day in the 12th round.  Austin Wilson is very unlikely to sign, being a guy that most everyone sees going to college, but there have been players that have fallen like he did that have gone ahead and signed, surprising everyone.

What I’d love to see is the Cardinals, realizing that they are going to need relatively cheap talent in the future around a re-signed Pujols, go all-in on this draft.  Look, Stephen Strasburg’s contract, which was recordbreaking, breaks down like this: $2 million this year, $2.5 million next year, $3 million in 2012.  After seeing last night’s outing, don’t you think that he’s a huge bargain?  I mean, Lohse is getting almost $12 million this year.  Paying top dollar for young draft talent is cheaper than finding it on the free agent market.

So, if they really think both Zack Cox and Austin Wilson can be difference-makers at the major league level (and the reviews on Wilson especially are amazingly glowing), pay them now.  Give Wilson $5 million and tell him he can go to college if it doesn’t work out or help him do it around baseball if at all possible.  If Pujols is going to be costing the team $30 million a year or so, you’ve got to have productive players at lower salaries and this is the best way to do it.

That said, I can’t believe the Cards will make that kind of commitment and Wilson will likely be at Stanford come August.  At least they have a chance, though.

On a related note, if you want to see how the prospects already in the system stack up, check out the new prospect depth chart over at Cardinals Front Office.  Jay’s redone the site as well, so check out the whole new look.

Throwing one ace at the Dodgers didn’t work, so now St. Louis brings out the really big gun.  Adam Wainwright, though, actually hasn’t had a lot of success against the batters in blue:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
Andre Ethier 17 16 5 2 0 1 3 1 3 .313 .353 .625 .978 0 0 0 0 0
Rafael Furcal 16 16 7 0 1 0 3 0 0 .438 .438 .563 1.000 0 0 0 0 0
Russell Martin 16 14 7 2 0 0 2 1 0 .500 .563 .643 1.205 0 0 0 1 1
James Loney 14 14 4 2 0 1 2 0 2 .286 .286 .643 .929 0 0 0 0 1
Ronnie Belliard 11 10 4 0 0 1 2 0 1 .400 .400 .700 1.100 1 0 0 0 1
Matt Kemp 9 8 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 .250 .333 .250 .583 0 0 0 0 0
Casey Blake 7 7 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 .143 .143 .571 .714 0 0 0 0 0
Manny Ramirez 7 5 0 0 0 0 0 2 3 .000 .286 .000 .286 0 0 0 0 0
Chad Billingsley 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Blake DeWitt 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Reed Johnson 3 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 .667 1.333 0 0 0 0 0
Jamey Carroll 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Clayton Kershaw 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Total 109 102 32 6 1 4 13 5 13 .314 .352 .510 .862 1 0 0 1 3

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/9/2010.

Not his best results.  Can he keep Ethier et al in check?  Four home runs and a .314 team average against him is just not what you expect to see when you look at Wainwright numbers.  I think things will work out better than that tonight, though.

However, even if they do, it’s going to be a tough call for the Redbirds to miss out on being swept.  Clayton Kershaw has some pretty good numbers against the club:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP
Matt Holliday 14 10 4 0 0 0 0 4 2 .400 .571 .400 .971 0 0 0 0 0
Ryan Ludwick 11 9 1 0 0 0 1 1 5 .111 .200 .111 .311 1 0 0 0 0
Albert Pujols 11 7 4 2 0 0 1 4 0 .571 .727 .857 1.584 0 0 0 0 0
Felipe Lopez 9 9 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Brendan Ryan 8 8 3 0 0 0 1 0 1 .375 .375 .375 .750 0 0 0 0 0
Jason LaRue 6 6 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .167 .167 .167 .333 0 0 0 0 0
Yadier Molina 5 4 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 .250 .400 .500 .900 0 0 0 0 0
Skip Schumaker 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 1
Randy Winn 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Aaron Miles 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Nick Stavinoha 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 1
Colby Rasmus 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000 0 0 0 0 0
Adam Wainwright 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000 .500 .000 .500 0 0 0 0 0
Total 82 70 15 3 0 0 4 11 22 .214 .321 .257 .578 1 0 0 0 2

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/9/2010.

Pujols has done well against him, but nobody on the team has taken Kershaw out of the yard.  If Rasmus was healthy, Ludwick probably wouldn’t start tonight, but it sounds like both of the injured are out until Arizona.  If Joe Strauss wasn’t embellishing with his game story, I’d be surprised if Freese wasn’t out longer than that.

Cards really need to pull one out tonight, but it’s going to be tough.  Should be another great pitching duel, though!

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