If you didn’t take time to read PH8′s Constitution of Bloggery (aka Where Optimism and Realism Diverge) for all Cardinal fans who seek balance and harmony between the opposing forces of cliff jumping and foolish optimism, then please go do it now. His take was really inspired as he sought to bring equilibrium to the force. I am not that man. I make a lot of trips to the store for raw materials necessary for the making of cuss jars, and I’m not too proud to admit it.
While he’s trying to find the middle ground and be happy with it, I’m calling out some of the best fans in baseball who are failing to make an emotional investment in a team that is 7 games out of the division lead and 6 games out in the wild card race. If you are taking the attitude that you are “watching the team to the end, but the team isn’t going to make the playoffs”, then you are hedging your emotional bets. Lame. Epic lame. Ante up and kick in, or just fade to black. That’s the equivalent of betting $1 on the trifecta and telling everybody that you KNOW you are right about it. You are either all in, or you are all out. You can’t be “sorta pregnant” or “kinda dead”.
Now, I’m not usually one to spew optimism from every pore, but I do see a lot of potential ways the Cardinals can improve an already good team. With so few games to play and an opportunity to make a run still in evidence, I see no reason why a few quick fixes couldn’t be in order.
- Put the best team on the field every single game, and ride the horses all the way to the end. Until his recent string of non-starts, Daniel Descalso had the 5th highest WAR total on the team. Since July 1st, Descalso is hitting .284 with a .371 BABip. Also, he’s much better as a starter than a substitute. When facing a starting pitcher for the first time in a game, he’s hitting just .185, but he’s good for .339 the 2nd time and .394 the 3rd time around. Despite all the smoke and mirrors, Descalso deserves some consideration at SS. Despite the small sample size, his UZR at SS is -1.1 which does trump both Theriot (-8.6 UZR) and Rafael Furcal (-2.1 UZR). Keep in mind that Furcal is also hitting just .215 as a Cardinal and .203 on the season as a whole. Explain to me again why Furcal even breaks the starting lineup.
- Move Corey Patterson and his .176 average with the Cardinals to a position of need…..like 3rd string Fredbird or bullpen catcher’s assistant. For the record, that .176 average is lower than what Mark Hamilton had with the Cardinals this season, and we all know how well that worked out for him.
- The only time Ryan Theriot goes near shortstop from now until the end of the season is to congratulate Descalso or Furcal on a great play.
- The #2 slot in the lineup shall only be occupied by someone with the name David Freese, Allen Craig, or Jon Jay. Better yet, just bat some variation of 2 of them 1-2, and you won’t hear a peep out of me the rest of the season about the top of the lineup. The notion that Theriot should ever bat leadoff again makes me want to kick myself (or TLR) in the back of the head (stop visualizing that). TheRiot has a .320 OBP and has the footspeed of an Easter Island statue.
- Yadier Molina gets to play ever single inning in which the Cardinals do not have at least a 1 run lead for every inning left to play in a regulation game…..or something like that.
- If the team continues to struggle with the whole “getting runners across home plate” thing, then I suggest that somewhere in the batting order it might be nice to see Holliday-Pujols-Berkman or even Pujols-Berkman-Holliday. I prefer the former trio, because the idea of putting a guy with a .417 OBP (Matt Holliday) in front of 2 guys with 76 RBI each (Pujols & Berkman) is somewhat appealing to me.
- Cut Jake Westbrook‘s workload down a bit, and save him for the playoffs. At least, that should be the excuse. Westie threw only 127 2/3 innings all of last season, and he’s already accumulated 142 2/3. Have someone else toss the first 1 or 2 innings while Westbrook throws a long warmup, and then bring in Westbrook for 5 innings or just a bit more. He won’t have to worry about going too deep into the game, so he can focus on just getting through 5, and he’ll most likely be the pitcher of record, because the guy who started the game only pitches 1 or 2. Better yet, Westbrook won’t be the least bit worried about his pitch count, and the Cardinals won’t have to worry, if he has a 25 pitch inning or 2.
- Don’t be afraid to pull a starter “early” in the game. Concerns about taxing the relievers now are greatly exaggerated. Saving their arms for the postseason is meaningless, unless TLR really wants them be at max strength when flipping channels.
- Run baby, run! Tyler Greene is STILL leading the team in stolen bases with 9. Ryan Theriot and Yadier Molina have both been caught stealing 5 teams and are leading the team in that department, although Jon Jay and Lance Berkman are both 1 behind them and closing slowly. Mind you, most of these aren’t the results of missed signs or failed hit-and-run plays. Granted, the ”roll-a-Puma” slide into second base when he was caught stealing the other night was beyond humor (and more of the epic fail variety). I still almost injured myself laughing at Berkman laughing at himself.
- Don’t even consider giving up yet, and don’t concede a single run. The Brewers haven’t made the playoffs since 2008, and even then they were knocked out of the LDS 3-1. That team had Sabathia to lead the way, and they don’t have anybody quite like Sabathia now. Before ’08, the last trip they made was 1982, and we ALL know how that turned out for them. While 7 games may seem like a lot right now, they really are just a 2 game losing streak and a Cardinal 2 game win streak away from feeling quite a bit of pressure. If the Cardinals can just cut the lead by 2 games prior to the August 30th game at Milwaukee, a lot of the pressure will shift back to the Brewers.
New lineup => Jon Jay (CF), David Freese (3B), Albert Pujols (1B), Lance Berkman (RF), Matt Holliday (LF), Allen Craig (2B), Yadier Molina (C), Pitcher, Daniel Descalso (SS)
TIDBIT: As a team, the Cardinals are collectively worth 21.4 WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com. Holliday, Berkman, and Pujols account for 12.4 of the 21.4. How important is it to set the table in front of those 3 again?
MORE BITS OF TID: Happy Birthday today to @PujolsMolinaFan! In her honor, we’re all wearing high socks, sporting playoff beards, and renaming today “ShieLanderHarenCliftonPhifer Juego G Yadi BAMF Double Back Tap Bear Hug” day! #TeamCake #TeamBanTheWave #TeamMiniCake
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