“You can’t ask for anything more than to be playing meaningful games in September with a chance to make the playoffs.” ~Practically every player/coach/manager on a team about to miss the playoffs.
Boom goes the dynamite, people. I sincerely hope that the folks in the video department for the Cardinals took time to piece together a nice montage for the guys to inspire them during their 3 game trip to Houston. Just a little something starring Brad Lidge and Albert Pujols would be nice. Title it “Somewhere Over the Train Tracks” or something similar. Put it on iPods for everybody to watch over and over again on the flight down to Houston.
Rafael Isringcal. That’s right. Rafael Furcal is the Jason Isringhausen of hitters. Think about it. He’s utterly frustrating to watch at times due to his inability to make contact, show patience, or avoid swinging at the worst pitch in an at-bat. Then he jacks one. He toys with disaster in some at-bats, and then he smacks a double or hr just when it looks like he’s a goner. Ignore the .249 average and .313 OBP. He hangs around just long enough to make it seem like he’s accomplishing something. Just don’t tell me that he’s been “clutch”, or that he needs to be in Stl. next year. He’s good for .231 (.293 OBP) as a leadoff hitter, and he’s got a whopping .177 average (.282 OBP) when hitting 2nd). He’s an absolutely devastating .179 hitter (.282 OBP) with runners in scoring position, and he hits an awe-inspiring .235 late and close. Rafael Isringcal, indeed.
Being Blunt About the Phillies. Not that I’m complaining, but the Cardinals have no excuses this weekend. While they are scheduled to face Rodriguez (11-11), Sosa (3-5), and Myers (7-13), the Braves are scheduled to face a bunch of no-names called Lee (16-8), Oswalt (8-10), and Hamels (14-9). While it’s true that the Astros can give the Cardinals absolute fits for no good reason, I’d still rather see them face the Astros than the HamLeeWalt trio. Granted, it seems unlikely that Hamels will make that start, but the Lee and Oswalt games could be enough to set the Braves back. Yes, there is indeed a “Lee Hamels Oswalt”, Jack Ruby mashup joke in there someplace.
Keep Using the Wrench. Here at PH8, we’ve been on the Allen Craig bandwagon for quite a while. I even suggested back in January in “Mang Overboard” that given 600 plate appearances Craig could produce something like 90 rbi and 20 hr, and he could improve on his .246/.298/.412/.711 line from 2010. Well, he’s currently sitting at .309/.356/.524/.879, and if you extrapolate his numbers out to 162 games this season, he would project to 20 hr with 78 rbi. Not too shabby. I’d pat myself on the back, but I get far too many things wrong to get excited about the ones I get close to right.
One Expensive Carpenter – $21M for the next 2 years seems like a lot for a guy who has taken significant steps backward in WHIP, ERA, and H/9 this season. I don’t buy the argument that Carp provides stability next year just in case Adam Wainwright isn’t fully healthy. If Waino isn’t healthy, then stability isn’t the issue. The Cardinals simply won’t be a team capable of winning 95 games, and they will be looking up in the standings at a lot of teams. Too bad the front office can’t just admit that Chris Carpenter is basically the warm fuzzy blanket that has been around seemingly forever. They just don’t want to see him go, and there’s nothing wrong with just admitting that. Even if Waino is healthy, I’m not sure that a rotation of Wainwright, Carpenter, Garcia, Westbrook, and Lohse is good enough to get them anywhere, but that’s another story for another time.
Go Down Swinging. Jason Motte has seen his ERA jump from 1.56 to 2.28, and I don’t see a problem there. That’s to be expected when he sees more action than Jet Li’s stunt double. It’s really a catch-22 on whether to toss Motte out there, though. If TLR doesn’t use Motte, then he has to answer questions about why he didn’t use his best bullpen arm. If he uses Motte, then he has to answer questions about overusing Motte. Then again, he could probably save himself some trouble by not blowing through so many arms every other night. Overmanaging the bullpen often leads to a shortage of available arms on some nights, and that’s not “genius” in my book.
Big Tired Puma – Since August 1st, Lance Berkman has 3 hr in 48 games. That’s a period covering 199 plate appearances during which he’s slugging .455. Methinks the Puma needs some cooler weather and some shade.
What’s in a name? – Okay, so maybe Adron Chambers “of Secrets” hasn’t caught on as a nickname yet. What about “Small” Adron “Collider” Chambers? Too geeky? Yeah, I thought so. You can’t win them all.
Addition by Subtraction – Maybe I’m overthinking this, but Holliday wasn’t missed a lot against the Phillies. Maybe that’s because he was only hitting .118 with 2 rbi against them this season prior to this past weekend. Maybe this is a reach, but there could be an upside to the Cardinals playing without Matt Holliday this weekend. Perhaps the absence of Matty-Ho forced TLR to go with a lineup built for maximum scraptitude.
3 and Out. Just the possibility of getting to the final day of the regular season with a playoff berth on the line and Chris Carpenter scheduled to pitch makes me wish Adam Wainwright could be available for bullpen duty that day. It might take a team of Clydesdales, half of Seal Team 6, and the remainder of the 40-man roster to pull Carp off the mound before the end of the game.
TIDBIT: The Cardinals have approximately a 36.6% chance of making the playoffs. Personally, I think it’s more like 36.7%, but that’s probably just me.
MORE BITS OF TID: In “Reality Bites” on September 2nd, 2011, I suggested that the Cardinals might finish the last 25 games going 16-9. The team is 15-7 since then. Maybe I should have gone for 18-7 instead. Totally my fault…..but not.
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