3 and Out

by on September 26, 2011 · 7 comments

“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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Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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Andrew September 26, 2011

Why would you site less telling numbers to suggest that Carpenter’s contract isn’t a good one?

He’s struck out more, walked less, and given up less long balls than he did last year, being one of the best pitchers in the league with 4.6 fWAR (3.14 FIP). ERA is subject to bad luck a lot of times, including this one (.317 BABIP).

$10.5m aav for a pitcher of Carpenter’s caliber is a steal, considering the starting pitching market is a sellers one this winter.

Dennis September 26, 2011

I don’t really consider a strikeout rate increase from 6.9 to 7.1 per 9 innings to be significant, and the walk rate decrease from 2.4 to 2.1 is still small compared to the H/9 delta.

The contention that his ERA is partially driven by bad luck is interesting, and I would never accept that based on BAbip alone. Pitch count, pitch selection, and execution (all 3 known as “pitching”) are factors as well.

The AAV for a someone like Carp may be a steal in this year’s pitching market, but that’s assuming that the ages 37 and 38 Carp will be something like the age 36 Carp. Considering the dropoff we saw from 2009 to 2010 and then from 2010 to 2011, I can’t imagine that being even close.

Andrew September 26, 2011

Right. Because there was definitely a drop off from 2010 to 2011.

Otter September 26, 2011

I’m all about having Carp around again. He is a franchise pitcher, and I don’t think having him in the rotation will expose us to a bunch of holes like we saw early this year, but it is clear to anyone who watched the course of the season that Carp just isn’t the same ol’ Carp anymore. He isn’t dominating batters, not quite spotting pitches as easily, not getting the swing and miss/grounder outs like he used to. But, knowing him, he’ll still get the job done, even if he has to hire snipers to take out opposing batters for him.

Dennis September 26, 2011

Otter, there is definitely some value in having him there for the younger guys to watch, especially in that 2nd year. I’m looking forward to seeing how he changes his approach as necessary. I just wonder when “wily” and “crafty” become part of his job description.

Otter September 26, 2011

Wait… they aren’t now? Well… does “plucky” count?
And doesn’t pitching for TLR automatically make you a reclamation project success story?

Dennis September 26, 2011

Yes, “plucky” most definitely counts.

Pitching for TLR does automatically make you a reclamation project success as long as you meet certain age requirements. It’s the “Woody Williams Principle”. See also Arthur Rhodes, Miguel Batista, Uncle Trev, and eventually at some point Jamie Moyer.

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