135 Is A Serious-er-er Number

by on April 30, 2012 · 7 comments

Asian Man Dry Humping World Series Replica Trophy

That’s right.  The magic number for the Cardinals to eliminate the Chicago Cubs from the NL Central division title is 135.  That would still leave the Cubs with a shot at the wild card, but it really is never too early to start taking shots at how bad the Cubs are.  Why?  Why not?  Also, the Cubbies probably won’t be the loveable losers for much longer, and that Alfonso Soriano contract does not last forever.

Sure, it is far too early to talk about a team making the playoffs, but you have to consider how the Cardinals have made it this far.  Look at what has gone right for the team:

  • The team is 4th in the league in runs with 111, 3rd in batting with a .278 team average, 3rd in OBP at .347, and 4th overall in slugging at .447.
  • David Freese basically picked up where he left off in October and has 5 hr with 20 rbi while batting .333/.375/.560/.935.
  • Jon Jay is hitting .400.
  • Mitchell Boggs already has 6 holds in 22 games the team has played.
  • Jake Westbrook went from roster fodder/long man in the playoffs to the team leader in ERA at 1.30.
  • Kyle Lohse already has 4 wins which may only be rendered slightly less impressive by the fact that Lance Lynn also has 4 wins.
  • With Berkman down, Matt Carpenter has filled in admirably with 14 rbi and some timely hitting.

Perhaps more important is the potential positive momentum to be gained by both a return to health or a return to form by some key players.

  • When you can go 14-8 with your #3 hitter hitting just .215, you have accomplished something.
  • That “something” is even more impressive when you consider that the team is missing a big bat in the middle that would normally be wielded by the switch-hitting Lance Berkman who was hitting .348 prior to being taken out by injury.
  • Allen Craig has not played a single inning, and he’s a right-handed hitter with power that the team desperately needs.
  • Chris Carpenter still has no timetable set for his return, and his eventual return should bolster an already solid rotation.  His injury could actually be a blessing in disguise after all the innings Carp has pitched over the last several years.  Maybe an abbreviated season will mean a lot less mileage on his body come August and September.
  • Adam Wainwright probably won’t spend the entire year hovering above a 7.00 ERA.  He may not get it into the 3.00 neighborhood, but he may just be a month or so from being a legitimate #2 or #3 type starter.

Finally, the work the Cardinals have done within their own division so far should not be overlooked.  The team has started by taking care of business in a big way.

  • 3-3 vs the Cubs  (10-5 in 2011)
  • 4-2 vs the Reds  (6-9 in 2011)
  • 4-2 vs the Brewers  (9-9 in 2011)
  • 2-1 vs the Pirates  (9-7 in 2011)

By my count, that is 34-30 against those 4 division rivals in 2011, and a 13-8 start in 2012 looks like a lot better track to follow.  Before Cardinal fans get too excited, though, I want to remind everybody that the 2011 team was 15-11 at the end of April 29th, 2011.  They led Milwaukee at that time by 1 1/2 games, and they eventually faded to lose the division by a half dozen and barely make the playoffs.  In other words, it’s a long season.  Fortunately, it may very well be an even longer season for all the Brewers fans talking smack after their favorite team took 1 of 3 over the weekend.

TIDBIT:  The pose used for the image at the top of this article was intended to honor Chris Duncan and his famous “Large Baseball Player Dry Humping World Series Trophy” photo from 2006.

MORE BITS OF TID:  Say what you will about Jaime Garcia‘s mental makeup, but he only surrendered 3 runs in 7.0 innings which is pretty good, even when the other team is starting Zack Greinke.  When your opponent starts their ace, and you hold them to 3 runs, you have make every opportunity count.  The Cardinals failed at that on several counts today, and the only real mistake Garcia made was hearing “home” when Oquendo probably yelled “tag up”.  Wouldn’t be the first time the Cardinals have had communications problems.

FINAL TID:  Just a theory with no research at all, but I suspect the 2012 Brewers are less susceptible to left-handed starters than the 2011 version was.  The percentage of big power expected to come from the right side now has to be significantly higher than it was last season.  On the other side of that coin, this likely makes them more susceptible to right-handed pitchers, and that is certainly good news for the Cardinals.

Follow gr33nazn on Twitter for more things not suitable for work….or while drinking hot beverages!

 

 

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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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{ 7 comments }

Andrew April 30, 2012

Wainwright updated ZiPS projection has him at a 3.35 FIP, 8+ k/9, 2.5 bb/9. That’s MUCH better than a 2 or a 3.

Dennis April 30, 2012

Okay, but he’s way off the original projections, so eventually ZiPS gets it right after enough iterations? It’s not that I think he’s been all that far off, it’s just that I don’t see signs of improvement right now.

Andrew May 1, 2012

I think the player himself admitting to finding his curveball — his best pitch — in his most recent start is a sign of improvement.

And less than a month’s worth of playing is susceptible to being off original projections, but it doesn’t mean players won’t still meet them.

Dennis May 1, 2012

It may be a sign, but I distrust any assessment or predictive methodology that leans too heavily on what may or may not have happened in 1 start.

Also, the idea that a small sample size being off original projections doesn’t mean a player won’t mean them means a lot less when projections have been changed.

Andrew May 1, 2012

What?

E.E. RIPPER May 5, 2012

Hi Dennis,
I would take issue with your Cub bashing, but I have to admit that the Cubs are on a collision course with 100 losses.The Cubs may well be mathematically eliminated by the all-star break. But take heed, the Cubs ,as you’ve mentioned, have contracts coming off the books and a very good GM to rebuild the team with its vast economic power. I don’t know how much the newish ownership will be willing to spend, but I hope within the next few years the Cubs will be referred to as an “EVIL EMPIRE” (insert maniacal laugh here). Then again probably not lol (not so maniacal).
Nice writing as usual.
Peace.

Dennis May 6, 2012

I actually wondered when you would get around to posting on this one. I cannot deny that I ripped the Cubs, but I moderated by predicting that they will turn it around. I know a lot of people didn’t think Theo would have the ability to turn them around, because he had so much payroll to work with in Boston, but I don’t think that’s the issue. He seems to be a reasonably shrewd guy in many ways, and he certainly still seems a half-step ahead of many of his contemporaries. I still think that they are 2 years away, but they have a reasonably good start. I like Starlin Castro a lot, and building the middle of the field defense isn’t the worst way to start.

Thanks for reading.

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