(WPA graph from www.fangraphs.com )
The 5 Stages of a bad season.
- Denial. "This can’t be happening" "We still have Albert, Carp and Rolen so we have a chance" "Somehow, the pitching will get it together" "Mulder will be back" "Things could get better if this team every play’s as it’s capable"
- Anger. "Why me?" "Stupid, cheap owners hand-cuffing Jocketty this winter" "Jock has lost his magic" "Izzy is garbage" "Boo Juan Encarnacion!" "Cardinal fans deserve better" "These bums don’t deserve to play in October"
- Bargaining. "God, I’ll give you my firstborn if the Cardinals can just stop being so frustrating and start winning!"
- Depression. "When does football season start?"
- Acceptance. "This is a bad team". "Even if they make it to the playoffs, good luck getting past the first round." "So, who’s in 07’s free agent class?".
A series win at Wrigley, very nice. Perhaps should’ve been a sweep, but I’ll take it. Just a few thoughts on the game, in bullet point fashion:
- I’ve gone from being a Dunc optimist starting to be a Dunc believer. As the season goes on, those HR swings are getting to be more and more beautiful. He’s not longer falling to his knees when he takes a good cut, and it doesn’t seem to matter if the pitch is a fastball or curve, up in the zone or below his knees, he can go yard at anytime. Whether it’s just a hot streak or what, it’s getting harder and harder to believe that he’s not for real. The name ‘Francouer’ comes to mind when you think of mid-season rookie hot streaks , but the difference here is that Duncan actually can show some restraint and selectivity at the plate. Hey, he played good defense today as well. Dunc’s win probability added is 1.01, 3rd among Cardinal hitters behind Pujols and Rolen.
- Who wouldn’t mind having Rule 5 pick Juan Mateo back? That first inning was rough, but as the game went on he looked very sharp. Cubs fans should be pretty excited about his progress from here. With all the pitching woes in the rotation, a guy like Mateo would be nice to have around now. Stupid visa issues!
- Carpenter continues to be nails. He’s just such a contrast from the rest of the rotation. For example, yesterday in the 4th inning Suppan just wilted under the pressure he was under, looking for that perfect pitch to get him out of the jam and taking forever to get with Molina on the signs. Carpenter had a man on first and second due to a silly error on Juan E. But rather then getting rattled, he went right after Nevin and induced a DP. I know the rest of the staff may not have Carp’s talent, but you wish they had his confidence and mental-toughness.
- Is Yadier Molina the most unlucky player in baseball? He stung the ball hard in 3 of his at bats, but to the fielders for outs except for his double. According to PrOPS, (Projected OPS), Yadier should be batting .288 with a .740 OPS. While that’s not terrific, it’s a far cry from his .217/.273/.329 numbers he has going into today’s game. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with PrOPS, it’s developed by JC Bradbury from The Hardball Times and the blog Sabernomics. It’s a formula for predicting what a player’s OPS should be in the future based on batted balls, strikeouts, home runs and walks. ) From watching Yadi, it seems like he hits the ball pretty hard, just to the guys with the gloves. If he could ever .280/.740, coupled with his defense, and the outcry to get rid of Molina would be silenced.
- Hand it to Juan for jumping on a mistake and driving it a long way for a 3 run homer. He ain’t a world beater, but he does have his uses.
The game is tied, it’s the bottom of the ninth, the bases are loaded, there are two outs, and Strawberry is due to bat. Even though Darryl has hit nine home runs, Burns sends him to the showers because Strawberry and the pitcher are both left-handed. (“It’s called playing the percentages.”) He sends Homer, a righty, to the plate instead. Burns reviews the signals with Homer. Burns’ explanation goes on and on, and Homer’s mind wanders. “I wish I was home with a big bag of potato chips. Mmm… potato chips…”
Unlike the Simpsons episode, Juan wasn’t plunked in the head unconscious for a game-winning RBI. In the last 7 days, Juan has been hitting .208 in 24 at bats, Dunc on the other hand-.563 with a .913 slugging % in 23 at bats and has been the teams hottest hitter. Duncan had already tied the game with a dramatic homerun earlier, but apparently Tony just had to prove he’s got the magic or something.
Now if you do look at Dunc’s minor league splits, it’s true that he doesn’t hit lefties well while Ohman has shut them down. But again, are you going to trust a struggling Juan or go with the hot hand? Duncan did hit a homer previously against Rheal Cormier not long ago during this hot streak, so it’s not like he hasn’t been there before.
What is it about Dusty Baker that seems to bring the worst out in LaRussa? Is he trying to re-create a dramatic script for another 3 Nights in August? I don’t get it. Not to say LaRussa is a bad manager, obviously he’s far from that. I can see what he was trying to do by playing the numbers, but I think when most fans saw Encarnacion come to the plate in favor of Dunc, we all had that sinking feeling that things were shifting in the wrong direction.
It wasn’t just LaRussa to blame for today’s loss. Suppan’s wildness didn’t help either. Watching him trying to get together with Yadier on the signs was unbearable to witness. It’s like he was trying to find the right cord to pull to diffuse the ticking time-bomb. Jeff started the game great, working quick and challenging hitters. You hate to see a pitcher beat himself, and that’s exactly what Soup did.
With the Cardinals in Wrigley and with "life is like a box of chocolates" Marquis taking the mound, I can’t say I was expecting a W yesterday. But we did get a W and what a W! 6 jacks and a lopsided victory? Seems like the Cards have been on the opposite side of those sort of victories too often this season, so this was some sweet revenge. Thanks to Hit Tracker, here’s the rundown of yesterday’s beatdown. (Not in the order they happened) But first, the Win Probability Graph courtesy of www.fangraphs.com
Ronnie Belliard–True distance of 399 feet, left the yard at 103.5 mph
Gary Bennett- 429 feet, speed 110.3 MPH
Chris Duncan- 421 feet, speed 110.6 mph
Albert Pujols- 450 feet, 115.7 mph!!!! That’s montrous!!
Scott Rolen-403 feet, 105 mph
Preston Wilson (like this pickup so far)-433 feet, 112.6 mph
Put all the Cardinals homeruns together and in distance they equal around half a mile, 2535 feet to be exact.
And we call Jason Marquis Bipolar Betty? We’re all going to be needing our meds from watching this team play. They fill you with joy and the break your heart. I’m riding the wave of happy! happy! joy! joyland for now after a bottom of the 9th victory this afternoon. Like most of you working schmoes, I was not able to watch the game live but I did record it and it was one of the more exhilarating times I’ve had listening to something that was already long decided.
- Who da thunk 2 pain in the butt cast-offs like Weaver and Lohse matching up against each other would turn into a pitcher’s duel?
- How many times has Adam Wainwright come up big in high leverage situations? He came up with a huge K with the runner on 3rd and no outs and luck was probably on his side on the liner to Duncan.
- Albert had a nice pair of web-gems. People keep saying he’s going to win a Gold Glove someday, I think someday could be this season. Acoording to FRAR (Fielding Runs Above Replacement, Albert’s glove has been worth 17 fielding runs above Joe AAAA in 99 games. In case you’re not familiar with that metric, let’s just say that’s pretty darn good.
- Duncan continues to tear up the Reds, setting up the "pee in our pants, it’s Albert I guess we should walk him" routine. And that of course set up the walk off single by Rolen, who tied the game in the first place with his solo. Woo-hoo!
I’d like to stay this excited, but the Cubs are coming to town.
Well the Cardinal’s dropped a double header simultaneously, as the hitters not named Albert could not figure out Zach Duke, and Mark Mulder got it handed to him in the 3rd by the AAA I-Cubs. Here’s the game log of that inning.
- Ryan O’Malley walks. (He’s their pitcher! And he walked on 4 straight!)
- Felix Pie singles on a line drive to center fielder Skip Schumaker. Ryan O’Malley to 2nd.
- Luis Montanez flies out to right fielder John Rodriguez.
- Michael Restovich lines out to first baseman Jorge Toca.
- With Micah Hoffpauir batting, passed ball by Brian Esposito, Ryan O’Malley to 3rd. Felix Pie to 2nd.
- Micah Hoffpauir singles on a line drive to right fielder John Rodriguez. Ryan O’Malley scores. Felix Pie scores. Micah Hoffpauir to 2nd on the throw.
- Casey McGehee homers (9) on a fly ball to left center field. Micah Hoffpauir scores.
- Geovany Soto doubles (18) on a fly ball to left fielder Timo Perez.
- Buck Coats grounds out, second baseman Junior Spivey to first baseman Jorge Toca.
Mulder’s line: 4 runs, 4 walks, 4 runs, 2 K’s and 1 HR. He threw 71 pitches, 39 for strikes and got 3 ground outs to 7 fly outs. I guess there goes the idea that Mulder will bring back consistency to the starting rotation. Suppan, who has been Mr. Consistent pretty much since the All Star break didn’t look sharp at tonight, either.
The highs and lows with the pen continue. Why Tony even continues to trot out Tyler Johnson is beyond me. Seems like he’s always giving up the big hit and he walks way too many batters. Is Flores’ elbow still hurting? I know he’s been hit this season, but what little confidence I have in our lefties is in Flores. I think he’s better then the results he’s got this season. On the plus side of what I saw was the bullpen was Jorge Sosa. The gun on the WB was clocking him at 93 but Molina’s mitt was popping loudly. Out of the 11 pitches he threw, 10 were for strikes. I’d like to see him do that when it counts, not just in mop-up duties.
I know the fans are getting on Ronnie Belliard..I’m hearing the names. Belly-up, Belly Lard, Belly Flop…ha ha..I am beginning to not mind the trade as times goes by. Luna is 2 for 19 in Cleveland, Belliard 4 for 38. So Luna isn’t getting the playing time he thought he would, he’s still stuck in a platoon, this time with Joe Inglett. I’m pretty sure that Belliard isn’t gonna hit a buck 0 something the rest of the season. But if you’re going call him a name, I like Mr. Gangster Rapper Posse Member guy. (Love those commercials)
The Reds lost in extras to the Phils, saving our 3 1/2 game lead.
Reverend Redbird Presents: Real Men of Genius.
Today we salute you, Mr. I Shouldn’t Be Allowed on the Mound Guy.
Arms flailing, feet kicking dirt, neck whiplashing, sweat profusely pouring over your ten cent head. They said that pitching ugly could never become an art form. You had the audacity to prove them wrong. With the assortment of garbage you aren’t able to command, you rear back and paint a masterpiece…of disaster. No matter what the coaches say, the catcher calls, or what everyone else in their right mind in the stadium thinks you should do…you have plan, and you’re sticking to it. They call you a chucker. You say you’re just being too fine. While most pitchers try to hit their spots and use deception, you say "it’s Christmas morning, boys, here it is" and watch that ball travel. While your performance would be acceptable in a Beer League, it’s not in the National League, or the American League, or the Sally League, or on the San Diego Surf Dawgs. So today we salute you, Oh insufferable chuck-and-ducker, because without you, the fans in the cheap seats would have to pay for their own souvenirs.
Mr. I Shouldn’t Be Allowed on the Mound Guy!