Three Questions Worth Caring About Heading into 2007

Will Roger Clemens pitch again? Will Barry Bonds eclipse Hank Aaron in all-time homeruns or will he be indicted before he gets the chance? Will Matsuzaka and his gyroball live up to the hype? These are, without a doubt, the most talked-about questions of the offseason. But honestly, is there a single person out there that gives two shits about baseball and wants to hear anymore about Clemens, Bonds, or Matsuzaka? Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited as any other shmo for the MLB debut of the Demon Miracle Pitch. But can we please slap a two-month moratorium on all questions relating to these three? Pretty please?

With pitchers and catchers reporting to camp in a little more than two weeks, here are, in no particular order, three genuinely intriguing questions to ponder as the 2007 offseason draws to a close:

1. What are the Devil Rays going to do with all that young talent in the outfield?

Carl Crawford: 25 years old

Rocco Baldelli: 25 years old

Delmon Young: 21 years old

Elijah Dukes: 22 years old

Count ‘em. Tampa Bay has four very cheap, very talented, very young outfielders. Wait, did I mention Jonny Gomes and B.J. Upton? Because they’re pretty good too and might find their way out to the outfield for the Rays this season.

Tampa has a surplus of young talent in the outfield. Both Jerry Crasnick and Buster Olney (baseball gods before whom this penitent man kneels KNEEELS) addressed this recently, but I couldn’t resist taking it on myself. How could I? We’re talking the D’Rays here!

In all seriousness, this is a fascinating situation. The Rays are in desperate need of pitching. Tampa “ace” Scott Kazmir has yet to recover from shoulder and elbow injuries incurred last season. According to espn.com, Kazmir was throwing at just eighty percent velocity in a bullpen session as of four days ago. Behind Kazmir, the Rays’ opening day rotation looks like this: Casey Fossum, James Shields, Jae Seo, TBA. Never heard of any of them? You wouldn’t be the first. If you have, then you know they’re not exactly Cy Young material (Casey Fossum, James Shields and Jae Seo, listen up: if any of you wins the Cy Young this year, I will print out this blog, eat it, and kneel before your Alexandrettan death wheel too).

Lackluster starting pitching. Tons and tons of outfielders. Smell a trade? Olney and Crasnick do. Busta Bus thinks the Rays might ship Baldelli for a young hurler, which would make a lot of sense. Although he’s cheap and essentially locked up until 2011 with club options, Baldelli has been plagued by knee and elbow issues as of late. Because of his affordability and in spite of his injury issues, his trade value remains high, as does interest in him. Crasnick agrees on Baldelli, but while Olney foresees a possible deal with the Red Sox, Crasnick is thinking the Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley or the Angels’ Ervin Santana.

The likelihood of the Rays moving Baldelli or another of their outfielders strikes me (and Olney) as relatively low. After all, what’s the point in trading away one of your affordable rising stars for pitching help when you still have to compete against Goliath (New York), Goliath II (Boston) and Goliath Lite (Toronto) in 2007. Still, if a deal does go through, it deserves attention; Baldelli, Crawford, Young, and Dukes are four of the best young position players in the game, and stand to make an impact on any team they might be traded to.

Moving on…

2. What exactly is Kenny Williams up to in Chicago?

First, he dumps Freddy Garcia for Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzales. Now I’m not exactly the biggest Gavin Floyd fan, but I see the logic of the move. It creates flexibility in the payroll, opens up a spot in the rotation for the up-and-coming Brandon McCarthy, and, assuming you can get into Floyd’s head and turn him around, provides you with a potentially solid starter for the not-so-distant future (not to mention Gonzales, a surer bet, in the slightly-more-distant future).

Then, he trades away McCarthy. Alright… McCarthy gave up a lot of homeruns last season–his first real season in the majors, by the way–and the Cell isn’t going to get any bigger. In return, the Pale Hose get John Danks, Nick Masset and Jacob Rasner–three young pitching prospects that use their sinkers and power-arms to keep the ball on the ground or out of play. Okay, I see the logic of this one too, even though I don’t agree with it.

The moves Kenny Williams is making this offseason aren’t crazy, or dumb, but they are unorthodox, especially when compared to the free agent-splurging of clubs like the Giants, BoSox, and that other team in Chicago this winter. From the trades he’s been making to the words coming out of his mouth, it is clear that Kenny’s number one priority is to ensure that the Sox can compete in years to come. But will they be able to compete this season?

Moving on…

3. Ichiro (?)

An Unrestricted Free Agent come October, it is very, very possible that 2007 will be Ichiro’s last season as a Seattle Mariner. The M’s have yet to work out a contract extension with their all-star right fielder, and the likelihood of his departure at season’s end (or even sooner) only grows with each passing week.

My guess is that the M’s will ultimately make a competitive offer to Ichiro sometime before the trade deadline. The real question is, will Ichiro accept?

Ichiro has openly expressed dissatisfaction (albeit tempered, ever-respectful Ichiro dissatisfaction) with the management and general management of the organization and with the work ethic of his teammates in recent years, something he never did in his first four seasons in Seattle. The Mariners have finished at the bottom of the heap in the AL West three consecutive seasons now, avoiding a third consecutive season of 90-or-more losses by just six games. Given the moves–and by moves, I mean missteps–made by GM Bill Bavasi this offseason (more on this below), it’s hard to believe the M’s will be any better in 2007, much less 2008 or 2009. It’s also hard to believe that a player as driven as Ichiro isn’t seriously considering cutting ties and moving on to a more competitive club.

Let’s also not forget that Ichiro’s future, at least for the time being, is in the hands of the worst, most incompetent major league GM in Bavasi. In terms of totally boning over his organization in the short and the long term, he’s only about a half step behind Isaiah Thomas and the Knicks. This is the man who is doling out a combined $27 million dollars in 2007–nearly a third of the M’s payroll–to Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre.* This is the man who traded away a young power-arm in Emiliano Fruto who could have been a role-player in the bullpen this season and another prospect for the privilege of watching Jose Vidro’s kneecaps disintegrate over the course of the next two seasons. And guess what, Mariners fans? He’s paying near-full admission–13.5 million of your baseball team’s dollars over the next two years–to the disappearing knee show! This is the man who is going to give Jeff Weaver 8 million plus just to pitch like Jeff Weaver (in case you forgot just how bad he is, please see my esteemed colleague Mike’s column). The point is this: if there is a way to screw up the Ichiro deal and make his own organization worse in the process, Bavasi will sniff it out and make it a reality. And rest assured, failing to re-sign Ichiro (assuming it’s not A-Rod money or years) will make the Mariners worse.

The best part is that Bavasi has said he’s not even in that much of a hurry to address Ichiro’s situation. “It’s a top priority,” said Bavasi, “but the timing is not that important.”

Honestly, if you were Ichiro, what would you do?

We’ll just have to wait and see what happens with Ichiro. And in Chicago. And in Tampa’s outfield.

Stay tuned.

 

*Food for thought, Phillies fans: Pat Burrell was paid $9.75 million to hit .258, slug .502, and get on base .388 in 2006. In 2006, Beltre was paid $12.9 mil to hit .268, slug .465, and get on base .328. And he’s under contract through 2009! Life ain’t so bad, right?

 

 

 

Unrelated Note: Was reading a Gammons (third and final baseball god in the Holy Trinity) column on espn today when I noticed this tidbit in his bio:

A gifted musician, Gammons’ debut CD, “Never Slow Down, Never Grow Old” was released on Rounder Records. With the assistance of a crack band of Boston rockers, Gammons trades in his typewriter for a Stratocaster and delivers a rousing set of vintage classics, originals, and rock obscurities — all to benefit Theo and Paul Epstein’s Foundation to be Named Later, a charity which raises funds and awareness for non-profit agencies serving disadvantaged youth in the Greater Boston area.

“Gammons’ vocals and guitar are featured, along with guests such as Theo Epstein, Juliana Hatfield, George Thorogood, Little Feat’s Paul Barrere, Kay Hanley, and an all-star chorus consisting of Red Sox players Jonathan Papelbon, Kevin Youkilis, Trot Nixon, Lenny DiNardo and Tim Wakefield, former Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo, and NESN broadcaster Don Orsillo. Get more information from Rounder Records.”

What??? This album actually exists! Check it out here. Kevin Youkilis, Theo Epstein and George Thorogood guesting on a Peter Gammons rock record. Words… can’t… even describe… so sooo happy. And bewildered.

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Upcoming Baseball Movies

ASC reporters were able to uncover and review some of the new upcoming baseball movies.

Attack of the 60’ Biceps! – Due to excessive steroid use, Barry Bonds’ body splits in half. His legs destroy downtown San Francisco while his upper body rampages through Oakland before moving on to Japan.

God in the Outfield – The final movie in the Angels in the Outfield Trilogy and only Jesus Christ can save the Angels this time.

They Were All Chanting “Daryl” – Daryl Strawberry, a young man whose life is being ruined by his excessive drug habits, finds a new life in baseball.

Field of Dreams 2 – The year is 2057 and a young Iowa farmer hears the voice of Harry Kalas whispering to him, “If you build it, they will come.” He tears down his crop and builds a baseball field, and sure enough, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark Maguire and Jose Canseco come back to play baseball.

Rookie of the Year 2 – Henry Rowengartner (Thomas Ian Nicholas) struggles through a year of Tommy John Surgery.

Space Slam – Looney Tunes bring back Michael Jordan, but this time they need his bat as they battle a band of baseball aliens. Earth is enslaved. Alternate DVD ending: Earth is destroyed!

Air Bud, The Last Out – Final installment of Disney’s series about a sport playing pooch. Teammate Harry Hounds helps Bud out with performance enhancers. Bud gets drilled with a pitch, incites bench clearing brawl, bites pitcher. Bud has to be put down.

Money Harvest – Baseball is in turmoil as players can barely eek out a living (in the upper class). Along comes SuperAgent Scott Morecash who manages to prove that even the most useless of players deserves a multimillion dollar contract. Critics have called it ‘Heartwarming’ and ‘A True American Tale’ and ‘$$$!’

Greenberg: a Mel Gibson Film – Visually stunning epic about the life and times of Tigers great Hank Greenberg. I can’t say enough about this film, although I am confused about the ending. Was Greenberg really the guy who killed Jesus? Also, why did the characters only speak in Ancient Sumerian? Really though, great pic!

The Boys of Summer: A Jerry Bruckheimer Production – Just called up from the minors to make his major league debut, Jackie Robinson (Nicholas Cage) has one thing on his mind: proving that he belongs. But when a seemingly freak accident claims the life of teammate Pee Wee Reese (Gene Hackman), Robinson finds himself caught up in a dangerous web of lies and misdirection that goes all the way up to the Commissioner’s office! Another great film. I don’t want to spoil this for anyone, but the car-chase through downtown Brooklyn is not to be missed.

Pavanowned!!! – A heist-style picture in the spirit of the Italian Job and Ocean’s 11 that tells the story of how Carl Pavano took one strong season of pitching and used it to swindle the wealthiest and most prestigious organization in MLB out of forty million dollars. The beginning was solid, but the last three hours of the movie was just Pavano sitting in a whirlpool tub.

John Thomson is an Idiot and Likes 3rd Place

Originally written January 10th, 2007

In response to: John Thomson has verbal diarrhea

So John Thomson, a crappy pitcher at best, recently explained why he decided to accept the Toronto Blue Jays offer instead of the Mets (and anyone else’s). Now, the actual reasoning for this could be boiled down to the fact that he is a dickheaded moron with the baseball sense of a litter box, but that would be unkind.

Thomson stated that he preferred to pitch to Gregg Zaun instead of Paul Lo Duca because:

“As far as just looking at Paul Lo Duca across the field, I’m not really into how he acts behind the plate…I know a bit about (Toronto catcher) Gregg Zaun and I know he wants to win and he’s not going to let anything get in his way to do that, and I like that.”

Wow, Lo Duca has no desire to win baseball games? Thomson obviously doesn’t watch the postseason, nor reads anything about other players. From the Mets.com website:

“Lo Duca had tagged Alfonso Soriano for the first out of the eighth inning on that Opening Day play, then dropped the ball. With the view of umpire Tim Tschida obscured, the Mets’ catcher immediately reached down to retrieve the ball and then held it aloft, concealing his faux pas in momentary celebration. He sold it well.”

Next Thomson states:

“…and then with Vernon Wells in center field, I’m not really concerned about the outfield with him out there. … Just watching the Mets’ outfield, if Cliff Floyd is still there it’s not a real good fit for him out there. He can hit the ball, but as far as defense, he’s a little shaky…I just liked what’s happening in Toronto.”

All he had to say was that last sentence. Of course with everything else he decided to vomit out he has revealed his true lack of knowledge. Vernon Wells is a great player, but the Mets have some guy called Carlos Beltran who won a Gold Glove (Vernon Wells also won a gold glove for the third year straight, but no sleight to him, the NL is stacked with gold glove caliber OFs). And Floyd? Hmmm, the Mets already decided not to sign him, maybe you should have asked about that instead of being an outright douche. Willie Randolph has already stated his preference for defensive minded players. Now the Mets have Alou (alright, not the best defensive player) and check out this guy: Endy Chavez…now it’s completely obvious that Thomson doesn’t watch the postseason.

More on Endy Chavez from Mets.com writer Marty Noble:
“Chavez played 815 1/3 innings, most of them in right field, and appeared in more innings than any Mets outfielder other than Carlos Beltran (1,184). Chavez committed no errors and had nine assists. The seven National League outfielders who had more assists — one was Beltran with 13 — averaged 1,167 innings.”

The Mets are in a division where they finished first and look to repeat that performance, albeit without as much ease as last year.

The Blue Jays are in a division where the Yankees and Red Sox are both looking to go 1-2 (in whatever order), thereby leaving the Jays at….suckville.

I am glad that Thomson will not be a Met though. He sucks as a pitcher. Even if you get rid of his years in Colorado he has a losing record with mostly winning teams (35-41), a 4.40 era, and a 1.37 WHIP. Ok, so at best pretty average stats, but over the past three seasons his numbers have gotten worse steadily and he’s been injured twice.

Enjoy going from 3rd place Atlanta to 3rd place Toronto (pending action by Baltimore and/or Tampa Bay this season), Mr. Thomson.

Why Build a Pool in a Ballpark (?): The “Post-Modern” Trends of Consumerism in Baseball: Part 1

Take me out to the ballgame—buy me some peanuts and crackers jacks—stop to do some banking—drop the kids off at the Fun Zone—pick up a $120 jersey in the gift shop—go dancing in the VIP club—take a dip in the pool—root root root for the home team (which one is the home team again? Oh right, the ones with their own introductory theme music).

Maybe it is time to update our 7th inning stretch song.

I want to write about what a ballpark means today (or some aspect of such), because, inevitably, our ballparks have become as diversified as our shopping outlets (not as much culturally as economically). Needless to say, going out to the ol’ ballgame is a totally different experience than it used to be. Continue reading

2007 Phillies: Dirtier… and Preposterously Better

Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is a dirtball. So say his teammates, his manager, and organization execs like Chief Scout Mike Arbuckle. Ex-skipper Larry Bowa used to call him a “baseball rat.” Dirtball. Rat. Not exactly terms of endearment, right? Wrong. Utley’s clubhouse nicknames are actually compliments of the highest order: testament of his peers to his hard work and hustle on the field. We’re talking dirtball as in the guy with the perpetually dirty uniform. The guy who legs out the routine grounder to short for an infield single. The guy who totally, unequivocally, and, some argue, unnecessarily ruined Dodger catcher Russel Martin’s shit on a play at the plate last June. Martin, God help him, wasn’t even holding the ball when Utley buried the backstop’s face into home plate.

These days, there are a lot of dirtballs hanging around the Phillies clubhouse. As Buster Olney recently pointed out, GM Pat Gillick has slowly but surely stocked his team with hard-nosed, Utley-type players like Aaron Rowand, Shane Victorino, and Ryan Howard, and phased out (or in the case of Pat Burrell, tried to phase out) not so balls-to-the-right-field-wall mainstays like Bobby Abreu. Without a doubt, the Phillies are a much, much dirtier team.

But is dirtier necessarily better?

Phil Sheridan thinks so, and points out that the Phils were 49-54 prior to dumping the low-energy, easygoing Abreu and 36-23 on the rest of the season. As a SABR-minded guy, I was initially skeptical of the Abreu-bashing and even more skeptical of the statistical cherry-picking. Sure, Abreu only batted .277 through July 30, but he also posted a .427 OBP, second only to Bonds in the NL. And we all know from Moneyball that OBP translates to runs and runs translate to wins, right?

As it turned out, Abreu’s stellar OBP was hardly missed. The post-trade deadline months saw precipitous increases in the on-base percentages of the other starters. Jimmy Rollins, without a doubt the freest-swinger in the lineup, posted a .405 OBP and drew 13 walks in August. Ryan Howard officially entered preposterous Man-Child territory in September when he put up a .571 OBP (and a .387 average and .763 slugging percentage to boot). The Phillies averaged 131.5 runs scored per month over the first four months of the season. In the last two, they erupted to score a gaudy 168.5 runs per month. The offense went crazy. Plain and simple.

In addition, the Phillies pitched far better down the stretch than they did in the early goings of 2006. Rookie southpaw Cole Hamels flourished in the second half of the season, especially late-August onward. Jamie Moyer, acquired August 19, posted a much better ERA over 51.3 innings late in the season (4.03 to be exact) than did Gavin Floyd, the major league baseball version of Corporal Upham, prior to his demotion to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on June 2.

Now I know it’s foolish to say that Abreu’s departure directly triggered the turnaround in pitching…. but maybe? Something happened in Philadelphia on July 30. Something which is only beginning to come into focus. The bottom line is this: when it was all said and done, the Phillies were, in fact, a patently better team after dropping Abreu. And as we see above, it wasn’t because they found grinderball ways to compensate for the holes he left, like you might expect from a group of so-called dirtballs. No, they did what he did–draw walks and get on base–and did it better. They also crushed the ball. And pitched better. And hit in the clutch (with one notable exception, of course… do I have to say it? Do I really? Pat Burrell. I know. You knew it already). Dirtyball isn’t just playing harder and tougher, apparently. It’s playing the shit out of the game in all respects. Be afraid of this team. Be very afraid. They are the team to beat in the NL East. Just ask Jimmy Rollins.

The Baseball Fan Populace is Stupid…

Originally written November 29th, 2006

So I recently voted in a Yahoo Sports poll about the story of the year in baseball, and following ~60,000 votes these are the results:

6% Baseball gets tougher on steroids
5% Japan wins inaugural World Baseball Classic
10% Yankees’ five-game sweep of Red Sox
11% Ryan Howard hits 58 home runs
13% Cory Lidle dies in NYC plane crash
6% Kenny Rogers’ “dirty” hand in World Series
3% Players, owners agree to new labor deal
21% Cardinals win World Series
14% Joe Girardi wins manager of year, gets fired
11% Daisuke Matsuzaka’s $51.1M posting fee

I shall now prove why most of these are not that big a deal whatsoever:

Let us begin with the Yankees sweeping the Red Sox. Except for those living in New York or Boston this means nothing. Adding 5 extra wins to Boston’s record would still leave them out of the playoffs and the Yankees did nothing in the playoffs to show that they deserved getting there. NYY & BOS: two teams that ruined what could have been perfectly wonderful seasons for their $100 million payrolls and fans. I attribute the 10% voting for this to idiot Yankee fans trying to pull something good from what ended up being a season that left a bitter taste in their mouths.

Next up: Steroids. Ok, so about 3 or 4 crappy to so-so players got caught with this random testing…not a word on anyone else (BONDS!). Big stories have big players involved.

Howard’s 58: This story is up there as it is something that lasted the entire season and was the highest HR total since Bond’s hit 73 in ’01 and the highest clean total since…well, since Maris hit 61 in ’61. Forget that he plays half his games in the Piggy Bank, I’m sure he’ll be able to top that number as he gains more experience, and he gives fans a real slugger to cheer. And his dad’s name is Ron Howard.

Lidle’s Crash: No disrespect to Cory Lidle, but as I said before big stories have big players and Cory wasn’t someone who brought fans to the stands. Clemente was a loss and a hall of famer, Lidle was a loss and a solid middle rotation guy. The reason why it got such a large percentage? It was recent, and fans can’t remember back too far.

Roger’s smudge: The fact that no one important seemed to care at all about this (i.e. umps, coaches, Selig) kills this automatically. Also, Rogers is an asshole (i.e. he sucked for the Mets in the playoffs).

New Labor Deal: Anything with the word ‘labor’ in it won’t get too much thought.

Cardinal’s Series: I hate the Cardinals. The fact that they were the worst team to win a Series ever may give this a boost, but…it was one of the lowest rated series, no one really cared at all…except perhaps the Cardinals.

Girardi awarded and fired: Jeffry Loria is an idiot, and I feel sorry for the Marlin’s that their owner is an uncaring, incompetent dickhead. Not much else that major about this though, seeing as Girardi isn’t going to coach next season.

Matsuzaka to Bosox: Now this is really recent, hence the 11%. But there is still too much to wait and see about this story. Will Boston sign him? For how much? If not, then who will get him? Will he pitch well? So Boston spent 51.1mill on him, then the Yankees go spend 26mill on a slightly better than decent pitcher…once again the two teams are turning this into a two city story.

By now my vote should be clear: Japan is World Champion. There are really a huge number of factors involved in this. Funny how it got the second lowest percentage…remember what I said about baseball fans’ memories?

-First ever Baseball World Classic, Japan beats Cuba. NO USA!

-Matsuzaka, playing for Japan, wins MVP.

-Cuba had previously been kept from entering the tournament due to the US Gov’t and Bush not liking the possibility of Cuba profiting from it. Also, not one Cuban player was in MLB.

-Team USA sucked. Here’s a plan, let’s rely on power hitting, because it’s worked remarkably well for the past World Series winners. Also, A-Rod should play a lot, because in important games he is…actually pretty terrible.

So once again Team USA is beaten at its own game. Should we guess why, time after time, whenever we field teams of millionaire egos, they bomb?


…except for some of us

Note: This article is based entirely on the premise that I am right and everyone else is wrong…unless they happen to agree with me.

Don’t Tell Me St. Louis Deserved To Win…

Originally written November 1st, 2006

“Jeff Weaver…ranked 76th out of 80 qualifiers for the ERA title (5.76).”

“Yadier Molina [had a] .216 average during the regular season [which] was higher than only Tampa Bay’s Jonny Gomes among the 200 batters who came to the plate at least 450 times. Naturally Molina led all players in postseason hits (19).”

“David Eckstein [was the] owner of a .487 OPS in the first two rounds of the playoffs and dead last among all batting qualifiers in RBIs (23).”
-Sports Illustrated

Besides those quotes here are some of my findings.

The Cardinals were the worst World Series Champions in baseball history, with a record of 83-78 (they didn’t play a game vs San Francisco). Here are the teams that had better records than them.

Team Record Win % Playoffs?
1 NY Mets 97-65 .599 *
2 NY Yanks 97-65 .599 *
3 Minnesota Twins 96-66 .593 *
4 Detroit Tigers 95-67 .586 *wild card
5 Oakland A’s 93-69 .574 *
6 Chicago White Sox 90-72 .556
7 LA Angels 89-73 .549
8 San Diego Padres 88-74 .543 *
9 LA Dodgers 88-74 .543 *wild card
10 Toronto Blue Jays 87-75 .537
11 Boston Red Sox 86-76 .531
12 Philadelphia Phillies 85-77 .525
13 St. Louis Cardinals 83-78 .516 *assholes

Out of 30 teams in baseball you generally want the top 6 to gain entry (best team in each division), with 2 extra making it through to ensure that no one gets a free week. That is roughly the top 27% of the league. St Louis was in the top 43%.

Let us now compare the average score of their games during the season for the top 17 teams:

Team Average Score Difference
Yankees 5.74 – 4.31 1.43
Tigers 5.07 – 4.17 0.90
Twins 4.94 – 4.22 0.72
Mets 5.15 – 4.51 0.64
White Sox 5.34 – 4.90 0.44
Dodgers 5.06 – 4.64 0.42
Blue Jays 4.99 – 4.65 0.34
Phillies 5.34 – 5.01 0.33
Padres 4.51 – 4.19 0.32
Rangers 5.15 – 4.84 0.31
Red Sox 5.06 – 4.77 0.29
A’s 4.76 – 4.48 0.28
Braves 5.24 – 4.97 0.27
Angels 4.73 – 4.52 0.21
Cardinals 4.85 – 4.73 0.12
Astros 4.54 – 4.44 0.10
Reds 4.62 – 4.94 -0.32

During the regular season 5 of their 7 starters who made more than 10 starts had ERAs over 5.00 combining for a 5.83 ERA together.

Three teams from the NL Central (Cards, Astros, Reds) have the worst differences in average scores. The NL Central was so bad that 7 of the 10 non-NL Central teams had winning records vs it. And guess what, St. Louis had a losing record vs its own division. Furthermore, the Cards had a 21-26 record vs teams with winning records. The one bright spot in their season was sweeping seven games in the middle of July from a Dodgers team that finished that month 9-17.

Now this is the killer, here are the teams St. Louis played the most in each of the divisions it faced:

Team Record Division – Placement Record vs StL
Washington Nationals 71-91 NL East – Last 3-4
Chicago Cubs 66-96 NL Cent – Last 11-8
Colorado Rockies 76-86 NL West – Last 2-7
Kansas City Royals 62-100 AL Cent – Last 2-4

But there is more, continuing with the NL Central sucks theme, 3 of the 4 worst NL teams were in the NL Central, and the Cards played them a whopping 50 times compiling a 26-24 record. The Brewers, Pirates, and Cubs had a combined record of 208-278 for a .428 winning percentage.

Here is some more food for thought:

Division Combined Record Combined Win %
NL East 410-400 .506
NL Central 453-518 .467
NL West 404-405 .499
AL East 401-409 .495
AL Central 421-389 .520
AL West 340-308 .525

Lastly, if shit players get hot in the postseason:

Cardinal RegSeason Stat PostSeason Stat
Jeff Suppan 4.12 ERA 2.49
Jeff Weaver 5.18 ERA* 2.43
Anthony Reyes 5.06 ERA 3.00
Yadier Molina .216 BA .358

* as a Cardinal

…then why even bother with a regular season.


…because they didn’t