The Cardinals and the Prevent Defense

I went into this post trying to decide what I really wanted to talk about. I had three topics on the brain which were PEDs, bunts and trade deadline (non)deals. Since I’m a fairly long winded person I’ve decided to cut PEDs out. Partly because of time and partly because the topic has been beat into the ground already. Plus it’s a topic that’s certainly not going away and I’m sure will come outside and play for a future post. For this post let’s start with last night’s game. Nick hit on it some this morning but hopefully I can add some spice.

Going into the series opener last night the Cards had just arrived home from a challenging road trip and playing the Dodgers at home certainly wasn’t much of a break. The Dodgers had won 14 games in a row on the road before last night’s game. That’s pretty remarkable especially next to the Cardinals 7 game losing streak they just showcased on the road trip. Last night’s tilt featured Adam Wainwright vs. Zack Greinke. Cutting out all the middle stuff let’s fast forward to the bottom of the 7th. The Dodgers held a 3-1 lead at the start of the Cardinals turn at the plate. To this point the Dodgers had found a way to execute and hang 3 runs on Wainwright and now the Cards really needed to find a way to get the inning going on a presumably fatigued Greinke before their recently dominate bullpen was called on to shut the door.

So the inning starts with pinch hitter Adron Chambers who works a very nice 6 pitch walk. The perfect start to this inning. Matt Carpenter follows with a 5 pitch AB that results in a single to put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs and a tired and probably frustrated Greinke on the mound. As Don Mattingly makes his way to the mound the Cardinals line up Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig and Matt Holliday with bats in hand. Mattingly allows Greinke to face Beltran which I assume was a result of Greinke’s overall success against Beltran.  Even so this was Beltran’s 4th AB against Greinke and already had 1 hit which almost left the park. And then on the 1st pitch of the AB, 12th of the inning and 105th of the game Carlos lays down a perfect sacrifice bunt. By doing so he gave away a precious out and according to Baseball Reference’s win probability tool actually decreased the Cardinals chance of winning the game 2 percent. For reference Matt Carpenter’s hit increased their chance of winning by 12 percent. Then Craig grounds out plating Chambers and Holliday grounded out to end the once promising inning. And to finish after a leadoff HBP of Freese in the bottom of the 8th Jon Jay popped a sacrifice bunt in the air resulting in another free out without even moving the runner. Cards go quietly in the 9th and lose.

I’m not going to soap box this but I just really want the Cardinals to stop f@4cking bunting in these situations.  Not sure where the Beltran bunt came from whether it was Matheny or from what it looked like Beltran but either way it was a remarkably terrible decision that contributed to a very frustrating loss.

I realize ripping bunting is becoming more mainstream but it truly is a rally killer. It’s the prevent defense of baseball. If you watch much football you know exactly what I’m talking about. There’s 5 minutes left, the Muskrats take a 10 point lead on a touchdown. They kick to the Fighting Turtles and then proceed to go away from the defensive game plan that helped them get the lead in the first place. They go into a prevent defense, dropping the safeties and corners off the line of scrimmage to ensure nothing gets over their head for a big play. The Turtles then proceed to take 10-15 yard plays down the field and score a touchdown in 2 minutes. If the Muskrats stick to their guns they probably get a stop and win the game but instead are content with making sure of no huge plays in exchange for easy yardage and some time off the clock. Prevent big plays. Sacrifice an out to gain 1 base and prevent 2 outs. Just say no to both. Let the secondary play tough defense and have your professional hitters swing the bat.

Anyway I’m running short on time so I’m going to cut this post off on that inspiring topic. I’ll hit some deadline stuff  and talk some prospects next week. The Cards get to deal with Clayton Kershaw tonight who unfortunately is very good at throwing baseballs. Here’s how they’ve fared against him.

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Matt Holliday 37 27 8 1 0 0 1 10 5 .296 .486 .333 .820
Carlos Beltran 22 19 4 2 0 0 1 2 7 .211 .273 .316 .589
Allen Craig 15 14 4 0 0 1 5 0 0 .286 .267 .500 .767
David Freese 15 13 3 1 0 0 2 1 1 .231 .267 .308 .574
Matt Carpenter 9 9 2 0 0 0 1 0 1 .222 .222 .222 .444
Adam Wainwright 7 4 2 1 0 0 2 2 1 .500 .667 .750 1.417
Daniel Descalso 6 4 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 .500 .667 .500 1.167
Jon Jay 4 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 .000 .000 .000 .000
Rob Johnson 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Pete Kozma 3 3 3 2 0 0 3 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.667 2.667
Shelby Miller 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Jake Westbrook 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Tony Cruz 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 126 105 28 7 0 1 15 17 21 .267 .360 .362 .722
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 8/6/2013.

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