Rather than risk burying the lede, here is one “truth” that I hope you hold to be self-evident – You don’t need a moronic blogger, loudmouth with a podcast, or a professional journalist to tell you how to fan for your favorite sports ball team. Too many leverage their social media following into a bully pulpit to spread a particularly vile brand of nonsense as fact. There is a not-so-fine line between presenting opinion as opinion and presenting opinion as fact.
I’m trying to do the former while avoiding everyone who chooses the latter. Keeping in mind that I’m just a moronic blogger tossing stuff at a wall to see what sticks, here are ten unpopular opinions to accompany the aforementioned quasi-truth.
- Wainwright’s decline phase is going about how you should probably expect it to go. If you discount the FIP from his 28.0 innings pitched in 2015, he’s gone 3.93, 4.29, and now 5.31. Based on sheer guile and determination to not embarrass himself, he can improve on that. Doing so would hopefully eliminate any perception that the Cardinals are playing him out of a sense of obligation or respect. I don’t believe the Cardinals owe Wainwright anything other than the balance of his salary for this season, but keeping him in the rotation is a sound baseball decision for now. It’s about the competitive innings he can give the team especially in light of Wacha’s struggles. Regardless of how he pitches, he represents $19.5M that’s coming off the books at the end of the season, and that’s a good thing. At least we’ll always have Beltran Caught Looking.
- Wacha has actually struggled more than Wainwright in the early going, and the recent decision to move back his next start says a lot about where he is right now. Since tossing 181.1 innings in 2015, he hasn’t looked much like the 6-7 inning starter the Cardinals really need. ate for a mystery injury that requires a 10-day DL trip within the next month or so to help him “get right”.
- Enter Jack Flaherty. He’s the “break glass in case of emergency” starter right now, and he’s a good backup plan should Wacha or Wainwright falter. He’s also the golden child of the moment after an impressive 5-inning outing against Milwaukee. That’s fine, but he’s still just 22, and I’d argue that he’s still learning and improving. He also made the jump from 134.0 innings in 2016 to 170.0 innings last season. He has the potential to be a 190-200 IP per season guy, but he doesn’t have to be that guy this season. Watching the odometer on him early on may help him stay strong through September.
- Matt Carpenter doesn’t have to go home, but he can’t stay in the 3-hole. So far he’s mostly succeeded in bogging down the offense and slowing the pace of play, and his wRC+ of 88 simply won’t cut it. Out of the 31 players with 20 or more PA in the 3rd spot, Carpenter is 20th in wRC+ and 21st in OPS.
- Most of what can be said about Carpenter can also be said about Fowler but with worse numbers. He represents a terrible return on investment so far, and he’s got three more years at $16.5M per after this one. Fowler is that $25 novelty tshirt you bought at the mall just because you walked in with $200 to spend and couldn’t find anything else you wanted.
- Greg Garcia is almost the ideal utility player, and you cannot quantify his actual value to the team. The guy doesn’t complain. He’s professional, and he shows up ready to play every single day, even though he knows he probably won’t. He’s roughly an average defender or slightly better at multiple infield positions, and he’s not completely uncomfortable pinch hitting. He’s fast enough that he’s useful as a pinch runner. He’s not even arbitration-eligible until next year, and he’s 28 years old. He doesn’t seem to have a huge ego, and he doesn’t seem to care where he hits in the lineup. He’s literally just happy to be there. I understand the usual complaints about the active roster, the lineup, and the bullpen usage. I don’t understand why anybody has an issue with Garcia.
- If nobody is actually complaining about the 4-game sweep of the Reds, then telling people that they shouldn’t complain about the 4-game sweep of the Reds is kind of silly. It probably makes for good content/fodder, but it’s much ado about less than nothing.
- This team has the talent to win the division, and the division may very well go to the highest bidder around 92-93 wins. The team had the talent last year, but the bullpen gave away too many games. The new and improved bullpen looks capable of locking down more wins.
- Mike Matheny is terrible at managing, but his decisions haven’t cost the Cardinals a lot. Yet. Just give him time. He’ll have plenty of it if the Cardinals win the division this year, because that will trigger the 30-year extension option in his contract.
- I wish Tyler O’Neill could play first base. I also wish Jose Martinez could play first base. Same for Matt Carpenter. Actually, it would be nice to have anyone who can actually play the position defensively available.
Enjoy. Or not. Discuss this. Or not. To be honest, I’m writing for an audience of two, and my cat really isn’t that picky.