Pitchers Hit Eighth

Make no mistake, when John Mozeliak reached out this off-season and signed Jhonny Peralta to a multi-year contract to play shortstop (for now) for the Cardinals, it was about improving the offense at the position. While Peralta has been very good on defense this season (2nd in defensive runs saved with 14, according to Baseball Info Solutions – Zack Cozart is 1st with 15), it was always the bat.

Many have criticized the move because of Peralta’s perceived lack of performance at the plate – after all, that .239 batting average isn’t even Brendan Ryan-esque, right?

But man, is he slugging. To wit:

Rk Player HR From To G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB IBB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Jhonny Peralta 13 2014 2014 87 344 306 32 73 23 0 39 32 1 64 .239 .317 .441 .758
2 David Eckstein 13 2005 2007 398 1749 1564 216 465 67 8 115 113 0 107 .297 .357 .375 .732
3 Rafael Furcal 12 2011 2012 171 748 673 98 176 29 3 65 61 1 75 .262 .323 .367 .690
4 Brendan Ryan 9 2007 2010 415 1332 1206 165 312 56 10 95 88 8 166 .259 .314 .344 .658
5 Pete Kozma 3 2011 2014 189 555 502 57 117 26 3 50 45 9 114 .233 .293 .315 .608
6 Ryan Theriot 1 2011 2011 132 483 442 46 120 26 1 47 29 0 41 .271 .321 .342 .662
7 Cesar Izturis 1 2008 2008 135 454 414 50 109 10 3 24 29 1 26 .263 .319 .309 .628
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/8/2014.

What you’re reading there is that Peralta, in half of a season, has the most home runs IN TOTAL of any Cardinal shortstop since Edgar Renteria left after the 2004 season.

Peralta’s Cardinal “career” ranks as the highest slugging percentage of any Cardinal shortstop’s career. I’ll give you small sample size on that one, given that his “career” is only 344 plate appearances, but Peralta’s 2014 as a season would rank 11th best in Cardinal history as well. Heady company in either case.

I’ll certainly be beaten over the head with “yeah, but PEDs” and “he’s not good at defense” (yes, that actually happens) just as I have been on Twitter when pointing out *GASP* facts about Peralta’s performance and value relative to his contract. I’ve addressed the PED thing before. If you still believe he’s not been good this season defensively, I can’t help you.

Peralta’s season is good for 2.8 fWAR as I type this. Converting to dollars, he’s been “worth” $15.5 million SO FAR this season. How much is he making this year, again?

1 comment

Going Out With a Bang

What a ride it has been…the end.

Okay, so that sounds more like how the weekend series for the big club went, but the truth is this was much harder to do after an amazing run. It feels like there is so much to say in a short amount of space, and I’ll do my best to include everyone responsible. By no means is this a sad post, however, and I’ll always be around the Twitterverse as well as supporting the UCB in anything I can do.

The Conclave recently celebrated a year of bringing the best Birds on the Bat content to the masses, and it was at that point I was faced with a decision. Not THE decision like that one basketball guy but finding time to fit everything in finally reached a crossroads. Not everyone can be Shoptaw or Buffa after all!

I’ve been a sports writer for 20 years and never in my wildest dreams did I think getting to meet the GM of the Cardinals would happen, let alone multiple times. So it is fitting I provided the comedic relief this time around for my last installment of UCB weekend. Your faithful scrappy utility blogger has a higher calling (Graduate School) as well as a talented daughter to keep on her own college track that will now be my focus. I wouldn’t be here without Mrs. Scrappy-Utility-Blogger, and I know she is ready to not have to share me with St. Louis baseball.

But the trio of readers left at this point didn’t show up for reminiscing tales — this is still the Preacher’s last ride! And the only way to finish it off has to be a final bold prediction. It is trade season but this campaign has surely not turned out as anyone predicted. The club is missing something and no, it isn’t more cowbell. Another strong voice in the clubhouse would bring that competitive fire back, and it would just be icing on the cake if said voice also happens to be left-handed.

As I hinted at earlier, I’m going in a different direction even after David Price keeps mowing down the competition.

Yup, you read that right. I do want Mo to pull off a trade for an ace and even from the AL East but not for a bidding war. Let the Blue Jays, Giants, and Dodgers play Price is Right and give up half their top ten prospects. Unless the Rays come back to Earth, it makes no sense to deal unless Longoria suddenly ends up in the conversation and well, Tampa hasn’t suddenly been taken over by TLR as far as we know. It also hurts any possible deals now that the cellar belongs to the other surprise team of the division.

Boston fans can certainly understand the grumbling felt by the Cardinal backers, but they will also point out that St. Louis is still in playoff consideration. While the Red Sox continue to admire their hardware from last October, a possible big problem resides on the horizon. Depending on which reports you believe, contract negotiations with ace Jon Lester have stopped and not everyone is happy about it. Would that provide the necessary window for another Holliday-type deal in the making?

As Daniel has told me many times, In Mo We Trust, and I would support a deal for a rental in this case. Why when the cost would still be high and sending prospects to Boston seems like a really bad idea you smart people say? Trades on paper rarely ever make sense but look at what the Red Sox need. They lost one outfielder to free agency and have struggled to put talent on the field since beating the Cards. Obviously I’m not looking at Taveras or even Piscotty in this exercise, but Grichuk and even a healthy Ramsey certainly seem like a strong starting point.

For me, though, I honestly can see this deal getting done more than any other because Boston has very little to lose. The chances of locking up Lester may be slim, but I’m reminded of what Nick said about championships — players come and go but flags fly forever. Lester is exactly the type of ace needed to pair with Wainwright and throw in a Brock Holt type, shopping list complete. Of course this is easier said than done because surely even less than half a season of an ace would cost at least a pitcher too, right?

Well, would anyone miss a Cooney or Lyons (sorry Daniel) if it certainly brings the pedigree that Lester has to offer. And hey, he may truly like the National League and everything St. Louis has to offer as one of the other truly great cities to play in…okay pipe dream aside, they have to make a move so why not reach for the stars! I’ve been blessed to share a room with great people and will never forget the times shared over the years. To Nick and Daniel, thanks for bringing me along for the ride and bring home title No. 12 because odd numbers are no fun!

Till we meet again – Preacher

3 comments

[Author's Note: Yes, you read that title right. In August of 2013, the United Cardinal Bloggers undertook one of their various monthly projects intended to get readers to better know the folks writing. I drew Dan Buffa, then (and still, just not Cardinal-centric) of Dose of Buffa, now at Sports Rants. Unfortunately for Dan, I failed to get the post up in a timely manner and it didn't make it out in the timeframe necessary for the project. Well, lest it be lost to the ether, here is the entirety of my Q&A with Dan, a great Cardinals fan and a patient fella - sorry it took me this long to get this up Dan, hope you're well.]

[Author's Note 2: Keep the snark to yourself on items that are now nine months old (yes, I'm a terrible person) - questions that asked for predictions or projections are not now subject to discussion because I was tardy in posting. If anything, congratulate Dan where he was right.]

PH8: Many of us have a favorite story or a realization of sorts about how or why we’re a Cardinal fan, or a baseball fan in general (and for some of us, why we’re a little neurotic about it…) – what’s yours?

DB: I started watching baseball when I was 5 years old with my dad. It was something I developed on my own and from an early age, I could tell it wasn’t going to be a casual love of the game. There was an intensity there whenever I watched as a kid, and it only grew as I went through my teenage years into high school and college. In 1996, I befriended current Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III and he got me a job on The Manual Scoreboard at the old Busch. From 1998 until the closing in 2005, I was integrated with the team even more and became obsessed with each player, their stats and how they would do against a particular team. Talk about being neurotic. We were all crazy die hards who let a loss hang over our evening. We called our manual scoreboard hub the Nerve Center because it was where the scores came out and basically a confession table for real fans. I tell my wife that I marry this team in February every year until we separate in November. The Cards are a team that became attached to my central nervous system and not just an ordinary love. I let every loss inside and let’s just say some summer nights are better than others.

PH8: How long have you been writing for, and what made you want to write about the Cardinals?

DB: I have been writing since I was in high school but I started blogging on the Cards when I started working on the scoreboard. I started sending out these rants/emails about the team to my fellow Scoreboard watchers and the list of recipients grew and grew with each year. I wrote short stories on Rick Ankiel‘s ascension or Bud Smith‘s no hitter and turned the true story into a tall tale. I love to write and feel a journalistic hunger to tell my side of the story or give my take and that never came more smoothly than it did with the Cardinals. I regularly blog at least a 1,000 words on them every 48 hours because I see so many things about the team that needs to be addressed and I don’t have a limit like other paid writers. I guess you can say I don’t let my amount of readers lead on my topical discussion but I do like a response on one of my blogs because there is nothing better than breaking down a baseball team.

PH8: Sacrifice bunting – for or against?

DB: For it as long as it’s used in moderation. Far too many times, a manager will give away too many outs thinking he is positioning the team better with a bunt. Naturally, pitchers can’t hit as well as the other 8 position players (unless they are named Pete Kozma) so it’s logical for them to bunt. However, the fewer outs you have and if you can catch another team off guard with a hitting approach at the plate instead of bunting and providing the pitcher with a breathing session and a free out, I am all for the anti-bunt approach. There is a time for a bunt and that usually comes in a one run game where you must get that runner into scoring position so you can tie the game. When it reaches the point of regularity, I am not a huge fan of giving away free outs. Moderation is best.

PH8: Who’s your favorite Cardinal from the team’s history that’s not in the Hall of Fame or on the wall at Busch III?

DB: Pedro Guerrero was my favorite as a kid growing up and in a lot of ways my first favorite player. The quirky former Dodger villain (who threw his glove down in disgust when Ozzie hit the go crazy home run) who turned into an RBI machine for the Cards in 1989, played a decent first base and always had this goofy mystique around him. He had his off the field troubles and didn’t hit for a ton of power but he got my attention and I remember this great 2 HR day he had at Wrigley on a Friday and his picture was all over the cover of the Saturday newspaper. I could have taped the sports front page to my chest and worn it like a badge of honor I was so proud of being a Guerrero guy. He wasn’t a huge fan favorite but I still have the paper from the day after he stood at home plate and tipped his cap to the crowd at old Busch. He was a player’s guy and someone who wasn’t flashy but got the job done.

PH8: How hard can you throw a fastball?

DB: I pitched a little in high school and once hit 65 mile per hour. These days, I would be lucky if I hit 55 because I haven’t pitched in some time and never had the hardest arm in the crowd. I played a lot of first base and outfield and had an arm that probably matched up to Jon Jay or Matt Holliday. I just made sure I hit the cutoff guy instead of making an infamous name for myself by missing the plate by 20 feet.

PH8: Where is your favorite place to sit at Busch Stadium? Why?

DB: I love sitting down the third base line in Loge. You can see all the action from an angle and easily track down the trajectory of fly balls and get an idea of where the fielders’ range is at on close and tight plays. Sitting too low leaves you handicap to the flight of the ball and the outfielder’s chances of catching the ball. Sitting too high leaves you absent from the details of the game. Loge down the third base line (or first base line for that matter) gives you the best “baseball sense” positioning. Except for being unable to see the strike zone, you are seated perfectly. Who cares about the strike zone familiarity anyway? The player reaction and umpire mannerisms give you all the answers you need and getting lost in balls/strikes at a game can deprive you of the many jewels from the rest of the action.

PH8: Have you seen the Cardinals play at other stadiums, and if so, where? If not, where would you like to go?

DB: I saw them play the White Sox at Comiskey Park when I was in high school. It was different seeing them in their road grays in person and also interesting to hear the home crowd break down my players or present their ways to get them out. It was like being a mole at a rival’s dinner party. I don’t make a big deal and lots of noise when I attend games at other parks or if I do in the future. I just sit there, hope for a win and cheer in the right moments while not being absent or too silent. It’s a great test of your strength as a fan watching them in other parks. Before they rip it down, I hope to get to Wrigley one summer for a Cards-Cubs game. Hopefully, when the Cubs aren’t a horrible team and out of the race.

PH8: Scenario: the Cardinals have reached the 2013 World Series, Wainwright had to pitch a complete game gem to win game 7 of the NLCS and is unavailable – who starts game 1 of the Series?

DB: Joe Kelly. Right now, it’s Joe Kelly because he has an ability in his 26 career starts to pitch very well with runners on base, doesn’t allow the big inning and always gives you a solid 5-6 innings. The guy has the chops to take the mound in an opposing park or on a big stage and get into a risky situation and not let his mental makeup disappear. Lance Lynn and Jaime Garcia don’t have their mental strength. Jake Westbrook is a declining arm that depends on luck. Shelby Miller is an interesting choice but doesn’t pitch as well in dicey go for broke spots like Kelly does.

PH8: Where do you think Carlos Beltran will play next season?

DB: Tough question because there are so many variables. If he doesn’t demand a 3 year deal, it could be in St. Louis. It depends on what Carlos wants. He has provided 2 very good years here and proven he can still play RF and produce. He has the dead spot in July and August but recovers in September and the playoffs. With Oscar Taveras recovering from ankle surgery and seemingly having a great chance of making the team in 2014, Beltran’s situation is so fluid that I am not surprised it gives John Mozeliak sleepless nights. It all comes down to Beltran. He could earn his retirement ticket and play for a AL league contender and do a split RF/DH role. He has earned the right, unlike Lance Berkman, the big career closing contract. Or he could work out a smaller deal or a different way to stay here and get a ring. Playing a part too is if the Cards end up winning the World Series this year. Beltran came here to win a ring and may depart easier if we win it this year. Standing here today, I’d say the chances of Beltran returning are 35/65. The smaller percentage for him staying in Cardinal Red because I have a hard time thinking he will accept another 1-2 year deal when he can cash in somewhere else for a team that contends for a World Series. He’s a business man and a pragmatic athlete who knows he may have one more great contract left in him and that he better soak it up right now. Still, Mo will make a play. He wants Beltran here to mentor Oscar and keep that steady bat in the lineup. Offseason’s biggest quarrel is the Beltran decision.

PH8: What one position will the Cardinals upgrade after the 2013 season, and how?

DB: Shortstop. There’s no way the team can present Kozma, Ryan Jackson or Daniel Descalso as a starting shortstop and with the proposed departure of Beltran. You have to find a better impact bat to put at shortstop and while it may seem preposterous to some, I would like the team to take a look at Jimmy Rollins. Sure, there will be other candidates out there to take a look at, but Rollins is a guy who has played great baseball and I believe has something left to provide in a winning environment. If you can’t find that big young shortstop, Rollins could work. He had his best year when the Phillies were winning. When they declined this year, he went right with them. Rollins needs a winning team to be at the top of his game and I think would be an upgrade and he would benefit from the change of scenery and the placing inside a strong lineup. You can still play DD there to give Rollins rest, but if the market is dry, Rollins could work. Jon Jay has earned another season in CF, while Allen Craig can play RF if Beltran departs with Matt Adams moving into first. Here’s a bonus answer. The player that could be leaving after the season is David Freese. He is on a year to year basis and hasn’t earned that multi-year contract. With Kolten Wong needing more playing time and Matt Carpenter playing a great third base, this could be the big offseason shocker. Freese hasn’t shown me the traits needed to keep him here long term.

Wonderful answers! Better late than never? Check out Dan’s Cardinal work at Sports Rants and as part of the UCB! Thanks, Dan!

1 comment

My sincere apologies to you that look forward to this feature on any sort of regular basis. I mean, it’s been what, six or eight months? Well, have I got just the thing for you. Recently Fangraphs added pitchers to their venerable tool of time-suck, opening up a wide new world of players for us to compare and contrast here.

Today I bring to you The C(h)ris Carpenter Trio (by now, you know my affection for post titles that double as band names).

There’s the Chris Carpenter we all know and love, the one who is going to represent the Cardinals at the upcoming First Year Player Draft.

There’s the Cris Carpenter many of us know and don’t really remember.

Then there’s the Chris Carpenter that’s pitching in Japan now.

Quick, I’ll give you one guess who’s going to win this version of WAR Graph Wednesday. I’ll wait…

Ok, here are the three by age:


Source: FanGraphsChris Carpenter, Chris Carpenter, Cris Carpenter

Wait, what happened to Chris Carpenter (Japan)? Ok, that’s mean, I know. I’ll admit, I had to look up Cris Carpenter’s 1988, and forgot that he had come up as a starter.

What about by best season?


Source: FanGraphsChris Carpenter, Chris Carpenter, Cris Carpenter

Yeah, Chris Carpenter (Japan) can say he was a big leaguer. That’s cool. If only Chris Carpenter (#29) could’ve just stayed healthy. Those barrel-bottom seasons of less than a handful of starts really sting, if only just because we missed Carp’s on-field intensity those seasons. Heart u Carp.

Finally, the cumulative graph is a walk-over. Chris Carpenter (#29) in a land slide.


Source: FanGraphsChris Carpenter, Chris Carpenter, Cris Carpenter

Things that I learned while writing this post: both Chris Carpenter’s have the middle name John. Creeeeeeepppppyyyyyyy.

Have a WAR Graph you’d like to see in future weeks? Leave suggestions in the comments below and I’ll be more than happy to oblige.

2 comments

Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals’ victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in St. Louis last night was special for many reasons (hey, they won again!), not the least of which was Wainwright’s dominant performance.

Let’s make clear early on (because someone will, if I don’t) that the D’Backs aren’t exactly in the upper echelon of competition right now – which is to say, they’re now 18-29 on the season after last night – but when a pitcher is as on, and has the stuff and command that Wainwright did last night, it’s going to be hard to hit him if you’re the ’27 Yankees.

PH8’s loyal readers (all four of you) and FRIENDS OF THE BOLG know that we’re big fans of the Pitching Game Score metric here, using it to judge the quality of a pitcher’s start. Well, by that and any other metric, Wainwright’s start was just as good as it looked to the naked eye. In fact, it ranks as one of the top 21 ALL-TIME in Cardinals history going back to 1914.

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GSc BF AB
1 Roy Parmelee 1936-04-29 STL NYG W 2-1 17.0 6 1 1 4 9 0 116 57 50
2 Tex Carleton 1933-07-02 (1) STL NYG L 0-1 16.0 8 0 0 7 7 0 106 63 54
3 Harry Brecheen 1950-04-30 STL CHC W 1-0 SHO13 ,W 13.0 5 0 0 1 8 0 104 44 41
4 Jose DeLeon 1989-08-30 STL CIN L 0-2 GS-11 11.0 1 0 0 0 8 0 109 74 103 33 33
5 Lee Meadows 1917-09-22 STL BSN T 0-0 14.0 10 0 0 0 10 0 102 48 48
6 Bob Gibson 1969-07-25 STL SFG W 2-1 CG 13 ,W 13.0 6 1 1 2 11 0 100 46 40
7 Bill Doak 1917-06-11 STL PHI W 5-4 15.0 6 4 2 3 10 0 100 53 47
8 Shelby Miller 2013-05-10 STL COL W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 0 13 0 113 84 98 28 28
9 Max Lanier 1944-07-02 (1) STL BRO W 2-1 CG 14 ,W 14.0 7 1 1 5 9 0 98 52 46
10 Bob Gibson 1968-05-06 STL NYM W 2-1 CG 11 ,W 11.0 3 1 1 1 11 0 97 36 35
11 Ernie Broglio 1960-07-15 STL CHC W 6-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 2 14 0 97 30 28
12 Jesse Haines 1920-10-01 STL CHC L 2-3 16.1 10 3 2 4 8 0 97 59 54
13 Bob Gibson 1970-06-17 STL SDP W 8-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 2 13 0 96 29 27
14 Jim Winford 1936-09-09 STL BSN W 3-1 15.0 11 1 1 1 6 0 96 55 51
15 Red Ames 1915-09-19 (2) STL PHI W 1-0 10.0 1 0 0 2 7 0 95 31 29
16 Adam Wainwright 2014-05-20 STL ARI W 5-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 0 9 0 115 86 94 28 28
17 Chris Carpenter 2005-06-14 STL TOR W 7-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 1 10 0 95 68 94 28 27
18 Matt Morris 2004-09-03 STL LAD W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 2 0 0 0 11 0 111 81 94 29 29
19 Bob Gibson 1971-08-14 STL PIT W 11-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 3 10 0 94 31 28
20 Steve Carlton 1968-06-19 STL CHC W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 0 9 0 94 29 28
21 Paul Dean 1934-09-13 STL NYG W 2-0 12.0 6 0 0 3 7 0 94 45 41
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/21/2014.

This is what I love about the Play Index at Baseball Reference – I go to find out just how good and historically significant* Wainwright’s start was, and find all of these fifteen and sixteen inning gems back in the archives. And lest we forget, Shelby Miller had a pretty good outing against Colorado last year. Also a shout-out to poor Jose DeLeon, who went eleven with no runs and only one hit, yet couldn’t get a win.

* Yes, historically significant. I had an interesting epiphany last night while watching Twitter for reactions to the game. Someone, I don’t recall who (and it’s really not important because there’s nothing wrong with what they said), mentioned that the Cards’ announcing team was getting all fired up as if Wainwright’s performance was some big deal, of historical significance, or otherwise super-important outside of just being a good one-hit start. Well, if the chart above is any indication, it was. On par with Bob Gibson‘s no-hitter in 1971. Much better than, say, Edwin Jackson’s no-hitter in 2010 (85 Game Score). So while I’m not fully on-board with the “no-hitters aren’t special” crusade of Brian Kenny, I can appreciate the sentiment of paying more attention to great starts in general – because this one was.

So the above chart is great, and shows the overall historical significance of Wainwright’s evening, but what if we pared it down a little bit to reflect the reality of today’s game – the nine-innings is a full day’s work reality?

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit Str GSc BF AB
1 Shelby Miller 2013-05-10 STL COL W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 0 13 0 113 84 98 28 28
2 Ernie Broglio 1960-07-15 STL CHC W 6-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 2 14 0 97 30 28
3 Bob Gibson 1970-06-17 STL SDP W 8-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 2 13 0 96 29 27
4 Adam Wainwright 2014-05-20 STL ARI W 5-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 0 9 0 115 86 94 28 28
5 Chris Carpenter 2005-06-14 STL TOR W 7-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 1 10 0 95 68 94 28 27
6 Matt Morris 2004-09-03 STL LAD W 3-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 2 0 0 0 11 0 111 81 94 29 29
7 Bob Gibson 1971-08-14 STL PIT W 11-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 0 0 0 3 10 0 94 31 28
8 Steve Carlton 1968-06-19 STL CHC W 4-0 SHO9 ,W 9.0 1 0 0 0 9 0 94 29 28
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/21/2014.

Obviously we see the same names, same performances as above – but presented in the nine inning context we see just how good this outing was by Wainwright. I won’t post the whole thing here, but looking at nine inning starts since 1914 across all of MLB it ranks among the top 205. That’s historically significant.

I don’t want to speak for Daniel, but I feel fairly safe saying that Waino gets the HERO for last night’s game.

4 comments

Ok, that’s definitely just a click-baiting headline, but stick with me here.

In doing some research for another post, I was re-introduced to the fantastic site of one David Pinto, Baseball Musings.

Amongst the other wonderful things you can find at David’s website is one tool called the “Day-by-Day Database.” It will allow you to input various parameters and dates for a number of stats and tell you what has occurred over those dates.

One such combination of parameters allows us to see what the Cardinals’ record is when various players register a “game played” – so if someone shows up in the box score, that win or loss is credited to them in this tool. Crude and somewhat intentionally misleading? Sure. Entertaining? You’re damn right.

To wit, see below chart (and here’s the link) of Cardinals “player in game” wins and losses. We can find plenty of HOT TAKES from this (Pete Kozma, really?), but one in particular stands out to me, which I’ll reveal to you after you peruse the chart:

Player Wins Losses WPCT
Sam Freeman 1 0 1.000
Trevor Rosenthal 15 4 .789
Adam Wainwright 7 2 .778
Pete Kozma 3 1 .750
Lance Lynn 6 3 .667
Shelby Miller 6 3 .667
Carlos Martinez 14 8 .636
Kevin Siegrist 14 8 .636
Kolten Wong 14 9 .609
Tony Cruz 5 4 .556
Matt Adams 23 20 .535
Matt Holliday 23 20 .535
Jhonny Peralta 22 20 .524
Allen Craig 22 20 .524
Matt Carpenter 23 21 .523
Yadier Molina 20 19 .513
Jon Jay 18 18 .500
Peter Bourjos 17 17 .500
Joey Butler 3 3 .500
Randal Grichuk 4 5 .444
Player Wins Losses WPCT
Shane Robinson 7 9 .438
Greg Garcia 3 4 .429
Daniel Descalso 12 18 .400
Mark Ellis 8 14 .364
Pat Neshek 7 14 .333
Seth Maness 5 10 .333
Michael Wacha 3 6 .333
Joe Kelly 1 2 .333
Randy Choate 5 11 .312
Eric Fornataro 1 6 .143
Jaime Garcia 0 1 .000
Keith Butler 0 2 .000
Tyler Lyons 0 6 .000

Kolten Wong > Mark Ellis. I mean, it’s right here on the Internet, it has to be true.

8 comments

At this point in the season it’s safe to say we are reaching have reached the point of beginning to eliminate small sample sizes in most cases.  Allen Craig is struggling. Shelby Miller isn’t pitching as well as his win-loss record and ERA indicate. Mike Matheny *loooooves* to double-switch. But what about those players for whom small sample size is life?

A quick post yesterday on KSDK.com about the Cards’ workout of Pedro Feliciano caught my eye not for the workout, but for a comment on the current state of the bullpen.

While Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez, and Trevor Rosenthal have been serviceable, the rest of the pen is a mess, with a revolving door of triple-A relievers trying their hand and Randy Choate getting battered to the tune of a near-7.00 ERA, something needs to be done, especially from the left side.

Putting aside first that Siegrist is left-handed and seemingly dismissed as such, the quick dismissal of Randy Choate is a little shortsighted. Sure, Choate was battered in his most recent game, but a reference to his ERA here isn’t really telling the whole story about how Choate has pitched overall.

First let’s acknowledge that Choate has only thrown a grand total of twelve innings so far in 2014. Second, despite getting more exposure to right-handed hitters this season than previously trusted with (arguably another product of Matheny’s stubbornness, but I digress), Choate has actually pitched quite well.  TO THE STATS!

Yes, Choate’s ERA is 6.75, but his FIP is 3.27. He is striking hitters out at about his career rate while walking far fewer. What has soiled his ERA is the game fresh in our memories (and surely that of the KSDK writer) in which Chaote allowed six earned runs in less than an inning to those dastardly Cubs. Let’s look at Choate against the Cubs for the 2014 season:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Anthony Rizzo 3 3 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 .333 .333 1.333 1.667
Nate Schierholtz 3 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Emilio Bonifacio 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Starlin Castro 2 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Mike Olt 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Darwin Barney 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Welington Castillo 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 2.000 3.000
Ryan Kalish 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Junior Lake 1 1 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 1.000 1.000 2.000 3.000
Luis Valbuena 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Travis Wood 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 18 16 9 2 0 1 7 1 4 .563 .556 .875 1.431
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used Generated 5/16/2014.

You’ll note that the Cubs on a whole have dominated Choate a little this season, obviously boosted by their outburst this week. Let’s clarify the picture a bit by looking at RHB and SHB against Choate.

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Emilio Bonifacio 2 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Starlin Castro 2 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000
Mike Olt 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Darwin Barney 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1.000 1.000 1.000 2.000
Welington Castillo 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000 2.000 3.000
Junior Lake 1 1 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 1.000 1.000 2.000 3.000
Travis Wood 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 10 9 7 2 0 0 4 1 1 .778 .800 1.000 1.800
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used Generated 5/16/2014.

So over half of the Cubs’ plate appearances versus Choate have been taken by RHB or SHB, and he’s been battered. So 1) STOP IT MIKE, and 2) that batting average is still a little inflated, wouldn’t you say?

Looking at Fangraphs’ game logs, we see that the Cubs’ BABIP against Choate in the referenced game was .778 (also note the 81.00 ERA and 3.10 FIP). That’s obviously unsustainable. Also a small sample size, but we’re talking about one game completely blowing up a guy’s performance for the SEASON here. Choate’s life with the Cardinals is one huge small sample size.

So while acknowledging this is a slippery slope, let’s remove the Cubs debacle from Choate’s stats (as many Cards fans have from their memory). Now he’s got an opposing batting average of .175 instead of .292. Now his ERA is 2.38 instead of 6.75.

Such is the life of a relief pitcher, especially a specialized one like Choate.

Maybe overreaction is a bit extreme to describe the KSDK post – it’s more likely that the writer just quickly looked at Choate’s ERA, deemed that he has sucked, and published. Furthermore, usually with the Cardinals where there is smoke there is fire, so we also can’t diminish the workout of Feliciano, but I can’t imagine that Randy Choate is too worried about his job right now.

4 comments

This is going to seem like a follow-up to this morning’s post, and it’s really only partially (if at all) that. It’s as much about illustrating Jhonny Peralta as likely the best option, at least in the short-term – and if past performance is any indicator of future success (it’s not).

Two of the typically three graphs tell the story here, and while they on their own don’t tell the whole story, some quick explanations make this the wisest move in John Mozeliak‘s bag of tricks.


Source: FanGraphsJhonny Peralta, Pete Kozma, Troy Tulowitzki

As one can see, Troy Tulowitzki is the prize here, but knowing Mo and his crew, they exhausted this option and deemed the price (both trade commodities and committed contract dollars) too high. Then there’s Peralta. Stephen Drew carries a draft pick “penalty” and could well be inferior to Peralta for now and kingdom come. Then Elvis Andrus, who in theory has some ceiling left to reach and could put the rest of these guys to shame, but the issue of trade cost again comes up. Jed Lowrie carries trade cost as well, and at this point we’re a solid one to two WAR below Peralta season-to-season. Hi Pete Kozma! Rounding out the bunch is a highly touted, largely unproven, Jurickson Profar. Lots of hot takes about him being the best option, but I can only imagine the conversations Mo and Jon Daniels had about this kid.

So, then, what about recent history?


Source: FanGraphsJhonny Peralta, Pete Kozma, Troy Tulowitzki

Not dancing around the current uproar, I instantly note that Peralta’s season of indiscretion is the worst of itself and the two surrounding it. Doesn’t likely mean much other than typical delta from year to year, but it’s worth noting. And then…

Tulo’s graph follows his injury history, Drew experienced a great rebound with the Red Sox in ’13 but a steep decline in the two previous seasons, Lowrie appears on the upswing (but was trade capital worth it?), Andrus is still INCREDIBLY young – Profar is younger and doesn’t even register on the graph, which leaves Kozma and his defensive and September 2012 fueled spike and the inevitable 2013 decline.

Who was best to fill the shortstop shoes in St. Louis for 2014? When you factor in all of the variables (trade cost, draft pick cost, monetary cost, public relations cost) – hard to argue with Peralta, no?

1 comment

Much has been made in the last four or five days of the outrage of baseball players, media, and some fans about the Cardinals’ free-agent signing of shortstop Jhonny Peralta. In fact, the issue has some media members in such a tizzy that they’ve been unable to spell moral correctly (or maybe they just mis-remembered what they heard, eh Roger?).

All jabs aside, while Daniel did a great job outlining the on-field discussion about what Peralta brings to the club – which is impossible to understate, IMO – the main focus of everyone since the initial reaction of “wow, this move really improves the Cardinals” has been on the suspension and subsequent payday for Peralta.

Brad Ziegler‘s angry. David Aardsma, unhappy. And then the piling on came.

I hold the opinion that no one here is really wrong, even if they’re all approaching and addressing the situation in the wrong way (or at least a perceived wrong way). I realize that doesn’t seem to make sense, but let me elaborate.

First, from the Cardinals perspective – they needed a shortstop and there is no rule existing that states Peralta is ineligible to play for any amount of money because of a prior suspension under the current JDA. It’s obviously not as simple as that for the Cardinals, as Bernie Miklasz addressed. What about “The Cardinal Way”? Even with an incorrect application of that term, it’s the focus here. Even when you conveniently ignore the fact that “The Cardinal Way” never stopped the local organization from employing the players Bernie lists (among others) – Mark McGwire, Rick Ankiel, Ryan Franklin, et al. It’s never stopped them before, and logically, if you’re trying to win within the existing rule system, it shouldn’t. Peralta is eligible, period.

John Mozeliak is absolutely right when he says it’s not the responsibility of the Cardinals to be the morality police for MLB’s players. And I quote:

… “At this point in the game, there’s nothing that says he can’t go play or isn’t free to go sign with another club.

I don’t think it’s the Cardinals responsibility necessarily to be the morality police on potentially future employment.”

Which brings me to my second point, on the reaction of Ziegler and other players. Specifically Ziegler, a union rep for his team, has a particularly unique position from which to influence this discussion. Ziegler stated on Twitter during the firestorm that he and his fellow MLBPA team reps are working to stiffen drug penalties – that the existing system isn’t working because a 50 game suspension is clearly not enough of a deterrent to some players. I’d argue it’s not enough of a deterrent for some players *desperate* to remedy something – aging, injury, etc – in the interest of squeezing out a few more years. But I digress, really should be careful when postulating why or when someone would use – take note, players and media. So fine, Brad, you’re working on stiffer penalties for first-time suspensions, that’s great. I’m really all for it, I do believe it is the next necessary step in this evolution for baseball. It’s often easy to forget how far baseball has come on this issue in a short time, but for anyone to assume that it was going to be completely wiped out of the game at first blush, well, that’s just naive.

I guess my underlying complaint with Ziegler’s immediate reaction is, if your complaint is players getting paid after their suspensions – you might as well just make a first-time offense a permanent ban. If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you already read this opinion from Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk. Craig laid the case out perfectly, so I won’t go too much further on that end, but view it in this PURELY HYPOTHETICAL frame: if Bryce Harper were suspended for 100 games to start the 2014 season, is contrite and apologetic (hell, even if he isn’t either of those), do you think the Nationals or any other team would shy away from giving him ten years and $200 million following the season? I’ll let you answer for yourself. I know what I think.

Linking Calcaterra’s post also brings me to a third point, one of scarcity in a market flush with spendable assets – which again I won’t elaborate on too much because Craig did a great job, but the one point I do wish to further is the point he makes about the amount of spend being a portion of the complaint. Not only for the reasons stated in his post – that the game is flush with cash and ever-dwindling ways to spend it – but also as a matter of relativity. Peralta was going to get paid, in this exact market, regardless of PED’s – so if your argument is that he only got paid BECAUSE he used PED’s, you’re bringing an awful lot of burden of proof on yourself. First, that they actually helped the player – debate still exists chemically, and Peralta’s numbers in 2012 the year he reportedly used, were worse than 2013 – which leads to second, when Ziegler asked in a now-deleted tweet “what if they [PED's] were still in his system?”. Over a year later. Good choice deleting that one.

Furthermore, this appears to be a discussion of scale. Peralta was good without PED’s, historical statistics back this up. Peralta plays a premium position. Said premium position is short on available players and value for said players – something also affected by the market, given that Stephen Drew would’ve required a draft pick from the Cardinals in addition to “just cash”. So with all of that said, if the sticking point is $52 million, what difference does that make in the grand scheme? It’s a matter of scale. If it was only $26 million, then are we to believe that Ziegler would be happy with half of his salary ($3.15 million in 2013)? Sure, that’s a reach and getting to the boundaries of the argument, but it holds firm in the discussion with Calcaterra’s post – it’s a market driven contract for a player that is not *currently* restricted in any way, shape, or form by the rules that Ziegler helped define.

To put the final swings on this dead horse, David Aardsma, another of the outspoken players on Twitter has made $9,759,750 in his career to be a barely better than average pitcher (1.0 career fWAR). Economies of scale.

Chuckie Fick, a former Cardinals pitcher, sent this now-deleted tweet on Sunday:

@chuckiefick: If getting suspended 50 games means I get paid millions after, where is nearest laboratory?

Aside from completely defeating the argument by saying that he would gladly use to get paid (someone get Brad Ziegler on the phone!), Fick conveniently ignores the fact that Peralta is far more talented than he, and was going to get paid anyway. PED’s didn’t turn Jason Grimsley into Bob Gibson, they probably aren’t going to do much for you either, Chuckie. Sorry.

Here’s the short of my opinion on this:

  1. Jhonny Peralta cheated, admitted he cheated, and will forever have to wear that. He served a punishment required by the rules at the time of said infraction, and now is only restricted by any further transgressions against the JDA.
  2. At the most base argument, the Cardinals only have a responsibility to follow the rules laid out by MLB (and agreed to by the MLBPA) and to win. They should be prepared for blowback (and I think they were, judging by Mozeliak’s response) and for it to continue, especially as the team makes “The Cardinal Way” more a part of their brand. It will be interesting to see if this talk gets scaled back in the near term, as those screaming hypocrisy can certainly be considered right to say so. End of the day, and their theory as evidenced by Mozeliak’s response, they improved the team within the rules, period.
  3. The players who are angry SHOULD be angry. Don’t get the tone of this post wrong, I’d be angry too if I were a Ziegler, or an Aardsma, or even a Fick. I’m clean, I know it, you cheated, and you’re getting paid. But let’s not allow that to completely ignore the remainder of the facts: Peralta was getting paid regardless by a system that has also rewarded Ziegler, Aardsma, and Fick on a similarly exponential scale.
  4. I haven’t addressed the fan blowback much, but speaking as directly as I can, anyone who cheered on McGwire’s 70 home runs can’t now question Mozeliak and/or the Cardinals for signing Peralta. Or Franklin’s many saves in a Cardinal uniform, which also came AFTER he served a suspension for a positive drug test. That includes me. That goes for booing Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera, or anyone else similarly related too. I’ve made fun of Ryan Braun, I’ve decried the way he drug an innocent man’s name through the mud, but I don’t have license to boo him, because Jhonny Peralta improves my favorite team, and while I don’t like his past, it is that – the past. If Peralta somehow winds up a second-time loser, my opinion changes. For now, I’m comfortable enough to say that PED’s were (and are) a thing, he served suspension under the rules, he improves the team, he better not do it again. And I realize this requires me to walk a fine line in future judgements of players.
  5. ALL parties should be doing “more” to make using PED’s completely abhorrent to all players. I put “more” in quotation marks because as Calcaterra writes, a lifetime ban for first-time users isn’t really an answer either. So what is “more” then? You ban a player for an entire season, and then they can still make dough after that? Perhaps the sweet spot is to find a suitable suspension length that makes using attractive only to the most desperate of players, such that an offense would effectively be the end of their career anyway – and just long enough to deter those looking for the extra bit of juice.

I clearly don’t have all of the answers – and I obviously can’t escape completely from Cardinal fan bias here – but to jump the Cardinals, MLB ownership, Peralta, Ziegler, or anyone in this case really is missing the point I think. Continue to improve the JDA and how it deals with infractions, and in the meantime, accept that there is a lot of money to go around – for all players, not just players formerly suspended – AND as the JDA ages, a lot more players that have been tainted by it are available to be signed.

It’s still a work in progress, but the game is certainly better for the current JDA than it was eight years ago.

8 comments

I really try to be as positive as I can about the Cardinals fan base, as often as I can. When we as a group are attacked as BFIB or that awful Twitter account gets spread around the interwebs like wildfire, I’m quick to remind anyone who will listen that they’re referencing a small subset of the larger whole – something that can be said of many a fan base.

But even I, sometimes, have to respond to the good folks of the metro St. Louis area. And in this case, I choose to do it in classic FJM style.

There were some opinions from folks Tony La Russa would like to manage against in last week’s “Letters” or “Sound Off” at STLToday.com.

Sound Off: Shortstop solutions offered for Cardinals

Ok, first of all, the title is some epic trolling from the editor, as you’ll soon find out. These are patently NOT solutions.

SHORTSTOPS AND STICKS

With Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso’s combined batting average of .222 ranking 29th out of 30 teams, the Cardinals need a new shortstop. But it shouldn’t be Stephen Drew, who hit .254 and carries a big salary. My suggestion would be to switch Matt Carpenter to short and put Kolten Wong at second base.

It sure didn’t take long for this to come up, did it? For reference, the widely accepted defensive scale from least to most difficult: 1B < LF < RF < 3B < CF < 2B < SS < C

So Carpenter has already moved two places on the spectrum, and was an average second baseman defensively. Don’t get me wrong, average is wonderful when coupled with his bat for a second baseman. But shortstop? Please stop.

As for Stephen Drew – first, he was worth ten runs on defense at shortstop, Carpenter couldn’t do that. Second, how do we know Wong could hit .254 in the big leagues?

Also, why do we have John Mabry, with a .263 lifetime average, as our batting coach?

Would you prefer Mark McGwire to come back? At least Mac was a… .263 career hitter. Oops.

Most of the Cardinals’ batters stand too far away from the plate and they don’t know a lot about the strike zone. They see a lot of pitches on the outside corner of the plate for called strikes or swings and misses.

Now you’re going to be the hitting coach? What was your career batting average?

The Cardinals finished 2013 with the third best on-base percentage in all of baseball. Good enough?

And, if they manage to hit it they try to pull the ball, which often results in a soft ground ball and possibly a double play. They also are suckers for balls that start in the middle of the plate and end up in the dirt about a foot off the plate. They probably led the league in check swings that are called strikes.

I’ll let you sort for yourself here, and I can’t get check swing data off-hand for you, but I can tell you that the Cardinals: were in the bottom of the league (23rd of 30) in swings outside the strike zone, in the top ten on contact on said pitches outside the zone, and third overall at total contact on pitches swung at. I’d say their plate approach is fine.

With a better batting coach, we might be able to keep David Freese at third.

[name redacted] • Innsbrook

Wow, you’re all over the place. Maybe if Freese could: hit the ball “better”, stay healthy, take more walks, etc etc he might be able to stay at third?

COULD WONG BE RIGHT AT SHORT?

Oh no.

Why can’t Kolten Wong play shortstop? He seems to have the range and arm to do that.

1B < LF < RF < 3B < CF < 2B < SS < C

With the absence of shortstops on the market, this would solve a lot of problems for us and allow the signing of an impact third baseman.

If the above isn’t enough, why does Wong have to play shortstop to get an impact third baseman? If Wong could hold his own at SECOND then Matt Carpenter can move to third. Wong doesn’t have the arm to move to shortstop, never mind range.

Spring training will determine if Wong can hit, but he would be a perfect lead-off hitter with speed — something we have not seen lately.

What’s wrong with Carpenter at lead-off? No one’s getting the green light anytime soon anyway. And Wong’s going to have to prove a LOT in Spring given his abysmal call-up at the plate in 2013.

We have been somewhat spoiled in Cardinal Nation. We could be Cubs or Astros fans. This team is going to be good for a long time. Management has shown that it is most capable of identifying and filling holes.

[name redacted] • Cedar Hill

Indeed, so let’s just leave the shortstop part to them as well.

So, that’s really where the shortstop stuff ends, but I’m having fun and the remaining two letters are equally entertaining.

PUT CRAIG AT THIRD BASE

If you can play first base, you probably can play third base.

1B < LF < RF < 3B < CF < 2B < SS < C

(I’m getting a lot of play out of this defensive spectrum today.)

Joe Torre did. Why not work out Allen Craig at third base in the offseason?

Actually, Joe Torre started at the most difficult position on the defensive spectrum, catcher. Then moved to third base. Then to first (other than playing first base sparingly when not catching to keep his bat in the lineup – because first base is easiest!).

They will not work Allen Craig out at third base because they have done that before. He came up through the system as a third baseman. It’s why he’s at first now.

If he can handle third, it would answer several of the Cardinals’ issues. It would put an impact bat at the hot corner. It would open up first base for Matt Adams. And it would relieve the congestion in right field.

He can’t handle third, so there’s that. And what congestion in right field? Last I recall, Carlos Beltran is gone, Oscar Taveras might not happen, and then ???

How about it Cardinals?

[name redacted] • Webster Groves

Please no.

MILLER SHOULD HAVE PITCHED

Where, oh where, was Shelby Miller during the run for the ring?

In the bullpen.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny chose to bring in Lance Lynn, who always is questionable under pressure, in Game 6 of the World Series instead of Miller, who might have given the Cards a chance.

By that time Miller hadn’t been in game action for a long time – it would’ve been even less fair to Miller to throw him to the wolves in that moment.

For some reason Miller was quarantined. Matheny never explained why Miller was absent.

Sure he did. Miller had the role of long-relief and/or mop-up but was never needed. By Game 6, he was announced unavailable.

(And fine, I’ll give in for the conspiracy theorists – maybe inning limit, maybe he’s being traded and they didn’t want to risk injury. Or, maybe he just wasn’t deemed best option.)

If Miller offended Matheny or upper management and they punished the team by not playing him, shame on them.

[name redacted] • Imperial

Shame, indeed.

2 comments

2013 World Series Game 1

Enough talk already, let’s get to the baseball! Boston hosts this year’s opener of the Fall Classic with thoughts of ’04 still rolling around in my head. Tonight will finally be the time to put to rest the Red Sox domination and get back to the good ol’ days of 1967. Enjoy your evening St. Louis fans and join the CC for all the festivities.

And the link just in case!

Click Here

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Live Blog Game 1

Two years ago it paid off to host an event to pair up with Game 1 and 2013 will be no different. Join me and hopefully a few special guests as we cheer on the Cards in Boston! Live blog starts at 7PM and will go as long as my CIL account will allow!  Click Here

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