Pitchers Hit Eighth

Garcia Gets a Look

To make room on the active roster for newcomer Brandon Moss, Matt Holliday has been put on the 15-day DL. Greg Garcia was also recalled to add depth as Dan Johnson’s tenure with the Cardinals appears to be over. The veteran 1B was DFA to open up a spot on the St. Louis 40-man roster.


Reports late last night had St. Louis and Cleveland close to making a deal for the third consecutive summer, and now Brandon Moss will don uniform No. 21 for the Cardinals. The 1B/OF has 15 HR and 50 RBI in 2015, both that would be team highs for St. Louis.


Playing the Roster Lottery

All teams compete with pretty much the same roster configuration, no matter which level of professional baseball is in the discussion. A 25-man roster typically has 12-14 pitchers to go with two catchers and then a mix of fielders to make the math work. With the final 2015 visit to American League parks, the Cardinals get the added bonus of the Designated Hitter that can help keep most of the regulars healthy. The issue at hand isn’t whether or not Stephen Piscotty belongs on the roster, as the bat will stick with opportunity.

Now the questions about playing time in St. Louis for the top prospect will begin but as Daniel pointed out earlier today, a bigger clock is the priority. The Cards do not have another day off until August 3rd, setting up the yearly roller coaster to again have a possible impact on the active clubhouse. Where as some teams look for a change to bring a spark, that’s not normally how the Birds on the Bat view the trade deadline.

When you are leading the sport with basically a 23-man roster, however, and 22 on days when the long reliever is off-limits news that Ty Kelly will most likely never get to St. Louis become a side note. More changes will have to be made to the 40-man in the very near future as Jordan Walden should be back before July 31st, but that also isn’t the concern. Where the fun starts is looking at how the Cardinals will accommodate the trio of Marco Gonzales and Jaime Garcia as well as Walden on the active lineup.

Mike Matheny and company are geared for October pretty much with every move, and that makes playing with a short bench all the more frustrating especially after 18 innings of fun. Never mind that Tony Cruz was MIA Sunday or that he was drafted as a 3B, because the back-up catcher under the Arch is largely an afterthought. It also needs to be mentioned that there are currently five catchers residing on the 40-man but having a third backstop on the St. Louis roster hardly would make a difference.

The lack of confidence in Greg Garcia would maybe be a bigger story on a different club, especially as Pete Kozma continues to anchor the bench with his .381 OPS. But with all that in consideration and more injured players closer to contributing, let’s turn to how the roster should look when the calendar turns to August. The dog days are compromised slightly more than usual  given that two All-Star hurlers may have an unknown innings cap getting closer with each start. Only the Cardinals’ front office knows exactly when Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez will be given breaks, but the innings crunch is a real thing.

Instead of looking at all the players who are locks to maintain their spots, it really comes down to three or four spots left up for grabs. Obviously a trade would shake things up, but that unknown is a post for another day. As it stands now, Garcia or Gonzales would slide into the fifth spot in the rotation, most likely pushing Cooney back to Memphis. There could be a modified six-man rotation as well, but off days as well as pushing back the young arms will open up plenty of opportunity for innings. That all but assures Socolovich is the odd-man out as the last guy remaining in the bullpen.

Where things get less obvious is what to do when Walden comes back, on both roster fronts. If Piscotty has taken over first base in a time share of sorts, that makes Dan Johnson an easy DFA candidate plus keeps hard-throwing Tui on the active roster. If he hasn’t been used regularly, though, a stint in Memphis would make sense before rosters expand in September. The Johnson spot could then be used for an incoming option from the left-side if a deal is struck this month or next.

One under-the-radar name in the system to keep an eye on is Jeremy Hazelbaker, who offers speed as well as left-handed pop off the bench. Sporting a cool 1.433 OPS over 15 games with Memphis, Hazelbaker provides good insurance if Mo can flip an outfielder relatively soon. Unless the wheels fall off the bullpen or an injury ‘creeps’ up, the St. Louis postseason chances will be determined by pitching. It appears to be coming right down to the wire again and oh man, what I wouldn’t give to be able to listen in on the war room ten days from now.

No matter what does or doesn’t happen between now and then, it will be fascinating to see if the Cardinals can keep playing short and winning or if anyone can find Cruz!


Godspeed, Oscar Yadier Taveras.

I did not cry Sunday night when I read the news of Oscar Taveras and Edilia Arvelo’s unfortunate fatal car accident. I felt all of the emotions usually associated with and preceding crying, but the tears didn’t come.

I chatted with Daniel on the Gateway to Baseball Heaven podcast Sunday night, mere minutes after the world was learning that Oscar and Edilia were gone. We stumbled and bumbled through it, it was cathartic in a way, if premature for truly having a reaction other than “this sucks.” Shock, disbelief, wanting to wish it away – that was all there, but no tears.

The outpouring of emotion and reactions from the Cardinal players, the news reports, the photos – oh, the incessant photos from the local press and citizenry, some things just should never be seen – these things brought more shock, more disbelief, increasing dismay and sympathy. Still no tears.

Yesterday I read about Taveras’ funeral and the stories of the townspeople who loved him, the children who loved him, the family who loved him and I was moved. There was one name that stuck out to me in the reports, one I’ll never forget. It read:

Oscar Yadier Taveras

Then came the tears. Oscar and Edilia’s one year old son, Oscar Yadier Taveras, stopped me in my tracks. I think you can deduce from the gamut of emotion above that it was only a matter of time, and thinking of their young son left behind without truly knowing his mother and father finally put me over the edge.

That’s the differentiating factor of grief and mourning, it is obviously about those lost, but inherently it is also deeply personal to the person grieving, no? How that manifested itself in me, now the fortunate father of two healthy, happy children is that I now tend to see some things in the world the same way I see many of the things in my life – colored through the eyes of a parent. Sorrow and sympathy for the families, the parents of these two young lives lost. A parent should never have to bury their child. I know this is not a unique emotion to me or only to someone who is a parent. Nor is sympathy for a young child, his whole life in front of him. But I can say with relative confidence – and several years experience now – once that protective parental instinct kicks in, something like this hits deeper. It is more personal, more real. And brings more tears.

So on Sunday night and every night since, I’ve hugged my Cardinal-loving four-year-old son a little tighter when I put him to bed. I’ve stared at my four-month-old daughter asleep in her crib a little longer. They both got one extra kiss a day. Yesterday I read about little Oscar Yadier. More hugs, more kisses, more appreciation for the blessing of life.

I write this not to tell you my life, but to relate how I (and I imagine many others) cope. As Cole wrote eloquently, we all find our own ways to work through tragedies such as these. I did not know Oscar or Edilia, I do not know their son Oscar, I do not know their families or friends. I do know that no parent should have to bury a child, and no child should lose both of their parents in such tragic manner, especially while still clinging to the innocence of being a young child.

Today, I take comfort in knowing that Oscar Yadier has the support system of several thousands of beautiful Dominican people, family and friends. I take comfort in the hope that he grows up to share that wide, glowing smile of his father. I take comfort in the video he will be able to watch of his father achieving his life’s dreams, even in such a short life, and the stories that Cardinal fans will be willing to tell him for all of his life.

Mostly, I take comfort in knowing that Oscar Yadier has two new angels watching over him. Rest in peace Oscar and Edilia. Godspeed, Oscar Yadier.


I have the distinct honor of being a voting member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, and this season my vote is being tallied for the Walter Johnson Award for the most outstanding pitcher in the National League.

As with many of these voting processes, BBA or other body of award-givers, there can be very few restrictions or qualifications for any given award, as is the case with this one. It makes it both fun and sometimes maddening distinguishing between several qualified candidates and then having to back up your position. It’s easy to TYPE IN ALL CAPS ON TWITTER BECAUSE YOU DISRESPECTED MY FAVORITE PLAYER, but it’s much different when you have to actually listen to or use reason yourself to deem one season-long performance superior to another.

With that said, here is my ballot:

  1. Clayton Kershaw – If you disagree with this, I will openly mock you. Ok, probably not, that would be rude because I don’t even know you, but it’s very difficult to argue with Kershaw as the winner of this award. Almost 11 strikeouts per nine innings pitched helped result in an ERA and FIP under two, and xFIP just above it. Kershaw threw almost 200 innings and ranked in the top seven in the National League in FIP and xFIP among ALL pitchers. Those top seven lists include pitchers with fewer than ten innings pitched, to put that ranking in perspective. It’s really a shame Kershaw missed a handful of starts due to injury, for while this is already a phenominal season by any standard – we could be talking about a truly historic season.
  2. Jordan Zimmerman – I’ll admit, I almost used the voter crutch of “I’ve seen him more” to put Wainwright in this spot, but the statistics drove me toward Zimmerman. While not reaching the magical threshold of 200 innings pitched, likely due in part to a higher BABIP than his contemporaries on this ballot, Zimmerman did post a strong K/9 rate coupled with a low walk rate – always a recipe for success.
  3. Adam Wainwright – Always a bridesmaid, never the bride. Wainwright’s hiccup in the dog days of summer kept him from making this more of a contest, as he piled up wins (I know, I know), innings, and most importantly – outs. Wainwright posted a 2.38 ERA and 2.88 FIP, he was certainly helped by an improved Cardinals defense. [ED. Note: Please let the elbow be ok, please let the elbow be ok, please let the elbow be ok, please…]
  4. Jake Arrieta – I was surprised when this name showed up in my research. I guess that’s an indictment of my knowledge of what’s going on elsewhere in the league, or I just don’t pay any attention to the Cubs. (Probably a little of A, little of B.) Arrieta arrived with the big league Cubs in early May and proceeded to strike out almost ten per nine for the rest of 2014. He walked a lot too, but kept his pitches in the ballpark better than any other regular NL starter. If Arrieta can put together a full, healthy 2015 he will help buoy a staff looking for innings.
  5. Stephen Strasburg – Strasburg paired with Zimmerman to lead the Nationals to the best record in the National League, Strasburg’s performance predicated upon over 200 innings with lots of strikeouts. Unlike Arrieta, Strasburg struggled keeping the ball in the yard a little this season (what’s that old saying, faster it comes, faster it goes? – I’m dating myself…) but still posted a FIP just under 3 and xFIP of 2.56. The 14-11 record doesn’t scream dominance, but the peripherals do – a few more balls hit at fielders makes Strasburg’s season look much differently, I’d guess.

So there is my ballot. Agree or disagree? There’s a place for that below.


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:

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?

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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


[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!

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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.


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.


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.


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:

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.

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.




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