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The Cardinals
2005-06-10 14:12
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

St. Louis Cardinals

2004 Record: 105-57 (.648)
2004 Pythagorean Record: 100-62 (.617)

Manager: Tony LaRussa
General Manager: Walt Jocketty

Ballpark (2004 park factors): Busch Stadium (97/97)

Who's replacing whom?

Mark Grudzielanek replaces Edgar Renteria
David Eckstein replaces Tony Womack
Mark Mulder replaces Woody Williams
Randy Flores inherits Steve Kline's innings
Larry Walker takes over Ray Lankford and Marlon Anderson's playing time
Yadier Molina inherits Mike Matheny's playing time
Einar Diaz takes over Molina's playing time
Abraham Nunez has replaced Hector Luna and is filling in for Scott Rolen (along with Scott Seabol)
Al Reyes inherits Kiko Calero's playing time
Dan Haren is replaced by various and sundry relievers

Current Roster:

1B – Albert Pujols
2B – Mark Grudzielanek
SS – David Eckstein
3B – Abraham O. Nunez
C – Yadier Molina
RF – Larry Walker
CF – Jim Edmonds
LF – Reggie Sanders

Bench:

L – John Mabry (UT)
R – So Taguchi (OF)
R - Scott Seabol (IF)
R – Einar Diaz (C)
L - Skip Schumaker (OF)

Rotation:

L – Mark Mulder
R – Chris Carpenter
R – Jason Marquis
R – Matt Morris
R – Jeff Suppan

Bullpen:

R – Jason Isringhausen
R – Julian Tavarez
L – Ray King
R – Al Reyes
L - Randy Flores
R - Brad Thompson
L - Gabe White

DL:

R – Scott Rolen (3B)
S – Roger Cedeno (OF)
R – Cal Eldred
R – Mike Lincoln

Typical Line-up

R – David Eckstein (SS)
R – Mark Gruzielanek (2B)
R – Albert Pujols (1B)
L – Jim Edmonds (CF)
R – Reggie Sanders (LF)
L – Larry Walker (RF)
S - Abraham Nunez (3B)
R – Yanier Molina (C)

The Cardinals calling card is their quartet of Hall of Fame-quality sluggers: Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds and Larry Walker. But with Rolen on the DL with a shoulder injury (replaced by Pirates castoff Abraham Nunez and the Yankee's one-time answer to Moonlight Graham, Scott Seabol), and Walker hitting a pedestrian .245/.347/.417 (.265 EQA) at age 38 in his first full season outside of Colorado since 1994, it's time to give credit to their pitching for their recent dominance of the National League.

Last year, when the Cardinals played in their first World Series since 1987, they brought with them the second best team ERA in the majors (one one-hundredth of an earned run behind the Braves 3.74). This year the Cards' hurlers are a "mere" fifth in the majors with a 3.65 ERA(though, oddly, that's good for second in the NL, in what's turning out to be a topsy-turvey year for team pitching).

Part of the reason for that has been their incredibly solid rotation. Just five pitchers have started for the Cardinals this year with Jeff Suppan's 4.28 the worst of the bunch. Their top three starters (which, astonishingly, does not include Mark Mulder, the one addition they made to the rotation this offseason) all sport ERAs at or below 3.50. Meanwhile, Suppan and Chris Carpenter, who were both expected to suffer some correction after posting career-best ERAs last year, have indeed seen those figures increase, but only slightly, with each good for a second-best career mark. What's more, replacing Woody Williams with Mark Mulder (note the snazzy visually inverted alliteration) shaved 11 years of the age of the staff whose oldest member, Matt Morris, won't be 31 until August, which suggests that, if Morris and Carpenter can continue to keep their sketchy injury histories behind them, this staff could be together for a while.

Things have been less consistent in the bullpen, with twelve pitchers getting the ball from Tony LaRussa at one point or another, however every man who posted an ERA over 3.60 (including journeyman Kevin Jarvis and Jason Isringhausen's former Generation K partner Bill Pulsipher) was quickly banished to the minors, resulting in a shiny pen ERA of 3.36.

Leading the pack is another forgotten Yankee, Al Reyes, who never stuck in the dreadful 2003 pen despite a 3.18 ERA and has given up a total of six runs in 36 1/3 major league innings and not a single homer since leaving the Bronx (the Cards are paying Reyes $450,00 for his 1.85 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 9.62 K/9 and 3.71 K/BB ratio--no comment).

You may have noticed that Gabe White is also on this team. Jay Jaffe's favorite porn stash has a mere 2.16 ERA in 8 1/3 innings, but given his 1.80 WHIP and one strikeout, I wouldn't expect that to last.

Elsewhere, the Card's Big Three of Isringhausen, righty/basket case Julian Taverez, and LOOGY Ray "Thing" King (15 2/3 IP in 28 games) has been solid, though King's strikeout rate is down for the fourth straight year, which suggests that Randy Flores finally putting things together couldn't have happened at a better time.

And, yes, the Cardinals offense is still pretty impressive. Currently fourth in the majors (and tops in the NL) in runs scored. They're getting great OBP from the middle infield (Grudzielanek: .366, Eckstein: .385), which only serves to underline the idiocy of the Yankees signing Tony Womack. Reggie Sanders is slugging .538 and hitting in front of Walker. Nunez has been acceptable as an emergency replacement in Rolen's absence (.268/.339/.402 - .255). Catcher has been a complete black hole, but then this is a team that started Mike Matheny for five years, so that's nothing new.

Yes, indeed, the Yankees have their work cut out for them this weekend. The good news is that Chien-Ming Wang goes for the Yanks tonight and tomorrow we'll get a marquee FOX match-up with Randy Johnson facing Mark Mulder, two should-be aces who had disappointed despite actually pitching quite well for anyone not named Randy Johnson or Mark Mulder.

Incidentally, it feels like forever since the Yankees beat the Brewers the other night, but apparently it feels like even longer since the Yanks and Cardinals last met. On both 1010 WINS this morning and on Michael Kay's show on ESPN 1050 today I heard the comment that tonight the Yankees and Cardinals will face each other for the first time since the 1964 World Series, apparently that time that Roger Clemens struck out Edgar Rentaria for his 4,000th strike out on his way to his 300th win, which came against the Cardinals in the Bronx just two years ago wasn't memorable enough.

I for one really enjoyed that series, if only because I've always appreciated the Cardinals (who are second to the Yankees with nine World Series titles), and enjoyed cheering then-Cardinals Tino Martinez and Joe Girardi as they made their Yankee Stadium returns. I also got a kick out of seeing Albert Pujols blast one into the left field seats, I must admit. Greatness goes beyond uniform.

Comments
2005-06-10 15:58:31
1.   tocho
Alex, Cliff

Any predictions?

2005-06-10 16:14:31
2.   vockins
Re: Forgetful Announcers

Earlier in the year John Sterling noted that Jeter had the first walk off HR of his career vs. the Red Sox during the opening series, and I thought, "Did I dream the 2001 World Series?"

I really don't care if an announcer flubs a call once in a while, or screws up a player's name for half a game, but if calling a walk off HR in a World Series or Roger Clemens's 4000th K/300 win qualify as unforgettable career moments, I don't know what does.

2005-06-10 17:57:28
3.   singledd
It's getting to the point where just seeing Womack in the lineup makes me sick. Is Bernie really THAT BAD that Womack is a better choice?
2005-06-10 18:09:57
4.   weeping for brunnhilde
"He. Didn't. Put. His. Mitt. Where. The. Ball. Was."--Sterling on Giambi.

How long must we endure this horse manure?

Wild pitch.

5-0.

And you know, this is the first game I've managed to catch in a week, as I'm in Rome, but I can breathe a sigh of relief now, knowing that all is as it should be back home. If they suddenly started playing well, I wouldn't get to see them anyway, so I guess I should be relieved that I can enjoy my time abroad without worrying I'll miss something.

2005-06-10 18:18:54
5.   rbj
Did they forget their freakin' gloves? I bet that Jason sits the next two games.

And the Cardinals' announcers are good, but once again we are reminded that A-Rod's contract is for $252 mil. Give it a freakin' rest people, it is old, old news.

2005-06-10 19:14:45
6.   Hank
So here's an interesting quote from the Pinstriped Bible:
Given Wang's low strikeout rate and the Yankees' defense, there is going to be a day when he gets hammered.

And here's one from Cliff:
There's a part of me that hopes that they get swept by the Cardinals by a combined score of 60-0. Something, anything to wake this team (or its owner) up.

Well, maybe 60-1.

2005-06-10 21:15:49
7.   brockdc
That game was a freaking atrocity.

On a positive note, I'm in the process of developing a new coping mechanism for all who care. Every time an opposing player excels, I summon The Scooter in my head.

"Holy cow, White. That Pujols is a big, strong kid. Hoooly cow."

It's stupid, I know...though somehow comforting in these trying times.

2005-06-10 23:38:14
8.   Fred Vincy
I just got home from the game. What a waste of seven hours of driving. I haven't seen them this flat since some bad Sunday afternoons in the Mel Hall era.
2005-06-11 01:43:15
9.   debris
consider the game log for Wang:

Toronto (8th in AL in runs scored)
Tampa Bay ((5th) pounded
Seattle (12th)
Seattle (12th)
Detroit (11th)
Minnesota (9th)
St. Looey (1st in NL)

If Torre can manage to save Wang for weak teams, he might just be able to maintain the illusion that Wang is a major league pitcher.

2005-06-11 07:40:21
10.   Simone
The ranking of the offenses that Wang has faced may explain why Joe and Mel keep trying to skip him in the rotation. They may have been trying to hide him from the better hitting teams. I wasnt surprised that the Cardinals hit Wang. I was surprised the Yankees didn't hit Marquis.

Randy Johnson has to come up big today. He has to be the ace and stopper that Steinbrenner got him to be. The Yankees will be able hit to hit Mulder as per usual. It is up to RJ to hold down the Cardinals offense.

2005-06-11 09:00:40
11.   Cliff Corcoran
I blame the turf for Tampa and the defense (who allowed 5 of the 7 runs Wang gave up) for the Cardinals. You must also remember that Wang came in and shut down the Red Sox in the Wells-Mussina game two weeks ago. Last time I checked, those guys could hit pretty well.
2005-06-11 10:21:40
12.   debris
Cliff,

You can blame anything you want, but those are his lines.

Against the Sox, Wang allowed 7 runners and 2 earned in 4.2 innings. I wouldn't exactly call that shutting them down.

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