Filed under: Baseball | Tags: Defense, Mike Matheny, St. Louis Cardinals, Yadier Molina
There is something wrong with Yadier Molina and that means bad news for the Cardinals.
If there is anything that Cardinals fans should take for granted, it’s a good defensive catcher. Over the last decade, the Cardinals have employed two excellent starting backstops. First there was Mike Matheny. Then, after he left for San Francisco, Yadier Molina took over and has held the job ever since.
First, there was Mike Matheny. Matheny was an abomination with the bat. In 2001, he got 424 PAs despite a .218/.276/.304 line. Don’t look too long at that stat line. It’s been known to cause headaches, confusion, nausea, and abandonment of hope. Also you can add the BA, OBP, and SLG together and it’s still lower than Barry Bonds’ 2001 SLG (.863) so there’s that.
There’s probably a good argument that Matheny should not have been an everyday player for a major league team. But that’s not what I’m writing about today. Matheny managed to keep the starting job because Tony La Russa loved him, and because he was amazing behind the plate. A disclaimer: evaluating catcher defense with statistics sucks right now. I’m not sure if anyone has come up with a good stat yet, so I’m stuck using the eye test (which is both biased and bad in general) and numbers that may only be marginally illuminating. But I don’t think anyone will argue that Matheny was a bad catcher. What stats we do have back up my assertion: in his five years with the Cards, he averages 4.4 passed balls a year, 27.2 wild pitches, and 2.8 errors. For his career, he threw out 35% of attempted basestealers. He also won a few Gold Gloves, but so has Derek Jeter so Gold Gloves mean nothing.
Yadier Molina followed him with more excellence. In his first 6 full years as the Cardinals’ starting catcher, Molina averaged 6.3 passed balls, 28.7 wild pitches, 6 errors. Not as good as Matheny, but outside of a godawful 2006 (which he redeemed with a certain timely HR) he’s a better hitter and he’s thrown out a stunning 46% of baserunners.
Granted, there are a lot of things wrong with all these numbers I’ve thrown out there. The difference between a passed ball and a wild pitch is the whim of the official scorer. CS% is also dependent on the pitcher and the speed of his delivery. Errors? Official scorer again. But Molina, like Matheny, passes the eye test. Almost every game, we see his strong throws and his quick feet and his ability to block the plate.
Something’s different this year. He’s not as quick as he has been in the past. His arm is weaker and more errant, though he’s still managed to nail 38% of runners. This speaks to the baseline that he’s deviating from–a bad throw from Yadier is still a good throw. His errors yesterday were bad, and that’s what prompted me to make this post, but that’s not the biggest issue. Most pressing, he’s not protecting his pitchers like we’re used to. He’s not getting out in front of pitches before they can fly errant. It shows both on the field and in the (admittedly bad) stats. He already has 14 wild pitches and 2 passed balls.
What does this mean? It’s not just bad for Yadier and his quest for a fourth Gold Glove. It’s bad for our pitchers. For a decade now, our pitchers have never had to fear bouncing a curveball in front of the plate. They’ve been able to throw a slider off the outside corner without worrying about it slipping from the catchers glove. And they’ve rested a bit easier with a speedy runner on first base. Undoubtedly, TLR and Duncan’s pitch selection has been influenced by this security as well. But what if it went away? If Molina is injured, or age and workload are catching up to him, the pitchers will have to adjust. Hopefully the “Dave Duncan Effect” wasn’t actually the “Cardinals Catcher Effect”
Hopefully this is just a slump. People say defense doesn’t slump. Those people never watched a full year of Brendan Ryan. If Yadier Molina works his way out of this, then I’ve written a whole bunch of words about nothing. But it’s a concern, especially when the defense everywhere else on the diamond is so suspect.
PS: This weekend I will be taking part in the fourth annual UCB Progressive Game Blog. It’s a collaborative look at a single game, with each inning handled by a different blogger. Check out the information here.
Filed under: Baseball | Tags: Albert Pujols, Allen Craig, David Freese, Infield Defense, ryan theriot, St. Louis Cardinals, Tony La Russa
There are a whole lot of things I could write about Sunday’s game against the Braves. Most of them have already been covered earlier at some point in this blog. Ryan Franklin is a bad pitcher, Ryan Theriot is a bad shortstop. Trying to wring anything more out of these subjects would be agonizing. I think everyone knows my opinion about the two Ryans at this point. Frankin is a long reliever and Theriot is a second baseman. Relying on them in critical innings or at shortstop respectively has led to predictable disaster. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Et Cetera. Et Cetera.
But that’s not all that happened. The Ryan-fueled collapse wasn’t the biggest loss the Cardinals suffered on Sunday. David Freese was hit by a pitch and suffered a broken bone in his hand. Once again, the St. Louis Cardinals do not have a third baseman.
Freese getting injured and missing significant time was almost as predictable as a Ryan Theriot error or a Ryan Franklin walk-off loss. Yes, HBP injuries are unexpected. Yes, it has nothing to do with his ankle. But we’ve seen this before. Think back to June 17, 2001, when J.D. Drew lost 6 weeks to a broken finger when David Wells drilled him in the hand.
These two injuries, combined with the bizarre career of Nick Johnson, almost make me want to believe that avoiding the DL is an innate talent that certain people simply lack. But I won’t go that far. It’s far more likely that this is just confirmation bias rather than some incredibly mild form of osteogenesis imperfecta that allows the victim to play baseball and live a normal life but makes HBPs, foul tips, and bad baserunning far more dangerous.
Whether or not an injury to David Freese can truly be unexpected, the injury still happened. And it caught the Cardinals off guard. In fact, combined with an earlier precautionary exit from David Freese, TLR was forced to move Albert Pujols to third base for the first time since–
Wait. That’s not how it happened. That’s not why Albert Pujols had to take his surgically reconstructed elbow across the diamond, where he actually has to use it. That’s not why a player who hasn’t played 3b in nearly a decade was put there during a tie game.
All of that happened because Tony La Russa pinch hit Jon Jay for Tyler Greene. AFTER both of the injuries. The decision was made to pull Greene from the game with the full knowledge that someone would have to play out of position at either 2b, SS, or 3b. (And Ryan Theriot was already playing out of position at SS.)
It was one of the most unbelievable things I’ve seen from TLR. And that’s saying a lot, because I can still remember the day he brought in Jeff Tabaka to face Lance Berkman, and when he double switched Matt Holliday out of the lineup during a 20 inning debacle. There’s a reason Albert Pujols is not the Cardinals’ 3b. It isn’t like we’re keeping him at first because of the fantastic options we have at third. He’s a 1b because he’s been diagnosed with a bad case of Fucked Up Elbow. And last I checked, throwing across a baseball diamond is not part of the recommended physical therapy for Fucked Up Elbow.
Unsurprisingly, TLR has backed himself into this corner before. On April 22, 2008, an injury to Cesar Izturis coupled with typically poor bench management by the Cards front office left the team with a deficit of infielders. That time, however, TLR made the right decision. He put Pujols at 2b.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t the right decision. But if you start from the assumption that “moving Pujols off 1b” is a critical part of the solution, 2b is the best place to stick him. Throws at second base rarely require much force, and it’s probably the second best position on the diamond for a player with a halfway reconstructed elbow. Yes, Pujols wouldn’t have any range at 2b, but neither does Skip Schumaker and that never seems to bother La Russa.
If TLR moved Pujols to 2b for a couple innings, I might have made a few jokes. It would have been funny. It would have made a few fantasy baseball teams with very low playing time requirements juggernauts. But it wouldn’t have been particularly dangerous for the Cardinals’ season, or Albert Pujols’s career.
And now, of course, the team has to make do without David Freese. From the sounds of it, the Cards are activating Allen Craig rather than calling up Matt Carpenter. What does this mean? It means we’re going to have to fill three spots in the lineup (and the entire infield defense minus Albert) with the following players: Ryan Theriot, Nick Punto, Tyler Greene, Daniel Descalso, and Allen Craig.
How terrifying is that?
If you pressed me to name the two Cardinals I’d least like to see at the plate during a critical at-bat, I would say Nick Punto and Gerald Laird. Punto is a perennial joke. If not for Cesar Izturis, he’d probably be the worst major league hitter who has somehow continued to be a major league hitter. Gerald Laird is almost as bad, with a worse batting eye. Their value is entirely on the bench, as backups, and they should be as far from critical situations as possible.
But in the last two games, both Punto and Laird have come to bat in those critical situations. And they have both hit go-ahead triples and led the Cardinals to victory. It’s almost enough to make me wax poetic about the magic of baseball.
These are both guys I like to make fun of. Watching Nick Punto hit is like watching Orlando Bloom act. He’s terrible, but he tries really hard.
Announcers say this all the time. We hear all the time about the hustle of Ryan Theriot or Skip Schumaker or Aaron Miles. But I’m inclined to believe it with Nick Punto. Maybe I’m buying into the act. Maybe it’s just that, unlike most gritty terrible players, Punto has developed a good batting eye. Given how awful he is, it’s amazing how many walks he takes. When he gets lucky, and BAbip treats him well (see 2006, 2008) he’s almost decent. He really seems to do all he can with the talent he has. It’s just he doesn’t have much talent, relative to other major leaguers.
I don’t think that’s a good reason to give him a lot of playing time. I think he’s an ideal 25th man because he can, in theory, play every position. It’s helpful to have one player on the team who can fill that role. He can make double switches work smoothly, he can be a buffer against mid-game injury, and he can pinch run/fill in for the terrible defensive players the Cards have in the infield in the late innings.
Gerald Laird, on the other hand, is only on the team because he is a member of the Backup Catchers Club.
The Backup Catchers Club is a mysterious organization. I have never been to one of their meetings. I have never seen one of their membership cards. I have never even heard one of their members acknowledge their existence. But I know they are real. There are certain players who have, through age or some other black magic, become members of an exclusive organization that vouches for their ability as major league catchers. And that is all teams need to know, damn the stats.
How else would Gerald Laird still have a job? Why was Jason La Rue employed past 2006? Is there any other possible explanation for Henry Blanco?
Anyway, because of his membership in the Backup Catchers Club, Gerald Laird is on the Cardinals. And he occasionally starts games because Yadier Molina needs a break and because Bryan Anderson has not yet completed the twenty-six rundowns required to achieve total freedom on all dynamics and become Backstoperating Thetan V and an official member of the Club. Until then, he’ll never be a backup catcher.
So yeah, I kind of resent the amount of playing time that Nick Punto and Gerald Laird get. But that doesn’t mean I don’t cheer for them. In a strange way, a huge hit from an unlikely source is even more exciting. I might hate on Laird and Punto, but was still thrilled by their unexpected triples.
What will happen next? Ryan Franklin triples home the winning run tomorrow?
Filed under: Baseball | Tags: Dave Duncan, Lance Berkman, Positive Post, skip schumaker, St. Louis Cardinals, Tony La Russa
I don’t like TLR. I don’t think he’s a particularly good manager. He’s stubborn and wrong-headed, his bullpen management is puzzling, and he bunts way too often. Of course, this is true of most managers. It’s rare to watch a game where both teams don’t make some inexplicable move that flies in the face of common sense and/or advanced baseball statistics.
Perhaps TLR’s biggest sin is the leeway he’s given. On his own, he’s no worse than a run-of-the-mill bad manager. He makes too much money to make the same mistakes as everyone else in baseball. He seems entirely invulnerable from criticism, even when he does insane things like leak a private trade request from Colby Rasmus to the media that wasn’t actually a trade request.
But I’ve been entirely too pessimistic on this blog lately. I’d like to try and write a positive post about the Cardinals, because outside of Ryan Franklin (and TLR’s misplaced faith in him) the team has been really quite good lately. So I’m going to do the hardest thing I can think of: I’m going to talk about the good things TLR brings to the Cardinals.
First off, there is Dave Duncan. I generally don’t believe that coaches at the major league level have a huge effect on the performance of their players. Most major leaguers are fully developed, most coaches think alike and use similar systems… And most of the time there’s no data to back up the impact a coach has on individual players. Duncan is somewhat of an outlier. He’s helped several pitchers resurrect their careers, and even overseen the transformation from journeyman to ace a few times. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated what he did for Woody Williams and Chris Carpenter. A cursory look across the usual stat-head baseball sources reveals that, for example, fangraphs and Tom Tango, author of The Book via a link to 3-D baseball acknowledge that statistics are consistent with the existence of a Dave Duncan Effect.
Keeping Duncan and losing TLR doesn’t seem like a possibility, so we have to count him among TLR’s positive attributes. Admittedly, it’s really fun to watch Cardinal pitching, and to speculate about which pitchers Dave Duncan could “turn around”. Without TLR, we wouldn’t have that.
Second, TLR is willing to take certain chances that are rare in baseball. They don’t always work, but they show a creativity that is sorely lacking in other managers. TLR’s creativity may lead to mistakes, but I’d rather see a team fail because the manager was thinking outside of the box rather than because the manager was conforming to established thought.
The pitcher hitting eighth? Fantastic idea. I’d like to see it more often. The Book, which I seem to be citing a lot in this post, agrees that it’s the best position to put the pitcher in the lineup. TLR was the first person to try it and the only one who dares return to it, even though it’s the right thing to do. That’s worth something.
Skip Schumaker to 2b? It turned out to be a disaster, but I really respect the Cardinals and TLR for trying. I don’t respect them for sticking to the experiment even though it failed, but I’m glad they tried. Schumaker was a hitter with marginal value in the outfield but a plus if he could play 2b. If it worked, it would have been a coup. Given Schumaker’s willingness to try, his athleticism, and the dearth of 2b options over the last couple of years… I think it was a bold attempt, and there are few managers who would have pursued such an unorthodox move with enthusiasm.
Lance Berkman back in the OF? Okay, the jury is still out on this one. He doesn’t look good out there. He’s been party of 2-3 really bad plays. When we signed him to play RF, we essentially punted defense for a good hitter with the potential to be great. And his hitting has been great. It’s worked so far. He’s made up for his defensive shortcomings by being a much better hitter than Jon Jay or Nick Stavinoha, or whoever else we might have put out there.
There have been other good unconventional things that TLR has tried. The Batista/McClellan fakeout during the Friday rain delay comes to mind. That was a great move, and it’s rare for me to think that any move is particularly great.
Of course, this is all offset by TLR’s problems. Whenever I start to reflect on the good aspects of TLR, I go back and look at this article, Joe Posnanski’s excellent take on the 20 inning game last year: For baseball’s great overmanaging artist, this was his Mona Lisa . La Russa is terrible at times, and he’s unapologetic about it.
But, just once, I felt like looking at his positive qualities. Even if one of those qualities is Dave Duncan, and the other is a fortunate side effect of his hubris.
He certainly makes baseball in St. Louis more interesting.
Filed under: Baseball | Tags: Boos, Bullpen, Eduardo Sanchez, Fernando Salas, Ray Lankford, Ryan Franklin, St. Louis Cardinals, Tony La Russa
Normally, I don’t like it when Cardinals fans boo Cardinals players. It’s usually stupid. I can’t help but remember Ray Lankford’s 2000/2001 seasons, when the crowd at Busch absolutely turned on the only player who was worth a damn for the team in the early 90s and one of the best Cardinals outfielders of all time. He wasn’t even playing badly. His OPS was around .840, which isn’t fantastic for a corner OF, but it’s certainly not bad.
But that was ten years ago, before OPS was on the scoreboard of almost every stadium and overlay of almost every broadcast. All most people saw was his .250 average and his abundant strikeouts. Suddenly Ray Lankford, who was the face of the Cardinals before McGwire, was greeted and ushered from the plate with boos. It was ridiculous, and I was thankful that the Cards brought Lankford out of retirement for one more season in 2004. Not because he still had talent–though a 99 OPS+ is fairly impressive for a guy who took a year off–but so he could get a more fitting send off from the Cards and their fans.
This is different. I understand why Cards fans are booing Ryan Franklin. It’s not disgraceful. We haven’t turned into New York or Philadelphia. We’re fed up, and not just with Franklin.
Saturday’s game was nationally televised. Anyone who knew when to turn the television back on after the rain delay watched it from coast-to-coast. And I’m fairly certain the Tony La Russa was the only person in the country who believed that Ryan Franklin should come into a tie game with the bases loaded against the division-rival Reds.
Being a baseball fan can be very frustrating, especially in situations like this. I guess I’m used to the occasional moment where I want to slam my head into my computer out of frustration. For example, bunting Chris Carpenter over in the third inning with Ryan Theriot. Or, for that matter, bunting Yadier Molina to third so that Tyler Greene can “bat” against Aroldis Chapman. That stuff annoys me, but I’ve accepted it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In the big picture, I know that it hurts the team more often than it helps, but I can at least get excited about the possibility that it will work. I can still appreciate small ball even if I think it’s stupid.
But I can’t appreciate what is happening with Ryan Franklin. A few days ago, I indicated that Franklin would get better. He’s always depended on luck, and he’s had a lot of it the last couple of years. I wasn’t arguing that he should stay in the closer spot–he should have never been there to begin with. But I thought he could get better and have some value in long relief. Maybe he still can, but now that I’ve had a couple more chances to watch him pitch…something is wrong. He never had great stuff or location, but he had just enough to put himself in a position to benefit from good luck. I don’t think he has that any more.
TLR should see this. Duncan probably does see this, and I’d be very curious to hear what he had to say about Franklin, but the organization has kept him on a tight leash with the media ever since his “adventure” posting on one of the stltoday.com message boards. But today, despite mounds of evidence against such a move, TLR put him in a tie game. In fact, he put him in during a higher leverage at bat than most save situations ever see. And, of course, we all know what happened.
So, yeah, fans are going to boo. They are not booing Ryan Franklin the Person. This has nothing to do with him. Outside of maybe a few people who have problems with unruly facial hair, every one of those booing fans would much rather be cheering Franklin. They are booing out of frustration. They know that he shouldn’t be pitching in a high leverage situation. Everyone knows that. And yet it keeps happening. The only thing they can do is voice that frustration.
It’s only going to get worse. In a few days, Brian Tallet will be eligible to come off the disabled list and TLR/Mo will have a tough choice to make. It’s not really a tough choice. Neither Tallet nor Franklin should have roster priority over Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez. Unfortunately, we all know TLR wants multiple lefthanders in the pen, so dropping Tallet is not an option. Miller and Motte are understandably safe. That leaves three spots for Ryan Franklin, Miguel Batista, Salas, and Sanchez.
The decision should be between Franklin and Batista. Maybe Franklin is hurt. It’s entirely possible. Even if he’s not, the Cards FO could say he has an “oblique strain”, DL him, and then send him down on rehab to recover. If that’s impossible, for whatever reason, Batista should go. Unfortunately, I think everyone knows that the real choice will be between Salas and Sanchez. One of them will go down. Franklin will remain in the majors. And the boos will continue. They will intensify.
Maybe they should. Maybe that’s the only thing the fans can do in the face of the obstinance of Cardinals management. TLR and Mo need to realize that the fans aren’t satisfied. We don’t want to see TLR’s friends play baseball, damn the results. We want to see wins. And we’ve all noticed that Ryan Franklin is giving us only losses.
I promise this will be my last Ryan Franklin entry (at least until Salas or Sanchez is sent down and he remains and I lose my mind).
Filed under: Baseball | Tags: Closers, Ryan Franklin, St. Louis Cardinals, Tony La Russa
Bernie Miklasz wrote something in his column this morning that got me thinking:
A St. Louis team that’s 8-8 could easily be looking at a 12-4 record if not for the frequent ninth-inning pyrotechnics.
A lot of people say that it is early, that you cannot draw overarching conclusions about the entire season based on 16 games. That’s true, and a lot of what we’ve seen in these 16 games proves that. We can’t expect the offense to be as terrible as it was in the first week or as amazing as its been in the last week.
However, the first 16 games matter just as much as the last 16 games. Four games in April have the same effect on the standings as the last four games in the season. It is still the difference between a 88 win team and a 92 win team. Often, it is the difference between playing in October and sitting home in October.
Enough people, including me, have slammed Ryan Franklin. He was never a great closer, or a good pitcher. He survived on a steady diet of luck but I don’t think anyone expected him to regress this quickly. And he’s not this bad. Guys who “pitch to contact” and give up a lot of fly balls are easily swayed by the winds of fortune. In 2009, they helped him glide to a 1.92 ERA. In 2011, they’ve battered him for a 11.57 ERA.
There are other issues, such as the fact he’s either throwing his cutter more often, which is exactly what we saw in the Great Jason Isringhausen Debacle of 2008. His location isn’t good, but it’s never been. It’s possible that age is catching up to him, which can be devastating for a guy who throws just hard enough to get outs with his fastball.
But unless he’s hurt, it’s very likely that if TLR keeps running him out there, he’ll end up with an ERA right in line with his 4.5 xFIP. He might even have another string of scoreless innings and successful saves that convinces everyone that he’s “bacK” or “regained his bulldog mentality” or something equally ridiculous.
Hell, if not for certain weather conditions–pressure systems, humidity, and yes, gusts of wind–we might not even be having this discussion. Those fly balls would have hung up and found their way into gloves, and Ryan Franklin wouldn’t have to look over his shoulder at Mitchell Boggs. The sportswriters would be praising him for his toughness and playfully joking about tightrope antics.
But that’s not what happened, and now we’ve lost four games we probably should have won. We don’t know what those four games mean yet, but if we’re one game back of the Reds in September, those errant fly balls are going to hurt.
Something good has to come out of this run of bad luck, bad weather, and bad pitches. Ryan Franklin needs to be taken out of the closer role. Not because he blew four saves in a row. Save percentage is bullshit. It doesn’t mean anything. He could have easily saved all four of those games. Because he shouldn’t have been the closer in the first place, and now everyone can see it. Franklin’s problems are no longer the realm of the sabermetric and the predictive. We’re no longer talking about unsustainable BAbips or suspiciously high xFIPs. Those stats have given way to an atrocious WHIP and a disastrous ERA.
Franklin doesn’t “pitch to contact”. He pitches to the warning track. He shouldn’t be facing the best hitters in one run games. He should be pitching long relief, handling RH batters, eating innings.
This isn’t on Franklin. This is on TLR now. Just like in 2008, when Izzy was faltering, and even the most basic stats reflected it, you can’t blame the pitcher. Everything is there for the manager to see that something has to be changed.
The damage is only four games now. Hopefully TLR has learned something from those four games.
Filed under: Baseball | Tags: Charlie Morton, Extra Bases, Hitting, St. Louis Cardinals, Tony La Russa
Tony La Russa threw a tantrum during his post-game press conference today. Reporters were asking him the questions that were on the minds of Cards fans everywhere. Why isn’t the team hitting? His response, via this STLtoday.com article:
For everybody listening out there (TV audience), you think I’m being unreasonable? It’s the FIRST WEEK OF THE SEASON. I don’t understand this. Are you going to tell me Yadier doesn’t drive in big runs? Are you going to tell me Albert can’t hit? Are you going to tell me the second baseman and shortstops haven’t hit? David Freese? You don’t think he’s going to hit? You think Matt’s gong to hit? You think Colby’s going to hit? You think Berkman’s going to hit? The answer is ‘no’ to all those things?’
Did you (interrogators) accomplish your goal? Three, four times, you ask so I get excited and get upset? That’s not fair. It really isn’t.
Then he walked away. You could say he was a little irritated.
I understand that this is a frustrating time for TLR. It’s a frustrating time for everyone who wants to see the Cardinals win. And I’m sure that TLR wants to see them win as much as anyone, though playing Skip Schumaker at 2B is a funny way of showing it. The anger, however, is uncalled-for. That’s because this slump is absolutely mystifying. Every pitcher we face has turned into Bud Norris.
The reporters have every right to ask their questions. Yes, it is only the first six games. But the first six games count just as much as the last six games. This has also been the first six games for the Padres and Pirates pitchers. Maybe they didn’t get the memo that these games don’t matter.
It’s a small sample size, obviously. But the numbers are so bad and the pitchers in question are so bad that it has to call something into question. Let’s look at some of the lowlights:
In these first six games, the Cardinals had 8 extra base hits. This number is remarkably low. The Houston Astros, the worst hitting team in the NL last season, averaged about 2.4 XBH a game. Houston slugged .362 last year, the Cards are struggling around .300. In this same time, the Cards have 10 GIDP. They are more likely to get doubled up with a man on first than drive him home with a 2b, 3b, or HR. Last year, the Giants led the league by hitting into a double play almost once a game. The Cardinals are on pace to double that.
But as I already pointed out, it’s a small sample size. The Cardinals won’t slug below .300 or hit into 300 double plays. That would be historically terrible. Even the 1899 Cleveland Spiders slugged .305. BUT consider the starting pitchers the Cardinals have faced in these six games:
Tim Stauffer: A 28 year old with 39 career starts. Stauffer has spent most of his career in the bullpen, amassing a 4.04 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in spacious Petco. He throws around 90 mph. A former 4th pick overall, he’s got a nice breaking ball but not much else.
Clayton Richard: Arguably a left-handed Tim Stauffer. Has similar stuff and has put together a career 4.28 ERA, 1.44 WHIP. Struggles with control a bit more than Stauffer, but has a slightly better K/9. Relies more on his fastball. Richard at least had a decent season in 2005 (again, getting his home starts in Petco). In fact neither Stauffer or Richard are particularly bad pitchers. They’re just mediocre.The real crap starts with…
Dustin Moseley: 5.13 ERA, 1.49 WHIP in his career. 4.57 xFIP. K/9 under 5. Doesn’t have any dominant pitches. Doesn’t make up for it with stellar control. Shut down the Cards completely for 7 innings.
Charlie Morton: Maybe the worst. 5.88 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 4.54 xFIP. Hits around 91-92 with his fastball and according to fangraphs, he threw 85% fastballs in his game against the Cards. Despite this, he walked 5 batters. He only gave up 1 run. He’s not a power pitcher. He was throwing mainly one pitch. He wasn’t locating that pitch. Five walks, two strikeouts, one run. FUCK.
James McDonald: The fact that he’s the Pirates 5th starter should say everything. The Cardinals didn’t figure him out, but they didn’t get shut down like he was Charlie Morton. They managed 2 runs in 4.2 innings. Still… He’s the Pirates 5th starter.
Kevin Correia: 4.55 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 4.47 xFIP. Gives up a lot of fly balls. Unlike the other guys the Cards faced, has a much longer record of mediocrity. There’s probably a decent amount of video tape on him in the Cards’ library, too. Still managed to shutout the Cards.
So that’s it. Those are the six starters who have given the Cardinals fits over the last six games. Yes, TLR, it’s only six games. It’s only the first six games of the season. But what is this team going to do when it faces Roy Halladay? Cliff Lee? Tim Lincecum? We put up historically bad numbers against six mediocre-to-awful pitchers. We didn’t hit a single one of them hard. Not one.
That’s why there were so many questions at the press conference today. The reporters’ goal wasn’t to get TLR upset. They were concerned, because this “FIRST WEEK OF THE SEASON” has been absolutely terrible.