Now that the season is over for the St. Louis Cardinals, I’ll give them “my” report card based on my opinion and what I’ve observed over the course of the regular season and playoffs. I realize the many in Cardinal Nation are still pissed off and bitter but, the future looks really good for the Redbirds. This is assuming they don’t have a relapse of the problems they encountered this season.
Overall, I give the Cardinals’ a C for their overall performance this year. I’ll give a general breakdown in six areas: Pitching, Offense, Defense, Bench, Manager and Front Office. I think all of these areas play a part in how a team performs during the course of a year. Some parts play a bigger part than others but, they play a part nonetheless. In today’s blog, I’ll cover Pitching Offense and Defense and cover the remaining areas next weekend.
Pitching (B-) – The Cardinals pitching staff had a team ERA of 3.71 during the regular season. It was 3.75 in the NLCS. While their starting rotation was pretty consistent early in the season, injuries to Kyle McClelland, Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook; along with Adam Wainwright’s inconsistency kept them from being dominant. As the starters starting pitching less innings, the burden fell on the bullpen. Of the contending teams in the playoffs, the Cardinals’ bullpen had the most innings during the regular season and the second highest era. There were bright spots in Kyle Lohse, Lance Lynn, Jason Motte, Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal but, the Cards really need Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright to return to form.
Offense (C) – The Cardinals finished in the two in many of the offensive categories during the regular season. Despite this gaudy and stat, the Cards’ offensive prowess didn’t always translate into runs. But, wait, they were second in the NL in runs scored. But, believe it or not, they were 25th out of 30 major league teams in runners left in scoring position. In fact, the San Francisco Giants were 28th but, at least in the playoffs, the pitching was more consistent and that helps an offense they the team has a problem generating runs. The reasons are too varied for me to get into but, the Cards were either really hot…or really cold. And despite their numbers that would indicate otherwise, their offense was as big a reason as any that the Cards didn’t progress in playoffs. Too many stranded runners; too many missed chances leads to too few runs scored. And listen up Cardinals…LEARN HOW TO BUNT…Please!
Defense (C) – This is an area where the Cardinals can attribute many of their problems to inexperience or players playing out of their normal position. And some of the defensive lapses don’t show up in the box score. For example, there was one instance in Game 6 of the NLCS there a ball was hit to Kozma with the bases loaded and nobody out. It was a slow roller but instead of Kozma taking the sure out and conceding the run, he threw to home. The player was save as was the runner at 1st and the Giants went on to score several more. I’m not picking on Kozma; I like him a lot and think he’s our future everyday shortstop. In fact, one can argue that, Mike Matheny should have gone with Daniel Descalso at SS and Skip Schumaker at 2B. That’s a lot of pressure for a rookie shortstop to be playing in an NLCS series. I think having experienced players on defense are as important as having experienced players on offense. Experience can go a long way in counteracting pressure in important ball games.
I’ll cover the other areas next week. Feel free to comment or email me at [email protected]. Thanks for reading.