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  • Prospectus previews the Cardinals

    QUOTE
    October 4, 2005
    Playoff Prospectus
    San Diego Padres vs. St. Louis Cardinals


    by Dayn Perry

    It’s the best team in baseball this season against arguably the worst playoff team ever to roam the earth. Let’s also not forget that the Padres’ underwhelming 82-80 record was assembled in spite of a –42 run differential and against the weakest schedule in all of baseball. So it’s a mismatch on paper and according to common sense; however, the brevity of a five-game series can wreak havoc on expectations.
    The best, the worst, Pujols, Hoffy, Giles, Carp and the pee-colored wonders that are the Padres’ road unis--this one has it all …

    Code:
    Lineups (AVG/OBP/SLG/EqA/VORP) 
    
    St. Louis Cardinals 
    
    SS-R David Eckstein (.293/.359/.395/.270/41.6)
    RF-L Larry Walker (.289/.384/.502/.295/29.9)
    1B-R Albert Pujols (.330/.430/.609/.343/100.9)
    CF-L Jim Edmonds (.263/.384/.533/.307/52.1)
    LF-R Reggie Sanders (.271/.340/.546/.294/28.5)
    2B-R Mark Grudzielanek (.294/.334/.407/.256/24.4)
    3B-B Abraham Nunez (.285/.336/.361/.247/11.6)
    C-R Yadier Molina (.251/.290/.358/.228/4.3) 
    
    San Diego Padres 
    
    CF-L Dave Roberts (.274/.348/.427/.282/25.3)
    LF-L Ryan Klesko (.248/.358/.418/.280/19.6)
    RF-L Brian Giles (.301/.423/.483/.328/64.7)
    C-R Ramon Hernandez (.290/.321/.450/.274/24.6)
    1B-L Mark Sweeney (.294/.393/.466/.314/23.2)
    SS-R Khalil Greene (.250/.294/.431/.263/20.2)
    2B-R Mark Loretta (.280/.359/.347/.267/16.5)
    3B-R Joe Randa (.256/.303/.395/.247/3.8)
    The lineups clearly favor the Cardinals; half their lineup boasts an EqA of .290 or better. Still, the Padres now have a healthy Ramon Hernandez and Khalil Greene, and they’ve installed Mark Sweeney in the lineup and defenestrated Phil Nevin.

    While the core of the St. Louis lineup is undeniably strong, the bottom half is quite lacking. Abraham Nunez has been putrid of late (.231/.284/.269 in August and .238/.273/.250 in September), and Yadier Molina is one of the worst-hitting regulars in baseball. Also consider that Chris Carpenter will likely be in the nine hole for two games (his career batting line: .080/.120/.093 … seriously), and you’ve got three sure outs at the bottom. Still, advantage Cards.
    Code:
    Benches (AVG/OBP/SLG/EqA/VORP) 
    
    St. Louis Cardinals 
    
    OF-L John Rodriguez (.295/.375/.436/.290/11.4)
    OF-L John Mabry (.240/.288/.407/.241/2.3)
    OF-R So Taguchi (.288/.321/.412/.257/16.3)
    IF-R Hector Luna (.285/.340/.409/.266/8.2)
    C-R Einar Diaz (.208/.245/.277/.175/-5.4) 
    
    San Diego Padres 
    
    IF/OF-R Xavier Nady (.261/.320/.439/.268/13.4)
    1B/C-H Robert Fick (.265/.338/.365/.260/6.3)
    C-H Miguel Olivo (.304/.339/.487/.289/12.4)
    IF/OF-H Damian Jackson (.255/.332/.342/.260/9.2)
    IF/OF-H Eric Young (.275/.350/.380/.258/4.2)
    Considering the strength of the Cardinal bullpen and the curious construction of the Padre lineup (three lefties at the top, three righties at the bottom), it’s a good thing San Diego has a capable bench. They’ll likely face some key pinch-hitting junctures, and to avoid critical daisy chains of platoon disadvantages, Bruce Bochy will need to be bold in his decisions.

    Tony La Russa teams, insofar as their benches are concerned, are often hampered by his love of defensive multi-tasking at the expense of hitting ability. While there’s much to be said for versatility, the lines between “useful” and “novelty act” are often blurred. This year, however, the Cards have a nice crop of reserves. Rodriguez, Taguchi, Mabry and Luna all have defensive flexibility and can hit a little by bench player standards (for that matter, La Russa could pinch hit Jason Marquis, as he’s done on nine other occasions this season). Considering the fragility and platoon weaknesses of guys like Walker and Sanders, this bench, if utilized properly, could play a big role. As for Einar Diaz, it’s a task to have a worse bat than Yadier Molina, but, by golly, he’s done it.
    Code:
    Rotations (ERA/IP/SNLVAR) 
    
    St. Louis Cardinals 
    
    RHP Chris Carpenter (241.2, 2.83, 8.6)
    LHP Mark Mulder (205.0, 3.64, 5.3)
    RHP Matt Morris (192.2, 4.11, 3.0)
    RHP Jeff Suppan (194.1, 3.57, 3.4) 
    
    San Diego Padres 
    
    RHP Jake Peavy (203.0, 2.88, 6.6)
    RHPPedro Astacio (59.2, 3.17, 2.2(
    RHP Adam Eaton (128.2, 4.27, 2.4)
    RHP Woody Williams (159.2, 4.85, 2.2)
    Away from run-suppressing Petco this season, the Padres gave up 408 runs. Pro-rate that 162 games, and in the NL only the Reds, Rockies and Diamondbacks would’ve coughed up more runs on the season. The bullpen (which ranks second in the NL--to the Cardinals--in relief ERA) hasn’t been the problem. Rather, it’s the fault of the rotation (and, as you’ll see below, the defense). Specifically, Padre starters not named Jake Peavy have a 4.98 ERA in 2005. This is where the schedule comes into play.

    The Pads and Cardinals will Tuesday, rest on Wednesday, play Thursday, rest on Friday, and then play Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Those two off days early in the series in tandem with Peavy’s game one start mean he’ll be able to start twice on regular rest, should the series go that far. Because of Chris Carpenter’s recent struggles, Peavy without question is the best starting pitcher in this series.

    Speaking of Carpenter, much has been made of his 5.73 ERA in the month of September. That’s troubling enough, but there’s reason to believe his troubles go deeper than something that could be dismissed as small sample size or a run of bad BABIP luck. First, Carpenter has topped his previous high in innings by 26 frames, and this season he ranks ninth in all of baseball in pitches thrown. Second, Carpenter’s six September starts came against the Astros (twice), Mets, Pirates, Cubs and Brewers—teams that, on average, rank 10th in the NL in runs scored. Third, Carpenter’s peripherals have degraded along with his run prevention skills. Take a look at the worsening of Carpenter’s secondary indicators:

    Code:
                          K/BB ratio      K/9          HR/9          GB/FB
    April through August  4.45            8.3          0.62          2.05
    September             3.33            7.2          0.96          1.70
    Not even mentioning runs, Carpenter’s been worse across the board: less command, lower strikeout rates, more homers, more balls in the air. This is something more than a strain of misfortune.
    Fortunately for the Cardinals, they get to face Pedro Astacio in game two (away from Petco, no less; in parks other than Petco, Astacio has a 5.08 ERA this season), and probably Adam Eaton in game three. Two starts for Peavy may well mean two victories for the Padres, but squeezing one more from their remaining starters will be an onerous task.
    Code:
    Bullpens (IP, ERA, WXRL) 
    
    St. Louis Cardinals 
    
    RHP Jason Isringhausen (59.0, 2.14, 3.70)
    LHP Ray King (40.0, 3.38, -1.10)
    RHP Julian Tavarez (65.2, 3.43, 2.25)
    LHP Randy Flores (41.2, 3.46, 0.71)
    RHP Cal Eldred (37.0, 2.19, 0.75)
    RHP Brad Thompson (55.0, 2.95, 1.57)
    RHP Jason Marquis (207.0, 4.13, starter in regular season) 
    
    San Diego Padres 
    
    RHP Trevor Hoffman (57.2, 2.97, 3.77)
    RHP Akinori Otsuka (62.2, 3.59, 1.55)
    RHP Scott Linebrink (73.2, 1.83, 3.75)
    LHP Chris Hammond (58.2, 3.84, 0.37)
    RHP Clay Hensley (47.2, 1.70, 1.96)
    RHP Rudy Seanez (60.1, 2.69, 1.71)
    LHP Craig Breslow (16.1, 2.20, 0.06) RHP Brian Lawrence (195.2, 4.84, starter in regular season)
    The big news, of course, is that the Cardinals will be without Al Reyes. Reyes, who ranks as the 11th best reliever in baseball this season according to expected runs, tore elbow ligaments in the final game of the regular season. The comfort for St. Louis is that in Julian Tavarez, Cal Eldred, Brad Thompson and, if need be, Jason Marquis, they have plenty of right-handed middle relief options.

    As mentioned above, San Diego has an enviable relief corps of its own. If there’s one thing to take note of it’s that Bochy has made the mistake of using Otsuka, rather than Linebrink, as his “critical mass” right-handed setup guy. While Otsuka’s anything but a liability, Linebrink this season has been his manifest superior, and he needs to be deployed as such. Using Otsuka in more high-leverage situations hurts the team.

    Lefty Chris Hammond is hampered by a groin injury and hasn’t pitched since September 24. While he’s expected to be available, the whiff of uncertainty may mean a spot on the post-season roster for Craig Breslow. Breslow has been excellent in limited, low-leverage action this season, but must be regarded as an unknown quantity under these circumstances. With bats like Jim Edmonds and Larry Walker across the way, that could be key.

    Defense

    According to our defensive efficiency ratings, the Cardinals have the third-best defense in the NL, while the Padres rank a measly 12th. If Dave Roberts’ strained quad hinders his fly-chasing abilities, then that’ll make the Pads even worse in the field. Of course, if Roberts can’t answer the bell at all, San Diego may be forced to stick Giles out there. Considering the Cardinals are one of the four best teams in the NL in terms of putting the ball in play, that Padre defense will be a factor.

    Managers

    Bochy’s less prone to micro-management and small-ball machinations, but there’s little arguing with La Russa’s record of success. In the past, La Russa’s been a bit too patient with his starters in the post-season (think game five of the 2002 NLCS), and without Reyes at his disposal that may again be a temptation. Overall, a modest edge to St. Louis.

    Prediction

    The presence of Jake Peavy, the extra day of rest and the downward spiraling of Chris Carpenter mean this is very much a series. The Pads take both of Peavy’s starts, but the other San Diego starters and that porous defense can’t keep runs off the board. St. Louis in five.


    [/b][/quote]

    QUOTE
    Cardinals vs. Padres

    This is supposed to be the easy call, but I don't see it. The true gap between these two teams today is far less than the 18 games you see in the standings. The Cardinals ran up that figure in part with Scott Rolen, and with a version of Chris Carpenter that appears to have been detained at the equinox. The Padres, meanwhile, played most of the season without their starting shortstop, starting catcher or both, and needed a midseason dump trade, as well as a deadline pickup, to straighten out their infield. This is not an 82-80 team right now.

    The true gap between these two teams is more like 10 games, and that's over a full season. Now consider that a big part of the Cardinals' edge is in the fifth-starter spot, where Jason Marquis blows away a bunch of guys who will not be on the Padres' playoff roster. Just considering the core talent, the guys who will actually play this week, closes the gap a bit more. In general, the Cards' edge is tied to their depth, and in a short series, as Bill James once wrote, depth don't count. You win with frontline talent.

    The real reason I think this series is a coin flip, though, is luck. The Padres caught the biggest scheduling break they could, getting the one Division Series with two off-days. This means they can start their ace, Jake Peavy, twice in the first four games on full rest. And right now, Peavy is a much better pitcher than Carpenter, his Game One foe. On a per-inning basis, Peavy was nearly as good a hurler in '05 as Carpenter was. On October 4, I think he's better.

    In 2001, I pegged the Indians to take down the 116-win Mariners in the Division Series, largely because I thought Bartolo Colon could beat them by himself. It nearly happened; Colon threw a shutout in Game One and, with the Tribe holding a 2-1 series lead, pitched well in Game Four before a scratch rally put the Mariners ahead late. They would go on to win in five games.

    This is essentially the same scenario, and an example of why short series are a poor way to reach conclusions about teams. The Cardinals are certainly a better team than the Padres; however, on the days Peavy pitches, the two teams are basically even. Peavy should start two of the first four games, could well win both by himself, and that would force the Cardinals to win all of the others.

    The Padres have other things going for them as well. Their bullpen has been terrific this year, and they'll be deep enough to keep from having to wait out a bad start by Pedro Astacio or Adam Eaton. They're heavily left-handed, an edge when facing four righties in five games. Save for Dave Roberts--a significant exception--they're about at full health for the first time all season.

    The case for the Cardinals is much easier to make. They have two of the top five players in the National League in Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds. They'll have the edge in starting pitching whenever Peavy isn't on the mound. They get at least passable offense from six lineup spots when Larry Walker and Reggie Sanders both play. Their bench is good, but not due to the veterans (John Mabry and Einar Diaz and So Taguchi); it's the less-experienced John Rodriguez and Hector Luna who provide punch and flexibility.

    The more I think about this series, the more I think I've shorted the Cardinals a bit, which, to be unnecessarily blunt, would be consistent with how I've covered them for two years. They're an excellent baseball team that has few weaknesses when everyone is healthy. (Oops, there's a weakness.)

    They've been dropped into a very bad spot, though. Peavy is the real thing, and I suspect Carpenter's recent struggles stem from an empty tank and not something temporary. The schedule forces the Cards to deal with Peavy twice on full rest, the second time at Petco Park. As much as I appreciate the Cardinals' talent and performance, this is the Colon Theory redux, but with a better pitcher and an extra day's rest.

    America, Jake Peavy is ready for his close-up. Padres in four
    [/b][/quote]

  • #2
    So we got alot of Scott Rolen this year, eh Sheehan?

    Other than that, I can't really disagree much w/ either Perry or Sheehan....

    "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
    Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
    -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

    Comment


    • #3
      Comforting to see that Joe Sheehan and his website are still both full of shit.
      Official sponsor of the St. Louis Cardinals

      "This is a heavyweight bout indeed."--John Rooney, Oct. 27, 2011

      Comment


      • #4
        How is Nunez a "sure out"?

        Comment


        • #5
          QUOTE(kah @ Oct 4 2005, 04:29 PM) Quoted post

          Comforting to see that Joe Sheehan and his website are still both full of shit.
          [/b][/quote]
          [img]style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rolleyes.gif[/img]

          How is one man's opinion reflective of the entire website?

          Comment


          • #6
            So much for Peavy's coming out party.
            When you say to your neighbor, "We're having a loud party on Saturday night if that's alright with you," what you really mean is, "We're having a loud party on Saturday night."

            Comment


            • #7
              Wow, not a big fan of Yadi's bat, eh?
              Official Lounge Sponsor of Candy.


              "When you say 'radical right' today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye."
              -Barry Goldwater

              Comment


              • #8
                QUOTE(WinstonSmith @ Oct 4 2005, 04:37 PM) Quoted post

                So much for Peavy's coming out party.
                [/b][/quote]

                He came out alright...

                ...in the fifth inning.
                RIP Chris Jones 1971-2009
                You'll never be forgotten.

                Comment


                • #9
                  QUOTE(Fishbone @ Oct 4 2005, 02:35 PM) Quoted post

                  QUOTE(kah @ Oct 4 2005, 04:29 PM) Quoted post

                  Comforting to see that Joe Sheehan and his website are still both full of shit.
                  [/b][/quote]
                  [img]style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rolleyes.gif[/img]

                  How is one man's opinion reflective of the entire website?
                  [/b][/quote]


                  [img]style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rolleyes.gif[/img] , indeed. The predictions above, especially Sheehan's, don't look that great, do they? But what really got my goat was this sentence,

                  QUOTE
                  The more I think about this series, the more I think I've shorted the Cardinals a bit, which, to be unnecessarily blunt, would be consistent with how I've covered them for two years.[/b][/quote]

                  where Joe Sheehan straight-up admits to deliberately poor-mouthing the Cardinals. Well, bite me, Joe.

                  If you want to say Sheehan doesn't represent BP as a whole, fine.
                  Official sponsor of the St. Louis Cardinals

                  "This is a heavyweight bout indeed."--John Rooney, Oct. 27, 2011

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Ha ha.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      QUOTE
                      Padres in four[/b][/quote]

                      What a remarkably stupid prediction. The next three games the Padres win will be in Arizona.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        QUOTE(kah @ Oct 4 2005, 04:40 PM) Quoted post

                        QUOTE(Fishbone @ Oct 4 2005, 02:35 PM) Quoted post

                        QUOTE(kah @ Oct 4 2005, 04:29 PM) Quoted post

                        Comforting to see that Joe Sheehan and his website are still both full of shit.
                        [/b][/quote]
                        [img]style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rolleyes.gif[/img]

                        How is one man's opinion reflective of the entire website?
                        [/b][/quote]


                        [img]style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rolleyes.gif[/img] , indeed. The predictions above, especially Sheehan's, don't look that great, do they? But what really got my goat was this sentence,

                        QUOTE
                        The more I think about this series, the more I think I've shorted the Cardinals a bit, which, to be unnecessarily blunt, would be consistent with how I've covered them for two years.[/b][/quote]

                        where Joe Sheehan straight-up admits to deliberately poor-mouthing the Cardinals. Well, bite me, Joe.

                        If you want to say Sheehan doesn't represent BP as a whole, fine.
                        [/b][/quote]
                        I will.

                        Dayn Parry is a Cardinals fan, and in the tagline on the website, the article is titled, "Dayn Perry breaks down the series between his beloved Cardinals and the Padres."

                        Just because somebody isn't as optimistic as you are about the Cardinals doesn't mean they are full of shit. I thought the series was going to go five games, does that mean I'm full of shit? If somebody else picked the Cardinals to win in five and they lost in four, nobody would accuse them of being full of shit. You just seem to have a hard on for them, the way Sheehan does for the Cardinals. I believe he picked the Cubs to win the Central this year. I'll admit, he does have it out for TLR and the Cardinals.

                        But in many other articles I've posted here and ones that I haven't, they have given credit to LaRussa as doing one of the best managing jobs in recent memory.

                        But whatever man, I'm going back out to celebrate the victory. That was one hell of a win today even though Izzy took five years off my life.

                        Edit: Nowhere in the article did Sheehan say we weren't the best team in baseball this year either, over the course of the season. I think it's just another guy trying to be the only one in the world predicting the unexpected, thereby making himself look smarter than everybody else out there.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Again, the syndrome of attempting to prove your job's worth by finding a stupid angle.

                          It's the only reason Jayson Stark has food to eat.

                          From his most recent column:

                          QUOTE
                          The Cardinals will, and should, be the NL favorites. But lots of people we surveyed thought their pitchers were out of gas, their bullpen was thin and their lineup wasn't nearly as deep. They hit 44 fewer homers than last year, stole 28 fewer bases, scored 50 fewer runs and were down 37 points in slugging. "So if teams can create a situation where they can pitch around [Albert] Pujols," said one scout, "they're in trouble.[/b][/quote]

                          It could have been, I don't know, because we played the Memphis lineup for half of the year and still beat NL ass?

                          There is really no reason justifying his continued employment.
                          The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life. -TR

                          OFFICIAL LOUNGE SPONSOR OF NEW YORK CITY, TEDDY ROOSEVELT AND THE MARYLAND TERRAPINS

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                          Comment


                          • #14
                            QUOTE(lasvegasreb @ Oct 4 2005, 04:52 PM) Quoted post

                            Again, the syndrome of attempting to prove your job's worth by finding a stupid angle.

                            It's the only reason Jayson Stark has food to eat.

                            From his most recent column:

                            QUOTE
                            The Cardinals will, and should, be the NL favorites. But lots of people we surveyed thought their pitchers were out of gas, their bullpen was thin and their lineup wasn't nearly as deep. They hit 44 fewer homers than last year, stole 28 fewer bases, scored 50 fewer runs and were down 37 points in slugging. "So if teams can create a situation where they can pitch around [Albert] Pujols," said one scout, "they're in trouble.[/b][/quote]

                            It could have been, I don't know, because we played the Memphis lineup for half of the year and still beat NL ass?

                            There is really no reason justifying his continued employment.
                            [/b][/quote]

                            Send him to the lemon party.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              QUOTE(lasvegasreb @ Oct 4 2005, 02:52 PM) Quoted post

                              There is really no reason justifying his continued employment.
                              [/b][/quote]

                              If Stark lost his job, there would be no one to tell us who holds the record for most home runs hit on Thursdays by players whose names begin with "Q".
                              Official sponsor of the St. Louis Cardinals

                              "This is a heavyweight bout indeed."--John Rooney, Oct. 27, 2011

                              Comment

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