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NEW: Now there's a separate blog dedicated exclusively to the St. Louis Cardinals!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


So, Cliff Lee is a Philadelphia Phillie.  Again.  5 years (not 7), a hundred-and something-million dollars, and just like that, the Phillies become the real-life NL East equivalent of the Nintendo RBI Baseball AL All-Star team, unbeatable on paper.

Carpenter-Wainwright?  Not BAD, but Halladay-Lee...Oswalt-Hamels (or whatever order), now THAT'S a formidable rotation!  I sent a text to my brother last night (several hours before the deal was announced) and said "If PHI lands Lee in this deal, they'd have Halladay-Lee as their 1-2...and the team leader in Ks will STILL be Ryan Howard!"  Yes, pitching & defense wins championships, and yes, PHI is suddenly the team to beat on paper.  But, if you've followed baseball for long, you know the games aren't played on paper.  You've got to take the field 162 times and play every game, every inning, every at-bat, every pitch, and once all 30 teams do that, we'll see where everyone lands.  (Think: 2004 Cardinals)  Be honest, even when it was down to 4 teams, and the NLCS & ALCS started, just a couple of months ago, did you really pick the Giants to win it all, let alone get past Halladay and the Phillies?  I didn't think so...neither did I.

Let's take a look at a few things worth noting.  I want to take a fully pessimistic view, and play devil's advocate--so, just be aware that that's where I'm coming from as I break down some things to consider before just handing the Phillies the 2011 hardware before Christmas 2010 even gets here.  First, a few things about some of the other 24 guys on the team...

  • Chooch, Howard, Utley, Polanco, Rollins, - PHI Infield average age, 32+ heading into Opening Day.  Not a huge problem going into 2011.  But, Polanco will be 35, Howard will be 31, and everyone else on that infield will be 32.  Incidentally, Cliff Lee just turned 32.
  • This tells me that 2011 might be a solid year for PHI, but it isn't like they will be a dynasty for years to come, at least not solely because of this signing.  In an aging infield, the youngest, Ryan Howard, averages more than 184 Ks per season over the past 5 years.  By comparison, Halladay & Lee average less than 181 & less than 147 strikeouts, respectively.

You wanna crown 'em?  Not so fast!  Remember these "unstoppable" rotations?
  • Maddux, Glavine, & Smoltz: Together from 1993-1999, 1 World Series Title
  • Hudson, Mulder, & Zito: Together from 2000-2004, Lost every division series they made (snuck in as Wild Card team in '01, missed playoffs altogether in '04)
  • 1954 Indians: Starting rotation (5) had the following W-L records: 23-11, 19-8, 23-7, 15-7, 13-3.  Three of those 5 guys are in the Hall of Fame today (Wynn, Lemon, Feller).  That team was SWEPT in the World Series by the last Giants team (prior to 2010) to win a World Series.
All I'm saying is that, while it's a big deal to have a rotation like PHI now has, I don't expect to see multiple 20-game winners on this staff (though it could happen).  They're the clear favorites to win their division, and maybe even the National League.  That said, I don't expect them to tie (or beat) the record set by the 1906 CHC & 2001 SEA of 116 wins in a season, it's thinkable that they don't even win 100 games.  My guess is that whether they miss the playoffs, get into the playoffs & fall short of the World Series, or win it all, the Phillies fan are sure to, umm, respond.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I totally ripped this off from MLBNetwork.

Let me just throw some thoughts out there about some of the things going on in the Winter Meetings up to this point.  Specifically, with my beloved Cardinals & the recent acquisition of Lance Berkman.

I like the move.  I like it because it's not a long-term deal, and yeah $8MM isn't chump change (heck, it's almost Kyle Lohse money), but this could be a one-and-done kind of deal.  So, let's keep it in perspective: It's Lance Berkman, not Barry Zito, not Kevin Brown, not Mike Hampton.  It's Lance Berkman, and $8MM is less than he's made since 2004.  Are there questions about his health?  Yes, that can't be ignored.  Is he going to win a gold glove in RF in 2011?  Of course not.  He's no Ludwick out there, but then he's no Duncan either.  Might it be part of "plan D" or something to move him to 1st if, God forbid, we're unable to bring Pujols back?  Maybe.  Idk.  You could do worse to fill in where Albert once played, but obviously we all hope it never comes to that.  Too many things are unknown until after we see how things go after this coming season, which, if I didn't mention it, is all the contract is for.  And if I didn't mention it, I like that.

What do I think about when I think about the Cards' problems in 2010?  We had a hard time scoring runs, especially when it mattered.  I was at one particular game last year where it took us 19 innings to score our first run of the game (fortunately, it took the Mets the same number of innings to score theirs too).  At times, we stunk!  I can still smell that 10-game road trip at the end of the year where we couldn't beat the Pirates, Nationals, or Astros.

Berkman gets on base, and has a good bat--two things that will help improve what this lineup lacked in 2010.  He's been an All-Star, blah, blah, blah...we know what he's accomplished.  Hell, just not having to face him 50 times in someone else's lineup has value of its own--he's always killed the Cardinals.  Now, the dynamic of bringing him to St. Louis impacts other areas as well.  Brendan Ryan is superb defensively, but his bat hasn't been seen since 2009.  .223 sucks.  Now, he was deservedly in the Gold Glove conversation, but in the 2010 lineup, his inability to put the bat on the ball glared as a hole in the lineup.  In 2011, it looks like Ryan Theriot could be Brendan's replacement at SS (a possible improvement offensively, a certain downgrade on the defensive side of the ball).  I would submit that they might let Theriot & Ryan fight for the job in Spring Training, and with the added production Berkman brings to the lineup, offensive mediocrity from our SS might not be such a huge backbreaker.  Or maybe they package Brendan Ryan up & ship him off, who knows?  I like Brendan Ryan.  He's got personality and is superb defensively.  You know who else I like? Fernando Vina, David Eckstein, Daryl Kile, and John Mabry.  But often forgotten among fans, this is a business too, and sometimes, just like in life, the harder something is to do sometimes it's the "righter" thing to do.

So, does this move solve everything?  Nope.  Does it address some things that we lacked in 2010?  I, for one, think so.  Either way, I'm not ready to hang myself from the Arch, nor am I ready to buy my 2011 World Series tickets.  It's just one move, one guy, a part of a team.  We're not even halfway through December yet, let's see what else happens.  I know I'm looking forward to it!