Thursday, April 14, 2005

Rolen's not Rollin'

I'll ignore the Mark Mulder thoughts for now. I'll give him a few more starts before I allow his rough start (combined with his 2004 finish) to give me visions of Haren, Calero, and Barton over the next few years to keep me up at night. For now, Scott Rolen has me a bit concerned.

As you all know, Rolen missed some time in September last year with a calf strain. The injury went from a day to day thing, to Rolen missing two weeks during prime tune-up time for the playoffs. Rolen did come back to play the last week of the regular season.

2004 Regular Season (After Injury)

.167/.318/.333, 652 OPS, 0 doubles, 1 home run, 18 at-bats

Okay, so that's only 18 at-bats. No big deal. No one should expect Rolen to turn on the switch when coming back from an injury. He needed time, right? Sure. Except he didn't tear it up during the playoffs, either.

2004 Playoffs

.161/.277/.357, 634 OPS, 2 doubles, 3 home runs, 56 at-bats

To Rolen's credit, he had a very good NLCS, including the 2 run homer in Game 7 off of Clemens to give the Cardinals the lead. In that series he hit .310/.355/.690 with all of his post-season extra base hits. (In fact, he didn't have any hits in the other two series.) The fact that he put up those kinds of numbers in the NLCS with Clemens and Roy Oswalt starting for the Astros provides a glimmer of hope.

Then comes the Grapefruit league, in which Rolen continued to look rusty. Maybe he was just working on some new things, although La Russa specifically mentioned his concerns with the way both Rolen and Edmonds looked this Spring.

2005 Spring Training

.232/.328/.357, 685 OPS, 1 double, 2 home runs, 56 at-bats

Granted, Spring training isn't exactly a great indicator of talent when it comes to veterans - not to mention small sample sizes - but the OPS looks very much like those posted by Rolen at the end of 2004. Enter the regular season.

2005 (First 7 Games)

.143/.172/.179, 351 OPS, 1 double, 0 home runs, 28 at-bats

Not a great start, obviously. In fact, he's been even worse getting things started this year than he was at the end of last year. If you take the above sections of statistics and combine them, you get a line like this:

.184/.283/.323, 606 OPS, 4 doubles, 6 home runs, 158 at-bats

Over the last four seasons he's averaged 548 at-bats per year. If you adjust his doubles and home runs for a 548 at-bat season using the above rates, Rolen would project to hitting 14 doubles and 21 home runs. Not exactly what the Cardinals need out of him.

Obviously, Scott Rolen hasn't forgotten how to hit. Last season he hit .314/.409/.598. And it's also very unlikely that he'll keep hitting at a 351 OPS level this regular season. My main concern is that he is actually still injured and is still trying to play through it for whatever reason. He's made some great defensive plays already this year, so that would lead me to believe that he's just off to an extra cold start. I'd just be more comfortable about it if he had displayed a better Spring.


At 12:32 PM, Anonymous josh said...

Manual Ping:

Stop Worrying about Mulder from The Birdwatch

At 3:34 PM, Blogger John VonBokel said...

I've been worrying about that a lot lately, especially because he's on my fantasy team. :) I think the chances of him hiding an injury are pretty slim though. Right now I'm more confident in his ability to turn it around than I am in Mulder's.

At 8:30 AM, Blogger Levi said...

I do remember Rolen talking in Spring Training about how he doesn't really try to hit in Spring Training for at least the first couple of weeks. He lets pitches go by just to get a look at them, and he doesn't worry about his numbers.

I understand the worry, but I expect this will pass. He was driving the ball so well in the Houston series in October that I can't imagine he's truly badly hurt.

At 2:36 PM, Blogger cardsfanboy said...

good stuff as always, I'm not worried that much about Rolen, I think Cardinal fans had a Euphoria and he played above his ability for a while, Karma caught up(or yin yang)

and people need to stop worrying about mulder, he is fine, he is having bad luck, that is it. (go over the game logs and remember the bad luck he had in both his game)

for statistical evidence look at his dips era, which is 3.87...not hard core evidence of course but makes me agree with my initial assessment that he has been riding a streak of bad luck.

At 11:48 AM, Blogger Socnorb11 said...

I'd say Rolen's coming along nicely.

Robb, could you do a write-up about Larry Walker & Yadier Molina, so we can get those guys turned around, too?? :)


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