Tuesday, April 19, 2005

This, That, and the Other

Amazing how a 5 game road trip against the two worst teams in the division can change the outlook of a team so quickly. Concerns about Rolen, Mulder, Molina, and even Morris have been reduced greatly over the past 5 days. The rotation has turned in 5 consecutive quality starts, showing signs of the 2004 Cardinals back in action. The offense has scored 18 runs over the past 2 games, showing signs of coming out of their funk. And while I'm excited about those developments, I'd like to show you all something that you might not see somewhere else. Take a look at the bullpen over the past 7 games.

14.1 innings pitched
0.00 ERA
.113 Average Allowed
.175 OBP Allowed
.170 SLG Allowed
.345 OPS Allowed
16 K's
4 BB's
6 Hits Allowed (1 Double, 1 Triple, 0 Home Runs)

There was much wringing of hands going on among "Cardinal Fans" about the bullpen, especially during the horrific opening weekend against the Phillies. Some were claiming that there was no way the Cardinals could replace Calero and Haren in the pen, and that they were a big downgrade over the 2004 version. While I realize the Brewers and the Pirates aren't exactly offensive juggernauts, a .345 OPS allowed over 7 games is still pretty impressive. If the rotation can continue to limit the workload of the pen like they have recently, you're going to continue to see great results out of the relief core.

Some other thoughts

- Am I the only one who notices that Tony La Russa cannot win? Yes, this isn't exactly a revelation for Cardinal fans, but it's taken a new turn lately (in my eyes at least.) In the last week I've heard La Russa railed on for using statistics too much in his decision making, especially with lineups and bullpen use. Yet at the same time, his managing style (via "Three Nights in August") is described as "Anti-Moneyball" in just about every review of that book I've seen. Which is it? Does he use statistics too much or too little?

- Yadier Molina has a .139 OBP over 35 at-bats, and hits 8th. David Eckstein has a .438 OBP over 37 at-bats and hits leadoff - yet both have scored 3 runs. Eckstein is going to have to learn how to be more of a clutch OBP guy like Molina if he's going to have an impact for this team.

- The Cardinals now have a 7-2 record against the NL Central, and a 6-1 road record. It's great to see them warming up in April instead of late May this year. (Which probably doesn't exactly make the rest of the division feel good about their chances in the early going.)

- Heading into today's game, the Cardinals had played opponents with a .502 winning percentage, while the Cubs had played teams with a .423 mark. Considering how badly the Cubs have played against crumby teams, the Cardinals have a chance to make a huge statement on Wednesday and Thursday. (Keep an eye on RPI standings here.)


At 10:43 PM, Anonymous Brian Gunn said...

Which is it? Does [La Russa] use statistics too much or too little?

I don't think it's such a black-and-white issue. La Russa consults an awful lot of statistics, but they tend not to be the types of statistics favored by Moneyball types (batter-vs.-pitcher records being the most prominent). Hence Tony comes across, to me anyway, as both a Moneyball-phobe AND a stat hound.

At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

About Eckstein vs. Yady: Isn't the number of runs Little Eckie scores more indicative of how the guys behind him are hitting (or in L. Walk's case, not hitting)?

We know that Little Eckie isn't going to be putting himself in scoring position too often on his own (mostly a singles hitter), so it's up to the people behind him to get more hits (yes Larry, I'm looking at you!).


At 9:44 AM, Blogger Robb said...

I almost mentioned in the post that I was joking (Eckstein vs. Molina). I guess I should have.

The odds of Eckstein scoring the same number of runs as Molina despite getting on base more and having better hitters behind him are pretty small, which is why I pointed it out. If Eckstein can just post a .380 OBP this season, he'll score a heck of a lot of runs even with the low total thus far.


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