Friday, May 13, 2005

Housekeeping

I'll be getting back to my year by year trade evaluations today or tomorrow. I would have had a couple more of them out this week, but I actually stayed at a hotel in a major American city the past 2 days that didn't have internet access. Go figure.

But before I start digging back into the trades, I thought that I should spend a breif moment on the 2005 Cardinals again, since so much is going on.

Scott Rolen

Scott Rolen going down for 3 to 6 weeks isn't exactly a blessing, but it's not the end of the world, either. Take a look at this.

Abraham Nunez - .333/.388/.556, 951 OPS, 45 at-bats
John Mabry - .333/.442/.472, 914 OPS, 36 at-bats

Scott Rolen - .257/.347/.477, 824 OPS, 109 at-bats

Would I expect Nunez and/or Mabry to out-hit Rolen all year? No. Do I think it's even likely during Rolen's trip to the disabled list? Not really. Especially in the case of Nunez, who is a career .241/.309/.323 hitter. But right now, the Cardinals aren't losing the 2004 version of Scott Rolen out of their offense. They're losing a guy with an 824 OPS - the same level that David Eckstein has hit to this point in the season. I'm fairly certain that Mabry and Nunez, along with Seabol, can keep things at the level that Scotty had been hitting during his injury. Once Rolen returns, hopefully he'll turn things around and improve the offense even more.

Bench

Speaking of Seabol, here is what he'd been doing in Memphis thus far in 2005.

.324/.374/.658
14 doubles, 1 triple, 8 home runs, 120 at-bats
10 BB's, 21 K's

Very good numbers out of Seabol, who has played 3rd and 2nd in AAA, and is likely to see time in the outfield under Tony La Russa. Personally, I'm very glad to see Seabol getting a shot here, and hope they allow him to start at least once or twice a week. In my opinion, the Cardinal bench is sorely lacking a right handed power threat. Seabol could be the answer to that, even when Rolen returns. Consider the bench as a whole.

Einar Diaz - Backup catcher. Needed
John Mabry - Lefty with some power, plays corner outfield and infield. Needed
Abraham Nunez - Switch hitter, defensive specialist at 2nd, short, and 3rd. Needed
So Taguchi - Righty, solid defensively, primary backup in center. Needed

That leaves...

Roger Cedeno - can only play the same positions as Mabry and Taguchi, and is a defensive liability. Hasn't had a good season with the bat in several years, and it currently hitting .128 with a .146 OBP. No longer a stolen bases threat.

Seabol has a golden opportunity here to take advantage of Rolen's injury. Obviously he's not going to end up as the regular 3rd baseman in St. Louis with the other Scott under contract for the next several years. But if he can show some versatility with the glove and provide just a little pop from the right side - ala Eduardo Perez - he could end up pushing Cedeno off the roster and find himself in the quest for a World Championship.

May Splits

Here's a look at what's going on the first 12 days of May.

As a team, the Cardinals are hitting .325/.396/.516, 912 OPS for the month (12 games.) Their opponents are hitting .257/.325/.407, 733 OPS over the same time span. That's a big advantage despite the meager 7-5 record. No less than seven Cardinal batters have an OPS of 1000 or better in May. Three more are looking at an OPS of 850 or better, including Jason Marquis, pinch hitter extraordinaire. Rather than listing a ton of numbers, here are the leaders in a few key categories with no minimum at-bats required.

Batting Average - David Eckstein, .449
OBP - John Mabry, .533 (24 at-bats)
SLG - Reggie Sanders, .750
OPS - Reggie Sanders, 1189

Runs - Albert Pujols, 11
RBI - Reggie Sanders and Albert Pujols, 10
Home Runs - Reggie Sanders, 4
Doubles - Mark Grudzielanek, 5
Walks - Albert Pujols, 9
Steals - Reggie Sanders, 2

That's what I would call a well-rounded attack. It's especially interesting to see the offense clicking so well without Jim Edmonds, Larry Walker, or Scott Rolen being among the team leaders in any major categories. Don't let that mislead you, though - they're still hitting well this month.

Walker - .367/.457/.667, 1124 OPS
Edmonds - .325/.438/.475, 913 OPS

The fact that Eckstein and Walker are both seing their OBP climb to .390 and higher on the year is going to allow Pujols to drive in a ton of runs.

Oh, and one final May split for you from the hitting side.

.385/.429/.423, 852 OPS, 26 at-bats.

That from no other than....Yadier Molina.

Pitching wise, the Cardinals are having a bit of a letdown this month. Not that it was unexpected - you know there will be stretches this year where the offense carries the pitching, and vice versa.

The rotation has still been steady, with all 5 starters looking at ERA's of 4.50 or less. Mark Mulder has been the class of the group, of course, going 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, and 15 K's over 14 innings.

The bullpen has had some bright spots and some dim spots (and are happy to see Izzy back on the roster tonight.) On the one hand, Tavarez and Reyes have been getting the job done with neither allowing an earned run this month. Brad Thompson has also been a shot in the arm in limited work, posting a 1.80 ERA over 5 innings. On the flip side, everyone else in the bullpen has an ERA of 6.75 or greater in May - thus the revolving door that now has Gabe White joining the big club. (It's nice to have a big lead in May to allow your team to give everyone a shot!)

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