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At Least We Have The Rams?

By: J. Owen

We have officially played ourselves out of the playoff race. As sickening and absurd as it is to say that, I would like to go over a few high points to this year’s team.

The Cardinals have a legitimate Triple Crown candidate on their roster, which also happens to be the best hitter in baseball. If Pujols were on a team that makes the playoffs, guaranteed MVP. Protecting him is Matt Holliday. Perennial All-Star and Silver Slugger. The Cardinals also have 2 legitimate Cy Young Candidates, Carpenter and Wainwright, followed by rookie of the year hopeful Jaime Garcia.

You would think that with those studs alone, you would be able to put the pieces in place to win your division. You would think. Despite key injuries to Penny and Freese, which would have helped this team out in a huge way, the Cards could still field a team that stood up well to any opponent, especially the Astros. Right? Well I do not want to get into the talk about the injuries to Freese and Penny, because the Cardinals medical staff has been fornicating fans on the truth about injuries I have been alive. Penny to miss 2 starts? Freese drops a weight on his toe? So with the given roster, this is what my everyday lineup would look like.

Skip Schumaker 2B- .270
Jon Jay RF- .330
Albert Pujols 1B- .313
Matt Holliday LF- .301
Colby Rasmus CF- .265
Yadier Molina C- .260
Pedro Feliz 3B- .264 (with Cardinals)
*Brendan Ryan SS- .218

*For lack of better observation at the position

This is a totally respectable lineup. Schumaker has batted .300 since his miserable first 2 months, any Cardinals fan should know how much it took for him just to get his average up to .270. Jon Jay has done nothing but hit the ball since he came up. His average started to dip when we quit seeing him go the other way; you can thank the hitting coach for that. Pujols and Holliday. Rasmus is a star in the making, but doesn’t get to play everyday because he is not Tony’s favorite player. Rasmus said he was ready to go on Friday against the Nationals, but Tony held him back, wanted to play it safe. Hey Tony, we don’t have time to play it safe anymore, the kid wants to play, let him play. He is your CF for the years to come, and he is a dam good ball player, and we need his bat in the lineup, not Randy Winn’s. Not to mention his range in the outfield, how many balls did we see get just over Jay’s head? Despite Molina’s drop in average this year, he is still a clutch hitter and gets the job done when needed. As for the late great acquisition of Feliz, boo. As for the AAA shortstop Ryan, well that’s what you get when you leave him on the team all year and no one else gets a look. All Tyler Greene did was come up and bat .265 with 2 HRs, that’s as many as Ryan has in a quarter of the at bats. Ryan’s role on this team should have been defensive replacement, and nothing more. Heck, I would also have put Miles at short daily just to have someone who can hit the ball on your team. Speaking of hitting, what a joy is was to watch Allan Craig hit the ball for the last month. I mean seriously, if he ever hit it, I would jump for joy. What a waste of 80 at bats that was. Tyler Greene hit more homeruns in less at bats. The guy struck out more than 25% of the time. Yet Jon Jay still had to share at bats with him. What the %#*&?!

So now that my lineup has been posted, let’s post Tony’s. But wait! He doesn’t have one. It is new everyday! I don’t have the access to ask Tony questions after games, but one would be, why is Molina batting fifth? The next day I would ask with even more rage, why is Feliz batting fifth? And just about everyday I would ask, Tony, what incredible math equation did you use to debunk over 100 years of baseball knowledge to find out that it is more effective to bat the pitcher 8th? For the longest time, he has Lopez leading off! As a baseball player, mindset is key. How can you expect your hitters to have a focused mindset when they have no clue where they will be in the order? It is ludicrous.

Boy what great acquisitions we made this year as well. Randy Winn, Jeff Suppan (who wasn’t even good enough for the Brewers rotation, the BREWERS!), Jake Westbrook and Pedro Feliz. Talk about past their prime. Teams who were already in a much better position than us, such as the Braves and Padres, had much better acquisitions. Derek Lee, Alex Gonzalez, Miguel Tejada, Ryan Ludwick, among others. We didn’t acquire one player who could even hold a candle to any of those. The Pedro Feliz trade actually made the Cardinal’s worse! The idea behind that move was to get Lopez’s glove out of the infield, but Tony started him at second base almost daily anyway! For what? His .238 batting average? Are you kidding me? Any day where Skip didn’t start, it should be Miles, who bats .100 points better than Lopez, and knows how to bunt and take a walk!

So what does it all mean? For starters, it means were 7 games back of the Reds, and 5 in the wild card, competing with 3 teams who are performing much better than us. Since the Cardinals swept the Reds one month ago, they are 5-13. All but one series has been to losing teams. Right now the Cardinals are 69-61. At the pace they are at, the could end up a .500 ball club. That is entirely unacceptable. Honestly, missing the playoffs is unacceptable. You would think after not showing up for last years playoffs, they would want to make some noise this year, but it hasn’t felt that way.

So what do we do? Although the situation is bleak, and playoff hopes are at zero, there is still time for a miracle. But nothing will happen unless a change is made. It is time to bid good riddance to Tony La Russa. He has done nothing for this team in 2010. I wish we could do that without losing Dave Duncan, but I think they are a package deal. If he wanted to take McGwire with him as well, that would be fine. I love big mac to death, but the best advice he could have given these ball players this year was hit the roids. We scored 2 runs against the Astros. If anyone watched that series, they would know why. Every pitch thrown to a right-handed batter was outside. Every pitch. We didn’t hit it once. It was like cake. The Astros pitching coach had to be laughing under his breath. His pitchers held the Cardinals to 2 runs, and that was on once swing of the bat on a mistake pitch that was meant to be outside. It became very clear to me that the Cardinals had a McGwire hitting mentality, pull the ball. Remember the McGwire shift? It is his first year of being a major league hitting coach, but c’mon mac, don’t you guys watch film, analyze pitch location? How hard it is to say, hey, watch for the outside pitch and take it up the middle or the other way. Jon Jay’s average didn’t dip into the .330s until he stopped going the other way. Coincidence?

This is a superior talented team, and the most of it will be back next year for another go at it. I know that after the last 2 years of let down when it counts, competitors like Wainwright, Carpenter and Molina will be overly driven to win everyday. My only hope is that we can finally get a manager can match it.


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