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2010 Cardinals Report Card

By Mark Ashby Vaughan

The season is over and preparations for a new year are beginning. Let’s take a position-by-position look at the 2010 Cardinals and see where they can stand pat and where they need to improve.

1st Base: A- Albert Pujols could retire today and go into MLB’s Hall-of-Fame. Insert El Hombre into the middle of the 1927 Yankees lineup and they wouldn’t skip a beat.

On the down side, Albert expands his hitting zone when the team is struggling. He needs to stay confident in knowing that the best way that he can help the team is simply being Albert. Albert also needs a shorter leash at first base. He is often playing out of position and taking balls away from the second baseman who would have any easier throw to first if they were allowed to field the ball.

2nd Base: D Skip Schumaker is a pop-gun hitter who doesn’t steal bases. The Cardinals will continue to struggle to score runs if Skip continues to bat leadoff. Schumaker had just 18 doubles amongst his 126 hits for a less than stellar .328 OBP. Worse yet, Skip had just 5 stolen bases all year. Those kinds of numbers won’t bring home any championships. Dan Uggla is a free agent after the 2011 season. The Cards’ brass better save their pennies for a serious upgrade.

Shortstop: C- Traditionally, if you are going to carry a weak bat, SS is the position to do it. However, Ryan’s 17 errors and .974 fielding percentage aren’t exceptional enough to justify his poor hitting performance. Brendan dipped to a .223 batting average with just 98 hits for the year. He needs to worry less about ‘styling’ his throws to first base and concentrate more on being solidly consistent defensively. 2011 will tell us what kind of player Ryan is. If he doesn’t rebound then the Cards will suffer.

3rd Base: F This grade would have been significantly higher had David Freese not been injured. However, his replacements resembled the Keystone Cops. Felipe Lopez hit just .231 with a horrible .926 fielding percentage while Pedro Feliz, acquired from Houston, hit a miniscule .208. There is no guarantee that Freese will be recovered from his ankle surgery in time for next year.

Left Field: A- Matt Holliday gave us pretty much what we expected – a solid bat and adequate defense. Making more money than Pujols, however, is going to force the Cardinals to provide mucho dinero to El Hombre after the 2011 season. Holliday’s slow start contributed to Albert’s struggles at the plate. A more consistent production would be nice for 2011.

Center Field: B Colby Rasmus is still developing as a player. We will have to wait and see if he has the mental toughness to improve on his 23 homers, 66 RBI and .276 batting average. If he matures significantly, he could be an All-Star caliber player for many more years. He needs to play more aggressively defensively and he could maximize his offensive contributions by utilizing his speed more.

Right Field: C+ Ryan Ludwick was traded mid-season so he doesn’t figure into the grade. John Jay was given the job and hit .300 with 19 doubles in just 287 at-bats. Jay’s defense needs work and he was thrown out 4 times while successfully stealing just 2 bases. The Phillies’ Jayson Werth (27 homers, 85 RBIs, .296 BA) is a free agent. The addition of Werth would make the team an immediate legitimate contender for the 2011 title.

Catcher: B Yadier Molina was again solid defensively, throwing out 49 percent of attempted base stealers. On the down side, his offensive numbers continue to slide since 2008 when he hit a career high of .304. He followed a .293 2009 campaign with a .262 effort. Yadier’s defensive contributions aren’t strong enough to justify his lollygagging to first base on ground balls.

Starting pitching: A+ In spite of a slight season-ending dip, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Jaime Garcia were outstanding with a combined 49-28 record. The mid-season trade to acquire Jake Westrook gave the team a solid starter although his record (4-4) could have been better had he gotten decent run support. If the team resigns Westbrook they will have a solid set of starters for 2011.

After these four the pitching looks pretty dim. The team overpaid for Kyle Lohse and his was not impressive after his return from arm surgery. Jeff Suppan and Brad Penny are done – period. If the team converts Kyle McClellan to a starter then they will short change themselves in the pen.

Bullpen: B+ Ryan Franklin, Kyle McClellan, Mitchell Boggs, Dennys Reyes, Jason Motte and Trever Miller combined for an impressive 3.21 ERA. However, I don’t believe that this will be repeated next year. Franklin is 37 and isn’t a true closer. Motte needs another pitch and must develop the ability to consistently throw strikes.

Manager: D- If there was an award for worst manager of the year then Tony LaRussa would be at the head of the class. He wouldn’t make Ludwick an everyday player in spite of the fact that the team needed offense. He doesn’t use the hit-and-run or steal bases. Unfortunately, he consistently uses the sacrifice bunt to move runners from 2nd to 3rd with no outs. This is a sucker move since the runner is already in scoring position. Why give up an out instead of trying to bat the runner in and increase the chance for a rally?

Other and Molina, Holliday and Pujols, the manager continues to award outstanding single game performances by benching players the following day.

Tony also doesn’t know when to rest his regulars. Everyone in the stadium can tell when Pujols is dragging but Tony refuses to sit him now and again.

The team would benefit from a fresh infusion of new blood in 2011.

1 comment:

  1. Tony has been setting upgood players for trades to other teams,so he makes a fortune behind the scenes.his deals with rollin,renteriaand now Ludwig,are classic examples of his bait and switch tactics.He cares only for the behind the back dollars and is a classic example of how the mafiosa works.St Louis will never see another pennant as long as he is here!

    ReplyDelete


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