The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Milwaukee cleaned up when St. Louis could not

If the St. Louis Cardinals fall short of the playoffs in 2011, there will be a number of potential contributing factors to consider over the winter. They may include personnel, front office and managerial decisions made, injuries and much more.

In terms of the bottom line, wins and losses, what happened seems pretty clear. The gaudy home record of the likely National League Central champ Milwaukee Brewers has been well documented – with its fairness even questioned by some.

There is more to it than that, however. The Brew Crew has also taken care of business against both their weaker sisters in the NLC and against losing clubs across MLB overall. Needless to say, St. Louis has not performed at the same level. This seems to mirror the Cardinals’ overall 2011 performance of having been good, but not great.

With only 5 ½ games separating the two clubs in the standings, it is easy to see how better performance by the Cardinals in any of these areas could have been a difference-maker in the race against the Brewers.

2011 Home record
vs. losing teams
vs. NL Central
Brewers 52-23 +19 64-31 +33 45-26 +19
Cardinals 41-34 +7 57-43 +11 40-33 +7
MIL advantage +12 games +22 games +12 games

(Numbers through September 15.)

Further, as we look at the remaining schedule, the Brewers’ final four series are all against teams out of the hunt – Cincinnati and Chicago on the road, followed by Florida and Pittsburgh at home.

Following their current series against the best team in baseball, Philadelphia, the Cardinals also have three losing clubs on their slate – the Mets and Cubs at home and Houston on the road.

St. Louis’ results to date this season in those situations have not been particularly good, lending little comfort to those still holding onto post-season hopes.

In the short term, however, the Cardinals almost have a positive record against winning teams at 24-25, while the Brew Crew is just 23-32. That provides come consolation for the “just win today” crowd.

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39 Responses to “Milwaukee cleaned up when St. Louis could not”

  1. crdswmn says:

    Jayson Stark’s Astounding Facts. http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/page/rumblings110916/florida-marlins-los-angeles-dodgers-spend-big-offseason

    3) Whitey Herzog once said the two things a guy needs to succeed in the managing biz were a sense of humor and a good bullpen. Well, here’s the proof: If all games had ended after the eighth inning this year instead of the ninth, the Cardinals would be leading the Brewers by 4½ games instead of trailing by 5½.

  2. blingboy says:

    Albert’s avg is at .300 right now. An incredible feat considering how far he had to come.

    Hope he gets 7 more rbi.

  3. CariocaCardinal says:

    Is this the first time that Tony has let his starter go in to the 7th since rosters expanded?

  4. LarryBird says:

    Albert will get his line.
    Call me foolish but I am more concerned about this game as I still believe we can win this and make the playoffs.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    Proud of Jaime and of Yadier.

  6. LarryBird says:

    Patterson in for defense:(

  7. Kansasbirdman says:

    What a crazy game!

  8. LarryBird says:

    TLR is a hall of famer and I am not but……….This team was built for offense so why not have our best offense on the field late in the game?

    • crdswmn says:

      That was the running complaint on Twitter. Everybody and I mean, everybody, was on TLR’s case about his management tonight. The PD guys and the other STL media were also in on it. Removing Jay and Berkman especially rankled the faithful. But the topper was when I saw TLR’s #1 worshiper, blog after the game that even HE couldn’t defend those moves. Of course, they won the game, despite TLR imo, and that is what matters. Loved seeing Chambers and Greene get their licks in and be the ones that won the game.

  9. CariocaCardinal says:

    Isn’t that the 3rd game that has been blown late by a TLR defensive replacement?

  10. CariocaCardinal says:

    According to Westie’s theory the Phillies have chosen to play us rather than the Braves.

  11. JumboShrimp says:

    The Cards are now +14 on the season.
    Proud of DeWitt and Mo for bold July trades. Jackson, Rzepcynski, Dotel have helped. Rhodes struck somebody out last night, even though too old. Furcal has helped, even though too old. Chambers and Greene helped last night, even though they will soon be too old (not).
    Its good to end the season with some wins.

    • Nutlaw says:

      I know that you realize that there is an eight year difference between Rhodes and Furcal. :)

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Yes, dear Nutlaw, I am aware of their age difference. I was just laughing about the old “too old” story.

        When Skip was in year 3 at Memphis, he was called too old to be a prospect, but he has collected some ML at bats. Ryan Ludwick was too old to be any good, but after he got a chance with the Cards, he slugged 37 dingers one season, maybe it was 2008.

        I learned a lot from Walt Jocketty. Walt used to marvel one year fans loved a player, the next year they hated him, but the player was “still the same guy.” This is important for GMs, because it means they may be able to get a guy cheap, since out of favor, who can rebound in a new setting. As value shoppers, the Cards do their fair share of buying low and selling high. Last year, Rhodes was a good reliever for Walt. He slipped a little this year, so now he is suddenly too old, washed up, a has been, even though still the same guy inside a uniform.

        Furcal used to be an elite SS, a remarkable athlete, OPS above 800 very high at SS, stealing bases, great arm. He has some injuries, reporters and fans think he is washed up. But the Cards figured Furcal had returned from the DL and if healthy could contribute. Mo and Tony were right. Again.

        • Nutlaw says:

          I just wish that they hadn’t sold low on Colby…

          • JumboShrimp says:

            1. The Cards wanted to compete in 2011.
            2. Colby had some market value.
            3. But not quite as much as some might assume. Mo will have shopped Rasmus around. He will have accepted what looked like the best deal available. I do not see Mo “selling low.” I see him as having made a practical, clear-eyed decision and getting the best, given the market.
            For 2012/13, we have Jay, backed by Skip, with Chambers for depth at AAA. By 2014, the impressive Oscar Tavares may appear on the scene.

            • Nutlaw says:

              No one can fault your level of effort, Jumbo. If you could put as much spin on a baseball as you do your arguments, you’d win a Cy Young. :)

              • JumboShrimp says:

                Nutlaw, glasses can be viewed as half empty or as half full. Consider Jackson. Brian mentioned Jackson’s ERA for the Diamondbacks. In contrast, I was much more optimistic, since Jackson’s ERA for the preceding year for the White Sox was in the low 3s and there is no reason for a guy to take a step backwards when playing for Dave Duncan. My outlook was rationally and conservatively founded on the most recent year of data. And Jackson has turned out to be just what we wanted, ERA in the low 3s, eats 7 innings consistently, throws gas.
                We may want to keep Don’t Ask Dotel around next season. Rzep will be under control for a few years. Jackson can yield a draft pick, because he has earned a sweet free agent contract.
                Should Mo make an offer to the Ancient Mariner, Arthur Rhodes?

                • Nutlaw says:

                  Jumbo, the Cardinals were widely (near universally) considered to have sold low on Rasmus. Considering that he was in the middle of the worst run of his career and facing verbal attacks from his own manager to the press, this was not a stretch.

                  Jackson will earn draft picks and it’s good to have at least one real lefty in the bullpen, but Dotel is fairly old for a team with a lot of young right handed pitching. Paterson is obviously done. Rasmus was one of the top centerfielders in the game last season and considered a top prospect for seasons and seasons before that. At any point in the past, he could have gotten the Cardinals far more than a left handed reliever, a couple of draft picks, and a couple of months of moderate pitching help. They traded him at the low point in his value to date.

                  Rhodes is painfully old. I know that I’ve already pointed you to his loss of velocity. There will be younger options available.

                  It’s great that you brought up Walt Jocketty, given the fact that he saddled his up and coming team with washed up veterans like Rolen, Renteria, and Cairo who helped to cause the Reds to horribly underperform this season. Washed up Dontrelle Willis didn’t exactly help, either. Furthermore, Jocketty kept 35-year-old Ramon Hernandez around as a part time player instead of selling high on him when he was hitting out of his mind this year.

                  Anyone can spin anything any way they want and stubbornly stick to their guns. The Cardinals weakened next year’s team for a slim shot at this year’s playoffs. The Reds are unnecessarily a mess. Pour that glass half full if it makes you happy.

                  • JumboShrimp says:

                    Regarding Corey, he had a 660 OPS at Toronto, playing every day. Reduced to pinch-hitting, he has an sub 500 OPS. Remember: he is still the same guy, in either blue or red. His OPS is a function of role.

                    Rasmus was not “attacked.” Reporters asked Tony why Rasmus had gone cold with the stick. Tony replied with factual statements. Rasmus is trying. He is not working with our hitting instructors. Where was an “attack.” Are you referring to when Tony leaked a year earlier, when the Cards were in first place and at Wrigley, Kid Rasmus asked to be traded? Was it an attack to disclose the truth? If I had to listen to the whining like Tony, I would blab it to the press too.

                    In 2010, Renteria did a lot to help the Giants win a World Series. In 2011, he is “washed up?”

                    You believe Dontrelle Willis is washed up. How about flamethrowing Chapman, the 100 mph southpaw who Walt shelled out $30MM signing bucks for. A bold move in favor of youth by Walt. Is Chapman responsible for the Reds “horribly underperforming”? Cairo is a backup, hardly a factor. Walt brought in Rolen for leadership, to provide maturity for the kids, to show them a good work ethic.

                    Rhodes can hit 90-91. Rzep hits 92. Not much difference velocity, even if Rzep is a kid.

                    If we could have unloaded Rasmus last winter for more talent, as you suggest we could have, I would have been thrilled and delighted. Sadly, it did not happen. We are needed pitchers, after Wainwright’s injury and the demise of Franklin and Miller. Rasmus was tradeable, we took the best offer. Other teams were 100 percent free to offer more talent. It was a solid decision. Jon Jay fits better with this team. Good luck to Kid Rasmus in future years.

                    • Nutlaw says:

                      Patterson’s Cardinal OPS may be a function of sample size. Even a 660 OPS for an outfielder is a sub-MLB performance, for sure.

                      Okay, Rasmus was simply publically devalued by La Russa, who made no secret of the fact that he didn’t want him around.

                      Renteria had a few good games in the World Series after an uninspiring season last year. Yes, bad players can still come up with big hits now and then.

                      Cairo has 271 PA, Rolen has 269 PA, and Renteria has 301 PA this season. Lots of opportunity for sub-par play. More than cheerleading duty from the bench.

                      Chapman hasn’t played great, but he’s been average, which is more than can be said for Willis, Rolen, Cairo, and Renteria.

                      Rzep has succeeded while throwing relatively softly in the past. Rhodes has relied upon the success of his fastball in the past, which no longer has any force behind it. You aren’t going to suggest that a pitcher often performs as well when throwing slower than he has in the past?

                      Trading away team controlled, high potential centerfielders for bullpen help is not a long term winning strategy and you know it.

                    • JumboShrimp says:

                      Patterson is a CF and CF is typically the lowest OPS position. 700 is playable. Corey’s 660 could get him a contract next year. He is not going to get an offer in December, but a team needing a backup CF or a non-contending team might add him for 2012, just as the Jays added him for 2011.

                      Can you provide a reliable quote that TLR said he did not want Colby around? I doubt any exist.

                      Now I can testify Colby’s family used to post he be traded, as early as 2008. It was unusual. There was whining when the Kid was sent to AAA, though almost all ML players spent an apprenticeship there. Rasmus averaged .251 and complained he did not like his teammates. In my book, this is not enough for a promotion to the majors, but Mo built a reserve role for him in 2009, releasing Kennedy and shifting Skip to 2B, all to speed the ML career of Rasmus. Sometimes its not good to give people too much too soon. I am glad to see the Cards suspend Shelby Miller late this year, rather than turn a blind eye to iffy behavior.

                      Nutlaw, your claim Rhodes had no force behind his pitchers is rhetorical excess. You might consider politics in due course. We had 3 years of Jeff Suppan tossing 89 mph fastballs and then scoring a 4 year deal with the Brewers. Rhodes can hit 91 occasionally, better than Jeff. He only has to throw a handful of pitches per game. He may get a contract for 2012. We shall see.

                      Also, just to correct, we did not trade away a high potential CF just for bullpen help, a little bit more rhetorical excess. We traded Colby for Jackson this summer, likely a draft pick next June if Jackson leaves, bullpen help, carting away Miller (now with the Red Sox) and Tallet, and for money or 3 ptbn later.

                      Meanwhile we are playing Jay, who has been a good player for us. He has an OPS near 800, above Rasmus’ during 2011. Jon gives us a good on base percentage guy high in the lineup, which is valuable. We have about 4 more years of control over Jay’s services. Jon may fit in with his team-mates and work with the coaches. I have not heard of appeals to be traded. Jon hit well for average in the minors, so his hitting well is not unexpected.

                      Good luck to Colby and his Dad in Toronto. Also his brothers, in the minors.

                    • Nutlaw says:

                      That’s correct, Jumbo. TLR never came out and said the words, “I don’t want Colby Rasmus around.” A tiny amount of inference is all it took to understand that, however. Other GMs were well aware.

                      Yes, Rhodes is throwing 89 MPH, which a handful of mediocre pitchers can get away with. At age 41, he is not one of them. I mean sure, for a league minimum salary on a team with absolutely no options for a second left hander out of the bullpen? Why not? It doesn’t make him a good addition to a playoff contending MLB team.

                      And yes, we did cover what the Cardinals got in return for Rasmus numerous times today. They got bullpen help with Dotel, Rzep, and McClellan (when Jackson took his rotation spot) and a pile of nothing in Patterson. It isn’t getting them to the playoffs. They will be left with Rzep and a couple of draft picks. If you consider that to be a good return for Rasmus, that’s great. Most of the rest of the baseball world disagrees.

                    • JumboShrimp says:

                      Nutlaw, I am glad we are giving this a good airing. You are going to feel better, venting your feelings. I feel great, why shouldn’t you?

                      Now it would have been great if we could have gotten an Adam Wainwright for Rasmus, the way we did for J.D. 6 years of control over a very fine pitcher for one year of Mr. Drew. That was a great deal! Maybe Mo should have looked for a deal like that last winter. But Jay cooled off late last season, part of the team’s swoon. And maybe Colby was going to lift his game in 2011. So Mo stood pat last winter.
                      This year, Jay has lifted his game and played steady ball. He seems very professional. Colby started out ok, but then cooled off and was not working with the coaches, and not having enough fun.
                      It would have been nice if Rasmus could have fit in happily in St Louis. But he did not like his team-mates in Memphis, it was not fun enough. He was not beloved here by his team-mates. He asked to be traded last year. There is nothing wrong with obliging him this year. Morale is an underappreciated aspect of the game. Its good to have positive team-mates and guys who want to wear the Birds on the Bat. Colby wanted to be elsewhere, so make him and me happy by sending him elsewhere!!

                      Trever Miller is now pitching for the playoff bound Red Sox. How do you explain that little mystery? Trever gets run out of StL, then the Jays let him go, now he is headed to the playoffs. Why do you only pick on the Cards about Rhodes, but give the Red Sox a pass about Miller? Arthur got outs from Utley and Howard tonight. Nice job!

                    • Nutlaw says:

                      We weren’t discussing Miller. You and I were both quite happy to see him, Tallet, Franklin, and Batista leave. Other than losing Wainwright to injury, keeping those chumps around as long as they did and letting Theriot play shortstop were the team’s failing this year.

                    • JumboShrimp says:

                      Tony could not stand watching Trever. Tony figured even Rhodes would be better. The Jays carted off Miller, until they saw enough and got rid of him. Now the Red Sox have grabbed Miller, signing Cards and Jays hand me downs. Iy turns out, there are teams even more desparate for a lefty than the Cards.

  12. blingboy says:

    1. Rafael Furcal (S) SS
    2. Jon Jay (L) CF
    3. Albert Pujols (R) 1B
    4. Lance Berkman (S) LF
    5. David Freese (R) 3B
    6. Allen Craig (R) RF
    7. Yadier Molina (R) C
    8. Skip Schumaker (L) 2B
    9. Jake Westbrook (R) P

  13. JumboShrimp says:

    Fun game. The Cards fought back to make it close, then an error opened the floodgates. Raul got the better of Octavio. Roy swallowed an entire bottle of PEDs. That’s baseball. Lets get right back after these Phillie rascals tomorrow!

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