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

Workload worries for Beltran, Molina and Wainwright

One of the major concerns during Mike Matheny’s first season managing the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012 was his reluctance to give key players enough rest during the season to ensure they were fresh in the post-season.

The poster child for second-half fade last year was right-fielder Carlos Beltran. As the data below indicates, his performance dropped off badly in the second half of 2012.

1st Half 82 343 20 65 0.296 0.382 0.542 0.924
2nd Half 69 276 12 32 0.236 0.302 0.440 0.742
1st Half thru 7/8 79 326 19 51 0.307 0.347 0.533 0.879

This season, Beltran is having another strong first half, culminating in a vote into the National League All-Star starting lineup. While his numbers are solid, they are not as much so as last season. More importantly, what may be ahead for the 36-year-old during the remainder of July, August, September and hopefully, October?

Last year, Beltran played in 82 of 86 first-half games (95.3 percent). To-date in 2013, he has appeared in 79 of 87 contests (90.8 percent).

The club received good news Sunday in that catcher Yadier Molina’s knee injury is not structural. While the Cards believe the NL’s batting leader will back in the lineup as soon as Tuesday, how can one not be nervous?

Catchers take a tremendous beating over the course of the long season. The reality is that Molina is on pace to obliterate his previous career highs in games played and plate appearances. He would also set new bests in RBI, batting average, OBP and OPS – but only if he can remain healthy.

1st Half of 87G 81 330 6 45 0.346 0.388 0.490 0.878
Full year pace 151 615 11 84
Career bests 140 563 22 76 0.315 0.373 0.501 0.874
Year 2009 2012 2012 2012 2012 2012 2012 2012

The pitching rotation has been reconfigured to enable ace Adam Wainwright to get in an extra start before the break. While that is great for creating more opportunities to win, again there is underlying concern.

If Wainwright can maintain the pace at which he is pitching, he would set new career bests in wins and ERA – but also establish a new full-season high in innings pitched at 252 1/3. In the last decade, only one NL pitcher has thrown more innings in a season, Livan Hernandez, at 255 in 2004.

Wainwright 2013 W L ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO
1st Half thru 87G 11 5 2.36 18 4 2 133.2 120 38 35 5 13 117
Full year pace 20 9 2.36 34 7 4 252.1
Career bests 19 2.42 34 233
Year 2009 2010 2009 2009

Note these 2013 numbers will skew even higher assuming Wainwright completes two typical starts between now and the break. At that point, he would have 20 starts in 93 games. Extending that to 162 games would add a 35th start, increasing his full-season innings projection to 260. The last NL hurler to throw 260 innings was Randy Johnson in 2002.

At this rate, one has to wonder if these three All-Stars, all now in their 30’s, will have enough in the tank to cross the finish line at their best. Further, could the Cardinals achieve a World Championship without any one of the three?

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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28 Responses to “Workload worries for Beltran, Molina and Wainwright”

  1. blingboy says:

    Fun fact from a P-D article today:

    “Counting the $12.5 million for rehabbing starter Chris Carpenter, the $5.75 million for injured lefthander Jaime Garcia and the $4 million to Motte this year, the Cardinals are paying nearly $25 million for pitchers who aren’t pitching for them.”

    There is also about $3Million salary for the three guys at Memphis. $28 Million for nothing.

    As point of reference, Mujica and Choate make $4.7M total, and the rest of the pen are minimum wage guys I believe. So its like $7.5 for the whole pen.

    • crdswmn says:

      Yep, and that’s baseball. It’s not my money, so I don’t lose sleep over it.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Without context, I have no idea if $25 million is a lot or not. How much in salary did the team have on the DL in other recent seasons?

      What about other clubs? Heck, the Yankees have at least three times that on the DL with Jeter, A-Rod, etc.

      • Bw52 says:

        The Yankees payroll is a hell of lot larger than the Cards also.The Cards having 25 million tied up is about 22 % of paqyroll.Yankees can eat that kind of money.Cards don`t have that luxury.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Tell me how 22 percent compares to anything.

        • Brian Walton says:

          OK, I did the quick math. Yanks opening salary was $228 MM. In just five of their DLed players, they have 40.6 percent of their payroll tied up. Jeter, A-Rod, Tex, Granderson and Youk together make $92.5 million.

          Point being that every club has injury hardships and some are worse than St. Louis.

          • Bw52 says:

            The point being that the Yankees and the Phillies have went out and spent the extra money to replace a injured player .Cards seem to stick pretty close to a set budget.Some higher revenue teams can spend more cash on higher cost replacements.Cards have been frugal and smart shoppers most of the time.

        • Brian Walton says:

          In Halladay and Howard alone, the Phils have over 24 percent of their total salary on the DL. Until Braun was activated the other day, the Brewers had over 34 percent of their payroll on the DL (plus A-Ram and Hart). Braun may disappear again if the ESPN suspension rumors are true. White Sox are at 31.5 percent with Peavy, Konerko and Floyd. etc…

        • Brian Walton says:

          I think the real nugget in this is that the Cards have remained competitive despite the injuries. To me, it is a testament to the farm system that adequate replacements have been available.

    • CariocaCardinal says:

      Is it fair to keep Wiggy off that list – not injured but unproductive. Actually, he should count double since he’s worse than replacement.

  2. CariocaCardinal says:

    Best record in baseball as we start the night and Westie no where to be found – go figure.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    Two interesting aspects to 2013. Ronny’s Aura. Old Wiggy turning out to be even worse than feared, an utter flop.

    • Brian Walton says:

      There often seems an overly inflated level of attention placed on the last bench guy. (Not speaking to you specifically, Jumbo. More of a general observation.)

      • JumboShrimp says:

        I agree about excess attention to the 25th man, yet Wigginton was a poor choice from the get go. I said: when Wigginton is the answer, Mo asked the wrong question.

        Wiggy turned out to be not just bad, but hilariously, off-scale-bad. I will miss Wiggy a lot. He was so bad, it was fun.

  4. blingboy says:

    I was just talking about the Cards pitchers on the DL. If we are going to compare % of payroll on the DL to that of other teams, then we have to add in the $7M for Furcal. That makes the Cards total around $32Million on the DL. I think that is around 30%.

    If you add $3M for Boggs, Salas and Scrabble, and $2.5 for Wiggy, then it is about 1/3 of the payroll not providing anything.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    Good move by Mo to sell Mitch Boggs to Colorado. Mitch has a strong arm and has done great work for the Cards. Baseball is a strange game. Last year, Boggs excelled in the 8th inning. This year, maybe he loses a little mph and loses confidence. Such a fine line between success and disappointment. Mitch gets a fresh start in a new town. Good for him and good for the Cards to add some international bonus money, since the international budget is stacked against us by MLB because we did too well last year. If you reach the playoffs, MLB’s socialism will punish your team for it.

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