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Cardinal Talk: KXnO FOX Sports Radio: Setting Up the NLCS

Weekly St. Louis Cardinals-focused chat on KXnO FOX Sports Radio 1460 in Des Moines.

As is the case each Friday, I joined Ken Miller on KXnO FOX Sports Radio 1460 in Des Moines in our weekly series to discuss the St. Louis Cardinals.

This week, we reviewed the Cards’ recently-concluded National League Division Series win over the Dodgers, then set up the Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants, including the pitching matchups and rosters. As usual, Ken pulled a prediction from me.

Once again in 2014, Cardinals followers in central Iowa are able to catch St. Louis Cardinals radio broadcasts on KXnO as well as my regular segment each week throughout the season, either over the air or via streaming. Or, if you miss it live, you can always catch the replay right here at The Cardinal Nation blog.

Click here for audio: Brian Walton with Ken Miller (8:57)

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Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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52 Responses to “Cardinal Talk: KXnO FOX Sports Radio: Setting Up the NLCS”

  1. blingboy says:

    Yadi got fined $5,000 for contact with umpire in NLDS game 1 during the incident after Puig got plunked.

  2. blingboy says:

    So, what is Wainwright’s and Matheny’s spin going to be now? And does he start game 5? Or 6, or 7?

    • Brian Walton says:

      Tough call. With Wainwright clearly less than 100 percent, he needed perfect defense behind him and did not get it.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Grichuk should have been awarded an error on Sandoval’s fly. Carpenter let in another run. Ugh.
        Wainwright nibbled and walked 3 guys. But he battled and he deserves game 5. He is not as sharp as early in the year because Mike rode so hard for much of the season.

        I hope Grichuk’s uninspiring night gets Oscar out there tomorrow night.

        • Bw52 says:

          The whole offense except for Jay is uninspiring.Looks like the offense that beat the Dodgers decided to not show up.Not a lot of confidence here when Tony Cruz was batting with 2 runners on.That was Cards best chance for runs and ended up with zero.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            We do not match up well versus Bumgarner.
            We need to get after SF righthanders and play Oscar.

          • JumboShrimp says:

            You raise an interesting point about Cruz. We have two guys in scoring position, bottom of the 7th. Three right swingers available, Kozma (.819 OPS), Bourjos (.643), and Cruz (.530). Being madder than a March hare, Mike of course chose Cruz.

            • Brian Walton says:

              Based on one game, it looks like the reason AJ is on the roster is to free up Cruz. Not sure that is a good thing.

              • crdswmn says:

                Just when I thought Matheny might make it through a postseason without doing something stupid………

                I don’t know what I was thinking.

              • blingboy says:

                I was actually feeling good about Matheny when he got Wainwright out before things got out of hand. Then the Cruz thing.

                Obviously our bench is not strong offensively, but picking the least experienced, most rusty and probably weakest hitting of the bunch at the critical moment is not a defensible decision. I just do not understand how something pretty obvious just seems to elude him on a fairly regular basis.

                It is sounding like Adam will throw a bullpen between starts, unlike this last time, and I assume if it goes OK we will see him start game 5. Not sure if that is the best thing to happen, but I cannot see MM making the decision to go with someone else. I really hope Wainy can come through.

            • JumboShrimp says:

              So which of three should have been used in the 7th as a pinch-hitter?
              Cruz did not get a swing in the Dodger series. Maybe they want to start Cruz for the Baumgarner start in Game 5 and put Molina at 1b for that game, so are acclimating him for this with a key pinch hit opportunity.
              Kozma got a lot more at bats the past three years than Cruz, these being at AAA. In 2014, his Memphis OPS was higher than two preceding campaigns.
              I would have used Bourjos. Yes his OPS is against lefties is lower than versus righties, but this is a small n illusion of 2014. When a regular for the Angels in 2011, Bourjos slugged over 500 versus lefties and had an OPS above 800. 3 of his 4 HRs this year were off lefties. This suggests it is underuse that has hurt Bourjos as a hitter with the Cards. Bourjos has the most ML at bats among the trio and would be the best hitter among the three, if all were full time. It was the most important at bat of the game, Bourjos was available, but did not get into the game then nor later.
              We probably would have lost anyway, but this seems an example of the subtle ways Mad Mike does not make optimal use of the roster.

  3. Bw52 says:

    When is it time to decide if Wainwright needs to try and pitch again this offseason?You have to admire the competitiveness but there comes a time when then might be a better option with another pitcher.Seems like Cards had that issue with a couple of guys over the last several years .

  4. Bw52 says:

    Someone on twitter said Cards have scored a grand total of ONE run in last 4 playoff games versus SF.Beyond pathetic.

  5. Bw52 says:

    Just pointing something out about Cards playoff results versus SF.Cards have played poorly offensively versus SF.Having some different players apparently hasn`t changed that fact.Thats relevant .

    • blingboy says:

      Agree. Somebody will say the different guys poor results are a sample size of 1 game and that versus their ace. True, but post-season is all about small sample size. Excuses don’t cut it. If we stink again today I would start chopping off heads.

  6. blingboy says:

    A few interesting items from Bernie ( http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/bernie-miklasz/bernie-cards-go-quietly-against-bumgarner/article_5e6af109-c576-5734-95f8-4c06b9ac89d7.html )

    1, “The Cardinals could make a lineup change, but it looks like they’re saving the out-of-favor Oscar Taveras for use as a trade chip during the baseball winter meetings.”

    my comment: Or, after having given OT an open field by dumping Craig, it was seen that he is not ready, and is on the PS roster to absorb what he can in preparation for next season.

    2. “Does Matheny know something that we don’t? Matheny is turning Mabry into a topic. No one has been talking about Mabry … except that Matheny won’t stop talking about Mabry.”

    my comment: MM is assuming the BFIB will see 2 + 2 and conclude that the most likely answer is 4, which is not an answer he likes. Moreover, he is concerned that Mo (or even BDW) will either arrive at the same conclusion or at least will throw the BFIB a bone on it. Apparently, the possibility that the answer really is 4 is not something he is willing to entertain.

    3. Quote from Matheny: ” . . . John Mabry seemed to take a lot of heat as we were pushing through the season and some of those results weren’t there, which is really ridiculous.”

    my comment: What is ridiculous about looking at the hitting coach in response to an historically unproductive offense?

    • Bw52 says:

      1.One of the OF`s will be traded.If I had my way it would be Jay,In reality I think its Bourjos.Oscar will stay and get more experience.
      2.Who usually takes the fall when the offense falls well below expectations?
      3.Bullhockey as Colonel Potter used to say.

      Regarding trading Oscar……….what position you going to trade for? C, SS,LF are locks 2B,3B,1B are pretty much set.CF and RF.Jay,Grichuk,Taveras and upcoming Piscotty with Bourjos as best defender in the bunch.Cards need a RH option for 1B……….rumor is Seattle non-tendering Justin Smoak.might be worth a shot.

      • blingboy says:

        You touch on the key points Bw.

        First, many of the people are the same as last year, but the results individually are off up and down the lineup, which suggests a flaw in approach/preparation. This points to Mabry’s area of responsibility.

        Secondly, most of the players will be the same again next year, so it is imperative that the approach/preparation issue be turned around.

        Thirdly, although most of the starters will be the same, there likely will be one or two changes. The impact of Beltran’s absence in the 2 slot points up how big difference a single change can make. That and Craig going over a cliff show the impact of two changes. But just a change itself will not be curative. It has to be the right guy in the right role and then he has to stay healthy and he has to perform. Mo can do his part making a good acquisition, but that does not guarantee that the guy will be successful. It is important to remember that when Beltran and Berkman were signed there were plenty of detractors because in both cases, they were far from sure things. Either or both of those could have easily turned out to be flops.

        My feeling is that the Cards will not want to platoon Adams. I think the change(s) will come in the OF. What exactly I don’t know, but have a couple observations. Bourjos’s D is great, but I do think Mo will try to move away from no hit 4th and 5th outfielders like Bourjos and Robinson. So I expect Bourjos to be gone. I for one have seen enough of Grichuk to conclude his bat does not play as a starter or regular platoon partner. I expect Mo to try what has worked for him in the past with Beltran and Berkman. Look for a journeyman with a proven bat who is perceived as not having enough left to attract a big multi-year deal. Then that guy is the starting right fielder, with OT and Piscotty being positioned to outplay him if they can. Center field is a spot where Mo will be willing to part with top shelf pitching if the right deal comes along. He will not try upgrading from Jay with somebody’s spare part cast off again. If the deal doesn’t come along, it will be Jay again.

        I do admit that its possible the organisation has decided there is a chemistry or coachability problem with Oscar and that it is insurmountable. But there was no such thinking as recently as 10 weeks ago when Craig was traded and OT was handed the job. So I do not think there has been a miraculous revelation about Taveras since then, which is why I disagree with Bernie. Oscar will not be handed the job again though. If he wants it he will have to outplay somebody good. #1 on Mo’s winter to-do list is to set that up and also to prepare for the possibility that Taveras will not be up to it.

        • Bw52 says:

          bLING
          I hope Cards get a RH option for Adams at 1B for use when Adams has trouble versus certain Lefty pitchers.Maybe a guy who can also play a little 3B along with 1B.I totally disagree with you about Grichuk.I think he will be a solid starter eventually.People forgrt that Grichuk had never been a tripleAplayer till 2014.So he saw half season of AAA and then the majors.Oscar had last season and part of this season in AAA.

          • blingboy says:

            I hope you are right about Grichuk, but i do not like his numbers in the minors at all. He does hit homers off minor league pitching, but that is it. Doesn’t hit for average, doesn’t get on base much and strikes out a bunch. I’m not sure if he will hit homers off major league pitching. He might I admit, but I am pretty sure he will not significantly improve his BA, OBP or K rate upon moving from minors to MLB, as that rarely happens. That is just a fact that must be faced up to however much we like his AAA homers.

        • crdswmn says:

          There are a lot of various opinions among fans about Grichuk. I doubt very seriously that any of them know much of anything about Grichuk other that what they have seen since he joined the Cardinal organization. I know I certainly don’t. I tend to trust scouting reports when I don’t know much about a prospect. That’s not to say scouting reports are always right.

          I have read all the scouting reports I could find on Grichuk. The consensus appears to be that he is not a starter, but a 4th OFer. He doesn’t hit RHP as well as LHP and all of his power seems to be against LHP. The scouting reports suggest that he should be in a platoon against LHP only. The reports also say he is a corner outfielder with not enough range to be a CFer full time.

          So far I have seen nothing from him that suggests the scouting reports are wrong. Is there enough data to say anything conclusively? Probably not. Until there is, however, I am going with the scouting reports.

          As for trading OFers in the offseason, I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened. As to who, well that depends on the market. Jay has the most trade value of any of our current OFers and he is the oldest and will be the most expensive to retain. Grichuk and Taveras have value based on potential only, as prospects with some MLB experience. The trend it seems to me with most teams lately has been to go with MLB experience rather than prospects (except for rebuilding teams like the Cubs or the Astros). Bourjos’ value lies in his defense and speed. Pham and Piscotty don’t have any MLB pedigrees so their value lies as prospects only. Mozeliak, if he decides to trade will likely go where the market leads him and to what is available at what price. Will he make a trade as a way to cull the roster or make a statement like he did with the Craig/Kelly trade? Who knows. It wouldn’t surprise me if he did.

          Frankly, I expect Taveras to be kept unless an offer that can’t be refused is made. There is no conclusive evidence available from which to judge that Taveras is a bust. 248 sporadic PAs is way too small a sample size. As for the chemistry issue, well I for one don’t give two hoots about that. These are adults being paid a lot of money to play a game. They can try to get along or go somewhere else. This isn’t high school. That goes for Matheny as well.

          • blingboy says:

            crdswmn says:
            October 12, 2014 at 1:57 pm

            As for the chemistry issue, well I for one don’t give two hoots about that. These are adults being paid a lot of money to play a game. They can try to get along or go somewhere else. This isn’t high school. That goes for Matheny as well.

            I think you wrongly dismiss the effect psychological issues can and do have on performance. I am not saying it should be so, just that it is.

            • crdswmn says:

              What psychological issues? Is Oscar traumatizing them some how? I find it ridiculous that he is a disruption so severe that they can’t concentrate on their game. If there are any clubhouse issues I find it more likely that many of them are just egotistical crybabies who can’t handle that the rookie OT might take playing time away from one of their veteran buddies. Derrick Goold has reported about the way they acted when Craig was traded. He said he has never seen anything like it. Matheny has probably programmed some sense of entitlement into them.

              I got no sympathy for that nonsense. The best players should play, not the most popular.

              • blingboy says:

                I have this vision that keeps going through my mind. Crdswmn is at one of those dorky ‘team building’ things companies like to send people to. So the guy is standing on the ledge, arms crossed over his chest ready to fall backwards and count on his team to catch him. And there he goes, just as crdswmn decides “this is a crock” and walks away as the guy lands on his head.

    • crdswmn says:

      And Randal Grichuk is ready? Really? What have you seen lately that gives you that impression? His 3 for 20 in the postseason? All the strikeouts?

      Grichuk has not shown he is a better option that OT. Either play OT or put Jay in RF and Bourjos in CF. But MM is not going to do that as we all know.

      I don’t know what Bernie is smoking, but I don’t buy that Mozeliak trades OT because of 248 PAs. If he does he should be fired. Unless of course he is traded for a bigger fish like Stanton, which is extremely unlikely to happen.

      • Bw52 says:

        I am not going to decide who is ready or not based only on the postseason.I doubt Mo or MM does either.Jay in RF? you got to be kidding.Every runner on 1B will go to 3B every time running on Jay`s ragas arm.I hope Cards keep Grichuk and Taveras along with Bourjos.Jay is expendable in my opinion because JJ is the master of the meaningless single.Pretty average but plays lousy defense and doesn`t steal bases.Do Cards want to play JJ 3 to 4 million for 400 ABs in 2015?

        • crdswmn says:

          I don’t suggest anyone decide anything based on the postseason only. I am suggesting that Matheny makes decisions based on miniscule sample sizes and who he likes and doesn’t like based on who knows what judging criteria. I am suggesting that based on small sample sizes for both Grichuk and Taveras that Grichuk has not been shown to be superior to Taveras as a hitter. On defense, yes, but then Bourjos is better than both of them on defense, so why isn’t he playing instead of either one of them?

          Yes Jay’s arm doesn’t play well in RF, but LF is taken. Jay is going to play regardless because he is one of Matheny’s favorites. So either Jay plays in RF or Bourjos never plays and you get Grichuk or Taveras and therefore not the best defensive OF you can have. Right now that is what we have and we are going to San Francisco to play 3 games in the huge outfield that will kill fly ball pitchers like Miller and Lackey.

          That ‘s the bottom line.

  7. blingboy says:

    crdswmn says:
    October 12, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Either play OT or put Jay in RF and Bourjos in CF. But MM is not going to do that as we all know.

    Reply

    I think OT would do what he has done, flop around. Jay and Bourjos would be good. I liked the look of it before.

  8. Brian Walton says:

    Interesting comments, all. I was away from the computer today and enjoyed catching up on the discussion.

  9. JumboShrimp says:

    Grichuk is not an everyday RF, at this point, being a rookie. He can’t hit right-handers much, this is well established in his minor league record. As a hitter, Grichuk reminds me of Ludwick and Tom Buransky, strong, will average about .250. The two rooks, Grichuk and Taveras should be platooned.
    Sandoval is a clutch playoff player. He did a great job to get under a Wainwright curve ball last night and give it a good ride. But the fly had a lot of lift. Every right fielder should catch a fly like that, there was time to get under it. It was unimpressive Grichuk did not make a nifty catch, but rammed the wall hard enough to drop it. Should have been scored an error.

    Grichuk getting to start in right reminds me of overuse of Rosenthal. Matheny is not adept at using the whole roster, but fixates on guys in certain roles. If the Cards can best the Giants, it will despite the manager.
    Ultimately the Mad Mike problem is of Mo’s creation. He hired the guy and has extended him. Mo is responsible for managerial mistakes.

  10. Bw52 says:

    Thanks Rosey.Way to blow it.Sf has got to be the luckiest team alive right now.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      There is not luck involved, with the Giants. They put together a well balanced lineup. The manager is smart, the GM must be capable. They won the WS in 2010 and 2012. Its not luck.

      We dodged a bullet tonight. The luck was with St Louis.

    • CariocaCardinal says:

      Matheny and his lucky clock keep on getting the time right, despite what us in the peanut gallery think. Neshek comes through again, grichuck has a solid game, and Oscar comes up big when used properly.

      • Brian Walton says:

        A very important win, but clearly the Cards were fortunate. Getting the three long balls late is not usually their game. Despite his RBI, I don’t see any reason Grichuk should be in the lineup against RHP. The right use for Taveras would have been to start him, IMO. Putting Cruz in the game ahead of AJP almost backfired twice. Neshek has had a monster post-season, quite a contrast to the struggling closer, who had to be pulled in the ninth. It will be very interesting to see the Game 3 lineup.

        • CariocaCardinal says:

          I think matheny likes grichuk’s defense no matter who is pitching.

          • crdswmn says:

            I think Matheny likes Grichuk because he isn’t Oscar.

            • Bw52 says:

              For whatever reason Grichuk seems higher in the food chain over former posterboy Oscar.Might be hustle or work habits and defense or MM thinks RG brings more to the table than OT at this time.RG had a big hit and great defense last nite and OT had the big HR so Cards benefitted from both guys last night.

              • crdswmn says:

                The team would benefit a whole lot more from both guys if they were both used properly. By that I mean, OT against RHP and RG against LHP. Using OT as a PHer only is not a proper use.

                All available evidence tells us that “former posterboy” is a better hitter than Grichuk. While Grichuk may be a better defender, that does not justify relegating OT to PH status and making a starter out of Grichuk. Especially since there is an even better defender than Grichuk growing mold on the bench. The complete absence of Bourjos, even as a late inning defensive replacement tells me all I need to know about MM’s motives. He is using “defense” as an excuse. He doesn’t care about defense, he cares about keeping OT from playing. That is very clear to me, despite how little what I think matters in all of this.

                • crdswmn says:

                  P.S. Do you think for even 2 seconds that if Allen Craig were still an option that Grichuk would ever smell RF? And Allen Craig is an even worse defender than OT.

                  • Bw52 says:

                    Guess what.Craig isn`t a option and the fact remains that Grichuk is getting the playing time and Oscar is riding the pine.I don`t care for MM and a lot of his choices but Oscar must have really crapped his hat for whatever reason (lazy,out of shape,bad attitude? who knows?) .Oscar had his shot and he screwed the pooch.Grichuk outplayed OT in September and that must make a lot of difference to MMI doubt a personal;dislike ( if it is ) would be a factor in these high stakes situations.What this tells me is that MM feels a lot more comfortable with Grichuk right now over Taveras.That doesn`t mean it can`t change but that`s the way it is right now.

                    • Bw52 says:

                      Another thing Crdswmn for somebody who is supposed to value defense why would the Cards start a OF of Holliday,Jay and Taveras? That would be a OF that would cause pitchers nightmares

                    • crdswmn says:

                      Ok BW. You are welcome to think what you want.

                    • crdswmn says:

                      Oh, I have way better ideas about outfield configuration but those ideas would never come to fruition with MM because they would require Jon Jay to not play some games. That is a whole separate issue from whether Grichuk should be a starter (he shouldn’t) and OT a PHer (he shouldn’t)

                      If MM paid any attention to data other than what he can find to support what he wants to do (which is usually very little), he would see that because of splits and batted ball profiles there are times when the outfield should look markedly different than what he usually puts out there in order to maximize strengths and weaknesses and increase winning percentage.

  11. blingboy says:

    ” Mozeliak admitted two hours before Sunday’s game that Taveras’ conditioning is an organizational concern. Taveras put on more than 20 pounds last winter in the aftermath of season-ending ankle surgery. He is not considered a toxic clubhouse presence, but his work habits have drawn attention from some veterans. Once untouchable, Taveras no longer carries the tag.”

    http://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/joe-strauss/strauss-seldom-seen-taveras-joins-homer-parade/article_dba95f59-f6a6-5c0b-9cfe-de317cd29ed7.html

  12. blingboy says:

    Walkoff Wong Dong. Nice. Great job by Lance.

  13. Brian Walton says:

    Jumbo, in case you have not heard, Chip Hale is the new manager in Arizona. It does not appear that Oquendo was even interviewed. By all indications, his managerial contention days have passed. StL did not hire him and neither did TLR. It is difficult to imagine he would have a better chance anywhere else.

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