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

TCN Blog 2015 Top Story #1: 100 Wins

The St. Louis Cardinals reported to 2015 spring training camp amid high expectations – both placed on them by others and by themselves. With the vast majority of the same players that won the National League Central Division the prior two seasons, the club was viewed by many as one of the favorites, along with the Nationals, Red Sox and Dodgers, to win it all.

Unlike the first two of those other clubs, who went on to miss the playoffs entirely, St. Louis delivered on those expectations during the regular season.

It took winning an unprecedented battle to get there, however. The NL Central featured the three clubs with the best records in baseball, as the Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs exchanged blows down to the wire. All three clubs reached the post-season, taking turns eliminating each other, but none of them reached the World Series.

Through game eight of the 162-game regular-season schedule, the Cards had completed series against three division rivals – Chicago, Cincinnati and Milwaukee – and pulled into first place. From April 16 on, the Cardinals would never look back, though surges by the Cubs and Pirates kept St. Louis from clinching the division title until just three games remained.

St. Louis was the first team in MLB to secure a playoff spot, on September 19th, as manager Mike Matheny led his fourth club into the post-season in four years, a new MLB record. However, it took another 11 days, until September 30th, for the Cards to clinch the division.

Once again, pitching carried the flag for St. Louis in 2015. Despite offensive inconsistency, the extraordinary team mound showing powered the Cardinals to 100 wins, ten more than in 2014 and the most victories for the team in the last decade. St. Louis’ 2.94 team ERA was the lowest in the game since the Mets of 1988.

In my opinion, the combination of numerous injuries and the grueling battle to avoid the Wild Card that went down to the wire left the Cardinals with not enough fuel in the tanks to get past Chicago in the Division Series. As a result, an exceptional year ended in a disappointing manner after just one win in four post-season games.

The Cardinals won the marathon, but did not have enough left to prevail in the sprint that followed.

For a complete, in-depth recap of the Cardinals’ entire 2015 regular season, check out this article at The Cardinal Nation.

Link to The Cardinal Nation Blog’s top 20 stories of the year countdown

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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 “TCN Blog 2015 Top Story #1: 100 Wins”

  1. crdswmn says:

    One of those free agents you mentioned is now off the board. KC has an agreement with Alex Gordon.

    That leaves Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes of the OF free agents. The problem is that Cespedes doesn’t play RF so I don’t see him as an option. Unless the Cardinals want to put Grichuk in RF and Cespedes in CF, which I think is a terrible idea because Cespedes is not a good defensive CFer.

    Of course, the OF is not the only position where there are free agents, but that is the position, other than 1B, where I see the need.

    • Bw52 says:

      I would also like to see the Cards add a little more punch.Ths team also needs to add some more speed to the lineup .Wong has some speed,Pham and Grichuk are capable baserunners along with Carpenter and Piscotty seems okay.Too many station to station guys;Adams,Peralta,Molasses Molina,Holliiday,.Having some decent speed on the bench couldn`t hurt. I wonder about a Free agen OF like David Lough or another inf-of type with good speed for the bench.Right now IMHO Matt Adams and Jhonny Peralta would be trade bait to see if a young speedy good glove SS or other player be obtained.I think getting young good glove SS who can steal 20 bases and hit .240-.250 will have about the same effect as Peralta hitting 15 HRs 65 RBIs 260 BA and striking out 125 times.

      • crdswmn says:

        Matheny has already declared he doesn’t care about speed or stolen bases. So if you got a guy just for speed, he would be used about as much as Bourjos. That means not at all.

        I think Mozeliak already knows the limits of who he can acquire because of Matheny. I wouldn’t count on any additional infield acquisitions except for maybe at 1B.

        • Bw52 says:

          MM totally wasted Bourjos .I look for Bourjos to rebound in Philly.Matheny might not care about Stolen bases or speed but how can he not worry GIDPs two or 3 times a game or the fact that it takes 3 straight hits to score some of the Cards base cloggers.But how many times did the Cards hit a DOUBLE and have a runner on 1B who was too freaking slow to score.Station to Station isn`t going to win a bunch of games unless the hitters are uncommonly lucky or good.

          • crdswmn says:

            I am sure he appreciates speed in a player he already likes and is willing to play for other reasons. He is just not going to play any player who is acquired just for speed. He has to hit and hit pretty well or he won’t be played.

            I haven’t seen any evidence that Matheny is concerned about station to station baseball. That is mostly what the Cardinals have played for the last several years.

            • Brian Walton says:

              Last spring, Matheny put on a specific initiative to be more aggressive on the bases. (Whether it was his idea or not, I don’t know.) The Cards were #1 in the NL in spring training stolen bases. It withered away pretty quickly in the regular season, though.

  2. Bw52 says:

    As Mike Piazza gets elected to the HOF I say congrats to one of the best hitting catchers of all time/……and one of the worst fielding and throwing catchers in the HOF.Pretty boy Piazza gets in the HOF for playing in both of the biggest media centers in the world ………..while deserving Ted Simmons still gets screwed over.Absolute ibullshit by a bunch of no-nothing writers and a major mistake by the veterans committee .Damn you WhiteyHerzog.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      It’s good that the Cards have begun their own hall of fame. This enables cards fans to forget Cooperstown, and hliberates you to be angry about a different topic.

      • Brian Walton says:

        The Cardinals Hall of Fame is ideal for players like Edmonds and McGee, who are more appreciated by Cardinals fans than the national media. I agree with those who think Simmons should be in Cooperstown, but even among Cardinals fans, he had to wait a year behind the first two I mentioned to get in the team HOF.

        • crdswmn says:

          McGee is not Cooperstown worthy, but Edmonds is. Edmonds has more career WAR than Kirby Puckett, who is already in the HOF. 20 WAR more than Puckett, in fact. (I understand Puckett had a shorter career, but Edmonds’ avg WAR is higher than Puckett’s also). Edmonds had 6 seasons where his WAR was higher than Puckett’s highest season.

          That Edmonds fell off the ballot in the first year, with 64.5 career WAR is a disgrace. Ozzie Smith, a first ballot HOF, had 67.6 career WAR.

          I’ve said I don’t care a whole lot about the HOF, and I don’t, but I think having the BBWAA do the selection is a process that needs to end. They have reached their Peter Principle level.

          • Brian Walton says:

            If defining fame was as simple as drawing a WAR line in the dirt, voters would not be needed.

            Puckett was charismatic and had huge moments on the national stage before being forced out of the game prematurely and (later) dying young, factors that draw attention. (P.S. He went into the Hall while still alive.)

            Though I understand why people use comparison cases, I am not among those who present the two wrongs make a right argument.

            The HOF will not take the vote away from the writers as they prefer others take the heat so they don’t have to. I will say that progress was made by axing the lifetime voters, a number of whose votes made it appear they were out of touch with the game.

            • crdswmn says:

              This is obviously another topic where we aren’t going to see eye to eye, I don’t think that two wrongs make a right either, but I do think obvious wrongs should be vociferously criticized and steps taken to minimize them.

              It probably doesn’t matter though, because from where I sit, the HOF is going to become more and more marginalized because the younger generations think the process is a joke and are beginning to not care as much as I already don’t. Every year makes me want to avoid the whole thing as much as possible.

              • Brian Walton says:

                IMO, voting in marginal Hall of Famers does not help. I like the exclusivity.

                The process, like any one, could always be better. Far from perfect and will never satisfy all. Impossible.

                P.S. Citing Puckett as an example of a perceived problem with the process is very different from using him as justification for voting in Edmonds.

          • Bw52 says:

            Agree with you Crdswmn.Edmonds got the same treatment Simmons did.One year and gone.Damn Disgrace.

          • Brian Walton says:

            The argument that some voters make about the “deserving players off the ballot too quickly” situation is they believe they should get more than 10 votes per year. This recommendation was not accepted by the Hall.

            My take is that if a player is not among the top 10 eligibles in a given year, he probably isn’t Cooperstown worthy anyway.

            Why Simmons continues to fall short in the Veterans Committee selection process is a head-scratcher to me (and many others even outside of St. Louis). We will have to see how Edmonds is viewed over time, but my guess is he will always remain in that group below the line.

            • crdswmn says:

              “Cooperstown worthy” being the subjective determinations of a group of journalists?

              Okay, I can see I need to drop this before it takes a wrong turn.

              • Brian Walton says:

                OK, but I am just having a discussion. I am not angry or upset. Just sharing a different perspective.

                • crdswmn says:

                  I know. I just have a “Danger, Will Robinson” voice that goes off in my head when I get into a discussion that has the potential to get me started down a path I need to stay away from. I try to heed it as much as possible, though sometimes I fail miserably.

                  This time I am heeding it.

              • Brian Walton says:

                Re-reading this, I want to make sure I don’t come across as anti-Edmonds. I can appreciate that some value guys remaining on the ballot for multiple years, enabling more discussion, before the candidates either crawl up to 75% or eventually run out of years and fall off.

                Personally, I would have liked to see Edmonds get his 5%, but in the end, I don’t think he would have made it to 75%, anyway. Just my opinion.

                I think Simmons might have had a chance once Bench was in and he was viewed in his own right, not as Bench’s perceived lesser.

                Some are making a similar point for Griffey and Edmonds, though I personally had never considered the two together.

                • Brian Walton says:

                  I asked on Twitter yesterday, but did not get an answer. I wonder which player in the modern era (since the 5%/75% rules have been in place) started out with the lowest percent vote in year one of eligibility, only to eventually reach 75% and get in the HOF.

                  I bet the initial vote for that player wasn’t as low as 8-10%. My guess is that is too large of a deficit to overcome, even over 10 or 15 years. Though the vote detail seems to matter to some at the time, over the long haul, all that really matters is “Did he make it or not?”.

  3. Brian Walton says:

    On the theme of 10 votes, I saw a theory that I found interesting. Because of the uncertainty over how to handle the steroid vote, guys like Bonds and Clemens are staying on the ballot too long. One by-product is sucking the oxygen out of other candidates like Edmonds.

  4. blingboy says:

    If Jimmy had retired after the 2006 WS he would have had a better chance.

    • Brian Walton says:

      I get the idea of riding out on top, but voting starts five years later, unlike TLR for example, who qualified right away. Edmonds still hit 44 HRs and drove in 131 after 2006. I think he would have been really too short of magical 500 HRs had he retired after 2006. Many I have read believe Edmonds needed more numbers, not fewer.

      A number of other guys did the “move all around late in career” thing and it didn’t seem to hurt them. Steve Carlton and Greg Maddux come to mind, but they were not marginal candidates in the first place.

      • blingboy says:

        Yes, the ‘marginal candidate’ aspect plays in. In the case of Jimmy, those last years were pretty sorry. I think the final impression did more harm than the extra numbers did good, and he came up short of 400 anyway. In short, his good years weren’t quite good enough. It is a shame many less deserving are in due to the politics of the process.

        He is among a handful of the best Cardinal players in my lifetime. Superb in every way at his best. He is a HOFer to me.

        • Brian Walton says:

          Yes, Edmonds is a Cooperstown HOFer to many Cardinals fans. Fortunately, the team finally got their own HOF act together so he will get to wear the red jacket for many years ahead.

          • blingboy says:

            Some historical figure (I forget who) observed that he would much prefer it if, many years after his death, people were asking why he had no memorial rather than why he had one.

  5. WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/mlb-must-hammer-st–louis-beyond-its-checkbook-for-hacking-astros-005253782.html

    This blends so well with the DG article about Bill having a money/dollar evaluating formula for prospects and players of interest ………… a fascinating equation indeed…….I wonder it the above information was in fact “non-linear”……

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