Loose ends, in no particular order

Last week I suggested that the Cardinals look at acquiring Brian Roberts as the only really viable upgrade at 2B.  A lot of people brought up Dan Uggla as an alternative but I don't think the Marlins are sellers right now.  One name that I overlooked, and who is almost certainly available, is Ray Durham.  He's hitting .302/.385/.420 in his age 36 year.  He had a down year last year in which he suffered some injuries and hit into some bad luck.  He's hitting more line drives this year and his walk rate has trended upward as his ISO has gone down (a common career path for aging power hitters).  I don't expect Durham to continue with a .385 OBP moving forward but something along the line of .280/.350/.400 seems eminently reasonable going forward.

Brian Sabean is one of the worst GMs around and given Durham's age, a package of prospects wouldn't be hard to assemble at all.  Mark Hamilton/Cody Hearther and some minor league reliever would probably be enough to pry Durham free.  The most notable downside to this is that Durham's defense has been on the decline for several years and appears to be continuing that trend.  It's possible that once his defense is accounted for he's no better than Miles, Kennedy or Ryan would be at 2nd.  I'd personally prefer him over Miles or Kennedy because he offers some semblance of power but that may not be a statistically sound evaluation.

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Wellemeyer is set to start tonight's game against the Phillies.  When I last checked in, I had noted that he was throwing a significantly greater number of his pitches for strikes.   400 pitches later, he's raised his strike% from 63.4% to 65%.  Pretty incredible.  The changeup is getting used more (maybe we're facing a greater # of lefties -- dunno) so that his pitch selection isn't quite as extreme as it was.  Hopefully, the arm problem isn't a long term issue.

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A little over a month ago , I made some predictions about 6 different people (or groups of people) that I wanted to follow up on.

The first was Ryan Franklin who continues to be a source of disagreement.  He's seen his ERA rise about a half point over the last month, mainly due to allowing some HRs.  But there's still a significant difference between his peripherals and his ERA.  His FIP is over a run higher and his BABIP is due to climb a bit more unless he starts to generate more groundballs.  He continues to make me uneasy in the closer's role and I'm just not sold on him as more than a medium leverage kind of reliever.

Kyle Lohse suffered greatly from me noting that his ERA wasn't what we should expect moving forward.  Much as with Franklin, his flyballs starting going into stands and Lohse ERA starting rising rapidly.  The good news is that he's posting the best FIP of his career despite having a career low in K/9.  Most of that is a result of fewer HRs than in previous years -- typically, this is when I would furiously type that he can't sustain that, which he can't.  He is, however, becoming a much more severe groundball pitcher which will help reduce the number of HRs.  Taking a stab in the dark, I think he's exchanged some changeups for sinkers and that is what has created the above average groundball rates.

I also mentioned that the Cardinals hadn't suffered many injuries.  Thankfully, we can stick the red baron with the blame for Pujols injury since his post on player's we'd miss was more recent than mine.  (Watch your head as I throw you under the bus, RB; wouldn't want you to hurt yourself.)

Some words of encouragement were offered on Troy Glaus, who hit his 8th HR last night and 5th HR in June.  Expect his OPS to continue to rise as his HR/FB% closes in around career norms.

Ryan Ludwick may not be hitting 40% of his balls for line drives anymore (he's down to a measly 30%) but one out of every 4 flyballs off his bat leaves the park.  That's a remarkably hight number.  To reiterate, Ludwick's numbers are real in the sense that he hasn't been particularly lucky or unlucky but that's not to say we should expect him to be a 1.000+ OPS player for the rest of the year.  (He raised his OPS 40pts from the time of my first post to last night's 1.077.)

I wish I had some explanation of what's wrong with Chris Duncan.  His BABIP all looks like career norms or better.  His batting approach seems to have gotten better in fact.  Looking at his swing% on Fangraphs, he's actually swinging at fewer pitches outside the zone.  When he does swing at a pitch outside the zone, he's making contact MORE often.  He still swings at the same percentage of pitches but would seem to have done a better job of waiting for his pitch.  In any case, he obviously didn't fare as well as I expected him too, accented by a trip to Memphis. 

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As the Cardinals play the Phillies, I'll be watching Chase Utley who is having a beast of a year.  Outside of Utley and Burrell, the Phillies lineup has been good but not great.  Can you imagine having Utley as our 2nd baseman -- that's like getting Pujols type production from the middle of your infield.

TGIF Cardinal Nation!

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