Thursday miscellany

Not a good night at all for the Cards, was it? Of course, when you lose your starter in the 2nd inning, it almost doesn’t matter if you win the game or not b/c the implications of the injury are potentially much more severe. Lohse left last night’s game w/ tightness in his right forearm – the same arm in which he was hit by a pitch in his previous start. Last night’s start was Lohse’s first in 11 days b/c of the tightness he was suffering from. The fact that he missed 10 days and then could only get through 2+ innings and 39 pitches last night tells me we’re likely looking at a DL stint. That’s never good news.

We may see the return of Mitch Boggs but, in looking at his AAA numbers, it’s not at all clear that he’ll be called up. It may be Danup’s favorite Blake Hawksworth or even Clayton Mortensen , both of whom are outpitching Boggs at Memphis. Hawksworth, in particular, has done a much better job of throwing strikes than Boggs and could get the call. Or they could decide to call up a hitter (they wouldn’t really get rid of the 8 man pen, would they?) and go w/ Thompson as the fill-in while Lohse heals. I don’t really see the point of keeping Thompson on the roster but, as long as he’s there, I suppose I’d rather have him take 3-4 starts while Lohse sits and have the extra hitter on the bench than leave him to rot for another 17 days in the pen while we watch Todd Wellemeyer pinch hit.

There’s been a lot of talk on the state of the third base position, and rightly so, but we mustn’t forget the "contributions" that the Cards’ outfielders have made to the current slump. Here are some of the peripheral numbers for the Cards’ outfielders during the month of May.

Skip 3.0 10.4 .313 .333 .479 .348
Ludwick 14.0 20.9 .186 .321 .395 .325
Rasmus 3.4 21.2 .212 .256 .447 .302
Stavinoha 2.3 9.3 .256 .267 .419 .298
Duncan 8.3 22.7 .227 .289 .386 .296
Robinson 0.0 8.0 .240 .231 .280 .230
Ankiel 5.0 36.8 .105 .190 .158 .172

Quite clearly, Ankiel’s numbers are putrid. His OPS is lower than 5 of the 7’s slugging %. Horrendous doesn’t begin to describe it. Ludwick’s numbers look worse than they should, primarily b/c he was hurt by a ridiculous .161 BABIP. In fact, it’s reasonable to argue that Ludwick had the best month of the 7 despite his .186 batting average. Aside from those particular numbers, what stands out? To me, it’s clearly the (what’s the most awful word for awful?) atrocious (?) walk rates of everyone except Ludwick. Even Rasmus, whose walk rate was a solid 13.2% in April, saw his sink by nearly 10%. At least he managed to have the highest slugging percentage of the group, thus making his month appear to be relatively strong – at least compared to Duncan and Ankiel.

So what was different in Rasmus’ approach in April and May? The big difference, which should come as no surprise to anyone, is that Rasmus swung at many more pitches outside the strike zone in May than in April. In April, he swung at just 16.2% of the pitches he saw outside the zone. In May, that percentage increased by nearly 10% to 25.7%. He swung at more pitches overall, and swung and missed more frequently in May. Clearly, when he made contact, he made much better contact in May than April, but he needs to regain his patience at the plate. The skeptics among us (Al, I’m looking at you) would say that Rasmus is doing too much swinging for the fences. I actually caught him channeling Cecil Cooper ("home runs are rally killers!") the other day when I heard him complain that Rasmus was hitting too many home runs. Hey Al, if he doesn’t hit ‘em, who will?

It hasn’t been Duncan. It hasn’t been Ankiel and Ludwick spent half the month on the DL. Now, I expect Ludwick to improve and I expect Rasmus to improve. Will Duncan regain his power stroke this year? I’m not so sure. Ankiel surely can’t get any worse. Hopefully he can get straightened out (for his sake as much as the team’s) and become at least a quasi-productive player for the team. The other thing to remember is that, while Rasmus is a plus defensive player, neither Duncan nor Ankiel help the team much defensively. If they’re not hitting, they’re not really productive at all. The point is that we can’t forget the outfield’s offensive ineptitude when discussing the team’s fecklessness at the plate. It’s not just about the hot corner.

Please tell me that I imagined Brendan Ryan getting thrown out trying to steal third down 3 runs in the bottom of the 7th. That was a hallucination, right? A bad dream? That didn’t really happen, did it?

There’s a good post from Eric Seidman over at fangraphs on Jim Edmonds’ case for the HOF. It’s definitely worth a read. I realize some Cards’ fans are pissed that he went and played for the Cubs when he could’ve chosen retirement and some are pissed about that stupid feud that Tony started last year, but Jimmy was a great ballplayer for the bulk of the 8 seasons he spent w/ the birds on the bat. Is he worthy of the Hall? I’m not sure. My heart says "yes" but my head says he’s probably just not quite good enough.

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