*EDIT: So I figured, what they hey. I've got a running tally of the losses and my assessment of who's to blame going thus far. Why not keep it up? I'll try to update this every day following a loss.*
*EDIT #2 - Title changed, as I think we've pretty well resolved the question of how the trade deadline was going to play out*
Howdy fellow VEB-ers. Just wanted to throw something out there in light of all the Oswalt-mania. It seems to be pretty commonly accepted that the Cardinals need another starting pitcher in order to compete with the Reds for the division. I do not, however, think acquiring a pitcher – any pitcher, be he an Oswalt, a Westbrook, a Guthrie, or whomever – would be the best utilization of the Cardinals resources.
As we all know, baseball games are won by doing two things – scoring runs and preventing the opponent from scoring runs. To date, the Cardinals have been the second best team in the majors in the run-prevention department, allowing only 363 runs thus far on the season. Only San Diego (338) has allowed fewer. This is even with the nigh-abysmal, Suppan-ian, Hawskworth-ensteinian and Ottavinal performances out of the back two slots of the rotation recently.
On the other side of the equation, the Cardinals don’t fare nearly as well. Their 442 runs scored ranks them 14th in MLB (8th in the NL), within a few runs either way of such offensive juggernauts as the Diamondbacks and Giants. I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground by saying that the Catcher, Second Base and Shortstop positions have been the biggest underperformers thus far.
Looking solely at those runs scored and allowed numbers, however, seemed insufficient to me to paint the whole picture, so I looked at each loss and put together a brief summary of my view on what aspect of the team was responsible for each one, based on the box scores and, to a lesser extent, my memory of the games. "Wash" simply means that the loss can’t really be pinned primarily on any one aspect of the team.
Loss #1 4/8 – 2-1 Cincy, Motte, 9th inning HR. Shut down by Arroyo – on offense
Loss #2 4/11 – 8-7 Milwaukee, 3 runs to tie in top of 9th, McClellan 9th inning homer to McGehee – wash
Loss #3 4/15 – 5-1 Houston, Bud Norris shuts Cards down for 5, Lohse allows 2 over 7 innings, Boggs gives up three in the eighth – on offense, but arguably Boggs had a role, so wash
Loss #4 4/17 – 2-1 Mets in 20, Cards score 1 run in 20 innings, waste Garcia gem – on offense
Loss #5 4/20 – 9-7 D-backs, Cards shell Haren, D-backs shell Lohse, game tied after 4, Boggs/McClellan allow a run in the 6th to lose it – on the pitching
Loss #6 4/23 – 4-1 Giants, Lincecum dances around runners allowed, Garcia merely average – wash
Loss #7 4/24 – 2-0 Giants, Wainwright good, Zito better – on offense
Loss #8 3-2 Cincy, Cueto and a parade of relievers outduel Penny; Motte and McClellan throw three shutout innings at the back end of the game – on offense
Loss #9 5/4 2-1 Philly in 10, Cole Hamels allows 1 run over 8 innings, Wainwright gem wasted – on offense
Loss #10 5/5 4-0 Philly, Kyle Kendrick shuts down Cards, Penny, pen give up 4 - wash
Loss #11 5/6 7-2 Philly, Halladay good, Lohse not sharp – on pitching
Loss #12 5/8 2-0 Pirates, Karstens shuts down Cards over 6 – on offense
Loss #13 5/11 6-3 Houston, Penny gives up 4 runs, none earned – on defense
Loss #14 5/12 9-6 Houston, Lohse gives up 9, 4 earned – wash (on defense and pitching)
Loss #15 5/13 4-1 Houston, Bud F*****g Norris again – on offense
Loss #16 5/15 4-3 Cincy, Waino not especially sharp, allows 10 baserunners in 6 innings, Leake good enough – wash
Loss #17 5/16 7-2 Cincy, Penny hit hard, Arroyo in good form – on pitching
Loss #18 5/19 5-1 Marlins, pen implosion after Garcia goes 5 scoreless, offense shut down by Annibal Sanchez – wash
Loss #19 5/22 10-7 Angels, Lohse, pen not good – on pitching
Loss #21 5/26 2-1 Padres in 13, Boggs gives up a walk-off homer after Cards can only scratch one across in 13 innings – on offense
Loss #22 5/29 5-0 Cubbies, Carlos F-ing Silva shuts down Cards, but pitching gave up 5 – wash
Loss #23 6/1 – 9-8 Cincy, Cards beat up on Cueto, but Walters and Reyes made sure it wasn’t enough – on pitching
Loss #24 6/6 – 4-3 Milwaukee, Cards can’t solve Parra, 2 errors let an unearned run across on Garcia’s watch – wash, on offense/defense
Loss #25 6/7 12-4 Dodgers, PJ and the Hawk equally bad, though it’d make a nice name for a cable television detective series – on pitching
Loss #26 6/8 1-0 Dodgers, Hiroki Kuroda shuts down Cards – on offense
Loss #27 6/9 4-3 Dodgers, Waino not sharp, Luddy 3-run homer made this closer than it probably felt like at the time – wash
Loss #28 6/12 7-2 D-backs, Haren sharp, Ottavino and Bird’s bats not – wash
Loss #29 6/13 7-5 D-backs, Carpenter struggled a bit, Diner and K-Mac gave up 2 runs each – on pitching
Loss #30 6/16 2-1 Mariners, Vargas shuts down Cards’ bats, good Garcia outing wasted – on offense
Loss #31 6/20 3-2 Oakland, Cards’ can’t hit Cahill hard, Athletic’s pen scoreless – on offense
Loss #32 6/24 5-0 Blue Jays, Wainwright not sharp, Cards only get six baserunners in 8 innings – wash
Loss #33 6/25 4-2 Royals, Soup not bad, Greinke pretty good – wash
Loss #34 6/27 10-3 Royals, Garcia shelled, Chen and pen good for the Royals – wash
Loss #35 6/30 4-2 D-backs, Suppan acceptable, Cards 2-11 in the RISP – on offense
Loss #36 7/1 4-1 Milwaukee, Wolf and the pen shut down the Cards – on offense
Loss #37 7/3 12-5 Milwaukee, Carp lit up, defense bad – wash (defense and pitching)
Loss #38 7/6 12-9 Colorado, Bullpen-pocalypse 1 – pitching
Loss #39 7/7 8-7 Colorado, Bullpen-pocalypse 2 – pitching
Loss #40 7/8 4-2 Colorado, Ubaldo gives 1 run over 8, Street gives up one, but gets the save - offense
Loss #41 7/10 4-1 Houston, Myers gives up 1 run over 8 - offense
Loss #42 7/22 2-0 Philly, Hamels, pen 1-hit Cards through 11 – offense
Loss #43 7/23 5-0 Cubbies, Wells allows 5 hits over 7, scoreless streak reaches 20 innings - offense
Loss #44 7/24 6-5 Cubbies, Gorzelany unimpressive, Hawk vomit-inducing, offense misfires in the RISP, Benny Hill music all around – wash
Loss #45 7/27 10-2 Mets, Wainwright's on the road, so he's mortal, offense goes to sleep 'cause they're down by more than 2 - wash.
Loss #46 7/29, 4-0 Mets, Hawk "acceptable," for him at least. R.A. Dickey, who was relieved for the Twinkies last season, allows only 6 baserunners over 8.1 innings. Seriously, how does a knuckleballer only walk 2 guys? Where is the plate discipline? This may seem overly generous to Hawk, but I'm giving pinning this one on the offense.
Loss #47 8/2, 9-4 Astros, "Bullpen-pocalypse 3 - This Time It's At Home!" - on the pitching.
Loss #48 8/3, 18-4 Astros, I think our pitchers may have been using softballs, Garcia not tip top, 'pen bad - on the pitching
Loss #49 8/7, 5-4 Fish in 10, Westy solid, a few outs on the basepaths, hitters scramble back to tie it in 9th, Frankie loses it in 10th, plenty of blame to go around - wash
Loss attribution distribution:
Defense – 1
Offense – 19
Pitching – 11
Wash – 18
On the theory that a bat would help the "offense" losses and the "wash" losses, and given that the Cardinals are already proficient at preventing runs, it is my contention that a bat should be the Cardinals primary priority in the next 5 days before the trading deadline.
Given that Yadi’s not going anywhere (side note, was anyone else absolutely certain "GIDP" would be the outcome when he came up with the bases loaded, 1 out last night), middle infield seems like the best place to look. I’ve liked Dan Uggla for a long time, but Kelly Johnson would be an upgrade as well. I think, however, SS would be the better position for an upgrade, as Skip has been better lately, Ryan just seems lost, and Greene seems versatile enough to play all three non-Albert infield positions. Stehpen Drew would be my first target were I the GM.
(Full disclosure: I’m not well-enough versed in statistical methods to get into extreme detail on things like regression and scoring distribution patterns, so my "analysis," such as it is, has been done with a broadsword rather than a scalpel. I’m sure what I’m saying here can and will be picked apart by those who are better suited to such tasks than I. I invite such criticisms and welcome them.)