Yesterday I got back from class only to find an Amazon box sitting outside my door. Inside were two things that are perhaps more anachronistic than they were three years ago: A brand new HD-DVD (they're dirt cheap!) and Baseball Prospectus 2011. It's been a long time since BP was the most comprehensive source of baseball information on earth, but I still like the writing and it remains the most comprehensive source of baseball information on earth that I don't feel bad about eating lunch over. Worth, I think, the $12.
This is, for what it's worth, my ninth straight year of buying BP, and at this point it's one of my rites of spring to pick it apart when it comes in the mail. It's not something you read cover-to-cover, unless you're a proof-reader, but I always look through the Cardinals section first; here, then, are five things I thought worth discussing in the eye of the Adam Wainwright tear-storm.
1. PECOTA's favorite sixth starter is... Shelby Miller. Miller's projection is enough to make me cry myself to sleep tonight again; he's pegged for 54 strikeouts and 26 walks in his 55 PECOTA innings, for an ERA of 4.14. They like his "surprisingly low walk rate for a young power pitcher making his full-season debut", which is both exciting and a very specific thing to be surprised by. With Wainwright gone Miller's projected ERA is the third-lowest among Cardinals starters, which makes my heart hurt.
Lance Lynn, at least, isn't vastly worse. PECOTA gives him a healthy strikeout rate of 7.1 per nine innings and an ERA of 4.39, which I would take in a second from the Cardinals' ostensible fifth starter.
2. Brendan Ryan's most similar players include... Carney Lansford. After a few hours, this is my best guess at how this is possible: They're both 6'2" and listed at 195 pounds, and they're both impressively mustachioed. Brendan Ryan's most similar players, per PECOTA, include Jason Bartlett (okay), Mickey Stanley (I guess!), and Carney Lansford, who could not possibly be less similar to Brendan Ryan.
Here's a list of things Carney Lansford was, about which you can make your own judgment. Totally immobile at third base; able to hit 10-20 home runs in the 1980s; gritty and ready to "play hard every day"; extremely popular with manager Tony La Russa.
3. BP doesn't quite understand The Aaron Miles Dynamic. Pull quote: "The Cardinals latched on to Miles as free organizational depth and wound up having to use him more than they would have wished." Their entry about Tony La Russa is very perceptive, but when it came time to write the capsule about Miles they couldn't quite make the connection. If I were workshopping this, I'd suggest they consider "Miles latched on to the Cardinals as free organizational depth and wound up getting used exactly as often as Tony La Russa wished."
I'd also suggest they mention his surprising pitching value, but of course scouts are always biased against undersized pitchers. (If you're keeping track: Miles's pitching WAR is 0.0, up 0.1 in 2010, while his positional WAR fell fractionally to 0.6. There's still time!)
4. Adam Wainwright's comparable players will make you sad. Cliff Lee Josh Beckett Don Drysdale there I said it.
5. Ryan Theriot is not a superior fundamentals-guy, although he might be prompt. "Theriot's baserunning made him such an object of derision in Chicago that back in 2008, the blog Wrigleyville 23 invented and began tracking a stat—TOOTBLAN, for Thrown Out On The Bases Like A Nincompoop..."
Finally, my favorite lines from this year's Cardinals section: "Stavinoha's arsenal contains such diverse elements as fear, surprise, and an almost fanatical devotion to swinging for the fences."; "Ever notice how car mechanics often drive the junkiest cars, usually something a little exotic that they took in trade and haven't gotten around to fixing up? Kyle Lohse is Dave Duncan's version of a beat-up Triumph TR-7. Whereas the Cardinals have had the good sense to ship out their more mundane rebuilds, giving them a free coat of pain and foisting them on an unsuspecting world, Lohse was too interesting to get rid of after his magical 2008 season..."; "Few managers have been successful as long as La Russa, and few have been so willing to shed the managerial straitjacket and try new things, but as he nears the end of his career, there is a danger that a stubbornness born of a lifetime of validated decision will become his undoing."
And, as always, there's an easy winner in the contest for most ridiculous line. Emphasis, ellipses mine: "Terrorizing the late innings with his high-90s fastball and devastating slider, Motte led the club with 18.3 Adjusted Runs Prevented..."
Anyone who's seen Jason Motte's devastating slider is encouraged to contact the St. Louis Cardinals with information regarding its whereabouts.