That was, without question, one of the most gratifying wins of the season. It's not just the fact that the Cardinals won rather that they beat the Cubs on an Albert Pujols walk off homerun. For a player that has been struggling all season against the club's most storied rivals . . . well, struggles or not, that is fun.
The Cardinals, through 60 games, are 2 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers and the standings are as follows.
With a third of the 2011 games played, the Cardinals have an estimated 50% chance to win the division and a little over 10% chance to make the playoffs as the wild card.. With the Brewers' recent surge and exceptional front of the rotation, they're a dominant force to look out for. The Cardinals have been, in large part, living off their outfield.
If you take a look at the fangraphs WAR leader boards for the Cardinals right now, they have 1 player (Yadier Molina) among their top position players that doesn't play the outfield. The other 5 top position players are Colby Rasmus, Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Allen Craig and Lance Berkman. The club has received exceptional production from the outfield. Where they could, to some extent improve, is their infield and bullpen.
The bullpen is mostly about usage. Utilizing Salas and Sanchez and de-emphasizing Batista in whatever way is most convenient, makes the bullpen pretty good. It would be nice to have Mitchell Boggs back but that's a rather minor tradeoff from whomever is the last man in the pen.
I'm highly doubtful that anyone who has done their due diligence on Jason Bartlett really thinks he's a viable fix to the infield but somehow, he's still bandied about. The reality is that both Jason Bartlett and Ryan Theriot project like slightly below average defensive shortstops whose offensive profile is less bad than the alternatives. That's damnation by faint praise but neither will be hanging any plaques on their wall this year. They serve as admirable if limited stop gaps until the clubs can acquire or develop someone better equipped to man that position.
The Cardinals will finish out their three game set with the Cubs today at 1:15pm CST. Game thread live at 1:00pm CST. Next week the illustrious Steve Sommer will be filling in for me. If you want to talk draft, I'm sure red baron will be around VEB on Monday, but, as an alternative, Future Redbirds will have live chats both Monday night and Tuesday day time to cover the draft. Have a great week -- see you on the 18th.