I'll start with a few unfortunate facts. Matt Holliday, no home runs this series, misses game 6 with back spasms. Allen Craig, no home runs this series, has looked awful all series. I heard something about a knee injury? Carlos Beltran, missed a game already with a knee injury, obviously isn't 100% in the outfield, and to boot has looked poor at the plate since returning. Yadier Molina, no home runs this series, has done almost nothing at the plate as well. Is it possible he's just worn down, feeling injured too?
My question is, it is possible this lineup is just shot? Too many injuries to most the best players? These guys aren't the same. And my point would be that, Matt Carpenter needs a spot in tomorrow's lineup against Matt Cain, so if it really is the case that someone like Craig just isn't the same player right now with his knee problem, then that needs to be diagnosed and maybe Craig is the guy who needs to sit to make room for Carpenter. This is game 7 of the NLCS, you can't have players in your lineup who are too injured to hit. Likewise, if Beltran can't hit with his knee problem, he shouldn't play. If Holliday can't hit with his back spasms, he should not play. You can't have injured guys in there putting up 0-for-4's.
A second topic. After game one when the Cardinals lineup looked so good, i was watching MLB Network, and they were talking about how the only way to slow down this amazing Cardinals lineup was to pitch inside and then go outside, something about it having to do with how Mcgwire taught these hitters, etc, and they showed an at bat or two from the regular season where a Cardinals player struck out after an inside pitch. And I was like please, yeah, of course you want to mix location when you pitch, that's true with everyone.
But they were right! It seems the Giants saw that, and since then, literally, every at bat where the Giants pitcher throws a strike over the inside corner, the Cardinals hitter automatically swings and misses at the next pitch over the outside corner. And you know it's coming. You know exactly what the Giants pitchers are doing, going from inside to outside, but the MLBN guys were right, it's like Cardinals kryptonite. So my question is, is there some fundamental flaw in the way Mcgwire has these guys approaching their at-bats that is being exploited right now? Because it's ridiculous what's going on in terms of this inside/outside stuff.
Or, if it's really just that effective against everyone, and that hasn't been my experience but just to plate devil's advocate, then maybe the Cardinals pitchers should likewise plan their whole pitching attack around it against the Giants hitters?
Just wanted to post these thoughts, they're open-ended, as much questions to all of you as they are opinions.
1. What is wrong with Allen Craig? What is wrong with Yadier Molina? Rhetorically, what is wrong with Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday? Or rather, we know what is wrong in terms of their injuries, but are those injuries the reason they haven't been able to hit, or are they just going through a normal streak of not hitting where they could break out and hit a few bombs any game? Maybe a better way to phrase the question is, can they still put all their weight into the ball and drive it for power with their current injuries?
2. Assuming Holliday is back in the lineup tomorrow, who sits to make room for Carpenter, who in my opinion absolutely has to be in against Cain as he's one of the only Cardinals hitters doing anything against anyone, for one, not to mention even if he was sucking against everyone else, which he's not, he's still the Cardinals best hitter against Cain.
3. Why is this inside/outside obvious-ness so effective against the Cardinals? And would it be just as effective against the Giants hitters, or is there something different about the Cardinals and Mcgwire's hitting philosophy?
4. And here is a question I haven't touched on yet, but this series, really the only two hitters who have looked any good to me on the Cards are Matt Carpenter, and David Freese. So with Craig, Holliday, everyone else struggling 3-5 in the batting order, am I alone in thinking Freese should be hitting higher than 6th? The Cardinals need to create within their batting order a line of hard outs, like the Giants have at the top of their order with Pagan, Scutaro, Sandoval, Posey (wow writing it down, I'm starting to understand why the Giants are tied... those are 4 elite hitters, and after them there's a 100RBI guy in Pence, even if he's struggling, Belt who has had like a 400OBP the second half of the year, Crawford who has hit over 300 the second half, oh and the back of their order, supposed to be the weakness, are all lefties which makes them even better against the Cardinals completely unbalanced pitching staff of all righties). Anyway maybe something along the lines of Jay, Carpenter, Freese, Beltran as your top 4, Freese and Beltran interchangeable.
5. Can anyone play shortstop or second base besides Kozma or Descalso? This would be for a scenario where it is determined that guys like Craig and Holliday are not too injured to hit, and that they are still threats ready to break out at any moment, and worth having in the lineup. If this is the case, how do you get Carpenter in the lineup? He HAS TO be in there. And with him in, you would be able to create a batting order with really unparalleled depth (at least if everyone was hitting). Jay - Carpenter - Freese - Beltran - Holliday - Molina - Craig - Descalso/Kozma - pitcher.
You basically have, depending on who you put there, either Holliday, Molina, Craig, or Freese as your #7 hitter. Not many teams can compete with that. You could even have Beltran at #7 and still have a respectable top of the lineup. I mean anyone can just take their best hitters and move them from top of the order to bottom of the order and call it a deep lineup, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about, because Carpenter has hit so well against Cain, he is now considered an excellent #2 hitter. Freese, just in general but even more so because of his playoff numbers, is a quality #3 or #4 hitter. Jay has not played well (too much of a loop in his swing right now with the elbow coming down in my opinion, also the case with Descalso, not direct enough to the ball, but I digress), but normally he's a very good leadoff hitter. So the top of your order has not suffered, and by introducing Carpenter into your lineup for the first time without taking out one of your top hitters, now you've created the best depth in your lineup that you've had all series. Because the last few games, you've introduced what turned out to be an elite hitter for those games in Carpenter only by taking out one your elite hitters. But if this time you keep all your top hitters and add Carpenter only at the expense of your 7th or 8th hitter, you can create a much deeper lineup, and that could be the difference in the game tomorrow.
Of course, the usual guys are going to have to be healthy enough to hit for anything to have a good shot at working, and that's where it looks like to me everything is falling apart. Because healthy, this Cards team dominates the Giants.