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World Series p.m. stream-of-consciousness

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i'll be updating this little post periodically this afternoon as my time permits. here's a first item:

the last two times the cardinals went to the world series, they opened on the road just one day removed from a game 7 win in the nlcs. in both cases (1987 and 2004) the cards went down 0-2 against a better-rested opponent. they lost the four games by a combined score of 35-16. their runs-against of 9 per game in those four contests suggests a hangover effect from the long lcs -- worn-out pitching staffs plus short turnaround equals blowout losses. and there's some truth to that -- in both years, the game 2 starter (danny cox in '87, matt morris in '04) was pitching on short rest. they had to be relieved in the 4th (cox) and 5th (morris) innings. but the game 1 starters (rookie joe magrane in '87, woody williams in '04) both got bombed despite pitching on full rest; magrane lasted just 3 innings and gave up 5 runs, while woody was knocked out after only 2 and a third, with 7 runs across.

the cardinals' last win in a world series road game came 21 years ago today in game 2 of the 1985 world series. down 2-0 with three outs to go, they rallied for four off charlie liebrandt, taking the lead for good on terry pendleton's two-out bases-clearing double. that win put st louis ahead 2-0 in games, heading back to st louis . . . .

. . . cough.

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better start getting to know this team --- the 1973 new york mets.

they are, you've heard by now, the only world series participant in history to have a worse w-l record than the 2006 cardinals. the '73 mets had two of the league's top 10 finishers in era (seaver and koosman), two of the top 3 in strikeouts (seaver and matlack), two of the top 4 in complete games (seaver and matlack); they also had no .300 hitters and no player with more than 76 rbi. they ranked 11th out of 12 nl teams in runs scored but 3d in era; they had willie mays.

how do they compare to the 2006 cardinals? a few highlights; for the uniniated, OPS+ and ERA+ place those two stats in the context of league average; 100 is average, 101 and up is above average, 99 and down is below average; RS and RA ranks tell where the teams finished within their respective leagues in runs scored and runs allowed.

w-l Pyth
2006 stl 83-78 82-79 102 97 6 5
1973 ny 82-79 83-78 88 111 11 2

obviously much different types of .500 teams. the 2006 cardinals were pretty average in all respects; middle-of-pack league ranks in runs scored and allowed (RS and RA), nearly average in both OPS+ and ERA+. the mets, by contrast, combined the pitching staff of a .600 club with the offense of a .400 club to arrive at, more or less, a .500 record.

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the rotation:

if you hold carpenter for game 3 and supps for game 4 to keep both guys on full rest, then there's only one way to get both guys a second start in the series: pitch them both on short rest in games 6 and 7. like so:

1. reyes
2. weaver
3. carp
4. supps
5. reyes
6. carp (short)
7. supps (short)

i can't see doing that; the track record of short-rest pitchers is too emphatically bad. recipe for disaster. the best way to get 4 starts from carp / supps is like so:

1. reyes
2. carp (short)
3. supps
4. weaver
5. reyes
6. carp
7. supps

this is the rotation i would go with. you only have 1 pitcher on short rest this way in the whole series. you do have to give one of jeff weaver's starts to anth reyes, but let's face it: if reyes starts game 1, then either he's got to make a second start, or you have to have a whole bunch of guys on short rest. in the nlcs, weaver made 2 starts to reyes' 1; this rotation would reverse that ratio. but i don't think you lose more than a run or two in that exchange. i think that's a reasonable cost in order to set things up for carp/supps to pitch 4 of the 7 games -- and to be fully rested for the final 2.

if you insist on getting weaver in there twice, you could set it up this way:

1. weaver (short)
2. carp (short)
3. supps
4. reyes
5. weaver
6. carp
7. supps

this rotation takes one of the reyes starts from variation #2 and gives it to jeff weaver on short rest. pick you poison -- reyes on full rest, weaver on short. i'll take the former.

Update [2006-10-20 18:37:50 by lboros]: it's official --- reyes in game 1, weaver in 2, then carp, then supp. presumably games 5, 6, and 7 will remain unannounced, pending the series score etc etc. the temptation is going to be there to rush back weaver, carp, and supps on short rest for all 3 of the final games --- a terrible idea in my opinion, for the reasons stated above. under this scenario, either a) suppan will get only 1 start in the series, or b) a whole bunch of guys are gonna pitch on short rest. neither prospect gives the cardinals their best shot at this.

i should add, though: la russa is starting a rookie pitcher in game 1 of the world series. that's impressive --- best option for the team, and tony didn't talk himself out of it and opt for "experience" (ie marquis, who has made a world series start). so my hat's off to la russa again for taking some risks. roll 'em, tony.