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Game 124 Open Thread: August 22, 2006

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weaver maine
5-13, 6.07 3-3, 2.68

the cardinals' series win vs the mets back in may was just about the high point of the season. at the end of it they had the best record in the nl, 26-15, and a run differential of +47. since then the cardinals have gone 40-42 and have been outscored by 35 runs, while the mets have gone 51-32 and outscored their opponents by 66. they have since shored up the back of their rotation with an effective veteran (orlando hernandez) and an effective rookie (john maine), and countered bullpen attrition by adding roberto hernandez and guillermo mota. the mets lead the league in era and are 2d in runs scored, and they have a lot of the attributes you look for in an october winner: aces in the rotation, a suffocating bullpen, a good power-speed balance in the lineup, an airtight defense. they are, in short, a lot like the cardinals of 2004-05 --- not quite as deadly in the heart of the order, but with a much better leadoff man and a deadlier 1-2 rotation combo. the cards will have their work cut out for them if they face new york in october.

but the going's a little bit easier for them this week, as the mets will throw only one starting pitcher (trachsel) who's likely to make their postseason rotation. at least two, possibly all three, of the cards' starters this week will be starting october games. if they look overmatched vs new york, jocketty might work the phones a bit more arduously the last week of august, trolling around for a post-waiver deal -- jamie moyer just changed teams for a couple of so-so class A prospects, guys who'll prob'y never wear a big-league uniform . . . . or do you get the sense that the cardinal front office would be happy enough just to make the playoffs this year? and with as many holes as this team has, is a jon lieber or mark redman likely to tip the scales in an october series?

one additional thought about weaver (inspired by this comment in the thread below): i want to believe in this guy. i supported the acquisition, was thrilled jocketty acquired him for so little, and am still hoping he'll establish himself as a pitcher who can be a postseason factor. but here's what bothers me: his (what else?) strikeout rate. with anaheim this season, he was fanning 6.3 guys per 9 innings; his career k/9 is 6.0. but through 7 starts with the cardinals, he's striking out only 4.1 guys per 9, which is the same territory matt morris and jason marquis slog around in. it's only been 7 starts, so maybe he'll start to pick it up and have some games like the one RB referred to in his comment thread. if that happens, even i might start to think this team has a chance . . . .

i took a quick look at some stats today and did not like the trendlines. since the all-star break --- 36 games now --- the cardinals' opponents have outhit them by 15 points (.274 to .259), outslugged them by 20 (.455 to .435), and out-on-based them by 7 (.339 to .332). yet despite those deficits, st louis has only been outscored by 3 runs over that span. last year's team, you may recall, went through a similarly anomalous stretch in which they badly outscored their foes despite being dead even in all the tell-tale stat categories. i'll have to dig a little deeper to figure out how the cards are getting away with it this time.

Update [2006-8-22 18:45:16 by lboros]:the mets acquired shawn green from arizona. 'nother left-handed bat, augmenting delgado and (if he's ever healthy) floyd. cards desperately need some southpaw pitching . . . . there's always narveson.