nice win for our side; terrible loss for the phillies. how do you drop a game to that st louis lineup in middle of a playoff chase? they have only wainwright to blame; he pitched another outstanding game, knocked in his only run of "support," and single-handedly refused to let the team lose. to close the loop on the monty python theme from yesterday's excellent post, it was as if wagonmaker made good on the armless, legless knight's parting challenge to king arthur: "come back you yellow bastard, i'll bite your legs off!" the game called to mind this contest from the first weekend of the year, the cards' first win of 2007 and wainwright's first big-league start. adam held the 'stros to 1 run in 7 innings, knocked in the go-ahead run, and turned a suicide-squeeze attempt into a 1-2-3 double play. it really is a damn shame we won't get to see this guy pitch in the postseason. the team as a whole isn't playoff caliber and never has been; wainwright is, though.
at the all-star break i roughed out the cost of carpenter's injury and rolen's un-scott-like performance, and i arrived at an estimate of 2 to 4 wins. since the subject came up again in yesterday's thread, i thought i'd revisit the exercise. let's begin with carpenter: by now he'd have 30 starts under his belt, and roughly 210 innings; that's 29 starts and 204 innings down the drain. in his career as a cardinal, he's allowed 77 runs per 204 innings; let's call that his expected yield. how many runs have his replacements allowed? keisler was his immediate successor; then brad thompson took over for keisler, and piniero took over for thompson --- those guys have totaled 27 starts, in which they threw 144 innings and allowed 76 runs. that leaves over 2 starts / 60 innings; we'll just assign those to the bullpen. the relievers in 2007 have allowed 29 runs per 60 innings. so over the 204 innings that carp otherwise would have thrown, the cards have yielded 105 runs (76 by the replacement starters, 29 by the relievers), or 28 runs more than carp himself would have allowed --- roughly 3 wins in the standings.
that's the strictly numerical way to do it; i would argue that carp's injury also imposed a psychological cost. the announcement that he would need surgery --- which came just a few days after josh hancock's death --- put the team in a deep funk. more than one clubhouse observer suggested that some of the players, already unhappy about the owners' refusal to pad the payroll, considered the season over once it was learned that carp would be out until at least july; hence the seemingly disinterested play, the notable absence of the "hard 9" mentality. sabermetrically, the injury cost st louis 3 games; psychologically, who knows? maybe another 3.
rolen came into the year seemingly healthy; in spring training he reported that the shoulder felt great. it did act up down the stretch in 2006, but rolen's world series performance suggested that it wasn't any big deal. will carroll's preseason health assessment read: "the shoulder should be less of a problem the further he gets from surgery, so expect more of the same from Rolen." all the major projection instruments agreed; the least optimistic had him at an .839 ops, and the consensus had him in the .870 range. not unrealistic; his ops was .887 last year and 1.007 in his last healthy season before that (ie, 2004). he ended up at .729. without laying all the boring math on you, the difference between rolen's expected production and his actual production comes to about 30 runs --- another 3 wins.
so if not for these two injuries, the cards would be 77-74 and still in the race, right? or maybe (if you buy into my psychological-cost theory of carp's injury) they'd be 79-72 and in first place by percentage points? that's one way to look at it. but don't forget, the cardinals this year have outperformed their pythagorean projection by 5 games; they have a run differential of minus 89. so even if you restore the 60 or so runs these two injuries cost, the cards would still be about 30 runs in the red. for this scenario to hold, you'd have to assume that the cards could win the division despite being outscored on the season, and that doesn't happen very often. when it does, it's a fluke.
the cards got their fluke triumph last year; you can't have one of those every season. even with a healthy carp / rolen, this would have been a .500ish team --- at best, a dubious playoff entrant.