|Brad Penny||Bronson Arroyo|
|3.06 tERA||4.40 tERA|
I don't have a lot to say about last night's game. I was out of pocket for most of it but did watch the tragic ending of what seemed like a very bad decision to send the runner home. An aggressive third base coach is probably better than a passive one, within reasonable limts, but a strong throw from LF and a strong relay from the SS had the ball to the catcher when Schumaker was only 2/3 of the way there. The play was closer than it could have been due to a high tag by the catcher but, tragically, the Cardinals' night ended on a play at the plate.
After watching the Cardinals flail in an unbecoming fashion at the plate during the dismal three games know as the Astros series, it strikes me that eventually, Cardinals fans, who like all fans enjoy placing blame, may be hard pressed to deal with the dueling feelings of goodwill toward a nostalgic idea of Mark McGwire and the reality of Mark McGwire, batting coach. (I'm relatively certain you've now encountered a comma splice. My day is complete.) When the hitting coach was a more nebulous name, say. . . Hal McRae, it was easy to criticize when the offense sputtered. McRae certainly exacerbated that criticism at times with talk of being "aggressive" but one has to wonder how much of an impact hitting coaches really have on hitters.
So when the offense fails to coalesce and fans look at the new hitting coach, will they find themselves with conflicting emotions criticizing a legend that they loved during his St. Louis tenure as a hitter? The answer, to me, is yes and it's likely to buy McGwire an extra long leash for the duration of his time here. In any event, I'm curious what hitters are doing well this year under McGwire's tutelage. While this is a very superficial look, let's take a glance at what computers predicted players to do prior to the season and what they've done to date. You'll find their ZiPS pre-season wOBA projection followed by their wOBA 2010 to-date.
There are some pretty glaringly horrific numbers in there. Brendan Ryan has been an unmitigated disaster offensively performing well below projections. Skip Schumaker has likewise been experiencing a dismal offensive outing. I'm less inclined to lay even superficial subjective blame at McGwire's feet for veterans like Pujols and Holliday. Colby Rasmus and McGwire's philosophy have to be seen as a huge boon for the new hitting coach. If Skip and Brendan are significant minuses, Rasmus has to be seen as a real plus.
The team is predominantly underperforming their preseason predictions in glaring ways. It's a striking dichotomy of significant underperformance and significant overperformance. Frustrating as this may be, the Cardinals do maintain the, albeit slim and diminishing, lead in the NL Central. I like McGwire in a reverent 1998 kind of way. I think he's a dramatic improvement as a hitting coach. As long as the offense sputters though, he runs the risk of increased scrutiny.
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Even looking at some of the struggles the team has had in the last week, I'm struck by how few changes I would make given control of the team. Perhaps I'd give more time to Tyler Greene at SS and Felipe Lopez would almost certainly play a predominant role at second upon his return, but otherwise this team still seems like the best team we could be fielding right now.
The starting rotation continues to be our saving grace and the bullpen has, thus far, avoided disastrous outings, on balance. It's still a very good team. It just doesn't seem like a very good team right now. The old adage "You're never as bad as you look when you're losing and you're never as good as you look when you're winning" seems appropriate after the string of recent games the Cardinals have had.
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C'mon guys, you're losing pace. Enjoy your day baseball game everyone. Apologies for the delayed post.