Five Minutes Hate

Every offseason it seems that we forget the team we watched the year before… then the games start and it’s like a light bulb of past realizations goes on (oh yeah, Jose Martinez is very bad at defense—how could I forget that?) To assist my aging memory, I went back and looked at some old games I have saved on the old DVR. And then I remembered why I got so mad last summer.

Three things really bugged me about last year’s Cardinal team (well four things, but then they fired Matheny and brought the number down): the defense, the bullpen and Dexter Fowler. Now, I’m not a very smart man. I don’t do research and I hate studying. I’m not looking up statistics here; I’m just one middle aged man expressing an opinion. We all have them and well, sometimes we need to share. You may have a different opinion and that’s okay. We can all still share soda straws. The following needs to be improved upon if for nothing else so that I’ll like watching the Cardinals again.

The Defense

Look, you can advance stat dance the 2018 Cardinals defense all you like. I get that errors are not the be all end all when it comes to evaluating defense, but you know what is the be all end all statistic when evaluation defense: nothing. In time we’ll have an advanced evaluation of defense based on that stat cast "when the ball was hit vs. when the fielder moved on it vs. how far the defender went vs. how difficult the throw was compared to how fast the baserunner was" and I can’t wait. We’ll have a nice neat number and we’ll be able to say that Harrison Bader’s Speed Range Kill Score is a 19 and that’s the best in the majors and anyone who questions it will have to fight against relatively irrefutable proof to say for certain that Tots is not the best Center Fielder in the league. But until that day, we have no complete and reliable statistic to evaluate defense so I’m using my 37 years of experience watching baseball to do so. And last year’s team had the worst defense I have ever seen of any Cardinal team. It was atrociously awful, almost like someone did it on purpose just to see if they could make Jose Oquendo vomit on cue. I really hope it improves (and to be fair, the defense in the second half of last year looked much better than the first half).

The Bullpen

The Cardinals Bullpen produced like 1 War or something last season. Bright spots consisted of John "who again" Brebbia, some promising late season work by some rookies, half a season of Bud Norris, half the outings of Jordan Hicks and Carlos Martinez coming back from injury to throw minimal innings at max effort. The rest of it made the image of an actual dumpster on fire seem kind of quaint and enjoyable. After all, a dumpster fire will keep you warm. All the Cardinals bullpen made you do is appreciate Bud Norris. Which is not optimal.

Dexter Fowler

Last season, an announcer for an opposing team described Dexter Fowler as "A big part of the team’s lack of offense" which is just the best kind of announcer speak. I looked for comparisons in other lines of work and came up with expressions like "A big reason for the bankruptcy" and "No small part of the measles outbreak resurgence". There is no way he can be that bad again.

Is there?

Please tell me there isn’t.

Dexter Fowler, the defense and the bullpen were the worst three things about the Cardinals last year. With Matheny gone we can only hope that Shildt’s improved strategies and management skills combined with a little luck and some personnel changes will result in a team that can field and pitch better.