Narratives

You’re an idiot.

I want to tell you that, because no one else is going to tell you that. We live in a world where all of the respected views are the softened views. “Well you’re not an idiot, to be fair you did pass the 5th grade, but your entire life has been a disaster ever since then, but I’m not sure that’s qualified to make you an idiot”

No, you’re an idiot. I’m not going to mince words. That’s what the media is for. That’s the example they give to aspiring writers. That’s why there are tons of takes out today explaining that the blame is not really who you think the blame is on. It’s spread out amongst everyone, it’s not really FAIR to blame one or two guys for this debacle.

Well thanks, geniuses (Sarcastic. Idiots, all of you).

Do we really have to go through this softening every time?

Do we really have to be reminded that even though the closer gave up 9 runs in the 9th inning, the backup 2B struck out with 2 runners on in the 3rd inning, so you REALLY can’t completely blame the CLOSER for everything. THAT WOULDN’T BE FAIR.

Just shut up with this.

I was in a safety class recently that asked who was to blame if a pedestrian got run over by a car driven by a distracted driver. The answer was everyone shared the blame. The guy who didn’t hedge the bushes shared the blame because the pedestrian couldn’t see around them before they stepped into the road.

This is nonsense.

Who walks blindly onto a road where there is the possibility of getting hit by a car? (Besides, of course, blind people.) Your life is your responsibility. You can’t depend on everyone being a good driver out there, I mean, have you SEEN drivers out there? So everyone has some blame, but at the same time, it’s your freaking life, you are 100% to blame. Blame can go far past 100% when all parties are combined.

But instead I’ve seen blame for the Cardinals passed on to people like Matt Carpenter going 4-17. Oh dear lord. He hit the ball hard several times. If one of those falls in, he finishes the series 5-17, a .294 average, well above his regular season. But yeah, Matt Carpenter didn’t get one additional hit, so don’t just look at Mike, or the pitching staff, or whatever. Remember, Matt Carpenter went 4-17.

It’s a ridiculous narrative that’s played over and over in life and in sports. A manager, a hitting coach, a pitching coach gets fired and almost instantly someone says “Well, of COURSE someone blames the manager, but who could win with THAT talent?” “Oh, as though it’s the pitching coaches fault Jonny Badpitcher has a 5.50 ERA” “Oh, just because there is a team wide decline in hitting that corresponds directly with Mabry becoming the hitting coach, there are CRAZY people out there that want to say he has something to DO with it!”

The former teammates repeat it. “Really, we failed our skipper. Let him down. We should have won for him.” The media repeats it. The bloggers give us their “Oh, PLEASE consider me to be one of you, media!” exact same takes on it, then the tweeters charge forward and tell us “Can’t really blame him, morons. #EyeRollEmoji”

What would you say this applies to, roughly 98% of firings? Follow this logic for a moment.

  1. There are 30 MLB managers
  2. Not all managers are equal
  3. This means there is a 30th best manager in baseball
  4. There are many billions of people in the world
  5. It is highly unlikely the 30 people managing teams also happen to be the 30 BEST people managing team.
  6. The 30th best manager is having a negative impact on his team and should be fired.

Along with the 29th, 28th, etc. Unless there is compelling reason to think they will improve.

Those are just basic facts. Coaches do impact SOMETHING, to whatever degree, and there are going to be bad ones.

And yeah, they can be blamed for not doing their job well.

So I’m here to screw the softening, and screw the narratives. I’m never going to attempt to land a job. I’m never going to attempt to interview a player. I’m not here to mince words.

So I repeat: You’re an idiot.

Because you’ve fallen for these narratives before. And you will fall for them again.

This is Harold Reynolds insanely accusing the Cardinals of stealing signs. It was an asinine statement. There was no validity. It was almost impossible to identify a moment where it could have happened. But it came out of Harold’s mouth, so the narrative was out there. It was talked about through the game. The media reported on it forever. Bloggers, tweeters, it was all the rage. Players had to answer for it.

Because an idiot with 0 evidence said something, and the world followed like lemmings.

My favorite this year came courtesy of ESPN.

September 6th Gerrit Cole faced the Cardinals on Sunday night baseball. They had video of him warming up. While he was warming up, he reached for the back of his knee.

Narrative born.

Gerrit Cole FELT something, we heard. But he’s pitching because this is a big game. But how effective will he be?

Here was my reaction:

narrative

We watched replays of the video. We watched slow motion of how he was landing. When his location was off – like many starters in the first two innings – there was a ton of speculation about how much his leg would impact him. We were told, actually we were GUARANTEED the Pirates were aware of this and were watching him carefully.

Then Cole settled down. He pitched like, shockingly, Gerrit Cole. He pitched a masterful game, and now how all of the talk was how he had overcome his leg problem. He was pitching through it. What a guy!

The Pirates went on to win, and afterward they interviewed his catcher Francisco Cervelli about it, and he looked incredibly confused and said (paraphrasing): “Huh? I don’t know. Maybe he had an itch or something. You’ll have to ask him.”

And I looked at my ceiling and laughed for easily 1½ seconds.

That narrative played its full, idiotic course in just a few hours. Here are the others that you fell for.

NOW THAT JASON HEYWARD ISN’T LEADOFF, HE’LL HIT A TON OF HOME RUNS!

Yeah, don’t make me search your twitter accounts to prove you were one of these people. He had a “leadoff mentality” with the Braves, but out of that mentality, he was going to relax. People were daydreaming projections of his return to 27 home run form.

The Cardinals said this, the media did their hot takes, blogs came in, as they often do, to soften it and tell us it would be in between. 16-18 home runs. And then reality came.

He hit 13. The 2nd lowest total of his career. His yearly totals are 18,14,27,14,11,13. He spent one year as a leadoff hitter. He didn’t lose 17 home runs in 2014 because he led off. He just doesn’t hit that many home runs. And moving into Busch certainly wasn’t going to help things.

Now, I want to do this just once. Heyward is awesome. Spectacular. I’ve always supported him. I never thought he’d hit for huge home run power (though with age and development that may come) my point here is to attack the narrative and group think, NOT Heyward who doesn’t need 27Hrs to be an amazing player.

Peter Bourjos is just TOOOO healthy

This might be the stupidest think spread around Cardinal Nation this year. In 2014, Bourjos was pretty awful at the dish. But we had an explanation (narrative) to explain that away! His hip hurt him. Hard for him to swing. Never mind that he actually got a little better as the year went on, his horrible batting line was all because of that darn hip.

Then he got to spring training. And he was terrible. And we got the gem from the Cardinals that now that his hip works again, it’s actually working against him. He has so much more range of motion, that he has to learn how to swing again, but that he would be fine.

What happened? Bourjos ended the year, by the grace of God hitting exactly .200.  His average went down. His OBP went down. His SLG went down. Even his dWAR plummeted into the negatives. Apparently, according to the narratives, Peter Bourjos got healthy and got worse because of it.

Maybe next year, whatever team he is with should hit him with a mallet.

Mark Reynolds hits for CONTACT now!

Oh lord. The one actual time we hear how John Mabry is helping a hitter, and it’s this little gem.

Mark Reynolds is not a contact hitter. He is a swing as hard as he can and hope it breaks a window hitter. Changing him, at age 31, on a team that signed him because he just might hit a home run, was just a sad, stupid, and hopeless attempt.

And all of these “Mark Reynolds has changed!” opinions that went bursting through the Cardinals weren’t supported by the statistics then, and they aren’t now.

In 2014, Mark Reynolds came to the plate 433 times and he struck out 122 times.
In 2015, Mark Reynolds came to the plate 432 times and he struck out 121 times.

Mark Reynolds, the contact extraordinaire.

Though perhaps you can see the Mabry effect in the one thing the Cards signed him for: The possibility of a home run.

Career AB/HR (through 2014) – 17      2014 AB/HR – 17      2015 AB/HR – 29

Thanks John. Don’t worry. You aren’t to blame. That wouldn’t be FAIR.

Carlos Martinez Needs to Mature to be a Great Pitcher

I’m going to keep this one really simple.

The young man has quite an outgoing personality. And, like most young people, he has plenty of maturing to do.

But a few short months after one of his best friends died in a car accident, Martinez took the mound on the day to remember his friend, watched a tearful video, and then went out there and pitched a brilliant game with the announcers speculating about him keeping his emotions in check.

He continued to be a great pitcher, made the All Star team, and faced Colorado where he flicked off their bench. Like a young, immature kid.

And yet, he continued to pitch fantastically.

And in October, on the biggest stage, Cardinals fans wished Carlos was there to pitch for them. His antics were still there, his clowning still showing up on every in between pitch camera shot, but he was the missing Ace where others faltered.

Carlos is a fantastic pitcher. Stacks of cups, middle fingers, and emotional exuberance don’t change that. There is a good argument to say they enhance it. This is the media’s problem. Not Carlos’s.

Tony Cruz really IS a good backup

I know. You still believe this today! You’ve seen it with your own eyes! The TONY CRUZ HOT STREAK.

Everyone in Cardinal Nation seemed to have forgotten everything they’ve known and seen about Tony Cruz over the past 5 years just because he posted this hot streak over 12 games after Yadi got hurt:

.400/.500/.882

Yes, I concede, those are amazing numbers, but we are talking about 12 games. Wait…wait…I’m just finding out that’s 12 games of Brandon Moss when he could suddenly take over the world. Sorry, ok, here we go:

.405/.455/.703

OK, not as good, but still pretty impressive.

Oh, no, oops, that’s Pete Kozma’s last 12 games of 2012. And we all know what a stalwart hitter he has turned out to be.

.333/.400/.556

That’s Peter Bourjos in May of last year. His hip must have REALLY been hurting him then to have hit so well!

OK, for real…

.417/.447/.528

Yes, that is a hot streak.

And it it once again, not for real.

That is former Cardinals pitcher Allen Watson in 1995. He was a good hitter for a pitcher for sure. He was not better than Ty Cobb. But he really did hit .417 in 1995 in 36 magical at bats.

.289/.317/.553

Yikes, I mean, that’s OK right? Plenty of power, but a .317 OBP? Are we impressed by that?

Yeah, that’s Tony Cruz’s line the last 12 games of the season. But it’s not the real Tony Cruz. And even though the Cardinals brass has given plenty of the “See we told you, we KNEW he was this good” line, they do not believe it either. Because you don’t give a hitter with that kind of ability 150 at bats a season. You give them 600 at bats.

Even with this hot streak, Cruz ended at .204/.235/.310 because he is a terrible hitter. Once again WAR places him below replacement on both offense and defense. You looked at 12 games. Stop.

Tony Cruz has a career line of .220/.262/.310. Hitters like that can have a good 12 game run.

He batted .258 in his AAA career. He batted .239 in his AA Career.

He is 28 years old. He won’t be getting better. The much better lines you see here won’t real, and his line isn’t either.

And while we are at it, let’s quit with the “Can’t sign anyone to play behind Yadi” crap. The Cardinals aren’t ever even rumored to talk to backup catchers. Have you ever heard one say they didn’t want to play with the Cards because Yadi was there? Anyone?

“Nah, I don’t want to be a backup to a fantastic catcher I might learn something from on a team that is always winning, and get a million dollars a year, in a city heralded as a great place to play because I’ll only get 150 at bats”

No. And if the backup is better than Cruz, it invites more pinch hits and playing time anyway. I don’t remember AJ requesting his release when Yadi came back from injury last year.

And Yadi is 32. No Catcher is looking at him and saying there isn’t ample playing time coming up.

In 5 years, you cannot tell me there wasn’t a better catcher than Tony Cruz that couldn’t be traded for or signed. It’s just ridiculous on his face.

But oh, keep up with these Tony Cruz narratives.

JOHN LACKEY SHOULD PITCH GAME 4 CAUSE HE’S A WARRIOR AND THE ONLY WAY TO WIN

This was also all of you. I spent days before the decision lamenting it, and watched the meltdown happen. Then I watched people still defending it.

Uh, what?

Here is what I wrote to the hordes of people who swore to me Lackey was the way to go:

You have to win 2 games. You have to. Winning game 4 but losing game 5 is worthless.

We might have a divide there. You might think losing this series in 5 is better than 4, and I can see your point. It certainly LOOKS better, but it won’t be of much consolation to me. The Cardinals, in my mind, have to win 2 games.

But if you do think that way, you can stop reading. For anyone who has a singular goal of winning the series, go on.

In one game they face Hammel: 3.68 FIP (4.34 at home)
In one game they face Lester: 2.92 FIP (2.57 on the road)

And you have to win both.

You have Lackey. Home FIP 3.03, Away FIP 4.23
The home start is on full rest.
How much will Lackey be compromised on 3 days rest? I don’t know. But do you really think he is 100%?

The other game is essentially a bullpen game of untrusted arms. Lynn, Garcia, Lyons, etc. Mixing and matching as best you can.

Your choices. Game 1: Hammel 4.34 home FIP  vs <100% Lackey 4.32 away FIP OR vs Untrusted Pen
Game 2: Lester     2.57 away   FIP vs Untrusted Pen OR 100% Lackey 3.03 FIP

You tell me which matchup you’d rather have for your bullpen game. You tell me which game Lackey has the better chance.

Or reverse it. Imagine you could go into a time machine and play game 5 first. Do you go with Lackey? Or do you see if the bullpen beats Lester to force a short rest Lackey in game 4?

Truly. Honestly. Which scenario gives you the better chance of the Cardinals playing in the NLCS?

It’s pretty clear to me.

It’s still pretty clear to me. Everyone got excited in the 1st, but the 1st isn’t what should have ever worried people. It’s that his stamina was going to be way lower. He was going to give out, and early. Even when he did pitch on 3 games rest, 10+ years before, he didn’t pitch 6 innings in either game. Presumably because he was being watched like a hawk. And the peripherals showed those games had good results…but he wasn’t especially good in them. And that was with a body 10 years younger. My lord, how did you people not see this coming?

1 walk and 4 hits is not a good line in 3 innings. Especially when one of those hits was a nice hittable pitch to the opposing pitcher, and the big blow was a 3 run homer to the injury replacement backup who his 1HR in 80PAs during the regular season.

Then he was done. After 3 innings. Do you think the next innings would have magically gone better? As he got more and more fatigued? If you do, then you don’t take him out there.

But let’s imagine an alternate scenario where the Cardinals come back and win that game. Now he can’t pitch game 5 on full rest at Busch. Because you needed 3 crappy innings out of him in game 4. It was just stupid.

John Lackey had a great season, and was definitely our most dependable starter in the playoffs. But what made him dependable was full rest, and his home ballpark. The Cardinals changed both of those equations and thought it wouldn’t make a difference in the outcome. And you cheered them on to do it.

Which brings us to the biggest narrative of all…

Mike Matheny Has Really Grown As A Manager This Year!!!!!!

Lord, give me strength.

I compliment Mike when I feel he deserves it, and I complement him HARD. I give him a lot of credit for Carlos Martinez. I think his handling of CMart has been exemplary and might be the best thing he’ll ever do as a manager.

I stated that I thought game 1 of the NLCS was the best game he had ever managed. When he took out Lackey, I was defending his move to the masses. I thought it was brilliant.

But he hasn’t grown as a manager.

His personal skills were the reason he was hired in the first place. I don’t know if you could say they have improved.  His flaws were always the game decisions.

I stated earlier I felt like he was double switching and bunting less, but making more baffling bullpen moves, and his loyalty all-else-be-damned approach hadn’t waivered.

Soon after I said that he batted Jon Jay 2nd 2 games in a row, each game calling for Jay to bunt Carpenter over in the 1st inning. So much for the less bunting theory.

Want to know why the Media said this? Why the Bloggers said this? Why you said this?

The Cardinals won 10 more games than last year. And they had injuries.

Suddenly this makes Mike a better manager.

It doesn’t. Not unless Whitey Herzog was an awesome manager in 1985, forgot everything he knew in 1986, and suddenly remembered it again 1987 before: poof! It was gone again in 1988.

Judging managers by W-L totals is completely idiotic. Stop doing it. Managers, like all parts of a baseball organization, increase or lower a team’s chance of winning. They aren’t responsible for the entirety of the success.

And yes, the Cardinals had injuries. And Matheny handled them…well?

Do you think Jon Jay was handled well? Do you think Tommy Pham was handled well?

Over at 1B, when the Cardinals turned to Xavier Scruggs, was 41 total plate appearances enough to say Scruggs couldn’t be a cheap fill in? Do I even NEED to post Pham’s line after 50 appearances for you? It was terrible. Because it’s an extremely small sample of a kid under a lot of pressure.

Then they replaced Scruggs with Dan Johnson. What a low point. Dan Johnson. And he got 21 plate appearances to prove he was a world beater. Absurd. What if he went 9-21, would that suddenly mean Dan Johnson was a great hitter and needs to be in there every day?

Tony Cruz fans will tell you yes. Reasonable fans will tell you the Cardinals withstood injury after injury due to Mo and the Cardinal brass acquiring fantastic depth and minor league development. Congrats to Mike for all of those savvy draft picks he had nothing to do with.

But what about the bullpen? It had plenty of injuries. It was also driven into the ground. Who knows how many injuries were caused or hurt by his constant calls to the exact same people no matter the score. And yeah, this definitely showed up in the playoffs. Soco and Tui sat the bench almost all of September so that Kevin Siegrist could go out there game after game. Wow.

How bad is Mike at handling his bullpen?

This bad:

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/2015-mlb-playoffs-bullpen-managers-mike-matheny-joe-girardi/

Matheny has been the worst of any manager in the past 3 years, and of course he is dead last this year.

He has actually done worse that a random machine at making bullpen changes.

That’s 3 years of data showing he hasn’t improved.

And this NLDS. Damn this NLDS.

While Maddon was managing ala Tony LaRussa in 2011, Matheny was, well, not improving.

You’ve seen the Lackey start. You know the Lackey start.

Siegrist decisions were idiotic.

Guy has been great in years past, but lefties have lit him up this year. Mike didn’t just let him face lefties. He brought him in TO face lefties.

Kevin didn’t come in to relieve Wacha the day before to face Bryant (in a stunningly bad decision that I don’t even feel I need to go into) No, he came in to face Rizzo, a left power hitter in a power hitters park with the wind blowing out.

Shockingly, he gave up a home run.

The next day he is left to face 2 power hitting lefties again. One AT THE TOP OF THE INNING. And both, again, hit home runs.

And it’s not like it needed to be Kevin in either case. He was tired. He’s been tired all year. Mike was pitching him every day in this series. And the following line sat the bench: .199/.273/.322

That’s Tyler Lyon’s career mark against left handed hitters.

He was supposed to be the neutralizer for the absence of Randy Choate. He didn’t pitch.

On Choate/Lyons for a moment:

We heard last year that Choate was “hard to use” because they can always pinch hit around him and such.

That’s called being a poor manager.

Because there are hitters the team is never going to pinch hit for. Rizzo is one of those.

Then there are players a team isn’t going to pinch hit for too early in the game, Schwarber is one of those.

A loogy could have been used in this series. I’m fine with it not being Choate. But sitting Tyler Lyons while your reverse split pitcher gives up 3 home runs to lefties is naïve and stubborn.

2 words I would often use to describe Mike.

Not that we haven’t seen this from him before. Like all Mike problem’s this constantly repeats. Every postseason is a wonder of “Where is Wacha? Why is he even on the roster if he’ll never play (until he’s put in to give up meat balls after rusting for a month because his manager couldn’t find room for him) Where is Shelby Miller? Why is he on the roster if he’ll never play? Where is Edward Mujica?

*Deep Breath*

Jon Jay got 54 September plate appearances in a pennant race for a team that had no business even considering him for the postseason roster while players who might contribute sat the bench. A clearly not ready Matt Holliday held the 3rd spot no matter what, while Jhonny Peralta, who could have his own spinoff of the ABC series “LOST” hit 5th. Yadier Molina hit 5th or 6th every day until they decided he should play with a partially torn thumb. Yadi was one of the worst offensive players all year. Matt Adams would still be hitting 4th had he not hurt himself. But don’t worry. Against lefties, where he is just terrible, Mike would drop him to 5th. And yeah, this is just a repeat of Allen Craig, and Mitchell Boggs, and Freese over Wong, and Ellis over Wong, etc. etc. that remain baffling decisions based on a gut that seems to never be right. Tui and Soco combined for 10 appearances in all of Sept/Oct, all in blowouts. Overused Rosey pitched 9 times, Maness 12, and Siegrist 15 times. Siegrist, for one, gave up 3 home runs in September. I wonder why. Broxton allowed no runners in 5 of his first 7 appearances, then became Mike’s permanent set up guy. He just LOVES 1st impressions. Broxton would have 4 more perfect outings over his next 21 appearances, all in the 7th inning or later. Brutal.

Then, almost just to drive home the point, when the Cardinals are desperate for runs in the 8th inning of their final game, he pinch hit Greg Garcia for Randal Grichuk. Because once, long before, Garcia had hit a home run off of Strop. This completely ignored the fact that Randal Grichuk led the Cardinals in slugging on the year, and by a huge margin. If you want someone to hit the ball with authority, Randal Grichuk is the person you want at the plate. I know this. You know this. Every person on the planet knows this.

Except the improved Mike Matheny.

And you probably tweeted or wrote about how improved Mike was. Search those tweets. Delete them.

He’s terrible. He’s been terrible for 4 years. There is no reason to think he won’t be terrible next year. He’ll probably be terrible forever. You’d think that would be easy to improve from. Apparently not.

If I’m GM, Mike is gone. He’s offered a bench spot for his leadership. But Greg Garcia will never pinch hit for Randal Grichuk again if I’m running the show. It almost doesn’t matter who replaced him. I’m hiring that randomizing robot to manage my team. I hope it writes a manifesto.

I know, I know, it’s not all Mike’s fault. I don’t care if Kevin’s arm has fallen off! He has to perform! The lineup, filled with failing hitters who never move, have to start hitting!

Yeah yeah, there is blame to go around, I get it. Matt Carpenter was 4-17!

Other problems may be problems, but one thing is for sure:

Mike is a problem that’s not improving. Firing is the easiest fix.

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One thought on “Narratives

  1. Who wrote this garbage? The author uses way too many words to make a point, which the author never gets to until almost 3/4 of the way through the piece. Shakespeare was correct, brevity is the soul of wit. I do not disagree with your point, just your presentation. Oh, but wait, I’m an idiot.

    Like

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