I didn’t tweet during the game last night. Instead, I yammered to myself. Here is what I would have been talking about if you people didn’t annoy me so much:
- Your ace is named Carlos Martinez. It’s almost silly it’s taken me this long to come to terms with that. Adam Wainwright hasn’t been a reliable starter now for a year, most likely because of injury. I knew he was a question mark. I figured he was going to take time to come back. I wasn’t as high on his abilities last October as most were. (Besides the fact that he was a serviceable pitcher at a time when he shouldn’t have even been pitching – that was amazing) But Carlos Martinez for almost an entire year has been that ace. Last year it was early May when he had his brief, 2 start blip. After those starts he finished the year with a 2.55 ERA, and a BABIP over .330. Basically, he got those results with some bad luck (and yes, an unsustainable strand rate that isn’t necessary with a better babip). Last night, with a Mike-defined tired bullpen, Carlos pitched 8 efficient innings when his team needed him. It was an ace performance.
I fully believe Adam will get better. But it’s hard to have faith it will be tonight. The results of the Padres start weren’t terrible, but that seemed a matter of luck. He was hit very hard all night long. He wasn’t better.
But that’s not the point. If Adam puts up the same numbers Carlos has over the last year, we’ll be over the moon. Adam will be back. He’ll be the ace we all knew he was, and the Ace that Carlos is right now. He’s easily the most dependable starter, his numbers are fantastic. He’s had 2 clutch starts in a row (the winning pitcher in the Cubs series). Carlos, you’re the #1.
- The game was on Fox Sports 1, which means we had to endure poor announcing. That’s pretty much the go of it in all of these cases. I’m used to that. But did anyone else notice that the game sounds were amped up? I love it. Any time anything happened you could hear the chatter on the field, which is always a pure joy.
- It’s been 3 games since Diaz has made an error!!! WOWEE!!! We talk a lot about his miscues – and rightfully – but it should be noted that bRef has his dWAR at a 0.2 currently. That’s an extremely small sample size – but it’s also shockingly high considering the amount of routine plays he HASN’T made.
- Jedd Gyorko’s dWAR is also 0.2, so maybe we just ignore that.
- Only one player on the team has both a negative oWAR and dWAR. Yes, it’s Matt Adams.
- Man, that’s a whole lot of Tyler Lyons hatred. He was the guy people were screaming should have been pitching in the NLDS, but 8.2 innings later, he’s trash and needs to go. Why as baseball fans do we continue to behave this way when presented with extremely small April sample sizes? Tyler Lyons has been bad, yes, and declaring that is one thing. Declaring he’s ALWAYS been bad is, well, inaccurate. I suppose the accounts offering both opinions could be completely independent. For their benefit, I won’t look that up.
Tyler Lyons isn’t a great pitcher by any stretch of the imagination. But he is serviceable, can go multiple innings, and is a 2nd lefty in the bullpen. He’s far from this team’s biggest concern going forward. Last night he gave up 2 home runs in a hitters park in the 9th inning of a blowout win, and I’m not sure why we should care. His job was basically to finish the game so no one else had to get up. His other job was to keep himself as fresh as possible for tomorrow. Throw the ball over the middle, and get 3 outs before you give up 5 runs and make people worry. That’s what he did. I had zero angst at all. And by the way, he did it in 17 pitches. That was hardly the Rosenthal WILL THIS EVER END inning that he is known for where he ruins himself.
- Of course, Lyons won’t pitch tomorrow because last night was back to back games, and makes me scream WHY NOT BOWMAN. Bowman threw 12 terrible pitches the day before, but 1 inning in an 8-0 game is exactly what his primary role should be. Throwing innings when you don’t want your more valuable relievers pitching. Wainwright throws tonight, and with his struggles, Matheny should be prepared to need a reliever to go 2-3 innings. Bowman is that guy tonight, because Lyons has pitched 2 days in a row. I don’t know about you, but I hope you are sane enough to wish those two names were switched. If the Cardinals want to keep the game close AND have a guy that can reliably get through a few innings, Lyons is that guy. But he’ll be watching tonight.
- In the 9th inning I was looking forward to Matt Adams batting. I know, I’ll wait until you regain consciousness before I go on. But then I was stunned that he wasn’t batting for Brandon Moss. Moss, who came up limping just a few innings before. Yes Moss was going for the cycle, but he needed a triple, and we are talking about a 32 year old guy with 15 career triples in 2,718 career plate appearances who was limping a few innings before. I don’t even want to know the chances that Moss gets a triple Vs. Moss getting a real injury that causes him to miss significant time. WHEN WILL ANYONE IN THAT DUGOUT DISPLAY THE LEAST BIT OF LOGIC?
- Besides injury, Brandon Moss needs to be an assumed starter day in and day out. I’ve actually been a fan of Matheny’s early season hot bat rotation that sometimes will sit a good hitter on the bench, but Moss should never sit behind Matt Adams. Peak Matt Adams is not as good as average Brandon Moss.
- The offense has kicked ass for almost 4 weeks now, and I’m not sure how to explain it. No one screamed about how bad this offense was more than me. And while the lineup is absolutely filled with unsustainable performances, assuming that we really are watching one of the best lineups in baseball, how could I be so terribly wrong?
Imagine giving a guy only 468 plate appearances, and in that full time roll he scores 98 run, drives in 95, hits 45 doubles, 10 triples, and 28 home runs while batting .418, having an OBP of .444, and a SLG of .770
That’s hall of famer, obviously, and it’s the combined per 162 game stats of Hazelbaker, Diaz, and Fryer if they were rolled into 1 person. In reality, Diaz and Hazelbaker mean that there are 2 HOF quality at bats in the lineup this month. The 3 of them have video game stats, and none of the 3 would be in the majors if not for injuries.
(Please don’t be an idiot and say I’m saying they are HOF. They’ve had HOF worthy months, which most players have multiple times in their careers)
While the Cards have had that amazing, unexpected explosion, there is this:
By comparison, Jim Edmonds had a career OPS of .903
Who is that? That’s Brandon Moss, Stephen Piscotty, Jedd Gyorko, Greg Garcia, Ruben Tejada, and Tommy Pham. Why them? They are the players that have yet to be on the major league team for 162 games under Matheny and Mabry.
And then we have the group with our stars. Molina. Wong. Carpenter. Holliday. Grichuk. Adams. This is the set that should have, by far, the best numbers of the 3 groups.
Those are your Cardinals stars, folks, and the biggest part of any preseason projections we had for our Cardinal sluggers.
OK, I’m not actually arguing anything here. All 3 groups are unsustainable, and will fall, and I’m not betting against that last group of players. But I do think it’s at least fun to watch the trends of the Cardinals entire offense always coming from new faces with Mabry around. For example, setting the low bar at 100 PAs, in 2015 – 7 out of 9 of the top Cardinals in OPS were new to Mabry. In the meantime, the 7 lowest were seasoned Mabry vets. Not great for the ol’ resume.
Really, the point is that this offense is bucking the bad, powerless offense of the recent years, and it’s doing it on the backs of the new, unexpected, and hard to project. Where this offense finally lands once we hit the dog days of summer, well, at this point I’m ready for anything.
- Don’t read the next part. It’s an explanation of my intent to spend at least a few weeks not being as active on twitter. If you’d like my rational, dig in.
On my immediate future:
I worked a job about 8 years ago that I was really, really good at. Maybe, of all the jobs I’ve ever had, this could have been the one I was the best at. There was a part of this job that sort of worked like a conveyer belt, which occasionally needed specific things to land at specific points. I was taught how to do this, but quickly learned that the conventional wisdom was wrong. This wasn’t an opinion thing, this was flat out fact. Provable. I built a freaking model demonstrating this to people. ½ immediately saw the wisdom, ½ just refused to believe it. It almost caused work factions.
For the most part, this didn’t matter at all. Either they had to listen to me (gleefully pointing out every time I was wrong – The conveyer belt took 8 ½ minutes to cycle, so when I took over and changed it, it took 8 ½ minutes to take effect. In those 8 ½ minutes the old way would still mess things up, and the new way would get blamed) or they were bosses that figured it was my problem anyway, and let me do it even if they didn’t understand it.
Then there were the bosses that were more hands on, and a simple demonstration wouldn’t work with them. It took sometimes months to demonstrate to them that this was the correct way. I had all sorts of different teaching approaches, 1 by 1, to show why in the 30+ years of this belt existing, the old way always gave problems and no one knew why. It was fascinating to see such a huge group of people that couldn’t see the logic, but it was also exhausting.
Eventually, I did win every single one of them over. I don’t know how many of them actually understood what was happening, but what they did seem to get was that it was working, so they might as well stop fighting it.
Then one day, I got a new boss. He was in training at the same time that I was training a new employee and explaining the conveyer system. The new boss interjected – he’d worked there for less than 2 days to my several years – and told me I was wrong. I didn’t know what to do. I tried explaining it to him, but he wouldn’t listen, wouldn’t budge, and I dropped it. It wasn’t that I hadn’t had this same conversation a million times – it was pretty much a road show for me – it was that I knew I was looking into the face of a new person I’d have to spend forever battling, while at the same time trying to convince new employees that really, truly, the boss isn’t right. I didn’t want to be a boss there, the position looked miserable, and I didn’t want to constantly have every Johnny First Day come in and think they knew everything, and me have to listen.
Within a month I had a new job. It was a great thing for me in all actuality, as it has led to far greater things and boy oh boy do I now work around far smarter people. That new boss was fired within 2 months. This paragraph means nothing, let’s move on to the next one.
The point is, I’m feeling this same frustration with Twitter lately. I’m fighting the exact same battles, only with brand new followers. I’m watching people fall for the same logical fallacies they fell for a year ago, and at the moment – Twitter, WHICH I HAVE AN AWFUL LOT OF FUN BEING SNARKY AT – Doesn’t feel fun. I’m very, very, very, very tired of having the Matt Adams argument. I can’t believe this isn’t a universal feeling. It’s been almost 2 years since he’s had some sort of sustained success for a month, and yet in every game he goes 2-4, or hits a ball hard, thinking that Matt Adams shouldn’t be starting has to be justified as a position. Every player can hit a ball hard. Every player can go 2-4. Start Adams every day, and I’m almost positive that 15 times that year, you’re going to see a home run. Individual positive results are always possible, happenstance or otherwise, but it’s been a very long time since Adams has had enough of them to justify having any trust in him going forward, and there has been virtually no signs of adjustment to give hope that tomorrow might be different. His problem has always been pitch recognition. This year he has 1 walk in 36 plate appearances. His problem has not improved.
Yet, every week brings a new follower that’s arguing with me about Matt Adams because he LOOKED OK THIS WEEK. Perhaps it’s ego, but I’m a little shocked whenever someone is surprised to hear my opinions on him. I’ve been shouting from the rooftops for years. Why on Earth do you think a solid single to center is going to change anything with me?
The Matt Adams case is not what brings me here. He is one. It’s the Matheny case, the Broxton case, the Jay case, the Mabry case, the Kozma case, the Greg Garcia case, the pretty much every one case. None of these opinions are absolute. Everyone can change when circumstances change. Even the Mabry case was a few simple statements of logic. I love the Cardinals hitting. I hate that the results of the Cardinals hitting somehow will change the perception of Mabry as a batting instructor. I hate knowing that I’ll be having the same results based arguments in the months ahead.
So for now, I’m taking a Twitter vacation. I’m not gone, but I’m actively avoiding scanning for conversations. Now I’m signing on when I actively have something to say, and then signing off within minutes. I think it’ll help me hate all of you just a little less.