St Louis Cardinals
On paper this Cardinals team is very very dangerous. In year 1 AP (After Pujols) the offense hasn’t missed a beat, leading the NL in OBP, 2nd in hitting, and third in runs scored. So why are they sitting behind the Reds and Pirates in the standings? Every Philadelphian should know that just because a team looks good on paper it doesn’t mean it will translate to the win column (see Eagles 2011). The Cardinals have scored in bunches, but it’s been in between elongated stretches of cold streaks. Nearly every regular, outside of David Freese and Yadier Molina, has spent time on the disabled list, making it impossible for the team to find any consistency at the plate. But, the real problem lies on the mound. Chris Carpenter, the man who crushed our dreams of a World Series last season,
hasn’t pitched all year, and Adam Wainwright hasn’t been close to the Cy-Young-caliber pitcher he was prior to his surgery. With problems abound rookie manager Mike Matheny has managed to hold things together and has the team fighting for a wild card birth. Matheny has done this all while filling the shoes of the one most popular and successful managers of all-time in Tony Larrussa: kudos.
When We Last Met: The Phillies had one of their best offensive series the last time they hooked up with the Cards. They took three out of four in St. Louis, winning the opener in a slugfest 10-9. Freddy Galvis (remember him?) had a breakout series collecting five hits and five RBI. Its a shame Freddy got pinched for breaking the league’s drug rules (maybe it really was an honest mistake). At least he’s not missing much in Philadelphia.
Series Predictions: 1) Roy Halladay turns in another gem, reminiscent of his game 5 performance against the Cardinals last fall. Too bad this one doesn’t matter.
2) Eric Kratz goes yard again, adding to his already legendary folk status in Philly. Can i get a Kratz jersey at Modell’s yet?
3) The reality of the Phillies irrelevance truly sets in when they realize that fans care more about the 76ers in August than them. Ouch.
Fansided Perspective: Justin McClary of Redbirdrants kindly answered my weekly mailbag of questions. It’s nice to talk to someone with a team that still has something to play for, sigh.
1) The Redbirds have scored a ton of runs, but are still looking up at the Reds and Pirates. What’s the deal?
The Cardinals are suffering from really inconsistent offense. Statistically, they have one of the best offense in the league, but injuries have really taken their toll. The team has had its full offensive roster for maybe two weeks the entire season. Not to mention, it seems like only one or two players seem to get hot at any given moment. They’ve had a lot of bad luck and still have the depth and skill to catch up.
2) Edward Mujica wasn’t the biggest name to get traded, but should improve the bullpen. Did the Cardinals do enough at the deadline to get them into the playoffs?
I think the Cardinals did everything within reason. On my personal wishlist, I wanted either a starting pitcher or relief pitcher or two and possibly a middle infielder. By picking up Fuentes and trading for Mujica, they got two guys that definitely won’t challenge for the late inning roles, but will probably give the team steadier production than some of the younger guys they had. Also, while they didn’t trade for a middle infielder, trading Tyler Greene cleared up a spot for either Eugenio Velez or Ryan Jackson. Jackson is our shortstop of the future and has been hitting well, so it will be interesting if he sees time with the club this season.
3) How would you grade Mike Matheny in his rookie campaign as manager so far?
I think Matheny has done a great job. He inherited a big challenge with having to fill LaRussa’s shoes and not having Albert Pujols to anchor the offense. Given the huge loss of Chris Carpenter and all of the injuries the team has dealt with, the fact that they are still very much in contention not only for the Wild Card, but for the division also shows that he has managed the team very effectively. A lot of the team’s problems stem from overexposure of part-time players that have had to step into bigger roles and therefore have experience lengthy cold streaks.