Tuesday, January 26, 2016

That Was An Anti-Climax

Arizona got destroyed by the Carolina Panthers. Carson Palmer went full Delhomme, fitting since the game was in Carolina, and outside of one INT, the Cards' defense couldn't do much to slow Cam Newton.

I don't want to say it's disappointing, because that feels like it slights the season at large. They won 13 games, they won the NFC West, they made it to an NFC Championship game for the second time in the Super Bowl era. It seems wrong to dismiss that. But it's still a downer for them to just get their doors blown off.

I don't know what they do in the offseason. They'll have to stay on top of the offensive line, keep it going well. Looking into some better pass-rushers would be nice. Then they wouldn't have to blitz so much to get pressure. They'll have to start looking for Palmer's replacement at some point. Not because he had a bad game against the Panthers. It's one game, it happens. But he's going into his late 30s, he will start to decline at some point. And I don't think Logan Thomas is the answer. Any guy that gets passed over in favor of Ryan Lindley is going to be a hard sell for me.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Holy Crap, That Was Close

Arizona narrowly escaped the Packers, 26-20 in OT. Rodgers threw another damn Hail Mary to make it 20-19, and then, thankfully, conservative Mike McCarthy kicked the extra point rather than go for two. Then the coin flip was redone, because on the first try, the coin didn't flip. It didn't matter much, since Arizona won both times (though that didn't stop Rodgers from whining about it afterwards), and Larry Fitzgerald promptly did some awesome stuff to help them score a touchdown and win the game.

Cardinals got more than a little lucky there, considering Palmer threw two INTs, and should have had a few more. But then again, the Packers needed a Hail Mary, and a 60-yard gain on 4th and 20 just to tie the game, so they got pretty damn lucky, too. I don't have a problem with Arians sending 7 guys at Rodgers on that pass, either. That's who Arizona is on defense. They don't have a dominant pass rusher, but they generate pressure by sending guys from all directions. They're aggressive, and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. But I would rather the team try to make something happen to win, than sit back and play conservative and hope it works it out.

I really can't believe McCarthy didn't go for two. He has Aaron Rodgers, who is insanely good, and you're asking him to get two yards, when he just hit a freaking Hail Mary. If you believe in momentum at all, and I feel like a lot of coaches do, wouldn't the Packers have it at that moment? They'd be pumped, the Cardinals' defense would be deflated. Attack! Fortunately, McCarthy wasted his opportunity, and never got another one.

On the good news front, Seattle lost, as their desperate comeback attempt against Carolina fell short. So no more worrying about the Seahawks. Now all Arizona has to do is go on the road and beat a team that only lost once all season, and which has the probable MVP at quarterback. Palmer's going to have to play a lot better than he did, so hopefully this was just jitters and he got it out of system. Hopefully.

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Monday, January 04, 2016

This Did Not Assuage My Concerns

The Seahawks are the NFC team that scares me the most, as an Arizona fan. I know this isn't news; I've been saying it for weeks. Yesterday's 36-6 thumping at Seattle's hands did not help any.

When I saw they were losing badly at halftime, I hoped it meant Arians had chosen to sit his starters. Nope, his starters played, they just got creamed. Tyler Lockett torched them returning punts, they gave up 140 yards rushing, Palmer didn't play well (and then they eventually put in Drew Stanton, who did even worse. It was just a bad scene all around for Arizona.

On the plus side for the Cardinals, they have a bye week to get their heads straight. And Seattle is the 6 seed. Which means both teams would have to make the NFC Championship game for them to meet again. Which would require Seattle to go through Minnesota and Carolina first. Which they're capable of, but it wouldn't be easy. I'd just as soon they lose prior to then and render my concerns moot, but we'll see.

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Monday, December 28, 2015

First Round Bye Secured!

Arizona crushed Green Bay 38-8. It was 31-0 before the Packers finally got on the board. My concerns about what Aaron Rodgers might do against a secondary that is without Tyrann Mathieu until some time in 2016 were largely unfounded, because the defense sacked Rodgers 8 times, made him fumble three times, and intercepted him once. All told, he went 15 for 28 for 151 yards, and two of those fumbles were returned for TDs. Credit to Cory Redding, not only for the TD, not only for stiffarming Eddie Lacy with seemingly no effort, but doing a Rick Flair strut in the end zone. Outstanding.

Palmer went 18 for 27 for 265 yards and 2 TDs, with 1 INT. The Cardinals didn't have a prolific rushing game - 26 yards for 121 yards - but it was effective enough. Interestingly, no one back dominated the carries, since Andre Ellington, Kerwynn Williams, and David Johnson all had between 7 and 9 carries, and 39 and 44 yards. They also combined for 5 catches for 97 yards, though Johnson did most of that himself.

So Arizona has a first round bye now. There is a chance they could get the #1 seed, if Carolina loses at home to Tampa, and Arizona wins, but I'm not sure if that's worth going all out for. But I think Arizona will know how that game went by the time their game starts, so they could always take out their starters if they figure out it's a no go. I'm not sure what Seattle will do. I'd guess they would prefer the 5 seed - which lets them face Washington, rather than the NFC North winner - but I can't see them being horribly concerned either way. Even after getting smacked around by the Rams, the Seahawks seem like a team that's fairly confident in themselves (mostly justified).

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Division Champs!

Seattle didn't lose to Cleveland, which isn't much of a shock, but it doesn't matter, because Arizona trucked the Eagles, 40-17. It was tied at 10 at one point in the second quarter, but obviously Arizona rolled after that. The Eagles turned the ball over 4 times, and David Johnson ran for 187 yards and 3 TDs. Throw in another 34 yards from Kerwynn Williams, and 11 from Stefan Taylor, and Arizona ran for 230 yards. Arizona is (once again) not going to have anyone near the top of the league's rushing totals, what with the rotating cast of backs thanks to all the injuries, but that Arizona has still had a productive rushing game all season is really encouraging.

I'm not clear what the prognosis is on Mathieu's knee. He picked off Bradford with about 3 minutes left in the game to ice things, but as he started to run with it, it looked like the end of his right foot got caught on the back of his left calf, and maybe twisted the knee. It doesn't sound like it's a serious injury, but I'd prefer Arizona's secondary be healthy going into the postseason. The D doesn't get many sacks - Freeney leads the team with 4, and the team has 25 total - so there's a lot of pressure of the defensive backs. With some of the QBs they'll see in the playoffs, they need the best guys they have.

So Arizona locked up the NFC West, and there is still an (extremely slim) chance they could get the #1 seed. By the same token, they still haven't locked up the first round bye, since Oakland couldn't beat the Packers. So Arizona needs to down Green Bay this next week to take care of that, so it doesn't come down to beating Seattle in Week 17. I'm not sure the Seahawks would care - they're in the playoffs, but are stuck as a wild card, so Carroll might rest his guys. On the other hand, Seattle might enjoy ruining Arizona's chances of getting a bye. Better not to take chances. Just beat the Packers and we'll call it good.

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Arizona's In The Playoffs

I didn't even know Arizona was playing Thursday night until the game was down to its last five minutes. Still hard to adjust to the idea the NFL actually wants Arizona on in prime time. The game was tied, then Arizona kicked a field goal, the Vikings drove to about the Arizona 30, and on 3rd down, Dwight Freeney strip-sacked Teddy Bridgewater. Arizona 23, Minnesota 20. Playoff spot secured.

I can't fault the Vikings for trying for more yards. It was going to be a 47-yard field goal, no gimme. And Arizona had held the Vikings to 3 yards per carry exactly over the course of the game, so running wasn't the best bet. They just didn't pull it off. Arizona's secondary held up, and Bridgewater didn't throw it away.

It's hard to get too enthused over a 3-point win against a team that just finished getting obliterated by Seattle last weekend, but those Thursday games are frequently kind of screwy, so credit for not losing. I'm a little concerned about Bridgewater setting a career high in passing yards against them, especially with Blaine Gabbert having a 300 yard passing game against them a couple of weeks ago. Bridgewater isn't a bad QB, but Arizona's likely to face much better ones in the playoffs. Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson's been on fire lately. The positive thing to take away is that, like Gabbert, or even Drew Brees back in week 1, Bridgewater only threw one TD, and that's the most important thing. Giving up yards isn't ideal, but as long as they don't give up points, it isn't a deathblow.

David Johnson ran for 92 yards, following up a solid performance in the Rams' game. Mike Iupati caught a pass. Not sure what happened there, a deflection probably. Michael Floyd had a 100-yard receiving game. Tyrann Mathieu had 10 tackles, and the defense had three sacks and recovered three fumbles. Palmer had a 300-yard passing game of his own, with 2 TDs and no turnovers. Now Arizona gets a week and a half to prepare for the Eagles, and if they beat them, they clinch the NFC West. Which would be nice, with the Packers and Seahawks looming the final two weeks. Or Seattle could lose this weekend and speed the whole process up, that'd be fine, too.

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Monday, December 07, 2015

Comfortable Wins OVer Bad Teams Are Better, Though

Arizona hadn't done that in awhile, though, what wins narrow wins over the likes of San Francisco, Baltimore, and Cleveland. Well, the Cleveland win wound up being comfortable, but they were down by double digits at one point. No such troubles here, as Arizona pounded the Rams 27-3. Nick Foles went 15 of 35 for less than 150 and 1 INT. Palmer went 26 of 40 for over 350 yards and 2 TDs. Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington didn't play. No problem, David Johnson, Kerwynn Williams, and Stefan Taylor combined for 33 carries and 178 yards. The defense held Todd Gurley to 41 yards on 9 carries. I know he hasn't been too productive lately, but he torched Arizona's D for something like 140 yards the last time they played, so it's nice to see them not let that happen again. John Brown and Michael Floyd each went over 100 yards receiving.

So Arizona's 10-2. This is good. I'm less happy that Seattle is hanging around back there, stubbornly refusing to lose any games. Considering they're still 3 games back with 4 games to play, the odds they'd catch Arizona are slim, but still in play. But the fact they stomped the Vikings, in Minnesota, is troubling. It suggests to me the Seahawks are figuring things out again, like they did last year. Which could make them really dangerous come playoff time. I figure they're going to get in whether they win the division or not. It's them and whoever doesn't win the North out of Green Bay or the Vikings as the wild cards, most likely. The Buccaneers are coming on a little too late, I think, and the NFC East is still a mediocre shitshow.

Hopefully Arizona can make their own statement by crushing the Vikings this weekend. I'll settle for another close win, though.

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Monday, November 30, 2015

And Close Wins Over Bad Teams Are Still Wins, Too

Arizona beat the 49ers 19-13, which is not the beatdown I was hoping for, but considering I was worried this was going to be a trap game, where Arizona got cocky and ended up losing, I'll take this result. They let Blaine Gabbert throw for over 300 yards, which is not something I expected to happen. I don't know if it was shoddy tackling, poor coverage, or what. Blake Bell had a 48 yard reception, and Torrey Smith had a 41 yarder. But all that passing only resulted in one TD, which is the important thing.

Arizona didn't turn the ball over, which is good, although Palmer tried to spike it after running for the go-ahead TD, and faceplanted. As long as he didn't concuss himself, I don't really care, though. Chris Johnson had a rough game, only getting 17 yards on 12 carries. He's been slowed significantly in the past few weeks. I don't know if defenses have adjusted to what Arians was doing to try and help him be successful, if he's getting tired, if Iupati's injury has damaged the run blocking, or they're just running into good defenses lately.

It could just have been because it's a division game. Those are usually a little tougher, a little more tense. The Rams were crushed by the Bengals this week, but I doubt Arizona will be able to likewise stomp St. Louis this weekend. As long as they win, that'll be fine, because the Rams are one of the only remaining bad teams left on Arizona's schedule (along with the Eagles, who did a very convincing impression of a team that's packed it in against the Lions on Thanksgiving). And the Seahawks are still lurking 3 games back with 5 games to go.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Close Wins Over Good Teams Are Still Wins

Arizona beat the Bengals 34-31, on a last second field goal by Catanzaro. Said field goal was aided by the refs calling a Bengals' d-lineman for barking out signals to try and get the Cards' to false start, which is a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, apparently. It doesn't get called much, but it got called here, to the Bengals' displeasure. Is the Ravens' tendency to whine about the refs screwing them infecting the rest of the AFC North? I would agree 15 yards seems excessive, and like holding (and most other penalties) the refs probably miss/ignore it multiple times a game. But it is a rule, and you got caught, so suck it up and quit bitching. Marvin Lewis is trying to argue his guy was just trying to get the defense set for a run play. Right, the Cards were going to run the football from the 40, with 6 seconds left in the game. How are you going to beat the Patriots if your coach can't lie any better than that? At least learn to deflect with angry sarcasm like Belichek!

Anyway, Palmer played like garbage in the first half, which helped put the Cards behind 14-7. Then he found a groove in the third quarter, and Arizona went up 28-14. Then the Bengals came charging back, and they could have won, if Dalton didn't underthrow A.J. Green on a third down play, forcing Cincy to settle for a tying field goal with a minute left. Arizona got the ball, moved down the field (thanks, prevent defense!), got the helpful penalty, and kicked the field goal. Hooray!

The Cards had three fumbles, but didn't lose any of them. They even managed to recover a fumble by the Bengals. They didn't intercept Dalton, though, which combined with Palmer's 2 INTs, means they lost the turnover battle. But they still won, which is nice. It could have gone either way clearly, but it's nice to see them continue to win some of these close games. Though I wouldn't object if they went back to crushing teams the way they were earlier in the season.

Neither team ran well. The Bengals had 99 yards on 28 carries, the Cards just 82 on 25 carries. Credit to the defenses, although both allowed pretty big passing days for the opposing QBs. Dalton's QBR is 68.8, and Palmer's is 77.9. I mean, even with the two picks, he went 20-31 for over 300 yards and 4 TDs. I'll take that.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

The Lost Fumbles Are Starting To Annoy Me

I wouldn't have expected a 39-32 final score when I checked in with 12 minutes to go in the second quarter and it was 5-0, but there you go. Both offenses made some things happen. Or maybe Seattle's defense made some things happen.

The last time Arizona managed to beat the Seahawks, they won despite Carson Palmer throwing 4 INTs. He only threw one this time, but he also lost two fumbles. Still, they won, which is more than they could manage last year with Stanton or Lindley under center.

Multiple Turnovers Carson Palmer: Still much better than the other guys.

Chris Johnson was held to 58 yards on 25 carries, but Ellington went for 61 yards on 6 carries. Arizona's defense largely held Marshawn Lynch in check, though Wilson had some productive runs, and Seattle wound up with 118 yards on the ground overall. He did get picked off once by Mathieu, and had a pretty poor completion percentage (14 of 32, I think), though there are at least three 30+ yard receptions in there. No idea if that was a blown coverage thing or a bad tackling thing.

At any rate, the Cards are now 7-2, three games up on Seattle and the Rams in the division. Of course, they still have another game against each of those teams, plus the Bengals, Packers, and the Vikings, who may actually be good. Oh, and the Eagles and 49ers. I'd feel better about Arizona's situation if they hadn't had a 3-game lead on Seattle last year after 10 games, only to end up losing the division. And Mike Iupati suffered a scary collision last night. He's out of the hospital, but I'd imagine they'll be careful getting him back on the field. We'll see if their offensive line can continue to hold up without him.

On the baseball side, a bunch of Cardinals filed for free agency. Belisle, Broxton, Choate, Heyward, Lackey, Reynolds, and Villaneuva. The Cards made qualifying offers to Heyward and Lackey, both of whom, I assume, turned them down. As well they should, considering people are pegging Heyward for possibly $200 million deals, and Lackey supposedly thinks he can get 3 years and like $40 million.

I have no interest in Lackey at those kinds of dollars, not even with Lance Lynn now done for 2016 with Tommy John surgery. Between Wainwright, Garcia, Wacha, Martinez, Lyons, Cooney, and Marco Gonzales, the Cards ought to be able to cobble together a solid starting rotation. It might not look as good as this year's did, given they aren't likely to match their success stranding runners, but it should still be fine. The offense is still the side that needs to start carrying its weight a little more.

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Sunday, November 01, 2015

For Once, The Turnovers Didn't Kill Them

Chris Johnson lost two fumbles. Larry Fitzgerald lost a fumble. Carson Palmer threw an interception. Even so, Arizona beat the Browns 34-20, and that's after being down 20-7 late in the first half. Thank goodness the Browns aren't very good.

Johnson had a pretty good game other than the fumbles, going over 100 yards rushing again. At this rate, he might already have more rushing yards than anybody the Cardinals have had in the previous 3 seasons. Let me check, no, not quite. Johnson is at 676 yards, and Rashard Mendenhall ran for 687 two years ago. Of course, that was over an entire season, whereas Johnson's only played 8 games so far. So that's a signing that's worked surprisingly well.

Cleveland didn't have much luck running the ball, being held to less than 40 yards on the ground on 20 carries. So outside of Todd Gurley, Arizona's defense has mostly held up against the run this season. It did that last year, too, until the end, but hopefully this year's defense won't be completely fatigued and demoralized by a worthless offense.

Oh, and Michael Floyd went for over 100 yards receiving, including a 60-yard reception. That may have been due to John Brown's absence from the lineup, but it's nice to see Floyd can be productive when given an opportunity.

Next up is Seattle, which is currently having trouble beating a Matt Cassell-led Cowboys' team. I want to take that as a good sign for Arizona's chances, but I can't shake the concern Seattle is still trying to figure out how some of the new pieces fit, and once they do, they'll be a serious problem. Of course, this isn't the NBA, where the Spurs can spend the first few months figuring out such things. If the Seahawks dick around too long, they might miss the postseason entirely. It's still too early to predict that, considering they were still floundering a bit 10 games into last year, but it's worth keeping an eye on.

Although even if they falter, there's still the Rams to contend with. Plus the Packers and the Panthers, and whoever is actually good in the NFC East this year (the Giants?).

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

As Always, A Win's A Win

Arizona held on to beat Baltimore 26-18 last night. I would have preferred they go back to destroying crappy teams as they had been, but an 8 point win is still better than the result of their last primetime regular season game, that disastrous Ryan Lindley start against Seattle last year.

The Ravens may have been hosed by some bad refereeing, a claim that would hold more weight with me if Ravens' fans weren't eternally complaining about how the refs screwed them, and the league's out to get them, and blah-de blah-de blah. Cry me river. Like they're the only team ever to have calls go against them.

Chris Johnson continued his surprisingly good season with 122 yards, and the team ran for 150 yards overall. They might actually have a running game for the first time in years. More critically, the defense forced a couple of turnovers, and the offense managed to avoid them (despite fumbling a couple of times, as neither was recovered by Baltimore). That seems to be the key this year. When they lose, they're turning it over repeatedly. When they win, they don't, and usually force a few turnovers.

Next up is a trip to Cleveland, which will hopefully go well, although the Browns seem competitive, if not actually good. The Cardinals need to win it regardless, because the Rams and Seahawks aren't going away.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Not A Good Weekend

Not for me, not for my sports teams. Arizona lost to Pittsburgh, 25-13. No Big Ben, and Vick got knocked out partway through the game, and Arizona still lost because they couldn't hold onto the fucking ball. So much for spending the week in West Virginia to stay on Eastern time.

Look, it's all well and good to beat the everlovin' shit out of crappy teams, but at some point they will need to actually beat some teams that aren't inept. But this week they play the Ravens, so maybe they can wait another week or two until facing that challenge again. Thankfully the Rams didn't play, and the Seahawks lost to Carolina, so Arizona's still in first place. For now.

And the St. Louis Cardinals lost three in a row to the Cubs and were bounced from the playoffs. And now the Cubs are about to get swept by the fucking Mets. This postseason in general was going to be a disaster for me anyway, just because 75% of the teams in the LCS are ones I would be sad to see win a World Series. And Toronto's about to get bounced, so I'm better off just waiting for the offseason to start.

As for the Cardinals, there are decisions to be made. Jason Heyward is the big one, and I don't know what to do. The Cardinals have a ton of outfielders under contract next year - Grichuk, Holliday, Jay, Moss, Pham, Piscotty - but none of them are as good as Heyward (Pham is the one who comes closest to approximating Heyward's all around game, but not as good, and older). But is the gain in production they get from Heyward over say Piscotty, worth the 20 times more they'd be spending on him?

I guess the question is whether they can make an equally significant or greater improvement somewhere else with that money. A lot of Cardinals' fans are dreaming of a trade to acquire Paul Goldschmidt to play first, but a) I don't know if the Diamondbacks are even thinking of trading him, and b) what they'd demand if he is. It would take a move like that to compensate, but if you add Goldschmidt but Heyward walks and they had to trade Piscotty among who knows who else to get him, is it worth it? Holliday's on the downslope, so's Jay, I don't really care much for Moss, and I think Grichuk's lack of plate discipline is always going to limit him. But then again, so much of Heyward's value is tied up in his defense and speed, and I can't imagine he's going to maintain those as he ages.

Beyond that, there's the likelihood of Bourjos being gone, the question of what to do with Lackey, a farewell to Randy Choate, hopefully a search for someone they feel comfortable sitting Molina to play occasionally. There's probably some other things, so we'll see what pops up.

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Monday, October 12, 2015

A Positive Regular Season, A Less Positive Postseason

Bill Barnwell said on Twitter yesterday that we should come up with a way for Arizona to just play lousy teams every week, since they so enjoy destroying them. If we could contrive some method for that to carry through all the way through the Super Bowl, I'd be all for it. As it is, they will surely have to beat an actual good team at some point.

But not this weekend, as they laid waste to the Lions, 42-17. Detroit scored the first touchdown, then Arizona rattled off basically 42 unanswered points. One week after Arizona lost in part because the Rams took care of the ball while the Cardinals didn't, Detroit turned the ball over 6 times, between Ameer Abdullah's two lost fumbles, Matt Stafford's 3 INTs, and Dan Orlovsky's pick. Stafford played so badly he got himself benched partway into the third quarter. The o-line didn't help, as he and Orlovsky got knocked down 17 times combined, but being forced to drop back over 70 times because your team is getting its ass beat will contribute to a result like that.

Carson Palmer completed 11 of 14 passes for 161 yards and 3 TDs, which suits me fine. The less he passes, the less he gets hit. Chris Johnson went over 100 yards rushing again, and Andre Ellington got to play a little, including a 63 yard run. Larry Fitzgerald didn't break 100 yards receiving, but they didn't really need him to.

With the Rams and the Seahawks both losing (thanks, Green Bay and Cincy!), Arizona has a 2-game lead in the division. Which counts for essentially jack shit. They had a 3 game lead on Seattle last year around the 10-game mark, and still lost the division. They haven't played a team with a winning record yet, though I'm not sure how often it's going to happen. They play the Steelers, Ravens, and Browns the next 3 weeks, none of whom look real great right now. Two games with the Seahawks loom, plus another with the Rams, and Green Bay in Week 16. And there's no telling which teams look bad now that might be very different in a month or two. So takes the wins as the come, however they come, that's my motto.

As for the baseball Cardinals, they aren't in the best spot. The series with the Cubs is tied, but now they're facing Arrieta, who hasn't lost since mid-summer. Which means they're very likely to enter Game 4 on the verge of elimination. Which, granted, is where they were against Pittsburgh two years ago, and they got out of that, but it's not optimal. Though I suppose beating the seemingly unstoppable Arrieta would be a great example of that Devil Magic people attribute to that Cardinals. Of course, the Pirates were supposed to have some of that themselves, and it didn't save them against him. If the Cardinals could try not fielding like they were reenacting the 2006 Detroit Tigers' pitching staff, that might help.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Not The Best Weekend

I probably should have been more concerned about the Rams. To be honest, though, I'm paying little enough attention I didn't even know who Arizona was playing until Friday afternoon. They already beat Seattle, and they've been a tough team the last few years, even if they were usually finishing in fourth place. And I did expect their pass rush to be trouble, but I figured Arizona could squeak by.

So much for that. The Rams won 24-22. Arizona lost the ball 3 times, the Rams had no turnovers. The Rams held Arizona to 5 field goals until a late touchdown, and they got 146 yards on the ground from Todd Gurley. Nick Foles has a quiet but efficient day, throwing 3 TDs on 16 of 24 passing. Oh well, 3-1 is still a good first month. If they keep that up, they'll have a fine season.

As for the baseball Cardinals, they took 2 of 3 from Pittsburgh, thus clinching the division. Then they dicked around and got swept by Atlanta. Not that it matters, but I'd have liked for them to win at least one of those games. I mean, I've seen them win a World Series in a season where they practically pissed away the division in September, and entered the playoffs so poorly regarded I was just hoping they didn't get swept. So I know that how they finish isn't the issue. If the Cardinals get knocked out in the NLDS by either the Cubs or Pirates, it won't be because of this 3-game set with Atlanta. It'll be because the starting pitching continued to struggle, the bullpen didn't hold up, the offense went to sleep, or Matheny made some poor decisions. Or some combination of above.

I don't know who will be on the roster. I don't know about Molina's availability, or Piscotty's. My guess is Bourjos is shit out of luck, and I'm deeply worried Matheny will start Jay in CF. If I was only going to take 5 outfielders, it'd be Grichuk, Heyward, Holliday, Pham, and Piscotty, and then maybe Moss. I don't really care for him much, but a lefty power bat off the bench might be useful. If I kept him, Adams might be left off, though. I'd definitely take Greg Garcia ahead of Kozma, and I'd really think about leaving Cishek and Broxton off the roster. I just have a hard time trusting either of those guys, and Lyons and Wainwright could probably handle any multiple inning stints that came up. Of course, I don't know how the rotation should go after Lackey and Garcia, since neither Lynn nor Wacha have impressed in the last few months.

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