Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Finally, The Divisional Series

That was quite a showing by the Twins offense tonight, huh? Your pitchers surrender 5 hits, and one run, and you lose? Way to go! *thumbs up* Seriously though, heck of a job by Danks. He said "Bring on the Twins!", and he meant it. Unfortunately, waiting on these two teams to quit dicking around has sapped much of my will to discuss this round. That, and I really don't have that much of a clue what I'm talking about. But that never stopped me before*!

Angels vs. Red Sox: So the Angels pretty much kicked the crap out of Boston this season, but Boston smoked Anaheim the last two times they've met in the postseason. I think the former is more relevant than the latter, because some of the people involved in those postseason beatdowns (say, Schilling and ManRam, for example) aren't around anymore. I probably ought to like the Angels more than I do, as they're kind of reminiscent of the '80s Cardinals. They don't walk much (.330 OBP, 12th in AL, while they're 7th in BA), or hit for much power (.413 SLG, 9th), but they steal a lot of bases (129, 2nd), and don't strike out much. They'll be trotting out Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, and John Lackey for this series. I'd be worried about Saunders, and possibly Lackey if I were them. neither one is especially a strikeout pitcher, suggesting they rely more on getting the hitters to chase bad pitches. As someone who watched the '04 Red Sox decimate everyone on the Cardinals staff not named Dan Haren, I can tell you that doesn't work. The Sox don't chase bad pitches. They hit for high average (.280, 2nd in the league), the walk (358 OBP, 1st), they hit for power (.447 SLG, 3rd), and they even steal bases (120, 3rd). Jason Bay hasn't been quite as good as Manny was (.897 OPS vs .927), but he's got to be less of a pain in the ass, so that has to be something.

Offhand, I'd say the Sox were the better team, but then you have to consider that Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew (surprise!) are hurting, and Beckett has some oblique injury, which tend to nag at you unless you simply shut down until it's completely healed**. So there's that. I'd really love to pick the Angels, because I, frankly, depise the Red Sox. So I will. Even though Anaheim's lineup appears weaker, even with the Sawx possible injuries (Tex, Vlad, and Torii Hunter are the only starters with above average OPS). I think the Angels are ready. I don't think they'll be intimidated by Fenway in October, and I don't see Beckett pitching like he has in October's past. Angels in 4.

Rays vs. White Sox: The Rays are 13 in the league in batting average, but 5th in OBP, and 8th in SLG. So they've got some power, and they know how to draw walks. And they're 1st in steals, so they can run a bit. Their pitchers are 3rd in Ks, and 8th in walks, which is encouraging. I'm guessing they'll be going some combo of Shields, Garza, and Kazmir. Kazmir can be a little erratic, when he isn't hurt, and Garza hasn't been past the 5th in his last 3 starts, and he hasn't been striking guys out. He's 100 innings above his previous high, so fatigue could be a factor.

Of course, fatigue almost certainly has to be a factor for the ChiSox. They don't hit for average, they're merely average at drawing walks, they don't run, but they hit for a lot of power. Their pitchers walk very few, and strike out plenty, so that suggests the Rays' lineup plays into their hands (the Rays are patient enough to draw those walks, but they also whiff a lot, so they may be too patient). Still, I'm not sure what Guillen has to work with. Danks pitched well tonight, so I don't see him being useful before Saturday, at the earliest. I guess you can use Floyd on Friday, and Buehrle on Thursday, but that's putting all of them on 3 days' rest, and again, the Rays are a pretty dangerous lineup, so tired pitchers could be risky. I'm not sure what the alternative is though, I get the feeling Ozzie doesn't trust Vazquez after the egg he laid on Saturday against Detroit.

I know the Rays are young and inexperienced and all that, but we've been waiting for them to fade all year, and it hasn't happened yet, so I'm not going against them now, especially against a White Sox team that could have wrapped their division up last week, but instead dragged it out as long as they possibly could. Tampa in 4.

Cubs vs. Dodgers: I'd seen people talking about the importance of Jim Edmonds in this series, since the Dodgers will be using 3 righty starters, and other than Jimmy and Kosuke, the Cubs usual lineup lacks lefties. I figured that with the pedigree of hitters the Cubs had, it couldn't be that dire, so I checked. Aramis Ramirez should be fine. His OPS is actually 200 points higher against RHP than LHP. DeRosa, Soto, and Theriot all fare a little worse against RHP, but it's about 50 points of OPS tops. Now Soriano, he's got problems. His OPS against LHP is over 1.100 (so he's Albert Pujols). His OPS against righties is about .780 (Skip Schumaker). So there could be something to this. Of course, it's always risky putting the focus on Edmonds, who is such a streaky hitter. If he's on, boy Cubs fans will be estatic. If he's off, it's going to be ugly. He'll be uppercut swinging over pitches all series long. Fortunately, Dempster and Harden seem like solid bets in the rotation, Marmol's awesome and Wood, well Wood reminds me a bit of Good Izzy: He makes it interesting, but usually succeeds. As for Big Z, I wonder if they wouldn't be better off starting him in Game 3. He has issues with controlling himself, it might be better for him not to start at Wrigley, where you know he'll feed off the fans, perhaps to his detriment, and instead start at Dodger Stadium, where I imagine the fans will be more, shall we say, sedate?

As for the Dodgers, Manny helps the offense (if for no other reason than he got Pierre out of the everyday lineup), but if they don't get Furcal back, everyone of their regular infielders will be below average offensively. I am impressed by their starters though. Between Lowe, Billingsley, and Kuroda, they're pretty well stocked. Still, they were only an 83 win team for a reason. Whether the postseason enables them to hide those reasons (like it did for the '06 Cards) is another matter. I'm picking, sigh, the Cubs in 4. I think the Dodgers have too many holes in their lineup, and unlike the Angels, they aren't facing a team with several injury issues.

Phillies vs. Brewers: I love that Sveum doesn't know who his Game 3 starter is yet. Dave, go with Suppan. I know he hasn't been that good for you this year, but hey, he was the 2006 NLCS MVP, and in 2004, he outdueled Roger Clemens in a Game 7. Gotta go with that pedigree dude, start that vet. Whoa, I channeled Dusty Baker there for a second. Anyway, his other 2 starters are Yovanni and C.C. So we've got one guy coming back early from a knee injury, and another guy who's thrown about 700 onnings for you this month. But, as someone noted, what do the Brewers care? CC won't be there next year, let some other sucker team pony up big money and watch his arm fall off (please, not the Cardinals).

The Phillies have got Cole Hamels, I believe Bret Myers (I can't get any of the pages I wanted to get info from to load right now, so I'm flying blind), and then Jamie Moyer. Hamels is really the only sure bet there, I'd say. Myers is mentally unstable, and Moyer, well, I love him, but if his control is off, the Brewers have the lineup to bash him to pieces. Of Course, the Phillies lineup isn't full of slouches, either, and they're facing a pitching staff that's either hurt, gassed, or crappy. Phillies in 3.

Given recent trends in baseball, I'm sure I've made a grave error picking all the teams with more wins to advance, but I'm not putting any money on this, so what the hell. If I can get any of those pages to load tomorrow, I might go back and try and add to these. Or I may not. We'll see.

* False. Recognizing I don't know what I'm talking about has stopped me before, because I didn't want to get ridiculed for having no clue what I was posting about.

** Woody Williams had one in '02, and kept trying to come back too soon all summer. So he'd come back, make a few starts, go back on the DL, come back too soon, reaggravate it, and so on.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

As We Await The Playoffs, Milestones

The AL Central is doing their damnedest to stay relevant before their representative gets rudely ejected from the postseason, aren't they? I do kind of wish I could watch tomorrow's game, just to see which team looks more desperate, and which is more calm, but we only get one channel out here, and the Internet connection is far too slow for watching online (thus I haven't not seen the end of Burn Notice Season 2, or anything past the opener of the last season of The Shield).

I've been a milestone watcher for a couple of years now, probably dating back to a bet made with Marvels and Legends' (the store, not my blog, which swiped its name) owner Ken Murphy. After the 2005 season, Ken bet me that Ken Griffey Jr. would reach 600 home runs by the end of the 2007 season, while I argued Junior couldn't stay healthy long enough to hit 64 home runs over 2 seasons. Turned out I was right, and thus I won a soda. And there was much rejoicing. Since then, players approaching certain statistical plateaus has become a common debate topic for us at the store, which is where this comes from. Admittedly, it's focused on the supposed Holy Trinity of baseball stats (Hits, Homers, and Wins), so that's where this'll be concentrated.

- No player reached 3000 hits this season. Unless Bonds comes back next year and gets those last 65 hits he needs, I don't believe anyone will before 2011. Griffey's the closest and he still needs 321, meaning he'd need 161 hits a year the next 2 years to get there before '11. For the record, the last time Griffey got at least 161 hits was 1999. After him, it's Vizquel (2657), Sheffield (2615), Pudge Rodriguez (2605), Luis Gonzalez (2591), and Jeter (2635). I think Jeter really has the best shot. He's the youngest, has the least injury history, and I don't think his hitting skills have declined quite as sharply as the others.

- Thing I noticed: If you make it to 2500 hits, there appears to be a roughly 1 in 3 chance you make it to 3000. Subracting guys who were still playing this season, there are 82 people in the 2500+ hit club, and 27 in the 3000. So I mentioned 6 guys after Bonds, means one more besides Jeter will get there. Let's say Sheff. There's a chance his personality will hurt his employment opportunities, but I think he's still probably a better hitter than any of the others.

- Jeter, Gonzalez, and Pudge were the only 3 to reach 2500 hits this season. Barring retirement or lots of injuries, Frank Thomas (2468) and Jeff Kent should get there next year (2461)*. A-Rod, ManRam, and Garrett Anderson all should make it as well. Wow, does one of those guys not seem to fit with the others?

- If you make it to 2000, you've got a better than 1-in-3 chance of reaching 2500 (excluding active players 234 players vs 82), so good news for the fellows who made it this season: Vlad, Ray Durham, Edgar Renteria, Grudz, Jim Thome, and Carlos Delgado. Odds are good that Jason Kendall, Todd Helton, Bobby Abreu, Miguel Tejada, Magglio Ordonez, and Ichiro will be joining them. Jim edmonds needs 119, but he hasn't had that many hits in a season since 2005, so I'm not betting on it.

- Ichiro, on the other hand, needs 195, and I have no doubts he'll get there, provided one of his teammates doesn't beat him senseless. I really wish Ichiro could have been playing here in the US since he was 20. He could have made a run at Pete Rose. He's racked up an average of 225 hits a year since he got here. For comparison, Albert Pujols, a pretty fair hitter himself, averages 186 hits a year. That's how they've been playing the same number of years, but Ichiro is about 270 hits ahead. 'Course, Albert has twice as many extra-base hits, and considerably more walks, but still, that's a lot of freaking hits.

- Well, Griffey cost Ken that bet, but he did manage to limp across the 600 homer mark this year, and even passed Sosa by the end of the year. I really doubt he'll be catching Mays, though. Unless A-Rod gets 47 dingers, he'll have to wait for '10 to get to 600. Manny made it to 500, while Sheff came up 1 short, which is closer than I though he'd get after the way the season started for him. I would hope Sheffield can get that last one, and Carlos Delgado might get there as well (469). Chipper Jones made it to 400, and Giambi and Vlad will probably get there next year (assuming Giambi's still playing). I'm not so certain about Edmonds (382), Kent (377), and I need to see that Andruw Jones (371) has something left before I predict he even makes it to 380.

- Not many big milestones in the win category. Maddux did reach 350, and even managed to pass by Clemens before the season ended. I'm not Maddux' biggest fan, since my team was a frequent victim of umps giving Maddux that "strike" six inches off the outside corner, but credit where credit is due, man knows how to pitch.

- Randy Johnson is still 5 wins shy of 300, though he did move from a tie with Fergie Jenkins and Ross Mullane for 28th on the list, to sole possession of 25th place. Mussina got his 1st 20 win season. I'd be happier for him, but I'm still dumbfounded by that comment about how the NL needs the DH because American League pitchers aren't used to having to turn while running. Jesus, Mussina, you really sounded like a dumbass with that one. Did jump from 46th to a tie for 33rd on the alltime list.

- Jamie Moyer won 16 games, and he's up to 246. This guy is awesome. Consider that he didn't get his 50th career win until his age 31 season, and now he's at almost 250. And he's a soft-tosser, so loss of velocity with age is nothing to him, and he's a lefty, so teams are going to be interested as long as he still wants to pitch. I really want him to just keep chugging along, until he hits 300 wins at age 50, and afterwards he looks at the assembled sports media and says "H. O. F. Hall O' Fame, chumps! Write it down!" I don't see him doing that, but it'd be classic**.

- I tell you though, if Moyer and Moose don't get there, I'm not sure who will make it to 300. Or even 250 for that matter. Look at the guys with 200 wins after Moyer. Kenny Rogers (219): Hurt last year, lousy this year. Curt Schilling (216): Facing the prospect of serious arm surgery to return. Andy Pettitte (215): Got a chance, but his numbers drooped a bit this year. He might want to try scrambling back to the NL, and hooking up with a team with a bitchin' offense. Pedro (214): Been hurt a lot. John Smoltz (210) Facing prospect of major arm surgery to return - again. Was willing to go back to the bullpen, which might help Hall of Fame candidacy by bolstering save totals, but isn't going to add to the "W" column much***.

- The next guy on the active list after that is Tim Wakefield (178). I know he's a knuckleballer, and can thus pitch forever, but it'll probably take him into 2011 just to reach 200 wins. I don't see him sticking around long enough to get to 250****.

- Smoltz made it to 3000 strikeouts, and Mussina probably makes it 2010. After that? Well, Moyer's at 2248, so at the pace he goes, it should only take another 7 seasons. Pettitte and Javier Vazquez(!) got to 2000 Ks this year, so kudos to them.

- It wouldn't be a post by me without discussing some Cardinals, so quickly. Albert (and Derrek Lee for the Cub fan in the audience) each reached 1500 hits this year. Aaron Miles got his 500th (and 600th) hits this season. Mark Worrell, Mike Parisi, Brian Barden, Rico Washington Joe Mather, Nick Stavinoha, and Brian Barton all got their first major league hits.

- Albert and Troy Glaus reached 300 home runs. Chris Duncan and Ryan Ludwick each got to 50. Barton, Worrell, and Mather all hit their first career home runs.

- Mitch Boggs, Kyle McClellan, Chris Perez, and Jaime Garcia each recorded their first career wins. Perez, McClellan, Jason Motte, and Anthony Reyes each got their first major league saves. Izzy, sadly, came up short of 300 career saves. I say "sadly", because the Cardinals are interested in bringing him back, and if they do, I'm certain LaRussa would give him every opportunity he could to get there, until he was finally convinced Izzy can't hack it anymore.

- And on that angry note, I'm calling it here. So, who's everybody rooting for between the Twins and ChiSox? I'm basically pulling for whoever makes things easier for Tampa, but I'm not sure who that is. The Sox have the offense, as opposed to the Twins who seem to revolve around Mauer and Morneau, and nothing else. The Twins seem more sound defensively, and I think their rotation is less battered.

* Turns out Kent just passed Ozzie on the all-time hits list with that last one. Boo, Jeff Kent.

** Admittedly, I had this same dream about Julio Franco creeping his way up to 3000 hits, about 100 a year, getting there at age 50, just to present the voters with the question of whether they had to put him in now?

*** For the record, I'd still put Smoltz in the Hall. Probably all of the others too, except Rogers, I think. He just doesn't scream "Hall of Famer" to me. Probably because his most notable moments involve cameraman shoving, crashing and burning in the playoffs as a Yankee, and him and his sticky hand in the '06 World Series.

**** I hope by the time Wakefield retires we get a few more knuckleballers in the game. Ken hates them, but I love 'em. They make the game more interesting, because they aren't the fireballer, blowing smoke by you, and they aren't exactly the cunning junkballer, who relies on location, because they aren't sure where the ball is going themselves. That's what they rely on, and I just think that's kind of cool.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Well, Back To The Old Drawing Board

In today's blog post, the role of Marvin the Martian will be played by the Arizona Cardinals. See, Arizona just gave up 56 points to the Jets, so I'd say Whisenhunt's idea about staying on the East Coast this week, rather than flying back to Arizona after the Redskins' game, could probably be considered a bust.

- Or maybe it has nothing to do with that, and everything to do with Warner, who threw 3 picks, and lost 3 fumbles to boot. The fumbles bother me more than the interceptions, because fumbles mean Kurt's back to holding onto the ball too long, which I usually interpret to mean he's getting shell-shocked*.

- Tooling around on Football-Reference, found depressing statistic: In the time I've been an Arizona Cardinals fan, they've only had 1 QB with a winning record in games started. I'm not surprised, the Cardinals have been terrible for almost the entirety of that stretch, but still. 1 out of 16, and it's Jay Schroeder of all people, who in 1994, who went 5-3. I'm not giving him credit for that, though, not with 4 TDs and 7 INTs, anymore than I'm blaming Jake for his 30-52 record. Well, I'm blaming Jake for some of those, especially in '99 and '00. His TD/INT ratio those years was 9/24 and 13/21, fer pete's sake! There's no way he isn't at least partially at fault for being 6-19 those years!

- In other news, I was all set to do a end of the baseball season post, complete with discussion of postseason matchups, and any milestones reached this year. But the White Sox and Twins both decided they'd actually like to win today, and so we have to wait to see how Detroit at Chicago plays out tomorrow. I figure I've the aforementioned post, which I might break into one post about the postseason and one post about milestones, then a Cardinals' season retrospective.

- It's not all bad news. The NL Wild Card did shake out today, with the Brewers getting in, and the Mets crashing and burning a second year in a row. *Dances merry jig* I suppose it's poor form, enjoying the failures of the Mets, but I was raised to love the Cardinals and hate the Mets (it was the '80s, they were rivals), even if the Metropolitans are no longer the coked up bat corkers (Howard Johnson) they were back in the day. In comparison, while I have no love for the Brewers, I have no real hate for them either, which I guess means I was rooting for them by default. Probably doesn't matter. Both teams' good pitchers have got to be gassed right now.

- Still, I can't help looking at the game of hot potato the Mets and Brew Crew played with the Wild Card, then look at the Cardinals and say, "Damn, if only we hadn't gone 7-10 against the Pirates!" Sure, going 6-9 against the Cubs, and 5-10 against Milwaukee didn't help, but you could at least sort of excuse that on the grounds that they were better teams, according to their records at least**. But a losing record against freaking Pittsburgh?! Ugh.

- By the by, does anyone know the reason why MLB won't let a wild card play the winner of their division in the first round of the playoffs. Hardly seems fair that the Angels, who won their (crappy) division, and locked up the best record have to face the, minimum, 94 win Red Sox, rather than the 88-win Central winner, just because Boston and Tampa are in the same division. Then again, just about anything can happen in a short series, so maybe the Angels will wind up being happy they drew Boston.

- Also, if it's all the same to you, let's just assume that, had Houston and the Cubs made up that game tomorrow (or that it had been played when originally scheduled), the Astros would have lost, thus giving them and the Cardinals the same record, and award the Cardinals 3rd place in the Central on the grounds they won the season series, 8-7, 'kay? Fantastic.

* It's odd. Most QBs, when they take a lot of hits, start "hearing footsteps", and running for their lives, throwing the ball away, and generally giving up on plays before they need to. Warner seems to go the opposite direction, like he's hearing footsteps, but thinks it's just his nerves, and so he resists the urge to bail out. He might want to start listening to that survival instinct a little more.

** With the Cubs, there's no doubt they're better, but the way the Brewers have staggered to the finish line, I'm not so sure they are better. I'm certainly not sure right now, when Ben Sheets says he has a "broke arm", when C.C. has got to be reaching his limit (doesn't he?), when their bullpen looks about as lousy as the Mets, and their defense is just bad.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cardinals Fan + Too Much Time = This

For some reason, I got interested in trends with the Cardinals, regarding stability at various positions. So I went to Baseball-Reference and looked at who the primary player was at each position every year from 1982 on. I chose '82 basically since it was the start of the Ozzie Smith Era, and 27 seasons seemed like a decent sample size. In this study, "primary player" means the player who played the most innings at a particular position in a given season. Baseball-Reference has the breakdown on innings listed as part of their defensive stats, but it's just as easy to see who's listed at each position on the offensive statistics. Anyone without a position next to their name wasn't "the guy" at any position that year.

So, over 27 seasons, what did I find? Here's the breakdown, listed as number of different players that were the primary guy for at least 1 season. I also included in parentheses the number of players for the 14 seasons pre-LaRussa (the Herzog/Torre Years) and for the 13 years of the TLR Era: They don't always match the overall total because some players were starters in both eras:

Catcher - 10 (6/5); 1st base - 13 (9/5); 2nd base - 12 (4/9); 3rd base - 10 (4/6); SS - 6 (2/4); LF - 11 (4/7); CF - 6 (3/4); RF - 16 (9/8)


- Shortstop and centerfield are the most stable positions overall, and rightfield and 1st base are the most in flux. The Herzog/Torre years mirror this, with the least change at SS and CF, and the most at 1B and RF. In the LaRussa Era, it's also SS and CF that change the least, but 2nd is the most unstable, followed by RF.

- The most change from one year to the next is six positions, in both 1999 and 2005. In '99, the Cards had new starters at 2nd (Joe McEwing), 3rd (Fernando Tatis), SS (Edgar Renteria), LF (Ray Lankford), CF (J.D. Drew), and RF (Eric Davis). In '05, it was C (Molina), 2nd (Grudzielanek), 3rd (Abraham Nunez, 'cause Rolen got leveled by a giant Korean 1st baseman), SS (Eckstein), LF (Reggie Sanders), and RF (Larry Walker). The 1991, 1995, and 2008 teams each had five new starters.

- The least change belongs to the 2001 squad, who only had a different 3rd baseman (Placido Polanco).

- One unusual trend appears at CF. As noted above, the Cardinals have had six of them in the past 27 seasons. Three of these were (or are at the moment) the primary guy for just one season: Milt Thompson in 1989, J.D. Drew in 1999, and Rick Ankiel in 2008. The other three, each held the position for 8 seasons: Willie McGee (82-88, 90), Ray Lankford (91-98), and Jim Edmonds (00-07). It's works out almost perfectly to 8 years, then 1, 8 years, then 1. If past trends are any indication (they probably aren't) Rick Ankiel will be the primary RF next year, since that's what happened to both Thompson and Drew.

- Besides that logjam, every other position has one player with the most seasons as starter under their belt. Tom Pagnozzi at catcher (6 years; 91-96), Albert at 1st (5 and counting; 04-08), Tom Herr at 2nd (7; 81*-87), Terry Pendleton at 3rd (7; 84-90), Ozzie at SS (13; 82-94), Vince Coleman in LF (6; 85-90), and J.D. Drew in RF (4; 00-03**). What seems apparent is that it was easier in the '80s, when perhaps free agency wasn't as big, to keep players you deemed vital for long stretches. Or perhaps the LaRussa/Jocketty duo just weren't into giving long-term contracts to players as often. More money being risked, I suppose.

- Only one other Cardinal had more than two seasons as the rightfielder: Brian Jordan in 1995, 1996, and 1998 (he was injured much of 1997, thus John Mabry was the guy that year. Ugh.)

- The Cardinals used a different 2nd baseman every year from 2002-2007. Fernando Vina (capping a 3-year stretch), Bo Hart, Tony Womack, Grudz, AAAron Miles, and Adam Kennedy. Figures that the worst of the bunch would be the one to break the streak.

- Starting in 1988, with the trade of Tom Herr for Tom Brunansky, 2nd base went through another odd sequence for the next several years. In 1988 the starter was Luis Alicea, but it was deemed he couldn't hit well enough yet. Thus Jose Oquendo went from super-sub to stater from '89 to '91. In 1992, Oquendo was hurt, and this started a 3 year stretch where Alicea platooned with Geronimo Pena, Alicea being the starter in 92 and 93, Pena in 94. Over those three seasons, the total difference in innings at 2nd between the two was Alicea, by only 308. After '94, Alicea was traded to Boston, Pena was hurt or ineffective, so it was Oquendo's turn again. Sadly, he couldn't hit anymore***. In 1996, Alicea came back and was the starter again. It's a very odd 9 years.

- Milt Thompson pulled off an unusual feat. He was a starter every year from 1989 through 1991, but at a different position each year. He took over for an injured McGee in center in '89, for the traded (for Lee Smith) Tom Brunansky in right in '90, then started in left in '91, as Bernard Gilkey wasn't ready to assume the role.

- Ray Lankford is the only player to pull off multiple years at multiple positions, spending 8 years as the CF, and another 4 as the LF ('99-'01, and 2004). Edit: Make that one of two players. I forgot that Albert Pujols was starter in LF for 2 years, as well as being the first baseman for 5 years thus far.

- Speaking of left field, the Cards have used a different starter there every year since 2003, including this season. The tally: Albert Pujols, Lankford, Reggie Sanders, So Taguchi, Chris Duncan, and Skip Schumaker.

- I'd have to really go over the numbers, but it seems a safe bet the most productive 1st baseman the Cardinals had between the Jack Clark years (85-87), and the McGwire years (98-01) was Gregg Jefferies (93-94). The competition sounds good, but was msotly udnerwhelming: Bob Horner (88), Pedro Guerrero (89-91), Andres Galarraga (92****), John Mabry (95-96), and Dmitri Young (97). OK, the names get less impressive at the end, but still.

- You know what's crazy about the 2001 season? Albert Pujols was second on the team in ABs that year, behind only Vina, but he wasn't the starter at any position! He was second to McGwire at 1st (724 innings to 287), behind Polanco at 3rd (810 to 431), second to Lankford in left (663 to 309), and second to Drew in right (780 to 302). That strikes me as insane somehow, that he couldn't breakthrough as the starter anywhere - until August. That's when Lankford got swapped in a waiver wire deal for Woody Williams*****, and the position became Albert's.

- The 1995 Cardinals starting infield: John Mabry, Jose Oquendo, Scott Cooper, and Tripp Cromer at shortstop. No wonder they were so bad that year.

- The Cards have had a lot of rightfielders for only two years. George Hendrick was the guy for two years ('82 and '84, plus '79 and '80), Andy van Slyke, Tom Brunansky, Felix Jose, Mark Whiten, Juan Encarnacion. Those guys comprise 12 of the 27 seasons between them. 8 of the other seasons go to one-year wonders (that's counting Ludwick, pending next year's results).

- I sort of think this would even out if I went over the team's entire history. Certainly the Stan Musial years would help at right field. But I've kind of had the impression the Cardinals don't tend to hang onto first basemen for very long. I know their '60s teams featured two different guys, Bill White and Orlando Cepeda, each of whom they got from the Giants, and each of whom was only the guy for about 3 seasons. I don't know that I have the wherewithal to go all the way back to 1900 or so.

- Maybe you should try it for your favorite team, see if there are positions where they seem to have long steady stretches, and ones where there's a constant search for that franchise {insert position here}. You know, if you have that kind of time.

* I know I said I was only going back to 1982, but I did want to be accurate about these things, and give players their full due when it comes to their longevity. Seemed important somehow.

** That annoys me. I was not a fan of Drew and his inability to stay on the field, and him getting to be on that list with players I either like or am indifferent to is irritating. So I note that Drew only played 2,799 of the 5,777 possible RF innings during those 4 years, which is just under 2 full seasons worth of playing time. In interests of fairness, he also logged 619 innings at the other outfield spots during those seasons, bringing his total innings played up to 3,418, which is 59.1% of the total innings, compared to the 48.5% when you only consider RF.

*** Though in 1995, that was true of basically everyone on the team except the starting outfield.

**** You're surprised, right? Yeah, well, he sucked. .673 OPS that year. Freaking Luis Alicea beat him by 32 points in OPS!

***** I still can't believe how well that worked out. I give Dave Duncan a lot of crap for Anthony Reyes, but he sure seemed to pull something off with Woody Williams. Or maybe it was just the defense behind him, combined with their awesome offense.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Incessant Sports Fan Bitching Drives Me To Ponder Philosophical Questions

I had this whole thing about the Cardinals season being over, and my general irritation with the fans that won't quit bitching about the absence of moves made at the deadline, but it kept spinning into another rant against the Mark Mulder trade, so forget it. I've held on to this one for awhile, trying to decide whether to post it or not, but I might as well. It won't stop eating at me, so here goes.

Someone (a friend or loved one most likely, but possibly a stranger on the street) asks you for a favor. You can decide for yourself what the favor is, whether it involves money or a helping hand, or whatever. The favor they're asking for is not illegal, in case you're worried about that. In fact, helping them would generally be considered the "right thing to do", or a "good deed", however you care to define those. However, you don't want to do it. You have other things you'd rather be doing, or that need doing, or you just don't want the hassle this favor will entail. Ultimately though, you do help, because you know if you don't, you'll feel guilty about not helping later.

Are you still doing the right thing if you're primarily doing it to keep your conscience from nagging you?