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.


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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