Housecleaning time

housecleaningNow that I’ve had time to mourn the end of Cardinals baseball for 2015, it’s time to look ahead to 2016 and think about how to make the team better.  Yes, I know, the Cards won 100 games in 2015, but the team didn’t make it past the NLDS due to the collapse of hitting and pitching.  So here are my suggestions for housecleaning chores:

1. Resign Jason Heyward. Preferably as soon as possible – the longer Cards’ management waits, the more his asking price will go up, especially if he receives big offers from other interested teams.  I made my arguments for resigning Heyward back in August in this blog post.  The Cards have the money to sign Heyward to a big contract, so let’s get it done.

2. Fire John Mabry. Maybe listening to my hubby complain about him is rubbing off on me, but I believe it’s time for Mabry to go.  I know Mo said that all the coaches were going to be given contracts for 2016, but if Mabry hasn’t signed that contract yet, it would be easy to turn him loose.  Derrick Goold wrote a very good article about the declining offense in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which you can read here.  For what it’s worth, Jim Edmonds or Lance Berkman are my suggestions for a replacement batting coach.

3. First base. Stephen Piscotty either needs to be the Cards’ first baseman on a permanent basis or Cards management needs to trade for or acquire a first baseman.  Matt Adams was in a decline even before his injury. The Cards need more production from this spot in the lineup.

4. Time for Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos to go. Jay didn’t play most of the year due to a wrist injury. When he did come back, his defense was rusty.  Bourjos can be a speedy baserunner, but he isn’t always a smart baserunner.  Bourjos never seemed to recover from his hip injury. Tommy Pham would be a good replacement in center field. He and Randal Grichuk could be platooned, or Piscotty could play CF and Mark Reynolds or Brandon Moss could play first for a change of pace.

5. Rest for the starting lineup.. We saw this earlier in the season, when Matt Carpenter was hot at the plate, but then couldn’t play for a while because he was exhausted.  If players get proper rest, i.e., a game off once a week or so, they won’t be as prone to injury or exhaustion. The day off could be rotated – the first baseman one day, the second baseman the next day, etc.  Now if a player is on a hot hitting streak, the player may not want a day off.  That would be a decision between the player and the manager.  A day off for each player on the starting lineup also keeps the bench players fresh and gives them some playing time.

6. A professional grade back-up catcher. Tony Cruz filled in admirably while Yadi was out with his thumb injury, but it’s just not the same without Yadi. Some of the pitchers are not fond of Cruz.  I guess Yadi spoiled them for anyone else.  But Yadi is getting older, and the Cards need to find a great backup catcher to fill in for Yadi and eventually take over for him when he retires.  Travis Tartamella may be the one to fill the bill, but he only played one game during the regular season and that’s not enough to judge whether he’s the one.  If Travis isn’t the chosen one, the Cards may need to pick up a backup catcher from another team.

7. Matheny needs to learn how to manage the team in the postseason. Never was this more evident than this year. The Cards played 4 games and only won one. Perhaps Mike needs to sit down for a heart-to-heart with Whitey Herzog to learn how to manage in the postseason. I’m sure Whitey would be happy to assist.

Now that it’s the offseason, I probably won’t be posting as much. Unless, of course, something exciting happens. You can always find me on Twitter and you can find my Twitter feed on the column to the right.  Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!

Diane

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UCB Postseason Roundtable Question of the Day – 11/20/12

As you may know, this blog is a member of the United Cardinals Bloggers network, and a couple of times a year, the UCB has a roundtable where each day, a member blog asks a question to the other bloggers in the network and gets answers and/or opinions. November 20 was the day I was assigned to ask my question.  So here it was:

The problem with being one of the last folks in the roundtable discussion is so many good questions have already been asked! Don’t worry, however, I do have a question. 🙂

The ladies at Aaron Miles’ Fastball asked earlier in the rotation which Cardinals player surprised you the most in the 2012 season. I’m going to take the opposite position – which player disappointed you the most in the 2012 season? My answer would be David Freese. I expected him to be as clutch as he was in the 2011 World Series in 2012 and it didn’t happen.

Your thoughts, everyone? Looking forward to your responses!

Daniel Solzman (Redbird Rants)-

Lance Berkman.

Wes Keene (Keene on MLB)-

Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, Kyle Lohse, and Jason Motte. Why can’t those guys be troubled to contribute once in a while? Seriously, though, I’d have to say David Freese, as well. I saw Daniel said Berkman. I would echo that except that Lance was already older, it isn’t nearly as surprising to me. Freese, on the other hand, was such a firecracker in 2011. It didn’t carry over to 2012 for the most part, and that’s a real mystery to me.

Bill Ivie (I70 Baseball) –

Now this is a tough room…

The guy with the most votes to this point put up career highs in: Games Played, At Bats, Runs, Hits, Doubles, Home Runs, Runs Batted In, Walks, On Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage and OPS.  He was a guy that everyone was worried about staying healthy and did so all season long.  Oh, and he’s 29 years old.  If that’s disappointing, I hope we can clone him into a shortstop and second baseman as well.

Geez….guy grabs some post-season magic in 2011 and is now a disappointment in 2012 because he didn’t replicate his miracle heroics?

I’m going with Scrabble on this one.  He was the cog to the Rasmus deal, a player with some team control left, a lefty in the pen that was also hard on right handers and a guy that may end up as a starter in his career.  By mid-season the Cards were looking for a LOOGY they could have some faith in.

That’s disappointing to me.

Thanks.

Daniel Shoptaw (C70 at the Bat)-

Hopefully everyone has given this a lot of thought, since it is on your Cardinal Blogger Award ballot!  🙂

I think Berkman would be my choice as well.  Not that I expected 2011 all over again, but I did think he could contribute.  I figured nagging injuries, not catastrophic ones.  So while, like Lando says in Empire, “It’s not my fault!”, I’d give it to Berkman.

Though Scrabble rates right up there.  A guy that was sold to us as starter material had trouble enough being a LOOGY.

I’m writing this as Bill’s answer comes in, so I’ll second a lot of what he said, especially the Freese part.  20 HR along with regular production and health? For me, he’d be way down on the disappointing list.

Dathan Brooks (Cards Tied for First) –

*deep sigh*

It happens at least once every time we do a roundtable, and today is it again…I agree with Bill. Talk about a guy whose 2012 wasn’t as good as his 2011, 34 is the left-handed poster-child.  Mo said yesterday or the day before that a bat off the bench and LHP in the pen are two things they NEED to come up with before next year. Pretty big disappointment for ’12, I’d say.

Tara Wellman (Aaron Miles’ Fastball) –

The trouble with a magical run like the 2011 postseason became is that it sets unrealistic expectations for the season that follows.

Of course I would have loved for David Freese to be THE guy, every single at bat, every single “clutch” moment, all season long. But in my mind, I never actually expected that. I think what we saw from Freese is exactly what we thought he could do … only, perhaps, a little more streaky than we would have liked. The guy contributed on a regular basis for an entire season — the first time he’s ever played that many games (or even come close). Yeah, he had his slumps. And they could look pretty ugly. But overall, I can’t say I expected more. Hoped for, maybe, but not expected.

I have a hard time calling out Berkman as a disappointment. I guess his lack of playing time was a disappointment, but like Daniel mentioned, that wasn’t really his fault.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but I have to go with Scrabble, too. I winced every time he threw a pitch, it seemed, because he simply lost all confidence. Not good a good thing to lose when you’re supposed to be the lefty solution to all problems.

Um … am I allowed to throw Tyler Greene in for this award? (Someone had to do it, right? Figured I’d get that in, just for you, Matt!)

Tom Knuppel (Cardinals GM)-

Furcal- he had a hot start but cooled quickly and never got it going again.

Mark Tomasik (Retrosimba) –

Diane:

Jaime Garcia. I expected a breakout year from him, an 18-win season. Injury aside, he remained inconsistent and fragile. The potential is there, but something seems to be stopping him from fully utilizing that talent.

Matt Whitener (Cheap.Seats.Please) –

First off all, thank you Tara. Your ability to work in a few more Tyler Greene jabs brings me real joy, even in November.

As for biggest disappointment? It’s tough, because this club somehow simultaneously managed to be so much more and so much less than it was supposed to be so often. It’s tough to pull just one guy out. Freese fought an uphill battle every second of the season, due to the mountain top it ended on. In the end, he was a first time All-Star and a .290 hitter. I’ll take that every season.

It’s always hard for me to be disappointed in injuries, so Berkman and Garcia are off the hook with me too. Furcal ended up being what he was supposed to be, average hitter & a better glove.

Can’t find gripe with Yadi, Beltran, Motte or Waino obviously, so who’s left?

I’m going to go in a bit of a different direction and say Matt Holliday. This is relative disappointment, because obviously the club doesn’t get where it does without him, just like every season. But also, just like every season here thus far, it’s also had to get out of his way by the end of it because he’s caved in the playoffs.

This is the best hitter on the team, the one paid like a franchise hitter. He’s got to be there when nobody else is. But instead, for the second year in a row, he gave it all up during the first 162, and then mailed it in later. And unfortunately, there were no once in a lifetime heroics from Freese, nor another threat like Albert Pujols or Berkman to bail his absence out.

It’s a tough load to not be able to count on the guy that you’ve learned to count on in the moments of the season where that developed chemistry is needed most.

Tara Wellman –

I aim to please, Matt. My work here is done. 🙂

Nick (Pitchers Hit Eighth) –

I was hoping for Daniel Descalso to build on his 2011 and really stake a claim to the second base position, yet here we are in another off-season where the club is searching for middle infield help.

I’d say Tyler Greene but when you have no expectations, it’s hard to be disappointed.

As Bill pointed out pretty concisely, it certainly wasn’t David Freese.

Chris Coleman (Aaron Miles’ Fastball)

Sorry for the late response!

My choice is Lance Berkman. Granted, injuries are out of any player’s control, but his 2012 was still so disappointing after the good health and success he had in 2011.

Marc Rzepczynski definitely gets second place, for all the reasons everyone else has already said so I don’t need to repeat them!

Dennis Lawson (Pitchers Hit Eighth)-

I have to admit that the most disappointing part of the season was Tyler Greene showing up.  Then again, that’s about the most disappointing thing about the past few seasons.

Matt Philip (Fungoes.net)-

It’s hard to call David Freese’s .372 OBP and .467 SLG over 144 games — all career highs, as others have noted — anything but excellent!

I was disappointed that Big Puma didn’t play more, but after he kept his body intact for 145 games in 2011, I wasn’t surprised that he was disabled for so long (I was more disappointed for my fantasy-league team!).  As for Rzepczynski, he was certainly frustrating, but given that ZiPS projected him to have a 3.62 ERA and he finished with an xFIP of 3.65, I’m not too disappointed there.

Despite playing more games than expected, Rafael Furcal disappointed me the most. That was partly due to his less-than-projected offense — .he hit 325 OBP/.346 SLG, while ZiPS forecasted him at .331/.389 — but more to his worsening play defensively.

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Thanks to everyone for their contributions!  To see links to all the questions/answers blog posts from the previous days, click on the link here:  United Cardinals Bloggers.  Thanks for reading and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Diane