Stanley Spadowski's Clubhouse
Friday, July 30, 2010 6:32 AM
With all due respect, this column made my eyes feel pain my heart has yet been able to heal.
A. Brendan Ryan has not been a very productive hitter this year. On this we can agree. However, anyone expecting him to hit near .300 as last year, has fallen prey to the fallacy of statistical randomness. He's never once hit close to .300 as a major league player, and only ONCE in the minors. He had a huge spike in BABIP last year, and if you know anything about statistics (which I don't), you knew he was due for major regression to his mean. Now did we know it would be a full 200 points of OPS regression? Probably not. Again, I'm not arguing he's been good this year. But we had no logical reason to suspect he would be a useful offensive player this year, as we've had no reason to suspect he EVER would be, based on his minor league career. Brendan Ryan can NEVER EVER EVER be the number one reason a major league team either succeeds or fails. He just can't. He's not that important. Which brings me to the real number one reason the Cardinals have "underachieved". . .
1. Skip Schumaker! I almost feel badly for killing a guy who isn't an infielder by berating him for playing the infield badly, so I will simply say: Egads! He's always been a butcher out there, but in years past, his bat would have played there because it was JUST useful enough. He always hit a hollow .300, and basically averaged a .750 OPS, and as a seventh or eighth best hitter on a team, it was cheap, useable labor. Well, he's been the second worst hitter on this team this year (I'll get there), so he has no value whatsoever. None. His only smallish value became when he moved to second. And now he has none. If LaRussa wasn't so loyal (both a good and a bad quality of his), he would not be playing. Literally any other middle infielder on this roster, and at Triple-A, would be a slight to moderate upgrade. The problem is. . . he's making 2mil this year. Hard to just piss that away. So you're stuck with him through the year.
2. Has anyone noticed that Yadier Molina's SLG% is now worse than his OB%?! Good God that is a rare and disfiguring achievement. Do you know how hard that is? This is a bat badly in need of an intervention from Survivor's Jimmy Johnson. Since I can't speak intelligently about defensive value, and the runs it saves, again, I will only go so far in criticism. But Yadi has been, by far, the worst bat on this entire team this year, and he's as responsible for our offensive woes as anyone.
Which made it even more amusing when I turned on the Mets game this week, and saw him batting fifth. FIFTH?! If this year's version of Yadier Molina is the fifth best batter on a team, I would hope to the God I don't believe exists that said team plays at a high school.
3. Colby Rasmus has been our third best hitter this year. On a bad offensive team. Why does everyone overreact to sample size?!?! Have we not evolved? I'm looking at BP's annual right now, and even if he got hurt and never swung the bat again the rest of the year, he's already surpassed his projection. He's 22, or 23, for f$#% sake. He was NEVER a high average hitter in the minors. He's going to be either the poor or homeless man's Grady Sizemore. His high end projection is actually something just south of Sizemore. So those of you who want to bury or trade Rasmus, and just plop Jon Jay in as an everyday CF, well lots of luck to you. I'll bank on entire careers, where Rasmus has always projected to be either an All-Star CF, or a notch below, and Jay has always projected to be a fourth outfielder.
I do agree with the larger point, that this team is probably just an above-average team, with not much of a higher ceiling. Which, btw, is good enough! All you have to do, thanks to the. . . um. . . work by Bud Selig is make the postseason, and hope to win the playoff lottery. Extra playoff rounds equals extra randomness and determinations not being meaningful. Best team rarely wins. Thank you Bud Selig, for making 162 games even more meaningless than they used to be!
Wow, I'm brutallly late for work. Priorities obviously in order.