Hey all you Cardinal fans out there, I hope you’re enjoying this “surprise” season. I was one of the people hopeful about this season and seeing what the young guns could do but even I’m impressed by how we’ll the team is playing. St. Louis leads the league in innings missed due to injury and yet, the Cards one of the top 5 teams in the entire league!
Anyway, as I said, I hope you enjoy it but if you find yourself in need of a St. Louis Cardinal hat, or maybe a Cardinals jersey, I’ve found the perfect place for you… http://stlouis-cardinals-apparel.yoursportsfix.com!
Well, the 2007 Hall of Fame Ballot has officially been anounced. WIth the announcement comes the storm we’ve all seen coming for quite some time. At the center is one short, yet not so simple question… Whether or not Mark McGwire should enter the hallowed baseball Hall of Fame. The question has sparked quite the debate and nearly everyone is weighing in. It would appear that my post, laying out the case for McGwire’s induction, was a bit ahead of its time so I’m going to repost my original argument here.
Mark McGwire belongs in the Hall of Fame. Yeah, yeah, I realize I’m a St.
Louis fan and therefore have a skewed perspective on this whole issues
(which I’m sure we’ll all be fed up with come early January) but at
least hear me out. Right now the only reason McGwire isn’t an automatic
first ballot inductee is the suspicion of steroid use, and his well
publicized refusal to "talk about the past". Now, don’t get me wrong,
these are very valid reasons. No one was more angry with McGwire’s
performance in front of Congress than I was. No one hates the idea that
the game we all know and love, has been tainted by performance
enhancing drug use. We can no longer just enjoy the game. There is a
hint of doubt every time we see a home run hit. That’s just the way it
But, can we keep Big Mac out of the hall for that? Are we going to
make him the sacrificial star and act like as long as we keep him out
of the Hall of Fame, that all our records are clean and clear and the
game doesn’t still have a problem? In 1998 baseball returned to the
national forefront. MLB officials (including commissioner Bud Selig) at
the very LEAST looked the other way, as steroid bloated sluggers
hammered a record number of balls out of the park. Managers pretended
not to notice, and other players kept quiet or started taking ‘roids
themselves. Everyone in baseball shares the blame for allowing steroids
to corrupt the game.
So, this brings us back to McGwire. Did he use steroids? More than
likely yes. We still don’t have much hard evidence but I think its
reasonably safe to assume so. But, keeping McGwire out of the hall
without rock solid evidence (like a failed drug test) would set a
precedence that I don’t think most voters are willing to stick to. By
that standard you would have to keep not only McGwire out, but Sosa and
Bonds out as well. We have just as much, if not more evidence of Barry
Bonds’ steroid use than we do of Mac’s. Keep in mind, Big Mac never
failed a drug test like Raffy did after angrily point a finger into the
camera and proclaiming his innocence. Even fan favorites, such as
Roger Clemens, have been implicated in different steroid
investigations. Just because the fans chose not to accept those
accusations doesn’t make them any less credible than those leveled at
McGwire. So, are you prepared to have a Hall of Fame without the likes
of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, just so you can punish Mark McGwire
for not talking about the past? Me neither. Vote him in.
So, what do you think? Does he belong or not?
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Well the baseball writers never fail to let me down. These idiots looked at two stats, and two stats alone. HR’s and RBI. Those are the only two statistical categories that Howard led Pujols in. That’s all. I’ve already spelled out the case for Pujols, and just for grins, I’ll hit the highlights.
First and foremost, Howard’s team didn’t make the playoffs. Pujols batted 18 points higher than Howard, and with runners in scoring position, it wasn’t even close. As ESPN’s Rob Neyer put it, "the empirical evidence pointed towards Pujols". I can find you stat after stat that proves Pujols was more valuable to the Cardinals than Howard was to the Phillies, but as usual, (when Bonds was beating out Pujols for MVP year after year) the writers couldn’t see past home runs and runs batted in. Writers seem to have forgotten the only reason Howard drove in more runs was because he had nearly 40 more chances. As I said before, with runners in scoring position and two outs Pujols’ average was nearly 200 points higher than Howard.
Howard’s Situational Stats (from ESPN.com)
Pujols’ Situational Stats (from ESPN.com)
It’s not like these stats were hard to find. A simple ESPN comparison’s of the two players stats makes it abundantly clear which player was more valuable. The problem is, the 20 writers who voted for Howard obviously didn’t even bother to do that much research. Howard had an amazing season. However, the MVP award is not supposed to simply crown the player that hit the most home runs during the year. The 20 writers who placed Howard first on their ballot should lose their vote as they obviously didn’t do ANY research before voting. I may be a biased Cardinal fan, but I’ve got the numbers to back me up. I’d challenge any Phillie fan to prove me wrong.
The NL Cy Young will be awarded this afternoon. Of course I’m a bit biased but I think Carp will win his second Cy this year. While Brandon Webb of the Diamondbacks won one more game than Carpenter, Carpenter had a .01 ERA advantage and has the benefit of being the reigning Cy Young award winner. I’ve often said these awards are half about reputation any way and Carpenter wins in that department. And, despite my *slight* home town bias, I think you could make a fair case for either pitcher, so as long as one of those two win it, I’ll be happy.
That brings us to the NL MVP. Once again the Cardinals have the reigning champ in this award category. Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard are the top two choices for Most Valuable Player this year. Howard has the guady numbers on his site. He had 9 more home runs and 12 more RBI’s than Pujols. However, Pujols has an 18 point advantage in batting average, and if you look at the batting average with runners in scoring position, it’s not even close.
Howard batted .287 with runners on and only .256 with runners in scoring position. By contrast, Pujols batted .343 with runners on and an AMAZING .397 with runners in scoring position. That’s 141 points higher than Howard. To draw out the comparison even further, lets look at how each performed with runners in scoring position and two outs (the ultimate clutch situation). Ryan Howard’s average continues to drop and comes in at .247. Pujols on the other hand, actually improves his average to a simply unheard of .435! The Red Sox’s David Ortiz is widely regarded as perhaps the most "clutch" batter in the game. His average with runners in scoring position and two outs? .288. Pujols’ average in that situation is simply amazing.
When you throw in the fact that Howard had only 9 more RBIs but 38 more chances than Pujols with runners in scoring position, and the debate is over. We’re not even considering the fact that Howard’s team didn’t make the playoffs, the Cardinals’ record without Pujols, or the fact that Pujols played Gold Glove defense. If the writers look at anything besides HR and RBI totals (read as, if the writers do any sort of due dilligence) this vote should be a runnaway. Howard certainly had a fantastic offensive year, but there is simply no way he should keep Pujols from repeating as NL MVP.
I read this article and about fell over.
"St. Louis. The World Series champions need a full-time left fielder andhave inquired about Bonds. St. Louis is full of forgiving baseball fans
— Mark McGwire draws ovations when he returns to town — and Bonds would
likely find receptive crowds."
WHAT!?!? Are you kidding me? First of all, there are plent of Cardinal fans who HATE Big Mac. Second of all, I have never heard anyone get booed as loudly as Bonds when the Giants played St. Louis. No one. John Rocker’s reception seemed warm compared to the way St. Louis fans treated Bonds. And Bonds would "likely find receptive crowds"? Serisouly? Has this guy even BEEN to a Cardinals game? Ever? We MIGHT need an outfielder (personally I’m convinced Duncan would be a fine option in left after another spring of fielding practice) however, we certainly do NOT need a clubhouse cancer and yet ANOTHER suspected steroid user.
Also, just for the record, my favorite team on earth just won their first championship in over twenty years, and I’m saying right now if the Cardinals sign Barry Bonds, I’m not sure I’ll be able to root for the them next year…
Alright Cardinal fans, I promised you a hot stove article and here it is!
If I were Walt Jockety this offseason I would (of course I mean besides walking around saying "Hi, I’m a genius" all the time):
- Sign Barry Zito. I realize that just about every other team in the league wants to sign Zito as well, however, the Cardinals have a new stadium, just won the World Series, and have about a million free agents this winter so we have the money to spend. Unless a proven bat (someone like Manny or Miggy Cabrera becomes available via trade, I want to see nearly every free agent dollar sunk into pitching. We can lure Zito with our regular "We have the best fans in the game" routine (which is true by the way), we have enough money to make a respectable offer, and we’ll have the added bonus of move #2….
- Re-sign Mark Mulder. Sure other teams are interested. I read today on The Rumor Mill that the Diamondbacks, Orioles and even Mets are interested in Mulder. However, if you were a pitcher, what coach would you rather have working with you, than Dave Duncan? Only the Orioles in Leo Mazzone can compete in that aspect. Also, we could give Mulder an incentive laden deal so that if he performs well, he gets paid appropriately rather than trying to low-ball him. And lastly, if we could reunite Mulder with Zito in a rotation that features Carpenter, Zito, Mulder, Reyes and a pitcher to be named later, don’t you think that would be an opportunity Mulder would jump at? I do.
- Keep Jim Edmonds. Not long ago I was saying that Jimmy needed to retire. He looked old, hurt, and like he wasn’t have much fun. Then came October and Edmonds looked revitalized and energetic. He led the team in RBI’s in the post season and was an invaluable leader in the clubhouse. Buying out Edmonds contract would leave the Cardinals having to replace him using less than 7 million a year. I just don’t see anyone out there (unless you’re going to trade with Atlanta for Andrew Jones) that I would rather see roaming the outfield for us.
- Re-sign Jeff Weaver. Again, this is a lot of free agent money going into our rotation. But, with Wainwright in the bullpen, and the rest of the young pitchers we saw grow into their roles this post-season, I think we can afford to spend heavily on our rotation, and skimp on the ‘pen. So we need a 4th or 5th starter for a decent price. Why not go with a pitcher who saved his career under the tutelage of Dave Duncan and has already expressed an interest in returning to the club? I think Weaver is probably the only free-agent pitcher we have that will give us the so called "home town discount". We should take advantage of that.
- Re-sign role players. Aaron Miles and Scott Spezio played integral roles on the Cardinals this season. With all my money going into pitching there isn’t going to be enough left to re-sign Ronnie Belliard who already has several suitors. The double play combination of Eckstein and Miles will only get better by spending another year together. Spezio will serve as a cheap insurance policy on the recently injury plagued Scott Rollen and can also back up Albter Pujols. Plus, we all saw what Spezio can do with the bat in the post-season.
My 5 moves are not going to be inexpensive by any means, but if the Cardinals want to become the first repeat champions since the New York Yankees, it’s not going to come cheap. Cardinal Nation… what do you think?
Brad Ausmus won the NL Gold Glove at cather? Are you serious? How do you not give the award to Yadier Molina?
Here’s a quick comparisson… Ausmus gave up 60 stolen bases and only caught 22% of attempted steals. 37 bases were stolen with Molina behind the plate and he cought nearly 44% of potential base stealers.
Molina did have two more errors, and 6 more pass balls but he also had 17 more assists than Ausmus and its simply asinine to ignore the 12 extra runners Yadier picked off, not to mention many more who simply didn’t dare to run on him (Ausmus had 77 runners attempt to steal on him compared to Molina’s 66).
This is a travesty. Between this, and Buck ONeal not making the Hall of Fame this year, the baseball’s voters have lost their fool minds.
Congrats to Albert Pujols who won his first (of hopefully many) gold glove awards. I don’t mean to diminish Pujols’ accomplishments but I can’t believe they robbed Yadi like this.
Ok, I know I promised you a hot stove article today and I’ll still deliver on that. However, in the mean time, all you Cardinal fans will enjoy this cartoon (used by permission) found over at toonrefugee.com.
If you enjoy this one be sure to jump over and check out the rest of his sports cartoons too. There are some great ones. Enjoy!
On stltoday.com Derrick Goold has a fantastic article about "What is a World Series worth?"
If you haven’t read it yet, make sure you do. Eck, talks about having to prove that a team could win with him at short stop. That’s something that’s always baffled me. I understand he’s a bit undersized and not your prototypical body type for short, but wouldn’t you take 9 players who had so much passion and fire for the game? I’d love to see a team made up of "gritty" players who run down to first on walks and slap singles to the opposite field or turn on the occasional pitch, driving it out of the park. To me, Eckstein is the perfect World Series MVP for the Cardinals. This team did nothing pretty. They ground out the regular season. They played hurt and were told that they didn’t even belong in the post season. Yet, in the end, they proved everyone wrong. Just as Eckstein has proven every doubter he’s ever had wrong… yet again.
Oh, P.S. – I’ll finally start blogging about the off-season tomorrow. I just wanted to wallow in the World Series win for at least a week. I STILL can’t believe they did it!
Alright, my mom actually sent me this picture so I have no idea who took it or where it was found. I usually like to cite my sources but this picture is too good to pass up. To me it lets you into the clubhouse a little bit and see what it was probably like for them to win it all this year.
Also, there were a flurry of articles today in the Post Dispatch about the offseason. Apparently Tony LaRusa and Walt Jocket had two days worth of meetings to draw up a game plan so I’ll sit down and write out what I would like to see happen before too long. I promise, it won’t take me two days, but then again I’m not doing this for real. Until then, enjoy the picture.