Comparing the 2012 Cards vs. the 2003, 2008 and 2011 teams

If the Cards didn’t go on a late season run, the 2011 season would have been another lost opportunity that was lost due to a terrible bullpen just like in 2003 and 2008.  The Cardinals made all the right moves by letting go of Ryan Franklin, Miguel Batista and throwing in Brian Tallet in the Colby Rasmus trade. They had young arms in Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez and made a trade to further help their biggest weakness, which was the bullpen, and made it a strength.  Looking at the overall stats from 2011 doesn’t tell the whole story.  The bullpen ended up finishing in about the middle of the pack in every pitching category except blown saves, where they still had the second most in the league at the end of the year.  Those stats are deceiving if you take into account all the players who weren’t there in the end and were responsible for most of the damage.

2011 doesn’t happen without the moves made by John Mozeliak, and I don’t think 2012 is going to go anywhere unless he acts again.  As you all know, I’m not a big fan of trading away important pieces of a deep farm system, but the 2012 Cards are only a few pieces, specifically bullpen arms, away from being among the best teams in baseball.

The 2011 offense led every major category.  They were 1st in BA at .273, 1st in OBP at .341, first in OPS at .766 and first in runs with 762.  Unless the Cards make a trade or two for some help in the bullpen, 2012 is going to end up looking like 2003 and 2008 instead of 2011, and all 4 of these teams were or are among the league leaders on offense.

The offense is once again leading the league or second in every major category, but the bullpen as we all know is once again in shambles.  Here are the team stats for starting pitchers, relief pitchers and team offensive ranks from 2003, 2008, 2011 and 2012 and where they ranked or currently rank in the NL in parenthesis.  Keep in mind that blown saves doesn’t factor in just the closer, it factors in any relief pitcher that enters a game in a situation which permits him to earn a save, even if it isn’t the 9th inning.

YearSP
ERA
SP
WHIP
Bullpen
ERA
Bullpen
WHIP
Blown
Saves
20034.53
(10th)
1.34
(8th)
4.59
(16th)
1.53
(16th)
30
(most)
20084.20
(6th)
1.34
(5th)
4.20
(11th)
1.48
(15th)
31
(most)
20113.81
(8th)
1.32
(9th)
3.73
(11th)
1.27
(6th)
26
(2nd most)

20123.65
(5th)
1.27
(6th)
4.46
(10th)
1.38
(8th)
13
(2nd most)
YearBAOBPOPSRuns
2003.279
(2nd)
.350
(1st)
.804
(2nd)
876
(2nd)
2008.281
(1st)
.350
(2nd)
.783
(2nd)
779
(4th)
2011.273
(1st)
.341
(1st)
.766
(1st)
762
(1st)
2012.276
(1st)
.341
(1st)
.780
(2nd)
382
(1st)

I don’t think any of us thought that Salas, Sanchez or Scrabble were going to be as bad as they’ve been.  Sam Freeman is not anywhere close to ready, and the only truly solid arm in the bullpen right now is Mitchell Boggs.  There’s a reason the Royals gave us Victor Marte for $1 (that’s not a typo, the Royals gave Marte to us for one dollar). Jason Motte might get there eventually when he decides he’s going to throw his cutter on a consistent basis to complement his fastball, but he says he’s not changing his game plan for now.

Motte is 8 for 8 in save opportunities with a 3-run lead, 4 for 4 in 2 run games, and 4 for 8 in 1 run games.  Motte has also lost given up the go ahead run 3 times when he’s entered with the game tied.  If the Cards want to continue to lose close games, I guess they’ll let him try and blow it by every hitter his way.  I don’t know the number of one run games Motte has to blow for Mike Matheny to say something.

The 2012 offense is once again on top of the leaderboards in most categories.  If there’s going to be magic like 2011, changes will need to be made, or the Cards and their fans are going to look back at a year that could have been like 2003 and 2008.

 

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