That “phony” offense keeps on rolling

The Cardinals are taking care of business, led by an offense that continues to rake, along with some strong SP and finally, a winning combination in the BP.  Edward Mujica to Mitchell Boggs to Jason Motte to close out close games is something the Cards should be able to count on the rest of the year.  Motte is still a little suspect in tight games, but his blown saves are magnified by the Cards inability to hold onto leads throughout the year in the middle innings.   Scrabble still makes all our hearts skip a beat, but hopefully he’s not used in high leverage situations from here on out.

Yes, I’m still a little upset by the comments made by Bernie Miklasz regarding the Cards offense as being “phony”.  What disturbs me the most about it is that he left out the real cause of why the Cards are in a dogfight for a wildcard, which was the BP.  As I said before, only 4 teams in MLB have scored 3 runs or less more times than the Cards.  What I didn’t mention last time was that the Cards are at the bottom of the NL in a stat I that I think gets underused, which is team blown save %.  It’s rarely brought up, but tells the story of almost every year when the sample size is big enough.  So much talk about saves is put solely on the closers of most teams, but doesn’t tell the whole story.  So, let’s put it into play.

If the playoffs ended today, the NL teams that would make the playoffs from 1-5 in order would be:

1)      Washington

2)      Cincinnati

3)      San Francisco

4)      Atlanta

5)      St. Louis

The next two teams would be Pittsburgh and the LA Dodgers.

So, taking that into account, let’s look at team blown save %.  These are the top teams in the NL based on this stat and their BS%:

1)      Pittsburgh—18%

2)      Atlanta—22%

3)      San Francisco—23%

4)      Washington—23%

5)      Cincinnati—27%

The Dodgers are 9th at 33% and the Cards are 11th at 35%.  A pattern is developing here as you compare the best teams vs. team blown save %.

As always, pitching tells the story.  The reason the Cardinals have been able to absorb these team blown saves in the middle innings and hang in there the whole year is very simple, they have an AL style offense leading the way in the NL.  If the Cards would have had a steady BP for most of the year, they’re easily 10 games better than they are.   I’m not sure how else to put it, but Mr. Miklasz didn’t do a very good job researching stats or going by what the eye test tells him.  Other teams that have scored far fewer runs have a better record than the Cards, and it’s because they’ve had a steady BP to win the games they had in hand.

Moving on, it was hard to not to be impressed with Jaime Garcia’s first outing off the DL against Houston.  But then again, it was one against a team that will go down as one of the worst teams of all time.  The Cards and Garcia did their job, they swept the Astros, but I think the start against the Reds tells the bigger picture with Garcia, which hasn’t changed.  When Jaime gets into a jam or faces the least little bit of adversity, he has trouble pitching through it.  Many want to label Garcia as a mental midget, but let’s not go there yet.  A few more years under the guidance of Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter will do wonders for him, if he stays healthy.  I had to throw in the health question because of the significance of his shoulder injury, which was originally diagnosed as a torn labrum.  Now, the Cardinals medical staff is saying he is coming back from a shoulder impingement.  All I can say to that is that it doesn’t surprise me.  If it was just an impingement, I wouldn’t have said that resting it was a waste of time and that we might have been looking at another Mark Mulder scenario.

Whether it was intentional or not, I’m sure Dusty Baker had no problem with one of his pitchers hitting David Freese.  The retaliation by Wainwright today was nice to see.  I loved Tony Larussa’s stance on this issue, and I’m glad Mike Matheny has adopted the same no nonsense approach.  If you can’t pitch inside with control, don’t do it, and if you do, expect something back in return.  The only thing that surprises me at all about the situation is that Baker let it go after that.

I think both Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina are in the race for the NL MVP at this point.  It’s still Andrew McCutchen’s to lose, but Holliday and Molina are making a case.  Matt Carpenter is proving to be an invaluable piece to the 2012 Cardinals, and would probably be a starter on many teams.  We’re lucky to have him as insurance at the 4 corner spots.  Wainwright continues to look like the AW of old, and if the Cards do end up with a 1 game wildcard playoff game, can anyone say they would want anyone other than AW if Carpenter isn’t available?  I think it would be wise of the Cards to lock AW up long term when the season ends.

If the Cards can find a way to go 4-3 over the next 7 road games against Pittsburgh and Washington, I think they’ll stay in the driver’s seat.  The offense will be tested against some outstanding opposing SP, and I think they’ll keep on being “phony”, which if you missed it, is a good thing.

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