Pete Kozma played above and beyond at the end of 2012 compared to what he did in the minors. Although he was a 1st round draft pick in 2007, he hasn’t ever really put it together over a long period. Cards fans seem to be overreacting, and not just a little, about Kozma opening the season as the everyday shortstop. One thought that many of the fans never seem to have is that Kozma is quite possibly a late bloomer. Even if he’s not, I’m not sure I understand the overreaction to everyone from Bernie Miklasz to your average fan.
Kozma is going to hit 8th in one of the best lineups in all of MLB. That lineup will be even more potent if Matt Carpenter makes the transition to 2B, and according to Jose Oquendo and Mike Matheny, it looks like he will. Over the last few months, rumors have surfaced about the Cards possibly trading away pitching prospects for Asdrubal Cabrera and Troy Tulowitzki. John Mozeliak has done the right thing in saying no thanks, but many Cards fans don’t want to hear this.
So, going back to 2001, let’s take a look at the stats of shortstops (AVG, OBP, SLG) on teams that won the World Series, as well as the key SP’s from those teams.
2001—Arizona Diamondbacks—Tony Womack .266/.307/.345
Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling
2002—Anaheim Angels—David Eckstein .293/.363/.388
John Lackey, Ramon Ortiz, Jarrod Washburn
2003—Florida Marlins—Alex Gonzalez .256/.313/.443
Josh Beckett, Brad Penny, Carl Pavano, Dontrelle Willis
2004—Boston Red Sox—Orlando Cabrera .294/.320/.465
Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez
2005—Chicago White Sox—Juan Uribe .252/.301/.412
Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland
2006—St. Louis Cardinals—David Eckstein .292/.350/.344
Chris Carpenter, Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver
2007—Boston Red Sox—Julio Lugo .237/.294/.349
Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Jon Lester
2008—Philadelphia Phillies—Jimmy Rollins .277/.349/.437
Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer, Brett Myers
2009—New York Yankees—Derek Jeter .334/.406/.465
CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett
2010—San Francisco Giants—Juan Uribe .248/.310/.440 (Edgar Renteria .276/.332/.374)
Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner
2011—St. Louis Cardinals—Ryan Theriot .271/.321/.342 (Rafael Furcal .255/.316/.418)
Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia, Edwin Jackson
2012—San Francisco Giants—Brandon Crawford .248/.304/.349
Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong
So, since 2001, most teams have had less than stellar play for the SS position, but managed to win it all with this formula in every year except 2008 and 2009 (Derek Jeter and Jimmy Rollins). Still, it was the pitching that got them there and put them over the top. There’s only one guaranteed HOF’er in that group in Jeter, and another one possibly in Rollins. On the other hand, the number of SP’s headed to the HOF from that group are Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. You can also put Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Cole Hamels in the possibility of reaching that status someday with it still being too early to say for certain. In the Hall of Very Good from these WS winners you have Chris Carpenter, Mark Buehrle, Josh Beckett and Jamie Moyer. All the other pitchers on the list were dominant or close to it at one point, even if just for a few years, or just during their time in the playoffs like Jeff Suppan and Brad Penny. The only team that didn’t have a true ace was the 2002 Angels.
The point here, like always, is that pitching is going to be the determining factor in how far the Cards advance every year, just like every other team. Trading key pieces of the future like Michael Wacha, Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez isn’t something I think Mo will be doing any time in the near future. Like it or not, the Cardinals have a team built around heavy hitters at the corner spots and the best catcher in the game. As long as Kozma is good with the glove, the Cards can live with his offense.