THE BERNIE BITS
We’ve been frustrated with the Cardinals and their ownership-management model at times. In an impatient culture we yearn for showy and brassy excitement, and the Cardinals tend to be more methodical.
But every now and then it’s a good idea to slow down and take measure of the last 25 seasons of baseball in St. Louis. The trade for Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado was positive for the team. And it should be a valuable reminder of something we forget about too often: this has been a special franchise.
The next time you hear a ninny questioning chairman Bill DeWitt Jr.’s commitment to winning, keep these facts handy:
DeWitt has been in charge of the Cardinals for 25 seasons, 1996 through 2000.
During that time the Cardinals:
— Are tied for 4th overall with a .548 winning percentage in the regular season. And tied for second in the NL in win percentage.
— Have the most postseason wins, 75, in the NL.
— Rank second to the Yankees overall in postseason wins; the Yanks have 115.
— Have played in the most postseason games (147) of any NL team. Only the Yankees have competed in more postseason games overall (196.)
— Have the most NLCS postseason wins, 27.
— They rank fourth in World Series games won, and are third in most World Series games played.
Since 2000, a span of 21 seasons, the Cardinals have:
— The NL’s best regular-season winning percentage (.559) and the No. 2 MLB win percentage. (Yankees are .582.)
— The most postseason victories by an NL team, 69. Only the Yankees have more (80) overall.
— Competed in the most postseason games by an NL team, 137. The Yanks are first overall with 151.
— Have the most NLCS wins, 24. And the most NLCS games competed in (58.)
— The Cards have played in 24.3 percent of all NLCS games since 2000. They have appeared on the NLCS stage 10 times in the past 21 seasons. No other MLB team has been there more often since 2000.
— Since 2000 the Cardinals have made it to the playoffs more times (14) than any NL team. The Yankees have qualified 16 times.
The frequent trips to the postseason have provided the opportunity for the Cardinals to collect four NL pennants and two World Series trophies.
Over this 21-year stretch the Cardinals have missed out on the playoffs once every three seasons for a total of seven postseason strikeouts.
Perspective: 11 NL teams have missed making the playoffs at least twice as many times as the Cardinals since the start of the 2000 season: Miami 19, Pittsburgh 18, San Diego 18, Cincinnati 17, Colorado 17, NY Mets 17, Arizona 16, Philadelphia 16, Washington-Montreal 16, Milwaukee 16 and San Francisco 14.
That is also true of 10 American League teams — meaning that 21 of the other 29 MLB teams have missed making the playoffs at least twice as many times as the Cardinals since 2000.
The Cardinals have had one losing record in the last 21 seasons. The Yankees are only MLB team that can top that. They’ve had a winning record every time in the last 21 years.
Nine NL teams have had at least 10 losing seasons over the past 21 years. Eight AL teams have had 10 or more losing records since 2000. That adds up to 17 teams in major-league baseball with 10+ losing seasons over the past 21 years.
And except for the Yankees (none), Cardinals (one) and Dodgers (two) … the other 27 MLB teams and their fans have endured at least SIX losing seasons over the past 21 years.
But DeWitt isn’t trying to win, right?
Question the judgment on personnel, yes. I do it myself.
But it’s asinine to question the commitment to winning.
READING TIME 5 MINUTES:
Three Things That Are Getting On My Damn Nerves:
1- It isn’t “Curbside Pickup” if you have to go into the restaurant to pick it up.
2-Spam-blocking, call-blocking filters that don’t block much span or unwanted calls. My phone plays worse defense than James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant with the Brooklyn Nets.
3–Impatience with Mike Hoffman. Which sort of ties into another irritation: the NHL obsession with constantly making line changes.
Moving on …
Paul Goldschmidt’s first full MLB season was 2012. Arenado’s first full season came a year later. So they’ve been in the big leagues at the same time for the last eight seasons. Over the eight years Arenado is 4th in the majors in homers; Goldy is 5th. Arenado is 1st in RBIs; Goldy is 4th. And Arenado and Goldschmidt rank second and third respectively in extra base hots.
Covid-19 is the worst for a billion reasons that have nothing to do with sports. But I hate — and am saddened by what this plague has done to St. Louis U’s basketball season. That said, play on Billikens. The season ain’t over yet. But the loss at LaSalle dropped SLU from No. 38 to 53rd in the NCAA Net Ratings for D-1. Mizzou moved up to No. 28 after beating Kentucky, and Illinois is sitting handsomely at No. 5 overall.
Our town’s Bradley Beal led the Washington Wizards with 32 points last night in an upset win over Miami. The Heat triple-teamed Beal when he tried to invade the lane, but it didn’t matter. Beal kept scoring. “What he’s doing offensively, you don’t see it often,” coach Scott Brooks said via Zoom after the win. “You don’t see it. Obviously James Harden had it the last few years, but Brad’s doing it, he’s doing it without having the ball in his hand throughout the game. He can score in so many different ways. That’s why it’s hard to guard him.”
Beal only cares about winning, but he was fired up to learn this after the game: Beal has scored 25+ points in each of his 17 games this season. That breaks Michael Jordan’s record for the longest such streak at the beginning of a season since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.
“It’s pretty cool,” Beal said. “That’s a remarkable achievement. It’s not something you always shoot for, but it’s amazing to see all the stats that we come up with in our game, and it’s — too pass him, it’s always a great feeling. It’s something you kind of put in your accolades, but at the same time, it felt even better getting it in a win. It was a milestone in a lot of fashions tonight, so I was happy,” … Beal also became the second player in Wizards history to surpass 12,000 career points. Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes did it first.
Former Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong is a good fit for Miller Park. He’s crushed it at the hitter-haven yard during his career, with a .308 average, .373 OBP and .482 slug over 217 plate appearances in Milwaukee. (Plus 12 doubles, six homers, two triples and 23 RBIs.) Those stats just illuminate the challenge of putting up power numbers at Busch Stadium; in 1,513 career plate appearances at Busch, Wong batted .257 with a .331 OBP and .383 slug. Wong makes the Brewers better; they already were a threat in the NL Central — more than many realized, IMO …
Kansas City remains a 3-point favorite over Tampa Bay in Super Bowl 55. Here’s some investment information from Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post: “Teams favored by three points or more in the Super Bowl are a combined 31-15 straight up but just 23-23-2 against the spread. That worsens to 4-10 against the spread since 2002, when the NFL expanded to 32 teams. Tom Brady is 5-3-0 against the spread in the playoffs when he is a three-point underdog or more. His team has covered those eight games by an average of almost six points. That starts us down the path to a Tampa Bay pick.”
I think I’m following you, Neil.
Kurt Warner on Sunday’s Super Bowl: “For me guys it’s easy. Two words: Tom and Brady. I mean, we’re talking about the guy that’s been in 10 Super Bowls that’s done it better than anybody in this moment, and so you’ve got to find a way to get after him. You got to find a way to get him off his game. DeAngelo, you were talking about it a little bit. (Steve Spagnuolo) did a great job in their first meeting of making Tom uncomfortable with pressure early on. He got better as the game went along and I heard Tom talk a little bit this week that the kids and the family have been out of the house. He’s had it to himself, he’s watched a lot of film and he said, the more film I watch, the more I start to understand what they were trying to do. And so that is going to be a key is does Tom Brady have a bead on what they’re trying to do defensively and play like Tom Brady throughout the course of this game. That to me is going to be the biggest problem for the Chiefs.”
AS OTHERS SEE US:
Here are excerpts from baseball analyst Joe Sheehan’s view of the Arenado trade and what it means for the Cardinals:
+ “Taking advantage of a Rockies organization lost in the weeds, the Cardinals traded a clutch of depth prospects for one of the top ten players in baseball, Nolan Arenado. Arenado is an immediate and enormous upgrade at third base, a superstar who had been a remarkably consistent six-win player from 2015 through 2019. In an era loaded with magic-making third basemen, Arenado is the best, particularly adept at going to his right and making strong, accurate throws from foul territory.”
+ “The Cardinals didn’t give up very much in the deal. Of the four prospects also traded away, none have a high profile or much helium. “It’s a heist for the Cardinals, an absolute theft.”
+ ”But wait, there’s more! In addition to taking back five of the top, maybe, 2,500 baseball players in the world for Arenado, the Rockies are sending $51 million to the Cardinals. The thing is, if Arenado leaves after 2021, this deal is probably still a win for the Cards. They’d have gotten a huge year for a tiny price in talent and no financial cost: The Rockies are reportedly paying Arenado’s entire 2021 salary.”
+ “The Rockies, instead of paying Arenado $260 million to play for them, now will pay $51 million for him to play elsewhere. You have to get up early in the morning to beat that kind of ineptitude.”
+ “In one move, the Cardinals did more than the rest of the NL Central has done all offseason long. They still have work to do, with some awkward fits around the roster and questions about the team OBP and the starting rotation. As of this moment, though, they’ve opened a small gap over the Cubs, Brewers, and Reds.”
Y’all need to subscribe to Sheehan’s newsletter. It’s inexpensive and worth every penny. Go to JoeSheehan.com and get after it!
Listen to Bernie’s sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan KFNS, weekdays from 3-6 p.m. But 4-6 p.m. on Friday. You can listen live or download the show podcast by going to 590thefan.com