BERNIE BITS

Now that the daily baseball grind is over, I’m adjusting my routine and will try to do the Bits more often. Thanks for your patience.

1) As you’ve probably heard, Mike Shildt is one of three finalists for the 2021 NL Manager of the Year Award, in voting done by the Baseball Writers Association of America. This is kind of awkward, yes? Less than a month ago, Shildt’s bosses decided that Shildt was the wrong guy to lead the Cardinals and fired him. But now, 25 days later, the ballwriters have honored Shildty as one of the NL’s top three managers in the NL. Strange.

Beginning with his work as the interim manager following Mike Matheny’s sacking just before the 2018 All-Star break, Shildt has received Manager of the Year votes in four consecutive seasons. That’s impressive. Shildt finished fourth in the 2018 voting, won the award in 2019, was sixth in the balloting for 2020, and will be no worse than third in the ‘21 outcome. This year’s vote tally will be announced Nov. 16. From 2018-2020, Shildt received a total of 10 first-place votes, 19 second-place votes and five third-place votes for a total of 112 points.

Over the three years only Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell, Atlanta’s Brian Snitker and Miami’s Don Mattingly received more. Mattingly received 20 first-place votes in winning the 2020 award, but did not receive any votes in 2018 or 2019.

The other two NL finalists this season are Counsell and Gabe Kapler. I’d expect Kapler (107 victories) to win, and would be surprised if he doesn’t. That said, it’s getting kinda silly, seeing Counsell be in the runners-up category every year. When will he finally win one?

2) I wonder how Shildt is feeling? The firing was a jolt. He’ll rebound, and obviously warrants another big-league managing opportunity — and soon. But the man dearly loved being the manager of the Cardinals.

A few days after the Cardinals were eliminated in NL wild-card game — and a week before he was fired — Shildt sat for an interview with my friend Frank Cusumano on KSDK-TV and said this:

“I go a different route than most people go to our stadium. I get off and I go down 7th and I look up and the first thing I see is the big St. Louis Cardinals sign at the top of the stadium. It’s just perfectly centered when you go down that street. And then I get to the end of the street and it dead ends into Stan’s statue. And I just sit there at that light and go, ‘Alright Stan, let’s go today.’ But I can’t believe I manage this team. And I look at the stadium every time I go by it, or to it or from it and I go, ‘Whew, I manage this team. I’m responsible for some of what goes on here,’ ” Shildt said.

3) Aw, poor Stan Kroenke. The cost of his legal bills is piling up as he tries to fight off the St. Louis lawsuit. Faced with a potentially devastating hit to his finances, what’s a poor guy to do? Well, I guess he can go buy a luxury condo in Beverly Hills. Last month Kroenke and his wife Anne Walton Kroenke spent $23.8 million for a 4,900-square-foot unit at the Maybourne Beverly Hills. That was a record price. And they already owned one unit at the fancy place; now they have two. The building is in the the toney Golden Triangle section of Beverly Hills, bounded by Santa Monica Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard and Crescent Drive. It includes the prestigious Rodeo Drive shopping district.

Kroenke is obviously hurting financially. In wealthier days, he could have afforded a $50 million condo. But this man is down on his luck. No wonder why he wants to walk away from an obligation — and break his signed agreement with the NFL and league owners to pay for the entire, massive legal cost of fighting the St. Louis suit.

Hey, a man’s gotta eat and provide for his family.

A man’s gotta have a roof over his head.

Maybe Stan went for an extra-large space and spent a few extra million to have a spare bedroom for his best buddy and master, Jerry Jones. Who knows? Maybe Stan and Anne can put in a toy-filled children’s room for Kevin Demoff. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Kroenke purchased the first condo at Maybourne Beverly Hills 10 years ago.

Not that he was plotting to move the STL Rams to Los Angeles, or anything like that.

As fans of 1960s television know, the NFL’s version of Jed Clampett was always set on moving to Berverly.

4) I’m a fan of Mizzou football, which means I am frustrated with Mizzou football, because that’s the overwhelming reality of being a Missouri fan. Here are some depressing numbers …

Since winning back to back SEC East titles in 2013 and 2014, Mizzou is:

  20-35 in SEC games.
  1-17 vs. ranked teams.
↠  33-42 vs. FBS opponents.
↠  7-36 vs. winning FBS opponents.
↠  22-38 against Power 5 Conference teams.

Sigh.

5) Dylan Carlson is a finalist for NL Rookie of the Year. I think he earned consideration, but I’d be stunned if Carlson or Miami pitcher Trevor Rogers won the vote over Cincinnati’s Jonathan India. Using the Baseball Reference version of Wins Above Replacement, India led NL rookies with 3.9 WAR, followed by Rogers (3.5) and Carlson (3.2) and Edmundo Sosa (3.2). Yes, the Cards rookie shortstop had the same WAR (3.2) as Carlson — and much of that is due to Sosa’s exquisite defense. Sosa finished third among NL rookies in defensive WAR. Depending on the metric, Carlson was rated as average, or below average, in right field. Carlson was minus 3 Outs Above Average in 2021; that ranked tied for 32nd among 40 MLB players at the position.

Carlson had a good rookie season and will only get better from here on. Among NL rookies that had at least 250 plate appearances this season Carlson was first in hits, tied for first in ballpark-adjusted OPS, second in extra-base hits, second in total bases, second in doubles, second in RBI, third in homers, fourth in onbase percentage, fifth in slugging and fifth in OPS. Because he plays home games in a pitcher’s park Carlson had a higher adjusted OPS than India, who gets to load up at the hitter-haven in Cincinnati.

6) Writing at The Athletic, former MLB general manager Jim Bowden assessed the primary offseason need for all 30 teams. Bowden said the Cardinals’ top need is starting pitching — but added another suggestion:

“The Cardinals will focus on adding one or two veteran starting pitchers as their top, and perhaps only, offseason priority,” Bowden wrote. “However, don’t be surprised if they quietly play in the shortstop market. As much as the Cardinals like Edmundo Sosa and Paul DeJong, can you imagine how good Corey Seager would look in their lineup between Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado? Still, they’ll most likely end up adding pitching.”

7) Our Town’s Bradley Beal is scoring less but winning more for the Washington Wizards early this season. Over the past two seasons Beal averaged 31 points per game; through the first 10 games this season he’s averaging 24.2 ppg and is shooting only 25% from three-point range. But the Wizards are off to a 7-3 start … Beal still isn’t vaccinated (but may change his mind.) But he waved off U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) after Cruz supported Beal’s no-vacc stance.

Dashing off some messages to Cruz on Twitter, Beal wrote: “Don’t attach me to that. Because that’s not what I was trying to do. I’m not sitting here advocating for people not to get it. … I’ve never met you, I don’t talk to you, and I don’t support you or anything you do. That’s a little weird. That’s why I don’t like social media. Ted, you know damn well I ain’t rockin’ with you. You’re not going to get no cool points if that’s what you’re in it for.”

Washington has offered Beal a four-year extension worth $180 million. If he waits to sign and becomes a free agent in 2022, he could earn $50 million more. That, according to the Washington Post.

8) The Blues need to be a lot tougher tonight at Winnipeg. Tougher as going hard to the net, staying close, and putting pressure on the Jets’ goaltender. In Sunday’s 4-1 loss at Anaheim, the average distance off the Ducks’ shots on Jordan Binnington came to 39 feet, 9 inches. But the Blues’ average shot distance against Anaheim goalie John Gibson was 53 feet, 7 inches. Big difference. Too much perimeter shooting by the Blues.

9) Troy Aikman was tough on young Green Bay quarterback Jordan Love during Sunday’s Packers-Chiefs game on Fox. Granted, Love wasn’t good in his first NFL start. He had jumpy feet, completed 56% of his passes with one touchdown and one interception. But in Aikman’s first NFL start for the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, he completed 48.5% of his throws with no touchdowns and two interceptions. In his first seven games as an NFL starter, Aikman completed 50% of his passes with four TDs and 12 pickoffs. To his credit, Aikman shook off the rough opening to his NFL career and became a three-time Super Bowl champion QB and a Pro Football Hall of Famer. Love may turn out to be a bust, but he ain’t the first quarterback to struggle in his first NFL start. I think Troy is an excellent analyst, and I have great respect for him.

10) Scattershooting while expressing concern over Jake from State Farm, and expressing hope that he’s masked up when filling the insurance needs of Aaron Rodgers … Obviously a good move by the Cardinals to sign lefty reliever T.J. McFarland to a one-year deal for 2022; let’s just hope that he can do it again. The highlights of McFarland’s 2021 season with the Cardinals included a 63.7 percent ground-ball rate, and an opponent OPS of .237 … Cards prospect Juan Yepez ranks 5th in slugging at the Arizona Fall League and is averaging a homer every 13 at-bats … And young Cardinal outfielder Lars Nootbaar is 3rd in the Arizona Fall League in slugging, and 4th in OPS … Mizzou running back Tyler Badie averaged 223 yards rushing per game against Central Michigan, North Texas and Vanderbilt. But Badie averaged 56.6 yards per game against Kentucky, Boston College, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Georgia … Is anyone clamoring for the Cardinals to sign free-agent shortstop Trevor Story? Upon further review, I’m not sure that his defense is up to snuff. Story was minus 7 Outs Above Average for the Rockies last season, ranking 30th among 36 MLB shortstops … Writing for The Athletic, here’s what baseball analyst Keith Law had to say about Story: “I’d be skeptical before going long term with Story, wanting more data on his bat outside of Coors and his glove anywhere before making a four- or five-year investment.”

Finally:

= Happy 90th, Whitey Herzog.

= The late great Bob Gibson was born on this day in 1935.

= Tuesday night in Winnipeg, forward David Perron will play in his 617th game as a Blue, and moving past the late icon Bob Plager for 10th in franchise history.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the “Bernie Show” podcast at 590thefan.com — the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.

The “Seeing Red” podcast with Bernie and Will Leitch is available at 590thefan.com

Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

* All stats used here are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Football Reference, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Statcast at Baseball Savant and Brooks Baseball Net unless otherwise noted.