Welcome To The Redbird Review
I’m not being sarcastic when I say this, but let’s give a little credit to shortstop Paul DeJong for thinking and getting deep when asked about the team’s pallid offense.
After Thursday’s somber 5-2 loss at Colorado, Pauly D went Zen on the postgame video conference.
“I think adjusting our mood and our outlook will allow our physical play to come out the best we can,” De Jong said. “So just not putting pressure on ourselves and executing in that moment and allowing that kind of flow and presence in the moment is the biggest thing we can focus on.”
DeJong also stressed the importance of teammates “trusting each other,” and “leaning on each other” and “looking at each other and knowing that we’re all going through this together will give us a boost.”
DeJong was sincere. I appreciate his thoughtfulness. With that in mind, the Cardinals could use more Zen, and I thought I’d help out.
“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”
That’s from the great Alan Watts, author of “The Way of Zen.” But really, if you ask me, it sounds like John Mozeliak’s latest attempt to explain the haggard state of the team’s offense under batting coach Jeff Albert.
Zen Proverb: “Let go over a cliff, die completely, and then come back to life — after that you cannot be deceived.”
Well, I appreciate the sentiment and the message. But the Cardinals already have gone off the cliff, and they’re nine games out of first place. Coming back to life? What, with this lineup? As for the “you cannot be deceived” wisdom, I think that’s right. Pitchers are dominating the Cardinals with four-seam fastballs; they’re not even bothering to go with deception.
From Dogen: “If you are unable to find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?”
I dunno. You tell me. But probably not the Bally Sports Midwest postgame show after a maddeningly meek loss by Our Cardinals.
Dogen: “One must be deeply aware of the impermanence of the world.”
Well, OK. I get it. I think. Does this also refer to the impermanence of batting coaches, pitching coaches, managers, baseball executives? There needs to be more urgency in the clubhouse, but that isn’t Mike Shildt’s style. And I don’t think Cardinals ownership is ready to start firing people. It’s a laid-back management team. These men are loyal to each other.
Alan Watts: “Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.”
Oh, now you’re making fun of the Cardinals’ refusal to make the obvious, necessary moves to improve their thin roster depth last winter? You’re stealing my material! Not cool.
THE ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT: The defeat left the Cardinals with a 40-42 record. They are 17-27 in their last 44 games and 10-20 in their last 30. Since May 30, the MLB teams to win fewer games than the Cardinals (10) are Kansas City (9), Pittsburgh (9) and Arizona (5.)
The Road is harsh and unkind to the Cardinals. They are 2-12 in their last 14 roadies, a stunningly bad 6-17 in their last 23 away from The Lou, and have road-tripped to a 17-24 record this season.
Can anyone explain this?
“I believe that all roads lead to the same place,” singer Willie Nelson once said. “And that is wherever all roads lead to.”
I have no idea what the hell Willie is talking about. And we know it gets hazy on the tour bus.
But as of late all roads taken by the Cardinals usually lead to a loss.
THE DOWNER IN DENVER: For the 33rd time in 82 games this season, the Cardinals scored two or fewer runs. That’s now happened in 40 percent of their games in 2021. Their record when scoring less than three runs in a game is 6-27. In a related note, the Cardinals have scored no more than four runs in 67 percent of their games this season. Yes, the Cards have come in under the MLB average (4.45 runs) in 55 of 82 games.
After Paul Goldschmidt homered in the third to tie the game 2-2, the Cards went 3 for 18 with six strikeouts and a double-play grounder in their remaining at-bats.
It’s tough to roll up a big runs-scored total when Dylan Carlson, Nolan Arenado, Yadier Molina and Harrison Bader combine to go 0 for 16 with four strikeouts.
THE FOUR-SEAM FASTBALL: The Cardinals continue to have the worst batting average in MLB this season against four-seam fastballs, .208. And the average is only .229 on four-seamers thrown for strikes. Colorado pitchers Antonio Senzatela, Tyler Kinley and Daniel Bard did it to the Cardinals again in the series opener; in at-bats that ended with a four-seam fastball the visitors went 2 for 11 (.154) with three strikeouts.
The Cardinals are hitting .115 vs. the four-seamer on two strike counts. That’s the worst in the majors. That two-strike batting average against four-seam fastballs is .086 since the Cardinals had the big meeting last week to, among other things, adjust their two-strike hitting approach.
The most basic pitch in the game — and the Cardinals can’t handle it.
MILWAUKEE MADNESS: The Brewers won 7-2 at Pittsburgh on Thursday night. It was the Crew’s ninth straight victory, the longest winning streak for the franchise since April 4-13, 2014. Friday the Brewers will go for their 10th in a row; the last time the franchise pulled that off was from Aug. 19-28 in 2003.
The Brewers are 28-10 since May 22. They’ve opened a striking lead in the NL Central by pitching to a 3.27 ERA and scoring an average of 5.2 runs in their last 38 games. The Brewers lead the Cubs by 6.5 games, the Reds by 8 games, and the Cardinals by 9.
ADAM WAINWRIGHT DESERVED BETTER: The Ageless Ace gave up two runs, six hits and a walk in eight classic innings at Coors Field. But the Cardinals couldn’t back up his excellence, failing to score after the third inning. The Cardinals have scored three or fewer runs for Waino in his 16 starts this year. Such a shame.
In his last six starts this baseball Georgia bulldog has a 2.41 ERA and allowed an opponent batting average of .204. Since June 1, the 2.41 Wainwright ERA ranks 7th among the 38 MLB pitchers that have started at least six games over that time.
VERY SORRY: But I can’t rip Giovanny Gallegos for giving up the 3-run homer in the bottom of the ninth — even though he walked two Rockies (ugh!) to set up the winning bambino by catcher Elias Diaz, who came in with a .177 average and .300 slugging percentage. Gallegos is excellent, but bad nights happen.
If the Cardinals could score more runs, then maybe they could win a 6-5 game instead of losing a 5-2 game. In his previous 18 relief appearances before Thursday, Gallegos had a 1.17 ERA in 23 innings.
POWER UNPLUGGED: Goldschmidt’s homer was — of course! — a solo shot. And while it’s possible to score runs without homering, the Cardinals do much better when they whack fair balls over the wall. When the Cardinals strike for at least one homer in a game this season, they’re 32-18. With no homers in a game, they’re 8-24.
And the size of the home runs matter. When the Cards hit a three-run homer or grand slam in a game, they’re 11-1. When they club a two-run homer, they’re 16-7.
The Cards were winning early this season, right?
Home runs were an important factor.
— In the first 36 games of the season through May 11, the Cardinals had nine three-run homers and two slams in 36 games. Only 43 percent of their first 46 homers of the season were solos. In the 36 games STL averaged 1.2 homers and 4.6 runs per game and went 22-14.
— In their last 46 games (since May 12), the Cards have homered 39 times, and 69 percent were solos. They’ve hit only one three-run homer — and no grand slams — over the last 46 games. Here’s the impact of the power drain: an average of 0.8 homers and 3.3 runs with a record of 18-28.
— The Cardinals had a .402 slugging percentage while opening the season with a 22-14 stretch, but have slugged only .356 while losing 28 of their last 46.
NOT EXACTLY ROCKET SCIENCE: Since May 30 the Cardinals are the only MLB team that’s scored fewer than 100 runs. They’re at the bottom of the 30-team rankings with an average of 3.1 runs per game over that time. They also rank last in slugging (.347) and OPS (.633) and are 29th in batting average (.217) and OBP (.286.)
The reason is simple: too many guys are mired in hitting droughts. I’ll just give you the adjusted runs created snapshot to make it easy. All you need to know is that 100 is league average. You don’t want to be under 100. And the more you head down, down, down below 100, the worse it is. Again these numbers were formed over the Cards’ last 30 games, starting May 30:
Catcher: 31. That’s 69% below league average. My goodness, that’s just awful. Yadier Molina is hitting .167 with a .450 OPS since May 30. Andrew Knizner is rarely allowed to play, but he’s batted .182 in his rare sightings since May 30. Cards catchers are 30th in the majors in offense.
First Base: 122, or 22% above average. Paul Goldschmidt has been fine since May 30, with a .825 OPS. That said, the STL first-base position ranks 12th in the majors in offense since May 30.
Second Base: 78, or 22% below average. Tommy Edman is batting .223 with a .237 OBP since May 30, and the position ranks 24th in MLB in offense over that time.
Third Base: 93; seven percent below average. This includes Nolan Arenado’s slump time. But for the season the Cards are 18th in the majors at 18 percent above league average.
Shortstop: 66, or 34% under the league average. Edmundo Sosa cooled down, and Paul DeJong is still trying to heat up. The Cards shortstop position ranks 26th in offense since May 30.
Left Field: 122, well above league average. Tyler O’Neill has the Cardinals ranked 10th in the majors for offense from his position.
Center Field: 114, safely above average. That’s mostly Dylan Carlson. The Cards are ranked 10th at this position in offense since May 30.
Right Field: 61. A terrible 39 percent below league average. The fill-ins didn’t do much for the offense in right field; the position ranks 28th offensively since May 30. Hard to believe that two other teams have done worse here.
Too many below-average areas.
Another way to look at this is to isolate individuals.
Again, 100 is average. So take a look at:
DeJong 73, Molina 69, Sosa 53, Edman 51, Knizner 39, Jose Rondon 32, Lars Nootbaar 28 and Lane Thomas minus 8.
NEXT ON THE SKED: In order, the Cardinals will start Johan Oviedo, Wade LeBlanc and Carlos Martinez in the three weekend games at Coors Field. Best of luck. Carlos at Coors on the 4th of July? Fireworks? You can’t make this stuff up.
Have a wonderful holiday weekend, be careful around the grill, and thanks for reading …
Check out Bernie’s 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 live online and download the Bernie Show podcast at 590thefan.com … the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.
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For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.