Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Cards After Memorial Day

So, obviously, things aren't quite as rosy as when I analyzed the team at the end of the first month of the season. Still, after losing to the Reds in a tough game tonight, the Cards are only a game out of first. Here's how I grade the month of May:

Offense: C+

The struggles of the offense have gotten a lot of attention in the press, and rightfully so, but they haven't been the only issue. Even Albert seemed to go through a mini slump. A bigger problem has been Matt Holiday and Colby Rasmus. They got off to a good start in April, but really struggled in May. Fortunately, both have shown signs of life the last week or so. The middle infielders have continued to be pretty bad, though actually better than in April. David Freese continues to be a big-time bright spot. You have to think that this line-up is too talented to not put together a big hot streak soon. At least I hope so.

Starting Pitching: A-

Carpenter, Wainwright and Garcia. You can't ask for anything more from those three. Lohse is now hurt, but it's hard to say if that's a bad thing or not, because he was terrible all year. He had surgery on his forearm last week, so it seems like he'll be out for a while. Penny continued to pitch pretty well despite taking a few loses. He is on the DL also, but hopefully not for long. It will be tough if we have to continue filling two spots with minor leaguers. Anyway, the starters have held us afloat so far, and it's time for the line-up to do their part.

Bullpen: A

This has continued to be a surprise for me. Franklin has been great, but the primary middle relievers have been awesome also. Motte and McClellen have been great from the right side, and Reyes (well, until tonight) and Miller very good from the left. Hawkesworth and Boggs have struggled at times, but we are less reliant on them. Really, I don't think we can ask for much more in terms of pitching overall. The Cards (at least going into tonight), were first in team ERA in NL. They aren't best in runs allowed though because.......

Defense: D

I might actually be giving a generous grade here. The defense was great the first month, but has been horrible the second. The Cards have fallen from the top the NL in most defensive categories to the middle of the pack. They had allowed 27 unearned runs on the season, tied for second worst in the NL with the Cubs. I was surprised that the Dodgers have actually been worse in this category, because I didn't think that was possible. Shu, Ryan, and Freese have made at least 7 errors each. Poor Ryan seemed to carry his struggles at the plate into the field for a while, and he is usually among the best defensive shortstops around, so that was too bad. Rasmus has really had a hard time in center as well, especially throwing. This has led to John Jay and even Ludwick getting a lot time in centerfield, especially late in games. Really, only Holiday, Molina and Pujols have been themselves in the field. Again, it seems players can carry their struggles at the plate out onto the field, so hopefully the defense will improve with the offense.

Final thoughts:

It was a rough month, but the everyday players seem to be playing better the last week. LaRussa seems maybe convinced to not tinker so much (though we know he will still tinker some!) and let the guys play themselves out of their funk. Hopefully, Penny is back soon to solidify the rotation. Even if Lohse is out the rest of the year, we can win a lot of games with the other four starters. The key is the offense, especially Holiday and Rasmus. If they can hit, we will be golden. I would be a shame to waste all this great pitching, that's for sure!


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