A Drink with the Big Boys

Last Saturday, new Mizzou Coach Eli Drinkwitz led his 14-pt underdog team to a major upset over LSU. LSU has generally been viewed as one of the “Big Boys” of the SEC. Sooo….Coach Drink had drink with the SEC Big Boys!
….Coach Drink had his team well prepared offensively. This game had over 1000 yards of offense!! Mizou broke huddles early to give them continuity, the quickly paced motion personnel kept LSU from firing across the LOS. The cleverly designed misdirection plays nullified the instant quickness of LSU, the “unusual (trick)” plays were used early(why save them) and in a variety of situations. It was a terrific offensive game plan. QB Conor Bazelak (R-Frosh) was superb. His QB rating of 224.4 was MU’s best ever in an SEC game, eclipsing Lock’s 210.3 at Florida in 2017, which was also MU’s last victory over a ranked opponent. He led the Mizzou offense to 586 years and shredded the LSU secondary with 29 of 34 passes for 406 yards.
….But…..to be honest…LSU MAY have superb athletes but they aren’t a very good football team right now. In the 1st quarter, LSU had ZERO yards rushing. Now I realize that passing has become the primary tool of College offense but…. any successful team runs the ball with some success. LSU finished with 49 rushing yards…a pitiful number! Then… LSU passed the ball down to the Mizzou 1-yard line with 40 some seconds in the game. Two runs failed! I don’t agree with the LSU formations of the QB taking the snaps 3-4 yards behind the LOS. Put the QB right under the center…..try at least 1 sneak. With the rules now allowing backs to push the QB ahead after he’s hit….it’s even easier. Or….if you are going to pass…do it on 1st down and conserve the seconds if its incomplete. Coach Drink clearly & decisively outcoached LSU’s Ed Orgeron. Coach Drink wasn’t overwhelmed by SEC name or reputation…he’s where he belongs…. in with the Big Boys!
….wanting a “Big Boy” contract, Alex Pietrangelo signed with the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Frankly, I’m a bit befuddled by his comments and the signing. Apparently, the Blues offered Petro several different length contracts including one for 8 years—reportedly for $8m/year. That’s $64m total. Petro claimed that he loved the Lou. It seemed that he enjoyed the Lou climate for raising a family. This signing puzzles me—his Vegan contract is actually less money total (blues- 8 years-$64m, vegas-7 years-$61.6). Let me tell him something in 7 years, he’ll be 37 years old. There isn’t a high demand for a smaller defensive players @ 37 years of age. The Blues wouldn’t guarantee him a “no move” contract so he decides to move his family RIGHT NOW to Vegas?? Sooo..moving wasn’t the issue. Remember, Petro is coming off a 7 year $45+m contract. Sooo….with this contract and the last one, it puts him over $100m in total earnings from the NHL. Does 1M or 2M REALLY matter at that point? I’ve been to Vegas…..myself—I wouldn’t want to raise a family there, unless I wanted my children to be gamblers 😊 From my distant view, it sure appears that there was some animosity in the negotiations that rubbed Petro raw or unspoken friction with the coaching staff. Something IS there beyond the money. Petro—we enjoyed your play, thx for the help in procuring Mr. Stanley, but for now, its farewell.
….the Cards post season pointed out what we already knew….. we can’t hit with the “big boys”. We had a total of 44 total bases as batters in the post-season. That was the lowest of any team that played 3 or more games. In the regular season. In 2020 regular season, the highest average held by a Cardinal OF was .250 (Tommy Edman). The team leader in home runs was Tyler O’Neill with 7 in 157 plate appearances (every 22.5 PA). Paul Goldschmidt had 6 dingers in 231 Plate Appearances—one every 38.4 plate appearances. In 2019, Goldy hit a HR once every 20.1 plate appearances. That raises a red flag…and not a Cardinal red flag 😊 Goldy is 33 years old. The Cards can not afford to have their best power hitter in 2021 hit HR at the 2020 rate. If Goldy has 682 plate appearances in 2021 (as he did in 2019) and hit HR at the same 2020 rate, he’d have 18 HR for the full season. The question is— is he being “pitched around” because the Cards don’t have a solid batter behind him in the order or….hate to ask it…. is he aging sooner that some players…or both? From my view, those numbers force me into considering a free agent or a significant trade. George Springer (31 years old) would be at the top of the free agent list for most observers. #2 would be our friend, Mr. Marcel Ozuna. Somehow, Marcel didn’t work out here in the Lou in 18-19. Was it pressure? His poor fielding? Injury? Fans showing disapproval? Whatever….I think we have two chances of signing him…. 1) slim 2) none. This season Marcel went through personal struggles as his wife, Genesis, who was arrested and charged with domestic battery. Apparently, Marcel suffered facial injuries after being struck by her. Generally, the Cards brass don’t like to touch players with public “issues”. That leaves, George Springer of the Houston Asstroes. This is his first year of free agency @ 31 years of age. In 2020, Houston paid him $21m. I just don’t see the Cards going multiple years with a contract beginning @…minimarlly $25-30m per year. Since Free agents generally don’t sign for 1 year contracts, Springer looks like a slim possibility as a FA.
……Another angle is that the Cards can refuse the option year on Kolton Wong. It’s a $12.5m option with a buyout for $1m. This wouldn’t make sense to me for 2 reasons. Wong has demonstrated growth as a batter in the last 2 years … getting on base with bunts & opposite field hits. 2nd… he has become a premier fielder. With a meager batting lineup, the Cards defense must be excellent in “run prevention”. He does that @ 2b.. a key spot. Sure, you could put Tommy Edman there …turn down the Wong option year…but would we be starting over @ 2B again…waiting for Edman to reach his peak as a player in a few years? Btw…Edman was 3 for 14 in the post-season action. On the other hand…you could use that extra money from refusing to sign Wong to buy out Carpenter. It’d pay for about 75% of Carp’s buyout.
….Brad Miller is NOT our answer at 3B. He became a free agent at the end of 2020. He was a stop-gap measure to accelerate the offense, which he did initially. Eventually, every player lands at their true level of performance. 20 year old Nolan Gorman, who has 2 years of minor league experience @ 3B, saw his batting numbers dip when he was elevated to A+ level in 2019. No minor leagues in 2020.
….Soooo…. free agency looks slim…I think that if Mo want to compete with the Big Boys, he’ll be forced to make a trade. He seems much more comfortable with free agency than trades unlike his predecessor, Walt Jocketty. He has good trade bait with a abundance of “promising” outfielders, a plethora of bullpen pitchers …put a package together for an outfielder that is 1-2-3 years out from free agency. Some candidates: Miguel Andujar (3b/OF) of the NYY has not been able to crack the huge Yankee lineup. Manual Margot of TB is getting close to FA years. I think he’d be available for a strong relief pitcher or 2. Maybe even 3B Nolan Arenado could be “had” for several pitchers (which the Cards seem to have in abundance). This move would require Carp being unloaded in some way.
…He just can’t stay away from competing on the field against the Big Boys. Tony LaRussa (76 years old) is reportedly interested in taking over the AL Cen-Division Champs—the White Sox. He’s kept his hand in MLB with various GM-Ast type positions since he left managing. Can he bridge the age gap to communicate effectively with this very young team and push them to greater heights? Very few question his knowledge of the game strategy but the game HAS CHANGED since he left the Cards. It would be fun to follow! Personally, I hope he takes the job.
…well, it’s time for me to move on….don’t forget you can send me YOUR thoughts or check out past blogs on this site or post reactions to the blog on Facebook (Bob Ryan).

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