Rocket takes off..without us

This post-season former Cardinal, Randy Arozarena (The Rocket), has taken off for the Tampa Bay Rays. He has been the focal point of the offense and of has received..and deserved… much acclaim from the national press & media commentators. How did it happen?
…1st of all….the Rocket, played well but no one anticipated his “rocket” status in his minor league career. It was solid but not eye-opening: 331-games, 1149-AB, .289-average, 38-HR(almost 1 hr for every 9 games), 68-stolen bases, rbi-151, OPS-.844. It definitely showed that he DID have ability.
…Sure….it’s easy in hindsight to “rip” on the trade but there were several factors in developing this trade. 1st of all, Jose Martinez was NOT the center-piece of the trade. He was simply being unloaded to a team that could use him as a DH. (Tampa moved him along in 2020 mid-season). The Cards should have been wary of the TB Rays assessment of Arozarena. The Rays have demonstrated tremendous skill at recognizing “potential” in young players and developing players. Hindsight says…if Tampa wanted him—he MUST have some value! Hindsight also says if WE offered him initially, we need to turn our attention toward our evaluators (scouts & Management). Why else?
….the Cards were loaded with outfielders—Dexter Fowler (a veteran who could not be benched, or traded and had played with at a limited level in 2019. Tyler O’Neill’s speed and power made him attractive, Harrison Bader’s scintillating defense made him attractive for center-field and of course the up & coming “star” (as seen by the Cardinals)-Dylan Carlson. Both O’Neill and Bader could NOT nail down their spots due to their batting numbers. Arozarena , was seen by the Cards mgmt. (apparently) as the most expendable when then had the opportunity to obtain a Lefty-starter(Libatore) for “down the road”. Some think that he has #1 or #2 level starter written down in his career. From my view….that’s speculation. If that WAS the case, would Tampa give up on him w/o getting a REAL player in return?
…It seems to me that our Cardinal management HAD to know these same facts. Pitching “down the road” is nice(Libatore wasn’t expected to contribute this year and maybe not in 21)….but a noticeable weakness in scoring runs RIGHT NOW in 2020 had to be addressed. It’s clear that the Cards felt that Arozarena would …or could..not help them at the plate in 2020. Ugh!!
So what’s happened….a short recap of what you already know…
……Cards finished 14th in NL in runs scored..only lowly Pittsburgh scored less. The Cardinals stayed in the race because the entire NL-Cen (40% of their schedule) was also deficient in batting. The NL team with the fewest runs scored was Pirates, #14 spot (2nd lowest in NL)-Cards, #13-Cincy, #12-Milwaukee, #11 in scoring was Miami and the Cubs were #10. So the entire NL-Cen filled 5 of the lowest 6 spots in runs scored in 2020! That’s WHY we competed—our frequent opponents couldn’t score either!! Meanwhile, in the regular season (23 games), the Rocket batted .281, 7 HR & OPS of 1.022. Both of those power marks would have made him the team leader for the Cardinals. In the 18 post season games this year, Arozarena is batting .338 with 7 HR. His OPS is 1.157!!
…Now….instead of more looking backwards…looking forward…there’s no guarantee that the Rocket will continue to hit next year like he did this year.. however, one would think that even if he regresses back to his former level of batting that he’d STILL be an asset. Soooo…without the Rocket, where does that leave us? Let’s look deeper at 2020 for the Cards–
….The Cards were projected to compile a 31-29 record by a national pre-season writer. Final 2020 record was—30-28. The experts knew we were a .500 team. Why didn’t WE know it? If we don’t make a couple significant changes, we’ll be .500ish again next year.
…The Cards were 10th in 2019 in NL in runs scored (of 15 teams) and we HAD to know that batting was our biggest challenge for 2020 and it still is for 2021. Traditionally, 1b, 3b, LF, RF are the strength of the MLB’s batting orders. We appear to be weak or unsettled in 3 of those 4 positions.
…The projected Cardinal 2020 rotation was: Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas and Carlos Martinez. Wainwright & Hudson exceeded their expectations, Flaherty was on & off and Mikolas was out all year. Carlos was inconsequential for most of the season. To our pleasant surprise, Kim was very, very good as a starter and provided quality starts
…The 2020 Cards bullpen was its strength—its depth, variety and skill. However, they’ve been forced to come into games too early or too often. Tapping the bullpen in the 5th inning (or earlier) leaves damage over time. Bringing “up” minor league prospects just because the bullen is fatigued doesn’t seem to be a sound approach for the Cards or the career of that pitcher. A pitcher MUST BE READY for the MLB. Up too soon can cause severe damage to the long-term growth of the pitcher. Its my feeling that every relief pitcher…other than the stars… will be “off” once every 4,5 or 6 appearances. Using 4 or 5 pitchers in most games means that the chances increase that 1 of those 4-5 is “due” for his off-day. Often 1 disastrous inning changes the outcome of a game
…2020 MLB post season has showed us a few interesting points. 8 teams IS too many for the playoffs. Evidence that the 8 teams per league is too much– The #7 & #8 teams in the MLB playoffs went collectively 1-8 in the post season. Meanwhile, the #1 Dodgers/#2 Braves were each 5-0 as they began the NL Championship Series. The AL was much more competitive– #2 Oakland was bounced out in the 2nd round by the Asstroes. Tampa Bay handled Toronto easily in the 1st round but had to beat the Yankees and the Asstroes in the next 2 rounds. Can you tell that I’m not a Houston fan? Somehow their batting wasn’t nearly as strong without knowing which pitch was being delivered to them—surprise, surprise!! However, I’m not naïve enough to think that MLB is centered on quality of the games but its concern Is on monetary return.
….Question has been asked to me….Why doesn’t the MLB have a salary cap similar to the NFL? With the NFL tight cap, it sees a team rise, hold onto its stars for 4-8 years, then fade. Unless they latch onto a super QB who stays healthy (Brady, Brees, Manning, etc), they age or players leave through free agency. Not so in the MLB. Consider the New York Yankees have missed the post-season play only twice since the year 2000. Yet, only ONCE have they exceeded their lifetime career winning mark of 57% in the regular season. The Dodgers have been in the playoffs for 8 straight years and 10 of the last 13 years. The Boston Red Sox have been in the playoffs 10 of the last 16 years. Houston has been playoff-bound for 6 of the last 7 years. What’s in common with those cities? New York, LA, Boston and now a growing Houston are super large municipal areas. I really think that the MLB wants to have THOSE big-city teams in the playoffs often….very often. Those big markets can push up TV ratings… and hence, push up media income for the MLB owners. I will agree that the Cardinals are an aberration but the Lou has a long history of success and holds an extremely loyal, supportive fan base that does draw from a wide swarth of the Midwest.
Well…. My rocket has landed. Anxious to read YOUR thoughts—put them directly on my Facebook page or send to me and I’ll post it. Missed some blogs along the way? I’m always attempting to “grow” my FREE blog (readers are my goal). So….if any, or all, of you could approach 1 person about the blog and send him/her to me, I’d appreciate it. Word of mouth is a strong tool for growing the numbers. For 2020, we’re now averaging over 400+ readers per week…THANK YOU!

One thought on “Rocket takes off..without us

  1. Besides Rocket Man, other Cards players who had a good post season were Marcel Ozuna, Tommy Pham and Luke Voit. I agree with you. Makes you wonder how well our front office is evaluating talent. Perhaps Ozuna would have never taken off with the Cards but I wish that we could have found room for Pham and Voit.

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