Turning the Page in the New Year

Each year many ”turn the page”, one way or the other. Either they pledge to start something new or to wipe out something from their life. True in sports also….
…Turning the page in an effort to score runs for the Cards should be a ’21 goal. Maybe the Cards, with this current roster, should consider finding a batter(s) who get on base frequently, put the ball in play and strikeout less often. Statistically, a batter who reaches 1b with no outs will score 44% of the time. When you see that Paul Goldschmidt led the Cardinals in Home runs but his HR rate was 1 home run ever 25.5 AB which was 89th in the league last year. That’s about 1 every 5 games! The Cards need to score runs in different ways than the round trippers. They require more baserunners!
…..the current Card emphasis on launch angle swing does produce Home runs but also many more strikeouts. This approach doesn’t seem to fit this roster. It seems that if the Cards put the ball “in play” more often, run scoring would elevate. For example, our speediest runner, Harrison Bader struck out 32% of the time last year. Dylan Carlson whiffed 29.4%, Paul DeJong struck out 28.7% of his at bats. Fans have oft scoffed at the many strikeouts of Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler & Tyler O’Neill. Those players struck out less often than Bader, Carlson & DeJong. For Carp it was 28.4%, Dex 27.7% & O’Neill 27.4%. So here we have it….6 of our 8 top batters striking out more than ¼ of the time! The results of the last 2 years seem crystal clear that a team CAN’T win that way.
…btw… the Cards winning percentage in ’20 was .517. In 2017, Mike Matheny’s final full year, they won at a .512 rate. They turned the page on Matheny the next year yet Shildt continues to receive praise for his work for being .5% better? Is that a sign that the Cards management KNOWS that Shildt really doesn’t have the players to win?
…if the Cards DID desire the power hitting approach, it was right under the nose. Last year, Luke Voit was 1st in the MLB in HR/AB …he hit one HR in every 10.3 At Bats for the Yankees! In his 3 seasons in the Bronx, his OPS numbers are: 1.095, .842, .948! We traded him for Giovanny Gallegos …. who has been good…but…..he’s faced a total of 341 batters with 5 wins, 6 saves in the same 3 years as Voit. It looks we closed the book on Voit instead of turning the page with him. Further… in 2020, Voit was 6th in the MLB in slugging % while former-Card, Marcel Ozuna …who we couldn’t, wouldn’t, didn’t resign a year earlier… was 3rd in the MLB in slugging. Then, there was Arozarena! It makes me wonder how these players are being evaluated and opens up many doors as to WHY we didn’t keep them. With Paul Goldschmidt receiving $26m each year for 2021, 22, 23 & 24 it seems that we could have provided him with a slugger batting behind him. We don’t need him drawing walks every 6.2 at bats.(as he did last year) However, The Cards have chosen not to travel down the road for another big slugger OR …on the other hand… neither have they used “get runners on base” approach as the #2 & #3 OBP players in 2020, Brad Miller & Kolton Wong, have both departed since last year. Turning the offensive page seems unlikely for StL at this point.
…As the page turns for 2021, it really may not matter for St Louis. Being in the NL Central Division Race, it seems that ALL the clubs are retreating—most at a faster pace than the Cards. Anyone walking behind them, may get run over 😊The Cards have lost their best starting pitcher of 2020 (Wainwright), their everyday catcher for 17 years(Molina), their gold glove 2B who was 3rd in OBP (Wong). The Reds who reached the expanded playoffs for 1st time in 7 years last year have traded away their closer of the last 4 years (Raisel Iglesias). They also sent away their best set up man (Archie Bradley), have seen their star regress due to age (Joey Votto), lost a key starting pitcher (Trevor Bauer) to free agency. Note all these pitching defections for a club that struggles to get outs and was last in the MLB in batting with a .212 average!! The Cubs keep looking in the mirror denying that they are retreating as they send off their ace (Yu Darvish) and see 2/3 of their starting OF as free agents (Schwarber & Almora) while the Cubs were 27th in team batting with a .220 mark. Milwaukee is retreating as their team ages. They have 3 every-day players over 33 years of age. Pittsburgh traded away their only slugger over the last 2 years for “prospects”. This division is clearly the weakest in the MLB in batting. Out of 30 MLB teams, the Cards were 22nd best in team batting average, Brewers 26th, Cubs 27th, Pirates 28th, Reds 30th! Remember, the Cards played the majority of their games in 2020 against these 4 other teams! Sooo…It seems to be whichever team will retreat the least will win in 2021. The Cards are extremely fortunate to find themselves in this soft division as the page turns into another season.
…the page does continue to turn around the mens basketball world! At Kentucky, basketball has been “king” for almost 100 years. The last time the Wildcats finished a season under .500 was 1926-27 when Head Coach Basil Hayden went 3-13.(they did have a few .500 seaons) Right now John Calipari, in his 12th season @ Kentucky and holding a lifetime record @ KU of 330-69 is holding 1-6 record as SEC season is about to open up. WOW….the page has really turned there! Calipari may be most remembered for promoting heavily the “one & done” type players in NCAA bball. Right now, he only has 1 of his 8 Frosh listed in the top 15 NBA draft choices for this year.
….Illinois has turned the page in football with the hiring of Head Coach, Bret Bielema.
Bielama is an experienced Head College Coach. He has piled up 24 years of college coaching & 12 years as a Head Coach compiling a 97-58 record @ Wisconsin & Arkansas. My recollection is that Bielama will field a huge, physical line (like himself) and a team that adjusts his offense to match the skills of his best players. Illinois has turned the page in a good way.
…some turned the page too quickly. When a player signs with a college scholarship, the school has some obligations and so does the player. Playing their hardest in practice & games seems like a minimum for the players. Schools provide all the ways possible to improve your athleticism & football skils. The schools provid free tuition, medical care, housing, food, tutors, stipends for spending money and probably whatever they need. Yet in the Florida-Oklahoma Cotton Bowl game, 17 players…including the top 4 receivers…“opted out” of the game as most of them began preparing for the pro draft. My South Side upbringing tells me that the players have the obligation to play… and if they don’t…they are choosing to drop off the team and lose all their “benefits” immediately. This should not be a rule JUST for Florida but for ALL NCAA schools. I realize that my idealism bounces off the hard armor of “win at all costs” montra worn by SEC teams but these are 2-way contracts—each has responsibilities. Btw….OU crushed Florida 55-20 and led 17-0 after 6 minutes of this horrible mismatch.
…The CWS added Lance Lynn to their rotation and continued to turn the page towards fielding a playoff team. The Sox have a blend of players from starting players being drafted (Louis Robert, Jose Abreu,Tim Anderson, Adam Engel, Nick Madrigal) and acquired in trades as they acquired young players a few years ago (Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada), recently signed experienced free agents (Yasmani Grandal and Adam Eaton) and now acquired Lance Lynn to bolster the rotation. In addition, the CWS mgmt. went out and signed a proven winning manager- Tony LaRussa. That’s how you turn the page to become a winner—drafting, trading unproven prospects for real players, free agency & then a late trade to fill in the needs. There’s a team in the NL Central that might take note.
…Thanks for “turning the page” with me. Spread the word last year there were over 23,000 readers for the year—over 400+/week…a long way from my 50 readers in my beginning days.

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