I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter this week from worried fans about this Adam Wainwright contract negotiation and I just wanted to quickly comment on it.
I’m not worried, and neither should you be. No one seems angry or indignant like they did in the Pujols negotiations. Both sides are amiable and simply waiting for things to clarify. Obviously, Waino is looking to get paid as though he is going to pitch like he did in 2010 before Tommy John Surgery and the club is hesitant to poor that kind of money into a SP they haven’t seen pitch like that for 3 years. I think the Cards will wait a month or two into the season to be sure that he’s got his old form back and then they will rip open that mattress of cash. It’s not a big deal. If he’s that good, they’ll keep him. If he’s not, they won’t–and do you want him to stay for 23mil/season if he can’t pitch any better than he did in 2012? No. So everyone just keep their shorts on.
That is the question.
There’s no point in talking about Kyle Lohse’s statistics here because we all know that he’s a good pitcher, and potentially better than 4/5 of the St Louis starting 5. So we’ll just leave stats out of this one.
I will start out by saying that I would only take Lohse back in St Louis if he were willing to sign a one year deal for under 10 million and without no-trade protection. And here’s why:
A lot of players come and go in baseball. It’s part of the business. However, St Louis is one of those special places to play that almost all players who come here gush about–especially if they’ve been forced to play in a bad baseball market (i.e. Florida). You saw it with Punto and DeRosa and Berkman and just about anyone you might name–they all say things like “Wow, it’s pretty fun to play in a packed house every night with great fans and to be competing for and in the playoffs.” We (the cardinal fans) think that St Louis is a pretty special place to play. We love our team. And yes, I said it. Our team. Suck on it.
I have never heard Kyle Lohse gush in this way about St Louis. He came here because we were the only ones who would take him in 2008 (not unlike now). He stayed because we paid him drastically over market value for 2009-2012. But I’ve never heard him talk about how much he loves St Louis like Waino does, like Yadi does, like Pujols did, like Carpenter does, like Skip did. Strike one.
Last year, Lohse didn’t seem to get a lot of run support during his starts. This happens from time to time. What did he do? He complained. He griped about the lack of run support–not loudly, mind you. Quietly. But enough that we read about it in the papers. How do you think that made his teammates feel? There doesn’t seem to be any love lost between him and the organization. Strike 2.
He had one foot out the door all of last season. This is a guy who had one thing in mind: get paid. And I’m not saying that he didn’t do his job. He did. And he did it well. But Lohse was ready to be gone all last year. He didn’t gripe about run support because he wanted to win those games for St Louis. He griped because he knew that it made his final Win total less and he wouldn’t get paid as much in the offseason. Strike 3.
Some guys play for the love of the game, or for the city, or for the money. This guy is the latter. Well now life didn’t turn out the way you thought, Kyle Lohse. And you want to come back here and get paid? Nope. There’s no question that Kyle is a better SP this year than Shelby Miller (note that I said this year). But when Kyle walked away the way he did, I don’t think Mo wants to bring his noise back into the clubhouse just so he can turn around and leave again. No thanks. I’ll take the kids.
If you don’t love Chris Carpenter by now… you’ll never love him. This is a pitcher that is widely respected in baseball circles as being a true ace. A true baseball player. A shadow lingering from a different era of baseball when men were men and the inside of the plate belonged to those men. There are many adjectives and synonyms running around for Carpenter: Bulldog, Workhorse, Warrior, Intimidator, The Stopper, etc. etc. etc. But there is only one name that truly fits Chris Carpenter: Ballplayer. This is a man who aches to get to the stadium each day. Who knows and loves the fact that it is his job to go out there every single fifth day. He loves the game. He loves to play. He loves to teach.
Few players in recent Cardinal history have been as willing to spread the wealth of knowledge as much as Carpenter. The current tone of the rotation was established by Carp. The whole idea of standing and watching every other starters bullpen sessions stems from his willingness to share information. Many stars treat their secrets to success as though they were guarded treasures of the illuminati, deserving of a Dan Brown novel. Not Chris. Always eager to help. Always eager to spot a mechanical flaw or let you know when you were tipping off the next pitch. He loved to help because he loved to win and he loved good baseball.
The Cardinals will lose much more than their staff Ace if we never see Carpenter again. They lose a mentor, a teammate, a ballplayer. It’s easy to overlook Carpenter’s statistical history in light of all of his intangibles. Let’s take a look at Chris Carpenter’s WHIP against some of the most elite pitchers in the last 10-12 years.
(WHIP is a statistical tool used that calculates a pitchers Walks and Hits allowed per inning. It is generally considered that anything under 1.4 is very good.)
Johan Santana’s Career WHIP: 1.132
Randy Johnson’s Career WHIP: 1.171
Roy Halladay’s Career WHIP: 1.171
Roy Oswalt’s Career WHIP: 1.202
Tim Hudson’s Career WHIP: 1.235
C.C. Sabathia’s Career WHIP: 1.22
Chris Carpenter’s Career WHIP: 1.28
He’s within a whisper of some of the best starting pitchers in the last 15 years. Left for dead by the Blue Jays after the 2002 season, the Cardinals then pitching coach Dave Duncan saw promise. The Cardinals signed Carpenter despite the fact that he underwent surgery and wouldn’t pitch for the team for an entire season. Carpenter repaid their patience by delivering a 15-5 season with a 1.14 WHIP.
2005 was arguably the Ballplayer’s best season, posting a 21-5 record with 1.06 WHIP and a 2.83 ERA. He and Molina are the only Cardinals who have been on all 3 of the cardinals most recent World Series bids (including wins in 2006 and 2011).
Few pitchers have pitched as well in the postseason as Mr. Carpenter as he has posted a career 10-4 with a 3.00 ERA.
It strikes me that whether you think of Chris Carpenter as a Ballplayer or a bulldog or a great teammate–you’re wrong. I’m wrong! Because he is ALL of these things. He is so much more than any one single perspective. It may take years to fully comprehend what he has meant to St Louis (the most successful NL team from 2000-2012) and to baseball in general. Walt Whitman once said “I am large. I contain multitudes.”
Chris Carpenter is large. He contains multitudes. And he will be missed.
As the baseball season approaches, so does the MLB Fantasy season! Chances are, if you’re reading amateur baseball blogs you already know how to draft your own fantasy team–but on the off chance that you don’t know much about fantasy baseball, perhaps I could be of some use for you.
It’s important to remember that there are many variants of fantasy scoring and playing. For example, ESPN fantasy baseball has you draft an entire pitching staff of individual players whereas MLB.com uses just a group pitching staff (i.e. The Yankees pitching staff). Since this blog is associated with MLB.com, I will talk about their style of fantasy baseball.
The first thing to note when picking players is that defense has no bearing on the game. You don’t get points for your catcher throwing out a runner or for your CF making a diving play. All points are based on offense (except pitching).
The second thing you want to keep in mind is that there are certain positions that are stocked with talent. For example, 1st base and your OF are full of talented players. Whereas SS and 2B and Catchers are hard to come by. Therefore, I put a weighted premium on their talents when deciding my draft order.
When Approaching my draft there will be a few difficult decisions to make. In the MLB.com league there are generally 12 players drafting at once that the computer will put into random drafting order. It will then draft back and forth like a snake: 1-12 then 12-1 etc etc. So let us presume that you are fortunate to have the first pick (OMG!). It would be mighty tempting (and easy) to draft Trout first. He was one of the best players in baseball last year and his fantasy stats are off the charts. But…. Wiser heads will prevail. Trouts 30 HR’s and 49 SB’s are not that far above the next ranked Outfielder Ryan Braun (41 HR, 30 SB) while the drop from Cano’s 33HR’s to Pedroia’s 15 is HUGE. And it keeps on going, folks. (EDIT: technically, Braun scored more points last year, but he played about 40 more games)
This is why I will use my first pick to fill my hole at 2B with Cano or at SS with Tulo. If both of these players are taken by the time it my turn to draft I will then spend my first pick on the best player available. Getting a good pick in the middle infield is nice, but if the top tier is gone, don’t waste a first round pick on a medium range player.
My second pick I would go straight to Buster Posey. If he’s unavailable I would then look for the best SS still available.
Third round I would be looking at getting a top flight outfielder (there should be plenty left)
Fourth round I would try to sneak in early and get a great pitching staff. Most players will wait until much later to draft a pitching staff–but they can make or break your fantasy team every single day. It’s important to remember that your staff gains points from winning (so the team they play for matters) and they lose points for allowing hits (so if the staff is good but their defense sucks, beware). You also get A LOT of points if you can get a shutout or a no hitter. For this reason, I would pay special attention to teams like the Tigers who have Verlander or the Phillies with their trio of aces.
After the fourth round it’s really a crapshoot. Make sure you get a SS, C, and 2B somewhere in the first 5 rounds. Otherwise, you’re just picking up whatever pieces you can. I would recommend researching some up-and-coming prospects or sleepers that you can save until the end of the draft. Maybe players on your favorite team that no one else knows about yet. For example, I knew that Allen Craig was going to be a legit hitter before most of baseball knew his name. That said, don’t load up with just players from your favorite team. You will lose. Unless you’re drafting the 1927 Yankees lineup.
Happy drafting everyone! Let me know how your team looks when you finish! (I’ll post mine as well)
Last night was the SuperBowl and despite the power company’s best efforts, the game concluded with the Baltimore Murderers–I mean Ravens–coming out on top. This is really only significant because it means that the baseball season is finally upon us!
I’ve always complained about people who write blogs about their lives. Without some form or purpose, it seems perposterous that anyone would be interested in what I have to say about my life. However, my facebook friends are getting tired of my baseball status’ so here we are!
Largely, this blog will deal with the St. Louis Cardinals (My favorite team. Duh). I will try to write once a week during the offseason and once every weekday during the active season. I guess we’ll see if I stick with it…