:: Thursday, June 29, 2006 ::
Thursday Thirteen: Cards win! Or, Indians lose
That old Casey Stengel bromide that "most games are lost, not won" (source) applies to the way the St. Louis Cardinals' eight-game losing streak ended last night. But who cares? The streak is over. Now let's hope the Cardinals get as red-hot as their next opponent, the cross-state rival Kansas City Royals, has been lately.

Thirteen things that bug me about the St. Louis Cardinals:

  1. Jim Edmonds. At 36, Jimbo appears to be washed up. He chokes in the clutch, striking out on high fastballs to end a scoring threat. He plays too shallow in center field, allowing hits that might drop in front of any other fielder for singles to sail over his head for doubles. This is his "walk" year. I say, let him.

  2. Center field. That's Edmonds' default position. The other alternative is So Taguchi, who, like Edmonds, is getting a little long in the tooth. The Cards need to find a young center fielder who can play every day.

  3. Jason Isringhausen. Yes, our ace closer managed to get us out of a jam last night and got a win for his efforts. But too often this year, he's blown save opportunities, given up too many walks and home runs, and just been downright awful.

  4. Mark Mulder. I've mentioned this before, and I'll say it again. Mark Mulder has got to go. His arm is dead.

  5. Left field. The Cards don't have a legitimate left fielder. They've been platooning Hector Luna, a second baseman, and J-Rod (John Rodriguez), the rookie whose hot bat last year seems to have cooled.

  6. The bullpen. St. Louis' bullpen almost coughed up the game last night. Again. With few exceptions (Adam Wainwright being the most notable), the middle relievers seem to be reading from the Isringhausen playbook, giving up too many walks and hits.

  7. Dave Duncan. The Cardinals pitching coach may be great working with veterans (although the Mark Mulder experiment indicates otherwise), but I have a hunch he isn't that great working with young hurlers. (Case in point: Rick Ankiel.) I worry his coaching of Anthony Reyes or Wainwright could short-circuit their promising careers.

  8. Tony La Russa's lineup shuffle. Every game, La Russa has a different lineup. He'll have Edmonds bat cleanup one day, second the next. The only mainstays are Eckstein leading off and Pujols batting third. Pick a lineup and stick with it for a while. It just might work.

  9. Tony La Russa. I know. Tony's just the manager. He isn't the one leaving runners on base. He isn't giving up the home runs, walks and doubles over Edmonds' head. But he's the skipper of the team, and he isn't getting the job done. He's the one leaving starting pitchers in too long. He's the one yanking relievers out of the game after they toss to only one or two batters. I still think he's a brilliant manager, one of the best in baseball today. But his style doesn't seem to be producing results these days.

  10. The front office. The Cardinals owners have been tightwads. They've gotten a lot of mileage out of some so-so players, some has-beens, and some never-wases. They have two marquee players in Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen, and were smart enough to sign them both to long-term deals. So, there is a core to build the team around. But they're going to have to invest in pitching and in the outfield.

  11. The losing streak. The Cardinals aren't used to losing on a consistent basis. This recent eight-game skid put them in a funk. The past two nights, they were playing like losers. I hope the streak doesn't do irreparable harm.

  12. My fellow Cardinals fans. We're spoiled, folks. We're used to a team that wins consistently -- well, at least through September. And now that we've gotten a taste of what it's like to lose a few games, well, we don't like it. And when a streak like this past eight-game skid continues, we're in danger of becoming Cubs fans. My advice is to think back, reach back to those days when you loved the Redbirds despite their record. For me, it goes back to the '70s, when Cardinals greats like Ted Simmons, Lou Brock and Joe Torre were performing well, even when the team as a whole wasn't.

  13. I should end this on a positive note, so let me say that there are a lot of things I love about Cardinals baseball. The fans are loyal, Pujols and Rolen are rock-solid players, Edmonds can still make a spectacular play in center field on occasion, and David Eckstein is the gutsiest player around. Juan Encarnacion is coming on. Once in a while, Isringhausen fools hitters. And I love my St. Louis Cardinals.

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:: Andrew 07:16 + ::

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