Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Urban sophisticates and Cardinalis cardinalis

For fairness sake I figured I should do an NLCS preview too. Just like yesterday, I'm grading lineup, rotation, bench, bullpen and defense.


Leading off -
NYM - SS Jose Reyes, .300/.354/.487, 64 SB, 17 CS.
StL - SS David Eckstein, .292/.350/.344, 7 SB, 6 CS.
As everyone knows, Eckstein leads the world in Scrap and Hustle Index (SHI) at a robust 67.4, whereas Reyes's SHI is a fairly pedestrian 28.2. But when it comes to playing actual baseball, Reyes is better. Advantage Mets.

Batting second -
NYM - C Paul LoDuca, .318/.355/.428, 3 SB, 0 CS.
StL - LF Preston Wilson, .263/.307/.423, 12 SB, 2 CS.
The NLCS, if nothing else, will answer for most baseball fans the question "Is Preston Wilson still alive?" Indeed he is. But he sucks. Advantage Mets.

Batting third -
NYM - CF Carlos Beltran, .275/.388/.594, 18 SB, 3 CS.
StL - 1B Albert Pujols, .331/.431/.671, 7 SB, 2 CS.
Sorry Carlos, you're a fine ballplayer but you sir are no Albert Pujols. Advantage Cardinals.

Batting fourth -

NYM - 1B Carlos Delgado, .265/.361/.548, 0 SB, 0 CS.
StL - 3B Scott Rolen, .296, .369/.518, 7 SB, 4 CS.
In 25 years, will people view Carlos Delgado as a man who courageously decided to speak his mind, rather than an anti-American ballplayer who is, therefore, with the terrorists? God I hope so. Oh yeah, he's better than even a 100% healthy Rolen. Advantage Mets.

Batting fifth -
NYM - 3B David Wright, .311/.381/.531, 20 SB, 5 CS.
StL - RF Juan Encarnacion, .278/.317/.443, 6 SB, 5 CS.
It could get really ugly with the hacktastic Encarnacion facing the nibblers on the Mets' staff. Advantage Mets.

Batting sixth -
NYM - LF Cliff Floyd, .244/.324/.407, 6 SB, 0 CS.
StL - CF Jim Edmonds, .257/.350/.471, 4 SB, 0 CS.
This assumes Floyd plays - his replacement would be Endy Chavez who is better, but still not as good as Edmonds. Advantage Cardinals.

Batting seventh -
NYM - RF Shawn Green, .277/.344/.432, 4 SB, 4 CS.
StL - 2B Ronnie Belliard, .271/.322/.402, 0 SB, 3 CS.
Two guys who started the season with other teams. The corpse of Shawn Green continues to collect a major league paycheck and, what's more, hold down a starting spot for a playoff team. Unfortunately for the Cards, he's STILL better than Belliard. Advantage Mets.

Batting eighth -
NYM - 2B Jose Valentin, .271/.330/.490, 6 SB, 2 CS.
StL - C Yadier Molina, .216/.274/.321, 1 SB, 2 CS.
Yadier is Spanish for "Somehow sucks even more than Bengie and Jose". Do you think Tony LaRussa made a deal with the devil that landed him Albert Pujols but ensured he would never have a catcher who could hit his weight? Advantage Mets.

So I have Mets 6, Cardinals 2. The Cards have the best player in the entire series, but the Mets have perhaps the best 1-5 in all of baseball. Obviously, the lineup is a huge advantage for the Mets.

Bench - The Mets have the aforementioned Endy Chavez, World's Oldest Man Julio Franco, Ramon Castro doing the backup catching duties, Chris Woodward and Michael Tucker. The Cardinals bring Chris Duncan (.293/.363/.589 this year), Scott Spiezio, John Rodriguez, Aaron Miles, So Taguchi, and Gary Bennett doing the backup catching duties. The only player on the Mets worth much is Chavez, and he may end up starting. The Cards can throw Duncan, Spiezio and Rodriguez at you. Huge advantage for the Cardinals.

Rotations -
(the numbers here, again, are BB/9, K/9, HR/9, ERA and VORP)
1) NYM - Tom Glavine, 2.82/5.95/1.00/3.82/37.8
StL - Jeff Weaver, 2.46/5.60/1.78/5.76/-2.7
Yes, Jeff Weaver racked up a negative VORP this year. He was, it should be said, somewhat hit unlucky and his peripherals are better than his ERA would indicate. Except for HR/9, which is a disaster for Weaver. Especially against a lineup that eats up right handed pitching. Advantage Mets.

2) NYM - John Maine, 3.30/7.10/1.50/3.60/19.7
StL - Jeff Suppan, 3.27/4.93/0.99, 4.12/26.1
This is not that much of a mismatch - Maine strikes guys out, but gives up homers. Some will give Suppan the edge since he's a veteran - don't believe them, because that is outweighed by the fact that, for the most part, Suppan sucks. No one can be successful with those walk and K numbers. Something has to give there. Advantage Mets.

3) NYM - Steve Trachsel, 4.26/4.32/1.26/4.97/15.8
StL - Chris Carpenter, 1.75/7.47/0.85/3.09/67.2
Much like in the lineup with Pujols, St. Louis features the best pitcher in the series in Chris Carpenter. LaRussa gets him for game 7 if the series goes that far, which could tip the balance. Huge advantage Cardinals.

4) NYM - Oliver Perez, 5.43/8.15/1.50/6.55/-2.3
StL - Jason Marquis, 3.47/4.45/1.62/6.02/-6.8
It's our first two sucky pitcher battle. Compare the pitching in this series to that in the A's/Tigers matchup - except for Carpenter and maybe Glavine there is no one in this series who would be starting for the A's or Tigers. Between these two terrible pitchers, I'll watch football on Sunday night. Draw.

So the scorecard I've got is Mets 2, Cards 1 with one draw. If Carpenter could have gone three times he might have swung the balance, but he can't so I have advantage Mets.

Bullpen -
The Mets are going with Billy Wagner, Pedro Feliciano, Darren Oliver, Aaron Heilman, Chad Bradford, Guillermo Mota, Roberto Hernandez and Royce Ring. The Cards bring Adam Wainwright, Braden Looper, Brad Thompson, Josh Hancock, Josh Kinney, Tyler Johnson and Randy Flores. Even if you consider Oliver and Hernandez frauds, the Mets still have quality pitchers in Wagner, Feliciano, Bradford, Mota and, to some extent, Heilman. The good part of the Cards bullpen is Wainwright, Looper, Thompson and Kinney. The Mets are better at the top and deeper. Advantage Mets.

Defense -
The Mets' Defensive Efficiency is 0.708, good for second in the NL, whereas the Cardinals are at 0.704, 6th in the NL. Statistically there isn't much difference there, so I'll call it a draw.

So I have it as follows:
Lineup: Advantage Mets
Bench: Advantage Cardinals
Rotation: Advantage Mets
Bullpen: Advantage Mets
Defense: Draw

This is, on paper, a huge mismatch favoring the Mets. The Cardinals lack the one thing, left-handed pitching, that can shut down the Mets lineup. The best hope for the Cards is to hang on as long as possible and hope they can get it to game 7, when they can get the ball into Chris Carpenter's hands. I doubt this'll happen. My prediction: Mets in 5.


Blogger David Bowie said...

This underscores again the failure of the Padres, who after a year of increased expectations could once again not make it out of the first round despite having the better team. Bochy may be a very popular, long standing manager who has taken them to the World Series before, but it is time to bring in a fiery, red-assed motivator like Pinella to get the message to these men who only care about their statistics and paychecks.

Anyway, five seems about right, giving the Cardinals the game 3 win at home behind Carpenter and nothing else.

Tue Oct 10, 09:45:00 PM EDT  

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