Some fun Saturday afternoon suggestions on ways to improve the Cardinals team.
The final post in the series of the Cardinals’ preseason approval ratings. For those who aren’t familiar with the song that the line comes from in the photo caption, catch it YouTube here, it’s a 1996 classic. Today, I’m going to take a look at the final two ratings for management and the survey questions. And I’m not going to waste any time doing it!
Starting right off the bat, John Mozeliak. The Cardinals GM only scored a 6.5 on the approval ratings. Obviously his rating is hurting because of the recent lack of a contract for Albert Pujols. Personally, I gave him a 9, which was the highest rating anyone gave him.
Of course, you ask people what Mozeliak has done so wrong, and it’s hard to get an answer. He did break up the original MV3, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t think that was ultimately the right decision. He did deal away Jess Todd, Chris Perez, and Luke Gregerson, but those were to fill organizational holes from a perceived strength (though Perez and Gregerson are two guys I’d love to have back). He did deal away Ryan Ludwick, but it seemed like he wasn’t going to be returning to St. Louis this year anyway and we did end up re-signing Jake Westbrook who may not have signed with us had we not dealt for him.
And I think it’s unrealistic and unfair to lay the blame for Albert Pujols not having a new contract at his feet. A negotiation takes two, and ultimately logic suggests that Albert wanted more than the Cardinals were willing to give him and vice versa. Their valuation of what Albert could expect obviously didn’t line up. I don’t think hitting free agency is going to hurt the Cardinals’ chances either. If Albert’s to be believed that he wants to return, then we’ll get the opportunity to match an offer. Then the Cardinals get to decide. But to think that Mozeliak has the last say on Pujols’ contract, is a little unfair. It will be a combination of factors at fault if Mozeliak decides to leave.
Apologies, I got a bit on a ranting there, but let’s move on to another polarizing figure in the Cardinals’ organization, Tony LaRussa. LaRussa scored a 6.3 with Cardinals’ fans. Many I know had finally decided that it was time for the Cardinals to let LaRussa go after his 15 years with the franchise. I know that I was on that boat. In the past, LaRussa managed us to extra wins whereas I felt he managed us out of games last season. When you cost me more wins than you get me, it’s time to consider looking in another direction.
Now that is management, let’s move on to the survey questions.
The first question that I posed was, how happy are you with the way the Cardinals team will look on Opening Day? On this count, the Cardinals scored a 6.7. That’s pretty up the middle. Unfortunately, I don’t have any previous year examples to compare that with. But it’s fair to say that the fans who took my survey consider this team nothing special, but nothing bad either.
When asked how competitive they think the Cardinals will be, they scored a 6.9 on the scale of 10 being World Series champions and 1 being at the bottom of the league. I think what you can draw from that is most Cardinals’ fans expect a team that plays above .500. Maybe poke at the leaders in the Central a bit.
When asked who they thought the first player to be called up from Memphis this season would be, it was almost a unanimous choice for Matt Carpenter. Carpenter is obviously still riding his strong spring. The #2 option was Lance Lynn, though P.J. Walters and Fernando Salas each had a mention or two.
The next question was sort of reactionary to a couple games I saw in spring training that had Yadier Molina catching all 9 innings. Personally, the handling of Molina is something I’m very opinionated on. With the innings that he has racked up on those knees at catcher the last two years, I’d like to be a little more careful with him this season. To me, spring training was a perfect opportunity to give him a slight break and not to overuse him. I don’t think the majority of Cardinals’ fans care as much as I do, as LaRussa’s handling of Molina’s innings got a 7.1.
And finally, the question I had to throw on because it’s the #1 question facing Cardinals fans through this season and hanging over our heads. How confident are you that the Cardinals will sign Albert Pujols to an extension? Cardinals fans seem relatively optimistic at a 7.4.
I want to thank everyone who has read this series and filled out a survey form. Please keep an eye for late April for the April Approval Ratings survey to be posted and spammed on the Redbird Dugout Facebook (a few more likes and we get our own username!) and Twitter pages. And thank you to everyone who has read articles here on Redbird Dugout through the first week of this month giving us by far the best month we’ve had. Through one week we are on pace to quadruple February’s numbers and triple March’s.
Continuing my post series on the preseason Cardinals’ approval ratings. Today I’m going to move on to the pitching staff.
Adam Wainwright did not make an appearance on the list due to his injury, but I’m fairly certain that he would have been the highest rated pitcher on the staff. Call me crazy.
Instead, that opened the door for the Cardinals’ other ace, Chris Carpenter, to take the nod with his 8.5 rating. After a rough September last year, Carpenter has a lot of work to do to regain the “ace” status that many feel he lost last year to Adam Wainwright. It’s the year that the Cardinals need him too. Wainwright and other stepped up when he was hurt, now it’s his turn to step up.
Second on the list was a surprise to me as Kyle McClellan picks up an 8.0 rating. McClellan has been the go-to guy in the bullpen for the last three years, but moves into the starting rotation this year. He is buoyed by the strong spring where he took command of the battle for the fifth starter’s role. There’s a big hole in the bullpen now, but I think McClellan will be a sweet surprise in the rotation this season.
Next comes late season addition Jake Westbrook who scored a 7.5. He finished the season exceptionally strong, so it wasn’t a surprise that he notched up here. Though I was a little surprised that he exceeded the number that Jaime Garcia, who scored a 7.4, got. Close enough to virtually be equal but it was interesting.
I was also surprised by Kyle Lohse at a 7.2. Seems many fans are giving him a break on his injury and have buoyed him up due to his strong spring where he didn’t walk a single batter. Perhaps there is also hope that he is once again completely healthy and ready to perform at the 2008 levels that earned him the contract that makes him the second highest paid Cardinals’ starter.
After that it comes the bullpen guys. Really surprised as Mitchell Boggs, Trever Miller, Fernando Salas, and Ryan Franklin all scored 6.8. I guess most fans view the entire bullpen as interchangeable. Bryan Augenstein was close too with his 6.7.
Jason Motte came in with a 6.2 and I have to wonder why. He seemed to break out last season, but perhaps it was his slow start in spring training that cost him a rating higher up with the rest of his bullpen-mates.
Also, new bullpen arm Miguel Batista, who just picked up the win tonight, scored a 6.1. He might have gotten knocked down because he was new, but I think the fact that most fans felt that the bullpen would be in better hands with the younger pitchers also contributed to the low rating. Ultimately, he has performed fairly well both in spring training and this young season, thus far.
The lowest man on the totem pole was Brian Tallet with his 5.9. Ultimately, I think his rating was reduced due to many not being familiar with him. When he was picked up, I know I wasn’t the only one that went “Who?” and then responded with “Why?” after seeing his stats.
And getting to the one minor league pitcher on the list, Shelby Miller scored a 7.7. That basically makes him the third highest rated Cardinals’ pitcher. He’s still at least a year away from garnering any real consideration for the big league club, but it shows that he’s impressed and he’s on the minds of Cardinal nation.