Should we be concerned about Wainwright?

It’s been the tale of two seasons for Adam Wainwright. At the All Star Break he stood at 12-4 with a 1.83 ERA. He started the All Star Game and many were listing him next to Clayton Kershaw as a Cy Young Award candidate. That talk has been tempered as he’s struggled to a 4-5 record and 4.82 ERA since.

Many spoke of the loss of Yadier Molina hurting Wainwright on the mound. He has a 2.83 career ERA while throwing to Molina, but a 4.02 ERA with anyone else behind the plate. While I think that can be attributed for some of the lack of success, it’s not so much just because of Molina being behind the plate. To me it’s more the comfort level that Wainwright and Molina have with each other. When you throw 90% of your innings to the same catcher, you just aren’t going to develop the same level of comfort, respect, and trust in anyone else. So when they’re replaced, you’re starting from square one. Or at least square two.

Wainwright has also mentioned that he’s been struggling a bit with dead arm. According to Derrick Goold, if Wainwright is willing to admit it he is almost through it. [click to continue…]

Molina on deck to return

Yadier Molina wrapped up a two-game rehab stint last night and topped it off by reportedly covering a post-game spread of steak and lobster for his short-term Springfield Cardinals teammates. While there he went 5-for-6 with three extra base hits. He has declared himself ready to return and ready to start for St. Louis in tonight’s game against the Chicago Cubs, but we are still waiting on official word of his return from the Cardinals.

Just how has the catcher position fared during Molina’s absence and will this be a beneficial move for the Cardinals? Most will answer, how can it not be?

It’s true, Yadier Molina is widely viewed as the heart and soul of this team. As one of my softball teammates told me last night, he views Molina as the MVP of baseball because of what he means to the Cardinals pitching staff. And he is probably right. Here’s a look at how the catcher position and the team has done in his absence. [click to continue…]

Leadership. Do the Cardinals have it?

In the book An Integrative Theory of Leadership, Martin Chemers defines leadership as, “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.” It’s one of those things that fans use when talking about players on their favorite sports teams. Cardinals fans have used “leader” to define a number of players who have been around the team. Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday, Albert Pujols, and Chris Carpenter have all been described as leaders.

Why? Because they’re hard working, good character players who play the game the “right way.” All things that are important to leadership, but not the same thing.

There are a few main kinds of leadership that can be exhibited. One is leadership by position, which would be Mike Matheny. He is a clubhouse leader because of his position, he is the team manager. [click to continue…]

Hurdle schools Matheny without trying

To borrow from Kenny Rogers (not the baseball player), “Youve got to know when to hold ‘emKnow when to fold ‘em.” After last night’s 8th inning, it’s pretty clear that Mike Matheny still has to learn that. Hope he doesn’t play poker.

Seth Maness came to the mound to pitch the 8th inning of a 2-2 game. He struck out Russell Martin. Then back-to-back singles came by Gaby Sanchez and Starling Marte. Then he got Clint Barmes to line out. Ike Davis got the call to pinch hit.

Up until now, Maness had faced four straight right handed batters. Batters he holds to a .252/.271/.333 line this season. But now Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was turning to the left handed Davis to turn the tide. Maness allows left handers a line of .307/.351/.500 off of him. Davis hits .254 this season against right handed pitchers, as opposed .100 against left handed ones. [click to continue…]

Matheny puts himself in a box

Last night Mike Matheny told the media after the game that he had decided that only four relievers were available out of the bullpen for Saturday’s game. He also added that he wanted Kevin Siegrist to pitch two innings of relief. Let’s tackle this.

It seems like Matheny put himself in a box that he didn’t have to put himself into. First, he decided that only Siegrist, Trevor Rosenthal, Randy Choate, and Nick Greenwood were the only pitchers available in relief. That meant that the three relivers who had pitched the day before, weren’t available to pitch back-to-back days. A good decision in theory. Pitching guys on back-to-back days should be avoided if possible, but that plan needs to change when an opportunity to win arises. Especially if they are two of your better relief options.

Why should Sam Freeman and Pat Neshek been available to pitch on Saturday after pitching Friday (note that neither pitched Thursday)? Because they happen to be the two best pitchers on the staff in such situations. In fact, they are the only two relievers on the team who have been any good at this year. [click to continue…]