Preseason Approval Ratings: Survey Results

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.

Game 6: Pirates 3, Cardinals 1

Once again the Cardinals find themselves on the wrong side of the runs column. It’s beginning to be a regular thing these days. Now 2-4 to start the season. The last Cardinals’ team that I found that started 2-4 was the 2007 version. I think it’s interesting to note that both of those teams lacked their ace. In game 1 of that 2007 season the Cardinals lost Chris Carpenter, it would be the only start he made all season. The 2007 Cardinals finished third, just 7 games out of a playoff spot and were battling for the division lead at the beginning of September. It was a three team race in 2007, much like it’s expected to be this year in the NL Central.
Time for my all positive thoughts… Nothing negative here.
Chris Carpenter put up another impressive start. Didn’t get into the 7th inning, as I prefer starting pitchers do, but 6 innings with 1 earned run (thank you Mr. Pujols) is still pretty good.
Colby Rasmus, though he went 0-for-4, nearly hit what would have been the go-ahead home run in the bottom of the 5th (or maybe 6th, not writing these right after the game decays my mental notes). The ball was caught at the warning track with guys on first and third. That would have been a big burst of offense and Rasmus has probably been the team’s best player through the first six days of the season. If he can keep it up once Pujols gets back on track, watch out, this team could be potent.
Daniel Descalso was sweet at the hot corner today. Who knew he had an arm? Twice he made a great play to gun out a guy at first and I’m not even sure Freese could have made those plays. 
The team will now get a much needed day off and hopefully back on track Friday against the Giants as they play the next nine straight days on a west coast swing. It would be nice to see Holliday back and available to pinch hit this weekend, though I’ll admit that I’m not up on the latest on him.
Hero of the Game: Nobody but Carpenter is exceptionally deserving. So Chris Carpenter it is. (6.0 IP, 8 H, 0 BB, 1 ER, 6 K)
Zero of the Game: Everyone was about equally bad today. Two guys that stick out to me would be Descalso or Jason Motte. Descalso left 4 men on base, despite going 1-for-4, but he had some slick defensive plays that saved at least one run. Motte came in in the late innings and let Pittsburgh tack one more run on the board. I’m thinking I’m going to lean Jason Motte, when the offense is struggling, gotta keep the runs off the board. (1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 0 K)

Preseason Approval Ratings: Pitchers

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.

Game 5: Cardinals 3, Pirates 2

Is that the hallelujah chorus I hear? No? Well it should be! The Cardinals eked one out tonight with a hit by Albert Pujols that just barely squeaked past the infielders. Plus, it wouldn’t be the ninth inning without Ryan Franklin letting someone on base. My thoughts on the game:
Kyle McClellan did everything we could have asked him to do. Threw a strong six innings and kept us in the ballgame. You have to rely on the offense to score some runs because no pitcher will always be perfect. He made one real mistake in the first inning that resulted in a two run home run by Lyle Overbay, but settled in after that. Who can blame him? The St. Louis boy making his debut as a starter in front of the home crowd, my nerves would be flying. In the end, six innings, 6 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts.
Colby Rasmus has turned into a beast in the two spot so far this season. He goes 2-for-3 tonight with a walk to improve his batting average to .400 on the short season. Hitting in front of Albert, even a slumping Albert, has gotten him hot. If he can maintain the attention he seems to be paying to the game, this may be the season he polishes his game and puts it all together for a very big year. Return of the MV3 in 2011? We could see it with Rasmus, Pujols, and Holliday in the middle of the lineup.
And yeah, Albert Pujols finally comes through. He might not be out of his slow start yet, but he manages to get the game winning RBI and for 13 or 14 hours, all will be right with the world. It wasn’t a very well hit ball, but it went between the infielders for a hit at a crucial time and that’s what matters.
Hero of the Game: Craig and Pujols are obviously both very good candidates, but I’m going to give it to Kyle McClellan tonight. (6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 2 ER, 7 K)
Zero of the Game: Does there have to be one? I think I’m just excited about another win. Looking at the boxscore, I think that has to go to Gerald Laird, though David Freese could get it too as his struggles at the plate continued. It was his first start of the season, and I heard the 600th game of his career. Unfortunately, he did not celebrate it in style. (0-for-4, 2 K, GIDP, 3 LOB)

Game 4: Pirates 4, Cardinals 3

Kyle Lohse turned in five solid innings before his first walk of 2011 came back to bite him in a 4 run sixth inning. All in all, probably one of the better fundamental games of the season. Considering the lack of fundamentals, I’ve decided that was worth noting. However, here are my three thoughts.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Cardinals had Lance Berkman on first, Albert Pujols on third, with Allen Craig at the plate and none out. Tony LaRussa had Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene sitting on his bench and didn’t opt to pinch run for Berkman. I’m curious as to why as it probably became the game changing move after the Pirates short stop bobbled the ball and managed to just beat a sliding Berkman to second. If anyone faster is on first, there isn’t an out and you get another at bat in the inning. 
Yes, you’d already used your other outfielder on the roster in a pinch hitting situation, this is a place where only having 24 usable players has hurt the Cards. However, with the will to shuffle Descalso or Greene could have been used. Either Greene goes to right field or Schumaker does, in either case Greene or Descalso can play second. But LaRussa was probably unwilling to move Schumaker from second base. 
I know I got on Tony last season for managing us out of games, but this is one time where he sat on his hands and shouldn’t have. There were a couple of us on Twitter that realized this and we’ve never managed a major league ballclub, so why did we know it was the right decision?
That leads into my second point. How does Tyler Greene only have one plate appearance this season? The way he was talked about in the offseason led me to believe that he was going to be the primary guy off the bench this season. Instead, it’s Descalso getting the opportunities. For once, Tony has surprised me with how he’s handled guys off the bench. Part of me wonders if Greene is hurt and we just haven’t heard anything.
And finally, Lance Berkman should have played more outfield in Spring Training. His error in the top of the 4th was a result of having not played enough outfield and not having the right instincts. As a guy who plays outfield a lot, and usually right field at that, once you’ve decided how to pursue the ball you don’t change your mind. In this situation, Berkman was charging hard at the ball and changed his mind at the last minute and the ball bounced off his shoulder and away from him. Luckily it didn’t haunt us this time, but it’s something he’ll need to get back if he wants to be an every day right fielder. 
Hero of the Game: Tough call. I really liked how Lohse threw six of his seven innings. He bounced right back from the four runs, but I think it has to go to Lance Berkman. Beyond the error, he went 1-for-2 and drew a couple walks. (1-for-2, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB)
Zero of the Game: As much as I’d like to give it to Albert for another 0-for performance, it goes to David Freese tonight. Twice he came up with an opportunity to make something happened and struck out. (0-for-4, 2 K, 5 LOB)