The Cardinals

currently are a team performing as a collection of replacement-level players. As defined by sabermetrics, a replacement-level player is the worst-level of performance that a player can sustain while maintaining his job in Major League Baseball. We’ll use Equivalent Average, or EqA to define what’s replacement-level or not.
A 0.260 EqA is standard major league-average performance. Replacement-level performance is about 0.230 EqA. Historically, according to Baseball Prospectus, players who can’t maintain an EqA of at least 0.230 will not keep their major league jobs.

To expound upon this definition, we’ll use a series of ranges to define performance, as far as EqA goes:

Minor Leaguer: 0.170 to 0.230
MLB Fringe (Replacement-level): 0.230 to 0.260
MLB Regular: 0.260 to 0.300
MLB All-Star: 0.300 to 0.330
Hall of Famer: 0.330 +

A look at the Cardinals regular lineup, plus a couple of key bench players reveals the following, with statistics as of Friday, April 20th:

Player EqA VORP
——- —– ——-
Eckstein 0.233 -1.4
Duncan 0.337 +7.0
Pujols 0.255 +1.2
Rolen 0.200 -3.5
Edmonds 0.176 -3.8
Wilson 0.156 -2.2
Molina 0.269 0.0
Kennedy 0.182 -3.5
Spiezio 0.230 -1.3
Miles 0.239 -0.6

I’ve included Value Over Replacement Player, or VORP, to provide a comparison to EqA. VORP measures the value of a position player to a replacement-level hitter at the position he plays.

As the crude chart (my apologies for lack of TypePad expertise) shows, Chris Duncan is playing at Hall of Fame level, or more appropriately, he’s doing the kinds of things with the bat that Albert Pujols should be doing. Yadi Molina is hitting (finally) at MLB regular level. Pujols is showing solid MLB fringe-level performance…which is a darn good thing for a man making 12M+ a season. Aaron Miles, bench-level infielder is playing at his abilities…which is fringe-level MLB performance. Eckstein and Spiezio are on the low-end of the fringe, hitting well below their recent performance, excepting Spiezio’s injury-riddled Seattle tenure.

The heart of the lineup is where the giant gaping chasm exists:

Rolen: 0.200 EqA -3.5 VORP
Edmonds: 0.176 -3.8
Wilson: 0.156 -2.2

Granted, to depend on P-Dub for much would be like expecting a free lunch. Probably not going to happen. However, Rolen and Edmonds are currently ******* the life out of the lineup. They’re both hitting well below replacement-level. In other words, the Cardinals could bring up their Memphis (AAA) center fielder (Rick Ankiel!) and third-baseman (Travis Hanson) and expect to improve quite a bit.

Isn’t that scary? Of course, looking at their performance at Memphis, maybe not:

Ankiel: 0.780 OPS (only 12 hits in 57 AB, but 8 are of the extra-base variety)
Hanson: 0.442 OPS (that’s anemic)

So clearly, the big club doesn’t have any dramatic solution other than to hope that Rolen, Edmonds, Wilson, Kennedy, and Pujols begin some steady, if not dramatic improvement, in their production at the plate.

The 2007 season depends upon it.

Another way of looking at how poor the offense is right now, relative to the pitching, is the pythagorean record, or expected win percentage based upon the runs scored by the team and the runs against.

With 50 runs scored through 17 games, and 65 runs against, the Cardinals’ expected winning percentage is 0.372, or 37.2%. Through 17 games, that’s 6.32, or rounding off, 6 wins. So, Tony La Russa would be justified in saying to his team, “How’d we ever win 7?”

Of course, he won’t. They’ll just keep playing a hard nine and see what turns up. This year, at this moment, that’s just not good enough.



The answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.
Also the uniform number of Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman, Jackie Robinson.

Coincidence? Probably…but today, Major League Baseball is honoring Jack Roosevelt Robinson because this day, 60 years ago, Jackie broke the color barrier in the game of professional baseball. He withstood taunts, insults and harassment…from players on other teams, fans, and even some players on his own team…with class and grace and not only changed the game, but American society as well.

Jackie was a great athlete, but more importantly, a great and courageous human being.

Thanks, Jackie. We could use your example today on how to handle personal and societal challenges with grace and excellence.

Jackie’s Page at the Baseball Hall of Fame

Jackie Robinson Day coverage at

Jackie’s Wikipedia page

The Jackie Robinson Foundation

It’s like thunder…

lightning…the way your love is frightning…
I had written a beautiful (for me) post, and apparently, MLBlogs isn’t good about creating drafts without manual intervention on my part, so when the power went out in my hotel…I lost it.

Good grief, to quote the diagonal-sweater kid.

Meet the Mets

Greet the Mets, hopefully with a broom.
Well, it’s on…in 4 hours anyway. The Metropolitans are getting their chance at revenge for the National League pennant that should have been theirs, by their reckoning, or at least that of many of their fans.

That’s why the play the games. Even Cardinals fans would admit that a lot of times the better team doesn’t win (see 1985 WS Game 6 or 1968 WS Game 7). However, the delusion that the Mets were a much better team than the Cardinals at that point really should end. The Cards’ pitching was good enough to win in 7, and aside from one game (Game 4 in St. Louis), the Mets potent lineup was nullified.

And, oh by the way, Carlos Beltran is still dreaming about that called third strike. And he still can’t swing at it. That being said, good luck this season to Mets’ fans. Let’s hope there’s another Mets-Cards NLCS. It’s the way it should be.

Back, and probably not better than ever

However, since today is opening day…and the Cards are starting the MLB season with the title defense tonight, I figured it’s better than never to start blogging Redbird baseball again.
Seems like a few Cards bloggers have left MLBlogs, or have been inactive…I, being one of them…but Cardinal Nation has to represent, so here we go…

1) I think the Cardinals will repeat as Central Division Champs this year, however they won’t get past the NLCS, or perhaps even the NLDS. I’m willing to give them a bit of a pass this year with the first World Championship in 24 years. Re-tool, re-arm, play a hard nine and see where it ends up. I just can’t see them going deep in the playoffs…and not because of the rotation turnover. I think the starting lineup is potentially weak, especially if Edmonds can’t return somewhat to form…Duncan takes a step back…and Adam Kennedy gets off to a slow start. The Encarnacion/Wilson/Taguchi platoon is what it is, and to expect much production from it is a chimera.

2) That being said, I think the starting rotation will do exceedingly well. They’ll have to in order for the team to stay in contention for the playoffs in the “Dodge City, KS” that is the National League. I expect Anthony Reyes to be the 5th starter by performance. Too many fly balls yields too many home runs. However, I think his ERA will be around 4.20…Suppan-level performance from Flat Iron, as it were.

3) Scott Rolen will return to form. He’ll have to as well. If not, Albert will be lucky to get pitched to at all.

4) Really, a lot of things have to break right for the Cardinals to have a great to outstanding team. I think they’ll be a pretty good team, and make the playoffs…I just can’t see much past that. Regardless, every game, I’ll be expecting them to win…and I’ll actually believe that my interest in the team will have an impact on their on-field performance. Like most baseball fans. Nothin’ wrong with that, huh??

As I predicted…

so far anyway…the Cards are 5-1 on their current homestand. A sweep of the Pirates stands in the way of an 8-1 stretch as I hoped would happen. With Carp on the mound tonight, it should be 6-1. Knock on wood.
Anyway, nice couple of games for the team not formerly known as comeback kids. Marquis still bites, but I’m back on the Suppan bandwagon, in fact I think I’m driving it. He deserves to be back next year. I think he’s a good cost-effective 5th starter.

I’m off to Chicago for a wedding…not my own. I should be able to keep abreast of happenings while I’m gone. In a couple of weeks I’m heading to Baltimore and have already bought tickets to an Orioles-Sawx game on the 13th. I can’t wait to see Camden Yards for the first time!

I want to believe

that Mulder is not done, but after last night’s shelling, let’s admit that it’s over. At least for this season.
Sign him to a one-year, incentive laden deal. After his inevitable surgery, he might come back with a clean bill of health, and a good arm slot. Or not. But his career is now a reclamation project.

On the plus side of the margin, the team is actually thinking of going after Babe, Jr. Sounds like a good 4-5 regular season starts, and a couple of playoff-starts. Why the heck not? Of course, they won’t get him anyway. The management won’t give up enough…and they better not give up too much. Especially for a rental.