Cardinals news from a Sabermetric point of view

Recap: Cubs 5, Cardinals 4 (11 innings)

It has been a long season, and Mike Matheny insists on making it seem longer. In a season pockmarked with ill-advised sacrifice bunting, Matheny has saved one of his best for the last couple of weeks. Stop us if you’ve heard a variant of this one before: Jon Jay leads off the game with a double. Matheny decides to have Carlos Beltran sacrifice bunt. That’s right: The #2 batter of the game. The Cardinals home-run leader, with 29. Against Chris Volstad (2012 FIP: 4.99). At Wrigley Field, where Beltran is at his most deadly (career .426 OBP/.599 SLG). As Keith Law would say, #smrtbaseball.

  • Perhaps Matheny read our post about Beltran’s above-average HR/FB and figured he was bound to regress.
  • Or was Beltran acting on his own?
  • The sins of the previous series are often visited on the present. Matheny injudiciously and robotically used Jason Motte to “save” the 5-0 win over the Astros two days prior (“save situation, must use closer”), meaning that Motte was unavailable Friday, having made three straight appearances. Come the ninth inning Friday, the Cardinals had a two-run lead with a pinch hitter and the top of the order due, Matheny was forced to turn to second-tier reliever Fernando Salas. At least one Matheny apologist thought that Matheny may not have used Motte, even had he been available. The facts of the record book tell us otherwise: Matheny has not once this season entrusted a save situation in the ninth inning to anyone but Motte. Prior to Friday, of course.
  • Even conceding the near-impossibility that Matheny wouldn’t have used Motte in the ninth, he beyond the shadow of a doubt would’ve used him in the 10th or 11th.
  • We’re not sure why the official scorer ruled Jay’s “double” as an error on David DeJesus. It wasn’t as if he lost it in the sun.
  • So did any of the Cardinal fans at Wrigley boo Beltran’s bunt?
  • Chris Carpenter had a successful, if pedestrian and not dominant first start of the season.¬† A full third of his balls hit into play (six) were line drives, and he wound up with a 5.26 xFIP. We’re not sure that we’d deem it “impressive,” as the Cardinals’ web site has it.
  • Daniel Descalso‘s squeeze attempt¬† with Pete Kozma on third an none out in the fourth was a ridiculous idea (the suicide aspect was utterly unnecessary), and had not been for a little luck in the ball getting by Cub catcher Wellington Castillo, Matheny would’ve been torched. He should have been, regardless of outcome.
  • Kozma increased his already considerable triple rate with another three bagger in the fourth.
  • The fact that it was a suicide and not a simple squeeze made all the difference in the box score, with Kozma getting credit for the stolen base. The relevant rule from the book (emphasis ours):

    10.07 Stolen Bases And Caught Stealing
    The official scorer shall credit a stolen base to a runner whenever the runner advances one base unaided by a hit, a putout, an error, a force-out, a fielder’s choice, a passed ball, a wild pitch or a balk, subject to the following:
    (a) When a runner starts for the next base before the pitcher delivers the ball and the pitch results in what ordinarily is scored a wild pitch or passed ball, the official scorer shall credit the runner with a stolen base and shall not charge the misplay, unless, as a result of the misplay, the stealing runner advances an extra base, or another runner also advances, in which case the official scorer shall score the wild pitch or passed ball as well as the stolen base.

  • Allen Craig is going to get himself killed with his footwork around first base. He has a bad habit of putting more of his foot on the bag than necessary, exposing himself to the runner’s landing, and yesterday stepped in the middle of the bag on Dave Sappelt’s infield chopper in the ninth (Sappelt appeared safe). It was a bang-bang play, but the Cardinals need Craig to play smarter and stay on the active side of the 25-man roster in his career.
  • Full disclosure: If the Cubs were going to win, we’re glad that the culprit was David DeJesus, whose contribution enhanced our fantasy-league team’s chance of winning the first round of the playoffs.

3 Responses to “Recap: Cubs 5, Cardinals 4 (11 innings)”

  1. Brandon Says:

    At what point do we hold the front office accountable for this continuing lunacy? I mean, the front office determined Matheny’s staff, the front office obviously made the decision to hire him in the first place, and the front office obviously made a calculated decision to hire a manager without the clout to challenge internal decisions (read: not TLR). So why can’t that same organization simply explain to Mr. Matheny that continuing to sacrifice is not in the club’s interest and will not be in his personal interest as regards his continued employment prospects?

    If it were TLR, we would probably be well served to just blame him. If it were Joe Torre or Bobby Cox or even Dusty Baker, same story. But a rookie manager who already agreed to an arrangement where the front office determines his staff?

  2. Pip Says:

    Your question may be based on a false premise. That is, it assumes that the front office doesn’t approve of the managing tactics. For all we know, they could be completely supportive of the approach.

  3. Brandon Says:

    That could be completely true. I’m just saying that it’s obvious Matheny doesn’t have anywhere near the autonomy that TLR or Joe Torre had in their time in St. Louis. And it seems that the front office is at least somewhat aware of the state of the art in these matters – although that may be deemphasized with the departure of Luhnow. For me, I see Matheny as a floor-level supervisor who does make day to day decisions, but who does not make big picture decisions. For someone who’s placed in that kind of position, I tend to blame the higher management for not seeing it. By contrast, if you want a manager like TLR, heaven help the GM who calls him in and tells him when to bunt. Tradeoffs in all things……

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