Cardinals

JACOBER: Half Done… Or Half Over?

Ron Jacober
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St. Louis Cardinals injured first baseman Lance Berkman jokes with teammates in the dugout during a game against the Colorado Rockies at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 2, 2012. Berkman who is recovering from a May knee injury, announced he is rehabbing and is several weeks away from playing.     UPI/Bill Greenblatt

St. Louis Cardinals injured first baseman Lance Berkman jokes with teammates in the dugout during a game against the Colorado Rockies at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on July 2, 2012. Berkman who is recovering from a May knee injury, announced he is rehabbing and is several weeks away from playing. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

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The Cardinals have reached the half way point of the season and the All-Star break and where are the World Champs? Just dancing with the .500 mark. That won’t be good enough.

If you want to crunch some numbers, check this out. They lead the National League in team batting average, runs scored, RBI’s, on base percentage and they are near the top in home runs. They have more hits than any team in the majors–except for the Texas Rangers.

So, why are they dancing around the .500 mark? Yes, you could say injuries. I know the old line is all teams have injuries. But, when you lose Chris Carpenter, Jamie Garcia, Lance Berkman, Jon Jay, Skip Shoemacker, and Kyle McClellan, that’s a big factor.

But, in my opinion, the problem has been pitching. When the team is at or near the top in virtually all offensive categories without the guy who used to wear number 5, and are not 15 games over .500 at the break, well it has to be the pitching. It has taken Adam Wainwright half the season to approach his 2010 level of performance after missing last season with the elbow surgery. Missing Carpenter and a healthy Garcia has put big time strain on what would have been a top notch starting staff. Lance Lynn has been remarkable and that has helped. But too often the starters are not getting deep enough into games and that exposes the bullpen. Therein lies the reason the Cardinals are not better. The bullpen. In recent games, it’s been better but for most of the first half, Mike Matheny never knew what he was going to get. Many times, what he got was blown leads and blown saves.

Check out the bullpen ERA’s as of July 5th
Ramero 10.13 (gone after 11 games)
Sanchez 6.60
Freeman 6.00
Rzepczynski 5.65
Salas 5.60
McClellan 5.30
Cleto 4.50
Marte 3.82
Motte3.16 (4 blown saves in 22 chances)

So, the bullpen must be much better in the second half if the Cardinals are going to play in October. They are on a pace to win 84 games. Even in the weak Central Division, that won’t be good enough

Good to see that David Freese made the All-Star team in the fan voting at the end. But how valid is any of that when you can sit at your computer and vote as often as you want? But those are the rules. Finally, I’ll bet Dusty Baker and the Cincinnati Red are even more angry and red faced now that Freese has been added. There are five Cardinal players, plus Tony LaRussa who will manage the National League team, coaches Mark McGwire, Derek Lilliquist, and Jose Oquendo along with three Cardinal coaches from the 2011 World Championship team–Dave Duncan, Joe Pittini and Dave McKay. Baker is probably demanding an investigation by the Commissioner on all that Cardinal presence. I’ll bet Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto wants to go kick someone. Oh, wait a minute. He’s already done that hasn’t he.

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