It was reported that one of the first questions asked of Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak during last Saturday’s press conference to announce the Mark DeRosa trade was essentially, “Okay, so we got DeRosa. What’s next?”
Which to those of us at Grubb Hub, begs the obvious question: Why can’t the St. Louis media grill Tony La Russa the way they do Mozeliak? Is it because Mozeliak has a generally nice disposition, and is at least tolerant of legitimate criticism?
This, of course, is in stark contrast to Ton E. La Russa: Super Genius, who grows as huffy as if he’d just had his third-favorite dog kicked the few times he’s actually questioned about his latest head-scratching move or lineup configuration.
Case in point: That same day, the Cardinals were leading the Minnesota Twins by the score of 5-3 in the bottom of the third inning – thanks once again to the super-human talents of Albert Pujols, who had homered his first two trips to the plate.
Relief pitcher Josh Kinney, who was batting in the eighth spot (*sigh*), came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs.
Let’s toss aside the obvious point for the moment that if the pitcher wasn’t batting eighth (*sigh*), once again you would’ve had an actual hitter at the plate for this crucial at bat.
Even so, starting pitcher Todd Wellemeyer had already gone by the wayside. Kinney is not exactly a long reliever anyway, so wouldn’t it make sense at this point to go for the gusto, pinch hit for Kinney (.000 AVG, 0 HR, 0 RBI) and try to extend that 5-3 lead? Remember it was only the third inning. To expect a two run lead to hold up for the next six innings is not exactly playing the percentages.
Nope, sorry folks. After three girlish swings, Kinney sat down, and the bases loaded threat was no more.
The Cardinals did go on to win the game by the same score (5-3) but that’s not the point. If you really thought the Cardinals bullpen would go the final 6-2/3 innings without giving up a run, you’re lying. Besides, Kinney was taken out the following inning anyway.
And with Wellemeyer leaving after only 2-1/3 innings, it was already a given that La Russa was going to use 532 pitchers to finish the game. So why not pinch hit with the bases loaded and two outs and try to break the game open? I guess La Russa figured Pujols would homer a couple more times anyway, so there was no need to try and score.
If the media can repeatedly grill Mozeliak and the front office about not trading away the entire farm system for 34 year-old, soon-to-be free agents, why can’t they ask La Russa one stinking question about a situation where batting the pitcher eighth had an obvious negative impact?
Remember the month of April, Cardinal fans, when your beloved birds were leading the league in nearly every offensive category? Do you remember where the pitcher batted for most of that month? That’s right, ninth.
Then the offense sputtered a little bit. In an effort to jump-start things, La Russa went back to batting to the pitcher eighth (*sigh*) again.
Well, that obviously worked out well, didn’t it?
At what point can we all admit that this whole pitcher batting eighth thing is based more in the massive ego of a lunatic manager than any real strategy? At what point can we maybe try something else, namely, going back to batting the pitcher ninth, just like every other team in over 125 years of Major League Baseball history has done.
Regardless, I think it would also help immensely if La Russa just played the best lineup every night, instead of the idiotic game of musical chairs going on now.
Right now, that lineup is:
- Schumaker 2B
- Rasmus CF
- Pujols 1B
- Ludwick OF
- DeRosa 3B
- Ankiel/Duncan OF
- Molina C
- Ryan SS
- THE FREAKING PITCHER
Of course, you could tweak the above order if you wanted. The real idea is to stop playing the .225 hitting, no power, no speed Joe Thurston, only play Duncan OR Ankiel – not both – and to play Rasmus and Ludwick EVERY NIGHT. Ludwick will turn it around (he’s still on pace for 20-25 HR and 80-85 RBI despite his struggles) and Rasmus will only get better the more he plays.
But dear Lord please, stop giving more at bats (30-40 over the course of normal season) to .150-hitting pitchers (or worse) by batting them eighth. It’s not a huge difference maker either way, but it’s just stupid. Memo to Tony: You’re not smarter than 125 years of Major League Baseball. I don’t care what George Will says.
Do these things, and the Cardinal offense will improve. So will the defense. I promise.
Will it happen? It’s highly doubtful. That would put more of the limelight on the guys that actually play the game, and take it away from the Mad Mixer, Tony La Russa. And we surely can’t have that, can we? What’s the fun of winning if you can’t get your massive ego stroked?