St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals

Sunday, April 18, 2010


If Ryan Ludwick gets thrown out on the bases one more time...

A lot of reactions to last night's game and and few more after tonight's.

First off, I wasn't able to watch the game yesterday because FOX was showing the White Sox vs. Indians game in my region and MLB TV had to black it out because of the "National Broadcast". Of all the games to be blacked out...but enough of my story.

I was able to watch a condensed version of the game today and was surprised by a few things. I came on this blog before the game yesterday and predicted Bryan Anderson would get the nod behind the plate. Not only didn't that happen, but Yadi caught all twenty innings. I certainly thought after squating for seven hours yesterday, Yadier would certainly get the day off today, but again, that didn't happen. What this shows me is that TLR has very, very little confidence in Anderson's defensive catching ability. Last week I wrote that Anderson's strength was his bat, not his glove, but I never perceived the Cardinals' considered his defense to be this much of a weakness. Having said all this, Bryan will surely get the start in the desert tomorrow, right? One would think 29 innings of catching and a four-hour flight, all in the matter of 48 hours would be too much, even for Yadier Molina. But I was wrong about this last night and I'm prepared to be wrong about it again.

I did a lot of driving today and had ESPN Radio on for most of it and heard three or four prominent ESPN personalities conclude that La Russa was outdueled last night by Jerry Manuel. And for the most part, I agreed with what they said. In fact, I was planning on writing tonight that La Russa was exactly that, outmanaged.

But the more I thought about it, the more I started to think that maybe I was being a little harsh. Tony La Russa, who many consider to be the best active manager in baseball, was out managed by someone who has been on the hotseat since early last year? Instead of doubting La Russa, I asked myself, what did he see? I tried to put myself in his head. Still, I couldn't quite do it. Why would he double switch out Matt Holliday? He must have known the Mets would just pitch around Albert to get to the pitcher if he did that? I know Holliday was sick, but couldn't he have just made a straight substitution? And why did we end up with two position players pitching in the end? While nobody manages expecting the game to go into extras, let alone eleven extra innings, we must have had someone else avaliable. And our base running, what a debacle. We struggled hitting with runners in scoring position too. We had the bases loaded in the 10th, 12th, and 14th and couldn't push a run across. While the two above points don't fall directly (the first one even indirectly) on La Russa, it was still so frustrating. The Mets did not win last night's game, we lost it.

I started the blog entry with the Sunday Night Baseball preview on in the background. Joe Morgan made a comment that finally made me see the light, I don't remember his exact quote but it went something like this: "A lot of people think the Cardinals got outmanaged last night but I disagree. Jerry Manuel is managing for his job, Tony La Russa is mananging to win a divison. Last night, though very exciting, was just a single game in an 162 game season - it wasn't the seventh game of the World Series. Last night's game meant a lot more to the Mets than the Cardinals at this point in the season."

I heard this and I felt like an idiot. "How could you be so stupid, Jack?" I actually said that out loud. I got caught up in the excitment of a twenty inning game and forgot that the season is a marathon, not a sprint. If we had to win last night's game to make the playoffs, or to move on in the playoffs, I'm sure Tony would have managed it differently. But we didn't. Games in April in the cold and in the rain count just as much in the standings as games in September in the heat of a pennant race, I'm fond of that saying, and I used it earlier today to justify why I thought we were out managed. It turns out, I could use that same phrase to justify why La Russa managed a hell of a game last night. Tony could have brought in another starter last night, or left a few of our relievers in longer, and we might have won. We also might not have. We didn't lose last night because of our pitching. Mather and Lopez pitched pretty well. We lost because we couldn't get a timely hit. That will happen a few times over the course of an 162 game season. Instead of bringing in a starter (Kyle Lohse or Brad Penny) or leaving Blake in longer last night and giving us a slightly better chance to win, Tony made the smart choice and saved our pitching. His route gave us a loss, my route would have blown out our pitching for the next week and wouldn't have guaranteed a victory by any means. This is why La Russa is infinitly smarter than I am. If he could go back and do a few things differently, would he? You'd be hard pressed to find a losing manager who wouldn't go back a change a few of his decisions if he could. That doesn't mean he was outmanaged; like Joe said, Tony's managing to win a division.

Gutsy performance from Wainwright tonight. He needed to step up and eat up some innings and he did that. He also showed a lot of leadership and gave a tired bullpen and extra day of rest. He got it done with the bat too. In my mind he's the best pitcher in the National League, his stuff was absolutely filthy tonight.

Tonight's anthem is "Friends in Low Places", by Garth. It's been stuck in my head all day. Have a good rest of your Sunday everyone.



  1. I think it's madness to say that Tony didn't get outmanaged last night. I understand exactly the thinking that led to putting in Lopez and Mather as pitchers as opposed to having Lohse go out there, but it was still wrong. Here's why: Tony may be taking the long view, but his players wanted that win. Just look at Yadi's gutsy at-bat that drove Albert in to tie it back up in the 19th. Tony had given up on the game at that point (obviously as he had Flip and Joe throwing even though the Pond Scummers still had K-Rod, one of MLB's best closers available). But the players had not given up. This is (and always has been the problem with LaRussa. Sometimes he's too smart for his own good. Who knows what player he alienated with his decisions last night that might affect their signability in the future (see: Scott Rolen). Sometimes, when a team is pouring their heart out on the field, you gotta try to win even if it screws your chances in the next few (doubtful given that Waino was going the next day, and look how that worked). Garcia gave another brilliant performance, and the fact that we lost that game was heartbreaking to fans, do it must have been tough for the players. Tony easily could have let Loshe throw for an inning, or kept Franklin in longer. He didn't because he is out of touch with how seriously every player on his team treats every game of the 162 game season. It really is a shame.

  2. Johnny -

    First off, thanks for reading the blog. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment as well. I agree with most of what you said. I agree sometimes TLR is too smart for his own good, I also agree he sometimes alienates his players. Bissinger's book Three Nights in August well documents his ability to do this. Having said that, I don't agree with your take on Saturday night's ballgame. The players fought their hearts out, absolutely. No one could say they didn't. Everyone wanted to win that game, Tony La Russa included. I think there came a point in the game though where he had to think more about the future than the present. He could have left Franklin in longer, yeah I agree with that. I disagree with the idea of pitching Lohse, even for just an inning or two. Lohse's effectiveness last year was diminished due to injury. Sending him out in a high stress situation, on a day where he was only supposed to throw twenty or thirty pitches on the side would have been a mistake.

    Waino threw great last night. TLR couldn't count on him going the distance though, he's only pitched two complete games in the past two years (one of which was a 6 inning complete game).

    If we had been in the situation the Mets were on Saturday (3-7) then La Russa would have managed differently. The adrenaline of a 20 inning win could jumpstart a mediocre team. We weren't though. The game also wasn't a divisional match-up. If it had been against the Cubs, again, he might have managed differently. Instead, he didn't blow out our staff (which might have cost us wins in the coming weeks); virtually everyone is available and rested for tonight's game in Arizona (except for maybe Blake).

    Thanks again for reading the blog! I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!