The Cardinals no-good, very bad Saturday started with an Instagram pic from a 19-year-old.
Specifically this brand new IG profile pic of elite Cuban prospect Luis Robert wearing a White Sox cap on the same day he was eligible to sign with a MLB team:
Just as soon as (many) St. Louis fans had gotten their hopes up about signing Robert – they were dashed. It’s fine, though. Just because he looks the part of ‘elite prospect’, doesn’t mean he is an elite prospect, right?
Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. And Cardinals fans have been hardened by recent rejections by the likes of Jason Heyward and David Price.
Good luck in Chicago, Mr. Robert.
Let’s seize the day and watch Carlos Martinez. Concentrate on the now.
The young ace pitched the best game of his career, allowing 0 runs and a meager 2 hits over an electric 9 innings… and the team lost 3-1.
Some Saturdays are better than others.
Failing to sign a prospect and failing to eek out a run over 9 innings might seem like they’re mutually exclusive.
Since the start of the 2016 season, the Cardinals are 50-56 at Busch Stadium – a stadium that has been consistently (slightly) slanted towards pitchers since it’s opening in 2006 according to ‘Park Factor‘:
- 2016: 0.921 (22)
- 2015: 0.931 (T20)
- 2014: 1.100 (4)
- 2013: 0.892 (25)
- 2012: 0.985 (18)
According to ESPN.com, “Park Factor compares the rate of stats at home vs. the rate of stats on the road. A rate higher than 1.000 favors the hitter. Below 1.000 favors the pitcher”. Every year this decade, Busch Stadium has ranked in the 20’s except for 2012 (18) and 2014 (4).
Point is… the Cardinals ballpark, while having a reputation as a ‘fair’ test of offensive talent, is probably a little bit more of a pitchers park than a hitters park. So it makes sense that the Cardinals are investing in arms as opposed to bats.
To what end?
It’s hard to extrapolate much from one offensive performance on one random Saturday in May. No one will argue otherwise.
The trouble might be that baseball’s landscape is shifting under the Cardinals best laid plans.
On Friday, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal wrote an article (subscription required) hypothesizing that betting on bats over arms might be the better way forward when constructing an baseball organization. He noted the 2015 Mets/Cubs NLCS as a possible inflection point in the arms/bats argument – almost 2 years on, the Cubs feel like a team that will have a puncher’s chance for a championship the rest of the decade.
Let’s say every player in MLB and MiLB was put into a draft. Forget about the contracts. Your only goal in building a team would be to try and accumulate the most talented team possible for the next 4-8 years (or 1 to 2 full high school class cycles).
Would any Cardinals position player be drafted in the top 5? Top 10?
Luis Robert was more than a prospect.
He was hope to the Cardinals fans that they’d have a guy who could be a middle of the order anchor that other teams would have to plan around. A guy that could carry a team for games at a time when needed. A guy that would make sure Carlos Martinez got a win on Saturday night.
Not to say the Cardinals don’t have some nice hitters – they do.
Not to say the Cardinals don’t have prospects that could become something special – they might.
Not to say Luis Robert is a sure thing to be a superstar player – he might not be.
But 50-56 isn’t a small sample size. The Cardinals, while closer than they were in the division race in late May ’16, are still struggling to keep their heads much above .500 for any sustained amount of time. And don’t have a bat on the team or in the organization that make other teams jealous.
Or maybe you can do it all on pitching?
Another lost week/weekend at Busch Stadium suggests it’ll be hard.