Quintessential Cardinal Voodoo Magic and Other Bullets

Did that really happen? At bottom, I believe a lot of Cubs fans’ hostility – particularly in recent years – toward the Cardinals is rooted in jealousy. Sure, they’ve had their douche moments, but mostly, we hate their success because we want to experience that as fans of the Cubs. So, yeah, I really hate what happened last night. Down two runs (after being down 6-0 early) in the 9th, the Cards had a runner on and two outs when each of Yadier Molina and David Freese – down to their last strike – walked. And then, in the most Cardinal way possible, guys named Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma got the hits to tie and win the game. So, the Cardinals move on to face the Giants in the NLCS. At least now I still have something to root for in the playoffs. Freaking voodoo magic …

  • Oh, also, the Yankees beat the Orioles. They’ll face the Tigers in the ALCS. Bummer that both the O’s and A’s were bounced.
  • Patrick Mooney takes a deep look at the Cubs’ third base problem in 2012, and problem going forward. He spends a fair bit of time talking about Kevin Youkilis, which still – to me – seems like a poor fit for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is: why would Youkilis spend any of his twilight years on a team that is expected to be awful for at least the first of those years? Given the dearth of options on the free agent market for third basemen this offseason, he’ll have better options.
  • Doug Padilla continues his look at the positions, with second base on the slate. Obviously it’s a Barney-tastic take, which doesn’t even mention offense until the 9th paragraph. So it is with Darwin Barney.
  • Paul Sullivan does the Q&A thing, and among his thoughts: (1) the key difference between the A’s and O’s and the Cubs right now is young pitching – the Cubs don’t have any that is ready to step up and lead a surprisingly competitive team; (2) the Cubs can’t afford to strike out again this Winter at third base and in the rotation; (3) Paul raises the issue we’ve noted here before – why would a good free agent sign with the Cubs on a short-term deal if he strongly suspects (a) that the Cubs will be bad in 2013 and (b) that the Cubs are just signing him to try and flip him at the deadline?; (4) Paul thinks the Cubs want to keep Carlos Marmol, which just can’t possibly be true – they might end up keeping him, but it won’t be because they want to keep him; (5) Paul didn’t notice player problems with Mike Quade (Matt Garza recently suggested they had issues, and things are much better with Dale Sveum); (6) there’s an interesting exchange about the Cubs getting beat up by some fans when they ask for public funds to renovate Wrigley, but beat up by other fans when they try to, for example, add new seats to generate more revenue.
  • Someone at the Sun-Times (when I look at the page, the author’s name is missing, which I’m sure will be corrected in short order) didn’t care for Tom Ricketts’ essay on the Cubs’ 2012 season and the organization’s charitable efforts … which Ricketts wrote for the Sun-Times. There’s a lot of bluster about a crappy product, a really bad analogy to a grocery store, rips the Cubs for their charity work (which he calls PR crap … most corporate charity is, dude), and then grinds an ax about the Cubs dismissing traveling secretary Jimmy Bank because that wasn’t a very “charitable” thing to do.
  • It isn’t official yet, but Phil Rogers says the Dodgers are going to hire former Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo as their new hitting coach. I’d wish him luck, but I’m hoping the Cubs and Dodgers will be direct competitors for playoffs spots within a couple years. (Well, assuming the Dodgers haven’t fallen completely on their face.)

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

293 responses to “Quintessential Cardinal Voodoo Magic and Other Bullets”

  1. Fishin Phil

    Did Marmol sign with the Nats?? I can not think of any other explanation for that 9th inning.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      Give credit to the Cards batting eyes. A lot of players (*cough* Cubs *cough*) would have swung at those pitches.

      1. North Side Irish

        On MLB Netwrok after the game they were talking about how the Cardinals were able to comeback because they were hitting strikes and laying off balls. It sounds so easy, but all I could think was “why can’t the Cubs do that?”. Actually there were other words in there too, but this is a family site (sort of)…

  2. Ted

    Every interesting team is out of the playoffs. Zzz

  3. W_Francisco

    I wonder if they would try signing some low risk high reward guys like Freddy Sanchez? or Grady Sizemore even to let Brett Jackson have some more time at Iowa? I figure Sanchez can play third but average defense and can get on base.

  4. Mirro-Lite

    The ways things are going, Pete Kozma will be the World Series MVP. Two big games, 2 key plays and he was involved in both.

  5. RebuildMe

    What third base options? Youkilis is by far the best followed by Rolen (who is expected to retire). Trades… sure I can see that. But free agency who are they going to go with? Chavez, Polanco, Wigginton, or Inge? All are lesser options than Youk.

  6. RebuildMe

    If the Cubs do not get Rolen or Youkilis they will have to go the trade route and get a young third baseman that way. I like Chisenhall a lot and think the Cubs should revisit talks with the Tigers about Castellanos. I would love a future infield that included Castellanos, Castro, Baez, and Rizzo. WOW, JUST WOW!

    I would also like to see if the Cubs can pry away Olt. They need to mirror Rizzo at 3rd base with a young good defensive power hitter like Castellanos and Olt.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      the Cubs should revisit talks with the Tigers about Castellanos.

      The phrase “No means NO!” comes to mind here! Castellanos will be playing 3rd for the Tigers soon, with Miggy or Prince DHing. Similarly, look for Olt to be playing 1st or 2nd for the Rangers next year.

  7. Clark Addison

    That Sun Times column looks like something Mariotti could have written from his jail cell.

  8. RebuildMe

    Moving onto the outfield it seems like the Dbacks are willing to trade just about anyone in their outfield not named Adam Eaton. Kubel, Parra, Young, and Upton could be targets with Parra seeming like the best option for the Cubs followed by Upton.

    Brett, could you see the Cubs dealing for one of those outfielders? The Dbacks are looking for a SS and 3rd baseman so could Barney and Vitters be attractive to them?

  9. CubFan Paul

    Mentioning youkilis for the Cubs is lazy journalism. I’d rather have a healthy Stewart in 2013

    1. ferrets_bueller

      I concur.

    2. Kyle

      I’d rather have a severely diseased orangutang than a healthy Stewart.

  10. Jade

    I think one option to exploit for the Cubs is to overpay for shorter term flexible contracts on free agents. Sounds a bit stupid I know, but we all know the Cubs will have trouble signing free agents if all things are equal, IE. Why would a player sign with a bad team that will likely try to flip them. So overpay and if the the Cubs don’t compete, eat most of the contract at the break giving a lower payroll team or any team a free rental for a decent prospect.
    Sure there are dangers, the overpaid player gets hurt or underperforms but signing undervalued players has its dangers too. They might not be any good and fans usually don’t get too excited over Maholm/Dejesus types. At least by signing decent players and having a real MLB roster they sell tickets and give us a little excitement and hope.
    And there is a always a .004 chance that the Cubs could be competitive.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      I think one option to exploit for the Cubs is to overpay for shorter term flexible contracts on free agents.

      It actually is not stupid from a short-term perspective for the team, but it can be from a long-term one. Remember, arbitration is based on how much a guy makes given some level of performance. So, you you sign a guy for $25M a year and he’s average, then you’ve provided evidence that an average year is worth $25M. Yes, it’s only one case: but that can build up.

      From the player’s point of view, the short-term contract is smart only if you are coming off of bad years. Otherwise, the long term contract guarantees more money in the end. And that’s the key: it’s not about what the Cubs offer, but what they offer relative to other teams.

  11. DocPeterWimsey

    The Dbacks are looking for a SS and 3rd baseman so could Barney and Vitters be attractive to them?

    Probably not. Gibby manages like he played: offense first. For the most part, Towers has obliged him. One of the owners was talking some goofy smack about Upton, but I suspect that the baseball people are not dumb enough to give up Upton for anything short of All Star talent. Young and Kubel are 25+ HR power, so you need a lot more than Barney and Vitters for that. Parra is a defensive specialist who really does not improve the Cubs too much: the Cubs run prevention problems are from pitching, not fielding.

    1. CubFan Paul

      I think the DBacks were/are a Garza suitor. They talked of acquiring an impact pitcher before Garza went down, then after not so much.

  12. ottoCub

    The Cardinals have built this team to become a team that is consistently in the playoffs, and hence, consistently in position to make miraculous come-backs. The team is full of home-grown players, supplemented by a few key free agent signings. The Cardinals play good baseball, with a focus on solid fundamentals: defense, base running, working the count, pitchers who pound the strike zone, etc. Every player contributes. They take what the other team gives and turn it into their advantage (example: Molina taking second base last night to move the tying run into scoring position) They don’t have any holes in their line-up, their rotation, or their bullpen. So, they are never out of any game. This is why they win.

    Am I jealous… hell yeah! :)

    1. cubfanincardinalland

      Reality, the Cardinals made the most errors of any NL team after the All Star break, starters had one of the highest era’s in the league after the break, and they played poor fundamental baseball, losing most close ball games. They beat the Astros 12 games in a row, or they don’t sniff the playoffs. The bullpen was good when they moved Lynn out of the rotation and picked up Mojica. No holes? Descalso hit .227 for the season with an OPS of .627. He hit .150 in the month of August and has 5 career home runs. Naturally he two in two games against the Nats.
      The shortstop Kozma defies logic. He hit .213 with an OPS of an almost hard to do .569 in 2011. This year he still hit last, but got his season average up to a whopping .232. Keep in mind, this was in freaking AAA. So of course after getting called up and starting, he hits .333 with an OPS of .952, and gets the game winning hit last night. I might add Davey Johnson(this was with a base open and the pitcher on deck, with 1 pinch hitter who hadn’t batted in 2 weeks left on the bench, and one reliever left in the pen).
      To me, this shows that get a couple decent starters, put together a good bullpen, and have a solid lineup 1 through 6, good catcher, and a stud 3 and 4 hitter, any team can win. Fill it out with solid players who hustle, it could be the Cubs also a lot sooner than people think.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        The Cards had the 3.5 ERA after the All-Star break, which was 6th best in the NL but in a log-jam with the teams right in front of them. They basically have played 0.580 baseball given peripherals, a big drop from the 0.585 they played prior to the break. They had the best OBP in the NL on the 4th best slugging, so they were no slouches offensively, either.

        The errors in particular and fielding in general correlate poorly with winning: after all, the 2011 Cards were one of the worst fielding teams in MLB, too. Ditto that for winning one run games: what weak relationship between overall record or putative “fundamentals” actually is negative! (We’ve had multiple pennant and WS winners in the last decade with sub 0.500 records in 1 run games: good teams don’t play enough of them for it to affect the standings.)

        Again, the Cards are not lucky; if anything, then it’s been bad luck hiding how good they really are!

      2. ottoCub

        To me, this shows that get a couple decent starters, put together a good bullpen, and have a solid lineup 1 through 6, good catcher, and a stud 3 and 4 hitter, any team can win. Fill it out with solid players who hustle, it could be the Cubs also a lot sooner than people think.

        Exactly! The Cards have a solid lineup from top to bottom with great run-producers in the 2-5 spots in the order, a strong team OBP, a bullpen without any major holes (which gives the team the opportunity to win games in the last few innings), and guys who “hustle” (which, to me, means to play hard fundamental baseball). The only thing I would disagree with is that the Cardinals have more than “a couple decent starters”. This is a very very good baseball team. It’s not surprising they beat the Astros 12 games straight. It’s not surprising that the #7 and 8 hitters are occasionally heros, because the guys in front of them are on base. This team is very well put-together, and deserves to be in the playoffs every year. Once a team is in the playoffs, then a couple lucky breaks, a few timely hits, a couple great pitching performances, and all-of-a-sudden they’re in the World Series. This is the kind of team I would love to see the Cubs field soon!

  13. 5412

    Hi,

    I read the article about 3B. Youkulis is like the best looking girl at a fat broad contest; better to hang in with Valbuena.

    The real solution is to trade for someone decent or a prospect who looks better than Vitters.

    regards,
    5412

  14. 5412

    Hi,

    As far as the Cardinals, I am having a change of heart. Now that LaRussa is gone I don’t feel quite so badly about them.

    Hope they win the world series again so they get the worst draft pick next year. That will force them to retain their high priced playes; although it would be cool if they won without Pujols. Why not have them represent the Central Division.

    I honestly felt sorry for Baker. One thing young military officers quickly learn is to never issue a command to a subordinate they know they are incapable of doing. Beginning to wonder if Baker is capable of winning the big one. He may not get another chance.

    regards,
    5412

    1. auggie1955

      Game 5 for the Reds was lost in typical Dusty Baker style. Signs were obvious Latos was beginning to lose it, but Baker did not have anyone warming up in the bullpen. He could have pulled Latos after he had given up the first 2 runs, but left him to face Posey with the bases loaded. BOOM, grand slam! Dusty Baker never learns his lesson. He did it with the Giants in the 2002 WS, with the Cubs in the 2003 NLCS and now with the Reds in the 2012 NLDS.

    2. Jay

      Why feel bad for Baker. He has proven he can’t thrive under pressure. In 2003, Prior should have been pulled in the 7th against the Marlins in game 6. Wood should have been ready to go in case things go wrong.

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        Baker has tried it both ways and lost. That is, he’s lost when he left in starters and he’s lost when he’s yanked pitchers. Indeed, didn’t both happened to him in this series?

  15. Hebner The Gravedigger

    Why would a free agent sign with the Cubs? Money.
    Why would a free agent sign with the Cubs and possibly be flipped for prospects? To be on a playoff team.

    If a free agent is interested in being on a playoff team, then there are a finite number of teams that are very likely to make the playoffs (Nats / Tigers / etc). Then there will be a few teams that make it against the odds (A’s / O’s). If a free agent does not fit with a likely playoff team AND wants to participate, then signing with the Cubs makes a lot of sense. The pitch would be to sign a good short contract and be flipped & contribute to a team making it against the odds. Basically, here is a bunch of money and we will try out best to get you on a good team at the deadline. Seems like a very easy sell to me….

  16. cubfanincardinalland

    I am going to look upon the Cardinals miracle as a positive. Because the Cubs can no longer be considered as the biggest chokers for the fiasco in 2003. The Nationals, from the clueless deer in the headlights manager, to the pitchers afraid to throw the ball over the plate, to the hitters flailing away at anything, now make that Cubs team look like amateurs when it comes to choking.
    What is amazing about St. Louis, is they really are not that good of a team this year. You take away games against the Astros, they were barely a .500 team since April. Now they have to play a real team, with real veteran starting pitching, tough defense and good hitters. They beat the Giants, I will finally admit this vodoo band is good. Don’t hold your breath.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      they were barely a .500 team since April.

      Actually, the Cards were a very unlucky team this year: given their peripherals, they should have won the NL Central handily. Look at it this way: their net OPS was 0.06, i.e., just as good as the Yankees and one of the best in MLB.

      Indeed, if you used September Pythagorean winning percentage instead of Sept. Run Differential, then you would have bet on the Cards over the Nats in the LDS.

      And as for the 2003 Cubs being the “biggest chokers,” they were easily supplanted a mere 12 months later, weren’t they…..

      1. cubfanincardinalland

        Cardinals are a great example this year why stats will lie to you. They blew teams out in games numerous times and padded their stats, and consistently found ways to lose close games, often with poor fundamentals and lack of timely hitting. They supposedly have the best lineup in the league, yet they went like 15 straight games without scoring more than 4 runs in August. Take Lohse out of the stats, their starters were lousy after the All Star break. They lost the division by 9 games, and as I said earlier, they beat the Astros 12 straight games, or they don’t come close to the playoffs.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          No, the stats aren’t lying. What’s “lying” (or meaningless) is the distribution of blowouts and one-run games. The overall pattern always is much more predictive of how good a team is. That’s why run-differential predicts performance so well. The Cards were simply flukish this year.

          Seriously, your posts are epitomizing the concept of “special pleading.”

          1. cubfanincardinalland

            Doc, you are a stat freak, but you are not looking at the whole picture. If you put so much stock in run differential(which always has abnormalities and is not that accurate a predictor, see Orioles and Diamondbacks this year), then look at the entire season for St. Louis. They basically were great until May 7. They had a 20-11 record and a plus 75 run differential.
            After that, over 131 games they had a plus run differential of plus 42. But a closer look shows you that plus 45 of that was against a pretty much triple a Astros team. Reality is that over the nearly last five months of the season, the Cardinals had a losing record and negative run differential against the rest of the league other than Houston. Anybody who had to watch their games as I am stuck doing, knew they were not playing that well. They don’t make the playoffs unless they feast on Houston and a stripped down Cubs team the last 2 weeks of the season, when they were 8-2 against them. Versus the better teams, they got their ass whipped most of the year.

  17. A.J.

    6gidxmicd

    What the…..?

    1. A.J.

      tinypic.com?ref=2gy69fd

      1. A.J.

        6

        1. A.J.

          Last try… Brett what’s up with the edit button? ;D

          gaycards_zps93c61f92.png

  18. MichiganGoat

    I really, really can not live through THE HORROR, THE HORROR part deux. I swear the Cardinals have a pact with Satan.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      Why would the owner of the Yankees make a pact with the Cards?

      1. MichiganGoat

        Simple – to piss me off!

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          He can sell your daughter to Libyan pirates just as easily and not endanger getting #27…..

  19. Fastball

    I agree with the thought that FA’s would sign with the Cubs so they can potentially be traded to a playoff contender. Thing is you have to be a player at the right position in potential need by one of those potential playoff contenders. Pitching would be my first type player, next would be a utility infielder or veteran waho hit well and fielded well but is on the backside of his career. It seems every year one of those types steps up and shines in these do or die series. An outfielder like Ibanaez. If the Cubs were to sign a few of those types with full intent to flip them they could produce a milb that has some promise.
    If I was Theo I would deliver the message: Come to Chicago. You probably won’t be on a championship team in Cubs pinstripes but you might find yourself on a team in August that is. I would play up the look at Dempster, Maholm, Johnson, Soto and Baker trades. I would tell these guys look at least they had a swing at it. Do well here in Chicago for 4 months and you can find yourself in a position to win it all. I don’t sugar coat it. Tell it straight up and make it a performance thing. We give you the chance to shine and then be part of something and we are going to continue to develop our system by trading you. Baseball players just want to know what the deal is. The straighter you shoot the more likely they will sign as long as they are getting paid for it. If Theo says ya come on over to the Cubs you could be part of our World Series team. That’s bullshit and I tell him to pack sand. That would be a bold face lie and the fore mentioned approach will never work. So I am in agreement with signing veterans free agents, trading for a few veteran free agents with bad contracts to pull in a real good milb for doing so. I look at it like this. Theo and Jed need to be in the High End Used Car Business. Guys who are smart Hi End Used Car Dealer’s usually do okay. The dumb ones usually go out of business fast. Are Theo and Jed street smart enough to be Wheeler’s and Dealer’s for a year or two? We may or may not find out. If they don’t give it a try this rebuild could be a lot longer than some think. My take on Theo thus far in his career he has been a buyer of expensive luxury and sports cars and not so much a Wheeler and Dealer. I think he is trying to change that up a little bit. He bought some bad cars that were real shiney and nice looking and got burned. Hope he has learned how to look under the hood and make sure there is life left if and when he does these deals this winter.

    1. Hebner The Gravedigger

      Agreed, and well said!

  20. ColoCubFan

    How many players do the Cubs have (minors, majors, anywhere) that show the kind of patience at bat that the Cardinal players did last night?

  21. Troy

    What about Keppinger at 3rd? Gets on base, and can play multiple infield positions.

  22. Bill

    Most players sign with the team that offers them the most money. It doesn’t matter about how many wins the team has. This isn’t the NBA, where guys understand, unless you are on about 3-4 teams you are not going to win a championship. In baseball, it’s possible to go from last to first. Players go where the green is. If the Cubs offer the money FA’s will come. I wouldn’t tell FA’s we are just signing you to flip you at the trade deadline. I hope that’s not the case. Stop tanking seasons, and try to put together a team that can win, if not this year, then next. The extra wildcard spot makes it much easier to be in the playoff race, and as the Cardinals are showing, if you get in the playoffs, anything can happen.

  23. Goatbuster

    Ugh, I don’t know how much more I can take. I live in Springfield, Illinois and the cardinal BS is thick here. I believe in theo/Jed, an I even put a lot of stock into what Tom says. He genuinely has love for his team. That being said, I don’t like all the silence. I would, and most other cub fans, would like to know the state of the franchise. How are we compared to the winning teams. Do we have as many scouts or coaches? Have we hit any milestones in the plans that have been made?
    Brett, do you think you will do a write up about the state of the cubs from the minors on up? You seem to have some cub smart baseball people at your disposal. I couldn’t believe how archaic the staffing for the entire franchise was. I think it would help calm the masses if we knew we were not just tearing the house down, but how well we were building it up.

  24. cubzforlife

    In a Suntimes story about the Bulls loss last night is a mention that Reinsdorf is trying to get the tax exemtion extended on the United Center. Take a look.

  25. Dan

    This only reinforces my absolute disgust for the Yankees and Cardinals….

  26. JulioZuleta

    I know Mike Rizzo did a great job putting the Nats together, but the Strasburg decision cost them a playoff series win. Such a bad move. This goes back to the argument that baseball has become too prospect/future-centric. No matter how good you are, getting to the playoffs is no sure thing. I’m sure there are a lot of angry Nats fans today.

  27. clark addison

    A Yankee-Cardinals world series the the worst of all possible outcomes. Boring. I’d find something else to do.

  28. Frank

    My only problem with a Yankees/Cardinals WS is that unless the Yankees re-juice A-Rod, I don’t think they can beat the Cards. The only way to really beat the Cardinals: luck.

  29. Caleb

    FUCKING CARDINALS!

    Sorry for the language.

  30. BT

    Pretty sure the article is by Telander, which is a bit surprising. Not that he doesn’t write idiotic columns, because he does. It’s just that this sounds a lot more like a Cowley hit piece than something Telander.

    It’s astounding how many people can’t wrap their heads around the concept of a rebuild.