kurt's nightmare

Generally, I post once a week. Topics are randomly selected and depend mostly upon whether it's baseball season or not. Other topics will include sex, politics, old girlfriends, music, and whatever else pops into my little brain. If you'd like to read, or ignore, my blog about China: http://meidabizi.blogspot.com/

Name:
Location: Dayton, OH, Heard & McDonald Islands

I'm an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Dayton. I represent no one but myself, and barely do that. I'm here mostly by accident.

Friday, October 21, 2005

The World Serious

I try only to do one entry a week (that on Tuesdays), but given that the Fall Classic is upon us, it is time for some random thoughts on the Series, a prediction, and whatever else happens to find itself perambulating among my synapses.

1) The 6th game of the NLCS was not a very interesting game (game 5 was much more engaging, and would have been so even without Pujols' dramatics). As mentioned below, Oswalt is someone to worry about, and now we see why. Totally unruffled, in complete control of his pitches, he was slingin' it up there at 94/95 mph, sometimes up to 97; he didn't seem even to need his breaking ball. I kept trying to figure out--as apparently the Cardinals hitters were as well--what he was throwing that was coming in at 85 mph; I gather it was a slider. I gather, as well, that he was unhittable for the most part.

The phrase that kept running through my mind was the brilliant aperçu of Mike Shannon, former Cardinal 3rd baseman and current announcer: "In baseball, good pitching will beat good hitting every time. And vice versa."

2) Should Edmonds even come back? I know he is a dazzling outfielder (although that catch he made in game 1 (2? all a blur, now) he actually made look more difficult than necessary. As I was watching it--and this part wasn't replayed--he seemed to be running at the speed necessary to then dive; had he been running at full speed, he could have caught that ball without leaving his feet. That's the way it looked to me. Others may disagree.

But he killed the Cardinals offensively. Yes, he had a big homerun in game 6 last year, and got us off to a good start against the Padres (which turned out not to be so crucial). He completely sucked--to use the technical term--against the Astros, and hitting where he was in the lineup, that just destroyed offensive momentum inning after inning.

I think it is time for the Cards to rethink what they want their outfield to look like in the Spring. My suggestions, which Walt Jocketty no doubt is holding his breath to hear, are these:

1) dump Edmonds, or better see if he can be traded to the AL; maybe Walt can pick up a middle reliever for him, or a utility infielder?

2) dump Grudzielanek ("Cruddy Gruddy"): not only does this diminish the ex-Cubs factor, but he doesn't seem to be all that great offensively or defensively.

2a) put Nuñez at 2B (he came up as a middle infielder); assuming Rolen is healthy next year, we get both their bats in the line up. Nuñez is at least as potent an offensive threat as Grudzielanek, is probably cheaper, and as good or better defensively.

The projected lineup in the Spring:

SS: Eckstein
2B: Nuñez
1B: Pujols
3B: Rolen
RF: ?
CF: ?
LF: Sanders/Rodriguez
C: Molina

SP: Carpenter, Mulder, Morris (I think he will be back, although I'm not sure
it's a good idea), Suppan, Marquis (hmmm. I'm torn about ol' Jason. I think
he has it in him, but sometimes I wonder where his head is. If he were left-
handed, I'd understand.)

RP: Isringhausen, Reyes, King, Thompson, Tavarez.

So there are some holes to fill, but finding decent outfielders may not be that hard to find, and Seabol looks promising. I think there is some substantial retooling both necessary for next year, and which could turn this team into one that is even better than this one. Sure would like a strong middle reliever, though.

3) The Wild Card, I keep being told, adds so much to the excitement of the game, and, yes, we had "pennant races" with the Indians in the AL and the Philllies in the NL. On the other hand, we also discover that a team like the Cardinals, who beat the hell out of the Astros during the regular season, and won their division by 11 games, are now sitting out because they couldn't win a seven-game series. I'm not whining too much here, because the Cardinals didn't play very well (a cynic might say their offense tanked in the NLCS this year, rather than waiting until the World Series to do so, like last year) in the NLCS. But a one-game home advantage seems to be a rather meager pay-off for showing season-long brilliance and utter domination of one's own division. Baseball is supposed to be a marathon, not a sprint. Imagine you run a marathon, which you win by 15 minutes over your nearest competitor. Then you are asked to run a 100 meter dash with that competitor to determine who really wins.

4) The White Sox pitching was extraordinary during the ALCS--and what in the heck happened to Vladimir Guerrero? If they pitch that well during the Series, it's over. No one can predict whether they will come close to repeating that performance. But Contreras is pitching great, Buerhle, Gardner, and Garcia are all top-notch; while we didn't actually see the bullpen (except for 2/3 of an inning), it is pretty strong (although not as good as the Astros'). If the Astros can somehow turn the games into battles between the bullpens, I like the Astros' chances. I also like the experience brought by Clemens and Pettite; Biggio will get some big hits, as well, I expect. And Lane is a real sleeper; his catch against Eckstein in Game 2 was completely ignored, but had that ball gotten by him, the entire inning and possibly the game and series turns around.

So the prediction: Astros in Six.

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