Injury To Pujols Brings NL Baseball Back To St. Louis…Maybe

Since winning 105 games in 2004 and finishing 2nd in Stolen Bases, 8th in Sacrifice Bunts, and 1st in Sacrifice Flies, the Cardinals have gone decidedly away from the traditional small ball that has defined the National League. Yes, there are many other statistics to review, but for the purpose of this article we will examine these three. Over the last five full seasons they have been much more of a station-to-station team, relying predominantly on the Home Run. Very reminiscent of TLR’s time in Oakland. I was a fan of those A’s teams, with the Bash Brothers. I am a fan of these Cardinals and TLR has had a great level of success with both.

Year SB NL Rank Sac Bunts NL Rank Sac Flies NL Rank

2010 79 13 66 9 40 11

2009 75 12 68 8 43 9

2008 73 12 71* 5* 44* 6*

2007 56 15 68* 6* 54 4*

2006 59 14 71 9 40 13

2005 83 8 77* 6 35 14

2004 111* 2* 73 8 70* 1*

*indicates above league average

However, for many Cardinal fans and Whiteyball romantics, this will just not do. They long for the days of Coleman, McGee, Herr and Smith, exciting games where there was always action on the base paths. I am not going so far as to say we need to bring back the days of old, but a bit of Whiteyball could go along way with this team. I believe it was Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who pointed out over the weekend that the Cardinals were out National Leagued by the American League Royals, with the Royals going 4-4 on sacrifice bunts with our Cardinals going 0-4.

Now that Pujols is out of the equation for at least six weeks, there is no better time to give it a try than now. Pujols out of the line-up does not make it stronger, but rather presents a new opportunity to try and win another way. For years we’ve heard about Rasmus being a 5-tool player. If you’re reading this TLR (and you should be) put him back into the 2 hole and let him steal some bases…maybe even put on a hit and run. Since he transcended to greatness it has been a “Cardinal” sin to run in front of Albert or open a base to incite a walk. As good as Berkman and Holliday are, I do not see them getting the same treatment. So let’s see some movement on the bases.

How many times have we seen the lead-off hitter reach base only to stand statuesque on first base while awaiting a home run from Albert or another of the big hitters. I, for one, have grown very tired of this style of play. It breaks down the fundamentals that many of us have been taught since we were in little league. Making productive outs, moving yourself into scoring position, moving the runner over, starting the runner, etc… TLR it is time to remove the boot from the wheel of this offense and let the likes of Rasmus, Schumaker, and Theriot stretch their legs. And guess what, if it works they’ll be in scoring position for the 3-4-5 hitters, problem solved, you’re welcome.

Team Leaders in SB Since 2004

2004 Tony Womack-26 (Reggie Sanders 21)

2005 Albert Pujols-16

2006 So Taguchi-11

2007 David Eckstein-10

2008 Cesar Iztruis-24

2009 Albert Pujols-16

2010 Albert Pujols-14

There is a good chance (if you stick around) that a new approach will be needed if Pujols is to leave after this season. May as well try it out now and see what you have. Aside from bullpen depth, may show you where to earmark some of that cool $30 million. *Hint* Get someone who can make a single into a triple on the bases.

Just my thoughts…if you’re smart you’ll most likely agree. If not keep on reading my articles and you’ll get up to speed.

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