2016 Cardinals – What Went Wrong Analysis
Things can change. Players can get hot. Managers can do things differently. Players from the Minor Leagues can be impactful. Organizations can make changes. All that is said to remind all of us that this is a very long season. But the facts are the facts on this day in major league season.
The Off-Season Viewpoint
The organization, led by John Mozeliak, relied too much on what they saw in a short period and in some cases they valued previous statistics of some players that happened many years ago as the benchmark for a new year.
I do believe the Cardinals miss their former sabermetric guru Jeff Luhnow and his knowledge more than many will admit. He was the heart and sole of the new numbers and was the impetus for Walt Jocketty being airlifted out of town to Cincinnati.
The Players and Decline
The Cardinals brass was willing to let Jason Heyward walk away from the team because Stephen Piscotty was the next man up. After all, Piscotty had a great end of the season. However, this was based on 233 major league at bats in 63 games. Yes he hit .305. But the sample size is way to small to become reliant on it to project to success in 2016. I heard the Fox Sports Midwest announcers lamenting how surprised they were Piscotty had fanned 28 times in 104 at bats…. But… he struck out 56 times in 233 at bats in 2015. That is almost the same pace.
Matt Holliday has lost his power for the most part. Again, he previously had banged some home runs in his past but no since 2012 has he had a good year. Almost all his peripherals are down the past 4 seasons. Too much reliance on his ability to comeback from injury and his “tough” off-season conditioning habits.
Randall Grichuk is another example of throwing them in the fire. He had 323 at bats in 2015 and smacked 17 home runs but struck out 110 times. He has seen a bit of an upturn with the bat but appears to be very streaky and the team can’t count on him to keep it going for long periods.
Brandon Moss. Oh, what are we going to do? According to Dan and Al he has the best batting practice of anyone on the team. So far this year he has struck out 25 times in just 72 at bats. Think on this, we gave up a very good pitching prospect for Moss.
Kolten Wong may still be useful but the has been almost horrid every night. The Cardinals gave him a contract that will take care of all his needs for a lifetime and now he has ducked his head in the sand and is struggling.
Acquisitions and Injuries
Jedd Gyorko was one of our big acquisitions. Enough said.
Jhonny Peralta has been hurt and his bad is needed and he may be a catalyst for a resurgence for the entire team.
Matt Adams has not been able to find his stroke yet. Oh, I know he got a bunt hit against the shift as it is told to us on a nightly basis. He has fanned 19 times in 54 at bats. His numbers have waned.
Adam Wainwright will try his hardest but the organization appears panicky as they had to get him back on the field and his best pitching days appear behind him. He has allowed 25 earned runs so far this year.
Michael Wacha came off an injury at the end of the season and much has been said about his 2016 as being outstanding. Let’s hope they are right.
Mike Leake appeared to be a good signing so let;s hope that starts soon.
What does this all mean?
To me, it means too much stock was placed on “next man up” and “The Cardinal Way”. The team and organization has been rightfully proud as to the response they get from the minor leagues. But there is no way that continues on and on and on.
Lastly, we knew the Cubs were going to be a very good team and the Pirates are almost as good and we didn’t respond to that in the off-season but instead relied on the fact that we won 100 games last year like it granted them immunity and an automatic entrance into the post-season every year. It was sort of like we knew we weren’t good enough this season and just decided to “pass” on getting better and save our resources for another season.
It doesn’t work that way.
Next winter needs to be different.