The Lazarus Effect

I’m not sure why, but I checked out my blog tonight…which I haven’t written on in 2 years, and I’m tempted to take it up again…it feels like I should, but I’m not sure why.

Maybe because it’s time. Maybe because I’m bored. Maybe because I love writing about baseball.

Resurrection?

I’m thinking of resurrecting this blog, just as the Cards have been resurrected to an extent under the hitting of Colby Rasmus and Ryan Ludwick.

We’ll see where the next few weeks lead…

A new calling?

I haven’t written a post in awhile…I went to the Lou to see a couple of games against the Astros last weekend, and didn’t have the means to do much blogging…and the Redbirds march to mediocrity is leaving me uninspired. But, no excuses.
However, in the spirit of laughing at ourselves and the team I love, I started a new blog called Josh the Bat Boy over at WordPress. If it can be half as amusing as Cardinals Diaspora or The FYC, I’ll be happy.

I’ll try to keep this updated, but I’m going to focus on Josh for now. 30 year old bat boys rule.

Another tribute to Josh Hancock

Because I felt this is one of the best things I’ve read about that tragedy, I let the author (Mollie, formerly of Daddy Raised A Cardinals Fan) know how I felt about what she wrote, and she’s graciously allowed me to post it here on my humble blog. So without further delay by me, here’s Mollie’s thoughts on the weekend’s events:
I realize it has been awhile since I last wrote, but too much has happened in too little an amount of time to possibly narrow things down to a series of emails.

I suppose the matter at the forefront of Cardinal hearts and minds is the passing of Josh Hancock. Is there such thing as an appropriate response? Do the right words or actions actually exist? And what does one do when the greatest emotions felt are not sadness or remorse, but instead a sudden wash of an inexpicable void. A ******* hole where a right-handed warrior once so valiantly and selflessly stood.

Of course, much could be written about the power of signs and omens, beginning with LaRussa’s vehicular run-in with negligence behind the wheel, and ending with Josh over-sleeping several days ago and whose pre-game absence stirred the dark memories of the last time one of our pitchers failed to arrive at the clubhouse. An eerie parallel that sadly played itself out on Sunday morning.

There are plenty of ways to pay tribute to a life snuffed out far too soon. A body and soul full of life and talent with a bright future lit by hope and promise that will never get to realize that future.

We must also consider those left behind in the wake of tragedy. Josh was a building block in the structures of lives. He was a son, a brother, a friend, a neighbor and a teammate. The vacancy left by his death will undoubtedly be hard to fill, and the role he played as an individual will be impossible to replace, for we are all unique and the imprint we leave upon the world is singularly our own. There may be other men, other siblings, other sons, other relievers, other tenents… but there was only one Josh Hancock.

Those who need answers in order to make sense of the senseless will try to find ways to explain the workings of the cosmos, karma and God. Those who live lives with their vessels half full will certainly find a way to see the prism made from the cracks in the glass. And those with glasses half empty will die of thirst as they search for someone or something to blame.

But whatever road grief takes us upon, may we follow it diligently and stay its course. For every off ramp, may there be an on ramp to get us back on track. For every slow lane may there be a fast lane to get us on our way– and vice versa to help us enjoy the scenery. For every red light we must sit through, may there be a couple of green lights to keep our lives flowing. And though we all must occasionally hit the road going eighty with the top down and the wind in our hair in order embrace the freedom and excitement of the world, let there also occasionally be a cop car hiding in the brush to remind us of our limits. (To prove that I am fighting the urge to buy that last ticket to ****, I tell you now that this “on the road” theme has sprung a leak of a million crass jokes in light of our recent tragedy and that I am battling to keep them in the back of my throat as opposed to the tip of my tongue… Or worse, away from the tips of my fingers that are currently tapping away at this computer keyboard. Repeat after me: Clever and funny do not equal appropriate… Clever and funny do not equal appropriate… Oh, give me strength.)

Sadly, despite our heartache and loss, despite our need for answers and closure, despite the hole left in our family and our lineup, time will not wait, the world will keep on spinning and our season will march on with or without us. So let’s engage. Let’s honor Josh in whatever ways we know how. Let’s turn this season around and put some value into our loss.

The season is young, and so was Josh, for that matter. I, for one, will remember him as golden… as golden as those late fall afternoons that bask in the glow of World Series dreams in October. Kind of like the ones he dreamt with us last year.

–Mollie (colmocal@hotmail.com)

Mollie currently authors a Cardinals-centric email chain of banter that she’d be happy for you to join in on, if you so choose.

Thanks

I’d personally like to thank the fans of most of the other MLB teams who presented fans of the St. Louis Cardinals warm thoughts, wishes and prayers over the death of Josh Hancock early this morning.
It’s times like this that makes me proud to be not just a fan of the Cardinals, but a baseball fan as well.

While we cheer for our own team, and maybe boo the opponents, the vast majority of fans realize that it’s a game, and while the outcome of every game is important to us, it’s still just a game. Even the players realize that.

Take time tonight or tomorrow to tell your parents, and your wife, and your children that you love them, because that time may be your last. You think not, and you hope not, but nobody knows when they’re time to move on will come. Josh Hancock didn’t, I don’t, and you don’t.

Live life to it’s fullest, and live in the moment. It’s all we have, in addition to our memories.

As I’ve borrowed from the wonderful reading Christine Buck gave at her father’s memorial at Busch Stadium II in July 2002 all day, I’ll do so again…

Go crazy, heaven. Go crazy…for God’s new RH long-reliever.

Rest in piece, Josh. Say hello to Jack and Darryl for us. And thanks for taking the ball when we needed you to do so.

RIP, Josh

Capt768509f51b5440698348eab7e6ca11e6card_2
Josh Hancock was killed in a car accident early this morning in St. Louis.

Please pray for Josh and his family in this difficult time for them.

Tonight’s game against the Chicago Cubs has been postponed until a later date.

And at moments like this, baseball takes it’s true place of importance in the grand scheme of things. It’s just a game.

Go crazy, heaven…go crazy.

Well, that was an improvement

The hitting looked great for the most part, although the pitching left a little to be desired.
Wainer struggled, although the weather was for the hitters today.

However, the 2-5 hitters went a combined 12 for 22, with 4 HRs and 1 3B, along with 10 RBI. Nice.

Let’s put together a nice homestand for a change, and re-take the NL Central…

The Cardinals

currently are a team performing as a collection of replacement-level players. As defined by sabermetrics, a replacement-level player is the worst-level of performance that a player can sustain while maintaining his job in Major League Baseball. We’ll use Equivalent Average, or EqA to define what’s replacement-level or not.
A 0.260 EqA is standard major league-average performance. Replacement-level performance is about 0.230 EqA. Historically, according to Baseball Prospectus, players who can’t maintain an EqA of at least 0.230 will not keep their major league jobs.

To expound upon this definition, we’ll use a series of ranges to define performance, as far as EqA goes:

Minor Leaguer: 0.170 to 0.230
MLB Fringe (Replacement-level): 0.230 to 0.260
MLB Regular: 0.260 to 0.300
MLB All-Star: 0.300 to 0.330
Hall of Famer: 0.330 +

A look at the Cardinals regular lineup, plus a couple of key bench players reveals the following, with statistics as of Friday, April 20th:

Player EqA VORP
——- —– ——-
Eckstein 0.233 -1.4
Duncan 0.337 +7.0
Pujols 0.255 +1.2
Rolen 0.200 -3.5
Edmonds 0.176 -3.8
Wilson 0.156 -2.2
Molina 0.269 0.0
Kennedy 0.182 -3.5
Spiezio 0.230 -1.3
Miles 0.239 -0.6

I’ve included Value Over Replacement Player, or VORP, to provide a comparison to EqA. VORP measures the value of a position player to a replacement-level hitter at the position he plays.

As the crude chart (my apologies for lack of TypePad expertise) shows, Chris Duncan is playing at Hall of Fame level, or more appropriately, he’s doing the kinds of things with the bat that Albert Pujols should be doing. Yadi Molina is hitting (finally) at MLB regular level. Pujols is showing solid MLB fringe-level performance…which is a darn good thing for a man making 12M+ a season. Aaron Miles, bench-level infielder is playing at his abilities…which is fringe-level MLB performance. Eckstein and Spiezio are on the low-end of the fringe, hitting well below their recent performance, excepting Spiezio’s injury-riddled Seattle tenure.

The heart of the lineup is where the giant gaping chasm exists:

Rolen: 0.200 EqA -3.5 VORP
Edmonds: 0.176 -3.8
Wilson: 0.156 -2.2

Granted, to depend on P-Dub for much would be like expecting a free lunch. Probably not going to happen. However, Rolen and Edmonds are currently ******* the life out of the lineup. They’re both hitting well below replacement-level. In other words, the Cardinals could bring up their Memphis (AAA) center fielder (Rick Ankiel!) and third-baseman (Travis Hanson) and expect to improve quite a bit.

Isn’t that scary? Of course, looking at their performance at Memphis, maybe not:

Ankiel: 0.780 OPS (only 12 hits in 57 AB, but 8 are of the extra-base variety)
Hanson: 0.442 OPS (that’s anemic)

So clearly, the big club doesn’t have any dramatic solution other than to hope that Rolen, Edmonds, Wilson, Kennedy, and Pujols begin some steady, if not dramatic improvement, in their production at the plate.

The 2007 season depends upon it.

Another way of looking at how poor the offense is right now, relative to the pitching, is the pythagorean record, or expected win percentage based upon the runs scored by the team and the runs against.

With 50 runs scored through 17 games, and 65 runs against, the Cardinals’ expected winning percentage is 0.372, or 37.2%. Through 17 games, that’s 6.32, or rounding off, 6 wins. So, Tony La Russa would be justified in saying to his team, “How’d we ever win 7?”

Of course, he won’t. They’ll just keep playing a hard nine and see what turns up. This year, at this moment, that’s just not good enough.

42

The answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.
Also the uniform number of Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman, Jackie Robinson.

Coincidence? Probably…but today, Major League Baseball is honoring Jack Roosevelt Robinson because this day, 60 years ago, Jackie broke the color barrier in the game of professional baseball. He withstood taunts, insults and harassment…from players on other teams, fans, and even some players on his own team…with class and grace and not only changed the game, but American society as well.

Jackie was a great athlete, but more importantly, a great and courageous human being.

Thanks, Jackie. We could use your example today on how to handle personal and societal challenges with grace and excellence.

Jackie’s Page at the Baseball Hall of Fame

Jackie Robinson Day coverage at MLB.com

Jackie’s Wikipedia page

The Jackie Robinson Foundation

It’s like thunder…

lightning…the way your love is frightning…
I had written a beautiful (for me) post, and apparently, MLBlogs isn’t good about creating drafts without manual intervention on my part, so when the power went out in my hotel…I lost it.

Good grief, to quote the diagonal-sweater kid.

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