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PostPosted: December 16 07, 10:46 pm 
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I know I'm late to the party today, but I saw one thing that I thought was worth elaborating on a little bit.
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I am arguing that it was a reasonable risk to take to remain on the fringes of competitive for '08.

I've seen this mentioned numerous times, but I didn't see anyone apply numbers to what exactly this might entail. Where, exactly, do we need to be in order to be on the fringes of competitive? Personally, I think you're going to need a bare-minimun of 86 wins to contend for the division or WC..and quite possibly as many as 89. That's open for discussion, obviously, but I think it's hard to make a case that 85 wins will take this division (or the WC) next year.
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We won 78 games last year, have won at about a 70-win pace since around July of 2006, and had the worst run differential in the league last year. Our nominal two best starting pitchers both start the season on the DL. Our theoretical second and third best position players have been shown to have minimal trade value, one of whom was just traded for a prospect that requires a lot of rationalization in order to get around what usually is reasonably predictive of a cup of coffee career. We've added arguably the worst everyday player in baseball, and our most easily-defended move of the off-season so far involves Brain Barton. We've added marginal, "try to compete now" players like Piniero and Izturis, but traded a reasonable bounce-back candidate for . . . well, you know, and I'd hate to be repetitive.

Would I be out of line if I suggested it is a fact that we won 78 games, it is a fact that our run differential actually projects us to be worse than that, and it is a fact that we have not added players that would seem to suggest much improvement so far?

As this excellent, and very comprehensive, post points out...this team started the offseason in pretty darn bad shape. Before factoring in regressions to the mean and potential breakout performances, we were looking at a returning talent baseline in the neighborhood of a low 70s win team (our Pythag W-L last year was 70-92). So, in order for us to be on the fringes of competing, this team would have to find 13-18 wins worth of improvement this offseason.

We'll start by assuming absolutely no regression among anyone who "overachieved" last year. If they did it last year, we'll just take the optimistic route and assume they can do it again. Wins gained = 0...but you're not losing any either.

Since we're being optimistic, we'll return Jimmy to an 845 OPS (roughly .282 EQA) for 140 games. That's ~75 EqRs compared to the 47 EqR he put up last year. We'll even toss in defense that's a net 7 runs better, just to assume some improvement there as well. So, optimistically, a 35 run improvement. Of course, you're giving some of those runs back in the decreased playing time of others...but, we'll just ignore that for simplicity.

Let's say, optimistically, that Rolen returns to 2006 form and plays 145 games. That's a 43 run improvement over last year...again, ignoring the ones we're giving back through decreased playing time for others.

Let's say, optimistically, that we retained Eckstein and he repeated his 2005 offensively and defensively...that's another 30-35 runs. Better yet, let's say we landed Tejada without giving up a single thing of significance on the roster and he repeats his 2006...now we're up in the neighborhood of 45 runs ignoring the ones we're giving back.

Heck, since we're being optimistic, we'll toss in a full year of Reyes performing at 2007 Wainwright level. That's almost another 50 runs in the coffer.

Pausing to take stock...35+43+45+50=173 runs...about 17 wins, and that's without giving back all those runs that we should be giving back through the decreased playing time of others, regressions to the mean,or before factoring in 300+ PAs from Izturis.

Are we starting to get a handle on the magnitude of what it would take to be "on the fringes of competition" in 2008? Did letting Edmonds go (especially once we were unable to land Tejada and decided not to bring back Eckstein) really affect our chances significantly? Was the whole notion of competing in 2008 just a pipe dream from the get-go? Just some food for thought...


Last edited by EastonBlues22 on December 16 07, 11:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: December 16 07, 11:09 pm 
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ghostrunner wrote:
I know Izturis is the Antichrist...


Oh great. Another reason not to like that signing.


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PostPosted: December 16 07, 11:33 pm 
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EastonBlues22 wrote:
Are we starting to get a handle on the magnitude of what it would take to be "on the fringes of competition" in 2008?...Or was that just a pipe dream from the very start of the offseason?

Well you certainly make it seem quite impossible! :D

As I've alluded to in this thread, 2008 may very well turn out to be a very difficult year for Cardinal fans. But I'll continue to remain optimistic, even if we do nothing between now and then to get better. Yes, I see all the above sensible reasoning and I'd I agree with most of it. But I've also seen teams look completely different, both good and bad, from one year to the next.

Wishful thinking? Absolutely. Here are a couple reasons I'll remain optimistic.

*Players stepping up. You see it all the time in college sports. The seniors graduate...who will possibly take their place? Often times, you'll see a player who holds little promise step up and fill in admirably. I'm hoping we'll see some of this in '08.

*Addition by subtraction. You see this term overused all the time but I really think we could see such a phenomenon in SL this upcoming year. 33 starts were wasted on Kip Wells and Mike Maroth in 07. I wouldn't expect anyone to come close to performing as ineptly as those two in '08.

*Improved performance. Anthony Reyes, 2-14. Adam Kennedy, 219/282/290. Albert, off career averages. Rolen, worst year ever. And the possibility of Ankiel holding down the RF spot for the full season at a much more productive rate than recent years. These are all places we could potentially improve.

Certainly, there's the chance that none of the above positives happen and our bullpen could fall apart, leaving us struggling to reach the 70 win mark. But I prefer to think that we're going to field a competitive team next year, despite all that might go wrong.


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PostPosted: December 16 07, 11:51 pm 
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Richie Allen wrote:
Well you certainly make it seem quite impossible! :D

It wasn't my goal to make it seem impossible. After all, we significantly outperformed our Pythag last year...we could get "lucky" and milk 88 wins from even a team with 82 win talent. Of course, every other team in the division has just as much chance of getting lucky too...

I was merely pointing out that, getting lucky aside, you're talking a team overhaul of: Replacing (one of) your worst starters with the equivalent of your best, having two key players with various concerns perform optimally over very close to a full season, and filling a position of great need with all-star production (without anyone else regressing in production at all, even due to reduced playing time) just to get the team in the ballpark of being competitive.

It's a tall task, and it's made even taller if the team is (prudently) limiting itself to 1 year contracts and holding onto its youth. It seems easy to say that Moz should be able to field a competitive team in 2008 while building for the future, but when you have a more concrete idea of what exactly that entails...well, let's just say it's a little harder to remain optimistic.

Not impossible, mind you, just harder.


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PostPosted: December 16 07, 11:54 pm 
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I think it's fine -- even admirable -- to remain optimistic.

I personally would have to draw a distinction between what, as a fan, I hope will happen (like I do each and every spring), and what I expect will happen when I really break it down.

Players who hold little promise rarely step up and perform admirably over the course of a 162-game schedule. Sure, it happens, and we can hope for it here. But it's betting against the odds. When infected with baseball fever, I too (believe it or not) tend to find all the reasons we're going to defy expectations and field a competitive team. But when I am trying to look a little more analytically, I realize that for us to be bad, we do not need things to go wrong -- for the most part, so far they just need to go according to reasonable expectations (see Easton's post for more details) and we'll be bad. For us to be good, at least so far, we need a lot to go right, a handful of pleasant surprises, and some good luck.


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PostPosted: December 17 07, 12:24 am 
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Richie Allen wrote:
*Addition by subtraction. You see this term overused all the time but I really think we could see such a phenomenon in SL this upcoming year. 33 starts were wasted on Kip Wells and Mike Maroth in 07. I wouldn't expect anyone to come close to performing as ineptly as those two in '08.


I remember pretty much this time last year, when I was thinking, "wow, how could we not compete in 2007? Jason Marquis and Mark Mulder were basically the two worst starting pitchers in baseball! Reyes and Wainwright won't be great, but they're going to be replacement-level players. We're going to see a HUGE jump in production just by getting rid of Marquis and getting Mulder patched up."


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PostPosted: December 17 07, 12:39 am 
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Kyle wrote:
I remember pretty much this time last year, when I was thinking, "wow, how could we not compete in 2007? Jason Marquis and Mark Mulder were basically the two worst starting pitchers in baseball! Reyes and Wainwright won't be great, but they're going to be replacement-level players. We're going to see a HUGE jump in production just by getting rid of Marquis and getting Mulder patched up."

I know. I remember that was the thinking heading into 2007. But the funny thing is, despite historically bad performances from a number of players, including the three pitchers mentioned above, we were competitive until September 7th (1 game out of first) when the HGH story broke and we reeled off 14 losses in 16 games.

Of course, it wasn't the competitive we've been used to seeing and it was often painful to watch but is was certainly interesting until the second week in September. I suppose that's what I'm hoping for in a year in which hopes are somewhat dim.


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PostPosted: December 17 07, 6:31 am 
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EastonBlues22 wrote:
I know I'm late to the party today, but I saw one thing that I thought was worth elaborating on a little bit.
Quote:
I am arguing that it was a reasonable risk to take to remain on the fringes of competitive for '08.


Hey Easton, I bowed out of this thread but I think that's me, so let me answer.

My answer is........ 81. An 81 win team is on the fringes of competiveness in the NLC. I'm not saying 81 wins it, I'm saying a team that on average that would win 80 games will have years that range between 73-89, and the upper end of that could compete.

Hope that helps.


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PostPosted: December 17 07, 8:57 am 
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maddash wrote:
thrill wrote:
Sentimentality aside, this isn't something that deserves 50 pages.


Is someone with 10,000+ posts really in the position to say 50 pages is too much? :P

I'm anti-big business. I shop at local stores, vote libertarian and only post in threads that are under three pages (except to protest a thread's size).


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PostPosted: December 17 07, 9:03 am 
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I just wanted to be reply No. 500.


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