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TeamBoone
07-30-2006, 04:25 PM
Huh... I guess I never realized the Reds were ever out of the race...


07/30/2006

Bumbling Birds let Reds into race
By Bernie Miklasz / ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

In this crazy season of chutes and ladders, the Cardinals seem determined to drive their passionate fan base totally mad. The Cardinals' bizarre, outer-limits, Alice in Wonderland futility against the Cubs has reached comical proportions.

We're seeing smart Cardinals do remarkably dumb things in the field, on the bases and in the batter's box. Suddenly the Cardinals are incapable of executing basic fundamentals, as if this match at Wrigley marks the first time they've stepped onto a baseball field.

We're seeing a pitching staff turn John Mabry into David Ortiz. We're seeing Tony La Russa make Dusty Baker look like a Hall of Fame manager. In normal circumstances, Baker is the ineffective leader being run out of Chicago by livid fans and media. But the Cardinals show up, and Baker is Casey Stengel and the 1951 Yankees going against Hack Taylor and the St. Louis Browns (52-102). Who knows? The Cubs may retain Baker so they can continue to humiliate their arch-rivals from St. Louis.

(OK, I know I wrote about the Cardinals getting bullied by the Cubs in Saturday's column. I'm sorry to revisit the subject again, but even your neighborhood columnist wanted to throw things at the TV set the last couple of days and is in need of venting. So pardon my redundancy and thanks for your tolerance.) Advertisement

Cardinals fans can only hope that Chris Carpenter and Albert Pujols will break out their award-winning form Sunday afternoon at Wrigley, rock Carlos Zambrano and the Cubs, and restore order to the baseball universe. The Cubs are the third-worst team in the majors, right? Derrek Lee is out, no?

The real fallout from the horror show at Wrigley is this: The Cardinals are allowing the Cincinnati Reds to have a shot at the division title. Like many baseball fans, I've flip-flopped on the Reds, who are an extreme up-and-down team. But the Reds have won 10 of their last 15 games and trail the Cardinals by 3 1/2.

I keep hearing pundits insist that the Cardinals have the better team and will dispose of the Reds. I'm still buying into that premise, but it's also true that the Reds have advanced their cause with recent maneuvers.

Cincy general manager Wayne Krivsky's small-headline deal to acquire closer Eddie Guardardo from Seattle's doghouse is achieving the desired results; he's recorded six saves with a 1.04 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning. The controversial, big-headline trade with Washington added a quality middle reliever in lefty Bill Bray. The other reliever picked up in that transaction, Gary Majewski, has struggled but will pitch better. Overall, the Reds' bullpen is sharper. It isn't awesome, but it's no longer awful, either.

What about starting pitching? That was an advantage for the Cardinals, but right now the Reds' rotation is deeper. The Reds rank fourth in the NL in starter ERA; the Cardinals are No. 7. And the Reds' offense is superior, ranking third in runs, first in homers, first in combined onbase-slugging percentage and third in steals. The Cardinals' lineup still is plagued by inconsistency. We've seen them shut down too many times lately. The Reds are a weak defensive team, ranking 21st in the majors in defensive efficiency by Baseball Prospectus, so the Cardinals maintain a clear edge in that category.

I'm not saying the Reds will win the NL Central. But by bumbling away the first three games at Wrigley, the Cardinals are giving the Reds an opportunity. All of a sudden, that four-game set between the Cardinals and Reds that starts in Cincinnati on Aug. 7 looms as a compelling series. The Cardinals also play three against Reds in St. Louis from Aug 15-17.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals also play the Cubs six times in August.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/sports/columnists.nsf/berniemiklasz/story/ECFA99B572EC3A5B862571BB001747D4?OpenDocument

vaticanplum
07-30-2006, 04:29 PM
Thanks for the articles. Nice to see someone giving the Reds' starting pitching the credit it deserves. It's not brilliant by any means, but it's been terribly underrated by the media as a factor (the main factor, I would say) in the team's success this season.

Everybody conceded this division to the Cardinals at the beginning of the season. I think his point is just that it isn't as much a foregone conclusion as everybody thought. I for one do still think the Cards will do it, but I hope I'm wrong.

Johnny Footstool
07-30-2006, 10:46 PM
I don't know how "superior" the Reds offense is now with Clayton/Castro and Denorfia. Especially when Clayton leads off (shudder).

jnwohio
07-30-2006, 11:48 PM
My prediction is that if the Reds win the division, the Cardinals will not even be in the playoffs because they will have fallen back under the Reds as opposed to the Reds playing up a level to catch them and in the process somebody else squeezing through for the wildcard.

On the other hand, if things stay as they are now, I can see the Cards winning the division and the Reds getting the WC either outright or ending up in a one game playoff for it as in 1999.

And talk about things falling the Reds way, Garciapara has gone on the DL. Chipper Jones is on the DL, and apparently Pujols elbow is acting up. All at a time when their teams are the Reds next 10 games.

Jpup
07-30-2006, 11:51 PM
And talk about things falling the Reds way, Garciapara has gone on the DL. Chipper Jones is on the DL, and apparently Pujols elbow is acting up. All at a time when their teams are the Reds next 10 games.

that's terrible. :p:

cincy09
07-30-2006, 11:55 PM
this would be a good time to go on one of those "1999" 10 game winning streaks!

2001MUgrad
07-30-2006, 11:59 PM
It seems like when the Reds are struggling so are the teams they are battling with for post season play.

Fat_Strat
07-31-2006, 01:22 AM
You guys are definitely in the race, and any Cards fans that dismiss you haven't looked at the era's of our pitching staff lately.

I do think that we'll hold you off in the end, but I wouldn't be surprised to see you in the WC. Good luck to you. If it weren't for the Cards I would root for the Reds.

BTW, I wouldn't read too much into what Bernie writes. He'll write about anything in the hopes that something might stick...

GoGoWhiteSox
07-31-2006, 02:03 AM
The Cardinals getting swept in a four game series by the Cubs. Wow, just saying that doesn't sound right. The Reds need to strike St. Louis while they're down.

Jpup
07-31-2006, 02:05 AM
The Cardinals getting swept in a four game series by the Cubs. Wow, just saying that doesn't sound right. The Reds need to strike St. Louis while they're down.

How about them Twins? The ChiSox have got to be reeling.

GoGoWhiteSox
07-31-2006, 02:08 AM
How about them Twins? The ChiSox have got to be reeling.
Yeah the Twins are on fire right now, but Detroit cooled them off for us while we took two of three from Baltimore. The Sox should have had the third game, but oh well. Here's to sweeping Kansas City this week!:beerme: Speaking of Detroit...:bang:

Redhook
07-31-2006, 07:48 AM
I don't know how "superior" the Reds offense is now with Clayton/Castro and Denorfia. Especially when Clayton leads off (shudder).

I'd go even further....

We have Clayton/Castro, Freel/Deno, and RA now instead of Lopez, Kearns, and EE. That's a considerable dropoff of offensive production. Now, if we only had a manager that knew how to get the best 8 players on the field, the dropoff would hardly be noticed.

Jpup
07-31-2006, 08:20 AM
I'm not the only one that thinks that Anthony Reyes isn't near the pitcher that Dontrelle Willis is:

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/marlins/content/sports/epaper/2006/07/31/a1c_trade_0731.html


The St. Louis Cardinals are the latest team to make a run at the left-hander. The Cardinals reportedly offered a package centered around rookie right-hander Anthony Reyes, possibly first baseman/left fielder Chris Duncan and prospects.

Just as they have done to teams like the Mets, Yankees and Red Sox, the Marlins said, "No thanks.''Loria and General Manager Larry Beinfest said that the team will continue to work the phones but a deal of major significance is unlikely.

"We're always looking,'' Loria said. "But it has to make sense.''