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2022 NL Central Discussion


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Figured there was a need for a thread as the season goes on. Cardinals currently trailing 3-2 to the Orioles in the bottom of the 8th, though they've scored in the last two innings to cut the deficit. Hopefully, the Orioles can hold on. They've actually got some real nice bullpen arms, as we saw during our series with them.

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Cardinals fall at home to the Orioles 3-2, losing the series in the process. Brewers' division lead back to 2.5 games. Cardinals now face a tough matchup with the Giants coming to St. Louis this weekend. Overall, the Cardinals' series loss to the Orioles coincides with the Pirates pulling out a series victory against the Dodgers. An example of why a series loss against a "bad" team is part of a 162 game season and means very little as to the overall quality of a team. 

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Cardinals losing at home to the Giants 8-2 after a five run SF eighth. If that holds, the Brewers division lead would increase to 3.5. Overall, the Cardinals are getting very little production from the bottom of their order right now, and they just demoted DeJong to AAA. Also, they're heavily reliant on soft-tossers in their rotation, including a 40 year old Adam Wainwright. Though they have some solid relievers (Helsley has been insane in the early going) and Arenado/Goldschmidt continue to be themselves, it's hard to see how they have the firepower to keep up with us throughout the course of the season.

Meanwhile, the Reds continue their recent offensive onslaught, besting the Pirates 8-2. As we saw this past week, they retain some quality hitters and are not nearly as historically bad as their early record would indicate.

As for the Cubs, who cares; they just plain suck.

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Hunter Greene currently throwing a no-hitter for the Reds, however, they just took him out at 118 pitches after two consecutive walks in the bottom of the 8th. It will be up to the Reds bullpen (and their offense to score a run) to finish off the no hitter and cap a great week for them. 

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Cardinals currently finishing off their four game series with the Mets in a Thursday matinee. Score is locked in a 2-2 tie. With the Brewers' come-from-behind win yesterday and the Cardinals 11-4 drubbing last night, the division lead momentarily stands at 3.5, and will become either 3 or 4 depending on the outcome of this game. For reference, we were 4 games out of first at this time last year, behind both the Cubs and the Cardinals. So, either way, we are sitting pretty and continue to be heavy favorites for not only a 5th straight postseason appearance, but a second consecutive division championship and third in five years. 

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Good thing the Cardinals have Goldschmidt and Arenado, because playing 40 year olds at first base and catcher (not to mention at the number one slot in their rotation) isn't going to help them win many games this year. 

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Alonso hits a walk off shot in the bottom of the 10th after the Cards tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the 9th on a fielding error from Eduardo Escobar. Division lead now at 4 games as we approach Memorial Day. 

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The Cardinals are calling up Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore, their top two prospects. Gorman, who has big-time power but also serious swing and miss issues, is expected to slot in at second, with Edman, a Gold Glove second baseman, sliding over to short. Liberatore, despite being consistently ranked higher on prospect lists than Ethan Small, has not been near as dominant in the minor leagues. He is listed as Saturday's starter and will probably also make a start in our series against them next week. Meanwhile, the slumping Tyler O'Neil goes to the IL. He has been one of the worst position players in baseball in the early going, despite his sensational 2021 and Gold Glove defense. 

Overall, I strongly doubt any of these moves will be the needle movers Cardinals fans are hoping for. Particularly when you consider that they're taking a mediocre third baseman and moving him to second, while displacing a Gold Glove second baseman in order to add offense to the shortstop position. Goldschmidt and Arenado can only carry a team so far, much like we learned during the Braun and Fielder years. 

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55 minutes ago, nate82 said:

The Cardinals issue is that O’Neill is hitting like Lorenzo Cain.  

And relying on three 40 year olds to fill key roles on their team...Edman has been a pleasant surprise for them, which is why moving him off 2B is so perplexing to me. I get that they need offense at SS, but he's not really that kind of hitter and he likely won't provide as great a defensive value at that position.

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14 hours ago, Brewcrew82 said:

The Cardinals are calling up Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore, their top two prospects. Gorman, who has big-time power but also serious swing and miss issues, is expected to slot in at second, with Edman, a Gold Glove second baseman, sliding over to short. Liberatore, despite being consistently ranked higher on prospect lists than Ethan Small, has not been near as dominant in the minor leagues. He is listed as Saturday's starter and will probably also make a start in our series against them next week. Meanwhile, the slumping Tyler O'Neil goes to the IL. He has been one of the worst position players in baseball in the early going, despite his sensational 2021 and Gold Glove defense. 

Overall, I strongly doubt any of these moves will be the needle movers Cardinals fans are hoping for. Particularly when you consider that they're taking a mediocre third baseman and moving him to second, while displacing a Gold Glove second baseman in order to add offense to the shortstop position. Goldschmidt and Arenado can only carry a team so far, much like we learned during the Braun and Fielder years. 

I don't know if I agree. I think top to bottom they're better than Milwaukee offensively.  They have the best 3B in the NL Central in Arenado, they have the best 1B in the division in Goldschmidt. They have the best 2nd basemen in the Central in Edman. Pujols has been productive and so have rookies Brendan Donovan and Juan Yepez albeit in a small sample. Now they're adding Gorman who has big time power.  With possibly O'Neill and Carlson turning it around at some point; it's a tough lineup. 

The pitching, however,  will be outcome determinative for the Cardinals. Mikolas and Wainwright have questions with injuries and age, but both have been really good so far now they're adding in Liberatore who should at least bump Jordan Hicks from the rotation where he has not been effective. Pretty average outside the first two, but much like last year when they acquired Lester and JA Happ, the Cardinals will probably pick up some rental starting pitching at the deadline. 

 

Side note: I couldn't recall where Matt Carpenter went, and was surprised to see that despite being 36 years old and having made 90 million dollars playing professional baseball he was playing in AAA for the Rangers until being released yesterday.

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1 hour ago, nate82 said:

O’Neill hasn’t shown any signs in improving at the plate.  He is about as bad as Cain right now.  He looks to be another Hiura one good year followed by a bunch of what happened years.

Come on, and get real. Tyler O'Neill was a 5.8 WAR player last year, super-star level production. In a different context, he's a two months and 133 at-bats removed from a season with a .286/.352/.560 line with a gold glove.  If O'Neill can figure it out be just half the guy he was last year, his WAR would still top anything Hiura has ever done. 

 

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2 hours ago, nate82 said:

O’Neill hasn’t shown any signs in improving at the plate.  He is about as bad as Cain right now.  He looks to be another Hiura one good year followed by a bunch of what happened years.

I doubt he's a 0.900+ OPS hitter like he showed last season, but I also doubt he's a sub 0.600 OPS hitter like he's shown in roughly 1/5 of a season in 2022.  O'Neill had a poor July last year similar to how he's started off this season - the Cards will be patient with him, particularly if part of his early season struggles is related to a right shoulder issue that now has him on the IL.

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2 hours ago, Jopal78 said:

I don't know if I agree. I think top to bottom they're better than Milwaukee offensively.  They have the best 3B in the NL Central in Arenado, they have the best 1B in the division in Goldschmidt. They have the best 2nd basemen in the Central in Edman. Pujols has been productive and so have rookies Brendan Donovan and Juan Yepez albeit in a small sample. Now they're adding Gorman who has big time power.  With possibly O'Neill and Carlson turning it around at some point; it's a tough lineup. 

The pitching, however,  will be outcome determinative for the Cardinals. Mikolas and Wainwright have questions with injuries and age, but both have been really good so far now they're adding in Liberatore who should at least bump Jordan Hicks from the rotation where he has not been effective. Pretty average outside the first two, but much like last year when they acquired Lester and JA Happ, the Cardinals will probably pick up some rental starting pitching at the deadline. 

 

Side note: I couldn't recall where Matt Carpenter went, and was surprised to see that despite being 36 years old and having made 90 million dollars playing professional baseball he was playing in AAA for the Rangers until being released yesterday.

Relative to the Brewers, the Cardinals are clearly a notch below us. Offensively, yes, they have some serious star power in Arenado and Goldschmidt (and even Edman has been at that level so far this year). However, their main problem is that they are getting virtually no production from the 6-9 spots in their order. O'Neill, expected to be their star left fielder and 3 hole hitter, has been so bad that he had to be moved to the bottom of the order and then benched for a few days, before going on the IL yesterday. Though, as you say, there is a distinct possibility that he turns it around and becomes the player he was last year, he is a guy that has always been hampered by huge swing and miss tendencies. The metrics are even down on his defense thus far, which is why he has been one of the worst position players in baseball by WAR. Meanwhile, Pujols, while not completely sucking with the bat, has been no more than average, and at his age, that is probably all you can expect going forward. He has also been getting more playing time than originally planned because Corey Dickerson, their other main offseason acquisition on offense, has been just as bad as O'Neill. In addition, Molina, the second 40 year old mainstay in their lineup, is increasingly looking like he's finished. Their shortstop production has been absolutely abysmal, which is why they're now moving Edman over and installing Gorman at 2B. That has the potential to backfire on them by taking one of their main producers off his best position. Another major disappointment for them has been Carlson, who also finds himself in the negative WAR territory. He remains very young and has shown better production, but the clock is also ticking on him becoming anything more than a decent player. Yepez and Donovan have been nice surprises, however, their prospect history indicates that they will probably not continue to produce at that level. 

So, while the Cardinals may have us beat in sheer star power on offense with Arenado and Goldschmidt, it is highly questionable that they are better than the Brewers "top-to-bottom" offensively. They have multiple black holes in their lineup; we have just one in Cain. Whereas the bottom of our order has been holding their own for the most part, the Cardinals' has been continually eating away at the stellar production from the Edman/Goldschmidt/Arenado trio. And this doesn't even take into account the pitching side of things, where we have the Cardinals beat by a substantial degree....

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29 minutes ago, Fear The Chorizo said:

I doubt he's a 0.900+ OPS hitter like he showed last season, but I also doubt he's a sub 0.600 OPS hitter like he's shown in roughly 1/5 of a season in 2022.  O'Neill had a poor July last year similar to how he's started off this season - the Cards will be patient with him, particularly if part of his early season struggles is related to a right shoulder issue that now has him on the IL.

O'Neill's problem has always been the huge hole in his bat. Even during his star turn last season, his strikeout and whiff rates were among the highest in baseball. If he can't offset those tendencies with consistent loud contact and superb defense, which he hasn't been able to thus far, he will be a one-year wonder. I agree that he's probably not this bad, but I also don't think he's ever gonna approach last season's levels on a regular basis. 

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1 hour ago, Jopal78 said:

Come on, and get real. Tyler O'Neill was a 5.8 WAR player last year, super-star level production. In a different context, he's a two months and 133 at-bats removed from a season with a .286/.352/.560 line with a gold glove.  If O'Neill can figure it out be just half the guy he was last year, his WAR would still top anything Hiura has ever done. 

 

It was a career year for him I doubt he ever repeats that and gold gloves are not all that telling of a players actual defense.

Half would only be about 2.8 and Hiura put up a 2.4 already in his career.  So basically just Hiura at his best.  

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10 minutes ago, Brewcrew82 said:

Relative to the Brewers, the Cardinals are clearly a notch below us. Offensively, yes, they have some serious star power in Arenado and Goldschmidt (and even Edman has been at that level so far this year). However, their main problem is that they are getting virtually no production from the 6-9 spots in their order. O'Neill, expected to be their star left fielder and 3 hole hitter, has been so bad that he had to be moved to the bottom of the order and then benched for a few days, before going on the IL yesterday. Though, as you say, there is a distinct possibility that he turns it around and becomes the player he was last year, he is a guy that has always been hampered by huge swing and miss tendencies. The metrics are even down on his defense thus far, which is why he has been one of the worst position players in baseball by WAR. Meanwhile, Pujols, while not completely sucking with the bat, has been no more than average, and at his age, that is probably all you can expect going forward. He has also been getting more playing time than originally planned because Corey Dickerson, their other main offseason acquisition on offense, has been just as bad as O'Neill. In addition, Molina, the second 40 year old mainstay in their lineup, is increasingly looking like he's finished. Their shortstop production has been absolutely abysmal, which is why they're now moving Edman over and installing Gorman at 2B. That has the potential to backfire on them by taking one of their main producers off his best position. Another major disappointment for them has been Carlson, who also finds himself in the negative WAR territory. He remains very young and has shown better production, but the clock is also ticking on him becoming anything more than a decent player. Yepez and Donovan have been nice surprises, however, their prospect history indicates that they will probably not continue to produce at that level. 

So, while the Cardinals may have us beat in sheer star power on offense with Arenado and Goldschmidt, it is highly questionable that they are better than the Brewers "top-to-bottom" offensively. They have multiple black holes in their lineup; we have just one in Cain. Whereas the bottom of our order has been holding their own for the most part, the Cardinals' has been continually eating away at the stellar production from the Edman/Goldschmidt/Arenado trio. And this doesn't even take into account the pitching side of things, where we have the Cardinals beat by a substantial degree....

Maybe because we watch the Brewers and see them everyday there's some distortion so I guess I'd go to the stat sheets for comparison.

In St. Louis Arenado is at .938 OPS and Goldschmidt is .927 and Edman is at .801 all having played nearly every game.  

The Brewers OPS leader among regulars is Rowdy Tellez at .803, then Renfroe at .796 then Adames who is at .766.

The best of the Cardinals lineup is far and away better than the best of the Brewers lineup. However, it does look like the Cardinals have given over 650 at bats approximately to players with a sub. 700 OPS (Molina, Dejong, O'Neill, Bader, Carlson, Dickerson, Sosa and Nootbaar) while the Brewers have given only approximately 320 at bats to players with a sub. 700 OPS (Cain, McCutchen, Taylor, Caratinia, Jackson). It is worth noting since the beginning of May both Brendan Donovan and Juan Yepez have been quite productive and have taken at bats away primarily from Dejong (minors), O'Neill, and Dickerson where as the Brewers play Cain or Taylor every game. 

I guess we'll see how it plays out, if the Brewers offense is better with a lower ceiling thatn St. Louis but a higher floor. It probably depends on which players on each team get hot and for how long. 

 

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3 hours ago, Jopal78 said:

I don't know if I agree. I think top to bottom they're better than Milwaukee offensively.  They have the best 3B in the NL Central in Arenado, they have the best 1B in the division in Goldschmidt. They have the best 2nd basemen in the Central in Edman. Pujols has been productive and so have rookies Brendan Donovan and Juan Yepez albeit in a small sample. Now they're adding Gorman who has big time power.  With possibly O'Neill and Carlson turning it around at some point; it's a tough lineup. 

The pitching, however,  will be outcome determinative for the Cardinals. Mikolas and Wainwright have questions with injuries and age, but both have been really good so far now they're adding in Liberatore who should at least bump Jordan Hicks from the rotation where he has not been effective. Pretty average outside the first two, but much like last year when they acquired Lester and JA Happ, the Cardinals will probably pick up some rental starting pitching at the deadline. 

 

Side note: I couldn't recall where Matt Carpenter went, and was surprised to see that despite being 36 years old and having made 90 million dollars playing professional baseball he was playing in AAA for the Rangers until being released yesterday.

After reading this I just had to take a look at Carpenter's splits.  Career .830 OPS vs Brewers.  That's about .400 lower than what it seemed like from the bad memories.

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21 minutes ago, nate82 said:

It was a career year for him I doubt he ever repeats that and gold gloves are not all that telling of a players actual defense.

Half would only be about 2.8 and Hiura put up a 2.4 already in his career.  So basically just Hiura at his best.  

Exactly, if he was just half of what he was last year, that would be a 2.9 WAR player. So even if it was a career year never to be repeated a 2.9 WAR player is someone you plug in your lineup everyday (Don't forget Hiura is substantially further removed from his 2.1 WAR season than O'Neill is from the 5.8 WAR, yet there are a not an insignificant number of folks here still believing Keston is going to be that guy again).

Frankly, I hesitated to mention the gold glove as I anticipated the old Rafael Palmeiro defense. Point is, O'Neill's WAR wasn't all offense, defensively he was more than half a win better than a replacement, but that is more wordy than gold glove. 

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44 minutes ago, Jopal78 said:

Maybe because we watch the Brewers and see them everyday there's some distortion so I guess I'd go to the stat sheets for comparison.

In St. Louis Arenado is at .938 OPS and Goldschmidt is .927 and Edman is at .801 all having played nearly every game.  

The Brewers OPS leader among regulars is Rowdy Tellez at .803, then Renfroe at .796 then Adames who is at .766.

The best of the Cardinals lineup is far and away better than the best of the Brewers lineup. However, it does look like the Cardinals have given over 650 at bats approximately to players with a sub. 700 OPS (Molina, Dejong, O'Neill, Bader, Carlson, Dickerson, Sosa and Nootbaar) while the Brewers have given only approximately 320 at bats to players with a sub. 700 OPS (Cain, McCutchen, Taylor, Caratinia, Jackson). It is worth noting since the beginning of May both Brendan Donovan and Juan Yepez have been quite productive and have taken at bats away primarily from Dejong (minors), O'Neill, and Dickerson where as the Brewers play Cain or Taylor every game. 

I guess we'll see how it plays out, if the Brewers offense is better with a lower ceiling thatn St. Louis but a higher floor. It probably depends on which players on each team get hot and for how long. 

 

Why I acknowledged that the Cardinals have us beat on star power in the lineup. However, it is largely canceled out by the terrible production they've gotten from the bottom of their order. Donovan and Yepez may have stabilized things somewhat, but their current production, in addition to being a small sample size, is also not matched by their prospect pedigree. Having Molina and Pujols getting regular playing time really limits their ceiling. If O'Neill and Carlson don't turn it around eventually, they may struggle to stay above .500, as the projection sites (e.g. 538) right now only have them finishing a few games above that threshold. Conversely, the Brewers are projected to safely clear the 90 win mark. 

 

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1 hour ago, Brewcrew82 said:

Why I acknowledged that the Cardinals have us beat on star power in the lineup. However, it is largely canceled out by the terrible production they've gotten from the bottom of their order. Donovan and Yepez may have stabilized things somewhat, but their current production, in addition to being a small sample size, is also not matched by their prospect pedigree. Having Molina and Pujols getting regular playing time really limits their ceiling. If O'Neill and Carlson don't turn it around eventually, they may struggle to stay above .500, as the projection sites (e.g. 538) right now only have them finishing a few games above that threshold. Conversely, the Brewers are projected to safely clear the 90 win mark. 

 

538 had Hillary winning too. Look, the Cardinals are like the Indians/Guardians they have a ton of warts and people denigrate then then when the dust clears they’ve won 85-90+ games.
 

Heck, they went out and got washed up Jon Lester and JA Happ last year and put them right into the rotation and still won 90 games. I don’t think this year is any different.

 

 

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42 minutes ago, Jopal78 said:

538 had Hillary winning too. Look, the Cardinals are like the Indians/Guardians they have a ton of warts and people denigrate then then when the dust clears they’ve won 85-90+ games.
 

Heck, they went out and got washed up Jon Lester and JA Happ last year and put them right into the rotation and still won 90 games. I don’t think this year is any different.

 

 

It’s not just 538. It’s every one of the projection sites. Fangraphs, baseball prospectus, etc. They may pull out 85-90 wins just because they’re the Cards. But that is still clearly a level below the Brewers. 

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1 hour ago, Jopal78 said:

538 had Hillary winning too. 

This is a tangent (obviously), but no they didn't. They projected there was about a 70% chance of her winning the election based on their model, which was significantly lower than the odds other sites were giving at the time. A 30% chance of something is actually really high, and Nate had to combat the "OMG 538 was so wrong" take over and over after the election.

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