Tuesday, October 26, 2004

On the Red Sox Offense

I criticized Bob Smizik's column yesterday on former Pirates now in the World Series, so to be fair I'd like to point out that his column today on the Red Sox is very good. Smizik rightly points out that the Red Sox scored nearly 100 runs more than the Cardinals' this year, and he also identifies the reason why (well, besides the DH rule): Boston's lineup is strong from top to bottom, whereas St. Louis' has huge holes. St. Louis has started Tony Womack, Mike Matheny and So Taguchi in the Series. The fact that those guys were legitimately Tony LaRussa's best options indicates that Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty didn't finish his job last winter. The Cardinals clearly have a formidable core of offensive talent, and they've gotten far more out of their pitching than I ever expected, but the Cards should have acquired better hitters to play catcher and second, especially since Womack can't play defense and there were good, cheap options available. Mark Bellhorn cost the Sox around a million bucks, for example.

Lots of sportswriters would do well to learn from something else Smizik does in his column. He uses the traditional statistics fans like, such as RBIs and wins, as evidence to prove his case, but he doesn't draw erroneous conclusions from them. He even notes that although the Red Sox have made eight errors so far this series, "Their defense... is not as bad as those errors might indicate." Nicely done, Mr. Smizik.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to take issue with the idea that Jocketty should have acquired better hitters than Womack, Matheny and So Taguchi.

First, Womack had an outstanding year. Second, Matheny is on the club for his defense. Third, Taguchi is a bench player during the regular season (and he too had a fine season in that role). And lastly, the Cardinals led the National League in most offensive categories, including runs scored. The offense was not a problem EXCEPT in the World Series.

Walt Jocketty's goal in the offseason was to rebuild the pitching staff, and he did so within the confines of a budget that was, it should be noted, 70% the size of Boston's. Three-fifths of the Cardinal starting staff was turned over in 2004, a remarkable achievement for a budget nuetral team that went on to win 105 games and make the World Series.

They may have finished second to a deeper, better funded team, but it's grasping at straws to point to the offense (including a bench player) as a logical area where more money should have been spent.

11:34 PM  
Blogger Charlie said...

I understand those concerns, but 1) Womack stinks, and the Cardinals were extremely lucky to get as much out of him as they did. He can't play defense, and he can't hit either. This year was a huge fluke, and if the Cardinals didn't have a pattern of falling head over heels for guys that can't hit at all but are speedy and versatile, I might be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. 2) Matheny is a defensive sub, nothing more. His offense is terrible and does not make up for his relative prowess on defense. 3) LaRussa benches are typically filled with players like Taguchi who can't hit at all. This isn't the first time this has happened.

I understand that the Cardinals have big talents elsewhere in their lineup, so I see no problem with them skimping a bit elsewhere, but it's easy to get players cheaply - like Bellhorn - who are much better than Womack, Matheny or Taguchi. If they don't, they put themselves at a big and unnecessary disadvantage against the Red Sox who are, yes, well-funded, but who also find cheap AND good players to fill the bottom third of the lineup and man the bench.

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