Tuesday, October 04, 2005

San Louis Cardinals v. Saint Diego Padres

This one's a laugher, right? Yeah, probably. Thing is, the Padres don't have that bad of a team. If they were matched up with similar team, say, the Braves, they would have a good chance of winning. Unfortunately for them, the Pads are stuck playing the Cards.

Lineup
It's not quite the Murderer's Row it was last year, what with Scott Rolen's injury and with a decline in Jim Edmonds's numbers (.340 EqA in 2004; .307 EqA this year). Albert Pujols (.343) is still the man, however, and he has solid support in the surrounding lineup with Larry Walker and Reggie Sanders. Though this says more about the competition, St. Louis's lineup remains the best in the National League. San Diego's hitters don't get much recognition because they play in such an extreme pitcher's park, but they actually have a solid group with no weaknesses. Brian Giles (.328) is the only real danger, however; the other hitters range from .248 to .282. ADVANTAGE: CARDINALS

Bench
The solid play of John Rodriguez (.291), Hector Luna (.266), and So Taguchi (.257) allowed the Cardinals to overcome numerous injuries this season. The Padres bench may be even better--all five players had a .260 EqA or better, with Mark Sweeney (.314) leading the way. I'm calling this one even only because the St. Louis bench proved it could do the job when pressed into starting service. ADVANTAGE: EVEN

Starting Pitchers
Chris Carpenter (8.7 SNLVAR) gives the Cardinals the ace they sorely lacked last postseason, and Mark Mulder (5.3) is a solid second starter. Jason Marquis (4.2) and Jeff Suppan (4.4) are good back end guys who won't lose the game for you. San Diego has a stud in Jake Peavy (6.6), but thena bunch of mediocre pitchers whose ERAs were helped by cavernous PetCo Park. Carpenter faded down the stretch a bit, so it's not hard to imagine Peavy winning a duel between the two, but San Diego's lack of depth will undo them. ADVANTAGE: CARDINALS

Bullpen
The Cardinals pen took a hit on Monday, when it was announced that Al Reyes (2.741 WXRL) would miss the playoffs. The Cards can still go four-deep and have a solid closer, but the Padres can go five-deep, and setup man Scott Linebrink (3.752) and closer Trevor Hoffman (3.769) form one of the best combos in the league. ADVANTAGE: PADRES

Defense
The Cards have positive FRAA everywhere except right field, and are especially strong up the middle. Centerfielder Jim Edmonds went for a ridiculous +20 FRAA and catcher Yadier Molina was +18. The Padres are the opposeite, with no plus performers, and weak up the middle, with shortstop Khalil Greene (-12) and centerfielder Dave Roberts (-13) being the main culprits. This is borne out in the defensive efficiency stats--St. Louis was right near the top of the NL rankings while San Diego was in the bottom third. ADVANTAGE: CARDINALS

Bottom Line
The Cardinals are the most complete team in the National League, and have the experience to know not to take San Diego lightly. The Pads won't embarrass themselves, but there will be no mistaking the better team when the series ends. CARDINALS WIN 3-1.

See, look, I posted this before the game started! Houston/Atlanta preview goes up tonight, as well as observations about today's games.

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