The 2011 Cardinals are the 2010 San Diego Chargers of Baseball

April 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Ladies and gentlemen,

It took me a few minutes to calm down after learning that Cardinals closer/worthless sack of shit Ryan Franklin blew yet another save.* However, an epiphanic moment of clarity arose from that cloud of rage. I came up with the most fitting comparison of all time.

*The reason I didn’t watch the game live is because AT&T Uverse sucks just as bad as Franklin and blacked out the game. That’s another story though.

Your 2011 Cardinals are the exact doppelganger of the 2010 San Diego Chargers. The Chargers ranked no. 1 in both team offense and defense for most of the season, yet they only won nine games and missed the playoffs despite a weak division. Why? Because their special teams were the worst unit in the league. Actually, according to Football Outsiders, the Chargers’ special teams unit was the worst they’d ever measured — and it wasn’t really close.

The Chargers should’ve won at least 13 games had their special teams unit been merely average. Instead, they ruined a great season by Philip Rivers and a strong defensive year.

Sound familiar?

The Cardinals are 8-8 right now because their dipshit closer has blown four saves in five opportunities in the first 16 games. We should be at least 11-5 if not 12-4, but because of one horrible flaw that has the potential to be historically bad, we are 8-8. Like the Chargers, our statistics tell a much different story that our record does. We lead or nearly lead the majors in runs, batting average, slugging percentage and on base percentage. We have scored 23 more runs than we’ve given up, an average of nearly 1.5 per game. Only Colorado, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Texas have a better run differential. And guess what? All five of those teams lead their respective divisions and have a combined record of 52-21. By comparison, the Chargers scored 119 points more than they gave up. The only teams with a higher difference were Pittsburgh, New England, Atlanta and Green Bay — combined record 49-15. Two of those teams matched up in the Super Bowl, and the other two led their respective conference in wins*.

*It goes without saying that both the Cardinals and Chargers performed absolutely awful in close games.

The good news here is that the Cardinals’ problem is less drastic than that of the Chargers. The Chargers’ special teams unit was a deep-seated problem that would’ve required a massive philosophical and personnel shift in the middle of the season, which isn’t realistic. They had to do the best with what they had and hope that their special teams got their shit together at some point. Well, they didn’t.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ problem isn’t quite as bad. Obviously the Wainwright injury has stretched our bullpen a little thin, with Kyle McClellan leaving to become the fifth starter (doing magnificently so far, by the way), so we can’t just get rid of Franklin right now (unfortunately). But we must demote him right now, not only for the sake of the team, but for Franklin’s own mental well-being. If he keeps getting thrown to the wolves, he could become a lost cause, and that would stretch our bullpen even thinner. If we move him into a setup role right now, we can potentially save whatever’s left of Franklin, and put somebody in the closer’s role and hope it works out. My personal choice is Eduardo Sanchez, who (with an admittedly very small sample size) looks like K-Rod circa 2002.

It’s not a perfect plan, but we have to act now and do something before we become an even more tortured version than the 2010 Chargers.

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