The Missouri Brewers

As we talked about a few days ago, Matt Holliday is a good player, and he’s really going to help the Cardinals down the stretch. That said, I have to wonder, is St. Louis trying to copy the Milwaukee model of right-handed only offenses?

With this deal, the Cardinals regular line-up when everyone is healthy shakes down something like this.

1. Skip Schumaker, 2B, LH
2. Colby Rasmus, CF, LH
3. Albert Pujols, 1B, RH
4. Matt Holliday, LF, RH
5. Ryan Ludwick, RF, RH
6. Mark DeRosa, 3B, RH
7. Yadier Molina, C, RH
8. Pitcher, P, ?
9. Brendan Ryan, SS, RH

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to match-up with that kind of line-up in a playoff series. You leave your lefty starters at home, throw as many RH starters as possible, and use your LOOGY to go after Schumaker and Rasmus, before throwing a bunch more right-handed relievers to finish out the game. Pretty basic stuff.

Maybe LaRussa mixes up the line-up come October, moving DeRosa up and Rasmus back to add a little more balance, but even that only does so much – with six right-handed bats and just two left-handed bats in the regular line-up, the Cardinals are going to see a bunch of RH pitching if they make the playoffs, no matter how they arrange the batting order.

The Brewers tried this last year, with a quality offense overloaded with RH bats. They couldn’t figure out Brett Myers or Joe Blanton in the first round, and they went home. It’s tough enough to beat quality teams in a playoff series without making the match-ups easy on the opposing manager.

I get that there wasn’t a big LH bat out there that fit the Cardinals needs, but I have to wonder whether St. Louis would have been better off going after a LH third baseman instead of DeRosa if they felt like they were going to make a run at Holliday as well. As is, they’ve paid a pretty steep price in young talent to build a line-up that will hit the crap out of left-handers, but they might not see more than one or two in the playoffs. And whether this line-up can muster a bunch of runs against RH pitching remains to be seen.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


47 Responses to “The Missouri Brewers”

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  1. Boomer says:

    As a Cub fan….that “we need a left handed bat” really gets under my skin!!! Just bitter that they win 97 games and the feel they aren’t balanced enough cuz they lost 3 games.

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  2. Shannon says:

    As David mentioned, considering Ludwick’s major opposite platoon split for his career, the fact that pujols hits anybody, and how well rasmus has done this year against RH I’m not too worried about it. You take what you can get and Holliday is a huge upgrade over what they currently have, and he was the best player available.

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    • DavidCEisen says:

      Hell I’m sure the Cards would be happy that other teams are selecting their pitchers based on handedness rather than talent. Just like I hope teams try to throw lefties out against the Phillies in order to ‘exploit’ Utley, Howard, Ibanez, and Werth.

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  3. JimRI says:

    Well, this year, the Cardinals have .659 OPS vs LHP and .763 vs RHP

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  4. nick says:

    Oops! Care to comment, Dave?

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  5. Matthew says:

    Plus there arent many Left Handed hitting 3rd basemen

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    • Pete says:

      Except the one they dealt to make the trade.

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      • Big Oil says:

        Doh!

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      • Will says:

        I’d rather see Wallace at third and DeRosa in left than have made this last deal giving up the top third base prospect in baseball for 2 months of Holliday. Wallace is MLB-ready right now, and who knows what we’ll get for Holliday’s draft picks. Meanwhile, Ankiel is just turning around and could platoon anywhere in the outfield. Mortensen could join a weak rotation tomorrow, and Peterson is a solid CF prospect. Eventually, people will learn Billy Beane never gets the worse end of a deal (RE: Let’s go after Mark Mulder!). Look at the seasons Haren and Calero are having right now and Daric Barton’s potential and it lands itself in Brock-for-Broglio territory. Btw, this deal’s worse.

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    • Aaron B. says:

      I linked my name to all third basemen who have accumulated at least 100 PA’s this year…

      Not many lefties there who are both good and at all likely to be traded

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  6. chuckb says:

    Maybe you haven’t seen tonight’s lineup. It includes Ankiel instead of Rasmus. Yippee!!! And, gee, wouldn’t it be great if there was a left-handed 3B available? Hmm…. What about within the organization? Anyone? Is there anyone at, say, AAA who plays 3B and is a pretty good hitter and might be able to help us this year and for 6 more years? Oops! Not any more!

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    • BX says:

      Wait. What?

      Ankiel is playing over Rasmus? What? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of trading for Matt Holliday?

      Holliday over Rasmus is not nearly as much of the upgrade that Holliday over Ankiel is.

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      • VolsnCards5 says:

        welcome to the world of one Tony LaRussa, where gut feelings rule the day and logical lineup(and roster) construction goes to die

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      • Pete says:

        “Ankiel is playing over Rasmus? What? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of trading for Matt Holliday?”

        Yes, yes it does.

        But then again Tony La Russa has probably been waiting around all year for Rick to have any kind of blip of good play so he didn’t have to play Rasmus. He’s convinced that all young players need to be babied and coddled and cannot handle being put into positions where they have to start. He’s really lost it IMO. 13 man pitching staffs, while only using 12 of those guys, were just the beginning I’m afraid.

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    • dj says:

      why don’t they just put ankiel at 3rd? tony larussa would love nothing more than to be the only manager in the majors with a lefty on the infield. that would be sweet.

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  7. Pete says:

    The Cardinals have not hit lefties for three years. The DeRosa and Holliday trades, along with the Duncan deal, eliminate that problem b/c now they don’t have to worry about Ankiel or Duncan getting chewed up by lefties and they don’t have to play Joe Thurston, who just stinks anyway.

    I’m not the least bit worried about how they’ll fair against righties. From the second he’s been a major leaguer, Ludwick has exhibited a reverse platoon split. Rasmus has done well vs. RH considering he’s 22. Pujols hits anyone.

    This team has dramatically fixed its offensive Achillies Heel…ineptitude vs. LHP. This trade should be bashed, but this is a pretty week angle upon which to attack it.

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  8. giantsrainman says:

    The Cardinals can solve this “so called” problem easily with a platoon of
    Ankiel and Ludwick in RF. What is wrong with you lately. All you seem to do is bitch about mole hills.

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    • Pete says:

      And why would they do that?

      Ankiel has been horrible this year and Ludwick is slugging well over .600 this month. He was pretty bad May-June, but was also one of baseball’s best hitters last season.

      Oh and Ludwick hits better vs. RHP anyway.

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  9. MPAUL says:

    not to mention yadier is hitting above .300 against rhp this year. both schumaker and razzle dazzle drastically hit rhp better. so spreading them apart in the order will force opposing managers to use their lefty specialist on one or the other.

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  10. Matt says:

    Read the article, raced home to make the Luddy, Holliday reverse platoon, Pujols kills everyones, Cards kill righties, we WERE helpless vs lefties argument. Beaten to the punch by like 10 people. Oh well.

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    • DavidCEisen says:

      You realize you can post comments away from any computer in the world, right?

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      • Cardinals645 says:

        Regardless, if it became a problem of sheer handedness, Ankiel is able to fill in at any OF position, and bat left handed.

        Considering Pujols and Ludwick can hit RHB, and Ankiel as backup, I don’t think it’ll be a big deal. It’s far worse to have too many left handed batters. I’m reasonably certain that RHB are far more used to facing RHP than LHB are to facing LHP, given the ratio of right handed players to left handed ones.

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  11. Scott says:

    People get way too worked up about lineup balance. You either have good hitters or you dont. Pujols followed by holliday should be the premier 3/4 combo in the game for the rest of the year regardless of which side of the plate they stand on.

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  12. Nick says:

    I doubt Rasmus bats second in that lineup. I would think it would be like this:

    Schumaker
    DeRosa
    Pujols
    Holliday
    Ludwick
    Rasmus
    Molina
    Ryan
    Pitcher

    That looks well balance enough. Besides, it’s not like Pujols, Ludwick or Holliday are that bad against righties :)

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  13. Alireza says:

    Given that Pujols alone dominates everyone, it is like having a switch hitter in the lineup.

    BTW Nick, the Pitcher bats eighth ;-)

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    • Nick says:

      I know, I’m a Cards fan. However, given that we now have a deeper lineup, with high OBP guys as late as the 7th hole, it doesn’t make sense to bat the pitcher 8th… I hope Tony sees it that way.

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      • Big Oil says:

        Perhaps…but I’ll still defer to the Book on that one.

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      • Big Oil says:

        Although, as a clarification, if the lower part of the order has demonstrated over a large size that they are consistently high obp (relative to league avg for that position in the batting order) then I would agree with you. Simply don’t know enough about the bottom of their order.

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      • Nick says:

        Well, according to Baseball Reference, here are the league averages in OBP:

        6th: .332
        7th: .314
        8th: .327

        Assuming the lineup I posted above is correct, here are the projected OBP for those players:

        Rasmus: .324
        Molina: .335
        Ryan: .308

        So I guess they are below average in that category.

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      • Big Oil says:

        Dumb question, but I’m assuming you filtered NL only?

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  14. D Wrek says:

    I don’t understand. What lefty bats are out there they could have got and would have made an impact? Easy to say harder to do.

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  15. Nick says:

    Holliday has a career .941 OPS against righties compared to a .873 against lefties.

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  16. JI says:

    I don’t think this is quite as big of a deal as it would normally be because Pujols, Ludwick, and Holliday all hit right handed pitching very well.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Holliday or Ludwick hit second and have Rasmus moved further down the order. It would be pretty stupid to hit them back to back.

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  17. Ken says:

    Per b-ref.com:

    2008 Brewers team split:
    v. RHP OPS+97
    v. LHP OPS+113

    2009 Cardinals (as of 7/25/09):
    v. RHP OPS+106
    v. LHP OPS+76

    2009 Holliday (as of 7/25/09):
    v. RHP OPS+141
    v. LHP OPS+105

    2009 DeRosa (as of 7/25/09):
    v. RHP OPS+97
    v. LHP OPS+169

    The Cardinals are significantly improved, especially when considering the defensive improvement at LF and 3B, in the present with these two trades. Dave was probably just ignorant of the cardinals proclivity for hitting RHP…and their total difficulty handling LHP.

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  18. nick says:

    wd it be so hard for Cameron to post “sorry, Cards fans, you know your lineup better than me, my bad?” he’d earn a significant amount of respect and it’d cost him nothing….

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  19. Alireza says:

    Batting the pitcher 8th is almost always the best lineup if you go by the numbers.

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  20. Matty B says:

    Funny to see this here, I was watching the Cardinals-Phils game on Saturday and I was distrubed by the abundance of right-handed bats…I mean isn’t something like 75-78% of starting pitchers right-handed?

    In all fairness though, Pujols might as well be a switch hitter, because I do not think he has much of a platoon-split to speak of.

    I am too tired to look up the other righties numbers .vs. righties…but maybe they also do not have bad splits…?

    Still, it is troubling for sure, I always think a team needs at least 4 lefties/switch hitters in the starting line-up.

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    • D Wrek says:

      Oh Matty my friend. Did you read the other coments before postong? Everything you just said has already been said or was debunked…
      Pujols, Holliday, Schumaker, DeRosa, Ludwick, and Rasmus have no trouble hitting righties. Just b/c they arent lefties or swtch hitters doesnt mean they cant hit righty pitching.
      The Cards had your 4 lefties/switch hitters. It wasnt working.

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  21. Daniel says:

    this is funny just because of the fact that the cardinals were marching out a nearly all lefty craptastic lineup against most righties for a lot of the first part of the season.

    shoe-L
    rasmus-L
    pujols-R
    ankiel-L
    duncan-L
    yadi-R
    thurston-L
    pitcher
    ryan-R

    I will take the one we have now thanks

    just for the fun of it a list of lefty 3rd baseman or people who could play 3rd and maybe be available just for the sake of his argument

    Russell Branyan, Aubry Huff(played some 3rd last year not this year), Mark Teahen, Hank Blaylock, Bonifacio(switch), Felipe Lopez-switch(already traded- that would have been funny though), Ian Sewart(likely not available), Chase Headly, Adam Kennedy (F that), Chris Davis, craig counsell

    chipper, sandoval, figgins are switch hitters but are not going anywhere

    I know they all wouldnt have made sense for them to trade for just a list

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  22. Bert says:

    The Cards problem on offense has come against Left handed pitching, so I don’t see any problem w/ what they’ve done. They’ve got a great lineup now.

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