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.