St. Louis Cardinal players work out Monday
It seems like in the last 48 hours all of Cardinals Nation has begun to hypertventilate.
For some reason folks are inconsolably upset that the local nine are 9-13 in exhibition games that will be forgotten forever as soon as the calendar turns from Marc to April.
Let’s say it again out loud: Spring training records are less than meaningless.
Managers aren’t piloting their teams in effort to win. They’re trying to divide playing time in a way that assures the big league players will all get enough reps to hone their swings and their pitching deliveries.
Pitchers aren’t throwing their best pitch when the game situation demands it. They’re building arm strength and toying with secondary pitches in effort to get them ready for prime time.
Hitters are working on things like taking the ball the other way, tinkering with their swing and other tasks they can’t afford to mess with when games are on the line.
The teams that often do the best during spring training aren’t the ones with a roster packed with talented veterans. They’re young, rebuilding clubs filled with players who are desperate to make the jump from the minors to the big time.
This year is no different. Colorado and Philadelphia are two clubs not expected to compete when games matter. But in the spring they’re a combined 28-20. Meanwhile, the Reds have the best record among NL Central teams and Milwaukee is second with the real threats, St. Louis, Chicago and Pittsburgh bringing up the rear.
If the Cardinals have a fault this spring, it’s that they seem to be taking things a bit too casually.
Batting averages and ERAs are just as suspect as win and loss records at this time of year. In addition to the previously mentioned tinkering, the sample size of statistics is tiny. A pitcher could have one bad inning and triple his ERA with no chance to make it up. Hitters might hit the ball like a rocket into bad luck. Those things tend to even out over the course of a long season. But if you get robbed three times in 30 at bats, it could make a huge difference.
They need to play crisper, cleaner baseball. But I couldn’t care less if they win or lose in the spring. Let’s just see what they do in April, May June and July.