Last night

I’ve gotten tons of emails since the end of the game last night, the VAST majority of them (all but one, I think) complaining about the ninth inning.

I submit the following question for all of you…

Which was the bigger issue? Giving up two in the ninth? Or giving up four in the fifth after being staked to a six-run lead? I’m not saying the runs in the ninth weren’t a bad deal. Two mistake pitches, two runs, game over. I get it. But out of ALL the emails I got, where were the complaints about the fifth? About the leadoff walk, the error, the non-double play?

There’s been a lot of scapegoating this year. Some people are convinced that with a different closer, this team would be running away with the division. Some are convinced that everything would be different with a different manager. Some have said that if ownership just gave Walt some extra money to work with, this would be a 100-win team again.

The fact is, however, that TLR is very much right about one thing: it’s not one thing. They haven’t hit enough, they haven’t pitched enough in the rotation OR the bullpen.

Seriously, I’d like to hear your answers to the question above. More than 90 percent of the venting emails last night were about Isringhausen. Nobody specifically mentioned the fifth. Is that the consensus? That when the starter and the defense let a six-run lead evaporate, that it’s less of a problem than when the closer lets a one-run lead get away?

-M.

32 Comments

St. Louis needs to get rid of Isringhausen. He is horrible. I do blame him for the loss last night. He has been horrible this year. Look at his record and the number of blown saves. I could do better than him.

There’s no way that you can blame just Isringhausen this year, sure he has to many blown saves and his fastball is nowhere near where it used to be, but the bullpen is horrible this year.

I think the real problem was summed up nicely by Bernie last night when he said that maybe TLR just really doesn’t like this team. When i think about it, I was bored watching cardinals games until Duncan started playing everyday. They do not have fun, look stoic all the time, and do not seem to want to play for each other. Baseball is too fickle of a game to have a stupid dynamic like that and I am sick of seeing no fun or passion when i watch games.

Ok, M. Here’s my answer…We all know that the starting pitching staff has struggled mightily,with the exception of Carp. So when someone like Jeff Weaver is staked a 7-run lead,none of us really expect that to hold up.We know he’s gonna give up some runs.Sometimes we expect the worst, him going 4 innings and allowing 7 runs before we score any.But when you get to the ninth with a lead, whether it’s one run or 3 runs,you need the closer to be able to nail it down. Isringhausen hasn’t done that consistantly this year. Hence, the reason why you get so many emails complaining about Izzy. He’s a bum this year PERIOD. Who else in the league has as many blown saves as Izzy? Anybody? Maybe Borowski? I don’t know but I do know that Izzy has WAY too many!!And if you think about it, with 9 or 10 blown saves, we could be much further ahead in the division than we are. So, yes, Izzy deserves any and all criticism he recieves. Sure, you are correct in that it’s not just one thing. It’s a combination of all the things you said when you look at the big picture. But **** it, there are times when you have to stop looking at the big picture and see what the little things are that cause the big picture to look bad.One major sore thumb is Izzy’s failures.When the starters aren’t all winning 15 games, you NEED the closer to do his job when they do get you to the ninth with a lead. In last night’s game, we hit enough…7 runs thanks to Albert. The starter pitched enough…he gave up 5 runs to the 7 he got in support. The relievers relieved…Wainwright gave up a run, but not the lead. Then Izzy comes in and screws it all up with two pitches. How can you say he’s NOT to blame? He IS to blame. Just not solely to blame for the entire season.

Enough is enough. Isringhausen walks someone or gives up a home run every time out. Top closers don’t blow 9 saves in a season. Maybe 2. Maybe 3. Not 9. There are still over 5 weeks to go in the season. It is time to get a new closer. Just think about having 6 or 7 more wins with a solid closer.

Izzy is a FIRESTARTER! How many more times are we going to live with JI coming in when we need to nail it down and have to hold our breath. I am also tired of TLR not having the guts to call him out. Just once I would like to see him say that it is a problem. Instead, he cites that the Cards are not hitting or taking advantage of situations, blah blah blah. The Cards can not continue to try and win games 7-6 or 9-8. The closer is especially important when your staff is weak, which it is besides Carp. The rest have some wins, but look at the ERAs, unacceptable. In sports it is what have you done for me lately. A guy can go 0-5 and then hit a homer in the 9th to win it and he is the hero. Well, the same is true for the closer. Your job is to shut it down. Izzy to often puts guys on base and has to work out of jams and he no longer has the “out pitch”. Bench Izzy.

I was hoping Weaver would surprise me again like he did with his last start with 1 run over 7 innings. Why is it excluding Carpenter, our starters are only going 5 innings every frickin night! Why does the bullpen struggle? Hmm, lemme guess. And the fact of the matter is, it’s still ridiculous to call for Izzy’s head because he wasn’t solely responsible for the loss. But this is by far the most vulnerable I’ve seen him in a long time. No one’s scared of him anymore, and when he comes into the game, he doesn’t make teams shudder. He gives them hope. Put him in if we got a larger lead, but if it’s a 1-2 run game I want somebody else who’s got some more zip in their arm. For a team that can’t hold a Pujols charged offense in the lead, the Cardinals deserve better I think. Albert’s a good guy, but do you think he gets tired of having to do everything some night, just to lose it all by 1 run? I know I would.

Matthew, I agree that the rest of the team is flawed and that Weaver should take part of the blame for the loss, but like others have mentioned, Izzy’s job is to close games out. He had the opportunity and failed (again). People are venting about Izzy because he is bad and he failed his job. He’s pretty average this year:

He’s given up 10 hrs in 53 innings and has a WHIP of 1.41. This isn’t good enough for a closer, much less most middle relievers. I don’t want someone 1.4 baserunners per inning being our closer. I’m not saying we have a lot of options, but I understand the anger.

M-

You’re 100% right. There hasn’t been ONE THING consistent enough to make this team a favorite for the NL Central. Last night’s game, after a 6-run lead, should not have been a one-run game in the 9th. You can’t expect Izzy to save them all. You’d like him to, but you’d also like him to NOT HAVE TO. While Izzy does deserve blame for the blown save, including making TWO bad pitches, you can’t make him shoulder all the blame for the loss.

No doubt about it. Weaver is a reclamation project and anytime he takes the mound in the first inning, LaRussa needs to have a long reliever ready. Weaver should never have been allowed to give up the slam. The minute there were 2 men on, he should have been yanked. And as far as Izzy is concerned, he should be gone asap. He’s lost it and I doubt any of the regulars have any real faith in him at this point. The offense is scoring enough runs to win games but someone is going to have to cough up enough dough to get some real pitching or this team is going to be watching the playoffs at home.

I know that M. has brought this up before, but if Izzy is so bad and needs to be shown the door, what team is going to take him? Who would possibly want someone that you guys think is so terrible? And, furthermore, who on this team would be a better closer?

I know one team that would DEFINITELY take Izzy…the Memphis Redbirds! As for his replacement, well anybody can do what he’s doing now. So let’s run through some options…Jorge Sosa could be an option… Dennis Tankersly should at least get a September call-up and a look at closing out games…I’d even give Braden Looper a shot or two.He can’t do any worse than Izzy is doing now.

First off Izzy does ****. Even if he does get the save, he has me sweating b/c he loaded the bases and barely got out of it. The closers job is CLOSING GAMES, not blowing them. He gets 8.5m to do this, you’ve got to be kidding me. Look at any contender, if you aren’t ahead by the time thier closer comes up you can forget about it.

Now for my real rant. The Birds have a lot of problems this year, no one is doubting that. Management may or may not be allowing Jockety to make the moves that need to be made. Either that or the organization as a whole management and TLR is being too arrogant in thinking that they can field a patchwork squad and make it work. In the past the cards have made good deals picking up quality players. Now all of the sudden the only moves we make are to pick up players that no one else wants. They were let go for a reason…they aren’t good. At this point our wish list has become so long that it may take a couple of years to rebuild the team. Lets see…two or three starters, some bulpen arms, (Flores is a joke) a closer, (Izzy can’t stay at 8.5m), a second baseman (still don’t get why we let Grudzie go), and half an outfield (Duncan has potential, but Edmonds isn’t worth 10m, and Encarnacion *****) Good luck acquiring all that in one offseason, and we can forget the playoffs. If we even make them, we will be ousted by whoever we play first round.

Izzy’s only job is to close out games, and he failed again. I think the reason everyone is blaming him is because he has ****** all year. Yeah, the 5th inning was bad, but Duncan is a rookie, and Weaver is not the same pitcher he used to be. A closer doesn’t have the same room for error as a starter. Finally, it wasn’t just Izzy blowing another save, but its him throwing the ball right down the middle, where even a terrible hitter could knock it out. The Cardinals have no chance with Izzy as the closer. We may not have much of a bullpen, but i would rather have anyone out there in the 9th over Izzy

Who do we blame for giving up a 6 run lead….a DFA’d reclamation project that goes through 5 innings or a “premier” closer that is paid BIG dollars to deliver 3 outs. I mean, nobody’s perfect, but TLR needs to be more willing to send someone else out there with the game on the line, considering how the season, and even the last 2 weeks have gone for Izzy.

Weaver is part of the blame since he deflated the lead with a GS.

Our offense needs to produce more runs.

I saw my first Cardinal game in 1946 in Ebbets Field, yet I have never been as disappointed as I have been this year.

Isrighausen is the master of the BB followed by the HR. He has personally been responsible for 9 blown saves and five losses on top of that. It’s gotten to the point that you want to turn the game off in the bottom of the ninth.

Make no mistake, the WHOLE pitching staff is to blame. With a team ERA of 5+ you don’t get to use a closer that much, but when you do, you need to have a guy that can nail down three lousy outs.

I’m sorry to say it, but I think the Birds need some fire in the dugout. Someone like Lou Pinella who will kick butt. The stoic picrure of LaRussa just standing there emotionless is not inspirational. The deadpan face of Duncan is the same thing. There comes a time where you have to say, “Thanks for the past, now we need a different approach.” Same as when the Yankees bid farewell to Casey Stengel when he was on top.

When a team does not live up to its potential, you change managers & coaches, not players, but in this case, the management and pitching staff, except for Carpenter, need to be replaced.

Granted it is something different every night. One night they are getting shut out by the pirates, and the next they are giving up 7 in the first to the reds. There are obviously more problems than Izzy. But he is the biggest one by far. Every good team has a guy they can count on, that if they do their jobs for 8+ innings and get it to the ninth it is game over. It gives a team confidence and a swagger. The cards don’t have that. Everyone, including his teammates, know that they are screwed every time he comes out of that door to the pen. I want to vomit every time i see him. The other team is almost giddy at the prospect of being the hero against him. EVERYONE knows he is gonna blow it. He makes 8.5mil a year to get three outs a night. THAT IS IT!!! 3 FREAKIN OUTS!!! It ain’t that hard and he can’t do it. Even when he does it is after loading the bases and having someone make a great play on a missle in a gap or something. He *****, and has to go. The fans are turning on him, his teammates have to be turning on him, but when is management going to turn on him. Speaking of management that brings me to another point. Why do the owners act like they don’t have any money? They sell out every game. Have great corporate sponsers, a new stadium, and unbelieveable community support. Open the wallet and give the fans a team they can be proud of. Or get rid of Izzy and spend that 8.5mil on someone who can actually pitch. Heck, I could blow a save every night for half that much.

One more thing…..as some other writers have pointed out, there needs to be a wholesale acquisition program. Picking up retreads is not the answer.

Cardinals got a new ballpark, paid for at least in part by the taxpayers. They got millions for naming rights. They have every game a sell out. Now: WHEN WILL THEY GET SOME BALLPLAYERS? If they don’t, it will be Kanasas City Royals East pretty soon.

I agree with you Matt. This team is nothing more than a mere shadow of it’s one time invincible self. The team is aging in some very ominous positions, offensive and defensive. So is finished and quitw honestly we have stuck with him too long. Where is the once potent outfield offense and infield defense? Our pithing stinks up-and-down, including Carpenter. The owhership needs to take complete responsibility for a mediocre team that they have fielded as well as lousey radio coverage from a station that people in S. St. Louis even have trouble picking up. It semms they are all about profit and this new stadium. Sell a few more urinals and call me next year because this one is a wash! Thank you ownership, enjoy your new stadium. I will always be a Cardinal fan but Auggie is rolling in his grave!

100% correct. There is way more wrong with this team than one man. Isringhausen is just the easy target for most. Each and every one of your points is right on.

In response to what some others have said, I feel like more than just a change at closer is needed. Obviously Dave Duncan can’t get through to the pitchers anymore, and LaRussa’s overmanaging has led to more than 1 loss. Since Walt, Tony, and Dave are pretty much a package deal, I think its time to get rid of them all and start over. I’d rather endure a rebuilding year than have to put up teams like this year after year.

“Don’t hate the playah, hate the game”. I always hate to see vitriol heaped on a player who who really wants to win, works hard and just ain’t gettin’ it done. Izzy stinks. If he could help it, he would. He’s embarrassed, Cards fans are embarrassed.

The people who pay him, and the ones who send him to the mound all want to win, too, but it doesn’t seem they have done all they could do. Certainly there aren’t a lot of relievers out there to be picked up who could tote the water. But the signs were there much earlier in the season.

While he converted 7 out of 9 opportunities in April, he also walked 10 batters and gave up 8 hits in just 9 innings – 2.0 WHIP and an ERA of 6.00. Just 2 blown saves with those stats is simply lucky and storm flags should have been waving in the front office.

In May, the magic continued – a gaudy 10 for 10 in saves and a .77 ERA. But this covered up for a very mediocre 15 Walks/hits in 11.2 IP.

June showed 20 W/H in 12 innings and four blown saves. I think this was predictable given the important stats of the first couple of months. It should have been warning enough to do something by trade deadline.

For the year Izzy has given up 10 gophers. He has 51 walks/hits in 29 innings in the “Late innings close games” category.

Don’t hate the playah, hate the game. Izzy didn’t sit on his thumbs but somebody did. Izzy did his best, somebody didn’t.

The realization is that last night was a microcosm of the types of mistakes that have become common place, and TLR has the light shining squarely on his face as well. TLR tries to get a guy past the 5th inning so that he can “officially be the pitcher of record” (as he has done all his career dating back to the A’s) and in a crucial spot (bases loaded and Delgado, who had HR’d off of JW earlier) he lets him pitch. We all knew that was a possibility for a big inning to get the Mets back in the game – rather than bring in a reliever (like he did with Flores later to get Delgado), TLR plays “man-love” and lets a crucial part of the game get away from him. In the past, the Cards had the horses to overcome these “errors”, but not now. Look, mistakes in judgement happen all the time, but TLR, who likes to play master of the Pitcher/Batter percentages, very rarely does it prior to the end of the 5th. I realize he might be trying to save the pen, but this was the moment that the game could slip away, and it did. When you start losing, everyone is open for blame. Winning solves all problems, and right now, the team is on a heart monitor with barely a pulse. True, Izzy is terrible and his salary makes it harder to swallow, and we really only have 1 decent pitcher; Carp….Mulder, we’ll see, but the rest are an adventure each time they take the mound. If they are ever to compete again for the ring, they have to get pitchers that can produce a 2-1, 3-2 win when the hitting is not there. Position players are important, but Pitching will always be the key and STL have never been aggressive in getting quality pitchers over the years. I guess the only silver lining is that at least…..we’re not the CUBS!!!

how many closers with 10 blown saves and 7 or more losses still have their jobs? This has been a lingering issue all year. why are the cardinals being so faithful to a player who clearly isn’t the same?

matt: it seems like cheating to read 25 other comments and then make by own, but here goes. baseball is about fundamentals, of which there are many. for the past 2 years i’ve volunteered to anyone that would listen (and they are a precious few because they here it night after night, whether we win or lose) to pay attention to every pitch of every game and watch the rinky dink style of play on the part of the players and accepted by mr. larussa (i believe he’s sleeping behind those sunglasses during night games with little interest at all in the WAY his players go about their business. last year traveras & king, this year izzy can’t get into anything but trouble. is tony blind to all this? the starters were suspect at best after carp and have now been fully exposed for all to see. if something isn’t working tony, try something else. to do otherwise is an absolute sign of your insanity. i for one want to watch good, fundamental ball when the cards play, win or lose. otherwise, i feel taken advantage of (my time has been wasted, ticket prices are outrageous (i can now afford them but it still irks me) and i could go on & on as everyone knows. cinn had it right about osborn — lose weight and get in baseball shape or you are gone. just look at molina, belliard, puhols and osborn. it’s sad. oh! i forgot. fat al is above teaching or critizing. if he’s an all star gold glover at first i’m a monkey aviator. quit turning your back to the infield. stop it, now. quit cheating off first base on close plays giving the umps every chance they can have to calling the player safe because you don’t catch the ball with your foot on the bag. when molina throws to you on a bang bang play at first, give him a target and keep one foot on the bag instead of never touching the bag. belliard – if you continue to carry 50 extra pounds, all in your bread basket, then quit trying to strectch singles into doubles. forget trying to take the extra base because you’re thrown out 9 times out of every 10. molina, you walking double play ball. play winter ball, drop 50 get in shape & see what it will do for your game. same for you puhols. you all make me sick. watch freel for cinn and emulate him. run out all ground balls and don’t forget to step on the bag at first whether you are safe or out. firstbasemen do suffer misques from time to time but if you never touch the bag, you guarantee you will be out. its not even about winning and losing. you don’t understand that because you are young, fat and stupid. some day you will look back and wonder why you didn’t play all out and you’ll have nightmares. tony, you should be ashamed for the way this outfit plays. please quit and disappear from the game. you obviously don’t get a **** anymore. adios st. l. you all can have them, i’m done with the sorry rinky dinks.

When we go into the 9th with a lead, I expect to win. Maybe that is not realistic, but that is my expectation. Weaver and the bullpen got us to the 9th with a lead. That is their job. Izzy has to do his. With that being said, he is our best option. He has to stop grooving his cutter.

I am only posting a message to vent my frustrations…

I recently talked to a Cards scout on a trip out of Tucson. In the course of that conversation he told me that Dewitt would spend money if a sure thing came along. That is almost laughable to me now after watching the Cards sign the likes of Sosa(although he has actually been pretty good), Weaver, Wilson, and Vizcaino. I’m sorry, but which of these guys is the sure thing. Every one of them was either demoted or let go for a reason. Sure things would have been guys like Zito for pitching or like C. Lee or Soriano for a bat. This resurrection thing only worked perfect once, and that was over 2000 years ago.

One more thing, I’m tired of hearing LaRussa say that he would feel bad leaving Duncan in a pressure situation if he failed, especially when he brings in So Taguchi. Taguchi is sloppy and slow in the field, his arm is weak and inaccurate, and he can’t hit. I don’t see what the advantages are that he supposedly has over Duncan. Get rid of Taguchi or at least quit saying he’s in for defensive purposes and pressure at-bats, the guy is washed up…..

Why not put the blame where it belongs? This team has been doomed from the get go. The Cardinals are one of the top franchises is all of baseball yet their front office is too cheap to put the best team they can on the field. Look at what they’ve done over the past two years. A record setting middle infield busted up, look at all the top players who the Cardinals can’t sign but teams like Kanas City can! This year as our players struggle for whatever reasons, other teams have beefed up for the post season while St. Louis does literally nothing. No wonder the players have no fire about them, they see other teams getting stronger while they are getting worse. This season is all but over, it ended in the front office a long time ago. You can blame these games on Izzy or TLR, or any other player you want to, they never had a chance this year.

LaRussa’s biggest mistake last night was not pinch hitting Duncan for Taguchi against Hernandez. …boggles the mind!

I am a 53 year fan of the Cardinals and would likke to address the question of “what’s wrong with the 2006 Cardinals” not from the perspective of one or two players, an inning or single play or front office, but the whole organization. Every organization whether it is a ball team, company or family has a psychological make-up, some very good others bad. As the 2005 Cardinals were being alterated through trades, retirements and personnel moves it just didn’t seem right to me. The replacement members just did not give me a good feeling about the new year. As each trade was made I felt that we were taking a 100+ win team apart and replacing it with a 90 win team. As the season began and additional moves were made I felt that we were looking at a .500 win team. There have been teams throughout history that the players could’t stand each other and they fought and argued but still won on the field. Others like the ’64,’67 & ’68 Cardinals that played weel together and had the right mix of personnalities. The problem with the 2006 Cardinals is that their personnalities are all wrong for a winning attitude. Everyone is playing for themselves and not for the team.

In commenting about the game from the other night, in which we blew a 6 run lead; I can’t help but be very concerned that a game like this would have been “in the books” after Pujol’s grand slam. I agree that the lead-off walk, blown double play and error were the most egregious plays of the game. Delgado owns Weaver, but when the bases are loaded you’ve got to get the guy to at least fly out and limit the damage. I think Isringhausen has had an overall good year, yes he’s having problems with his cutter, but 31 saves are hard to ignore. I also agree with Tony L. in that our problems are in several areas, timely hitting, suspect starting pitching and an overworked bullpen. Jim Edmonds problems are also a glaring contribution to a mediocre year. Bottom line, we’re still in first & I’m just hoping to make the playoffs!

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