Today's game

OK folks, here’s the deal.

I know you’re all frustrated. And that was a bad, bad loss. I’ll have some more thoughts on it later.

But in the meantime, I ask — no, insist on — the following…

Keep it civil. No personal insults. No "you don’t know anything about baseball." No "he couldn’t pitch for my little league team." If you have a reasonable, civil point to add, I’m all for it. I want to hear it. If you have solutions, I want to hear it. If you just want to vent and say that one guy is terrible and has to go, or to tell me that I don’t know anything, I don’t want to hear it. Take it somewhere else. That’s not what my blog is about.


In fact, I just noticed that over at VEB, they have something specifically designated as a "postgame vent thread." If you just want to let out some venom, please, take it there. Correction: As Larry appropriately points out below, they don’t want venom at VEB either. I do think a "vent thread" ist still more appropriate for what some people may want to do than what I want to have here, but PLEASE respect his site too. It’s a quality operation, and they try to keep the level of discourse high.


Thank you.

The Dude abides.

Cool?

-M.

38 Comments

I don’t know that there are any real options to make someone a designated closer. Perhaps just letting whoever sets up in the eigth go for the ninth might not be such a bad idea. Maybe it was just me, but Izzy’s body language looked bad today. When he started pacing, and taking a long time to get the ball and throw, I had the sinking feeling of despair. Honestly, I would rather see homeruns, or a series of basehits than free passes. At least then we would know what we had? Cause I don’t know if he’s done, if he’s hit another rough patch, if it was a bad day, or what.

I know Tony has faith in Izy, but if he would try giving someone else a chance to come in and try closing the game in a tight score he might find out someone else has what it takes. I think a lot of fans and [if the truth was know,] some of the players are a little upset to give all they can for 8 inning and then in 3-5 pitches all is lost.Please give someone else a chance!

I think all of Cardinal Nation is deflated by the loss. But my main concern is, while I know we’re stuck with Izzy until the bitter end, what happens next year? His blown saves have gone up by 6 and his ERA is up a full 1.45 runs from last year (2.14 in 2005 and 3.55 in 2006). Are we to believe that he’s going to get any better next year and will be a year older? I just worry about if his save percentage is around 75% now, could we be watching someone who could be 60% next year.

I know how loyal TLR is to his players, and for the most part I understand, but I think at this point, with a few weeks still left, I’d give maybe Looper, Wainwright, and Johnson a committee try. Maybe for next year we could swap Izzy straight up for Lidge. Both seem to mostly be struggling mentally and would probably benefit from a change in scenery. I just hope our offense is on a streak come playoff time.

I just have a hard time understanding the sentiment that there are no other options and we are just stuck with Izzy. Is it because he makes more money then anyone else in the bullpen? Who cares right now. He’s costing us games! We should have at least 5 more games in the win column if Izzy were just average. His command is gone, his cutter is gone, his velocity is diminished, and he’s not getting any younger. The guy is done, it happens. So what if the contract now is a noose around our necks. The Cardinals are NOT stuck with Izzy, they have options in Wainwright and even Looper. I don’t care about platoon splits right now, and I don’t care about rookie status. Wainwright should be the closer. I still think the Cards make the playoffs, but I shudder to think of Izzy coming out in the 9th of a 1 run ballgame in October. The past is the past. What Izzy has done for St. Louis has been great, and I appreciate that. But it’s time to move on.

St Louis should move on. Drop Isringhausen. He’s horrible. I have never been a fan of his. They should either sign someone in the offseason or try to move someone else into the position. And not Looper. I dreaded that move in the offseason. He is just as horrible. His record gives him more credit than he should be getting.

M that’s totally cool, and I for one appreciate you letting us know about the site to vent. And I will vent. Over there. Now can someone please enlighten me as to why ANY club would continue to allow a guy to keep his job when he continues to fail at it. If I continued to not meet deadline,I would lose my job. If I continued to make F’s on all my papers, I would get kicked out of school. If any person at almost any job were to constantly fail to do the one job they are designated to do, they would be fired and the company/organization would seek a replacement. Even if they had to settle for a downgrade in the interim.I don’t see how anybody could be much worse than Izzy right now.And I just wish people would get up and leave the ballpark when Izzy comes in the game.I ususally turn off the TV at that point,cause I don’t want to be terribly disappointed. And chances are that’s what’s gonna happen when he comes in…unless he has at least 3 runs to work with.I have completely given up on our chances of doing anything in the postseason.I don’t even care about this year anymore. All I care about with the Cards is what I wish for. 1.) TLR getting his pink slip. 2.) Izzy getting his pink slip.

I do have one question,though M. Why is it that you can’t stand hearing or reading bad comments about Izzy? I don’t understand why it infuriates you so. It’s not as if they are unwarranted.

Erik, nailed it. Agree with it all. Nice take.

Matthew,

I believe that you have supported Izzy during these tough times. Is today that day you throw in the towel?

IMHO, Izzy’s problems are mental. I don’t think there is anything wrong physically. Read his quote on STLToday,

“Once I started missing, I was trying to do too much, trying to overcome it. Then I had throw a pitch right down the middle to get a strike.”

It’s mental and that might be hard to fix. See Brad Lidge.

My solution would be Wainwright to close but I think that Tony will go with Looper, the veteran. Looper has closed before and LaRussa is famous for relying on veteran players rather than rookies.

All good comments. My vote is for Wainwright to close. Give Izzy a break and let him get his confidence back. Maybe he could pitch in a few games where we are up by 5 or 6 runs.

I honestly feel bad for the guy but how many more losses to we have to suffer? The guy can’t hack it…for now anyway.

I truly believe that they should have Izzy enter the game in the middle innings. If he walks a few or gets hit, you treat him like any other mid-relief and yank him. The difference is that you still have your bullpen to get you through – you haven’t burnt up your options. As a closer, you are stuck with no where to go. He is what he is, which is an ineffective closer and TLR needs to take the role away from him, like any other player that is not doing their job. He is set for $8.75m next year. Maybe we can find a team that will share in the load; otherwise, the Cards are looking at a $1.25M buyout in ’08. If we are all concerned when he comes in, believe me, his teammates are holding their breath as well. No way can this continue. He is slumping and needs to be handled accordindly. If it were earlier in the season you could send him to Memphis and let him earn his way back. But on 9/6, its too late to do anything else.

Funny thing is, I don’t blame Isringhausen primarily for this fiasco. He didn’t put himself in the game; TLR and Duncan did. They did it knowing that he was working the second day in a row, and that he hadn’t looked good the previous day either. If that, combined with a season-long series of blown saves, doesn’t raise a warning flag about bringing him in, what does?

One gets the feeling that the dugout brain trust is bending over backwards to “defend” Izzy from detractors by showing faith in him in situations like this. Loyalty is a commendable thing, but blind loyalty is not. If they can’t get it through their heads that Izzy is simply not the same pitcher that he was two or three years ago — and (1) we all get old, (2) he’s still an above-average reliever, just not elite any more — they’re letting a commitment to loyalty get in the way of success. That’s exactly the point at which “loyalty” becomes “blind loyalty,” and it raises a warning flag that goes far beyond this particular meltdown.

um . . . . actually, venom’s not welcome at Viva El Birdos either. but do come over if you want to weigh in on this serious problem that’s facing the cardinals. the status quo isn’t working very well, but all the alternatives have certain drawbacks. what to do?

be civil, be smart, and come on over. but leave the venom behind.

um…..how many have coached or played the sport of baseball. I have been a card fan forever, and it will not change now. Izzy is Izzy he is human afterall, he is not a robot regardless of how much he is paid. Let me also say .. a whole five games over 43 chances and for all who complain I do not see them in the cards bullpen….and it is not blind loyality. The cards are still in first place, why are we crying.

I disagree with what some have said about Izzy being done. His problem is not physi-al. It is mental. He has had times this year where he has been good and that is unlikely if the problem is physical. I think what he needs is to be moved out of the closer role into an 7th or 8th inning role. That would remove some of the pressure and allow him to work through his problems in less of a do-or-die situation.

C’mon, you can see it in everyone’s demeanor…it’s not “Izzy saved another one”, it’s “Wow, Izzy didn’t blow it tonight” or “we won in spite of Izzy”. TLR needs to remember “whatever gives our club the best chance to win…”. How can this possibly include Izzy pitching the ninth at this point?

Upon first glance, I thought the numbers were defendable. Isringhausen has 33 saves, good for 6th best in the league. with ‘only’ 10 blown saves. ERA of 3.55 is a little high for a closer. Then I realized that his 10 BS were the worst amoung the top 25 closers. (only Huston Street @ 8 BS comes close). Having said all that, I still don’t think that we should just give up on him. Although I would like to see someone else take a shot at the 9th inning.

Apologies to Larry and the always high-quality VEB. I saw “vent thread” and figured that was what you were looking for. Venom isn’t really what they’re going for either, and that’s my bad.

As for Shaun’s question, the point I’ve tried to make all along is that I think it’s fair and understandable if people want to suggest other options. What I’ve never liked to hear/read is the blind rage that seems to exist about this guy, and the scapegoating that has gone on even at times when I thought he was far from the only issue.

And once more, thanks to everybody for keeping the discussion civil today. I greatly appreciate it.

-M.

OK frustrating doesn’t begin to describe what happened today–loading the bases w/o bat touching ball. ARGHH!!! Solution? I don’t see how you can use Izzy in the middle innings b/c he walks too many batters and if he comes in with runners on base that will only make matters worse. At this point the only solution I can see is to close the 8th and 9th by committee and only use Izzy when the game is already out of reach one way or the other or just don’t use him at all and eat the position on the roster. I really don’t get this. TLR and DD are smart guys who hate losing so why put Izzy in and then leave him in when it is clear after a couple of batters that he doesn’t have it. I know they put a premium on loyalty to the players (as they should) but this is beyond comprehension. They are in a pretty close race. They will almost certainly make the playoffs but it seems to me that the goal should be to end up with the second best record so they guarantee that they don’t have to face the Mets in round 1. The only piece of good news is they didn’t lose any ground on the Reds. They did, however, lose a game to the Dodgers in the race for second best record. The playoffs could be VERY tough especially if/when we have to take on the Mets and Lord help us if/when we have to face any one of three or four AL powerhouse line ups. All of that having been said I still think TLR and his staff are among the best management teams in baseball and if anyone can take this group of injury riddled, patched-up players to the 10th World Championship it is them.

Ummm……Bentley…..I have played and coached baseball, both on very minor scales, but the one thing that you teach every pitcher, even little league ones, is that a base on balls, with nobody out, when it is not specifically called for, is the cardinal sin. That is inexcusable. And I think it is now 10 blown saves in 43 oppurtunities, not five. That leads the league by two, and a couple of those guys with eight??? They aren’t closers anymore, i.e. Derrick Turnbow. If you take away 6 of those blown saves, the division would be all but wrapped up. As I have said before, I don’t mind if we get beaten, I don’t mind if the opposition gets the hallowed “bloop and a blast” to beat us. I do mind walking the tying run to lead of the inning, the adding two more free passes to move him to third, and to put the winning run in scoring position. That is inexcusable, and I can only hope and pray that TLR, DD, and WJ can find a solution.

I’ve said again and again…I’m tired of repeating it. Dump that %*#$@ and never let anyone wear number 44 again. He is horrible. $8.5 million a year! I would throw home run balls for, say, one million! Tell LaRussa to call me

I visit this blog a lot and I was getting really disappointed by all the finger-pointing right before the Cardinals recent improved play. After the loss, I was thankful to see that Matthew asked everyone to tone it down. Note to him: Thanks for your insight into the Cardinals. You have been critical when needed (i.e. signing an unproven Juan Encarnacion, curious moves by LaRussa…) but I really think you have tried to keep things constructive rather than scathing. Thanks. And to all the fans who read and post on this blog: Thanks for being so passionate about the Cardinals. That’s great; getting excited about this game and this team is why Cardinal fans have such a reputation. On the other hand, think before you post something. Do you really think that the management hates to win so much they aren’t trying harder than anyone to get Isringhausen right again? And Isringhausen himself grew up a Cardinals fan. It’s not like we’re personal friends, but I’m pretty sure that the fan and the competitor in him is working harder than anyone could want. Maybe a guy like that needs the support of the fans and not their ridicule. Save the rage for guys who don’t play hard, guys who cheat, guys who get in fights at bars, and guys who beat their wives. Boo those guys, not the ones who try. Anyway, I know my opinion won’t matter to many of you. Just think before you write, O.K.?

I know Izzy is doing his best, I know TLR wants to win, but Izzy’s performance is what counts, not his intentions or how hard he tries. Some posters that seem to feel sorry for him sound like my 11 year old. He got Izzy’s autograph during spring training and he was a super guy. That’s all great, but he’s in that closer role making a ton of money to shut down the opponents, something he hasn’t been doing. TLR can’t keep going to the well hoping for better results and giving up games. If we weren’t a contending team it would be understandable to try and let him work it out for next season.

I think the fundamental question is, what is the role of a closer. It is supposed to be a pitcher that for one or two innings is purely dominant. If a team doesn’t have someone of that caliber, shouldn’t they treat the ninth inning in the same way they pitch the eighth? Put in the best man for the situation, not just the guy we always pitch in the ninth because we’ve hung the mantle of ‘closer’ on him. Defenses might be made in Izzy’s case, but no one can call him dominant. Something new must be attempted.

I think everyone can agree this just isn’t Izzy’s year. If we are in game 5 of the divisional series with a one run lead and everyone available in the bullpen, I hope Wainwright is they guy we throw in there. This has been a “make-shift” Cardinals team all year. Why not do the same with the closer. Have Izzy be the closer in 2007 and Wainwright be the started like planned. But why not have Wainwright close the rest of the year. He’s confident, generally has great body language on the mound, and can be totally lights out when he needs to be. You can’t say the same about Izzy. I like the kid and it could be a great thing for him, especially since Sosa and Hancock can do well in long relief now. Just my two cents.

If it is true that TLR relies heavily on stats, I hope he sees this one. Izzy’s save percentage (sv/svo) is .785. This means he will blow ~ 2 out of every 9 save opportunities. On top of that he is declining year to year and is performing much worse than he did right after the all star break. So, let’s say his save percentage drops to .750 meaning he blows 1 out of 4 opportunities.

This means the Cardinals, in order to win the NLCS and/or WS, will need to in essence win 5 games, just so Izzy can blow one of the games for them. Or you can look at it this way, normally a team has to win 11 games to win the DS, CS, and WS combined. Izzy is statistically speaking going to blow 2-3 of those games so the Cardinals, instead of 11 games, need to win 13-14 games as compared to other teams 11. It is a bit of an uphill battle, don’t you think.

Ok. Izzy has been terrible, there is no denying it, no other way to say it, and no defense to it. No valid defense from TLR, or DD, or WJ, even M is running out of excuses for him. A change has to be made and now!!! I don’t think Izzy doesn’t try hard, or try his best. But what is very obvious is that his hardest or best isn’t good enough anymore. It happens to everyone, and when it happens, teams have to find someone else. I don’t know if it is physical or mental and frankly i don’t care. It doesn’t matter why he is blowing games, only that he is blowing them. And there are other options, they may not be great options, but they are options none the less. And any option that is chosen can’t be any WORSE than Izzy has been. Personally, I prefer Wainwright in the 9th. He has the stuff…but does he have the mental makeup? We don’t know because for some unknown reason TLR and DD won’t let anyone else try. This blind loyalty to Izzy is infuriating. He has been so bad even if you bring him in, don’t you have to have someone else ready to go in case he goes into another meltdown? Why not yank him after the first walk, or the hit batter, or the second walk. It was pretty obvious he didn’t have it. But no, they sit in the dugout and watch the TEAM lose. TLR should have more respect for the guys that play their butts off for 9 innings than to let them down time after time by bringing him in the game. And it is obvious he can’t throw strikes consistently, and if you can’t throw strikes, you can’t pitch. It is that simple. You can’t start, you can’t relieve, you certainly can’t close, if you are going to give out free passes. So Izzy is useless in any capacity at this point. And I don’t see him getting any better next year. He is going to be a year older, and a year more screwed up in the head from everything that has happened this year. There is no point wasting a roster spot with him. Option him to Memphis, and bring up someone who maybe can pitch, instead of keeping someone you know can’t. And get rid of him next year even if you have to eat the 8.5mil or whatever he is gonna make, winning games should be more important.

Could Izzy’s problem be mental?? We all know that this game is probably as much mental as it is physical. Hasn’t Izzy had mental issues before? It seems like I can remember him being shut down for phsychiatric testing not long after he came to the big leagues. With that being said, I have to wonder if he has finally, “hit the wall!” The organization keeps on supporting him as an accomplished closer, but they need to remember all good things come to an end and some to a very abrupt end! As a true lifelong Cardinals fan and enthusiast of the game I am tired of seeing the Cardinals keep putting him out there without really trying anyone else. Is anyone else really going to do any worse??? Let’s call a spade a spade and admit that not one of us would be comfortable with Izzy pitching in any elimination game, PERIOD! The organization seems to always find someone that they LOVE whether they are old, washed up, crazy, or whatever and they keep supporting them, but at what cost. Can anyone tell me the last time this season that Izzy recorded a save without letting someone reach base? I will agree Izzy has been a very good, if not great closer in the past, but the Cardinals future starts now and he does not fit into their future.

Wow, lot’s of folks watched last night’s game with the same feelings that I had when it was over. The past week or so it seems that the starters are all steadier and throwing more quality pitches. The offensive has been scoring more often and a variety of players are contributing. Molina and Spiezio both came through last night when they were really needed. But I got this really sick feeling in my gut when the final call to the bullpen came. I don’t care how beloved a player is you can’t keep blowing it. These guys are trying really hard to make the playoffs and it hurts to see the wind knocked out of their sails by an over the hill closer. Izzy may still have a 93 mph fastball but who doesn’t. He can’t throw strikes when he needs to and he seems to have lost confidence in himself. I think his teammates have also. Maybe Tony needs to forget about a designated closer and go with whoever has his stuff at the time.

3 months ago, I would’ve said “I can’t believe Izzy blew another one.” Yesterday, I simply switched the channel without so much as a second thought. As an earlier post said, when most everyone’s attitude is “wow, we won even with Izzy pitching”, it’s time to make a change. Izzy used to be a great closer for us, but starting late last year until the present, Izzy has continually went downhill. He has something like 12 decisions I think…that’s pathetic for a closer. When you look at his W-L column, you might say “well, at least he has a few wins for us.” But most of those wins have come from blown saves when Tony insisted on leaving Izzy in to pitch the 10th. I’m no baseball expert, and I know Tony is USUALLY a good manager, but I do not agree in any way with his decision to continually let Izzy jeopardize this teams chances of winning.

It was probably a good thing Matthew cautioned us all…because I was one of those in a blind rage after the game. But the very existence of ‘the blind rage’ means there is a problem. Cards fans are loyal and patient, but we expect the best effort, from players, upper mgt, and coaches too. The coaches are lacking right now. Izzy needs to be shut down for awhile at least. Too many failures in too little time. It is only asking for a moderate amount of common sense for TLR to NOT have brought in Izzy yesterday. Dispatching Reyes and bringing back Mulder – after showing nothing in rehab – to get trounced yet again, also defies belief. TLR needs to start showing the same effort we all expect from the players.

Sorry, I am still furious over Isrighausen’s performance. This guy couldn’t be a closer in Class A. The Cards would be well advised to leave him off the post season roster entirely. He is a walking liability.

I really feel for Izzy, and wish him the best. He has been great for the Cards, but looks like he has a real problem right now.
I can’t imagine giving the ball to Izzy in the ninth when the game is on the line in the post season. I think that would be really poor judgment on Tony’s and Duncan’s part.

Somebody else will have to close when the game is on the line.

I get nervous every time Izzy comes in. I was watching the game yesterday and was delighted to see the Cards ahead in the ninth. I called my wife at work to share the good news with her. But I also said that Izzy would undoubtedly walk some or give up a game winning home run. Turns out, my words were prophetic. Izzy has become predictable.

I really hurt for him, just like I hurt for Mulder who was doing so badly. I like these guys. They have given us some very good baseball. I’m glad to hear that Mulder is having surgery. You had to believe that something was seriously wrong with him.

I think the head honchos should figure out what is wrong with Izzy and get it corrected.

I know he feels awful, and I feel with him. He is a great guy.

But, the fact remains that we need a great closer right now.

I am praying for Izzy and for the team. The best to them all!

Gene

M – I (and every else who reads you) appreciate the insight you bring to the Cardinals fans. It must feel at times that you are the punching bag standing between us and the orginization. each time you respond professionally and thoughtfully. thanks for keeping us well-informed and for keeping things in perspective. you might not be able to answer this, considering who signs your paychecks: Many of the posts here and on VEB speak of how the rest of the team doesnt have confidence in Izzy. As you are closer to this team than the majority of us, do you see this? i’m sure no one in the clubhouse will speak it, but do you see it in the their eyes? what to you feel is the best option for Izzy and this club – keep letting him try to work his way through it by having him close; put him in during the middle innings; have him pitch only when the game is well in hand either way? let him rest for the remainder of the year?

Now, “Dude” – there’s a name no man would self-apply where I come from.

Sieburg —

First, thanks for the kind words.

Second, my paycheck comes from a company named MLB Advanced Media, so there’s no reason I can’t answer a question like that. There’s no reason I can’t answer much of any question. Unless I don’t know the answer.

So to answer it, I honestly have not seen that among the other 25 guys (or 29 now or whatever). Doesn’t mean it’s not there, of course. But I have not gotten the impression that he has lost the team. I think his effort and dedication, willingness to gut it out, things like that, earn him a lot of leeway in the clubhouse. It’s part of the same reason he didn’t lose the manager and pitching coach for so long, I’d say.

Nonetheless, clearly as long as the guy is hurt he should not be pushed. And if there are better options, they should be used.

-M.

Matt, I waited to respond on the Izzy as closer issue until I saw Better Than Ezra fronting Hootie and the Blowfish in Detroit on 9/8. I know you are an Izzy and BTE supporter. Sorry, but seems like a lost double-header to me. Actually, Izzy and BTE have some interesting similarities. I’ve tried to keep an open mind and heart to both. But, painful, man, painful. It’s not just that Izzy is losing games, but how. Kind of like BTE last week – ball 4, ball 4, ball 4, hit. Crowds are the same for both, too. Kind of like SI’s Peter King comment on MMQB – what do you think is going thru TLR’s mind when he brings Izzy into the game? “I’d rather chew glass while running thru a pit of boa constictors, naked and on fire, than watch this guy pitch the ninth inning.” I love music and the Redbirds, but BTE and Izzy both leave me preferring to do yard work. Give me Hootie and Wainwright anyday, and I’ll sing all the way into the playoffs without fear.

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