May 27, 2010

Baseplodding a slow death for Cards

When you have one of your speediest Cardinals reversing direction and racing backwards and one of your slowest Cardinals plodding forward and late to the party, what do you have?

Answer: Rasmus and Molina making bad choices on the basepathes.

It happens, even to the best of them. When it happens in the second west coast night in a row where scoring runs is at a premium (for both the Cardinals and Padres), it's disasterous.

Assuming you've seen last night's extra-inning edging of the Cards in San Diego, you'll know what baserunning nightmare of which I write.

Keep in mind, however, that youngster Rasmus is still coming to understand that at the pro level, you actually have to develop a baseball IQ. Pure slugging and chasing down long, arcing fly balls without a second thought have been over for more than a season. Not that Raz is a dummy, but rather, that he must realize there are other players out there (called opponents) who "think ahead." Of course, Rasmus's running himself into an easy out between third base and home plate may not have been his fault, if indeed, his instruction was to break for the plate "on contact."

With no one out, however, the better strategy is basic, and that is to make sure the ball goes through (the infield). The "contact play," in which a base runner at third base breaks for the plate upon contact, is much better used with one out. There are exceptions, of course, whereby, as a baserunner on third base, like Rasmus was last night, and with a base runner on first base (Molina), you expect the opponents to give you a free jog to home plate as they opt for a double play. But given the game conditions, late in the game with a tie score, like last night, you just might expect the Padres to take the play at the plate, as they did.

As for Molina ... his experience should've told him ... he had already secured second base ... and ... in scoring position ... and that ... it takes him ... a loooooooooooooong time ... to advance ... 90 feet.

What if? ... Molina had stuck to second base. Would you have pinch-run for him? (Never mind who would pinch-run as the entire roster is quicker.) Or would you have left Molina to try for home on a single? There is an argument for leaving him in, but I'd pinch. Feel free to comment on the baserunning blunder(s) or whatever else you'd like.

Hopefully, the Cards will do better this afternoon in San Diego and there will be something they did well to blog about.