PITTSBURGH - MAY 09: Manager Tony La Russa #10 of the St. Louis Cardinals walks in the dugout during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 9, 2010 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is not wearing pants. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
The 2010 Cardinals might suck right now, but this team would suck more. Actually, their suckiness would be entertaining, not heartbreaking, so they would actually suck less by sucking more.
Yes, two heartbreaking bullpen losses followed up by a beat-down from the best pitcher in the League de National can leave a team and fan base demoralized, but it is important to remember two things: There is always Houston, and it could always be worse, especially if you mess with the space-time continuum. So today I'd like to take a look at the worst team Tony La Russa could possibly manage for the Cardinals.
The minions back in the SB Nation St Louis labs combed through the record books and found, since 1996, the player who's had the worst full season at each position. A position player was eligible by leading the team in plate appearances at his position; bench players had to have a minimum of 200 PAs; starting pitchers needed at least 15 starts, or half as many total starts as the team leader; and relief pitchers had to rank in the top five in appearances for their particular club.
A few amazing things about the team:
- 2006, the only Cardinals team to win the World Series in this span, has the most representatives, with five.
- Kip Wells is somehow not on the team.
- 2001 Albert Pujols has to be the best ever "UT" man, according to Baseball-Reference.
- Mark Worrell is offended he did not make the team.
Here's your roster (as always, BA/OBP/SLG):
C - Eli Marrero, 1999: 192/236/297, 33 OPS+
The Cardinals have had some bad offensive seasons behind the plate in the Tony La Russa era, but none worse than Eli Marrero. How bad? If you replaced him with the second worst Cardinals catcher since 1996 (Mike DiFelice's also incredibly awful 65 OPS+ 1997), you would gain six pythag wins.
1B - Dimitri Young, 1997: 258/335/363, 84 OPS+
Honestly, one of the better players on the team. His street cred is also through the roof right now after being nabbed for dope in Boom-town.
2B - Adam Kennedy, 2007: 219/282/290, 50 OPS+
"Our second base problems are over!" We cried in the offseason of 2006. "No more Aaron Miles starting at second base ever again!" Oh, how naive we were. How God damn naive.
SS - Brendan Ryan, 2010: 198/267/292, 51 OPS+
We all love you, Boog, but you stink on ice.
3B - Mark DeRosa, 2009: 228/291/405, 83 OPS+
LF - So Taguchi, 2006: 266/335/351, 78 OPS+
Fan favorite and 2006 NLCS hero So Taguchi graciously makes the team as the worst left fielder in the T-Bone era. He will be taken off the team and replaced by 1997 Ron "Biceps" Gant as soon as So agrees to move back to Saint Louis and open a sushi bar called "That's So Sushi!" somewhere inside Busch Stadium.
CF - Jim Edmonds, 2007: 252/325/403, 88 OPS+
Hard to believe that the greatest center fielder in Cardinals history could make the list. Even harder to believe: that he's straight.
RF - Eric Davis, 1999: 252/359/403, 92 OPS+
Yes, that's right, Eric Davis was our starting right fielder in 1999. It's important to remember that we led the league in over-the-hill African-Amercian outfielders for the better part of a decade.
And, to round out the bench:
C - Danny Sheaffer, 1996: 271/333/605, 59 OPS+
I've honestly never heard of this person.
CIF - Miguel Cairo, 2003: 245/289/375, 74 OPS+
I remember him sucking more than a 74 OPS+, but that still sucks.
MIF - Brendan Ryan, 2008: 244/307/289, 59 OPS+
If you want to know why Tony La Russa hates Brendan Ryan, it's not the ADD or constant hackey sacking and wiffle balling, it's the fact that he once had a slugging percentage lower than his on-base percentage. Do you know how hard that is to do? You really have to try to be doing that.
OF - Kerry Robinson, 2003: 250/281/322, 59 OPS+
Sorry, Kerry, but LeBron just announced he's taking his talent to South Beach. Delonte West will be taking his "talent" to LeBron's mom's "South Beach" later tonight.
OF - Willie McGee, 1999: 251/293/277, 45 OPS+ (!!!)
Oh, Willie, childhood hero, role model to millions. Men wanted to be you, women wanted to be across the room from you while enjoying a nice pasta dinner. Why did you have to end your career as such?
And now, the pitching staff, which is a twelve man staff, just to aggravate people. To simplify, we're just using ERA and ERA+.
SP - Jason Marquis, 2006: 6.02 ERA, 74 ERA+
I can't believe I spent over $200 on a Jason Marquis authentic jersey back in 2004. In hindsight, the memory of burning 200 one dollar bills, one at a time, would be better than the memory of Jason Marquis' Cardinals career.
SP - Anthony Reyes, 2007: 6.04, 73
I've never wished ill will on the man, but a small part of me is not unhappy that his career went Mark Prior (or should I say, Tom House?) just so it would kill the endless Tony Reyes debate, which was tearing apart Cardinals nation.
SP - Todd Wellemeyer, 2009: 5.89, 70
I'm sure his arm felt fine, though.
SP - Kyle Lohse, 2010: 5.89, 69
'Bout two year, three months, and $25M left on the deal, no?
SP - Mark Mulder, 2006: 7.14, 63
Speaking of wasted money... Also, what's your emotion going to be when the Cards sign Mulder to a minor league deal in two weeks? I'm shooting for wistful.
RP - Juan Acevedo, 1999: 5.89, 79
I honestly have nothing to say.
RP - Jason Simontachi, 2003: 5.56, 74
RP - Jeff Fassero, 2003: 5.68, 73
It's almost as if the 2003 team had a bullpen issue which needed to be addressed.
RP - Randy Flores, 2006: 5.62, 80
Thank God we won the World Series.
RP - Randy Flores, 2008: 5.26, 82
Why in the hell was he still on the team?!?
RP - Mark Petkovsek, 1997: 5.06, 83
Just typing "Mark Petkovsek" bores me.
RP - Alan Benes, 2000: 5.67, 83
That 2000 team was really, really good. Alan Benes was not a reason why.
So, what do we know...
That pitching staff has a combined ERA of 5.875. The optimal starting lineup for the team, as composed by Baseball Musings, would score an average of 3.244 runs per game.
6. Marquis (!!!)
Yes, in true Tony "Transition Lenses" La Russa fashion, even the computer models have the pitcher batting
So, being outscored 952-526 on the season would leave most teams with a record somewhere around 41-121. But this isn't most teams—it's managed by future Hall of Famer Tony La Russa and bench coached by the often drunk Joe Pettini. No, sir, this team scraps. This team digs. This team, in the immortal words of David "I'm not Jewish!" Eckstein, "has heart."
They'd probably go 42-120, the overachievers.