Alright, so everything’s not going so well at the moment for the Cardinals. Several key players have missed time due to injuries, forcing the Memphis Redbirds to provide a much higher percentage of the major league roster than was originally planned. The bullpen situation has been so bad that Victor Marte has had to remain in the bullpen the entire season. Oh yeah, and Matt Holliday has a .726 OPS. Things have to improve from this point; they just have to.
Oh, you thought I was talking about the actual Cardinals team we all know and
hate love until that last sentence. No. I’m not in the mood to talk about them. They don’t even score runs anymore, and I’m all out of sympathy for them. The Cardinals team that plays in an alternate universe is much easier to feel sorry for. StanGraphs has picked up a few new readers since the last time we unveiled one of our Out of the Park Baseball posts, so if you’re not really sure what I’m talking about, or you’re already bored, wait. Brian and I both greatly enjoy spending hours playing a fantastic little text-driven baseball sim with an incredible emphasis on statistical realism, and we each wanted to dedicate the occasional post to our in-game pursuits. I, of course, have been running an alternate universe Cardinal team throughout the 2012 season, one that has the same players more or less and plays the same 2012 schedule, while Brian has put together a completely fictionalized Cardinal team that plays against the same 29 other teams the real Cardinals do, but without any of the real players. In short, we can provide you a believable escape from real baseball, which isn’t much fun if you’re a Cardinal fan this year. Don’t waste this opportunity. You may have heard some about Out of the Park Baseball by now. It’s not nearly as underground as it used to be, as it’s been well received by several game review publications over the years. Anyway, you can’t skip it when we write these posts, so I just wanted to get that out of the way before diving in.
Not dive in I will! When we last left our alternate universe team, they were struggling. Well worse than the real Cardinals, in fact. It was June 10, and they were 26-34, already seven-and-a-half games back of the powerhouse Reds. They’re also behind the .500 Cubs (ha!) and Milwaukee Brewers (26-33) as well. These Cardinals do have the services of Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia in the rotation, but the offense has not been so fortunate at all. In fact, I think I’d cry or vomit if some of the players were doing this in real life. Through June 10, Allen Craig has just 22 AB, and he’s mustered just a .564 OPS in that time frame. Lance Berkman has largely been around the entire season in this universe, and he’s hitting a puzzling .217/.344/.443. Carlos Beltran has been hurt most of the season and has just one home run to go along with a sub .200 batting average in 57 AB, and I already mentioned the down season Matt Holliday is having. Backstop sensation Yadier Molina isn’t doing much, either, just as his .286 wOBA indicates. Yes, OOTP has wOBA. So anyway, I think it’s almost safe to say this has turned into some kind of bizarro universe so far for Cardinal baseball, but things had ended on a high note last time. The Alt-Cards had run off four straight wins from June 6 to June 9, and are looking to build on that success. Want to see if they could? Well, you’d better keep reading, hadn’t you?
Things started off on a series down note, let me tell you. The Indians were able to salvage the third and final game of the series with a 19-1 win that featured Grady Sizemore charging Kyle McClellan, resulting in a ten-game suspension for both in the process. Pretty severe to give a position player and starting pitcher the same number of games (yes, due a Jake Westbrook injury, McClellan is starting in this universe thanks to a healthy right arm and the fact that Lance Lynn hasn’t broken out yet), but I figure maybe Sizemore was the biggest instigator or something. I don’t know the whole story; so few details were released! Anyway, this one was ugly. Roy Oswalt was lights out for Cleveland (in this universe, it was the Indians who snatched him off the free agent list), and after McClellan’s ejection the Alternate Universe Cardinal bullpen decided to channel a little of the Real Cardinal bullpen. Marc Rzepczynski, Mitchell Boggs, Eduardo Sanchez, and Lance Lynn all had forgettable outings, and if it weren’t for Jason Motte‘s three innings scoreless innings with five K’s, Cleveland could have cracked the 20 barrier like the Mariners did once this season. In real baseball, I mean. The lone Cardinal run was driven in by Matt Carpenter, who raised his season average to .140 with a 1-4 performance. Like I said, tough year for the offense.
The struggles continued, as the White Sox came into town next and took two of the three games. To make things worse, Boggs was lost for three months due to shoulder inflammation, forcing me to call up Maikel Cleto to take his place. Alternate Mike Matheny then decided that Cleto would become a starter, sending McClellan back to the bullpen in the process. Perhaps it was a punishment for that fight he got into. Oh, and around baseball, the Royals owner just up and died, so some sad news for KC fans. No, not David Glass. Some guy named Miguel Gallegos owns the Royals in this universe. My condolences go out to the alternate universe Kansas City. Miguel was a fine man, and the Royals were sure turning things around at the time of his death, at least in this universe.
And speaking of Kansas City, it was they who came into town next, naturally with heavy hearts due to their owner, you know, being dead. That’s probably why they dropped two of three in the series, actually. After the three-game set, Jake Westbrook got healthy and was called back up, sending Cleto, who got stomped in his only start, right back down to Memphis. Thanks to big performances from Matt Adams, the Cards were also able to take two of three to the Tigers despite experiencing an injury scare with Holliday. The diagnosis would later come back that he would be out for a month with a high (?) ankle sprain. That’s okay, his OPS was just .691 anyway. Shane Robinson took his place, which will mean no noticeable drop-off in production should occur.
Okay, well, look, if you’ve made it this far (over 1,000 words in about a Cardinals team in an alternate universe, congratulations, I think), let me just save you some reading time: this team is even worse than real edition. After taking the series from the Royals, they would then go on to lose five of the next eight series, ending up at 40-52 on July 18 with five players on the disabled list (Holliday, Furcal, Jay, Chambers, and Boggs). The pitching remains mostly intact and is performing okay, but this offense is just terrible. Granted, if Pete Kozma had been forced to take 137 at-bats on the actual team, they would be much worse as well, but there’s no excuse to be hitting .229/.310/.346 as a team, none at all. I think I hate this team even more than the real team that either loses 3-2 or wins 150-2 every night. I also think it’s safe to say that 2012 just isn’t the Cardinals’ year no matter which universe you’re in. I guess that’s what we get after all that ridiculous karma at the end of 2011. That was like My Name is Earl fortune times ten last year. Did you know a guy from American History X has a major role in that show? Also, Jason Lee is a Scientologist. I hope our next alternative universe update brings us better news with both Cardinal teams, or I might be in such a desperate emotional state that I turn to desperate measures like Scientology myself. Don’t turn me into a Scientologist, Cardinals. Either of you guys. (Seriously, if you like baseball stats and running your own team, basically if you’re any kind of decent person at all, you should take a look at OOTP. Germans made it, but it’s really good. Trust us. )