BENCHING OPTIMISM

The paradox of coaching, to me, is that while you must express optimism externally, successful coaches tend to internalize pessimism when assessing the fluid reality of their team.

“What’s most likely to go wrong, and how can I prevent it?”

“To what do I most credit our success, and how can I build upon that equity–so nothing can compromise it down the road?”

You’d have to be pessimistic in nature to find holes with the Cardinals, currently.

Or you’d have to be a coach.

I’m afraid of the common flaw of Cardinals playoff teams past: an inferior bench.

Is it possible that the promising outputs of this Cards team is a mask of optimism for that same need going forward?

Is a standing ovation for Greg Luzinski Garcia a standing vote for October inclusion? His minors slash line is a respectable .283/.383/.396.

Is Xavier Scruggs the RH platoon partner for Matt Adams? Might his impressive small sample with the big club cloud our knowledge of his minor league BA of .255 over eight seasons?

Speaking of Adams, does his improbable HR of the lefty of all lefties last October make us forget his .198/.231/.318 career slash vs LHP?

Do the fond memories of Pete Kozma’s huge knock against the Nationals override his other 579 career at bats, in which he’s not cracked a .290 OBP?

Is where you stand on Tony Cruz different in the midst of a 51-24 season than it was when you reacted to the Giants’ Matt Duffy tying NLCS G2 last year on a wild pitch?

And the curious case of Randal Grichuk.  Against a playoff team’s best middle reliever, will he be the guy whose OBP is a paltry .296, or the guy whose SLG is a Peralta-like .482?

The difference between confidence and false confidence is a fine line. Coaches know it, or try to, all too well. After just two games of the 2013 World Series, Pete Kozma, Shane Robinson, and Daniel Descalso had already earned starts.  They combined for 28 ABs in the 6-game series.  Matt Adams and Jon Jay added 40 more.

Last year vs the Giants, the Cardinals pinch-hitters were:  Cruz, Tavares, Descalso, Bourjos, Tavares, Descalso, Tavares.

If you’re fondly remembering Tavares’ PH heroics, know that they came via Grichuk starts that yielded a 3-for-19 with 6 Ks.

And why did Matt Adams even get to hit vs Kershaw ?  I know, I know–he homered.  Do you judge decisions by the process, or the result?  In the bottom of the 7th down 2 runs with 2 on in the NLCS, Matt Adams hit vs Kershaw because the Cardinals had no better options.  Adams barely hits LHPs.  Kershaw barely allows LHB hits.  I’m not saying Adams got lucky. I’m saying John Mozeliak did.

Does this historic season’s start provide Mozeliak with irrational optimism? Is the best way to protect the stellar pitching output to date, giving it a higher margin for error, by adding to the likelihood of increasing the runs scored per game?

Who’s going to PH vs the NL Bullpens whose ERAs rank in the top half of MLB:  PIT, CHC, WAS, LAD, SF?  Why has the bench been limited to who it’s been in the past?  Lack of money?  Excess of irrational optimism?

These are things coaches worry about. Maybe we should enjoy life a little more. But in July, you have to have a sit down with October, even if June deserved a standing O.

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