Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What does Daniel Descalso do well?

On Tuesday, the St. Louis Cardinals activated Mark Ellis from the disabled list and sent shortstop Pete Kozma down to Triple-A Memphis. It took just hours for manager Mike Matheny to insert Ellis in to the lineup.

The activation of Ellis obviously had an effect on Kozma, but what kind of effect does it have on the other backup infielder Daniel Descalso?

With Ellis active, and able and willing to play second and third base, opportunities for Descalso will become even fewer and more far between.

And that is a good thing in this fan's eyes.

In fact, it prompts a conversation as to which situations it would be best to utilize Descalso, which causes me to ask the question, what does Descalso do well?

Lets take a look.

Wait for it...

Wait for it...

Yes, the open space was put there for effect. Call it a metaphor, or symbolism or whatever the hell you want.

The point is, of course, is that Descalso really does not do anything well.

Let's actually break it down this time.

Can Descalso hit for average? Answer: not really. Descalso hit just .227 in 2012 and followed that up with an outstanding .238 in 2013. Part of that abysmal 2013 performance was due to Descalso hitting just .199 after the all-star break. That is two years of awful performance at the plate.

Can Descalso hit for power? Answer: No. Descalso has 10 home runs in over 1,000 career plate appearances. His career .651 OPS screams of a fringe MLB-player. Descalso has 58 career doubles, which is not bad, but for comparison sake, Matt Carpenter had 55 doubles just last season.

Does Descalso have speed? Answer: Nope.  Descalso has just 15 stolen bases in 434 career games, so there is no speed element there at all.

Is Descalso a good pinch hitter? Answer: Not at all.  In fact, Descalso is a terrible pinch hitter. The Cardinals may be better off using decent hitting pitcher Adam Wainwright then Descalso off the bench (or maybe let Trevor Rosenthal hit for himself with the winning run at second at some point down the line) (that was a joke, of course).  In 78 career plate appearances as a pinch hitter, Descalso has .169 batting average with a .414 OPS. Awful.

Is Descalso a "clutch" hitter? Answer: He's better then he normally is, but still not great. With runners in scoring position, Descalso has a .248 career average, but with two outs in those situations he has a .217 average.  In late innings situations (innings seven through nine), Descalso has hit just .224 with a .605 OPS.

Is Descalso a good defensive second baseman? Answer: Nope. Descalso's career UZR/150 as a second baseman is -5.6.  He is easily third in line at this position, behind Wong and Ellis

Is Descalso a good defensive shortstop? Answer: Absolutely not. Descalso is not good and really not even adequate as a shortstop, posting a career UZR/150 of -19.8 at the position. Yet, he is the team's only option to backup Jhonny Peralta on the current 25-man roster.

Is Descalso a good defensive third baseman? Answer: Not really. He is an average defensive third baseman, but hardly spectacular. His career -3.0 UZR/150 (still a negative number folks) reflects this.

So there you have it. The answers to the question "What does Daniel Descalso do well?"

Based on these answers, Descalso should be used very, very sparingly.

And why the heck is he making over one million dollars?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

St. Louis Blues: Ian Cole should play in playoffs

On Sunday afternoon, St. Louis Blues defenseman Ian Cole played his first game since March 29 and in only his second game since March 17. Cole's presence in the lineup against the Detroit Red Wings only happened because Barret Jackman was scratched from the lineup, as were many players because of injuries and just to get rest as the team limps into the playoffs.

The absence of Cole from the lineup for such a long time is mind-boggling and it is easy to see that he is one of head coach Ken Hitchcock's favorite dog house members.

But Cole should be playing. He should play every game because he is clearly better than the alternatives, Carlo Colaiacovo and Jordan Leopold.

And he should be paired with Roman Polak once the playoffs start.

Sure Cole makes some mistakes, and at times those mistakes come in some very untimely situations. But overall, he brings more to the table then Colaiacovo and Leopold, and it is not even close.

Cole has played in 45 games and has posted a plus 15 on the season, which is the seventh highest on the roster, higher than captain David Backes and golden boy Vladimir Sobotka. Cole's plus/minus is the third highest among all defenseman on the roster, with only stalwarts Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester posting higher numbers.

Cole provides some offensive punch too. He has 11 points on the season as a third-line pairing defenseman that rarely sees any power play time. Meanwhile, Colaiacovo, who does see time on the power play on occassion, and Leopold have combined for just 10 points in 50 games.

So, please explain to me how either Colaiacovo or Leopold are better options than Cole?

Isn't Cole superior defensively and offensively to both?

Why has Cole continued to sit in the press box while Colaiacovo has played a majority of the games down the stretch while the team has struggled?

The third-line, left-handed defenseman situation is hardly a reason for the team's collapse down the stretch. Much of that can be attributed to injuries and a lack of discipline within the game plan.

The Blues will need all the jump in their steps as they can get once the playoffs begin and especially if they are missing any of their top forwards who missed the season finale against the Red Wings.

Cole can provide that jump. He can provide that disciplined type of hockey in the defensive zone and help clear the net in front of Ryan Miller. Cole can jump up into the play and make something happen offensively.

Cole has been in the dog house for a long time, but its time for Hitch to stop playing favorites and start playing Ian Cole once the playoffs begin.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Review of baseball slot game Hot Shot

Baseball is one of the biggest sports in the States, holding the title of America’s National Game, and online casino sites have been quick to capitalise on this appeal by providing slot games themed around it. Although it is not the only one around, the five reel video slot Hot Shot does seem to be the one that has grabbed the hearts and minds of baseball fans – as well as those for whom the attraction is casino gaming. So just what is it about this particular slot game that makes it a home run hitter for both baseball and casino fans? Slot games are no the only one that one can play online; Lucky Nugget online pokies is one of the most popular games out there.
For the former, the baseball aspects of the game will be a big part of the appeal – including the themed icons on the reels. Some of the familiar sights greeting MLB fans on the reels of this slot include: a trophy, baseball hat, catchers’ mitt with ball, pitcher and hitter, while they are surrounded by a baseball field and stitched bats and balls. It all goes to create a consistent baseball motif throughout, that is further enhanced by the sound effects, which include the sound of a bat thumping a baseball (every time you get a winning reel) and the murmurs of the crowd (which rise in volume if you get a winning reel featuring the trophy scatter symbol). This is all ideal for fans of the sport, but they will also relish the theme has been integrated with the slot machine aspect, which is the main draw for casino fans.
The sound effects are one example of that, while another is the burning baseball icon which serves as the wild – meaning it can take the place of any other missing icon (except the scatter) to produce a winning reel combination. Obviously this seriously improves the odds on you winning a payout, while getting at least three of the scatters will trigger automatic cash payouts. The jackpot for this game is a healthy $2000, which is well worth playing for, and you can bet with as little as $0.25 a time. If there is a disappointment with Hot Shot it is the lack of a bonus game, but there are more than enough bonuses of other kinds to make up for that particular absence.