(The last time the Cardinals had a losing record, per franchise history, was 2007. The last time they were 76-86, the PECOTA projection, or worse, was 1999, and 1997 before that, in the club's last doldrums.)
And, given that David Schoenfield of ESPN projects Martinez, Yadier Molina and Seung-hwan Oh will be All-Stars, again, PECOTA seems wrong. (Enjoy the time with Yadi, fans; as I note, he may be gone in 2018, and very likely will in another year or two.)
Also at Great Red Satan, manager Mike Matheny has further thoughts on the season, including the idea of Electric Twitter himself, Martinez, as a possible Cy Young candidate.
Beyond that, Matheny actually sounds like he's starting to become a proactive, and not just a reactive and by the book, manager in that interview.
And I hadn't even mentioned Alex Reyes yet on the pitching side, even though AP's Cardinals preview gives him a shout-out.
Matheny, in that interview above, specifically addresses fielding errors. He notes they had a generally young team out there. Plus, after the first month or so, Diaz' glove started settling down. He adds that neither Randal Grichuk nor Stephen Piscotty had spent a full season in the bigs before last year. With that no longer true, plus the addition of Fowler (and subtraction of Matt Holliday) the outfield defense should be a lot, lot better.
And, per Matheny, any improvement in infield D will be a boost.
And, it's expecting 44 MORE runs allowed than last year, and I'm buying that one even less, with Lynn back, Rosenthal's depth, and a more stable bullpen setup.
Viva El Birdos offers more of a take on specific PECOTA assumptions that are probably wrong. Not expecting more than 2.5 WAR from any position player, let alone not expecting even 2 WAR from any pitcher, sounds laughable.
Ben Frederickson at the Post-Dispatch has an even more detailed refudiation. And, a follow-up, even more "in the weeds," about PECOTA and Redbird pitching.
That said, will the team finish higher than that, that is, are the 2017 Birds better than last year? Follow me as spring training starts heating up and we'll do some updated looks.
Update: On the other hand, as long as Matheny and his ineptness are still the manager, who knows? That's as Bernie Miklasz rips Matheny a new one over that ESPN interview and some of his claims. Meanwhile, Matheny, a former catcher known for defense, admits he hasn't gotten his team to be where he'd like on controlling opposing baserunners.
This is his sixth year. He does't have La Russa to coast on any more.