July 2006

I promised

So here’s my take on Lucky Seven from the other day. Again, thanks so much for jumping in, everyone. That’s half the fun of doing this, is getting responses.

1. As I’m sure will surprise no one, I’d play Luna a lot more than he’s been playing. If he’s not at second base, play him in the outfield, give Eckstein a day off once in a long while (not often, but maybe slightly more often than now). I don’t know that the defensive difference between the two guys is all that great; to my eye they’re about equally able, if different types of defenders.

2. I’d do almost exactly what they’re doing right now in LF. Give Duncan a good stretch of at-bats to see what he’s got in more than spot duty. Give him the day against a LHP with a good slider, but otherwise, send him out there and see. If at the end of the month you don’t like what you’ve seen, then you do something either internally or externally.

3. If cost is no object, then to me, Abreu is the guy. He gets on base, hits for power, has speed and is left-handed. And the intent of the question was cost-no-object. Maybe in next week’s Lucky Seven we’ll look at more reasonably-priced, less dream-time possibilities.

4. A month ago, I would have said Wainwright was the guy, since he was more established as a guy who could get outs at the Major League level. I’m not certain anybody outside the core should be untouchable, but I will say this — if you deal either of those two RHPs, it needs to be accompanied by an increased payroll next year. Otherwise, the rotation will be tough to fill out.

5. Glad to hear that at least the posters are not on the dump-Isringhausen bandwagon. I finally reached the point where I thought it was a question worth asking early last month, but right about then he changed his approach and started throwing more fastballs and more strikes. For the most part, I really like what I’ve seen from him in the last month.

6. I’m a Bull Durham guy, but 61* really was terrific, surprisingly so. I just saw it for the first time last year and was very impressed. But I can quote just about every line of Bull Durham from memory. At his best, Ron Shelton was great (same guy who brought you the riotously funny White Men Can’t Jump).

7. Last show that really knocked me down was probably U2 at Savvis last year. Last disappointment is very fresh in my mind — The Black Crowes, who I had really high hopes for, just didn’t do much for me. They were a complete jam band that night, and I’m not into jam bands.

Now playing on the iPod: Muse, Absolution.

-M.

Weighing in on Weaver

OK, here’s my take, which I espoused in many fewer words on FSN tonight.

I just don’t see any way this is a bad trade. It may not help, but it can’t hurt.

First, Weaver. He started out the year really badly, there’s no denying that. And his last start was a stinker — though, for what it’s worth, Dave Duncan told me last night that he thought Weaver threw well in that game. But in the six previous games to that, he’d been going very well. A string of games with no more than 3 ER allowed, and in which he went at least six innings in every game but one. That’s pretty encouraging.


With the way this rotation has been going, something had to be done — even if only to save the bullpen. It’s a real concern the way the bullpen has had to eat innings.


Moreover, I think it’s important not to put too much stock in small sample sizes. Over the past two years, Weaver has been a durable, roughly league-average starting pitcher. So you have that on one hand, and then you have about seven or eight weeks at the start of the year that say he’s brutal. When I’m evaluating a guy, I’ll take the two years over the seven or eight weeks every time.

And the same goes for Evans. Before this year, Evans had four full years of pro ball where all he showed was some speed. He hit for a little power but not a lot, hit for a low average, struck out a great deal and didn’t walk much. So you’ve got four years that say he’s a non-prospect, and two and a half months that say he’s something special. It’s possible that he’s figured something out, but I’d say it’s more likely he’s having the hot streak of his career.

Put it this way: if, on April 3, somebody had told you the Cardinals had traded Terry Evans for Jeff Weaver, wouldn’t you think that was a good deal? I would have. And even with those extra three months of context, I don’t believe the balance has changed that much.

Did the Cardinals win the pennant by trading for Jeff Weaver? Of course not. Did they make their rotation better? I think so. Did they do it at a very reasonable cost? Absolutely.

-M.

(thanks so much to everybody for all the comments on the two threads from last night, btw)

Shameless plug

I’m about to go on the FSN Midwest pregame show with Joel Goldberg and Joe Strauss. Please tune in!

-M.

Welcome, Weaver

Done deal — Cards acquired Jeff Weaver "and cash considerations" for Springfield OF Terry Evans. Film at 11.

-M.

Audience participation time!

Hey, it’s better than a drum solo.

I’m going to steal a bit from T.R. Sullivan and throw some questions out for all to answer. You are welcome to respond to one of them, all of them, or any number in between. We’ll try to do this semi-regularly, maybe once a week or so. And of course, in O,YNAG tradition, it won’t be all baseball.

So here we go, the first intsallment of, hmmm, let’s call it Lucky Seven.

1. How should the Cardinals handle second base? Luna every day? Miles every day? Straight platoon? This semi-platoon that they’re using now? Make a trade?

2. What should they do in left field? Let Chris Duncan play? Platoon Duncan and Taguchi? Play Taguchi every day? Play Rodriguez every day? Mix-and-match? Call up John Gall or Skip Schumaker? Lots of options here.

3. If the Cards could pull the trigger on one major deal, out of all the potentially available players, who would you want? Try to be at least a little reasonable — obviously Roy Oswalt is not available.

4. If there’s one player the Cards absolutely MUST NOT trade, who do you think it is? Leave out Pujols, Carpenter and Rolen, since those are, um, fairly obvious.

5. For those of you calling for Jason Isringhausen not to pitch the ninth anymore, two questions. One, what would you do with him if you removed him? Two, who do you want pitching the ninth? Again, realism must reign — to paraphrase Rick Pitino, Mariano Rivera is not walking through that door.

6. What’s the best baseball movie of all time?

7. What’s the best concert you’ve seen recently? Seen any disappointing or lousy shows lately?

Have at it. I’ll post my thoughts on all these after y’all weigh in for a while.
-M.

Some links

In case you care, here are some of the things that have caught my attention on the web lately…

* The World Series of Poker is under way, and in an outstanding development, they’re running semi-live updates this year. I play a little, not a lot, but I’m fascinated by the game. You’re not going to sit and follow minute-by-minute, but it’s cool to have updates.

* I have no comment on this, other than: simply brilliant. I want one.

* Quite a few of us MLB.commers blog on a semi-regular basis, but I can honestly say none of us does it anywhere near as well as T.R. Sullivan. His blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, is entertaining, insightful, unusual, and plenty more. It’s basically a must-read.

* I’ve started running a counter on this li’l old site, and I didn’t have to pay for it. So although you may not care in the slightest, here’s a plug for StatCounter, who provides said counter. Thanks!

* And finally, since the sky looks threatening yet again tonight, here’s a link to the weather radar for Atlanta.

I expect to have something more substantive for you later in the evening, but this is a start, right?

Currently playing on the iPod: The Killers, Hot Fuss.

-M.
 

No longer pouring

Brutal night here at the yard. 150 minutes after they suspended play with one out and a man on third in the top of the sixth, we’re still sitting. No announcement of an expected re-start time, but with 47,514 tickets sold and 47,514 fans expecting fireworks, they have no desire to call it. On the bright side, the lightning appears to have stopped. The rain assuredly had not, as of when I started writing this post, but now it has. Woohoo!

So we sit. Carpenter is obviously done for the night, so you’d imagine the Cards would very much like for them to go ahead and bag this thing. A five-inning complete game would be plenty pleasing to the staff, I’m sure.

Random thoughts and observations from today and tonight…

* Edgar Renteria is still warmly regarded by his old mates. It was great to see him; he’s one of my favorite guys in the time I’ve been covering this team. He chatted and hung out with several ex-teammates before the game today.

* The clubhouse was surprisingly enthralled by the Italy-Germany soccer game. Lots of guys sat on the couch or in their seats watching with deep interest. I suspect there may have been some friendly wagers involved, but I think there was also genuine interest. And it was an entertaining game.

* Oh, look at there — they’re taking off the tarp, it seems.

* The Cards are staying at a different hotel this time around, and apparently it’s been quite a center of activity. The Peachtree Road Race, a huge deal with 50K or more runners, started right outside their windows this morning, and an enormous fireworks display was set to take place in the area tonight. Not ideal, but hey, them’s the breaks of the big leagues I guess.

* Jim Edmonds is really stroking the ball. I’ve said more than once or twice ,no player has more direct impact on how the Cards offense goes than Edmonds, so it would be a big deal to have him hot for a while.


* It’s always interesting to me to watch baseball with TLR. His thought processes watching a game seem to be unique. During our pregame briefing with him today, the end of the Washington-Florida game was on. After the Nationals eked out two bloop singles, followed by Ryan Zimmerman’s walk-off home run, the skipper lamented the fate of the Marlins. It wasn’t because he had a rooting interest, but because there was a lack of justice. Two bloop singles lead to the home run that costs you a hard-fought win. It’s the kind of thing that makes a manager sick when it happens to him, and TLR always sympathizes when it happens to another skipper.


* They just made an extremely unpopular announcement. They told the 10,000 or so hearty souls who stuck out the almost three-hour rain delay that the fireworks display has been postponed to another night. And they just did it at the end of the delay. So the thing that a lot of these people waited for, is not happening. Ouch. Many boos.


Supposedly we’re starting back up at 10:35 p.m. CT. For those still watching the game, enjoy.

-M.

More on today's move

I was mildly surprised by the move today, only because I was told by someone usually very reliable that today would not be the day the Cardinals went back down to 12 pitchers. Though considering that Brad Thompson actually made the trip to Atlanta, it’s possible that the decision hadn’t been made when I talked to this person yesterday evening.

Thompson is going to start at Memphis. I don’t believe his future is as a starter, but TLR was cagey when I asked him whether to read any more into it than just giving Thompson innings to sort things out. I’ll say this: there aren’t a lot of (any?) good options at Memphis for a start or two if somebody were needed short term — Dennis Tankersley? Randy Leek? Travis Smith? John Webb? So if they can build Thompson up to starter’s duration, he would at least become a viable short-term option if somebody got hurt or they bumped somebody or something like that.

As for Chris Duncan, I think the most interesting part of this whole deal may be Duncan starting in left field today. TLR said Duncan will start again tomorrow, and the impression I got is that he’s going to get a good long look this time around. It makes sense. If you’re looking at second-tier bats, why not find out if Duncan is as good as any of those guys? Obviously he’s not as good as Bobby Abreu or Carl Crawford or Miguel Cabrera, but he might be as effective as some of the other names we’ve heard, guys like Luis Gonzalez.

So give him a nice extended stretch of at-bats and find out. John Rodriguez is struggling, and So Taguchi is a known quantity. Duncan will at least be a low-average, low-OBP decent-power guy, and he might be something better than that. So find out.

There may be more to come, by the way. Despite the assurance that Ponson is starting Thursday, I’m not entirely sure that won’t change in the next 72 hours, whether it be Jeff Weaver (who I do believe is at least in the discussion), Josh Hancock or whatever. I’ll put it this way: I’ll be very surprised if today’s transactions are the last ones before the All-Star break.

Currently playing on the iPod, during the rain delay: REM, Life’s Rich Pageant

-M.

(Vote Francisco!)

Vote Francisco!

Francisco Liriano not only should be on the American League All-Star team, he should start the game. Please, go vote for him.

-M.

Kinney in, Perez out

Josh Kinney has been called up from Memphis and is expected to be present by game time, though I didn’t see him in the clubhouse before I headed upstairs at 11:30 a.m. CT. Kinney threw two innings for Memphis last night, but needed only 21 pitches to do so, and TLR says he’s available to pitch today.

Timo Perez is out, though at this minute I’m not sure of the actual transaction — DFA or waived or what. I don’t believe he can be optioned.

That leaves the Cards with 13 pitchers, a situation that obviously won’t last for very long.

Currently playing on the iPod: The Cure, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me

-M.

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