A very large number of Thursday tidbits

97 degrees at 6:45 p.m. Glad I’m up here and not down on the field tonight. Those of you in the stands, be safe please.

* Raul Valdes was optioned to make roster room today, since the Cardinals added 4 players in yesterday’s trade but traded away only three from the active roster. TLR said they never really considered going to 13 pitchers even for a little while, and that they just didn’t see any way that Valdes should have stayed around instead of any of the RH relievers they have. So they’ll go with one lefty for at least a while.

* As a result of the trade and sending out Valdes, there’s really no long reliever right now. Lance Lynn is probably the closest fit, and they’d hesitate to use him. If there’s a need for a lot of innings, it will be several guys getting an inning or two rather than one person soaking a bunch of them up.

TLR quote: “If we run into a game where we’re behind or ahead by a lot, we really don’t have the guy out there that you say, ‘OK, let’s use him and if he’s not available the next few days, no big deal.’ The reality is we’ll use them all. Try to keep them fresh.”

* The manager said that he won’t be afraid to use Octavio Dotel against a left-handed hitter, despite some ugly splits for the veteran righty.

“I think when he’s close, he’s close against everybody,” the skipper said.

Over the past three seasons, left-handers have a 277/413/584 line against Dotel with 11 homers in 202 at-bats. He has 49 strikeouts against 45 walks vs LHH in that time.

* Meanwhile, new lefty Marc Rzepczynski does not profile as a specialist. “Scrabble” looks more like a one-inning lefty, in the vein of someone like Scott Downs, rather than a LOOGY.

* Yadier Molina gets a night off tonight, but it’s just a night off after three straight games in some serious heat. TLR was asked about maybe playing Molina tonight and Gerald Laird tomorrow, to catch Edwin Jackson, but said he actually wanted to get Molina catching Jackson as soon as possible.

* Lance Berkman is not available tonight, except possibly in a real emergency. Though Berkman said yesterday that he hoped to play Friday, TLR sounded less confident about that. They will err on the side of giving Berkman too much time away, rather than bringing him back too soon.

* In his stead, Corey Patterson gets the start tonight. It’s really the only other option, since there are only 4 outfielders on the active roster right now. Skip Schumaker would be the alternative if they substituted, and of course we’ve already seen Tony Cruz in the outfield this year.

* Ryan Theriot makes a rare appearance outside the leadoff spot against a LHP, batting seventh. TLR on the switch: “His stroke is a work in progress right now. Right-handers don’t bother him. Just right now, his stroke is a work in progress. Could have done it sooner.”

* Nick Punto’s elbow is improving, and he has told the staff that he can play the left side of the infield. However, TLR would still have some hesitation to play Punto at shortstop. Third base is more in play than short, and ideally they prefer to keep Punto at second as much as possible for the time being. They would put Daniel Descalso at short and Punto at third, rather than the other way around, if those were the choices.

* The manager took issue with a couple of ways the Rasmus trade has been presented. I’ll let him speak for himself.

On whether the deal was “inevitable:”

“I totally disagree with that one. … It wasn’t inevitable. We have a chance to win now, and he was the one bullet. If we had different bullets, or they thought it was smart to reach into the system… No. We would have kept him. But that’s how we got the chance to improve. And in the end, the way we get judged is how many games we win. not the sense it makes, which is not really the test. And that’s the reality, so it’s fine.”

And on whether he and his staff push unusually hard for win-now trades and transactions:

“The thing is that supposedly I’m unusual because it’s win at all costs at the Major League level, at the exclusion of other considerations for an organization. Win now, win now. Well, first of all, that’s true of all managers. That’s what they pay you to do with whatever you’ve got. If you’re a .500 club, win half your games. Sometimes the organization decides they’re going to develop. You’ve lost the season and they’re going to develop. You go to develop, and you still try to win the games. So that’s not unusual. That’s what they pay you for, to get wins.

“But the other one that I think is a fair comment, if you ask… our staff and I take a lot of pride in taking the long view for the organization. I don’t think we have ever, ever recommended a move for now that we knew was a detriment to the organization beyond a couple years. … The classic explanation is you’re not going to be here in a couple years, so what do we care if you trade every young prospect? We’ve gotten a lot of points as a staff from Walt [Jocketty] and Mo… I read where Mo said it, that [people] don’t understand how much attention not just myself but our staff gives to what’s good for the organization now and down the road. For years, ‘You can’t trade that guy,’ we understand that. ‘You can’t bring that guy over here, he’s not worth the money.’ How many times have we had a pitcher or somebody establish value and you say, ‘See you later’ because he isn’t worth the money. Puts you in a hole. So that one I think is unfair based on the history of what our staff has done here over the years. I think we’re real conscious about the health of this organization beyond the year we’re playing.”

And, finally, the playlist:

R.E.M., “How The West Was Won And What It Got Us”
U2, “Mothers Of The Disappeared”
Depeche Mode, “Waiting For The Night”
Men At Work, “Down By The Sea”
Radiohead, “Exit Music (For A Film)”

-M.

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