kick em upstairs

a 4-2 road trip with two series wins despite a) no pujols, and b) a one-man starting rotation? impressive. we all know what rolen's been doing, and we all saw what chris duncan did yesterday. who else has been picking up slack?

  • encarnacion: batting .405 (17 for 42) with 10 rbi since albert went down.
  • the catchers: molina and bennett are batting a combined .333 (11 for 33) since the injury, and molina has hit 2 homers (his 1st pair of the year).
  • taguchi: hitting only .265, but -- batting primarily 2d -- has acquired patience and drawn 6 walks, giving him a .375 obp since the injury. he's scored 9 runs in that span, 2d on the team.
  • luna: was hitting before, still hitting now; .303 avg in the last 10 games.
  • edmonds: rediscovered a semblance of his power stroke; 4 xbh in 10 games, after only 2 xbh in the preceding month.
a little love for juan'cion, please? i don't like him any more than you do -- guess i have this prejudice against players with sub-.300 obps -- but here at the outset of the pujols crisis he has elevated his game very admirably. if you're at the game tonight, a little applause would be in order when he steps into the box for his 1st at-bat. . . . after he pops out to 2b you can still boo him if you want to.

all the numbers above, by the way, courtesy pinto's day-by-day database.

there's a great read at wsj.com this morning. sam walker, the author of Fantasyland, sat in with the cardinals' selection team during the amateur draft last week and recorded some amusing impressions. sounds like these guys -- scouts and front-office types alike -- have a lot of "fan" in 'em, and may rely more heavily on intuition and gut appeal than they'd like to let on. here's walker's description of what scout kobe perez had to say after the cards followed his recommendation and chose adam ottavino in the 1st round:

The first time he saw the kid pitch, Mr. Perez told us, it was during an exhibition between Northeastern and the Boston Red Sox. When it was his turn, Mr. Ottavino showed no signs of intimidation. He pitched right at the major-league hitters, striking out the first two and breaking the third guy's bat. At this, Mr. Perez smiles. "I fell in love with the guy right there."
not a long read, but a very nice short sketch of the card decision-makers at work. and play.

since we're talking about prospects, this would be the time to report on jaime garcia, the left-handed starter who's having a breakout spring in low-a ball. he threw a 7-inning "complete game" yesterday in the 2d game of a doubleheader -- 6 hits, a run, no walks and 5 ks, picked up a 2-1 victory. he's now 5-4 on the year with a 2.90 era and an 80-18 strikeout-walk ratio. should the cards start ottavino at quad cities -- and low-a ball is where the cards started their last 1st-round college hurler, chris lambert -- they can easily clear a slot for him by promoting garcia to high-a ball.

this is the time of year for such decisions. the new draftees are getting ready to go -- rookie leagues and short-season a leagues start play in less than a week -- and the 1st-half races in higher classifications are winding down. who else may be on the move? let's just stay with the pitchers.

at least one palm beach pitcher appears ready to advance -- blake hawksworth. he has now thrown more than 200 innings at various levels of a ball; his arm's healthy again, and he is among the league leaders in wins (T-4th), era (8th), and whip (10th). he has nothing more to gain at that level; time to move him up and see how he does against tougher competition. a second possible candidate to move up from palm beach is eric haberer, 3d rounder from two years ago. he got off to a slow start this spring but has come on strong -- 3 walks, 21 ks, and a 1.29 era in his last three starts, including eight strong innings yesterday in what became a marathon win for palm beach. he has now made 30 starts in high a ball and gone 12-11 with a 3.69 era and 1.35 whip in 176 innings. peripherals are only so-so -- about 9.0 hits per 9, 5.6 k/9, a k/w ratio just below 2:1. is he ready to face double a hitters? it's a judgment call, but two or three more good starts would solidify his case.

to clear space at double a for one or both of those pitchers, the organization's first option might be to release rich rundles, a spaceholder signed in the off-season as a minor-league free agent. as a second option, they could consider promoting a starter to memphis. chris lambert and mike parisi both need more time at double a, but stu pomeranz might be ready to climb up a rung. he has now spent a full season at double a -- moved up in the middle of 2005 -- and has logged 31 starts and 177 innings at that level. the overall numbers aren't good, because he got pounded last year, but he has shown marked improvement this season; he is 14th in the texas league in both era and whip, 2d in wins, 7th in innings pitched; he does pitch in a pronounced hitter's park, which distorts his numbers somewhat. he probably needs to get off to a good start in the 2d half before he earns a promotion.

if they move him up, challenge him, then who gets bumped from the triple a rotation? well, there's one guy (cough) who could get the call to st louis, freeing up a slot . . . . failing that, the organization could get rid of john webb, another spaceholder who signed as a minor-league f.a. and is stinking it up with a 4.77 era and 1.61 whip.

so this could happen in two movements: first, hawksworth to springfield and garcia to palm beach as soon as the 1st-half races end (that happens this weekend, i think), with ottavino starting out at quad cities once he signs. second, whenever reyes gets the call to st louis, then pomeranz replaces him at memphis and haberer advances to springfield.

we all good wi that? hah. come back in a week, it'll all look different. . . .

if you just can't get enough of this farm-system talk, head over to danup's for a look at the palm beach hitters. . . . . .

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