the sack of troy

troy cate was sailing along last night vs hermosillo, with a 4-0 lead through 5 innings; he'd yielded only 2 hits and a walk up to that point, with 5 strikeouts. but he walked the #9 hitter leading off the bottom of the 6th and suffered the bitter consequences. a base hit and 2-run double followed; cate struck out erubiel durazo but yielded a run-scoring single to the next guy. a groundout advanced the tying run into scoring position with two outs and brought up geronimo gil, the naranjeros' 2d-leading home-run hitter. with vinny castilla on deck, cate didn't have the luxury of pitching too carefully; gil smoked a basehit into center and knotted the score at 4s.

so ended cate's night. but the inning continued: gil went to third on castilla's single off relief pitcher jose cobos, then scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. the run was charged to cate --- whose final line read 5.2 inn, 6 h, 5 er, 2 bb, 6 so --- and it left him on the hook for the loss. with two outs in the top of the 9th, mazatlan leadoff man dionys cesar poked a single to bring the tying baserunner around 3d. the throw beat the runner to the plate, but gil dropped the ball --- score tied; no decision for cate. the 5-5 deadlock held until the bottom of the 12th inning, when luis garcia blasted a homer off venados relief pitcher fernando salas to give hermosillo a 6-5 win and a 1-0 lead in the series.

sounds like it was a pretty exciting ballgame; all the details in this article (scroll down to the bottom for the box score). edgar v gonzalez returned to the starting lineup but went 0 for 5 with 4 strikeouts; he's in an 0 for 16 playoff slump. ex-cardinal hurler luther hackman pitched 2 scoreless frames.

the cards' director of minor-league operations, john vuchs, had some interesting things to say about cate the other day during a live chat at the cardinals' fan-home forum:

Spring training will be vital in determining who makes the jump [to the Memphis rotation] at the start of the year. Blake Hawksworth, Chris Lambert and Mike Parisi probably have the inside track, but Jordan Pals really looked like he turned things around late in the year, and finished up on a high note with 7 straight quality starts, so he'll get a serious look as well. Stu Pomeranz could be in the mix if he has a strong spring, and Troy Cate showed the ability to work as a starter while pitching in the Mexican Winter League, so I think we should be able to fill at least two of the spots with our most qualified pitchers from the '06 Springfield staff.
lotta good information in that thread; a few items:
  • parisi and lambert will be invited to the cards' big-league camp, along with colby rasmus, bryan anderson, mike sillman, and mark worrell. the rasmus invite suggests to me that he has a good chance to start the season at double A. anderson spent all of last year at low A and needs to work on his defense, so he'll probably head for palm beach.
  • on hawksworth: "He's got a major league fastball and an above-avg major league changeup. I think now that he'll be another year removed from his surgery, he has a chance to pick up another couple MPH's on his fastball, but even if he doesn't, he's learned how to pitch effectively with what velocity he has now."
  • on jaime garcia: "Ideally, Garcia would start the year at Palm Beach, but if he is lights out during the spring, he'd have a shot at making the AA club." mitchell boggs, who already has spent a full year at high-A, is considered a stronger bet to begin the season at double A.
  • chris perez is penciled in to start the season at high A but is projected as "a quick mover."
  • travis hanson will be back at triple A; they're writing off his miserable 2006 to a spring-training illness
  • vuchs' favorite sleeper prospect: luke gregerson, a 28th-rounder from st xavier university who split last season between rookie ball and short-season A. he was old for both leagues (22) but obviously ready for stiffer competition; struck out 13 guys per 9.
just reading between the lines, it would appear that the club would prefer to promote hawksworth, lambert, and parisi to the memphis rotation, where they'll join mike smith and randy keisler; pomeranz, pals, and eric haberer would spend another season at double A, joined in the rotation there by boggs and, possibly, cate; i'd rather have them leave cate in the bullpen, where he was so dominant last season, but it seems as if the organization might be looking to shift him back to a starting role. no matter how that shakes out, it sounds as if garcia will likely start the year at high-A alongside ottavino and mark mccormick, with cory meacham, trey hearne, and adam daniels competing for the other rotation slots.

as for position players: ankiel is already bound for memphis, and the other candidates for the outfield there include schumaker, gorecki, eli marrero, ryan ludwick, amaury marti, stavinoha, and haerther . . . . . what a logjam. marrero can shift to other positions, and gorecki is out of favor and might be cut. the infield presumably will comprise tagg bozied at first, edgar gonzalez at 2b, hanson at 3d, and brendan ryan at ss, with michel hernandez behind the plate. i think bo hart is still around also . . . . some of those outfielders will stay down at springfield, with rasmus joining them and also, very likely, john jay. i think tyler greene will be there too.

elsewhere:

  • at baseball think factory they're having an interesting discussion about ted simmons, the cardinals' best player back when i was a kid. it's as much about the circumstances of simmons' departure (whitey herzog dealt him to the brewers in 1980/81, in what many deemed a terrible trade for the cards) as about his merits as a ballplayer, which are considerable. simmons ranks in the franchise's all-time top 10 in hits, doubles, homers, rbis, and walks; he's the all-time leader in intentional walks (pujols trails him by 53, or about two seasons' worth) and sac flies. . . . also stands second all-time (behind stan the man) in gidp. last i heard (ca 2005), simmons was scouting for the padres; if anybody knows different, i'd be curious.
  • i missed this one last month: the nationals hired tom herr to manage their low-A affiliate at hagerstown, in the sally league. herr has managed the last couple of seasons for lancaster (pa.) in the atlantic league of professional baseball, an independent circuit; his pitching coach there was rick wise, forever linked in cardinal lore to steve carlton. here's his lancaster bio page; and here's an interview herr gave last week to milb.com.
  • the cubs want their hitters to run some deeper counts; i suppose that's why they signed soriano . . . .
  • jason marquis wants sosa's old number; the cubs are like, "whatever, take it."
  • tomo ohka and tony armas jr are still looking for jobs
  • Amazin Avenue on jorge sosa: "ohmigod, this pitcher sucks."

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