this'll put the current week in perspective: the last time the cardinals played the cubs, josh hancock was still alive. last time they played the brewers, hancock hadn't yet been buried. the cards completed their series with the brewers on may 2; here's how the teams have fared in the interim:
you look at all that has gone wrong for the cardinals this year --- failure throughout the pitching staff, edmonds rolen and eckstein getting old all at once, kennedy sucking, spiezio on and off the DL, plus a guy dying . . . . . well, you can't say they haven't hung in there. you can't say they've disgraced themselves. indeed, since may 2 the cardinals have played about as well as any team in the national league --- the cubs are tied (with the padres) for the nl's best record after that date, which means the cardinals have stayed within 3 games of every other nl club. would you have guessed that? me either . . . . . the cards' 4.8 runs/game average is 3d in the national league over that span; their 5.3 runs allowed ranks 14th. all these high-scoring games, yet they play in a pitcher's park; busch iii is stifling scoring by about 2 percent this season, same as last year.
what are the implications for this week and beyond? if you're an optimist (which i am not), you look at those standings and figure that a good week puts the cards right back in it. say they win both series; that means they will have basically fought the competition to a draw for half a season, leaving april as the only month separating the clubs from one another. april's only one month; the cardinals still have two months to make up the difference. they can do it; come onnnnnnn . . . . an optimist could also take encouragement from the cardinals' record within the division:
ok, so they're 3-7 vs the cubs / brewers and 18-8 vs the bottom three teams --- whatever. the fact remains that they've played very well within the division, and 43 of their remaining 67 games are against nl central competition. we're thinking optimistically here. if they go 27-16 in those 43 games (only slightly better than their intradivision performance to date) and 12-12 in the games outside the division, that gets them to, what --- 84 wins? that's not enough; so let's make it 14-10 outside the division. . . . . .
. . . . . useless exercise. the cardinals ought to be completely buried in this race, but for whatever reason they're not; they still don't really have a chance, not without carpenter, but the games are on the schedule and so the cards will show up and try to win. beginning tonight.
i exchanged 5 questions with my friend al yellon at Bleed Cubbie Blue; i had been planning to run my questions / his answers this evening for the game thread, but he's already got both sets of Qs and As up, so head on over there to read 'em. random notes:
- here's some information about a fund to help the family of mike coolbaugh, the minor-league coach killed by a line drive over the weekend.
- randy keisler has been pitching well down at memphis --- 2.70 era over his last 8 starts covering 50+ innings. i'm not trying to build a case or anything; just reporting information. . . . .
- somebody pointed out in yesterday's thread that albert is hitting .374 / .479 / .673 over the last two-plus months (since may 15). surprisingly, he only ranks 3d in the nl in batting avg over that span; dmitri young (.399) and chipper jones (.381) have topped him. he's 2d in obp (behind bonds), slugging (behind ryan howard), and runs scored (behind jimmy rollins), and is tied for 2d in homers (howard has 21, albert and brad hawpe have 16).
- back to the minor leagues for a second: half the quad cities starting lineup comprises 2007 draftees. 1bman steve hill (13th round), cf antonio dejesus (16th), 3ber arnoldi cruz (26th), and c nick derba (30th) have made the jump to full-season ball, and they're all adjusting well:
avg obp slg hill .306 .326 .471 dejesus .310 .364 .310 cruz .417 .452 .750 derba .435 .581 .652
the swing played 16 innings last night and lost, 11-10. dejesus drew 4 walks --- guy looks like an interesting player . . . . 2bman jose garcia took the loss in relief.
- in case you haven't heard this yet, the cardinals' best pitching prospect, jaime garcia, has gone onto the DL with elbow pain.