this that and the other

lot to talk about in that game, and wouldn’t you know --- i’m in a big hurry, heading out very early this morning on a two-day trip. (in fact, i’m already well down the road as you read this). so let me just round up a few tidbits and chew ‘em over very roughly:

isringhausen. four swinging strikes? you go, jason. two came on straight fastballs, one on a curve, and one on a cutter. he threw the latter, much-abused pitch twice to nady, who fouled off the first one and hit the second to ryan ludwick; he also threw one cutter to laroche, who swung through it. three trials, three swings, no damage. also of note --- after saying in the paper the other day that he only trusts his curveball on pitcher’s counts, izzy ventured a first-pitch bender to laroche and another on 2-2. both pitches missed the strike zone, but at least he tried something different. (the Hardball Times had some fascinating stuff on izzy’s curveball yesterday, by the way.) i wasn’t around to listen to the 9th inning; hope the people didn’t boo.

15 men left on base. that’s a lot, even for this team. in fact, it’s tied for the franchise’s 10th-highest LOB total dating back to 1956, taking only 9-inning games into account. but wait --- the cards only batted 8 times, because they didn’t have to bat in the 9th-inning. for an 8-inning LOB total, last night’s game is tied for 4th. . . . .

edmonds is a cub. and they can have him. he’ll probably fare better in wrigley than he did in petco park, where he hit .091 (3 hits in 33 trips), but he’s washed up nonetheless. the cardinals moved him so he wouldn’t block their prized cf prospect, colby rasmus; the cubs just acquired him and another castoff, reed johnson, to block the path of their young stud cfer, felix pie. better them than us . . . . . .

i can only think of one other instance in franchise history in which an iconic cardinal --- a hall-of-fame candidate, a championship-ring wearer --- ended up playing for the detested arch-rival of the moment (keeping in mind that arch-rivals change from era to era). the guy i’m thinking of is joe medwick, who got traded to brooklyn in 1941. the cards and dodgers were fierce rivals throughout the 1940s, finishing 1-2 in the standings in 1941, 1942, 1946, 1947, and 1949. i suppose you could also count dizzy dean, who went to the cubs in 1937 immediately after the cubs and cards had tied for 2d place (and they finished 1-2 in the standings the year before that, in 1935). and you might put keith hernandez on that list; at the time he joined the mets they were doormats, but within two years they were the cards’ most loathed enemies. while there have been other popular players who joined the dark side (so to speak) down through the years, it’s not often that a player of edmonds’ stature winds up in that position. . . . .

please don’t post any more FanPosts on this subject. in the last couple of days i’ve deleted about half a dozen threads on this topic, because they’re all redundant with this one. i know this is a big deal to a lot of folks, but one discussion thread is plenty. [/ grumbling]

wellemeyer. today marks the 1-year anniversary of his acquisition by st louis via waiver claim. i began looking at this pitcher in a different light after his 2d start of the year, when he got 16 swinging strikes in 7 innings against houston while only walking one batter. prior to that, i and a large segment of VEBland thought he didn’t belong in the rotation and was there only because of tony n dave’s stubborn insistence on pissing off this community. i reckon it’s time for all of us to eat crow. welley shows every characteristic of a power pitcher --- he misses bats, keeps runners off base, occasionally gets tripped up by the longball, but generally makes batters take uncomfortable at-bats. after coughing up 5 homers in his first 18 innings, he has yielded only 1 in his last 37 ip; opponents are hitting just .216 against him, and his k/bb is a sterling 2.5 to 1.

at the risk of jinxing this guy, i have shed nearly all my doubts about him --- and they were considerable heading into the season. i wasn’t impressed with him last year; he didn’t throw strikes consistently and was bailed out of deep holes several times by the offense, which always seemed to score runs when he pitched. wellemeyer didn’t throw well this spring, walking more men than he struck out. but he’s halved his walk rate, and sustained that performance over 55 innings --- a span that represents more than 20 percent of his career. his BABIP is a tad low (.255) and his strand rate’s a tad high (75 percent), and both of those figures are due to regress; welley’s FIP is 3.82, half a run higher than his 3.27 era. but on the whole, i don’t think this is a regress-to-the-mean situation. throwing strikes is a repeatable skill, and it looks as if wellemeyer has learned it.

the only doubt i have left is his durability; he has never thrown more than 80 innings at the big-league level, and his season high in the minor leagues was only 147 innings. i wonder if wellemeyer’s effectiveness will diminish as his innings total climbs past 100, 120, 140. we saw that happen with looper last year to an extent; he put up a 3.72 era in his first 12 starts, had a little elbow discomfort and hit the dl, then posted a 6.18 era in his second 12 starts. but if wellemeyer can get through the year with 180 innings and an era between 3.75 and 4.25, that’s a huge triumph --- one that expands the team’s talent base.

i looked at the career lines of a few other pitchers who, like wellemeyer, are / were hard throwers with control problems who finally got it all together in their late 20s: dave stewart, bobby witt, darryl kile, rick helling, and al leiter came immediately to mind. but all of those guys showed flashes of ability early in their careers --- ie, they had years with eras below 4.00. wellemeyer never did; in his one "good" season (2006), he walked 6.5 men per 9 innings and had an FIP of 4.84. welley came into this year with a career era well above 5.00 and a walk rate pushing 6 per 9 innings. can anybody think of a pitcher who was as terrible as wellemeyer in his early 20s but went on to have a good career? nolan ryan, sandy koufax, and randy johnson do not apply either; they were all above-average pitchers who became great pitchers once they harnessed their control. wellemeyer’s trying to make the leap from replacement-level to above-average; i just can’t come up with a decent comp.

bob forsch threw a shutout, and the 1986 sim-cards are headed to the world series against the sim-yankees. if buzz bissinger needed any further evidence that will leitch has sold his soul to the devil, there it is. . . . .

i pre-programmed a game thread and an overflow; will have my nose buried in archives all day. win the series, fellahs.

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