i’m on an early flight this morning to who knows where; don’t have time for much more than some quick odds and ends.
first thought: has any team exceeded expectations this year more than the cardinals? with a week to go, here are the teams with the most wins above and beyond their PECOTA projection:
well, ok; so a bunch of teams did. the twins have got to be the biggest surprise of all; they lost their top two starters (johan santana and carlos silva) and their most valuable everyday player (torii hunter) off last year’s roster, yet they’re still fighting for a playoff spot. they host the chisox tues wed and thurs this week and need a sweep to draw even in the loss column; i’d really like to see them pull it off. one playoff team’s enough for chicago.
item two: if the cards are giving any thought to signing jon garland as a free agent this off-season, i hope they stop now. because of carpenter’s very uncertain status, it seems pretty clear the team is going to shell out some money to bring in at least one pitcher, maybe more. garland is a player the cardinals showed some interest in a few years ago; he has piled up a lot of wins in his career (106 and counting), as well as lots of innings ---- 2008 is the 7th straight year he’s thrown 190 or more frames and made at least 30 starts. but garland’s peripherals, weak even when he was winning 18 games back in 2005 and 2006, are moving south rapidly. his k rate this year is the lowest of his career, his walk rate the worst since 2004; batters are hitting .299 against him this year, and he’s been defenseless away from home (5.73 era in 13 starts). he is far from a sure bet to make the postseason rotation; lackey, saunders, and santana all clearly will be in the picture, leaving garland and jered weaver to fight it ought for the 4th slot. garland’s era since the all-star break is pushing 6.00 . . . . he’s not a lick better than braden looper, but probably will command more money. stay away.
item three: as the cards cast about for a guy to play second base for them, has anybody noticed what edgar gonzalez is doing for the padres? you might recall that gonzalez posted an .824 ops at memphis last year but couldn’t get a sniff from the big-league club; the padres signed him last winter as a minor-league f.a., called him up in mid-may this year, and have liked what they see: he’s hitting .276 / .332 / .391 in 300+ at-bats, impressive numbers for a middle infielder at petco park. away from home, he is slugging .425. the rap on gonzalez was his glove, but john dewan rates him a +1 (he’s particularly good going to his left, per these figures) and his RZR ranks 5th in the league among 2bers with at least 500 innings at the position. i can’t really fault the cardinals too badly; nobody would give this guy a chance. he got his first big-league at-bat this year just a couple days before his 30th birthday. turns out he’s about a league-average player.
that’s all i got today, folks; on the road all day. game thread preprogrammed to appear about an hour before the first pitch.