Travel day, today, which means I will be flitting from topic to topic in the Larry King fashion. At least, I think I will—I have to write it first.
... Did you ever notice how hot dogs come in packages of ten, and hot dog buns in packages of—no, I don't think I'm quite comfortable with this format. The Cardinals weren't, either, to make an ugly segue—from Manning, Maekawa, Ostlund, figurative one line paragraphs all, they've settled on none of the above.
So let's talk about The Newest Cardinal. Dennys Reyes, not to be confused with the breakfast chain on one end and the starting pitcher on the other, started his career as an itinerant lefty at an incredibly young age; it's rare that a 20-year-old pitcher hits the majors and almost immediately becomes a spare part, but he's been the extra man in trades (for such luminaries as Jeff Shaw) almost from birth. The result is that he's a 32-year-old with the career path that better resembles late-bloomers like Joe Borowski.
With such a winding career path, spent in several different usage patterns, it's important to restrict our attention to—or at least focus it on—the Dennys Reyes the Cardinals have acquired, a knockout lefty with no legitimate claim toward versatility. The wonderful thing about looking at his career this way is that it makes sense of his late-career renaissance, which began with his gaudy 0.89 ERA in 2006. From 1997 to 2005, with interludes in LA and Kansas City as an inexplicable starting pitcher, Reyes was deployed as a more conventional reliever, with no more than vague LOOGY tendencies.
He was something of a victim of his own initial success, here; in 1999, his first full season with the Reds, he dispatched hitters indiscriminately, and faced fifty more right-handers. By 2001, even though he was now allowing a classically specialist .276/.378/.454 line against right-handed hitters, he was facing a righty two-thirds of the time. In 2005, his one year with the Padres, he allowed a .354 batting average against righties (.222 v. His Own Kind) and was dumped at mid-season.
As a rule I'm against pigeon-holing pitchers too early. They should be seen as starters until it's patently obvious that they're not, and they should face all kinds of hitters until the point is proven that they can't. But when Reyes was released by the Padres that July he'd made 344 appearances and was pushing thirty. In every year but two he'd shown a pronounced inability to retire right-handed batters, but it took until 2006, a year he began in the minor leagues, for somebody to limit his exposure to them. In 2006 he faced just two more righties than lefties; in 2007, twenty more left-handers; in 2008, fourteen.
If that's the Dennys Reyes the Cardinals want, they wisely looked past his early wanderings to determine that they could have him.
12:05 start against the Mets today, but no MLB.TV this time. Gameday link can be found at this FanShot, courtesy liam, VEB's long-time MLB.com windtalker. In WBC news, the loser of this morning's Taiwan and Korea match (hint: probably Taiwan) will be facing China on ESPN2 at 9:30. I haven't gotten the chance to watch Japan-China yet—I recorded it—but it'll be great to be able to watch an ostensibly meaningful baseball game live tonight.