Out Fielders

Hey, Colby Rasmus! Rasmus's home run was a good omen to turn on the game late to—I don't know if you've noticed this, but Rasmus's season has reached the point at which people who don't know that he hit 29 home runs in AA are saying things about how he he projects to have power down the road. When that happens I don't know if we're watching the same guy. He looks like he has power, he swings like he has power. If he doesn't, it's not because he hasn't retooled his swing for it yet, or because he's young; it's because he's not hitting well. This isn't a young Ray Lankford scenario. 

It was especially good to see because in the ten days since Rick Ankiel went down his stock has risen dramatically. Ludwick's injury, however minor it is knock-on-wood, is the illusion of depth at its finest—two outfielders go down to freak day-to-day injuries and all of a sudden Shane Robinson is The Right Fielder For Your 2009 Cardinals, heretofore derided for not finding their four great outfielders enough at-bats.

(By the way, you don't want to go too long platooning Nick Stavinoha and Aaron Miles, but it's impressive in and of itself that these Cardinals could go two or three deep to find credible major league fifth outfielders. Once upon a time, I'll tell my hypothetical children, Nick Stavinoha was a prospect, and his name was John Gall.) Having Ankiel and Rasmus around isn't a surplus to deal from, unless the offer bowls Moz over—it's something to exploit. 

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Speaking of depth, Boggs's performance yesterday wasn't exactly inspiring, but in light of his more than adequate performance to date and the fine work of the bullpen in making this game look better pitched than it was he seems to have secured the sixth starter position for the foreseeable future. As long as he keeps up the newfound proclivity for the strikeout in some meaningful way, more power to him. 

But it occurred to me, as I was talking about the Cardinals' newfound ability to dig around for fifth outfielders, that the same is now true for fifth starters. In addition to Boggs, who would also have been a top prospect in the Gall-Journell-Josh Pearce era of indifferent feelings, there's P.J. Walters, Clay Mortensen, Jess Todd, and Journell-era refuge Blake Hawksworth, who went nearly eight innings and struck out seven last night. And that's just in Memphis. All four of these guys are above the Travis Smith line, and would probably have had an overly expensive shirt made in their honor if they had come through the system in those dark times.

And now most of them probably won't sniff the majors this year. it's a great time to be a Future Redbirds fan. 

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While La Russa's bullpen clearance sale is still fresh on our minds, incidentally, I'd like to give him credit for yesterday's performance. He went to Miller early, in time to take advantage of a serious platoon split, and took advantage of the same part of the Pirates lineup with Reyes, which admittedly didn't work out so well. But if you're going to employ two guys who can only get lefties out, this is the way to use them: aggressive, but with a light trigger finger. But it would help if they could retire Brandon Moss. 

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