What did we learn last night?

Tony did something very telling last night in the 9th, right before McClellan blew the game (btw, why is McClellan in the game there and not Franklin?). He double-switched Julio Lugo into the game in place of Rasmus. Skip went from 2nd to CF and Lugo went to 2nd base. This move told us a few things about Tony's thought process as we approach the postseason. First, Colby wasn't the obvious choice to be double-switched out of the game. He batted first in the top of the 9th so his spot was due up 7th. Ludwick and DeRosa followed in the 9th and if Tony wanted to put the pitcher's spot in the order as far away as possible, he could have put the pitcher in either of their spots. I expected him to replace Ludwick w/ Ankiel. Instead, we went w/ Lugo for Rasmus?

What does this tell us? First, though we probably knew this already, we have no backup third baseman. If we did, putting the pitcher in DeRosa's spot would have been the obvious choice. At best, Khalil Greene and Joe Thurston are emergency third basemen. If either of them were a halfway viable option, DeRosa would've left the game. Second, Tony's becoming increasingly comfortable w/ using Skip in CF. He started in CF Monday against lefty Wandy Rodriguez, giving us an inkling that he might do this in the playoffs against lefties as well. Third, Tony's more comfortable w/ Lugo against the righties in the Rockies' pen than he is w/ Ankiel? If the Cards get to the World Series, who'll be the DH? I had previously thought he'd use Ankiel against righties and Lugo against lefties. The fact that he chose Lugo last night (when Ankiel could've gone to CF as well) tells me that Lugo may be the full-time DH should we make it to the series. I'd have no problem w/ that one.

Last night McClellan entered the game w/ Mike McCoy -- pinch running for Todd Helton who walked -- on first base and no one out. The leverage index when he entered the game was 2.99. 1.00 is average. This was an extremely high leverage situation. The average leverage index that McClellan faced last night was his highest of the season, as it went up when Jason Giambi's single moved Troy Tulowitzki to third base w/ 1 out. The question is why was Ryan Franklin not in the game? I've never been a huge Franklin fan but he's our closer and he's been without question our best reliever this season. For the season, Franklin's gmLI -- his average leverage index when entering the game -- has been 2.16. McClellan's has been 1.18. Tony has routinely trusted Franklin w/ the game on the line, thus his status as the team's closer. So why, w/ a man on and no one out in the bottom of the ninth, is Tony turning to McClellan rather than Franklin? Will he do the same in a week and a half?

To a certain degree, I'm feigning shock and awe. I know the answer...but it's a stupid answer. The answer is the old school rationale that, when on the road, you only use your closer when you have a lead to save the game and you don't use him while the game's still tied. The problem w/ that logic, of course, is that, b/c McClellan lost the game, Franklin never got to pitch. Our best reliever never got in the game b/c our offense couldn't get him a lead. This makes no sense whatsoever. Tony's not the only one guilty of this mistake (and pardon me for questioning Tony here!) but it makes no sense to lose a game w/ an inferior pitcher on the mound when the better pitcher is in the pen, never having entered the game.

Managers should turn to their best relievers first, in those high leverage situations, and work backwards. If Franklin was tired from having pitched 2 days in a row, it would have been understandable. But w/ Franklin rested, and w/ his spot in the order not due up for another 7 batters had we made it to the 10th, there was no reason for Franklin not to be in the game. Perhaps Franklin would've lost the game as McClellan did. It's not like he's been pitching that great of late but McClellan's mediocre at best. Our biggest weakness right now is in middle relief from the right side as neither Motte nor McClellan are that good. It's fortunate that Carp and Wainwright can go so deep into games. But Franklin's there for a reason and there's no reason to lose a game like that one last night w/o him pitching. If he blows it, at least Tony used his best bullets. Is McClellan taking over for Franklin? Has Franklin lost the closer's job? I think we all know the answer to those questions. Tony should've turned to Franklin.

There are no talks of an extension right now between the Cards and Scott Boras re: Holliday. No surprise there. It's in Holliday's interest to wait to see what the Red Sox, Yankees, and Mets plan to do and if they're interested in his services this offseason. He's going to get 1 crack at it so he may as well make the most of it. I know everyone expects him to take a below-market deal to stay in St. Louis b/c he loves it here, but I think if he stays, we're going to have to pony up for some big bucks!

Boras sees Rick Ankiel as a valuable commodity who could be starting for many teams in the league. I hope he's right. I'd like to see Rick starting somewhere else next year and I wish him the best of luck. I'm skeptical that there's that much of a market for a 31 year old OF w/ exceptionally poor plate discipline. I see him as, at best, a platoon player but maybe I'm wrong. Good luck, Rick. Maybe you can come up w/ a big hit or 2 in the postseason and improve your market.

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