Five Cardinals Notes Between Now And Their Rays Opener

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 30: Lance Berkman #12 of the St. Louis Cardinals talks with manager Tony La Russa #10 after the Cardinals defeated the Baltimore Orioles 9-6 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 30, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

1. Would it be too much to ask for the Cardinals to sign a pitcher who was actually named "Shaky Martinez"? The pitcher in the headline, Carlos Martinez, probably hasn't earned it yet, in spite of the two hit batsmen and four walks he managed in his Palm Beach debut, considering his season-to-date line is still 57 strikeouts to 18 walks in 44 innings.

It's hard to suggest we're underrating a 19-year-old with 50 innings of minor league experience who was often the preseason second-or-third-best prospect in the system, but 2011 has at least been more conducive than most farm system years for that; he's had Shelby Miller ahead of him, dominating the next leagues up, and behind him Maikel Cleto and Trevor Rosenthal have had great seasons. In a weaker year any of these guys would have become a VEB Folk Hero; this season they've had to share.

2. Brandon Dickson's promotion is final proof that the Cardinals hate me, or at least hate my constant suggestions about calling Jess Todd up, already. What I like about the Dickson promotion in spite of myself is that it seems to be, at least in part, an aggressive reaction to how good Lance Lynn has looked in middle relief; if this means he can pitch in single-inning bursts for the rest of the season it might be a positively Jess-Toddian upgrade.

3. Weirdly specific unwritten rule of baseball: If David Freese is having a nice season, you're no longer allowed to say anything about it that would jinx a no-hitter. I hear his teammates have stopped sitting next to him on the bench while he's on the active roster.

The correct way to announce that Freese is in the lineup is now "Cardinals have something interesting going on at third base..."

4. One of the weirdest things about Lance Berkman's season so far is that in the Year of the Pitcher Part Two or whatever else we've decided this is called he's managed to hit nine more home runs than doubles. I always mentally associated him with the other slow, defensively indifferent sluggers in baseball, and assumed he took advantage of Minute Maid's perceived home-run-friendliness like everybody else (non-Craig-Biggio division) but it's only the fifth time in his career he's done that, and it's rarely been so drastic.

5. Kolten Wong is now hitting .364/.500/.455 in the Quad Cities, with four walks and no strikeouts in 16 plate appearances. If he were a first-round relief pitcher he would already be in Memphis; as a first-round middle infielder I'm glad he's just performing exactly as advertised, though a late-season promotion would fit the Cardinals' recent aggressiveness if he keeps his OBP over .400 this month.

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