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we were talking this morning about the cardinals bench -- anybody noticed what john mabry's been doing lately? since august 1 he's batting .169 in 71 at-bats, with 3 walks and 21 strikeouts. he's still hitting with some pop -- 6 doubles, 2 hr, for a nice isolated power of .169 -- but the w/k ratio disturbs. for comparison's sake, jason marquis in the same period has only 3 ks in 31 at-bats and is outhitting mabes by 120 points.

somewhat on the same point, here are the cardinals' third-basemen since august 1:

ab hr rbi k-bb avg obp slg
nunez 180 0 15 12-36 .239 .286 .267
luna 98 1 13 5-20 .286 .336 .398
mabry 71 2 6 3-21 .169 .200 .338
seabol 42 0 2 1-14 .167 .182 .190
TOTAL 391 3 36 21-91 .230 .264 .279

aieeee. . . . . but now watch, nunez'll win an mvp for one of these postseason series. thanks by the way to pinto's day by day database for those lovely figures.

in the comments to this morning's post there was more discussion of marquis' merits as a setup man. i did a quick check at mlb.com on his performance in the 1st inning this season -- ie, treating each start as essentially a 1-inning relief stint. keep in mind, all these numbers were compiled against the opponents' top of the order, ostensibly the best hitters on the team:

inn h r-er bb k hr era avg obp slg
31 28 13-11 8 13 4 3.19 .246 .290 .447

the only things that trouble you are the hr and slg figures -- otherwise looks pretty damn good to me. he held the opposition scoreless in 23 of 31 first innings, and he yielded no more than 1 run in 28 of 31 outings. he had one awful first inning (vs pittsburgh on august 23) that ruined his stats; eliminate it and jason's era drops to 2.10. he could be a downright nasty one-inning reliever.

one other data point about jason: in five starts vs houston this year he is 4-0 with a 3.15 era . . . .