la russa doesn't waste any time, eh? nary a pitch has been thrown, and already he's got half the fan base screaming bloody murder. in case you haven't heard, jason marquis is on the playoff roster; anthony reyes isn't. should have seen this one coming . . . . . obviously they've already decided to go with three starters in this series, with weaver going on short rest in game 5. if we assume that's the case, and that neither reyes nor marquis would have gotten a start under any circumstances, then the surprise sunday outing for reyes -- he didn't even know he was going to pitch until he got to the ballpark -- must have been intended as a simulated "bullpen appearance." tony/dave weren't looking for a starter, they were looking for a reliever -- and they wanted to see how reyes would respond when called into a game on short notice. reyes failed the test, so they went with marquis, who has experience coming out of the pen.
that's the only way i can make sense of the thought process here. marquis is a dreadful baseball player and has just the type of head (ie, hot) you don't want in a tense situation; he sucks the life out of the team every time he takes the mound. i pray we never see him -- not even if the cardinals are leading 10-0.
too bad la russa doesn't trust the rookie to make a start in this series, though. he has pitched his best games when the cards needed him most -- staunching the bleeding at comiskey, breaking the 2d eight-game losing streak, winning a big game at cincinnati the day after a devastating walkoff loss, and above all calmly quieting the padres last week to help break the 7-game losing streak. with the rest of the team sporting that deer-in-the-headlights look, reyes pitched with considerable fortitude --- more than jason marquis has ever shown at any point in his career. certainly more than marquis showed last thursday, when he lay down meekly before a weak milwaukee lineup.
whatever. it's la russa's team; he gets to make the decisions, we just get to bitch about them. with that, i turn over the floor to The Rev, who accepted my invitation to weigh in with a few pre-postseason thoughts:
As "the Rev," I guess I'm supposed to be the voice of conciliation and comfort, and give an optimistic report here. My reasons to be optimistic: Chris Carpenter could possibly get 2 starts, and last year he showed he could flip the switch when he needed to in the postseason after a bad September. Jeff Suppan has a 2.39 ERA in the 2nd half, and even Jeff Weaver in September looked like he could actually do something right. Adam Wainwright has the look of a good closer, and best of all . . . we have the Great Pujols. In April, Pujols took this mediocre team and made it look like a great one. Plus, with the whole "underdog" factor, maybe a team that usually looks uptight in the playoffs can relax and enjoy October, with a go-get-'em mentality.
Okay, now on the REM "losing my religion" side of things. The Cardinals have to face some dominant starters in Peavy and Young and a soft-tossing lefty in Fatty Wells. To go with a pretty solid starting core, the Padres have the best bullpen in the National League and an improved lineup thanks to some pretty good offseason moves from GM Kevin Towers. The Cardinals really haven't been hitting all that well in the last month or so, outside of Spiezio and Pujols. Rolen and his creaky shoulder has taken away much of Albert's protection, and I'm not sure strikeout-prone, all-or-nothing guys like Belliard, Encarnacion, Duncan and Wilson are up to the task of facing this San Diego pitching staff. Somehow, Spiezio should be worked into the lineup, and here's hoping Edmonds gets a few cracks at things. And to pile on, the bullpen has been pretty awful since Izzy went out.
Purely from an observational standpoint, I don't see this Cardinal team getting out of the NLDS, let alone contending. Honestly, I see them 3 and out and having to punt. I suppose it's human nature to make judgments based on what you saw someone do last, so perhaps I'm being overly pessimistic. If they can steal a game in San Diego, maybe they have a chance. Nobody in the NL looks like they could run away with it; my pick to represent the NL in the Series is the Friars, and I can't say that with any level of real confidence. If you believe in ESP or whatever, my wife correctly predicted the outcome of every series last postseason. (Not too happy when she prophesied gloom on my Birds!) She picked the Cardinals to win this series at least; I do hope she's right. I'll try and walk by faith here, and not by sight -- anything can happen over a short series. So I'll be root, root, rooting to see the Birds pull off the upset.