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prior condition

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another upgrade in cardinal blog land: Play a Hard 9 is now Reverend Redbird; check it out. and the new improved version of bellyitcher should be up and running any day now.

is mark prior injured? it hasn't drawn much (if any) notice among the cardinal blogs, but will carroll dropped a hint the other day that mark prior's shoulder is unsound. here's the tidbit:

Reliable sources--the same ones that tipped us early to Mark Prior's Achilles problem--now tell us that Prior is having shoulder problems. The Cubs deny this and point to Prior's work on the mound. Prior was doing towel drills on Saturday, but this is the same type of work he was doing last year when there was a problem. According to our best sources in Mesa, Prior looks "weak and sick." Until he throws, we just won't know, though I'd like to believe Larry Rothschild.
mlbtraderumors encapsulates the ensuing fallout, which has been considerable; carroll defended himself yesterday at the juice blog.

the actual merit of the report has gotten lost amid all the fuss about the evils of rumor-spreading and the relative worth of cyber vs print reportage. will carroll has established his bona fides as a careful and credible journalist; he doesn't just throw shit out there to see what will stick to the wall. if his source is telling the truth, it's only the biggest story of the entire spring as far as cardinal fans are concerned -- 10 times more important than who plays left field for our team or who takes the #5 slot in our rotation.

speaking of which, one of the contenders for said slot -- and mark prior's former college teammate -- was for the 2d straight year the only cardinal farmhand on baseball america's list of top 100 prospects. he's listed at #41 this year, moving up 6 slots from last season. he's the 13th-highest-rated starting pitcher on this list and the 6th-highest rated nl arm; only one other nl central hurler (the reds' homer bailey) ranked ahead of him. the brewers placed three prospects in baseball america's top 50 (prince fielder at #11, mark rogers and ryan braun in the 40s). on the whole it's a pretty lackluster group from the nl central; here are all on'm:

STL
41. anthony reyes rhp

HOU
52. jason hirsh rhp
62. troy patton lhp

MIL
11. prince fielder 1b
44. mark rogers rhp
49. ryan braun 3b

CHI
27. felix pie of
85. mark pawelek lhp
94. ronny cedeno ss

PGH
43. neil walker c
50. andrew mccutchen of
95. tom gorzelanny lhp

CIN
38. homer bailey rhp
76. jay bruce of

my fellow SB Nationeer jd arney at the red reporter isn't impressed with his team's precipitous release of pitcher josh hancock, who signed with the cardinals the other day. citing the post's story on hancock, jd says: "It looks to me like a bush league move by Narron. . . . Narron wanted to make an example of a player and picked someone who probably wasn't going to make the team anyway. That doesn't take a lot of guts, and it doesn't send a very strong message either. Really what message does it send? If you suck we'll find a reason to get rid of you? Shouldn't that be standard operating procedure to begin with?"

at mlb.com, matt leach includes this quote from la russa on hancock: "against us, he was impressive." and so he has been: 2-0 with a 1.93 era / 1.13 whip over the last two seasons (18.2 innings). VEB poster 2ndprize likes the acquisition; here are hancock's complete numbers, minor and major. hancock presumably joins the memphis rotation, the candidates for which include wainwright, tankersley, hancock, narveson, rich rundles, randy leek, and maybe chris gissell, whom i thought had left for greener pastures but apparently hasn't. he's still listed on the roster at the memphis redbirds' web site, anyway. (anybody know for sure if he's still in the organization?) top farm arms chris lambert and stu pomeranz should move up to memphis by july unless they get completely pounded early in the season at springfield.

by the way, PECOTA projects hancock to a 5.18 era this year. his #1 comparable per baseball prospectus is former cardinal pitcher harry parker, about whom i wrote at my old blog last year, just before VEB launched. for those of you really trying hard to avoid working today, here's the post.

having fawned over baseball cards as a kid, i got a huge kick out of this item from today's post at birdland, wherein the cardinal players all got their first look at their new topps cards: "Larry Bigbie's card had him on the Cardinals, but his jersey had been touched-up to be a Rockies' jersey and it was clearly the Oriole's home dugout behind him. Moreover, it wasn't Bigbie in the picture. It was Brian Roberts."

just remember this, larry: it's the back of the baseball card that really matters, not the front.