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the duncan file

baseball prospectus published its team health report for the blue jays today; not surprisingly, aj burnett was rated a high injury risk. i'm not sure what to make about this comment from the burnett blurb:

One of my favorite stories of the off-season is a scout telling me, "At some point, Burnett and Beckett will face off and Burnett will shove the ball up Beckett's ass. Beckett will crumble because he can't handle the slightest challenge. That's why I'd rather have Burnett."
i was just trying to envision at what point during the game this hypothesized ass-penetration was supposed to take place. couldn't happen during an at-bat, not in the american league; so, during the half-inning changeover then? but pitchers are such slowpokes, they're usually still fiddling around on the bench until well after the other team is off the field. . . .

i bet that scout's reports make for interesting reading.

also at baseball prospectus, new minor-league expert kevin goldstein thinks outfielder daryl jones (a 3d-rounder from the cardinals' rich 2005 draft) might still blossom, never mind the kid's .209 / .311 / .286 debut in rookie ball: "He's a raw product with top-of-the-line tools. Most of these players turn out to be Reggie Abercrombie, but a good number of them turn into Eric Davis, which is why you keep an eye on them. . . . . He'll require 400+ minor league games to put it all together -- if he puts it all together."

ballplayers we love to hate -- the juice blog's got 'em. no current cardinals have been cited so far, although julian tavarez made one appearance and tony la russa got a write-in as most despised manager. i am a bit surprised that nobody hates pujols; a player that good should have enemies. but otherwise it's an even more courteous, inoffensive group of guys than usual -- nary a joolie or steve kline among'em.

chris duncan started again today in right field (batting third). he has started all but one game so far and leads the team in at-bats. matt leach's notes article a few days ago at included this:

Quotable: "He's got special talent and he's got a special attitude. Guys who have that play in the big leagues." -- La Russa, on Chris Duncan, who launched a monstrous home run on Monday
should we just hand duncan the 25th roster spot now? i mean, he's 10 times as good as dave mackay's kid, for whom TLR -- in that mushy heart of his -- found 74 major-league at-bats.

i got curious enough about duncan to look him up at the baseball cube -- weird career so far. a first-rounder in 1999 (46th overall; must've been a supplemental pick, no?), duncan spent four full seasons mired at single-a -- three of them at peoria in the low-a midwest league (that affiliate has since moved to quad cities). in 2003 he finally moved up to the high-a florida state league, where he slugged -- get this -- .315. that performance somehow got his ticked punched -- at long last -- to double a, where he suddenly began to look like a hitter: sharp spike in his walk rate, cut his strikeouts a notch, and started hitting homers (16 of 'em). he consolidated those gains last year at triple a, posting a major-league equivalent line (read here if you're not familiar with MLEs) of .239 / .324 / .392 with 15 hr. not impressive numbers, but better than john gall's last season and about equal to scotty seabol's -- and they both spent sizeable stretches on the big-league roster.

duncan's not a good fit at the moment. the cards don't need him at his primary position (1b), and his experience in the outfield is limited to the handful of games he has played there this spring. but i wouldn't be surprised if, after a month-long tutorial at memphis, he gets called up to the cardinals. derrick goold wrote this about him a few days ago at the p-d's Cards Talk forum:

Duncan has power that cannot deny, but he has to improve in the field -- and a year in Triple A as an everyday outfielder would be the best way. The Cardinals see him as having everyday potential; the decision will be if they think he's earned a major-league bench spot and if a bench spot would derail his development.
i think they're overestimating duncan's ability, but he's being given every opportunity to build a case for himself this spring -- and, so far, succeeding.

so if duncan eventually gets the call, who goes? might be j-rod. a few teams are looking for 4th and 5th outfielders, including the phillies and now, apparently, the dodgers; it's no secret rodriguez's mistake-proneness displeased tony last summer. if they think duncan's ready and can get any value back at all for rodriguez . . . . might happen.

so-so outing for reyes today: 3 inn, 5 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 3 ks. he gave up a solo homer to hanley ramirez, the much-touted prospect who anchored boston's trade package for josh beckett. ponson's in there now and working efficiently; st louis trails 2-0 in the bottom of the 5th.

Update [2006-3-9 15:38:15 by lboros]: now 3-0 florida in the 9th. ponson threw 4 innings, 1 run --- a homer. looper pitched a scoreless frame. spivey entered the game in the 5th and is 0-2 with a strikeout. the cards have three hits --- doubles by prentice redman, bigbie, and spezio.