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i've always liked maddux; the guy flat-out outsmarts people. uses the whole plate and the whole strike zone, varies his patterns; wherever the hitter least expects the next pitch to be, that's exactly where maddux will put it. i for one am enjoying his resurgence this year, even if the cubs reap the benefit.

jason marquis outsmarted nobody yesterday; he fell behind against half the batters he faced and had to come to them, and the cubs were waiting. two-thirds of them swung at the first strike they saw. in the 7th inning, when they put the game away, they didn't take a single called strike from jason. swung (or bunted) at ev'ything. it was hardly a disastrous start; he did get groundballs (12 of em), only walked two, and kinda sorta kept them in the game through 6 innings. let's hope this is as bad as it gets for him in 2006.

the cardinal bullpen extended its string of scoreless innings to 11. for all their struggles this april, the st louis relievers have held opposing hitters to a .212 average, the lowest of any bullpen in the league. know who has the stingiest avg-against? hancock, at .143. he has allowed just 5 hits all year, but two of them were homers. wainwright is second at .161. but they've walked a few guys, and they've given up a lot of extra-base hits -- a double every 4 innings, a homer every 7. may not sound like a lot, but over the course of a season that would equal 350 doubles and 200 homers allowed; bad.

speaking of relievers, here's brian falkenborg's line at memphis this spring: 10 innings, 4 hits, 0 walks, 13 strikeouts. he has allowed 1 run, a solo homer. i'm still partial to voyles.

and now that we're on the subject of memphis, let's ask ourselves why the cardinals are gumming up the works by signing timo perez to a minor-league deal. he's a bad player -- 30 years old, career obp of .302 -- and to the extent that he plays, he simply robs at-bats from younger players who might still have careers. once bigbie comes off the dl and takes schumaker's spot on the big-league roster, here are the guys who'll be vying for playing time in memphis' outfield:

  • john gall, 28
  • skip schumaker, 26
  • chris duncan, 24
  • shaun boyd, 25
  • prentice redman, 26

and that group may well be joined this summer by cody haerther and reid gorecki, the latter of whom has 8 doubles and 6 homers in his first 72 at-bats.

some are apparently speculating that the signing portends a trade, into which the cards will throw some fringe outfielder; hence the need for perez. i suppose that's one possibility; another is that some scout in the cardinal system thinks the guy can still play, and they're giving him a three-week trial.

god help us if he ends up on the st louis roster.