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if it takes a pounding of beer-league proportions to get reyes into the rotation, so be it. matt leach, for one, believes that's now a given. the la duncas remain circumspect -- after last night's game, i don't know why they wouldn't just say "we're excited to see reyes throw, maybe he can give us a lift" -- but they will need a 5th starter by no later than saturday, and their options at this point are

  • reyes
  • ponson
  • wainwright
  • bullpen game
  • tankersley, leek, webb, narveson . . .
  • russ ortiz
tony and dave might not like reyes, but he's clearly the best option they've got. they're stubborn, but they'll pitch him.

as for mulder, they insist he is healthy . . . . crockashit. it was just over a month ago, recall, that he left the team to have his back examined by a specialist, and only two weeks ago that his name mysteriously disappeared from the "probable pitchers" section of the team's official web site. i suspected then (and still do) that his absence from, and subsequent return to, the probables list was injury-driven; this regime has never been particularly forthcoming regarding injuries, nor particularly humane in treating them. in light of mulder's performance over the last month (an era in the 13.00 neighborhood), some organizations would consider disabling the guy for post-traumatic stress disorder.

but if they sit mulder down for a spell, and they keep ponson exiled from the rotation -- he may soon be exiled from the team after that gutless performance last night -- that leaves two holes to fill. reyes takes one; who takes the other? the obvious answer is wainwright, who was the team's best #5 in spring training and, pitching from the 'pen thus far, has established that he can get big-league hitters out. move him into the rotation, recall falkenborg and let him and hancock share wainwright's old role -- could that possibly make matters worse? what's the potential downside? let's see:

  • taking mulder out of the rotation will ruin his trade value. ha ha; as if there's any market for the guy left after his last 5 games.
  • it reeks of panic. nonsense; it reeks of common sense. no team can carry a pitcher who's performing at mulder's level, even a team (like the cards) that's 5 games up in a flimsy division.
  • mulder has a key postseason role; gotta let him pitch through this. or gotta start making contingency plans. mulder's ability to handle the #2 starter role in october is clearly in doubt; the cards need to start evaluating other options.
honestly now; you've got one guy who throws 85 and has a 6.00 era, and another guy who throws 93 and has an era in the 2.00s; one guy who's totally erratic with his location, and another with a 6-1 k/bb ratio (and that applies either to wainwright or to reyes). doesn't common sense trump at some point? put mulder on the DL, let him take a few rehab starts at springfield or memphis; he can pitch through his problems down there, where the 11-run innings won't hurt so bad.

those of you who can't fathom two rookies in the rotation, i direct you to yesterday's post about El Birdos. that pitching staff, recall, was stocked almost exclusively with unproven pitchers --- carlton, briles, hughes, willis, hoerner. despite a strong early-season performance, the cards still moved a couple of established but underperforming veterans (hal woodeshick and al jackson) out of key roles and gave their jobs to younger, more talented players. it wasn't panic; it was simply a realistic evaluation of the available talent. their decisions were correct, and the team prospered.

it has been done. it can be done.

speaking of the young and unproven, low-a phenom jaime garcia took the loss in the midwest league all-star game last night. like mulder, he had a difficult 3d inning -- struck out two of the 1st three hitters, but then yielded four consecutive singles, good for three runs. struck out the last man to fan the side; that was his only inning of work.

also of note, the cards' short-season a ball affiliate opened its season last night with a 5-3 loss. brad furnish, the cards' 2d-round selection out of tcu, started the game and took the loss -- 4ip, 5h, 3 er, 1 w, 4k; also a wp and an hbp. their supplemental 2d-rounder, 1bman mark hamilton (tulane), displayed some of the power potential the cardinals liked: he mashed a homer in his 2d at-bat, finished 1 for 4.

jocketty's going to be on bernie miklasz's show in about 15 minutes; i'll tune in and update this post if i hear anything of interest.