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make mine medium rare

alright, then, it's settled: the cardinals aren't very good. we've suspected as much since december; now we have proof. they're not terrible, but they're nowhere near as good as a team anchored by pujols and rolen and edmonds and carpenter should be. what to do? options:

  • find another team to root for. braves? not this year. yankees? may finish 3d. dodgers? games start too late at night. white sox? hmmm . . . . could still antagonize cub fans, but would have to embrace guillen. uh uh.
  • find another sport to root for. world cup has reached the knockout phase; germany looks unstoppable, brazil's irrepressible, england keeps stubbornly advancing; but it's all over in 10 days. the tour de france starts next week; 1st lance-less race in well nigh a decade. nfl training camps open in less than a month. . . .
  • give up sports and find another hobby. cooking. ceramics. sudoku. model training. stamp collecting. folk dancing. gardening. scotch.
or, as a last resort, you could just root for this team as it is; good but not great, thin in the outfield and rotation and bullpen; a group of mortals, prone to blowing late leads and getting swept on the road (five times so far in 2006). a team that lapses into bad habits; a team that disappoints.

a team that's as human as you and i are.

if it's a choice between that or taking up knitting (no offense, elle), i guess i'll keep rooting for the fallen-from-grace team. they coulda/shoulda been better, and i'm still hacked off about that; but it's not the players' fault, and moreover it's too late to change it. even as of this morning the cardinals are considered a likelier playoff participant than any national league team except the mets. they still have the best hitter (cross fingers) and arguably the best starting pitcher in the league. and the competition just isn't very scary; the astros have already made their one and only roster move (adding clemens), and the reds are due to regress to the norm; i fear the brewers more than either team, and that club supposedly is fixing to dump carlos lee or geoff jenkins next month.

so take heart, cardinal fans: it's possible to live as well in a bungalow as in a mansion, enjoy a burger as much as a steak. if the cards are ground meat this year, at least they're 93 percent fat-free; with the right charcoal, a decent bun, a slice of gruyere and some red onion, they might yet satisfy.

before you throw the patties on the grill, you gotta scrape off the crud --- by which i mean, time to send brad thompson down to memphis and call up either brad falkenborg or josh kinney. the latter threw two more shutout innings last night, lowered his era to 1.77; he's getting a strikeout an inning and has held batters to a .194 average this season. right-handers are hitting .160 against him (thanks milb splits database). kinney walks a few too many guys, but at this point change may be good simply for change's sake. he throws a good slider (i'm told) and gets ground balls; bring him on up and let's have a look. (more on his minor league record in this post.)

another good minor-league pitcher, trey hearne, keeps blowing em away for quad cities -- 7 innings, 4 hits, 0 earned, 1 walk 6 ks. he has now allowed 2 earned in his last 29 innings (5 starts), allowed 21 hits while fanning 30 and walking just 5. DCGreg saw him first . . . . .

both hearne and his teammate, colby rasmus, are making strong cases for promotion. after a 3-for-4 night, rasmus is now among the midwest league leaders in nearly every meaningful category: 5th in OPS, batting, and rbis, 7th in slugging, 3d in total bases. and that's despite a 2-for-30ish slump to open the season. the last two quad cities sluggers, rick ankiel and nick stavinoha, skipped high-a ball and went directly to double a; there's a logjam in the springfield outfield, so if rasmus advances i expect it'll be to palm beach.

6 good innings for new draftee brad furnish (2d rounder, tcu) at state college -- 3 hits, 1 walks, 4 ks, no decision. but VEB fave mike parisi got clocked at double a: yielded 5 runs in the 1st, ended up with a 5 inning / 5 earned black eye.

some links: welcome college of cardinals to the card'l blog family. . . . . reverend redbird is ready for his close-up . . . . . gateway redbirds has a couple of new chat transcripts posted, with player-development vp jeff luhnow and fielding know-it-all john dewan.