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Game 76 Open Thread: June 27, 2006

reyes sabathia
1-1, 1.80 5-4, 4.19

sabathia ought to be pitching for st louis --- 10.24 era in june. he entered the month with a 1.71 era and as recently as last week was at 3.08, but he has had 5-, 7-, and 9-run outings in his last 4 starts.

as 1st-half games go, tonight's looms as a rather pivotal one. the cardinals have their hottest pitcher going tonight, their best one tomorrow; then three home games against the royals. there follows a 7-game trip to atlanta and houston . . . . . so if they don't make hay now, they could well find themselves in 2d place when the all-star break arrives next weekend.

here's an update on reyes and his status re the "super 2" arb-eligibility class. immediate need has trumped long-term cost control: reyes probably will be a "super 2" and gain arbitration eligibility after the 2008 season.

the issue originally came up about two weeks ago, in this comment. the information posted there is correct: at the time of reyes' recall he had 33 days of major-league service time. since he was recalled on june 22, he will -- assuming he remains on the big-league roster till the end of the year -- accumulate 9 more days in june, 31 in july, 31 in august, and 31 in september/october, for a total of 102 more days between now and the end of the season. that will give him 135 days of service time heading into 2007. at the end of next year he'll be at 1 year, 135 days; at the end of 2008 he'll be at 2+135. historically, the cutoff for super-two status has fallen between 2+130 and 2+140, so reyes will likely just inch over the bar and be arb-eligible for the 2009 season.

if the cardinals had waited just one more rotation turn to recall reyes, they might have forestalled his arb-eligibility another year. but they did the exact opposite -- by dumping sid ponson from the rotation on/about june 16, and pitching him in relief on june 20, they left themselves with almost no choice other than to recall reyes for the june 22 start --- just in time to ensure his super 2 status.

but that problem won't confront st louis until 2009; today's problems loom much larger, hence the timing of reyes' recall. for all la russa knows, he'll have retired by 2009; and for all jocketty knows, he'll have been fired by then. i'm not criticizing this decision at all, even though it may cost the cards a few million bucks on their 2009 payroll. the need for quality starts now, today, cries more loudly than the need for payroll flexibility three years down the road.

could the cardinals demote reyes for a week later this year, just to delay his super-2 status by another year? theoretically they could, but it would be an unforgivable breach of etiquette; it would poison every negotiation during his arb-eligible years and ensure that reyes walks via free agency at the very 1st opportunity.

while we're on the subject, it has been asked what yadi molina's arbitration status is. he'll be at 2 years 123 days at the end of this season --- probably a week or two short of what he needs for super 2 eligibility. so he'll have to work for just above the minimum again next year, and wait until 2008 to cash in via the arbitration system.

one last thing --- apropos, since we're playing the indians: my colleague at SB Nation blog Let's Go Tribe posted a primer about super-two rules n stragety just the other day . . . .