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off-speed demon

no wonder the cardinals couldn't get any hits; the swing of the quad cities used em all up. they pounded out 19, including 3 by freshly promoted 2006 draftee mark hamilton and 5 by his draft classmate john jay, and won 13-1. 6 of the cardinals' top 9 draftees from last month have already reached full-season a ball, joining greene rasmus garcia anderson and others from the 2005 draft; the double a ranks will be thick next season, and it's not impossible that one or two of these guys could advance rapidly enough to join the cardinals by the middle of 2008.

such was anthony reyes' trajectory: drafted in 2003, in the majors by 2005. his education continued last night, with a lesson we seem to keep repeating: he needs to pitch to his strengths. on the rare occasions he did so vs the rockies he looked sharp, the prime example being his confrontation with holliday in the 5th inning with a man on 3d and two out. reyes attacked him with his best pitch, the riding 4-seamer -- missed upstairs with the first; hit the corner to even the count; got ahead on a swinging strike; missed outside, then low; got a foul ball on a late swing; and finally -- after 6 pitches between 90 and 94 mph -- lobbed a 76-mph changeup that got holliday way out on his front foot. he tapped it to shortstop.

reyes also attacked helton with 4-seamers, got him to loft a couple of routine flies to the opposite field -- one an F-7, the other a single that fell between the fielders (shoulda been caught). but aside from those three at-bats, reyes hardly threw a 4-seamer at all. he tried instead to pitch off his changeup -- threw one on the first pitch to about 3/4 of the hitters he faced, and in several at-bats threw nothing but. the 2d hitter of the game, barmes -- while trying to bunt, mind you -- saw three changeups in a row. the next guy, atkins, saw one on the 1st pitch and another on the 3d -- reyes' 5th in 6 pitches, and the worst of the crop. it fluttered weakly, and atkins launched it some 450 feet. sullivan saw nothing but changeups in his 2d-inning at-bat; carroll, two guys later, saw 4 of 'em in a 5-pitch at-bat. hawpe, after his 2d-inning double, got a heavy dose of off-speed stuff.

why the preponderance of slop? my guess is that the cards' advance scout reported (correctly) that colorado's hitters clobber fastballs but have trouble w off-speed stuff. derrick goold's p-d article this morning also offers some insight; reyes, goold reports, was considered "a good fit to start in the ballpark because of his effective changeup." i have no problem w that thinking at all, but maybe they went a little overboard in the implementation. the change seems to work best in tandem with the 4-seamer -- identical arm motion, same throwing plane, but one's 15+ mph slower than the other. i would think the 2-seamer, which is slower and lower, doesn't set up the change nearly as effectively. but the 2-seamer remains the fastball of choice; he threw about 40 of'm last night, vs maybe 15 high hard ones. if it were me, i'd turn that ratio on its head . . . .

i've checked all the rumor sites this morning and found nothing of particular value. ev'ybody's got st louis chasing after abreu and burrell; now that the soriano-to-sox rumor has died, he'll be linked to st louis too. there's word that the cards want kris benson; they also were said to have interest in another oriole starting pitcher, rodrigo lopez. makes no sense to me; my guess is that the oriole front office is putting this stuff out, trying to create a market.

if tom gordon is available, i'd like to see st louis make a run at him.