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at dawn we swept

if the universe will grant gary bennett all that, then surely it could indulge mark mulder in just one 5-inning, 2-run start?

ok . . . . then maybe just 1 inning of allowing only 2 runs?

i've racked my brain, and i can't think of a cardinal player -- any player -- as terrible as bennett who's ever had a series that good. i can think of terrible players who had single games that good, both during pennant races and in the postseason (tom lawless jumps immediately to mind). but 7 for 10 with 2 dingers, 6 ribbies, and two walkoff hits? can't recall any shlabotnik ever doing that; nobody even close.

set aside the rbis by bennett and jeff weaver this weekend, and the cardinals knocked in just 5 runs over the course of the 3-game set. there but for the grace of the 8 and 9 slots goes another sweep at the hand of the cubs . . . . instead it goes the other way. last time the cards won a few squeakers in a row vs a longtime rival --- the three right before the all-star break down in houston --- they got inspired, went on a two-week tear. may it happen again.

hard luck continues to shadow weaver --- but then, it usually seems as though he's left a trail of crumbs for it to follow. let's not shed too many tears for this guy. it's true that the bullpen and, at times, the gloves have let him down; but the bats have generally been there for him --- he's getting more than 6 runs a game of support. yeah, the bullpen failed to protect leads/wins for him the last two times out, but those leads were products of great offense, not great pitching; they'dve been pretty cheap wins had weaver got them. with every start, he reminds me more and more of matt morris circa late 2005 --- throws strikes, gets ahead of hitters, and appears to have good stuff, but has lost just enough zip that he can no longer get away with a mistake. he's yielded 11 homers in 48.2 innings since joining the cardinals, and ~29 homers in 135 innings this season . . . . but it's reyes who's going to get clobbered by big-league hitters? nl batters are hitting .354 vs weaver this year, a full 100 points higher than what they're hitting vs reyes. after 55 innings, weaver's earned-run average is 5.92; he has lasted 6 innings or more only twice in 9 starts. he's really not much better than marquis, imho. he may look better out there --- better movement on his pitches, a wider array of weapons --- but the results ain't much better. weaver's strikeout rate --- one of the most attractive things about him when the cards picked him up --- has been just 4.4 per 9 innings since the trade. he has recorded more than 3 strikeouts in only 1 of his 9 stl starts. it's difficult to imagine him pitching well vs a good playoff lineup.

but marquis and mulder are so awful that weaver remains one of the 5 best available options. . . . . gotta think walter's still working the phones. (disclaimer: wholly unfounded trade speculation commencing.) one player i'd have him inquire about is ted lilly, who yesterday made his first start since his throwdown v the toronto manager. didn't pitch partic'y well but still got the win. his appeal? he's a veteran left-hander who can put hitters in distress (7.7 k/9 this year, among the american league's top 10) and has some october experience (13 postseason innings, 4.15 era w/ good periphs). against a lineup such as the mets', guy like that could be an asset in a short series. would the blue jays part with him? well, let's see: he's come to blows with the manager; his contract expires in a month; and the team is 9 games back in the loss column in its division. yeah, maybe they'd think about it. he's making $4m this year, so the cards can save the jays about $700K just by taking lilly's salary; if the cards were then willing to offer an A ball player or two with some modest value (say, cory meachem or donnie smith) or one of the lesser double a arms (haberer, pomeranz), maybe toronto would listen. the phillies completed just such a deal for jamie moyer not 10 days ago.

like i said, i'm only thinking wishfully here --- and to be honest, lilly's not without his warts. although traditionally a 2d-half pitcher, he has struggled post-all-star this year, yielding 19 runs in his three most recent outings. so he's not a savior --- but he'd stand a good chance of improving upon the status quo.

but then, so would reyes, who pitched another outstanding game yesterday at memphis -- 7 shutout innings, 4 singles, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts. the team's in no hurry to call him back up; la russa told matt leach yesterday that reyes will take his regular turn for memphis on friday (yawn) and then rejoin the cardinals --- in what capacity, tony said not. bullpen bench-warmer, likeliest. . . . .