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the road to wellsville

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you know the cliche: desperate times call for flabby, obnoxious, bald 43-year-old pitchers. now that they're finally convinced that mulder is toast --- and they are convinced now, aren't they . . . ? --- the cardinals are scouting david wells. a boston beat writer says st louis is taking a serious run at him. and the awful truth is that he would probably improve the rotation.

typical laduncan hurler: veteran, throws strikes, gets grounders, pitches to contact. i thought i'd puke when i first heard this idea, but after checking out wells's game log i've decided i can live with the acquisition if it happens. for the last month he has pitched quite effectively --- 2.65 era in august, 4 quality starts in 5 outings, a respectable k rate (5.3 per 9 innings) and an excellent k:w ratio (4:1). on the other hand, he's yielding a .287 opp average over that span and a .448 slugging avg, not impressive figures. he has survived by keeping the ball in the park (mostly) and not walking anybody --- thin margin for error, and he's only stayed within it for 4 or 5 starts. it's a total coin flip as to whether he can keep getting guys out over his next 5 starts; just as likely it all blows up on him. but really, what choice do the cardinals have? yeah, there's reyes, but tony/dave obviously have no intention of giving him a postseason start anyway, not under any circumstances; if the cards don't go out and get wells or some other replacement for mulder, then we're gonna have to watch both weaver and marquis make october starts --- if october lasts more than 3 games.

so the choice really isn't between wells and reyes; it's between wells and marquis. and if those are my two options, i'll take wells. stupid options, but that's reality.

the cardinals undoubtedly find wells' long record of postseason success attractive, but at his age that's fairly meaningless. to my knowledge, only 1 pitcher as old as 43 years old has ever started and won a postseason game: roger clemens, who did it last season vs the cardinals in the nlcs. i'm not 100 pct sure of myself on that; there may be a geezerer postseason winner in the record books somewhere. if you know who that might be, post a comment. i do know that 43-year-old dennis martinez won a playoff game in relief for the '98 braves; also that the cards' last championship team fielded a 43-year-old relief pitcher -- jim kaat, who pitched in a career-high 62 games for the '82 club (a career high in games at age 43?) and made another 4 appearances in the world series.

man, the greybeards are gonna be everywhere come october. randy johnson (43) will be making playoff starts for the yankees, and jamie moyer (pert near 44) will be doing the same for the phillies if that team wins the wild card; glavine (mets) and maddux (dodgers) are both 40, kenny rogers (tigers) is 41, and orlando hernandez (mets) is 40 going on 47 or something. so if the cards pin their hopes on a weary old arm, they won't be alone. best-case --- they pick up wells to replace mulder, come to their senses on reyes and give him marquis' slot, and go into october with carp supps wells and reyes in the rotation. a presentable group -- and likely the best st louis can muster in 2006.

re mulder's awfulness: his era is now 7.14, the 2d-worst single-season mark in franchise history among pitchers with 10 or more starts. here are the 10 worst era's:

year starts era
an benes 2001 19 7.38
mulder 2006 17 7.14
bu smith 2002 10 6.94
brooks 1955 10 6.56
sutcliffe 1994 14 6.52
briles 1970 19 6.24
sykes 1979 11 6.18
kline 1960 17 6.04
forsch 1984 11 6.02
aybar 1998 14 5.98

i'm on the road all day, back just before game time with an open thread.