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buster olney thinks the padres are gonna get david wells for catcher george kottaras, one of their best prospects --- in fact, the best padre prospect, according to baseball prospectus:

A native Canadian grabbed out of junior college as a 20th-round pick as a draft-and-follow, Kottaras showed a precocious batting eye, intriguing doubles power and great defensive instincts behind the plate. The Padres compare him to Brad Ausmus with the glove, Jorge Posada with the bat.
a few weeks ago, kevin goldstein rated him the 6th-best catching prospect in the minors. john sickels rates him a B+ prospect, same grade he gave to rasmus. if the padres go through with this, they're koo-koo. . . . . but then, if they go through with it, the cards will never beat wells should the teams meet in the postseason. might as well forfeit whatever games wells starts --- nobody'll miss 'em, as they'll be scheduled for midnight EDT and carried on one of fox's many obscure spinoff networks . . . . .

padres now lead the wild-card race, by the way. the reds have fallen to 3d place in that competition and are right at .500.

before we leave the subject of minor-league catchers: gateway redbirds has a Q+A with top card catching prospect bryan anderson, who's wrapping up an excellent year at quad cities.

last night's win was the cards' 24th in which they outscored the opposition by 5 runs or more --- their 24th "blowout" win. at this rate (~5 blowouts a month) they'll end up with 29 or so, nearly as many as they had last year (31) and the year before (32). the big difference this year is (surprise) the cardinals have lost a lot more blowouts than they're accustomed to doing. in 2005 they were a league-best 31-13 in blowouts, virtually identical to their 32-13 mark in 2004; this season they're just 24-21. bill james showed long ago that there's a strong correlation between overall winning percentage and winning percentage in blowouts; that particular pattern is holding in 2006. here are the records of all the nl playoff contenders in blowouts, in order of their blowout winning percentage:

w-l w pct overall
w pct
1. nym 29-11 .725 .626
2. la 24-18 .571 .534
3. sd 18-15 .545 .511
4. stl 24-21 .533 .534
5. hou 20-19 .513 .489
6. sf 18-18 .500 .489
7. fla 20-20 .500 .492
8. cin 18-22 .450 .500
9. pha 16-20 .444 .508

the cards are tied for 2d in the league in blowout wins but (bad sign) 1st in blowout losses among the teams most likely to actually make the playoffs -- ie, mets cards dodgers phils and padres. (baseball prospectus' playoff odds report this morning assigns both the phils n pads at 20 pct chance of winning the wild card; the reds are at just 12 pct and fading.) i'm shocked to find the phillies at the bottom of this list; in their ballpark, with their lineup, how can they only have 16 blowout victories? must be winning a lotta 8-6 games.

as long as we're on this cheerful subject: which cardinal pitchers are most heavily implicated in the team's blowout defeats? we can all probably guess, but let's count 'em up anyway:

blowout
losses
starts pct
marquis 7 28 .250
suppan 5 25 .200
mulder 4 17 .235
reyes 2 12 .167
weaver 2 9 .222
carp 1 26 .038

you'll note that, aside from carpenter, the pitcher least likely to start a blowout loss --- ie, least likely to lose a game singlehandedly --- is the rookie. miklasz has a fine column on that subject this morning, counting seams along with the rest of us:

Reyes likes to pitch up in the zone with a four-seam fastball that moves, then offset the heat with a changeup. Duncan had Reyes working on a cut fastball and pitching lower in the strike zone to get more ground balls and reduce his pitch count.

This makes sense. I don't criticize Duncan for trying to make Reyes a more complete pitcher. In the long run, it will make Reyes better. But after the changes were made, Reyes wasn't as effective. He lost velocity in his fastball. Back at Memphis, Reyes said he concentrated on regaining confidence in his fastball. Indeed, Reyes hit 94 mph on the gun again.

When Reyes comes up, let's hope La Russa and Duncan let his natural talent flow. Let Reyes pitch in a way that maximizes his confidence. Let him go after hitters the way he attacked the Chicago White Sox in June. And if Reyes fails doing it his way, then go with Duncan's way.

La Russa said recently that the best assets to have for the postseason are two power arms. The Cardinals have one in Carpenter. And if given a chance by the manager, Reyes could be No. 2.

it might still break that way; youneverknow. lotta rookie pitchers who struggled in their first 10 or so starts this season --- matt cain, cole hamels, chad billingsley, anibal sanchez -- are now hitting their stride. maybe reyes'll comes back pissed, with something to prove.

finally: the king of blowout losses, jason marquis, set a new franchise record last night for victories by a pitcher with a 5.00+ era; congratulations. he also crept to within 7 points of bill sherdel's franchise record for highest era by a qualifier (set in 1929). and, most impressively, he has returned to the top of the nat'l league leaderboard in wins, joining penny, zambrano, webb, and trachsel in a five-way tie. and so jason sustains his peculiar disjunction: 1st in the league in wins, dead last in era. if he can keep it up for one more month, he'll be the first man in history to accomplish the deed. i'm rooting for him like crazy.