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Game 153 Open Thread: September 23, 2006

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marquis oswalt
14-15, 5.82 14-8, 3.05

if i thought the cardinals were truly a good team, and that these ugly september stumbles were marring an otherwise handsome season or imperiling a potentially beautiful october, i might be distraught by these last couple games. but what, really, is at risk here? at best, they make the playoffs as longshots. at worst, they confirm what we've known for nigh on 4 months -- they ain't got the pitching.

for me, that takes the horror out of watching the team drift closer to the precipice. if they should ultimately go over the falls, big deal -- they're not that high off the ground to begin with. it's not a long way down.

and i still think -- less'n they panic -- they are not in great danger of missing the playoffs. houston and the natti are both 75-78 at this writing; if either one goes 9-0 down the stretch, they can post an 84-78 record. to beat that, st louis would have to go 5-5 (including the makeup game). so, in a worst-case scenario, they can solve all their problems by playing .500. given the (cough) possibility that houston or natti might actually lose a game or two in the last week-plus, a 3-7 record will probably suffice. that is, say houston goes 7-2 and finishes at 82-80; to beat that, st louis simply has to go 3-7 and they can march into october as proud nl central champs, at 83-79.

like i said, if they go over the falls, it's not a long way down.

we can't blame last night's loss on is'hausen, and we can't blame it on la russa. oh, there are folks trying to; the theory has been advanced that the cardinals would've won if tony had pitched looper for the 7th/8th and wainwright for the 9th, but that seems like a rather desperate stretch. somebody show me a little evidence -- like, show me that wainwright has consistently pitched more poorly in his 2d inning of work than in his 1st inning -- and i might consider that notion. i think a better explanation for what happened last night is that the cardinals are a bad road team with an undermanned bullpen playing an outstanding home team that's fired up for its last stand as defending nl champions -- and playing its last series of the year in its own building.

the cardinals did everything they reasonably could have done to win that game -- had the right players in the right situations, and got 100 percent effort out of those players. as for today's game -- well, that might be a different story. if marquis doesn't pitch well, i'm gonna wonder: would anthony reyes have pitched better? some kick in the nuts for the rookie: 1st he misses a turn because his coaches tell him he has a tired arm; now he misses one because marquis has a sore back.

whatever; it's tony's team. he gets to make these decisions, we just get to live with'm.

perfect segue to the news that jeff luhnow got a big promotion, adding the st louis farm system to his sphere of responsibility; he previously had been in charge of the amateur draft and international scouting. it's a logical move; the farm system is now full of guys he drafted over the last two years, and they're just beginning to ripen. at least one of his draftees (nick stavinoha) will probably open next season at triple A, and the double A roster will be jammed with luhnow picks -- jaime garcia, colby rasmus, chris perez, john jay, and mitch boggs for starters; maybe tyler greene, cory meachem, mark hamilton, randy roth, and/or bryan anderson by this time next year.

miklasz sees luhnow's promotion as a watershed moment for the organization, a significant power shift with implications at the managerial level:

Luhnow is one of a new generation of thinkers in baseball. He didn't play the game. He hasn't coached or managed. He uses evolved methods for evaluating players. This isn't La Russa's way of doing things. La Russa is old school all the way. And Luhnow is anything but old school.

DeWitt may try to spin it differently, but Luhnow's promotion signals a definite shift in philosophy in the Cardinals' baseball operations. What will be different? Young players and pitchers will be developed, and they will get a full chance to succeed at the major-league level.

we've already heard statements from dewitt about the organization's need to commit to young players; the personnel changes are consistent with those remarks. i wouldn't think this affects la russa's status for next season, but his contract runs out after 2007 -- just as the first of luhnow's babies are ready to hatch. la russa has been sounding weary lately . . . . .

bears watching.