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so it's a clean sweep. speezer, gooch, sno cone, wilson, j-rod, miles --- they're all back. the whole stinkin' bench. maybe it just costs less to re-sign these guys and hand them their world series rings in person, as opposed to paying the shipping and insurance fees . . . . .

in truth, the wilson signing --- as uninspiring as it is --- makes some sense in at least one respect: he hit .292 / .362 / .496 vs left-handers last year. that sample size is only 127 plate appearances, but preston has sustained the split for three seasons running. here are his lefty-righty numbers going back through 2004:

AB H 2B 3B HR BB | AVG OBP SLG | RC/27
vs rhp 915 231 48 3 30 61 | .252 .306 .410 | 4.4
vs lhp 308 86 17 1 18 30 | .279 .346 .516 | 6.6

granted, it's still only 350 plate appearances; but if you squint just right, it looks like it might be a trend. his career ops vs lefties is .807, so however you break it down, he's a decent platoon partner for duncan. plus he runs the bases a little, keeps the clubhouse loose; for a million bucks, what the hell. he's not gonna make a huge difference, but i can't find anything wrong with the signing. if they'd platoon duncan / wilson in left and j-rod / en'cion in right, the outfield might actually produce a few runs this year.

the last world champs to return their entire bench the following season were the 2001 diamondbacks, who brought back all 7 of their top reserves the following season. how'd that work out? let's have a look:

AB H 2B 3B HR BB | AVG OBP SLG | RC/27
2001 bench 1331 358 65 8 39 155 | .269 .345 .418 | 5.3
2002 bench 1471 410 87 10 46 178 | .279 .357 .445 | 5.9

wow; arizona's bench went from merely outstanding in 2001 to spectacular in 2002. for the record, those 7 arizona bench players were craig counsell, erubiel durazo, greg colbrunn, rod barajas, danny bautista, dave dellucci, and chad moeller. another bench guy from '01, junior spivey, returned in '02 as the starting 2b and had an all-star season. as a group, the dbacks' extra men improved by roughly 20 runs from '01 to '02 --- two extra wins. overall, the dbacks bettered themselves by 6 games in 2002 (from 92-70 to 98-64) before getting swept out of the playoffs in the nlds by the cardinals.

the st louis bench in 2006 was very good, though not quite as good as the dbacks' in 2001:

AB H 2B 3B HR BB | AVG OBP SLG | RC/27
2001 dbacks 1331 358 65 8 39 155 | .269 .345 .418 | 5.3
2006 cards 1469 388 74 13 31 160 | .264 .336 .396 | 4.9

the cardinal totals include only the contributions of the 6 returnees: wilson, j-rod, spiezio, taguchi, miles, and bennett. and how do we think they'll do in 2007? here's what PECOTA says, with the total at-bats adjusted to line up with last season's:

AB H 2B 3B HR BB | AVG OBP SLG | RC/27
2006 1469 388 74 13 31 160 | .264 .336 .396 | 4.9
2007 (proj) 1469 366 68 9 35 142 | .249 .315 .379 | 4.3

this projects as a 20-run dip for st louis in 2007 --- two additional losses. blame miles and gooch for the flimsy forecast; PECOTA hates both of'm. preston wilson's projected line is .265 / .316 / .422 (and i bet he'll beat that if they manage the platoon split properly). by the way, rolling wilson into the team PECOTA projection improves the cards' output by about 5 runs; i gave him 200 at-bats (100 taken from taguchi, the other 100 from the generic replacement-player pool).

if nothing else, the signing gives jocketty some cover to trade encarnacion if a taker should surface. i'm betting that will happen at some point.