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if you haven't read the long profile of tony la russa at, it's a very good read --- and especially interesting in light of the current dynamics of the cardinal organization. by way of commentary, i'll just pimp one of my old VEB posts, written after la russa passed his managerial idol, sparky anderson, on the all-time wins list:

as a manager ages, he naturally comes to be seen as dated, an old fossil whom the game has passed by. in 1984 anderson was viewed as a dottering old ignoramus, completely clueless about the emerging new "science" of baseball, sabermetrics -- then in its nascence, understood only by earl weaver and the bill james readership. today sabermetrics has reached an even wider audience thanks to moneyball, and la russa -- whom james back in 1984 considered a cutting-edge manager who "got" sabermetrics -- is now positioned as a hopelessly clueless old-schooler, a representative of the entrenched old order that billy beane, theo epstein et al are in the process of toppling . . . in truth, la russa represents one of the few baseball principles that all generations -- pre-sabr, post-james, post-moneyball, whatever -- can agree upon: the more games a guy manages, the stupider he gets.
ol' tony looked smart enough last night; nothing like 8 runs offense to burnish a guy's mensa credentials. i was at the game, first time i'd laid eyes on the ballclub in person all season; if i didn't know any better, i'd say they haven't lost a whit of their 2004-05 mojo. they swaggered, they slugged, they piled up baserunners; they turned a sweet 3-6-1 double play and cut off a 7th-inning rally with a very good outfield catch; and they got a little bit lucky when brad hawpe's lonnnnnnng high fly fell a few centimeters short of the right-field wall in the 8th inning. the momentum really shifted when the guy sitting behind me, a rockies fan, decided to go to the john after the last out of the 4th inning. he must have been taking a dump, because it took him four batters to get back to our section --- and those batters went single, single, homer, homer. when this poor fellow got back, disburthened, his buddy --- a cardinal fan --- hollered "go back to the bathroom!" at him very loudly, to the point that heads were turning for several rows in front of us.

if it were the only game i'd seen this year, i would guess st louis' record stood at 31-19 instead of 21-29. even as it stands, the cards are now tied for second place in the loss column --- which, in the supremely bad nl central, is the column that tells it all --- and just 5 games out of first place on that basis. their 5-5 record over the last 10 games constitutes a hot streak in this laughable division. . . . 83 wins just might do it again, folks. and the way things have gone for st louis these first two months, 83 wins would be a hell of an achievement.

wellemeyer throws it very hard --- harder than reyes, but with a lot less command. he got hit harder than reyes typically does --- two homers, two line drives ripped back through the box --- and posted a line slightly worse than anthony's on a typical day:

wellemeyer 5/30 5 7 1 3 2
reyes '07 avg 5.1 5 2 4 1

8 runs of support will turn a so-so outing into a good one pretty fast. i'm not knocking wellmeyer's 5-inning, 3-run effort --- for a guy making his first big-league start, it was good enough --- but reyes had 5 outings this year in which he pitched at least as well (ie, at least 5 innings, and no more than 3 runs), and his record in those games was 0-4. he didn't get 8 runs of support in those 5 games combined; hell, the cards scored nearly as many runs for wellemeyer last night during one rockie fan's crap (4) as they did for reyes in those 5 entire starts (5). . . . . wellemeyer knocked in the 5th run that inning and looked pretty good doing it. he may not have pitched any better than reyes last night, but he definitely hit better.

i agree with this observation from danup: "Wellemeyer pitched exactly as Reyes must. Wellemeyer used his mid-90s fastball everywhere in the zone, and got some swinging strikes up around hitters' eyes . . ." after reyes' last start, i did a little additional number-crunching to follow up my post last week about reyes' pitch selection, focusing just on the location of reyes' fastball; i had intended to post it in advance of reyes' next start, which will now be taking place at memphis (tonight, i think), but because the data is significant i'm posting it even though anthony's gone --- and i'll post it again if/when reyes ever gets called back up. turns out reyes has only given up one hit all season --- one --- on a high fastball: a three-run homer to michael barrett in his third start of the season. hitters are 1 for 14 (.071) off his fastball when he throws it letter-high or higher; they're 15 for 46 (.326) against fastballs thrown thigh-high or lower --- and 5 of those 15 hits went for extra bases, including 1 homer. he has thrown twice as many low fastballs (204) as high ones (100).

here's an even more incredible stat: batters swung at reyes' high fastball 53 times and only put the ball in play 3 times:

swings miss foul in
high 53 18 32 3
low 77 13 23 41

given those numbers, i need somebody to explain to me why reyes can only survive in this league by eschewing the high heat and pitching to contact at the bottom of the zone.