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grrrr and grrrrrr-er

says here the cards won't be trading for a starting pitcher any time soon; nobody available. the same article says anthony reyes "is not believed on the fast track back to St. Louis." that absolutely mystifies me. compare:

hr/9 avg
gm sc
era whip
thompson 6 .476 .331 1.3 46 4.50 1.417
reyes 5.2 .446 .324 1.1 46 6.08 1.350
wainwright 5.2 .473 .382 0.9 44 5.19 1.702
wells 5.2 .482 .346 1.5 42 6.40 1.521
wellemeyer 4.1 .500 .410 4.2 45 5.19 1.920

let's see: reyes lasts about as long as all the other starters (except looper, who i left off this list because he's clearly better than all of them). he's got the lowest whip, lowest on-base allowed, lowest slugging avg allowed. he gives up fewer homers than everybody except wainwright. and he's got the highest (tied) average game score. yet he's got to work on his game; the others are guys we want to go to war with.

brad thompson's last start was a typical reyes outing: 6 innings, 4 earned runs, 9 baserunners, and 1 homer. thompson blew a 1-1 tie in the 5th inning by yielding a leadoff double to the #8 hitter --- who had a .179 average ---- and then giving up three consecutive two-out hits; 3 runs across, cards trailing 4-1. when this sort of thing used to happen to reyes (and it did, repeatedly), we'd all get pissed off and give up hope; 'nother loss, damn you reyes. ah, but the cardinals did something in thompson's outing that they never did in a reyes outing --- they rallied and won the game 6-4 --- and so thompson's effort was deemed acceptable. and it was acceptable --- game score of 42, which is a borderline-competent major-league start. reyes posted game scores of at least 42 in 7 of his 9 outings, but he went 0-6 in those 7 games, because the team only scored 17 runs total.

reyes may be stubborn and stupid and all the other things his detractors say about him, but the cardinals are just as stubborn and stupid if they keep him off the roster. he's one of their five best starting pitchers, and it's not a close call --- and they're desperate for starters. anthony has pitched well in both his starts down at memphis, including last night's (in which, cruelly, he was yet again denied his first win of 2007). stop screwing around and get him back up here already.

* * * * * * * *

i'll be updating the cards' list of draftees in this diary throughout the day. yesterday's draft thread is up to date; i've added a few more links with information about the cards' 1st through 5th round picks. good reading on the draft this morning at the post-dispatch blogs. Bird Land has an unedited Q+A with jeff luhnow, which includes luhnow's answer to this question:
it seems there has been a lot of reaction about passing on (Rick) Porcello. I'm wondering how tough a call is something like that? If there is a guy who by nearly all accounts is a pretty special talent, how tough is that to pass on it?
head on over there for the answer. meanwhile bernie miklasz, at his new blog, writes about the fans' (over?)reaction to the selections. that's an unanticipated consequence to mlb's stepped-up marketing of the draft; hype was at an all-time high, and when fans' expectations weren't met there was a backlash. i haven't checked any other boards, but i guarantee that cardinal fans were not alone yesterday in their cries of "what? how can they take this guy over rick porcello?" the cardinals' draft team may have heightened the problem by sending mixed signals. they said both a) we're going to get a high-impact player with our first-round pick, because we're drafting 10 spots higher than usual; and b) we're going to make an unorthodox pick that leaves the pundits scratching their heads. if i'm not mistaken, statement "a" was uttered by walt jocketty, while "b" passed the lips of jeff luhnow; there's that ol' front-office rift again. . . . . in any case, the fans heard "a" and salivated, then were let down when "b" turned out to be the operative strategy.

if the cardinals had taken, say, michael main instead of pete kozma (main went six picks later, at #24), i'm almost sure there wouldn't have been so much anger over the pass on porcello. why? because there was consensus among the draft pundits that main was a top-20 pick. people still might have been slightly disappointed (and maybe somewhat angry) that the cardinals wouldn't meet porcello's asking price, but mike main was an exciting pick in his own right --- not because of anything we knew about him ourselves, first-hand, but because of what the pundits had told us about him: viz., he has a high ceiling. the pundits had created some buzz around main; there wasn't much buzz around kozma. but that doesn't necessarily mean kozma lacks upside, and it doesn't mean his ceiling is only at the level of a david eckstein-type player. that comparison was bandied about yesterday, and it doesn't hold for me. david eckstein was a walk-on in college; kozma has a full-ride scholarship offer from wichita state, an elite program that has produced 25 major-league players --- and, eyeballing the alumni list, at least a dozen first-round picks. moreover, the pundits did agree that kozma was a top-40 pick (and a number of them had him in the top 20: espn's keith law had him going at #21; jonathan mayo of had him in the same slot; jim callis of baseball america projected him at #15). by contrast, eckstein wasn't drafted until the 19th round at number 581. you just can't compare those two draftees. now, kozma might ultimately prove to be an eckstein clone; hell, he might prove not to be half the player eckstein is, might never even get to the big leagues. but if you compare the two at age 18 (the only fair comparison at this point), kozma blows eckstein out of the water. he's held in vastly higher regard by college recruiters and professional scouts than eckstein was at that age. so i feel safe in assuming that eckstein is too low a threshold; pete kozma's ceiling is higher than that.

is it higher than rick porcello's? probably not. but porcello was going to cost about $10 million, and the cardinals refused to pay, either because a) they're cheap, or b) they thought the risk outweighed the reward at that price. they're claiming the latter; i'm suspending judgment until it all plays out.

here's the ironic thing: while the cards' first-day harvest is being scoffed at as unbearably "safe" --- a signable shortstop and a bunch of college pitchers --- the truly safe thing to do would have been to stay with the herd and draft per the pundits' consensus. if the cards had taken michael main, few would be criticizing them --- and if main turned out to be a bust, people still wouldn't criticize because they'd have been just as wrong about the kid as the cardinals. same would be true if the cardinals had chosen josh smoker, tim alderson, will middlebrooks, or even kyle russell, whom the cardinals ultimately did take in the 4th round. so luhnow and co. are actually taking some hefty risks. they think their draftees have potential that the pundits missed; if they're wrong and the pundits were right, judgment will be merciless. they're putting their credibility on the line.

nothing safe about that.