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dead men walking (UPDATE: ankiel to be called up)

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i'd like to think that the cardinals are simply too tough to die. but the truth is probably more along these lines:

you can't kill something that's already dead.

these guys are zombies. shoot 'em, stab 'em, hack off their limbs, beat 'em 15 to 1; doesn't matter. they keep lurching forward. some of 'em are already half-decomposed, their crude mortician's stitches long since withered. there goes one without a shoulder; that one's missing a hip; here's one with his bones jutting out; and look at that one, almost all of his flesh has rotted away. disgusting. they're all gnarled and unsteady of gait; for several innings each game, and at least two entire games a week, they exhibit the frozen, unblinking visages of cadavers. and their careers? how many of these guys have been pronounced dead as professional ballplayers? gotta be 15 or 20. free-agents nobody else wanted, dessicated bodies exhumed from DFA graves, guys who are impossible to trade, failed prospects; there's even one guy who announced his retirement two years ago.

you'll have to forgive me for applying this metaphor during a season in which a cardinal player actually died. it's in poor taste, i concede --- but it fits so perfectly i can't help myself. the cardinals are dead and have been for most of a month, and yet they do not die. they defy nature. the terrified cubs and brewers run away and, being alive, quickly put distance between themselves and the lifeless monsters. but in their panic they inevitably trip over a rock or stumble over their own feet; when they look up here come the undead, staggering toward them with arms outstretched, fingers curled, hideous nails jutting out. a chilling spectacle. puts me in mind of what the local sheriff tells the tv reporter in Night of the Living Dead:

Reporter: Are they slow-moving, chief?
Sheriff: Yeah, they're dead, they're . . . . all messed up.
all messed up, to be sure --- feeble and plodding and stupid, beyond sensation, beyond reason. they departed the green realm of postseason contention weeks ago, yet here they are still, the dead walking among the living. they won't rest; they can't be stopped. no wound can inflict any damage beyond what they've already sustained.

creepy, but kind of cool to watch. for summer entertainment, it'll do.

Update [2007-8-9 11:23:0 by lboros]: another zombie joins the mix: per deadspin, rick ankiel is getting called up to the big leagues. he was left for dead in 2001 and has died a thousand times since, and yet he's still here . . . . they can't kill him. i'm not very sentimental about this guy, but i hope he'll do well. if nothing else they'll find out how much of an option he is for next season; he certainly can't hurt anything in the short term. however it turns out, this is a storyline that needed to be closed.

go crazy, folks, go crazy.

* * * * * * * * *

apropos of nothing: who do you suppose the PTBNLs are for maroth and piniero? not an important subject, but with piniero starting tonight i got to wondering. various sources have suggested these are not important prospects. for some perspective, recall that when the cardinals traded for terrible pitchers last year they gave up rich scalamandre (for jorge sosa) and terry evans (for weaver). the guy headed to the tigers is supposedly a relief pitcher, so i'm gonna take a wild guess that the candidates for that PTBNL might include:
  • mark worrell: he's got great stats, and has throughout his minor-league career --- 10 strikeouts per 9, and more strikeouts than baseruners allowed. but if the organization didn't give him a look this year, while granting serial promotions to the likes of jimenez, cavazos, and dove, i have the feeling that he is not in their plans. worrell's success is thought to result less from raw stuff than from a gimmick delivery; he is prone to the longball and vulnerable to left-handers. he is not, and never has been, on the 40-man roster.
  • matt scherer: large, hard-throwing right-hander, but the organization already has several of those ahead of scherer (dove, perez, motte) and coming up behind him (todd, gregerson, maiques). he posted impressive numbers last season and has been pretty good in 2007, but he's expendable.
  • nick webber: high draft pick (2d round in 2005, the 78th player chosen), but he hasn't shown anything so far. he's built like looper (6'7", skinny) and supposedly throws a hard sinker, but the results ain't even close to being there.
  • hugo castellanos: 27 years old, has bounced back n forth between the mexican league and various mlb organizations . . . . don't know why you would trade for the guy, since a) he's not very good, and b) he's a free-agent every other year and can be had for nothing.
  • donnie smith: selected in the 4th round in 2004, has battled injuries ever since; 24 years old and still in A ball.
in piniero's case, we don't know what position the guy plays. in addition to the above-named, the possibilities might include:
  • sean danielson: something's got to be done about the outfield glut at double A / triple A. he's had a good year, but he's 25 (just turned two days ago; happy birthday, sean), still in double A, and about 10th on the AA/AAA depth chart.
  • michael ferris: 2d-rounder in 2004, got to memphis last month despite wretched stats all the way up the chain; plays first base. still only 24 years old, and 25 seems to be the magic breakout age for some of these guys (evans and mather, to name two). but with hamilton, buckman, steve hill, and other 1bmen in the pipeline, the cards can't afford to wait around on this guy.