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one last chill

random, lazy thoughts for a friday:

  • i haven't counted the cards out quite yet, but only because of the zombie factor. there's that moment toward the end of every scare flick where the monster, supposedly dead, suddenly bolts upright or walks out of a ball of flame or whatever and mounts one last attack, puts one last chill down the audience's spine. it's possible the cardinals will stage that scene this weekend. they're back home, where they've excelled; they've got their two best pitchers on the mound; and it's the nl central, where the gravitational pull of .500 overpowers every team. if st louis were to take 3 of 4, it'd be in keeping with the topso-turvo spirit of this season. i'm not predicting anything, mind you; it just wouldn't surprise me. almost nothing this team might do or endure would surprise me anymore.
  • about a month ago i noted how the 2007 cards had ended up on a track not unlike that of the franchise's last post-championship team, the 1983 squad. in losing 7 straight, they've continued walking in step with that team; the '83 cards also dropped 7 consecutive september games (sept 15-20), including 3 straight to the first-place phillies. the streak knocked them out of contention for good and spoiled a furious august rally that had brought them up from the depths to within half a game of first place. . . . that team did not, by the way, put a last-gasp scare into anyone; when they hosted the phillies on the penultimate weekend of the season with a chance to knock them out of first place, the cardinals got swept.
  • my SB Nation brother blog Twinkie Town posted some snap responses to terry ryan's resignation as the minnesota gm. ryan's last couple of seasons have resembled jocketty's; lacking both the payroll to sign an impact free agent (a luxury ryan has never enjoyed) and the organizational depth to swing an impact trade, he has been relegated to fiddle-farting around with nondescript free-agent pickups that certainly didn't help his team and probably hurt it. his roster additions have included rondell white, tony batista, ruben sierra, quinton mccracken, phil nevin, jeff cirillo, ramon ortiz, and the immortal sidney ponson. as with jocketty, i think ryan's off-years represent a kind of roundabout compliment to him; the rest of the league has studied his methods, learned from them, and copycatted some of his techniques (esp., in ryan's case, the stockpiling of young talent), robbing him of the competitive edge he used to enjoy. with the twins and astros changing gms this year, and the braves, cardinals, and athletics all playing .500ish ball, 2007 starts to look like a year of somewhat notable transition. all 5 of those franchises have been dominant presences within their divisions this decade; how many of the 5 will remain a force into the 2010s?
  • speaking of transition, here's what dave stewart has to say about the manager who made him great, tony la russa:
    This has been a season like no other for him, and La Russa's a superstitious guy. He may view what's happened in St Louis this year as a sign for him to move on. Like Jim Leyland, La Russa may simply need some time away from the game and a fresh start somewhere else. However, I don't see him calling it a career right now. And, because of La Russa's relationship with GM Walt Jocketty, I don't see him leaving St Louis to manage somewhere else in 2008.
  • before i leave the subject of front-office personnel changes, the guys at Bugs and Cranks weighed yesterday in with some thoughts on the pirates' new team president, frank coonelly. little-known fact: coonelly was one of the geniuses who helped devise the wildly popular, universally praised slotting system now employed in the amateur draft. . . .
  • derrick goold had an interesting post at Birdland yesterday about anthony reyes' platoon splits and albert pujols' propensity to take the first pitch.
  • anybody paying attention to the Tour of Missouri? georgie hincapie, one of lance armstrong's longtime lieutenants (and, briefly, a yellow-jersey wearer himself), sits in the lead by 1:40 after 3 stages; there are 3 stages left. coverage at the post-dispatch and SB Nation's own Podium Café.
  • according to dave studeman at the Hardball Times, the cardinals' cleanup slot has been the weakest batting-order position in baseball this year, as measured against average. the stl leadoff slot has been the 6th weakest. (scroll to the bottom of the post for the money shot.)
  • springfield had a day off in its championship series, which resumes tonight with the score knotted at a game apiece. pj walters will pitch.