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worst things first

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so you think you can pitch in the big leagues, aaron miles? hah . . . . with the expanded rosters, la russa didn't have to go to a position player in that situation. i think he went to miles by choice: he was the best pitcher left in the bullpen.

he certainly outpitched poor andy cavazos. last night's outing left cavazos with an era of 9.95, tantalizingly close to 10.00. if he gets above that threshold, he'll be the 3d cardinal pitcher this season who has thrown at least 10 innings with an era of 10.00 or higher; the other two are maroth (11.25 era in 36 innings) and mulder (12.27 era in 11 innings). why should we care about this? we should take note because in all the seasons since 1900, the cardinal franchise has produced only two such pitchers: matt kinzer, who logged a 12.83 era in 13.1 innings for the '89 cardinals; and mel wright, who posted a 10.45 era in 10.1 innings for the 1954 team. (side note: wright is from my father's hometown, manila arkansas, and is only 5 years older than dad. i wonder if they ever rode the school bus together . . . ) it's as if the 2007 pitching staff bears all the wretchedness of the previous 106 years combined. not the same thing as a world championship, but it's a feat.

here are a few other historic era feats:

  • maroth's overall era for the season is 7.01 in 20 starts and 114.1 innings. since 1900, only 3 pitchers with 20 or more starts have finished with an era of 7.00 or higher, and 2 of them did it in 1930. houston's scott elarton posted a 7.06 era in 24 starts in 2001; russ ortiz came close two years ago with a 6.89 era in 22 starts. it's conceivable that maroth might get below ortiz with a few more effective innings, but then again he might end up higher than elarton with a few ineffective ones . . . . . in any case, he's going to wind up in the top 5 all-time on this list.
  • also re maroth: since 1900, only 20 big-league pitchers have ever thrown 100 innings with an era of 7.00 or higher. la russa needs to nurse him through 1 more scoreless inning --- hell, even a third of an inning --- and then shut him down for the year.
  • if the season ended today, maroth's nl-only era of 11.25 would be the 5th-worst in league history among guys with 20 or more innings pitched (the worst belongs to orel hershier) and the 2d-worst in league history among guys with 30 or more ip (the worst belongs to frank lacorte).
  • lest we focus exclusively on maroth: anthony reyes currently holds the highest era in franchise history for a pitcher with 20 or more starts. the leader in the clubhouse is jason marquis at 6.02 from last season . . .
  • kip wells has an era of 5.80 and is 5.1 innings shy of qualifying for the era title (the threshold is 162 innings). theoretically he remains in the rotation and will probably get the innings necessary to qualify; assuming that he does, and that his era remains in this neighborhood, he'll end up with somewhere between 3d- and 5th-highest era in franchise history among qualifiers. the top 5 are:
    1. jason marquis 2006: 6.02
    2. bill sherdel 1929, 5.93
    3. jose jimenez 1999, 5.85
    4. jesse haines 1929, 5.71
    5. leo dickerman 1925, 5.58

  • assuming kelvin jimenez picks up another third of an inning somewhere along the line, he has a chance to end up with the worst era in franchise history among pitchers with 40 or more innings (unless maroth gets to 40 innings, that is). jimenez is currently at 7.71; the worst previous mark is 7.38, by andy benes in 2001.
had enough? i reckon we all have. . . . . i feel as though i've been channeling leonard pinth-garnell in this post.

here's a logical place to end: a link to an interesting article about the coach who assembled this motley staff, dave duncan, and the state of mlb pitch-coaching in general. it's at a mariner-centric blog called detect-o-vision . . . . enjoy.