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first-half highlights

headed for the airport this morning and a trip home after 4 days in portland --- quite a beautiful town, surprisingly reminiscent of st louis in certain ways. anyway, my writing time is limited this morning so the post’ll have to be short.

here’s a bit of news from a trustworthy source: the cards now view wainwright as being ready in no sooner than 6 weeks --- could be longer, depending on how things progress. they do expect him back before the end of the year. 6 weeks from today would place wainwright back on the mound in the first week of august . . . .

my 2c about yesterday’s discussion re brian barton. in my mind, his status has changed --- not so much because the team has a chance to make this year’s postseason, but because the organization appears to have far more depth in the outfield than any of us would have imagined at the beginning of the year. at the time barton came aboard, not many people viewed ryan ludwick or skip schumaker as meaningful parts of this team’s future, joe mather had a .700something career ops at triple A, and john jay had fallen off the prospect radar. all four of those guys have boosted their stock tremendously, joining rasmus and ankiel (and, yes, even chris duncan) as potential everyday players for 2009 and beyond. three of those guys (rasmus jay and mather) are younger than barton, who is 26 years old, and all are at least as talented. barton has obvious holes in his game; i love the speed and the attitude, but he can be overpowered by a fastball. based on what we’ve seen this year, which outfielder will move aside to create playing time for barton in 2009 --- ankiel? rasmus? ludwick? schumaker? the cards can send barton to triple A next year, but how valuable is a 27-year-old outfielder at triple A? i do think he’s a talented player, but he no longer looks like a unique talent within the organization; if the cards were to give him up, they could replace him without downgrading.

that doesn’t mean i necessarily think they should get rid of him; there isn’t (yet) a player available who would represent such an obvious improvement that it would be worth losing barton over it. but if such a player emerges from within or becomes available on the trade market, i don’t think the cards should deny themselves the improvement simply for barton’s sake. he just isn’t that good.

the cards are approaching the 81-game mark; if they split the next 4 games (a cautious assumption), they’ll arrive at the halfway point in the year with a 46-35 record. only 3 cardinal teams of the la russa era won more games in the first half of the year: the 2004-05 teams (which had 49 and 51 wins, respectively) and the 2002 team, which was 48-33. two herzog-managed teams had more than 46 wins at the turn --- the 1987 club, whose 52-29 record is the franchise’s best halfway-point mark since the schedule went to 162 games --- and the 1985 team, which hit the midway milestone at 49-32. and you’ll be surprised to know that one of joe torre’s cardinal teams, the ’93 outfit, outperformed this year’s club in the first half, with a 47-34 record. of the aforementioned teams, only one (torre’s) failed to play in october.

since we’re reaching the halfway point, i thought i’d toss out (in no particular order) my favorite moments from the first half and solicit ev’yone else’s views. as far as i’m concerned, these first 81 games have already yielded a full season’s worth of memories. here’s what i’ve got on my list, in no particular order:

that’s it for me this morning; i’ll be home this afternoon, game thread up shortly before the first pitch.