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Three Little Birds

It's actually tough not to feel pretty optimistic this morning if you're a Cardinal fan. It's a feeling that we haven't really had a ton of lately, what with our division rivals adding big guns in their respective rotations, continued bullpen implosions, and an offensive attack slightly less consistent than Cybil.

Today, though, it feels pretty good to be a Cards fan. We've won the last two games handily (though, admittedly, from a Braves squad in freefall), scoring twenty runs in two games. Against all odds, this team is still firmly in the wild card race, and only a handful of games behind the Cubs for the division lead. And most exciting of all, the franchise's only non Gibsonian Cy Young Award winner will take the mound tonight in Atlanta.Tough to feel very sour this morning.

Hell, even the bullpen looked pretty strong last night. Franklin got through his two innings with no damage done (he did make it slightly more exciting than necessary, though), and Kyle McClellan pitched decently. The leadoff walk certainly didn't help matters any, but after that he settled down and tossed a pretty strong frame. If not for the throwing error by Izturis, he most likely would have escaped unscathed.

Then again, the Cardinals are playing a team that's utterly demoralized, having just traded away their sole remaining star component on offense and finding out that the staff ace, Tim Hudson, is going under the knife for a quick Teej. I suppose it's much easier to beat up on a team like this than the Brewers or Metropolitans, no?

With all of that in mind, though, I still feel really good about the team this morning. Even when I hear one of the front office members talking about Wainwright going back to the bullpen, I feel like it'll all just work itself out. Even as the trade deadline approaches and it becomes clearer and clearer that there simply aren't many moves to be made (sensible moves, that is), I don't get too very upset.

To what do I owe my newfound calm? Well, I think we've finally reached the point of acceptance with this team. We started the year just hoping to see some young kids do well and the team not embarrass itself. We've obviously gotten that. Then, of course, as the fever of competition set in, we all began foaming at the mouth for victory, for glory, for the chance to break the Cubs' fans hearts yet again. Inevitably, with our expectations so inflated, the crash soon followed, and our hearts were wroth.

Now, though, now we've moved beyond all of that. We've had our hearts broken as badly as they can be by this team in the Great Bullpen Crash of 2008. We sat and watched helplessly as contest after contest was let slip away in the last six outs. Even just a competent bullpen, an average bullpen, would have the Cardinals sitting in first place right now. But that's okay. Regardless of what happens now, the rest of this season is going to be fun, and I think we've all come to the point of just accepting that whatever it's going to be is what it's going to be.

It could also be that the rare, poisonous mold growing in the air ducts of my house is beginning to cause some pretty severe brain damage, causing this feeling of peace which is, in fact, simply large numbers of neural synapses shutting down. Eh. Either way.

I don't really have a whole lot to talk about today. I don't have any charts, or graphs, because I'm not so good at the math. So, I thought that I would just pose a few questions to everyone and just see how everybody's feeling this morning.

First question. What do you expect out of Monsieur Carpenter tonight? This is probably as good a situation as you could possibly hope for him in his first start back, facing a lineup without much in the way of danger and a team that's pretty down just in general. He is going up against a pretty tough young customer in Jair Jurrjens, but that shouldn't really affect how Carpenter throws.

Personally, I think Carp will probably be on a fairly strict pitch limit in the 80-85 range. His control will be a little iffy, but against this lineup I think he'll still be able to get the job done. My prediction:

6 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 Pitches

Second question. What's the one move you most want to see the Cardinals make before tomorrow's trade deadline? It's become pretty clear that the big moves aren't going to happen, but there could still be something useful in the works. What one guy out there would you really like to see the Cards try to get? Or, conversely, what one piece would you like to see the Cards sell off?

Third question. This one's related to #2, but not exactly the same. There's been some talk about putting Kyle Lohse on the market. If Carpenter comes out and is effective tonight, do you think the Cards should toss Lohse out there and see what they can get for him? Of course, I'm sure that Mo and co already have a pretty good idea of what Lohse is worth, but the closer you get to the deadline, the more desperate teams will become to get the help they think they need.

There was a big discussion recently on the subject over at Gateway Redbirds. There wasn't much of a consensus arrived at. I'm curious to see how this community feels about the subject. With Wainwright hopefully on his way back within the next few weeks and Carpenter coming back tonight, Lohse may be somewhat expendable. You would certainly be selling high on him, as his value is probably greater right now than at any other point in his career. Personally, I would probably be willing to do it. Of course, I would also make a terrible GM, as I would be entirely too quick to sell, always trying to improve the talent base regardless of the actual situation. How about you guys? Hold on to Lohse, or try to turn him into talent for the future?

News and notes:

Apparently the Diamondbacks are close to getting a new contract extension done with Dan Haren. Pretty much every time I see Haren's name in print anywhere I just get sadder and sadder. A 2.77 FIP? Sigh.

The Pirates are still looking to move both Jason Bay and Jack Wilson, but it doesn't look as if a deal for either one is going to get done.

I keep hearing that the Dodgers are looking to try and find some sort of help at shortstop to try and shore up their middle infield in the absence of Rafael Furcal, but talks seem to be nearly nonexistent. Anybody have any idea what's going on with LA?

The Cards made a bunch of minor league roster moves yesterday, including bringing Jon Jay up to Triple A. Future Redbirds has the complete rundown of all the maneuvering.

I'll be back later with a game thread. Have a swell day, everybody.