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Good morning, esteemed members of the Viva el Birdos community. Does the day find you well? I certainly hope it does.

First off, I have to get something off my chest. I was wrong about Felipe Lopez.

Man, that hurt. Anyway, I was very down on the pickup at the time, as I saw absolutely no real role for him on the team. He doesn't hit any better than any of our other weak ass middle infielders, and his defense is a significant downgrade compared to the guys we have, I said. When he got here and began his Cardinal career by taking at bats away from Joe Mather in the outfield, my worst fears were confirmed. We brought in yet another utility player for Tony to give ABs to over more talented, better options.

Well, turns out that those who lauded the move as just the kind of change of scenery pickup that could do a player some real good were at least partially right. Lopez has hit very well since he's been here, providing a nice spark for the offense. Don't get me wrong, he's still not an All Star in my estimation, but he's been a solid pickup, considering that it cost virtually nothing to bring him in.

Lopez still shouldn't be taking at bats away from any of our outfielders, all of whom have much, much more to offer than Lopez. He also shouldn't be playing shortstop much, as his glove work just can't compare to Cesar over there. I do, however, like seeing Lopez in the lineup at second base. He offers better offensive upside than either Adam Kennedy or even, to my mind, Aaron Miles, and his glove plays better on the right side than it does on the left.

The one thing that's still a little frustrating about the whole Lopez deal, though, is that we now essentially have three second basemen on the roster. Lopez makes a little better utility infielder than the other two, obviously, but putting him at second is really the best use of his talents. Unfortunately, the Cardinals are overloaded with guys who shouldn't really play positions other than second very often, if at all. Still, on balance, it was a low risk pickup of a guy who, at the very least, is significantly more gifted offensively than the rest of our middle infield corps. And losing Brendan Ryan obviously isn't a huge problem; in fact, it's not really even a consideration.

Moving on.

First off, Michael Phelps is really good. I know that isn't really news, but I just thought I would add to the chorus. I always enjoy watching the Olympics, and this one has been truly special, mostly due to Phelps' record pursuit. If you haven't been watching, you've missed one of the most amazing sporting events of our time.

Second, Cliff Lee is also really good. He won again last night, running his record to 17-2. Last night, he shut down the best team in baseball, the Angels, to the tune of a complete game, with two runs allowed on eight hits, two walks, and six strikeouts. Remember back during the offseason, when there were some rumours floating around that the Indians might be looking to move Lee, possibly for something along the lines of our very own pitching enigma, Anthony Reyes, plus maybe a mid level relief prospect? Oh, if only we could go back and make that happen... Hell, the Indians ended up getting Reyes anyway. You know, while I was watching both the Cleveland game and our own contest last night, I realised that Jaime Garcia actually reminds me quite a bit of Lee. Very similar deliveries, with high arm slots and a tendency to throw the ball with the hand on the outside of it a bit, creating some cutting action. Similar velocity, similar breaking balls. If you get a chance, look at the two of them side by side and see if you agree with me. I would link to Pitching Clips, but it's been down for a couple of months now, it seems. I'm not sure what sort of problems the guys over there are having, but I miss having one of my favourite resources. (And favourite time wasters, to be perfectly frank.)

Speaking of Reyes, I'm not going to bring him up here. That debate has been pretty well covered 'round these parts, and I'm not looking to get everyone up in arms at this early hour. I will, however, direct anyone who happens to be interested to my new weekly feature over at the Rundown, the Anthony Reyes Watch. Whether you fall on the Duncan side or the Reyes side of the Great Debate, come on over and check out what our very own Prodigal Son is doing. You can leave me comments, too, even if they're really, really unpleasant. Google Analytics has no idea if you hate me or not.

Alright, enough whoring. Onward and upward.

I have, not one, but two record recommendations for you guys this morning! I know you're all very excited; I can feel it in the air. (Insert Phil Collins music and star wipes here.) Dr. Dog, one of my absolute favourite bands in the world, has a new record out called Fate. If you're not familiar (and I have every reason to think you are not), Dr. Dog are a Philadelphia band that have a little bit of ELO in them, if ELO didn't suck. (I shouldn't say that; I actually like ELO, but it's such a good line I just can't resist.) Anyhow, check them out over at iTunes or something; you can thank me later. If nothing else, support them just for the fact that they still do all their recording on analog tape. Now that's dedication, and that devotion comes through.

Second recommendation: quite possibly the best band in the city of St. Louis right now, Gentlemen Auction House, recently released their first full length, Alphabet Graveyard. GAH (love that abbrev., by the way), feel a bit like one of the current legions of (mostly) Canadian collective bands that have come to rule the indie rock roost the past few years. A little Arcade Fire/ Broken Social Scene/ Wolf Parade thing going on. I've been a fan of these guys since they put out their very first EP several years ago, and they're finally starting to attract a little real attention. Try it, you'll like it.

That's better; whoring by proxy.

By the way, speaking of analog tape, did everyone here (or anyone here), know that the Large Hadron Collider over in Europe is going to be recording all of its data on magnetic tape? Apparently, CERN (the body that governs experimental atomic stuff, apparently), has decided that's the most cost effective and safe way to store miles and miles worth of numeric data. Who knew? As a fan of pretty much any kind of dead end technology (you guys want to come over and watch my copy of Army of Darkness on Laserdisc? I've got Akira, too!), I cannot tell you how excited I was to read this little tidbit.

It became official yesterday; the Cardinals lost out on the Yorman Rodriguez sweepstakes, as he signed with the Reds. If you don't follow the international signing market much, Rodriguez was one of the top talents available in this year's crop. He's Venezuelan, and a true five tool outfield prospect, drawing some comparisons to Carlos Beltran. There are some questions about whether he'll hit enough in pro ball, but all the raw tools are there. I have to say, I'm really, really disappointed to see this. I'm not sure how close the Cardinals were on this one; by all reports, it was basically down to the Reds and the Cards, but it hurts to see this sort of thing happen. It's exciting to see the Cardinals apparently delving into the international markets to try and bring in talent, but still... It's tough not to be frustrated by the way that this franchise seems to be a bridesmaid pretty much every time they try and go get something. Sigh. Still, they were in it until the end, which is encouraging.

The Royals came to terms with Tim Melville yesterday. I understand there are concerns about his mechanics (I don't particularly share those concerns, but), but the Royals got one of the best high school arms in the entire draft in the fourth round. I have to count this as a failure of some sort by the Cardinals. When you have this kind of a talent living thirty miles from your stadium and he gets passed over so long, you have to bring a guy like that in. Very disappointing.

There was some confusion last night in the game thread about Chris Perez possibly throwing a sinker on a couple of different pitches. I was curious, too, after reading those comments, so I went to the Pitch f/x, found the pitches in question, and then went and watched the game again on the DVR.

As postulated by several people in the game thread at the time, the pitches that pitch f/x classified as sinkers were, in fact, sliders. The two in question both fooled the system due to the fact that they broke almost straight down, with very little lateral movement. One of the sliders in question was the very last pitch of the game; if you get a chance to see a replay, you'll see that the ball drops almost straight down while 'backing up', rather than cutting toward the first base side of the plate.

Interestingly (to me, anyway), Scott Olsen, the Marlins' lefty starter that we saw a couple of days ago, often has the same situation happen, with his slider being called either a sinker or, occasionally, a splitter. When Olsen's slider is really on, it features that same sort of straight down, split finger action that a couple of Perez's pitches had last night. Kinda cool, if you ask me.

While I'm on the subject of Young Pitcher (love that nickname), La Russa had some very nice comments about Perez in the postgame last night. For Perez and Garcia both, actually. I bring this up because Tony takes an awful lot of heat for the way he deals with young players from a lot of people, myself most definitely included. Most of the time, I feel that it's well deserved. But, if you're going to criticise, you should also be willing to give credit when and where it is due, and so I'm doing that now. Both of those pitchers performed beautifully in the game last night, and La Russa made sure to acknowledge those performances.

You know, I actually had an actual big discussion topic for this morning, but looking at this this, it's awfully long already. (can I get a TWSS?) I think I'll just save it for another day.

Hope that you all enjoy your Saturday. I'll be along later with a game thread.