the indecision over wainwright continues; per this morning’s paper, his role apparently depends upon carpenter’s health. if carp can pitch, then wainwright will be a reliever; if carp can’t, wainwright will be a starter. i reiterate what i said a few days ago ---- a player like wainwright should never be treated as a utility guy. (it suddenly occurs to me ---- pujols was tlr’s designated utility guy in the ’07 all-star game. hmmmm . . . . ) and i still don’t see the marginal gain of putting wainer into the pen under any circumstances. the team hasn’t blown a save since the perez / mcclellan regime took over in the 8th and 9th innings; some close calls, sure, but you’re always going to have those. add springer to that pair, and the back end of the pen is pretty tight; how do you improve anything by displacing one of those guys to fit wainwright in? i guess the argument is that it shores up the 6th / 7th innings; you’d be able to pitch mcclellan there, with perez setting up in the 8th and wainwright throwing the 9th. springer fills in for whoever’s tired / ineffective under this scenario, and franklin / izzy sopping up the unimportant innings. . . . . but you achieve the same thing, imho, if you leave the kids at the back end of the game, use franklin / thompson in the 6th / 7th, and get bulk innings from izzy, garcia, plus whomever wainwright displaces from the rotation --- presumably pineiro.
i’d be surprised if wainwright confers a marginal gain of even 1 win at the back of the bullpen; granted, the kids are bound to blow a game or two at some point, but wainwright wouldn’t be perfect either. but in the rotation? he’s worth about 1/5 of a win per start over pineiro (as measured by PRAR and team w-l record in the pitchers’ starts); even if he only takes 7 turns down the stretch, that’s about 1.5 wins of expected gain. nearly half of the cards’ remaining games are against the league’s best rotations ---- the dbacks (webb / haren / johnson), cubs (zambrano / harden / lilly), and brewers (sheets / sabathia). if they save wainwright for the 9th, they may not have many leads for him to protect. the team needs both him and carp in the rotation to match the zeroes that opposing starters are going to post against the cardinal hitters.
the argument is probably moot, because from the sound of things i doubt that carpenter’s going to be able to pitch much (if at all) for the rest of the year; he’s still complaining of muscle discomfort, and he hasn’t thrown a baseball in over a week; it doesn’t make any sense to push it. assuming carp remains on the shelf, then wainwright will go into the rotation (replacing thompson) and the bullpen will stay as it is. adding both wainwright and carpenter to the rotation would give the cards their best chance; should they be lucky enough to have the opportunity, i'd hate to see tony / dave miss it. but it sounds as if they're going to . . . . .
now is probably not the time to rehash this, but there’s no comfort to be taken from tony n dave's handling of the pitching staff during last year’s stretch run. the rotation stabilized in august, you may recall, posting a 3.72 aggregate era for the month --- the best mark in the league ---- and reeling off something like 12 quality starts in a row, something that not even the 2004-05 rotations were able to do. the starting pitchers were on a roll, and therefore so was the team --- by september 4 they’d nosed above .500 for the first time all year and were only 1 game back in the standings. tony n dave chose that moment to improve the rotation by adding mark mulder and mike maroth to it, creating a 7-man cycle whose benefits were not readily apparent to most of us; mulder lasted 4 innings in his first try, maroth lasted less than 2, and the cardinals gave up 6 runs or more 5 times in the first turn through the 7-man rotation. the idea was scrapped at that point, but the damage was done --- the team had gone 1-6 and fallen 4 games off the pace, and the rotation never regained its rhythm. when something’s working, sometimes it’s best just to leave it alone. the mcclellan / perez bullpen has been working; don’t mess with the formula.
i know i sound sour this morning, but all in all i think the cards did ok for themselves this weekend; they took advantage of a 1-3 stretch by the brew crew and picked up 2 games. somehow i had it in my mind that their 2-game showdown w/ milwaukee was this week, rather than next; they’ve got 5 easy games at home between now and that big series, while the brewers face a mild challenge in the resurgent astros. if the cards win 4 of 5, they’ll likely be in position to move back into the wild-card lead when the brewers come to town. and it looks like they’ll miss sabathia; he is pitching tonight, and his next turn will fall on sunday 8/24 because of an off day, so he won’t be available vs the cards on 8/26 or 8/27. if yost wanted to, he could pitch sabathia this saturday (8/23) and then turn him around on short rest to pitch vs st louis on 8/27, but that’d be a pretty desperate thing to do in late august; not even yost is that stupid. so we can safely assume that sabathia won’t be appearing during the 2-game series here. sheets probably will pitch the opener; he’s scheduled to start tomorrow, and because of off-days on thursday and monday his next natural turn would fall on 8/26 in st louis.
- i haven’t seen a whole lot written about kyle lohse’s wicked home/road split: 3.08 era at home with a .635 opponent ops, 5.40 era on the road with an .883 opponent ops. those figures don’t include yesterday’s start. . . . . that’s another factor to consider as we mull the risks / rewards of throwing lots of years + millions at lohse moving forward.
- i’m sure ankiel’s whiff with one out and the bases loaded yesterday didn’t shock anybody. it shouldn’t have: in 26 plate appearances with a man on third and less than 2 out, ankiel has struck out 11 times. he also has drawn 0 walks in those situations; teams are exploiting him mercilessly. in those 26 easy rbi opportunities, he has only 7 runs batted in --- he’s stranded the runner at 3d about three times as often as he has knocked him in.
- brendan ryan’s gone 4 for 25 since his demotion to memphis, but 2 of the hits were for extra bases --- a homer and a double.
- daryl jones has made an encouraging first impression at double A --- .281 / .477 / .469 through his first 85 or so plate appearances. that obp is not a typo; he has drawn 21 walks to go along with his 18 hits to date. this guy only turned 21 years old 7 weeks ago, and he has always had highly regarded raw tools; the organization’s outfield depth gets depthier.