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tuesday grab bag

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with his win last night, cc sabathia is 8-0 since joining the brewers in a midseason trade. he’s shaping up to be the best midseason mound acquisition since rick sutcliffe, who went 16-1 for the 1984 cubs, pitching them into the playoffs for the first time in 39 years and winning the nl cy young award. (coincidentally, sutcliffe --- like cc --- was traded away by the indians.) unless i’m mistaken, that’s the highest wins total, post-trade, for a pitcher who changed teams in midseason. the second-highest that i’m aware of is tom seaver’s 14-3, 2.34 line for the reds after he came over at the trade deadline in 1977. back then, of course, the trade deadline was june 15, so guys had more than half a season to build up their counting stats with their new clubs; sabathia was traded just a few weeks after that date, during the first week of july --- unusually early for this day and age --- so he has a chance to compile numbers rivaling those of yesteryear’s dealt pitchers.

another gaudy post-trade won-loss record belongs to doyle alexander, who twice paid great dividends to the team that acquired him midseason. everyone remembers his tremendous 9-0, 1.53 performance for detroit in 1987, both because it powered the tigers to the nl east title and because john smoltz was the player who went the other way in the trade. but alexander also went 10-5 for the yankees after being acquired in mid-1976, helped them win their first pennant since 1964, and wound up starting Game 1 of the world series vs the reds. david cone was another profitable pickup by the yankees, going 9-2 after joining them in mid-1995 and helping them make the playoffs for the first time in 14 years; it’s now 13 years later, and they haven’t missed the playoffs since. let’s not forget our own woodrow williams, who went 7-1 for the cards in august+september 2001 and powered a late-season rush that put the cards into the postseason.

those are off the top of my head; i’m sure i’m leaving some out. but i did make a thorough survey of the cards’ pages at B-R to see if any in-season acquisition by the cardinals has ever had the kind of impact that sabathia is having for the brewers this year. i went back through 1960; here are the highest win totals since then:

yr pitcher w-l era
1983 neil allen 10-6 3.70
1975 ron reed 9-8 3.23
2001 woody williams 7-1 3.96
2002 chuck finley 7-4 3.80
1960 curt simmons 7-4 2.66
1981 joaquin andujar 6-1 3.74
2007 joel pineiro 6-4 3.96
1977 tom underwood 6-9 4.95
2003 sterling hitchcock 5-1 3.79
2006 jeff weaver 5-4 5.18
1995 mike morgan 5-6 3.88

andujar would probably rank at the top of this list if it hadn’t been for the strike. he was traded on june 7, and the players struck on june 11, before andujar had thrown a pitch for st louis. he wouldn’t make his first start for them until august 14, only started 8 games total. more than half the pitchers on this list were acquired by walt jocketty, which is not an accident; i think he used to construct his teams that way on purpose, living with gaps in his rotation during the early part of the year and filling them at midseason with guys from the scrap-heap. that’s the generous interpretation. another generous one is that he nearly always had his teams in contention, and therefore was usually in "buy" mode at the deadline. the ungenerous spin is that jocketty’s opening day rotation usually fell apart by midseason, requiring him to scramble for reinforcements. . . . . only one of his acquisitions listed here actually cost a worthwhile prospect --- chuck finley, who was acquired for coco crisp after darryl kile’s death in june 2002.

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here’s another little bit related to a midseason pitcher trade. the dodgers added 42-year-old greg maddux yesterday. in the cardinals’ entire history, only 4 pitchers aged 42 or older have ever started a single game for the franchise. how many can you name? (here’s a hint: 3 of the 4 are in the hall of fame.) and while we’re at it:

  • who’s the oldest pitcher ever to start for the cardinals, and how old was he?
  • who’s the last pitcher aged 40 or older to start for the team?
  • only 7 pitchers aged 40 or more have ever made a start for the team. how many can you name?

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as long as we’re doing trivia questions, here’s another one. albert is currently batting .348; if he can lift his average another 2 points by the end of the year, he’ll become only the 5th player ever to post at least two .350 seasons for the cardinals. can you name the other 4?

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yadi molina has maintained his batting average above .300 continuously since july 3. if he finishes at or above .300, he’ll be the first cardinal catcher to do it since ted simmons, and only the 3rd in franchise history to do it an a season of more than 400 at-bats --- the other two being simmons (6 times) and walker cooper (once, in 1943). joe torre also did it in 1970, batting .325 in a full season, but he wasn’t a full-time catcher --- midway through the season he yielded the job to ted simmons and shifted to 3d base. he ended up with 88 starts behind the plate and 72 at the 3-sack. if we count him, then molina has a chance to become the 4th .300-hitting catcher in redbird annals. if we lower the threshold to 300 at-bats, molina would be the 7th catcher in franchise history to hit .300 (or 8th, if you count torre). the full list is here.

one more factoid about yadi: he currently has 47 rbi. if he can muster another 11, he’ll have the best rbi total for any stl catcher since darrell porter, who drove in 68 runs in 1984 and 66 the year before that.

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final item: kevin goldstein had some nice words about david freese in his monday ten pack yesterday:
Acquired from San Diego for what turned out to be a month's worth of Jim Edmonds, Freese was a ninth-round pick in 2006 who was coming off of a solid .302/.400/.489 line at High-A. Scouts had consistently high praise for his bat, but at the same time they wondered what a 24-year-old was doing in the California League, and what that kind of production really proved. The Cardinals moved him all the way up to Triple-A this year, and Freese has kept on slugging, only this time at an age-appropriate level. With four hits and a home run on Saturday, and another long ball on Sunday, Freese now has 23 bombs in 409 at-bats for the Redbirds as part of a .306/.359/.553 line. While Troy Glaus is signed through 2009, Freese provides a solid backup plan.
per BP’s translations, freese has a major-league-equivalent line of .269 / .318 / .479, with 20 homers; his EqA is .269 --- exactly average among big-league 3bmen this year. PECOTA liked him even before this year, deemed him a 2- to 3-win player; after this season, it's bound to like him even better. i haven’t seen him play, but i know azru wasn’t impressed when he watched memphis weekend before last. freese almost certainly is not a future star, and he may not ever be a big-league regular, but at least he’s got a plausible chance to be one --- if not for st louis, then for somebody else. and he’s got a reasonably good chance to stick somewhere as a big-league bench player. just 2 years ago travis hanson was the best 3d-base prospect in the system; today the organization has freese, craig, brett wallace, and jermaine curtis. it’s good to see that kind of progress; it’s good to have options. . . .