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september shuffle

not that it matters much, but i didn’t see anything wrong with the bullpen management yesterday afternoon. lot of unhappy campers in the game thread, but i didn’t spot the flaw in how tony played it. with the cards ahead 5-4 in the 6th inning he brought in villone to start the inning against dunn, who can't hit southpaws ---- .189 avg against them this year and .235 for his career, with severely diminished power. villone has been extremely good vs lhb this year --- .181 / .299 / .306 line before that at-bat. i can’t fault the mgr for relying on a guy w/ those stats. nor can i fault him for reyling on mcclellan, who came in one batter later and gave up the game-tying homer, yielded the go-ahead run the next inning. the kid’s been good all year, to the point that a large chunk of the fan base used to scream at tony back in june / july when he didn’t use mcclellan and turned to franklin or izzy instead. yesterday it was mcclellan’s turn to scuffle. blame that on tony if you want . . . . . my gripe w/ tony's decision-making lies in the rotation --- his continued use of pineiro --- rather than the bullpen. the cards will end up giving about 27 starts to joel and mulder this year, but 0 to anthony reyes, whom tony ushered out the door. that's the type of decision-making i fault la russa for.

the cards announced their september callups: barden, ryan, mark johnson, jimenez, motte, and kinney. i’m glad to see motte get his chance; he was unhittable after july 1, notching nearly 3 times as many strikeouts (49) as hits allowed (18). i’d like to see boggs and garcia added as well, if only to give them a chance to hang around the veterans and get a look at the hitters they’ll be facing soon (we can hope) from the big-league rotation.

i did a little quick research and came up with an all-september-callup team for the franchise. when did september roster expansions begin, anyway? i have a vague sense that it didn’t happen until after ww2, but i’d love it somebody could step up w/ a real answer and a source. in any case, i took my survey back to about 1960 or so, because that’s about as far back as baseball-reference’s game-by-game logs go; prior to that it’s impossible to tell which month a guy’s at-bats came in. here’s the team i picked --- feel free to quibble w/ my selections:

  • c: eli marrero, 1997. called up after belting 20 homers at louisville, then in its last season as the cards’ triple A affiliate. he made 13 starts for the cards in september and hit .244 / .271 / .422, with a couple of homers.
  • 1b: eduardo perez, 1999. keith hernandez was ineligible for inclusion, by one day; he was called up on august 31, 1974. in essence, he was a september call-up, making 8 starts in that month as the cards tried (unsuccessfully) to chase down the pirates. he hit .294 / .415 / .441 in 34 at-bats . . . . dmitri young ’96 was similarly ineligible, and he wasn’t particularly good anyway (.241 avg, .241 slugging). so we’re left w/ eduardo, who already had nearly 1000 big-league at-bats by 1999 but was relegated to quadruple A status after an off-year in cincinnati. he spent the whole year at memphis and slugged .524, then added a .344 / .462 / .500 line for the cardinals in 32 september at-bats.
  • 2b: jeff doyle, 1983. geronimo pena was a september call-up at this position in 1990, but he wasn’t very good --- .603 ops in 11 starts. doyle started 9 games for the cards after they faded from the race in mid-september 1983 and hit .297 / .316 / .432 in 37 at-bats, with a pair of triples padding his slugging avg. he would never play again in the big leagues.
  • ss: wilson delgado, 2002. i really wish i didn’t have to use this guy, but the only other candidate i spotted was luis ordaz --- and he didn’t hit 2 homers in 20 september at-bats and slug .600, as delgado did.
  • 3b: ken reitz, 1972. a 31st-round pick who moved extremely rapidly, reitz hit .290 in high A ball as a 19-year-old and reached triple A tulsa at age 21, where he batted .279 with 15 homers. that fall he got to st louis and started 20 games, batting .359 / .370 / .410. his batting average during that cup of coffee in 1972 would equal his career slugging average . . . . .
  • of: bernard gilkey, 1990. the university city grad went undrafted and spent 4 years in class A, batting in the neighborhood of .230 during that time. but he put it all together in 1989 at double A, and by 1990 was getting his feet wet in st louis. he started 17 games that september at hit .297 / .375 / .484.
  • of: stan musial, 1941. predates the BR database, and perhaps the current roster-expansion rules. musial was added to the roster to replace an injured player (enos slaughter, i’m pretty sure) on september 13, with 13 games left in the season and the cardinals trailing brooklyn by 1 game. The Man started 12 of the 13 remaining games and hit .426 / .449 / .574 with one home run, helping the cards stay in it until the final weekend of the season.
  • of: jd drew, 1998. he’d only been in the system for 3 months, having been drafted in june 1998. he made 8 starts in the outfield and hit .417 / .463 / .972 with 5 homers, the best hr total i could find for any september callup.
  • p: andy rincon, 1980: made 4 september starts for a dead-end team and was very impressive: 3 wins, 31 innings, 2.61 era, and a 3:1 k/bb ratio. he opened the following year in the rotation and was even better --- 3-1, 1.77 --- but got hurt; in 1982 he wasn’t the same pitcher, walking 25 men in 40 innings. his career was over at age 23.
  • p: jose jimenez, 1998: made 3 starts and won them all, piling up groundballs in the process; in one game 18 of 23 batted balls he yielded were grounders.
  • p: bob tewksbury, 1989. he was 28 years old and seemed destined for quad-A purgatory; despite a good season for the yankees in 1986 (9-5, 3.31 era) nobody believed in this guy due to his monumentally unimpressive stuff (fastball in the low to mid 80s). the cardinals were chasing the cubs in sept ’89 and got within half a game of the lead at one point; tewksie took over a slot that largely had belonged to ted power. he threw a complete-game shutout in his second game and was a fixture in the st louis rotation for the next 5 seasons, finishing 3d in the cy young voting in 1992.
  • p: al olmsted, 1980: this guy did well enough in 5 september starts (2.86 era) to get noticed by the padres, who took him as partial payment for rollie fingers that december. he never pitched again in the big leagues.
  • rp: pat perry, 1985 and scott terry, 1987: can’t use todd worrell ’85, for the same reason i can’t use hernandez --- he was called up on august 31, specifically to qualify him for the playoffs in case the cards made it (which they did). but herzog fearlessly turned to another rookie bullpenner in september ’85, pat perry, who made his big-league debut in a crucial game at shea on sept 12 and threw 4 shutout innings, enabling the cards to rally from a 6-0 deficit (they would ultimately lose 7-6). pretty finished the month with a 1-0 record in 6 games covering 12.1 scoreless innings, in which he allowed just 3 hits and 3 walks. as for terry, he also got extensive use in the midst of a pennant race, appearing in 11 games, mostly to protect leads in the 7th / 8th innings. herzog didn’t baby young players the way tony does; he’d throw ’em right in there. . . . terry spent another 4 very useful years on the st louis staff.

game time tonight is 8:40 CDT; the astros have crept to within 2 games of st louis. . . .