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Ludwick a Cardinal, Isringhausen a former Cardinal

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Your Roster Matrix for today:

 

2009 ROSTER MATRIX
ARBITRATION-FREE EDITION

STARTERS BENCH ROTATION PEN
molina c
$3.3m
thurston ut
$400K
wainwright rhp
$2.6m
perez rhp
$400K
pujols 1b
$16m
freese 3b
$400K
lohse rhp
$7.1m
franklin rhp
$2.5m
schumaker 2b
$450K
barton of
$400K
pineiro rhp
$7.5m
motte rhp
$400K
glaus 3b
$11.3m
mather of
$400K
wellemeyer rhp
$4.05m
mcclellan rhp
$400K
greene
$6.5m
ryan ut
$400K
carpenter rhp
$14m
kinney rhp
$400K
duncan lf
$850K
larue c
$950K
boggs rhp
memphis
thompson rhp
$500K
ankiel cf
$2.825m
rasmus of
memphis
todd rhp
memphis
miller lhp
$500k
ludwick rf
$3.7m
kennedy na
$4M
mortensen rhp
memphis
--- ---
--- ---
TOTAL
$44.93m
TOTAL
$6.95m
TOTAL
$35.25m
TOTAL
$5.1m
OVERALL PAYROLL: $92.23m

 

Not particularly different from when last we left it; the Cardinals continue to run hard up against their assumed $95-100m payroll, and meanwhile, Adam Kennedy provides a formatting conundrum for roster matrix-watchers everywhere.

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The latest Cardinals semi-story pivots on he who must not be named in the late innings, Jason Isringhausen. I say semi-story because in the P-D piece Mozeliak doesn't mince many pronouns in dismissing an Isringhausen return, but Izzy's momentary turn back in the spotlight allows for the kind of career retrospective that's best avoided in the middle of a 2008-caliber down year. 

Isringhausen the Cardinal was a fun pitcher to watch; he fulfilled nearly every closer trope, but only in moderation. He threw really hard, but it was a self-effacing, mid-90s hard—there was no Jenks-ian effort before every pitch, no looking at the radar reading. He was frightening, in a Wild Thing sort of way, but prior to his various injury problems he never really walked that many people. He had two devastating out pitches, the aforementioned Closer Fastball and a yo-yo curveball, but he didn't seem to enjoy using them all that much. Most importantly: he was really, really good. Before he lost the fastball, and then the command, he combined a strikeout an inning with an extreme knack for avoiding the home run—in his first 241 Cardinals innings he allowed just 11. 

But for closers every skill is an invitation to discuss a failing, and every failing is magnified by virtue of everyone in the stadium standing up and then sitting down again on every two strike count. The ability to keep the ball in the stands becomes a propensity for wriggling out of trouble, in this odd spotlight; the occasional bout with the base-on-balls becomes an elaborately described, sigh-inducing balancing act of curveballs in the dirt and bases-loaded infield flies. When he actually did lose it, it wasn't much of a stretch—he was accurately portraying our worst-case-scenario mental image, just more often than usual. 

Get any better than Isringhausen was from, say, 2002 to 2005 and you get the full pyrotechnics/t-shirt treatment. Isringhausen was not Jason Game Over Isringhausen, but—we can say it now that he's gone, now that 2008 isn't the current impression but one of many old ones—for a while, he was pretty close. Jason "Things Are Still Interesting, But Only Clinically" Isringhausen. I hope he catches on somewhere. 

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Finally, I'm really excited about the World Baseball Classic this year, and not just because Albert Pujols and his Permanently Google News Alert-ed Elbow have bowed gracefully out of the proceedings. It's still a month off, but the increasingly regular news roundups at Baseball Think Factory have gotten me hooked. More than anything else, I hope to see more stories like this one, which combine the cosmopolitan allure of passport issues with the memory-jogging effect of former major leaguers.

What I'm getting at is: am I alone in my WBC giddiness? The artificiality of the whole competition is still a little too close—too recently constructed—for me to go whole hog and become a rooting, partisan fan, but already I can see myself, twenty years down the road, cheering on the USA team against Cyber-Pujols and the Dominican Republic with reckless abandon. It's a gradual process.