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Khalil Greene surprises everyone; Albert Pujols surprises no one

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I hope I'm not jinxing his apparently day-to-day bum knee—his own response was "I wouldn't think I would miss a game because of it," anyway, thereby daring the gods of baseball and dramatic irony—but it's worth noting that upon hitting his third home run in as many games yesterday Khalil Greene doubled the Cardinals' year-to-date home run total at third base.

And that's not all: as of right now Khalil Greene, .221/.311/.398, shouldering a slump so bad it led him to the DL, officially has a higher OPS than the third base slot as a whole. It's been a rough year for a position that I was sure would be the key to the Cardinals' wheeling and dealing at this point in the season. I expected the wheeling and dealing to move in the opposite direction, but I guess in a very vague way I was right. 

That was a great win for everybody up to and including Wainwright, who had the kind of game that would be endlessly frustrating if it weren't camouflaged by a bona fide ten run sunday. Typically when you strikeout eight batters and don't walk anybody in six innings they aren't going to get enough baserunners to score five runs, but if it had to happen I'm glad it did while Gil Meche was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. 

Thirteenth pitcher update: Blake Hawksworth, my friend and yours, pitched one inning in a game that featured a seven run lead while the starter was still in. Dennys Reyes and Jason Motte, who are 1-2 in bullpen games, and Kyle McClellan, who leads the team in relief innings pitched, came in first.

If La Russa is not going to bring in the thirteenth pitcher, a lifelong starter who hadn't worked in a week and a half, to keep his three hardest-worked relievers from having to pitch in a game that the Cardinals had a 99% chance of winning at the moment the starter came out... you know, continuing to do these if-then illustrations has given me a unique insight into the psyche of Jeff Foxworthy. They're just too easy. 

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Cardinals meet up with the Hated Mets tonight, and just in time for me to attempt a VEB feature we haven't done in a while and ask the other team's blogger a few questions about the state of the team. That means I talked things over with Eric Simon, the host of Amazin' Avenue, about a team that looks eerily like our own.

Their aging rent-a-slugger can't say if or when he'll play this season; their mid-level acquisition, Oli Perez, looked completely out of it and has been shuttled between the DL and a rehab assignment with no concrete understanding of their injury; nothing has seemed to go right for them on either side of the baseball, and yet they are still just out of the division lead. As if that weren't enough to make one suspicious, Fredbird and Mr. Met have never been seen in the same place at the same time. 

Dan: The Mets are obviously hurting, and like the Cardinals they've been filling the gaps at shortstop and first base/the outfield with an increased share of playing time for the reserves. How have Alex Cora, Gary Sheffield, Jeremy Reed et al handled the adjustment? How has Manuel managed them?

Eric: Cora and Sheffield have exceeded most expectations placed on them. Sheffield in particular has done an impressive job keeping this offense afloat while half the lineup is on the disabled list and the other half is hitting for little-to-no power. Cora is not Jose Reyes, but he has actually done a better job of getting on base than the man he is replacing, and he hasn't embarrassed himself in the field.

Manuel has done an adequate job managing the injuries, though his insistence on batting David Wright fifth for a while there was stupendously idiotic. Given what he has to work with his lineup construction and bench usage has been passably decent.

How did super-prospect Fernando Martinez look in his brief cup of coffee? 

Performance-wise, Fernando Martinez didn't look like a big leaguer in his 74 plate appearances with the Mets, though in his defense he wasn't quite ready for the Show and his time there was a matter of necessity given the Mets' laundry list of injuries that precipitated his callup. He didn't look nervous or uncomfortable, but his bat needs a little bit more time to prepare for MLB-caliber pitchers.

Pelfrey can't strike anybody out, Maine can't find the strike zone, and Oli Perez is in the witness protection program. Is there anything on the horizon to promise the Mets a more reliable #2 behind Santana than Livan Hernandez?

There's nobody in the organization ready to step in right away and be a #2 guy, though Jenrry Mejia and Brad Holt were both pitching remarkably well in High-A ball before recent promotions to Double-A Binghamton. Realistically, they won't be contributing to the big club until 2010 at the earliest.

Pelfrey, Maine and Perez could all be reasonable #3 starters, assuming the latter two can get healthy one of these days. Pelfrey's lack of strikeouts is a concern, but he's still figuring out how to pitch and have confidence in his breaking balls, and his sinker is good enough to make him an above-average starter even if the strikeouts don't come along.

How are Mets fans dealing with the organization's seemingly long-term affection for ex-AAA-backup Omir Santos?

It depends on whom you ask. Members of Amazin' Avenue tend not to be representative of Mets fans in general. Your average Met fan sees Santos's RBIs and clutch homeruns and annoints him the catcher of the future. Our community looks at his pathetic on-base skills and unsustainble line drive rate and can't believe Ramon Castro was given away for nothing (not to mention that Nationals' star catcher Jesus Flores was left unprotected by GM Omar Minaya in the Rule 5 draft a few years back).This is not to take anything away from Santos, who has been better than anyone could have hoped.

As for his long-term prospects, my trusty magic eight ball says: outlook not so good.

Thanks to Eric for suggesting the exchange—I spoke to him about the Cardinals, as well—and for braving the usual generalized out-of-towner questions.