I'm fine with being a broken record if it involves running out of ways to say that a pitcher is having a startlingly good season: Joel Pineiro is moving into Norm Cash territory, or at least Esteban Loaiza territory, and he's shown no sign of angering the spirit of Christy Mathewson, currently in residence in his right arm or mustache. I can't remember the last time there was a clearly "right" pitch to make and he didn't make it; I can't remember the last time I expected him to.
He's getting Duncan results, but it is not a garden-variety Duncan performance; Pineiro isn't throwing sinkers into the ground, he's working with a U-shaped strike zone, hitting either edge of the Gameday box and otherwise working generously on the lower third of it. If he misses he misses outside, typically by a few inches. I don't plan on missing another Pineiro start; I just can't see anybody else pitching like this for some time, Joel included. Even Greg Maddux struck hitters out at his best.
Joe Thurston is hitting .228/.328/.339 right now; Brian Barden was even worse, and Khalil Greene homered yesterday but is, it must be said, on his second rehab assignment for the same reason; that would trouble if it were a physical injury, and it troubles when it isn't, too. I say all this first to make it clear that I am not against "rushing" Mark DeRosa back from his apparently inevitable surgery even if he doesn't hit like late-career Mark DeRosa in 2009. Even if you give Thurston his current rates—not the .550 OPS he's carried for the last two months—and give DeRosa his worst numbers since 2005, the one-for-one replacement is still worth a win or so over the course of the rest of the season.
Of course I'm hesitant to attribute DeRosa's o-fer start to his bum wrist; if there is one hobby-horse I've beaten dead over my years in blogging it's that I'm hesitant to attribute anything to anything, even if I have it in writing from his wrist that it's the reason he's struggled in two games. But it's fair to say, I think, that he has a known wrist injury; that playing through injuries is hard, wrist injuries doubly so; and that taking those two things into account, now is the time for all good Cardinals fans to be just concerned enough to ruin the occasion of removing Joe Thurston from the lineup.
Speaking of bum wrists, the Brewers have finally replaced Rickie Weeks, whose tendon sheaths are like the hinges on the jewel case that is his physical baseball talent. Enter Felipe Lopez, who handled his Cardinals-induced second chance perfectly by playing in Arizona. It's a good trade, so long as they never, ever play him at short; two C+ prospects for a guy who can get on base and kind of play second base is a fine deal for anybody, let alone a team that is stuck wondering when Casey McGehee and Craig Counsell, a minor league vet who was an average hitter in AAA and a 39 year-old defensive replacement, will stop hitting.
Like the DeRosa deal, it's a great example of fixing a number of problems with one small move, instead of trading the farm system for players who, in the interest of protecting the identity of my sources, I will call Vacation and Vocition. Lopez isn't as good or as versatile a player as DeRosa, but then Roque Mercedes, incredible name aside, is no Chris Perez.