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RHRUI v. St. Louis Cardinals

Bailiff: All rise! Hear Ye! Hear Ye! The Honorable Judge V.E. Birdos presiding.

Judge Birdos: Please be seated (in your parents’ basement!). This case is Right Handed Relievers Union International v. St. Louis Cardinals. Arguing on behalf of the Union will be Mr. chuckb. Mr. b – you may proceed.

Mr. b: Thank you, your honor. Your honor, the Cardinals are presently in first place in the NL Central. Their rotation is stout, their offense is improving, and their defense is serviceable. Ryan Franklin has been a pleasant surprise in the closer’s role and the team has 2 solid left handed relievers. They have their best chance since 2006 to make the playoffs and make a strong run once they get there. With that in mind, the team must fortify the right side of their bullpen as it is, right now, their biggest area of need. It may be the one area that, failing a strong Cubs run, could prevent the team from making the playoffs or from succeeding once they get there.

Judge Birdos: Arguing on behalf of the Cardinals will be Mr. Bill De-wallet….excuse me, DeWitt. Mr. DeWitt, would you care to make an opening statement at this time?

Mr. DeWitt: Yes, your honor. The Cardinals have already added more than $6.5 M to its payroll in order to make a postseason run. Jason Motte and Kyle McClellan are young pitchers who have had some success in their major league careers. I feel confident in their abilities to get batters out over the last month and a half of the regular season and in the postseason. Besides, the rotation has been so strong, and Franklin and the lefties have been so strong, Motte and McClellan are likely to only be called upon to get a couple of batters at a time. There’s really no need to give up prospects or GOD FORBID!!!! extra dollars in order to add a reliever whose responsibility would extend to just a couple of batters. Finally, Blake Hawksworth has been sensational in relief over the last few weeks and he gives Manager La Russa a third option already on the roster should Motte or McClellan prove they can’t handle the job.

Judge Birdos: Mr. b – you may call your first witness.

Mr. b: Your honor – I call John Smoltz to the stand.

Bailiff: Please raise your right arm. Do you solemnly swear that that arm can get hitters out and can help the Cardinals win their division and win postseason series, so help you God?

Mr. Smoltz: I do.

Mr. b: Mr. Smoltz, many baseball observers believe that your career is effectively over after being dfa’d by the Red Sox. Could you please tell us in your own words ...

Mr. Smoltz: What do you mean "in my own words?" Whose words do you think they would be?

Mr. b: Could you please tell us why you believe you are still able to get major league hitters out?

Mr. Smoltz: This year I’m striking out 7.43 batters per 9 innings and only walking 2.03 batters per 9 innings. My K/BB ratio of 3.67 is better than my career K/BB ratio. Batters only have an 18.1 % LD rate against me this year and my ground ball rate is a respectable 42.8%. My fastball is still averaging more than 91 mph and I also throw a curve, a slider, a change up, and a splitter.

Mr. b: Isn’t it true that batters are hitting .341 against you? In fact, aren’t batters' slash stats .341/.384/.541?

Mr. Smoltz: That’s true but I’ve been a victim of terrible luck. My BABIP is an unsustainably high .390. Considering my respectable line drive rate, it should be closer to the league average of .300. Also, my HR/FB rate is 14.8%. Again, it’s unsustainably high. In a more pitcher friendly ballpark w/ better luck, that rate will be much closer to league average.

Mr. b: What is your current FIP?

Mr. Smoltz: 4.93. I know it’s not great, but it’s much better than my ERA.

Mr. b: Mr. Smoltz, you’ve been a starter most of this season but would be coming to the Cardinals in order to relieve, is that correct?

Mr. Smoltz: I’m going to do whatever they ask me to in order to help the ballclub.

Mr. b: Well said. You’ve seen Bull Durham!

Mr. DeWitt: Objection, your honor! What’s the relevance of this? If it’s to show that Smoltz pitches like Nuke LaLoosh, never mind!

Mr. b: Mr. Smoltz, what are batters’ slash stats against you the first time through the order?

Mr. Smoltz: .250/.343/.312. That’s an OPS of .655.

Mr. b: .655? What are their slash stats on pitches 1-25?

Mr. Smoltz: .257/.395/.286. That’s an OPS of .681.

Mr. b: What are batters’ OPSes in your first 2 innings of work?

Mr. Smoltz: .705 and .464.

Mr. b: .464? That’s Chris Carpenter’s level, isn’t it?

Mr. Smoltz: He wishes!

Mr. b: Have you ever heard of xFIP ? If so, please tell the court what it is.

Mr. Smoltz: It’s basically a predictor of a pitcher’s future ERA based on his peripheral statistics.

Mr. b: What is your xFIP right now?

Mr. Smoltz: 4.37 – in the American League. That’s better than league average.

Mr. b: Do you know if ZIPS has run a projection of your FIP for the remainder of the season?

Mr. Smoltz: They have. It’s 3.65.

Mr. b: Your witness, Billy Boy!

Mr. DeWitt: Mr. Smoltz, what is your current ERA?

Mr. Smoltz: 8.35

Mr. DeWitt: 8.35? Is that in pesos?

Mr. b: Objection!

Judge Birdos: Sustained! Quit being a dick, DeWitt!

Mr. DeWitt: I apologize, your honor. How many homers have you given up this year, Mr. Smoltz?

Mr. Smoltz: 8

Mr. DeWitt: 8…in how many innings, 150? 160?

Mr. Smoltz: 40

Mr. DeWitt: 40? That’s fewer innings than years you’ve been alive! Sweet Fancy Moses! Mr. b already mentioned your slash stats. What was that OPS against?

Mr. Smoltz: (ahem!) (inaudible)

Mr. DeWitt: Could you please repeat that? I’m not sure they heard you down in their parents’ basement.

Mr. Smoltz: .968!!!!!!!!

Mr. DeWitt: What is your current contract status?

Mr. Smoltz: I’m owed $35,000 for every day I’m on the active roster and another $500,000 if I’m on the roster on October 4. That comes to about $2.3 M if I become a Cardinal today.

Mr. DeWitt: And the team would have to give up prospects in order to trade for you, correct?

Mr. Smoltz: Right now, that’s the case. I was dfa’d about 6 days ago but after 10 days I become a free agent.

Mr. DeWitt: I’m done w/ this witness, your honor.

Judge Birdos: You may step down, Mr. Smoltz. You may call your next witness, Mr. b.

Mr. b: I’d like to call Justin Speier to the stand.

Bailiff: Please raise your right arm. Do you solemnly swear that that arm can get hitters out and can help the Cardinals win their division and win postseason series, so help you God?

Mr. Speier: I do.

Mr. b: Mr. Speier, you were just released outright by the Rancho Cucamonga Angels of Oxnard, is that correct?

Mr. Speier: Actually, it’s the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Mr. b: My mistake. Thank you. Could you please tell us why you believe you are still able to get major league hitters out?

Mr. Speier: I’m striking out 8.78 batters per 9 innings and only walking 3.38 batters per 9. My fastball averages more than 90 mph and ZIPS projects my FIP to be 4.36 the rest of the season. I’m crushing right handed hitters. Their slash stats against me are a ridiculous .239/.290/.359. My xFIP is 4.48…in the American League!

Mr. b: Not too bad. Anaheim Stadium favors hitters as well, doesn’t it?

Mr. Speier: It does. Its multi-year park factor for pitchers is 102 whereas Busch Stadium’s is 99. I realize my HR/9 and HR/FB have been relatively high, but I’ve been playing for the Angels for 3 years and this year my road OPS against is 140 points lower than my home OPS against.

Mr. b: And the Angels released you? It’s outrageous! Outlandish! Preposterous! Your witness, DeWit…less!

Mr. DeWitt: ERA?

Mr. Speier: 5.18

Mr. DeWitt: HR/9?

Mr. Speier: 1.58. But that’s in a…

Mr. DeWitt: Yes, we know. A hitter’s park. Got it. Any hitters’ parks in the National League?

Mr. Speier: Probably a few, but I’m a deity against righties!

Mr. DeWitt: Any good left handed hitters in the NL?

Mr. Speier: I suppose so, but w/ Miller and Reyes, Mr. La Russa wouldn’t need me to pitch to many of them.

Mr. DeWitt: That’s quite a sales pitch you’ve got there. I wouldn’t use that line when you introduce yourself to Tony. "Hi. I’m Justin Speier. Please, Mr. La Russa don’t let me pitch to any lefties!"

Mr. b: Your honor, is there any call to have Mr. Speier spoken to in such a manner?

Judge Birdos: Oh pipe down, Francis! It’s not like he’s headed to the Hall of Fame! He’s made tons of money playing a game you and I would play for free and all that other stuff.

Mr. b: Duly noted, your honor.

Mr. DeWitt: Line drive rate?

Mr. Speier: For my career, it’s 18.6%.

Mr. DeWitt: And this year?

Mr. Speier: 20.8%

Mr. DeWitt: Then your .334 BABIP isn’t necessarily a product of bad luck, is it?

Mr. Speier: I’d call it bad luck that I haven’t had the good fortune of being able to pitch to National League hitters in a pitcher-friendly ballpark such as your beautiful new stadium. And have I mentioned what a nice tie you’re wearing, Mr. DeWitt? And I’ll add that I’ve been more effective against righties, even in the tougher league and the tougher ballpark, than your very own Kyle McClellan and Jason Motte.

Mr. DeWitt: Ha!

Mr. Mozeliak (sitting at Mr. DeWitt’s table): Ummm...It’s true.

Mr. DeWitt: It is? Is this thing (points to microphone) on? Dammit, boy! Didn’t I tell you to cover that thing when you spoke to me?

Mr. Mozeliak: I’m sorry, Bill.

Mr. DeWitt: (ahem!)

Mr. Mozeliak: I mean… I’m sorry, Mr. DeWitt, sir. It’ll never happen again.

Mr. DeWitt: Is this thing still on???!!!!!! No more questions for this witness!!!

Judge Birdos: Mr. b?

Mr. b: Your honor, I call Eduardo Sanchez to the stand.

Bailiff: Who?

Mr. Speier: Who?

Mr. Smoltz: Who?

Mr. DeWitt: Who?

Mr. Mozeliak: Who?

Mr. Luhnow (sitting next to Mr. Mozeliak): He pitches for Springfield.

Mr. DeWitt: Isn’t that where Homer Simpson lives?

Mr. Luhnow: Ummm…that’s a different Springfield, sir.

Bailiff: Do you?

Mr. Sanchez: Si.

Mr. b: Mr. Sanchez, could you please tell the court what your peripheral stats are for the Springfield Cardinals?

Mr. Sanchez: I’m striking out 10.70 batters per 9 innings and only walking 3.16 per 9 innings. My HR/9 is just 0.73 in a hitter’s park in a hitter’s league. I’m currently getting ground balls 44.4 % of the time.

Mr. b: How about your raw stats?

Mr. Sanchez: Batters are currently hitting just .164 against me. My ERA is 2.43 and my FIP is just 3.15.

Mr. b: What about your stuff? Would you say you have pretty good stuff on the mound?

Mr. Sanchez: Is the guy on the Dos Equis’ commercials the most interesting man in the world? Hell, yes, I have good stuff. It’s not uncommon for me to bring it – my fastball, I mean – in the upper 90s. Mr. Mozeliak could verify that. He saw me pitch less than a week ago.

Mr. DeWitt: Is this true, boy???!!!! I thought you were scouting some hot right handed pitcher, not playing grab-ass w/ 20 year olds in the beer leagues!

Mr. Mozeliak: But I was scouting…

Mr. DeWitt: Shut up, boy! Who asked you to speak?

Judge Birdos: Order in the court! Could you two misfits please STFU? This thread’s long enough as it is! This ain’t no Wednesday morning, you know!

Mr. R. Baron: Hey! I resent that. That kind of remark is completely uncalled for in light of the …

Judge Birdos: Quiet in the gallery! You were saying, Mr. Sanchez?

Mr. Sanchez: Que?

Mr. b: In fairness, though, Mr. Sanchez – that is in AA. It’s not exactly the majors in the middle of a pennant race, is it?

Mr. Sanchez: How would I know? It’s the minor leagues.

(Everyone in the court has a puzzled look on his face.)

Mr. Sanchez: As I was saying, certain sites figure out their minor league translations – how my stats project to the majors if I was given a chance to play today – and mine are muy bueno!

Mr. b: You spend a lot of time in your parents' basement, don't you?

Mr. Sanchez: I spend a lot of time in the bullpen waiting for the 9th inning of a Texas League game to arrive!

Mr. b: How bueno are they...the stats, I mean?

Mr. Sanchez: Baseball Prospectus shows my MLE PERA to be 3.88. Minorleaguesplits has also done some MLEs and they have my FIP as being 4.43. In other words, I could step in today and do an admirable job in the Cards’ pen. They project my batting average against to be .179 and project me to strike out 8.59 batters per 9 innings while only walking 4.42 batters per 9.

Mr. b: Those are projections, though, right? I mean, you’ve never gotten anyone out at the major league level?

Mr. Sanchez: No, but neither had Francisco Rodriguez before being called up in a pennant race in 2002. In fact, he pitched fewer than 6 major league innings before dominating in the playoffs. The Cards’ very own Josh Kinney had only pitched 25 innings before being great in the playoffs in 2006.

Mr. b: What would it cost the team in order to add you to the roster?

Mr. Sanchez: Very little. They would just have to pay me the major league minimum and then I could start dominating.

Mr. b: No further questions, your honor.

Mr. DeWitt: Mr. Sanchez, you’re how old?

Mr. Sanchez: 20

Mr. DeWitt: You can’t even drink, can you? I mean…legally. What I mean to say is, what if we added you to the roster, you couldn’t even have any victory champagne, could you?

Mr. Sanchez: Doesn’t that just leave more for the other guys and Tony?

Mr. DeWitt: Smart ass, punk! And that’s Mr. La Russa to you, boy! Don’t you know he likes vets anyway?

Mr. Sanchez: Yes, I know that animals are very important to him.

Mr. DeWitt: Huh?

Mr. Sanchez: Huh?

Mr. DeWitt: Have you ever gotten a major league hitter out?

Mr. Sanchez: No. I think we’ve already established that.

Mr. DeWitt: You’re currently pitching at AAA – the minor leagues, right?

Mr. Sanchez: It’s actually AA … for Springfield.

Mr. DeWitt: AA? That’s one less A! You’re younger than that Cory Remus kid that keeps taking Ankiel’s spot in the outfield! How do you expect to get big league hitters out?

Mr. Sanchez: With my high 90s fastball and otherwise explosive stuff!

Mr. DeWitt: I have no more questions. I rest my case.

Mr. b: So do I, your honor.

Judge Birdos: Closing statements?

Bailiff: I’d like to say that…

Judge Birdos: Not you, dumbass!

Mr. R. Baron: … and I should add that I’m really not all that verbose, it’s just that there’s a lot to say and …

Mr. b: The Cards need to make a move. I’ve presented 3 pretty good options from which to choose. All of them, I believe, can get big league hitters out right now and be better options than either McClellan or Motte going forward. Yes, I know that Smoltz is older than dirt and that Sanchez is younger than Rasmus looks and that Speier is…well, Justin Speier but any of the 3 would be better than what we’ve got. When we traded for Matt Holliday, giving up our best prospect and a pitcher w/ solid potential, we made the decision to go for it. It’s silly to allow a gaping hole in the pen to fester when there are options available.

Mr. DeWitt: I’ve said all I have to say. It’s time for my sponge bath! Get my briefcase, boy!

Mr. Mozeliak. Yes, Mr. DeWitt, sir.