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While I found the doomsday attitude from pundits after the Cliff Lee loss to be absurd, it should appear even more so after last night. Does it help to have great front of the line starting pitching? Sure. Is it crucial? Not really. We're working with such small sample sizes that even bad teams have a decent shot.  Colby Lewis and Mitch Moreland took care of business in game three. The Rangers have to win 3 of the next 4 games.  From August 22-24, the Rangers won four games with bookend losses attributed to Cliff Lee.

This is anyone's series.

I parsed a mostly ingratiating and ego stroking unicorn chat from this week. There was, in my estimation, one intriguing paragraph regarding organizational changes:


I'm not going into all the gory details again. I've addressed them periodically in the P-D the last few years and then been portrayed as Satan by many within the organization for shedding light on issues within what has achieved almost religious status. Let's see: The club last month restructured its front office to place day-to-day control of the minor leagues under John Vuch. (Jeff Luhnow remains vice-president.) As part of his return to the club, Dave Duncan will have much greater influence on what is going on within the system. The shift of Gary LaRocque from scouting to player development is also a very significant move. LaRocque, former special assistant to Mozeliak, will serve as Vuch's "muscle," making sure that standardized instruction is implemented throughout the system. The concept of "Perfect Mechanics," an irritant to Duncan and numerous others within the system, is being dissolved. Rather than remaining transfixed on minor-league records (the Cardinals led the industry in minor-league win percentage last season), greater emphasis will be placed on development. Yes, bullpen coach Marty Mason was sacked in part because of his outspoken dissent about what was taking place in the system. Ironically, many of the changes recently implemented are in response precisely to those concerns.

It's to bad that JoJo got his fweelings hurt, because the reporting on the front office is generally good and accurate.  Let's hit the important parts here: 1) Dave Duncan has greater influence on the minors and 2) "Perfect Mechanics" goes away.  It's hard to read between the pot shots about being transfixed on minor league records (a laughable claim) and LaRocque being muscle (as opposed to simply another set of eyes) but the two items I've listed are important.

I'm strongly on the side that Dave Duncan having greater influence on the minors is a bad thing. Duncan is not a flexible pitching coach. The Cardinals tailor acquisitions to Duncan because they know that if they find the right kind of player, a la Jake Westbrook, there's a lot that Duncan can do with them. These kids in the minors don't all fit Duncan's philosophy and approach. Some of the best prospects in the system don't. These players are going to get left behind if they revert to a dogmatic approach to pitching in the minors. This is part of the disconnect between having a good system in the minors and TLR/DD as the coaching staff. The Cardinals have decided they're willing to continue that disconnect for various reasons.

The perfect mechanics storyline is one that hasn't been hit on as much. It was just as flawed as the two-seamer approach that pre-dated it. The Cardinals have to find a degree of flexibility to allow unusual or simply different players to thrive in their system.  The lines seem so entrenched between aspects of the front office that the pendulum swings from one dogma to another instead of a happy medium. Cynically, portions of the front office staff could simply be waiting out Dave and Tony given their age but the optimum solution would be finding away to incorporate their benefits with those of the analytical group and Jeff Luhnow.

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Dear GDM -- Please skip this section for your own sanity.

The news yesterday was that the White Sox were "targeting" Colby Rasmus in trade talks.  At first glance, there was nothing that jumped out at me as implausible until I read the White Sox end of that package: Carlos Quentin. He might be one of the worst fielders in the game of baseball. He's put himself up there with the likes of Brad Hawpe and Adam Dunn as multiple defensive metrics have routinely hated his defense for the past two years. Add to that the fact that he's not a cheap cost controlled player and a Rasmus-Quentin Swap makes zero sense.

That's not to say the White Sox don't have other bullets in the chamber. If the conversations were to progress, the Cardinals would have to at least consider guys like John Danks, who was reborn after learning the cutter, and Tyler Flowers, their offensively minded catcher who is set to take over for AJ Pierzynski next year. The White Sox have some intriguing players in the lower minors that could become toss ins so, if the Cardinals are going to trade Rasmus, I wouldn't discard out of hand the White Sox as a match.

The difficulty here is that when you're talking about Rasmus, most of the prognoses are that there's still room for growth in his baseball skills & polish. There's still room for a 4 WAR player to get better. John Danks is a great pitcher but I'm not sure you look at him to be more than 4 WAR going forward. Tyler Flowers is a very good catching prospect but the jury is still out on how good he'd be. It's hard to find a match where the Cardinals get someone with superstar potential in return. Like him or hate him, that's what Colby Rasmus is.

Carlos Quentin though, that's just not a player we should even want. Much less as a return on Rasmus. (MLBTR - Trade Story; Joe Strauss - Rejection Tweet)

As a warning, don't expect Strauss to float Rasmus rumors with a strong understanding of what the team should expect back. From his chat:

Joe Strauss: Atlanta is interested in Raz'. Prado is a steep price. However, the parts are there for an expanded deal between the two organizations.

A steep price for the Cardinals who should be looking for more than just Prado in that deal.  If you're looking for the most likely destination for Rasmus, I'd say Atlanta is the town you should be placing bets on.