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Will the Real St. Louis Cardinals Please Stand Up?

The eFlu sucks. And, despite their early responses, WordPress tech support has been dead in the water and useless ever since. So to hell with ’em! We’re movin’ on…

“And Lo, though I walk through the Valley of Trade Rumors, I shall fear no MoneyBall GMs with deception in their hearts and injured pitchers on their rosters!”  — The Book of Jocketty, 15: 30

What a week. In the words of a random poster on the St. Louis Post Dispatch forums, “It doesn’t even hurt anymore.” Okay, that’s not entirely accurate…but it’s not far off. During the Lohse/Santana game, I found myself laughing at points where I would normally be creating new, inventive curse words to describe poor play. I just couldn’t help myself. It all feels like a bad dream…or perhaps some lost scene from the recent Jack Black movie Be Kind, Rewind.

Has something happened to our beloved St. Louis Cardinals? Are they secretly trapped in some Cambodian wilderness, livng off nuts and berries, carefully picking their way through guerrilla-infested jungles after a Pujols-charity-mission gone wrong? Such a calamity could certainly explain the imposters currently attempting to fake their way through MLB games on Fox Sports Midwest. Such a group seems determined to actually pass themselves off as ball-players (I’m pretty sure Mitchell Boggs is actually Jack Black with a sock-stuffed uniform…but maybe that’s just my ancient 1989 Sanyo T.V. set on the fritz again..), but alas…we are not fooled. The ruse is over.

Will the real St. Louis Cardinals please stand up?

This week, Chris Carpenter finally makes his return to the rotation. Make no mistake…this is huge. Carpenter is, in addition to Pujols, “the” significant piece of the St. Louis Cardinals’ identity. He embodies Dave Duncan’s philosophy, Tony La Russa’s work ethic, and the “Play Like a Cardinal” tenacity fans beg for from their players. True, the results this Wednesday won’t be “Carp like,” but Carpenter WILL be himself. His presence on this team will elevate the pitching staff, solidify the confidence of the position players, and re-energize a coaching staff that is at its wit’s end trying to figure out what combination of AAA pitchers can adequately fill the Cy Young void left by our Ace’s absence. The bullpen – over-worked, over-stressed, and overwhelmed – will finally be able to enter a game and face a lineup suitably lulled to sleep by the rhythmic work of an efficient, effective starter. Instead of bailing out a starter struggling against a team playing hand-ball with the outfield fence in the fifth or sixth inning, they’ll be able to enter the game with only the expectation of continuing the innings-eating pace set by the pitcher who came before them. I know…Carp won’t look like the Carp we know…but seriously…won’t ANY Carp be an upgrade from the starters we’ve seen in the past?

Adam Wainwright is also spinning good news…despite the idiocy being tossed about by some members of the front office regarding Waino as a closer. The Brewers have Sheets and C.C., the Cubs have Harden and Zambrano, Wellemeyer and Looper have been lucky to make it past the fourth or fifth inning within three runs of the lead, Joel can’t pitch his way out of a wet paper bag, Lohse just got tagged for 7 runs in 5+ innings, Carp hasn’t pitched since Opening Day of 2007 – and the front office is considering throwing Wainwright into the bullpen????!!!! Idiocy abounds in St. Louis. If Waino can’t go as a starter for the rest of this season, the season is over anyway…Adam in the bullpen will solve NOTHING. Remember, it’s not enough to make the post season – we passed the “I’m just happy to be here” mentality years ago – we have to be able to compete. With Wainwright in the pen, we can’t…we just can’t…(Need I remind you what happened when we faced Randy Johnson and Kurt Schilling in the playoffs a few years ago?).

So…let’s review thus far…the Cards are attempting to reclaim their winning identity, and the return of Carp and Waino is going to go a long way in doing that…but at least one more piece is missing. Barring a trade/call-up/new idea (I’m still intrigued by the possibility of Jess Todd as a closer ala Waino’s rookie campaign…), this team needs to resolve the closer role…and quickly. TLR believes both Franklin and Izzy are distracted by each other’s presence – Izzy because he wants the closer role and Frank because he feels like he’s taking Izzy’s spot. TLR’s answer? Frank’s the closer and he’ll just explain it to them.

????…seriously? Has he been watching the games? Okay, I know Izzy’s gotten tagged a couple times in the ninth recently…but I really believe that is a combination of bad luck and distractions. Will Izzy be a dominant closer again? No way. But he HAS to be the guy right now. We have to plug him into the role again (reference his short work of the Wright/Delgado/Beltran lineup just the other day), and then we can restore some order in the bullpen. Franklin can go back to his specialty in the 8th, K-Mac can go back to his 7th inning work, and Ron/Randy (ugh…) can again focus on lefties alone. And the best part…? Russ Springer can be used to spell Izzy in the ninth and come in when there are runners on base in a key situation. I’m telling you…Izzy may not be perfect, but he HAS to be “the guy” right now. We plug him in, and see what he’s got. If he can’t get it done…we get rid of him. Ugh…it hurts to say that…I love Izzy…but this team can no longer afford to babysit a closer that won’t be here next year…and Izzy knows it.

Would it really be that bad to say to Izzy, “Look…we love you man, but we need a dominant closer to contend…you’re just not there anymore. But, we want you to get 300, so we’ll do whatever we can to help you…trade you for nothing, accept the rest of your salary so a team will give you a shot…whatever it takes. How ’bout it? See you on Jason Isringhausen Day in ’09?” We did Reyes a favor by sending him to Cleveland…can’t we do better for Jason?

That’s all I’ve got for today. Expect some kind of roster move involving Boggs today…we have 4 outfielders (counting Ank) but only 3 are currently playable. Boggs is going down anyway, and this team needs a fourth playable outfielder. Is it time to end Barton’s rehab assignment? Or will Nick “The Stick” get another shot at the Bigs? Too bad Rasmus is injured…this could have been “the day” – with Dunc injured and likely to get traded if the team DOES make a deal (him or Schu), Raz could very well have started his Cardinal era today…

Ah well…GO CARDS!!!

UPDATE!  Nick “The Stick” has been recalled from AAA to fill out the depleted outfield bench. Mitchell Boggs has been optioned to AAA as expected.


2 thoughts on “Will the Real St. Louis Cardinals Please Stand Up?

  1. Hey, good stuff here. I’ve added you to my blog roll. If you’d care to do the same, well, I wouldn’t complain. 😀

    Posted by Cardinal70 | July 30, 2008, 10:08 pm
  2. Absolutely! Good stuff on your end, too…thanks for the thought.

    Posted by deckacards | July 31, 2008, 1:14 am

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