April 25, 2019

Exciting Times In Cardinal Nation

July 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

You know things are going good when a late-inning win to extend a lengthy winning streak is the second most talked about story today.

Let’s take the game first, though, before we get into the trade rumor that popped up last night.  We’ve talked about it before, but one of the great things about this winning streak is the fact that they are starting to beat pitchers that have given them trouble in the past.  It wasn’t part of the streak, but they beat Bud Norris right before it started.  They’ve beaten Kyle Kendrick.  Jamie Moyer didn’t beat them, though that was at least in part due to his injury forcing his early exit.

Last night, they took out Joe Blanton.  Even with his rough numbers for this year, Blanton still was able to curtail the offense for a while before Matt Holliday went deep to break the tie.  The Cards tacked on–another thing they’ve been doing well lately–and padded the lead in the eighth, which was great to see.

Jaime Garcia put a lot of doubts to rest, at least for a while, with a stellar performance.  His off-day discussions with Dave Duncan seemed to help him focus on what makes him effective.  To see him go into the seventh against an offense that is one of the top ones in the National League with only one run given up is very impressive.  While there’s talk of other pitching options, it’s not because of Garcia.  He’s already an amazing #3 starter.  If a trade were to happen and move him back to #4, can you just imagine how strong this team would be?

The down side to last night’s game was Skip Schumaker, who went 0-3 with two strikeouts.  It may be a credit to Skip that these games are now noticeable, instead of being considered more of the same.  That said, you don’t want to have too many of those kind of games this close to the trading deadline.

With the offense and the pitching both clicking, it’s not surprising the Cards have run off an eight game winning streak now, with the possibility of more.  Besides the settling of nerves that Garcia provided last night, there were more stories on the pitching front.

The more prosaic of them was the fact that Kyle Lohse threw a simulated couple of innings yesterday and will start his rehab assignment in Memphis on Monday.  I’m one of those that didn’t believe we’d see Lohse again, so this is pretty impressive news.  We’ll see if the arm can handle regular pitching, but it could be that Lohse can get back to something approximating 2008 now that he’s healthy.  I don’t know that you hold your breath on that, but no matter what, he’d be a pretty solid #4 starter for the Redbirds right now.  Or, perhaps, a dominant number five…..

That’s because the most earthshaking story came out last night, when Hardball Talk stated that, according to a source, the Cards were the front-runners for Roy Oswalt.  If you’ve ever wanted to hear someone get completely floored when going on the radio, catch last night’s UCB Radio Hour about thirty minutes in, when I call up and Josh hits me with that piece of knowledge.  It was the last thing I was expecting to hear and it shows.

Matthew Leach then came back and added to the report, saying that the Jayson Stark report from earlier in the day, that Oswalt was going to force whatever team to trade for him to pick up his 2012 option, didn’t necessarily apply to the Cardinals.  Oswalt could make the money work better by working out a deferral or could ignore the issue all together.  If this is true, it makes a deal a bit more feasible.

Joe Strauss chimes in on the report as well, but nothing indicates that anything will happen soon or even that it is inevitable.  It seems a real long shot, but let’s think about this some.First off, the upside is pretty obvious.  Putting a rotation of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Roy Oswalt and Jaime Garcia in the postseason, coupled with a lineup like the one St. Louis has, would probably make them the favorites to win the whole thing.  It should be enough to counteract the improving Reds rotation as well as any moves Walt Jocketty could make.

I’ve been a fan of Oswalt’s for a long time and would love to see him in Cardinal red.  From all these reports, indications are that he’s respected in the clubhouse and should fit into the Cardinal culture pretty well.  Being that he won the first Darryl Kile Award in Houston back in 2003, I think it’s safe to say he’d be a positive for clubhouse chemistry, something John Mozeliak had been looking for.  Oswalt’s had no major injury history, he is still having a solid year (even if his record doesn’t reflect it) and should be able to provide value both this year and next, plus that option year if necessary.

The downside is trying to figure out exactly how he works into the payroll structure.  If the 2012 option isn’t required, that helps a lot.  Bill DeWitt has said they have money for a deal, but would be leery of trading off top talent for a rental.  Oswalt’s 2010 salary is $15 million, so for the rest of the year it’d be, what, $7 million or so, maybe a little less?  It’s $16 million next year, then it’s possible the Cards could decline his ’12 option, which would be the first year of the new Pujols deal (assuming he re-signs).  Monetarily, perhaps it works.

The talent’s the thing, not the play.  More directly, who would the Cardinals have to give up?  You’d expect that one of Jon Jay or Allen Craig would go, because there’s not enough room for everyone with the return of Ryan Ludwick.  That’s not a problem.  Lance Lynn might also be in the discussion–again, that’s feasible.  The kicker is, will the Cardinals have to include Shelby Miller?

I’m of two minds on his inclusion.  On the one hand, TNSTAAPP.  Erik Manning on Twitter last night posted some interesting stats, which basically came down to only 2.5% of pitching prospects become stars.  The odds of Shelby Miller fronting a rotation someday are against him.

Even if he does turn out to be an ace, FFF–flags fly forever.  Would it be painful to see Miller pitching for a divisional rival, pitching against the Cards, maybe even leading the Astros to a title?  Sure it would.  But if you are able to wipe those tears on your 2010 or 2011 Official World Series Champion handkerchief, doesn’t that ease that pain a little bit?  You do have to give something to get something.  As I said last night, if Mark Mulder had turned out to be what we thought we were getting and had put that team over the top in 2005, the loss of Dan Haren would not be nearly as painful as it is today.

On the other hand, payroll has to be a consideration.  The Cards are going to need good, young players to give maximum value for minimal dollars in the coming years when they sign up Pujols.  Perhaps they think that they have a good line on signing some of this year’s prospects.  That’d help the payroll in a couple of years, especially if they were able to nab Austin Wilson and Zack Cox.  However, to give up a possible front-line starter, even a mid-rotation guy, that can give you quality at a minimum salary, that’s a tough sell.

It’s going to be a long week and a half, it appears.  Oswalt’s next start is Saturday against the Reds, so I don’t expect any move will get made before then (let him beat the closest competition!).  If a deal was made Sunday or Monday, Oswalt could pitch the last game of the Mets series in CitiField.  One way or another, he’ll be pitching in the Houston series August 2-4.  It just remains to be seen in which uniform.

Cards have the first of three straight afternoon games today, sending out Adam Wainwright to see if they can finish off the sweep.  Waino’s been pretty good against the Phillies in his career, holding them to a .225 team average.  Shane Victorino’s been tough on him (5-17, HR) but he’s kept Ryan Howard in check (2-11).

If they are going to sweep, however, St. Louis is going to have to beat another pitcher that’s been extremely tough on them in the past.  Cole Hamels has a .194 BAA against the players on the current roster.  Albert’s had issues (3-17, HR) while Yadier Molina is about as good as it gets (4-13).

Wainwright’s been dominant at home this season.  Hopefully he can keep it up and we can discuss his Cy Young chances tomorrow!

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