I guess after enduring a tough homestand, the best thing is to go visit a team who’s season has fallen apart. No one would argue this visit to Houston hasn’t been a tonic for Cardinal hitters. They hung 6 runs on Wandy and 6 more on last night’s starter Bazardo en route to easy wins both nights.
Their offense getting in gear is going to be important for their next series, as Colorado is playing well and is also putting up runs. Yes, they’re currently playing San Diego, and hung 11 on the Padres last night, but San Diego has played better overall since the All Star break (33-31) than the .409 pace they were on before July 12. Also that series could be a preview of the NLDS, so best foot forward, as they say.
Before we all breathe a collective sigh of relief that the offense has returned – let’s not forget the Cardinals have beaten up on teams under .500 (currently 62-33 against them, or a .652 pace), but are under .500 themselves against teams with winning records (27-30; they were 26-25 heading into the last homestand). So while the offensive resurgence is encouraging, I’d really like to see it continue this weekend against a playoff-caliber team.
I predicted the Cardinals would clinch in Houston, and that can still happen. However, it will require them to beat a guy (Bud Norris) who mystified them in August, and get some help from a Milwaukee team that’s been beaten up as badly by the Cubs the last two days as St Louis has mauled Houston. Former Notre Dame WR Jeff Samardzija will start today for the Cubs against Chris Narveson. Samardzija got killed by the Phillies on August 12 (3 1/3, 7 ER) in his only other start of 2009. Former Cardinal farmhand Narveson has been better – in his 2 previous starts, he’s thrown 8 innings allowing 3 ER. Milwaukee won both those games, although he didn’t figure in either decision.
So, the magic number stands at 2. Another easy one – #2 is retired, last worn by Red Schoendienst. Back in the day, major league organizations would hold open try-outs for aspiring baseball players in the local area of the team. Red was discovered at one of these events, and debuted with the Cardinals in 1945. He eventually played 19 seasons in the Majors, most with St Louis, but he spent some time with the NY Giants and Milwaukee Braves towards the end of his career. Bob Keely wore 2 before Schoendienst. He appeared in one game in 1944 and one in 1945; he had one at bat in the majors (1945), and didn’t reach base. He died in 2001.
The big news yesterday was the voiding of Wagner Mateo’s contract by the Cardinals. His signing had been a big deal, both because he was a high-value prospect, and because it represented a splashy entry by the Cardinals into the Carribean player market. A $3.1 million contract to a 19-year old will turn some heads, to be sure. Not sure what voiding the contract will do, but most of it will probably be negative. Not that I fault the Cardinals for doing this; part of the conditions was that Mateo had to pass a physical, and he didn’t. I’m going to assume the results of his physical (apparently taken in July) were known to the organization before now, and they’ve been trying to decide what to do since.
One other thing: The Post-Dispatch report implies the injury wasn’t disclosed prior to Mateo signing the contract. It’s always bad policy to withhold information from an employer, especially if it has large potential to come out anyway. In a physical game, why would you try to hide an injury? Makes no sense. The USN has a cute little saying, “never be the senior man with bad news”. The idea is to pass the data up the chain of command so the leadership knows about problems early and can work to fix them. When something bad happens and someone tries to cover it up, it invariably blows up much worse than it would have had that individual come clean to start.