Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wainwright Rights the Ship

I hadn't realized Wainwright has never lost to Houston until that little factoid appeared in the Post-Dispatch this morning. His excellent effort was sorely needed following Looper's lackluster outing yesterday.

This sets up an interesting finale of the series today between Oswalt and Lohse. Oswalt hasn't pitched like his normal tough self so far this year, posting a 5.61 ERA and a 4-4 record. For this fan, however, seeing his name on the ledger brings to mind his two 2005 NLCS starts against the Cardinals. I will not be surprised if that Oswalt shows up today to pitch.

Brendan Ryan led off yesterday and played 2B. That marks the 4th game in a row he's appeared in. It has been said elsewhere in the blog-o-sphere that the Cardinal second sackers aren't hitting much (Miles, Kennedy), so initially I thought this meant LaRussa is going in another direction. However, so far this season his best leadoff hitter has been Schumaker, so why put Ryan in the 1-spot?

Then I noticed Schumaker wasn't in the lineup at all, with Barton playing LF and hitting seventh.

What gives?

At some point, you'd think LaRussa would settle on a standard lineup and go with it. It's tough to argue with the way he's managing the team; afterall, they're 31-22 and 1.5 games out of first in the NL Central. But trying to spread the wealth so much can't be good in that no one really knows their role; you might start tonight, then be a bench hitter tomorrow, then be a defensive replacement the next day, then start in a different position the next, etc.

The only thing I can think is they're auditioning some of their extra outfielders for a potential trade down the line. I think it's reasonable to assume Ankiel isn't going anywhere, and Ludwick has hit his way into the regular RF position (and his glove is pretty good, too). There aren't enough at bats to keep Duncan/Schumaker/Barton happy playing part time in LF. Even if you slot Duncan as Pujols' back-up at 1B to guarantee him a roster spot, he won't get that many at bats, just the occasional off-day for AP (since AP's a potential gold-glove winner, Duncan wouldn't be spelling him in the late innings for defense, and LaRussa certainly wouldn't want to take AP's bat out of the lineup unless he had do), so Duncan would still need playing time somewhere.

I wonder which one they're trying to move?


Cardinal John said...

With Barton a Rule 5 draftee is he eligible to be traded?

Cardinal70 said...

He is, but the receiving team would also have to keep him on the roster all year long.

That's what happened with Josh Hamilton last year. The Cubs took him in the Rule V draft and traded him to Cincy.

As for the alternate lineups, it always seems to work out to the Cardinals favor in the second half. Most of the decade, they've run away from the division after the AS Break, partly because players are fresh and more players are sharp, in my opinion.

Mike said...

Even during the salad years earlier this decade, I don't remember the lineup being shuffled on a daily basis like this. In 2005 there was a lot of day-to-day variation, but that was driven by injuries; same with 2006. I would think, over the 6 month season, guys perform better when their roles are well-defined vice constantly changing.

But, that's why I blog and LaRussa makes millions managing.