Monday, July 14, 2008

Weekend Thoughts

If I had known Friday morning the Cardinals would take 2 of 3 from Pittsburgh this weekend I would have been satisfied; after all, that's a series win. However, to lose like they did on Saturday is just inexcusable for a team trying to contend for a playoff spot. Up by 6 with 4 outs to go? Awful. Izzy had looked pretty good (not great, just good) since his return from the DL. He picked a bad time to turn in his worst outing since he came back.

I had also held out hope the Cubs would lose 2 of 3 to San Francisco, with Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum pitching (Lincecum should be the All-Star starter from the NL, in my opinion, but his Sunday start makes that a near impossibility), but I didn't expect Marquis to fire a 3-hit shutout for 7 innings Friday.

So the Cardinals enter the break 4.5 games behind Chicago, with the second best record in the NL, and leading the Wild Card by a half game over the Brewers. Again, there are a lot of things to be happy about regarding how the season has gone so far, which I hope to detail over the break here.

As we look forward to the second half, the biggest question is what will the Cardinals do at the trade deadline, and who will they try to acquire - a pitcher or a hitter. LaRussa, and some of my colleagues in the blog-o-sphere, are advocating the acquisition of a veteran bat to help protect AP. Why? We don't need Cesar Cedeno this season, and I have yet to hear a cogent argument how a veteran hitter brings more mental toughness to the plate than Ankiel and Ludwick are currently displaying.

What we really need is help in the bullpen, specifically at the back end. There is no way this team goes deep into the post-season with the current cadre of arsonists down there. There's too much Jekyll and Hyde in them; some games (like yesterday) they slam the door, some games (like Saturday) they leak like a sieve. I don't have faith in Izzy or Franklin or Perez (who, while giving up the winning 2-R HR on Saturday, caused me to fall to the ground and convulse while saying "TODD WORRELL! AAUGH!!!") to close out games consistently. Unfortunately, there won't be a closer available at the deadline, so they'll have to make do with one of the three of them; but they could certainly use some eighth-inning help (several of the Mariners arms are pretty good; could we fleece Brendan Morrow from them?). That's where we should be focusing.

HR Derby tonight. Probably won't be tuning in.

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