|Jason Marquis||Wandy Rodriguez|
|10 - 6, 5.78||9 - 5, 4.97|
You may or may not have heard that Cincinnati picked up Eddie Guardado today. "Reinforcements are coming!" trumpets the Reds' official site (exclamation point mine, all mine). This of course marks the second time this week an NL Central team has taken a desparate stab at what ails them. As with Jeff Weaver, Guardado is possessed of a somewhat effective history, yet is unlikely to make a big difference.
These aren't big moves the Cards and Reds have made; any similarity to the Redbirds' pick up of Larry Walker in 2004 is wholly coincidental. But there is a lesson here, and that lesson is that these other two clubs recognize that they are going to need to make changes if they are to win anything in 2006. It is a realization that I do not believe Purpura (and yeah, yeah, McLane and Tal Smith) has yet made.
It is one they need to make, and soon, for sure. Last time I got off on this jag, I was talking about Craig Wilson, and it looks like the Bucs are just asking way too much for a notoriously inconsistent strikeout-prone righty in his walk year. The Bucs' high price is a double-edged sword, of course; assuming the Astros even inquired, the Bucs' larcenous terms may have prevented the Astros from putting together a package. Or they may have prevented St. Louis from picking Wilson up during the Pujols injury, while Houston stood pat, and took the radical step (for us) of benching Willy T.
After Wilson, there doesn't appear to be too much available in the right field department, as it looks like the Austin Kearns rumors just won't be surfacing this year. And I don't think you could pry Geoff Jenkins away from Milwaukee, what do ya think?
One interesting possibility might be Daryle Ward, who isn't getting a whole bunch of AB's with Washington. The Nationals aren't going anywhere in the Mets-dominated NL East, and I'm sure they would listen to talk about Ward, who has half the homers of Jason Lane in 1/3 the at bats, and a better OBP, and a better SLG.
Would Ward make the difference? No.
Like Weaver and Guardado, he'd be a flyer, something you'd try to see what happens, something you did to try to take control of your destiny, something you did to as I've said be proactive about the situation.
The management in St. Louis and Cincinnati have served us notice that they aren't going to sit on their asses and let Houston catch them in what has become a wide-open NL Central. They're gonna do what they can, as they can.
Time will tell whether the Houston strategy is to follow suit, or to stand pat.
Was anybody else bugged that Houston only scored four runs last night, and that two of them were gifts? I was all the poetical lyrical son last night when I said that the Cards had been "hemorrhaging" runs, and turns out the four we scored were the fewest allowed by the Cards since the 27th of June, a span of nine games.
Well, back at it against Marquis, who's fading badly in the heat, to say the least. We rock his ass tonight, the last two games will seem an anomaly in a general offensive upturn. Shit, we better rock his ass: Marquis has given up 24 runs in his last 18 innings. That's a 12.00 ERA over a significant chunk of baseball, folks. During one 11-inning span, Marquis gave up seven homers. Looks like it might be the opposable force of the Astros' offense vs. the movable object of Marquis' right arm tonight.
Wandy has yet to face the Cards in '06, but the Redbirds found him eminently hittable in '05, to the tune of a 12.46 ERA. Assuming the Wandy Power™ in full effect tonight, it looks like we're due a 12 - 7 slugfest.
Way cool with me, as long as the Astros end up on top.