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In which I attempt to be part of the solution

April 17, 2011

Tough to complain too strenuously about the Cardinals’ past week: They found their bats, took two of three from the Snakes and three of four from the Dodgers, and, on Friday evening, gave me the opportunity to demonstrate my exemplary Midwestern sportsmanship to the Dodger Stadium fans around me. (They did not beat me up. In fact, they were so generous that they tried to give me back Blake Hawksworth.)

But today’s game ended the road trip on a familiar sour note, with Ryan “Fear the Beard” Franklin racking up his fourth blown save of the young season. This one was the most efficient and the most predictable yet; did anyone in Cardinal Nation not leap forward in slow motion, Hollywood-blockbuster-style (we’re in LA, after all), to try to stop the inevitable at any number of points in the action? The Cards score a run in the ninth to set up a save situation: Noooooooooo! Franklin is summoned with a runner on second and nobody out: The call is coming from inside the dugout! Tony elects to pitch to Matt Kemp, who padded his .450+ average with a homer off Franklin just three days ago: Whyyyyyyyyy??

This was vintage La Russa Stubbormetrics at work. At a minimum, Franklin should have been allowed to start the bottom of the ninth, rather than being asked to get three tough outs while stranding an inherited runner in scoring position. And while the common wisdom argues against putting the winning run on base, it’s hard to justify letting a pitch-to-contact closer throw to the league’s hottest hitter with a base open.

I get it: Tony wants to rebuild Franklin’s confidence. But by trying to put his closer in a position to triumph, he guaranteed failure. Franklin may not pitch better until he regains his confidence, but he’s not going to regain his confidence until he pitches better, and the Cardinals can’t waste any more time—or any more leads—in the middle of that catch-22.

I’m not just here to complain; I want to help. I know Tony’s reluctant to offer the closing role to Mitchell Boggs (2.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP), Jason Motte (2.57 ERA, 1.14 WHIP), or Miguel Batista (three hundred years old, dreams of striking out Jesus). And I’m guessing that the same guy who scandalized the Western world by batting his pitchers eighth is still too much of a traditionalist to try the sort of bullpen-by-committee that won a pennant for the 1985 Cards.

So I decided to see what was available on the open market. First I searched for “new relief pitcher” on eBay, and found this:

Hmmm. Not necessarily a worse option than what we’ve got now, but not a classic fireballer, either. I kept looking, and headed to Craigslist, where a search for “Franklin replacement” pulled up these beauties:

Well, those aren’t helpful, except maybe for target practice in the bullpen. I began to grow discouraged—I’m used to being disappointed by the Cardinals and I’m used to being depressed by shopping, but not both at the same time—so I made one last-ditch effort and searched Etsy for “Cardinals inspiration.” That’s when I found this:

We have a winner!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Erin permalink
    April 18, 2011 9:19 pm

    Sounds like it’s time to break out the pink phone.

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