The Cardinals brought the bats last night. It was a grand thing, not only because of Chris Duncan’s slam. It was great to see Pujols’s five RBIs and see him get closer to that 30 HR mark that is his trademark. Possibly the best thing though, at least in my book, was the fact that they did a nice portion of that damage against Mr. Jason Marquis.
Most players, when they leave St. Louis, don’t have much animosity follow them. Mike Matheny was beloved even after he went to San Francisco, because we knew it was time for Yadier Molina. (And speaking of Molina, can you believe that steal of third last night? He’s a speedster!) Matt Morris left for more money, but Cardinal Nation pretty much agreed it was time to part ways, while appreciating what he did for the team. Edgar Renteria more blatantly left for more money, even going to the team that had just defeated the Cards in the World Series, but for the most part he still has high esteem among Cardinal fans. Heck, John Mabry played for the Cubs and still got a standing ovation in Busch.
Jason Marquis, though, drove us so far to distraction the last couple of years, there is very little good will following him around. I was a Marquis defender the first year he was in Cardinal red, pointing out that he had really pitched better than some of his stats indicated. However, by last year, when he was feuding with Dave Duncan and seemingly avoiding the best way for him to pitch, he used up any patience I had with him. Numerous people in the media pointed out that his ERA last year would have been better “if he’d not been kept in a couple of blowouts to save the bullpen.” Well, who made it a blowout in the first place? And, without doing the number crunching, I’m betting his ERA wasn’t affected too much by staying in. The difference between 7 in 3 innings and 9 in 6 innings isn’t much. He probably got a couple of scoreless innings in that he normally wouldn’t have.
So it was a no-brainer for the Cards to let him go in the offseason. We laughed when the Cubs overpaid for him and considered it more Cub foolery. Then, we started to wonder if we were wrong when he started out like a house afire, even beating the Cards twice in April.
However, as the weather has warmed up, so have the bats and that’s not a good thing for Mr. Marquis. He’s got an ERA pushing 6 the last two months and we can only hope that he will crush some more Cubbie hearts by blowing a game they need to win to play in October.
Having said all that, even as satisfactory as last night’s win was, it didn’t change the landscape very much. The Cards still trail the Cubs by six games and the Brewers by 8. Even a 4-game sweep of the Brewers this weekend–which would give the Cards their first five game winning streak since the middle of last year, I believe–wouldn’t do much but probably get the Cubs into first place. Hopefully Walt realizes this and is still in “sell” mode. If he can move parts like Eckstein, Encarnacion, etc., more power to him. I just hope some quality prospects come back to us.