Wednesday, March 4, 2009

all is right with the world

Well, you can go back to your lives, folks. Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers are together again. I know I'll sleep better tonight. 

Lots of money? Check. 

An opt-out clause that allows the bedreaded one to pursue greener grass next year? Check. 

An ordeal that ultimately cost the entire baseball-watching universe just a tiny piece of its soul? Oh, check. 

In UCB news, Andrea led the latest turn of the Roundtable at Bugs and Cranks, and Josh has his round up over at Redbirds Row. Be sure to check out both. 

Speaking of Duncan... Ahh, the outfield. Nothing like a little competition to bring out the best (?) in people. The problem is, the results that we're seeing so far are not the ones that the majority of Cardinal Nation was hoping for. No one has jumped out as a clear no-doubter, and (even though I keep preaching the "it's early, don't get excited" line), the one player really struggling is the one that everyone wanted to see make the big club. 

Oh, right... it's still early, isn't it? Don't want to get ahead of myself. The projected opening day lineup features Schumaker at 2B, Mather at 3B, and the usual suspects at 1B, short, and behind the plate. 

The starting rotation is predictable and yet keeps all our hopes balanced precariously on the ledge as we wait for something really bad to happen (because that's in the back of all our minds, isn't it?) and put a dent in the table for all the knocking on wood we do. 

But the outfield is a book yet to be written. Chris Duncan had a big day with his bat yesterday and may very well be the favorite to start in left. Some people feel it would make sense to platoon him with Barton, and I think I'd have to agree. Neither is a defensive juggernaut, and between them they can hit from both sides. Rick Ankiel is a bit of a gamble. When he's healthy he's invaluable, but can he stay that way? Ryan Ludwick, the focus of the latest roundtable discussion, will probably have to lose the job in right. After the numbers he put up last year, I don't think Tony will hesitate to start him everyday, and I truly believe that he can repeat his success if he can stay in the lineup. Colby Rasmus is the wild card right now. He played a brilliant Spring last year but was crowded out of the competition by the same abundance of outfielders we're experiencing this Spring. And now that he's got a solid chance at making the big club (with his big boy jersey number and everything), he's playing like a nervous prospect who's never been to camp before. Jon Jay is hot and cold, but would need to set Jupiter on fire consistently to even get a shot. Nick Stavinoha figures in there somewhere, as well, but like Jay, would really need to tear it up in order to earn a spot on the 25-man roster. On a final non-Cardinals note, thoughts and prayers for the family of John Odom. Death need not be explained, only mourned.