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Monday, July 04, 2005

 

Wadda Mench!

Yes, these pages have been a little static lately, but it is the holiday weekend, not that I've done anything. But hey... I serve the man five days a week, sometimes, you just gotta emphasize the lazy in the lazy, hazy days of summer. Anyway, trade talk is bubbling up around Cardinals nation (Birdos gets the ball rolling here), so let's fan the flames of rumor on this our nation's 200-something-th birthday. In these pages, and the comments section of other Cards blogs, I have consistenly advocated for an outfielder. A young guy with some talent that can replace Larry Walker in 2006 and serve as the cornerstone of the next generation of the Cards who roam the grasses beyond the infield. Now, I realize the structure of the organization and the payroll realities of the next few years prohibits a Jason Bay, but there's talent to be had in the mid-range prices too. My pick, also one mentioned among possible candidates in the STL Today article yesterday, is Kevin Mench. Right side hitting Mench is 27, and he's been with the Rangers since they drafted him in 1999. Anyway, without regurgitating his player history here, let's make it short and sweet: he's a talented kid who started to blossum last year. Check out his stats: 2005: .292/.360/.558/.918, 15 HR, 42 RBI BB/SO: 0.69 AB/HR: 17.3 ISO: .265 VORP: 22.6 EqA: .310 BRAR: 26 (Batting runs above replacement player) Not too shabby.His batting average would rank third on the Birds at this point, behind only Pujols and Nunez. Since the talk lately has been the Cards versus lefty pitching, let's see how that stacks up. 2005: vsLHP .270/.324/.619/.943 vsRHP .299/.371/.538/.909 2004: vsLHP .319/.390/.646/1.036 vsRHP .259/.306/.486/.792 '02-'05 Averages vsLHP .306/.361/.569/.930 vsRHP .262/.327/.456/.783 While he's down a bit against lefties so far this year, it's pretty obvious that he can hit them; remember, he's playing in the AL. The criticism against him is that he can be a little delicate, and I wondered some about him having a little bit of the old J.D. Drew-itis. That doesn't seem to be the case though. In fact, on ESPN's site their profile specifically mentions the great advances in maturity the kid had over the last year. Other teams came courting the Rangers last year for Mench, but they weren't willing to part with him. This year, I think, would be a little different. The Rangers are in hunt for October. They're seven and a half behind the Angels in the AL West and neck and neck for the wild card chase. They certainly have the team to do it, and with Texiera, Blalock, Soriano, Michael Young, and a resurgent Dellucci they have the offense to compete. Pitching, however, is they're big concern. Krazy Kenny Rogers leads the rotation, but given his recent dust up with a TV crew and the camera, he's going to be watching a few games from the press box (ironic). The beauty of this for Jocketty, is that they need a major league level pitcher right now. Clearing up some space for a young hurler to join the Redbirds would be easy, and there are obviously a couple guys ready to assume the role. Would pitching coach Orel Hershiser enjoy working with Jason Marquis? Hmmmmmmmmm. That's a deal I could get behind as a Cardinals fan. Hanging on to Wainwright and Reyes is the smart move. Let one of them coem up now, and start working in the majors, getting acclimated with some of the veterans leading the way. The nice thing about this rotation, is that it's relatively young, Morris is the elder of the bunch, 31 in August. Getting a good, young outfielder that can grow with the organization, and contribute to the win now mentality, will keep the team competitive for a while. Not loosing top young talent is the second prong of the same strategy. We'll see what happens. Jocketty has a pretty good record with trades, so the wait-and-see isn't the ulcer inducing ordeal that you experience as a Blues fan.
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