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Monday, February 06, 2006

 

Age Appropriate, part 2

Player #1 is Dan Haren and player #2 is Anthony Reyes. I didn't put there numbers side by side to lament Haren's loss. I put them there to take a look at what two similar pitchers might be capable of in their early 20s, and I really intended to make the point that Reyes is ready to pitch in the majors this season. Haren got a pretty sizable chunk of major league innings under his belt as a 22 year old. Remember that 2003 season? Jeff Fassero started games for the Birds that year it got so bleak. Clearly, by his age 24 season last year he was more than ready. Reyes doesn't have that major league experience heading into his age 24 season this year, but he has clearly progressed about as far as he is going to in the minor league system. That sub-4.00 ERA in the PCL is pretty impressive; it's a hitters' league. Looking at the age breakdown, one could also make the case that Reyes might not be ready to start 32 games for the Cardinals this year. Letting a young pitcher assume a full-time starting role from the beginning of the season and going through all the ups and downs of learning to pitch in the league isn't a luxury that a team built to "win now" really has. That explains part of LaRussa's hesitancy to use younger guys like Reyes in the rotation. With Haren they didn't really have a choice, reclamation projects like Simmotacchi burned out in that 2003 season. I don't love the idea of using Ponson and Reyes as starters and bullpen pitchers. Part of it is the reluctance to stick a talented young kid in the bullpen and let his condition fall into that of a one or two inning pitcher. Also, he is only 24, so it's not necessary a now or never scenario either. He does pack tremendous upside, and could come in and have a great rookie campaign that makes everybody tell the person in the seat next to them how lucky we were that Burnett didn't sign with us back in December. Age wise, the kid is ready, and most likely he'll get the chance to prove himself this year in something more than a September call up role. Looking at the stats confirms that LaRussa would rather start an adequate veteran without much 'umph' than a talented young rookie with 'the stuff' and no experience. It's a lot that stupid job experience catch 22 we run into after graduating from college: must have experience for a job, but how the hell can I get that experience if nobody hires me because I'm unexperienced?!? While I generally like LaRussa's managing, this is a major point of disagreement, and if he starts listening to schulbs with blogs we can clash over the point. Again, I think this approach is also brought on by being in a 'win now' situation, which, like everyone's favorite animal lover, has its pros and cons.
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