The latest head-scratching news out of Jupiter (that's Florida, not the planet, although sometimes it's hard to tell) is that would-be Cardinals pitcher Nuke LaLoosh--sorry, that's Rick Ankiel--has finally given up on actually being a pitcher. He's gonna move to the outfield.
Well, it's about time, but two years two late.
Look, I'll go out on what I think is a short and stable limb and say that Rick's got a good chance of making the club as an outfielder. Larry Walker and Reggie Sanders have a combined age of what, about 87 years old, and our current backups are John Mabry and So (What?) Taguchi, so Ankiel as another option isn't as crazy as it might seem. He hit well as a DH in the minors, and setting himself free of pitching expectations that probably only Sandy Koufax could have lived up to might cause him to catch fire. So, as a Cardinals fan, I'm certainly hoping he'll succeed.
As you'll probably read and/or hear from a variety of sources over the next few days in response to this story, the Cardinals had another failed pitcher who moved to the outfield a few decades back, a guy named Stan Musial. I seem to remember reading something about him having an okay career, although certainly nothing to attract the attention of baseball experts such as Ken Burns or George Will.
Now, before your blood pressure gets too high, I'm not even close to comparing Ankiel with Musial, even in terms of potential. I'm just saying it's not an unprecedented idea. What bothers me is that LaRussa and Duncan didn't recognize the signs that Ankiel might not have the right stuff to pitch in time to unload him to Oakland instead of Dan Haren in the Mark Mulder trade. And who knows, maybe Walt Jocketty tried to trade Ankiel instead of Haren with no luck. I doubt we'll ever hear that. But I'd feel a lot better with Haren in the 5th starting slot instead of Ankiel maybe riding the pine as a reserve outfielder, pinch hitter/runner, or emergency extra-extra-extra inning pitcher.
Now, about the hypocrisy...I'll keep it short and simple: Having a congressional hearing about steroids in baseball without calling Barry Bonds to testify is like having a hearing about illegal bootlegging in prohibition-era Chicago without calling Al Capone to testify. Come to think of it, that would have happened; Capone would have had something on every member of that committee. So that leads us to the question: What does Barry have that makes him immune?