While I'm eagerly awaiting tonight's home debut by new Cardinals pitcher John Smoltz, I'm also still steaming over Thursday's pointless and unnecessary loss to NL Central also-rans Houston Astros. What is it about these guys that baffles us so much? They're a sub-.500 team with aging stars—why can't we hit a single with a guy on second?
I'll tell you why: because Tony LaRussa keeps putting Colby Rasmus and Rick Ankiel into the lineup. Results? Pop-ups, weak ground outs and infuriating strike outs, especially from Ankiel, who couldn't find the strike zone if you lit it up with bright neon-colored laser beams.
LaRussa's continued reliance on these two sure outs means that a more effective lineup hasn't had time to gel. So I would like to humbly submit my own lineup proposal, one that gives us the best chance of wrapping up this division before the middle of September.
1. Skip Shumaker—RF
2. Brendan Ryan—SS
3. Albert Pujols—1B
4. Matt Holliday—LF
5. Ryan Ludwick—CF
6. Mark DeRosa—3B
7. Yadier Molina—C
8. Julio Lugo—2B
Yeah, I know I'm putting Skip back in the outfield after playing a better-than-expected second all season, but you've got to keep both him and Lugo in the lineup. If you need to bring a left-hander off the bench to pinch hit, Ankiel and Rasmus are still good for three strikes.
There's no way LaRussa's going to change his mind—he kept putting Chris Duncan on the lineup card until John Mozeliak had no choice but to trade him for everyone's collective sanity, but if the Cardinals keep taxing their bullpen, wasting quality starts and stranding men in scoring position, it's just the type of thing to give the Cubs hope for a late, last-gasp run.
Don't be like a James Bond villain. When you've got your enemy on the ground and under your boot, step on his throat until he stops breathing.