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Que Proximo????


By: Will Saulsbery


That means, "What's Next?"


Well, we have Matt Holliday, the player we've longed for for the past two seasons. He's the big bat we've all clamored for since Rolen got hurt and Jimmy Ballgame began his decline. Mr. Dewitt and his pals have promised Holliday seven years of employment and 120 million Washingtons to drive in runs and protect Senor Pujols. Not bad job security for our current climate and economy. Now that we have him locked down and out outfield set with Holliday, Rasmus, and Ludwick from left to right...where do we go now????


1. The Five Hole- Do we just hand the hot corner to Freese? I like this idea, but it does give me pause. Is he ready??? Is he mature enough??? Will he make it to work with a BAC below .2??? These must all be considered with equal weight. I Like the Felipe Lopez idea. He hit well over .300 last year, has some pop, and gives the versatility that TLR loves.


2. The other Five Hole- Meaning the last spot in the rotation. Here's my idea...bring back Smoltz. The worry is he won't last the entire season, and he won't be able to start every 5 days...He won't have to. Bring Jaime Garcia, who people also worry wouldn't last the entire season, in in a Brad Thompson like role. Talk about an upgrade. Trading 12 year old burn victim Brad Thompson and getting Garcia is like trading an El Camino for a Bentley. If Garcia is in that role, he could take 4-6 of Smoltz's starts, keep Smoltz fresh, and Garcia would gain the experience he needs. When he's not preparing for a spot start, he would be a dominating long relief lefty out of the bullpen. We'd have a fire balling lefty for the post season run and a fresh John Smoltz...not bad.


3. Power??? We have one of the best 3-4-5's in baseball. Pujols - Holliday- Ludwick stacks up well with any team, but where is the rest of the power? Can we assume that Rasmus will improve to a 20-25 hr guy in the 2 spot and quit looking like he was just told his dad isn't his real dad and that his real dad is actually the family's long suffering garbage man??? What can we expect from Freese? My guess is .240 15 hrs and 50-60 rbi's. That really is it. That should be enough power to win the Central, but I'm not sure if the lineup is good enough to beat the Phillies. They are the current gold standard in the NL and their rotation is absolutely stacked...the only team that comes close is the Red Birds....which leads to


4. Built for the postseason- The lineup is built to win in October. With Holliday and Ludwick behind Pujols you have to pitch to him and with speed and average leading off in Schumaker and speed and power in Rasmus batting in front of Albert, he'll be batting with runners on base. After the 5 spot we have some power in Freese, speed and average in Ryan and average and a GIDP waiting to happen in Molina. I'll take my chances with that line-up against any pitching staff. The rotation is a very close second to the Phillies. With Carp-Waino-Loshe-Penny we have four horses that can mow down any lineup on any fall evening.


5. Bullpen- Hmmmmm...here lies the issue...can Franklin close it out...my gut says yes, but my head says no. As John Cusack says in Hi-Fidelity , "I've been thinking with my gut for years...and I've come the conclusion that my guts have sh&% for brains." Getting to him can be an issue...two straight seasons McClellan has faltered down the stretch, Motte can throw 99mph...but he also loves to throw 95mph right down central...Reyes and Miller are great from the left side and with the previously mentioned Garcia we should be good in long relief. The issue is not a lefty on lefty or a 3 inning outing from Garcia....it's the eighth and ninth innings...if this gets sured up we will have 95+ wins and another Central Division title.


So that is where we go from here...February cannot get here soon enough and this God forsaken weather will not break...Ohhh Pitchers and catchers please please report!!!! I need some baseball for normalcy...In STL, the holiday season lasts from February through October all the way till Christmas every year...Bring them on...we need something to cheer about here...the Rams are in the Wild Card round round this weekend...aren't they...Ohhh!!!...too soon???


P.S. trade the pick for three total picks and one veteran....


-Will Saulsbery

Will Saulsbery is a graduate of the University of Missouri- Columbia and a native St. Louisian.

You can read more of Will's work at www.thenbainstl.blogspot.com



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