Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The John Smoltz Signing: A Complete Analysis

Still searching for some help in their surprisingly awesome starting rotation, the Cardinals picked up the freshly-released John Smoltz today to man the number five spot. Clearly the Cards are hoping Dave Duncan works some of his good ol' fashioned pitcher-fixin' magic, because Smoltz was thoroughly terrible in Boston after returning from yet another injury. Over the course of 40 gross innings, the future hall of famer has struck out 33 and only walked nine, which is cool until you see the rest of the 42 year-old's numbers. Perhaps the reason Smoltz has kept his walk total so low is that opposing teams have been too busy hitting the shit out of the ball to bother with taking pitches. Smoltz has been raped to the tune of a .343 batting average against, complete with 59 hits (eight of them home runs) in those 40 innings worked. Even more unimpressive is the fact that Smoltz has allowed 37 earned runs thus far, good for a Lima-esque 8.33 ERA. This sounds like exactly what the Cardinals need to stave off the competition and hold on to first place in the NL Central! It's like John Mozeliak read my mind!

Wait a second, though. Maybe I'm being a bit pessimistic. After all, Smoltz is moving from the ridiculously stacked American League East to the much less talented National League Central. Plus, Smoltzy flourished and built his legendary career as an Atlanta Brave in the league he is now headed to. After discussing this transaction with Spencer Hendricks, baseball expert and creator of the infinitely influential, we decided we should make a list of ten things that are unquestionably positive about the Smoltz acquistion. After all, we like to think of ourselves as "glass half full" kind of guys. So here are the things we believe John Smoltz represents for the Cardinals:
1.) A lights-out, one-out specialist when the opposing pitcher is batting. "There's real value in a guy who can be counted on to retire the worst hitter in the lineup when the game is really on the line," former teammate and leading advocate for Smoltz's acquisition Mark De Rosa insisted urgently. "Please don't compare my stats with Chris Perez since I was traded for him. That's just embarrassing."

2.) A way for Colby Rasmus's dad to save 15% on lumber from Home Depot. "I remembered seein' John on them commericals with all them lawnmowers a couple years back, and I remembered that my daddy was tryin' to finish his deck back home," recalled rookie standout Colby Rasmus. "Now at first I didn't put two and six together, but after I did I figured John could probably help out daddy by gettin' that wood a little cheaper. I just went up to Tony and asked him real nice if we could get John to be on our team and he said that would be okay and patted me on my head."

3.) A veteran La Russa can pretend makes a difference simply because of his tenure. "Honestly," La Russa finally admitted after years of speculation," I don't really even write a lineup card or fill out a pitching staff based on names or stats or anything. I just look at two things: age and experience. Sometimes I get a little risky and play someone just for the hell of it. The truth is, Albert never would have gotten a chance in the first place if I didn't secretly have a feeling he was 39 all the way back in his rookie season. He just had that look, you know. The look of a liar. Plus, you know how those Dominicans are with their age. It's not their fault they never tell the truth about it. I don't even think they have birthdays in that country." La Russa's tirade went on for a while longer and was said to have involved several subtle references of a homosexual nature to both Skip Schumaker and Rick Ankiel.

4.) A logical mentor for Brad Thompson. "We feel like John's knowledge of the game will be very beneficial to a lot of our pitching staff, especially a guy like Brad Thompson," pitching coach Dave Duncan said shortly after the signing. "See, Smoltz can really give Brad some perspective on how to pitch once you literally have no stuff at all, once your fastball is just straight and boring and slower than Jamie Moyer's. Of course it took John twenty years to get to that point and Bra just sort of started out that way, but you get what I'm saying. They're similar pitchers now," Duncan continued. "They certainly weren't a couple of years ago, though. God, no. Smoltz had that nasty slider and hard fastball with all that movement. Brad has never had any of that. Brad's awful. What am I supposed to do with him? Why does Tony keep him on the roster? If Tony and I hadn't been lovers for so long, I wouldn't put up with this." Duncan then looked awkwardly from side to side and quietly left the room.

5.) Another pinch-hitting option for when the Cardinal roster consists of only six position players and 19 pitchers. "Sure, it's very likely the Cardinals realize there's not much left when it comes to Smoltz and his old, sad arm," renowned broadcaster Rick Sutcliffe analyzed. "But that's not to say he can't still lift the lumber. Have you seen that beard? What a lumberjack! There's no reason, no reason at all he couldn't club 20, 25 homers down the stretch for the Devil Birds. If they really wanted to make a splash in their rotation, of course, they'd obviously have signed me."

6.) A way to prolong the career of former Cardinal fan favorite David Eckstein. "We kind of figure that if we're playing the Padres and we have a big lead, which against the Padres most teams do, we could put John in there to face Eckstein. David hasn't had a lot of success since he left us, and I'd really love to see him crank a couple of extra-base hits and hang around the big leagues a little longer," manager Tony La Russa speculated Wednesday. "And John's just the man to give up those hits. I mean, if I looked at stats ever I would know he gave up about a hit and a half per inning with the Red Sox this year."

7.) An interesting extracurricular science project for his teammates.
In between innings, on flights from city to city, or even just on a rainy Monday afternoon off day, the players can gather 'round and study the repeatedly surgically repaired body of John Smoltz. Think of it as a hands-on way to appreciate the miracle of modern science. "No way this guy would still be alive at his condition 50 years ago, " outfielder Colby Rasmus, born just two years before Smoltz's rookie season, was heard musing.

8.) A new way to feed Dave Duncan's ego. With Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright both in the Cy Young race this season, pitching coach Dave Duncan has been feeling a bit neglected by the mainstream media. "I'm really used to some random pitcher having half a season that's way over his head and me getting credit for that," Duncan told a local media outlet earlier this morning. "But everyone knows Carp and Wainwright are both legitimately good, and that I didn't do anything to get them there this year. With Smoltz on board, now I've got something to work with. I'll have him back to mid-90s form within a week. All he has to do is throw a sinker all the time and keep the ball down. And drop even more off that fastball if possible. It never fails." Duncan became frustrated after the reporter asked about Kip Wells and later left the interview after being questioned about Rick Ankiel's pitching career. "It never fails!" Duncan was heard screaming as he drove away.

9.) An opportunity for fans and players alike to relive the 1996 season, when Smoltz had the greatest year in pitcher history. "Back in '96," Smoltz will be heard muttering numerous times while watching from the dugout as the bullpen cleans up the remaining seven innings of a game in which he surrendered 14 home runs in just 38 pitches, "this field would be littered with the corpses of my enemies, all of them slain by my filthy, filthy slider." John's eyes grow distant and then misty as he removes the towel previously wrapped around his aching shoulders and covers his ancient face, sobs racking his body and threatening to send him to the DL.

10.) An easier way for Albert Pujols to win the 2010 home run derby. After being eliminated in the second round of this year's home run derby at the All-Star game in St. Louis, Cardinals star Albert Pujols felt humiliated and embarassed. Realizing the pain his best player was feeling, general manager John Mozeliak quickly signed Smoltz as soon as he became available. "I could just tell Albert was frustrated out there this year. I want Albert to be a Cardinal for life, and we're going to do whatever we can to make sure he's happy. Albert really wants to win another home run derby, and next year is the year," asserted St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak. "We kind of felt like the batting practice pitcher was throwing a little too hard, and like he had a little too much movement on his pitches. That's a big reason why we brought in Smoltzy, to take his place as Albert's derby pitcher in Anaheim next year. John couldn't throw it past Chris Duncan if he tried, let alone Albert," Mozeliak chuckled.

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