I'm not expecting Rodriguez (I just can't bring myself to do the "J-Rod" thing just yet…) to be the next Pujols. Of course I wasn't expecting to Pujols to be the next Pujols so who knows? In either case I'd be happy if he'd be the next Bo Hart and so far he's been plenty scrappy and productive, just the kind of player that St Louis fans love. He doesn't scare me in the outfield (like, say, Hector Luna can) and he doesn't look lost at the plate. He's a free swinger, but Rodriguez doesn't lack plate discipline like some of call-ups we've seen.
Of course I said the same kinda thing about So Taguchi earlier in the season, but weaknesses were exposed and suddenly he was batting in the lower half of the .200's. I was torn. Greet the new kid with open arms and root for him to stay around after Reggie Sanders returns from the DL or cheer for him, but try not to get too attached to #53—not an easy decision.
I puzzled and fretted. Maybe I should do a piece about Rolen not looking as sharp instead. Wait, Brian Walton beat me to it, and so did Rolen for that matter, he's back on the DL. How about a nice something about Eckstein, wait, Rex Duncan beat me to that one. And still Rodriguez keeps impressing me and just keeps hanging around at the top of the "feel-good" topics.
And so I'm sitting on my couch, watching the game and finally I decide, the new kid deserves a mention, a nod, something to acknowledge that this stodgy Cards fan has taken notice and is appreciative. I don't know if he'll be with the club in three weeks or if we'll even remember his name come October. Maybe it doesn't matter.
Oh look, he's coming to bat. Batting against probably the single most disliked opposing pitcher to Cardinals fans, Carlos Zambrano, Rodriguez digs in and I remember Zambrano's little bean-fest last season and his antics that—if he'd been on the receiving end would have resulted in a fastball in the ribs. I like watching good ballgames—close, good pitching, solid defense, hard-earned runs—except when Zambrano is on the mound. Then let it rain baseballs in the outfield bleachers and knock him out of the game in the second inning for all I care. It's 3-1 on the kid and he looks locked in and—
Holy crap. Don't drop, don't drop!
Welcome to the Cardinals, J-Rod. May your stay be long and fruitful…
You can write to Joe Mammy at email@example.com