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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

The Cards’ 25th man, the DH and MLB indecision

Over on the message board, there is a lot of angst over the use of the final, 25th spot on the St. Louis Cardinals active roster. As the season began, it was deployed in the traditional manner, on a position player, but as the club headed into a brutal stretch of consecutive games, manager Tony La Russa went to eight relievers and 13 pitchers overall.

With a short bench, starting pitcher Todd Wellemeyer made a pinch-hit appearance in a bunting situation on Sunday, following fellow rotation member Adam Wainwright in being called upon to hit on a day off this season.

A number of fans have been critical of carrying the extra pitcher, with some in favor of simply shifting the roster balance back from pitching to hitting, dumping a pitcher such as Brad Thompson (pictured) in the process. Others with a more radical and longer-term view want to see MLB rosters expanded beyond 25.

While the Players Association would likely be all for such an idea, ownership would surely be just as against bearing the additional costs inherent in adding another 30, 60 or 90 major leaguers in perpetuity.

Putting money aside, I am apparently in the minority, but I kind of like the fact the current roster size forces managers to make creative tradeoffs late in games. Others seem to enjoy what I feel are more robotic moves common in the American League due to the long-time deployment of the designated hitter.

For those who want to see change, a way to perhaps negotiate expanded roster sizes would be in dealing with the DH disconnect once and for all. While I obviously have a personal bias in one direction, I am even stronger in my opinion that the two leagues should have a uniform rule.

Show me another major sport anywhere that has such an important difference in basic rules between leagues. It is nutty – a three-year trial that never ended. Either adopt it universally or dump it.

I see this issue as the poster child of the reign of Bud Selig – the master of indecision and inaction.

Then again, if you would argue in favor of replacing this problem with inconsistent and self-governed umpiring, rampant unchecked use of performance enhancing drugs, inexplicable television broadcast territories that arbitrarily restrict fans from seeing their team’s games or any number of other broken parts of America’s Pastime, I couldn’t disagree.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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