Think the Padres have problems? Nah. The St. Louis Cardinals; now that’s a club with problems. We’ll find out who’s got it worse this weekend, when the two teams play three at Petco Park.

Without going into a litany of culpability in the drunk driving death of Cards reliever Josh Hancock a couple weeks back, let’s just say culpability exists. Banning alcohol in the locker room after games is a microscopic first step, and losing a bunch of games as a follow-up a small price to pay for tragedy.

Tony La Russa’s club wasn’t playing all that well to begin with, and it’s not looking a whole lot better right now. Albert Pujols is just starting to warm up, with six home runs, 18 RBIs and a .261 batting average. Scott Rolen’s hitting exactly .200 this afternoon, David Eckstein is at .221 and Adam Kennedy .239. Jim Edmunds is hitting .211, with all of seven RBIs, coming into play Friday.

It’s gotten so bad, St. Louis management is actually considering minor league outfielder and former major league pitcher Rick Ankiel as an alternative to the team’s offensive woes. Talk about grasping at straws. When last seen, Ankiel was melting down under the spotlight of the 2000 National League Division Series, to the tune of a 16.75 earned run average, 11 walks, countless balls thrown to the backstop, and two errors.

After a number of years rehabbing in one form or another, Ankiel recently hung it up as a pitcher to concentrate on the outfield, which he’s playing now for the Nashville Sounds.

While not quite as much of long-shot as Ankiel might be (emphasis on the word might), The San Diego Union-Tribune writer Tim Sullivan

thinks the Padres could do worse than to give Phil Nevin a comeback opportunity. Thankfully, no one’s listening. They can’t do worse. Kevin Kouzmanoff has a better upside at third base.

In the arms race, as far as this weekend goes, there isn’t one. With Cards ace Chris Carpenter sidelined, Jake Peavy and Chris Young out-class the St. Louis staff by a ton. But as far as we know, there’s no truth to the rumor that the Cardinals may try to re-acquire 2007 World Series hero Jeff Weaver, whose Seattle Mariners ERA currently is a glittering 14.30.


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