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I said earlier in the year that this Redbirds team was fun to watch and I still can’t waiver much from that statement. They’re also sort of excruciating to watch sometimes. It’s understandable because this is the youngest team we’ve had in a long time. They leave men on base like it’s a life calling. Still, a certain degree of slack comes with youth. If you shit your pants when you’re thirty — kind of a problem, but when you do it at three years old, it’s all just part of growing up. The young cardinals seem to be growing up quickly, with a fewer pains along the way than I expected.

After closer Jason Isringhausen’s meltdown, which was followed by a fake injury and a trip to the DL, Chris Perez was called up from AAA. In the past, we would have probably went to another teams’ scrapheap and took whatever was available, so it’s nice to at least have a guy in your system that’s ready to go. It also helps because it looks like he might be the real deal.

His fastball hits anywhere from 93 to 97 mph, which is scary enough. He adds to that a slider that looks much better because of his fastball. He supposedly has a curve, too, but I’m not sure I’ve seen him break that out yet. Just as impressive is his demeanor. It’s not fact based or anything, but the guy just looks like a closer: a real scary bastard. He’s a stocky six foot four inches tall and his expression seems as if he’s the sort of fella who wouldn’t piss on your head if your hair was on fire.

He’s also sort of a strange case because he’s basically been groomed to be a closer. In the past, closers were usually made from starters or middle relievers who could only give you three or four innings. Often times, this move to closer was something that would happen later in a guy’s career. Perez begins his major league career at the position. Fine, he’ll probably split time with Ryan Franklin in that role for awhile, but there’s not much question the job will be his sooner than later.

Another guy who is intriguing is Ryan Ludwick. The guy is sort of inspiring. He’s thirty years old now and it appears this will be his first full major league season. It’s not that he’s a late bloomer, it’s just that “lucky” would not be the word to describe his career so far. He was highly touted when he was younger. He’s went through farm systems in Oakland and Texas, spent a little time in the bigs with Cleveland, and was back in the minors with Detroit before we picked him up a couple of years ago.

There was a reason he was bouncing around so much. He tore up his hip, suffered a severe knee injury, and capped off his “lucky” streak with a broken arm. The poor bastard has never stayed healthy enough to show people what he can do. It looks like he may finally be getting around to that. He’s got 35 RBIs, 12 HRs, 12 2Bs, and is batting at a .336 clip so far this year.

More importantly, he’s giving Pujols some protection in the lineup, batting clean up versus lefties. As an added bonus, he’s done all this as basically a part time player, though I doubt that status will last much longer. It’s hard to imagine him keeping up for an entire season, but on the other hand, he’s never been well enough to play an entire season.

The thing with both Perez and Ludwick is that they both show enough talent that you have to play them. They both seem to demand playing time, even if it’s not the kind of move Larussa would usually make. He just doesn’t have a choice this time. Two guys, two contributors, two completely different stories, but both of them are fun to watch and if the Cards continue to win, both of them will be a big reason for it.