It seemed as if Chris Duncan would be forgiven by Cardinal fans today for his heroics last night, being clutch while driving in 2 runs with two outs against Cardinal Killer Roy Oswalt. He also had the support of the manager Tony La Russa, who said if the team had 25 Chris Duncans, they'd win every game. Many Cardinal fans, including myself, questioned Tony's reasoning for putting Duncan in the starting lineup, wondering whether it was because of Tony's friendship with Cardinal pitching coach and Chris Duncan's father Dave Duncan that makes Tony continually put Duncan at LF over Ryan Ludwick, when Ryan has easiliy earned the spot over Duncan-both offensively and even more defensively. La Russa has been very protective of Duncan this season and goes out of his way to compliment him whenever he's asked about Duncan.
It seems that Cardinal management, however, believes differently. In a story first broke by the St. Louis Post Dispath, on today, Friday May 30th, 2008, they optioned Duncan down to their AAA Affiliate, the Memphis Redbirds, while calling up prospect OF Joe Mather. Usually, they would listen to La Russa and keep Duncan up, but it seems the relationship is a bit strained now, with the Cardinals ignoring La Russa, sending down "his guy", and calling a rookie, to play for a manager who definitely favors veterans.
Joe Mather was selected in the 3rd round (104th overall) of the 2001 amateur entry draft out of Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, AZ. He moved his way through the farm system, all the way up to AAA Memphis this year, where he has been tearing the ball up in the minors. He is batting .315 while leading the AAA squad with 12 HRs, and 2nd with 24 RBIs. He has an OBP of .406 and is slugging .671. In 2007 at AA Springfield and AAA Memphis, Mather batted .271 while hitting 31 homers, driving in 77, and scoring 80. He also was the starting 1B in the Texas League All Star Game. Mather is a right handed batter, and his success against lefties may have been a reason for his call up right now. Pittsburgh is coming into town, with a rotation of lefties, starting with Zach Duke today. Mather batted .354 against lefties at AAA, including 4 homers and 10 RBIs.
Will this be the last time we see Chris Duncan at the Cardinal major league club? Possibly. The Cardinals have already said they don't want anything to do with Anthony Reyes' future, and a package deal of Duncan and Reyes could work in a trade with another team, which would definitely like the talent. However, it is pretty unlikely, because later in June when the Cardinals go on their AL road trip in Boston, Detroit, and KC, they'll need a DH, so Duncan will probably be called back up. For now though, we get to sit back and enjoy the play of young and promising prospect Joe Mather.
Chris Duncan has been sent down to the minors, while Joe Mather has been called up.