How much longer can Cardinals stick with Jake Westbrook?

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St. Louis’ offense bailed him out yesterday, but Jake Westbrook turned in another poor outing by failing to make it out of the fifth inning against Milwaukee.

Westbrook now has a 5.97 ERA in 13 games since returning from a disabled list stint for elbow problems, including allowing 26 runs in 21 innings this month. And if anything Westbrook’s secondary numbers are even uglier than his 5.97 ERA since the DL stint, as he’s managed just 24 strikeouts compared to 30 walks in 75 innings.

For a team fighting to win the NL Central and avoid the one-game Wild Card coin flip how much longer can the Cardinals afford to trot Westbrook out to the mound every fifth day? Carlos Martinez is untested in the majors, especially as a starter, but he has a whole lot more upside and couldn’t be much worse if he tried.

The Mets expect Tim Tebow to come back next year

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Mets assistant general manager John Ricco told Newsday today that he expects minor league outfielder Tim Tebow to return for a third season in professional baseball.

Tebow, 31, broke the hamate bone in his right hand while swinging a bat in late July, ending his season. It was a fairly successful season for him all things considered. After being promoted to Double-A Binghamton to start the year he hit .273/.336/.399 with six home runs, a stolen base and a .734 OPS in 298 plate appearances and made the Double-A All-Star team. That’s not the stuff of a top prospect — he strikes out far too much and the power numbers aren’t fantastic given that power would figure to be his strongest tool — but it’s pretty respectable for a guy his age and with his relative lack of baseball experience. As I said back in July, you can believe the Mets’ interest in Tebow is more marketing than baseball, but that does not preclude you from giving the guy a deserved tip of the cap for working hard and sticking it out in the bush leagues.

Assuming he does come back, the Mets are likely to start him at Triple-A Syracuse in the hopes that he’d eventually get to the bigs as a late season callup if the Mets aren’t in contention. Indeed, many believed that was the plan for him this year had he not been injured.