Sunday, December 26, 2004

Eck Was The Right Guy

I've seen a lot of criticism over Walt signing the pesky Eckstein. Why?? If you look at the numbers, he gets on base better than Renteria, and we needed a serviceable leadoff. He's got a great attitude and he hustles. He's not going to hit for power, but ahead of Walker, Pujols, Rolen, and Edmonds you just want a guy to get on base. He fits in well with this team...and...for about 8 million dollars less than Renteria. 8 mil less, and he might turn out to be more productive.

Now that we've got a solid, not great, leadoff. I would love to see us sign Grudzielanek. The guy has hit over .300 the last two years and would be perfect in the 7 hole as Renteria vacates the six hole and makes it a permanent Sanders slot. Grudz would come really cheap and we could sign him to a one year deal. He's the perfect stop gap until we can find what we really want for our 2 bagger. I'm very intrigued by a Jerry Hairston Jr that is entering his prime years and coming off a .380 obp year in limited duty...but I'm don't know if this guy can keep it up.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

71 Days Till First Game of Spring Training

1. Something struck me as odd while reading Bernie Miklasz's article entitled "Jocketty Moves Under the Radar." Jocketty was quoted as saying:

"We kept it under the radar," Jocketty said. "We knew if the word got out that Oakland was willing to trade Mulder, and we were trying to close in on it, other teams would get involved, and it would become a feeding frenzy. So we tried to keep it quiet."

This strikes me as odd the Billy Beane would want to keep it quiet. I mean wouldn't he want teams bidding on Mulder, thus getting him a better deal? Strange.

2. While I like the acquisition of Mulder, the Cards claimed their need was a "power pitcher" that could lead the rotation. Mulder had 140 Ks last year while Morris, Williams, and Marquis all had 130+ Ks. Mulder is hardly a power pitcher, but he projects at being a nice number for this staff, so I guess that is just splitting hairs.

3. In limited duty Hairston Jr posted a .378 obp last year. While I don't think he is quite that good, wouldn't it be nice to have that kind of production on our team a la Vina in 2000? While he can't steal bases worth a crap that guy still in his prime years could be an upgrade on Womack. Couple Hairston with Polanco's .339 career obp, and I think we might actually upgrade our offense this next year.

4. If we do get Polanco, where would he bat? I love having Walker and his .400+ obp at the stop of the order, but knowing Tony I'm afraid Polanco will be right there in the two hole b/c he can "handle the bat really well."

5. Polanco accepting arbitration means the Cards would have to trade for him and the word is that with Chase Utley in the balance the Phils don't really want him back. This has tempered Polanco coming to the Cards somewhat, but the Padres Ramon Vazquez is being looked on as a backup.

6. Thank God we didn't sign Orlando Cabrera...way overpriced!!!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Link Fixed

I fixed the MLB Contracts Page Link so it is back up again. A very useful tool when thinking about who we can pick up and how much we can spend. Also, below I wrote something about the Mulder trade...cheers!

My Thoughts on Mulder

Well, the Cards made a significant upgrade in their pitching when they acquired Mark Mulder for Calero, Barton, and Haren. Here are my thoughts on the trade.

First, we lose Haren, but we get Mulder so that is an upgrade. And at 27, Mulder is entering his prime. If we could sign him quickly to a five year deal worth roughly 8-10 mil a year, it's a steal and I think we can do that. I know that's a reach on the salary, but I really think we can get him for that. In Calero, we lose really a minor league free agent. But Calero was a stalwart out of the pen, and what some people thought could be a cheap replacement for Izzy. And now with his trade and the Kline departure, it looks like Lincoln and Reyes will be in the pen. As good as Reyes pitched at the end of last year, I just don't feel comfortable with Reyes and Lincoln just yet. So, all of a sudden, something that was a huge strength last year (and I'm talking about the pen here) becomes somewhat of a question mark. King will be asked to take a heavier load, when he has been virtually a lefty specialist. Lincoln and Reyes all of a sudden become important cogs. Not something to freak out about, but definitely a question mark and the strong pen was the reason our pitching staff was so effective.

Finally, the part that makes me want to puke is losing Barton. Oh Lord, I thought I was going to cry. Just when it looked like our farm system was up and coming with guys like Anthony Reyes, Wainwright, Haren, Journell...we get rid of our top position player in a farm system void of impact position players. And not just any impact player...at 19, this guy hit over .300. But the amazing thing is he showed enough plate discipline to have an obp. well over .400. It seemed to me the guy was destined to be a stud, and as a catcher, holy crap this guy would bring amazing value to our offense. I just want to hurl losing this guy, and I don't want to even follow him or hear his name b/c I don't want to think about how good this guy might be. The WS appearance kept me from jumping out the window but if he becomes a super star I might think about setting my house on fire.

I just thought Jocketty could get us a pitcher w/o sacrificing someone like Barton. It is clear to me, however, that Cards brass want to win the title next year. So they had better open up the pocket books b/c we still have 2nd and SS to fill. All you guys know I have talked about how the Cards got to do more building through their farm system and stop signing so many FAs. This was our chance to have a cheap impact player in the mold of Pujols but alas we have let it go by. I'm happy to have Mulder, but he does come with some question marks...the loss of velocity last year, the poor showing down the stretch, rumors that he was hurt..can you say Matt Morris.

No, I don't even want to think about it. He upgrades our staff enormously if we get the usual Mulder, and I'm glad we didn't give up Ankiel. If Ankiel develops and comes back to the rotation, this might turn into one of the leagues best.

But I hope Walt knows something we don't about Barton.


Monday, December 13, 2004

Free Agent Ramblings!

Man, is it just me or does this offseason seem crazy. The Yankees and Red Sox are picking up all the good free agents in sight, further proving that baseball is the most unfair professional sport on the planet. I used to always side with the MLBPA, but no longer...these are the Nazis that brought you the steroid test free baseball season and continue to fight a salary cap at all cost.

The Cardinals Birdhouse reported Renteria as being signed by the Sox, and it looked like it was a done deal. Then today you have Renteria's agent coming back to the Cards and saying he hasn't signed with anyone yet. In other words, Renteria is trying to see if he can squeeze a few more bucks out of us. Hopefully, Walt has the balls to say final offer...I have no problem with them adding another year to the contract but no upping the avg salary per year. At 8 mil per year, Renteria is still too high priced. He has avg. power and his OBP is in the .320s. Now Orlando Cabrera is seeking a deal in the 4 years 32 mil range. My thinking of going with Cabrera is that Renteria is the better SS...so why would we want to pay him the same as Renteria? The market for SS this year is freaking gay. And you can think the gay ass Giants for forking over all that money to an over the hill Vizquel for setting the market. Sorry, but I say we pass, go with Luna and sign Polanco. Our offense will still be good enough if we concentrate on upgrading the staff and emphasizing pitching.

On the pitching front. Rumor is that low is asking for a deal in the 4 year 48 mil range. Good lord...Lowe is a moron. The guy makes three good starts and all of a sudden he wants to be paid like an ace. This guy is a joke. I don't trust his ability enough to dish out that kind of money...I'll pass.

I was hoping we would get Pavano, but it is obvious this guy is a Yankee dork and doesn't have the balls to be a Cardinal. I mean how hard is it to go to a team that spends all their money to make an all-star team and win?? What kind of skill is that? At least Schilling had the balls to sign with the Red Sox.

In any event, it seems like the right fit for us is Hudson. He's young and seems to want to be a Cardinal, so I think we can get an extension on him for a good price. I know what Beane is up to...this guy is thinking he can get a decent vet in the Suppan range, a solid prospect in the Haren range, and then get a project with a high ceiling like Ankiel. I really hate to lose Ankiel b/c I think he'll turn into something. If somehow Walt can get away with sending Suppan and Gall for Hudson and finding a way to keep Ankiel, Haren, and Barton then there's no doubt he is the best GM in baseball. I don't see how he is going to do it, however...in my opinion I would rather keep those guys than get Hudson. There are only a few pitchers in baseball I think are dominate enough I would want to trade that group of prospects for...and Hudson is not in that realm. But...I can't fault the guy if he does it...it's a tough choice but Walt always seems to do the right thing.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Morris Coming Back

I'm not a huge Morris fan book it looks like the Cards signed him for 2.5 million with incentives that could reach 7 mil. I hated to see us turn Woody away b/c I think he's such a bulldog on the mound. I love watching him pitch.

I think Walt was resigned to the fact that we could not land two starting pitchers so he had to sign either Woody or Morris. Now letting Woody go was the right move...if and only if we sign a pitcher to anchor or rotation. Walt has to figure if Morris comes back and is the pitcher of old he's signed a top of the rotation guy for pretty cheap. If not, the worst we get is a Garrett Stephanson type guy for the price of Garrett Stephanson. So not a bad deal at all.

Now if Morris can come back strong we have a guy that went toe to toe with Curt Schilling twice in the playoffs. If we get the top of the rotation guy we are looking for we have a great one-two punch. If we can get a full season out of Carpenter like last year, all of a sudden our rotation looks pretty strong. Add to that the usual steady year from Suppan and Marquis who looks like he is about to break out and we are looking like a team poised to finally take the title again.

Should any of these guys falter let's not forget we still have Ankiel and Haren....which I think is the drawback of bringing Morris back. Unless WJ is planning on trading Haren/Ankiel it's yet another year that these guys are rotting in the minors. I hate to see this b/c it seems like it takes forever for Cards prospects to make it to the majors. Sometimes I wonder if Pujols would still be in the minors if Bonilla wouldn't have gone on the DL.

In other signings, we got Mabry for a very cheap price. He's nice to have on the bench as a lefty. Now if we would just finally bring Gall up, we have a nice lefty and righty bat coming off the bench. Eldred is coming back and I have no clue why as we could get someone out of the minors to do the job that Eldred does. I don't trust Eldred in pressure situations and never will.

Finally, we let Kline go. Now I know Kline has been steady for us, but how many times has Kline choked in clutch situations...almost always. Kline is great when he starts the inning, but every time you bring him in the middle of a pressure situation it's a walk, hit, or HR...I just don't trust this guy with the game on the line.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Where the Cards Are Missing It!

To start out with, I would like to say that I have the utmost respect for Walt Jocketty. Everyone likes to talk about the Cashmans, the Epsteins, and of course the Beane's, but I think we have one of the best in WJ. With that being said, I really feel like he'll be smart in his dealings with Arizona when it comes to Randy Johnson. The Big Unit very well could be that final cog for a world championship. But the Cardinal Nation thought the same when they signed Izzy and then Tino to horrible contracts. I don't think Walt will make that mistake again, and I think the Cards organization wants to compete year in and year out.

With all that, here's some things I would like to see the Cards do in the future:

1. Start promoting from within. I truly believe the Cards have what they need in their own system, and it comes a lot cheaper than signing free agents. We have Luna for the middle infield who's not a great hitter but serviceable. John Gall would make a great bat for the bench. Power pitchers we got Ankiel, Reyes, and Haren.

2. Stop signing closers to huge contracts. I don't understand the hype of having a closer. You can't tell me that out of Calero, King and Tavarez we couldn't have had similar results. Yeah, not everyone has the right stuff to be a closer, but one of those three would have had the same results and for a lot less money.

3. Put a premium on offense and obp. I'm really tired of the Cards spending good money on "leaders" like Mike Matheny that are dead weight in the lineup. One, a good catcher is nice to have for a young pitcher, but you can't tell me that a veteran pitcher isn't going to throw what he wants to throw. Two, the SB is overrated, therefore, having a catcher that can shut down the running game is overrated. Three, you can teach a catcher the fundamentals and make him serviceable at blocking balls. We have a young man in our organization by the name of Daric Barton that can hit. They are wondering where to play him, and I hope they keep him at catcher b/c I would rather have an offensive stud at catcher than a defensive genius. Notice one reason why the Sox kicked our ass in the WS? Because they had virtually zero automatic outs in their lineup that lacked power. Womack, Matheny, and whatever DH we use aren't going to scare anyone...I also don't think Renteria is that great, but that's for another story.

4. Stop thinking a leadoff has to be fast. I hate seeing a guy that has a sub .300 obp batting in a leadoff spot just b/c he is fast. It kills me. I would bet my ass had Womack not had an outstanding year he still would have batted in the leadoff position. I thought it was genius to TLR to bat Walker in the two hole. It completely changed our lineup, and I hope that he'll find someone with a high obp to bat at the top for next year.



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