Posted on November 25, 2009 at 9:13 AM
Cardinal Nation breathed a bit of a sigh of relief yesterday as Albert Pujols won his well-deserved third MVP
. Pujols not only didn't lose the award, but he was one of the rare unanimous selections in NL history. Which, of course, touches off articles of praise for the best player in the game. You have Stan Musial congratulating
the best Cardinal since he played. You have the discussion of how both the "art" and "science" side of baseball can come together
in selecting AP.
You also get this from the man himself:
"This is my place. This is where I want to be. I don't hide that. I'm still going to be a Cardinal for two more years and hopefully 15 more years--if I can play for that long--and retire as a Cardinal."
That might be more appropriate for Christmas, as it really is a gift to the fans. It's great to have Albert make all these public comments about wanting to stay. It's not, "Well, I'm a Cardinal for two more years and then we'll just have to see what happens." Pujols genuinely seems to want to stay in St. Louis and since both sides want the same thing, I hope that we'll have an extension to talk about soon.
Which, of course, leads into the discussion of what you should pay a guy that has never finished lower than ninth in the MVP voting, and that was the only year he finished out of the top five. The Post-Dispatch roundtable
on how much for just the Pujols
came to the basic conclusion that, if he wants it, he should get it. (Love some of the comments on that story, BTW!) I do think that Pujols isn't going to hold the franchise up and get all that he can. I think the organization will want to give him the biggest contract ever, but I do think that it's going to be less than people think, definitely less than he'd get on the free agent market. I also expect they'll probably do a long-term contract that easily could be his last. You just don't let a guy like this get away, even if he tails off later on.
However, in this season of giving thanks, Cardinal Nation is very thankful that #5 is still wearing the birds on the bat and will be for the foreseeable future. Other things to be thankful for, if you are a Cardinal fan:
- An ownership who cares about winning and is cognizant of their fan base. The owners could have hoped the team could win the division, but they went out and made the Matt Holliday trade to make sure of it. It's also a smart organization, who isn't sold on throwing just everything at Holliday in free agency just because they traded for him.
- Wonderful pitching. Watching Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, even Joel Pineiro running off strong start after strong start this season was a wonder to behold. I know we won't see that (to that level) next year, which makes the run they had this year, when they went seemingly weeks without allowing even three runs a game, so much more memorable.
- Yadier Molina. His offense will never carry him into that "must draft in your rotisserie league" status, but when you combine that with his defense, you have just about a good of a catcher as you can imagine. I love those throw downs to Pujols trying to pick a runner off. I can't believe that they still are able to do it--you'd think the league would just stay on the bag by now!
- A solid team, both on and off the field. For the most part, the Cardinals seem to have good people that make up the roster and the organization. Granted, some people have negative opinions of the personalities of some of the players, but others will gush over them. Last I checked, none of them were perfect. However, most of the debate about players involves how they are producing between the lines, not what they are doing on their time off.
To stick with the thankful theme, a personal note. The United Cardinal Bloggers did our annual Cardinal Blogger Awards recently and you can find the winners at the home page
. This blog won Most Optimistic Cardinal Blog. (I also was runner up in Best Individual Cardinal Blog, but I fell victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous of which is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go up against Pip when a blogging award is on the line! You can't beat Fungoes
in that category. You just can't.)
Anyway, there were a lot of nice things written about this blog and its author over the course of that voting and I wanted to say that I'm thankful we have such a great blogging community. I'm honored to be a part of it and to contribute in my own small way.
Of course, other people are thankful at this time of year as well......
- Matt Holliday is thankful that he didn't spend all year in Oakland and that some people are focused on what Ryan Franklin did in NLDS Game 2.
- Ryan Franklin is thankful he got that extension signed early and that some people are focused on what Matt Holliday did in NLDS Game 2.
- Kyle McClellan is thankful that Adam Wainwright doesn't hold grudges, especially since a 20th win could have put Waino's name in the history books.
- Keith Law is thankful that he doesn't live anywhere close to St. Louis, so he hasn't had to clean his house and lawn this week.
- Kyle Lohse is thankful that 2008 was his free agent year, not 2009.
- Joel Pineiro is thankful Jose Oquendo didn't let him pitch for Puerto Rico, motivating him for a great year.
- Mark McGwire is thankful that the Cardinals had award nominees, allowing his press conference to be pushed back.
- Tony LaRussa is thankful he doesn't have to train a new pitching coach.
- Fredbird is thankful that no one has yet to mistake him for a turkey.
I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving, with safe travels if you are doing that. As a parting link for the week, if you've not seen this rendition of a classic rock song
, well, you are missing out. Enjoy the holiday!
Posted on November 20, 2009 at 9:24 AM
If you've not seen them, my selections
for the Cardinal Bloggers Awards are below. The votes are coming in from across the blogosphere and we should have some results maybe this weekend.
I briefly touched on it yesterday
, but I want to talk a little more about the aftermath of the Cy Young voting
. Apologies if there is some more than usual rambling, but there are some half-formed thoughts in my head that I want to try to get out and see if they make any sense.
As expected, there are some irate people
in Cardinal Nation that one or the other of the two pitchers did not win the award. Some of the arguments or thoughts expressed, though, have some merit.
Obviously, I'm not hear to argue that advanced statistical measures shouldn't be used to make these selections. These things enhance our knowledge of the game and allow us not to be deceived by our eyes completely or to be terribly biased one way or another. Sabermetrics is here to stay and it's a good thing.
That said, there's got to be some room for not only the traditional stats but also for the circumstances and qualitative factors that surround the game. Wins aren't the be-all and end-all, obviously, especially when you recognize in what situations some pitchers get a win. ERA can be deceptive. However, if a guy has a lot of wins and a good ERA, that needs to be factored in. He helped his team win, for the most part. That has to have some sort of cache.
The sabermetricians have their own biases. For example, the biggest knock on Chris Carpenter was the fact he missed a few games. Like Mike says
, though, when did IP become the standard? Carpenter was as dominant, if not more so, in slightly fewer innings. There could be an argument that he was more worthy due to that, with the thought that with the same amount of innings, he'd have much better counting stats. However, in a close race like this, I can see that being a slight mark against him.
I know that Keith Law and Will Carroll have gotten a lot of grief, even after they've explained their votes
. For the most part, they don't deserve the barrage. However, sabermetricians (and I know this is a broad generalization, so I apologize to those that it doesn't fit) tend to want to be the smartest guy in the room and will brook little empathy for those that don't fit the profile. From the look of his ballot, Law just took the top three in WAR and went on with his day, not worrying about anything that wasn't in the numbers there on the paper.
Now, I don't know a lot about WAR and VORP and FIP, though I have a general sense of them. They are effective tools, I won't deny that. I'm sure Pip
will correct me, but with WAR, couldn't a pitcher have a dominant first half of the season, get hurt in August, and still lead the league in that? I don't think it's a cumulative-type stat, though I easily could be mistaken. Assuming that's correct, though, if Lincecum had been hurt and not pitched in September but still was the leader in WAR and FIP, does he still get the award? Even though the Giants really needed him down the stretch as they tried to make the playoffs?
If the sabermetrician says, "That's possible, but it wouldn't have happened. They wouldn't have given it to him in that situation," then when do external factors come into play? That seemed to be to be the one chink in Lincecum's argument. When the Giants were pushing the Rockies, coming within a couple of games of the wild card spot, they really needed him. Yet in the second half, he went 1-3 with a 3.60 ERA. Still good, but it was the absolute worst time for him to slump. Wainwright went 3-1 with a 3.18 and a crazy 40/7 K/BB ratio, including throwing 130 pitches in the divisional clincher. If only Kyle McClellan could have held #20
(Interesting stat I just found looking through ESPN's sabermetric rankings. Carpenter had a .256 average on balls in play. Lincecum, .276. Wainwright? .290. Not sure if that means anything, though it would seem to me that Wainwright's numbers were less reliant on luck than maybe the other two, but just by a hair.)
Pip makes an interesting argument that now strikeouts are more important to voters than wins
. It's true that strikeouts give a better read on a pitcher, he has more control over that than wins or some other things. But what about the teams like St. Louis that are philosophically focused on getting the ground ball? Should they be punished for basically doing their job?
Again, I'm not saying Lincecum is a bad choice. By a lot of accounts, he was the best pitcher in the NL. I'm not really complaining about anything, but I do think that there's got to be some sort of blend between strictly numbers and strictly scouting and traditional measures. There's good in both of them. I just wish they'd figured this out years ago, so maybe Ozzie Smith would have won in '87
I guess the argument comes from how you perceive the Cy. We've had this argument with the MVP for years, but is the Cy for the overall best statistical pitcher or the pitcher that helped his team the most? Usually those are one and the same, but not so much this year. Which is probably why we're going to be talking about this for a while.
Posted on November 19, 2009 at 10:30 PM
For the third straight year, the United Cardinal Bloggers
are voting on the Cardinal Blogger Awards. (It's probably best that we do it, instead of having the Dodger bloggers vote for the CBA.) If you want to see the past winners, you can find them here
(2007) and here
(2008). If you want to see who has voted in this year's incarnation, click here
So without a whole lot of excess rambling, let's dive into the nominees and make the selections. Of course, this is completely opinion and your mileage may vary. Chances are, if you are actually reading this, you are a member of the UCB and are voting anyway, so take a gander and see how close we are. Continue Reading
Posted on November 19, 2009 at 2:26 PM
(OK, I'm sure that'll be a headline used by just about everyone. Nobody's ever said I was creative.)The news is out
, and Tim Lincecum won another Cy Young, beating out Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. It was a ridiculously tight race, with Lincecum beating Carp by 6 points and Waino by 10, with Wainwright getting the most first place selections.
It was a race that any of them could have won. If the Cardinals don't blow the lead in Wainwright's last game and he gets to 20, would that have made a difference? All it might have taken was to sway one or two voters. We'll never know.
Derrick Goold was kind enough to let people in on his vote
. Like Bernie's article this morning, it lays out a strong argument. No matter who won this race, the other two were not going to be robbed.
Which is even more surprising that the BBWAA went with Lincecum, to some degree. I've thought that, with younger sportswriters and more open minds, the writers were coming to the point where they were making less egregious errors. (Then they gave Chris Coghlan the ROY, so I wasn't so sure.) This is the kind of race that, in years past, would have gone to Wainwright because he had the most wins. Not so much today. While some of the uberstatmeisters might have torn their garments if a Cardinal had one, claiming Lincecum was decisively better, most recognized the closeness of the race.
What I'm trying to get at is, more than Zack Greinke's selection in the AL, the fact that Tim Lincecum won the NL award is an indication the BBWAA is changing as an organization. As Cardinal fans, we wish they could have changed a year later.
Posted on November 19, 2009 at 11:08 AM
Today's the day that Cardinal fans have been anticipating since the end of the season. We knew that Colby Rasmus wasn't going to get the Rookie of the Year award. We knew that Tony LaRussa might make a good showing, but he wasn't going to win the Manager of the Year award. We know that Albert Pujols is taking home MV3 (to pull out an old term and totally misuse it) next week.
But Cy Young. There's intrigue.
Even though the odds are in favor of a Cardinal winning the award, it's still strongly possible that both will be shut out. Tim Lincecum had an outstanding year for the Giants, taking home the Baseball Bloggers Alliance
version of the Cy. While it'd be disappointing to St. Louis faithful if the Giant hurler took home the prize again, I don't think anyone could get real up in arms about the unjust robbery of our hometown heroes.
If Lincecum doesn't win, though, who will? Bernie Mikalsz picked Chris Carpenter with his ballot
, and I will say his argument is a very strong one. As I'm working on my Cardinal Blogger Awards post for tomorrow, I'm really going back and forth on the Pitcher of the Year selection. Both Carpenter and Adam Wainwright have amazing cases and it's one of the things that made this year so exciting and fun, watching them go out there every time and put up a great game.
Matthew Leach said in his UCB Radio Hour appearance
that he thought Wainwright would get the nod from the writers, especially since he led the league in wins and had the peripheral numbers to go along with it. I'd kinda like to see Waino get the award, because he was the bedrock of the rotation all year long. You knew he was going to go out there, give you a good game, and was going to go as deep into the game as possible. Perhaps in anticipation of AW getting the Cy, Derrick Goold has a great story
on him and where he grew up.
Even though it wasn't my hosting week, I spent some time (quite a bit of time, really!) talking to Nick and Josh from Pitchers Hit Eighth last night on the weekly show
. Before I jumped on board, though, they talked about the news that the Cardinals had added eight players to the 40-man roster, protecting them from the upcoming Rule V draft.
You can find the list of those players here
if you've not already read about it elsewhere. There weren't too many surprises, though I do think the fact that they kept Mark Hamilton was a little surprising, just because of his limited use for the Cardinals. That said, he might be a good trade chip, someone people are asking about, and so you don't necessarily want to just give that kind of player away. Other than that, it was pretty standard and it'll be interesting to see how many of these players make it to St. Louis sometime in 2010. Continue Reading
Posted on November 18, 2009 at 8:17 AM
News continues to be a slow and very small trickle at this time of year, so I was a little surprised to see an interesting story on the Post-Dispatch
website this morning. According to John Mozeliak, Jason Bay is not a priority
It's quite a change from the interest the organization had in Bay just a few years ago and, honestly, it's what most of us expected them to look at if Matt Holliday didn't return. Bay is the second-biggest bat on the market and, with the focus on giving Albert Pujols somebody to hit with, you'd think he'd be more in the crosshairs of the club.
Apparently, besides the fact that he's gotten older since the time they really wanted him and there's been a change in leadership since then, they are a little leery about his defensive work. As Erik Manning pointed out
, though, if they don't like Bay due to defense, how in the world could they possibly be considering trading for Adam Dunn, as the article points out later on? I'm pretty sure Bay would outpoint Dunn on that scale handily.
Does that mean that they might go in the other direction for protecting Pujols, putting runners on ahead of him? The more that I heard about Chone Figgins, the more it is intriguing to put him at third base. However, I do still want to see what David Freese can do as well, so there's an issue. I'm not sure Figgins works as well as an outfielder, though I know he can play out there.
Mozeliak indicated that the Cards might go the pitching route to use some of those Holliday funds if he doesn't come here, though John Lackey doesn't seem to be on the list. I'm a pitching guy. I love pitching. I stockpile aces on my rotisserie teams, even though all the experts say not to. (Of course, I also very rarely win my rotisserie leagues, but that's beside the point.) I was the one pushing for a Roy Halladay trade back in June, drooling over a Chris Carpenter-Roy Halladay-Adam Wainwright top of the rotation.
That said, without Lackey, I'm not sure what pitcher out there really puts the Cardinals into a much better position. Lackey and Randy Wolf are the only Type A pitchers out there (and I'm sure they are hesitant to lose the draft picks that come with signing a Type A) and the rest of the squad
isn't that inspiring either. No one you want to make the face of the offseason, at least. There are some interesting names--Rich Harden is one, though of course you might only get him for half a season due to his injury history--but no one that you can say definitely makes the team better.
It's possible a trade could happen, of course, but I'm not sure they can put together a package to get a top-notch starter. They have trade chips, sure, but to the level that would ease fans after losing Holliday? I don't know about that. Be interesting to see what direction they go in. Of course, they could just wind up resigning Holliday, but you get the feeling they aren't real confident in that.
Want to talk more Cardinals today? Joe Strauss is having his weekly chat
, of course, but tonight the Pitchers Hit Eighth
guys host the UCB Radio Hour
. So give them a call and talk some ball!
Posted on November 16, 2009 at 8:44 AM
The dead period continues, as a few rumors might trickle out during this period before the official start to free agency but not much else. Just a slow time for a baseball fan.
There's not even much Cardinal-related on MLB Trade Rumors
, though I do note that one GM states
Matt Holliday won't get Mark Teixeira money. I don't think anyone really believes that he will, not even Scott Boras. That won't keep Boras from talking him up, of course, like a good agent should. That just doesn't mean that anyone has to listen
One good thing about this organization is that, on the whole, they are a smart group. I don't think you'd see them bidding against themselves, a la Tom Hicks. I don't think you'll see them wait it out too long, either. They realize that the players traded are a sunk cost, they are gone no matter. While it helps the deal if they are able to resign him, that has to be looked at in a vaccum, and if the deal is getting too big or it is going to impact their talks with Albert Pujols, they are smart enough to go with Plan B, C, or D.
Boras also believes that the Cardinals' hire of Mark McGwire is completely related to keeping Matt Holliday and he wants no part of any talk of non-monetary benefits. He's noted that Holliday worked with Mac this offseason and had to ditch some of his training this year after the slow start. That much I knew. What Derrick Goold points out at his blog
is that a lot of Holliday's success came after McGwire told him to keep the leg kick back in '07. So their relationship is better than you might first think.
Enough about Holliday. We know there won't be any news on him for a while, especially since the free agent market doesn't officially open until Friday. I don't expect you'll see him sign anywhere until mid-December at the earliest.
It's baseball award season the next couple of weeks. Of course, the newly-formed Baseball Bloggers Alliance
has already done their voting, so it'll be interesting to see how their selections compare to the writers. The Rookie of the Year voting comes out today, and while the Cardinals official site likes to play up Colby Rasmus as a darkhorse
, it's not going to happen. The problem with the ROY voting is that you only get three names and there were a good four or five that most people will write down before Rasmus. Hopefully he gets some voets (he was shut out in the BBA), but I don't think he'll be adding that to his award shelf.
What more Cardinal fans are looking forward to is the release of the Cy Young voting. The odds are that a Cardinal will take home the title, since two of the top three choices wear the birds on the bat. The BBA went with Tim Lincecum, but Matthew Leach on the UCB Radio Hour said he thought Adam Wainwright would get the hardware.
In a neat twist (and it's always great to see the though processes of a player), the Post-Dispatch
got Wainwright to write about why he thought Chris Carpenter would win
and then Carp to talk about Waino
. I love the subtle point that Waino makes that won't be picked up by the writers, most likely. Carp was the one that helped Wainwright make his adjustments this year, the adjustments that put him in the Cy conversation. So when you take into accout Carp's numbers plus his value to the team, it's a strong argument.
Don't know how often I'll update, though of course if any big news comes down you can count on me rambling on. The Cardinal Blogger Awards voting is going on now. Two ballots already in, more promised. Mine will be up Friday and the final awards will be announced soon after. Enjoy your week!
Posted on November 12, 2009 at 8:52 AM
We had a good conversation last night with Matthew Leach, Cardinal beat writer for MLB.com, on the United Cardinal Bloggers Radio Hour
. The major topics were hashed out and Matthew brought some interesting thoughts into the mix.
For example, he thinks the odds of Matt Holliday returning to the Cards are less than 50/50, though not infinitesimal. He did bemoan the creeping compulsion by fans to start blaming Holliday for being one of those greedy guys who is just looking out for the top dollar.
As Matthew pointed out, it could be the last time Holliday gets to take top dollar. For some guys, they want to grab that once, at least. It's hard to say that we wouldn't do the same, though you'd like to think other considerations would come into play. They may, we don't know, but we shouldn't begrudge a guy for doing something most of us would probably do as well.
From the team's point of view, though, they aren't likely to just wait around for Holliday, and it sounds like there is a possibility they'd go shore up the pitching if they thought there was a bargain there. So while they may not sign John Lackey, I wouldn't be surprised if they don't at least keep in touch with his agent. Having him slide in behind Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright would be a pretty interesting rotation.
On Mark McGwire, there doesn't seem to be any more definitive news. While the team could do a press conference tomorrow if they wanted to, they seem to be content to use the "don't overshadow the awards" cover to let them figure out just what they want to do about it. My cynical side would expect a Tuesday before Thanksgiving presser, so that the holidays would lessen the impact (who is really paying attention to things when there's a table full of food to be taken care of?) but when even ESPN is talking about it
already, waiting can't be all that good of a thing.
We are only about a week away from having to protect players from the Rule V draft, and so there was some discussion about that. Especially where Bryan Anderson comes into play. Dustin pointed out that catchers don't usually get taken since it means a team would have to either carry three catchers or use an unproven minor leaguer as their backup, so strategically he may get left off and the Cards take the risk.
Another name that was questionable was Francisco Samuel. Matthew thought the odds were that he'd be protected, since bullpen arms are easier to keep on a roster if someone takes him via Rule V, as we saw with Luis Peradomo last year.
We may only see Holliday get offered arbitration, as the club has been pretty skittish about giving it out in the past. I'd really hate to see Mark DeRosa and Joel Pineiro leave without getting something for them, though. If this report is true
, I think you can safely offer DeRosa, because he's going to get a deal somewhere.
(Off topic, but while looking for that link, I saw another blog post at MLBTR
that said Mark Prior was throwing from flat ground. I was surprised that he was only 29. Talk about low risk/high reward. I've advocated for him before and I'd love to see St. Louis give him a minor league contract, see if he has anything left.)
Always enjoy having Matthew on the show. Toss him a question and stand back, because you are going to get a lot of thought and information on the topic.
In other news, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina were the Gold Glove winners from the Cardinals this year. No Albert Pujols, which was a little disappointing, though he did have more errors than usual this year. It could have been, as well, that the voters weren't sure if the played first base or second base, based on where he positions himself sometimes! Wainwright was a little surprising to me, since I don't remember him being anything spectacular from the mound, at least in the fielding department. Pineiro I might have believed, though Waino's never been bad in that regard.
A new Cardinal blog, in the style of an Onion-like parody, has come along. So give a check out of Fredbird Follys
when you have the time!
Posted on November 9, 2009 at 9:04 AM
The general managers get together starting today in Chicago. While this is a preview of the big "winter meetings" that will be held next month in Indianapolis, there's not expected to be much of a ripple made in the offseason pond from this gathering. Joe Strauss sets the scene not only for these meetings, but for the whole offseason in his article today
The Cardinals are going to have a lot of news and rumors float around them this offseason, with Matt Holliday being the focal point. Strauss says that the Cards were looking at $17 million a year for Holliday, but that won't likely be in the ballpark if Scott Boras is able to get his Teixeria-like money for him.
You know, I knew that the Cards were going to have to shell out a ton of money for Holliday, but seeing figures like $17 million put down on virtual paper is an eye-opener. I honestly can't see how St. Louis could afford Holliday, an extention for Albert Pujols (which would have to be more than what Holliday receives), and continue to maintain the payroll that includes Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse. The Cardinals are going to hit the end of their resources pretty quickly in that regard.
Unfortunately, they are kinda painted into a corner. If they don't get Holliday, they probably are in on Jason Bay, but he's not necessarily going to be that much cheaper. (Though I have always been somewhat of a Bay fan and would like to see him in St. Louis.) If they don't get either guy, they don't necessarily have the bullets in the farm system to make a deal to get another outfielder, so they might go with what they have.
Of course, the other option is to load up on pitching and hope that Pujols, Colby Rasmus, Ryan Ludwick and Yadier Molina can put up enough runs to win some low-scoring games. To that end, John Lackey is on the market and would make for a heck of a rotation with Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, but I can't see the Cardinals going that route.
Should be interesting to see what trickles out of these meetings, whether some groundwork is set for bigger deals down the road. Due to John Mozeliak being there, I'd not expect anything McGwire-related until the end of the week or beginning of next. I'm still not completely sure they won't have it the week of Thanksgiving to try to keep a lower profile.
Completely off topic, the accountant in me finds this mildly humorous
Wednesday night's UCB Radio Hour this week will have MLB.com writer Matthew Leach on the program. Be sure to tune in!
Posted on November 8, 2009 at 10:24 PM
For the third consecutive year, the members of the United Cardinal Bloggers will be voting on various aspects of this past season so as to bestow the Cardinal Blogger Awards. It's sort of the unofficial kickoff to the UCB year, as this was the first project we ever did as a group back in 2007.
The rules are simple. Each member blog will post their selections on November 20. I will tally up the votes and post the results soon after. For every vote, a write-in selection is allowed. Members may split their vote in any category two ways, but no more than that. If they want to recognize more than two players or people, a group (i.e., the bullpen, the bench) must be selected.
So, after the jump, the nominees for the 2009 Cardinal Blogger Awards, presented without any commentary or argument. Continue Reading