Posted on December 31, 2009 at 9:27 AM
There is no doubt that 2009 was a very eventful one for the St. Louis Cardinals. From the surprising dismissal of Adam Kennedy right before spring training to the continued pursuit of Matt Holliday as the year comes to a close, there was little time this year when something wasn't happening. The United Cardinal Bloggers are doing their annual look back with the Top 5 Stories for 2009. Below are my selections:
1) Midseason Madness
Time was, Cardinal fans were used to moves in the middle of the season. Walt Jocketty cleaned up at the deadline numerous times, including a very active 2000. However, even when Jocketty was wheeling and dealing, he didn't make the impact moves that John Mozeliak made this summer.
First off, Mozeliak made the move most everyone was clamoring for, trading off Chris Perez and a PTBNL (which turned out to be Jess Todd) for versatile player Mark DeRosa, who was toiling away for a Cleveland club that was well out of contention. While the price was steep, especially in retrospect, Mozeliak made the move that made the most sense for the team at the time.
So, after getting possibly the second best hitter on the trade market, Mozeliak then pulled off a deal for the first. Giving up on top prospect Brett Wallace, along with Clayton Mortenson and Shane Robinson, was a steep price to pay for a player that wasn't guaranteed to return to the club in 2010. However, Holliday sparked the Cardinals and provided another big bat in the St. Louis lineup.
To go along with all of that, Mo still made moves to rid the team of Chris Duncan, something many never thought they'd see, and to get a productive player for him to boot. The team also signed John Smoltz after he was put on waivers from Boston, and while he wasn't exactly vintage Smoltz, he definitely was a boost to the rotation.
Posted on December 29, 2009 at 9:21 AM
I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas. There's not been much to talk about and I've not had a chance to get back to the blog much due to the family obligations, but I'm pretty sure you've not missed anything.
Finally, though, we get a little piece of news that, while it doesn't directly effect the Cardinals, does make some impact on their backup plans. Mark DeRosa is going to be a San Francisco Giant next year
It's been assumed, if not outright stated, that DeRosa represented "Plan B" for the Cardinals in their off-season quest, subordinate only to the Matt Holliday grail. (Off-topic, at least after Friday we can really get away from the Holliday/holiday puns. Probably.) With DeRosa now out of the picture, that means one of two things.
1) The front office is very confident they are going to eventually sign Holliday.
2) The front office is about to start dipping into Plan C and Plan D range.
Honestly, I think it's the former. With the Yankees not signing DeRosa, they could still be a player in this game, but I do think they are at least paying attention to the payroll, not necessarily just spending with complete abandon. They are already sitting close to $200 million, and eventually even they'll notice paying the 40% luxury tax. And, in fact, there is apparently "zero chance
" they'd sign him.
The Mets have said that they are monitoring Holliday, but they thought that Jason Bay would be the easier sign. Given how difficult it's been to lock down Bay, what does that tell you about getting Holliday on board? I wouldn't completely rule them out, but if Bay doesn't go back to Boston, it looks to me that he has to go to New York. Which then takes the Mets out of the running.
Who else is there that needs an outfielder enough to spend the money? I don't see anyone. I don't think the front office does either, which is why they are content to wait. It could come back and bite them, but I don't think it's going to. I expect Matt Holliday will be in Cardinals camp come the beginning of spring training.
I've been delaying way too long in doing some book reviews, so after the jump, let me give you a few options in case you have some extra holiday cash of your own and you are looking for a good baseball way to spend it. Continue Reading
Posted on December 21, 2009 at 9:34 AM
The Holliday negotiations drag on. Right now, you could flip a coin on which will happen first, Matt Holilday signing or Mark McGwire having a press conference. But don't hold your breath on either.
Scott Boras doesn't seem to be in any hurry to finalize a deal
. Either he continues to wait for another team or two to get into the mix or he's thinking that the Cardinals will blink in this game of chicken, raising the stakes so as to make sure Holliday doesn't get away.
However, I'm not sure that John Mozeliak is going to play that game and definitely know that he shouldn't. Mo can read as well as we can and he can see that Boston pulled their offer after signing John Lackey, the Mets are heavily in on Jason Bay, the Yankees got Nick Johnson and cut ties with Johnny Damon (for the most part) and, as far as has been reported, the Angels haven't reported any interested. (Which is good, because Angels and Holliday in this time of the year would really strain our capacity for pun tolerance.)
Now, there's obviously information we don't know, being on the outside looking in. But from this perspective, it seems to me that it's really where Mo needs to say, "OK, this offer is good for another two days. After that, we'll either move on or drop our price."
Before the offseason started, Mozeliak said that he wouldn't be handcuffed by the Holliday negotiations. Yet second-hand info seems to indicate the Cards are in a holding pattern waiting on this to get cleared up.
It's possible that Mo is supremely confident that Holliday is going to resign and at the Cards terms, which is completely possible given the lack of other suitors. That could be why they are sitting and waiting, letting Boras run around doing his tricks while they watch impassively. (Kinda like that scene with Indiana Jones shooting the sword-waver coming at him.)
If not, though, and if Plan B trickles away while they focus on Holliday, this could be a very cold winter for Big Mo.
Posted on December 15, 2009 at 9:32 AM
So, will it be the most wonderful time of the year or will St. Louis have a blue Christmas?
The news around Matt Holliday heated up last night, with Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch
reporting that there was "positive movement" in that regard. (Strauss seems to have started a habit of getting people excited about late stories, indicating they may come upon a midnight clear. The first was David Freese's arrest, then this tweet about Holliday.)
Strauss developed on that tweet in a story out this morning
, indicating that the club has offered an eight-year deal averaging about $16 million a season. Thoughts of no-trades and opt-outs are also being bandied about. After a weekend of silent nights, it was good to finally have some indication that things were being talked about and some stirring of the stove.
While all Cardinal fans would like to see a present under the tree this week, what kind of cost
is going to be involved? It's an awfully expensive contract, especially when you factor in a no-trade clause. I know without a doubt that the Cards have made provisions for Albert Pujols when making this deal, but that's going to be a lot of payroll tied up between two players.
Still, getting Holliday back would make people think that Santa Claus was coming to town. I mean, you'd have this lineup for 2010:
Add that to a strong rotation and solid bullpen, and even with the Phillies' acquisition of Roy Halladay, I think the Cardinals might be the slight favorites to represent the NL in the next World Series.
That might be similar to dreaming of a white Christmas, but I think it's realistically possible, especially if Brad Penny is more than a lump of coal in the Cardinals' stocking.
There's still a long way to go, but since the Grinch--I mean, the agent Scott Boras--hasn't made a lot of public proclamations, I think there's a strong chance that, if all you want for Christmas is Matt, you may have plenty of joy in your world this week.UCB Radio Hour
is tomorrow night. I promise no singing of Christmas carols. At least on my end--never know when Mike might get a wild hair.
Posted on December 14, 2009 at 9:53 AM
A couple of things took place this weekend. One was at least semi-hopeful, one fairly disappointing.
First off, the Cardinals finally made a formal offer to Matt Holliday
. No details on it have leaked out, though it is most likely not a deal that will be accepted without discussion. Still, John Mozeliak expected to hear back from the Holliday camp this weekend with a mid-week "deadline" of moving on. Since Scott Boras didn't make a quick rush to the press to decry the offer as demeaning and insulting, it's possible that the Cards might be in this thing.
I don't know if you can read just a whole lot into the lack of news on this front over a weekend, but the "Cards are in it" take does sound reasonable to me. You'd like to think that Holliday wants to be here and Boras would take that into consideration, but you can't assume it. Still, the market for Holliday isn't what most expected--a solid offer from St. Louis might be enough to get into final negotiations. I'd think we'd hear something one way or another either today or tomorrow.
The down side was that David Freese was arrested for DWI
. Unfortuately, this isn't the first time those letters (or similar ones) have been used in relation to the Cardinals. You'd think the death of Josh Hancock would have helped keep players sober, but it's been a couple of years now and Freese wasn't even in the organization at the time.
How this will affect his status among the organization's power brokers is up for debate. Most likely, the best thing that Freese could have happen would be that Holliday signs. If that happens, it's not likely that the Cards will continue to pursue a veteran to play third. Which means he can work his way back into the good graces of Mozeliak and company.
If Holliday doesn't sign, though, it may make for a situation where they push harder for a Mark DeRosa, who can play third, and use one of the minor league outfielders such as Jon Jay or maybe even Allen Craig out there, leaving Freese for a bench role or as trade bait.
Finally, Dave Duncan gave an interesting interview yesterday to a local radio station and Derrick Goold has the highlights
. Duncan is very excited about the acquisition of Brad Penny, feeling that he's never really been the best pitcher he can be. If Duncan can get that out of him, the rotation next year could be amazingly dominant. It may not have the stretch like the '09 did where they didn't give up more than two runs for about two weeks, but every night there's a good chance you'll get a shut-down performance. He also expressed some interest in the non-tendered Chein-Mein Wang, but I don't expect anything will come of that.
UCB Radio Hour on Wednesday, likely the last one for 2009. Mike
and I will be your hosts and hopefully will have some good Holliday news to share!
Posted on December 11, 2009 at 9:27 AM
The Cardinal contingent has left Indianapolis, headed back to theoretically warmer climes (St. Louis is supposed to be 41 today, Indy 34) and with a couple of new pitchers. However, there's no thaw in the relations between them and Scott Boras in regard to the outfielder that is at the top of the list.
There's been a lot of discussion going on about Boras and his tactics. Of course, we as Cardinal fans know all about them, but usually from the perspective of the outside looking in. Sure, Kyle Lohse was a Boras client, but he wasn't the guy
for an offseason. Matt Holliday is, and so now we are seeing the Boras bells and whistles.
Except they are coming off as tired cliches, aren't they? Viva El Birdos
hit on this yesterday and I couldn't agree more. With the big market teams looking like they are not necessarily willing to be in the mix for Holliday, Boras is left with using his normal devices but on a different theater and finding out they don't necessarily transfer.
I read a column from Bernie Mikalsz on this topic yesterday, but darned if I can find it now on the Post-Dispatch
site. Basically, though, it boils down to how the market can't be all that great for Holliday if you are having to try to guilt ownership--St. Louis ownership, especially--into overspending for the guy.
When you start saying things like, "Oh, they can afford it, they just have to want to," it's not exactly a position of strength. On Twitter, I likened it to when I went to buy my house years ago. They told me I was qualified for X amount of monthly payment. Sure, I could have paid X. I wouldn't have been able to have food in that house or actually light it, but I technically could have made the payment.
I mean, when you are even taking shots at Whitey Herzog's comments
, it seems to me that there's a whiff of desperation there. If the big boys aren't playing, you've got to adjust your game and I'm not sure Boras is doing that.
If New York (either team) or Boston were really that interested, I think you'd hear the comments of "multiple offers" and "lots on the table", things like that, instead of the almost single-minded focus of taking Bill DeWitt to task. So either Holliday really wants to play in St. Louis, will sign for anything, and Boras is just trying to get that "anything" up, or there's really not the market they expected out of him.
So let Boras set the pace
. He just might find himself with an outfielder and nobody to play him. I mean, his touch with reality is a little iffy anyway, since he thinks Rick Ankiel should get a three-year deal with big money.
The Cardinals actually participated in the Rule V draft yesterday, snatching Ben Jukich from Cincinnati
. He's a lefty with middling numbers, but they don't expect him to be a specialist. Which is good, because they already have two of those on staff. Just a rough sketch means the pitching staff looks like this right now, assuming a 12 man staff. (As we know, that may not be a valid assumption, at least part of the year.)
Starters: Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse, Brad Penny, Jaime Garcia
Closer: Ryan Franklin
LOOGYs: Trever Miller, Dennys Reyes
Others: Jason Motte, Blake Hawksworth, Jukich, Kyle McClellan
That'd be my guess, at least. However, that leaves out Mitchell Boggs, who has a good chance of making the club. It could be that, if the Cards are able to sign another starter, a couple of these younger arms are sent out in another deal. Something to keep an eye on, anyway.
Hope you all have a good weekend and maybe there will be some news early next week!
Posted on December 8, 2009 at 9:16 AM
Can't say there wasn't any Cardinal news coming out of the beginning of the winter meetings.
First off, Whitey Herzog, along with umpire Doug Harvey, were announced
as the veteran's committee's selections for the 2010 Hall of Fame class. Besides being well-deserved, it gave Whitey a chance to talk and for others to talk about Whitey. That'll always make for a good day!
Whitey of course talked about his career and related subjects, but he branched out at least once, answering a question about Mark McGwire
. Whitey reiterated what most of us feel, that Mac has to answer the questions and do it openly, otherwise it will just dog him throughout the season.
There are a ton of memories
surrounding the White Rat. Ozzie Smith had his own interview
talking about the manager that made him into a Hall of Famer. It may even be time for the Cards to retire his number
. To some degree it's a shame that the running days of the 1980s are gone for good. You have to wonder what Whitey would have done in this era.
Getting to the here and now, though, St. Louis also was in the news, signing Brad Penny
to a one year deal (pending physical). When you look at what Penny did in the NL, the signing definitely has to intrigue you, especially when he'll slot in as a #3 or a #4 starter. It's interesting that the story notes that high pitch counts have kept his innings down. Hopefully the pitch-to-contact philosophy can help him some, though we don't want him to completely lose that strike-'em-out fastball that he has.
Matthew Leach indicated when he visted with us on the UCB Radio Hour last month that he though the Cards would go pitching-heavy if they weren't able to get Matt Holliday to return. Since their most recent meeting with Scott Boras wasn't able to even produce a contract offer
, I think it's fairly safe to say Holliday will be going elsewhere. Which might bring Mark DeRosa back into the picture
There's even some indications that the Redbirds might not be done with acquiring pitching. At first glance, a rotation of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse, Penny and likely Jaime Garcia would look sturdy enough and fit in with the idea that the organization wanted a home-grown arm in the back of that mix, for a variety of reasons including cost containment. I still think that's likely what it'll wind up being, but apparently the front office isn't ruling out bringing any others in. I don't know who it'd be, though, save maybe a gamble on Ben Sheets. But with Penny's injury history, do you want two major risks in the same rotation?
So that's what day 1 of the winter meetings has wrought. What will day 2 bring? Some bloggers are finding following Twitter
to be a frustrating way to get news out of Indianapolis. I, on the other hand, am really enjoying it. I've got a fairly wide group that I'm following due to my connections with the Baseball Bloggers Alliance
and it seems like the Tweets never stop. There may not necessarily be a lot of hard news there, but it's interesting to see what rumor comes out, how people respond to it, etc.
I'm sure there will be plenty to discuss tomorrow night when Nick and Josh from Pitchers Hit Eighth
host the UCB Radio Hour
. Plan to join them, won't you?
Posted on December 4, 2009 at 9:38 AM
Are you ready to see Matt Holliday walk?
That seems to be the thrust of today's story at the Post-Dispatch
. Some of the verbal dancing we've come to expect from ownership makes a return, as they seem to start letting people down easy in regard to their Holliday wishes.
While it might not be the best way to go about it, it's not anything reasonable fans are surprised at. Indeed, the more surprising thing was to think that they might really try to keep him around. As I have said before, unless they planned to take payroll to the $125 million range, there would be too much money tied in all of this, with Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse already bringing in major portions of the payroll.
I have never honestly held my breath on a Holliday return, though I realize that it's still possible. I just don't know that tying up that much long-term is in the best interest of the franchise. Holliday's a great player, to be sure, but I don't think that'd help the stated goal of staying as competitive as possible as often as possible.
I do want to see them take that monney they might have spent on Holliday (or at least a substantial portion of it) and bolster the club for 2010. There's a report that they were interested in Vicente Padilla
. That's not the direction I'd like to see, and thankfully Matthew Leach basically shot that down. I still think I'd like to see a Ben Sheets/Rich Harden type gamble, because you are never going to get talent like that at a lower price.
It really will be interesting to see what ownership does this offseason, because there's not a lot of really attractive options. It may be some one-year deals and look to do this again next off-season.
Changing gears, I want to mention a situation that came to my attention through the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. There is a blog called The Yankee Universe
that covers, as you might imagine, the Yankees. However, it's likely not to be called that much longer, since the Yankees and MLB have come after them with a cease and desist order
. The bloggers' response can be found here
This seems like a tough situation. On the one hand, it seems petty for the Yankees to come after a blog. I mean, honestly, does anyone think that it's an "official" blog? Are there any such things? Anything that is official from a player or team is more of the press release/bland generalities genre, not actually a discussion blog. While people like Matthew Leach blog for the official site
, they aren't team blogs by any stretch of the imagination. So if you are seeing analysis and discussion, you can't actually think that it's approved by a Steinbrenner, can you?
Add to that side the fact that it's your fan base, and in general you don't necessarily want to do irritating and picky stuff with your fans, because that's a darn good way to make them ex-fans. They are promoting your brand and advertising your team, so you'd think you'd want to help them do that.
The flip side of that, though, is that the Yankees apparently have been using "Yankee Universe" in a charity fashion, which does lend to some confusion, and the simple fact that you have to defend trademarks, because if you don't, eventually you lose them. (One of the few things I remember from college business law.) If you don't stop people from using them without permission, there comes a point where you can't claim it as yours. It sucks, but from a long-term perspective, it has to be done.
The BBA ran into this during our voting of post-season awards. Since we were using MVP, Cy Young, etc. as our titles, which were registered to the Baseball Writers of America, we got an e-mail requesting we change our award titles, which we'll do next year (as soon as we figure out what we want to change them to). Some of our membership questioned whether they can do that, as other organizations use similar terms, but when you are a small group, you don't argue with anything that could cause legal trouble unless you are 120% sure you can deal with it.
Which means that, no matter the rightness or wrongness of it, most likely The Yankee Universe will become known as something else in the coming days. If someone in that organizaiton was more open to new media, though, you think they could have worked out some sort of compromise or agreement rather than using the considerable weight of the franchise to squash a fly, as it were.
A good weekend to you and yours and we'll get back together next week to talk about the winter meetings!
Posted on December 2, 2009 at 10:39 AM
The Cardinals announced yesterday evening that they had made their arbitration decisions
. As expected by almost everyone, they tendered arbitration to Matt Holliday, Joel Pineiro and Mark DeRosa, while allowing Troy Glaus to leave without strings.
To me, that means that they are fairly confident that someone is going to come along with a better deal for Pineiro. I don't think they really want him in that fourth starter role, though for one year they could probably get by. However, if they don't resign Holliday, spending money on a quality starter seems to be on the agenda, and if the plan is still to have a rookie/young pitcher in the fifth slot, there's no room for Pineiro.
DeRosa, I think they'd like to have back, though if he goes elsewhere that's OK as well. They probably don't think he'll break the bank in arbitration even if they have to go that way with him, which is unlikely.
All players have until Monday to accept the offer or decline it. I think all three of these guys will turn it down, expecting bigger paydays on the open market, but depending on how that market shapes up, it's possible someone like Pineiro would want to lock down the safety of an assured deal.
Now the focus moves on to the winter meetings, which will be held next week in Indianapolis. The consensus
seems to be that the team needs to get a good read on the Holliday situation. If it's reasonable he'll come back, great. If it doesn't look like it, cut bait and move on. No one wants to see the Cardinals pin their whole offseason on his signing, because the odds are still not in favor of his return.
It'll probably be pretty dead between now and next week. Liven it up by listening to the UCB Radio Hour
this evening! Give Dustin and Travis a call and talk some Cardinal baseball!
Posted on December 1, 2009 at 9:14 AM
I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe holiday weekend. Now the calendar has turned, the weather has chilled, and the hot stove is starting to be warmed.
Before too many logs get thrown on that fire, though, the Cardinals have to make their decisions on who to offer arbitration to
. We can play our own version of that home game
this morning and see if we are right in our predictions.Matt Holliday
. No brainer, of course you offer him arbitration. Absolutely no way he's going to accept it and, even if he did, it wouldn't kill the Cards to have him for one year at a high salary. Either you resign him and it's moot or he goes somewhere else and you get the picks. A definite yes.Troy Glaus
. Just as obvious, if the other way. Glaus isn't likely to have a lot of offers, is coming back from major injury, and could cost the Cardinals a huge chunk of change in arbitration. There's absolutely no way you even think about arbitration with Glaus in the room, ni case he is a telepath and accepts on the spot.Mark DeRosa
. The next two are interesting, starting with DeRosa. Last month, there was a report that up to eight teams had contacted his agent expressing interest. Assuming that level is interest is there, I don't see how you don't offer him arbitration. The odds of him accepting a one-year deal at a level set by an arbitrator seem pretty low in that case. You have to figure at least one of those teams is offering a multi-year deal. Plus, even if he accepts, you have him back and he's a very intriguing trade chip if you really didn't want him. I go with yes on this one.Joel Pineiro
. Pineiro might be the trickiest one of the bunch, because his arbitration salary is probably going to overvalue 2009 and not pay much attention to 2008. That said, his 2009 was pretty impressive and, the way clubs are always looking for pitching, you'd really have to think that he'd be getting some other offers. I think I'd take the risk and go ahead and offer him, figuring that he'll go elsewhere.
With the depletion of the minors with all the trades of last year, I think you have to take on some risk to get the chance to replenish your stock. We'll see today if the Cardinals agree with that theory.
There was actually a little news made
yesterday as well. The backup catcher role, something St. Louis always looks to fill early, will have a familiar face in Jason LaRue. This'll likely be LaRue's last go around with the Cards, with Matt Pagnozzi and Bryan Anderson both close to ready to sit on the bench 5 days a week behind Yadier Molina.
Also, middle infielder Ruben Gotay
was signed as well, though his was a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. He's a young guy, got a decent walk rate, and will get the chance to back up Skip Schumaker and Brendan Ryan if he has a good spring. Not a big signing by any means, but the details have to be filled out sometime. I mean, it's not like it's time for the hot stove
to be really cranked up by any means.
The other news in Redbird circles is, of course, the continued focus on Albert Pujols and his extension that both sides aren't worried about yet
. Bernie Mikalsz wonders what AP is waiting for
, that it's pretty obvious he's on a contender and ownership wants to win. I don't think that Albert doubts that, really. I think one of the reasons he is waiting is to make sure he can fit his salary into whatever plans the team has. I think it's possible another reason is to make sure the team can't say, "Oh, well, we signed Albert, we can't do anything else." Once he's locked in, he's locked in.
All that said, I still think a spring training signing is quite believable. No worries on my part, at least not yet.
What does concern me, and that concern grows daily, is the Mark McGwire hiring. Not the hiring per se, but the longer the club waits to get him in front of the media, the worse things look. I felt much better about it when it looked like Mac was going to get up in front of the press quickly and get it behind him. I understood the delays for the Series and the awards, though I wasn't real fond of them. Now, though, there is little reason to push it back.
However, I'd expect that it won't happen this week, then can't next week because John Mozeliak is at the GM meetings, then we get into the holidays. By now, I'd be pretty surprised if it happened before January--but I don't think that serves McGwire or the organization well if that's the case.UCB Radio Hour
tomorrow night with Dustin from Whiteyball and Travis from Fredbird Follys. Give a listen and see what they have to say!
Also, check this out over at The Hardball Times
. It's an interesting excerpt from an upcoming book examining managers, and this part is about Charles Comiskey, who has St. Louis ties. It's pretty intriguing, so click over there and read through it.
And, on a personal note, I want to point out that the Baseball Bloggers Alliance
has reached 100 members in mainly three months. I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do in the coming year!