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Dipping Into The Free Agent Pool

Posted on November 20, 2008 at 8:24 AM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are expected to announce their first free agent signing of the season and it is a name that hasn't been on the radar screens, though the position definitely has.

It appears that next season's lefty specialist will be Trevor Miller, late of the AL champion Tampa Bay Rays.  You'd expect that Miller would take on the job that Ron Villone had last year, probably the LOOGY.  He'll be in his Age 36 season next year, which is younger than Villone.  He's got strikeout stuff, averaging around one an inning.  Higher ERAs than you like to see, but it's hard to judge a reliever by his ERA and they have been league average or better.  He's spent a little time in the NL, but he's been mostly in the AL.

Kinda interesting to see his comparables.  At this age, he's most like Mike Myers, who had a strong Age 36 and Age 37 season before ending his career a year later.  The top overall comparison is Jason Christensen, who some people may remember came over to the Cardinals from Pittsburgh in 2000 for Jack Wilson, then spent some time in St. Louis in '01 before being traded to the Giants.  Christensen spent just about a year in Cardinal red, but it wasn't anything exciting.

Without knowing how much this is going to cost the Cardinals, it seems like a pretty good move.  It still allows the Cards to look for another lefty (though they have a few that will compete for the slot anyway) without having to go over the top to get one.  Miller should be better than Villone, which isn't terribly hard to do as long as he doesn't walk people.  Not a big splash, but a solid move.

Also in Derrick Goold's article there was a mention of the Cardinals signing Ian Ostlund to a minor league deal.  His AAA numbers looked pretty interesting on the face of it, but Future Redbirds goes beyond and isn't that enthused about the signing.  But it's a minor league deal, so at worst, no harm no foul.

At least we are starting to see some movement!


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5 Comments

5 Comments | Leave a comment

I do believe the free agent lefties are going to go much quicker now.

Cards better do well on contract dollars with Miller, because it seems we're still a bit short in the pen.

Lefty combo: long/close.

And he doesn't have to be Tom Terrific at either; just better than average. That, to me, would give the Cards a shot at a good bullpen fix and something left to go after other needs.

It's like shopping for a nice dress shirt with a $5 gift card.

I hope you're right about picking up another lefty to complete the pair. Otherwise I'm not thrilled about this deal.

Regarding your comment in twitter, here's what I think may be happening (take it for what it's worth, it's just an idea).

Rumor has it that we're still in talks about shipping Ludwick to the Braves. TLR wants that "impact" bat. Ibanez is a proven consistent bat who had a .350 OBP and a 120+ OPS+ with 20+ HRs a year in a pitcher's park for the past few years. I think MO is looking to ship Ludwick to Atlanta for Escobar then swing a deal to pick up Ibanez to play LF.

And I tell you what, I like it. As I said in a Cardinals forum, Ibanez + Escobar > Ludwick + Izturis.

If you are right on the whole thing, I guess I could go with that. Escobar being the key, because we'll have him for so long. I'm still not 100% sure Ludwick wouldn't outproduce Ibanez for next year, but Escobar should be head and shoulders over Izturis.

Like I said, just a guess, because I can't see any other way that Ibanez is up on our list. And I agree from an offensive production standpoint in terms of Ludwick vs. Ibanez, but the difference between Izturis and Escobar would be pretty profound. We would gain a considerable amount of offense.

Plus, Escobar is VERY slick with the glove at short. Also, he has had an OPS+ of over 100 in each of his first two seasons (which is awesome for a SS). For comparison sake, last year he was equal to Jimmy Rollins OPS+ wise and two years ago he was better than Jose Reyes.

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