There were a couple of big pieces of Cardinal news yesterday. One of them came with a press conference, one of them was passed around Twitter. Odds are the latter wasn't actually news, but it is what counts for it when the stove has been turned on and there's not much other baseball to talk about.
Let's go with the concrete first, though. The Cards named their coaching staff and it was pretty much what I expected. Joe Pettini and Dave McKay get different jobs in the organization, Chris Maloney moves up from Memphis to take over first base, and Mike Aldrete goes from assistant hitting coach to bench coach. No external hires, which means there's more of a focus on the organization and the philosophies behind it.
Obviously, John Mozeliak is shaping this team the way he wants it to be. Not that he had any problems with Tony La Russa or anything, don't get me wrong. However, an organizational shift and a chance to remold things don't come around very often. If Mike Matheny struggles as a manager, Mo may find things a little warm for him as well. It's been the perfect situation for him to take advantage of some goodwill and some opportunities. We'll see how well he does when the team takes the field next season.
The other part of Cardinal buzz yesterday had to do with the free agency of the first baseman. Yesterday morning, it was reported that the Marlins had offered Albert Pujols a nine-year, $225 million contract. That would be something to get Cardinal fans at least a little concerned about, as the club has said publicly that it doesn't plan on moving off of their nine-year, $200 million or so offer. Add in the fact that Florida doesn't have any sales tax and suddenly we are talking about a significant difference.
Except that we weren't. Reading the original post, it stated that the Marlins had offered nine years and IF they had offered a competitive annual salary, that MIGHT have gotten it up to $225 million. Later in the day, other reports came in that said, sure, nine years but the money was less than $200 million, and not just barely under $200 either.
As many people have said, it's going to take a significant offer to get AP out of St. Louis. This won't be like Edgar Renteria, who took an extra million per year to flee town and head to Boston (and we know how THAT worked out for him). I like the quote I read somewhere that said "his feet are concreted there". You can move something that is in concrete, but it takes a lot of work and effort. I think that's what it is going to take here as well. Of course, you already know that.
The flip side of the situation came later, when a St. Louis radio guy unequivocally stated that Pujols was going to sign with the Cardinals on Friday. That sounds about as improbable as the Marlins' offer. I am not familiar with the person in question, but from all accounts even though he was right about La Russa's retirement, it was a case of a blind squirrel finding a nut. It happens, but you don't start basing your life around it. Mozeliak came out and completely refuted it and, as always, In Mo We Trust. If the Cards were close enough to consider when Pujols was going to sign, they'd get it done ASAP. They wouldn't wait until Friday for a signing ceremony.
Stranger things have happened, of course, but if Pujols signs anywhere before December 15, I'd be pretty shocked. This isn't going to be a quick resolution, though I think I'd be surprised if it drug on into January like the Matt Holliday signing.
There was some general baseball news that indirectly affected the Cardinals yesterday as well. It seems that a condition for Jim Crane's purchase of the Houston Astros is going to be that he allow them to be moved into the American League for 2013. This is a horrible move in general, for all the reasons that Derrick Goold laid out. Having interleague play every night is a terrible idea (granted, I could take out "every night" of that phrase and it would still be accurate) and if it moves the game toward a DH in both leagues, it is even more destructive. If that happens, why not just throw all 30 teams in a league and the top eight get to go to the playoffs? Most likely, MLB would then get their precious Yankees and Red Sox always in the playoffs and the history and tradition of the game could be swept away like a insignificant issue.
I will miss the rivalry against the Astros. I never had any animosity toward them, as they always comported themselves as a class organization. (OK, there was that little flap about the 2001 division title/wild card bit, but nothing big.) I think most fans appreciated guys like Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and, even before he flipped sides, Lance Berkman. I'm sure the Cards will get them as some sort of regular interleague opponent, but it's not nearly going to be the same. Again, baseball has no thought but for the present and for however much money it can get, and it's a sad state of affairs.
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The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end
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awards can be found at the official site in October with links back to the voters,
ensuring transparency and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball