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News From The Fringe

Posted on November 15, 2012 at 6:47 AM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals
No, not the alternate dimension where Walternate was running everything nor the Observer-laden future (though that would make for an interesting post series, this is true).  These are those bits and pieces of news that keep filtering out in this cold time of year, most of which involve players, well, on the fringe of our vision.

For example, there's the fact that the Cardinals released Kyle McClellan.  This wasn't any surprise, of course--McClellan himself knew it was a strong possibility once he had the shoulder surgery back in July.  While there was a lot to like about McClellan, including the fact that he was a hometown boy, the fact that he was going to be arbitration-eligible and the Cards really didn't know what they were going to get with him going forward meant that parting ways made a lot of sense.

However, there's something that both he and Kyle Lohse have mentioned in relation to the front office.  Neither of them heard anything from the front office leading up to the inevitable (McClellan's release, Lohse's minimum offer).  It seems a bit strange that John Mozeliak isn't calling them up and saying, "Look, this is where the team is.  With the young arms we have coming up, even though you've been great for us, we don't see where you can get the time you deserve here."  Something of that nature.  I know there's no requirement to do that, but it seems like it'd be good to keep players like this generally informed.  Maybe it's easier to run things like a business that way, I don't know.

From the extreme fringe, we have the news that Brian Fuentes is going to retire.  I don't think that's a big shock, since Fuentes left the team for personal reasons and it sounds like the pull of family was too much to overcome.  Can't really blame him for that, though I will say if that's why he left the Cards, the fact that he missed his family, I have more of an issue with that.  I was under the impression there was some sort of serious situation, but if he was just homesick because it was the first time he'd played away from his family, I'm sorry, but that doesn't reflect well on him.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge family man.  Family would factor into any job offer I had, no doubt about it.  I love being home with my kids.  That said, if I'd signed on with another team for less than half a season, I'd suck it up and do my job until the end of the season, then retire or look for a job closer to home.  Even if I think I've made a horrible mistake, I've got an obligation to that team for another couple of months, so I'd gut it out.  Again, there may have been more to it than that when Fuentes left after six appearances, but it doesn't appear to on the surface.

As the time gets closer to protect minor leaguers from the Rule 5 draft, more and more activity will happen on the 40-man roster.  BJ Rains is reporting that Brandon Dickson is about to be removed from the roster and will sign with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan.  Dickson's been basically an organizational soldier and with all the young guns coming along, his chances to spend more than minimal time in St. Louis were pretty slim.  Best of luck to him as he continues his career in Japan.

The Cardinals did add to their roster, though not the 40-man version, by signing veteran catcher Rob Johnson to a minor league deal.  With Bryan Anderson heading to the White Sox and Steven Hill a free agent, the Redbirds needed to add some catching depth to the system.  I don't think that Johnson will pose a serious threat to Tony Cruz in the spring, but it does keep him honest and focused this offseason.

The biggest news revolves around Jaime Garcia and Rafael Furcal.  Both had arm troubles last year, both decided against surgery.  Furcal used the platelet-rich blood therapy, Garcia the rest and rehab route.  Now, both apparently are OK.  That's a huge apparently, though.

Publicly, Mozeliak is saying that they are going to count on both of these players going into the spring.  However, even though he's planning on a normal offseason, the extent of Garcia's healing won't be known until he takes a mound in the spring.  That's not a huge risk for the Cardinals, though, because odds are any Garcia replacement would be coming from the internal sources (Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal) anyway.  Garcia's health or lack thereof most likely wouldn't influence anything that the front office would do this winter.

Furcal is a different story.  If Furcal goes down in the spring, suddenly shortstop is a competition between Ryan Jackson, Pete Kozma and perhaps Greg Garcia.  I'm not thinking anyone's real comfortable with that.  I'm not saying that there are wonderful options on the free agent market, but for myself I'd be more comfortable with a Stephen Drew out there, even with his recent struggles.  That may not have been an option no matter what happens with Furcal, but it seems like Mozeliak is taking an awful risk.

Or it could be public posturing to try to let other GMs know that he doesn't have to make a deal to give him some leverage.  I think I like that thought much better.  Let's hope that's what Mo is doing.

I got word that Burton History Trees will keep the pre-order price on the Cardinal version until at least Thanksgiving.  That doesn't mean that you have to wait, however!  You want this on your wall.  You need this on your wall!  Below is a taste of the final product.  Come back later today for a musical interlude!


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Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
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Allen Craig 88.3%
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Jose Oquendo 87.1% (up 2.4%)
Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
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Bill DeWitt 85.1% (up 5.3%)
Mike Shannon 85.1% (down 0.2%)
John Rooney 84.5% (up 3.0%)
Mike Matheny 84.4% (up 3.3%)
David Freese 82.9% (down 2.6%)
Jon Jay 81.8% (up 10.7%)
Lance Berkman 80.6% (down 8.0%)
Jenifer Langosch 79.5%
Lance Lynn 79.5%
Dan McLaughlin 76.0% (up 8.0%)
Jim Hayes 73.0% (up 1.1%)
Ricky Horton 65.5% (down 2.0%)
Jaime Garcia 64.1%
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Ballpark Village 58.3%
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Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
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Dave Duncan 87.9% (up 0.9%)
Matthew Leach 85.5%
Pop Warner 76.7%
Ryan Franklin 72.8% (up 3.1%)
John Vuch 68.9%
Jeff Luhnow 66.4%
Dan Lozano 58.7%

Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%

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