Posted on January 7, 2009 at 9:34 AM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals
Rick Hummel sat down and talked with John Mozeliak
. The resulting discussion wasn't really what anyone wanted to hear, but I doubt many were surprised by it.
The way that the article is presented, though, seems a little strange. It's as if Mozeliak sat down this week and said, "Wait a minute, don't we have some arbitration cases? How much you think that'll run us?" And then was suddenly surprised to find out that a lot of the payroll savings from last year was going to be eaten up by those raises.
Most everyone who has been talking about payroll has realized that the Cards would owe quite a bit to these players. VEB's roster matrix right before the winter meetings
came out almost exactly the way Mozeliak expects it will now. While it may be considered a late copout by some anti-ownership fans, the fact is these arbitration cases have hung over the club all winter long.
Of course, the best defense against arbitration is signing new contracts. Chris Duncan and Brad Thompson are the ones most likely to sign a short-term deal, I'd think. With Ryan Ludwick, you'd have to invest a three or four year deal in him after that season, in my mind, to have him consider skipping his arbitration payday. Todd Wellemeyer might do a longer deal as well, but I'd expect Rick Ankiel, especially as a Scott Boras client, would be difficult to sign, being that Boras would want to see him hit arbitration and then free agency after 2009.
I assume that, since there may only be around $10-$12 million left to spend for next season, if payroll doesn't decline due to the economy, there was a plan in place to trade off assets such as Ankiel if the Cardinals had been able to sign Brian Fuentes, who would have taken up most of that remaining money.
Another thing that was puzzling to me was Mozeliak's insistence that there's a scenario where all six outfielders (Ludwick, Duncan, Ankiel, Skip Schumaker, Joe Mather and Colby Rasmus) could make the big club. I can't imagine what that scenario would be, however. You'd almost have to have a 14/11 player/pitcher split, and Tony LaRussa tends to want 12 pitchers around. You have your two catchers, Albert Pujols, Troy Glaus, Adam Kennedy, Khalil Greene for another six. That'd leave you two spots (if you carry 14) for backup infielders. I guess it could be done, but I'm not sure how many ABs guys like Schumaker and Mather would get.
(Not mentioned in Hummel's article: Brian Barton. Has he been the forgotten man with all of these outfielders? I'm sure he'll start in AAA, but he's got some talent if his 2008 is any indication.)
"If I read the papers and if I go online to read the blogs, I'd
probably be more aware of (the discontent)," said Mozeliak, who agreed
that St. Louis fans hold the Cardinals to a high standard. "I can't
ignore that, but that can't be the basis of the direction we go in."
Wait, Mo's not reading this? Are you serious?
I agree that Mozeliak can't make long-term decisions (or even short-term ones) based on what the fans want. I do think he should know what the fans are thinking, and he's said before that some of his assistants monitor blogs and such, plus he's done the chats on the Post-Dispatch site. He's got to have more information on all the different aspects of creating a team, so he should get the benefit of the doubt.
It was also interesting to see him talk about a couple of his more famous quotes from this offseason.
"When I said we were going to plan on being aggressive, I thought we
were," Mozeliak said. "I'm not a wordsmith. Maybe I shouldn't use words
To me, those are two different things. It sounds like in the first sentence, he thought the organization's plan was to be aggressive, to stir things up and it turned out ownership had other ideas. In the second, it was that he didn't really mean aggressive, he meant something else. Which of those is more accurate, I'm not sure. If the first was, though, that's the first hint that ownership might be a bit more directly involved that had previously been thought.
And then there's the famous "low-hanging fruit".
"I've been getting killed on that," said Mozeliak, smiling. "To me,
that's defined as getting things done quickly -- like getting (Jason)
LaRue done and obviously (Kyle) Lohse.
"I guess I just need to choose my words a little better -- or talk less."
To be fair, when I originally read the "low-hanging fruit" quote, that's what I thought he meant--doing the easy stuff and getting it out of the way so that you could focus on more interesting or involved things. But hopefully Mo won't talk less--keeping the fan base informed is the best way to keep them happy (or happier).
Want to interact? Joe Strauss is starting the tsunami today at noon
. And, of course, the UCB Radio Hour
is on tonight at 10 CST, with special guest Matthew Leach
in the first 15 minutes. We won't be taking calls while Matthew is joining us, but feel free to call in afterwards at (646) 929-1758.
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