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Talking Cardinal Finances

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 like that."
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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"hopefully Mo won't talk less--keeping the fan base informed is the best way to keep them happy (or happier)."

Can we agree to disagree? The more Mo keeps his mouth shut, the happy I am. Mo needs to get with the program, and give the press a liaison with intimate access to the need to know "things". Then the Cardinals media can spoon feed us exactly what we want to hear.

All this bellyaching is a little absurd. Get your hand off the panic button. February 25th is t-minus 47 days.

Congrats on making it on MLBTR.

And Mo has done us no disservice thus far. Some fans are just far too quick to judge.


We do have time, the free agent market is slow to develop and we need to show that some of our players are healthy too -- Duncan, Ankiel, etc

Who are the young pitchers we can get in trades since we may not pull the trigger on any free agent pitchers.

e.g. Sanchez with SF would be great and have heard he is available in exchange for hitters -- i.e. they need offense. A package of outfielder (Duncan/Schumaker with prospects for 3rd base - Freese or Craign plus a pitcher might get it done! Sanchez is ready to bust out!! Cain would cost too much I am afraid.

Sonnastine, Baker, Scherzer -- any developing young starter with potential -- would all be great since we can't seem to develop front line starters ourselves.

Can't we get some of Toronto surplus lefty relievers, too?

Interesting take, though I think you're misreading the statement about his "aggressive" statement. To me, it's not that he thought they were going to be aggressive but things changed. Instead he's saying he thinks the Cardinals were aggressive last season, and understands now that others might disagree that was the case. Thus, he's not a wordsmith (which I adamantly agree with -- dude sucks at being clear).

I don't think Mo misspoke, I think he backpedaled. Everything leading up to winter meetings was clear (at least to me it was). The Cardinals needed bullpen help (including closer), back-of-the-rotation starters, and middle infielders. Then, the market seemed to offer just what we needed, and plenty of good relief pitchers, closers, starting pitchers, and middle infielders were on the scene.

Then the Cardinals proceeded to let every single one pass them by, one after another after another.

continued....

Finally LaRussa had to put his foot down publicly and say that we NEED Fuentes. I think he too was sick of the way the off season was going.

Now, guess what, all the positive aspects of last years team will be sacrificed in order to cover up this blunder. The Cardinals will offer up Ludwick or Ankiel, or Rasmus, or Glaus as trade bait because rather than pay money up front they are now in desparation mode. All the sudden we will have middle of the road at best pitcher via trade and absolutely no power (besides Pujols) left in the lineup. So they go from having a great offense and no pitching to having some pitching and no offense. There is no getting better in that scenario.

You can call me a hater or being in panic mode, but I'll make the bold prediction now that the Cardinals win no more than 70-75 games next year and LaRussa gives up and leaves the team.

One last post then I'll give you all a break from my crazy mindset........

Part of the current problem, I think has nothing to do with management (per se). It used to be true that in the National League Central division, you could win with a mediocre team because the rest of the division was such crap (reference a world series championship by an 83 win team).

The Cardinals didn't have to shell out big bucks in order to win and win big (reference 2004 and 2005 seasons).

Now, that has changed. This current Cardinals team could very easily post a losing record against the Cubs, Astros, Brewers, and Reds. The Cardinals just have to kick it into gear.

The Yankees and Redsox had to deal with a harsh reality when the Rays won their division (and the league). They then proceeded to respond to it. Their efforts may work, and they may not. But at least they are trying. Now, I am not stupid enough to think the Cards can out-bid the Yankees or Redsox, but the can do SOMETHING to give the fans hope that while things are tough (which in these economic times they are not because players are taking less money) we are trying to win and not just "luck" into winning while being as cheap as possible.

First of all, thanks for the opinions! I may not agree with them, but it's nice to see comments on the board.

The Cards addressed middle infield with the Greene trade and, being that no one would take Kennedy and he was too much for this payroll to have sitting on the bench, second base was taken care as well.

The Cards bullpen improved down the stretch last year and I think will be better this year with the young guns plus some dedicated lefties like Trever Miller (and Royce Ring has good numbers strictly against the south side). So they've made improvements there.

They have shown interest in Fuentes for a long time, so I think he was their top target all along. They probably figured K-Rod would get a huge deal and were iffy on Wood's injury history. They made their play, apparently offered more per year than LAA, but he wanted California and an extra year. I would agree with management that locking him up for that long, when you have players already lined up for that slot, isn't the best use of resources.

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Cardinal Nation Approval Ratings (March 2013)
Yadier Molina 96.2% (up 8.8%)
Chris Carpenter 89.8% (down 0.3%)
Derrick Goold 89.1% (up 6.3%)
Matt Holliday 88.4% (up 0.9%)
Allen Craig 88.3%
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Jason Motte 86.9%
John Mozeliak 86.5% (up 1.1%)
United Cardinal Bloggers 85.2% (up 6.3%)
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%
Albert Pujols 59.2% (up 4.3%)
Ballpark Village 58.3%
Joe Strauss 54.3% (down 13.4%)

2012
Tony La Russa 88.2% (up 17.4%)
Mark McGwire 82.6% (up 20.1%)
Skip Schumaker 73.3% (up 9.2%)
B.J. Rains 69.5% (down 0.9%)
Kyle Lohse 68.9% (up 13.8%)
Al Hrabosky 66.4% (up 3.2%)
Colby Rasmus 46.5% (down 35.3%)

2011
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%

2009
Rick Ankiel 83.9%
Chris Duncan 69.1%


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