Back in Red

Just when we thought he was out, they pull him back in.  The Cardinals resigned Aaron Miles to a $1.4 million contract.

What exactly does Miles bring to the table to warrant that kind of money?  I mean, I know that’s not a lot for a baseball team to spend on a player, but shouldn’t they get some bang for their buck?

According to the always-impeccable VEB, Miles brings….well, nothing really.  Except the knowledge that TLR is still calling the shots.

Look, I’ve been a fan of LaRussa’s since he was wearing the green and gold of Oakland, even before his “mastermind” turn in George Will’s Men at Work.  But his obsession with scrappy veterans is going to be the death of a lot of Cardinal fans.

There’s probably nothing that Miles will do this year that Jarrett Hoffpauier couldn’t do.  The difference, at best, would be minuscule in favor of Miles.  So why spend an extra million to bring him back?  There was a reason you non-tendered him.

I’m glad that Larry was able to get sources to show that TLR was behind this move, otherwise we’d have to have another round of questioning Mozeliak.   The ownership of the Cardinals has an unhealthy fascination with Tony, I believe.  The logical thing to have done this offseason was to shake things up completely and let TLR walk if he wanted.  Instead, not only did ownership not do that, they didn’t wait to hire a GM before hiring him back on.  Which told us that no matter who got the GM job, TLR was going to have more influence on the comings and goings than a normal manager.

I hate to be critical of TLR or ownership, but this really is nonsensical, especially after freeing up roughly $6 million in the Edmonds trade.  You spend over 15% of that savings on a guy with 19 extra-base hits last year?  When you have someone you can play for the bare minimum in a year that’s already looked at as a rebuilding and regrouping year?  It just doesn’t make sense.

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December Doldrums

My apologizes for missing a day of posting yesterday. (I’m assuming at least SOMEONE noticed!) It’s just that there is so little to talk about right now. I’m sure that Mozeliak and company are doing wonderful things behind the scenes, laying groundwork, perhaps getting close to a signing or trade. But for us outside the loop, well, it’s a lot of rehashing and bottom scraping.

Mozeliak has been on the job six weeks now, and with all the caveats of small sample size, too soon to make any judgments, etc., I’m starting to wonder just how good of a GM he’s going to be.

On the pro side, he did get Barton in the Rule V draft. While it took some luck (the teams before the Cardinals had to skip over him), he did take the best player available, which is more than we can say for the amateur draft back in June. He also has wisely committed to not commit to David Eckstein for a long period of time and is determined not to give away Scott Rolen for free. And, as far as we know, he has really put Colby Rasmus far out of reach for other teams.

On the down side, we have the Cesar Izturis signing, which can’t be considered a good thing overall. (Perhaps neutral, maybe, but it’s not really an improvement on the team.) We have the fact that they aren’t even offering arbitration to Eckstein, though with the shortstop jobs drying up, that may turn out OK, even though I think a year of Eckstein wouldn’t be a terrible thing, and that’s the worst you get with offering him arbitration, the best is, of course, the draft pick from the other team that signs him. (Wow, that’s a terribly long sentence!) Also, it seems the team is reluctant to trade Chris Duncan and Rick Ankiel. I agree, you probably should keep one, but you have to move one of the other for pitching. There are no prospects you want to move and no other players people want. If you are going to make a trade, something that you’ve stated you are going to try to do, Duncan or Ankiel is your best, maybe only, trade chip.

As Larry says today at VEB, today’s deadline to offer arbitration could tell us some more about the front office, especially when it comes to Aaron Miles. If Miles is offered arbitration, it’s the same old same old, with LaRussa firmly in charge. If he’s not, there’s a chance for some rational thought in the organization. It’ll be interesting to see which way it goes, but I would think Miles would be let go.

Other than that, not a lot going in the world of baseball.

Another Down

On the roller-coaster of this season, we should have known that the up of a good series with the Phillies culminating in an extra-inning win meant we were set up for the down of a huge blowout. It’s never a good thing when two of your position players have pitched in the same year. Miles, however, didn’t have the stuff Spiezio did. (And as an aside, does that take some of the luster off of J.R. Towles’s first home run? When he’s telling the grandkids, do you think he’ll leave out the part that he hit it off a second baseman?)

VEB did an analysis earlier in the year of blowout (i.e., 5 runs or more) wins and losses and noted this team was well on its way to setting franchise marks in the loss category. When I have time, I’m going to look back and see how many times this team has lost by 10 or more runs or at least given up double digits. It seems like it’s going to be a large percentage of games.

I know I’d read that Houston’s minor league system wasn’t impressive, but this group of youngsters posted 15 on Sunday and 18 today. Seems to me they have an explosive quality, at least while no one has scouting reports on them. That might change after they’ve been around the league a while.

Cards and Astros back at it tonight. Joel Pineiro vs. Brandon Backe. No telling what we’ll get, whether the roller coaster has farther down to go or it’s started back on the upward swing.

So Close

Going into the game, you know that the Cubs are getting beat and the Brewers are getting pounded. First place is there for the taking, if you can just win. To not get it done is frustrating, but at least no ground is lost.

And you have to give the Cards credit. A lot of times in that situation, they’ve come out and just laid a total egg, getting routed. Last night, they took a lead on Brandon Webb, which is hard enough to do, before Wainwright just wasn’t able to hold it. If Miles doesn’t stumble trying to get the double play, maybe it’s different, but Chris Young was running and it was a high chopper, so I’m not sure they’d have been able to get it anyway.

The biggest question in the game, in my mind, was LaRussa sending up Branyan in the eighth with runners on the corners and one out. Branyan is a Three True Outcomes type of guy (walk, strikeout, home run–outcomes that have nothing to do with the fielders), which can be good in certain situations. If the Cards had been down by two or more, he’s a good fit there. You need the long ball possibility and one run might not be enough. In this situation, though, his propensity to strike out hurts you much more than his potential power. All you need is a sac fly to the outfield, though a hit would be nice as well.

Seems to me that you send up either Ludwick, if you want to retain the power possibility, or Brendan Ryan in that slot. Ryan would have to come into the game anyway to play third, plus he’s more likely to put the ball in play and should have enough speed to stay out of the double play. I think that’s where I’d have gone, but I’m sure TLR had his reasons. The man has managed a game before, as you know.

More on l’affaire Ankiel and today’s game after the jump.

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