Blogger’s Block

Really tough to figure out a good post for a day like today.  The Warm-up is over, so the news flood is over.  We’ve talked about most of the facets of the ’08 team already.  Which means, when you can’t figure out what to say, find people that can (and do it better than you do anyway.)

Good discussion of what to do about Jason Isringhausen over at VEB today.  I think most of us have just naturally assumed that Izzy would be let go at the end of the season so that the Cardinals could get the draft picks.  But with him saying he’d like to stay in St. Louis, that’s not a slam dunk move.  I like to see the home town guys stick around, but I don’t know if keeping him will be worth the price tag, especially if that keeps us from making a bigger move in the free agent market next year.

Also, the All-Time Cardinal Team Simulation is going on over there.  You can use this handy-dandy page to keep up with the results and find links to the writeups.

Deaner faces a big dilemma, one that comes to most of us in fandom.  Help the man decide what to do about his cap.

There were some unhappy fans due to Albert Pujols’s lack of interaction in his autograph line during the Warm-up.  Tom at CardinalsGM asks if players owe the fans some niceness in those situations.

There’s always plenty to read at Future Redbirds.  Erik has gone back and done a retro review of Yadier Molina’s minor league numbers inspired by Molina’s new contract.   Kujo examines Molina as well over at Rockin’ the Red.

Dan at Get Up, Baby! hits a few of the highlights from the past week.

Mike didn’t take kindly to the news that Hal McRae would be wearing #15 this year.  I can’t say that I blame him, unless it is supposed to be some sort of honoring-the-player thing.

I’ve added a couple of new blogs to the rolls.  I Bleed Cardinal Red and View From the Cheap Seats.  Check them out when you’ve got the time.

Tomorrow, we’ll see what some non-Cardinal blogs are talking about, so if you have a favorite baseball blog you want to lift up, post it in the comments and I’ll take a look.

Long-Term Thinking

So the big news out of the last day of the Winter Warm-up was the Cardinals signing Yadier Molina to a four-year deal.  The money seems fairly reasonable and I don’t think you’ll find too many people that say Molina isn’t worth keeping around.  There is some debate about Bryan Anderson and where he fits into the organization.  If he keeps developing, either he or Molina will be a great trading chip in the next couple of years.  It could be that Anderson gets a chance to be an understudy at the major league level (like Jared Saltalamaccia did last year) before getting moved.  The defense and leadership Molina brings to the table is almost worth the money, but the contract really becomes good if the advances in hitting he had last year stick and he keeps improving with the bat.

Other things from the Warm-up wrapup:

  • Albert Pujols isn’t taking that false link to the Mitchell Report lightly.  He banned a reporting crew from the station that aired it from his press conference yesterday.  Personally, I kinda like this quote:

    “This is a hobby, man.  I fear God too much to do stupid things in this game.  Cheating on this game, that’s not right.”

    It’s often been said that we build people up just to tear them down.  Hopefully Pujols continues to walk the straight and narrow and make it very difficult for people to do that.

  • During that press conference, though, Pujols made it known how much pain he was in with his elbow last year.  Personally, that sounds to me like we’ll see him get some surgery mid-season if it flares up and the team is out of contention.  You’d hate to see him down, but if this year pans out the way some expect, it would be the best time for him to get it taken care of.
  • Mark Mulder is not too comfortable with setting a return date.  Can you blame him?  Especially with this organization, you take return dates with a silo of salt.  If he’s back at the beginning of May, it’ll be a bit of a surprise.
  • Adam Kennedy is already digging himself a hole.  Not a great idea given the weak season he put together last year and the plethora of middle infielders this team has.
  • And, if you had LaRussa in the pool of who would crack in public first after the trade, him or Rolen, congrats.  You’ll see in the Reyes link that TLR has already taken a shot in the press at Scott.

Transitioning

The last word on the Rolen trade: here’s a wrapup of his introductory press conference in Toronto. Sounds like he’s got a weight off his shoulders (no pun intended) and is ready to move on. I wish him the best up there and hope that he can get Toronto past those big obstacles that are the Yankees and the Red Sox.

So it’s over and we’ve got to move on. But to what?

It’s still just under a month until spring training. We pretty much know the starting lineup, or at least the players that will be in it. Shortstop still is up in the air, but all the options are likely on the roster. The rotation is pretty much set, though there has been talk that the Cards would try to pick up some sort of veteran innings-eater to help hedge against all the injury and rehab possibilities. Really, the signings are probably pretty much done.

For today, let’s talk fantasy. The numerous fantasy baseball leagues at CardsClubhouse are into their second week of drafting. Which Cardinals will draw the most interest from the average fantasy baseball player?

Obviously, Albert Pujols will be at the top of most people’s draft lists. His slightly-below-his-standards season last year might bump him out of the consensus #1 overall slot, but he’ll still be gone before the first round is over. The excellence that he has year in and year out can’t be overstated.

There will be a number of people taking Adam Wainwright as well, especially if they look past his overall numbers to what he did in the second half of the season last year. Wainwright and Jason Isringhausen may be the only pitchers that get much of a look from players, though.  Most people will take a wait and see approach with Mark Mulder, though perhaps Joel Pineiro might be attractive to NL-only players.

Back to the offense.  Troy Glaus will get some late-round attention, especially with him switching to the “easier” league.  Chris Duncan will go around the same time, maybe a bit earlier if people think he’s completely healed up.  Rick Ankiel will have people taking a few fliers on him.  With catching as tough to come by as it is, Yadier Molina’s season from last year should get him taken in the mid-to-late rounds.  And those with minor league systems might take a shot at getting Colby Rasmus.

Other than that, there probably won’t be much interest in the Cardinals from the fantasy players.  It’s not exactly the 2004 team in that regard.

Happy New Year!

Hope everyone is having a great 2008 so far.  We are creeping closer and closer to spring training, which means that the Cardinals should start picking up the pace on transactions pretty soon.

Here are some predictions for 2008.  Some are serious, some aren’t.  (The ones that don’t happen are the non-serious ones, in case you can’t tell.)

*The Cardinals will win between 73-76 games.  The only chance for a contending season, in my mind, is a fast start somehow, then hanging on until Carpenter gets back.  The Cardinals would need Mulder to start strong from the get-go for this to happen, I think.  Still, even with another sub-.500 season, we’ll have a lot to talk about and enjoy.

*Albert Pujols will hit .300 with 30 HR and 100 RBI.  In other news, the sun will continue to rise in the east and set in the west.

*Scott Rolen will not be traded.  After he starts off the season closer to his normal form, his attitude improves and he’s much more able to tolerate LaRussa.  With his increased performance coupled with the lack of an immediate successor, Mozeliak decides to keep him on, though rumors will fly close to the trading deadline.

*Jim Edmonds gets at least two standing ovations in his first game back in Busch Stadium.

*Even with the rag-tag nature of the starting rotation, the team will post a better team ERA than they did in 2007.

*Colby Rasmus will be on the major league roster by the middle of June.  He’ll struggle at first, but will show the form that has everyone excited by mid-August.

*The Reds will surprise people, coming in a strong second to the Brewers in the division.

*The Red Sox will not win another World Series title.  Boston has to return to losing sometime.  (Doesn’t it?)

*Brian Barton will play all season in the majors and become a fan favorite off the bench.  He will get some starts, but TLR will not overexpose him.

*Chris Carpenter will not pitch in the major leagues until August.

*The Cardinals make a big splash in the 2008 free agent pool, signing an ace for the rotation and temporarily shutting up those that question ownership.

*I’ll keep blogging away on a regular basis.

Got your own predictions?  Let’s see them in the comments.

Year In Review: Top 5 Cardinal Stories

The United Cardinal Bloggers strike again, this time with a recap of 2007. We each selected the five stories that we thought were the most important for 2007 in relation to the Cardinals. Check out CardinalNationGlobe, CardinalGM, Readin’ Redbird, Rockin’ the Red and Stan Musial’s Stance for their takes. (I’ll direct link to their stories when they are up.)

And, after the jump, my selections:

Read the rest of this entry »

Examining the Wreckage

So the Mitchell Report came out yesterday (available for download here).  Have you heard anything about that?

I’ll be honest with you.  I’ve not read it.  At 400+ pages of legalese, I’m not sure when and if I’ll make it through the report.  However, like you, I’ve heard a lot about what’s in it.

First off, Pujols is ticked and I can’t blame him.  That initial list that came out (you can read the real-time reactions in the Mitchell Report thread at the Clubhouse) had a lot of people, including him, on it that were nowhere to be found in the report.  However, even just having your name tied to a report like that, even if it is an inaccurate report that is withdrawn, can cause your reputation a lot of harm.  I saw someone later claiming that was a list of players that they didn’t necessarily have enough evidence to put into the report.  (BTW, Nate Silver at BP did a good job debunking that list.)  Some guy that doesn’t pay much attention may have caught that report and now think AP is a user.  Or people will say, as that other one did, “there’s no smoke without fire.”  For my part, I don’t think there was anything to it, just someone throwing out names.  I’m glad Albert did make a statement about the whole thing, though.

Second, from what I can tell, the Mitchell Report doesn’t tell us just a whole heck of a lot that we didn’t already know.  We knew lots of players used steroids in that time period.  We knew most of the names from one leak or another.  Even the big names of Clemens and Pettitte had before been tied to steroids and been suspected for some time.  While there were some former Cardinals on the list that we didn’t know about (Gary Bennett being the most recent, probably Fernando Vina being the most prominent), none of them made that much of an impact on me or the team.  Vina was a fan favorite and there could be some people disappointed with him today, but that’s about it.

And lastly, the most interesting thing out of the report was the lack of evidence tying Mark McGwire to steroids.  His andro use was talked about, but of course that was legal at the time and well known.  The only other information was the stuff from Jose Canseco’s book.  Mitchell investigators could find no one to verify those charges.

So the question for Hall of Fame voters, who are filling out their ballots now, is how do you keep him out?  There is less evidence against him doing things than certain Hall of Famers Bonds and Clemens.  As probably numerous people have said in the last couple of days, if you start keeping out people you just suspect used, you have to not induct anyone for a good 10 years or so, until this new class, people that have gone through testing, are eligible.  I don’t think that will happen.

We have players from the Dead Ball era in the Hall that probably wouldn’t be there if you used today’s criteria on them.  But the game was different then and most everyone played with the same conditions.  You could make the case that the Steroid Era was the same way.

Bracing for the Storm

There’s not much point in talking about anything today, because all of the oxygen in the baseball world is being used up by people holding their breath for the Mitchell report.  I must say, there has been a better lid kept on this than I thought.  I was sure at least a few names would have come out yesterday.

What will we think if Cardinal players are named?  It’s statistically almost impossible that the organization would be missed–after all, if there are 90 names and 30 teams, an average team would have three (higher math there, I know).

I think it’s going to matter who they are.  And not only the superstar/scrub idea, but who they are as a person.

For example, we expect Mark McGwire to be on the list.  That wouldn’t change many people’s opinion of him.  In fact, it would be a headlining shock if he wasn’t on there.

It would affect how I look at players like Albert Pujols the most, though, if he were on there.  It’s not because he’s the big star, but because of the fact that he actively displays his Christian life.  I believe that not only does he talk the talk, but he usually walks the walk.  So it would be pretty disappointing to me if he were on there.

I don’t really want to guess who is on the list, either Cardinal or otherwise.  We’ll see this afternoon, I guess.

Just for a little baseball news, the non-tender list is out.  You’ll notice a certain pitcher on there that I continue to advocate the Cardinals pursue.