New Cardinals, Former Cardinals

The Cardinals made a minor move yesterday, signing D’Angelo Jimenez to a minor league contract.  There are a couple of things that come to mind when I hear about Jimenez.  One is that, when they were coming up in the Yankee organization about a decade ago, observers were split on whether he or Alfonso Soriano would be the better player.  That comparison doesn’t happen much anymore.  And, secondly, I remember he had a pretty solid year for the Reds a few years back.  Looking through that PD article, they note it was 2004, with a .270/12/67 season.  Boy, if the Cardinals got anything close to that, they’d be thrilled.

His signing, however, is just one of those insurance things.  If Jarrett Hoffpauir needs more time at Memphis, then Jimenez could be the backup guy on the bench.  You figure that Brendan Ryan and Adam Kennedy will be the usual starters in the middle infield, but Cesar Izturis and Jimenez could be the backups.  Jimenez can play third base as well, which ups his value.

Then we have our former backup catcher, Gary Bennett.   Not as bad of a week as you’d expect for someone named in the Mitchell report.  Bennett admitted he used HGH, then signed a new contract with the Dodgers.  Which is surprising, because Bennett isn’t that great with extra help, but anyway.  It just goes to show me that the culture of baseball hasn’t done much changing with these allegations and admissions.  You aren’t going to be punished.  You aren’t going to have that much of a stain on your reputation, especially if you come out and admit it.  I mean, how much focus on Andy Pettitte has there been versus Roger Clemens?

There’s the big focus on Bonds and Clemens, but other than that, the steroid stuff is going to just go away, I think.  Hopefully the testing and the mindset has been changed enough that it won’t happen again, but without serious punishments for those that did it, I wonder if that’s the case.

Site note: I plan to use WordPress’s new option for tags to take former Cardinals out of the categories section.  So in case you start looking, now you know.

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.

Signs of Concern

I’ve spent a fair amount of time lately defending ownership.  However, the talk and actions of our new GM are starting to concern even me.

First, we have the Izturis signing.  While not worth the doom and gloom, sky is falling mentality some people had for it, it still was a bit of a headscratcher and not nearly the kind of moves most fans have been waiting for.

Then, we have the idea of shipping Scott Rolen off to the Brewers.  In case you aren’t paying attention, the Brewers are 1) a team in the same division as the Cardinals and 2) the team most likely to win the NL Central next year, in my opinion.  While I’m not one that thinks Rolen should be traded now, trading him within the division would just be nuts.

Coupled with that is the pursuit of Chris Capuano.  Larry at VEB broke down Capuano pretty well yesterday, and there are points to like, points to worry about.  This probably isn’t a terrible move, but it depends on what it costs.  I wouldn’t give Rolen for him, I don’t think.

Next, the ESPN winter meetings blog indicates the Cardinals have talked to the Indians about pitcher Cliff Lee.  Lee’s an Arkansas boy and in that regard, I’d like to see him come over.  Moving to the NL probably would help as well.  The price is supposedly Anthony Reyes and/or Brian Anderson.  It best not be and–that’s a ton to give up for a guy that has been down for a year or two.  Reyes, also according to that blog, is getting some attention from suitors.  I believe they’ll deal him–and he’ll probably do well away from the organization–and Lee would probably be acceptable.  But not if they overpay for him.

That blog also indicates Ankiel, Duncan and Edmonds are all available.  I can’t believe the organization would move Ankiel now, after all they’ve done for him, but it is a new GM, so maybe so.  At least you have to hear the offers.

There was talk about bringing Pedro Feliz in if Rolen is traded.  Yuck.  They aren’t even offering arbitration to Eckstein.  Nuts.

All in all, the best news around is that the Cardinals were in, at least on the periphery, on Eric Bedard.  If Mozeliak could pull that off, I’d take it all back.

Cardinals Sign Izturis

The Cardinals have signed former Dodger/Cub/Pirate shortstop Cesar Izturis to a one-year deal.  Financial information, so far, has not been announced.

Here are the numbers.   Offensively, he’s been nothing special, though he can hit around .250 or so.  He plays Gold Glove defense, which will be nice and hopefully will help the pitching staff out a lot.

Whether he’ll be the starter for the ’08 Birds or a backup probably depends on how next week at the GM meetings goes.