More Random Thoughts

Just because there’s not that much out there:

  • The Mitchell Report is due tomorrow.  Assuming that the dog doesn’t eat his homework, I’m sure Mr. Mitchell will give us plenty of things to talk about in the grand scheme of baseball.  Will there be any Cardinals on the list?  Supposedly 60-80 current and former players will be, so it’d be hard to have the Cardinals passed over.  Also, what are the odds that the report makes it to tomorrow with no leaks?  I’d place those odds pretty darn low.
  • Apparently our good friends to the north have picked up another outfielder.   We’ll see how well he translates to the major leagues.  He’s 30, so he’s in the middle of his prime.  Being the Cubs, you’d figure it’d blow up in their faces.  Even if he does well, I don’t think he’s a difference-maker, but maybe I’ve just not followed him enough.  I still think the Brewers are the team to beat in the NL Central.
  • That same article indicates that Mark Prior will be non-tendered today.  I’ve talked about picking up Prior a couple of times, under the non-tender scenario and the trade route.  I think Mozeliak should be on the phone with his agent as soon as the paperwork clears the MLB front office.
  • I remember reading something (and I’ve searched for a link, to no avail) that Mozeliak said before the winter meetings that he expected to have stuff done by mid-December.  It’s getting to that point and not much has happened.  I know the Cards are in an awkward position of basically giving up on ’08 for ’09 and ’10, but still Mo, throw us bloggers a bone and make some sort of move!
  • If you want to look around the Cardinals minors while the news is slow, check out Future Redbirds’ prospect lists.  That should give you a pretty good indication of who is who in the farm system.  I’m guessing Erik and company will be adding the community top 25 they just finished to that page soon.
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Dealing With The Devil

Some of the biggest news of the day (besides the always-inevitable Mike Hampton injury) is the news that the Cubs are actively looking to deal Mark Prior.

If you’ve been a (relatively) long-time reader, you’ll note that I discussed the Cardinals getting Prior back about a month ago. That scenario, though, assumed that the Cubs would non-tender Prior, making him a free agent and costing the Cardinals only cash.

If you start talking about trading, though, that brings in another set of issues. I mean, it’s the Cubs. A divisional rival at best, a hated enemy at worst. Do you really want to trade a player that might be useful to Chicago in exchange for the unreliability and potential disaster that Prior could be?

In my mind, it depends on what the Cubs want in exchange. If they are likely to non-tender and they are just looking for a warm body or someone a little cheaper, giving them a AA player or two for him wouldn’t bother me any. Sure, it’s possible they’d pan out, but the odds would be against them. Now, if the Cubs were holding out for MLB-ready talent, people like Bryan Anderson or Jamie Garcia, I’d say have a nice day.

I can’t see them doing that. Right now Prior’s value is about as low as it gets. He won’t be ready until mid-season at best, he’s a free agent at the end of the year, there’s just not much people would give for him, I don’t think. I understand that the Padres may be interested, so you don’t want to get into a bidding war, but if you were ever going to jump on a potential reclamation project, this is the time. You have to figure that ’08 will be a struggle anyway, but imagine the second half if a healthy Carpenter and Prior joined the rotation with Wainwright. If the team could stay close at the All-Star Break, they could make a run.

Something to keep an eye on, at any rate.  The ownership discussion will continue tomorrow.

That Was Quick

And, again, an American League team celebrates on foreign soil.  You’d think they’d start losing the All-Star Game so they could party at home, don’t you?

As for this whole “AL is dominant” stuff the major media keeps spewing….unfortunately, there may be something to that.  Since the strike year of ’94, the AL is 43-26 in the World Series, including five sweeps.  The closest the NL has gotten to a sweep was the Cardinals’ win in 5 games last year.  Right now, when coupled with their streak of winning All-Star games, it’s pretty apparent the AL is the top league, even though it’s painful to admit it.  These things are pretty cyclical, though.  A lot of the good young talent is in the NL, so they should be making some strides in the next few years.

Somewhere out there, a seven year old has seen two Red Sox championships and no Yankee titles.  Who’d have thought that’d ever happen?

A-Rod has already opted out of his deal.  However, I’m wondering if that might not come back to bite him.  The Yanks have been adamant that they aren’t going to deal with him.  The Cubs are in ownership flux, so they probably can’t go out and put together a record-setting package.  The Red Sox just won the title and they’ve said that they want to resign Lowell, so I’d be surprised if they made a major run at Rodriguez.  The Mets have been floated about, but they have Reyes at short and Wright at third.  Where would they put him?  It may just boil down to the Angels, and if they think they are the only ones in the race, there’s no way they’ll go $30 million per.  We’ll see how it pans out, but I think with the Yankees uninvolved, Rodriguez doesn’t get as much as he thinks he will.

Should be a busy week in baseball.  The Cardinals should announce their GM soon and the Yankees their manager.  The free agent market opens in two weeks.  While the season is great, the off-season has become a lot of fun in its own right!

The Face of the Enemy?

In his article yesterday, Derrick Gould threw out an intriguing possibility:

“Also on the horizon are the non-tender picks. It was about 11 months ago that Bird Land pegged Pineiro as a non-tender target for the Cardinals, and that list will be more clear about a month from now. There are some intriguing possibilities: Daniel Cabrera (highly doubtful), David Bush (hmmm) and … Mark Prior.

Many reports have Prior’s years with the Cubs over, and wouldn’t he be, in so many ways, a low-risk, high-reward dice roll, ala Carpenter, for the Cardinals.

Anyone?”

That last name got me interested.   Mark Prior?  The face of the Cubs, at least at one time?  The player that LaRussa gave grief to in Three Nights in August?  THAT Mark Prior?

That Mark Prior.  And, if the price is right, I think that’d be a heck of an idea.

A quick scan of Cub forums and a Google search doesn’t come up with anything definitive about the Cubs releasing Prior, though there is this in the Tribune (scroll down to the bottom).  I would be surprised if they did, but it’s definitely not out of the realm of possibility, especially with him eligible for arbitration.

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Stress Free October

Thank you, Arizona!

It was great to start the stress-free playoffs this weekend. With Arizona sweeping the Cubs out of the way (look at what all that off-season spending did for them–three more wins than the ’06 Cardinals and a first round exit. Spending money isn’t the panacea some Cardinal fans think it is.), I could enjoy the finale of the Colorado/Philadelphia series without wondering which team could beat the Cubs. That was a thrilling game, and the Rockies are on a serious roll. That roll has to come to an end sometime, but hopefully not terribly soon, as it is VEB’s adopted team for the post-season.

It was nice to watch the AL yesterday as well. I didn’t see much of the Sox sweep, but their win really had my house rooting for the Indians last night. Of course, the wife would have been anyway, but we were both intrigued by the possibility of four sweeps in the first round, which would have been a record. Unfortunately, it didn’t come to pass, but I did some digging on the number of playoff games.

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The Void

I once read a quote, which I can’t find right now, that went something like this:

“There are only two seasons, baseball season and the void.”

The void is now upon us, after Isringhausen made it interesting, as he usually does, but got the final out and preserved the victory, like he usually does. And with that final out, the 2007 season came to an end.

It’s not going to be a season fondly remembered by fans years from now, but it was baseball. One thing I’d forgotten until it was mentioned this weekend was just how good the pitching looked in spring training. The team ERA was around 3 or so, just amazing for the spring. Which proves that spring training stats aren’t worth the web page they are published on.

A season with so much promise ended on opening night, for all intents and purposes. When Carpenter had a rough outing and came up lame soon after, we should have realized what we were in for. Injuries with the Cardinals are never simple things, where the player is back soon and all is forgotten. Injuries with the Cardinals drag out, start to look better, then get worse. I personally don’t buy into the “Carpenter on the mound by late July” talk going around. If he’s there by September, like Mulder this year, I’ll call it a surprise.

Then the pitching fell apart, Hancock died, everyone that wore Cardinal red came down with some sort of injury, and through all of that, they hung in there.

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Spoiler

It’s a different feeling here in late September. The Cardinals are playing games that matter, but they matter for the other team. However, it’s a credit to the “hard 9” mentality of the team that they’ve been able to pull out wins the last couple of nights, crippling other teams’ postseason dreams. Not that you take a whole lot of joy in that–especially the Brewers, because it looks like the Cubs are going to October–but it’s something to take solace in.

Nice to see the Cards take care of business against Pedro Martinez last night. Not having Pedro was one of the reasons the Cardinals were able to take care of the Mets last October, I think. So it was nice to know that they, at least for one night, could beat a top pitcher.

More impressive was Joel Pineiro spinning 8 scoreless innings with only three hits. There has been a lot of talk about Pineiro coming back next year. It seems to me that he’s gotten better as he’s gone along. I thought that when he first came around, a lot of balls were being hit hard at people. Then he had some games where the ball was hit hard–period. A rough calculation of his BABIP is .278. If he could maintain that, he would be a serviceable fifth starter. If the price is right, the Cards probably should bring him back.

Albert scored another run, bringing him to 97. He’s also just 2 shy of 100 walks, which was his goal coming into the year. For all the talk about his good eye and discipline, 98 walks is a career high. He’s disciplined enough to wait for his pitch, but he usually gets it and doesn’t miss. Also, in the past he’s had more potent of a lineup around him, so he’s never gotten the Barry Bonds treatment since Edmonds or Rolen would come up and make pitchers pay.

If Pujols can hit like he has in the past in Pittsburgh, he’ll get both of those marks this weekend. I’m still not sure he can get 3 runs in 3 days, but it’s definitely in the realm of possibility.

Apparently the NL Central is going to be won the way it was played most of the year–by last team standing. The Cubs have done their best to give the division away, being swept by Florida. Milwaukee, though, won’t take advantage of it. They hit Pujols in Wednesday night’s game, opening the floodgates, then make 5 errors last night against the Padres. I can’t see the Brewers winning all three games left against San Diego, so I think we are resigned to Cubbie blue going into October. Hopefully it won’t last long. I’m not sure I could handle a deep Chicago run!