Cardinal NRIs

Matthew Leach has posted the spring-training non-roster invitees.  (Hat tip: Future Redbirds)

Looks like there will be some fun names to follow, especially for those that make it down to Florida to watch the games.  Colby Rasmus will be there.  David Freese, the player we received for Jim Edmonds, will be there.  Jamie Garcia, Chris Perez and P.J. Walters will be there.

Looking forward to seeing how some of these prospects due against MLB-level players (or as much as you can tell in spring training).

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.

The Phenom

With the Cardinal offseason not providing much fuel for the hot stove, Cardinal Nation is getting warm with thoughts of the Next Big Thing, Colby Rasmus.

Derrick Goold had the piece in the Post-Dispatch earlier in the week and has amplified that with more stats in his blog.

He tops all the prospect lists over at Future Redbirds.

Larry broke down those that, like Rasmus may, jumped over AAA to the majors.

Various other media outlets have written stories or profiles of the outfielder.

So will he make it?  Will he start out in St. Louis in ’08 or Memphis?  When will he take his rightful place as the heir of Edmonds?

With numerous players that can play a passable center field, players like Ankiel and Schumacker, I think that it’s likely Rasmus will start in Memphis next season, but I’d expect him up by June or so unless he really struggles at AAA.  It’s possible his energy and fresh approach will help inspire the team as Ankiel’s callup did last August.  Since besides the normal excitement that is provided by Albert Pujols there may not be much to watch on this team, the front office may feel a bit pressured to move him up quickly.  Then again, if he hits well in Memphis, there’s really no reason to have him wait any longer.

I’m excited to see what he can do.  I hope he plays his way on to the team from the word go.  It’s been a long time since the Cardinals had a prospect this highly touted (at least in the field) and it’ll be a lot of fun to see him go to work.

More on the Edmonds Trade

Well, we’ve had a weekend to digest the big news of the offseason, and it still doesn’t sit well with some people.  It is interesting, though, that the trade was Edmonds’ idea.  Apparently Jim was a little disappointed with the answers to the playing time question he was getting.  Which is probably fair–if he played like he did last year, both Ankiel and, later in the year, Rasmus would probably cut into him playing every day.  Plus we know that TLR doesn’t like to put Edmonds out there against lefties anyway, so he probably was looking at less than 100 games in the field unless his offensive numbers bounced back.

Doing some reading of articles, it doesn’t appear that the organization is quite ready to give Rasmus the job in center yet, which is understandable.  I do think he’ll make a fairly early ’08 appearance, though, for various reasons.  One, there probably won’t be anyone just dominating the position.  Two, it gets him experience in a season that’s pretty much a loss anyway.  And three, it could keep some heat off of the front office if there is a slow start after a fairly disappointing offseason.

It will seem very strange, though, not to see number 15 out patrolling the Busch Stadium grass next season.  To think that the fourth-leading home run hitter in Cardinal history was obtained for a pitcher that had just had a career year (and most everyone expected to revert to his norm) and a middle infield prospect (that is now back with the Cards).  When Walt was on, he could make some moves, couldn’t he?  It will be interesting to see if there isn’t some groundswell in a couple of years to retire his number as well, like there is with fan favorite Willie McGee.  Heck, retire them on the same day.  Two center fielders, one 15, one 51.  It’s perfect!

Of course, more and better analysis at VEB today and the weekend posts as well.

So Long, Mr. Edmonds

It’s rare when I get a Saturday post up, especially this early, but the news I saw last night before going to bed about Jim Edmonds being traded to the Padres meant I had to get over here and write.

The dismantling of 2006 continues, as key players Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver, David Eckstein and now Edmonds are all in different locales.  The others I understood and expected, but this one really surprised me.  I’d written a couple of times over here that I thought Jim would stick around, especially with that new restaurant having just opened.   I guess the idea of going home and playing for a winner in his last season was pretty appealing.

Which makes you wonder if this was more about him than the Cardinals.  I know that the prospect that the Cardinals are getting back, third baseman David Freese, is supposed to be a pretty good one, but he’s just in A ball.  Some of you may remember the last trade of a star for an A baller in Cardinal history.  (OK, the last one I can remember without looking up.)  Lee Smith was sent to the Yankees for pitcher Rich Batchelor.  Batchelor never amounted to much (though I do think he got a cup of coffee with the Birds eventually).  I would hope that Freese will do more than that.  I also hope that the Cardinals didn’t take on too much of Edmonds’ salary in the deal, since that has to be the point of the deal in their eyes.

But Mozeliak may have thought that, with ’08 being pretty much a lost season, Edmonds deserved to go out better than that.  If 2008 truly is his last season, at least he’ll be on a competitive team with a chance to go deep into the playoffs.

And, hey, the last time we traded a St. Louis icon to San Diego, it worked out fairly well.  Remember Ray Lankford for Woody Williams?

But we thank Jim for the memories.  The walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 2004 NLCS stands out, of course, as do many of his home-run or base-hit robbing catches.  The one that stands out over all others, though, is The Catch in Game 7 of the ’04 NLCS.  That will be replayed so often in the talk about his trade, because it was one of–and possibly the–most important catches in Cardinal history.

Good luck, Jimmy.  And a standing ovation awaits you when the Padres come to Busch July 17.

And I guess this means the Colby Rasmus era might be starting earlier than we thought.

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.