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.
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Starting Pitching

48 W, 72 L, 889 IP, 987 H, 115 HR, 321 BB, 532 K, 42 HBP, 5.04 ERA, 1.66 K/BB

That’s the line the St. Louis starters put up last year. Not real pretty, is it?

If there is any chance for 2008 to be more than a rebuilding year, for the Cardinals to actually contend, it may lie in the fact that last year’s team finished only 7 games out with starting pitching as bad as that. Can this year’s squad improve on those numbers? Let’s take a look.

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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.

Cardinals Sign Clement

According to sources, the Cardinals have signed pitcher Matt Clement to a one-year deal with a club option for 2009.

The best thing about it, in my mind, is the club option.  If Clement is healthy and effective, he’ll help out ’08 but would really be a boon in 2009, when Carpenter is healthy and the team has hopefully signed another top pitcher to go into the rotation with him and Wainwright.  A 2009 staff of Carp-FA-Wainwright-Clement-? would probably be enough to put the Cards back into contention fairly quickly.

This also may mean that the Cardinals are close to dealing Anthony Reyes.  Right now, the rotation is Wainwright, Mulder (if ready for ST), Pineiro, Clement and Looper.  That leaves Reyes and others such as Todd Wellemeyer and Brad Thompson out of the picture, at least for now.  Of course, we don’t know how Mulder is going to start the season or if he’ll be ready, but I’d think a deal like this would give Mozeliak more breathing room to send Reyes somewhere for a hitter or perhaps package him with Duncan for a bigger name.

It’ll be interesting to see how this deal compares to the Mark Prior deal.

My Ballot for the Cardinal Blogger Awards

This is the first attempt at a Cardinal blogger collaborative project. I hope that the bloggers involved enjoy it enough to try doing more things together in the near future.

Those scheduled to post their selections today include Readin’ Redbird, Redbirds Fun, CardinalsGM, Rockin’ the Red, Redbird Ramblings, and CardinalsNationGlobe. Check all of them out (I’ll direct link to their post when they get them up) and then come back here next week for a consolidated ballot. (Future Redbirds has theirs up now as well.)

So, without much further ado, let’s see my selections for the CBA. My selections are noted in bold.

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What Others Are Thankful For

Hey, I’ve got some time tonight. Let’s see what everyone else is giving thanks for this year!

John Mozeliak: That Chris Antonetti didn’t want to leave Cleveland.

Mark Mulder:  That he’s left-handed.

Billy Beane:  That Mark Mulder’s left-handed.

Scott Rolen:  That Larry Bowa isn’t TLR’s bench coach.

Albert Pujols:  That this year’s ninth-place finish in the MVP award gives him more motivation.

Brad Thompson:  That there are no puppies around to kick.

Jason LaRue:  That he can now play on the good side of Missouri.

Tony LaRussa:  That they make tofu turkeys.

Walt Jocketty:  That he no longer has to put up with Jeff Luhnow.

The St. Louis Cardinals:  That they play in the NL Central.

Hope you all have a great day!

LaRussa on XM Radio

Last night, TLR was on with Ronnie “Night Train” Lane on XM’s MLB Live. Some bulletpoints on what he talked about:

*His contract extension. He said he was a little surprised that he was asked back, but pleased. He was happy with the response of the players on the issue as well.

*2007 was “by far” one of his most difficult seasons ever. Called it “relentless” and that it showed the character of the coaches and team that the results were as good as they were. To turn the page, he focuses on what the team has control over, trying to get players healthy. He does think that there are things that can be done better (not sure if by the coaching staff or the organization) to get those players ready to play.

*Mozeliak did a good job with Walt and Mo likely learned a lot from Walt. Said Mozeliak is “primed for it” and said that now it was about talent and how well he did the job, that talent comes out and you stand on your own two feet.

*There is work to do this offseason, lot of coordinating and getting on the same page.

*Got to get some more pieces. Looking for impact guy. Talked about Eckstein in brief, saying they have to see what works out there. Noted the problem was that most every team is looking for an impact hitter and an impact pitcher, like the Cardinals are. Not as worried about the bullpen as the starting rotation.

*Would like to have Eckstein back and talked about players (Matheny, Suppan, Renteria) that they lost when the player got on the market. Did say you have to assign a value to the player in relation to your payroll. Doesn’t know what Eckstein’s market is going to be.

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