Cross One Off the Shopping List

Mark Prior is going to pitch for the Padres.

While I would have liked the Cardinals to get him, the fact that he just wanted a one-year deal–and, apparently, that’s what he got from San Diego–wouldn’t have worked out for St. Louis during their rebuilding year.  However, if he has a strong 2008 (whatever portion he actually pitches) the Cards should keep him in mind for ’09.

Quick Hit

Just a short note, since I don’t have much time today.  Not a lot going on in Cardinal Nation anyway.

Cards are keeping an eye on Mark Prior, which is nice to know.  Of course, I’ve advocated for him in the past, though apparently he just wants a one year deal.  That’s not what the Cardinals need, since he won’t be around until June or so.  If there’s a team option with it, then that’s another thing.

Cards missed out on Carlos Silva, which is not a bad thing.  Silva would be an interesting Cardinal, since he’s very much a pitch-to-contact, ground ball type, but at those prices, St. Louis was smart not to spend much time looking.  Hopefully they are doing the same with Kyle Loshe.

May not get a post up tomorrow and who knows with the holidays when I will, so in case I’m not back until after Christmas, have a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and always remember the reason for the season.

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.

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.

Judgment Day

Well, apparently, we get to talk about steroids again this weekend as a national baseball conversation.

  • The Cardinal Connection: Rick Ankiel was let off the hook for his use of HGH in the past. “Insufficient evidence” is not exactly a deafening “not guilty”, but it’s close enough for baseball work. Along with Ankiel, three others got that judgment, while Jay Gibbons and Jose Guillen got 15 days for their usage.
  • The Big Story: Barry Bonds goes to court today. Here’s a primer on that situation. Most people are figuring Bonds is done, but he still plans and wants to play next year. Good luck with that one, Barry. Unless your case gets thrown out today–and it won’t–there’s little chance a team will sign him with a trial and possibly a conviction looming. He’s not going to be on the field enough to justify it.
  • The Potentially Bigger Story: Watching ESPN this morning, they said that multiple outlets stated that the Mitchell Report, with its naming of players and everything, could be released today. I can’t find anything on the net about that, but I don’t think it’d be that surprising giving the steroid-related suspensions (and non-suspensions) of yesterday. And the Mitchell report will push everything off the front page and get a lot of people talking.

Other stuff: The Cardinals selected Brian Barton in the Rule V draft. Of course, Future Redbirds is all over that. It looks like a great move to me, as far as I can tell. He should be in the outfield mix and may allow us to move another outfielder in the right trade. Whatever that trade might be.

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.

Rumor Check

First off, the rumor that died about as fast as it arose.  Apparently, Mike Lowell had been contacted by the Cardinals.  Bernie put that to bed pretty quickly, which was good, because it didn’t really make much sense from the Cardinal point of view.  You’ve got a guy under contract that would probably be cheaper than Lowell would be that you are trying to dump.  Why would you move him just to sign a guy that will probably decline significantly over the life of the contract?  I thought part of the reason for trading Rolen was to reduce payroll.  All and all, not a good idea if it was even broached seriously.

There’s another one floating around that the Padres have asked about Edmonds.  It wouldn’t be out of the goodness of their hearts, either–they’d expect the Cardinals to throw some cash into the deal.  With Edmonds’ new restaurant, I don’t think he’d be real excited about moving and he should be a 10/5 guy who gets some say in it.  I think the Cardinals are reconciled to having Edmonds back next year, even if they have to move him to a corner slot.  Besides, if Rasmus continues his ascent, I wouldn’t be surprised if management wouldn’t want Edmonds to pass on some tips when the rookie comes up.

The Cardinals are apparently interested in free agent pitchers Carlos Silva and Kyle Loshe.  I can’t say either of them is all that exciting and probably both will be overpaid.  However, if I was to choose one, it’d be Silva.  His pitch-to-contact style is right up the Cardinals alley and, if the defense can improve somewhat, he could be a pretty good pickup.  Loshe reminds me of Gil Meche from last offseason–never been much but will get paid like they have been.  At least Meche had shown some flashes of talent.  Loshe is a league-average pitcher, at best.

In case you’ve not seen it, Matthew Leach got an interview with John Mozeliak.  Mozeliak doesn’t really say anything that gives definite direction, keeping a lot of things close to the vest.  I do like that he doesn’t think there’s a front-line starter in free agency–because there’s not–and I hope he keeps that in mind when negotiating with whatever pitchers he might be talking to.

In my mind, the only way we get a good solid pitcher is to trade Duncan.  But to do that, we have to bring in an outfield bat to protect Pujols.  We’ll see if either of those happen.