Week’s End

If you’ve not gotten your picks in for VEB’s all-time sim tourney, you better hurry.  Results are supposed to start showing up sometime today.  If you miss out on phase I, don’t worry.  The reseeded phase II tournament will have more points available, so you won’t necessarily be at that much of a disadvantage if you play II without I.  And kudos to The Angry Rant for explaining his picks.

Speaking of VEB, here’s red baron’s grading of Mozeliak.  On the whole, I’d say I’d have to agree with him.  It appears that LaRussa still has considerable say in the roster management portion of the team, which can be good, can be bad as evidenced by Miles’s resigning especially.  Mo came into a tough situation and a transitional phase in the organization.  It’s going to be tough to give him an accurate assessment until two or three years down the line.

Deaner expands his thoughts on the possibility that the Cards might sign Juan Gonazalez.  I’m pretty much fine with a spring training invite for him.  I don’t expect he’ll make the team, but if he plays well enough to merit going north, then he could help the bench get a little more pop.

Also, Winter Warmup is this weekend so perhaps some news will be made then.  Troy Glaus and Matt Clement get their first taste of Cardinal Nation and I’m sure they’ll enjoy it.  I’ve always wanted to go to the WWU, though it’s so pricey and usually it’s tough for me to get away during January for something like that.

If you are looking for an all-sports website to comment on, CardinalsGM has a suggestion.

Kujo has an in-depth analysis of Rick Ankiel.   Rick’s always been one of my favorite players and I was very excited to see him return last year.  All that said, I’m afraid he’s going to regress some this year, especially if Rasmus comes up and takes that 2 hole away from him.  Still, if he can hit .260 with 20 HR, he’s got value to this team.  There may be a number of players doing that, what with Duncan and Glaus also being lower-average, higher-power type guys.

That’s a quick run around the blogs, though obviously there is much more out there.  Just go through my blogroll and check them all out.  I should have some news about this blog on Monday or at least early next week.

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.

Year In Review: Top 5 Cardinal Stories

The United Cardinal Bloggers strike again, this time with a recap of 2007. We each selected the five stories that we thought were the most important for 2007 in relation to the Cardinals. Check out CardinalNationGlobe, CardinalGM, Readin’ Redbird, Rockin’ the Red and Stan Musial’s Stance for their takes. (I’ll direct link to their stories when they are up.)

And, after the jump, my selections:

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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.

Lineup Retrospective

A thread over at CCH got me wondering if anyone had done a comparison of the Cardinal offense with the pitcher hitting eighth compared to when the pitcher was hitting ninth. I figured I could do a rough calculation, see what the numbers told us.

First off, since the switch happened very early in August, I took the April-July numbers from ESPN.com’s stats page and used them for the pitcher-hitting-ninth group and the August-September for the pitcher-hitting-eighth. I didn’t figure a few games here or there would skew it too much.

No park adjustments, etc. done either. Like I said, this is just quick and rough.
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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.

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.