You Can’t Go Home Again

“Who says you can’t go home?”–Jon Bon Jovi

“You can’t go home again.”–Thomas Wolfe

The Rolen trade, while not yet official as far as I can tell, does seem like it’s going to happen.  The guys over at VEB have broken it down statistically and financially and pronounced it, if not good, at least acceptable.  Looking past the batting average and the past usage of performance-enhancing drugs, it’s possible that Glaus will be a good addition to the club.  Hopefully, that will be the case.  But I still hate the deal.

I hate the fact that it came to this.  That LaRussa and Rolen had to butt heads so much that it made playing on artificial turf in a new league in a totally different country more acceptable than playing in a new ballpark in front of some great fans.   There’s a failure here.  Whether it’s Rolen’s for not being more accepting of Tony’s management style or of TLR not finding some way to make nice with his third baseman, I’m not sure.  I will say again, though, that Rolen never complained to the press, never made it an issue.  You can’t say the same about LaRussa.

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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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General Stuff

*Congrats to Future Redbirds for their 500,000 hit. They do some great work over there following the minors and probably are the second-most visited blog after VEB. Great job, guys!

*In case you are curious, this blog is just shy of reaching 5400 on the hit meter in exactly five months. Way off of 500,000, of course, but it makes me feel pretty good to know that someone is reading this stuff. And I really appreciate those that comment, because I hate feeling like I’m talking to myself.  I’m also proud of my fourth-place ranking in Cardinal blogs at Striketwo.net.  And everyone above me has multiple authors, so I’m the top solo artist.  (Hey, I’ll take what I can get!)

*For those of you that participated or were otherwise enthralled by the Cardinal Blogger Awards, you might be interested in this. The inspiration for that was the Boardie Awards at CCH, and the ballot for the fifth incarnation of those awards was posted today.

*A not-so-joyous comment for the holidays: Bernie says that there is “nothing going on…it’s going to be a hard winter.” He’s also not big on the signing Prior idea, though Deadspin does say that the Cards are very interested in him, though whether that is true or just Will Leitch wishful thinking, I don’t know.

*David Eckstein signed with the Blue Jays for one year. That market for shortstops dried up quickly. Hopefully he will have a good year with the Blue Jays. He had a great run as a Cardinal, but it was time to part ways.

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.

Signs of Concern

I’ve spent a fair amount of time lately defending ownership.  However, the talk and actions of our new GM are starting to concern even me.

First, we have the Izturis signing.  While not worth the doom and gloom, sky is falling mentality some people had for it, it still was a bit of a headscratcher and not nearly the kind of moves most fans have been waiting for.

Then, we have the idea of shipping Scott Rolen off to the Brewers.  In case you aren’t paying attention, the Brewers are 1) a team in the same division as the Cardinals and 2) the team most likely to win the NL Central next year, in my opinion.  While I’m not one that thinks Rolen should be traded now, trading him within the division would just be nuts.

Coupled with that is the pursuit of Chris Capuano.  Larry at VEB broke down Capuano pretty well yesterday, and there are points to like, points to worry about.  This probably isn’t a terrible move, but it depends on what it costs.  I wouldn’t give Rolen for him, I don’t think.

Next, the ESPN winter meetings blog indicates the Cardinals have talked to the Indians about pitcher Cliff Lee.  Lee’s an Arkansas boy and in that regard, I’d like to see him come over.  Moving to the NL probably would help as well.  The price is supposedly Anthony Reyes and/or Brian Anderson.  It best not be and–that’s a ton to give up for a guy that has been down for a year or two.  Reyes, also according to that blog, is getting some attention from suitors.  I believe they’ll deal him–and he’ll probably do well away from the organization–and Lee would probably be acceptable.  But not if they overpay for him.

That blog also indicates Ankiel, Duncan and Edmonds are all available.  I can’t believe the organization would move Ankiel now, after all they’ve done for him, but it is a new GM, so maybe so.  At least you have to hear the offers.

There was talk about bringing Pedro Feliz in if Rolen is traded.  Yuck.  They aren’t even offering arbitration to Eckstein.  Nuts.

All in all, the best news around is that the Cardinals were in, at least on the periphery, on Eric Bedard.  If Mozeliak could pull that off, I’d take it all back.

General Thoughts

Just some ramblings on a slow day:

*Some people get worked up too easily.  Both at CCH and at VEB, there were some that seemed to think the sky was falling with the LaRue signing.   It’s a backup catcher, signed to less than a million dollars.  Heck, they could sign me to that, and it wouldn’t be a big deal (though, obviously, not the best use of resources).  You might not agree that LaRue can do much, but he doesn’t have to.  It’s one of those deals that shouldn’t serve as any kind of indictment of ownership–the Brotherhood of Backup Catchers are all pretty much alike.

*One of the things that was the toughest about putting together the Cardinal Blogger Ballot was coming up with options for the Game of the Year.  At least, to me, there weren’t too many games that just stood out like in years past.  I mean, in 2006 we had the one-hitter by Anthony Reyes and a couple of 3 HR games by Albert Pujols.  In 2007?  Not so much.  But I think I’ve come up with a game that symbolizes the Cardinals’ season, so I will probably use that as my choice.  Bloggers, you are obviously allowed to use your own interpretation of the award.  Just like the writers do with the MVP!

*It’s looking more and more likely that David Eckstein will be back next year and on the Cardinals’ terms.  The White Sox traded for Orlando Cabrera.  The Mets re-signed Luis Castillo for their second base vacancy.  There’s just not many spots out there for him to land.  And few spots means little leverage.  It looks to me that the one year deal might become a reality.

*Maybe this should have been one of the arguments in Burwell’s book!

*It is possible that I’m thinking about this too much, since last night I had a dream I was with Mozeliak and TLR and I was asking Mozeliak questions about the Brazelton signing for this blog.  I gotta get out more.

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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