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.

Housekeeping

First off, if you’ve not been to VEB today, check out the All-Time Cardinal Team simulation tournament.  I’m going to be aiding Larry and Zubin there with keeping track of picks and brackets and perhaps writing a couple of game stories.

On a side note, there are probably going to be some changes around here in the near future as well.  More on that when it comes to fruition.

The United Cardinal Bloggers, those great guys with hits like the Cardinal Blogger Awards and the Year in Review, have been summoned again.  We’re discussing a potential January project.  If you’ve not gotten the e-mail, let me know and I’ll resend.

The Rolen trade is official.  With the money situation going from the Cardinals paying to the Blue Jays paying, it made the deal somewhat more palatable.  I’m never going to like it, but we accept what we can’t change and move on.   For a final word, here’s Bernie’s take on the issue.

That’s about it in Cardinal Nation for today.  I’ll try to do better tomorrow.

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Rolen Rollin’?

Via CCH, I see that Rosenthal is reporting a Rolen for Glaus swap is just about to happen. Now, blogs are great for the short-term, immediate reaction type of writing, and I immediately say: I hate the deal. I will also note again that I’m a Rolen fan, so I’m sure my bias will be showing.

First off, let’s compare the lines from 2007:

Player Games AB R HR RBI BA/OBP/SLG
Glaus 115 60 101 20 62 .262/.366/.473
Rolen 112 55 104 8 58 .265/.331/.398

Do you see a lot of difference there? Save home runs, I don’t. Remember that Rolen played all year with a bad shoulder that sapped his power. If the surgery was successful this off-season, it’s very possible he’ll put up better numbers than Glaus does in 2008 even if you don’t factor in the defense.

Glaus has never batted over .300. Heck, he’s only hit over .260 twice, and one of those was .262. I know batting average isn’t the be-all and end-all like it used to be, but it is still pretty useful. Now, if he’s healthy, Glaus likely will put up 35-40 HR, so that is more pop than Rolen has shown in the last few years, but again, with a healthy Rolen, it’s not as much of a gap as you might think.

Glaus is 31, Rolen 32, so we really aren’t getting younger in the deal. The Cardinals will likely have to pay some of Rolen’s salary, so we aren’t getting financial relief. Glaus is a FA after ’09, Rolen ’10, but it’s not like we have a hot 3B prospect coming up that we need to clear a spot for.

If the Cardinals were getting some salary relief or some prospects, like Adam Lind for example, then maybe this would be more palatable. But straight up? I really don’t like it. LaRussa said they wouldn’t trade Scott just to trade him, but that is really what this smacks of. It’s better than sending him for a A ball prospect, of course, but it’s not a trade that, in my opinion, measurably helps the club.

At least Rolen will be able to mesh with Toronto’s new shortstop.  It’ll almost be like St. Louis North up there, with him, Eckstein and almost-Cardinal A.J. Burnett.

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.

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:

Read the rest of this entry »

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.