Diaspora Returns! Tell your friends.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

 

Breaking News Is Breaking

Just picked this up over in the Card Clubhouse forum, (here's the link). Cards and Burnett have an agreement in place. The tentative status of the agreement hinges on the offers Burnett gets from the O's and Jays, could be a key reason Jock demands silence. They will look to finalize it at the Winter Meetings next week, per the PR wishes of MLB. Here's the rest: [Diaspora commentary follows each point] Jason Marquis - They are working to ship him in a trade for an impact corner outfielder (Abreu?) or second baseman (Soriano? Castillo?). Clearly Marquis is a key part of any trade strategy. Is there a trade rumor not involving the angry one? Bobby Abreu - In talks with them but Baltimore may have a better offer. I just don't see this happening. Not that I wouldn't want Abreu on the team, but it defies logic. Luis Castillo/Mark Grudzielanek - Continue talks with Grudz. He should be cheaper than acquiring Luis. Yay! the 2B question may be solved. Grud's not a long-term solution, but he's a steady option for the 2006 team. Brad Wilkerson - Straight up trade for Marquis is possible. I like this deal, and whole heartedly endorse it. Wilke's a solid, young player, the perfect #2 hitter for the lineup, excellent OBP and a little power potential. He played injured this year and wasn't effectively used on the Nats, thus his 2005 slump. Should rebound to a good player, especially in the STL atmosphere. Brian Giles - Just give it up.. We are workin on other things. *apathy* Giles would have been nice, but this could work out much better. Don't forget to send us your Hot Stove Haiku (see below).
 

Bernie Thinks Soriano

Bernie drops a few more bread crumbs over in his STLToday forum. He leaves the reader with Soriano as a final thought. Anything's possible, but remember, there's another motivation at work there and that's to bring readers into the site (an end which I'm helping to serve with the link above)...what better way to do that than with a few reasonable rumors. Is this for real? It does make more sense than Abreu. Who knows, anything's possible, but surely they'd at least stick him left field. I've finally started to get a little more dubious of the rumors. Haiku to follow soon.
 

Hot Stove Haiku

Here's a haiku expressing what I think will happen based on the current rumors floating around the Card-nosphere. Why a haiku? Well, partially it's a nod to the fantasy baseball like creativity of some posters in forums and elsewhere, and the other reason...why the hell not! Angry Fish jumps in Sour singing Bird pushed from nest Brad to stand in grass Disagree? Submit your trade/acquisition ideas in the form of a haiku. I'll post the best ones on the Diaspora for all six to ten readers to see. (You can't afford not to have that kind of publicity!) Seriously, by now we've heard A LOT of trade and/or free agent ideas. Coming up with something dramatically new would be tough, so find a new way to express it through 5-7-5 syllables. I got a couple emails with Haiku as well, so feel free to post Haiku in the comments below or email them to me at rv_vanbib@yahoo (dot) com.
 

Abreu Odds Take a Hit

Save for our Amish readers, by now you are familiar with the rampant speculation about a Cards trade for Philly's Bobby Abreu. Flipping through the trade rumors/news sites today, I stumbled upon this bit of interesting news at Matthew Cerrone's MetsBlog. Cerrone, whose hot stove reporting is connected with MLB sources, postulates that Abreu may well be off the market given Philly's trade of Jim Thome. He reasons that a primary motivation for moving Abreu, despite his low approval ratings from the team's blue collar fan base, was to open a spot in the OF for NL Rookie of the Year (and Missouri native) Ryan Howard. Abreu does also have a no-trade clause in his contract, not the biggest of hurdles, but an obstacle nevertheless. Something's in the works inside the Cards' front office, but an Abreu trade seems more and more unlikely.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

 

www.where are the players? .com

Sometime between 1 a.m. and 2 p.m. this morning, my insomnia exiled me to the living room. There, I flipped on my laptop (yeah, I keep my laptop in front of the TV, you don't?) for a little research, in a continuing effort to bring you half-assed content to enjoy during a little break from your shitty job. I decided to search for athlete's personal websites, in order to make fun of them. I just assumed that any number of them would have some kind of web presence to promote themselves, like www.terrellowens.com. No such luck. I started with the Cardinals, and, based on what I discovered through an hour of research, not a single member of the team has a site. Albert Pujols has a site for his family foundation, and not even a black hearted cynic like me can make fun of that. "Strange," I thought. So I decided to see about other players that might have their own site. With T.O. on the brain, my next stop was naturally www.barrybonds.com. Bingo! But wait, although it lives up the ridiculous factor (those photos should have every leper in the world lining up for a one-touch cure), the site is clearly part of MLB's online empire. Derek Jeter has a site, but it's the same deal, MLB owned, no NYC exclusive club party pics. A little more digging into whether or not there was something in the CBA about the players having their own website revealed nothing. This has got to be the case though. Besides the issues with licensing and such, I am really surprised to find players without their own sites. MLB clearly doesn't own the rights to the URLs with individual player names (or all of them at any rate), because if you add ".com" to a players name in your browser window you get fans sites or those search engine, "we bought up all the URLs to advertise" sites. If I were a player (as opposed to playa), I would have my agent insist on my own website. Think about the potential. Imagine if your agent was Scott Boras and he commissioned a site to promote your skills and abilities, for instance his recent portfolio for Johnny Damon might become, www.bettercenterfielderthanRickeyHenderson.com. Besides seeing the questionable logic in the statistics, web savvy managers could game out historical matchups with Damon inserted in the lineup. The Yankees could see how things would have turned out with Damon in the 2004 lineup, replace Rickey on the 1990 Athletics for a sure-fire World Series victory, and the possibilities go on and on. So, Players Association, you now have something else to include in the upcoming CBA agreement. You'll thank me later.
 

My 1.5 Cents

Birdos has word that the Cards have "something big in the works," evidenced by an internal no-leaks memo. What could the no-leaks memo signify? I think it's one of two things. First, the team is close to making a free agent signing and the contract deal in the works is a good one, i.e. the price the goes up if word gets out. Second, it could be a major trade involving a big name player. From this, they don't want to jinx the trade by letting others make offers and/or want to get the spin machine out ahead of the negtive fan reaction to trading a Cardinal favorite. There is some speculation (and has been in the recent past) that this could be Edmonds to the Yanks for SP Wang (he he) and 2B Cano. If this is the case, I think it's a smart move by the organization, fills two holes in the line up and make us younger. Then, we can trade Supe and/or Marquis for Brad Wilkerson to replace Edmonds in CF and/or sign a FA outfielder (Giles?) with the cash freed up from Edmonds salary.

Monday, November 28, 2005

 

Just Say, "Non!"

Here's an interesting bit of news I learned today: Jacque Jones is not French, not even French-Canadian. (He's probably not a real sea captain either!) However, Jones really does play outfield, and when I heard that the Cardinals were interested in his services, I almost choked on pumpkin pie and gasped "Sacre Bleu!" Besides being more "Freedom Fries" than pomme frites, Jones' just isn't very good. For 2005, he had an OBP/SLG/OPS of .319/.438/.757. Against lefties, he may as well have not even bothered to get up out of the dugout, mustering .246/.370/.617. His line against righties is better, but why pay $5 million for a mediocre platoon player? The team could rely on Rodriguez, Gall, Taguchi, et al. to man the OF on either side of Edmonds and get the same results as putting Jones on the payroll. Hell, they might even do better, since Gall and Rodriguez have some upside due to their age (Jones will be 31 for the 2006 season).
 

Thanks Fans, Now Pay Up

Okay, so MattyFred reports in the comments section of the entry below that the money from the Garage Sale goes to the new ballpark. Thus, it is logical to assume the fees for autographs will also help pay for the new ballpark. While hardly for the players' wallets, it's not exactly supporting a charitable cause. I think it kind of sucks. Getting an autograph from a player you worshipped as a kid or one you cheered as an adult represents a special opportunity to interact with these players that few fans get to experience. We buy the tickets to the games, the merchandise, pay for cable or satellite subscriptions, and buy the products of advertisers, hell, fans even bought dirt and other memorabilia from Busch, making the monetary support of the team unquestionable. Allowing us a breif chance to interact with the players from the teams we pay to see would be a gracious and small way of thanking the fans. I imagine that if they were to subtract the total revenue from the autograph sales this weekend stadium construction could continue, without the few thousand dollars generated from the autographs. You know, they could have just recycled the restroom signs from the old stadium; aren't these new ballparks all designed to be "retro" anyway? Jeers to the Cards on this one.

Friday, November 25, 2005

 

My 15 Minutes & Fredbird Sells Out

The Diaspora's very own "Athlete Run-In" story was posted on Deadspin. It's not a run-in with anyone associated with the Cardinals, so don't think you'll find any dirt on Grud's LA barfighting. Anyway, go there, give it a read (you should be reading Deadspin everyday anyway). Well, now that you're back from reading that excellent story (it makes me nostalgic for my deadbeat years), let's talk Cardinals. Is anyone out there in reader land heading to Fredbird's Garage Sale this weekend? If so, bring some cash. In addition to buying all kinds of Busch Stadium crap, you can drop some of your hard earned dough on autographs from Stan Musial, Ozzie, Gibson, and other Cardinal greats. There's nothing quite like sharing the game with all by sticking them for $50, if you want a jersey signed you better bring even more cash. Signing over the deed to your house will get you all seven of the attending players' signatures. (You can price out the rest of them at this link.) There's nothing quite as classy as players thanking their fans by shaking them down for a little more cash. Fans, please remember this when writers and others start spewing all the nostalgic crap when Spring Training rolls around, and if anyone extols the innocence of the game, remind them that it starts at $79. Now, maybe I'm wrong, maybe the team's using this as fundraiser; although, that intent is not clearly stated on the official Fredbird's Garage Sale website. If you are aware of information to the contrary, please let me know so I can scale back the invective a bit. Or if you think players are perfectly justified in charging this much for their autographs, please try to justify that sentiment in the comments section, maybe you'll convince me. If you went to the garage sale, let us know how it was, include details of your fleecing if you like.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

 

Nice Johnson

[updated 11/24, 10:44 a.m. EST] The Hot Stove finally heated up, instigated by the Marlins and their desperate need to dump salary – a ritual that seems to happen after every odd numbered season (2003, 2005…). Cardinals fans continue to wait, and can probably keep waiting for at least another few weeks. The next event of consequence for teams is the Winter Meetings taking place in Florida from December 5-8. In addition to dragging their feet on the Nationals’ ownership situation and privately laughing about ownership completely dodging a bullet on the steroids question, participants will have a pretty full agenda. On the last day, December 8, one of the most confusing time honored player acquisition events, the Rule 5 Draft, occurs. The event itself carries little excitement, and typically, few diamonds in the rough come out of it, with Roberto Clemente being the lone exception. Cards fans recognize the Rule 5 Draft as the place where the team got Hector Luna. In fact, I maintain that the draft’s rules hurt Luna’s development by forcing the Cards to keep him on their major league roster throughout 2004 when he would have benefited more by developing for a full season in AAA. Of course, with the opportunity to send him there in 2005, the Cards passed as well, assigning him a career as a permanent reserve infielder. Oh well. (You think the Luna rant’s a rant, ask me about Arrested Development being canceled.) Last season the team was touched by the Rule 5 Draft again when the A’s were forced to return LHP Tyler Johnson after deciding not to promote him to their own active roster, or trading him to another team that would, out of spring training. It was a fine fate for Johnson and a fortunate turn of events for the Cardinals. Johnson spent the season in AAA Memphis, until the big league team bought out his contract in early September, putting him on the active roster. The Cardinals have again added him to their 40 man, and there is reason to believe that he is part of the team’s plans for 2006. Johnson’s seasonal age in 2006 will be 25. Let’s look at his stats. I did not include his 2005 stats with the big club due to the microscopic sample size. As you can see from his minor league stats, Johnson has never had a problem striking guys out; he had the best K/9 ratio of all Memphis hurlers at 11.75. His K/BB ratio improved last year in Memphis, the highest it’s been since his 2002 season in Peoria. Clearly, the kid is ready to play for on the big league stage. Building on the kid’s already solid command, Pitching Coach Dave Duncan should be able to work with him to get his walks and H/IP numbers down a bit. Last summer, he also nailed down 7 saves in 9 opportunities for Memphis, and had a 1.31 ground ball/fly ball ratio. Johnson’s pitches consist of a lower 90s fastball, with good movement, that he uses to set up a wicked curveball that serves as his out pitch. He also has a slider and a mediocre changeup, which hopefully could improve with time, work, and Duncan’s tutelage. I scanning reviews for Johnson’s performance, I came across someone from the Oakland front office stating that Johnson had “excellent off-speed stuff.” Johnson could fit in nicely next year as a LOOGY for the Cardinals, and you can be sure that LaRussa, LOOGY lover extraordinaire, will use him in that role. Given the young lefty’s decent command and his arsenal of pitches, he fits that role nicely. However, Johnson could easily become a strong one or two inning lefty set up guy. An inexpensive, quality lefty for the pen, of course he will take some lumps as a rookie, but still, Johnson’s presence gives us one less thing to worry about as management scrambles to put together a lineup for 2006. Compare and contrast I wanted to look at a couple other lefties for the sake of comparison. Coming off a career best season in San Francisco, the Cubs signed FA Scott Eyre to bolster the left side of their bullpen. After getting his ADHD under control, Eyre pitched 53.2 innings in 2004, posting a 4.10 ERA, allowing 43 hits and 49/27 K/BB (1.82 ratio); his 2004 k/9 was 8.37. In 2005, Eyre allowed 48 hits through 68.1 innings with a 2.63 ERA, 65/26 K/BB (2.50), and an 8.59 k/9 ratio. Ray King went from hero to zero for the Cards from 2004 to 2005, solidifying his pariah status with a trade demand hours after the season ended. In 2004, when he was the toast of Cards fans and indispensible to the team, he tossed 62 innings with a 2.61 ERA, giving up 43 hits, 40/26 K/BB (1.67), and a 5.81 ERA. Ray's 2005 saw him post a 3.38 ERA through 40 innings, 46 hits against, 23/16 K/BB (1.44), and a 5.18 k/9. Indicating what he is capable of, Johnson's 2005 stats in Memphis are indeed a positive sign, and highlight what he is capable of in the lefty reliever role. Repeating my earlier conclusion, there's no reason to think Johnson cannot fill an important team need out of the pen, at a nice price, for the Cardinals in 2006 and for a few seasons to come.

Monday, November 21, 2005

 

Meaty Replacements

Few teams take reclamation projects or scrap heapers and turn them into viable major leaguers, or at least quality parts in a system, like the Cardinals. LaRussa, Duncan and the other coaches get much of the credit, but those things would not be possible without a decent scouting department. (Please note that I am NOT choosing a side in the Moneyball vs. Traditionalist debate. For the record, I think a good mix of the two is the only truly rational way to run a team.) Jim Leyland worked for the Cardinals as a "special assignment" scout for the last several years, based out of Pittsburgh. Leyland was hired after the 1999 season by the Cards as a major league scout. However, he got an even more special assignment this fall though when he was hired as the Detroit Tigers manager. I don't know to what extent the Cards utilized Leyland's services over the last few years, but evidence suggests that he was pretty important to the organization's acquisitions of major league players, whether by trade or by talent. While we were all pleasantly surprised by Nunez's performance, Jim Leyland probably was less surprised. I'd wager that Jock also consulted him before signing Suppan. Those two are obvious given that they played for Pittsburgh at some point while Leyland was working for us. So, as the Hot Stove season presses on, and talk about reclamation projects and scrap heap players gets tossed about, think about the impact of Leyland's loss to the system. The scrap heap plan only works if you can find the scraps that still have some meat on them (that's an appetizing analogy). As Suppan or Nunez indicate, Leyland possessed an ability to find those meaty scraps. Hopefully, the team has others that can find the meatiest tidbits in the alley dumpsters. Question for readers, if you have any insight into Leyland's role in the Cards' scouting system, we'd love to hear it. Email me or post it in the comments section below.
 

Worried?

Rumor and speculation continues to dominate the free agent and trade markets, which have been mighty inactive. I suppose as soon as one big one happens (I thought the Beckett - Blalock trade was a for sure this weekend) the flood gates will burst, particualrly if one of those teams involved is the Yanks, Red Sox, or Mets. While the league may delude itself about greater economic parity, evidence against parity is on display every time the hot stove league heats up. Teams are forced to hold off on making any major moves while free agents go to one of those three teams in order to drive their asking price higher, and teams wait to see what their payroll realities will be to determine trades, signings, etc. While there are other reasons, those teams sit at the controls for the dam. I'm fighting back a rant on why the Cards are limiting themselves to a $90 million payroll, when their economic situation is anything but bleak. Hell, they own their own damn radio station now. I'll hold off in the hopes that this could also be a negotiating tactic for Jock, a good GM that seems to need a constant dose of fiber for the speed at which he pursues the deals. Anyway, is anyone paying attention to what has been going on starting to get a little worried? The Cards pursue Burnett, and maintain that pitching is their primary need. Eventhough signing Burnett might well be impossible, as now the Red Sox have declared interest, not to mention the ridiculous demand for a 5 year contract. Meanwhile, the outfield is garrisoned by Jim Edmonds, and, uh, Rodriguez (who I'm really rooting for to be a capable OF), Taguchi...and some other guys who may not hti any better come October than anyone else on the team not named Pujols. As of this moment, Hector Luna holds the title on the dirt around secondbase.

Friday, November 18, 2005

 

A.J. Burnett a Cardinal?

I had intended to make a "B.J. and the Bear" Reference here, but quite frankly, I just don't remember enough about the show except that they relied heavily on CBs and that it was, duh, something of a Smokey and the Bandit knock-off. Anyway...imagine my surprise seeing that the Cards are "heavy into" A.J. (A.J. and the Bear) Burnett, possibly having gone so far as to make him an offer, according to The Hot Stove Report via Ken Rosenthal. Securing another good starting pitcher at A.J.'s price would take us out of the Giles race, and free up Marquis and/or Suppan to trade. In addition to trading for an player to round out the OF, it is reasonable to speculate there is some interest in keeping Reggie Sanders as well. Another scenario that could play out if the Cards land Burnett is trading for an outfielder, Wilkerson for example, then letting Rodriguez, Taguchi and Gall contest for the LF spot in spring training. Personally, this one make some sense by the fact that it frees up some cash for the pen, a priority as well, especially since the Cubs have improved their's to some degree by signing Scott Eyre. Still no word on Grud either. Grud update: Other teams pursuing Grud and Nunez. Grud wants to remain a Cardinal. Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

 

The Doorman Always Coughs Twice

Remember on the Jeffersons when the doorman, Ralph, would stand by the door, hold out his hand, and clear his throat...after getting George's chintzy tip? Brian Giles and his agent Joe Bick don't even have to stand by the door OR clear a throat to indicate they would like a little more dough. As I speculated yesterday, Giles' price tag was going to get some serious holiday markup. Consider it confirmed. The Yanks have even upped the ante to 3 years, $33 million. The Yankees have a pretty keen interest in the soon to be 35 year old outfielder, as do the Dodgers, and you can bet the Red Sox will be curious as to how much money it will take to get Joe Bick to stop ahem-ing at the door.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

 

Good Company: Larry Walker and the Hall of Fame

Except for maybe Augusta National, few institutions are as exclusive as the National Baseball Hall of Fame, albeit for slightly different reasons. Cooperstown honors a tradition of excellence and demands outstanding achievement before one can have a plaque with their likeness displayed there. Ballots for the class of 2006 start arriving in BBWAA members' mailboxes before the end the month, and then the debate can begin in earnest as to who merits election in the next class of eligible players. You can bet there will be no shortage of bloggers approaching the issue, the Diaspora included, as I'm a big Will Clark fan.

Today, however, I want to jump ahead to 2011 and consider the case of one Larry Walker. Without question, Walker had a great career, posting outstanding numbers along the way. While his case for membership is strong, it is not open and shut.

Through 16 seasons in the majors, Walker collected the NL MVP once in 1997, and over the course of his career was a five time All-Star, won three batting titles, three Silver Sluggers, and seven Gold Gloves. He even found a dead body on his Evergreen, Colorado ranch in 2004 while out with an injury. All of these things, except for the body, will have to be taken into account when the Writers find Larry's name on their ballot. His stats, however, will account for more, so let's jump in there and take a look at Walker's case sabermetrically. For this exercise, I've used the updated Hall of Fame measures laid out by Jay Jaffe of Baseball Prospectus (go subscribe). Before I go further, let me also thank Mr. Jaffe for fielding my questions about his method in specific regard to Walker. He was tremendously helpful. For Mr. Jaffe's full explanation of his method, check out this article analyzing the HOF class of 2005. JAWS (Jaffe WARP Score) averages adjusted career WARP (wins above replacement player) and a player's peak WARP representing the five best consecutive seasons of their career. Adjustments for injury are allowed, and this was certainly an issue with the oft injured Walker. Clearly, he was at his peak between 1997 and 2002, but I chose '97 through '01 to represent the five best. In 2000, Walker appeared in only 87 games, just over half a full season. Discarding that year, 2002 gets added into the mix. Also included per Jaffe, are Walker's Batting Runs Above Replacement (BRAR), Batting Runs Above Average (BRAA), and Fielding Runs Above Average (FRAA). Walker's stats are then compared to the average HOF right fielder's numbers.

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Yesterday on Fox Sports' website, Dayn Perry made the case for Walker utilizing his more traditional stats, and bringing OPS+ into the mix to counter the argument that Walker's stats carry a Coors Field bias with them. The WARP3 numbers also even out these kind of factors, allowing player comparisons across the years. Fungoes gave us a quick look at his HOF Monitor and HOF Standards scores, which further Walker's case.

As you can see, Walker is below average for HOF RF standards. Let's mention here also that HOF right fielders include some pretty elite company, such as Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. Effecting Walker's case for the HOF most is the impact of injuries, essentially limiting him to 12 years worth of playing time over the course of 16 years. However, Walker's numbers do not water down the Hall's standards for right fielders even though he would represent the lower end of that spectrum.

Obviously, there are other considerations. Walker's awards and recognition will help his case, but there is definitely room for argument. Perhaps international politics will help Walker if the voters decide to honor the greatest Canadian hitter up to this point in the game's history (Jason Bay fans take note). If Walker is elected, he would most certainly be in a Colorado uniform. Sorry Cardinal fans, Larry's played the vast majority of his career in Denver and was a real credit to that franchise. I remember watching him play when I was going to college up the road in Wyoming and thinking what an amazing player he was. He would certainly have my vote, but if rabid fans were allowed to vote, the HOF would hardly be special. I'd be surprised if he got voted in right away, but he should be able to hang around, until he gets a cortisone shot from the BBWAA voters.


 

Don't Get Your Hopes Up

When I read yesterday that the Red Sox were interested in Brian Giles, it became readily apparent that the market for this FA, so prized by Cards fans/blogdom, had changed dramatically. Then late yesterday, while we were all drunk (literally for some of us) with the news of Albert's big award, two things happened that impacted Jocketty's pursuit of the Padres' right fielder. First, the Yankees signed Matsui to a 4 year, $52 million dollar contract. This now frees up the Yanks to work on the rounding out their open spot in CF. Thought to be interested in the over-hyped Johnny Damon, Scott Boras made the second move that will certainly impact the Cards' pursuit of Giles by starting the bidding at 7 years, $84 million! (And you thought T.O.'s agent was shameless.) Now the Yankees, have reportedly offered, at least informally, Giles 3 years at $30 million, and that team is entertaining the thought of rotating Giles and Matsui in CF. The Red Sox will now most certainly consider signing Giles, as a cheaper option in the OF that won't hogtie the club to the center fielder who will certainly look more like father time at the end of a seven year deal. One wild card is that Giles, supposedly, does not want to play anywhere East of St. Louis. [read sarcastically] Ha ha! The opening bid is now 3 years, $30 million, and will most certainly go north of that. If the Cards stay in the hunt for Giles, which I imagine they will and should for now, there will be a few million less to spend on the team's other needs. Jocketty's seems to be pretty adept at negotiating, and the hopefully the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce has a real slick DVD to help sell Giles on the city more than on the moola. I'm far too cynical to believe that the dollar value (and length of the deal) won't win out in the end though. Temper your expectations if you adamantly have your heart set on Giles.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

 

Now Who's Chanting M-V-P?

PUJOLS! The BBWA just confirmed what we all knew. Well done old chap! The voting was actually pretty close between Pujols and Andruw Jones, 27 total points. Derrek Lee was a distant third. I fail to understand why Jones garnered so many (13) first place votes. Did he really keep his team above water through his efforts alone? Or are writers merely awed by the first 50+ home run hitter of the "post-roids" era? Congrats again to Albert Pujols, by far the greatest player to don a Cardinal uniform (or any other for that matter) that I will ever see. It's nice to have a league MVP sans flax seed oil. Consolation to Lee and Jones fans who feel their guy was cheated: Come on, cheer up, at least you're not a Philadelphia Eagles fan (or a Phillies fan, or living in Philly).
 

The Envelope Please

I intended to provide a rant (read DanUp's) here as to why Pujols should receive the NL MVP award, prompted mostly by reading today's story in the PD about Andruw Jones being a favorite. I think that dead horse has been sufficiently beaten, and I'll save my energies for an afternoon post to praise the BBWA or bitch and moan about their selection. Come on, people, Andruw Jones!?!? After the game received a nasty blackeye from the steroid scandal, we still melt in our shoes over the home run? Shouldn't we take this opportunity to celebrate the entire beauty of the sport, from pitching to stolen bases? Don't get me wrong, Jones is a great player who had a good season, and his winning the Hank Aaron Award and the players' version of the MVP represent fine recognition for his accomplishments. Don't get sucked in by the Golden Globes theory though. Just because a film wins a GG, doesn't predetermine an Oscar. (Forrest Gump did beat Pulp Fiction for Oscar gold though, so we can't rely on cosmic justice.) Looks like I ranted anyhow. Oh well, at least I'm...uh...passionate about something. One final thought, no award is still better than an ESPY.

Monday, November 14, 2005

 

[Insert Gambling Joke Here]

Seedy gambling establishments across Manhattan rejoiced today as Alex Rodriguez wins the AL MVP. No surprise there, he stood out among potential rivals. Unlike the second place vote getter, one David Ortiz, Rodriguez regularly plays a position on the field, doing a rather modest job with the glove at that. Without the consistency of their third baseman, that team would have been in a much more difficult spot, even with that $100 million rotation. Through a 162 games, A-Rod definitely knew when to hold 'em. (Ouch! Was hardly trying on that one, deepest apologies.)

Does anyone know where this team might find an "ace that they could keep?"

Jeez, again with the Gambler jokes! The really sad thing here is that upon downloading this picture, I noticed that I already had a Kenny Rogers picture in my files...someone's got a bizzare pop-culture fixation. Or they just watched too much gawddamned Hee-Haw as a kid.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

 

Does He Have a Brother?

I doubt there's much to the rumors, but I read a couple blips on the web today about Brian Giles wanting to play on a team with his brother, Marcus. Marcus, 27, plays second base, and he is arbitration eligible. He made $2.35 million last year, and the Braves are rather concerned about money. [I fail to understand why the Braves cannot muster a payroll above $80 million, not that that's chump change, but they have a national TV network broadcasting their games and Atlanta is a fairly prosperous city. Why they have such poor attendance is particularly odd.] But I digress. Trading Giles will come down to what happens in the Furcal sweepstakes. Even if (a big IF considering the Cubs' interest) the Braves get Furcal to come back to the team, the price tag will be no less than $9 million. Furcal's return could well dictate the team moving Giles. It might be a far fetched scenario for the Cards to bag him, and I have not heard any rumors about them pursuing him, yet. What the Card's would trade for Giles or what the Braves would want from us (would have to be a three way deal), I don't know. Nevertheless, it makes for another signal to listen to track if you've got your ear on the rail.

Friday, November 11, 2005

 

Wishes & Possibilities: OF edition

Holy Jeebuz - are you sick of the hot stove yet? Me neither, what good is the web if you can't speculate about things for which you have absolutely no control, hence all the blogs on sports and politics. Anyway, I wanted to statistically run down some of the real possibilities that Cards' bloggers and others have bandied about as potential new outfielders for the 2006 season. The players below represent two free agent possibilities (Giles & Jones) and two trade possibilities (Huff & Wilkerson) that would not cost the Redbirds an arm and a leg, i.e. Anthony Reyes and the rest of our few blue chip prospects. Of course, these selections represent some personal bias. Huff and Wilkerson are young, talented outfielders, that I personally think are worth pursuing. Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Giles, clearly, has the best numbers. He's a thirtysomething on-base machine who can hit for a little power too. Can Giles enjoy that level of success moving into his late thirties? A law of diminishing returns surrounds whatever big money contract he receives. Aubrey Huff has put up some good numbers in the past, but saw his numbers slump in 2005. The D-Rays shuffled Huff all over the field in the last couple of seasons, possibly to the detriment of his plate performance last year. He is a free agent after the 2006 season, so there's extra incentive to put up numbers. At this point in time, the Mets seems to be trying to make a move for Huff. Wilkerson is another good, young player who slumped at the plate last year. He made just a hair over $3 million last year. His numbers might well have suffered due to being shuffled across the field and up and down the line up. He also played with a shoulder injury for much of the season as the Nats remained in contention much, much longer than expected. The Nationals have a plethora of outfielders, and a need for solid, relatively inexpensive pitchers. Trading Marquis for Wilke, I think, would be a great move. He's no superstar, but would be a solid and cheap(er) talent for the outfield. One catch, his agent is the reviled Scott Boras. Jones is clearly a stop gap solution. He made $5 million last year, but his status as a free agent makes his '06 salary anyone's guess. He is the least attractive of the bunch listed here, but beats Kevin Mench. Essentially, we have to make a FA signing for 2B, OF, or a SP, with the latter being the least pressing need, and trade for the other position(s). Signing Giles has become more palatable to me as I look around at the options. However, getting younger at one or both of the other positions would be reassuring and a wise thing to do.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

 

Justice Served

Congrats to Chris Carpenter on winning the NL Cy Young award. He had a fine season, and has been rewarded justly. He also becomes the first New Hampshire native to win the award. Chris Carpenter 2005 21-5, 2.83 ERA, 213 K, 51 BB, 241.2 IP Live Free or Die, dear friend.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

 

Keystone Kwestions

Keeping track of all the speculation batting about on the internet might well impossible. Rumors keep floating out from the GM meeting going on in California right now, and time will tell what transactions of consequence occur as a result of the meetings. As for the Cardinals, Ken Rosenthal confirms that the Cards are one of the big money (you'd never know we were "big money" listening to DeWitt constantly poor mouth about their fortunes though) teams that intend to pursue A.J. Burnett. Birdos examines what the team might look like with the oft-injured, coddled young fireballer. Other names, besides the usuals (i.e. Brian Giles), popping up lately include Alfonso Soriano, the not so great fielding second baseman with a big bat that the Rangers got in return for that A-Rod guy. Soriano seems like an odd player for the Cards to pursue for their infield given his glove (2005 Rate2 of 83), until you consider the rumors attached to his name of converting him into an outfielder. I don't know what his arm is like, so I can't speak to that. However, if he could be turned into a left fielder, his bat would certainly contribute. His 2005 EqA was .285 and his Isolated Power was .243, hence his real value with 81 XBH. Before you assign too much credit to the Texas ballpark, recall that he posted even better numbers as a Yankee. Supposedly he wants to remain at 2B. Now, I am in no way advocating for Soriano, and I imagine Texas would want a whole heckuva lot in return, Anthony Reyes no doubt. Thus, the deal's probably not worth it, especially if they let him man the keystone bag while depending on the ground ball out; it just doesn't make sense. Hence, it's rumor status. The second base position is making for something of a wild card in the Cards' off season plans. Signing Grud may represent the easiest option for 2006, but if they don't get a deal worked out soon, his price may jump. Nunez, another possible easy fix for the spot, will seek the opportunity to play everyday somewhere and a multi-year contract. Without those two that leaves us with Hector Luna or spending some of our outfielder/pitching bankroll on a player to handle second, or we have to use our precious few trade chips to fill that spot. I still like the idea of hanging onto Grud, his fielding was great and his bat is better than Nunez who regressed toward the mean as the season dragged on last year. If nail down Grud sooner rather than later, they can get started pursuing OF and pitching. However, Grud might not figure to work for $2.5 million in 2006. Depending on what happens on the free agent market, he could go as high as $4 million with the length of the contract being a question mark. You definitely don't want Grud for three years, just to hold the fort for a run at it all in '06, leaving the 2B issue to be dealt with down the road. He can also decide to let the team offer arbitration; that locks him up for a year, but at what salary? Signing Nunez most likely means offering him a starting job and a three year contract. Then, should the Cards have the opportunity to get a younger, more offensively talented 2B during those three years, Nunez becomes a trading chip, a mold he certainly seems to fit. How about you? Which one do you keep? Or let them go and make a move for a Soriano or use your trading chips for a younger, talented, higher profile second baseman that can serve the team over the next three to five years? I remain fairly certain that one of those two will be starting at 2B next year, and that's probably for the best. Now, when Jock can settle with one of those two represents the next question mark. While coming to terms later by no means prevents the pursuit of FAs or trades to fill the OF or round out the pitching staff, but it would help provide a bit more certainty. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

 

For Your Amusement

We here at the Diaspora love immature pranks as much as the next unreformed high school bully. This one takes the anatomically correct bachelorette party cake though... Story courtesy of Deadspin. Read the interview with the sign guy over at Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer.

Monday, November 07, 2005

 

The Whole Box Thing

Today, let's start another round of "wacky, zany" roster talk today around the most tired of all corporate cliches, "thinking outside the box." Rational speculation remains available. Over at Birdos, the Cards' SB Nation rep runsdown of the potential 2006 Cards after a Giles signing, making a good case for it. I still carry some hesitation, but the advantages of it are not trading away our tiny reserve of young talent, and plugging our biggest team hole with the best available. Big brother media makes a very troubling mention in today's PD rundown, "the Cardinals are among those teams interested in the availability of Los Angeles Angels outfielders Steve Finley and Darin Erstad." Oh God, no. If those slugs put on a Cardinals uniform this year, there's reason to believe that Jock's body has been taken over by Jim Bowden. Pick up a few more "control specialists" for the rotation and that would be confirmed. Seriously, you really couldn't do much worse than signing these two. Trading a bag of balls would make us the looser in that deal. That's thinking outside the box in a bad way. The same sentence also reveals an interest in Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns, certainly more palatable than the two OC Angels. At first thought, this next idea is going to seem like getting that ugly sweater from your grandmother at Christmas, but remember, we're thinking outside the box here, even the most absurd ideas will be entertained before being shouted down. The Dodgers are reportedly willing to trade Mr. Attitude, Milton Bradley for cheap, just to get rid of the club house cancer. He's got talent, but lacks what you might call a winning personality. If the Cards could get him for Ray King, is it worth it, worth it should they loose out on the Giles sweepstakes? I have my doubts; it seems like another Ron Gant calling LaRussa a racist situation waiting to happen. It would, however, beat trading anything for Finely or Erstad. Given the Cards zero dissent policy, it seems mighty unlikely. Alright, here's a couple more quick and crazy thoughts. Depending on what happens through free agent signings, consider trading players that seem untouchable. If we got another quality starter, I say shop Mulder. Might sound stupid now, but if we got a young stud to play second base for the next five years I don't think you would be as likely to remember the original trade that brought Mulder here in the first place. Early last year, rumors floated around about trading Edmonds. Now, the situation for trading him before the season starts is hard to imagine; it would mean getting Giles and probably another position guy. However, if you could get a star second baseman or a Vernon Wells to replace the beloved Jimmy in CF... Crazy thought, I know, but come July there could be several situations making it more of a possibility. Any thoughts? Have you envisioned any kind of roster scenarios that might get you verbally beaten to a pulp on talk radio? If we're really committed to winning, then outside of Carp or Pujols I would say nobody should be seen as untouchable. Besides, this is the internet, wherelse can we float wild innuendo and speculation?

Friday, November 04, 2005

 

A Tony Tradition

Tony Womack that is. The New York Post reports that the Yankees are going to fill a shopping cart full of relievers, including one Julian Tavarez. (It is the New York Post though.) Will he be able to repeat the success Tony Womack had moving to the Bronx? More Giles Rumors circulating around the web indicate that the Cards aren't the only team interested in Brian Giles (surprise!). The Padres' offer of 3 years/$21 million was "not close." Other deep pocket teams interested include the Red Sox, Dodgers (Giles is from SoCal), I can't find an audio link to it, but you should be hearing the beginning of Pink Floyd's "Money" in your head...you know the part with the cash register noise and the dum-da-da-dum base line. [just turn on you local classic rock station, it'll probably play at least once in the next hour]. If you're a Padres fan, how pissed are you right now that you traded Jason Bay for Giles? It's got to be even more pissed than Cards fans who watched Haren, Barton and Calero get traded for Mulder. The MLB General Managers meetings are less than two weeks away (Nov. 16-17), and free agents start discussing prices with other clubs come Nov. 11. (The same date, by the way, that the Cards have to come to terms with Grud, since they agreed not to offer him arbitration as part of his one year, contract.)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

 

Diverging Career Paths

The Cards picked up the $4 million option on Suppan's contract for 2006. Smart move. For a back of the rotation starter, Suppan is remarkably consistent. Lots of teams, including those with various takes on a "Big Three," the four and five starters give meaning to the term "replacement player." More often than not, they send one of those guys to the mound and hope for the best, not knowing which pitcher will show up. The key to the strength of our starting rotation lies in our ability to send a guy like Suppan to the mound; he's no Cy Young candidate, but he gives his team the chance to win almost every time.

Signing Suppan also indicates the Cards have reconciled themselves to a 2006 season without Matt Morris. Supposedly, the Rockies are interested. The way he started to give up home runs after the All-Star break last year, that doesn't seem like the best fit for Matty. Of course, if he's a big jam band fan, you can't do much better than Colorado, until Vermont gets a team I guess. With some sentimentality for the long-time Redbird, I hope, for his sake, he doesn't go to Denver. If he does, he'll pitch there for a couple years, suffer the effects of being an established starter who starts half his games at Coors. From there, he'll wind up as a "project" for some team looking to save money, until he finally disappears out of the league.

MLB's Baseball Academy in "inner-city" (a most unfortunate, loaded term) Los Angeles opens early next year. Hopefully, it has a long term, positive impact on building the sport's popularity in the African-American community.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

 

St. Brian?

At the risk of being unpopular (more so), I feel the need to express my personal concerns over signing Brian Giles. The darling of the free agent market this year, he’s been coveted by Cards fans as replacement to Larry Walker, and the left handed hitting angel that will deliver a World Champion flag to a spiffy new Busch Stadium. I’m dubious. There’s no debating Giles’ numbers, they’re great. His OBP consistently tops .400, and his OPS rarely goes south of .900. His home run numbers have dropped through the last three seasons, a trend that started before he called spacious Petco Park home, but he remains a consistently good hitter. However, Giles turns 35 in January, hardly making him decrepit, but definitely making his age a factor. The hustling, committed style of play Giles brings to the field enters into the equation as well by increasing the chance of injury to his aging body. The risk of injury, in and of itself, is hardly the most compelling reason to stay out of the Giles sweepstakes, but I would definitely keep it mind when talking contracts with him. A brand new, hot-shot right fielder sitting on the bench with some kind of back or knee injury can hardly be considered part of a championship formula. Didn’t we have a multi-million dollar, big name right fielder this year? How did that work out for us in the end? Part two of the argument comes down to money. Giles made $8 million with the Padres last season. Being the class of the free agent market means teams will be tripping over themselves to push that number up. Accountants and lawyers for several teams sit ready to write Giles a contract for two, probably three years at $10 million or more per season. That’s insane. If the Cardinals sign Giles, be prepared for some quality “rebuilding” time down the road. Of course, things might not work out that way. (Anyone miss having Jim Leyland as a special assignment scout yet? You will.) The Giles auction presents a tough choice for the Cards. One the one hand, the roster we have now offers an immediate shot at a championship, and the Cards have been chasing that and coming close for the better part of the last 10 years. On the other hand, the team has to invest a boat load of cash right now, with no guarantees, and face an outfield staffed by ghosts come 2008. But there might be another way… [update] one thing I would propose is going after Aubrey Huff in the trade market. He's younger, proven and could be the kind of player that would thrive in the Cards' system. And reducing the fans' pain of rebuilding when the geriatrics in the OF burn out soon. Cards fandom, weigh in. Do you think Giles is a good idea? Good idea at 3 years, $30 million?

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