St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rich Hill and Rick Ankiel

So we signed Rich Hill last week...

I'm torn on this one. A pro is that he was a pretty low-risk option for the Cardinals. He was signed to a minor league contract so even if it blows up on us, it really isn't that big of a deal.

Dave Duncan is the best in baseball at reviving pitchers, there isn't any doubt about that - he's showed that with Joel Pineiro, Ryan Franklin, John Smoltz, etc. However, Pineiro and Franklin are a little different than Rich Hill. Hill developed serious control problems in '08, not entirely different from Rick Ankiel's a few years ago. We couldn't solve Ankiel's problem, so I'm not sure how we're going to solve Rich Hill's, maybe we could make him into an outfielder...yeah right. Dave Duncan is excellent at diagnosing mechanical issues with a pitcher, and if that's all Hill's problem is, then great, it might work out. I fear, however, that Hill's issues are more on the mental side of things. If he does succeed, and is able to return to his '07 form (11-8, 3.92 ERA), then he would be an ideal 5th starter as well as our only left handed starter.

It's a little late, but I am sad to see Rick Ankiel leave, though not surprised. Ankiel deserves one last shot at being a starting outfielder and, unfortunately, we couldn't offer him that. I think his down season last year was mostly due to his injury; I attribute his hot finish to the fact that he was finally healthy. I sincerely hope he can revive his career yet again in Kansas City. I have no doubt I am speaking for Cardinal Nation when I say this: I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Rick Ankiel - Farewell 24.

They were showing the '06 NLCS Game 7 on the MLB Network today - everyday something new gets me siked for the 2010 season. Give "Margaritaville" a listen today - it will put you in a "summery" mood for four minutes and nine seconds. Have a great weekend guys.

Friday, January 29, 2010

All-Decade Team

Hey Guys, today we're going to take a look at my all decade team for the first decade of the 2000's.

SP - Chris Carpenter
RP - Jason Isringhausen
C - Yadier Molina
1B - Albert Pujols
2B - Tony Womack
3B - Scott Rolen
SS - Edgar Renteria
LF - Matt Holliday
CF - Jim Edmonds
RF - Ryan Ludwick

Starting Pitcher - To me, this is pretty much a no brainer. Carp has gone 68-24 in 6 seasons with the Cardinals and posted a 2.91 ERA. He's been the anchor of our starting rotation since he's been here and been one hell of a leader - the whole clubhouse has missed him when he's been hurt and our record has been reflective of it.

Relief Pitcher - This was a little tougher choice but Izzy was a special closer when he was healthy. In 7 seasons, he went 17-20 with a 2.98 ERA, and I believe that he pitched better than his statistics show. He was hurt and missed the playoffs when we won the Series in '06 and didn't pitch well in the playoffs in '04 but I still believe he was the best relief pitcher of the decade.

Catcher - This was between Molina and Mike Matheny. They both have been exceptional defensively but Molina has been a better hitter. Still, if you've read Three Nights in August you realize how important Mike was to the Cardinals' teams of the early 2000's. The hitting made the choice for me - Molina it is.

First Base - No contest here. Albert has been everything you could ask for with the Cardinals hitting .334 and 336 Homeruns with the Cards in nine seasons. Oh yeah, and he also plays Gold Glove defense too.

Second Base - This was a very tough choice for me and I chose a player who only played one season in St. Louis. Womack was instrumental in our World Series run in '04 hitting .307 during the regular season. He was above-average at second base and provided a veteran presence in the clubhouse.

Third Base - Scott was really good when he was healthy but, like a lot of the players on this list, was plagued by injuries late in his Cardinals career. He hit .286 in six seasons in St. Louis and won four Gold Gloves.

Shortstop - Edgar Renteria was considered to be the next great shortstop when he left St. Louis after the 2004 season. Sure, his career has fallen off a cliff since then, but that doesn't diminish what he did in St. Louis - a .290 average in six seasons and two Gold Gloves.

Left Field - If you think about it, there really isn't a great candidate for this spot. Ray Lankford? Reggie Sanders? I think its Matt Holliday. He hasn't played very long in St. Louis but I don't know if we make the playoffs without him last year. Albert began to slump after the All-Star Break and Holliday took an immense load of his shoulders.

Center Field - Again, no contest. Edmonds played eight seasons in St. Louis and had one of the most beautiful swings I've ever seen. That swing earned him a .290 average with the Cardinals and 241 homeruns. He also captured six Gold Glove awards roaming the outfield at Busch.

Right Field - Like left field, there really wasn't a great choice for right either. Ludwick came out of nowhere in 2008 to hit .299 and 37 homeruns. He's bounced around the order in three seasons in St. Louis and produced wherever he's been asked to hit. I expect big things from Ryan in the 2010's decade.

Your thoughts?

That's all for today guys. Its 45 degrees up here today and its starting to feel a little bit like Spring. The anthem of the day is "Amarillo by Morning" by George Strait. Hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why I'm a Cardinals Fan

I wasn't born a Cardinals fan. I'm not from St. Louis - I've never even lived in St. Louis. My parents weren't Cardinals fans. So why am I a Cardinals fan? I'm afraid the answer is more complex than I can explain, but I'm going to give it my best effort.

I was born in Chicago in 1990. My Dad was a Cubs fan. I never really liked the Cubs. Growing up, I watched the Cubs on WGN 9 with my Dad all the time, but I never got attached to them, I never got into them. For 10 or 11 years, I didn't even really have a favorite team. If I had to pick one, it probably would have been the White Sox, but I hate the American League almost as much as I hate astroturf. The Cubs just played such bad baseball. They played like an American League team - high priced homerun hitters, inept managers, a complete lack of defense, no concept of bunting - it was hard to watch. I never had the strongest arm or the most power growing up, I certainly didn't have great speed. I had to do all of the little things right to play everyday. How could I watch and cheer for a team that cared nothing about the things I worked so hard at - things like baserunning, defensive skills, and bunting? I was desperate to find a team that exemplified all of the traits I valued.

Then, when I was 14, I went to a Cardinals-Astros game in Houston. Chris Carpenter was on the mound against Andy Pettitte. Carp went 8 innings and didn't give up a run and the Cards won 2-0. David Eckstein played shortstop. You hear of a five tool player? Eckstein might have had two tools. He worked and scraped for everything. He never quit. He never stopped playing. Yadier Molina caught. Being a catcher, I noticed everything about him. The way he prepared before the game, playing long toss. How he blocked balls even when runners weren't on base. He was my kind of player. Then there was Albert. Everything was so effortless. He went 2-4 with an RBI and saved his infielders from two or three errors. My Dad and I listened to the post-game press conference driving home and he talked about how the defensive plays meant more to him than his double. That meant so much to me.

As much as I loved watching the Cardinals, I didn't become a fan that day. It wasn't instant, it was far more gradual. I started watching more and more games. I started waiting up and watching the 10 o'clock edition of Baseball Tonight to see how the Cardinals did. When I woke up in the morning, I'd get on the internet and check out the box score to see how Albert did the night before. I went to Hat World in the mall and bought an authentic Blue Cardinals Road Hat. A year or so later, I was sold. I loved how La Russa managed. I loved how business-like all of the players were. I loved small ball. I loved how Walt Jocketty built the Cardinals. He didn't go out and pay tens of millions for mid-thirty year olds, he grew a farm system. He developed talent from within. I loved how good of a defensive catcher Yadier was...I would so much rather have an excellent defensive, average hitting catcher than the other way around. I bought the extra-innings package so I could watch the Cardinals every night. It was so great - my summer team's games started at about 5:30 and we'd be done by 7:30 or 8. The Cardinals started at 7:05 Central Time, but since I lived in the Eastern Time Zone I could watch virtually every game, every night. I learned so much baseball watching the Cardinals and listening to Dan Mclaughlin and Al Hrabosky. I was completely hooked.

It hit me when Walt Jocketty was fired in 2007. What is going to happen when all of these guys who make the Cardinals what they are - guys like Jocketty, La Russa, Pujols, Molina, etc. - what's going to happen when they're gone? It truly made me question my Cardinals fandom. I was scared that I was merely a fan of Jocketty, and La Russa, and Pujols, and Molina, etc., not the Cardinals organization. After a while of thinking, I realized that as much as I am a fan of the aforementioned men, I am more a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals' culture. Every organization has a culture. The New York Mets have that second-rate, junior-varsity culture characterized by that goofy "Meet the Mets" theme song. On the contrary, the Yankees have a very dignified, prestigious, classy culture characterized by their facial hair policy and their pinstripe uniforms. The Cubs had a losing culture that I could not buy into, but the Cardinals, the Cardinals have a special culture.

The Cardinals culture is defined by success and loyalty. Cardinal fans are the best in baseball, and, because St. Louis was the most Westward franchise for 50 years, Cardinal fans are found everywhere. I'm a freshman on a college baseball team and two of my teammates are Cardinals fans. One is from Spokane, Washington, and the other is from Las Cruses, New Mexico. Cardinals fans can literally be found everywhere. It's more than that though. I was so concerned the organizational philosophy would change when Jocketty was replaced by Mozeliak...but it didn't. I shouldn't have doubted that they would find a guy who would carry on the same philosophy. For a while I worried the team would change drastically when La Russa leaves (which hopefully won't be for a long time). I am fully confident the front office will find the right guy to manage the Cards whenever Tony decides to hang it up. The people may change, but the organization doesn't. One of the most puzzling questions in all of baseball is how St. Louis can convince free agents to play for the Cardinals for less money. The answer is they love the Cardinals culture. They love playing in St. Louis. I am so convinced that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts in St. Louis. Jocketty hasn't nearly replicated the success he had with the Cardinals in Cincinnati. Every year, Dave Duncan finds a washed up guy and transforms him into an above average pitcher - two years ago it was Joel Pineiro, last year it was Ryan Franklin. Who knows, maybe that guy will be Rich Hill this year. There is not a culture in baseball I am more in love with than the culture of the St. Louis Cardinals'. There is not a better culture in all of Major League Baseball than the St. Louis Cardinals'.

That's all for today guys. We're inside a month until pitchers and catchers report! The anthem of the day is "Your Hand in Mine" by Explosions in the Sky.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ludwick and Lineup

Hey Guys,

Well we signed Ryan Ludwick today to a 1 year, $5.45 million deal...avoiding arbitration. Did we overpay for him? Probably...Ludwick hit .265 with 22 homers and 97 RBI. It's a lot of money for a guy with those statistics, but arbitration is an ugly process and I'm sure the Cards' Brass and Ryan Ludwick were both happy to avoid it. Plus, he's only a year removed from a near .300 season.

Well, I am long overdue to project my Cardinals lineup for the 2010 season. For starters, a lot of you have asked if I think the pitcher will hit in the 8-spot this year. I don't foresee that happening. When Tony used the pitcher in the 8-hole, it was to have a second leadoff hitter in the 9-spot, virtually making Albert a clean-up hitter after the first time through the order. Will Holliday in that 4-spot, I no longer see this to be necessary. Each spot lower in the order gets, on average, 30-40 less at bats per season than the spot above it (the 8 hitter hits 30-40 more times per year than the 9 hitter). Because of this, it natrually makes sense to have your weakest hitter hit 9th, which is why most teams bat their pitcher onto the lineup.

1. S. Schumaker 2B
2. C. Rasmus CF
3. A. Pujols 1B
4. M. Holliday LF
5. R. Ludwick RF
6. Y. Molina C
7. D. Freese 3B
8. B. Ryan SS
9. Pitcher

1. For starters, I see this lineup being the same regardless of whether we are facing a RHP or LHP. Some people have talked about inserting Lugo in at 2nd and in the leadoff spot against LHP because Skip only hit .220 against left handed pitchers last year, but I don't see this least in the beginning of the season. Skip is a definite defensive upgrade at second and I think La Russa will give him the opportunity to hit left handed pitchers.

2. Ideally, you'd like to break up Schumaker and Rasmus because they are the only two left handed bats in the order, but I don't see this being possible. I toyed around with the idea switching Rasmus and Ryan...but Tony likes to have some power in the two spot and Brendan has 7 career home runs.

3. Pujols is and will be in the 3-spot as long as he is a Cardinal.

4. Holliday is the ideal clean-up hitter, protecting Albert and hitting with power.

5. Ludwick may get some at-bats in the two spot, but the majority of its AB's will come in the 5-hole.

6. Molina hits well enough to warrant being in the 6-spot...and there really isn't another candidate. Freese will be best in the 7-hole until he can prove he can hit major league pitching.

7. The 7-hole is a safer spot to hit Freese in than the 8-spot because, in the National League, there is a lot of pressure for the 8-hitter to get on base when there are two outs so the pitcher does not lead off the next inning.

8. Ryan is a perfect 8-hitter - little power, but a consistent hitter. Like Yadier, he rarely strikes out.

Only 28 more days until pitchers and catchers report! Our first spring-training game is only a little over a month away! The song for the evening is "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac. That's all for now guys.


Monday, January 11, 2010

McGwire Reaction

Hey Guys,

So I had planned to project the Cardinals 2010 lineup/order today, but breaking news and interesting press conferences don't happen all that often this time of year, so when they do just gotta go with it.

Mark McGwire admitted steroid use on a conference call earlier today, and then again in an interview with Bob Costas a few minutes ago on the MLB Network. I've got a few reactions.

First, why now? Well that's pretty obvious, he had to make some sort of statement or he and the Cardinals would have been distracted by steroid questions deep into the summer. The more interesting question is, if he had not been named the Cardinals Hitting Coach, would he have been this forthcoming with information about his usage? McGwire is a very private person, and if you listened to the conference call today, you could tell how broken up he was about it. His voice cracked several times and you could tell how hard it was for him to share all of this. One starts to realize why he went into seclusion after his retirement; he was deeply ashamed by his steroid use.

Second, how does McGwire fit in with other players in his era? Baseball is a game of eras, whether historians want to admit it or not. Nobody views the Earned Run Average's of pitchers being ridiculous during the dead ball era, or during the 1960's. Nobody questions the legitimacy of Bob Gibson's 1968 (the "Year of the Pitcher) statistics. Gibson was throwing off a 15 inch mound to a strike-zone the size of a plasma television. Nobody challenged his ungodly ERA of 1.12. McGwire became a scapegoat of the steroid-era because he was one of the first associated with the juice. He was also one of the most successful. Until a year or two ago, McGwire and Barry Bonds were the faces of steroids. After Jose Canseco's books and the Mitchell Report, that has changed. Now guys you never would have expected to be juicing were implicated, guys like A-Rod and Manny Ramirez. Suddenly, McGwire's statistics don't look so ridiculous. Suddenly, Big Mac doesn't look so bad.

Finally, how will St. Louis and all of the MLB remember McGwire. Cardinal fans are the best in the game. I don't care what anyone says. I've been a lot of Major League cities and none of them are as crazy about their team as St. Louis. Sorry Yankee and Red Sox fans, that means you too. Cardinal fans also tend to be blindly forgiving, and I think that is how they will treat McGwire. He was given a standing ovation in 2006 when he returned to Busch for the final game at the old stadium, and I believe that after this confession, the Cardinals will love Big Mac forever. Baseball fans as a whole tend to be quite forgiving. Andy Pettite is looked at like a stand-up guy after his confession. Nobody remembers just how deep the hatred for Alex Rodriguez was in February. I believe McGwire will be forgiven in the same manner. Does this mean he will get into the Hall of Fame? I don't know. Probably not. If La Russa plays him this fall and his HOF clock starts over, that will certainly improve his chances. Ultimately, I believe McGwire will go down much more like Pettite and Rodriguez, and much less like Roger Clemens. I believe he's going to be a hell of a hitting coach too.

That's all for tonight guys. I'll project the lineup/order sometime later this week. You guys are the best.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pitching Staff...Various Scenarios

Hey guys,

Today I'm going to break down our pitching staff. I have concocted three possible scenarios and how they would affect our rotation and bullpen.

Scenario 1 : No Free Agent Pitcher is signed.

Starting Rotation: 1. Carpenter, 2. Wainwright, 3. Penny, 4. Lohse, and 5. Hawksworth/Boggs/Garcia/McCllelan

The first four starters are pretty much set no matter who we sign or don't sign. I doubt Blake Hawksworth would get the 5th starters role under this scenario, because he was so effective last year in that 8th inning role, Jaime Garcia would be my favorite candidate, but La Russa has already said he will proceed with extreme caution with Jaime after coming off of Tommy John surgery. It'd be nice to have a left handed starter though. Mitchell Boggs pitched okay last year, posting a 4.19 ERA in 58 innings - he seems to be the early favorite. Kyle McClellan has been talked about, but I don't think this is likely. He hasn't started a game in his Major League career and hasn't been a starting pitcher since 2006.

Bullpen - Closer - Franklin, Set-Up - Hawksworth, Middle Relief - McClellan, Middle Relief - Trever Miller, Middle Relief - Jason Motte, Middle Relief - Dennys Reyes, Long Relief - Ben Jukich.

Franklin will obviously be given a chance to be the closer again this year. Hawksworth was very good in that 8th inning role last year, as I said above. Middle relief should be no surprise, other than Motte, all the others were pretty consistent last year. The wildcard is Ben Jukich, our rule 5 draft pick from Cincinnati. We can release him at anytime, but as long as he's with us, he has to be active on our Major League roster. I would assume that we wouldn't have drafted him unless we were planning on using him. He was a starter last year in AAA for Cincinnati, posting a 9-6 record and a 4.10 ERA. He will eat up innings out of our bullpen.

Scenario 2 - We sign a free agent starting pitcher.

Rotation would be the same with the free agent sliding into the 5 spot. The bullpen would be virtually the same too. I'm afraid that means Boggs and Garcia would both find themselves starting the season in Memphis.

Scenario 3 - We sign a free agent reliever.

I would assume that if we spent money on a free agent reliever, he would be a late inning guy. The first four spots in the rotation would be the same, but Blake Hawksworth would become our fifth starter. He was a starter in the minors and there were whispers about converting him back into a starter before we signed Smoltz last year. As a starter in AAA in 2009, he had a 3.58 ERA. The kid is a winner. I'm sure he'd make a fine starter. The free agent would move into the set up role and also act as an insurance policy should anything happen to Franklin.

Possible Free Agent Signees -

John Smoltz - Smoltz has hinted that he would like to come back to St. Louis; at this point in his career, he wants to play for a championship contender. He also has a good relationship with Dave Duncan. I think he would be a great fit for St. Louis, and St. Louis for him, but he would have to accept a very incentive-laden contract.

Noah Lowry - He hasn't pitched since 2007 so he might come cheap, but his durability is a question mark. In his last full major league season, he was 14-8 with a 3.92 ERA for the Giants. With Boggs, Garcia, and P.J. Walters in Memphis, the Cardinals have enough room for error to take a gamble on someone like Noah Lowry.

Joel Pineiro - He is a type B free agent and is reportedly looking for a 4-year deal. He is not in the Cardinals price range.

Vicente Padilla - The Cardinals saw how dominant Padilla could be in the Division series last year, and he posted a 12-6 record and a 4.46 ERA combined with the Rangers and Dodgers. There were murmurs earlier in the offseason that he might be coming to St. Louis but nothing has happened thus far. My prediction is that, whomever he signs with, it will be late in the offseason. Padilla is higher on himself than anyone is on him, and probably thinks he's worth more money than what he'll actually get.

As far as relievers go, your guess is as good as mine. I wouldn't rule out Octavio Dotel, but his asking price might be a little steep.

Over The Hills and Far Away is the anthem of the evening. I love Zeppelin. Have a great night everybody.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


No Cardinal's posts today. Its been a hectic day with a blizzard and a funeral. Tomorrow I'm going to look at our pitching staff; Monday I'll give my best guess at the lineup/order. Your thoughts?

The song for today is Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain - Willie Nelson...Have a great weekend everybody

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Holliday, McGwire and the Bench

Hey Guys,

Entertaining National Championship game. Texas is making a comeback. I feel so badly for Colt McCoy - what a tough way for a great career to end. Roll Tide!

Matt Holliday was formally reintroduced to the Cardinal's media and fans today. Nothing too spectacular to touch on, pretty normal press conference. Matt will change his number from 15 to 7. Holliday also said that the Cardinals commitment to winning and Albert Pujols were two factors that influenced him to stay.

Tony La Russa said today that he expects Mark McGwire to break his silence soon, possibly by the end of the month. No date has been set for his introduction as the Cardinal's Hitting Coach. According to the New York Daily News, ( La Russa also said that he would consider putting McGwire on the expanded roster come August 31, 2010. This could get interesting.

As far as the bench goes, there are still more questions than answers. Our farm system is depleted, ranking 29th out of 30 teams by Baseball America.

Infield - As of right now, we are counting on David Freese to be our everyday third baseman. The two other young infielders on the 40-Man Roster, Tyler Greene (108 MLB AB's, .222, 2 HR, 7 RBI ) and Mark Hamilton (0 MLB AB's), are virtually untested at the Major League level. Greene will be given the opportunity to make the club as a utility infielder. He is very good defensively and hit .277 in his two years in Memphis. I expect him to be on the opening day roster. Hamilton, however, is a first baseman. Unless something unexpected happens to Pujols, we won't be needing a first baseman for quite a while in St. Louis. The Cardinals will also carry Julio Lugo as a utility infielder to start the year who can spell Schmaker, Ryan, and Freese.

Outfield - I assume the Cardinals will carry 12 pitchers, 2 Catchers, and 6 Infielders...which leaves room for 5 outfielders. Holliday, Rasmus, and Ludwick will have three of the spots, so there are two positions up for grabs.

On the 40-Man right now, the Cardinals have Allen Craig, Daryl Jones, and Jon Jay, all of whom have no MLB experience, as well as Joe Mather, Shane Robinson, and Nick Stavinoha, who have a combined 302 Major League At-Bats among them. Because of this, I expect the Cardinals to go out into free agency and sign another outfielder. I do, however, expect St. Louis to break camp with one of these six outfielders on the active roster, probably Stavinoha or Jon Jay. Allen Craig has a promising bat but no position, Daryl Jones is still too young, Mather was hurt for most of '09, and Shane Robinson struggled in Memphis last season.

The case for Stavinoha is that he has played more than 300 games at the AAA level hitting .293 in that time with above average power. The knock on Stavinoha is that he won't take walks. The case for Jay is that he can play all three outfield positions, hit .288 in 152 games in Memphis, and stole 20 bases last season. His on-base percentage is also higher than Stavinoha's.

In looking to free agency to fill the last outfield spot, I imagine the Cardinals will look for a player who has played or can play all three outfield spots, especially considering the questions surrounding Colby Rasmus's durability.

Three players come to mind: Randy Winn, Ryan Church, and Reed Johnson. Upside - Winn would seem to be the Cardinals first choice - another veteran in the clubhouse and a switch hitter off the bench. Downside - Winn only hit .158 against left-handed pitching last year and might not sign somewhere he knows he will be the fourth outfielder. Ryan Church, I believe, is the most likely option. He is a career .272 hitter and has enough speed to get by anywhere in the outfield. He also seems to be the most comfortable of the three options as the fourth outfielder. The last option is Reed Johnson who hit .255 with the Cubs in limited action in '09. Johnson is a career .282 hitter who is an excellent defensive outfielder. The final plus for Johnson is that he is a former Cub, and don't we all enjoy seeing former Cubs come to St. Louis and play well? I would love to see Randy Winn in Cardinal red, but I think Ryan Church is the most likely option. Your thoughts?

Sorry for the Stat overload today guys...I dislike next level statistics as much as anyone. Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells is the anthem of this honor of the Alabama National Championship. That's all for tonight.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Holliday and Hall

More information on the Matt Holliday deal:

He passed the physical today, which was the last foreseeable roadblock. The official press conference will likely take place sometime tomorrow. Though the exact time is not known, it should take place sometime in the afternoon. Bad weather in St. Louis is the reason for all the uncertainty. 

Interesting piece on pro's and con's of Holliday deal -

Chuck Brownson (The Hardball Times) looks at the Sabermetrics of the deal ( concludes that  Holliday is only worth 112.91 million based on various statistical studies and projections. Garbage. Absolute garbage. I'm not saying that, in the end, this won't be true, but we have no way of knowing this. Baseball is a game played on the field, not through computer models. The fact of the matter is that the Cardinals are a significantly better team today with Holliday than we were yesterday without him.

On to the the Hall of Fame. Mark McGwire (23.7%) and Lee Smith (47.3%) both fell well short of the 75% necessary to gain induction. Both, however, improved their tallies from last season: McGwire going from 118 to 128 votes, Smith going from 240 to 255 votes. Only Andre Dawson gained enough votes this year to be admitted to the Hall. Robbie Alomar and Bert Blyleven fail just short. Both, likely, will gain induction next year.

Tomorrow we will go through the Cardinals bench options for 2010. I've been listening to C'mon C'mon by the Von Bondies all night, which was the theme song for the MLB Networks 30 Clubs in 30 Days Spring Training show last year. I'm siked. Only 43 more days guys, hang in there. 


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cardinals Offseason

Its been a busy offseason. A lot has changed and nothing has changed at the same time. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and have a happy new year.

With the signing of Holliday today, the Cardinals appear to be set at 7 positions (Holliday in left, Rasmus in Center, Ludwick in Right. Brendan Ryan at SS, Schumaker at 2B, Pujols at 1B, and Molina catching.). Third base is the only question. I don't take this Miguel Tejada talk seriously. Brendan Ryan had a fine year last year at shortstop. He won't drive in as many runs or hit as many bombs as Tejada but he's far better defensively and, unlike Tejada, we know exactly how old Brendan is.

David Freese appears to be the favorite at the moment to win the third-base job, despite his DWI incident last month. The Cardinals signing of Holliday virtually rules out the club looking to free agency for a third baseman. Matthew Leach estimates that the Cardinals have 6-7 million left to spend this year, and I would imagine the bulk of that will be spent on pitching.

Now to the Holliday deal. 7 years, $120 million - could be worth as much as $136 million - also includes a full no-trade clause. I don't anticipate the no-trade clause will be a problem in the future, but it would certainly be nice if that wasn't in there. Holliday is, at best, an average defensive player. If his hitting ever falls off, the Cardinals are going to have a near-impossible time moving him and be on the hook for a lot of money. Having said this, he's only 29, and this doesn't seem likely. All in all, I think this was a very good deal for both sides.

For the rest of the offseason, it'd be nice to see the Cardinals add some pitching. Right now the Cardinals have 4.5 starting pitchers (Carpenter, Wainwright, Penny, Lohse, and Blake Hawksworth/ Mitchell Boggs) and a shaky bullpen. It would be nice to add another starter, which would allow the Cardinals to keep both Blake Hawksworth and Mitchell Boggs in the bullpen for another maturation year, but I would feel comfortable with Hawksworth being the 5th starter - provided we add some bullpen help. Jaime Garcia could also conceivably be our 5th starter...but he's coming off Tommy John surgery. Ryan Franklin had a nice season last year in the closer's role, but no one is sure its duplicatable.

I would grade the Cardinals offseason thus far a B-. Signing Holliday was nice, but we have no clear plan at third base and a depleted pitching staff. The offseason will be considered a success and only a success if we can add a couple more pitchers.

That's all for now guys. 44 days until pitchers and catchers report.