Dscn6288Get Well Soon, Son

Spring Training Arrives

Albert_pujols_021407_chris_lee_post_dispThe Cardinals opened camp on Wednesday February 14, with Pitchers & Catchers as well as a few others reporting.  Albert Pujols, after acing his American Citizenship test showed up with his son A.J., fielding some grounders and spending some time hitting off a tee in the cages.  I feel really good about this upcoming season even though there are 59 players at this point.  By April 1, that number will be whittled down to a mere 25.  Most spots are pretty much spoken for, but there will be plenty of opportunities for the younger players to showcase their skills in the hope of landing a roster spot.  The bullpen has enough arms to stock two teams, and several outfielders could be competing for a few backup roster spots.  The most interesting thing to watch though, will be the pitchers competing for a spot in the rotation.  With Carpenter and Wells being the only sure things, Wainwright (If Izzy’s healthy) and Reyes are pretty much assumed to have a spot as well.  The question then becomes who will be the fifth starter till Mulder returns.  Will it be Looper? Thompson? Franklin?  Those seem to be the three names being tossed around.  We will see.  One thing is for sure, Spring is here, and the time is near when we will Play Ball.

So there you have it….  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me hear from you out there….
Thanks,
Josh
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Ankiel Signs For A Year

Rick_ankielThe Rick Ankiel Saga continued Wednesday, with the Cardinals signing him to a one year minor league deal, with an invitation to spring training.  He missed the entire season in 2006 when he hurt his knee in spring training.  In 2005 he hit .259, 21 HR’s, 75 RBI’s between A and AA ball.  Retiring as a pitcher on March 9, 2005 was his first full year as an outfielder.  I would like to see him make it one day.  He has battled back from anxiety problems to become a respectable minor league outfielder.  We will have to stay tuned to see where he goes next.  My prediction is that he will start the year in Springfield and possibly be promoted to Memphis early in the season.  I sure do miss watching that absolutely nasty curve and breaking ball he had, he was one **** of a pitcher.
So there you have it.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me hear from you out there….
Thanks,
Josh

Rick_ankiel_spring_2005

Another Bullpen Addition??

Ph_2110411_1We just signed Ryan Franklin to a one year deal.  I am not sure what to think about this.  Maybe it is similar to last year’s Jeff Nelson situation, where we see if he fits in during spring training.  But I can’t imagine a single spot on the bullpen roster where he would beat out who we currently have.  He has a lifetime losing record of 41-57.  I have never really been impressed with watching him pitch, but you never know.  Our bullpen already has Randy Flores, Josh Hancock, Tyler Johnson, Randy Keisler, Josh Kinney, Braden Looper, Chris Narveson (possibly), Ricardo Rincon, Brad Thompson, Brian Falkenborg, Russ Springer, and Jason Isringhausen all competing for probably 7 jobs.  Izzy is the closer, so now you are at 6 spots.  So where is an outsider going to come in?  You can pretty much guarantee Tyler Johnson & Randy Flores because we need at least two left handers in the pen.  That means Keisler, who is left handed might end up in Memphis.  So now you are down to 4 spots and Hancock, Kinney, Looper, Rincon, Thompson, Falkenborg, and Springer to choose from.  Springer and Looper are sure things to make the squad, so now you essentially have two spots with Hancock, Kinney, and Thompson fighting for them.  I think Rincon is too old and hasn’t pitched in over a year, and Narveson may be the ace in Memphis so he will continue to build up endurance as a starter in the future.  So you tell me, where would that leave a guy like Franklin?  He may compete for a spot in the rotation, but I don’t see room for him there either now that we have Carpenter, Mulder, Wells, Wainwright, & Reyes.  He started 30 games with the Mariners in 2005 going 8-15 with a 5.10 ERA.  Where will he end up?  Your guess is as good as mine.  In my opinion it doesn’t hurt to sign him, just not sure if we need him.

So there you have it.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me hear from you out there….

Thanks,
Josh

Mulder Stays With Cards

Mark_and_dave_3_8_05_4Mark Mulder just re-signed with the Cardinals about an hour ago.  It was a 2 year deal worth $13 Million, with an option for a third year.  It is an incentive laden contract, that could possibly bring the total contract to $45 million over the 3 year period.  The Mulder signing takes our rotation and makes it that much stronger.  He will not play a full season this year, but I am hoping he pitches about 2/3 of the season. I have heard anything from May till the All Star break as far as speculation for his return.  This gives the Cardinals a rotation of Carpenter, Mulder, Wainwright, Wells, & Reyes.  We still have our other options of Brad Thompson, Braden Looper, or Chris Narveson to fill Mulder’s spot until he returns.  I personally would like to see Narveson given the shot to make the team.  This signing also changes the level of desire for Jeff Weaver.Mark_mulder_041006_4
  I imagine we will still talk to him, but we don’t need him near as bad as we did at this time yesterday.  I knew Walt would come through, and I am tired of all the Cardinals fans who consider our team cheap when it comes to spending money.  I prefer to think of us as smart and prudent.  I have seen crazy money thrown at talent in years past, but this is the first ever off-season where I have seen crazy money thrown at mediocrity.  I mean Gil Meche for around $10 million, give me a break! So I am glad that the Cardinals are willing to spend but spend wisely.  I feel like today we took a big step towards success in ’07.

So there you have it.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me hear from you out there….

Thanks,

Josh

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Miles & Cardinals avoid Arbitration

Aaron_miles_041206 The Cardinals and Aaron Miles agreed to a 1 year deal Monday, just in time to avoid arbitration.  The deadline for signing non contracted players is Monday night at midnight.  He will jump from $350,000 to $1 Million next year.  He deserves every penny of it.  The 29 year old proved himself at 2nd as a starter, backup, and even filled in for about a month at shortstop for Ecskstein.  Aaron Miles hit .263, appearing in 135 games for the Cardinals.  There are also a few bonuses worked in for a certain number of plate appearences.  I would have been happy with him as our everyday 2nd baseman, and I love him being part of next year’s squad.  Here’s to you Aaron, thanks for a great 2006 season, and good luck next year.

So there you have it.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me hear from you out there.
Thanks,
Josh
Aaron_miles_2006

Please NO Pavano

Carl_pavano3This one is a no brainer.  We do NOT want Carl Pavano.  C’mon, I mean, has the  market gotten so bad that we are salivating over an oft-injured pitcher that hasn’t pitched a single inning since June of 2005?  Do we need a guy that is 61-64 lifetime? I mean Jason Marquis at least had a winning record of 56-52.  Carl Pavano is ALWAYS injured, and even witheld information to the team doctors about injuries he got from a car accident.  Do we want that kind of **** on our team? NO, THIS IS A NO BRAINER.  I do not want to see the Cardinals join the crazy club and throw a TON of money at a pitcher with a losing record.  He did have ONE good year, I will give him that.  As a member of the Marlins in 2004 he went 18-8 wigh a 3.00 ERA.  But one good year doesn’t mean he is a stud.  Quite the contrary.  As a member of the World Champion 2003 Marlins he had a losing record.  If we wanted this kind of a pitcher we would have signed Marquis again, and gotten more for less.  Pavano has two years and $22.95 Million left on his contract, and if any team did get him, they would no doubt want the Yankees to absorb much of the cost. Carl_pavano2 He is so terrible that he will probably not even make the rotation on the Yankees, now that they have Pettite and the rights to the Japaneese left hander Kei Igawa.  Mix in Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina and the Yankees are more than eager to unload Pavano.  Not only do we not need Pavano, but the Yankees would most certainly over value him when trading him, which would  mean we would be stuck giving up a lot for nothing.  Remember what we gave up for Mulder (Daric Barton, Kiko Calero, and Den Haren)?  And Pavano is no Mulder.  Some might argue that that trade was a bust.  I personally liked Walt trading for Mulder, and we had no way of knowing what would happen injury wise.  Mulder though was a premier pitcher.  Pavano is most definately not.  Do we really want to lose anyone we have now, for Pavano?  I know we need another starter, but I would move someone from the bullpen to that role before trading my future for a lying loser with a costly paycheck.  Read the article before this one (below it) and see if you don’t think one of those options would be as good as Pavano.  There comes a point where mediocrity can no longer demand such outlandish money.  Having given my opinion on Pavano, there are a few other pitchers on the Cardinals’ radar that wouldn’t be bad options.  Batista will probably sign with the Mariners, but he would have been a better option than Pavano.  And I still maintain that Jeff Weaver is a strong possibility to re-sign with the Cards.  Jeff Weaver has already proven he can flourish under Duncan, so why not get aggressive with him?  My guess is that Scott Boras will focus on his other clients like Zito, then focus on Weaver and when he does, the Cardinals stand a good chance of landing him again.  But no Pavano….no Pavano…

So there you have it.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me hear from you out there….
Thanks,
Josh

From The Bullpen To The Rotation

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Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan have made comments last week about possibly moving some of the members of the bullpen into the rotation.  When discussing the health of Jason Isringhausen, and that if he stays on schedule that he will resume his old duties as the Cardinals closer, prompted the obvious observation that Adam Wainwright would be back into the much depleted rotation.  But even with Carpenter, Reyes, Well, and Wainie, that still leaves a spot.  And with the Cardinals not signing anyone during the winter meetings, the possibility has been discussed of moving someone from the ‘pen to the rotation.  The main one discussed was Looper, and LaRussa and Duncan even spoke to him about it after the World Series and he seemed open to it.  They also mentioned Brad Thompson and Josh Kinney.  I also added Chris Narveson and Josh Hancock, and would like to discuss the what if they did switch to starters scenarios one by one.

First a general comment on the prices being paid for pitching this off-season and the economics of baseball.  I have no problem with premium money being paid for premium talent.  But this off-season I have started to see some teams shell out some big bucks for mediocre talent.  A .500 picther can attract upwards of $10 Million per year in some cases.  I am glad that the Cardinals are willing to spen money only when it makes sense.  Many of you may argue we should have won the Schmidt sweepstakes or should go harder after Zito, Suppan, etc. and I can’t say that I 100% disagree, but there comes a point, ecomically if for no other reason, when a ballclub can get the same result from promoting younger cheaper talent than they can in the Free Agent Market.  I mean, why pay between $8 – 10 Million for a pitcher that will lose as many games as he will win.  In most cases, a club’s top AAA Pitcher could come in and give you that type of success for the major league minimum salary of just a few hundred thousand dollars.  I am not saying that day is here yet, for clubs to decide to do that, but the economics of the game will force this.  As prices rise, demands will go down when the caliber of product is the same or less than the product you already own.  This may be the thinking behind the comments of La Russa, Duncan, and Jocketty.  I mean why pay more for Gil Meche (11-8) or for Jason Marquis (14-16) or Ted Lilly (25-24 the last two years) when you can get those same results for less.  Has pitching become that hard to find? I jut don’t believe so.  The Cardinals have Adam Wainwright & Anthony Reyes slotted for their rotation next year who made a combined $654,000.  I know every team doesn’t have a Wainwright and Reyes, but there seems to be a big pay gap between $654,000 for two pitchers, compared to possibly $20 Million, and a not so big gap between the production.  When that day comes, it will almost be as if you are moving people through a program similar to college programs, rebuilding when the pitchers become too expensive as if they are graduating seniors of sorts.  Maybe the prices will have to come back down then.  It is interesting and frustrating at the same time.  I hope the Cardinals do sign another picther, but I am glad that they have limits to their spending.  I almost laugh when I see teams bidding for Gil Meche as if he were Roger Clemens or Chris Carpenter.  Anyway, back to the subject at hand.  What if….

1.  Adam Wainwright – Adam_2
I think Wainwright will be a superstar whether he is the Closer or a Starter.  His stuff is just too nasty not to be.  I have watched that last at bat of the NLCS against Beltran over and over, and that last curve was just wicked.  Same story in Game 5 of the World Series.  He has a full arsenal of pitches and mixes them well.  He was a starter for Memphis, pitching 182 innings in 2005, so he will just need to get readjusted to starting, he has the innings in him.  Hands down, he would be the most successful of the pack if moved to the rotation, which is all but certain.

 

2.  Braden Looper –  Braden_looper_1
This one is interesting.  His longest outing of his entire career was 3 innings, in this years’ NLCS.  He has hundreds of appearences all in relief.  I think he could be at least a .500 pitcher though, he has a good mix of pitches and the maturity not to get too rattled.  This could go either way.  If it didn’t work out, he is still a valuable member of the bullpen.  He is a veteran with a good attitude and I would like to see what can happen here.

 

3.  Brad Thompson – Brad_thompson_1
He holds the Southern League record of 57.1 scoreless innings.  He was a starter for most of his professional career, until making the big leagues.  He could very easily slip back into that role, and has even made a spot start for the Cardinals in the past.  He would be a good option to move into the rotation.  He has gone for several innings several times for the Cards so stretching him out shouldn’t be that hard.

 

4.  Josh Kinney –  Josh_kinney_photo_1
Too soon to tell in my opinion.  It wasn’t long ago that he was pitching in the independent leagues, and while he impressed me in the post-season, I am going to reserve judgement until I see more from him.  I have seen him pitch in Memphis and St. Louis and I like what I see so far.  Out of this group he would be a longshot to make the rotation if you had to choose one spot as it stands now.  His talent is obvious though, by the way he carried himself in the post-season.

 

5.  Chris Narveson – Chris_narveson_1
I really like this guy.  Kind of reminds me of John Tudor.  He is a lefty with good location and movement.  He started for Memphis this past year and sported a 2.81 ERA and a 8-5 record.  On a lesser team, he would be in line for a chance at starting.  It is too soon to just hand over a spot to him, he might be in the same spot that Brad Thompson was in when he first made the big leagues, bullpen by default.  But one day, he very well could start.   He is an option and I would maybe consider leaving him in Memphis if you don’t put him in the rotation, just to keep him used to starting.  He is a future starter.

 
6.  Josh Hancock –  Josh_h_3
He has started 12 games in his career, and I just threw him in here on a hunch.  He stepped in and pitched really well on several occasions.  He was our "oh ****" pitcher, when our starter would get roughed up and yanked earlier than expected a few times last year.  But the flip side is, I have seen him get hit pretty hard too.  The former Auburn standout is a good addition to any team and I think he would be able to make the jump to starter as far as endurance, that isn’t the issue.  But he needs to add a pitch and work with Duncan if he were to ever be a full time starter.  He is another long shot.

All in All, this may be unnecessary if the Cardinals acquire another starter or two.  Either way, I see Wainwright as one of the starters.  I would have loved to see him remain our closer, but that isn’t going to happen.  I will easily get over it though, as I watch him become in time, one of the best pitchers in the league as a starter.  I will write more about the rotation and bullpen, but for now, these are my thoughts.
So there you have it.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me hear from you out there….
Thanks,
Josh

 

 

Here’s To You Mike

36e35eca5182449897a8700ed8d5f4f2bigI know this site is about the St. Louis Cardinals, and I try to keep my personal life and other interests out of it, but I can’t let this go without commenting.  I am a HUGE Alabama Crimson Tide fan, my entire family being from Alabama.  And I must say that the University of Alabama Athletic Director is an IDIOT.  Firing Shula was stupid, shows impatience yet again from a college that is covered in tradition and now has people turning down the job.  Mike Shula was a great coach and an even better man.  He took over a program that was being punished and on probation with a reduced number of scholarships.  That meant poorer recruiting, which meant less talent (for a while anyway).  But he took the job and went 10-2 last year.  Then he had some close games this year, one being against Floridia.  Sure he finished with a record of 6-6, but come on, programs aren’t turned around overnight.  I am so  disappointed in the University that I have rooted for my whole life.  Mike, just because some stupid idiots think you aren’t worthy to coach at Bama, doesn’t mean that there aren’t thousands upon thousands of people who would love to have you as coach anyday.  So leave with your head held high, displaying the same class that you did when you followed the disgraced Mike Price as the new coach for Alabama.  And don’t worry, I am sure they will compare the next coach to Bear Bryant as well.  But every Alabama fan needs to hear me well when I say, "THE BEAR IS FERTILIZER".  He is dead.  So stop comparing every coach we get to him.  In my opinion it doesn’t get any better than Mike Shula.  I am a little less of a fan than I was before, and I am laughing at the joke they have become when West Virginia’s coach toys with Alabama, only to stay at West Virginia.  Don’t get my wrong, I will always pull for Alabama, but I lost a little respect for them today.  Coach_shula

Now Back to the St. Louis Cardinals……

Maloney takes the Helm in Memphis

Chris_maloneyChris Maloney has been promoted to manage AAA Memphis for 2007.  He has been in the Cardinals organization for 15 years (1988-2001, 2004-present) and was most recently manager for the AA Springfield Cardinals in 2006.  Memphis  struggled last year, despite some talent on the team.  Maybe this will be a fresh change for a better 2007.  Then again, If the Cardinals win the World Series every year, I don’t give a **** what Memphis’ record is.  I got to see Tyler Johnson, Chris Narveson, Anthony Reyes, Brian Daubach, Chris Duncan, John Gall, Brian Falenborg, Josh Kinney, Alan Benes, Bo Hart, John Nelson, John Rodriguez, Travis Hanson, Mark Mulder (rehab start), among others.  I love my Redbirds and here’s to a better 2007.  I think Maloney will be a great manager, and I am glad the Cardinals promoted from within the organization.
So there you have it.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me hear from you out there….
Thanks,
Josh
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