Thursday, December 15, 2011

Plan B

Well, now that the dust has settle a bit from Albert leaving, we can ask, what's next? Certainly, next year's team will feel very different with franchise icon's like Pujols and TRL gone, but it likely will still be the favorite to win the NL central and a real contender to win World Series #12. Here's the moves since Pujols left town so far:

Re-signed Furcal (2-years, 14 million total), re-signed Shumaker (2 years, 3 million total). Non-tendered Theriot. Punto, Dotel both signed to other teams.

I like, don't love resigning Furcal. Would rather it have been only one year with his injury history. Even last year, he was playing at way less than 100%. IF he can get healthy, he's a major plus compared to what we have had at shortstop the past few seasons, but that's a big if. On the other hand, Jimmy Rollins is the only other comparable guy out there, and he would've taken 4 years at 52-60 mil, so Furcal is a comparative bargain. Shumaker I am also OK with staying, assuming he is not a starter anymore. He hits righties well, but his lack of power and/or speed makes him below average on offense overall. He's become about average at 2B defensively, and is better than that in the outfield, but he works best as a back-up. They have the money to upgrade at 2B, so hopefully they will. Letting Theriot go is no surprise; he stunk last year. Punto had his moments, but Shumaker is basically the same guy as him. Dotel pitched great down the stretch, but with the glut of RH relief pitchers, he was expendable as well.

What's next?

The only serious rumor I've heard is signing J.C. Romero. He had a rough year last year, but should be a nice LOOGY and veteran presence in the pen. Right now, "scrabble" is the only LH reliever, and you'd like to see him used more than just situationally with his great stuff. As I said before, things look fine from the right side. Motte should close, with Salas as probably the main set-up guy. Lynn/Boggs/Sanchez should be the other guys. All those guys have great stuff. The pen could continue to be a great strength as it was down the stretch this year. One interesting guy to watch is McClellen. Assuming Wainwright is full go to start the season, there may not be room for Kyle on the roster. That would be a shame, as he has done a lot for us the past few seasons.

Where else should we spend, if anywhere?

2B would be my preference, but there is not a lot of options out there in FA. A trade may be in order instead, but I have no great ideas who to deal for. Another option is to go with maybe a Shumaker/Green platoon at 2B and try to get another OF since Craig may miss the beginning of the year. I'm not in favor of this because I'd like to see Craig play full-time. I suppose if they get a guy and can play CF and hits RH, then maybe you could platoon him with Jay when Craig gets healthy. It would also be nice to find some speed as far as that goes. We don't have a lot of that right now. All in all, I don't expect any huge move the rest of the offseason. If Romero does sign, the pitching staff is basically set and they likely need to add just one more bat. The upside of losing those FA's is that the Cards get the Angel's first round pick and three "sandwhich" picks meaning they will have 5 picks in the top 60 or so selections. That may allow them to upgrade the roster midseason if need be as they can re-stock the farm system quickly. Not the most exciting plan, but after the past couple of weeks, boring doesn't sound so bad to me.


Friday, December 09, 2011

Albert in the Birds on the Bat

Albert in the Birds on the Bat

The outlook seemed brilliant for the Cardinal winter meeting:
The bidders were down to three or two but their grasps ‘peared only fleeting.
And then when Reyes signed down South, and Bell did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the fandom of “the Mang.”

Many stated coldly that the Redbirds should send him packing,
For, they thought, that Albert’s salary would only bring the team to lacking.
Others thought it would be worth the risk to put up more than that-
Put up more money to keep him wearing the Birds on the Bat.

Although his numbers had declined, yet so many records he could break,
It was history, loyalty, and home-team pride that was at stake;
Upon the stricken Cardinal-nation such ambiguity doth sat;
There was a divide among the faithful over the price of Albert’s bat.

The Marlins made an offer to the wonderment of all.
The Angels, the silent, had made no attempt so far this fall;
Then the cloud had lifted, and people saw what had occurred,
For the Fish had signed Buehrle thus no longer could afford.

From millions of throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the archway, it rattled through Foristell;
It knocked over the Rocky Mountains and beyond way more than that.
For Albert, so it seemed, would again wear the Birds on the Bat.

Throughout the years Pujols stated that St. Louis was his place;
That this is where Albert wanted to always keep his space.
And when money had been mentioned, he almost always spat-
"There’s more to me than money; there’s more to me than that."

Whether at home or on the road thousands would cheer him and stand;
He rarely failed to disappoint the 46,861 who were on hand.
For it can never be said that what he gave wasn’t surely worth the trip,
And whether he stayed or went, for this may our hat we will always tip.

Looking back we can remember his many fantastic years,
Killing Cubs, whipping the Astros, demolishing any thrown spheres.
Always close by LaRussa’s lips many complements would shed,
“He’s the greatest I’ve ever coached,” the manager had said.

From off the pitch of Lidge in October two-thousand and five;
His bat did so much damage it made us fans alive.
Thanksgiving for two-thousand eleven and don’t forget Oh-6.
His play was always exciting and we were always in the mix.

With a smile of Christian charity great Albert always shone;
And he practiced so relentlessly so his craft he could always hone.
He tortured opposing pitching, and although allegations flew,
He stands as one who played the game clean, truly through and through.

But now the faithful hear of what had been some debate;
A mystery team also had put an offer upon Albert’s plate.
They say Albert’s face grew stern and cold, they said his muscles did strain,
As he pondered a deal that may not come by his way again.

The Angels, now revealed from secrecy, had offered him so much,
A deal so great it would have made Solomon to blush.
And now the Angels held the deal, and how they let it show,
That the baseball world was duly stunned by the amount of Angel dough.

Oh, sometime in the future, the sun will again shine bright;
Sometime the Cardinals will be winning, and everything will be alright,
And sometime we’ll again be laughing, with cheering and a shout;
But today, there is no joy in St. Louis – mighty Albert has walked out. 

-CJ (Obviously based upon "Casey at the Bat" by Ernest Thayer.)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

No news=good news?

24 hours ago, it seemed like there was a good chance Pujols was headed to Miami. Now, there is almost no chance of that, but there also seems to be little chance that he will sign with anyone this week during the Winter Meetings. Now, the bad news. As John covered in two earlier posts, the Angels are a team that makes a lot of sense for Pujols to potentially join. Also in an earlier post, John reported that they did not intend to bid for him. Well, that seems to have changed. I feel that their offer would have to be at least 1 mil per year more than the Cards for him to consider it, but there is a good possibility they will exceed that threshold. The fact that no deal with anyone appears immanent says to me that Pujols has not come close to the numbers he wants. The good news then is that probably no one has significantly out-bid the Cardinals, and at this point, it's likely no one will. If the bids are fairly equal, then I think he stays, and I do think that is the likely outcome at this point. 24 hours ago with the suddenly loose-purse Marlins in the picture, I wasn't so sure. Now is keeping Albert into his 40s a good idea for anyone? That's a topic for another day. Keeping a icon in St. Louis? That's always a good idea.