Thursday, January 22, 2009

et tu, Mark?

Well, it's been quite some time since I posted anything, but there were two fairly major stories that broke today concerning the Cardinal Nation. Unfortunately, neither concerned the signing of a major free agent and neither were exactly good news. I'll start with the fact that Troy Glaus had shoulder surgery yesterday and will be out up to three months. If he is out that long, it would mean missing likely the first month of the season. Though Glaus had only a so-so offensive season last year, he is the best "proven" bat he have to surround Pujols and his defense was excellent last year, so much so that there is no question we got the better of the deal we made with Blue Jays. There is a slight positive to this injury in that our minor league system is more loaded at 3B than any other position. Freese, Wallace and Craig are all thought to be potential future major leaguers. In fact, it's widely assumed that the Cardinals will part ways with Glaus after this season when he is a free agent, if not beforehand if it seems prudent to do so. Freese will most likely get the first shot because he is the most seasoned, but Wallace is thought of as the bigger talent in the long run. So, long story short, it's likely we'll get a look at one of more of those guys sooner than we thought, and if they play well enough, perhaps a deadline deal involving Glaus will be more of a real possibility this summer.

The second big story involves more bad press for Cardinal icon Mark McGwire. The essence of this story is that McGwire's brother, Jay, is peddling a book in which he claims to have been the one to introduce Mark to performance enhancing drugs and helped him start using them in 1994. Now this story has some major asterisks. First, it broke on I love that site for it's witty blogging, but it's never really been known for it's hard-hitting journalism. Second, Jay McGwire admits to having a major falling-out with his brother several years ago, and they are no longer on speaking terms. Clearly, Jay is trying to make some money on his brother's fame and the steroid controversy. That being said, the story does probably have some credence. First, Mark himself has famously never denied (or admitted I guess) using performances enhancers like steroids. Second, Jay was a professional body builder who has admitted using steroids in the past, and undoubtedly had the connections that he describes giving Mark. I've always wanted to give Mark McGwire the benefit of the doubt. He was a great player who helped bring the game and the Cardinals back to national prominence in the late 90s. He also seems like a great guy who has done a lot of good things outside of the game. Because, of this, I really hope this story makes him come forward and tell the truth. It seems pretty clear that he used some type of performance enhancers in some way at this point. The people who have come forward and admitted it like Giambi and Petitte, have by and large been forgiven and moved on with their lives. The ones have not done so, like Bonds, Clemens, and Palmero, despite evidence to the contrary, continue to be vilified. I think McGwire is a much better human being than those three, and if he comes forward, admits his mistakes, and apologizes, people will still love him. Especially in the Cardinal nation. I personally believe that 20 years from now, a lot of players like McGwire will be in the Hall of Fame because we will eventually have to judge players on their level of comparable greatness in the "juiced" era, and not compare or condemn them based on the players that came before them. Some records will likely be given an asterisk, but the truth is that probably the majority of players used something at sometime in the late 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. McGwire was better than almost all the other juiced players and in reality, he wasn't even breaking any rules at the time he played. I just hope he can look far enough into the future to see his redemption and tell the truth so that he will one day live it.


Saturday, January 03, 2009

What now?

This news is a little late, but two fairly major signings occured last week that related to the Cardinals. First, Fuentes signed with the Angles. Then, Miles signed with the Cubs, which in turn allowed them to turn around and trade DeRosa to the Indians for three minor leaguers. I know I've harped upon how imperative I thought it was for us to sign Fuentes, but I'm actually going to give the Card's management a pass on this one. The deal he reportedly got from the Angels (Two years, 17.5 mil with a vesting option at 9 mil for the third year), was arguably a worse one than Kerry Wood got from the Indians. I'm going to assume the Card's offered him a deal better than that, and that the Angels were where Fuentes wanted to sign all along, so he signed for less than he could have somewhere else. Miles I find somewhat more troubling. Not only does he sign with our main rival, but it also allowed them to trade DeRosa and (possibly) get enough minor leaguers in their system to help them rework a deal for Peavy. They also save some money on DeRosa vs. Miles' saleries (plus they jettisoned Marquis to the Rockies), so that will help them sign an outfielder, obstensibly Milton Bradley. Now the Cubs were already the decided favorite in our division, so it really gets my goat to see them get better at our expense. Miles was by no means a superstar, but he was extremely valuable to us last year. He can play all four infield positions, and is a switch hitter. That's not going to be easy to replace. Certainly, DeRosa is a loss of the the Cubs as he is even more versatile and has more power than Miles, but it clears the way for them to add some more parts while still having an excellent utility guy on their team. Anyway, it's tough to see what moves are really out there for the Cards to respond at this point. Their main need is relief, especially left-handed and closer. There are some good lefties still out there, Joe Beimel is still the guy I want to see them get, but closer is likely an issue that will sadly continue to plaque us. Hoffman is the only established free agent available, but he's done in my opinion. There's been some talk the White Sox might be willing to part with Jenks, but my guess is his price via trade would be more than the Cards would be willing to do. That leaves us with Motte, Perez and Franklin. It's pretty rare to see a guy close in their first or second year (even K-Rod and Mariano tutored under Percival and Wetteland for a while and neither Motte or Perez have the kind of otherworldly stuff those two have) which probably means Franklin will get the first look again. One guy I'd like to see maybe get a try is Josh Kinney. He was unhittable after coming back last year, and his slider is the kind of go-to out pitch you want a closer to have. Just a thought. Man, am I rambling today. Anyway, back to free agency options. The Cards still have money to spend supposedly, so what can we use it on? Don't need on everyday player (though maybe O. Hudson could be an option - the market for him seems to have come down quite a bit?). Bullpen yeah, but one more lefty like Beimel won't cost too much. So starting pitching? But who? The most attractive guy is Oliver Perez. Young, left-handed, great stuff. Unfortunately, I'm guessing it will take a deal more than what Lohse got to get him, so no thank you. Lowe? Even more over-priced. I've heard some noise about Sheets. If we can get him to sign only a one or two year deal, I'd say great, but more than that - no way. I've had my fill of injury-prone starters. Personally, I think we should get a veteran guy that will sign only a one year deal as insurance for Carpenter/Pineiro. Pettitte, Wolf, even Pedro Martinez. Someone along those lines. Then save whatever money we have left for the trading deadline or even next year. Hey you win some, and you lose some. We clearly haven't won with the moves we've made since the last offseason, but we have some young talent and we have Pujols. No need to panic, just move on and hope for the best I guess.

Trying to be optimistic,