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.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Darth Selig

Minute Maid field, park, stadium--whatever--has always been a joke of a stadium and I have always hated to see games played there. Although I feel the Cards won there more often then not (I could be completely wrong, but I can't be bothered to look atm) it was more of an annoying obstacle course. Crawford boxes jutting out. Poles and hills butting in. The dangerous right field line (yes, I know it's not too dissimilar from Busch III). Praise the Lord the Astros are moving in 2013! Although I'll miss the rivalry with the Astros it's about the same as I'd miss the Pirates leaving. I think balancing out the leagues is good for baseball. I makes sense. It didn't make sense to change things before.

That said, I'm not sure I like the other change--or why it was even required. I'm not sure I even understand the logic. We still have two leagues with three divisions each, yes? So, why do we need another wild card. Before us stands the debate: the excitement of playoffs with wild cards (what kind of hypocrite would I be if I denied us this last season and post-season?) vs. the reward for winning the league in the marathon. Another wild card DOES water things down--you can't deny that. But you can't deny the excitement that more teams provide. Would you have wanted to watch the Phillies play the Yankees? Maybe, but more are included--and that sells. Currently I believe that it's watered down enough--it's not a stodgy Murphy's Irish Stout, but lets not turn it into Keystone Light please!

There are worries that the symmetry will lead to other changes that will make the leagues more similar--like the elimination of the DH--something that I am DRAMATICALLY opposed to. The fear is that with more interleague play (a feature that comes with equal 15 team leagues) will come more use of the American League pitcher with a bat in his hand--an image that conjures up images of Bugs Bunny striking out the side with one pitch as the Gas House Gorillas flail at the ball. Such a fear may indeed lean toward the universal use of a DH. The import of such a decision is well chronicled and I wholly am opposed to such a flat and droll game. We'll call it the "checker effect"--the reason more people play checkers than chess is simplicity and not because checkers is a superior game. "Let the fools have their tar-tar sauce," he seemed to say. Such a change would be worse (by far) then the NFL's decision to change the placement of the kickoff--which has grossly dumbed down the game as well.

"This deal is getting worse all the time" and I fear what changes Selig will make next.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Great News!

The Angels said they won't aggressively pursue Fielder or Pujols. It's going to take an aggressive bid to take Pujols from St. Louis and I believe that the Angels were the biggest threat.

In different news the Marlins gave Pujols a substantial offer (according to Ken R.'s tweet). Pujols may enjoy being Miami--who wouldn't. Career-wise this is a stupid move.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Where Pujols Goes

Post after post have been made seeming stymied at the thought of where Pujols will be going next season. But in actual fact it's really very simple. Taking a page from Dan at C70 and Bernie Miklasz, let's be explicit. There are several factors to consider. First, the obvious, money, position availability, winnability and legacy, and misc (e.g., location, teammates, history).

There's 30 teams in baseball--so let's eliminate them by groups to start.

-POSITION AVAILABILITY: Let's start with those who already have a big name 1B locked up on the roster even if they could afford him.
1. Nationals (LaRoche)
2. Red Sox (Youkilis/Gonzalez)
3. Reds (Votto)
4. Rockies (Helton)
5. Tigers (Cabrera)
6. Twins (Morneau)
7. White Sox (Konerko/Dunn)
8. Yankees (Teixeira)*
9. Giants (Huff)
10. Phillies (Howard)

-MONEY: Those who simply can't afford him.
11. Astros (whose new ownership has tightened the belt)
12. Athletics
13. Brewers
14. Diamondbacks
15. Dodgers (extreme financial hardship)
16. Mets (see Dodgers)
17. Orioles
18. Padres
19. Pirates
20. Rays
21. Braves (They could do it, but it would cripple the budget minded team).

BAM! Over 2/3rds of the teams are down.

-Winnability and Legacy: Pujols has said that he wants to play for a contender. Now, if we are even remotely optimistic that this means money isn't absolutely everything to Pujols, then we can eliminate teams that signing Pujols would probably weaken the overall team because of lack of depth at other positions. Furthermore, Pujols has the opportunity to build upon his legacy. If we assume he isn't completely aware of his potential he would want to put himself in a position to be as great as possible. This would eliminate several teams.

22. Royals (It's hilarious they aren't in the last category. But as Bernie pointed out they technically have the money to pull this off--Pujols would be close to home and as others have pointed out they have the farm to support. But it would still be a super long-shot and Pujols probably won't be tempted by that from a legacy stand-point.
23. Blue Jays (They could do it like the Royals and they have a higher ceiling money-wise, but they don't have the farm the Royals do.)
24. Indians (many people have dismissed them because of their super-low payroll. But look at the past few years--it has declined to an ultra-low rate--almost as if they've been preparing for a super-move like this. However, Pujols won't position himself in a place where he will go the way of Jayson Werth--mired as the one big name on a team with no chance).
25. Marlins (Pujols won't want to go to a place with a competitive method like the Marlins--it's legacy suicide. Don't believe me, what are the Marlins called? And after 9PM EST tonight? Yeah, see?).
26. Cubs (This would embitter him to so many it simply doesn't make sense. Sure, it's possible but with how things are simply not stable there at the moment I don't see it happening. Theo could want to make a big hit, but Pujols is particular about managers and whoever they get may not be workable for him. Furthermore, if he believes they aren't winners he might side-step that whole thing. Another thing, he's seen how they've treated the likes of Soriano and other big pay players who don't turn out well).
27. Mariners (if the offer was off the charts it might be too hard to pass up--but it would have to be significantly more than other suitors' bids. The Mariners have more pieces than other teams, but location-wise it is not preferable, it's a pitcher's park, and the Mariner's are pretty much division cellar-dwellers).
28. Rangers (they could make room, they have the payroll, and Pujols perhaps would want to play in conservative Texas alongside like-minded Josh Hamilton. However, they could have been placed into the "don't need a 1b" category with the guys they have that can play that position. However, with the dh you never know. Yet, what they NEED is pitching)

-Contenders--These are the only teams that have any real chance.

-Angels--Winners, have $, have a great manager, but are West Coast.

*-Yanks--They are always in the running. With the dh, who knows, less likely with Teix but I wouldn't rule them out completely

-Cards--Legacy, winnability (less likely the bigger his contract is), beloved by fans, his home is there, manager will probably be someone he knows and who knows him.

In the end the Angels have the upperhand when it comes to money (and maybe a slight edge in long term winnability--but not short term). But that's it! Every other factor says to stay. Unless the Angels can make the most epic of offers, this is a no decision for both Pujols and Cards management. The amount of money he'll bring in while breaking records in the long-term may actually overcome many of the short comings should the end of his contract become an albatross. If you pay him, they will come. (BTW To compare this to Joe Mauer is laughable.)

I fully expect Pujols to be a Cardinal for the remainder of his career and I expect it to be to the tune of $225M for 10 years.


P.S. Lesson for the day: don't do a post in the middle of the night halfway, save it, and then try to finish it up the next. Thanks to Ryan at for picking up the slack and catching my many errors.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Baseball Fan by Birth, Cardinal Fan by the Grace of God

I'm exhausted. It's 4:30 AM here in Ireland. It was around 5:30 AM yesterday when game 6 finished. Yet, I'm more exhausted from the drama and excitement than from the time difference.

I believed the Cardinals were done 10.5 games back. I didn't think they had a chance against the Phillies' starters in a short series. I also believed the Cardinals were done in game 6. Being absolutely wrong never felt so good.

Personally, I believe that there are some accomplishments (e.g., winning 100 games in a season) which by technicality are greater feats than sneaking in as the wild card and winning the crap shoot that is the modern-day MLB postseason. However, when you consider what the Cardinals have had to face this year, loss of Waino, below avg Pujols, injuries to Pujols and Holliday, their season shouldn't be anything to scoff at. In the end, it's the title that matters and the ability to perform in that smaller sample size that is so so memorable.

In what may be (but I don't believe will be) Pujols' last season as a Cardinal, it's fitting to see the magic of game 3. It's also fitting that local kid, David Freese, traded for Jim Edmonds (our other game 6 walk-off hero), became the super-clutch-hero and WS MVP for his amazing and timely hits (although I feel that the full body of work should go to Napoli). It's also fitting that the series goes to the Cardinals based on the gutty game six performance. A performance, which, with all due respect to the 3 HR surge by Pujols, was the most amazing thing I've ever seen in the World Series. It's also fitting that Berkman would get his first ring with the Cardinals--an irony I find most satisfying.

The Cardinals did their best to give away the series. Botched hit-and-runs. Loads of fielding mistakes and errors. Blunders on the base paths. Phone-gate of game 5. Miserable at-bats with RiSP.

But the Rangers may have done even more to give it away. Loads of mistakes and errors or their own. Lots of LoB. But perhaps the most telling of all was the unreal amount of free-passes dealt out by the Rangers: 41 BB (a World Series record). One reason I felt so confident about the Cardinals coming into the WS was the lackluster Rangers' pitchers--looks like my confidence was well founded.

The Rangers are certainly a likable team with the inspirational Hamilton, ultimate nice guy Murphy, and the phenomenal bat of Young. Tip of the hat to the Rangers for a clean and classy series. But the Cardinals are filled with the same type of folks, Craig (long suffering in the minors) with his power, the bullpen oft-maligned, El Hombre, Big Puma, the list can go on.

I'm going to bed now. Doubt I'll sleep. Excellent.


P.S. I love the beauty of Pujols' last at-bat. It was drowned out by the oncoming celebration. It's not that I'm not appreciative--exactly the opposite. But in this instance it was more about the team than about the man--as it should be.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Channeling the 2006 Tigers?

Watching the Brewers fielders is like nothing I've ever seen...cept maybe the 2006 Tigers in the World Series. The Tiger's errors (especially by Inge and Zumaya) laid out the welcome mat for a series that may have gone on much longer. Similarly, although the Cardinals are doing damage on their own part, they are certainly being helped along by Betancourt, Weeks, and Hairston (as I watch in game 5). Don't forget Estrada doing his best Zumaya pick-off impersonation. Furthermore, there have been many "non-errors" which should have been outs by Hart as his clumsily stumbles about right field. The limpy weeks let a soft hit ball behind second drop for what should have been a relatively easy out. Similarly, Nyjer Morgan too worried about how...soft...the center field padding was or too frozen to get a decent jump comically misplayed two balls that should/could have been outs. As beastly as the Brewers have been at the plate they have been anything but patrolling the diamond. In fact I would describe them as looking timid and bewildered--especially Hart who looks absolutely lost. Despite the Brewers' home record, when one combines the Cardinals hot bats, resurgent bullpen, starting pitching matchups, and Milwaukee's fielding I don't see the Cardinals NOT taking one over the next two. In fact, I don't see how Marcum stands a chance in game 6. We will see. Video of many of the gaffs here.
P.S. On a different note I didn't like Pujols' last AB--it was oddly reminiscent of his game 1 hacks at balls out of the strike zone.
P.P.S. Chambers can fly.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Cone of Squirrel

"I do not like this cone of sha.....squirrel!"

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I cannot believe what I just saw......

I know I haven't posted anything all season, but wow. I just saw a Cardinal's team that was dead and burried at the end of August win the NL wild card. Four weeks ago, ESPN gave them about a 2% chance of making the postseason. Certainly, there are lots of areas to criticize with this team, but you have to give the guys credit for giving their all to literally the very last game. I doubt they will be able to do much against the Phillies, but they got there, against all odds, and for that I salute them. Well, done 2011 St. Louis Cardinals.


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

MM Park

Have I mentioned that I hate MM park before? Yes, yes I have. It's a joke. And now I have another reason, the fact that there is NO foul territory Right. This lack has led to another Cardinal injury. With the Metrodome gone, this has become public enemy #1. Don't get me wrong, I'm the first to say how much I love the nuances of different stadiums, but I can't believe that this is a real ballpark and that games are approved to be played there.


Monday, June 06, 2011

Life is Full of Disappointments...

"Life is full of disappointments--for some people."


P.S. You can click for a larger image.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Yes, Jeff. Yes, there is a way.

The link isn't up yet, but watch Jeff Samardzija's reaction to Pujols golfing out his slider for the walkoff win.


Friday, April 29, 2011


I'm in the throws of wrapping up major dissertation work--so I haven't taken the time to post here anymore. But for last night...I just can't help myself. Does it get any sweeter than Lance Berkman hitting a HR to right-center, a HR to the Crawford boxes, and 5 MM Park....FOR the Cardinals?


Friday, January 07, 2011

Stories o the MLB offseason

It has been a very interesting offseason. Several big moves have been made, here's how I see them. This covers a lot of bases, but don't' worry, I'll work the Cards in there.

Yankees left at the alter. The Red Sox moved in on Crawford before the Yanks could. Ditto for the Nationals and Jason Werth. The big bust for NYY was Cliff Lee spurning them for the Phillies. Personally, I didn't see this coming. How does someone leave 40+ million dollars on the table? Its seems crazy, but I guess rich is rich, and Cliff Lee knew he would be set for life and then some no matter what. Apparently being part of the best rotation in at least ten years and maybe since the 1960 Dodgers appealed to him. Plus, he realized pitching in the NL East is WAY easier the AL East. Go figure, a superstar using some common sense to trump dollar signs. The end result is that the Yankees are underdogs in their division and no sure thing to make the playoffs for the first time in maybe 15 years. This despite keeping Jeter, Rivera and still having a payroll approaching 200 million dollars. Why? AJ Burnett is currently their #2 starter. That's why.

Red Sox make the big moves in the AL. This is somewhat related to the above item. Adding Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez to their line-up cannot be understated. Gonzalez could be ridiculous for them. He goes the other way better than any left-handed hitter in baseball, so expect a ton of doubles off the monster. Crawford is in his prime as well, and should only get better the next couple of year. Both guys are also plus defenders. Baring the deluge of injuries they experienced last year, the Sox are suddenly the favorite in the NL by adding these two guys. They also improved their bullpen picking up Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler. Certainly, they'll need Beckett to rebound to win in the postseason, but its a rare year when they made the Yankees eat crow, at least on paper.

The Phillies' rotation is obscene. I've heard rumors they may look to move Oswalt, who is in the last year of his contract and unlikely to be re-signed long term, but I doubt they will do this. They are heavy favorites this year. Halladay and Lee are probably top five in all of MLB and Oswalt and Hamels would be aces on almost any other team. Their offense is LH heavy and not near as scary as a couple of year ago, but its still better than most clubs in the NL. The bullpen is certainly a question mark, but heck, Halladay and Lee likely won't need a bullpen in the postseason, plus Oswalt and/or Hamels could spend a lot of time there at that time. Put simply, they terrify me.

The NL Central could be more interesting that I thought it would be.... The Brewers have added Greinke and Shawn Marcum, shoring-up their biggest weakness, starting pitching, in a big way. Their offense is probably somewhat overrated, but they should have Prince for one more year. The Reds look like much the same team that won it last year. I certainly don't think they will catch all the same breaks they did last year, but they can also expect better (full) season from Volquez in the rotation and Bruce in the field. The Cubs can't be expected to be worse than last year and are picking-up Garza from the Rays it looks like. The key from them will be whether or not Soriano, Rameriz, and Fukadome can live-up to their exorbitant salaries for once. Bottom line: this should be far from a two-horse race between the Cards and Reds,though I'd expect the Astros and Pirates to continue to be terrible.

No big moves by the Cards, but hope for improvement anyway. I certainly like the addition of Berkman. If he can rebound, Berkman/Pujols/Hollidsay/Rasmus makes for a great middle of the order. I think he will be highly motivated to prove the Astros wrong for giving up on him, though I certainly wonder about this ability to play the outfield. I expect to see John Jay in late innings in any game we have the lead, that's for sure. Theriot I am less thrilled about. I'm not sure his slightly better hitting trumps Ryan's world-class defense at shortstop. The biggest questions? Can Freese stay healthy and can Rasmus stay happy? Those two young guns will likely make or break the season. The pitching, to me, looks excellent. Westebrook solidifies the rotation. You may expect Garcia to be not quite so great, but I also think Lohse will be not quite so terrible. The bullpen is not thrilling, but the last two years its been more solid than I expected, and I see not reason for that not continue. Bottom line: the division should be tougher, but after last year's epic fail, surely the Cards will be much better in 2011. Right?

Well, that's the big stories as I see them so far this offseason. Only about 6 weeks till pitchers and catchers report, and I can't wait. Hopefully Albert is signed to be a Cardinal for life by then as well!