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News and commentary about the past, present and future state of the St. Louis Cardinals.
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Tuesday, December 21, 2004
In Cardinals non-tender
deadline actions, the team came to terms with injured right-handed relief pitcher Mike Lincoln on a 2005 contract for
$360,000 with another $160,000 in incentives.He is not expected to be ready
until the season is underway following mid-season surgery in 2004.Lincoln made $1 million last season.
Coming off the final year
of his original three-year deal when he made $1.2 million, outfielder So Taguchi was wisely non-tendered by the Cardinals.It is assumed they want the 35-year-old to return for a more reasonable amount than
$960,000, which is 80% of his last year’s salary.
Here are six very interesting
players non-tendered by their current teams.In most every case, we have an injury-plagued
player whose team would not consider paying them even 80% of their prior salary.Here’s
hoping Walt Jocketty looks into every one of them.
Player - Position – Problem
– 2004 Salary
Wade Miller – starting
pitcher – Houston - $3,400,000
The 28-year-old Miller was
plagued by shoulder problems in 2004, but averaged 15 wins over the three prior seasons.Miller has a career ERA of 3.87 and sports a 58-39 career record.Miller
was quoted that he still hopes to return to the Astros.Take a chance, Walt.Make some calls.Show Miller some respect!
Mark DeRosa – infielder
– Atlanta - $725,000
DeRosa had a horrific 2004
after beginning the season at the Braves’ starting third baseman. It mercifully ended with a torn ACL which put his readiness
for the start of the 2005 regular season in jeopardy.However, DeRosa can play
third, short and second and yes, even the outfield in a pinch.His career average/on-base
percentage is .266/.318.His high in RBI was 31 this past season.He’ll be 30 in February.
Alex Cora – second base – Los Angeles - $1,300,000
Cora hit .264 with a nice
on base percentage of .364 and is known as a very good defender.He had career
highs of ten homers and 47 RBI last season, but stole only three bases.Cora
was typically stationed at the bottom of the Dodgers’ order.The signing of Jeff
Kent made Cora expendable, but I am surprised the Dodgers didn’t try to trade him.If
I were Walt, I’d definitely look into Cora.
Orber Moreno - relief pitcher – Mets - $320,000
Before he hurt his shoulder,
Moreno was one of the top right-handed relief prospects in baseball.He limited hitters to a .231 average last season and fanned 29 in 34-2/3 innings.The 27-year-old has less than one season of MLB experience.Definitely
worth a flyer.
Matt Perisho – relief
pitcher – Florida - $300,000
Perisho could fill the role
of second lefty in the pen if Rick Ankiel starts.The 29-year-old limited lefties
to a .207 batting average last season and made the minimum salary.What’s the
Dustan Mohr – outfield
– San Francisco - $340,000
The 28-year-old Mohr hit
.274 with an on-base percentage of .394 in part-time duty for the Giants last season.I’d try to get him as a steady fourth outfielder for the Cardinals.Given
the advancing age of the outfield starters, 37, 34 and 38, Mohr would be assured of plenty of playing time in St. Louis.
Other players of
note who re-signed with current teams.
Second baseman D’Angelo
Jimenez is staying with the Reds, agreeing to a $2.87 million deal for 2005.Shortstop
Jose’ Valentin moved from the White Sox to the Dodgers for $3.5 million.
I’d trade for Jerry Hairston
to play second and sign Cora or David Eckstein to play short.Grabbing Mohr would
help the bench.Getting Miller is a long shot, but I’d try.More relievers are always needed, so grabbing Perisho and Moreno would also
be a secondary priority.
Anaheim Angels owner Arte
Moreno again opened up his wide pocket book, picking up another Hispanic player, free agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera.Cabrera was awarded a four-year, $32 million deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of The
Cabrera, deemed to be too
expensive for the Cardinals, replaces David Eckstein.Eckstein
was called a favorite of Angels manager Mike Scioscia, starting at shortstop the last three seasons for them.However, Eckstein’s .339 on-base percentage and .332 slugging percentage were dead last among American
League starting shortstops last season, reported Rosenthal.
Eckstein, who turns 30 next
month, is expected to be non-tendered as a result of this trade and as a result is already being linked to the Cardinals.He made $2,150,000 last season.
$10 M Hardees and Burger King lefty tandem split permanent
Kline an Oriole
On Monday, free agent left-handed reliever Steve
Kline agreed to a two-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles. His $5.5 million deal compares to the $4.6
million Ray King got from the Cardinals.
Walton’s take:So ends the final breakup of arguably
the best left-handed relief pair the Cardinals ever had.After four seasons with
St. Louis, Kline’s
departure was sealed because of some combination of the team’s desire to use money elsewhere, his unorthodox personality and
actions, his increasing age and injuries and the emergence of fellow lefty pen mate King.Through it all, the 32-year-old Pennsylvania native remained a fan favorite.One
of Kline’s charity activities was offering time at an area Hardees restaurant each season.
On Monday, St. Louis Cardinals Director of Player
Development Bruce Manno named Mark DeJohn manager of the New Jersey Cardinals.DeJohn,
replacing Tom Shields who had managed New
Jersey for three consecutive seasons, will
be joined by pitching coach Sid Monge and Trainer Manubu Kuwazuru.Monge will
be returning for his third season with New
Jersey and Kuwazuru his second.
begins his first season in New Jersey after spending the previous three season managing the Cardinals Double A franchise -
two years in Tennessee (Southern League) and one year in New Haven (Eastern League).Prior to becoming a minor league manager, DeJohn had served as a coach at the Major League level from 1996-2001.He was the organization’s minor league field coordinator for three seasons and managed
in the Cardinals farm system from 1986-1991.He also managed in Detroit (Birmingham & London) and Kansas City’s (Eugene) minor league organizations.
Shields, New Jersey’s manager from 02-04, will concentrate on scouting full time and will also be
a roving instructor with the Cardinals organization.New Jersey Cardinals Vice
President & General Manager Tony Torre commented, “We want to thank Tom Shields for his past three years of service.It was nice for Tom’s tenure to culminate in being named NY-Penn League Manager of
the Year.Tom managed our club to win and this past season was our most exciting
since winning the league title in 1994.We look forward to working with “DJ”
this season.Mark previously had been a roving instructor and visited us in 1994
in New Jersey.I’ve known DJ for a number of
years.He will bring intensity and an off beat personality to our team.
an infielder, was originally drafted by the New York Mets in 1971 and played in their system through the 1977 season.He signed with the Tigers in 1978 and reached the major leagues with the Tigers in
the transition to coach in 1983 serving as a minor league instructor for the Tigers.He coached in Eugene (Northwest League) in 1985 but returned to the Tigers midway through the season.Mark joined the Cardinals organization in 1986 when he managed the Savanah Cardinals (South Atlantic League)
to a 75-60 record.He spent two seasons there before moving on to Springfield (Midwest League) in 1988.The next two years were with Johnson City in 89-90 (Appalachian League), then onto Detroit’s AA franchise in London, Ontario (Eastern League) in 1992, before returning to the Cardinals organization in 1993.
of Middletown, Connecticut, Mark has two children and currently resides in New Britain,
sixth year with the St. Louis organization, Sid Monge returns for his third consecutive season with the New
Jersey Cardinals as the team’s pitching coach.Monge spent the 2002 season with
Potomac (Carolina League), 2001 with Johnson City (Appalachian League)
and 2000 with Peoria (Midwest League).
his 10 year major league career, Sid posted a 49-40 record with a3.53 ERA.He played with the Angels (75-77), Indians (77-81), Phillies (82-83), Padres (83-84),
and Tigers (84).Monge was a member of the 1979 American League All Star team
when he posted career highs with 76 appearances, 12 wins, 108 strikeouts, and a 2.40 ERA.
and his wife Carol have three children, Michael, Amanada, and John.
Trainer Manubu Kuwazuru returns for his second season in New Jersey.“Boo” had previously worked with the University of Nebraska and the New York Jets.He is the 7th Trainer in the teams
12 year history.
My sources tell me that
the Cardinals have been involved in numerous discussions with the Baltimore Orioles over a potential trade for second baseman
Jerry Hairston.The Cardinals like Hairston as a moderately-priced second
baseman and leadoff hitter.In fact, new hitting coach Hal McRae is said
to be a strong Hairston supporter based on McRae’s time in the American League.
As I have predicted in previous
articles, reports that the Orioles will simply non-tender Hairston by Monday night’s deadline will prove to be erroneous.At this point, it has to be crystal clear to Baltimore’s co-general managers Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan that they
possess a valuable trade commodity in Hairston.Giving him away for nothing would
At this point, I do not
have any indication that the Cardinals and Orioles are on the verge of a deal.While
the two-headed Orioles GM has proven to be a difficult trade partner for some teams in the past, at least this proposed trade
has progressed to the point that names were offered up.
Bo Hart, John Gall, Brad
Thompson, Rhett Parrott and Reid Gorecki are allegedly
included in the list of names discussed.It is not clear whether they are players
suggested by the Cards, but that is the implication I received.Jeff Suppan
is one name that interests the O’s, but to this point, the Cards have not made him available.
If not for Hairston, the
lay of the land will still change for other players as Monday’s non-tender deadline passes.Everyone, the Cardinals included, will be looking to see which players will become available for signing without compensation
required to the former team.That could certainly become the new preferred source
for the Cardinals’ 2005 second baseman as soon as Tuesday.
Sunday’s deadline for players to
accept arbitration from their former teams came and went with very little action.In
fact, across MLB, only three of the 41 players eligible accepted their team’s offer.
Unfortunately, one of them
has been a focus of the Cardinals.Second baseman Placido Polanco accepted
the Philadelphia Phillies offer.That means he is on track to return to the Phillies
and will most likely receive a nice salary increase over the $3.95 million he earned in 2004.
Polanco’s asking price as
a free agent was rumored to be in the $5 million range already for a multi-year contract.If he were to get to arbitration with the Phillies, that price range is a reasonable expectation of an amount Polanco
could gain for a one-year deal.
Reports out of Philadelphia are that the Phillies did not really want Polanco back at that price.The
only offered him arbitration to ensure they would get a high draft pick in return when he signed elsewhere.By accepting their offer, Polanco threw sand in the Phillies’ gears.He likely did this after seeing that the market offers on the table, including the Cardinals’, were not to his liking.
Now, forced to proceed,
the Phillies will likely consider trading Polanco.Their future direction at
second base is youngster Chase Utley.So, all is not lost for the Cardinals.They could still win Polanco with a trade offer that would likely include negotiations
for a multi-year contract.However, the arbitration filing does complicate matters
for the Cards, as any deal would now have to include both Polanco’s agents and the Phillies.The team will decide compensation for a trade, while the agents will decide compensation for the player.
The other two of the 41
eligible players who accepted arbitration are Houston’s Roger Clemens, who has not decided whether or not he will play
in 2005, and Seattle reliever Ron Villone.The
38 who rejected arbitration have only until January 8 to re-sign with their former team.They also remain fair game for any other team to pursue.
Let’s look at this from
the Cardinals’ perspective.The Cardinals’ players offered arbitration, Edgar
Renteria, Mike Matheny and Tony Womack, have all signed or agreed to sign elsewhere.Any other of the 38 arbitration-eligible players that the Cardinals might have been interested in are still
available to be signed.Whatever compensation the former teams were due for a
signing will remain in place.
Therefore, other than the
Polanco situation, Sunday night passed with no real significant changes to the Cardinals’ game plans for 2005.
The next deadline is much
more significant; Monday’s non-tender deadline.Teams looking to trim payroll
or at least reallocate cash will cut any player loose to whom they did not make a 2005 contract offer.As a result, the free agent pool will expand, perhaps significantly, on Tuesday.More players will be available to sign without compensation required to the former team.
The less-than pleasant side
of some members of the Cardinal Nation was raised this week after I reported on Tuesday afternoon that the Cardinals were
sure that Edgar Renteria would be staying with the team.
Later that evening, the
Renteria contract situation was clearly deteriorating, although when I posted my second story of the day, more guarded than
the first, the final resolution was not yet known.
When the Boston agreement came to light on
Wednesday morning, frustration and hostility surfaced.It needed to be directed
somewhere at someone.
Since that time, multiple
stories from Boston and St.
Louis paint a clear picture that the Cardinals
believed they had a deal, just as was originally reported here.However, the
Red Sox upped their offer, unhooking the Cardinals, and won the prize.About
that, there is no debate.
The clearest confirmation
may come from a post by Post-Dispatch writer Bernie Miklasz in his forum.Miklasz
recounted his conversation with Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt.“Then when they
went 4-39, with some money deferred, DeWitt said he was told they had a deal.This,
according to DeWitt, who told me this last night.But Pedro and his little friend
were going bye-bye, to Flushing Meadows, and Edgar's reps were able to squeeze more out of Theo.”
I hope those who reacted
so wildly on Wednesday have come to realize by now what really happened.
As a good friend regularly
reminds me, cynicism is easy, but it is much harder to believe.First nature
for many is to suspect the worst in people’s motives.There was no desire to
publish false rumors here.The information presented was verified to be true
at the time it was reported and was publicly proven afterward.However, what
no one could predict was that the situation later changed rapidly and dramatically.It is as simple as that.No conspiracies or devious, underlying plans.
The Cardinals were surprised
and disappointed at what happened.So was I.For many reasons, it wasn’t a day for us fans or the Cardinals to remember.
Happy Holidays and may those
who would benefit most from belief find it during this special season.My belief
on the subject of baseball is that 2005 will be another tremendously exciting year for the Cardinals.And, we’ll still be right here reporting about it.We’ve been
providing this service for a long time and aren’t about to stop now.
ESPN has confirmed that
the Cardinals have acquired left handed starting pitcher Mark Mulder from the Oakland A’s in return for starter Dan Haren,
reliever Kiko Calero and catching prospect Daric Barton.
In the 27-year-old Mulder,
St. Louis gets
the #1 starter they craved at the prime of his career.Better yet, they know
they will have the Illinois native for at least the next two seasons.A former 21-game winner, Mulder is signed for 2005 at $6 million with a buyout of $250,000 and a team option for 2006
at $7.25 million.
Mulder had an 81-42 record
in five seasons with the A’s, registering a 3.92 career ERA.In fact, he’s finished
in the AL top ten in both wins and ERA in three of his five seasons.Mulder is a two time All-Star, making the American League squad in both 2003 and 2004.He finished second in the AL Cy Young Award voting in 2001.
After that career year in
2001, Mulder struggled with injuries during 2002 and 2003.Mulder missed the
final six weeks of the 2003 season and the playoffs due to a stress fracture of his hip.However, Mulder proved his health in 2004, pitching 225-2/3 innings.
When on his game, the 6-foot-6
Mulder is dominant.He has four pitches; a low-90’s fastball, slider, curve and
change-up. Mulder’s delivery is deceptive, which befuddles opposing hitters even
more.He is known as a groundball pitcher and has only three errors in the past
three seasons.As many lefties are, Mulder is also good at holding runners on
Walton’s take:While I didn’t predict the exact
player, I predicted the result.Walt Jocketty pulled off a deal for a player
no one expected at a time no one expected.As a result, while the price was not
cheap, he picked up one of the best pitchers in the game.
Dan Haren is ready to emerge
and could be a fine pitcher for a long time.But, he is not projected to have
the future success that Mulder has already achieved, though Mulder is three years older.While Kiko Calero has been a pleasant surprise for the Cardinals, let’s not forget that he was signed as a minor league
free agent just two years ago.Daric Barton, the Cards first round pick in 2003,
looks to have a bright future ahead of him.However, the 19-year-old is still
a long way from the majors, having excelled in A-ball in 2004. The jury is still
out on whether the catcher’s final destination is behind the plate, or a corner outfield position, where he has yet to prove
himself.If it is the latter, his value will diminish, despite his excellent
As I said, the price was
not insignificant, but Walt Jocketty made the deal he had to make.In doing so,
he did not sacrifice the future of the team.He traded up in one starting pitcher
spot and lost a replaceable middle reliever.Walt also surrendered the promising
youngster Barton, but to pull off this trade, it was clearly worth it.
After serious disappointment
over the past ten days, Jocketty has again given the Cardinal nation a reason to celebrate.I predict this deal will go down in history alongside Jocketty’s other masterful trades made during his ten years at
The Toronto Sun reports that after losing
out on Matt Clement, the Blue Jays are expected to shift their focus to a right handed bat and relief pitching.Former Cub outfielder Moises Alou and Steve Kline are thought by some
to be the leading targets.
Still MoreInsight on Edgar
The P-D quotes Renteria
agent Jeff Lane as saying that Renteria was willing to play for $5 million in 2005, but the back end money to compensate
wasn’t offered until Edgar was already willing to take the Boston deal. The Sox also greased the skids by making a “generous donation” to two Renteria-sponsored charities in Colombia. This obvious attempt to demonstrate respect must have
Former Cardinals on the
Infielder Wilson Delgado
(2003, spring training 2004) signed a minor league deal with the Florida Marlins and received an invitation to spring training.
Other Central Division News
Icon Agent Scott Boras
is traveling next week to do some last minute Christmas shopping and while at it, may speak with Yankees and Astros ownership
about free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran.A rumored casualty of Astros
cash hoarding to try to pay Beltran may be pitcher Wade Miller.A report
from the Houston Chronicle suggests Miller may be non-tendered if he doesn’t accept a deal prior to the deadline.Miller missed significant time in 2004 with a shoulder injury.
Walton’s take:Miller would be an interesting
gamble for the Cards.If they collect enough risky starters, the odds are that
someone will have to come through.
As expected, the Cardinals
are busy exploring a number of free agent and trade alternatives to restock their middle infield starters.
Players whose agents I believe
have been contacted by the Cardinals:
Orlando Cabrera, shortstop.The former Expos and
Red Sox shortstop is the premier remaining free-agent shortstop.Other than the
Cardinals, perhaps the Mariners and the Angels may show interest.With many fewer
teams remaining in the shortstop derby, it will be interesting to see if Cabrera’s strategy of waiting until Renteria signed
will work out.It could just as easily backfire if the market softens.Perhaps the Cards are willing to wait Cabrera out.His current
demands are reported to be in Renteria territory.
Barry Larkin, shortstop.The career-long Cincinnati
Red will turn 41 years old in April.Larkin has been injury-prone over the latter
part of his career, averaging just a half-season (82 games) in four of his last five seasons.Only in 2002 did Larkin play a full campaign (145 games).He wants to
be a starter, but is finding teams want him as a back-up.The Cardinals reportedly
feel the same way.I wonder if he can play outfield.Just because he hasn’t in his first 19 seasons doesn’t mean he can’t start now.
Miguel Cairo, second base.Cairo started the 2004 season platooning
at second base for the New York Yankees, but took over for Enrique Wilson and put together a solid campaign, his best in at
least five seasons.However, the Yankees were unable to settle with Cairo and agreed to terms with Tony Womack instead.
Placido Polanco, second base.Polanco has to decide
if he is going to accept the Philadelphia Phillies’ offer of arbitration.In
the meantime, the Cardinals are among the teams with whom his agent has talked contract.The amount of deferred money proposed by the team may be the largest sticking point at this time.
Players who I believe have
been the result of trade inquiries:
Jerry Hairston, second base, Baltimore.Hairston has already lost the starting job for Baltimore to Brian Roberts
without even stepping on the field in 2005.The 28-year-old played the outfield
in 2004, but the Orioles are well-stocked there already.When healthy, Hairston
is a very good leadoff man.He’s improved his batting average and on-base percentage
each of the last three seasons.However, he missed much of the last two seasons
with injury.While he made only $1.65 million last season, some reports have
suggested that Hairston will be non-tendered.Instead, my sources suggest that
the O’s will keep Hairston long enough to get value in return.
Orlando Hudson, second base, Toronto.Hudson just turned 27 and has 2-1/2 years of major league experience.His minimum salary for a player with that service time makes Hudson more appealing.Unless he is a “Super Two”, Hudson has one more
low-budget season left.On the field, he lacks the speed of Hairston, but has
more pop, having driven in 57 and 58 runs the past two seasons.Hudson has improved his on-base percentage each year, registering a .341 mark in 2004.
MLB.com reports that left
handed reliever Ray King has agreed to re-sign with the Cardinals for 2005 and 2006.The team holds an option for 2007.Terms were not immediately available.King was eligible for arbitration after making $1 million last season.
Walton’s take:Unless the dollars are incredibly
absurd, it was a good idea to lock King up now.He has proven himself to be both
durable and effective.With Steve Kline gone, King will be expected to carry
a heavy load in the upcoming seasons.In fact, unless another trusty bullpen
lefty surfaces, King may get more work against right handed hitters, who hit .248 against him last season.Left handed batters registered a mark of just .150 when facing King.
Edgar’s Deal Taken
$4 million signing bonus.Salaries of $7 million, $8 million, $9 million and $9 million.The 2009 buyout is 3 million or the team has an $11 million option for that season.
Walton’s take:As I said the other day, the Cardinals’
deal, while fair, was not as close as one would think.If Boston's option is
exercized, the four-year, $40 million deal would grow to a five-year, $48 million deal.Plus, the Cards deal included interest on the deferred money.How much
more would the Sox deal be worth if Edgar invested his signing bonus and that amount was added to the $40 or $48 million?
Edgar’s Deals Not Taken
The Providence Journal states
that Edgar Renteria turned down a five-year, $50 million deal and a four-year, $44 million offer before joining the Red Sox.The Journal was not sure which teams were involved, though they suspected Seattle and Detroit, not necessarily in that order.
Walton’s take:Was the Cards’ deal really only
Diaz Deal Doings
Catcher Einar Diaz’ contract
for $600,000 also includes another $225,000 in performance bonuses.
Reliever Al Reyes will be
back on a $600,000 contract.
Walton’s take:A good, low-cost option in the
Former Cardinals on the
Lefty reliever Jason
Christiansen (2000-01) re-signed with the San Francisco Giants while catcher Mike DiFelice (1996-97, 2002) joined
the Florida Marlins after spending much of 2004 in Triple-A.In what some called
a salary dump, Eli Marrero (1997-2003) moved from Atlanta to Kansas City in a trade for a minor league pitcher.He will remain exclusively an
outfielder and platoon in left for the Royals.
With the recent signings
of Mike Matheny with the San Francisco Giants and Edgar Renteria by the Boston Red Sox, seven of the nine Cardinals free agents
now have 2005 homes. With that, it is time to again update our Birdhouse contest standings.
Three, Cal Eldred, John
Mabry and Matt Morris, are returning to the Cardinals, Tony Womack is still slated to sign with the New York Yankees and Woody
Williams joined the San Diego Padres.
Only three readers predicted
many as three of the seven, and as a result, are tied for first place.Two of
the readers correctly identified the three Cardinals’ returnees.They are J Koch
and David Sueme.Christian D also correctly selected three.He missed on Matt Morris, but gets a big nod for being the only entrant to put Woody in San Diego.
Actually, there is a fourth
contest participant who has also three correct answers.It is none other than
Birdhouse co-editor Ray Mileur, who was the only person who correctly called the Renteria signing in Boston. Maybe we shouldn’t count that one.
At the other end of the
spectrum, there are ten readers, myself included, who still have only one correct answer.Only because of the widely-expected return of John Mabry, not a single predictor has been shut out. For us, the chance to win this contest is officially over.Mathematical
elimination is no less painful than the real thing.
Womack and Matheny were
the longest shots, as not a single contestant correctly identified their new teams in advance.
Look for another progress
report as Steve Kline and Ray Lankford decide their 2005 homes.All of the leaders
have Kline on the Yankees in 2005.So, it could come down to Lankford, as Sueme
is the only leader who has him playing in 2005 (for the Cardinals).
It that still does
not break the tie, the decision will fall to the tiebreaker, as only two of the three leaders will win a prize.(Ray gets nothing!)The tiebreaker is the number of free agents
from other teams that the Cardinals will have signed by March 1.The current
number is one, catcher Einar Diaz, but that is sure to change in the upcoming weeks.
Edgar Renteria’s own words
are what he "most wanted was respect and to be valued as a player" (Boston Globe).After
clearly thinking that they had met those requirements, the Cardinals ended up “surprised and disappointed” (Joe Strauss, Post-Dispatch)
when Edgar made his decision to sign with Boston.
In Edgar’s view, the Cardinals
apparently fell short on both counts; respect and value.
Respect.It may seem like an intangible to some, but is especially important in the Latin American cultures.Respect was something that Edgar stated he received more of from Boston than the Cardinals.Some cynics might argue that respect is the same as value is the same as money, but there is more to it
Without knowing exactly
what was said to whom when, I want to believe Walt Jocketty’s assertion that maximum respect was shown by the Cardinals.To that end, Jocketty “seemed befuddled” by Renteria’s comments (Bernie Miklasz, P-D).There are some good examples to support Walt’s reaction.
Think of La Russa’s repeated
designation of Edgar as “The Captain”.One might surmise that La Russa had selected
this time to publicly reemphasize the value of Edgar’s quiet, not generally-known leadership.That is clearly respect.
The fact that La Russa by
nature is more hands-on than many managers in personnel issues also helped respect Edgar.Fluent in Spanish, La Russa personally spoke with Edgar multiple times throughout the process, according to the P-D.
However, that must not have
been good enough.Again, Renteria to The Globe, "I know the St. Louis team and fans wanted me to stay, but [management] didn't try hard to keep me -- that's what I felt in the negotiations."
Sadly, respect for Edgar
in Boston may be a hit and miss proposition.As
even the Boston press acknowledges, the hypercritical nature of Red Sox Nation may prove to
be difficult at times for Renteria to handle.But, of course, that would be in
All the right things will
be said by all the right people on Friday, when the signing press conference is expected.Time will tell.
Now, let’s shift to the
other factor, value.
Value.The by-year terms of Boston’s offer of $40 million for four years, plus an option for the fifth year, have
not yet been released.However, The Globe says the Sox’ winning bid contains
“mostly upfront money”.The P-D clearly stated that the Red Sox deal has no deferred
cash.In addition, the Sox deal also has that option year, which the Cards bid
apparently did not.
We can surmise that the
fifth year is a team option.If it were a player option, that amount would be
guaranteed to the player and therefore, added into the base of the contract.In
that less likely case, say the base contract is four years, $38 million, with a $2 million player option for 2009.That is how one could get to 4/40.Again, I use that as an
illustration only.Signs point to a team option for year five that is not included
in the $40 million, raising its perceived, if not real, value even further.
Further ahead of what?The P-D reports the Cards raised their offer to $36 million on Monday.Deferred money and interest “could have brought the package up to $39 million.” Could have.
Despite Miklasz’ contention
that the Cardinals “virtually matched” the Red Sox’ offer, I don’t see it that way.One deal sure looks more appealing than the other.Clearly, Renteria thought
so too, or he would still be a Cardinal.
Outside factors.Numerous Boston sources made a direct connection between the agreement between Pedro Martinez
and the New York Mets on Monday and the additional money the Red Sox added to close the Renteria deal on Tuesday.An indirect connection has been made suggesting a strong desire by the Sox to strike quickly after the
bad news of them losing Pedro came to light.Now that shoe is squarely on the
Perspective.Overall, contract escalation across MLB and specifically, the size of this deal seems high to a mid-market
team like the Cardinals.However, it has a lot to do with one’s perspective.It is worth remembering that former Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra turned down a
four-year, $60 million extension last off-season.The Red Sox, with a payroll
that looks to be 50% higher than the Cardinals ($130 million range versus $85 million range) would do what St. Louis could not.The market simply priced Edgar out of the Cardinals willingness
La Russa confirmed that
to the P-D."I think we went beyond reasonable for us…There is a figure that
doesn't make sense for us. That money can only go so far. If another club wants
a guy for more than what you think the market is for him, then they've got him. I
thought $8 million was at the top of where we needed to be. That's what he indicated
he wanted to stay. And that still wasn't enough."
The Cardinals thought they
were where they “needed to be”, but as the Globe put it, Boston “trumped” them during the
Still, the Cards are far
from nowhere.They will respect and value others, too, as they fill out the 2005
The purpose of this article
is to provide answers to the question of what compensation the Cardinals may receive for Mike Matheny and Edgar Renteria,
two former players offered arbitration by the team.I say “may” instead of “will”
because this could change every time either signing team adds another free agent.More
on that below.
For those who are impatient
and just want the bottom line, here you go.The current answer is a late first
rounder, a late second rounder and two supplemental picks between the first and second rounds.
For those who want to understand
why, read on.First, the basics, repeated from my November 4 story, “Six Year
Free Agents Made Simple(r?)”.
Free Agent Types
There are four types of
free agents; Types A, B and C and others.They have been designated in this manner
since the settlement of the 1981 strike.The intent is to ensure the former team
is compensated for losing key players.
How Players are Rated
The Elias Sports Bureau
runs statistical calculations for each league based on two-year results in areas like batting average, home runs, RBI and
starts, innings, ERA, strikeouts and saves.First, they place every player into
one of five position groupings, then based on the comparative results of the calculations for each grouping, into one of the
four Types; A, B, C or other.
Elias Position Groupings
First base / Outfield (plus
Designated Hitter in AL)
Second base / Shortstop
/ Third Base
Compensation by Player
Compared to all players
in that position grouping
Signing team compensation
to former team if arbitration was offered (or if the player signs by December 7)
First round pick or (if
in first half of draft), a second round pick instead
Supplemental (or extra)
pick at end of first round
31 – 50%
First round pick or (if
in first half of draft), a second round pick instead
51 - 60%
Supplemental pick after
61 – 100%
With all that in mind, let’s
start with the San Francisco Giants.They have picked up three Type A free agents
to date.The calendar order or sequence in which they signed is immaterial.In fact, the only column in the table below that matters is the comparative Elias
Rankings.That alone determines which former team gets which of the Giants’ picks.
As a result, the Marlins
own the Giants’ first round pick (#22) because Armando Benitez has a higher ranking than Mike Matheny.When Matheny signed, he bumped Omar Vizquel down the pecking order, as the Cards now hold the Giants’ second
rounder.All three former teams get a supplemental pick between the first two
Giants Free-Agent Signings
Rank w/in league, position
Elias Ranking w/in league,
position and type
Round pick lost
Moving on to the Boston
Red Sox, when Edgar Renteria is signed, he will be the third free-agent signee by the Red Sox also.In this case, so far Renteria is the highest ranking Type A free agent the Sox brought in, so the Sox’
late first rounder would go to the Cards.They would also get the supplemental
first rounder like all Type As fetch.
Prior to Renteria, the Padres
would have received that first rounder for Wells.Now, it will slide to a second-rounder.
Note:Matt Mantei is included here for illustration purposes only.Since
he was not offered arbitration by the Diamondbacks, they will not receive any compensation for him.
Red Sox Free-Agent Signings
Rank w/in league, position
Elias Ranking w/in league,
position and type
Round pick lost
So, in conclusion, the Cards
get a late first rounder for Renteria, a late second rounder for Matheny and one first round supplemental pick for each.
While not equivalent to
what has been lost, these draft selections can be used to help the continued restocking of the farm system.Note these picks cannot be traded, but that is another story for another day.
Now, beware.As I said before, this pecking order may change when these two signing teams, the Giants and the Red Sox,
add other players via free agency.
P.S. Don’t Forget Womack
Interestingly enough, Tony Womack agreed to terms with the Yankees over a week ago, but has
still not signed.He is a Type C free agent, requiring no compensation from the
Yankees, but a supplemental second round pick will be awarded to the Cards
if/when he signs.
Following the major league
phase of the Rule 5 draft on Monday, 51 players were selected in the Triple-A part ($12,500) of the draft and another dozen
at the Double-A ($5,000) level.The Cardinals were busy, selecting three players
while losing two.
The 21st pick
in the Triple-A phase was third baseman Antonio Granadillo, who was taken by the Red Sox off the
Tennessee roster.Granadillo split the season between Johnson City and
New Jersey, and hit .297 combined.
The 23rd pick
went to the Cardinals, who selected second baseman Mathew Demarco from Florida.Demarco, 24, has already played eight seasons of minor league ball
for three different organizations.He was an 11th round pick of the
Dodgers in 1998.Demarco ended the 2004 season in Double-A, where he hit .273
with 45 RBI in 379 at-bats.He is a career .261 hitter.
At pick #40, the Cardinals
took right handed starter Jose Garcia from Texas.Garcia had mixed results in 2004.In the California League
(A), he registered an ERA of 7.00 in 72 innings.Joining the Midwest League,
Garcia delivered a 2.89 ERA in 56-2/3 innings.The 23-year-old Venezuelan reached
Double-A with the Rangers in 2003 after pitching at Single-A for the Yankees.He
was part of the Alfonso Soriano trade.
Right hander Josh
Teekel was taken from Tennessee by Florida at selection #50.Teekel, 24, started
for Palm Beach after missing the 2003 season.He
was the Cards’ sixth round pick back in 1999.
In the Double-A phase, the
Cards lost no players and selected one.That is right hander Justin Knoff
from the Cincinnati organization.He struck out 23
in 27 innings this past season, posting an ERA of 2.00.Knoff pitched in relief
and ended the season in the Midwest League.Knoff, 23, was the Reds’ 30th
round selection in the 2002 amateur draft.
Sadly, the Cardinals did
not protect left-hander Tyler Johnson on their 40-man roster.As a result, he
was selected by the Oakland A’s with the eighth pick in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft on Monday.
Johnson possesses an excellent
curve ball and is projected as a major league reliever.While his 2004 ERA of
4.79 at Tennessee was not impressive, his 77 strikeouts in 56-1/3 innings was.
All the Redbirds have to
show for Johnson is the paltry sum of $50,000.Why the team chose not to protect
Johnson instead of guys like Mike Mahoney amazes me.
Johnson must remain on the
A’s 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Cards for $25,000.With
a crowded roster in Oakland, that remains a possibility.
The Cardinals did not take
any players in the major league phase, as only twelve players were selected overall.
Joe Strauss of the P-D is
expecting the Cardinals to either increase the value of the four-year deal offered to Edgar Renteria or add an option for
a fifth year.But, one of Renteria’s two agents has already left the meetings,
indicating that a deal is not near.Implied was the $38 million mark for four
years or a fifth-year guarantee is what is desired.Peter Gammons identified
Seattle and Detroit as other serious suitors, making bigger offers than St. Louis.The Angels are no longer interested.Lack of conclusion with
the Renteria situation seems to be limiting other actions on the part of Jocketty.
More deferred money?
Strauss speculates that
Jason Isringhausen and perhaps others will be asked to defer more money to free up room for Edgar.He also notes Izzy’s deferral offer will probably also affect his 2006 option, implying it could be guaranteed
The P-D reports that Mike
Matheny has agreed to a three-year, $9 million contract with the Giants and is en route to San Francisco for a Monday announcement.
Revised Hudson offer
The Cards are allegedly
pushing Jeff Suppan, Rick Ankiel and Kiko Calero.The A’s reportedly prefer Jason
Marquis, Dan Haren or Ankiel plus catching prospect Daric Barton.As a result,
it seems the two sides are not close.
Burnett a new entrant
The Miami Herald links pitcher
A.J. Burnett to the Cardinals – along with the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers and Diamondbacks.The latter deal would be yet another variation of the three-way trade with the Yankees getting Randy Johnson.
Yearning for Yan?
The Anaheim Angels are “on
the verge” of signing Esteban Yan to a two-year contract for about $3 million says the LA Times.Unbelievable.
Manny on the block again
Various news services state
the Red Sox are again trying to trade outfielder Manny Ramirez, this time to the Mets, ostensibly to free up money to acquire
other players.Does this have any impact on the Renteria situation?One version of the story has shortstop Kaz Matsui involved.The
Mets might get on Renteria if they move Matsui.
Milton maybe not a Yankee
Eric Milton is not leaping
at the three-year, $21 million contract proposed by the New York Yankees.As
a result, they may pull the offer.Milton wants $8
million per.Eric, take it, man.
Boras cooking deals
Agent Scott Boras is under
increasing criticism that not only are his clients not signing, but they are slowing the overall market.His response in the Detroit News is that he expects one or two of his clients to be signed by the end of
the day Monday.That could mean Michigan native
Derek Lowe or J.D. Drew, to whom the Tigers have already offered $9 million per year.Rotoworld speculates one of them is Kevin Millwood, who would sign an incentive-laden one year deal with either the
Cardinals or Braves.Matthew Leach reports that Boras’ Sunday meeting with the Cards was a “full roster evaluation”, but got no specifics.
I was waiting for Edgar
Renteria to sign before writing this update, but I am beginning to believe that nothing is going to happen with Edgar for
some time.Since five of the nine Cardinals free agents have 2005 homes now,
an update of the standings is still warranted.
The five resolved are Cal
Eldred, John Mabry and Matt Morris returning to the Cardinals, Tony Womack to the New York Yankees and Woody Williams to the
San Diego Padres.
Only three readers have
as many as three of the five correct, and as a result, are tied for first place.Two
of the readers correctly identified the three Cardinals’ returnees.They are
J Koch and David Sueme.Christian D also correctly selected three.He missed on Matt Morris, but gets a big nod for being the only entrant to put Woody in San Diego.
At the other end of the
spectrum, there are ten readers, myself included, who have only one correct answer so far.Primarily due to the return of John Mabry, not a single predictor has been shut out.
Look for the next update
in the near future as the status of Steve Kline, Ray Lankford, Mike Matheny and Edgar Renteria is decided.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports
that Edgar’s agent, Jeff Lane, re-approached Walt Jocketty to tell him that Renteria was not close to signing with the Red Sox.This smells like a ploy to induce the Cards to increase their bid of four years, $32 million.Peter Gammons says it is only 50-50 that the Red Sox will have enough money left to offer Renteria four
years, $38 million after paying for top priorities Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek. Implied
was that the big Red Sox offer has not yet been tendered.On Sunday, Lane met
with the Detroit Tigers, with whom he had a “very impressive” meeting.Why the
Tigers want another shortstop when they already have one seems odd, but not out of the question.Looks to me like Lane is trying his best to drive up the price for the Cardinals.Here’s hoping Walt holds firm.
The Toronto Sun calls Steve Kline the Blue Jays’ top priority after Corey Koskie and Matt Clement.
The Cards set their top
amount they would pay.Unless Renteria is willing to take less than Boston’s offer to return to the Cardinals,
he is gone.However, Peter Gammons says Saturday’s reports of Renteria’s imminent
signing by Boston were premature.The Red Sox’ top
priority is to ensure they have enough cash to re-sign Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek.We should know more today.
Renteria’s agents, Barry
Meister and Jeffrey Lane, are pushing hard to get the best deal possible for their client while Renteria
is sitting at home in Colombia.While I do not know this, I have
a feeling that when push comes to shove, Edgar will decide to stay in St. Louis.Maybe I am being too optimistic, but I still think it could happen.
Jocketty is saying he will
use the Renteria money on pitching if Edgar leaves.But, it may be too late for
several of the top pitching prizes.
The Los Angeles Daily News
reports the Dodgers are “heavy favorites” to sign Matt Clement.
The San Jose Mercury News
reports the Dodgers will announce the acquisition of Tim Hudson on Sunday for pitcher Edwin Jackson and second baseman Antonio
Perez.The P-D says the Cards will not part with Jason Marquis and lack the second
baseman the A’s desire.The Sporting News’ Ken Rosenthal says the Yankees and
Red Sox are trying to work deals for Hudson.
As Ray Mileur reported here
first yesterday, the P-D reported today that the Cards have spoken with agent Scott Boras about free agent pitcher Derek Lowe.They also inquired about another Boras client,
Kevin Millwood.Given Boras is involved, do
not expect quick signings.
The P-D mentions all three
as possibilities if the Cards cannot get Hudson.Forget the A’s guys. GM Billy
Beane will not trade two of his starters after Mark Redman and Hudson are gone.Maybe
in 12 months, but not now.Milton seems to
be a lock to join the Yankees.
The Post-Dispatch says that
Cards will not increase their two-year, $4 million offer to Mike Matheny.They
expect to lose him to the Giants, Dodgers or perhaps, Pirates.
The P-D reports what we
assumed all along.Matt Morris will not be able to start the season in the rotation
due to his shoulder surgery and is projected not to be ready to throw 100 pitches until the sixth week of the season (mid-May).He may be ready to start the season in the bullpen.
As a result of the Morris
situation, Dan Haren has been mentioned as the #5 starter in the interim.Of
course, trades and signings could change this.
The Cards have had preliminary
talks with free agent shortstop Barry Larkin’s agent.Signing a fragile 40-year-old
is not something I ever hope to see happen.Want to be scared for a minute?Think about a double-play combination of Larkin and Roberto Alomar.Let’s hope it never gets to that point.
The team will act on Placido
Polanco if Renteria is not signed.They are also interested in Miguel Cairo,
who lost his job to Tony Womack in New York.Jocketty has not spoken to TampaBay about shortstop Julio Lugo.
Don’t forget that the Rule
5 draft is Monday.Cardinals Tyler Johnson and John Nelson are at greatest risk
of being selected.Expect the Cards to at least make a Triple-A selection as
they did last year with shortstop Rayner Laya.
Cubs Frustrated Again
Brewers closer Dan Kolb
was traded to the Braves Saturday for pitcher Jose Capellan and a player to be named.The Cubs had tried to get Kolb earlier without success.Too bad for them!
Rick Ankiel seems to be
alternating good and bad starts.Friday, he gave up three runs and six hits in
2-1/3 innings yesterday for Carolina of the Puerto Rican League.Ankiel struck out four but walked none.He uncorked a wild pitch and made an error. For
the winter, Ankiel is now 1-1 with a 3.57 ERA.His strikeout to walk ratio is
a strong 29/3 in 22-2/3 innings and his strikeout total leads the league.Battermate Yadier Molina is hitting .250.
Third baseman Steve Seabol
left the Mazatlan Deer of the Mexican Winter League after hitting just .140 in ten games.Seabol was added to the Cardinals’ 40-man roster last month.
Gall South of the Border
John Gall, playing left
field, made his first appearance of the Mexican Winter League season on Friday for the Mazatlan Deer.He went 1-for-4.Just like last season, Gall joined the Deer
mid-season as Seabol left.
Matheny in Demand
The Los Angeles Dodgers
and San Francisco Giants have expressed interest in free agent catcher Mike Matheny.
The Boston Herald quotes
a “source close to” Pedro Martinez, who claimed the Cardinals placed a three-year deal on the table that Pedro would “seriously
consider accepting”.Later, they backed off to say only that there is strong
However, as usual, another
source says just the opposite.Saturday morning, the Boston Globe quoted an unnamed
Cardinals official as saying the team was “not pursuing” Martinez.
I am with the Globe, as
we have believed all along here that Pedro will not be a Cardinal.
The Globe goes on to note
that the Sox are making a run at Edgar Renteria as Joe Strauss of the P-D reports Renteria’s demands are up to four years,
$40 million.Jocketty mentioned a “soft deadline” to sign him, which is really
no deadline at all.
The Globe notes there are
now eight teams after Tim Hudson.Jocketty’s comments in the P-D imply he is
working harder on Renteria than getting a starting pitcher right now.Don’t wait
too long, Walt!
Ken Rosenthal of The Sporting
News suggests the Cards remain in the Matt Clement hunt along with four other teams.
Rosenthal and Strauss join
those who have mentioned the idea of a Yankees, Diamondbacks, three-team deal for Randy Johnson that would put Javier Vazquez
in St. Louis.No one seems to think this is
Birdhouse contributing writer
Joe Mammy gave me a clear opening the other day to slam ESPN’s Peter Gammons and I passed.Maybe a bad decision, as I can’t let the opportunity pass twice.
In his first report from
the winter meetings, Gammons provided an update on Edgar Renteria, telling the world that Walt Jocketty has upped his offer
to $36 million for four years.This was apparently in response to the Detroit
Tigers having made that proposal first.Better yet, Boston supposedly also matched the
earlier four years for $32 million bid.
Fair enough?Well, not so fast.In the very next sentence, neither missing
a beat, nor explaining the obvious contradiction, Gammons throws more on the wall.He
points out that catcher Jason Varitek’s $9 million per year means the Red Sox will go for a cost cutting shortstop, such as
Pokey Reese or Craig Counsell.Julio Lugo and Kaz Matsui were named, but only
if the team is willing to raise its budget to $140 million.
I guess if you throw enough
names out there, you’ll eventually be right.By my count, Gammons linked five
other shortstops to the Red Sox in two paragraphs, barely mentioning their own incumbent, Orlando Cabrera.
But, let’s return to the
most important point.If this is true, Renteria’s price is getting too rich.It’s got to be getting to the point where Jocketty will need to move to Plan B if
he is going to be used just to leverage Edgar’s price up and up.
Hudson Stealth Bid Lost
In his past dealings, Walt
Jocketty has done best when flying under the radar.Now that the winter meetings
have started, his cover has been blown.Not only does everyone know that he is
after Oakland’s Tim Hudson, now other teams are able to make other possibly stronger bids.
Nothing more substantive
is known now, but my gut tells me the odds decrease by the hour.Given the likely
escalating price, that might be just fine.
Cardinal Nation is ablaze
over trade rumors for Oakland A’s starter Tim Hudson, allegedly in return for Jason Marquis and Dan Haren.First, note that the deal is not done; just rumored.Others have different guesses on which players might be involved, but it’s the usual subjects – Ankiel, Barton and
Calero.But, there is no doubt that Hudson would surely
be that true #1 pitcher the team has longed for.
However, the true measure
of the deal will be if a contract extension is involved, and if so, under what terms.
Hudson is signed for 2005 for $6 million and wanted an extension from the A’s prior
to March 1 or he will become a free agent at the end of the season.Simply put,
if there is an extension involved and it is for a decent price, this could be a good trade.If there is no extension or if the contract is for an above-market price, the trade will not look nearly as good as
we may watch Marquis and Haren win games for Oakland for many years to come.
The most optimistic scenario
I could envision is that the Cards and A’s have agreed in principle, with Jocketty given 72 hours of exclusivity to try to
negotiate an extension with Hudson.Both sides would agree to keep it quiet until
resolution one way or another.However, practically speaking, Walt’s time is
short.Once the general managers get together, any tentative deal could come
unraveled in a hurry.Hudson is a highly-desirable
Now, there is always the
chance that Jocketty will roll the dice and bring Hudson to town and use playing for the team to sell the extension.However, this would be a much higher risk than when he did it with Mark McGwire back in 1997.After all, Marquis and Haren are a much bigger loss than Eric Ludwick, T.J. Mathews and Blake Stein.
The mainstream media will
do a better job than I of recapping Hudson’s stats and pointing out how good of a pitcher he is.Trust them all.92-39 won-loss record, former 20-game winner,
career 3.30 ERA, etc.He is really, really good.I would just add that Hudson is adept at inducing the ground ball, which will serve him well, especially
if the middle of the Cardinals infield is set with guys who can catch and throw.
Let’s face it.Those who seemingly
want to see the entire 2004 Cardinals roster return are living in the past, just like those great Cardinals teams of the 1930’s.The reality of baseball is that players need to move on due to age, injury, ineffectiveness
or yes, even salary considerations.
It may be boring to read, but I agree with every single move that Walt Jocketty
made on Tuesday.Perhaps that is because I had already predicted most all of
them.The only exceptions were Matt Morris, due to his recent surgery, and Cal
Eldred, which is a very low risk deal.
Let’s quickly at each situation.
Williams – Not tendered.The
team needs to improve at two starting pitching spots and Williams held one of them.He would not have signed at the reduced amount the Cards would have offered him.Offering Woody arbitration would have been utterly stupid, as he would have been guaranteed $6 million or more.Wish him luck in whatever he decides to do next.
Morris – Agreed to $2.5 million one-year deal with $4.5 million in incentives.This situation changed with Morris recent surgery and is a good hedge by Walt.If nothing else, Morris can be a long reliever/spot starter until his strength is
back.After all, he’s worth as much as Julian Tavarez, isn’t he?And if Morris comes through and achieves all his incentives, the Cards will have a pretty darned good hurler.
Renteria – Offered arbitration.Good first step, but the Cards are not out of the woods yet.Edgar either
needs to sign or at least accept arbitration as the next step.The market for
$8 million plus per year shortstops is dwindling, but there could still be a surprise suitor out there.I still believe a deal will be worked out for him to return.But,
I believe it will not be a one year deal via arbitration.Edgar might make more
in the long haul by taking a one year contract and having a better 2005, then cashing in bigger next year.But, he plays best when uncertainties in his life are reduced.
Matheny – Offered arbitration.I was one of the few who was not surprised by this, though I think it may take more than two years, $4 million to sign
Mike.Yadier Molina’s future is becoming cloudier as a result.Think trade.
Mabry – One year, $750,000.Likely
was willing to take less to return.Comparable to last year’s deal and great
for both parties.A very good signing.
Eldred – One year, $600,000.If
I had thought Cal
would accept a 33% pay cut, I would have predicted his re-signing.Like Mabry,
he obviously wants to remain a Cardinal.It is low risk, even if he doesn’t pitch
well enough in the spring to make the team.
Kline – Non-tendered.Kline
will likely fetch $6 million for two years on the open market.The Cards have
Ray King and other options for a second lefty that are much less pricey.Good
Womack – Two years, $4 million from the Yankees.Good for Tony.Only Steinbrenner would take this kind of risk.All I can think of is the parallel with 35-year-old Fernando Vina getting a bloated
two-year deal from the Tigers and delivering almost nothing.There will be other
second base/leadoff hitter options that are lower risk and potentially higher reward.
I’d like nothing better than to see both Womack and Kline in the other dugout
in the World Series, but I would not commit up to $10 million to keep them for two years.That money is needed elsewhere.
While I give Walt an “A” to date, this is just the first term of a four-semester
class.So far, so good, but there is a lot of work remaining ahead.
Anyone who thinks the Cardinals
are going to sign a big-name free agent pitcher such as Pedro Martinez or Eric Milton should think again.A review of Walt Jocketty’s recent history shows that he’ll make his big move via trade and more than likely,
While arbitration is currently
on everyone’s minds, let’s remember that this upcoming week has been one of the most fruitful trading periods of the year
for Jocketty during his decade of service as the Cardinals’ general manager, both in terms of additions and additions by subtraction.
With the 2004 General Managers
Meeting starting on Friday in Anaheim,
California, let’s look back at a few recent examples of how the master of trades productively spent his early-winter
December 14, 1998 – Edgar Renteria
is traded from the Florida Marlins to the Cardinals in return for Armando Almanza, Braden Looper and Pablo Ozuna.
Renteria survived one year
longer following the Marlins’ stunning 1997 World Series victory than most of his teammates, like Al Leiter, Moises Alou,
Kevin Brown and many more who were scattered to the winds in the Fish’ budget tightening.As soon as Renteria headed toward joining them in big bucks land via the promise of arbitration, he was traded away.
December 21, 1999 – Fernando
Vina becomes a Cardinal, coming from the Milwaukee Brewers in return for Juan Acevedo and two players to be named later (Eliezer
Alfonzo and Matt Parker).
Vina sparked the top of
the Cardinals lineup and played Gold Glove defense, but his on-base percentage dropped each of his three subsequent seasons
after he sported a solid .380 OBP in 2000.Vina missed most of 2003 due to injuries
and after signing with Detroit, only played in 29 games last season.
1999 preview.The signing of Vina was actually
a holiday bonus, as Walt apparently got most of his 1999 Christmas shopping done early.He had already done pretty well for himself and the team following the November General Managers Meeting.
On November 12, 1999, Jocketty added Pat Hentgen and Paul Spoljaric from Toronto as the
Blue Jays were shedding salaries.He sent Lance Painter, Alberto Castillo and
minor leaguer Mark DeWitt up north.Hentgen won 15 games in his only Cardinals
Four days later, the Cardinals
blockbuster of that off-season was announced, as Darryl Kile, Dave Veres and Luther Hackman became Cardinals.The Colorado Rockies received Manny Aybar, Brett Butler, Rick Croushore and Jose Jimenez in return.We all know how that one turned out, too.
December 14, 2000 – Steve Kline
and Dustin Hermanson join the Cardinals from the Montreal Expos in return for Fernando Tatis and Britt Reames.
At the time, it felt like
a strange trade, even a bad one, perhaps.Tatis was an acknowledged slugger seemingly
coming into his prime and already signed to a long-term deal.In April 1999,
Tatis became the only player in the history of the game to smack two grand slams in the same inning.However, we all know what Kline has meant to the Cards in the four seasons since and Hermanson delivered
a 14-13, 4.45 ERA in the 2001 season.Tatis floundered badly after leaving St. Louis and his career seems to be over.
December 15, 2001 – Dustin Hermanson
was traded to the Boston Red Sox for three prospects, Dustin Brisson, Luis Garcia and Rick Asadoorian.
OK, not a blockbuster.And, the fact that none of the three prospects received made it to the bigs is not
all that bad.Hermanson and his $6.5 million guaranteed 2002 contract was dispatched
to make room for others.As much as I would like to fool myself into believing
the money was used for Jason Isringhausen, the truth is that Izzy had been signed the month before.The Hermanson savings was instead used to ink free agent first baseman Tino Martinez.Not one of Walt’s best moments.
December 15, 2002 – Brett Tomko
joins the Cardinals in a trade with the San Diego Padres for reliever Luther Hackman and a player to be named later.
Jocketty was hailed for
adding a proven starter without having to break up his core of position players as was thought to be required.Tomko surely had his ups and downs during his one season wearing the birds on the bat, but did manage to
win 13 games.And yes, upon joining the Cardinals, Tomko was arbitration-eligible,
undoubtedly easing the deal.
December 13, 2003 – Jason Marquis,
Ray King and Adam Wainwright join the Cardinals from the Atlanta Braves in return for J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero.
While Drew had a standout
campaign for the Braves in 2004, the Cardinals’ offense got along just fine without him.Marquis’ 15 wins and King’s 62 appearances with a 2.61 ERA were crucial elements of the Cardinals’ National League
championship mix.King allowed just one home run all season in 86 appearances.Plus, with the money saved, Jocketty also signed Reggie Sanders and Jeff Suppan.
Trades, not Free Agency
In a final attempt to use
the past to predict the future as well as to point out that chasing name brand free agents like Martinez or Milton won’t be the solution, I offer the following.
In my research for this
story, I ran across multiple examples of the “kick the tires of the new cars, but eventually trade for the used one, instead”
strategy that Jocketty has employed consistently and effectively over the years.Here
are but three of the many from past seasons.Note their timing, just prior to
From AP on signing Greg
"I don't know," Jocketty
said. "It's certainly more money than we have available. But they also, they could be creative with how it would be structured.
It would probably be pretty tough."
From ESPN’s Peter Gammons
on November 2, 2000:
Q:Can the Cardinals afford to get in on (free agent pitchers Mike) Mussina and Mike Hampton?
A:"Maybe," says GM Walt Jocketty. "It's something we have to sit down and assess, because our payroll obligations
for next season are high."
From CNN/SI on December 2, 1998:
Cards wonder if pockets deep enough to
sign Padres ace
The St. Louis Cardinals are prepared to
make a bid for free agent pitcher Kevin Brown, but general manager Walt Jocketty isn't sure he can meet Brown's lofty asking
Jocketty said Tuesday that the team has
yet to make an offer for Brown, who went 18-7 with a 2.38 ERA last season for San Diego. Brown's
agent, Scott Boras, says his client has two six-year offers on the table and wants to start the bidding at $75 million.
Jocketty said it would
be "pretty tough" for the Cardinals to go past a five-year deal but he still remains hopeful. He doesn't expect any deal to
be reached before next week's winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
"They're not going to
do anything without talking to us," Jocketty said. "We'll see if we can pull off a miracle in the next few weeks."
Finally, the photo caption
with the story says:“If the Cardinals lose the Kevin Brown sweepstakes, management
might trade with the Diamondbacks for a starter.”
On Sunday, Rick Ankiel pitched
a five-hit, seven-inning shutout for Carolina in the Puerto Rican league.The complete game win
was in the first of a doubleheader.One one hand, Ankiel fanned seven and walked
none and allowed just one extra base hit.On the other, he hit two more batters
and uncorked a wild pitch.
King Strong Supporter
of Drug Testing
I really like this guy and
now, even more.From the San Francisco Chronicle:"If it takes putting Bud, Don (Fehr, union chief) and doctors in a room, locking 'em up and not letting 'em out until
they get something resolved, I'm all for it."
“I can only speak for myself.
I'm willing, if they want to come knocking on my door, to be tested. Give me the cup. I enjoy playing the game, and I'm open
to whatever we need to do to put a bright spot back on baseball.”
Outfielder Ricky Ledee agreed
to terms on a two-year, $2.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.The
only reason it is noted here is due to its size.We’re talking about a million
and a quarter for a journeyman fourth outfielder here.Ledee is coming off a
.233 2004 campaign, is a career .242 hitter and has never had 260 at-bats in a season.He’s joining his sixth team in five years.Guys like John Mabry have to
feel good when they see deals like this.
Gammons on Clement
ESPN’s Peter Gammons calls
the Dodgers and the Cardinals the leaders in signing Cubs free agent Matt Clement, with a deal possible at the upcoming winter
meetings.However, later reports say that the Cubs will offer Clement arbitration.It is unknown at this time if Clement would decline.
Renteria to Reunite with
There are rumors that the
Detroit Tigers may make a run at Edgar Renteria, as general manager Dave Dombrowski knows Edgar well from their time together
in Florida.The Tigers have been willing to
overpay for free agents they desire.The story goes on to say that incumbent
Carlos Guillen would move to third to make room for Edgar.Free agent third baseman
Troy Glaus reportedly already has a Tigers offer on the table, though, so something would have to give.
Riggleman Returns to
Jim Riggleman was named
Cardinals minor league field coordinator, replacing Jim Humphreys, who is retiring after the season.Riggleman registered a .472 winning percentage in eight seasons as manager of the Padres and Cubs in the
90’s.Prior to that, he was Cardinals player development director and first base
coach under Whitey Herzog.It had been expected for some time that Riggo would
not be returning to the Dodgers, where he was their bench coach for the last four seasons.
Four Minor League Deals
Baseball America reported that the Cardinals have signed four players to minor league contracts.They are outfielder Brandon Berger, first baseman Bo Robinson and right handed pitchers Chuck Bechtel and
Toby Borland.The Cardinals also placed right handed pitcher Shane Reedy on the
Cubs Add ex-Cards Trainer
The Cubs hired Mark O'Neal
as their new head athletic trainer. He was previously the Cardinals’ assistant athletic trainer.O'Neal had worked in the Cardinals organization for 15 years, including five years as medical and rehabilitation
coordinator at the major league level.
With the December 7 deadline
for offering arbitration upon us, it is an especially-appropriate time to look back over recent arbitration history.As the table below shows, the number of players filing for arbitration has declined
four consecutive seasons from a peak of 102 back in 2001.
An important design point
of the arbitration process is to provide the time and opportunity for the two parties to come to agreement prior to the actual
hearing.The numbers show that hearing avoidance is successful 89% of the time,
which is pretty effective.
However, owners need not
be overly concerned from a financial perspective if they have to go to the hearing.Over the past ten years, ownership’s offer has been accepted by the arbitrator just short of 2/3 of the time.
MLB Arbitration Summary
– 1995 through 2004
# Players Filed
# Hearings Held
85 = 11%
31 = 36%
54 = 64%
A ten-year analysis is an
optimal period for another reason, as that coincides with Walt Jocketty’s reign as the general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.
It doesn’t take long looking
at the Cardinals’ subset of the arbitration data to draw a few conclusions.First,
the Cardinals actually have had a slightly-higher percentage of arbitration filers than the average club, with 32 filers of
the 782 total.The MLB team average is 26 filers over the ten years.
However, in the past three
years, the number of Cardinals filings has declined even more dramatically than MLB overall, totaling just four.That three-year sum is less than either of the two years prior, 2000 and 2001, when five players filed
Of course, the most telling
statistic can be seen to the right of the exhibit below.In his decade-long tenure
as the Cardinals’ general manager, Walt Jocketty has had to actually go to the arbitration hearing with just one player.That was former starting pitcher Darren Oliver back in 1999, a case which the Cardinals
won.During that same period, the average MLB team had three hearings.
What does this tell us?While the Cardinals have had more than their fair share of arbitration filers, for
the players he wants to keep, Jocketty does a better job than most in settling prior to a potentially-distracting and contentious
arbitration hearing.In fact, his actions would imply he is arbitration hearing-averse,
which is how the system is supposed to work, anyway.
St. Louis Cardinals Arbitration Summary – 1995 through 2004
Another interesting factoid
is that along with pitchers, Cardinals middle infielders seem to be more inclined to file than the norm.For seven straight years, from 1996 through 2001, there was one Cardinal middle infielder among the team’s
Specifically, Edgar Renteria
is not afraid of filing, having done so prior to both the 1999 and 2000 seasons.Those
were his first two seasons of eligibility, having been a Super Two in 1998-1999.Renteria
joined the Cardinals in a trade with the Florida Marlins in December, 1998.
Fear on the part of the
Marlins of Renteria getting a large salary increase in arbitration was a factor in Jocketty being able to pull off that deal.That is an important factor to keep in mind over the upcoming days and weeks.Players offered arbitration from budget-conscious teams are prime trade targets.Their teams don’t want to pay them, but they also can’t afford to lose them.So, the best way out is to offer arbitration, then trade the player.The receiving team has to assess their ability to sign the player before the hearing or be willing to risk
being held liable for the arbitration award.
This motivation is often
overlooked as the press tries to forecast potential trades and signings.Tomorrow,
I’ll look at some of Walt Jocketty’s deals during the Winter Meetings, a number of which were facilitated by the availability
of other teams’ arbitration-eligible players.
But, before I go, I want
to look back.A month ago, in two articles, “Free Agency Made Simple(r?)” and
“Three to Six Year Free Agents” elsewhere on this site, I predicted the following with regard to the Cardinals and their eligible
players being offered arbitration.I might alter a few of these today, but here
they are for reference.
To be offered arbitration
Not to be offered arbitration
Six-year free agents
Three-to-five year eligible
There is always a chance
that one or more will sign before the Tuesday night deadline or have a pre-agreement that the player will not exercise their
right to arbitration when offered.This occurs when both sides want to come to
terms, but need more time to work out the deal.
A very knowledgeable reader
came in with this arbitration prediction on Monday:“Mabry, Womack, and Renteria. Morris will be offered arbitration with the understanding
he won't utilize it. Matheny is tough to call but I predict the Cardinals will sign him.”
The Post-Dispatch reports
that former Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Hal McRae will be named Cardinals hitting coach on Monday.McRae, 59, has also been a hitting coach with Montreal, Cincinnati and Philadelphia.Other candidates were Tommy Gregg,
Steve Balboni, Gene Tenace, Will Clark and Mark McGwire.The latter two were
The Sun-Times repeated a
previous rumor that while the Cubs would like Edgar Renteria, they will likely re-sign Nomar Garciaparra to a one-year deal
instead.The Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals presented a revised offer
to Renteria’s agent for more than $32 million for four years, heavily backloaded.However,
they have not received a reply.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports
that while incumbent Todd Walker has a deal on the table, the Cubs are still interested in Tony Womack.The Post-Dispatch believes that the Cardinals are most likely to offer Womack arbitration of all the Cardinals’
Cards Budget over $100
Not really.That is just what Chris De Luca of the Sun-Times said.Guess
he’s trying to shame the Tribune Company to spend more on their Cubbies.Either
that or he’s badly misinformed.
Unit Deal “On Life Support”
Says Walt Jocketty in the
A Big Week Coming
The Owners Meetings start
Friday, traditionally the start of the trading season.Remember that the J.D.
Drew trade was announced last December 13.Speaking of…
Orioles Down on Drew
The Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles turned down a proposed trade with the Cardinals for outfielder J.D. Drew in 2003.The reason was a combination of injury concerns and his score in psychological testing.No word on who the Cardinals were after, but my money is on a second baseman.It’s not too late, Walt.
Former Redbird Batterymates
Catcher Alberto Castillo
singled off lefty Donovan Osborne leading off the seventh inning for the Aguilas Cibaeńas vs. the Escogido Lions on Sunday.The two were teammates on the 1999 Cardinals.At 35 years of age, free agent Osborne must still really like to play the game.He pitched a scoreless inning, turning the ball over to Diamondbacks closer Greg Aquino.I tuned into the game hoping to see Hector Luna play for the Aguilas, but former Royals and Devil Rays’
shortstop Felix Martinez got the start instead.No sighting of Julian Tavarez
Hutch Comes Up Big
Former Cardinal Chad Hutchinson
(2001) threw three touchdown passes in his first start for the Chicago Bears of the NFL in their upset victory over the Minnesota
Vikings on Sunday.
Cheap Backup Catcher?
The Colorado Rockies want
to rid themselves of catcher Charles Johnson so badly that they will reportedly pay $8.25 million of his $9 million salary.Complicating matters is the $1 million bonus due if CJ is traded.But, still, isn’t he worth $1.75 million?
Rockies Interested in Mabry
According to the Denver
Post, after apparently losing out on outfielder David Dellucci, the Rockies have “turned their attention” to John Mabry.“I have gotten to know (Mabry) over the years basically from talking to him about
wearing us out," said Rockies manager Clint Hurdle of Mabry, the first player to hit for the cycle at Coors Field in 1996.
MLB Minimum Salary to
Starting next season, the
lowest amount any player can make is going up to $312,000.It had been $300,000
the past few seasons.It remains to be seen if the Cardinals will have many players
on the 25-man roster inexperienced enough to make that little, however.
December 7 is a very important day for major league free-agents such as Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny.If the player has not agreed to a new deal by then, the team must declare whether or not it will offer
arbitration.To decide which way to go, the team will make a value assessment
as to what the player might make for a one-year contract as decided by an arbitrator.
they fear the arbitration award would be incredibly high, the team may offer arbitration.It also assures them of receiving a compensatory draft pick if the player ends up signing elsewhere.However, if the team is fearful of losing an arbitration hearing and having to pay more than they want
for the player, they may decline to offer arbitration, or threaten to do so.
days leading up to December 7, teams have been known to make pre-qualifying offers with a threat to not offer arbitration
in an attempt to get the player to sign quickly.This strategy is most effective
when a team knows the player wants to come back more than he does to test the free agent market.
forward, if no early deal is signed and arbitration is offered, then the ball is back in the player’s court.The player has until December 19 to decide on one of two actions.He can either accept the arbitration offer or take his chances on the free agent market.However, if the player takes the latter route, unless he signs by January 8, it precludes him from returning
to his current team until after May 1.
let’s get back to the here and now.The situation described two paragraphs ahead
of this one may best reflect the situation that is facing Matheny this weekend.Mike
has made it clear that he wants to remain a Cardinal, but dismissed an earlier one-year offer from the team.The team knows he prefers to come back and want him to sign now.
it on good authority that the Cardinals have increased their offer to Matheny from one to two years, but to-date have stopped
short of the three years that Matheny desires.Perhaps they are also using Matheny’s
allegiance to the team against him by threatening to non-tender him unless he accepts their deal.I am confident of the existence of the two-year deal, but am only speculating about the threat, whether
stated or implied by the team.
easily envision several scenarios that would explain Walt Jocketty’s motivation to resolve the situation with Matheny quickly.Even though Jocketty could conceivably have until January 8 to still sign Matheny,
he may not be able to wait that long.The existence of the two-year offer also
signals that the team prefers not to go do arbitration.
else may be implied by Matheny’s two-year offer?It certainly adds credence to
the line of thinking that the rumblings of interest by Arizona in catcher Yadier Molina may be real and are being strongly considered by the Cardinals.
rumored potential trade partner of the Cardinals, the Oakland A’s, already have a healthy
stash of catchers and catching prospects.But, don’t necessarily count them out.A’s general manager Billy Beane has been known to make three-way deals or acquire
players to enable him to move others.
result of all this, the chances have improved that the two sides can come to agreement before Tuesday, enabling Matheny to
remain a Cardinal for at least two more seasons.But, it may all hinge on Matheny
and Jocketty seeing eye-to-eye between now and Tuesday night.
Cardinals right-handed pitcher
Julian Tavarez has come to terms and is preparing to join Hector Luna on the Aguilas Cibaeńas of
the Dominican Republic League.In fact, Tavarez has some name-brand company.Starters Claudio Vargas of Washington and free-agent Jose Lima will join the team this week.Lima came via a trade with the Escogido Lions for outfielder Raul Mondesi.
to join the Aguilas along with Tavarez during the third week in December are starters Bartolo Colon of Anaheim and Miguel
Batista of Toronto.Batista also was
part of a trade, coming from the Lions in return for catcher Miguel Olivo.With
that, the first place Aguilas will have a rotation that most major league managers would envy.
includes Tavarez, who is being billed as a starter.That role is not foreign
to him.In the majors, Tavarez has started 79 games, including 27 for the Florida
Marlins in 2002.However, there is no indication that his role as the right-handed
set-up man in St. Louis will change in 2005.
The rich get
richer as shortstop Miguel Tejada of Baltimore and free-agent
third baseman Tony Batista will hop on board the Aguilas train for the final week of the regular season in anticipation of
the playoffs and the Caribbean Series in January.
in the lineup, Luna’s playing time should shrivel up.In 45 at-bats, Luna is
hitting .244 with a .320 on-base percentage.He has ten strikeouts and eleven
hits, a single RBI and one stolen base.
Not that the
Aguilas are in need of all this firepower, at least in their home country.After
all, they enjoy a 23-10 record, a full five games ahead of the Cibao Giants and six games up on perennial powerhouse and defending
champion Licey Tigers.
Joe Strauss of the P-D says
that Walt Jocketty has approached Oakland about Tim Hudson.He is allegedly
willing to part with Jeff Suppan and catcher Daric Barton, but not Rick Ankiel or Dan Haren.Interesting, since the Oakland system is full of catching prospects and they just traded for Jason Kendall.I wouldn’t think Barton would be high on their list, anyway.Strauss noted that Yadier Molina has “attracted the Diamondbacks’ attention”.
Sosa on ‘Roids, too?
Newsday implicates Sammy
Sosa as a steroid user with no hard evidence, pointing to the Mets’ interest in him cooling.Not pretty.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise
reports LA Dodgers’ general manager Paul DiPodesta is interested in free agent catcher Mike Matheny, though no offer has been
made yet, according to Matheny’s agent.The agent, John Boggs, called the Dodgers
“a great fit”.
La Russa Returning to
Just for a day.Tony La Russa will return to support his first major league managerial stop on January 15 as he appears
at SoxFest 2005 for the Chicago White Sox.La Russa will sign autographs and
participate in an informational seminar. The White Sox request a $5 donation
for each autograph he signs, which will benefit his Animal Rescue Foundation.
Vizcaino Returning to
Shortstop Jose Vizcaino
agreed to a one-year, $1.25 million deal to rejoin the Houston Astros in 2005.He
appeared in 138 games after starter Adam Everett went down with a season-ending injury.
Now that the December 1
deadline has passed and all entries have been received, it is time to report back on our Cardinals Free Agent Forecasting
Contest.Some very interesting strategies have been employed, along with what
seems to be some really good guesses and some real stretches added in for good measure.
For those unfamiliar with
the contest, Birdhouse readers were given the opportunity to forecast with which teams the nine Cardinals free agents would
end up.The contest ends on March 1 or sooner if all nine players are placed.
The reader with the most
correct answers will receive a copy of well-known author and Birdhouse contributing writer Rob
Rains’ book, Cardinal Nation, the 2nd Edition. Second prize will be two “Go Cards” Rally Bands.
strategy:Reader David Sueme assumes that each of the nine free agents will be returning to the Cardinals, reasoning that the
odds were most in favor of that versus trying to guess which other of the 29 teams may sign a given player.Sueme warily told me, “I expected to have to defend myself against a charge of simplistic thinking.”Almost sounds legalistic, doesn’t it?While
his approach is simplistic, I admire Sueme’s desire to win.However, if the past
is any indication of the future, this strategy may fail.After all, last off-season,
12 of the 16 Cardinals free agents did not return.
Most pessimistic view:Matthew Amos sees bags being packed
with eight of the nine leaving the Cardinals for greener pastures elsewhere.Only
John Mabry is coming back in Amos’ prediction.The others are scattered to the
winds, with no two players going to the same team.As a result, Amos had the
second highest tiebreaker – number of other teams’ free agents signed by the Cardinals - at seven.
Most likely staying:John Mabry returning to
the Cardinals is something most everyone agrees about.Apparently, you readers
think Mabry has a good thing going in St. Louis and will hold onto it.Only Scott Tomsu sees Mabry
going elsewhere; back to the Bay area, but to the San Francisco Giants this time.
Highest odds prediction:After Mabry, it was a tie between
Steve Kline and Ray Lankford.Only three people were not in agreement
as to the specific fates of these two players.Kline is seen by a vast majority
as a New York Yankee next season, while Lankford is expected to be starting his second retirement.I was one of the small minority who thought Ray might hook on somewhere for at least a spring training
invite.After all, the man seems to need money for child support.I chose TampaBay simply because that has been a prime pre-retirement location for any number
of major leaguers, ex-Cardinals included.Odds are that I am wrong.
Most likely gone:Only three readers see Matt
Morris returning to the Cardinals in 2005.Less clear is exactly where Morris
is going, with readers guessing he may be a member of one of nine different teams.Morris’
possible destinations include the Marlins, Phillies, Reds, Mets, Dodgers and Nationals in the National League.Also mentioned were the Yankees, Orioles and Angels in the American League.The most common thread seems to be the east coast.
Most teams mentioned:After Morris, it was Mike Matheny
with eight different teams besides the Redbirds named.While a majority of the
voters still see Matheny as a Cardinal next season, those who think he is leaving are totally divided as to his destination.In the NL, the Dodgers, Mets, Marlins and Diamondbacks were called out.Possible AL stops are Oakland, Toronto, Seattle and Texas.
Tiebreaker:The average number of free agents
from other teams that the Cardinals are expected to sign range from a low of one to a high of eight.The average is 3.75, rounded up to four.
Other Cardinals free
agents not mentioned above:
Cal Eldred:Most see him coming back to the
Cardinals, with a return to the Brewers next most likely.Two readers see him
Edgar Renteria:The Cardinals’ most eligible batchelor,
er free agent, is expected to return to the Redbirds by just under half the respondents.Most of the rest see Edgar as a Chicago Cub next season, with a handful of votes for the Angels.Only Ray Mileur selected Boston.
Woody Williams:There was no majority winner here,
either, but Houston received the most votes, followed closely by the Cardinals.Surprisingly to me, there were many other guesses, including multiple votes for Arizona and the Texas Rangers.San Diego and
Cleveland each got a mention.
Tony Womack:A majority see Womack being a Chicago
Cub again in 2005, with the Cardinals picking up the remainder of the votes.Only
one reader differed, putting Tony down in the land of the Tomahawk Chop, Atlanta.
As a few of the players
actually get signed (or re-signed), I will provide an update on how the contestants are doing.Again, thank you for your entries and best of luck to all!
According to MLB.com, Albert
Pujols’ plantar faciitis in his heel has been treated by high frequency soundwaves.As a result, surgery may be unnecessary.I sure hope so, otherwise the
start of the season would seem to be a risk despite what the experts say.
Nomar Returning for More?
In the Arlington Heights
Daily Herald, Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry acknowledges contact with Edgar Renteria’s agent, but reiterated that
his No. 1 target remains resigning Nomar Garciaparra.The Sun-Times reports that
Hendry is meeting with Nomar’s agent in earnest, trying to get a deal done before the 7th.
MLB.com reports that the
Cardinals and free-agent second baseman Placido Polanco have expressed mutual interest, according to Polanco’s agent, Adam
Katz.Katz correctly points out that Polanco is a “front-line player”, without
identifying how much front-line money is required to sign his client.
Another Wants to be a
The longest-tenured Philadelphia
Phillie, catcher Mike Lieberthal, might be traded.The Cardinals were one of
the four teams he mentioned by name to the Philadelphia Inquirer that would meet his criteria as a team “that can win”.He makes $7.5 million this year and next and will be 33 in January.Pass.
Kliner to Beantown?
The Boston Globe calls Steve
Kline “one of the most desirable targets” of the Red Sox this off-season.
Cal at Altitude?
The Denver Post reports
the Colorado Rockies “are showing strong interest” in Cal Eldred and mention John Mabry as a possible addition.Former Cardinal Mike Gallego (1996-97) is a candidate for the third base coaching job there.
Drew Bucks Big
Former Cardinal outfielder
J.D. Drew is looking for a four or five year deal at $10 million or more per year, his agent, Scott Boras, told the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution.My money is on Drew becoming second prize in the Carlos
Beltran sweepstakes.Speaking of Beltran…
Other Beltran Signs
Former Cardinal lefty reliever
Rigo Beltran (1997) signed a minor league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers and received a spring training invite.In 2004, the 35-year-old Mexican pitched for Montreal, getting into
only two games in April and spent the majority of the year with Triple-A Edmonton.
Former Redbird third baseman
Mike Coolbaugh (2002) re-signed with the Houston Astros and was invited to spring training.Since playing for Memphis for most of 2002, Coolbaugh worked in Double-A and Triple-A for the Astros.He slammed 30 homers for New Orleans last season.
Nunnally Still at it
Another former Redbird farmhand,
33-year-old Jon Nunnally (2002-03), re-signed a minor-league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates and was returned to Triple-A
It’s time to report some
more rumors and some speculation about Cardinals pitching, 2005 style.
Zito Offer Made
I have it from a very good
source that the Cardinals recently made a firm proposal to the Oakland A’s for Barry Zito offering a package including Jason Marquis.
However, at this point,
it is unclear whether the A’s want to move another starter, now that they dumped Mark Redman’s contract (and reliever Arthur
Rhodes’ too) on the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Jason Kendall deal.Yet, the inclusion
of Marquis would afford the A’s a less-expensive rotation replacement for Zito.
The feeling is that Dave
Duncan could tinker with Zito and return him to past glory after a difficult 2004.Zito,
26, had a disappointing 11-11 record with an alarming 4.48 ERA, over a run worse than his previous career low point.
The lefty is signed for
2005 at $4.8 million and currently has four years, 72 days of MLB service time.As
a result, Zito could be kept for two more seasons.In comparison, his teammate
Tim Hudson will be a free agent after the 2005 season, perhaps making Zito a more attractive target financially.
On Haren and Ankiel
Are they in the rotation
mix for 2005 or aren’t they?What are the possible motivations of those making
the flip-flop statements?
Back on November 10, I was
critical of a Post-Dispatch story by Joe Strauss that reported that Dan Haren and Rick Ankiel were slated for the bullpen.My assumption was that Strauss was short of common sense.But, looking back and thinking about it more, it became clearer that there may have been method behind
The lack of confidence by
Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan in young players is generally accepted, though certainly not acknowledged by either.As I highlighted in my Monday story, “La Russa Return Stuck on Pitching?”, Duncan and La Russa are pleading
for two power arms to be added to the rotation.
Some apparently misinformed
folks had already penciled Ankiel and Haren into those two rotation spots, vacated by Matt Morris and Woody Williams.That would seem to be the furthest thing from Duncan’s and La Russa’s minds.After all, Ankiel and Haren’s aspirations are squarely in the way of the two shiny,
new starters the bosses want for Christmas.
As much as they might want
to, Duncan and La Russa can’t directly get rid of Ankiel and Haren via trade.After
all, neither is the general manager, though their tenure and stature does provide them far more than the usual level of input
on such matters.But, the fact is, Walt Jocketty has made it clear that he wants
to keep both young pitchers.
So, given that, what’s the
best way for Duncan and La Russa to keep two rotation spots open and to keep the pressure on Jocketty to get those studs?How about exiling the two youthful contenders to the pen three months prior to the
first pitch of spring training?That should do it quite nicely.
Now, the strategy may have
backfired somewhat, in that Haren’s perceived value could have taken a hit.After
all, if the Cards have so little confidence in him to commit him to relief during the off-season, wouldn’t that put a doubt
in some other teams’ minds who might consider acquiring him, too?
Perhaps it is all a moot
point now, anyway.Last week, a subsequent story by Strauss called out Haren
and Ankiel as “potential starters”.It was not directly stated who reversed field
and finally recognized what seemed quite obvious to the rest of us for weeks, if not months.But, by its location in the story, one might assume that it was Jocketty who acknowledged the possibility.It only makes sense, as he made it clear that “it may not be possible” to get those two stud starters his
manager and pitching coach want so badly.
Rick Hummel’s Tuesday story
about Matt Morris’ shoulder surgery provided more clues. “"The Cardinals have shown interest," Morris said."Walt (Jocketty) has been great about it - if I get my shoulder 'scoped and cleaned up. If I didn't get the surgery, I don't know how interested the Cardinals would be."Jocketty recently expressed his admiration for Morris…”Neither
Duncan nor La Russa was quoted in the story, welcoming the prospect of Morris’ return.
So, are Duncan and La Russa
using the two youngsters as pawns to try to score a pair of kings?Is Jocketty
deftly making counter-moves?It’s
not that far-fetched, is it?
Matt Morris’ decision to
undergo surgery on his shoulder opens up his possible return to St. Louis for a small base salary with incentives, not unlike Chris Carpenter’s original deal.Morris seems to really prefer staying, so it remains a possibility.But, why didn’t he have the surgery right after the playoffs?Maybe because
he knew any team would expect a medical exam?If the exam was ok, they would
not pay Morris much or if he failed the exam, word would get out and destroy his value, anyway.As it is, best case stated is that he will start to throw in February and work up to a reduced pitch count
by the start of the season.Sound like Woody Williams 12 months ago?
Cards Series Shares
Says the Boston Globe:“The Cardinals, who lost the World Series to the Sox, received more than $10.1 million
in playoff winnings and voted 51 full shares of $163,379, also the smallest amount since 1997.”No word on number of partial shares.
51 on HOF Ballot
Willie McGee is among those
appearing for the first time on Baseball’s Hall of Fame ballot in 2005.Bruce
Sutter is the repeat former Cardinal with the most previous votes.Lee Smith
is the other ex-Redbird eligible.Voting ends December 31, with winners announced
Price of Pitching Nuts
The Cincinnati Reds (over)paid
$8.2 million for two more years of starting pitcher Paul Wilson’s services.Wilson has a career record of 39-53 with an ERA of 4.71.Ugh!
Closed out of Closer
With Armando Benitez signing
with the Giants, the Cubs were closed out of the free-agent closer market.A
trade or a conversion of Ryan Demspter are the only options that seemingly remain.
Home Sweet Clubhouse
Kurt Schlogl, formerly with
the Cardinals, has been hired as the visiting clubhouse manager by the Colorado Rockies.
Sweet Swingin' Sighting
Former Cardinal outfielder
Mark Whiten (1993-94) was named a coach for Spokane in the Texas Rangers system.