Category Archives: Off-Season Moves

Stand Down

I'm the runt on the left...

With the World Series over and the parade cleanup complete, the off-season starts in earnest. Every club and player takes a moment to reflect on the season past, the challenges of tomorrow, and their place in it. The Cardinals front office has already started that process and declined to exercise their options for Rafael Furcal and Octavio Dotel. Tony LaRussa began his reflection back in August and announced his retirement yesterday. There are more changes to come for the ballclub.

There are changes coming here too. This is the last post of Stan Musial’s Stance.

I started the blog in 2006, when the Cardinals went on an unexpected playoff run and won the World Series. Apropos that it ends now, after the Cardinals went on an unexpected playoff run and won the World Series.

It’s easy to be a fan. It’s relatively easy to be a fan and a writer. It’s difficult to be a fan and a good writer. In order to do it right, one has to not only read what’s going on with the team but actually watch/listen to the games. I can find the time to read what’s going on via the Post Dispatch, Twitter, and the United Cardinal Bloggers, but unless the game is nationally televised I don’t have the free time to watch or listen to it. You’ve no doubt noticed that; if you laid a schedule down next to the dates I published something, the dates would almost exactly correspond to when the Cardinals were on ESPN, FOX, or in San Diego.

And the time is the issue. Geoff Young of Ducksnorts recently hung up his spikes, and he said something that resonated with me: “The sacrifices and compromises one is willing to make in life at age 42 are different from those one is willing to make at age 28.” I’m closer to 42 than 28. My children demand my attention. My wife deserves my attention. It’s not fair to plop down in front of the TV at 5pm Pacific, spend 3 hours watching the Cardinals, and deny them that. You may disagree, and that’s cool. Everyone’s got to live their life the way they think is right.

I close this chapter with no regrets. I’ve had a lot of fun doing this. Blogging about the team my father and I rooted for has literally changed my life for the better. I’ve had the opportunity to do things I never thought I would experience, and I have met some tremendous people along the way. The people list is an All-Star team of Cardinal writers. Dan Shoptaw. Nick at Pitchers Hit Eighth. Bill Ivie. Bob Netherton. Matt Philip. Derrick Goold. Matt Leach. And many others I should mention but won’t in the interest of brevity. Thank you all for your help, your kindness, and your friendship.

To those reading this – thanks. Thanks for making this blog an occasional part of your week. Thanks for your feedback and comments. I am not disappearing altogether from the internet. I will continue to write. I will do a weekly article for I-70 Baseball as long as Bill Ivie will have me. I also plan to focus on the San Diego Padres, the local team in my time zone, as well as provide sage observations via Twitter on a wide variety of things. Perhaps our paths will cross again.

Cheers.

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Filed under Annual Petco trip, General Baseball, Off-Season Moves, San Diego Padres, St Louis Cardinals

Two Weeks To Go

Apparently there was some bitterness and hurt feelings after the Winter Warm-up, regarding Albert Pujols’ comments, John Mozeliak’s acknowledgement of a deadline, and Bill DeWitt III stating he believed the negotiation window would extend into spring training and the team would not be held hostage to other organization’s demands.  Who knew.

There has been no news on the AP front in the intervening three weeks.  Joe Strauss reports today the two sides took two weeks off, and only now are back at the bargaining table.  We can only speculate at what the sticking points are in the negotiations:

  • Maybe AP wants a 10-year deal, but the Cardinals will only give him 7.
  • Maybe AP wants $30M/year, but the Cardinals will only give him some number less than $30M.
  • Maybe AP wants a refrigerator fully stocked with Gold Medal Ribbon ice cream at all times, but the Cardinals draw the line at Mint Chocolate Chip.
  • Maybe AP wants to play water polo in the off-season, but the Cardinals will only authorize synchronized swimming.

Whatever.  I cannot believe either side would want to endure the public relations nightmare sure to follow should AP hit free agency and sign with someone else. I’ve got to believe the Cardinals will move heaven and earth to get him back for 2012.  I think AP’s team has done their homework on who the potential suitors will be this fall, what their financial reserves are, and how the maximum return he can realize by signing somewhere else compares to what the Cardinals are offering.

It’s one thing to talk about how the Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford, Ryan Howard, and Adrian Gonzalez signings have impacted AP’s bottom line.  They evidently have, and probably drove AP’s price up.  It’s another to look around the league at who could realistically afford to pay Pujols the $25M+ he’s clearly worth based on his performance to date.  To my mind, currently that list is the Cubs and Yankees.

So we’re two weeks away.  I’ll be the anti-Bart Scott.  I CAN WAIT to see how this plays out.

In other news… Continue reading

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Filed under Off-Season Moves, St Louis Cardinals

Brendan Ryan to Mariners

I”m a little late to the party, but the Cardinals did indeed unload Brendan Ryan over the weekend, to the Seattle Mariners for minor-league right-hander Maikel Cleto.  Although the Cardinals had made it pretty clear, following the Ryan Theriot signing, they intended to off-load Ryan I was still mildly surprised they followed through.  Ryan had a tough 2010 at the plate but still graded out as one of the best (if not the best) defensive shortstop in the NL (UZR/150, Dewan +/- being the metrics of choice here).

Some teams seem to value defense higher than others.  The Boston Red Sox seem to, the San Diego Padres are moving in that direction, and the Mariners definitely do. It’s not surprising at all Ryan would end up in the Pacific Northwest based solely on his glove.  Dave Cameron of USS Mariner thinks his offensive dip last season is explainable and not indicative of his true talent level (to be fair, he thinks Ryan’s 2009 season is above what should be expected from the shortstop on a year-to-year basis).

There are two things that bother me about this trade.  The first is this comment from another USS Mariner author regarding Cleto:

In return, we say farewell to Maikel Cleto, the piece of the J.J. Putz trade that offered the most upside when the deal went down. Cleto came to the organization as a fireballer who did not have a good idea of how to harness his power arsenal, and two years later, that’s still pretty much all he is. He has struggled with visa issues, command, secondary stuff, and elbow soreness in his two years in the system, and he is a pretty solid bet to end up in the ‘pen.

Cleto sounds like a project, and a pretty big one at that.  I’m certainly no expert on the minor league system, and have no idea at all on the relative strengths between the Mariner pitching development staffs and the Cardinals one, but consider this.  Cleto throws hard but is now joining his third organization in the last 4 years.  Neither of the two previous teams he played for were able to sculpt his approach and advance him out of A-ball.  Is it reasonable to expect the Cardinals to have more success than these clubs?

The other is the implication that Ryan was a problem in the clubhouse.  If true – and there’s no reason for me to challenge the veracity of Joe Strauss’ reporting – that’s the third player on the 2010 roster we’ve heard this about.  Felipe Lopez was dismissed from the team before the season ended and Colby Rasmus popped up as someone on the trade block, with both moves filed under the ‘clubhouse chemistry’ tag.  Not to mention the Lance Berkman acquisition was hailed as one which would help the clubhouse culture.

There are some pretty senior and successful players on this roster – Chris Carpenter, Albert Pujols, and Yadier Molina to name a couple.  Then there’s the longest-tenured manager in the game today running the show and setting the tone.  How is it possible these individuals would let the clubhouse atmosphere get that poisonous?  What’s really been going on inside the locker room?

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Filed under Off-Season Moves, St Louis Cardinals

Berk “The Berk” Berkman

My brother-in-law calls him that.  It’s non-sensical, but I always found it funny.

Yesterday the Cardinals agreed to terms with Lance Berkman for 1 year of service at $8 million.  My first thought was, “well they’ve got someone to give Albert Pujols a day off every now and then.”  The second, “well the Cardinal bench was a glaring weakness last season, and this gives them a left-handed power bat on that bench (forgetting momentarily Berkman is a switch-hitter).”

Then I paused.  “Why would they pay a bench guy $8M?  He’s not going to take over first for Pujols – there’d be a riot – but he’s got to play everyday for that money.  I wonder if he’s headed back to the outfield.”*

*No seriously – that’s what I thought Saturday afternoon.  Before I read the article referenced below.

That last thought was confirmed Sunday in an article by Joe Strauss.  Berkman’s going to a corner.  Which corner remains to be seen.  There is speculation in the Strauss article Berkman will play left, and Matt Holliday will shift to right (Holliday indicated he’s OK with the shift).  Ok, everything sounds good so far.

Look at the numbers.  Berkman has not played the outfield as a regular since 2004.  He is coming off a painful 2010 that followed off-season knee surgery.  Although he has played the majority of his outfield career in left field, he has most recently played right (73 games in RF since the start of the 2006 season, as opposed to 1 in CF(!) and 5 in LF). Granted he has not done even that since 2007.  When he was in his prime, in 2003 as a 27-year old LF, his range factors (per Baseball Reference) were below average.  His numbers will not have improved with 8 years, a knee surgery, and 3 seasons with his OF glove in the bag having passed.

This is a real roll of the dice by the Cardinals.  I for one am not convinced his bat will off-set his glove enough.  St Louis already had three pretty good bats in the middle of the order (Pujols, Holliday, Colby Rasmus) plus a fourth (Yadier Molina) coming off a down year offensively, and an enigma (David Freese) who could be a fifth.  The Cardinals needed a leadoff hitter which I believe they’ve found in Ryan Theriot, but more thunder in the middle of the order?  Not sure that was needed.  Defensively this team might struggle.

On paper they look very formidable.  Carpenter, Wainwright, Garcia, Westbrook, Lohse in the rotation.  Theriot, Berkman, Pujols, Holliday, Rasmus, Freese(?), Molina, and whoever mans second as the lineup.

Maybe I do understand Mozeliak’s logic.

Welcome to the Cardinals, Lance Berkman.

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Filed under analysis, NL Central, Off-Season Moves