December 2006

WaltNTonyPalooza

As you’ve no doubt read here and elsewhere, the MGR and GM both had fairly extensive briefings with us media types yesterday. I covered as much as I could in a couple of stories, but there was plenty of other stuff, so here goes what you may have missed…

TLR, asked whether he was concerned about the rotation: "Overall I’m so pleased with the good sense that Walt has been applying. He’s had a lot of conversations with Bill (DeWitt). I really like what we’ve done so far. We took a shot at guys we were interested in, it became unreasonable and we dropped out. So there isn’t anything we’ve done that we’ve regretted. The guys that we have, I like. There are still a couple moves that are possible, like Mark Mulder is one that we hope happens."

TLR on Isringhausen: "I hate to put limits on a guy that’s working that hard. I know he has made a lot of progress and he feels great. He’s working with Carp, and I know what that means. It’s going to be disciplined. Every time they’re supposed to work, they’re going to work. And he’s really maxing it out.

"My biggest concern is he feels so good that he pushes himself. Mother Nature is going to say, ‘Here’s the time when you can get back.’ When he gets back, I think he’s going to be very good.

"In his mind, he’s feeling good, and he wants to get there by Opening Day. That would be great, but if he’s there some days afterward, there will be a lot of season left. We’re very optimistic."

According to Walt, meanwhile, if they get to the start of the season and it looks like they may only have to do without Izzy for, say, a couple of weeks, that wouldn’t affect the plans too much. That is, they would be willing to "make do" with an interim closer for a short period rather than changing the season-long plan for someone like Wainwright just to protect them for a couple of weeks.

TLR said Kinney and Hancock will not be part of the starter mix. Said that Narveson will be a very long shot — he’d really have to outpitch everybody else. Narveson is virtually a non-factor for a bullpen job this year because of the depth out there.

TLR on C. Duncan: "He had a couple errors in that one game, but if you look at what he did the great majority of the time, it was amazing what he did in the outfield.

"With that experience and a good spring of work, on his worst day he’ll be an average outfielder. And he’ll get better."

He and Walt both indicated, but didn’t say outright, that Duncan goes into the season as the starting LF.

TLR on the team’s own unsigned FA starters: "I keep hearing about Supp, and the years and the money probably don’t make sense for us. Jeff Weaver is somebody that we would like to have back as well. It depends on how much he wants to come back. Mark, those things are all to be decided."

TLR on Reyes’ status, after saying he considered only Carpenter and Wells sure things in the rotation: "I consider him competing. That’s not a healthy thing for Anthony to say, hey, go ahead and buy a house, you’re here. That’s not a good attitude. I think he’ll respond better if he knows and the club knows…

"Kip is an experienced starter. He’s had enough success. But the other three guys that pitch in that rotation, as of right now, should be guys that walk out of camp and can say, ‘I won that job. I earned it.’

"He’s a year older and he’s a year better pitcher. I just don’t think it’s smart to make a statement that you can’t back up. And if he goes into camp and can’t get anybody out…"

TLR in response to a question about why they wouldn’t "slightly overpay" for Suppan: "I definitely believe that we would slightly overpay. The difference between slightly overpaying and way overpaying is where the argument is. We’ve got a nice track record of putting this roster together with a lot of talent because we do not overpay. …

"I think we would slightly overpay for Jeff, absolutely. But not way overpay. It doesn’t make sense."

Jocketty on where they stand with Mulder: "I asked the agent about it, and he just said they weren’t at that point yet to even adjust our initial offer, so I said OK. I think they are still going through their process of talking to clubs and getting offers from other clubs. I think it’s probably a combination of opportunity and dollars."

Jocketty, asked whether they were close with Batista: "We thought we were. We thought we were close with Schmidt too."

and on whether they were close with Pettitte: "No. Never. I think we were a distant third there. They expressed interest in the Cardinals, but I think it was if things didn’t work out with Houston and New York."

I asked Walt, if they have that much depth in the pen, and if they really regard Wainwright that highly, then what is the reluctance come right out and say, ‘If we move a reliever to the rotation, it will be Wainwright?’ His answer:

"I would say that the only reluctance is just, as we see Izzy progressing more and more, we feel more comfortable taking Adam out of that role. Izzy went to see the doctor yesterday and got a great progress report. I talked to him today and he feels great. He can start throwing in January.

"But that’s why. You get Adam conditioned to be a starter, and we get to Spring Training and see which way we go with it. It’s a lot easier for him to go back to pitching a short term than trying to stretch him out after he was training for sprints instead of long distance."

Jocketty: "We talked to Colorado about Jennings, but we couldn’t or didn’t want to come up to the level that they did."

-M.

(currently playing on the computer speakers: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stadium Arcadium)

A couple of things

First and foremost, it was four years ago today that I met my beloved bride. So it’s a very happy day. Thank you, Erin. I love you tons.

Second, and much less important, I’m starting to go through all the music I heard this year to make my best-of-06 list. If you have suggestions/recommendations for things I may have missed, or just favorites you want to advocate for, please let me know in the comments. Thanks.

-M.

Putting a bow on it

Time to head back home, where it’s cold but I’ll be most delighted to see my little family. And to get some sleep.

A few thoughts as the Cards pack up and head north…

* I do believe a trade is a real possibility. Jon Lieber seems like a great fit,a nd I don’t think the Phils would ask all that much for him. Brad Penny is probably a longer shot; I’m told the Dodgers won’t deal any of their starters just to clear space. They’ll want an impact bat.

* I believe, though I don’t have full confirmation, that in some capacity, the Cardinals talked to Barry Bonds or his representatives through some channels on Wednesday. I do not believe there’s much of any chance at all that he’ll actually come to St. Louis. It doesn’t make any financial sense, and obviously there’s also the image issue.

* The path that makes the most sense at this point is probably to add two starters, if only because they don’t look like they’ll be able to add a real innings guy. I think there’s a legitimate concern if your 2-5 starters are, say, Batista-Reyes-Wainwright-Wells, since those might all be 5-6 innings guys. They might all be effective, and in fact I think Batista is a very intriguing option, but that would put a major strain on the bullpen.

Anyway. I’m out. Farewell, Mickey. Farewell, Captain Eo.

-M.

I think that you have an act, and that your act is not having an act

I just ran down to the cafeteria-style restaurant to pick up some dinner and bring it back to the still poorly-lit workroom, but now I’m back on patrol again, waiting for phone calls and/or emails. Not that y’all necessarily care about all that, but just wanted to give you the visual as to how things shake out right now.

Unfortunately, at this point, the front office has been all but incommunicado. We’re still waiting for our time with them. It’s my understanding that the Cardinals are not convinced that Schmidt-to-LA is a completely done deal, but ultimately, if Schmidt himself WANTS to go to LA, it will be hard to convince him to do otherwise.

So anyway, this is a long way of saying I don’t know nearly as much as I’d like to right now, and hopefully not nearly as much as I will within an hour or two.

-M.

Congrats, Commish

I’d just like to extend my personal congratulations to Rick Hummel for his selection as the J.G. Taylor Spink Award winner and enshrinement in the writers’ wing of the Hall of Fame. It’s a well-deserved honor for someone I greatly respect both personally and professionally.

Professionally, nobody writes a better game story than Commish. I can watch a game closely and intently, watch it with the intent of writing a great game story, and then I can read Rick’s game story the next day, and he will have picked up on things I simply missed. He carries himself with grace and class and is respected by virtually everyone he covers. He’s a great model for a young beat writer to watch.

Personally, he’s just a decent man. Everyone I know in the St. Louis media is absolutely delighted for Commish. I’ve simply never come across anyone in the market with an ill word for him. He’s been gracious and helpful to me.

It’s great news that came out today. So congrats, Commish.

-M.

Quick updates

I’m just now sitting down to write my stories, but here are the relevant points from today thus far…

* Cards consider themselves a serious player for Schmidt, and Schmidt’s agents consider them serious suitors. Neither side seems to think it will be a problem that STL doesn’t want to go more than three years.

* Cards are close, but not imminent, on a deal with a reliever. They’re looking at three guys, one of whom is Dotel.

* One option they are considering for ’07 is to move Braden Looper to the rotation. Yes, Looper.

-M.

Carpenter extension

Cardinals just announced they signed Carpenter to an extension. His 2007 incentives are now guaranteed, his 2008 option is guaranteed, and he’s signed through 2011 with an option for 2012. Don’t have dollars yet. Stay tuned.

-M.

Greetings from Disneyburg

Hello, all…

I come to you live from the oddly dark MLB.com workroom at the Winter Meetings in Orlando. Not much shaking at this point, so far as I can tell. I’ll try to keep y’all posted via the blog as well as my daily reports, so do check in. I’ll cease to be incommunicado.

For those of you in Orlando or planning to come here, please take the time at some point to check out my favorite guide to the ins and outs of all things Disney. God bless Carl Hiaasen.

Quick BCS comment — The more I think about it, the more I’m OK with Florida in the title game. Michigan had two very good wins (Wisconsin, ND) and three others that you could call decent wins (at Penn State, Iowa, at Indiana). Florida has three very good wins (at Tennessee, LSU, Arkansas) and a boatload of at least decent wins (Southern Miss, Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia, at FSU…). Michigan may be the better team, and they have the better loss, but Florida I think has the better resume. Plus it makes my dad happy. So that’s good.

-M.

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