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."


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


i am happy with where we sit this offseason. i think that things will fall into place just as they did last year. It seems foolish to question the moves, or the absence of moves, made by the collective baseball genius mind of walt, tony, and dave. bernie had a great analogy in his column today comparing walt jocketty to a driver who wisely stays in the right lane of the freeway, obeying the limit, while he watches porches fly by and eventually crash and burn. is this not what we expect to happen with the cubs, the astros, and the royals?

My problem with this team is that we only won 83 games last year, and have done nothing to improve. And for some reason, the Cardinals are willing to overpay for a guy like Miguel Batista, but not for Suppan. If they don’t make anymore moves, I don’t think we’ll be good enough to make the playoffs next year.

Reyes will improve, although I would be open to trding him if we could acquire a solid, veteran type pitcher(Reyes + someone in bullpen= jon lieber/ left-hander?) Wells will either blossom like weaver and suppan or fall flat on his face like ponson. Carp is Carp, and I expect w-wright in the rotation. So, why not try extra hard to sign weaver and eithrer sign Mulder, just in case, or really give Narveson a real shot a spot starter?

Even though they only won 83 games, that’s not indicative of how talented the team is.

In April, when healthy, the Cardinals won 17 games. In May, when healthy, the Cardinals won 17 games. They were then on pace for 104 wins, indicative of a solid team.

Then injury hit and plagued the team until October. The squad, having returned to almost 100% for the first time since May, was then able to rattle off 11 wins in October. And if you win 11 games in October, it doesn’t matter how many you won April-September because that solidifies your spot as the best baseball team of the year.

To be a good team, you have to be able to withstand injuries. Our record after April was terrible, and if we have injuries this year, we have less talent to make up for it. You can’t win 11 games in october if you don’t win enough the rest of the year to make the playoffs, and an 83 win team is not going to do it

While I agree that Walt has been a miracle worker scrounging the bargain bin these last couple of years, I think it’s time for the Cardinals to pony-up on at least 1 big name. Last year, we got lucky. We had a rash of injuries and we barely survived them. This year, with the current staff, I am skeptical that we would be so lucky. Bottom line: open the wallet, give Barry Zito the money he wants, and look forward to back-to-back championships.

The Cardinals have a pressing need to improve vs. lefthanded pitchers. They were 11 games under .500 against them this year! (23-34). Next to finding another starting pitcher, adding a righthanded outfielder to platoon with Duncan may be the most crucial priority for the Cards in 2007.

Here is the performance of the three current outfielders vs. lefthanders this year:

Edmonds AVG .156, OBP .198, SLG .281, OPS .479, 32 SO in 96 AB

Duncan AVG .170, OBP .220, SLG .319, OPS .539, 14 SO in 47 AB

Encarnacion AVG .316, OBP .346, SLG .492, OPS .837, 22 SO in 177 AB

Only Encarnacion has a respectable record against lefthanders.

Taguchi’s OPS vs. lefthanders is only .726, but that’s much better than Edmonds’ .479. Maybe that’s why So got 157 AB vs. lefthanders while Edmonds got only 96.

But clearly the Cardinals need to platoon Duncan, unless he makes a miraculous turnaround vs. lefthanders. The question is, who will that righthander be?

Is Marrero the answer? His numbers vs. lefthanders over the last three years look very good:

AVG .313, OBP .378, SLG .580, OPS .958

Maybe Jocketty has Eli in mind as Duncan’s platoon buddy for 2007. Hmmm.

Funny thing is, in 2006 Marrero had a very strong reverse platoon split — based on very few at bats, of course, but still, he was absolutely pitiful against left handed pitchers. You “last three years” numbers look to be dominated by his excellent 2004, which most emphatically was not repeated in 2005 and 2006. I don’t think he looks like a major-league outfield solution. More likely, he was picked up for exactly what his contract implies: to be a guy to stash away in the minors in case somebody (Molina, Bennett, Spiezio) gets hurt on the big team, and give young pitchers at Memphis the benefit of his “veteran’s experience” as they try to make it to The Show.

Did I just see David Eck in a wrestling ring with his World Series MVP trophy??

First, I’m happy that we are not paying gold for middle rotation pitchers. last year Marquis was our highest paid starter. That is morally wrong through Carps eyes. Second, the money that is being handed out is rediculous. When I see all these players handed contracts bigger than Albert or Carp it brings out that ol’ big money, big city, Yankee hatred. I can’t stand a team that will foul the sport by purchasing the penant. (diamondbacks 01) last, I heard on the radio the other day that we in the Lou’ rank third in highest ticket prices. Now, I don’t agree with overpaying for medium talent, but come on guys let loose of some cash! For Gods sake maybe lower beer prices. something, ANYTHING!

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