Center field

OK, lotta topics in my email this week. Definitely no shortage of things to talk about in next week’s mailbag. But one that keeps coming up, that perplexes me, is the apparent desire of a lot of Cardinals fans for the team to sign one of the available FA center fielders — Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter come up the most, but I’ve also heard Mike Cameron and occasionally Aaron Rowand.

I don’t see it.

The thing is, you’re not going to get any of those guys, except MAYBE Cameron, for only a year. And come 2009, center field should belong to Colby Rasmus, who will be very good and very cheap. Ankiel could be a fine choice in center for the coming years, too, and that’s all assuming that Edmonds gets moved to right or left this spring — which is not yet a certainty.

To get Jones or Hunter, you’re going to be committing multiple years and a lot of dollars. And in both cases, a great deal of the player’s value is locked up in his playing center field. Neither Jones nor Hunter, nor Cameron for that matter, has nearly as much value at a corner spot. So you’re committing resources to solve a problem that doesn’t really need to be solved. The problem that does need to be solved, aside from pitching, is bolstering the offense wherever possible.

Rowand is a little bit of a different case, but only if you believe his 2004 and 2007 offensive numbers are his real level. If the real Rowand is the guy from 2005 and 2006, then he’s another guy whose value comes primarily from being a decent hitter who plays good defense at a premium position.

I could see bringing in an impact guy at a corner spot. One guy who comes to mind is Bobby Abreu, who would be a fantastic No. 2 hitter. That’s especially true if they have to deal an outfielder for starting pitching. Adam Dunn would look really good in this lineup too, as a guy who gets on base and hits the ball out of the park. Another solution would be to look at the oft-rumored trade for Edgar Renteria, who would provide a significant bump in offense at the shortstop position.

But paying big dollars and especially multiple years for a CF, when you’ve got at least two CF options in-house, just doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s not the money — it’s the years.

-M, listening to the new Radiohead (I paid 5 GBP — anybody else get it today? What’d you decide to pay?)

28 Comments

Thank you! Thank you for bringing up Abreu. I’ve been telling my baseball buddies for months that he’s the one possible FA that the cardinals can’t afford to pass up.

He is everything we need: power, speed, OBP.

I am lazy. What does 5 GBP comes out to in terms of US Dollars?

I heard last week that the band thinks it will make money on the deal, since people will pay at least the “going rate” for an albums as determined by iTunes ($9.99, generally). They figure that more people will pay a decent amount than will stiff them.

–The Mrs.

It’s about 10 bucks. Basically I tried to figure what round number in GBP came closest to the 10 bucks I’d pay on iTunes. I strongly suspect that’ll be a very common way to go about it.

Unfortunately, it’s still New Electronic Radiohead. Which is good, but not change-my-life-good like Guitar Radiohead.

-M.

Edgar would give them a power bat, but they’ll need a lead off hitter to replace Eck (not that I was ever crazy about Eck being out lead off hitter). Unless Brendan Ryan’s that guy…

Still, i’d like to see someone at the top who can walk, not just a contact hitter.

I thought that abreu had an option with the yanks

Yep. But it’s pretty hefty; no guarantee they decline it, but no guarantee they pick it up either.

-M.

I think Andrwuw Jones is way past his prime, and Toriii Hunter is also over-rated.I agree on waiting for Rasmus. But I don’t see any place for Dunn here. Waaaaay too many strikeouts and mediocre fielding. Abreu is too inconsistent to be worth his price. I’d rather see Rowand.

Why do we need an outfielder? We have a surplus of them. Ankiel and Duncan will be there at the corners next year and Edmonds will patrol CF.

The only possible reason I can see for getting another outfielder, whether CF or otherwise, is to make it possible to swing a deal of some kind involving the current crop of OFs. If someone in the Hunter/Rowand/Cameron class could be signed from the free-agent market, it might be possible to package Duncan and various goodies — I’d consider Reyes — in a deal with some American League team that needs a DH (face it, Dunc is just never going to be a good fielder out there) and could part with a starting pitcher, which is what it would take to justify the expense.

Problem is, I can’t think of such a team. Toronto will be in a position to think about a deal like this after next year, but Frank Thomas is a perfectly adequate, if old, DH for the 2008 season, thank you. Minnesota could use a slugging DH, but I don’t think a Duncan+Reyes package would be attractive enough to get them to part with one of their good pitchers, let alone Santana (dream on…).

All told, I’m with Matt: an outfield free-agent signing just doesn’t look like the right use of money to me. (BTW, in response to your previous topic, Matthew, it’s Bill, not John.)

Any possibility that we extend Izzy’s contract pass 2008?

I paid 5 GBP also, still undecided how I feel about the album, though (I didn’t like Kid A for about a year).

Matt, I’m with you…spending money on an outfielder doesn’t make sense to me, unless, as you said, we suddenly have an opening due to a possible trade for pitching. Here’s the thing I wonder, though…I don’t see the Cardinals parting ways with Ankiel considering the story, the fan popularity, and the incredible upside potential in what “he could be.” However, while we all expect Tony La Russa to leave, let’s, for a moment, entertain the possibility that he stays…Dave Duncan isn’t going anywhere either.

So, suddenly we’re in a position where the organization is hesitant to trade Duncan and unwilling to trade Ankiel (hopefully). We are left with no single outfielder to trade. What then? Do you think it’s possible to package Ludwick and Schumaker with a guy like Anthony Reyes for a big-time starting pitcher? Maybe to a team that sees Ludwick and Skip as a good platoon situation with an opportunity for one of them to win a 3rd outfield spot (and considering every pitching coach is going to think they can get Reyes on the right path)????

“considering every pitching coach is going to think they can get Reyes on the right path” — well, that’s exactly the heart of the matter: DO the good pitching coaches see Reyes as salvageable? If so, a package of Reyes plus outfielders ought to suffice to bring in something juicy. But I’m no longer sure that most coaches would consider him a good gamble. Of course, it just takes one …

Reyes is in the same boat as Kip Wells, all pitching coaches are gonna see that they can do something with him, and he’s a lot younger than Kip, so he’d be easier to work with.

10 pounds for me, too. and while i think it’s always necessary to reserve judgement on radiohead records for a good while, for me this seems to be among the best…

ok – here’s how out of touch i am. what’s a “GBP”? It sounds like the album’s up for auction or something.. how do I get it? please don’t make me go to iTunes, since I loathe iTunes.

British pounds.

Go to inrainbows.com, where you can download it. They charge you what you want to pay. So I chose to pay 5 pounds, which is about 10-11 dollars.

-M.

Agreed 100%, Dude, except on the Dunn issue. Really dislike him as a player and a person. I don’t see what Walt did wrong, personally. These free agent markets have been horrible lately. Again, look at the Cubs. Perfectly healthy and perfectly filthy rich, yet a sweep in the first round. Look at the Yankees, nearly the same result. You spend hundreds of millions of dollars on mediocre talent and you get an expensive eyesore by middle October that the fans have to pay for. The free agent market is meant to boost your team’s talent pool–it’s not the talent pool itself.

Also, really cool about charging what you feel like paying… I’d have to agree, I’d feel guilty paying anything less than $10. Still, what a genuine sentiment. Classy stuff.

Thanks, Matt. Speaking of latest albums, what are your thoughts on the latest Wilco?

Who are the candidates for the GM position?

To be brief:

No Abreu. We need a right handed hitter. OK he is good, but…

Big money for Hunter, YES. The Cards have more money than players to trade, or if you think they do have players, use them to try to get Johann Santana.

Rowand? YES. The best choice. He can be a leftfielder. He is a good right handed bat in his prime. He is a dynamo.

No Dunn. Sorry Matt, I just don’t agree this time.

A reminder on Dunn: I also hate high strikeout rates…but even considering the high strikeout rate…and aside from the 40 HRs and over 100 RBIs…over a hundred runs scored and over a hundred walks with an on-base percentage of about .388…I like THAT!!! I’ll take a guy who hits 40 HRs and manages to have that kind of on-base percentage and run totals DESPITE a high strikeout ratio.

Bingo.

I frankly don’t care at all about batter strikeouts, unless it’s a real extreme for a whole team — five or six 120-plus K guys.

In the end, I want the guy who doesn’t make outs, rather than the guy who makes a lot of outs but the right kind of outs. Dunn gets on base and he hits the ball out of the park. He even runs OK, and he stays out of double plays — which for me is an extremely important trait for a 2 hitter.

-M.

I don’t see why people think that Santana can be pulled off the twins. He is their ace. It’s going to take a whole heck of a lot to pull hi away, i don’t know if it would be worth it.

OK, I can give a little. Dunn would be a good cleanup hitter. Plus, he should be right in the early part of his prime. Why number 2? We need a number 4.

Would we not want Ryan Howard because he strikes out. It is production. I still could make a case for Hunter or Rowand.

Who knows? The Twins may think Liriano will be back, and that they would be unlikely to be able to resign Santana.

First on Dunn: Say what you want about the relative importance of OBP, strikeouts, etc. (and I will say that my own views align largely though not completely with Matthew’s), but one thing that nobody can dispute is that the man is a dud defensively. A problem with the current Cards pitching staff is that they collectively have a low strikeout rate. That means that more balls are making it into play against them that against most teams. The relative importance of avoiding immobile outfielders is therefore greater for the Cards than for most. Having Dunn out there is going to turn a lot of opposing singles into doubles, and unless there is a pitching turnover to bring in guys who miss bats, that just can’t be tolerated.

As for Santana, it’s no big secret that the Twins would be receptive to an appropriate trade package, precisely because they don’t think they can sign him long-term. I doubt that St. Louis can offer anything appetizing enough to produce a deal, however — and that’s a problem, because some of the competition with loaded minor-league systems and young arms/bats CAN. I can easily envision trades for Santana involving Milwaukee or the Cubs, for example. That would be a Bad Thing.

I won’t lie -I hadn’t heard of Alexei Ramirez until today. He’s a 26 year-old 2007 Cuban League home run king described as “primarily a shortstop and center fielder” by ESPN.

We have CF covered. If Jimmy E’s health/age/whatever becomes a factor in the year, we can move Edmonds to right and Rick the Stick to Center for a year until Rasmus is ready to let Rick go back to RF.

Other than SP, our largest hole to fill is SS. I would like to see Brendan Ryan get a season’s worth of reps and see if he can draw some walks in there and try to be a 30+SB threat. Another option is this Alexei Ramirez. I haven’t seen anything but the guy selling him claims he’s MLB ready.

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