Sometimes the best moves… Redux

I’ve already gotten numerous emails about how the Astros got Miguel Tejada for "nothing," and why didn’t the Cardinals try to get him, etc etc etc…

I tried to come up with an equivalent package, and I think I succeeded:

Duncan/Mather/Dove/Thompson/Garcia is roughly equivalent to
Scott/Costanzo/Sarfate/Albers/Patton

Duncan is younger than Scott, but they’re similarly productive and similarly cost-controlled. Costanzo had a breakout year, like Mather, but is more valuable because he’s younger and plays a more valuable position. If Dove were healthy, he’d be a good analog for Sarfate, otherwise I’m not sure what works there. The other two I think are pretty self explanatory.

And there’s no way I’d give up Duncan/Mather/Dove/Thompson/Garcia for two years of a declining Miguel Tejada. No way at all.

Do y’all think the parallel package holds up? And would you have made the deal?

-M.

19 Comments

M, you rock! I’ve been trying to say the same thing, that we’d give up too much for a declining SS. I’d rather stick with Izturis for a year then give it to Ryan for the job.

I’m puzzled by the Tejada deal, and wouldn’t have made either that deal or the parallel one you pose (which has the added parallel of Rasmus and Pence one year removed). OTOH, St. Louis has one thing that Houston doesn’t, and that’s a recent World Series win. A ridiculously unbalanced win-now trade may look better if the trader HASN’T won lately. So I might — might — make the Houston trade a bit less grudgingly than the parallel.

This brings me to something that’s been bugging me ever since the (non) trading season started, namely that Cardinals fans are beginning to behave like — go wash your mouth out with soap — YANKEES fans. When a franchise is chronically successful, as ours has been in the last 10 years and the Yankees have been on so many occasions, people’s memory gets short-term, selective, and worst of all, impatient. That’s a trait that I’m seeing in a lot of these discussions, and it worries me greatly. St. Louis doesn’t have the budget (because it doesn’t have the population base) to behave as self-indulgently as the Yankees; it is not in our, the fans’, interest for the team to try to. Patience is a virtue in this business, even if it leaves fans squirming over the winter.

bebpjohn, I agree and disagree with you, I agree that there is no way that I would give up a slew of players for an old declining Tejada, I disagree that the Cards don’t have the revenue to compete. They have a new stadium that sells out every game every year, they got money coming in from every direction they look. To say they don’t have the revenue to compete is ridiculous, to say they should spend that on ridiculous free agents such as Silva and Lohse is equally dumb, so trade for stud pitchers and sign them, Bedard is on the block and they aren’t asking for a whole lot for him…time to start looking!….Better M?

They most certainly are asking a lot for Bedard. So much that the Cards likely couldn’t pull the trigger even with Rasmus and Garcia in the deal.

I definitely won’t complain… Mo has raped our fan favorites, but he’s done so at the sake of putting the best players on the field.

Why, in god’s name, did the Astros sell their entire farm system for 2 years of a declining player (I hear he can demand a trade after ’08, as well) a day before the Mitchell Report is due to drop? The guy will likely be named in it. It’s not like they’ve got a ton of guys in their farm system, it’s even worse than ours.

I don’t see why these NL Central teams offer huge money for mediocre free agents and are so eager to deal their kids for aging stars from 5 years ago. Every team sees this as the opportunity to take advantage of the weak division, meanwhile they’re tossing their chances of contention out the window in 3 years by giving money or trading their future to/for “impact” guys who won’t make an impact to begin with. I’m just happy Mo hasn’t done this… yet.

i hate to play semantics here, but bebjohn never said we don’t have the money to compete. he said that the organization doesn’t have the money to behave as self-indulgently as the yankees. to my way of thinking, that means the cards have to be more discerning than other clubs. The mark of a good organization is being able to act with discernment while remaining competitive, and, last year notwithstanding, the cardinals have been able to do that. I hope Mo is able to continue building the farm system (a bandwagon I think the cardinals jumped on a little late) while spending money and players wisely on free agents signings and trades.

I didn’t, and won’t, say they don’t have the money to “compete;” I said they don’t have the money to behave self-indulgently, lunging after every shiny toy that’s placed in front of them. That is equally true whether one is paying for the shiny in money or in talent. All indications are that Mozeliak gets that better than a lot of the fans do.

The irony of the farm system situation (and sieburg nailed that one) is that long ago, before most of us were born, the Cardinals INVENTED the farm system. And I don’t really think the Jocketty administration ignored it; they just didn’t do a very good job of extracting value from it for the long term. Mo and Luhnow get that, and better times are coming. (Really nice analysis of this on VEB recently.) But as long as the upper levels of the system are depleted, the team needs to be as restrained in “spending” prospects as in spending money, or we’ll never get out of the farm-system rut. That’s why, in my opinion, it would be idiotic to jump for the shiny toys that other teams have been signing, and the sooner fans realize that, the better. Clear?

You know, zoop made a good point…the rest of our division may be signing away their future by continuing to give away prospects on aging talent.

Look at it this way…the Cards were great for a long time…every other team was playing catch up. So, instead of being patient and building their farm system, maybe teams begin to panic and sell their future for immediate attempts at success with aging stars…they are trying desperately to catch up to the Cardinals.

The Cardinals, in the meantime, win consistently…take a year or two out of the spotlight while other teams spend big money and prospects on aging players for one or two years of success…then BAM…Rasmus hits the scene and a few other prospects from our rebuilt farm system start to trickle in…Cards are right back on top for the long term and other teams in our division are left holding big guns but no ammunition.

Bottom line…let’s just be patient, return to Cardinals fans of old, and build our future through our farm system. It feels good, as a fan, to be able to step back again and know our future is being home-grown.

Oh, and I echo zoop’s opinion…

They are ABSOLUTELY asking a lot for Bedard…to me, at this point, with a depleted farm system and an aging CF, any deal that involves Rasmus is a bad deal. Look at it this way (I say that a lot…), even if we got Johan Santana in a Rasmus deal, then we are still going to need a CF in 1 year.

If we don’t have Rasmus, we will HAVE to spend some big money on some outfield talent. In other words, don’t just look at what a Bedard, Santana, etc. would cost us in players NOW…take that cost AND add it to whatever money we will have to spend on a new outfielder in one year. That money will then be unavailable for pitching or other positions in the future…

I’m telling you…any deal involving Rasmus is a bad deal at this point.

does rasmus lay golden eggs, oh… i see he’s already batting .290 in the majors and he’s not even there yet. i mean really, who was he compared to, was it green or finley or something? i don’t recall either of those two being anything more than average. let me use this example . the guy who grows weed in his basement does not do so to smoke the whole crop. he sells the goods and uses the cash. which brings us to the money thing. you as cards fans pay top dollar at the park. we’re talking LA type money for a “cow town” ball club. the rates at busch are in the top ten in the mlb. now look at where we stand in payroll, 17th- 18th. if there idea of using money wisely was to give up suppan, claiming he cost too much. then they pick up five useless has beens throughout the year, adding up to what they would have paid for soup in the first place. last year the cards did nothing in the offseason. repeating that is what makes me angry. what everyone needs to realize is that the front office is smoking us by telling us they don’t want to overspend on talent they say is not worth it. well, a little real estate 101, the value of an object is what the market will bare and someone (cardinals) needs to learn that the market rarely goes down. maybe all us fans could send a message by mailing the front office a fiver or even a ten spot in hopes that it will ease their financial bondage, poor millionares:(

There’s no way we’re 18th in payroll, We’ve gotta be Top 10 material, but who knows after this year’s FA crop of mediocrity for A-Rod prices.

St. Louis is a bigger midwest market, much like Detroit. Doesn’t seem like it until you look it up, but we’re up there.

What do you propose the solution is, Manor? $50/4 for Silva or Lohse? I realize the market is going up, but why not save that $50 and put it towards someone with talent next year, when we can compete, with a healthy Carp heading the rotation?

look it up. this year we bolster our payroll to 110 mill which is like a standard cost of living increase, but the cards ownership will sell it like they’re taking some huge leap. either way 110 puts us slightly above the midline. don’t get me wrong what NY does should be punished by more than what to them is a few pennies for paying over the limit, but it is what it is. i hope the ROD pulls a hamstring in april.
the solution should have been dealt with last year. anyone with clear eyes could see edmonds,and rolen have seen the glory days go by. i want to shoot something everytime i hear someone talk of when the two of them get healthy, then things will turn around. WAKE UP! edmonds should not have been resigned. he WAS an amazing player, but he is not worth even half what we are paying him. rolen should have been dealt before he had every ounce of worth wiped away. lastly, don’t freak out, but out of the years carp has been here, how many has he played. i love the guy, but cost verses return does not weigh out. keep supan even at 40 mill. kenedy is a waste of cash along with three swings wilson. in my opinion, miles is better all around than ek, or kenedy. the market for pitchers was much better last year at what ever the cost (it’s only going higher). damon should have been a cardinal, then we trade some youth for miggy. but that was yesterday. now we have a center fielder making a ton of cash for little return. a third basemen nobody wants, and who probably even if by some miracle is healthy, won’t give it 100%. let miles go, so we keep kenedy. sweetest of all the pitching staff will most likely be the same minus wells (which was one of the only good things they’ve done recently) sorry this is so long i’m done……now i’m gonna go cuddle up to a few beers

Look, it’s literally true that Rasmus has yet to accomplish anything in the Majors. BUT he did it all in Double-A — got on base, hit for power, stole bases frequently and with a high success rate, played quality defense at a premium position — all in his age 20 season. That’s a special player.

And it doesn’t matter if your payroll is 200 million, 100 million or 30 million — quality players at premium positions at cost-controlled salaries are GOLD. Look at the Red Sox. They spend like crazy, but they greatly value guys who fit that description — Ellsbury, Pedroia, Papelbon, Lester, Buchholz.

EVERY team has a budget of some sort. Even the Yankees. Every team, at some point, has a finite amount it can spend. So if you can fill a premium position with a quality player for the league minimum or close to it for three years, then at sub-market value for three more, you’re foolish if you don’t do it.

When Edmonds leaves next year, and 10MM comes off the payroll, and they can replace him for 400K rather than spending 12MM on a player not appreciably better than what they get for 400K, they’ll be in much better position.

You don’t have to be cheap to understand the value of players like Rasmus and hopefully Anderson.

-M.

Everyone complaining now will adore Rasmus in three years, mark my words. Just like with Albert in ’01. “Trade this guy for Todd Helton, bleeeh bleeeeh.” Today’s lesson, everybody, is that every single superstar out there was young with a bright future once.

To add on to the Dude’s statement, more money doesn’t mean better team. Look at Detroit a few years ago, their payroll nearly matched ours and they were a below average team. How did they get better? The youth movement. Guys like Verlander and Bonderman started to heat the coil and spring forward. Of course, their farm system is/was amazing; ours is bleak. This is even more of a reason to hold onto Rasmus. He is our (cheap) future. Of course, Detroit also signed anchors to bunker the new guys down, like Magglio, but show me a guy like Mags in the FA and I’ll call you a liar.

In a few years when everyone loves Rasmus, and we see the inevitable “Colby Jack” signs in the bleachers, I’ll be happy to say I was one of the first few thousand on the bandwagon. I might kick at your hands when you try to jump on, though. I don’t like bandwagon jumpers.

i never meant that the cards should spend like a yanker. all i want is that if i have to spend $10 for a beer and $6 for some sorry looking hot dog, i want to see a $10 beer baseball club on the field. you should never shut the door, totally not right now, all options need to be left open to any deal that is to your favor. maybe rasmus will come out and be great, maybe he won’t. look into history and how many players were bulls in the system and when they get to the majors they shawn green us. he has promise know, and that = value. what if he emerges and can’t hit a big time slider or fast ball. how many times has there been a flash in the pan? an how many teems still have the prospects from their system still on the team?

What if we signed Lo Duca and he came out on “the list”? Oh…wait…well, what about Gagne…oh, wait…WELL…what about Tejada…yeah, Tejada!!! He’s the ss deal we should have made to…oh…wait a minute…”the list”…darn it.

Well, surely any major league player we sign such as Rowand, Hunter, Tejada, Bedard, etc. is absolutely assured a grand slam career as a Cardinal from this point forward…what? What’s that you say? Major Leaguers are fallible too???? Say it ain’t so!!!

Come on…relax. Any single player you could get this year is a gamble. I would 10 – 1 gamble on a kid that will cost me peanuts (especially at Busch Stadium prices) in ’09 and has shown all indications of success than I would a guy who will cost me my right arm and first born in the hopes we get him half as long as we’ll have a successful Rasmus (player’s age reference).

There’s a reason every team wants Rasmus…cause he’s the real deal and the better option!!! And, let’s put this in perspective…the year McGwire broke the record, we were in last place. Now, it wasn’t far removed from that year that Pujols made his debut from our farm system.

Under your theory, we should have traded Pujols away for quick, proven major league players at THAT time…because we really had no idea how Pujols was going to pan out.

hmmmm…call me crazy, but I’m on board with the patience and smart moves train…especially if it means holding onto Rasmus.

And…just fyi…you will never have to worry about Scott Rolen’s effort on the field. He will give the proverbial 110% every time, regardless of his personal feelings off the field. And, don’t forget…the reason we signed Edmonds for 2 years was a 2-part decision: 1. Rasmus was 2 years away 2. There was no one better for the money on the market at the time…not that was a sure thing, anyway. Add those two things to the fact that there is actually something to be said for allowing a great Cardinal to retire a Cardinal, and keeping Edmonds made sense. Finally…it makes no sense to throw money at a problem hoping that some of the cash hits the right spot. Sit back, let the feeding frenzy go on, then make a smart move.

manor/zoop: Some information that you’re both mentioning. First off, the Cardinals payroll, per wikipedia, came in at $90.3M, which put us 12th in MLB.

However, as far as media markets, St. Louis is one of the smallest in the majors. Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincy, Milwaukee, KC and San Diego are the only MLB teams in a smaller market.

Now, I know due to the fact that the south for the longest time had no real teams anywhere, and therefore St. Louis is one of those teams that transcends their media market, but for the most part, media market corresponds well with how much money a team is capable of spending.

I’m sure DeWitt is making crazy money off of the Cardinals, but I’m still of the belief that we have one of the better ownership groups in baseball and that, while perhaps we have ownership that COULD spend more, they’re still a lot better about investing in the team that most teams.

Lastly, while there is still no such thing as a “can’t miss” prospect, most of the examples you’d probably cite for flameouts or busts are probably either people who benefited at some point from alleged performance enhancing drugs or are players where we either had little to no minor league sabermetrics on or had poor sabermetric stats.

Colby Rasmus from everything the scouts say, is a stud. He’s also a stud from everything the sabermetric stats say. Lastly, unlike anyone we might have traded him for, Rasmus will cost the Cardinals about 400k a season for several seasons before he’s even eligible for arbitration. The reason we could afford guys like Edmonds and Rolen back around 2000-2002? Because our all-star MVP-calibre player in Pujols was making league minimum. Those cost-controlled years from prospects are FAR more valuable than 2 expensive years of a declining Miguel Tejada, or 2 years of semi-cost controlled pitching from Erik Bedard.

manor: one other point, if you look at the top 10 players in the NL as far as MVP voting this last season, your list is: Rollins, HOlliday, Fielder, Wright, Howard, C. Jones, Peavy, Utley, Pujols and H. Ramirez.

Of those 10 players, 9 of them are under 30 (all but Chipper Jones) and 9 of the 10 are still with the teams that drafted them (all but Hanley Ramirez). So what this shows us is that the young players are the dominant players in the NL. Trading off our one actual top-tier talent would be a mistake, and if he were anywhere within sniffing distance of the MVP vote in the next decade, we’d feel like this was another Mark Mulder for Dan Haren deal.

To further extend the search for analogies, could the Cardinals have put together a deal — NOT involving Rasmus — comparable to the one that netted Arizona Haren? I’m not convinced that Haren is going to be as effective in the future as he was in 2007, which looks to me like a fluke, but he’s still a useful starter, and cheap in the bargain. That strikes me as a more interesting test of the Cardinals’ prospect list and Mo’s deal-making skills than the Tejada swap that I’m glad they didn’t make.

Incidentally, while talking about Arizona, would someone explain to me what on earth Houston thought they were doing with the Valverde trade? I would think that Qualls for Valverde straight up is practically even on talent. That means that Arizona got two guys, guys they can use to restock their system after the Haren deal, essentially gratis in exchange for little more than one guy anointed with the C-word while the guy they traded him for isn’t. Trades like this strike me as a perfect illustration of why it’s better not to make any trades than to make dumb ones.

What the new GM is doing, or Not doing is absolutely ridiculous.He said he was going to do like Jocketty did. Well he is living up to that statement. He learned well under his mentor-nothing!! Disgusting.

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