Resisting a bad Aaron Miles pun

Hola, all… I’m back and planning to be more blogtastic in the coming weeks. If nothing else, the Mrs. and I have our year-in-music coming soon.

But for now, let’s talk some ball. And more specifically, Aaron Miles. I saw the rest of the StL ballwriters corps today, and one of my friends teased me, “What, no texts or calls from you when Miles left?” Honestly, it’s no secret that I hold a minority opinion as to the value of Aaron Miles the ballplayer.

(Not Aaron Miles the person, I want to re-emphasize for the 1000th time. Very good guy, excellent teammate, good quote, etc etc. I liked covering him a lot.)

And honestly, I’m just tired of the argument. My feelings about Miles the balllplayer — limited defensive 2B, shouldn’t play SS, again a good teammate, valuable on offense if and only if he hits over .300 — are exhaustively documented in emails, mailbags, radio interviews, this blog and I’m sure elsewhere. So let’s not have that argument again. If you think he’s a more valuable ballplayer than I do, let’s just agree to disagree. That’s fine.

But there’s another aspect to this I want to discuss, and that’s the actual contractual situation.

Even if one grants that he had a pretty nice year in 2008, it’s only one year. It was a career year at age 31. There’s a basic truth here, and I hope you all remember it.

When a utility player or marginal player has a career year, then parlays it into a big contract, it’s the team that SIGNS that player that nearly always regrets it. Not the team that let him go. Anybody remember Abraham Nunez? You would have thought the world was ending when the Phillies “outbid” the Cardinals for him. But Nunez had a career year, the Cardinals recognized it, and they let him be someone else’s mistake.

Teeth were gnashed when John Mabry left. Eduardo Perez parlayed a big 2003 into a two-year deal with the Rays.

And the Cardinals didn’t regret a single one of those departures. Sometimes the right thing is to let a guy go get the big deal.

Just something to think about.

-M.

14 Comments

Hey Matt: glad to have you back.
My sense of the gnashing of teeth here on the blog is that it had less to do with the quality of Miles and more to do with defaulting to Kennedy (who was/is unhappy, may be on the down side of his own career, etc…), when there appeared to be other deals out there.
-A

I For one am not all broken up at Miles’ departure. I didn’t expect him back last year after the Cards non-tendered him,
and I didn’t expect him to hit as well as he did last year. I think it’s interesting that you bring up the point about career years of players over 30. I made that exact same argument about Ryan Ludwick and got blasted for it. I thought we should trade high, because most likely he won’t repeat the numbers he put up last year. I understand he’s not a free agent yet but if he does fail to put up similar numbers next year, he AND the Cards will be in a worse situation.He won’t have much trade value AND won’t command much on the free-agent market.

I’m on the fence about this particular non-signing, but I would like to point out another factor in looking at it. As the joke goes, I don’t have to run faster than the bear (no reference to Cubs intended); I just have to run faster than you. Is there another guy out there, in the farm system or via free agency, who can give you what Miles does (or better) and cost less than what he’s going to get? If so, then letting him walk is a no-brainer, for exactly the reasons that you give. Intuitively, I feel like there must be, but I can’t identify one. Matthew, you’ve already thought this through; who are your candidates?

Incidentally, if the answer to the first question is “no,” the analysis gets more complicated, but it does NOT default to simply saying that Miles should have been retained.

SLF, I’d not worry too much about some of the thoughts of some particular folks who post/slam here… or used to.

There are sort of two different questions…

Is there somebody who will give you what Miles gave last year? No, probably not. He had a good year. But Miles also probably won’t give you what he gave last year. In fact, I’d argue it’s extremely unlikely.

So, the second question. Is there somebody who will give you what you can expect of Miles in 2009? And that’s the important one, since that’s the player you’re signing if you sign him. And I think there are a few guys who can give you the value, certainly relative to the dollars.

IMO.

-M.

In case I wasn’t clear, I meant what Miles WILL give next year, not what he DID give. That said:
The “relative to the dollars” is the tricky part, and the place where the correct call is much harder to make. There are certainly guys who can provide replacement-level utility infield play at rookie-level prices; the minors and waiver wires are full of them. They may give better “value for dollar” than the 2009 Miles will, but does that make them satisfactory replacements for him? I don’t think so, because they provide essentially no value, whether they come essentially for free or not. The team needs to get SOME value out of the utility-infielder slot, and probably significantly more than replacement level, since there is every likelihood that the utility guy will get significant playing time. This need would be very different if we were running Cal Ripken out there at shortstop and Joe Morgan at second. So again, M, who are these cheap guys that still deliver significant value as Miles replacements?

My question is what are the Birds looking at long term? I’ve always heard you build a team by being strong up the middle. With Green at short, we have a short term solution at SS. I don’t know what we have with Kennedy, except someone who has not provided much “value” and is on his last contract year. Do we have the talent in the minors up the middle? Seems to me we have a long term problem that keeps getting a band aid approach every winter. Gee, this feels like deja vu since we have been here many times before … sort of like the adding a starter and closer issue. At some point, don’t you have to address the long term issue to fix it?

Since this is Kennedy’s last year, he’s goiong to be looking for the next payday. Wether or not its a big contract he’s going to want to look appealling for someone… Who knows, his numbers may be up this year. That said I dont think he’s just been skirting by… but you all know how this stuff goes. Last year on a players contract and he has a good one to impress the next guy. It could play out in our favor… Just something to ponder.

You make a good point–I have to agree with you, Matt. I liked Miles [or Curly, as we called him--best hair on the team]. He was always good for a pre-game interview, and appeared to be a great teammate, and always played hard. But Tony and his staff have always been adept at getting the most out of marginal players, of playing to their strengths. And they did that with Miles. I don’t regret not signing him as much as I regret him going to the Cubs. Not that he’ll make the Cubs better, but that he may be eternally cursed by playing there. :)

I have never relished the thought of Miles the ball player playing defense for us, I have however been excited to see Brenden Ryan out there… I think he is the guy that will need to step up his offense this year and be what we expected Miles offense to be. We all know that Ryan can play defense, save a few young player mistakes. Just my thoughts on a guy to replace Miles…

Kudos. I totally agree with this post. Miles was nice to have… but not for the price the cubs paid. Frankly, I kind of like that he’s gone because it takes away some of Tony’s ability to tinker… I hate tinkering…

OK ok ok… i want to start by saying that i am as upset as anyone else to see Miles leave our organization and head to the lovable losers. Miles did a lot of great things while with the Cardinals but lets be quite frank, he is not going to repeat what he did last year this year. And stick with what MO says his mentality of this team is…. “patience,” letting Aaron Miles go makes perfect sense. When you make moves to acquire young talent such as Greene, commit to Adam Kennedy (who i will stand up and say is an above average 2B), and accent that talent with Brendan Ryan, and the up and coming Brent Wallace, where does Aaron Miles really fit into the equation? I mean does this add up to anyone else?

You sound like the typical “mouth piece” for the owners. It’s not just Miles, although he had a GREAT 2008, not the “pretty nice” year as you describe it. Check his offensive production again before you say he had a pretty nice season. If his was pretty nice how do you describe the season that Kennedy had…… Ankiel had….. and that shortstop guy who replaced the World Series MVP (Izturis, in case you forgot). It’s not like we would have broken the bank to sign him. Just look at the history of this franchise since “sealed” wallets have taken over. How many players have we signed that were NOT being released by someone else. And we are supposed to compete with the Cubs and their owners who actually want to be competitive with the rest of baseball. If you can’t see our downfall coming, you are just being hoodwinked by these powerfull owners. It’s time our sports writers call them like they really are and not what they want us to believe.

I agree with slampier. Miles is not a everyday player and the Cubs will learn that very quickly. I liked Miles too he was great hitter coming off the bench and a great utility infielder. I’m not a big fan of Kennedy though, but when you’re paying these guys that much you’re not going to send them to the minors or ride the pine and have the guy getting much less playing 130-150 game/year. Just one more year with Kennedy and that is the end of it and who knows maybe he’ll have a breakout year because of this being the last year of his contract and he’ll want to be signed by another team.

Don’t be envious of the Cubs either because they decided to spend money last year. It’s one thing to bring in high priced players and it’s another to bring in high priced talent. The Cubs WILL not win the division this year and I’ll tell you why…

For one they traded off two good up and coming players in Pie and Theriot, why?? Starting rotation, Zambrano starts off hot at the beginning of the year, like Marquis does, but in the second half of the he fizzles. I bet you’d be lucky to see Zambrano win 5 games in the last 81 games of the season and he’s getting close to $19 million/yr. OVERPAID! Dempster, I think has been figured out by the batters, we’ll tune this year to see. Lilly, same way as Dempster, we’ll see this year. These three guys fizzled in the second half of the year and the playoffs proved to be so. If you need more proof, look how they got swept by the Dodgers in the playoffs! They have a power hitter leading off that can’t play defense worth a diddley, yes Soriano is over paid too! Fukodome said screw you guys, I’m out of here.

I for one am chosing the Cardinals to win the division, Why? If that rotation can stays healthy it’s the best rotation in baseball. Wainwright, Lohse, Carpenter, Wellemeyer, and Peniero. When the Diamondbacks won the World Series in 2000 they had just 2-20 game winners in their rotation and that was Schilling and Johnson, the rest of the rotation was .500 pitchers, I see 3-20 game winners in this Cardinal rotation with the top three mentioned alone.

The Cardinals lineup, just a potent. I think Glaus, when he comes back will have a different year and be more steady at the plate than streaky like he was last year. Pujols, need I say more?? Ankiel, he’ll get some good dingers now that his abdomen has healed. Ludwick, we’ll find out if last year was a fluke or not. Greene, I thought this was an excellent steal for the Cardinals and WILL hit better with this lineup versus what he had around him in San Diego. Schumacher, has a great OBP and that’s what they need in the lead off spot with somebody that can get on base.

Bullpen, the closer role doesn’t bother me like it does others on this site because I think Perez will take the role and excel with it. Middle relief kind of bothers me a little because I don’t want to see the same two middle relievers get overworked after pitching everyday and I think that’s what happened with Kinney and McClellen last year.

So, I don’t see the purpose in the Cardinals going out and spending $23 million on Sabathia or $22 million on Texiera. It just doesn’t make good money sense to do so. MO said in the economic downturn they’re trying to adjust to the economy, who knows maybe they’ll lower ticket prices. Also, the Cardinals are trying to do this like the A’s and Twins do and bring it up from their farm system, which is the way it was meant to be done. Always remember you can’t buy a World Series, that’s something the Yankees have yet to learn!

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