December 2009

Signing off for a while

The Winter Meetings have just about wrapped up. The media workroom is less than half full, the lobby is empty and all the teams are long gone. A few thoughts before I take a little bit of vacation.

* I like the Penny signing, for the most part. I believe he’ll be successful this year for a variety of reasons, mostly that his stuff and ability should play pretty well at Busch Stadium and in the NL Central. It seems like a bit of a steep base salary, but not ridiculously so, and someone smarter than me once said that there are no bad one-year contracts. I don’t entirely agree with that, but there’s a lot of sense to it. You just can’t get hurt that badly with a one-year deal.
* The Holliday situation remains difficult to get a read on. Just from talking to people, listening, getting the lay of the land, there just doesn’t seem to be that much of a market for him right now. And yet, I’m not at all sure that benefits the Cardinals. If there’s no market right now, it’s likely as not that the Boras Corp. will remain patient rather than leaping at an offer that falls short of their goals.
* ‘Plan B’ seems to be this winter’s catch phrase for the Cardinals’ hot stove. As for what Plan B actually looks like, I think it’s still pretty fluid. My read is they’re not targeting a specific shape for how things go. It’s not like they’re saying, “We’re going to spend $10 million on a third baseman, $6 million on another starter and $4 million on the bench and bullpen.”
Instead, it’ll be case-by-case, as they did with Penny. If a DeRosa deal that makes sense can be reached, they’ll do it. Then they’ll look at what fits beyond that. If the next move that makes sense is a starting pitcher, they’ll do that, then analyze what the rest of the moves look like.
There’s definitely a lot in play, a lot of moving parts here.
And with that, I head out. Will catch up with all of you again after New Year’s. I’ll probably tweet a little (@MatthewHLeach) but you won’t see me here at the blog. News will be handled by my capable colleagues at And I expect there will be news.
Happiest of holidays to everybody. Thanks so much for reading, commenting, tweeting, emailing, and everything else all year. It’s been a fun year. The last playlist of ’09 is five of my favorite Christmas songs…
The Waitresses, “Christmas Wrapping”
Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas”
Bruce Springsteen, “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”
Run-D.M.C., “Christmas In Hollis”
Keith Richards, “Run Run Rudolph”

Tuesday Winter Meetings tidbits

Lots and lots of tidbits from today…

* The Cardinals met with the agents from Career Sports and Entertainment today, among others. That’s the group that represents both Mark DeRosa and John Smoltz. It doesn’t sound like there’s any serious traction, right now, with either player, but there’s definitely interest. I wouldn’t rule either one out at this point.
* TLR was insistent that the Cardinals not be ruled out in the pursuit of Matt Holliday.
* TLR also acknowledged that the Cards have a real interest in Miguel Tejada. Both of these points, and some others, are included in my daily wrapup story that will soon be going on
* Both TLR and Mozeliak expressed a strong reluctance to move Skip Schumaker off of second base. In the context of conversations about “Plan A,” “Plan B,” etc., Mozeliak referred to such a move as plan “quadruple-Z.”
* TLR acknowledged that there are likely more third-base fits than outfield fits in the current market.
* Mozeliak said that there’s very little likelihood of a trade while the Cardinals are here, and that in fact “more doors are closing” than opening as far as trades.
* The Cardinals will not talk with John Lackey’s agent. This is no surprise, since they consistently, steadfastly emphasize that they have no interest in a deal of longer than one year with a starter. They could yet add a starter, but it would be another one-year contract.
* They’d like to add a lefty power bat off the bench. However, moves like bench and bullpen upgrades will likely wait until the lineup and rotation are squared away.
Today’s playlist:
Nirvana, “All Apologies”
Modest Mouse, “Ocean Breathes Salty”
Jesus and Mary Chain, “Reverence”
Smashing Pumpkins, “I Am One”
Radiohead, “Airbag”

Cards-Penny deal done

INDIANAPOLIS — The Cardinals confirmed on Tuesday night that their signing of Brad Penny is official and finalized. Penny passed a physical exam in St. Louis on Tuesday and becomes the newest member of the Redbirds.
The right-hander agreed to a one-year contract worth $7.5 million guaranteed, plus incentive clauses that reportedly could take it to a total value of $9 million. The Cardinals agreed that if Penny is a Type A free agent following the 2010 season, they will not offer him arbitration.
Penny, 31, went a combined 11-9 with a 4.88 ERA for the Red Sox and Giants in 2009. He struggled greatly in Boston and was released, but came on strong at the end of the year with San Francisco. In six starts as a Giant, Penny was 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA.
For his career, Penny has a 105-84 record and a 4.14 ERA. He is a two-time All-Star and finished third in the Cy Young balloting in 2007 as a member of the Dodgers.

DeRosa to decline arbitration

Mark DeRosa will decline the Cardinals’ offer of arbitration. Keith Grunewald, one of DeRosa’s agents, confirmed the decision on Monday night.

The club had expected as much, and also expects that Joel Pineiro and Matt Holliday will decline as well. However, as of earlier Monday evening, the Cardinals had not received formal word from any of the three free agents. The deadline for free agents to accept or decline offers of arbitration is 11 p.m. CT.
DeRosa still maintains interest in a return to St. Louis, however. Representatives from his agency will meet with the Cardinals on Tuesday.

Monday night tidbits: Holliday, Penny, arb offers, more

Just got back about an hour ago from the Cardinals’ suite at the Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. Here’s a rundown of some of the newsworthy notes from the media session with John Mozeliak.

* The Cardinals met with Scott Boras for approximately 90 minutes on Sunday night, but Mozeliak didn’t give the indication that he feels the team is any closer to understanding where it really stands with Boras. The conversation was heavily about Matt Holliday, rather than about any of the other players of note (Xavier Nady, Adrian Beltre) represented by Boras in this market.
* As noted elsewhere on the site, a deal with Brad Penny is evidently imminent. It hinges on a physical, which could take place Tuesday or Wednesday. Multiple reports have pegged the 1-year deal at $7.5 million in base salary with incentives that could take it up to $9 million.
* Mozeliak said that although things can still change in the next 3 1/2 hours, the Cardinals are not currently expecting anyone to accept arbitration.
* The Cardinals are not necessarily done adding pitching. Obviously if they make something happen with Holliday, they won’t add another starter. But if no deal with Holliday gets done, Mozeliak said tonight that they could sign another starter, rather than giving the fifth spot to an in-house option. I don’t think this is very likely, but it’s on the table.
* Mozeliak was cagey about whether he felt they’d need a “caddy” for Penny, ie somebody who could safely be relied on to provide innings in case Penny breaks down. But basically he didn’t sound like he considered that a priority.
* No surprise here, but Mozeliak said they do not intend to non-tender anyone next week.
* The Cardinals expect to be much busier talking with agents than with other teams this week. That makes sense, because the farm system just doesn’t offer many trade chips right now.
* Asked about the “Cardinal mystique” and whether it did or did not take with Holliday, Mozeliak was blunt about Holliday/Boras’ perspective: “This, right now, is a market-driven deal.”
A playlist of melancholy tunes for a gray day:
Dinosaur Jr., “Thumb”
Morphine, “Cure For Pain”
Beta Band, “Dry the Rain”
Radiohead, “Fake Plastic Trees”
Aimee Mann, “Wise Up”

Cards, Padilla could be a match… eventually

A report out of Vicente Padilla’s native Nicaragua on Thursday posited
that the Cardinals may be the favorites to sign the free-agent pitcher,
and while it’s not that far down the road, the potential for a match
does exist.

According to a story in La Prensa out of
Managua, the Cardinals and Cubs are the leaders for the veteran righty.
A source confirmed that the Cardinals do find Padilla a pitcher of
interest, but indicated that he’s not the only starter on the team’s

In some ways, Padilla makes sense for St. Louis. The
Cardinals are seeking a veteran starter to put with Chris Carpenter,
Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse, while expecting to give their fifth
spot to an organizational pitcher such as Jaime Garcia or Mitchell

Padilla has enjoyed some strong years in the National
League but likely would carry a lower cost than some of the top names
on the market. Moreover, he shut the Redbirds down in the National
League Division Series, a performance that surely caught the eyes of
many in the organization.

On the other hand, the La Prensa
report suggests that Padilla is seeking a multiyear deal, and that
might render him a non-starter with St. Louis. The Cardinals have made
it no secret that they are reluctant to give another long-term contract
to a starter.

One tidbit worth noting is that Padilla and Joel
Pineiro are both represented by agent Adam Katz. Pineiro was offered
arbitration earlier this week, and has until Monday to accept or
decline. If Pineiro accepts, it’s quite certain that the Cardinals
would cease pursuit of a veteran starter.


And since it’s been a long time, here’s a playlist for you as I try to determine my favorite albums of ’09. Tracks from five of my favorites.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, “Seven-Mile Island”
Pearl Jam, “Unthought Known”
Living Colour, “Young Man”
The Crystal Method, “Dirty Thirty”
Metric, “Stadium Love”