November 2010

Tuesday tidbits from Disneyburg

Greetings from a busy day 2 of the GM Meetings. I’ve had Winter Meetings days that were far slower than this one.

A few tidbits from the day:
* I asked John Mozeliak about the Albert Pujols negotiations, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch report that the club has a time frame in mind to get something rolling.
His comment: “Obviously Albert is someone that we need to focus on, and in the near future, I will get with his agent Dan Lozano and we will start looking at timing and how to handle the situation.”
* As I noted in the story on Adam Wainwright’s Cy Young finish, Wainwright said that he recently had his right elbow checked out and that it came out clear. Here’s Mozeliak on that topic:
“It was just more precautionary. We just wanted to make sure that how he ended the season, there weren’t any lingering effects. And it was all positive.”
* A couple of other things from talking to Mozeliak after the Jake Westbrook announcement. He said that there’s no one next priority for the club, that comes ahead of all the rest. He also said that the Cardinals maintain interest in adding a sixth starter for depth. 
* However, Bartolo Colon will not be that starter. The club has no interest in Colon at this point.
* Additionally, I wrote this on Twitter, but I wanted to get it in here too: The Westbrook deal is, to my eye, simply an outstanding one for the club. He’s a quality pitcher who should rack up innings, and the going rate for those guys is three years and at least the dollars per year that Westbrook got.
I’m not crazy about the blanket no-trade, but it’s only a two-year contract, so the risk is less than on a longer deal. Overall, though, the dollars are reasonable, and getting a pitcher like this on a deal of less than three years looks very good to me. A nice move.
* And, finally, the playlist. In honor of the release of the mega-box-set of Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town, my five favorite songs from that album:
“Something in the Night”
“Candy’s Room”
“The Promised Land”
“Prove It All Night”

Waino on his contract, his elbow and Westbrook

Shortly after the announcement of the Cy Young results, Adam Wainwright hopped on a mini-conference call with a couple of us St. Louis scribes who are down here at the GM Meetings. The first version of the Cy Young story is on the site now, and you can check it out at this link. I’ll be fleshing it out later, as well.
In the meantime, though, I wanted to pass along a couple of non-Cy Young topics that he addressed.
By finishing in the top-5 in the balloting, Wainwright took a major step toward guaranteeing his vesting contract options for 2012 and 2013. If he does not finish the 2011 season on the disabled list, the options will be guaranteed, and Wainwright will make $9 million in 2012 and $12 million in 2013. If the options do not automatically vest, the club still has the choice of exercising them for the total amount or declining them, with no buyout cost. Additionally, if he WINS the 2011 Cy Young, his base pay in 2012 would bump up to $10 million.
Here’s what he had to say about the contract:
“I am really excited to be a St. Louis Cardinal for three more years, at this moment. I hope to one day finish my career in St. Louis. So three more years obviously is something I can really get excited about. My family loves it there. They have great schools. The Cardinal fan base has really embraced us and my family as well. Plus there’s some pretty good barbecue up there. I’m always proud to be a St. Louis Cardinal, and three more years, hopefully it’s three more years in the span of a lot more years after that.”
Additionally, Wainwright said that he had a follow-up exam on the elbow discomfort  that bothered him at the end of 2010, and that everything checked out well.
“It [an MRI exam] has taken place,” he said. “Everything came out crystal-clear. My arm is in perfect health. The strained muscle in my elbow is completely healed, and the nerve inflammation is gone. I’ve been looking at working as hard as I possibly can and getting ready for next season already, just doing my normal offseason workout. You can tell everybody that I’m fine and ready to play.”
Finally, he was asked if he had heard anything about what’s up with his friend and fellow Georgian Jake Westbrook.
“He always plays it real… I can’t ever get an answer out of Jake,” Wainwright said. “I think he’s got strict orders from his agent to not do that. So when I ask him about it, he always says, ‘Hey, just be patient, I’m trying to get things worked out.'”

Greetings from sunny Orlando

Hello, all. The headline is a bit inaccurate, since I believe technically I’m in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., for the General Managers Meetings and Owners Meetings over the next three days. I’ll be reporting not only on Cardinals stuff but also more general MLB matters, and hopefully blogging, tweeting and generally staying connected with you folks.

For starters, a few little tidbits from this afternoon.
* A couple of hours ago, I saw Jose Oquendo in the lobby. As has been reported, he’s interviewing with the Mets for their managerial opening, and it seems the interview is tonight. 
* I talked briefly with a representative for Albert Pujols’ agent, Danny Lozano, who said that Team Pujols is not expecting to make an appearance here. Lozano and his group will be at the Winter Meetings in Orlando in three weeks, but not here. Some agents will be attending, of course, but not Lozano.
* As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Jaime Garcia finished third in Rookie of the Year balloting. He finished distantly behind Buster Posey and Jason Heyward, but ahead of the Marlins’ Gaby Sanchez despite the fact that Sanchez received two first-place votes and Garcia only had one. That’s because while Sanchez’s name appeared on eight of 32 ballots, Garcia was on 18. He received 16 third-place votes along with one first and one second. NL Cy Young results will be announced tomorrow.
* I tweeted this as well, but I thought it was worth noting here too: After a slow start, Zack Cox is raking in the Arizona Fall League. Over his past 10 games (entering today), Cox was 12-for-38 (.316) with three walks and three extra-base hits for a .357 on-base percentage and a .474 slugging percentage. Overall Cox is up to 246/302/386 in the AFL. It may not sound like much, but for a guy who was in the SEC six months ago, Cox seems to be handling himself very well.
Also in the AFL, Tony Cruz is hitting 319/368/478 in 17 games, and Pete Kozma has shown some signs of life after a rough start. Kozma is hitting .270 with a .357 OBP over his past 10 games, bringing his total AFL line to 241/313/362.
And, finally, the playlist, the first one in quite a while.
Pearl Jam, “In My Tree”
Buffalo Tom, “When You Discover”
The Hold Steady, “Magazines”
The Clash, “Death Or Glory”
Bruce Springsteen, “Prove It All Night”

Miller, Carpenter honored

The Cardinals were lauded for their 2009 Draft, and on Friday it became clearer why. A pair of 2009 Draftees earned the club’s Minor League player and pitcher of the year awards, announced on Friday morning.
First-rounder Shelby Miller, rated the club’s top prospect basically since the day he signed a professional contract, was named the top pitcher in the organization for the 2010 season. Matt Carpenter, a 13th-round selection in that same Draft, emerged as one of the fastest-rising players in the system and garnered top player laurels.
Both will be recognized at the annual St. Louis Baseball Writers’ Dinner, which is set for Sunday, Jan. 16 at the Millennium Hotel in downtown St. Louis.
Miller, who turned 20 after the season ended, was drafted out of a Texas high school and enjoyed a superb first full pro season pitching at Class A Quad Cities. The 19th overall selection in 2009, he went 7-5 with a 3.62 ERA in 24 starts at Quad Cities. Miller struck out 140 batters against 33 walks and permitted seven home runs all season.
He appeared in the XM All-Star Futures Game in Anaheim, turning in a respectable if brief showing in the Futures Game. Miller allowed an infield hit that was erased on a caught-stealing, and got a groundball out, before he was lifted.
Carpenter, who turns 25 later this month, was selected out of Texas Christian University. He played at three levels in 2009 and two in 2010. A third baseman, Carpenter began the ’10 season at Class A Palm Beach but quickly made his way to Double-A Springfield, and he kept hitting all the while. Overall in 2010, Carpenter batted .309 with a .418 on-base percentage and a .471 slugging percentage.
In 105 games at Springfield, Carpenter put up a .316/.412/.487 line, with 12 homers, 26 doubles, 53 RBIs and 76 runs scored. He also stole 11 bases in 13 attempts and drew 64 walks.

Mather headed east

The Cardinals announced today via their official Twitter feed (@CardsInsider) that the Braves have claimed Joe Mather off of waivers.

Mather, 27, has struggled to regain his health and his form since a breakout 2008 in which he hit eight home runs in 133 at-bats. He has battled injuries, most notably a troublesome left wrist that required multiple operations, since late in ’08.
He enjoyed a strong spring in 2010 and made the Opening Day roster, but scuffled at the plate and was optioned to Triple-A Memphis in May. He was recalled in September and finished the year with a .217/.242/.283 line in 64 plate appearances.
Mather can play first base, third base and all three outfield positions.
Many teams will make relatively minor moves between now and Saturday as they set their 40-man rosters in advance of full free agency. Any player with six or more years of Minor League experience who is not on a 40-man roster as of Saturday afternoon becomes a free agent.