February 2011

Monday camp tidbits: Pujols, Edmonds, Valdes

It must really be Spring Training, as tidbits have returned. I’ll hopefully be doing these all spring — a quick morning look at both the stories I’ll be working on as the day goes on as well as those nuggets that don’t quite make it into a story.

* I’ve already put this up elsewhere, but in case you’ve missed it, John Mozeliak announced this morning that Wednesday at noon is the zero hour for getting a Pujols deal done. A short story on that is available at this link, and I’ll have more on it later today.
* Jim Edmonds’ situation seems dicier every day. Mozeliak said that Edmonds will speak with the medical staff today, but TLR said that it’s his understanding that Edmonds isn’t even “walking around briskly” as of a couple of days ago. Still, it sounds like club and player are both open to some situation where Edmonds opens the year in extended Spring Training, or something like that.
* Raul Valdes is the only late arrival, delayed due to visa issues. Mozeliak didn’t sound too concerned about it.
* Among today’s non-pitching arrivals were Jon Jay, Allen Craig, Daniel Descalso and Ryan Theriot.
* Thirteen pitchers were on the schedule to throw bullpens today: Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Adam Wainwright, Ryan Franklin, Kyle McClellan, Ian Snell, Fernando Salas, Brian Tallet, P.J. Walters, Bryan Augenstein, Brandon Dickson, Adam Ottavino and Valdes. Obviously Valdes didn’t throw…
And now the playlist is courtesy of the iTunes “genius” function”
The Black Keys, “Stack Shot Billy”
The White Stripes, “Catch Hell Blues”
Cold War Kids, “Mexican Dogs”
Modest Mouse, “Heart Cooks Brain”
Sleater-Kinney, “Turn It On”

T-minus 49 hours

There’s now, officially, an announced deadline in the Albert Pujols negotiations.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Monday that talks between the team and agent Danny Lozano will come to an end on Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 11 a.m. CT. The deadline has been pushed back from Tuesday, partly out of respect for Stan Musial. “Stan the Man” will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House on Tuesday.
“One of the things we wanted to make sure is, tomorrow’s a very big day for Stan Musial,” Mozeliak said on Monday morning. “And it wouldn’t make any sense to have a large distraction for that special day, given the amount of respect we have for that man. So it only makes sense to make sure we weren’t trying to have a lot of things going on, given what’s happening tomorrow in Washington.”

Holliday: I would defer some money for Pujols

Matt Holliday said Friday morning on ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” that he would be willing to defer some money from his current contract to help the Cardinals pay Albert Pujols. However, Holliday made it clear that the club has not approached him about such a possibility.

“I deferred $2 million a year for the whole contract,” Holliday told Doug Gottlieb on the show, “and I would be willing, if they came to me and said, ‘Hey, this is what it’s going to take to get Albert done, would you do it again or do more?’ Scott [Boras, Holliday’s agent] probably wouldn’t like me to stay that, but if that’s what it took, I would be willing to do that.”
Two things need to be noted here, however.
First, Holliday explained that no such suggestion has been broached by the club. He told me this morning that the comment was “very hypothetical.”
Second, Holliday’s deal runs through 2016, which would be the fifth year of a new deal for Pujols. It’s very difficult to envision a deal being made or broken based on the relatively small amount that Holliday might defer, especially in the first five years of a deal. It’s a nice gesture, but it’s hard to imagine it having any real impact on the negotiations, even if it were actually to happen.

More on Gonzalez

Hey, check it out, two blog posts in three days! Must be getting close to Spring Training.

I put up a brief story yesterday about the Cardinals’ agreement with Dominican right-hander Fernando Gonzalez, and you can follow this link to read it. In the interim, though, I heard from a couple of Cardinals front-office folks, so I wanted to pass along some more info on the 16-year-old pitcher in case you were interested.
This is from farm director John Vuch:
“Gonzalez is an intriguing young kid. He’s 6’4 and very lean right now, making him very projectable. He’s got a very nice changeup already that projects as a future out pitch. While his velocity is currently a tick below average, with his age and size there’s plenty of reason to believe he’ll pick up additional velocity as he matures. Also throws a curve for his breaking pitch, and looks to be at least an average pitch for him down the road.”
Meanwhile, vice president of player procurement Jeff Luhnow said that the club had a number of scouts, including four based in the U.S., look at Gonzalez and all came away impressed.

Are you experienced?

Baseball has a few set-in-stone rules, some of which are widely known to most fans and some of which are not. One that may be less well-known is this: service time trumps just about anything else.

When it comes to locker placement, jersey numbers, etc., it’s all about big league service time. Guys with experience get first pick. That fact was on display once again on Monday when clubhouse manager Rip Rowan told a few reporters about some new uniform numbers for the 2011 Cardinals.
* Jim Edmonds will, not surprisingly, receive his famous No. 15. Rowan said that when Edmonds was offered 15, the long-time star said he’d take it if Jon Jay would give it up. Well, that’s not really much of a choice for Jay. So Jay gave it up.
* Jay, then, gets No. 22. Raul Valdes, who had been ticketed to wear No. 22, will now take 37. Jay had expressed some interest in wearing No. 19, but Ramon Vazquez had already requested it. NOW you see about the service-time thing: Vazquez will be in camp on an NRI, with seemingly very little shot of making the roster. But he has seven years of big league service; Jay has half of one year. So 19 goes to Vazquez and Jay moves down to 22.
* Nick Punto will wear No. 8, bumping Allen Craig to No. 21. Again, service time. Craig takes Jason LaRue’s old number.
* And in a couple of other jersey tidbits, Miguel Batista will wear No. 44, with Ian Snell getting No. 48.
* As for the jerseys they’ll be wearing… In the regular season, they’ll be like they’ve always been. But the Cardinals have new Spring Training/batting practice jerseys this year. They actually got a choice of two different options, which you can see below:
Since I’m not a professional photog, and since this was taken on my iPhone, you can’t exactly tell a lot of details. But the one on the left features a good deal more blue. It has that blue that you can see on the top of the shoulders, and a strip of blue along the top of the back, above the player name.
Not surprisingly, the Cardinals chose the one on the right. Here’s a closer look at it:
It looks an awful lot like past Cardinals BP jerseys, and that’s no accident.