The long overdue post-Pujols Twitter answers post

OK, folks…

I’m officially on vacation, so any questions you have on here won’t be answered till I’m back on duty in a little over a week. But I promised this, so here it is. Most of the other questions that people had, I answered directly. But these were the ones that came up over and over again in the hours after it became known that Albert Pujols was headed to Anaheim.

* What happens at first base?

That’s Lance Berkman’s job, barring something very surprising. Allen Craig will move into right field when and if he’s ready, but that’s obviously a question mark. Which means that the Cardinals are looking at outfield help.

* What happens to the money they would have spent on Pujols?

You may not like hearing this, but there’s no guarantee they spend it all right away. The Cardinals tend not to be an emotional organization. They’re definitely freer to pursue some solutions in their areas of need — shortstop (already done, or all but done), left-handed relief, the outfield and the bench. It wouldn’t be shocking to see them stop short of spending all of that $20 million or so that would have gone to Pujols in 2011 right away, and leave the flexibility to do something during the season.

* Will the Cardinals receive Draft pick compensation? If so, how much and when?

Yes. They will receive the Angels’ first-round pick, plus a supplemental first-round, or “sandwich” pick.

* Are Jimmy Rollins and/or Rafael Furcal now in play?

Well, you know the answer to this one now. Rollins was always a long shot, though, because of the length of contract he’s seeking.

* What about Hanley Ramirez?

Well, we can put this one to bed too. But, again, wasn’t going to happen. Ramirez is not a good shortstop, and he’s getting bigger, slower, and less suited to play the position. Plus he’s coming off a very disappointing offensive year. Plus he’s owed $46 million or so over the next three years.

* Well, then, what about Carlos Beltran?

OK, now you might be on to something. Beltran, if he can play any center field, is an intriguing option. He’s represented by Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, but that doesn’t necessarily need to be an obstacle. While the talks were difficult, it’s my understanding that they were never really acrimonious. Plus, if there’s a good fit, it would be foolish for team or agent to let that sort of thing get in the way. Beltran is far from a certainty, but he fits a lot of the profile of what the Cardinals need: someone who can play center and right field and bat from the right side (he’s actually a switch-hitter).

* And Prince Fielder? You’re probably going to say no there, too. OK, why?

Yeah, you knew the yes/no answer here. As for the why, well, the Cardinals didn’t especially like offering as much as they did to Pujols, but he’s a franchise icon, a once-in-a-generation player. In short, their offer wasn’t just made for baseball reasons. Fielder is a terrific player, but they’d only be bidding for baseball reasons. Besides, there’s no guarantee that Fielder, who’s significantly younger than Pujols, comes any cheaper than Pujols did.

* OK, one more: Yoennis Cespedes?

No and no. I talked to someone at the Winter Meetings with a very close knowledge of the Cespedes situation, and I was told in no uncertain terms that the Cardinals are not expected to be any kind of player for the Cuban outfielder.

* What about Pujols’ Hall of Fame plaque?

This one could be interesting. It’s highly likely, extremely likely, that Pujols’ BEST years on the field happened in St. Louis. He’s unlikely to rack up the MVP awards, the All-Star game appearances, the overall numbers, over the next 10 years that he did in the previous 11. But on the other hand, he’s likely to hit all of those big round numbers — 500, 600, maybe 700 homers, 3000 hits, etc — wearing an Angels cap. So it’s difficult to know for sure. Obviously if Pujols’ decline is sharp and rapid, he’s more likely to go in as a Cardinal. If he remains a star-level player over all 10 years of his new deal, that’s less certain.

And for those of you unaware, this is the Hall of Fame’s call. It sometimes consults with the player, but the Hall makes the call.

* What does this mean for Matt Adams?

Not a lot just yet, I’d say. If they sign somebody for multiple years to play 1B or the outfield, that might change. Craig is going to play, so if they were to sign an outfielder for 3 years or something, clearly moving Craig to first base (for example), that might block Adams. But for now, Adams’ ETA was never any sooner than Sept. of 2012 anyway, and Lance Berkman is only on a one-year deal.

* Any chance of a stopgap first baseman? Casey Kotchman/Carlos Pena/etc?

Sure, there’s a chance, but it’s unlikely. If they’re only going to bring in one player, it’s much more likely to be an outfielder than a first baseman.

* When and where will Pujols talk?

This is another that of course has already been answered. But if you want to read his comments, check Angels.com for all sorts of coverage from Saturday’s news conference.

And, finally, the playlist. And, yeah, it’s themed.

Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas”
The Waitresses, “Christmas Wrapping”
Run-D.M.C., “Christmas In Hollis”
Bruce Springsteen, “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”
Bob Seger, “The Little Drummer Boy”

-M.

19 Comments

So if we bring Beltran in, will he take over in center or right?

I agree Berkman will move to 1B and Craig will be in RF, once he is healthy. Maybe we can pick up Ankiel (he is a FA) for cheap to fill in for awhile. I am very high on Adron Chambers, I believe he is a future star… I want to see him get a lot of playing time in the OF this season! Getting Wainwright back will be huge… IMHO the future is bright in STL.

Thank you for your great work. I may not always agree with you, but I do respect and appreciate your opinions and insight. You do a great service by keeping Cardinal fans informed which has made the fan experience exponentially more exciting.

I would imagine that Beltran would start the season in right until Craig is ready to go. Then, depending on how Jay is doing at the plate, may do some platoon work and a few games here or there when Berkman needs a day off.

… and PLUS 1 on the comment by kris dill

Matthew, as always thanks for the good work. Wow has it been difficult to shake this dissapointed, disgusting feeling I have had about this whole thing. Saw the highlights from the celebration in Anaheim and it made me feel physically ill, just too emotional about this I guess but the whole thing just does not seem right.

Matt, is there any rumblings on Carlos Beltran? I’d hate to see Boston pick him up before the Cards get a chance. On a different note, have you heard the song “little black submarines” on the new Black Keys cd? amazing!!!!!

What about second base as well? Seems that the offensive could greatly improve by adding another bat to the lineup, but I’m not hearing much at all about 2B. Adding an OF plus a quality 2B would be a huge upgrade in my opinion. Obviously, this would necessitate a trade, since the FA market is dismal for 2B, but it’s worth a shot. Martin Prado comes to mind, but perhaps some non-tender candidates will also emerge.

This is one of the best, most dispassionate analyses of this situation that I’ve seen anywhere; thanks. I second the “no guarantee they spend it all right away” comment, and also the idea. Bringing on help at the trade deadline from teams that have fallen out of the hunt, including payroll relief for those teams, has become a regular part of the baseball landscape, whether we like it or not. Keeping the payroll flexibility not just to make an acquisition, but a BIG acquisition, is potentially more valuable for this team than anyone they’d sign as a free agent today. That flexibility wouldn’t exist with Pujols on a $25M/year contract — although I’d still rather have Pujols if possible.

I am a highschool student preparring to take many journalism classes, my dream is to report on sports, please read my blog (more to come) and if you like my views add me on Twitter to keep up to date on my post! http://www.tumblr.com/blog/atkins-view @datkins93

What’s the backup plan if Berkman is injured or isn’t performing?

You’re right I don’t like hearing that cards will stop spending with just Furcal. I haven’t blamed ownership for the Pujols thing, but if they don’t intend to reinvest that money into the team, I will not be sending one dollar their way.

Here you go.
-M.

Enjoy your vacation M! After the winter meetings I think you earned it.

I would like to see Beltran in Right Field. Look at what happened last year when we signed a veteran former all star…..Just sayin

M, with the signing of Beltran, what’s left for Cardinals? It seems most of the holes have been filled. I would like to see an upgrade in the lead-off hitting spot, but I can’t see that happening without a trade. What’s your take?

Not much. Should be mostly cosmetic I think.
-M.

What is the Cardinals possibility on getting a good free agent pitcher/hitter next offseason, such as Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Michael Bourn; etc.?

It’s way too early to have any kind of read on that.
-M.

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