Results tagged ‘ Hot Stove ’

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
radar.

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
Boggs.

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.

-M.

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”

Molina signed — UPDATE, officially confirmed

Done and done. Four years, plus a club option. Still working on getting the dollars.

-M.

********************


Nothing confirmed, but it looks very likely that the Cardinals are about to announce the signing of Yadier Molina — not sure whether we’re talking one year or multiple years, though.

Put the following pieces together, and a picture emerges:

1. The Cardinals are holding a news conference at 11:30.

2. It was just posted that Molina will be signing at noon, after he hadn’t previously been on the schedule.

You do the math.

As the Dude said, "You look for the person who will benefit, and, uh…"

-M.

My take

I’ve done a lot of thinking about this deal over the past two days, and I think last night I finally hit on what I think about it. I sort of alluded to this in today’s mailbag, but this is my view:

It really comes down to whether you think the Cardinals HAD to move Rolen. That has to inform any assessment. If you think that the TLR-SR relationship was such a problem that they simply had to move him, then I think it’s hard not to like this trade. If you think it was workable, then it’s hard to like it too much.

Because I think, in the end, it’s a pretty even swap on value. Rolen’s top-end potential is higher. At his best, he’s at least as productive a hitter (look at that 2004 OBP… tasty!) and obviously a better fielder. But on the other hand, it seems that Glaus is more likely to reach MOST of his ability. His injury seems to be more manageable and seems to have less of an impact on his production. So whereas Rolen’s 90th percentile is something like 310/420/590 with a Gold Glove, his 50th percentile is a lot less than that.

So if you feel they had to move him, then I think you’ve got to be pleased that they’re not getting 50 cents on the dollar. If the premise is that they had no choice, then getting even value is actually a pretty nice accomplishment. But if you feel they didn’t have to move him, then there’s not much point in moving a guy for an equivalent guy. Devil you know, devil you don’t, etc etc etc.

And my copout personal analysis is that they felt they pretty much had to move him. So to get a genuinely productive hitter, and apparently at least a competent defender, is a nice pickup. I don’t give it a glowing, raving A-plus-plus, but I think I give it a solid B or so.

-M.

Edmonds official

Officially confirmed. Announcement coming any minute now.

I haven’t read through all the comments on the previous thread, but going through my email I suspect I have a pretty good idea of what y’all are saying. Here’s what I’ll say: wait until all the moves are done. I don’t think this can be assessed in a vacuum, because I think it’s only the first domino.

If it’s the last move, then yeah, it’s kind of strange.

-M.

When the best moves are the ones you don't make

I have some longer thoughts on the Cards’ inactivity thus far, and the fan base’s agitation over them, but I wanted to get this out now:

Five years for Aaron Rowand, when he’ll turn 31 in the first year of the deal, is just nuts. He’s had two seasons in the Major Leagues when he was really an offensive asset — ’04 and ’07, both times playing in hitter-friendly ballparks. In ’02, ’05 and ’06 he was a liability with the bat, and in ’03 he was a league-average hitter.

His glove is somewhere between very good and excellent, depending on the year and who you believe, but we’re not talking about Andruw Jones in his prime here. And by the end of the deal, odds are he won’t be an asset in CF anymore, if he’s even a CF at all at that point. So he’ll HAVE to be a significant plus bat for the contract to make sense at that time — and in his prime, his late 20s, he’s been less than a 50-50 proposition to be a significant plus bat.

This is all doubly true to the extent that the Cardinals were considering him, because they have a cost-controlled player ready very soon in CF. So to add Rowand, they would have had to do one of two things: move Rasmus, which takes away much of his value, or move Rowand and bank on those odds that he’s a plus bat for a corner spot in even MORE years of the deal.

I’m sure I’ve already received 10 teeth-gnashing emails from fans about why the Cardinals are sitting on their hands while everyone else gets better. Well, I don’t think the Giants got better today. Their ’08 team may be a smidge better, but their franchise health is assuredly worse.

Deals like this are why I just don’t share the outrage of many fans that the Cards aren’t dipping into the FA market this winter. Big dollars in the short term rarely hurt you — the Andruw Jones deal is at least intriguing, if not the best of the winter (as Joe Sheehan argued, but I don’t really agree). But big dollars in the long term, for players who have already turned 30? Guh.

-M.

Weirdest. Trade. Ever.

OK, maybe not EVER, but I’m really puzzled by today’s deal. At first it looked like a lose-lose, but the more I read, the more I think it makes some sense for the Angels. But for the White Sox, ugh.

If you’re the White Sox, why do you want Cabrera? Of all the packages of talent — especially young talent — that you could get for a dependable if unspectacular starter like Garland, why Cabrera? In his best season in years, he only hit 301/345/397 — and he’s 33. Yes he’s a Gold Glover, but man, it just seems like there’s a lot more that you could get. And more specifically, Cabrera is exactly what the White Sox didn’t need on offense — another guy who doesn’t get on base (career OBP .321) on a team that was last in the MAJORS in OBP last year.

From the Angels side, it’s kind of a strange deal if it doesn’t lead to something else. But from what I can glean, it appears that this is prelude to some kind of second trade including a starter, either for Tejada or Miguel Cabrera or another impact bat. That, I could see. And it’s not as though the Angels have a dearth of infielders. Maicer Izturis, whom I’ve always liked, has been a better offensive player than people realize. He hit 293/365/412 in 2006, and 289/349/405 in ’07. That is to say, roughly equivalent to Cabrera this year and better the year before. If they let Izturis play, they’ll see now offensive downgrade. Anybody have insight or numbers (not errors, but actually valuable numbers) on Izturis’ defense?

Anyway. I’m actually off the beat this week — happy Thanksgiving everybody! — but as I’m sitting at home, working on other things, I was intrigued by this trade and wanted to get something up about it. Also, as regards the Cardinals, this may mean that Juan Uribe is available, but despite the power I’m not too crazy about Uribe’s .295 lifetime OBP.

-M.

(now playing: REM Live)

Who's this gentleman, Dude?

That’s really the question facing the Cardinals — what pitcher did they sign today? How much of Joel Pineiro’s improvement over his two months in St. Louis is legitimate, and how much is small-sample-size noise?

If it’s mostly legitimate, then they didn’t make a bad move today. And there are some reasons to think it might be. His strikeout rate was solid, and his walk rate was exceptional.

If it’s just noise, then they didn’t make a good move today. And there are reasons to think that, too. Pineiro’s HR rate in St. Louis was downright ugly. Plus, there’s this simple truth: for the MOST part, if you have 389 innings that say one thing, and 63 innings that say something else, usually the 389 innings are a truer representation than the 63 innings.

In the end, I don’t think I mind the move. It’s only a two-year commitment, and it’s tough to get really killed on a two-year deal. I don’t expect that Pineiro is going to struggle like he did in 2005 and 2006, even if I also don’t expect him to have a sub-4.00 ERA. And I have to think they’re going to deal Reyes, just to give him and them a fresh start.

What are y’all’s thoughts?

-M, with some Jimmy Buffett playing on the speakers.

Center field

OK, lotta topics in my email this week. Definitely no shortage of things to talk about in next week’s mailbag. But one that keeps coming up, that perplexes me, is the apparent desire of a lot of Cardinals fans for the team to sign one of the available FA center fielders — Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter come up the most, but I’ve also heard Mike Cameron and occasionally Aaron Rowand.

I don’t see it.

The thing is, you’re not going to get any of those guys, except MAYBE Cameron, for only a year. And come 2009, center field should belong to Colby Rasmus, who will be very good and very cheap. Ankiel could be a fine choice in center for the coming years, too, and that’s all assuming that Edmonds gets moved to right or left this spring — which is not yet a certainty.

To get Jones or Hunter, you’re going to be committing multiple years and a lot of dollars. And in both cases, a great deal of the player’s value is locked up in his playing center field. Neither Jones nor Hunter, nor Cameron for that matter, has nearly as much value at a corner spot. So you’re committing resources to solve a problem that doesn’t really need to be solved. The problem that does need to be solved, aside from pitching, is bolstering the offense wherever possible.

Rowand is a little bit of a different case, but only if you believe his 2004 and 2007 offensive numbers are his real level. If the real Rowand is the guy from 2005 and 2006, then he’s another guy whose value comes primarily from being a decent hitter who plays good defense at a premium position.

I could see bringing in an impact guy at a corner spot. One guy who comes to mind is Bobby Abreu, who would be a fantastic No. 2 hitter. That’s especially true if they have to deal an outfielder for starting pitching. Adam Dunn would look really good in this lineup too, as a guy who gets on base and hits the ball out of the park. Another solution would be to look at the oft-rumored trade for Edgar Renteria, who would provide a significant bump in offense at the shortstop position.

But paying big dollars and especially multiple years for a CF, when you’ve got at least two CF options in-house, just doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s not the money — it’s the years.

-M, listening to the new Radiohead (I paid 5 GBP — anybody else get it today? What’d you decide to pay?)

Extra! Extra!

Striking development — a team has struck a relative bargain for an outfielder this winter. In a world where Juan Encarnacion and Jacque Jones each got three years guaranteed, and where Jeromy Burnitz is reportedly about to sign a two-year deal worth $6 million a year, this is an excellent move.

Oddly, the Astros didn’t necessarily need an outfielder, if you believe Chris Burke is going to develop into a factor (which I do). But Wilson is a fairly comparable offensive player to the other guys (actually a little more effective), and to get him for fewer dollars and fewer years is simply a better deal. His one huge year was extremely Coors-inflated (302/370/591, 21 HR, 84 RBI at home; 260/316/479, 15 HR, 57 RBI on the road), but even then he hit for decent power.

That’s really the difference between Wilson and a guy like Encarnacion, though Wilson is two years older. Even when you adjust for ballparks, Wilson has more power. He’s not a superstar, but he’s a guy with a lifetime slugging percentage of 483 on the road (Encarnacion’s is 460). None of the guys in this discussion get on base nearly often enough, but if Wilson can slug 5-something at home and 470-480 on the road, then you live with the lower OBP.

It’s a strange contract, with a three-year club option at the end of the year. But from the Astros’ perspective, there’s only $4.5 million guaranteed. From Wilson’s perspective, I don’t really understand how/why he took a deal like this if there were three-year guaranteed contracts available to him. I don’t know whether there were or were not, but you would think any team interested in one of the other guys would be interested in Wilson.

How does this relate to the Cardinals? Throughout the early parts of the winter, I advocated patience and understanding from Cardinals fans, because I thought most of the contracts being handed out by other teams were foolish, and I thought the Cards would make a move a lot like this. And actually, I think the flyers on Junior Spivey and Sidney Ponson both are terrific moves. But all things being equal, if the Cards could have had Wilson for a year and a guaranteed $4.5 million, or Encarnacion (two years younger, similar but somewhat less effective hitter) for three years, I think Wilson would have been a better move.

There are a couple of ways that won’t be true: if Encarnacion’s newfound OBP ability (career-high 349 last year) actually sticks, or if he comes into his own at 30. Neither is impossible, but neither is a certainty, either. I’d love to be wrong, and love to see Encarnacion make his contract look good. I just wouldn’t want to bet on that happening.

-M.

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