Tag Archives: St. Louis Cardinals

Season Preview – NL Central


Time to look at the 6 team NL Central division. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East, AL Central, AL West, and NL East.

Last Year’s Records
Cincinnati – 91-71
St. Louis – 86-76
Milwaukee – 77-85
Houston – 76-86
Chicago – 75-87
Pittsburgh – 57-105

Notable Additions

Chicago – Carlos Pena, Matt Garza, Kerry Wood

Cincinnati – Edgar Renteria

Houston – Clint Barmes

Milwaukee – Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Yuniesky Betancourt, Takashi Saito, Mark Kotsay

Pittsburgh – Lyle Overbay, Garrett Atkins, Kevin Correia, Scott Olsen, Joe Beimel

St. Louis – Ryan Theriot, Lance Berkman

Notable Losses

Chicago – Sam Fuld, Tom Gorzelanny

Cincinnati – Arthur Rhodes, Orlando Cabrera, Aaron Harang

Houston – Matt Lindstrom, Felipe Paulino

Milwaukee – Brett Lawrie, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Gregg Zaun

Pittsburgh –  Zack Duke, Andy LaRoche, Lastings Milledge

St. Louis – Brendan Ryan, Pedro Feliz, Brad Penny, Jeff Suppan

My Thoughts

Chicago – The Cubs had a very disappointing season last year, and went out and tried to plug some of those holes this offseason. Bringing in Carlos Pena on a 1 year contract, despite its cost, looks like a very nice signing for a power bat. The acquisition of Matt Garza brings a young, cost-controlled high-end starting pitcher to their rotation, but at the cost of top prospects Hak-Ju Lee, Chris Archer, and others.  I am not sold that this team will compete this year, as they will need bounceback performances from Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, and Carlos Zambrano to really end up in the thick of the race.

Cincinnati – The defending NL Central champions, the team has lost Aaron Harang and will hope that the combination of Mike Leake, Travis Wood, and others will be able to pitch complete seasons this year. The team returns nearly every player from last season’s title, but I don’t think that it is a slam-dunk that they will just run away with the division again this year.

Houston – Talk about a rebuilding effort. Here’s a team which has very few high-end prospects in the system right now, who also does not have a lot of higher-quality players at the Major League level either. There are some quality players in Hunter Pence and Brett Myers, but there’s not a lot of hope for the 2011 season. They will look to get a solid rookie season out of last year’s acquisition, Brett Wallace, but you have essentially gathered a group of mid-level players who can fill out a roster, but are unlikely to compete as a group for a division title, let alone a league championship

Milwaukee – And within the same division, you have a team who has gone all-in for 2011. The Brewers have traded nearly all of their top prospects in order to improve their pitching staff, and did so with the acquisitions of Marcum and Greinke. It’s not a great sign that Greinke is hurt already, but he should return in mid April and only miss a few starts. The bigger story throughout the season will be whether or not they fall out of contention and attempt to trade Prince Fielder before the deadline. They definitely remain a team to be reckoned with in the NL Central.

Pittsburgh – For a team that lost 105 games last year, they actually have a lot to look forward to. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen is poised to become one of the best young players in the Majors, and 2nd year players Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez both will look to build on their solid rookie years. They aren’t likely to compete this season, but there’s hope for Pirates fans that is starting to show itself at the Major League level.

St. Louis – The biggest story out of St. Louis up until the start of Spring Training was whether or not Albert Pujols would sign a contract extension prior to the start of the season, and unfortunately it’s no longer the current top story out of their camp. With Cy Young runner up Adam Wainwright out for the season with Tommy John surgery, they will now look to replace at least some part of his production in the starting rotation. I’m not sold that this team, as constructed, can compete for the division title. They will need everything else to fall just right for them to win this division.

Overall Thoughts

The NL Central really has the look of a wide open division. If things fall just right, 4 of the teams could conceivably win the division this season. That said, I’m not sold that things will fall right for all of them, but it should be intersting to watch regardless.  Here’s my predicted order of finish:

1. Milwaukee
2. Cincinnati
3. St. Louis
4. Chicago
5. Pittsburgh
6. Houston

Who are the Faces of the Franchise? NL Central Edition


Only two divisions left to look at for the Faces of the Franchise, but there’s some definite notable ones here .

  • Cubs – At the moment, the player who is most known for being a Cub has to be Carlos Zambrano. Whether or not that is a good thing or not remains to be seen, but the team seems like it is more associated with him than some of the more famous position players like Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez. Continue reading

The Next Contract for Albert Pujols


With the self-imposed deadline come and gone, it appears that for now, Albert Pujols will play out his contract, and have the option to test free agency come November. The potential suitors who could vie for his services if he actually reaches free agency have been written about ad nauseum, but I think it’s important to look at the actual impact Pujols will have on the game itself.

If He Returns to the Cardinals

If Albert returns to the Cardinals, two things stand out potentially for him. He could be the next great lifetime Cardinal, in the ilk of Stan Musial and Bob Gibson, as famous for being a Cardinal as a great ballplayer. His numbers to this point clearly indicate that he is already a great player, one of the greats of all time in just 10 seasons. But he could also make a run at some of the great Cardinal records, many of which are held by Musial.

Continue reading

Michael Young’s Trade Request


According to MLBTR, Michael Young has requested a trade, and will only accept a trade to 8 teams. From T.R. Sullivan, those teams are: Cardinals, Yankees, Twins, Astros, Rockies, Dodgers, Angels, Padres. Realistically, what of those are the best fit?

According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Young is currently under contract for 3 more seasons for a total of $48 million. Realistically, unless the Rangers eat a major portion of the contract, the Twins, Padres, and Astros seem like poor fits. But what about the rest of the teams?

Continue reading

Prospect Review – Zack Cox


The next prospect up for review is Zack Cox of the St. Louis Cardinals

The Basics
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
How Acquired: Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1st round (25th pick) of the 2010 amateur draft.
Age as of 4/1/11: 21

Scouting Reports and Statistics
The Baseball Cube

Prospect Ranks
Hardball Times: #2 (STL – 2011)
Deep Leagues: #54 (Overall –  2011), #4 (3B – 2011)
Bullpen Banter: #6 (3B – 2011)
MLB.COM: #8 (3B – 2011)
Baseball America: #2 (STL – 2011)
John Sickels: #3 (STL – 2011) B-
Scouting Book: #7 (3B – 2011), #73 (Overall – 2011)
Top Prospect Alert: #2 (STL – 2011)

Analysis

Cox was the top draft pick for the Cardinals in 2010 out of the University of Arkansas. He finished off an excellent sophomore season there with a .429/.507/.609 line with 9 home runs, 48 runs batted in, and 11 stolen bases.

He signed for a $3.2 million bonus, more than the two picks before and after him combined ($2.8 M total). The contract also included being placed on the 40 man roster. However, he only appeared in 4 games with the Rookie League affiliate for the Cardinals in 2010.

I like the plate discipline he showed in college (34 walks against 37 strikeouts in his sophomore season), but the concern that keeps coming up in the scouting reports I am reading is whether or not his bat will play enough to stay at third base.

From Baseball Beginning’s scouting report on Cox:

While I agree he’s a solid draft pick, I don’t see him as a premium pick. Here’s why. If he’s going to stay at third base as a major leaguer and be a standout player, he’ll need power. There are no signs in this video that Cox is tailored for lifting the ball. He’s armsy and likes extension, but he doesn’t drive the ball. He makes contact, but not with what I would term hard contact.

From Project Prospect’s pre-draft scouting report:

Make no mistake about it, the Arkansas third baseman is a talented player. Cox has shown the ability to hit for solid power and make contact. Unfortunately, he hasn’t shown the ability to do them at the same time.

I think that at this point, Cox is a player to follow, as he could very well advance through the system quickly due to being on the 40 man roster. I will be very interested to see where he plays in 2011.

Outlook

I think Cox’s outlook will vary widely depending on where he starts 2011. I think that by the end of the season, he will most likely be in AA, but I’m not sure that he’ll be there before the beginning of August.

Prediction for 2011

.280/.340/.430, 10 HR, 75 RBI, 10 SB (Split between A and AA)

Expected ETA

2012 mid season seems likely to me. This assumes he finishes 2011 at AA.

Season Preview in Review – National League Central


Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I previously looked at each of the divisions in the American League and the NL East, and I move now to the NL Central.

Chicago Cubs

Predicted Record: 87-75
Actual Record: 75-87

I had thought that the Cubs would find a way to put it together this season, and find a way to win what definitely appeared to be a weak division. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and the team really spun out of control throughout the season. The bright spots for the team really seemed to be the emergence of rookie shortstop Starlin Castro and the performance that manager Mike Quade was able to coax out of the team. Hopefully they will be able to make a quick recovery in 2011. Continue reading

Trade Retrospective – Mark Mulder to the Cardinals


On December 18th, 2004, the St. Louis Cardinals acquired SP Mark Mulder from the Oakland Athletics for P Dan Haren, P Kiko Calero, and C/1B Daric Barton.

The Background

From my writeup on the Hudson trade, which occurred only 2 days before this trade: The Athletics were coming off another good season, which unfortunately ended without a berth in the postseason despite being tied for the AL West division lead with 3 games to go and the other team in the lead, the Angels, coming in for the last 3 games. The Angels took the first 2 games, and clinched the division. With a 91-71 record, the team was now forced to start looking at the hard fact that one of their aces, Tim Hudson, would be eligible for free agency after the 2005 season, and the team was highly unlikely to be able to afford the ace.

Moving Hudson had not been an entirely huge surprise, but the idea that they would move Mulder, who was 2 years from free agency still, seemed unlikely at best.

The Cardinals had just been to the World Series in 2004, but were swept by the Red Sox despite winning 105 games and having 4 starting pitchers with 15 or more victories during the season. The team really appeared to be in need of someone to take the ball in Game 1, and again in Game 7 if necessary.

The Moving Pieces

In St. Louis, Mulder was put into the top of the rotation along with an already excellent group which included Chris Carpenter, Matt Morris, and Jeff Suppan.

In Oakland, Haren was called upon to replace Mulder in the starting rotation, with Calero slotting into the back end of the bullpen. Barton, only 19 years old, was sent to High A Stockton to start the 2005 season.

What Happened Next

The Cardinals were extremely happy with the results that they got from Mulder in 2005, as he posted a 16-8 record with a 3.64 ERA. The team itself returned to the playoffs after winning 100 games and the NL Central crown, but were eliminated from the playoffs in the NLCS by the Houston Astros.

The Athletics were in a semi-rebuilding mode, going 88-74 in 2005 and finishing 2nd to the Angels again. Dan Haren was a key cog in this machine, as he went 14-12 with a 3.73 ERA. Kiko Calero provided a lot of value in the bullpen as well, making 58 appearances and posting a 3.23 ERA over 55 2/3 innings pitched. Barton continued to hit extremely well, posting a .317 batting average with 13 homeruns and 89 runs batted in between High-A and AA.

The Net Moves

Cardinals – First Level

  • Mark Mulder spent parts of 5 seasons with the Cardinals before retiring due to injuries. Unfortunately, the 2005 season was his last good season, and finished his time in St. Louis with a 22-18 record, a 5.04 ERA, and 166 strikeouts to 114 walks in 319 innings pitched. He last pitched in a major league game in 2008.

Athletics – First Level

  • Daric Barton is currently with the Athletics, having made his debut in 2007. In 318 games, he has hit .259/.360/.395 with 21 homeruns and 117 runs batted in. He is currently the starting 1B for the Athletics.
  • Kiko Calero spent from 2005-2008 with the A’s, and posted some solid relief innings for the team. He went 8-8 with 4 saves, a 3.96 ERA, and 147 strikeouts in 159 innings pitched. He was released on June 27, 2008.
  • Dan Haren was clearly the top prize of this trade, and spent 2005-2007 with the team. He made 1 All-Star team, starting the game in 2007 in San Francisco. During his 3 seasons, he went 43-34 with a 3.64 ERA, 531 strikeouts and 153 walks in 662 2/3 innings pitched. After the 2007 season, Haren was traded to the Diamondbacks along with P Connor Robertson for P Brett Anderson, Greg Smith and Dana Eveland, OF Carlos Gonzalez and Aaron Cunningham, and 1B Chris Carter. This particular trade will be discussed in a future trade retrospective.

Overall Reactions

This one pretty much instantaneously became a winner for the Athletics, as Haren and Calero both turned into valuable members of the teams they were on. Even if Mulder had stayed healthy, the fact that Haren was able to be traded later on for so many key players so soon after acquiring him makes this one a clear victory for the Athletics. The fact that Mulder almost immediately became injury prone just further elevated the victory by the Athletics on this one. Looking at this trade, all 6 of the players that the Athletics received for Dan Haren have either played with the team, or were used to acquire other pieces who are currently with the team. For Cardinals fans, this clearly becomes a case of what might have been. Mulder had been very good prior to the onset of his injuries, and was well on his way to become one of the game’s great starting pitchers. It is unfortunate that he was not able to continue to play, but that is also a part of the game as well.

Trade Deadline Review


Well, we are now officially one day past the non-waiver trade deadline, and there have been quite a few different trades made. It was definitely one of the more active periods in a lot of years. I wrote up the major trades as they happened, and you can read my thoughts with the links below.

Major Trades

Texas Rangers acquire SP Cliff Lee and P Mark Lowe from the Seattle Mariners for 1B Justin Smoak and 3 minor leaguers
Los Angeles Angels acquire SP Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks for SP Joe Saunders and 3 minor leaguers
Philadelphia Phillies acquire SP
Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros for SP J.A. Happ and 2 minor leaguers

Semi-Major Deals

1. New York Yankees acquire RP Kerry Wood from the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later or cash
2. New York Yankees acquire 1B Lance Berkman from the Houston Astros for P Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes
3. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire SP Ted Lilly and IF Ryan Theriot from the Chicago Cubs for IF Blake DeWitt, minor league P Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit
4. St. Louis Cardinals acquire SP Jake Westbrook from the Cleveland Indians and minor leaguer Nick Greenwood from the San Diego Padres, San Diego Padres acquire OF Ryan Ludwick from the St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians acquire minor leaguer Corey Kluber from the San Diego Padres
5. Pittsburgh Pirates acquire C Chris Snyder and OF Pedro Ciriaco from the Arizona Diamondbacks for P D.J. Carrasco, IF Bobby Crosby, and OF Ryan Church
6. Chicago White Sox acquire SP Edwin Jackson from the Arizona Diamondbacks for SP Daniel Hudson and P David Holmberg
7. Minnesota Twins acquire RP Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals for C Wilson Ramos and minor league P Joe Testa
8. Texas Rangers acquire IF Jorge Cantu from the Florida Marlins for minor leaguer pitchers Evan Reed and Omar Poveda
9. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire OF Scott Podsednik from the Kansas City Royals for minor leaguers C Lucas May and P Elisaul Pimentel
10. Los Angeles Angels acquire 3B Alberto Callaspo from the Kansas City Royals for P Sean O’Sullivan and P Will Smith
11. Toronto Blue Jays acquire SS Yunel Escobar and P Jo-Jo Reyes from the Atlanta Braves for SS Alex Gonzalez and minor leaguers Tyler Pastornicky and Tim Collins
12. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire RP Octavio Dotel from the Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Andrew Lambo and P James McDonald

Minor Moves

1. Texas Rangers acquire IF Cristian Guzman from the Washington Nationals for minor leaguers Ryan Tatsuko and Tanner Roark
2. Texas Rangers acquire C Bengie Molina from the San Francisco Giants for P Chris Ray
3. Toronto Blue Jays acquire 1B Mike Jacobs from the New York Mets for a player to be named later
4. San Diego Padres acquire IF Miguel Tejada from the Baltimore Orioles for minor league P Wynn Pelzer
5. Tampa Bay Rays acquire RP Chad Qualls from the Arizona Diamondbacks for a player to be named later
6. New York Yankees acquire OF Austin Kearns from the Cleveland Indians for ?
7. Detroit Tigers acquire IF Jhonny Peralta from the Cleveland Indians for minor league P Giovanny Soto
8. San Francisco Giants acquire P Javier Lopez from the Pittsburgh Pirates for P Joe Martinez and OF John Bowker
9. Atlanta Braves acquire IF Wilkin Ramirez from the Detroit Tigers for cash or a player to be named later
10. Florida Marlins acquire RP Will Ohman from the Baltimore Orioles for P Rick VandenHurk
11. San Francisco Giants acquire RP Ramon Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox for P Daniel Turpen
12. Atlanta Braves acquire OF Rick Ankiel and RP Kyle Farnsworth from the Kansas City Royals for P Jesse Chavez, OF Gregor Blanco, and minor league P Tim Collins
13. Boston Red Sox acquire C Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Texas Rangers for 1B Chris McGuiness, P Ramon Mendez and a player to be named later or cash

Wow. There’s still stuff coming in as I write this, and in the last hour there have been a lot of these to get done. So who did well here and who didn’t?

Winners

The Yankees – Let’s see if we have this right. The Yankees picked up Lance Berkman to be their designated hitter. They added Kerry Wood to help solidify the back end of the bullpen behind Mariano Rivera. And they got both of them for a pair of players that are of no use to the Yankees, and even got some money in the deals? Really? They already have the best record in the Majors, and have decidedly improved their team with both acquisitions. Oh, and they added to their bench depth with Austin Kearns as well.

The Rangers – With a decent lead in the AL West, the Rangers went out and got themselves an ace starter (Lee), a solid catcher who can help them play defense at the position (Molina), a run producing right handed bat who can play two positions (Cantu), a backup infielder who will be able to spell their third baseman and shortstop, and fill in while their second baseman is on the disabled list (Guzman),  and moved a player that they had soured on for some prospects. They are the prohibitive favorite in the AL West at this point, now being 8 games ahead of the 2nd place Angels and 8.5 of the 3rd place Athletics. They plugged nearly every gap they had in their team, and will go into the pennant chase with a very good chance of being in the World Series at the end of it.

The Angels – Even though the moves may end up being more for next season, acquiring Dan Haren to give them a very good 1-2 punch in their rotation for “some magic beans” as Matthew Berry put it on the Fantasy Focus podcast was a stroke of genius. Callaspo also gives them a solid hitter to play at 3B which they had sorely been missing. While it may not be enough to catch the Rangers, they gave up very little of value to do both trades.

The Pirates – They took D.J. Carrasco, Bobby Crosby, Javier Lopez, Octavio Dotel, and Ryan Church and turned them into a major league backstop (Snyder), two solid potential major leaguers (Bowker and Martinez), and 2 higher end, albeit risky prospects (Lambo, McDonald). Someone must have put something in Neal Huntington’s coffee that helped out a lot. They did extremely well to turn a lot of random pieces that aren’t really that helpful into all that.

The Royals – Pieces that aren’t for the future: Podsednik, Ankiel, Farnsworth, Callaspo. All moved for players with varying levels of upside who can help with the rebuilding process: Lucas May, Tim Collins, Jesse Chavez, Gregor Blanco, Sean O’Sullivan, Will Smith. Not the most amazing group of players, and definitely no high-end prospects here. But the Royals have a lot of high-end prospects already, and need others to help give them some balance as well with regard to position scarcity and depth overall. Very well done today.

The Padres – They gave up a pair of pitching prospects to acquire a much needed outfield bat, and a utility player who should provide some value over the remainder of the season. Nothing too major here, and definitely nothing that mortgages the future. I like the Ludwick acquisition, as he could see an improvement with a change of scenery. I’m not 100% sold on the Tejada acquisition, but they didn’t really give up that much to get him in my opinion.

Losers

The Nationals – The trade of Matt Capps was nice, netting them a very good catching prospect in Wilson Ramos. But the way that they handled Adam Dunn leading up to the trade deadline was inexcusable. They clearly had not made up their mind as to what they wanted to do with him, and in the end they simply ran out of time. They clearly could have gotten more for him had they moved him instead of waiting for his free agency to play out, and the only reason to do that would have been to get him signed to an extension (which they didn’t do either). Not sure what happened here, but we’ll see if this was a really bad plan from the start.

The Dodgers – In a division where they are 7.5 games back of the leader and 5 games back of the wild card leader, the Dodgers decided to go for it, sending prospects Brett Wallach, Kyle Smit, Lucas May, Elisaul PimentelAndrew Lambo, and James McDonald (along with Blake DeWitt) to other teams to acquire: the remainder of this season from Octavio Dotel, Ted Lilly and Scott Podsednik, and also Ryan Theriot. I’m pretty sure that if they had offered those players to the Diamondbacks they would have been able to get Dan Haren, Kelly Johnson, and a bullpen arm. I’m also pretty convinced that they could have offered that group to the Mariners and gotten Cliff Lee, Jose Lopez and possibly David Aardsma. I’m not at all impressed with what they did here, and are only one bad week from being completely out of the race.

The Orioles – It’s a tough beat, but they were only able to move Will Ohman and Miguel Tejada, and would have been served by moving Ty Wigginton and Kevin Millwood, among others. Unfortunately, neither player has been playing well of late, and had essentially managed to knock their own values down to next to nothing.

The Twins – They needed some help in the bullpen, and really could have used another starting pitcher behind Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano. Unfortunately, they only filled one of those gaps, and at a cost that seems high even considering that the prospect that they gave up had no place to play in the Twins’ future.

Mixed Bag

The Astros – They were able to get out from under a lot of the big dollar contracts owed to Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, and got back at least a reasonable return. Brett Wallace will slot in at 1B to replace Berkman, and J.A. Happ will fill Oswalt’s slot in the rotation. But time will tell if they get anything other than salary relief for Berkman, and Happ and Wallace will have to be very good to replace the value of Oswalt in my opinion.

The Phillies – They gave up a lot more to get Oswalt than they got back in return for Cliff Lee, who would have played a similar role for the Phillies this season had he not been traded. Oswalt will need to be the piece that moves them over the top for this one to really be a winner for them.

The Diamondbacks – They acquired a pretty good young pitcher in return for Edwin Jackson (Hudson). But they practically gave away Dan Haren, a better pitcher who was not that much more expensive than Jackson. They got back a bunch of garbage essentially for their second catcher Snyder. Crosby is a free agent after the season, and Church and Carrasco are both likely candidates for a non-tender after the season. They also did not move Kelly Johnson and Adam LaRoche, both of whom had a lot of value built up despite poor performance of late. Some of the players they acquired could turn out to be good, but it remains to be seen.

The White Sox – They really could have used a bat, and it sounds like they were trying to get one by acquiring Edwin Jackson. I honestly can’t remember the last time I heard about a player being acquired with the hope of moving him to another team, only to have that other team tell them it wasn’t enough. Jackson is a nice pitcher, but is not that much better than Hudson should be.

Overall, a very exciting trade deadline, and there is still the possibility that we will see a lot more trades before the waiver deadline of August 31st.

Trade Deadline Thoughts


With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, I put out a call to some of the team-centric bloggers from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance with 3 questions each, dependent on whether or not they considered their team to be a contender or not. Below are the questions, along with each of the responses.

Note that most of these responses were received over the last week, so some may be a bit out of date with the information now known, but that has more with my inability to sit down and write it all down and not with the respondents themselves.

The Respondents

Bill Ivie from I-70 Baseball (Responses are for the Cardinals)
Daniel Shoptaw from C70 at the Bat (Cardinals)
Bee Hylinski from Contract Year (Athletics)

For Contending Teams:

1.  What would you say is your team’s most pressing need to help them get to (or stay in) the playoffs?

Ivie: I will take the opinion side of this.  I have said it for months now.  The Cardinals need some strong help in the middle infield.  When they get production and table setting from the 2b/SS position, they produce and win.  When those positions are quiet, the team loses.

Shoptaw: There are two glaring holes on this team–middle infield, most especially shortstop, and the back of the rotation.  With the hopeful emergence of Tyler Greene to replace Brendan Ryan‘s woeful production, getting another starter would seem to be the most pressing need.  The team can not continue to run out Jeff Suppan and Blake Hawksworth on a regular basis and expect to play in October.

Interesting to me is the fact that both writers agree that the Cardinals’ middle infield is pretty much a black hole in terms of offense. I’m also inclined to agree with Daniel about the fact that the Cardinals need something in their rotation, but I think they are going to have to either make a small acquisition or wait to find out if and when injured pitchers Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse will be able to return to the rotation.

2. What player(s) do you think would most effectively fit that need? Generally, these would only be players that actually have a decent chance of being traded, so no offers for Albert Pujols :)

Ivie: What if I want to offer for Albert…oh, wait…we got ‘em.  Dan Uggla is always and intriguing name.  I also like the discussions that are suggesting Stephen Drew at SS.  Other than that, I think the market is kind of small for help, but hopefully they can find something out there.

Shoptaw: While the Cardinals would be well-suited to a Dan Haren or a Roy Oswalt, their contract situation most likely leaves them out of the crosshairs of GM John Mozeliak.  All moves must be filtered through the prism of the potential Albert Pujols extension.  Therefore, they’d much rather have someone that was a free agent after this season rather than someone taking up space in the next year or two.  You would think, in that case, they’d look for someone like a Jake Westbrook or perhaps a Kevin Millwood.

I actually really like the idea of the Cardinals acquiring Dan Uggla for a playoff run. While he is a bit expensive at $7.8 million for this season, he is under team control for next season as well, and could conceivably be moved during the offseason if they feel he will be too expensive. I actually really like the Stephen Drew thought as well, but he has more seasons under team control and would realistically cost more to acquire than Uggla. The Cardinals also seem like they would be a good team to take a risk on a Jake Westbrook/Kevin Millwood/Jeremy Guthrie type, and pair them up with Dave Duncan and let him do his magic.

3. What player(s) in your system are most likely to net you the player(s) for those needs?

Ivie: This probably is the biggest obstacle for the Cardinals.  I would say that Bryan Anderson (AAA Catcher), Mitchell Boggs (ML Reliever), and Brendan Ryan (ML Shorstop).  Brendan may be thrown in for a change of scenery and take a team that feels that is what he needs, but it will be hard to tell.

Shoptaw: What they can give up is another story.  Since they used a lot of their chips last year acquiring Mark DeRosa and then Matt Holliday, there’s not a lot on the farm.  There are potentially useful players such as Mark Hamilton and Joe Mather, along with current big leaguers Jon Jay and Allen Craig, that could be used as parts of a deal.  Most likely, St. Louis would have to take on payroll, something that ownership has said there is flexibility to do, and give away lesser quality prospects.  Expect that Brendan Ryan could be a part of a deal as well, especially if they do make a deal for a shortstop.

After looking at the Cardinals system myself, it’s pretty empty at the higher levels. The biggest name that I have heard for them is pitcher Shelby Miller, who I would assume would have to be included in a trade if they were to get themselves someone like Roy Oswalt or Dan Haren. The other thing to remember at this point is that if they acquire a player who has a longer term contract, they may start running into a problem with their payroll limits after 2011 when they will need to resign Albert Pujols.

For Non-Contenders:

1. Which player(s) on your team do you think are most likely to get moved before the deadline?

Hylinski: Pitcher Ben Sheets, notwithstanding Billy Beane’s comments that he doesn’t plan on moving anyone.  Sheets has pitched better with every start recently.  His fastball is up to the mid nineties and all his other pitchers are working more accurately.  He’s a veteran presence and great with the young pitchers.  Speaking of the latter,  if a team would give up a great player and need more than Sheets, the A’s have a plethora of young pitchers in the minors to sweeten the pot.

I really thought that they were going to move him, and that despite his veteran presence he could bring back a fair amount in return. Unfortunately, he was placed on the disabled list on Saturday, and could potentially miss the rest of the season.

2. What would you like to see the organization get in return (ie, a 3B prospect, starting pitching prospects, salary relief, etc)? Specific players aren’t necessarily a requirement, unless you see a specific good match.

Hylinski: A slugger, a 3 or 4 hole hitter who can also play in the field (not another Jack Cust, please)  Someone like Hanley Ramirez would be terrific: a young major league hitter (or major-league ready hitter) with substantial pop in his bat.

I agree that this is definitely what the Athletics need, because the lineup just isn’t good enough in terms of power. Even when Sheets was healthy, I’m not sure I saw a player on the A’s current roster that could have brought that in return. Maybe catcher Kurt Suzuki, but with him now signed to a contract extension, I don’t think he’s going anywhere for at least a couple of seasons.

3. Do you see a good fit for these players that you think could get a deal done?

Hylinski: I am not convinced that Billy Beane and the ownership will pay top dollar for a hot bat.  But that’s what the team needs.  The only 2 bats at top of the A’s minor league system (Sacramento River Cats) are Chris Carter who can only play 1st base, so unless something happens to Daric Barton who has been a hitting and field machine, he’s not coming up; and  Michael Taylor who is at least a year off.

Another possibility might be 2nd-baseman Mark Ellis (though I’d really hate to see him go).  I understand the Phillies and maybe the Red Sox are looking for a 2nd baseman.  Probably Kevin Kouzmanoff will not be traded unless the other end of the deal is too good to pass up.

I’m inclined to agree with these points also, unfortunately. With the stadium situation continuing to drag on in Oakland, and with the team possibly moving to parts unknown, San Jose, or half a dozen other places, they just seem extremely unlikely to pay to get someone like that. The two prospects Bee mentioned have unfortunately been disappointments at AAA to this point, and signs are pointing that they may actually have to repeat the level again next season.

Overall, I thought it was interesting to get the perspective of some writers who are clearly very knowledgeable about their teams, and see if their observations about their teams were similar to mine as someone who sees it a little more at arm’s length. Thanks to everyone who responded to my questions, and you should check out their blogs at the links above as well.

Also, Allen Teruel over at Prorumors.Com had a series of writeups regarding potential trade targets for each team and certain types of players as well. You can find these stories here:
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/national-league-west-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/american-league-west-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/nationals-league-central-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/american-league-central-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/national-league-east-buyers-and-sellers/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/american-league-east-buyers-and-sellers/

Here are a few Top 10 lists that can help you out too:
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/top-10-mlb-power-hitters-that-could-be-traded-by-july-31/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/top-10-mlb-starting-pitchers-that-could-be-traded-by-july-31/
http://blog.prorumors.com/2010/07/rumors/top-ten-prospects-that-could-get-traded-by-july-31/

The Week in Review – April 12-April 18


It’s been a pretty busy week, what with a 20 inning game, a no-hitter, and some really excellent performances.

If the Playoffs Started Today (Which Clearly, They Don’t)

Tampa Bay (WC) vs. Minnesota (C)
Oakland (W) vs. New York (E)

St. Louis (C) vs. Philadelphia (E)
Florida (WC) vs. San Francisco (W)

Last Week’s Top Performers

Shin-Soo Choo (CLE) – .579/.680/1.211, 3 HR, 11 RBI, SB, 5 R
Jose Guillen (KC) – .462/.500/.885, 3 HR, 5 RBI, SB, 7 R
Brett Gardner (NYY) – .385/.529/.385, 5 R, RBI, 4 SB
Denard Span (MIN) – .381/.552/.524, 8 R, 3 RBI, 3 SB
Ty Wigginton (BAL) – .348/.385/.913, 6 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI
Derek Jeter (NYY) – .500/.500/.955, 5 R, 3 HR, 7 RBI
Ivan Rodriguez (WAS) – .476/.500/.714, 7 R, 7 RBI, SB
Dan Uggla (FLA) – .464/.484/.821, 7 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI
Chase Utley (PHI) – .333/.481/1.048, 8 R, 5 HR, 8 RBI
Matt Kemp (LAD) – .333/.414/.875, 8 R, 4 HR, 8 RBI, SB
Andre Ethier (LAD) – ..423/.464/.769, 4 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI

Adam Wainwright (STL) – 17 IP, 1.06 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 2 W, 16 K
Matt Garza (TAM) – 16 IP, 0.56 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 2 W, 10 K
Ricky Romero (TOR) – 16 IP, 1.69 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, W, 18 K
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – 12 1/3 IP, 2.19 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, W, 16 K
Ubaldo Jimenez (COL) – 9 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, W, 7 K (no-hitter)
Felipe Lopez (STL) – 1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP

Roster Movement and Job Changes

The biggest changes involved all the disabled list movement:

  • Chris Getz of the Royals was placed on the disabled list, and Alex Gordon was activated to take his spot on the roster.
  • Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies was placed on the disabled list, with Juan Castro replacing him in the lineup. Rollins should be out a few weeks.
  • Esmailin Caridad of the Cubs was placed on the disabled list
  • Aaron Rowand of the Giants was placed on the disabled list.
  • Brian Roberts and Felix Pie of the Orioles were both placed on the disabled list. It sounds like Roberts may be out for an extended period of time.
  • Kelly Shoppach of the Rays.
  • Aaron Hill of the Blue Jays
  • Brian Fuentes of the Angels was placed on the disabled list, and Fernando Rodney immediately filled the closer’s role for him.

Also of some note last week was that 2nd year pitcher Brett Anderson signed a contract extension that could take him through the next 6 seasons. Risk on both sides, but I think that the A’s have probably locked up an ace for these next 6 seasons at minimal cost.

Top Rookie Performers

Jason Heyward continues to be the story, as he is now hitting .302/.423/.581 with 3 HR and 15 RBI in just the first two weeks of the season. He finished up last week with a 3-rbi day yesterday, including a walk-off 2 run single. At this rate, I would be shocked if anyone was able to keep up with him for the Rookie of the Year. Jamie Garcia of the Cardinals had a good outing as well, throwing 7 shutout innings during Saturday’s 20 inning matchup.

In the American League, Austin Jackson of the Tigers has gotten off to a hot start, hitting .340/.389/.500 with 9 runs and 5 rbi. Of some concern is the fact that he has struck out 15 times to only 4 walks so far, but he is producing well at the top of the lineup to this point.

Top Stories and This Week’s Links

  • The biggest story of the week was the first no-hitter of the season, thrown by Ubaldo Jimenez of the Rockies on Saturday. He did this in spite of walking 6 batters throughout the game. And apparently on Sunday he went for a 6 mile jog to help clear his mind for his next start.
  • The Cardinals and Mets put on a clinic in poor lineup and bench management on Saturday. Their game went 20 innings, during which time the Mets ran out of players, warmed up their closer nearly every inning from the 8th onward, and had the starter from 2 days’ prior come on to get the save. However, the Cardinals won the award for the worst performance, as they ran out of pitchers after the 17th inning. So come the top of the 18th inning, 3B Felipe Lopez was called on to pitch, and managed to get through the inning without allowing a run. So in the 19th, they moved Lopez back to 3B and put the new 3B Joe Mather in for the next 2 innings, where he gave up 2 runs and ended up taking the loss.
  • Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports has a really good article about what a simulated game is. It’s a really interesting read for anyone who has heard the term but wasn’t sure what it meant exactly.
  • Vin Scully marked his 60th year with the Dodgers. He is retiring at the end of this season, and even though I’m not a Dodger fan, it is truly remarkable that Scully has continued to work with the Dodgers for all these years.