Chan Ho Millwood

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How quickly we forget.

Weren't these the same morons that led the charge from "large contracts" to "stupid contracts"? Has memory so short-sighted them that they forgot about the lasting effects that their own free-spending idiocy brought upon baseball merely a handful of years ago?

Compare:

  • 5 years and $60M for a 31 year old who, after two miserable seasons in Philadelpia, leads the AL in ERA and still manages a sub-.500 record with a contending team!
  • 4 years and $880K for a 49 year old President who, after 4 miserable years at the helm, leads the American charge into unthreatening territory thus embarrassing a once proud Nation!

Thanks Texas. Glad you're a part of the Union.


Mulder Revisited

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Just a rumor...but completely in line with my previous post regarding Mark Mulder. From WSCR "The Score" in Chicago...

St. Louis Cardinals get:

Miguel Tejada
and a starting pitcher (Eric Bedard, Eric Dubois, or Rodrigo Lopez)

Baltimore Orioles get:

Mark Mulder
David Eckstein
and a prospect (no names mentioned)

A trade of this nature would require serious consideration. Mulder is in a contract year and will, therefore, very likely have an "up" year. The Cardinals have made it known since their playoff departure that the object this off-season was to improve their pitching staff, and dealing away a lefty of Mulder's caliber is certainly a step in the opposite direction. However, given the current market there may be no other choice. Mulder will most certainly command $12-15M next year...a figure the Cards are not likely to meet. Without the "hometown discount" in effect, Walt will be left standing with mud in his face if Mulder walks away a FA and we in Card Nation continue to watch the fruits of our farm system continue to prosper in Oakland.

On the other hand you have a disgruntled former MVP shortstop with a relatively small pricetag, given the current market, who wants out of Baltimore. Tejada is locked up through 2009 and his contract calls for salaries of $10M this year, $12M in '07 and $13M in '08 and '09.

Roto Authority recently had this to say about Mulder. To paraphrase, Mulder has peaked and his indicators are trending down. Signing Mulder to a long term deal might prove to be a mistake as these indications suggest.

Meanwhile, the ZIPS figures for Tejada in 2006 (courtesy of Baseball Think Factory) project another stellar year for the All-Star shortstop. His ZIPS predict a .303 BA, ..357 OBP, .511 SLG, with 28 HR and 113 RBI's. The inclusion of Bedard, although not particularly exciting, would at least provide us with a replacement lefty for Mulder and the scouting report on Bedard claims that the 26 year-old has a low 90's fastball, above average curve (or slurve), and a below-average changeup. He also has a 2.2/1 K/BB ratio. Not to mention that the 2006 season will be only his third full season as a starter making league minimum salary.

David Eckstein is a "must have" for the trade to happen since Baltimore will be looking to fill Tejada's spot at short. After enjoying a career year in St. Louis, it might be the perfect time to cash in on his success to bring us something bigger and better. Eckstein is scrappy and all-hustle. He does more at 5'7" than guys blessed with natural athlete builds. His loss would present a problem with the leadoff spot, and one that probably couldn't be answered with anyone else on the existing Cardinals roster. But the natural defensive skills of Tejada would certainly assuage Cards fans' potential irritation with this deal.

Perhaps Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan have decided that they have found a hidden gem in Sidney Ponson. Once upon a time, albiet however removed, he was considered a staff ace. The rotation already figures to have an interesting battle between what Walt Jocketty has dubbed "The Big 6". With Wade Miller still sitting on the open market, the loss of Mulder may be able to be compensated through a battle for rotation spots between Marquis, Suppan, Reyes, Ponson, Bedard and Miller (with Wainwright waiting in the wings).

In the trade scenerio proposed, the salaries are essentially a wash. Eck and Mulder are scheduled to make a combined $10.5M. Tejada is down for $10M and Bedard for $330,000. The payroll stays at the same figure it is at presently and (assuming Lboro's salary figures are correct) would still allow roughly $3M to spend on perhaps a Wade Miller project (who will no doubt sign somewhere for less than that).

Cardnilly provides some interesting information regarding the "positive impact Pujols has on other Latino players in the Cardinals’ clubhouse." If there is any truth to that line of thinking, then perhaps Tejada would be a great fit in the hometown clubhouse. Certainly the sight of him digging into the batter's box with AP waiting in the wings would provide opposing pitcher's with a fair share of ulcers.

But I digress. Again...it is only a rumor. But it is a rumor that I have been justifying in my mind since Miggy first declared that he wanted out of Baltimore. Take it with a grain of salt, but if the source of the interview is to be believes, then unless things change drastically then, "the Orioles would eventually go ahead and make the deal with the Cardinals."

On a side note: should we Cards fans think about getting a Christmas card for the collective front offices of the Oakland A's and Baltimore Orioles for providing us with a large portion of our roster?


Welcome E.L. "Junior"

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Looks like the Cards have rounded out their starters. As announced today, the Cards have signed Ernest Lee "Junior" Spivey to the club for one year.

After missing significant parts of the last two seasons with injuries to his shoulder and then his wrist, Spivey looks like the front-runner in the competition for the starting 2nd base position vacated by the departure of Mark Grudzielanek.

Spivey's deal will call for a base salary of $1.2M with incentives that could add on another $300K.

This is a deal that could be potentially very exciting. Spivey looks like he is trying to align with a winning organization for a year to get his stock up, not unlike Grudz who just cashed in on a solid year. Spivey's last full healthy season was in 2002 as the starter for the Arizona Diamondbacks (the same team the Cards swept in the NLCS). During that season, Spivey showed tremendous promise batting .301 with a .389 OBP and .476 SLG. Who knows if he'll be able to return to that form, but anything remotely close would be cause for celebration.

His career numbers are pretty much on par with or better than Grudz's. Spivey's batting average is a few points down but his career OPS is a full 70 points higher. He is also fast and agile with an above average defensive range factor. For a price tag of almost the same as the '05 Grudzielanek Experiment, signing Spivey appears to be one of the best off-season moves that GM Walt Jocketty has made this winter.



While the masses spent the week shopping for thoughtful gifts for family and friends, the good folks in the Cardinals front office were investing millions of dollars into thoughtless decision making for a loving fanbase.

Redbird Nation...whether you like it or not...welcome your new (very expensive) right fielder, Juan Encarnacion.

The decision not to pay AJ Burnett $11M/season is all starting to make sense. Why not take a pass on a young fireballer (with a spotty track record) and instead opt to spend the money on a failed-closer-turned-setup man (with a spotty track record), a two-time jailbird boozehound who thinks a Treadmill is a new type of Martini drink (and sports an unfathomable track record), and a right fielder who has yet to discover the meaning of the words "defense" or "take pitch" (with a useless track record).

Having surfed the Cardsbloggosphere there is really not much I can say on the subject that hasn't already been said. For the Kool-Aid fans out there, the Cards still look like a playoff team with the core players still on board...but the supporting staff that has been assembled around them looks like a pretty significant downgrade.

The worst part is...we gave this guy 3 years! Here is my favorite line from his scouting report, "He no longer is considered a middle-of-the-order hitter." Really?!?! Was he ever considered that to begin with?!?! A season-best 19 HR guy does not a heart of the order hitter make! Whomsoever in their right mind would look at his numbers and begin to suggest he ever belonged in the heart of any batting order?!?!

If Encarnacion digs in to the batter's box anywhere before 6th in the lineup for the '06 Cardinals it will be criminal! (sighs) Ah well...welcome on board guy!


Boooooooooooooooooooo!!!

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Consider this winter a glowing success for the Cardinals front office if the blueprint was to:

1) watch Larry Walker and Cal Edred retire

2) let Matt Morris, Mark Grudzielanek, Reggie Sanders, Julian Tavarez, John Mabry, Einer Diaz and Abe Nunez walk into free agency

3) trade Ray King for two players who couldn't make the cut for the 67-95 Colorado Rockies!

4) sign retreads Deivi Cruz, Gary Bennett, Ricardo Rincon, Braden Looper and the recently incarcerated boozehound Sidney "I've-never-met-a-drink-I-can-pass-up" Ponson

With several enticing players having been non-tendered and the Cardinals gaping holes in the outfield, I will not be convinced that Ponson, regardless of how little he may have cost, is a prudent signing. Perhaps he truns in a Kent Bottenfield circa 1999 season, in which case I will devour crow, but until then he looks like a $1M drinking buddy for Leonard Little. I sure hope St. Louis signs a designated driver...


Jacque Patterson

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$16M over three years for a guy whose numbers are strikingly similar to the guy the Cubs are bringing him in to replace.

Let's thank the fine folks at the Tribune Company for their complete ineptitude as the owners of the Cardinal's arch-nemisis.

Furthermore, the Cubs assured that the only locker room Jacque Jones would see at Busch III was the visiting team's...and gave the Twins draft picks to do so! Hendry stepped in the way of what I was afraid was the "silver bullet" of bad contracts.

If Patterson is non-tendered, let's hope the Cards are willing to begin the Corey Experiment. I love his glove, I like his speed and I am impressed with his power. His patience could use some work but I would love to see the Cardinals give him a shot.


Slow Day

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Slow day in sports...waiting for the non-tenders to hit the wire.

Let me just take this opportunity to wish the Ohio State Buckeyes "Good Luck" in their January 2nd Fiesta Bowl game versus the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Further, let me wish A.J. Hawk good luck in achieving Buckeye alumni greatness status in the NFL!


World Baseball Sleeper?

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Has anyone checked out the list of committments to play in the World Baseball Classic this spring? MLB better continue the recruiting efforts to even the competition or the Dominican Republic is going to cake-walk through the tournament.

If the games were played today (with the current MLBPA committments), here is how the Dominican team would look:

C - Alberto Castillo
1B - David Ortiz
2B - Alfonso Soriano
3B - Adrian Beltre
SS - Miguel Tejada
OF - Manny Ramirez
OF - Albert Pujols
OF - Vladimir Guerrero

And the top of the pitching rotation would include Pedro Martinez and Bartolo Colon.

Meanwhile, thus far the only player annouced for Team Netherlands is Andrew Jones. Team Panama's featured player looks to be Carlos Lee. And Team Australia is hoping to stay competive with the likes of Justin Huber.

With this kind of inequity amongst the teams, will the WBC enact a "Mercy Rule"? Will the Italian team really need to trot out Matt Mantei and Mike Gallo in the 5th and 6th innings already down 35-0?

Discluding Alberto Castillo, who was merely a part-time player, Team Domincan Replublic accounted for 246 HRs and 806 RBIs during the 2005 season! Between 7 position players. This same bunch averaged a .295 BA and has a collective 3 MVPs and 4 Cy Young's.

If MLB doesn't enhance its recruiting efforts for some of their competitors, the games against the Dominican Republic look to be less "competition" and more "outright embarrasment". But, man, won't it be fun to watch the fear in their opposing pitcher's eyes every time they take the mound?




Cue: Terrel Owens' mockery laugh track...

The New York Post has reported that Nomar Garciaparra has signed a one year, $6M offer to be the the Dodgers first baseman in '06.

How far from Grace we fall when we get greedy. Wasn't it just two years ago that Nomah turned down a 4 year, $60M offer from the Red Sawks to be their cornerstone shortstop?!?!

So let me get this straight: you leave the Sox forcing them to rent the Cards cornerstone shortstop for one miserable season, join the arch nemesis Cubs only to suffer further injury, and then relocate to the Dodgers to replace the man responsible for ruining Scott Rolen's '05 season?

Here, Nomar...here is some lemon to sprinkle on my already salt covered wounds you've inflicted. Perhaps you would like a sledgehammer for Christmas so you can destroy Stan the Man's statue. Or some Kryptonite to yield Sir Albert powerless...


Case In Point

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Several sources are reporting that the Seattle Mariners are close to signing Jarrod Washburn to a 4 year deal worth between $36M and $38M, providing further proof that GM's across MLB with throw stupid money at any southpaw pitcher with a pulse.

Washburn hasn't visited more than 180 innings in two seasons, is coming off of a serious rib injury and was never well known for his strikeout prowess to begins with. He is a fly ball pitcher who relies on junk to get guys out and he is being awarded $9.5M/per!

Almost DOUBLE what Cy Carpenter will make next year!

Now try and tell me that Mark Mulder wouldn't be able to command a King's Ransom should the Cards be forced to deal him.

Blog quote of the day:

"Conspiracy theory...there's a grassy knoll out in center field at Houston's Orange Juice Company Park...discuss" E.K. Nation, eksports.blogspot.com


More on Looper

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The more I think about this signing, the more I like it. Sadly, many Cards fans are in an uproar that we paid too much for a setup man. I would suggest that Looper may prove to be more than just that.

The Yankees landed the "best" of the free agent reliever in Kyle Farnsworth. For a mere $17M over three years the Yankees landed a pitcher whose numbers are eerily similar to Braden Looper, whom the Cards signed for $3.5M less over that same stretch.

Looking at their career stats, Looper and Farnsworth are practically twins. Braden entered the bigs a year before Kyle so the numbers are a little skewed...but let's compare:

Kyle Farnsworth (career numbers):

548.2 Innings / 271 ER / 554 K / 4.45 ERA / 1.39 WHIP / .246 BAA

Braden Looper (career numbers):

534.0 Innings / 212 ER / 333 K / 3.57 ERA / 1.37 WHIP / .263 BAA

I will grant you that Fransworth is obviously more of a strikeout pitcher, but beyond that, where does he hold any advantage to Looper?

Braden is also a bred closer. It is well-considered throughout Birdland that Izzy is overpaid. Last year Izzy was paid $8.25M to make us all chew our nails! Looper, as a closer, incited the same reation...for half the cost! Could it be possible that the Cards brass is looking to deal Izzy?

I spent too many hours this past season cursing Izzy when he would dig in at the mound. Batters were happily taking walks and I was dreadfully crapping myself. But somehow Izzy has been able to keep his numbers high on paper. If Jocketty and his pals buy into Moneyballing, then they are aware that a closer is something you can make out of nothing. Based on Izzy's numbers the past few seasons he is worth gold in trade bait. Pile on the fact that Looper's contract has incentives for closing out games and...well...if it looks like a rat and smells like a rat...

BEGIN SPECULATION:

Wouldn't a package of Izzy and let's say an -- I don't know...but I can assume it would be the "Prospect Most Likely To Not Live Up To His Billing" -- Adam Wainwright for a top-flight outfielder seem doable. I mean, if Philly falls for the idea of Home-Run-Hittin' Bobby Abreu for Izzy and Wainwright, don't you have to pull the trigger???

Could you imagine Bobby ".411 lifetime OBP" Abreu batting in front of Lord Pujols? Wouldn't one have to assume that Albert would only improve upon his lifetime average of 124 RBI's per season? Wouldn't one have to assume that Abreu's .303 lifetime batting average should enjoy a spike with the likes of Sir Albert waiting in the wings?

After losing Billy Wagner to the Metsos, wouldn't Philly be more than interested in lisening to offers that brought them a legitimate closer? The Phillies were in the hunt for Braden Looper until he surprised them with his St. Loo decision. Well, we'll do you one better Philly and we'll trade you one Izzy for one Abreu...

Your bid Philly...


Get It Done or Get Him Gone

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After playing observer to the insanity that has been the free agent starting pitcher market the last several years, I am very worried about what will become of the Cardinals after the '06 season. At that point, Mark Mulder, Jeff Suppan and Jason Marquis all become free agents. Note, that is 3/5 of the starting rotation and 3/4 of the rotation with any MLB experience. And the sad but inevitable truth is that there is no way on Earth that the Cardinals will be able to re-sign these guys as free agents.

AJ Burnett, whom I have spoken extensively of in past posts, was awarded $11M/per for 5 guaranteed years. Burnett...you know, the .500 pitcher! What will it take to lock up Mark Mulder, the winningest southpaw over the last 5 years in all of the Majors? If Scott Boras was cooking up a sales pitch for the guy, he would be looking for no less than 5 years at $13-15M. Mulder has no childhood romantic connection to the Cardinal franchise. If he hits the free agent market, he is GONE!

I was never keen on the trade that brought Mulder to St. Louis to begin with. The pricetag was just too steep. Haren put up similar numbers to Mulder and, in fact, was rated with a higher VORP than Mulder. Don't get me started on Daric Barton; the only blue chip position prospect in the entire farm system. And for good measure, the Cards tossed in Kiko Calero, a reliever who could actually throw strikeouts. Hefty pricetag indeed.

The only way to keep the egg off of his face is for Walt Jocketty to lock up Mulder to a long term deal. But at what cost? If there will be no discount of any kind, then I don't believe ownership will make it happen. Although very successful when judging by his W/L record, Mulder appeared last season to be inconsistant and far from overpowering. Not the kind of guy you throw $15M at.

So what to do? In my humble opinion (and I'm sure this will draw all kinds of criticism) the Cardinals need to set a date sometime before Spring Training at which they either get Mulder signed to an extension or begin shopping him. His trade value is high...after all, his track record speaks for itself, and lefties are always in high demand. In trade, Mulder must be worth at least a solid corner outfilder and a promising AAA starter. The Cards need some youth in the outfield and adding a young pitcher into the mix would help financially for the future.

Something must be done before Mark is allowed to test the free agent waters. If the cards were to trade him, the money saved on his $8M salary this season could be put to use towards a free agent pitching acquisition of thier own. The ludicrous signings of free agent pitchers this offseason is sure to have a positive effect during free agency in the near future and the Cardinals may be able to benefit in the long run.

But it's just my opinion.


Cali Time...

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LHP Carmen Cali continues to impress scouts with his performace in the Domican Winter League. Yesterday he retired all four hitters he faced to drop his ERA to an impressive 0.92.

In 19 2/3 innings Cali has allowed just two runs and has a 16/3 K/BB ratio.

In 6 innings with the big club last year, Cali looked terrible, walking six while only striking out 5, and allowing 10 hits (three of them out of the park).

Cali showed promising signs in 2004 with the Tennessee double-A team and triple-A Redbirds, sporting a 2.86 ERA between both squads. However, in 2005 his numbers tailed off as he struggled with his command.

His Dominican League numbers are a good sign that he has found the strike zone again and it seems a good bet that he will break camp with the Major league team in '06. I personally like the idea of carrying three lefties in the bullpen in Cali, Randy Flores and newly signed Ricardo Rincon. Add righties Brad Thompson, Braden Looper and Izzy and I like the way the bullpen takes shape.

I would still, however, love to see Jocketty go after Octavio Dotel to add a little more of a strikeout punch in the mix...and solidify what could be the Cardinals' strongest bullpen in years.

Octavio? Are you listening? Or Walt?


OT: T.O.

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Forgive the rant, but...

In an interview given with GQ shortly before being removed from the Eagles, Terrell Owens told reporters he felt "used" by his team.

"A lot of people, they doubted me," Owens said in the January issue of GQ. "Some of my teammates didn't want to see me come back, but I came back...That's why I felt so ultimately disrespected, because I knew how hard I worked to get back on that field to help them. Had I not played, who knows, we probably would've gotten beat worse."

"When I was rehabbing, they called me selfish for trying to get on the field to play," he explained. "I said, 'You guys are labeling me selfish for rehabbing, trying to play in the biggest game of the year?' If Brett Favre had done it, you would've said he was a hero, would've given him an 'ironman' award or something like that...But me? For whatever reason, I was selfish. And for the life of me, I just don't understand."

"One of the main reasons they brought me to Philadelphia was to get to the Super Bowl, so it's just like, I feel used all of a sudden," he said. "You all used me to win a lot of games, and then once I got hurt last year before the playoffs, it was, 'Yeah, we really don't need T.O.' "



A gift for you T.O. So that when you feel unappreciated for all your hard work...you can climb up on it!


R.I.P. Mark

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Good luck in the cross-state boneyard.

We hardly knew ye...




That I am willing to dedicate this kind of time in Cyberspace to this s#$*bag is beyond me, but here it is:

Fine...Roger you had a good run while it lasted last year...

Are we supposed to be suprised that your body gave out on you at the end of the season? You're old, bro...

But if your hopes were that the Astros would make some offensive improvements in the off-season to coax you into coming back...

The Astros' owners, like every other owner in MLB not named Steinbrenner, have set a sort of self-imposed salary cap (whether they are as vocal about it as DeWitt & Co. or not). Your $18M demands greatly depleat any organization from making forward progress in order to better the team until your contract status is settled. Your message to the Astros owners is loud and clear, "build a contender or I'll go elsewhere (or retire)."

Well guess what, you f#!&ing self-absorbed s#%&tbag...your $18M/season pricetag has to factor into any team's payroll no matter how you cut it. The Astros' owners sat patiently by during the Winter Meetings as you dragged out your decision-making, wondering whether they needed to plan on fitting your salary demands within their budget constraints. And after yet another winter of sitting on their hands in anticipation...they decided not to offer arbitration and to let you go your merry way.

This isn't all about you Roger! If you wanted the team to make improvements, then give them an ultimatum: "either sign some offense or I am going to the Yankees." Just make up your mind one way or the other. And remember, the Astros don't have Steinbrenner money. If they are to re-sign you this spring at anywhere near your previous $18M, then to expect them to be able to do much else in free agency is laughable!

If being a Hometown Hero was your reason for returning to baseball, then why not be the real hero and play for a reasonable salaary so the 'Stros can actually put some hitters around you.


Johnny Damon

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Please...

Is anyone trying to tell anyone that Mike Myers opinion matters to anyone?

Myers has been jockeying for Johnny Damon to jump ship from the beloved Red Sox to Myers new home, the arch-nemsis New York Yankees.

Damon's agent, the notorious Scott Boras, thinks a 32 year old mediocre defensive outfielder is worth a 7 year deal! Seven years! The best that even the cash-rich Yankees has come up with is a 4 year plan...

Good luck, Johnny...Burn in hell, Mr. Boras!


P.S.

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Anyone that believes that Javy Tavarez is worth $5M/per...please, respond so we can go toe-to-toe...





I simply don't understand Card Nation's hangup with this guy...

The sorry lot that continues to complain to Bernie & Co. at the P.D. has nothing new to tell me that might convince me that he is worth $11M/season when the Cy Young winner makes $5m/seaon.

Good luck, AJ. Hope you have fun festering with the non-contender that is the Toronto Blue Jays.

Any Red Sox or Yankee apologists that grace this site are welcome to add their rebuttal!


LeBron v. 'Melo

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Why is this still a debate?!?!

Carmelo, while a fine player and all...could not carry LeBron's "jockey strap"!

As Hubie Brown said, "Do you know how old LeBron James is? That's right, he's 20 years old. I have never in my lifetime seen a player as close to as good as LeBron James is at the age of 20!"

Hubie "I've-Been-Coaching-Legends-Since-Before-You-Were-Born" Brown! Don't take my word on it...I'm not even a real basketball fan...


Harriet...Har-ri-et...

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"...hard-hearted habinger of haggis..."


Looper Back on Board

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Major League Baseball has annouced that former Met closer and Cardinal farmhand Braden Looper has signed a 3 year, $13.5M deal to return to the Cardinals to usher in the opening of Busch Stadium III.

Looper spent the last two seasons as a closer with the Mets and previous to that, as a closer for the Marlins in '03. Braden was a first-round draft pick for the Cardinals in 1996 and made his Major League debut with the Cardinals in 1998. He was part of the Cardinals trade with the Florida Marlins that brought shortstop Edgar Renteria to St. Louis in December 1998.

"We are glad to have Braden back in our system, and he's glad to be back," stated Senior Vice President/General Manager Walt Jocketty. "He will be a quality set-up pitcher in our bullpen and be able to close for us on days when Jason (Isringhausen) is not available."

In an interview given with KMOX, Looper seemed excited to rejoin the Cards and to be the set-up man for Isringhausen. Judging from his splits it appears he won't be seeing much duty against lefties, who hit Looper to the tune of a .408 OBP. Ouch!

At 31, Looper is a year younger than the departing Tavarez and, having spent time as a closer, may benefit from being in less pressure-filled situations. Experts seem to believe that Tavarez is going to get a 3 or possibly 4 year deal at around $5M per. If Tavarez does indeed command that in the FA market, then locking up Looper (essentially Tavarez's doppelganger without Javy's insanity) will prove to be a prudent signing. I also like that he has respectable closing experience (converting 28 saves per season for the last 3 years) should the occasion arise when Izzy is overworked or injured. It does, however, look like that takes the Cards out of the running for Octavio Dotel...or, at the very least, assures that they won't overpay for his services should they land him.

Baseball Think Factory's ZiPS system projects Looper in '06 to post a 5-4 record with a 3.81 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 2/1 over 73 innings. Not particularly exciting. Of course, these projections were based on him closing for the Mets. We can hope for better numbers in less pressure situations and with LaRussa's use of him in situational match-ups. The price they paid I suppose is steep for his services but relief contracts this off-season have been ludicrous...so all things considered it looks like a decent market-rate contract. Look, the Cards were enamoured enough with this guy to draft him in the first round...prehaps a return to his roots will provide a return on the investment. Options are limited folks...and I'm not too torn up about this one.

Welcome back to the nest Braden!


Carp Honored By TWIB

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MLB fans joined the MLBPA and the Baseball Writer's Association in bestowing the title of "This Year in Baseball's Major League Starting Pitcher of the Year" upon Hometown ace Chris Carpenter.

Carpenter, currently preparing for the '06 campaign at his home in New Hampshire, has noted the honor and filed it away in his "Who Gives a S*#@" Folder!

Big shout out to the voters who named Robinson Cano the "Rookie of the Year"?!?!





The Belleville News-Democrat is reporting that the Cards are in contract talks with local son Brian Daubach. Daubach looks to replace the void left by the defection of John Mabry to the rival Cubs. Contract terms are likely to be similar to those of Abe Nunez from last season, a minor league deal with a Spring Trining invitation.

Daubach's numbers with the Mets' Triple-A International League club in Norfolk last year were solid, batting .325 (112-for-345) with 16 homers, 62 RBIs and 63 runs scored. He had 29 doubles and one triple, with 62 walks and 68 strikeouts. He had a .426 OBP and a .554 Slg %.

Daubach hasn't seen any significant MLB playing time in 2 years, including short stints in the show with the Mets last year and the Red Sox in '04. As a starter with the Red Sox from 2000-'02 his numbers were: .259/.338/.474/.812. He also averaged 21 HR and 75 RBI's during that span.

His numbers represent a downgrade from Mabry, who always seems to play well off the bench, and at 34 he definately has defensive short-comings but for a lefty pinch hitter with occasional pop on a minor league contract...I like this move! Playing this close to home couldn't hurt either.

Get it done! (notice I won't stoop to the "Blue Collar" level..I hate those guys...they give comedy a bad name!)


Misc. Rambling

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Nomaaaahhhhh Garciaparra continues to whittle his list of free agent destinations down. Still in the mix are the Yankees, Astros and Indians. The Yankees have him penciled in at 1st Base, Astros at left field and Indians at right field. Word is, Nomar is interested in a one year deal at $8M.

First off, isn't 32 years old pushing it to attempt to put on a different glove and expect to be MLB ready by this spring. Certainly first base would not be out of the question considering Nomar would be a no-brainer step up defensively over Jason Giambi. But a switch to the outfield??? At 32 and with the frail body he has, it seems unlikely that he will provide you with anywhere near $8M worth of outfield defense.

Shouldn't Nomar consider taking an incentive laden one year contract with a team that could use him at 2nd Base, then watch his stock raise so that he can get a career-capping 3 year deal before hobbling into the sunset? The answer: Not when the Yankees are calling. God bless those Yanks!

Following up on an earlier ost regarding newly aquired Blue Jay AJ Burnett, the details of his contract were released recently and two points pop out: 1) his wife gets 8 round-time limo rides from Toronto to her hometown in Maryland and 2) AJ has the option to back out of his 5-year deal after the third year!

Karen Burnett, his wife, is not a fan of air travel and if an additional $10,000 throw-in was what it would take to make the deal happen, I can understand this bonus however silly it may seem. (I mean the guy just signed a deal for $55M and your telling me he can't throw down for his wife's shortcomings?) But the second clause, being able to opt out at year 3, is downright infuriating and sets up a terrible precendent. Suppose AJ finally taps into his potential and puts together a couple of near 20 win seasons while keeping his K/BB ratio and ERA in live with his career numbers. With the way market inflation has gone each and every post-season, his value after year 3 could be closer to $15M/per. Add in the fact that the Jays play in the same division as the Yanks and Red Sawks and will likely enjoy 3rd place finishes throughout his stay in Toronto, and it begins to look like AJ really signed a 3 year deal...

This non-signing by Cards brass looks better everyday!


Grudz et.al.

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In an interview given yesterday, Cards GM Walt Jocketty said, "I've never been shut down (by the owners) when we've felt that something was really important. The Larry Walker trade (in 2004) is a good example. We had a chance to get him late in the season, and even though that money wasn't in the budget, the owners allowed that trade."

So is he being upfront and honest or a lapboy for DeWitt & Co.? Regarding Mark Grudzielanek and the host of other defectees whom the Cards made no concerted effort to resign, one has to wonder whether it was a lack of budget or purely baseball decision-making that led to their departures. If we are to believe those who feel that ownership is simply trying to pocket as much money as possible while trying to stay in contention, it is easy to say this was a prime example of stingy owners. But if one is to believe that, as Jocketty stated above, ownership would not shut him down when a decision was deemed important, then one has to question whether re-signing Grudzileanek was really "important".

JC Bradbury of the Hardball Times recently released his prOPS (predicted OPS) for 2006. Writes Bradbury, "The method for generating PrOPS involves using batted-ball data, along with a few other important factors, to predict the offensive output of players using linear regression. The projections are thus based on the way players hit the ball and not actual outcomes. PrOPS credits players who hit the ball similarly with outcomes typical of all players of the comparable hitting profiles. This method strips out some of the luck that pollutes outcome-based hitting statistics, because no player receives direct credit for the actual outcomes at the plate."

His prOPS figures for 2006 calculate Grudzielank's OPS at .711, not a far cry from his .741 figure from 2005, espcially considering the decline of age. Bradbury then proposes that with a starting job secured, Hector Luna's prOPS should figure to be .713, down from his .753 posted in 2005. In either case, better offensive numbers from Luna, however marginal they may be.

The point is, I am not here to suggest that the owners did not approach Jocketty with a $2M figure for the 2nd base position. I am sure that was a number discussed before free agency began. What I am suggesting is that perhaps Grudzielanek was not worth convincing ownership to pay more for. Moneyball suggest that 2nd Base is not a position to spend heavily on. Luna appears to be ready to compete for the job full time and the money appears to be better allocated elsewhere.

Furthermore, I would suggest that ownership will pony up above and beyond thier $90M threshold when the right opportunity presents itself, not before.

It is too early and too easy to get frustrated...


A Giant

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We'll miss you Matty...

(Sheds tear)


Sidney Ponson

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If there is legitimate interest in Sidney Ponson from Cardinal Central, then I retract any defense I may have provided on behalf of ownership and General Management.

A career .450 pitcher who is two years and two jail sentences removed from anything remotley resembling decent hurling?!?!

I'll live with Jason Marquis, thank you...

Just say NO!


Winter of Discontent

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Redbird Nation has been in an uproar over the lack of moves the Cards have made since the postseason. The Post-Dispatch, and specifically Bernie Miklasz, have buried ownership for their miserly decision-making considering the spike in revenue they are about to experience from Busch III. Citing the wasted efforts in attempting to sign A.J Burnett, a career .500 pitcher who, at 28, still has people refering to his "potential", the media continues to heap on DeWitt & Co. for a lack of agressiveness in the free agent market.

Call me a "company man" or "apologist", but I have to admit that I am on the side of the owners on this one. Of course I would like them to raise payroll to improve the team, but it appears to me that (Brian Giles aside), any extravagant free agent deal the Cardinals might have pulled off this winter would have made the Tino Martinez signing look stellar. Sure Burnett's fastball would have been nice to see against our Central Division foes, but let us not forget that the Marlins have fielded a competitive team throughout Burnett's tenure, including a World Series winner in 2003. And yet, somehow, with a winner on the field, Burnett was only able to muster up a 49-50 record...

Add the fact that he essentially quit his team during the playoff stretch and has suffered the inability to stay healthy and it doesn't present a pretty picture. Yet somehow the media and fans of the Cards are deeming Burnett the "missing piece to the World Championship puzzle"??? These goats are willing to throw 55 Million gauranteed dollars over a five year span (including 2 uninsured years) to a pitcher who pulled a "Ray King" on his team sometime in August and appears unwilling to listen to coaching! Thank heavens these same fans and media-types aren't CEO's of my business...we'd be bankrupt in a heartbeat on rotton investments.

This year's free agent class is poor. No if's, and's or but's. Cards fans, like myself, prefer to see yearly improvement and when a young pitcher with a great fastball hits the free agent market, these fans want to see us make a run...and we did! Sure, Burnett would probably prove to be an improvement over the departing Matt Morris, but does he deserve the kind of money we reserve for the Scott Rolen's and Albert Pujols' in the lineup? How do you look Chris Carpenter, the reigning Cy Young winner, in the face and ask for a "hometown discount" at his next contract meeting? Or for that matter, how much would we have to pay Mark Mulder to retain his services when we've just forked out a fortune for a pitcher with a track record nowhere near his?

With all the new income being generated throughout baseball thanks to radio contracts and luxury taxes, smaller market teams are proving more willing to spend on free agents. Knowing that players prefer to play on winning organizations, these same small markets must then overpay players to coerce them to play for a loser. Sooner or later a player and his agent have to step back and consider the options...win for good money or lose for great money. This is where an operation like the Cardinals has succeeded with players since the DeWitt regime took over.

Walt Jocketty will make the moves necessary to keep the team competitive this season and beyond. His track record since joining the Cardinals has earned him the opportunity to show us once again that he knows better than his pundits how to do his job. Will we see a huge move this offseason? Probably not. Yet it would be foolish to throw away good money on a guy like Jacque Jones. Will we see small moves that address team needs to keep up the reputation of the class of the National League? Of course. And when mid-season rolls around and all these big spenders continue to scuffle, the time will be right to make a trade to truly help the organization. Remeber Card fans, this is when Jocketty has truly shined. Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, Mark McGwire, Will Clark...

In the meantime, there is no reason to believe that a team returning the Cy Young and MVP winners as well as 4/5 of their pitching staff and 5/7 of their everyday players won't contend.

Exercise patience, Card Nation...Keep the Faith!


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