Division Hot Stove Update

MLB trade rumors: Pirates reportedly shopping Melancon, Alvarez and Walker:

Melancon being shopped.

Let’s take a look at what the division is up to so far, this hot stove. The Brewers have started the season by basically making trades to dump payroll. Not the position a club wants to be in. The problem for the Crew is that no matter how much they cut around the edges, they are stuck with the contracts of Garza and Braun.

Garza’s contract has been a disaster. This is a good example of your never just one player away from it all work. The Crew fell into that mindset, when they signed Garza in 2014. Garza has won 14 games since then and has a -.3 WAR.

The Brewers have no one to blame for the Braun contact, but themselves. The PED issue had come up before they signed him to a 5 year $105MM extension through 2020. In 2016 Braun salary finally kicks in with $20MM due in 2016. This contract is a club killer.

The Brewers team total for 2106, now sits at $61,802,500. Think about that. As it sits currently, the Brewers will pay over 50% of the team’s total payroll to 2 players. You just can’t win like that.

via Updated Brewers roster and payroll after flurry of trades – Brew Crew Ball.

The Cubs have been busy picking up  3 cast off relievers via minor trades and waiver claims. This is very interesting stuff. Theo is not going high-end talent on stocking the bullpen. Theo might just be playing a numbers game. Signing a lot of players hoping one sticks. Actually not a bad approach when it comes to signing unpredictable relievers.

The Cubs might still add a high dollar reliever. But I don’t think so. In my judgement Theo is determined not to repeat his Red Sox experience. Theo had to do the Lester deal in 2015. In order to show the fans that they were ready to field a competitive team in 2015. I don’t think he will repeat that in 2106. Big money for 30 something free agents, is not in the Cubs game plan. Which is the correct approach. I believe Theo will look for value on shorter term deals.

The Pirates just lost A.J. Happ to the Jays on a three-year deal. That is a big loss for the Pirates. They have made a living off of rehabbing broken down pitchers and convincing them to stick around on a club friendly deal. Happ went 7-2 after joining the Pirates for the second half in 2105.

The Pirates (always on a tight budget) are shopping Melancon, Walker and Alvarez. The Pirates success for 2016 will be determined, on what Neal Huntington can bring back for this group. In my judgement they will be just fine. Huntington is very good at solving problems, by making really good trades. See Cervelli.

The Reds are in full rebuild mode. Trying to trade anyone with value to get prospects. Walt Jocketty has given up the GM spot and move up to President. But, retains decision-making for 2106. Big mistake. The Reds should have fired Jocketty. He destroyed that club.

The Reds cannot contend again, until they find someone to take the Votto contract. Unfortunately, for the Reds, none of the big money clubs are in the market for a 1st baseman in 2016. The Reds can only hope, Votto keeps his WAR value up for the next couple years.

All very interesting stuff. But, no game changing moves. So far, within the division.



Cardinals have seven arbitration-eligible

Cards' GM Mozeliak on NLDS Roster: 'Easier' To Have More Position Players  http://bit.ly/1JPhGSf:

Mozeliak has to decide on arbitration by next Wednesday on Cishek, Moss, Bourjos, Rosenthal, Maness, Adams and Cruz.

With seven players qualifying for arbitration this winter, the Cardinals must decide by next Wednesday whether to tender a contract to each.

Some decisions are obvious, as is the case for first-time eligible players Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness and Matt Adams. Others will be less so because of either fit or potential salary obligations. Remember that when tendering a contract to arbitration-eligible players, the Cardinals are agreeing to commit at least a one-year deal to that player, with the possibility that an arbitration panel determines the value of that contract.

via Cardinals have seven arbitration-eligible | MLB.com.

Jenifer Langosch seems to believe that the decisions on arbitration will be made based upon fit and salary. I don’t think that will be the case. In my judgement, it will be made based upon market and trade value. Even if the Cardinals don’t perceive, a fit on the current roster.

If you look at the situation in that manner, the only real question is Bourjos. Is there a team that will make a deal for Bourjos, before the tender is offered. Don’t think so. I think Bourjos is gone. It’s not a question whether Bourjos is worth $2mm. At today’s market prices he is. But, is Peter worth $2MM and a prospect. Probable not.

Steve Cishek is probable not worth the $6MM to the Cardinals. However, on the open market, for one year there is value. Relievers are weird. They can have a down year and return to form the next. Cishek has closed before, that alone is worth $6MM on the open market. Cishek is a devout Christian. Likes being a Cardinal. Might take a pay cut to stay. If not. The Cardinals can go to arbitration and then trade him.

Cruz will be back. Chris Iannetta just got $4MM from the Mariners after hitting .188 in 2015. Market prices for backup catchers are on the rise. The Cardinals won’t be able to find a better option, on the open market.

Everybody else will be back, no matter where the final arbitration price lands.


Andy Van Slyke speaks

Hitting coach John Mabry watching Randal Grichuk take BP Spring training 2015:

Evidently, Andy Van Slyke is done coaching. He gave a radio interview and blasted several players. Why are there so many grumpy old baseball players? Calling players 3 year olds, shows the problem with a lot of former players, they just don’t understand what a manager/coach should be doing. But, Van Slyke did show how hard it is to be a coach in MLB. Some of the highlights.

3. Hitting coaches don’t do all that much

Van Slyke explained that Howard Johnson lost his job as the Mariners’ hitting coach midway through the 2015 season only because Edgar Martinez decided he wanted to return to baseball and Mariners brass did not want him coaching in another organization.

The team had a .670 OPS with Johnson as hitting coach in 2015 and a .758 mark after hiring Martinez. But according to Van Slyke, that doesn’t mean all that much. Asked how much impact a hitting coach can have, he said:

Very, very little. A hitting coach is sort of like taking your kids to day care and then picking them up. They get the toys out and ready for everybody, then they pick up the toys and they close up shop. You might teach a kid how to build a block every now and then.

But you’re basically dealing with a bunch of 3-year-olds, spoiled athletes, who — unless they’re willing to listen, unless they’re willing to make themselves better — you might as well be speaking Russian to these guys, because they’re going to do what they’re going to do. I would say a hitting coach has very, very little to do with the success of a team offensively.

Here’s the thing about any hitting coach: A good hitting coach is a good hitting coach when he’s got good hitters to work with.

It’s probably a bit more complex than that, and Van Slyke again sounds bitter when he compares “spoiled athletes” to “3-year-olds.” But most of this rings true: Rare is the baseball coach or manager who seems an instant success everywhere he goes, or who appears to have a positive impact on every one of his charges.

Different voices work in different ways on different players, and while some hitters certainly show improvement under new coaches, it’s always difficult to know what should be credited to the coach and what just gets credited to the coach because it’s easier for us to understand than pure, unadulterated randomness.

via Andy Van Slyke reveals that Clayton Kershaw wants Yasiel Puig traded, and plenty more | For The Win.

For Cardinal fans that love to hate on John Mabry, take note of these comments. They are the reality of modern baseball. Hitters are different from pitchers. Pitchers make adjustments all the time. Pitchers are more receptive to making adjustments. Due to the fact, results can be seen immediately.

Hitters won’t see immediate results. Even if the adjustment being made are the correct ones, it takes months to see any real results in the numbers. So, stop blaming Mabry, for the Cardinals offensive woes.

Other news. Dodgers pick Dave Roberts as their new manager. Roberts has no managerial experience. But, does have 2 years experience as the Padres bench coach under Bud Black. Time will tell. Should be interesting.

The Dodgers also signed 2 more Cubans. This is where the Dodgers are being smart with the all that cash. Stop signing every player on your team to a $25MM contract and use your financial muscle to acquire international talent. It is the correct approach.

The Dodgers have spent $40MM, to acquire 4 players in the international market. That comes with a 100% tax and a 2 year ban on signing any international players, for over $300,000. The Dodgers spent $300MM last year. They have already spent an additional $80MM this year.

Zaidi and Friedman made a lot of bad moves, last year. Trying to prove how “smart” they are. Wasting an incredible amount of cash. The Dee Gordon trade was just as bad, as the Donaldson trade. The media let them off without taking a bashing.

However, the Dodgers are doing a great job restructuring, the organization. If Zaidi and Friedman can survive the cash bleeding from ownership. Which is not a given. In 5/6 years they will be a force to deal with. If they can survive continuing to spend money, like rappers in a strip club. I don’t care how rich the owner is. Sooner rather than later, they want a return on the investment.

But, if the Dodgers can pull this off, they will accomplish what the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and Giants. have not. A money club that focuses on youth. That would be a winning combination.



Diaz Back on 40-Man

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After a year which saw him designated for assignment in July, shortstop Aledmys Diaz is once again back on the St. Louis Cardinals 40-man roster. Diaz, along with pitcher Dean Kiekhefer and outfielder Charlie Tilson were added to the 40-man on Thursday afternoon, the team announced.

All three players have been participating in the Arizona Fall League on the Surprise Saguaros, where Diaz is hitting .309 and ranks among the league’s top-10 in HR’s (4-T3rd), RBI (14-T8th), runs (16-2nd), doubles (7-2nd), slugging pct. (.618-5th) and on-base slugging (.986-6th).

The production follows up his success after clearing waivers, as Diaz finished with a promotion from Springfield (AA) to Memphis (AAA) and a combined .278 batting average with 13 home runs and 52 RBI in 116 games.

A 2010 draft selection (36th round) Kiekhefer was 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA in 50 games in 59.2 innings of relief work at Memphis  in 2015. He has struck out 14 batters and walked just one in 15.1 IP for the Surprise Saguaros in the Fall League.

Tilson has not seen as much playing time in the AFL as his teammates, but has stolen four bases in 19 games–he stole 46 bags and hit .295 for Springfield during the regular season.

The Cardinals 40-man roster now stands at 36.

via Diaz Back on 40-Man | RiverBender.com.

St. Louis Cardinals (8)

The following players were left unprotected.

No. 11 Luis Perdomo, RHP
No. 12 Patrick Wisdom, 3B
No. 17 Jacob Wilson, 3B/2B
No. 19 Juan Herrera, SS
No. 23, Breyvic Valera, Util
No. 24 Chris Perry, RHP
No. 25 Zach Petrick, RHP

via 40-man roster decisions impact Rule 5 Draft | MLB.com.

If the Cardinals pick a rule 5 from another team at the GM meetings. They have room on the 40 man to add. Only have 36 and this includes Anna.

Not surprised Diaz, Kiekhefer and Tilson were the first protected. Diaz will break spring training as Peralta’s backup. Tilson could come into play if Bourjos and Jay are moved. I think they will be. Jay not until spring training get’s going. Due to the $6MM in salary for next year.

I’m not crazy about leaving Patrick Wisdom unprotected. The Cardinals are banking on the fact that other teams will recognize Wisdom is not ready to be on a 25 man roster. However, 3rd basemen are in short supply. This is a little too risky for me.

This might signal that the Cardinals are going to be aggressive in the rule 5 draft.


No easy answers

Fangraphs posted this interesting note. I’m not a big believer that FIP, just like ERA, it’s not a perfect metric. But, this is interesting.

StlCardinals wannabeGM:

St. Louis Cardinals are at the top, with an ERA of 2.99. Kudos to the Cards’ rotation: they had a fantastic year. However, their FIP was almost half a run higher, at 3.47. This was mainly because of the rotation consistently stranding a high percentage of runners on base this past season. Their 78.9 percent rate of runners left on base (runners who didn’t score) was best in the majors. Does this mean that the Cardinals were simply lucky that batters didn’t get hits against them when runners were on base?

That’s certainly a part of the story. While luck played a role, Cardinals pitchers might also have been better situationally than pitchers on other teams when runners were on base. As with anything in baseball, it’s difficult to completely isolate each effect on performance, and some pitchers consistently outperform their FIP. However, there’s one fact that tells us this is probably a one-season wonder: the Cards’ 2015 ERA/FIP difference of -0.48 was the 10th-largest in the past 15 years. This type of performance is very rare, and no other teams alongside the Cards on that historical list beat their FIP by the same margin the following year.

via Which team’s rotation overachieved most in 2015? | FOX Sports.

Is there a conclusion to be drawn? Probably not. But, this half a run difference cannot be totally dismissed. The Cardinals were a one trick pony last year. It really was all about the starting pitching. If that night’s starter went 7/8 innings, the result was a Cards win.

However, it does show the fragile nature of the 100 win season. The Cardinals were far from a dominate team. That makes this off-season, all the more critical. The problem for Mozeliak, is that there is no easy answer.

For the Giants and Cubs, they can add free agent pitching and they will be much better. The Pirates have talent coming from the minors, giving them a surplus, to make some trades. Think Walker and Alvarez.

The Cardinals don’t have those options. If the Cardinals add a top of the rotation starter, that would not guarantee better performance. A 2.99 staff ERA, will be hard to improve upon. The offense would still need to be improved. Even if the Cards do retain Heyward. That would not improve the offense. That would be the same offense.

This is the dilemma facing Mozeliak. No easy answers. That is why I was hoping the Cards would land the Korean Park. It is hard to find a solution, that will keep the Cardinals, ahead of the Cubs and the Pirates.

In my judgement, 2016 all comes down to Matheny, taking the next step forward in his growth and development, as a manager. It can’t continue to all be on the players to grind it out and perform better. Matheny must start putting the players in position to perform at a higher level. This means using analytics to help make the decisions. Matheny is refusing to do this. It’s still grind it out. That can’t be the only solution.




Prospects vs Free Agents

The national baseball writers are just not willing to give up on the notion, that the Cardinals are in on the high-priced free agent pitchers. I still don’t believe it. Case in point, Baseball America came out with their prospect list for the Cardinals.

1. Alex Reyes, rhp
2. Tim Cooney, lhp
3. Jack Flaherty, rhp
4. Luke Weaver, rhp
5. Marco Gonzales, lhp
6. Magneuris Sierra, of
7. Edmundo Sosa, ss
8. Nick Plummer, of
9. Junior Fernandez, rhp
10. Carson Kelly, c

via St. Louis Cardinals Top 10 Prospects – BaseballAmerica.com.

This is why the Cardinals, will not spend money on a big name pitcher. They don’t need to. The Cardinals top 5 prospects (all pitchers) should play at some point, for the Cardinals in 2016. If they are healthy.

All the position players on the list are still in rookie ball, except for Kelly who is in A ball. That means ETA of 2018.

This cannot be ignored.

The Cardinals need more offensive help from position players, more than pitching.

I would give you better odds, that the Cardinals would sign Chris Davis, before signing David Price and I would put the odds of signing Davis at 100 to 1.

And for all of those fans that automatically assume that signing a high dollar free agent solves all problems. Tom Verducci actually did a little analysis. The odds that a signing of a 30 something, free agent, will benefit the club are basically 50-50. Here is what the numbers show.

We all know that, generally speaking, long-term contracts that pay players as they decline through their 30s as if they were still in the prime of their 20s don’t usually work out very well. But I wanted to define just how dangerous is this game general managers keep playing. So I looked at every free agent signed in the previous five years to a contract worth at least $50 million (excepting the one relief pitcher,Jonathan Papelbon). Then I examined all of those players who already have played under their free-agent contract at age 30 and older. I wound up with 33 players and 81 such seasons to study.

Here’s what I wanted to know: How often do these big-ticket free agents in their 30s provide what I consider a minimum of value—that is, enough plate appearances or innings pitched to be an official qualifier and an adjusted OPS or ERA greater than 100, or average. That’s a relatively low bar when you are talking about the top of the free-agent market. Here are the sobering numbers:

• 81 seasons age 30 and older after signing as a free agent.

• 54 of those seasons in which the player played enough to qualify (67%).

• 44 of those seasons in which the qualified player was even slightly better than average (54%).

Conclusion. Don’t sign the high dollar free agent. Have faith in your prospects. Free agent signings should be more of the Mark Reynolds type. Short term deals, lower AAV. Think Mark Buehrle to replace Lynn’s innings. Not David Price.

However, the Cardinals do need to find more offense for 2016. There is no good solution. Mozeliak admitted this week that before the Lynn injury, he was looking at trading a pitcher. Think Garcia.

Without Lynn for 2016, the Cardinals no longer have a surplus of pitching. There will be no Miller for Heyward trade this year.

Mozeliak is going to have to find, an off the radar trade, that will actually impact next year’s offense. Something he is not very good at. I still feel improvement in the offense will be obtained, by Matheny managing the club differently in 2016. And this is something Matheny has not been willing to do, so far in his tenure as manager.

Which brings us to the final point. Joe Maddon won MOY. It was the right choice. Sorry, Cardinal die hards. Matheny is a great leader. But, still has a long way to go as a tactician.





More contract predictions

More predictions on the big named free agents contracts. The USA Today guys weighed in with predictions. The numbers are just ridiculous. I think they are way off the mark. The pitchers might have this kind of market, I really don’t see it for the position players.

Visit the post for more.:

Everyone is assuming that the GM’s have no long-term memory. As this article from USA Today pointed out earlier last week. You don’t want to win the off-season. It just doesn’t produce a winning team.

“I’ve been there,’’ said Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein, “it’s not what you want.’’

It was back in 2011 when Epstein was with the Boston Red Sox when they acquired All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres and signed outfielder Carl Crawford to a $142 million deal. The Red Sox were the stars of the winter, building a team for the ages.

They went out and had their worst season in 47 years, finishing in last place, losing 93 games. Just 20 months later, Epstein and manager Terry Francona were gone, and so were Gonzalez and Crawford.

“The expectations became so high,’’ Epstein said, “people were speculating whether this is the greatest team of all time. A super team. It affected us when we got to a slow start.

“It’s an unbelievable dynamic over the last few years how the winners of the off-season tend to be miserable the following September.’’

Just ask those winter kings of a year ago.

The San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox were crowned winter champions a year ago. The Padres made nine trades that involved 42 players, bringing in an entirely new outfield, with the largest payroll in franchise history.

“In all of my years in baseball,’’ Arizona Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart said, “it’s the first time I’ve seen an overhaul of pretty much the whole team. I’ve just never seen that before. Never a major overhaul like that.’’

They proceeded to spend the summer losing 88 games, firing two managers, and finishing next-to-last in the NL West.

It was no different for the AL winter champs. The White Sox went out and sent four players for starter Jeff Samardzija, signed free agent closer David Robertson, free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche, and free agent pitcher Zach Duke.

The White Sox finished 19 games out of first place, and one game out of last, with the third-worst record in the AL at 76-86, with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf calling it the most disappointing season of his tenure.

via For MLB GMs, ‘winning the winter’ can lead to a cruel summer.

I think the writers are completely underestimating that most of the big money clubs, are running away from the older free agent contracts. This has to depress the market prices. Greinke and Price are the only free agents that have the money teams in on them. Those will be the only players that get the high AAV, with extra years added in order to win the deal. That’s it.

The Yankee’s have let it be known that they are now out of the bidding for Zobrist, due to the high cost. The Yankees.

In my judgement the Astros were the logical team to land Heyward. After Rasmus took the qualifying offer, they are out.

The Cubs might be in on Heyward. However, that will only happen, after they see the price tag for picking up 2 starting pitchers and 2 relievers in the bullpen.

Cleveland in on Heyward? No way. The last time the Indians jumped into the name free agent market, they landed Swisher and Bourn. They dumped Swisher and Bourn on the Braves last season and had to send $10MM and take back 1st/3rd baseman Chris Johnson. No way they bid $200MM for another free agent.

The Tigers and Orioles have a need for Heyward. However, both need pitching first and both have tight budgets.

Then there is Alex Gordon, who is an older Heyward. A lot of people have Gordon going back to the budget minded Royals. If there is no market for Gordon and the Royals come back into play. Why would a club sign Heyward to a 10 year deal, when you could have Gordon on a 3-4 year deal. The answer is, you would not.

That is my point. It is hard to find a market for Heyward. I just don’t see a $200MM being necessary to get a deal done.



Holliday speaks

Matt Holliday:

Matt Holliday gave an interview to the Post Dispatch. The questions were very good. It gives insight into the difficulties of trying to manage, aging All Star players. It think people really don’t understand how much baseball players, do their own thing. It is the nature of baseball. After six years all players become temporary independent contractors.

Some of Matt’s answers were very insightful. Couple of examples.

PD: We often talk about how to proactively preserve Yadier Molina’s health for a season and this winter the team intends to address the middle infield, so how can the Cardinals help you?

MH: That’s one of those things that the best way probably to do it is to sit down and map out a plan and come up with non-negotiable off days. This is when you’re off. Really have a plan so that you don’t let the influence of who is pitching. This will be something though that Mike and (general manager John Mozeliak) and I will talk about. (In Colorado, Todd Helton) had a plan. Some other guys have had plans. It’s better if you have it all mapped out. Obviously there has to be some flexibility in it. Nothing set in stone. …

I do think it’s important so that when you come to the end of the year and you’re playing the most important games you don’t feel like you’re running on fumes. If you look bigger picture earlier – not that you’re taking the playoffs for granted – but it keeps guys from running empty. You ultimately benefit in the end.

PD: Are you a different hitter than when you joined the Cardinals?

MH: I don’t want to be. I know I haven’t quite had the power that I had. It’s in there. I’m going to get after it a little bit earlier in the cage this year and see if I can do some things. I don’t look at myself as a different hitter. I don’t think I am. I have goals of hitting the ball hard and hitting it in the gap and getting on base and swinging at good pitches. All of that is the same as before. The approach is the same. I’m still strong. I feel like my bat speed is still the same. So, like I said, I don’t think I am (different). I don’t think I’ve got to reinvent myself. But I’m putting a game plan together on how I can get better.

via Q-&-A with Holliday: Cards slugger eager for next season : Sports.

The main takeaway from this article. Matt wants his option picked up. Matt is going to determine when he plays and Matt will let his production determine where he hits in the lineup. That is code for I hit 3rd. And Matt is just like every aging star, totally delusional.

You can never question the effort, preparation and the “want to” of Holliday. Just like Waino and Molina. They are the “type” that every organization would love to have. But, they are on the downward side of their careers. Give Holliday a lot of credit, for moving his family down to the Jupiter area, so he can work out more. Most stars would not do that.

But, Holliday believes he is the same hitter as he once was. That is the problem. Matt even states that his bat speed is the same. It can’t be the same. Not unless he is taking PEDs. Managing older stars is just a bitch.

What Holliday should be doing is changing his swing this off-season, to take into account his age. Matt is recognized as still being incredible strong. So, why is he still swinging like a 150lb shortstop? With Matt no longer hitter for power, he is no longer a middle of the lineup hitter. It is as simple as that.

What Holliday can still do, is get on base and hit with runners in scoring position. Holliday’s profile is more of a #1 or #2 hitter. The problem is, you don’t pay $17MM for a lead off type guy. Holliday should call Pujols and get some tips. Pujols has let everything else go, except the power. Holliday should do the same.

If the Cardinals are able to bring Heyward back, Holliday should be the fourth outfielder and that won’t happen. That will hurt the offense and the defense. The best outcome for the Cardinals, would be for Heyward to come back and Holliday accepts a trade to a team, that will guarantee his option. And I have no idea, what team would want to do that.

The reality of the situation is that Holliday will be the starting in left, with Piscotty starting at first. Cardinal fans will just have to hope that Holliday discovers his power again. Because, Matheny is going to let Holliday hit 3rd. It is just the way it is.


General Managers never have it easy

No pain, no gain might be the mantra of the modern baseball front office.

The worst is in the past for the Astros and Chicago Cubs. The former made it to the American League Division Series in 2015, the latter to the National League Championship Series. Both outpaced their schedules for success.

Now, four years after rebuilding plans were simultaneously undertaken in Houston and Chicago, others might attempt similar bloodlettings. The Astros and Cubs created a blueprint for struggling teams: punt big league winning for a time to gain top draft picks, then rapidly ascend.

The question is whether baseball and its fans want to see more teams on that path, and whether baseball wants a system that makes tanking worthwhile.

Pain tolerance

“We pulled the Band-Aid off a little bit more slowly than the Astros and the Cubs, and we went in to ’08 to see what the club could do,” Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said when asked if a new model had emerged. “In hindsight, it probably would have been much better for us to just rip off the Band-Aid.

“At the same time, you risk losing the fan base and alienating a fan base and in some cases they come back and in some cases they don’t come back. … I don’t know, I mean, we’re a copycat society, let alone industry, so I think it’s worked remarkably well on a couple of fronts. I think once it doesn’t work well, then it probably won’t be a thing to do anymore.”
The Cincinnati Reds are poised to sell most of their parts this winter. The Philadelphia Phillies have a new GM in Matt Klentak after years of floundering and the Milwaukee Brewers have been taken over by former Astros assistant GM David Stearns, who noted in his introductory news conference the toll losing takes.

via Baseball clubs walk competitive tightrope when rebuilding – Houston Chronicle.

As a fan, you certainly hope, that your GM’s will not duplicate this new paradigm. I can’t imagine going 4 years with the Cardinals, losing 100 games.

In my judgement, the process could be significantly shorten. GM’s need to be more aggressive with signing a large number of players to short-term contracts, with low AAV, as they are selling off their assets.

A rebuilding club, should be very aggressive with rule 5 players, minor league free agents and low-cost major league players. The cost would be reasonable. Instead of letting your payroll fall, under $50MM, spend a little more and you might catch lighting in a bottle, with some of these signings.

This might keep the fan base interested, in the team.

The Braves should do this now. Remember, the Astros did not turn around, until the Ryans came on board and starting signing major league players. Do it earlier, will shorten the time frame.

Then continue to trade during the season, when the competitive clubs have holes to fill. It would work.

What does this mean for the Cardinals? The Reds will lose 100 games in 2016 and the Brewers might not be far behind. This should make it easier, for the Cardinals to qualify for the wild card, if the Cubs win the Division.

Speaking of GMs. Ken Davidoff put out a ranking of the top General Managers. No surprise, John Mozeliak is at the top.

1. John Mozeliak, Cardinals

St. Louis is the only team to qualify for the playoffs each of the past five seasons, and that’s primarily because arguably no team drafts and develops as well as the Cards, who consistently integrate high-impact homegrown talent despite selecting annually in the lower half of the first round as a result of their winning records.
Furthermore, Mozeliak, who succeeded Walt Jocketty as the club’s GM after the 2007 season, found a worthy successor to retired manager Tony La Russa (who subsequently gained induction into the Hall of Fame) in unlikely candidate Mike Matheny, who has kept the winning culture going. Other teams have followed this trend of hiring managers without substantive experience of either managing in the minors or coaching in the big leagues. None of those teams has come close to the Cardinals’ success with Matheny.

via Ranking baseball’s top 10 GMs — yes, Cashman makes the list | New York Post.

While the rest of the list, has a lot of questionable rankings. Having Mozeliak, at the top is another indication, of how lucky the Cardinals are, to have Mozeliak.

The rest of the list does not penalize GM’s enough, for all the bad moves, they have made. Sabean, Friedman and Dombrowski, use high payroll dollars to cover up some very bad moves.

Sabean signing those Cain, Linsecum and Zito contracts. Sabean is living off Bochy’s talent. You are not a top ten GM, when offering the Panda, more money than he signed for in Boston. Failing to recognize the value of Duffy.

Friedman trading Dee Gordon and Haren. Spending $300MM for a club that did not win it all. How is that a top 10 GM. What about spending $70MM on players, who play for other teams. That is not top 10.

Dombrowski living off the Cabrera trade from a team that had to make a trade, due to payroll constraints. What about the Fielder and Martinez deals? Never solving the bullpen issue? Never developing a minor league system. Not winning a WS. Not top ten.

Davidoff even takes a shot at Ben Cherington. Must be a NY thing. Cherington is a good GM.

This is a huge off-season for the Cardinals. If Mozeliak can make a few good moves, the Cardinals could remain on top of the division, for the next couple of years. This would give the Cards minor league system to replenish top end talent.

The more I think about it. The more I hope. This is Mozeliak’s last year, as the Cardinals GM. I really think it is time, to move up and assume the role of President of Baseball Operations.  Time to bring in another person to assume the role of GM.

My first choice would be Cherington. His drafting and developing first mindset, would be perfect for the Cardinals. You can’t help, but be impressed, with the talent he accumulated in the Boston minor league system.

Now I realize, It is easy for me to add $3-$5mm to the cost of operating the Cardinals. But, I think with all the analytical information requirements at all levels in the game. It is just too much for one man to handle. I think the proof of this, is that the Cardinals, largely are still ignoring the international market. Time to get ahead of the curve.



Mark Buehrle would be great addition

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It’s unclear whether veteran starter Mark Buehrle will retire, but if he doesn’t, he’s likely to pitch for the Cardinals, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun writes. The Cardinals seem likely to look for starting pitching in the wake of Lance Lynn‘s injury, although it’s unclear whether they would have interest in Buehrle specifically. Buehrle was born and raised in St. Charles, Missouri, about a half hour from St. Louis.

via Central Notes: Indians, Tigers, Buehrle, Pirates – MLB Trade Rumors.

This would go a long way in solving the pitching problems.

There is no such thing as a bad one year deal.

Buehrle’s projection for 2016 is 12-9, 179 innings, 1.33 WHIP and a 3.92 ERA. The Cardinals could live with that.


Stop dreaming of David Price


Now that John Lackey has turned down his qualifying offer. The Cardinals will start looking for a replacement. No, it’s not going David Price. Especially, when you look at the history of the Cardinals when it comes to free agent pitchers.

To give you an idea of how little the Cardinals have invested in free-agent pitchers, here are their six largest such contracts, according to Jeff Euston of Baseball Prospectus:

Jason Isringhausen — $27 million, 4 years (Dec. ’01)
Jake Westbrook — $16.5 million, 2 years (Nov. ’10)
Andy Benes — $16 million, 3 years (Jan. ’00)
Woody Williams — $14.9 million, 2 years (Nov. ’02)
Braden Looper — $13.5 million, 3 years (Dec. ’05)
Mark Mulder — $11.5 million, 2 years (Nov. ’07)

via Cardinals in unfamiliar territory during free agency | FOX Sports.

That is it. I barely remember Braden Looper. I only remember Mark Mulder, due to it was one of the last bad deals of Jocketty. Trading Dan Haren to obtain Mulder a couple of years earlier. Haren went on to have like 10 years pitching for other teams. Just retired in fact.

The point of all this. The Cardinals don’t spend money on free agent pitchers. Don’t expect Mozeliak break with tradition this year.

The problem is that the Cardinals need to find a #3/#4 starter that is looking for a one year deal. That means someone coming off a down year. Someone looking to re-establish their value.

The Cardinals have Lyons, Cooney, Gonzales, Reyes and possibly Weaver. All could take some starts this year. The problem for the Cardinals is that they have to replace Lackey’s 218 innings and Lynn’s 175 innings.

Waino should cover Lackey’s innings. Lynn’s 175 innings, is where the Cardinals need insurance. It’s not clear which one of the young guys can cover 175 innings. If any.

This is going to be hard for Mozeliak. Due to the fact, that MO likes to get his deals done early. However, what the Cardinals are looking is a pitcher on a short-term deal. That means patience. Any free agent is only going to take a short-term deal, after all other options have run out.

Patience is what Mozeliak referred to, when he left the GM meetings.

There was a reason for that.

More hot stove gossip. Because, the Braves traded Simmons. That means the Cardinals should trade for Freddie Freeman. Hot stove logic at it’s finest. People, you don’t trade prospects to take on $118MM for the next 6 years. Even the Yankees stop doing that.

Dave Dombrowski started his trading off, of the outstanding farm system, that Cherington built. Who did not see that coming. Giving up 4 top 30 prospects, 2 in the top 100 of all of baseball, for the reliever Craig Kimbrel.

This is why you hire, 30-year-old GM’s. They don’t do dumb stuff like this. Did Dombrowski really think that the Padres, were going to get a better deal? Hot stove season has not even started. Why give away that much talent, this early?

This is already being called an overpay. In the future, it will be compared to the Donaldson trade. In 5 years when Dombrowski is fired, the Red Sox will be the 2015 Phillies. Then he will retire. Leaving a huge mess behind.

Big win for Preller, to clean up his mess, that he created last year. Another deal like this, and the Padres might be back on the right track.

The good news for the Cardinals, it is apparent that the GM’s are looking to do trades, more than free agents. The Cardinals might just get lucky and have someone fall into their lap.



Trade the St. Louis Cardinals Should Make

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Hot Stove , I get it.

With all the fantasy trades that are suggested this time of year. I like it when someone in the media, takes the time to brings it back to the real world of possibility. Chris Gigley over at Redbird Rants does just that with suggesting the Cards pick up catcher/first baseman Stephen Vogt from the A’s.

Given who their general manager is, the Oakland Athletics should be on the list of potential trade partners for every other Major League team. Billy Beane never shies away from pulling the trigger. Beane has one intriguing player to deal to the Cardinals in catcher/first baseman Stephen Vogt.

The 31-year-old Vogt enjoyed a breakout 2015, hitting 18 homers and driving in 81 runs for an otherwise middling offense. One note of concern is how much of that porduction came in the first half. He was Peralta-like, slugging 14 homers and 56 RBIs in 279 at-bats before the All-Star break.

But his versatility means he can man first base and spell the 34-year-old Yadier Molina when needed. And a move to more hitter-friendly Busch Stadium could help his offensive numbers even more.

Helping matters, perhaps, is the A’s have one of the best first basemen in the minor leagues, Matt Olsen, who hit 17 dingers in double-A last year. What would be great is for Beane and Mozeliak to work out a deal that would also yield one of the A’s young starters.

Beane will certainly ask for youth in return, and the Cardinals have it. I wouldn’t shed a tear over losing catching prospect Carson Kelly, although fellow editor, Steve McNeil might

via Hot Stove: Trades the St. Louis Cardinals Should Make.

If the “light” has really come on for Matheny. Mozeliak needs to find bench players that Matheny will actually use, in order ease to the workload for Molina, Peralta and Holliday. With key players on the downward side of the aging curve and no real superstar, this current group of Cardinal players should be managed, in a similar manner as the 2013 Red Sox team. Using the nightly matchups as a guide. Think mini platoon system for each position.

A player like Vogt would be a good first step to accomplish that.  Good idea. The Cardinals must get Yadi’s workload down to 100 games mark. Then, Yadi might not limp into the postseason. It’s time for Matheny to give up on the grinder mentality.

Time for more hot stove gossip.

Derrick Goold is hinting that Lackey, may not be the Cardinals first choice to replace Lynn. The buzz is starting to build, that Fister and Leake may be more to the Cardinals liking. If this gossip is true. It would be an indication the Lackey’s grumpy personality didn’t fit in the clubhouse. Of course, it might just be the Cardinals really want the compensation pick, that would come, if Lackey signs with another club.

Bob Nightengale is saying the market for Heyward, is only 4 or 5 teams. This is very good news for the Cardinals, if true.

Pure speculation. The Cubs are not in the market for Greinke and Price. Going for Zimmermann and Lackey. Dodgers and Giants are the only teams Greinke and Price.

The market is so soft for Chris Davis, Scott Boras is now pushing him as an outfielder. For all the Cardinal fans dreaming about Davis at 1st base, this will continue to feed the delusion.

It appears, with all the trades already happening, it seems GM’s are not anxious to pay for free agents. This is really good news for the Cardinals. This might depress free agent prices and someone could fall into Mozeliak’s price range.  There is still hope, that a game changing player, can join the Cardinals.

Back to reality. Aledmys Diaz (7 for his last 12) is having a very good AFL. Maybe, Mozeliak already has Kozma’s replacement. Hope so.



Report: Colby Rasmus to accept qualifying offer from Astros

Houston Astros' Colby Rasmus watches his two-run home run ball clear the fence against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the sixth inning of a baseball game Friday, Oct. 2, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Historic news from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, who hears that Colby Rasmus will accept his qualifying offer from the Astros and return on a one-year, $15.8 million contract.

Rasmus becomes the first player to accept a qualifying offer. As Rosenthal notes, all 34 players who were extended qualifying offers over the past three years all declined.

Rasmus was one of a record 20 free agents to receive a qualifying offer last Friday. The assumption, as it was with most free agents, was that he would decline and sign elsewhere. Doing so would net the Astros a compensatory draft pick in 2016. However, Rasmus’ agent clearly felt that he was going to have a tough time in the market with a draft pick attached. So now he gets a nice one-year deal and will give it another try next offseason.

As for the Astros, this is probably more than they’d want to pay Rasmus, but fortunately it’s only a one-year deal. And it’s not like he wasn’t productive this season. The 29-year-old slugged 25 home runs with a .789 OPS over 137 games. Now that the Astros know he’s coming back, they could explore trading Evan Gattis to upgrade in other areas.

Free agents have until tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET to accept or decline their qualifying offers. You can view the complete list here.

via Report: Colby Rasmus to accept qualifying offer from Astros | HardballTalk.

No shocker here. Lots of free agent outfielders on the market this year. Much weaker market next year. Colby not a very bright guy, must have a really smart agent.

The Astros and Rasmus can still work out a long-term deal.


Pittsburgh Pirates-Miami Marlins trade was compensation deal

Sources: Lopsided trade between Pirates, Marlins was compensation deal:

Jim Benedict leaves for Miami.

In case you haven’t been following this, might be the best news, the Cardinals have had all offseason.

The trade was announced one day after the Marlins hired away Benedict to be their vice president of pitching. Benedict was one of Pirates general manager Neal Huntington’s most trusted aides, but also is regarded as being among the sport’s top pitching gurus.

Benedict, along with pitching coach Ray Searage, has played a pivotal role in the Pirates’ recent success in acquiring struggling pitchers such as Francisco Liriano and Mark Melancon, then making adjustments that turned around their careers. With Miami, Benedict will have similar, but expanded duties, which would include input into the draft and overseeing pitching development throughout the Marlins’ organization.

In recent years, as the Pirates have grown into one of baseball’s best organizations, their front office has allowed several executives to leave for promotions with other teams. However, the Pirates initially balked at allowing Benedict to depart for two reasons, according to industry sources: he was still under contract, and the club had already permitted one high-ranking executive, Marc Delpiano, to take a job with the Marlins late in the regular season.

Executives with several teams told ESPN that it is regarded as common practice for clubs to allow no more than one executive to take a job with another team, in order to protect themselves from being “raided” by the same team.

So while the Pirates didn’t stand in Delpiano’s way when he departed for Miami, they were hesitant to allow Benedict to follow him.

Eventually, the teams negotiated what appears to be a lopsided trade as a form of compensation, but never announced that the deal was tied to Benedict’s departure. Benedict spent seven seasons with the Pirates, in a unique role that involved major league advance scouting, along with his work with pitchers at all levels of the organization.

via Pittsburgh Pirates-Miami Marlins trade was compensation deal.

I had seen that Jim Benedict had left the Pirates. Did not realize what a big deal this was. Such a big deal, the Marlins had to send their 4th best pitching prospect, as compensation.

One of the main reasons, the Pirates have been so competitive the last few years, is their ability to rehab broken down pitchers. Evidently, Benedict was a big part of this. This might be the end of that advantage. Something to keep an eye on.

More hot stove gossip. The Yankees made a trade for another outfielder. You can mark them off the list for being in the market for Heyward.

I saw a piece on MLB network, about Colby Rasmus. Evidently, Colby finally accepted some coaching and changed his swing in August. Rasmus was a phenom after that. Now the qualifying offer made to Rasmus, is starting to make more sense. If the Astros are that serious about keeping Rasmus, take another team out of the market for Heyward.

The Astros were my pick to land Heyward. Due to the fact, they are the most analytical club out there and Heyward’s high value, comes from new school analytics. I like the way this is heading. Fewer teams bidding = lower price.

The Cardinals might just be getting lucky, when it comes to signing another deal with Heyward. Something to keep an eye on.

More gossip. The Reds finally are going into full rebuild mode. Once again, Jocketty is late to recognize modern baseball reality. Dude has ruined that club. What this does do, it puts more players, into an already good market. Good news for the Cardinals. Increases the odds, that something might fall into Cardinals lap.

With all the bad news so far the Cardinals, this offseason. It never hurts to look on the bright side.

Always an optimist.



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