Card’s 1st Nonroster Moves

This will be brief since I’m on my lunch hour. After resigning some Cardinal players (Edmonds/Spezio) from last year, the Cards made some moves. In case you missed it somehow, the Cards have signed the following players:

Adam Kennedy  2B

Kip Wells    back-of-rotation starter

Gary Bennet     backup C

Eli Marrero     minor league utility player

I’m am very pleased by everyone of these moves. Gary Bennett and Adam Kennedy were on many people’s radar as possible signings. Both were signed to appropriate money as well. I don’t remember anyone talking about Kip Wells and I can guarantee no one had a thought about Eli Marrero.

Kip is your typical Dave Duncan masterpiece waiting to happen. We’ll have to wait and see if he turns out to be another Woody Williams or Jeff Weaver. I like the risk for the price no matter how he turns out. Bernie Miklasz mentioned on the forums over at STL Today that Duncan “really wanted” Kip too. I wonder how often Duncan has said something like that. I could be reading too much into that one statement but maybe Duncan thinks Kip will be more than a 5th starter next year if he can get Kip to follow his lead and make some adjustments.  

 Eli is a really nice signing when you think about it. Eli has done a lot for LaRussa in the past – catcher, decent outfielder, switch hitter (i think?). I also believe the guy has overcome cancer if I remember right. How’s that for character and determination. I’ll be rooting for this guy to do well and make the team.

 Funny to see former Cardinals organization guys coming back to STL recently in Kennedy, Marrero, and Looper last year.

 The Cards rotation so far is:

Carp

Reyes

Free Agent

Kip

Free Agent/Wainright/Some scrapheap 5th starter

Looks like Schmidt and Lilly are still out there at the moment. I have a feeling that Walt will make a trade to fill out at least one of those missing starter positions. Hopefully we don’t give up too much. I trust Walt though – he’s proven himself too many times.

That’s it for now. GDM426 will undoubtedly have some input on this in another post.

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Being On The Team

There is so much the average fan doesn’t know. If you don’t believe that, turn on any sports related talk radio show. People propose trades and free agent signings as if they were still kids trading baseball cards. They report of the correct batting stance a struggling hitter should try instead of his current one he’s using. They suggest that a pitcher should stop throwing a curveball if it’s not hitting the strike zone that night. Basically these people are just ignorant – plain and simple.

I believe there might be a new breed of sports fan though that is not ignorant like the radio talk show caller but that might have a common weakness. I’m speaking about the baseball stat guys. These are the guys that come up with neat little stat charts that display possible tendancies of players concerning whether they are likely a good person to trade for or trade away as the case may be. Other times a devised mathematical tool will be presented which only serves to overcomplicate the issue. Statistical tools and number crunching are not wrong, so let’s make that perfectly clear. However – are the results actually predictive of a player’s performance on the field? I’d say the results are mixed. For consistent players, it works but that’s sort of a no brainer even without the stats since they are steady in their results. Game situations seem to back up the advice that stats will give. For example, there is some trustworthy advice such as bunting in certain situations typically doesn’t pay off enough to be worth the sacrifice. Statistics seems to support the idea of having your teams closer come in and face the other team in the 8th inning instead of the 9th inning since usually the heart of the other team’s batting order hits in the 8th. That particular one actually can be a case for both sides since it hasn’t really worked to this point. Most teams haven’t sent their closer in to pitch two innings. Related to this is the idea that a closer isn’t really needed at all. The idea there is that a team would try to have a group of two to three solid relievers that would be used situationally in the 8th and 9th inning but that none of them would be the stopper every night. Boston tried this a few years back but failed and went to the traditional closer. A few teams have went with so called closer-by-committee, but this is usually not a conscience choice since it’s usually due to their closer getting hurt.

Anyway, I’ve flown off on a wild tangent. Back to the matter – what do the radio caller and the more sophisticated stat guru have in common? What are both of them possibly missing? Often times, neither one of them have ever been an active participate in organized sports. And if they have, many of their last experience was little league.

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Turkey Hangovers and *Of The Year* Awards

Well it’s “BLACK FRIDAY“, A.K.A the day after most of America gorged themselves on turkey and all the fixins. I hope all of you out there got to at least enjoy yourselves a little bit. I for one know how terribly awkward, annoying,  frustrating, and down right brutal big family dinners can be. And yesterday started the two month long marathon of get togethers, and holiday tradition most familys force upon themselves. Continue reading

Eating Crow. $100 Million Dollar Payrolls. And the return of the Imperial.

I am sure glad I am not a betting man. At least not on football games. And I hope no one took what I wrote yesterday as gospel. Continue reading

Year End Awards, And The Big Game.

Well, it’s that time of year again. All the *Of The Year* awards are being given out. So far, the AL/NL Rookies & Managers of the year have been given out. And the AL/NL Cy Young awards as well. We only have the MVP’s of both leagues left and they are coming next week. As you might guess, I have issue with the Cardinals being left out of the winnings.

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I thought this was cool

Here’s the full link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=foPB-Hnag6M&eurl=

The Silent HotStove Topic

There’s a lot of analysis of statistics during the hotstove season and many, many, many scenarios are tossed around. People make a case for their latest trade theory and then others knock it down or support it. There is one thing that is not discussed too much however. What kind of influence does the professional baseball player have on his team’s front office decisions?

In the NBA, a single player can have a huge impact on his team – particularly if he is a franchise player. Witness Kobe Bryant who singlehandedly turned the Lakers from a power house team to middle of the pack or worse. But does a major league baseball player have this kind of influence on a team? Can Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, or Pedro Martinez dictate a team’s overall direction? Let’s look at the Cardinals. The Cardinals organization takes care to ensure that Pujols is a happy man. I have to believe that if the organization did something that ticked Pujols off that the fans would definately come down hard on the organization. The exception to that rule is if Albert is percieved as greedy in the situation by the fans. Both cases could be backed up. When Albert was negotiating his current deal, he stated plainly that he would not be giving any ‘hometown discounts’ as McGwire did. There was a minor fan backlash against that. On the other hand, if the Cards committed to a slow team rebuilding project, Albert would have a lot of sway over things. If he didn’t feel like the organization was commiting itself fully to getting back to a winning team – the fans would take his word on it. So what we have here is a bit of fan influence that surrounds Albert since he’s a premier player. Still though, if that’s the best he can do, Albert can’t really dictate the direction of the team unless the general manager is afraid of the fan’s reaction. Ticket sales are important but Cardinal fans have proved that they’ll come to games even if the Cards are losing – which is good in my mind.

So we’ll tentatively say that a premiere player like Albert can’t control a team outright. But he and the other players can surely influence trade decisions and such though right? Clubhouse atmosphere is a very real thing that cannot be measured. Heck, it’s been one of Tony LaRussa’s downfalls in the playoffs according to some. The thought is that Tony has trouble being too intense during the playoffs. His players get rigid and press too hard, then the Cards drop out of the playoffs. But LaRussa changed his tactics this year. The World Series result backed up his new approach since his team won by being loose and comfortable. Having a good mix and friendships will have that kind of impact. Almost everytime after a big series win in any team sport, the guys interviewed will talk about how the team “came together” or “believed in each other”. If you are a general manager this has to play into your offseason decisions a little bit. I’m guessing the Cards felt that way about Scott Spezio. David Eckstein and him were on the same team with Anehiem. It’s pretty likely that Eckstein gave his approval and support in some way for that situation. Now I’m not saying that this definately happened in that case but it’s to support the theory that this kind of thing probably happens around the major leagues. I’m sure that GMs consult players on occasion or at least consider the impact a particular move will have on team morale, cohesiveness, and roles that need to be filled in a clubhouse.

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