A look at the free agents signed this week. The upcoming Winter Meetings. And some football on the side.

Well as a big college football fan, I am really upset that USC and Arkansas crapped in their beds today. It’s very sad to watch two teams throw away victories. Both USC and Arkansas should have had won, maybe not easily, but they both should have won.  Now that I’ve watched both games, gassed up on two Venti 8 pump Cafe Moca’s from Starbucks, I’m ready to write about today’s games, and the Cardinals off-season moves to date.  

I don’t know how USC, the obvious second best team in college football can let a 6 win 5 loss UCLA team smack them around all day. Despite the score of 13-9, the game was never even close. UCLA controlled the game the whole day. USC has to be very embarrassed by their lack of effort on the offensive side of the ball. I don’t know how one of the top scoring teams in the country can only rack up 9 lousily points. They should have easily rolled over UCLA and gone on to play OSU for the National Champoinship. But no, for whatever reason USC took UCLA for granted and got spanked.

Then in the SEC championship, Arkansas should have beaten Florida. But like I have told my relatives all year that live in Arkansas, the Hogs are simply too young, and too inexperienced to contend for not only the SEC title, but the national title as well. And their play proved my point again today. They lost that game. They had Florida on the ropes in the 2nd&3rd quarters, but lost control with boneheaded, stupid, down right moronic plays. When Fish tried to field a punt by Florida early in the 3rd on the 5 yard line, and lost it in the end zone, where Florida recovered it for the go-ahead touchdown, I knew the game was over. Florida with all their experience knew they had *Uncle Mo* back on their side, and never let it go. Sure the Hogs gave it a valiant try, but  even-though Florida played like crap, and should have lost that game, the Gators held back the far more inexperienced Hogs. Look for the Hogs to make a run at the National title next year. This seasons achievements was a surprise to most. Their freshman should use this season as a springboard for a run next year when everyone will be expecting them to win. And their star running back will be the front runner for the Heisman Trophy.

But that’s next year. It looks like now there will be a OSU vs. Michigan rematch in Tempe. Much to the chagrin of everyone in the O H I O. Most up here in the frozen tundra feel it will diminish the rivalry. And I share those feelings. I also feel that Michigan had their shot, and lost, and another team should take a swing at OSU. But now that USC crapped out, and Florida looked bad in winning the SEC, I am afraid Michigan is once again the clear #2 team in college football. So all you college football fans out there get ready for the OSU vs, Michigan orgy that ESPN will certainly be shoving down are throats for the following month.

Thank GOD for baseball’s Hot Stove to keep us baseball fans warm in the harsh, cold winter months ahead.

I don’t know about anyone else. But every time I see that SI commercial for the Cardinals Special Edition World Series book, and baseballs, I get chills up and down my spine. It still amazes me that our beloved Cardinals won the World Series. I will never ever get tired of watching the replays of AWesome and Yadda jumping into each others arms. It still gets to me. Call me a wuss, or a cry baby, I don’t care. I’m not ashamed to admit that watching the highlights of our Cardinals winning the World Series brings a tear to my eye. It’s amazing. Heart warming. And most of all, truly satisfying that the greatest team in the National League’s history brought home the ring this season. After 24 years of frustrating bad luck, our Cardinals are Champions of the World. Unfreakinbelieveable.

Anyway, on to the Hot Stove.

First off a word about what the Cardinals have already done. Two main players were signed, and two minor players were signed. Gary Bennett and Eli Marraro were the two minor signings. Both for bench play, and backup protection. We all know what both players can do. Gary is a good back up catcher. And Eli can play anywhere. Both were cheep, signing for less than $1million each for one season. Both good at what they do. Nothing special or flashy. Typical Cardinals type players. And that’s all I got to say about them, except for this.

WILD TURKEY SHOOTERS FOR EVERYONE IN 2007! 

Then the Cardinals went on the cheep again by signing Adam Kennedy to play 2nd for the next 3 years. Personally I would have much rather had Ronnie *Gangsta Love,Thug Life, Belly Belly Belly*, Belliard roaming short right field. But for whatever reason this Cardinals organization refuses to spend money on the 2nd base position. So we get guys like Kennedy. Now don’t get me wrong. Kennedy is a very good player. He can even have flashes of greatness at the plate. I saw him end a game for the Angels this year with a walk off home run. But there were better 2nd baseman out there. The Cardinals just didn’t want to pay for them. They got Kennedy for a total of 3 years, and $10million dollars. Ronnie would have cost them between $7-$10mil per season for the same length of time. So they are defiantly saving some cash with Kennedy. And he isn’t that big of a drop off from Ronnie. In my opinion, Ronnie is a better player, and worth the money. And I wish the Cardinals would have signed him instead. And on this blog, my opinion is the only one that matters. But they did not, so we are now stuck with the staring short stop, and 2nd baseman for the 2002 World Champion Angels. YIPPEE.

Then they signed Kip Wells for a one year, $4million dollar deal to be the 4th or 5th starter. He is the Sid Ponson of 2007. Low risk, high reward, Dave Duncan’s year long project. He has been hurt for the past 3 seasons. But according to all medical reports, and his late season pitching performance, he is finally healthy and worth the risk. I want to go on record as being completely against this signing. Actually, I hate it. I hate it that the Cardinals ALWAYS have to have a “project” for Duncan to work with. Just once, just for one freakin season I’d like the team to come in with 5 healthy, proven, MLB ready starting pitchers that Dave does not have to work his magic on. And this season there are many of those to choose from. But the team does not want to spend the cash to get them. We have three of our own that we could keep, Suppon, Weaver, and Mulder. Granted Mulder is going to be out till July, but still, he should be healthy and ready to go by then. Dave has already turned around Weaver. Suppon has no issues. Yet they don’t want to pay for him. I’ll give the Cards this. I don’t think any one of those guys are worth the money that’s being thrown their way. 4 years, $40 million is the starting point for Suppon. That’s crazy money for a guy that will only win 15-18 games a year. I have no knowledge of any contract numbers that Weaver and Mulder have been offered. But I do know the same teams that are looking at Suppon, are looking at those two. So the numbers have to be close.

Now, the Cardinals did something really smart by offering arbitration to Suppon and Mulder. But oddly enough they didn’t do the same for Weaver. He is the one guy they think they actually have the best chance of bringing back. I think it would have been really smart for them to offer it to Weaver,and have him accept it at around $7-$9million for one year. But there is a reason the Cardinals are run by billionaires, and not run by schmucks like me. They know (apparently) what they are doing. If they know they can re-sign Weaver without the fear of loosing him, for cheaper than if he took the arbitration, then I can see why they did not offer him arbitration. And that’s their story and they are sticking to it. They do fear they cannot re-sign Suppon and Mulder. So that’s why they offered those two arbitration and not Weaver.  If Suppon, a *type A player* signs with another team they get a 1st round draft pick. Mulder is a *type B* so if he goes, they get a 2nd round pick. Weaver is also a *type B* so if he was to sign elsewhere they would get a 2nd round pick.

It is also being reported that Mulder has agreed to not accept arbitration no matter what happens. So I take that info as the Cardinals and Mulder’s agent are eather really close on a contract. Or really far away from agreeing to a contract. And the Cardinals are covering their butts just in case they can’t agree on a contract. I think it is a must that Mulder comes back. The Cardinals gave up far to much talent to get him, and now loose him after two sub par seasons where he was hurt and clearly not 10o%, If they cannot sign Mulder, they at least get a 2nd round draft pick now since they offered him arbitration. Which I guess in their minds was worth giving away Danny Haren, Kiko Calero, and our best minor league prospect at the time Derek Barton. Now I don’t think that was a good trade for the Cardinals. Do any of you?

To throw even more info at you, because they went cheep, according the the St.Louis Post Dispatch, the Cardinals now think they can make a run for Jason Schmidt. I really hope they don’t do that. If they go after anyone at the winter meetings this week, I’d like them to go for these pitchers. Suppon, Mulder, Weaver, Barry Zito, and Ted Lilly. I personally think that Schmidt is too old to be throwing the kind of money and years at that is being reported. If any team wants to pay him $15 million dang dollars per year for 5-6 years, then let them. I just don’t want the Cardinals to be one of those teams. If he would be willing to take a 3 year, $20-$25 million dollar deal, I’d say he is worth that. BUT there is NO WAY I would give him a 5-6 year deal at $15 million per. That’s insane. He is almost 35 years old, he is obviously on the wrong side of his career peak. If teams like chicago, texas, mets, and anyone else wants to do that, then fine. But not the Cardinals.

Also of note, IZZY says he will be ready by opening day. IF so, AWesome moves right up to the starting rotation. This gives them even more options than before. Although I am sure most Cardinal fans had hoped they had seen the last of IZZY as the closer, if he is healthy, there have been only two closers that have preformed better than him in the past 5 years. Two guys named Hoffman, and Rivera. So I have no problem with IZZY closing IF he is healthy.  IF not, keep AWesome closing. The kids got the stones for it, and he is pretty dang good at it.

So for the sake of argument, say IZZY is healthy. Then the Cardinals have Carp, AWesome,Reyes. and Wells as 4 of the 5 starters signed for the following year. What do they then do this week? If that is the case, I say go for two more starters. Any of the ones I mentioned above. Make sure you get two of them. Because I still think Reyes is trade bait. I just don’t think Tony and Dave want him to pitch for them. It’s just a hunch, but that’s what I think. I think Walt will go down to Orlando this week and say something like this.

“Allright everyone, I got Anthony Reyes, and Juan Encarnacion. What will all of you give me for these two fine young, cheep ball players?”

At least I hope he trades Juan. I’ve said it before, I just don’t like him. I think he wastes his talents and abilities. I think he is just out there playing for a pay check. And that’s the type of player I don’t want playing for my Cardinals. The other thing that really pisses me off about him is he is taking his good old sweet time in making the decision about having his right wrist worked on. If he needs surgery, he should have already had it. Jimmy had his right away. What’s taking Juan so long to have his? Throw that on top of the pile of crap he already has done in the year he as been with the Cardinals as the reasons to trade him. My personal opinion is if you offer up Anthony,  Juan and a minor league throw in, you can get a heck of a power hitting outfielder. Someone like say, Vernon Wells, or Carl Crawford. Two guys I’d almost kill for to see them wearing the Bird on The Bats. IF,and that is a big IF, if Tampa or Toronto were willing to make that trade, I’d be all for it. And given the recent insanity with the free agents contracts this season, they might just go for it. I only hope if any of this is Walt’s plan, he is able to make it happen.

So after all this, what do we have as a team in 2007 after this weeks meetings? Here is my personal Christmas list. Taking into consideration that IZZY is well enough to close, moving AWesome to the rotation. And Anthony and Juan are on the trading block.

Rotation:

Carp,Zito,Mulder,Weaver,AWesome,Wells.

Outfield:

LF-Jimmy

CF-Crawford or Wells

RF-Duncan

Every other position is set for years except for SS. And all indications are that the Cardinals want to keep Eckstein for a few more years. Nothing wrong with that as long as his play does not fall off. And with his work ethic, I don’t see that happening.

Now we all know Carp is due a MAJOR pay raise after the 2007 season. If the Cardinals let him reach the open market, he could easily demand $15-$20 million dollars per year. And he would be worth every penny. I sincerely hope the Cardinals never let that happen. I hope they work out an extension before the season starts. And Carp will win a few more Cy Young’s as a Cardinal. Because he is the TOP pitcher in the NL. He is good for 20-30 wins a year for his team. This has to be in the minds of the Cardinals as they make their moves this week. They have to keep within their budgets if they expect to be able to afford Carp. And maybe not going after Zito or Schmidt is the plan. And that’s fine. As long as they do get pitchers like Suppon, Mulder or Weaver and Lilly. If they are going to trade Anthony, getting two or three of these pitchers is a must.

Of course, I have never gotten what I have asked for come Christmas time, so I don’t see why this year should be any different. But I also never believed that the 2006 Cardinals would win the World Series. I’ve allready been wrong once this year. I am filled with hope that maybe, just maybe I’ll be wrong again.

Well there you have it. That’s all my thoughts for now. I’ll be back next week with more thoughts and opinions about all the moves the Cardinals make or don’t make. Have a safe one. And make sure you don’t miss the Victoria’s Secret’s fashion show Tuesday night at 10pm on CBS. I know I won’t.    

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