The Cardinals made a move to get younger and cheaper yesterday. However, by trading Jim Edmonds to the San Diego Padres for a 3rd Base prospect, the 2008 Cardinals on-field product was not improved. It looked like the classic salary dump. The Padres received 2 million dollars and Edmonds for a St. Louis native, David Freese, who has never played above the single A level. I have several issues with this trade and what it appears to signal:
1. Cardinals management seems to be giving up on the 2008 season before it begins.
2. New GM Jon Mozielak is rumored to be demoralized and this trade indicates that he may simply be a Dewitt pawn who has no real freedom to improve the team. and
3. The Cardinals definitely cannot consider trading CF prospect Colby Rasmus for a front line pitcher.
Jim Edmonds arrival in St. Louis before the 2000 season coincided with the emergence of the Cardinals as perennial contenders. Before he arrived the Cardinals last made the post season in 1996. With Edmonds, The Cardinals made the playoffs in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006. Even beyond his prime in 2006, Edmonds played a key role in the Cards’ improbable 2006 World Series championship.
I have been a Cardinals fan since my childhood, and this is the single most disappointing player personnel decision I have seen made. While the NHL St. Louis Blues are making moves to improve, the Cardinals seem to take fans for granted, making this trade just a week after partial ticket packs went on sale.
Will the the new gm acquire pitching with this extra 6 million dollars in "savings?" Cardinal nation is skeptical, but hopeful to be proven wrong…
Cardinals Offseason Update
The Cardinals began their offseason in disarray, not knowing for sure who would
manage the club next year or who would lead the front office. It turns out
that a familiar face will return as manager, in Tony LaRussa. However, the GM
who hired him is not returning after a front office power struggle left Walt
Jocketty out of a job just one year after orchestrating an improbable World
Series title run in 2006. By rehiring Tony LaRussa, former Jocketty protégé
turned General Manager inherited a heated dispute between former gold glove,
all star third baseman Scott Rolen and future Hall of Famer, Tony LaRussa.
Meanwhile, as the Cardinals waste time and energy trying to trade Scott Rolen,
a big whole at shortstop has opened while the Cards need to add at least two
solid, front of the rotation type starters in order to be competitive again.
The outfield is pretty much stocked with CF Edmonds, LF
Duncan, RF Ankiel, and spot starter Ryan Ludwick.
First base is of course set with Albert Pujols. They have
three guys who can play second, in Adam Kennedy, Brendan Ryan and Aaron Miles.
The problem is that none of them are gold glove or silver slugger material.
Even before season-ending knee surgery, Kennedy appeared headed to one of his
worst seasons and was pretty much platooning. Indeed he is the last vestige of
Walt Jocketty’s poor free agent signings a la Tino Martinez, Juan
Encarnacion, and Kip Wells. Aaron Miles, despite having a strong season last
year, is better served as a super sub and Brendan Ryan is still unproven. Ryan
also faces Tony LaRussa’s preference for a veteran player while Ryan is
young and inexperienced.
With David Eckstein an unrestricted free agent, and the
Cardinals unable to reacquire Edgar Renteria and lacking the depth and financial
guts to trade for an elite SS such as Miguel Tejada, it seems possible that the
Cards will open 2008 with a starting SS such as Eckstein, FA Izturis, Brendan
Ryan. If the Cards go really low budget/non-flashy they could even open with
Aaron Miles at SS after he filled in admirably there the last couple of years.
Yadier Molina and his should be golden glove will start at
catcher and names such as Paul Bako have been thrown around as a backup
option. Yesterday, however, former Reds starting catcher and most recently a Royals backup Jason LaRue was signed for under a million to backup Molina. Duncan and LaRussa like what he brings behind the plate including a plus arm. However, he batted under .150 last season which indicates that Hal McRae has his work cut out for him if LaRue is going to contribute at all offensively. The bullpen looks strong again with the Cardinals picking up Izzy’s
option and overpaying for Russ Springer to return. Joel Pineiro will return
to rotation after a strong stretch run with the Cardinals. Chris Carpenter is expected to
contribute by August but after Mulder’s disastrous 2007, please do not count
The rotation looks something like this right now:
If the Cards have a good offseason you can look for that
question mark to be filled with front line starters who will plug in before
Wainwright. The Cardinals are supposedly eyeing Carlos Silva and Kyle Lohse
but it is unlikely that they can afford Silva and Lohse is not that much better
than what they have. As I write this article I realize that the Cards should
be markedly improved simply by not throwing Kip Wells out there every fifth day
and the same is true for Anthony Reyes if he cannot regain what he had in
I will have more on the Rolen saga as it continues to play out.
Decent news today as the Cards are finally improving the everyday
lineup that had some major holes. RF Juan Encarnacion signed a
reported 3 yr/15mill deal to join the Birds. Some people were
down on the signing at first but the lineup looks a lot
more formidable now than it did after we declined to offer arbitration to Sanders
and Grudz. Example:
Cards circa 12/5/05
Cards circa 12/23/05
Now we have something like this:
2B (Spivey maybe?)
Cardinal nation is a bit more optimistic now!
The Cardinals will finish up the 2005 year with another division championship, a trip to the NLCS, an MVP, a Cy Young and with no completed stadium. Busch stadium was finally knocked down several weeks ago following a whole season of hype and drama. Undoubtedly the Cardinals had an extremely exciting season but the offseason has the team looking to field a very different team in ’06. Gone are Reggie Sanders, Mark Grudzielanek, Matt Morris, Julian Tavarez, Ray King, Larry Walker, and Einar Diaz to name a few. In are Larry Bigbie, Aaron Miles, Braden Looper, Ricardo Rincon, Devi Cruz, Gary Bennett, Brian Daubach and now–introducing–Sidney Ponson?! Yes, that’s right the Cardinals have added the former Baltimore ace straight out of a five day jail stay. According to ESPN.com it is a 1 year deal worth 1 million and an additional 1.5 million in performances incentives are possible as well.
Former Mets and Marlins closer as well as a former Cardinal, Braden Looper has returned to the Birds on the Bat as a setup man and marks the most significant signing of the offseason to date, in terms of dollars spent. He received a 3 year deal worth over 13 million. The Cards were chasing Octavio Dotel to shore up the ‘pen as well but he went to the Yankees for presumably more cash. The Redbirds are still interested in Felix Rodriguez as another right-handed reliever. Bigbie looks to be serviceable as a leftfielder in 2006 and, while Aaron Miles will get a chance to win the second base job, Walt Jocketty has hinted at Hector Luna getting the first shot. The Cardinals will attempt to once again win the increasingly competitive NL central with a whole lot of new faces in the starting lineup, ‘pen…well everywhere. Ponson is intriguing but do the Cardinals truly intend to keep promising young righty Anthony Reyes in the minors any longer or are they considering trading either Jason Marquis or Jeff Suppan for a corner outfielder? St. Louis seems intent to play it "cheap" so to speak, and let Dave Duncan work his magic with the pitchers and hope that LaRussa can get all he can out of his 5 solid regulars (Edmonds, Pujols, Molina, Rolen and Eckstein) while filling in the various holes in the lineup with inexpensive parts. Cards’ fans are not particularly thrilled with the direction of the organization’s offseason thus far as it heads into a brand new ballpark but rest assured, GM Walt Jocketty has pulled plenty of rabbits out of the hat in the past months of January. Heck, December’s not even over yet…
2005 Season Grade: "B+"
LaRussa and Duncan got a lot out of their best healthy players while leading the league in wins but falling short again in postseason play ("A-"). Despite various key injuries, GM Walt Jocketty made no moves at the July 31st or August 31st deadlines("B")
2005 Offseason Grade: "C"
It remains to be seen if the early weeks of 2006 can raise the entire offseason grade a bit.