Tag:Cardinals
Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:27 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 4:54 pm
  •  
 

Including playoffs, La Russa top manager



By C. Trent Rosecrans

At last year's Winter Meetings in Orlando there was a motion during the Baseball Writers Association of America's meeting to change the voting for the Manager of the Year Award until after the playoffs. The resolution was overwhelmingly voted down, but it did get me to thinking how Wednesday's choices would have been different had the voting taken place at the end of October rather than the end of September.

For the record, I voted against the measure. I believe the true test of a manager is over 162 games, while the playoffs can sometimes be a crapshoot with moves sometimes magnified more on whether they worked or not, rather than how things often even out over the course of a full season. Heck, the past postseason has turned managers from genius to idiot back to genius in the course of a single series.

Award Season
Kirk GibsonKirk Gibson overwhelmingly won the National League Manager of the Year award, getting 28 of 32 first-place votes. Joe Maddon won the AL award, getting 26 of 28 first-place votes.
Read>>
Related links

In the American League, Maddon probably still would have won the award, regardless of when the vote was taken (as long as it was after the regular season, he was kind of an afterthought at the beginning of September). In the playoffs, the Rays fell to the Rangers in four games, but it was through no fault of Maddon's. Nobody expected the Rays to go on to the World Series, and they didn't.

None of the three other managers in the American League playoffs -- Texas' Ron Washington, New York's Joe Girardi or Detroit's Jim Leyland -- were seen as having great postseasons, or even good ones. Washington is always criticized for playing his hunches -- including starting Matt Harrison in Game 7 -- while Leyland didn't just Justin Verlander on short rest and engaged in a bunt-fest with Girardi that nearly broke Twitter, meaning Maddon wouldn't have to worry about giving up his crown if the voting were moved.

Had the voting been done after the playoffs, the National League winner would have certainly been different. After leading his underdog Diamondbacks to the playoffs, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson was the overwhelming winner in the National League Manager of the Year award, but just a less than two weeks after 28 of 32 ballots (mine included, for the record) had Gibson on top of their ballots, it might not have been such an easy choice.

While Maddon won the American League award based in part because of the Rays' late run to the playoffs, La Russa did the same in the National League and still finished third in the voting. Maddon's Rays were 9 1/2 games out of the wild card on Sept. 2, while La Russa's Cardinals were the 8 1/2 behind the Braves on that same date and went 17-7 over the rest of the season, winning the wild card on the final day.

La Russa added to that resume in the postseason when the Cardinals made an underdog run to the franchise's 11th World Series title. Along the way he was praised for the handling of his team's pitching staff up until a communication breakdown with his bullpen in Game 5 of the World Series in Texas. At that point, the so-called smartest man in baseball looked clueless and was called worse. Two more wins salvaged that reputation before La Russa retired on top.

Meanwhile, Gibson was roundly criticized for his perceived overaggressiveness early in the series, including a decision to pitch to Prince Fielder in a Game 1 loss. Gibson was then praised after pulling starter Joe Saunders in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks in a win. Overall, the Diamondbacks didn't lose the series because of Gibson's managing, but he did come out with his reputation taking a bit of a hit following the first five postseason games of his managerial career.

Despite the bullpen phone mixup in Texas, there's zero doubt La Russa would have added his fifth Manager of the Year award to his collection had the voting taken place after the playoffs. While Gibson shouldn't be making apologies for winning the Manager of the Year on Wednesday, it's unlikely he'd have it if the voting were done later -- but I'm pretty sure La Russa wouldn't trade his 2011 trophy for the one Gibson' received.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 12:49 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 12:50 pm
 

Francona won't manage in 2012

Terry Francona

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Although nobody seemed to be asking him to manager in 2012, former Red Sox manager Terry Francona says he won't manage this upcoming season.

Francona told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com that he's taking the year off "for my benefit."

Francona interviewed for the Cardinals job, but St. Louis went with first-time manager Mike Matheny instead.

"When I interviewed in St. Louis, I was genuinely excited about it," Francona told McAdam. "St. Louis was such an exiting opportunity. But we were all beaten up at the end of the year, and after [interviewing] I took a step back and began to look at things realistically."

With the Cardinals job filled, the Red Sox and Cubs are the only current openings. He certainly won't get the job in Boston and he said he won't be following Theo Epstein to Chicago.

"I've talked to Theo numerous times," Francona told McAdam. "We both know each other well enough where we can be honest with each other. I don't think it's the right opportunity."

Francona said he will "take a step back and re-energize," but may work in television. He said he's been contacted by Fox, ESPN and MLB Network. He filled in during Fox's ALCS coverage and was very good.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: November 16, 2011 3:14 pm
 

Report: Marlins offer Pujols 9 years

Albert Pujols

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Marlins' offer to Albert Pujols is "believed" to be for nine years, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports. However, Brown doesn't have any firm numbers on the money involved, only speculating that it could be worth as much as $225 million. The Palm Beach Post reports the offer is worth less than $200 million.

If that is indeed the case, the Marlins' offer would be more than what the Cardinals have been believed to offer, a nine-year deal worth between $190- $210 million offered in spring training, and could make the bidding for the three-time MVP even more interesting.

Conventional wisdom has been that the Cardinals would win any tie in contract talks, but the Cardinals won't get any substantial "hometown discount." Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports the Cardinals never offered more than $200 million, and being on the right side of that line could make a huge difference.

It could also be a bit of interesting timing that this higher offer is before the Cardinals are expected to meet with Pujols' agent, Dan Lozano, this week, according to Crasnick. The Marlins would have to at least match the years the Cardinals are offering for Pujols, but it seems with offers out to Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, the Marlins are looking to spend beyond not just their means, but anyone's means outside the Yankees and Red Sox.

As great as Pujols is -- and make no mistake, he's one o the best players in baseball history -- he may mean more to the Cardinals than any other team, considering his stature in St. Louis and part of two World Series titles in the last decade. Pujols has never played for another organization and is an icon in baseball-mad St. Louis.

"I don't think we need to divorce ourselves from that," Mozeliak told Crasnick. "The fact is, he's an iconic player. He's been the face of this organization for a long time. To deny that or fail to recognize it, I just don't think you're looking at it through the proper set of lenses."

Those lenses could end up costing the Cardinals in the long run -- a nine-year deal means they'll be paying a 40-year-old Pujols quite a bit of money in the last year of the deal, 2020. The Cardinals, perhaps, can deal with that kind of salary for the other benefits, but can anyone else? The South Florida market is notoriously front-running and fickle, unless the new ballpark turns the Marlins into the Yankees, how much business sense does it make for Miami to tie themselves to an aging great, no matter how great?

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 14, 2011 5:45 pm
 

Duncan to return as Cardinals' pitching coach

Dave Duncan

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Cardinals will have a new manager in 2012, but not a new pitching coach.

Dave Duncan, who served as Tony La Russa's pitching coach during his entire reign in St. Louis, was under contract for 2012, but wanted new manager Mike Matheny to have the final say on his status for the upcoming season. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Matheny reached out to Duncan on Sunday, telling him the spot was his if he wanted it.

"I wanted him to feel comfortable if he felt like he wanted somebody else, that he could make that decision," Duncan told the Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold. "He assured me that he wants me to be a part of what he's going to be doing there.

"My intentions are to come back. I'll be there."

Duncan said his wife, Jeanine, is recovering well from brain surgery and is optimistic he can be ready for spring training.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 12, 2011 10:17 pm
 

Cardinals won't up offer to Pujols

Pujols

By Evan Brunell


The St. Louis Cardinals don't intend to up their spring-training offer to Albert Pujols anytime soon, SI.com's Jon Heyman reports.

In spring training, the Cardinals made an offer in which Pujols would have re-upped for about nine years and $210 million. Pujols rejected the offer and closed negotiations, and there was speculation that Pujols was not particularly happy with the organization. But this isn't really a surprise. That offer is still extremely competitive, with a $23.3 million annual salary that stretches across nine years. That's a very long investment for a baseball player.

Right now, only the Marlins are thought to be the other team with an offer out to Pujols. While it may well be competitive, that's not known just yet. Either way, whatever Miami submits likely will not be significantly more than St. Louis' offer. Until there are more details, more teams enter the fray and talks advance a bit deeper, there is no rush for the Cardinals to up their deal. When it comes time, though, it's difficult to imagine St. Louis not increasing their offer.

The Cardinals also made other news Saturday when GM John Mozeliak said he has Daniel Descalso projected to be the starting second baseman next season, as he tells Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

If so, this means that Skip Schumaker's time with St. Louis may be drawing to a close. Schumaker is not a particularly good defender at second base, having come up through the organization as an outfielder, debuting in 2005 and then making the switch for 2009. However, his offense has tailed off dramatically the last two seasons, and with a rising salary, Schumaker is expendable. The 25-year-old Descalso got a ton of playing time this past season, eating up a lot of time at third base when David Freese was injured.

Descalso hit .264/.334/.353, which is as good as Schumaker did and comes with a better glove and cheaper salary. Really, it's a no-brainer to non-tender Schumaker no matter what and go with Descalso if you don't find an upgrade in free agency or the trade market. Mozeliak also said he would be comfortable with Tyler Greene at shortstop, assuming they don't address their shortstop hole via other avenues. Greene is best used as a backup, and it's tough to see the Cardinals leaving short alone. But Descalso gives Mozeliak the ability to worry about other positions, knowing he will be a capable second baseman if they need him come Opening Day.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: November 11, 2011 7:45 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 8:29 pm
 

Manager interviews finishing for Cubs, Cards, Sox

Sandy Alomar Jr.By C. Trent Rosecrans

The interviews, it seems, are done for the three managerial openings. The Cubs, Cardinals and Red Sox are all done with their first round of interviews and it appears the hirings could come relatively soon.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the Cardinals' next manager will come from one of the six candidates the team interviewed. The Cardinals interviewed former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, Ryne Sandberg, third base coach Jose Oquendo, former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny, Triple-A manager Chris Maloney and White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing.

"I'm fairly confident that it will," Mozeliak told Goold when asked if the team's next manager would come from that list.

That does not mean there will not be further questions asked of any of those six, but it doesn't appear that a surprise candidate will emerge.

Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer wasn't quite as definitive about his team's next manager coming from the list of four interviews that they have already conducted.

"I wouldn't guarantee that it is (the entire list), but we feel really good about the four guys we brought in," Hoyer told MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. "We had four very good interviews. I wouldn't rule out an additional candidate, but it's not a certainty."

The team interviewed Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. on Friday. It has also interviewed Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum and Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux.

The "additional candidate" could be Francona. Hoyer said Theo Epstein has already talked to Francona, and with the history between the two, a formal interview wouldn't be a necessity. There's also Rays manager Joe Maddon, who was the other finalist when Epstein hired Francona in Boston. Maddon's resume would certainly make an interview unnecessary, although the Cubs would have to work out a deal with the Rays for compensation -- something they've still been unable to accomplish with the Red Sox.

As far as Francona's successor in Boston, Alomar, Sveum and Mackanin have already interviewed with the Red Sox. Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo interviewed on Friday and Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont will interview on Saturday. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told reporters after Louvullo's post-interview news conference that the team had no plans on bringing in additional candidates after interviewing Lamont on Saturday. He also added that the team had not been formally turned down by another other organization when seeking permission to interview candidates.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2011 2:01 pm
 

Closer look at all 30 closing situations



By C. Trent Rosecrans
 and Matt Snyder

It appears the first domino in closer market has fallen (at least, we're pretty sure this time), but that leaves Heath Bell and Ryan Madson as the top relievers still available. But who needs a closer? Here's a look at the closing situation for all 30 teams.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles: Kevin Gregg is still under contract -- much to the chagrin of new general manager Dan Duquette's chagrin. Gregg will make $5.8 million in 2012, not exactly ideal for a guy with a WHIP of 1.642 last season and an ERA of 4.37 while picking up 22 saves. Jim Johnson recorded nine saves and threw just 91 innings, but doesn't exactly miss a ton of bats. The Orioles could move Johnson to the rotation.
Possibilities: Gregg, Johnson, Bell, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton.

Red Sox: Well, obviously Papelbon is gone. Papelbon was the Red Sox closer for the last six years, recording the final out of the 2007 World Series among other memories. Still, As untouchable as he was in his first four years as the closer (1.74 ERA and 0.917 WHIP from 2006-2009), he had a 3.43 ERA and 1.104 WHIP over the last two seasons. Daniel Bard is unhittable at times, but struggled in the last two months of the season (which certainly wasn't uncommon among Red Sox), posting a 6.95 ERA in 21 games in August and September.
Possibilities: Bard, Madson, Bell.

New York Yankees: Mariano Rivera. Enough said.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays let the Yankees overpay for Rafael Soriano and then picked up Kyle Farnsworth off the discard pile, signing him to a two-year, $6 million deal. In retrospect, it was genius -- Farnsworth had 25 saves with a 2.18 ERA in 2011 and the Rays will keep him another year and let someone else overpay him for 2013.

Toronto Blue Jays: Frank Francisco was the team's closer for much of 2011, but he's a free agent and the team could be looking to spend some money on a  closer.
Possibilities: Madson, Bell, Cordero, Rodriguez, Casey Janssen.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox: Right-hander Sergio Santos converted 30 of 36 save opportunities, liming batters to just a .181/.282/.314 slash line and he should be in line to keep his job in 2012. If he falters, Addison Reed has a chance to take over.

Cleveland Indians: Chris Perez is on solid ground as the team's closer, picking up 35 saves in 2011.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers picked up the $9 million option on Jose Valverde.

Kansas City Royals: The Royals picked up the $6 million option on Joakim Soria and have options for 2013 and 2014.

Minnesota Twins: The Twins declined their $12.5 million option on incumbent Joe Nathan, but have expressed interest in bringing him back. Although his overall numbers -- 4.84 ERA, 1.164 WHIP, 14 saves -- weren't too impressive, he did convert all 11 of his saves in the second half of the season. Left-hander Glen Perkins had two saves in 2011 and struck out 65 batters in 61 2/3 innings. If the team doesn't sign a free agent -- or trade for someone -- Perkins would have the best shot.
Possibilities: Nathan, Perkins, Jon Rauch, Broxton.

AL West

Los Angeles Angels: Jordan Walden recorded 32 saves as a rookie and made the All-Star team. He did blow 10 saves last season, so it wouldn't be a complete shock if the team looked for an upgrade, but it's not expected, especially with tight purse strings this winter. The team could bring in a veteran for cheap that could close if Walden falters.
Possibilities: Walden, Scott Downs, Broxton, Rauch.

Oakland Athletics: Andrew Bailey is the team's closer, but a trade is always possible with Oakland.

Seattle Mariners: Brandon League had 37 saves and a 2.79 ERA in 2011.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers could be a wild card in the free agent closer market if they decided to move Neftali Feliz to the rotation. The Rangers tried that last spring but decided to keep Feliz in the bullpen. If they bring in a big-name, that would mean they believe Feliz can make the move. If not, there's still a chance of Mike Adams taking over for Feliz. Or they could bring in a low-cost veteran to have in reserve in case Feliz does work in the rotation.
Possibilities: Mike Adams, Madson, Cordero, Rauch, Broxton.

NL East

Atlanta Braves: Craig Kimbrel. Period. 

Miami Marlins: While the artist formerly known as Leo Nunez gets his name issue sorted out, the Marlins have a gaping hole at closer. The current members of their bullpen combined for four saves last season. Do the Marlins try to go with an internal option like Edward Mujica or make a splash on the free agent market (as they've been connected to several huge names already)? 
Possibilities: Nunez, Mujica, Madson, Cordero, Rodriguez, Bell.

New York Mets: If they stay internally, which is entirely possible, it looks like Bobby Parnell. But he wasn't awesome by any stretch when given save chances last season. The Mets have spent big on a free agent closer before (K-Rod), so would they be gunshy in doing so again? It's possible. But it's also possible they try to land someone like Ryan Madson. 
Possibilities: Parnell, Madson, Bell.

Philadelphia Phillies: Papelbon. 

Washington Nationals: Drew Storen closed 43 of 48 games in 2011, his first full season in the majors. One would think that would be enough to earn him at least another year on the job, but Storen's name keeps popping up in trade rumors and the Nationals have been reportedly interested in Madson. The Nats have plenty of money, so if they wanted to ink a big-name closer and deal Storen as part of a package for a center fielder (Denard Span, perhaps?), they would be able to do so. 
Possibilities: Storen, Madson, Bell, Cordero.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: It's probably going to be Carlos Marmol again, but he better get himself in gear. Not only did he blow 10 saves, but his once-astronomical strikeout rate lowered a bit in 2011 and control continues to be a serious problem. With new brass at the helm, 2011 will likely be his last chance to get things fixed. 

Cincinnati Reds: Cordero had a great four-year run with the Reds, amassing 150 saves with a 2.96 ERA, but he's a free agent now. Fireballer Aroldis Chapman is ticketed for the starting rotation and Nick Masset seems to be awfully inconsistent. The Reds don't have the money to spend in free agency, so would they make a trade for, say, Huston Street or Andrew Bailey? Seems unlikely. Either Chapman doesn't make it as a starter and sticks as closer or someone internally (23-year-old Brad Boxberger?) gets a shot. This one is totally up in the air. 
Possibilities: Cordero, Chapman, Boxberger, Bailey, Street, Broxton.

Houston Astros: Mark Melancon saved 20 games with a 2.78 ERA last season. There are far bigger problems with this team to believe they'll try hard to make a change here.

Milwaukee Brewers: John Axford and his award-winning 'stache.  

Pittsburgh Pirates: All-Star Joel Hanrahan nailed down the job last season. 

St. Louis Cardinals: Jason Motte was never officially named closer by the stubborn Tony La Russa, but he did more than enough down the stretch and in the playoffs to earn the job for 2012, closing nine of 10 saves during the Cardinals' late run and five more in the postseason. 

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: It will again be J.J. Putz with David Hernandez filling in if (when?) Putz falls injured.

Colorado Rockies: Street is reportedly on the trading block. If he's is dealt, look for Rafael Betancourt to take over. He collected eight saves with a 2.89 ERA and more than a strikeout per inning in 2011. 

Los Angeles Dodgers: Rookie Javy Guerra came on to save 21 games in 23 chances with a 2.31 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings in 2011. That's enough to have nailed down the job for the 2011 season, one would think. 

San Diego Padres: Bell is a free agent, but the Padres may just offer him arbitration, and he actually might accept it. If he does stay, the choice is obvious. If Bell leaves, there's a decent internal option in Chad Qualls. Qualls, 33, has 51 career saves. As far as free agency, if the Padres want to pay for a closer, they'll be paying for Bell. 
Possibilities: Bell, Qualls.

San Francisco: The Beard. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 11, 2011 10:43 am
 

What if ... the Cardinals let Pujols walk?

By Matt Snyder

Let's not go crazy about the headline before realizing it's still a longshot that Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols signs elsewhere. Personally, I'd be shocked if he signed with anyone else. Most of the major markets are unable to come through with a huge bid. The Cubs might be able to, but we don't know if the new brain trust wants to take that path immediately (my guess is they don't). The Marlins are meeting with Pujols Friday, but could they afford him? It's doubtful they could come close to paying what St. Louis could. Can the allure of taking his talents to South Beach trump the loyalty, familiarity and dollars of St. Louis? Tough call, but only Pujols could answer that.

Still, let's just imagine a scenario where the Cardinals looked at the price tag internally and thought it best to outwardly appear as if they've done everything they could -- to appease the fans -- but still let Pujols walk via free agency. Obviously losing the best player in baseball would hurt the Cardinals, but I don't think it would be a death blow.

Let's check out what could be done with the money available, should Pujols sign elsewhere.

First of all, Jose Reyes could be signed to play shortstop. The leadoff spot was a bigger problem for the Cardinals than the middle of the order in 2011 (since-retired manager Tony La Russa had to use Ryan Theriot at leadoff in Game 7 of the World Series). Throw money at Reyes and the problem is solved. Plus, with Theriot, Nick Punto, Skip Schumaker and Daniel Descalso, there's plenty of infield depth to play with when Reyes serves a few stints on the DL. Jimmy Rollins could be a fall-back option. Next, Mark Buehrle could be signed. Remember, he grew up a Cardinals fan and has expressed interest in pitching for St. Louis in the past.

That means the Cardinals best lineup would be something like this:

1. Jose Reyes (or Rollins), SS
2. Allen Craig, RF
3. Matt Holliday, LF
4. Lance Berkman, 1B
5. David Freese, 3B
6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Jon Jay, CF
8. Punto/Theriot/Schumaker/Descalso, 2B

The starting rotation now includes a fully recovered Adam Wainwright, so it looks like this:

1. Adam Wainwright
2. Chris Carpenter
3. Mark Buehrle
4. Jaime Garcia
5. Kyle Lohse

Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn and top prospect Shelby Miller are available in case of injury. And the bullpen is largely the same as it was toward the end of last season, with Jason Motte now getting a full season as closer.

I tell you what, that's a pretty damn good team. Sure, there are questions, like how are Freese and Craig going to hit over the course of a 162-game season as regulars? In moving Berkman to first and starting Craig, the bench loses a valuable bat, too. Age has to be a concern with Berkman and Carpenter. And of course, how does everyone respond without La Russa? Overall, though, there isn't much to dislike about that hypothetical team.

Considering what Pujols' salary might do to the ballclub if he's making $25 million or more eight years from now -- he'll turn 32 in January -- maybe it wouldn't be so bad for St. Louis if he did leave. It's certainly worth considering (again, internally, as to not alienate Pujols himself or any of the fans). I'd at least talk about it, and I'm guessing the front office has done so as well.

To reiterate, I don't think Pujols is going anywhere, but we're smack-dab in the time of the year that hypotheticals are the most fun.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com