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Albert Pujols Contract Deadline Passes: What’s Next?

Here we are, twelve hours after the comet named Albertageddon crashed down. The shock waves from the impact wasn’t nearly as large as was expected, but still, it registered at least a three on the Richter scale.

Now, we move forward. What will happen in the next eight months before Pujols officially hits free agency and the three months following that (you honestly think agent Dan Lozano will jump at the first offer?)

There is a lot of speculation. And by a lot, I’m talking about enough speculation to fill the Grand Canyon and have enough to spillover to cause a rock slide. Yeah, it really is that much.

There’s so much that goes into this whole ordeal. Ask anyone, they’ll tell you. People that don’t like baseball have made it a crusade to offer their insight.

There’s the money aspect. People think $300 million is too much for one player, especially when commoners are out of work. Even President Barack Obama took a small shot at that fact when he told the crowd at the White House that Stan Musial was the first player in baseball to make a $100 thousand salary, then laughed.

There’s the years aspect. Pujols will be 32 when the 2012 season starts. A ten year contract would end when Pujols is about to turn 43. He might not be Julio Franco. Pujols might not be able to play that long.

So who’s side do we take? Who do we believe?

That’s what we decide here. All of this is my insight. I’ve listened to those with real knowledge of the situation (Joe Strauss) and those who think they have real insight (Ken Rosenthal).

Pujols wants a ten year contract and $300 million. Is that a reasonable number?

The answer, like most, is not clear-cut black and white. Yes, it is reasonable. No, it is not reasonable.

Pujols is coming off a now eight year contract worth $111 million, with deferred payments coming soon. That contract was a steal then and its a bigger steal now. Pujols took a discount, despite that many will say it was “market value” then, when he signed that contract.

Sure, the market has erupted in recent years, but it was big then. Think of the major signings from when Pujols was arbitration eligible the first time.

Miguel Tejada signed with the Orioles. Vladimir Guerrero signed a deal with the then Anaheim Angels. Bartolo Colon signed his big deal with the Angels too. Ivan Rodriguez went to the Detroit Tigers. Kevin Millwood re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for $11 million.

It wasn’t like the market was weak. Then, of course, it exploded the next off-season with the Carlos Beltran signing, then that was followed by the Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee signings before 2007.

Pujols and the Cardinals came close to having their arbitration hearing before Pujols signed his new deal. Pujols wanted $10.5 million and the Cardinals countered with $7 million. You read that right, even then Pujols wanted 50 percent more than what the Cardinals were offering.

Instead of the hearing, the two sides settled on a deal that paid Pujols $32 million over his three arbitration years and $79 million over his first five years of free agency (minus deferred payments).

If that deal hadn’t been signed, you can guess that Pujols would have won his hearing hands down. Coming off of a batting title, a 37 game hit streak, leading the league in hits, runs, doubles, his first 40 home run season, and 114 career home runs you don’t lose with that resume.

Take that $10.5 million and add on $4.5 million for the raise he would have gotten the next year, and that’s $25.5 million. Another 50 percent increase, and that’s $48 million over his three arbitration years. That’s more than he made in his first three arbitration years PLUS the salary he earned in what would have been his first free agency year.


Now Pujols wants what he’s worth. You can’t really blame him.

But, then again, you can. 

Yes, Pujols signed a MAJOR club-friendly contract, but that was for his prime. On this side of thirty, you don’t make $30 million a year unless you’re on the juice (oh, hi A-Rod). It just doesn’t happen. Sabermetrics run rampant now in baseball. Older players just don’t produce as much as younger players. Its a fact now, not a theory.

Even Pujols’ production will fall off sometime. It might be seven years from now, but even then, you’re on the hook for $120 million to a player that can’t produce. That’s how you get in trouble as a franchise.

Pujols wants his money and the Cardinals want to give it to him, just on their terms. They want to pay for the production that Pujols will put up during the contract, not the numbers he has put up.

Its understandable. I don’t think anyone really blame the Cardinals for sticking to their guns.

The next big issue here was the amount of salary tied up. At $30 million a season, the Cardinals won’t have a lot of wiggle room with Holliday’s $17 million salary tacked on and Wainwright’s big options coming up.

The finances have to be right.

You can’t just give out a huge contract in hopes it will be right then and stay right the whole way. Look at how other teams have done.

Ask any Chicago Cubs fan who they want to get rid. Besides Kosuke Fukudome, Soriano pops up a lot. His contract is a huge albatross to the Cubs. Soriano’s production was good for a couple of seasons, but has fallen off greatly. Same with Lee in Houston.

Beltran with the Mets is a contract they aren’t too wild about anymore and haven’t been for a couple of seasons. Vernon Wells was a big weight on the Toronto Blue Jays payroll before he was move to the Angels.

Jayson Werth will be a burden in just a couple of seasons in Washington. Add to that the Michael Young fiasco in Texas and Gil Meche had to retire to get the Kansas City Royals out from underneath that burden.

Werth is a quality player, but he wasn’t worth what he received. I haven’t driven in 100 runs in a season either. Maybe Washington will give me $100 million?

In all seriousness, Werth is a quality player and person. He was my cousin’s personal catcher in high school. Coincidentally, you can make the argument that if my cousin wasn’t such a good pitcher and scouted so heavily, Werth may never have been scouted either. That’s an argument for another day though.

What I’m saying is that long-term contracts rarely turn out well for players that are in their 30s. General managers are enamored with past production and believe that a player can keep it up, even when they’re bodies are slowing down. They let sexy numbers overrule their logic and make mistakes.

Athletes might be finally tuned machines, but you can’t fight Father Time. The more games/at-bats/pitches you play/take/throw, the more wear and tear you add to your body. Add that with the natural progression your body goes through as you get older, and you’re never the same.

Its fact, not theory.

That’s what this contract deadline was about. Pujols wanted to be paid for what he has done and what he will continue to do. The Cardinals wanted to pay Pujols for what he will do, and that won’t be what he has done.

Lets also remember that Pujols’ right elbow is a linguine noodle. It could pop at any time, despite optimism on Pujols’ and the Cardinals part.

Besides all of this opinion, and yes it is all opinion. Everything I said is my opinion on the matter. Your opinion may differ from mine on long-term contracts. Your opinion about whether Pujols’ current contract was market value or a discount could be different than mine. You might think his elbow is 100 percent. Its all out opinion.

The teams that could make a run at Pujols is not opinion. Its fact, something that is a recurring theme if you couldn’t tell.

There are 29 other teams in this league, despite what ESPN says.

Here is a comprehensive list of every team. How this list breaks down is this: the American League teams are first, then National. It is grouped by division. In parenthesis is the team’s chance. Everything after the colon is why they’re chance is what it is. Fair is 50-65 percent chance; Good is 66-85, Great is 86+; No chance is 0; Doubt is anything between 0 and 50.

As Super Mario says, “letsa go!”

AL East

Texas Rangers (Fair): New ownership is finally in place and the need for a first baseman is pressing. Chris Davis is a left-handed Mark Reynolds without the ability to hit home runs every time he does make contact. Mitch Moreland is a role player. The only problem is money. Adrian Beltre just signed, Josh Hamilton will need a long-term deal soon, and Elvis Andrus is a stud who needs a long-term deal. The money won’t be there unless the new owners are ready to take the payroll to new heights.

Oakland Athletics (Doubt): Billy Beane isn’t afraid to make surprise moves, but the A’s just don’t have the salary available. All of their young pitchers will be making a lot of money soon, not to mention that the A’s could be division favorites with Pujols, but lack any real depth at other positions. A new stadium is needed for any kind of income to come, even with Pujols in town. And California? A Dominican native raised in Kansas City won’t go that far west.

Seattle Mariners (No Chance): The Mariners have the money, but have a hard time getting players to come that far north. Like the A’s, Pujols won’t go that far from home.

Los Angeles Angels (Fair): There’s a chance the Angels could make a play. I’ve downplayed their chances, but it could happen. Arte Moreno likes to spend money recklessly, but the fact of the matter is that the Angels have a lot of salary to pay and star pitchers who need long-term deals. Sure, those massive contracts are gone in four years, so it could happen, but doubt exists.

AL Central

Minnesota Twins (Doubt): Justin Morneau could be moved to DH, but with Mauer already locked up on a big deal and a payroll that has already reached critical heights up north, there’s not a good chance it happens.

Chicago White Sox (No Chance): Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko are under contract and can only play two positions: 1B and DH. Funny, Pujols plays those positions. Pujols has played 3B and LF in the past, but that elbow won’t allow it.

Detroit Tigers (Doubt): Miguel Cabrera is better suited as a full-time DH, but with newly signed Victor Martinez on-board, it makes it much more difficult. Martinez is not a full-time catcher, and a Pujols signing would make him just that. Could it happen? Oh yeah. The Tigers like to spend, but I doubt it.

Cleveland Indians (No Chance): The Indians are rebuilding. They’re farther from contending than any team with Jimmy Claussen as their starting quarterback. Not even in MLB 2011 The Show could this happen.

Kansas City Royals (Doubt): Believe it or not, it could happen. The Royals have a stacked system and could compete in 2012 or 2013. Add Pujols to the mix, and a 2012 contention is a real possibility. Pujols grew up in Kansas City, but the money might not be there. Could happen, but doubt exists.

AL East

New York Yankees (No Chance): Not even doubt exists. Despite people believing the Yankees will be there, not even the Yankees can make it work. Look, Mark Teixeria and Pujols are gold glove first baseman. Neither will DH. Teixeria will “say” he’d take some DH at-bats if it meant signing Pujols, but Pujols won’t. He wants to play first base. And with Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter’s twilight years right around the corner, DH needs to be open. Let’s not forget that the Yankees already have a $180+ million payroll and CC Sabathia will likely opt-out and get a new, higher contract with the Yankees. The money, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, won’t be there.

Boston Red Sox (No Chance): That’s right. Neither big behemoth will be in on Pujols. They might kick the tires, to which Lozano will use as interest to drive up the price, but the Red Sox won’t be in either. Adrian Gonzalez is in the same boat as Teixeria. He’s a gold glove first baseman and won’t DH. Pujols won’t DH for a better chance to win in Boston.

Tampa Bay Rays (No Chance): They just let Carl Crawford walk. No way they have the cash available to sign Pujols.

Baltimore Orioles (No Chance): The Orioles were in it to win it with Teixeria a couple winters ago, but that was a special circumstance (he was from Baltimore). No special circumstance exists with Pujols, and if the Orioles had $30 million to spend, they would have offered Guerrero $8 million right away.

Toronto Blue Jays (Doubt): The Blue Jays obviously have money to spend, but Pujols isn’t in their plans. It would push Adam Lind to DH, a role he’s best suited for, and give the Jays the offense they need to win. But, the Blue Jays don’t want to get involved in free agency for big years. They want to develop their own stars and give them big deals. So there’s a chance, but not a big one.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks (No Chance): The Diamondbacks have no money. Their budget will never fit Pujols.

San Diego Padres (No Chance): They do need a first baseman after dealing Gonzalez to the Red Sox, but they had to deal Gonzalez because they weren’t going to be able to afford him after he hit free agency. Will that have changed in a year? No.

San Francisco Giants (Doubt): Despite popular opinion, the Giants are not big players. First and foremost, Brandon Belt could be a star in the making. Aubrey Huff is signed for two season. Sure, both could move to a corner outfield spot to make room, but in that big park, it probably isn’t the best idea. More importantly, though, is that Jonathon Sanchez, Matt Cain, and Tim Lincecum need long-term deals. Not even Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand’s expiring contracts can pay those big salaries. Oh, Pablo Sandoval will need one too. Buster Posey. Yeah, he could use one. No money, but who knows. Brian Sabean did sign Zito to that laughter of a deal.

Colorado Rockies (No Chance): Pujols would go nicely with Troy Tulowitski and Carlos Gonzalez, but with Todd Helton and his salary entrenched at first base, there’s no room.

Los Angeles Dodgers (No Chance): Frank McCourt’s money problems won’t be magically solved by next winter. The Dodgers have a better chance of seeing Bigfoot than signing Pujols.

NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals (Great): Pujols already has a legacy here. A foundation for a contract offer has already been set. That’s work that they don’t have to make up, just improve upon. The chances of a reunion is strong.

Chicago Cubs (Good): Would Pujols leave for the Cubs? Possibly. Its still close to home and the Cubs will have the money and the roster space to accommodate Pujols. The only thing that could prevent a signing is that Pujols will leave St. Louis in a good light, unless something comes out that Pujols had no intention of re-signing with the Cardinals. When you leave in a good light, you don’t sign with the enemy. That’s how you get booed and ruin your goodwill. Pujols isn’t stupid, but if the money’s there, he could be paid to be stupid.

Milwaukee Brewers (No Chance): If they can’t sign their own first baseman for $180 million over eight years, no way they’ll sign Pujols for $300 million over ten.

Cincinnati Reds (No Chance): You might have heard of their first baseman. His name is Joey Votto and he’s officially the second best first baseman in the National League. No room here, even if it is Walt Jocketty running the show.

Houston Astros (No Chance): The team is for sale, but Ed Wade and Drayton McLane, especially McLane, like to make stupid, incoherent moves. Don’t count them out, but there really is no chance.

Pittsburgh Pirates (No Chance): lolz.

NL East

New York Mets (No Chance): When you’re being sued for $1 billion dollars and you’re hoping your All-Star closer doesn’t finish 55 games so you can get out from under his contract, you don’t sign players to ten year deals or for $300 million.

Atlanta Braves (No Chance): Freddie Freeman is a stud. Sure, they can move him to RF, but Tommy Hanson needs a contract and the Braves never seem to have the money to make big moves.

Washington Nationals (No Chance): Two big-time prospects and an improving farm system, not to mention the best (and most underrated) third baseman around in Ryan Zimmerman, but Adam LaRoche is under contract. Even if they could trade him, Pujols wants to win. He won’t win in our nation’s capital any time soon.

Florida Marlins (No Chance): They’re moving into a new stadium and could use the fan-fare, but the Marlins won’t spend more money on a Pujols contract then they’ve spent on payroll combined in the last six years.

Philadelphia Philles (No Chance): They’re trying to shed money as it is and Ryan Howard locked in. 

So lets add all of this up. There are 20 “No Chance,” six “Doubt,” two “Fair,” one “Good,” and one “Great.”

None of the fair, good, or great chances were the “big market” teams of the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, or Dodgers. Those teams usually drive the prices for free agents, and when they aren’t involved, prices drop.

The two fair teams are on the low end.

That means that only the Cubs and Cardinals truly have any shot at signing Pujols.

Why is there any worry again?

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Monday Mania: Fixing the Milwaukee Brewers, Playoffs Thoughts and Random Bytes

It has been a while since I last penned an article here on the great B/R, so I felt like I owed it to the readers here to break away from the old and bring in the new.

That included a completely new persona, which was to be named Tecumseh’s Alcove (I am a history major after all), but it is a lot harder to create a profile here nowadays, so what was the point when I have old reliable sitting around?

Monday Mania is a new column I’d like to start and keep writing throughout the MLB offseason. Whether or not that dream becomes a reality will have to wait a few weeks. As of right now, this article will likely take place during my History 418 class because, honestly, who doesn’t know everything about the 1920s and Great Depression all ready?

This column will contain an actual article for the week, this week focusing quickly on how to fix the Brewers, a quick note about something going on in the world of sports (today, it is the playoffs), and then the bytes columns that I am totally jacking from my man Bernie Miklasz. Plagiarism? Probably, but I’m not looking to pass this class.

As I write this, I was just given my mid-term back and received a B+. Yep, be jealous. That took some hard work…like 45 minutes of hand writing. I’m young, my hand isn’t built for that like the last generation.

So, now that you know what this column will be like and I’ve finished patting myself on the back, lets get into this.


Fixing the Brewers

Being a St. Louis Cardinals fan, writing how the Milwaukee Brewers should be fixed is not something I like. Competition. Who needs it?

But I feel obligated to atone for my smack talk and help the Brewers along with rebuilding their team.

I know the Brewers don’t feel the need to spend money, but that has to change a little bit.

The Brewers have two very good starters for the front of their rotation in Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf. After that, question marks run a muck and there are no good three-through-five starters.

To fix the rotation, you have to start from the back and work your way in.

And by back, I’m talking the other end of the battery (catcher) and the bullpen.

John Axford, Kameron Loe, Carlos Villanueva, Todd Coffey and LaTroy Hawkins make for a nice right hand side. That leaves the left handers to be filled.

The best route to go there is Hisanori Takahasi for the top guy from the left side. Takahasi had a good year in the bullpen and rotation, making him a strong swing-man for a team with a lack of depth in the rotation.

The second-best and third-best options, Scott Downs and Dennys Reyes, would also make sense for Brewers.

If I were Doug Melvin, I would make a strong push for both Takahasi and Downs, offering Takahasi a two-year deal worth $6.5 million and Downs a three-year deal worth $15-17 million and a mutual option worth $7 million.

Both would be lock down guys for the Brewers bullpen (or bullpen with the way it is shaped up with these seven names), and can serve other purposes.

Downs has closer experience, making him an option if Axford struggles in his first full season as closer. Takahasi can take over a rotation spot if the team needs a filler.

And before you start complaining about Downs being a Type A free agent, the Brewers have a deep system and a protected first round pick. Sacrificing a second round pick is not a big deal.

The catcher situation is next, and the best name there is Victor Martinez. Whether he becomes a free agent is not a big deal because I would not sign him. I’m a big V-Mart backer, but he is not a catcher, and definitely not the type of catcher you sign to help solidify your pitching staff.

No, I go after two names: John Buck and Gerald Laird.

Buck is no fluke. He hit 18 home runs, two less than this season, in 2007 in five fewer games and 38 fewer at-bats. Buck is good for 15-20 home runs, 45-65 runs batted in, and 18-25 doubles a season.

He isn’t a gun behind the plate, but he is a solid handler and blocker that can get by for seven innings a game.

And that is why the Brewers need Laird as well, a defensive wizard behind the plate.

Laird would be a big addition for the pitching staff, and would be a good addition towards the end of games for defensive purposes.

Combined, Buck and Laird would be one of the better catching tandems in the National League Central.

Buck should be signed to a two-year, $13 million contract with a player option for $9-11 million. Laird would be a sign of one year and $2 million with a team option for the same amount.

This leaves the rotation, which can be attacked with the best strategy: sign innings eaters.

The top target I would push to sign is Carl Pavano.

Pavano has proved his worth in Minnesota, and is worth a three-year gamble worth $12-14 million. Like Downs, Pavano is a Type A Free Agent, but that is worth the sacrifice to improve a weak rotation.

With a front three of Pavano, Gallardo and Wolf, the Brewers would be a team to fear with the offense it packs.

Javier Vazquez would be my next target.

Vazquez has pitched well in Chicago, Montreal, Arizona and Atlanta. He hasn’t pitched well in New York. Somehow, I think Vazquez can pitch in Milwaukee.

For me, I sign Vazquez to a two-year deal worth $11 million, and a team option for $10 million, which can become a player or mutual option by Vazquez reaching certain plateaus throughout both seasons.

Now, you may be asking yourselves, “Where will the Brewers get this money?”

Before I fully answer this question, I want it to be known that I’m in class and don’t have the time to dedicate to creating spreadsheets, guessing contracts to a logical amount, and adding everything up. I’m relying fully on Cot’s Baseball Contracts (I have no intention of finishing this in my next class).

I’m guessing here by looking at Cot’s but, the Brewers look to be dropping close to $40 million in salary, and my pitching additions have taken up that amount.

If I were Melvin, I would jump at all of those players during November. Signing all of those free agents right out of the gate would be huge, which I will explain in just a hot second. With the free agent dates moved up, Melvin needs to go hard at a lot of these guys, talking numbers right away.

Get those guys signed, and he can focus on the one thing he needs to do for the rest of the winter: trading Prince Fielder.

Adrian Gonzalez will not be traded this winter, making Fielder the best available bat on the market. And there will be plenty of suitors.

The best deal possible for Fielder would be the addition of first base prospect to replace Fielder right out of the gate. The rest of the deal should be one top prospect, and that is it. Make the price too high, and Melvin gets stuck with raising the payroll over $100 million.

The rest of the offseason should be dedicated to trading Fielder, re-signing Craig Counsell, and non-tendering (and re-signing to a Minor League contract) Manny Parra.


MLB Postseason

How great has this postseason been, seriously? Roy Halladay in his first ever postseason appearance throws a no-hittter. Tim Lincecum, in his first appearance, throws a shutout. The Texas Rangers win their first postseason series in team history, and the Cincinnati Reds were swept (good times there, am I right Cardinals Nation?).

The second round has been good fun as well, with both series tied at a game apiece. It doesn’t get better than this.

Unless the Rangers and Giants are battling for the title in a week. That would be better. Count me in the group that is tired of the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees.

Cliff Lee pitches against Andy Pettitte tonight, in the place where Lee dominated Game One of the World Series last year. Should be a good matchup.


Alas, this cannot be finished in one class period. The Bytes remain and will be written soon. For now, Netbook goes to sleep.


The Bytes

I don’t know about you readers, but I’m so over Brett Favre. Everything is about him, which pains me to say that this is as well. He is conceited and a narcissist. He needs to realize that the world does not revolve around him and that the Vikings are 2-3 because of him. His age is a major factor now and he needs to go away.

Does anyone else think the NBA is a joke? First you have Gilbert Arenas faking an injury to supposedly allow someone else playing time, and this after being suspended for having guns in the clubhouse and making light of it. Then you have LeBron James getting “leg cramps.”

The officials are calling fouls for whining (which will make for the highest foul calls in history as every player is a whiny baby nowadays), and yet the same officials let the players travel more than a CEO of a coast-to-coast corporation. Seriously. What. A. Joke.

If you live in the Midwest like I do, and you think the weather is crazy, don’t feel bad. You’re not the only one to think so. The weather has been steadily in the 70s for the past week, and yet the sun’s rays were vertical enough to our latitude to make it seem warmer. Today? Cold, low wind-chill, and cloudy. What’s up with this?

Music suggestions for today: Anything Tom Petty and Eddie Money, classic (70s and 80s) Eric Clapton, and you probably need a little extra boost today: The Imperial March from Star Wars. Star Wars is the best scored movie in history.

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Looking Ahead To The St. Louis Cardinals Offseason

The off-season is fast approaching, with a mere few weeks left in the regular season. Of course the playoffs is the middle-man in this all, but the off-season is right around the corner.

Teams use the off-season to rebuild the roster that they currently have. The desire to recharge the roster and hopefully add a piece or two that takes the roster from pretender to contender is there. Other teams use the off-season to rebuild the farm system by trading veteran pieces.

The St. Louis Cardinals need to be apart of both groups to get back to champion status.

Now while the Cardinals did get exposed on two fronts, starting pitching and third base, this season thanks to injuries, there really was no way to avoid that. Your bench is there to help on occasion, not supply a key offensive cog for a whole season.

And the rotation? Only teams with great depth at the higher Minor League levels actually can take the kind of hits that St. Louis endured. In case you forgot, that would be losing Brad Penny and Kyle Lohse on consecutive days, and the former top draft pick Adam Ottavino succumbing to an existing shoulder problem (though his future was likely in the bullpen anyway, a la Mitch Boggs).

This off-season, John Mozeliak needs to get creative. And by that, I mean REALLY creative. The system has improved following the 2010 Rule Four draft, but those prospects are untouchable until June-August of 2011 due to the Pete Incaviglia rule.

With that rule making it harder to trade higher ceiling prospect, Mozeliak has to use Major League resources to his advantage.

The list that should be pinned up on every wall in Mozeliak‘s office this winter should consist of the following:

  • Third baseman
  • Right fielder capable of playing center field
  • NOT trading Colby Rasmus
  • Signing Albert Pujols long-term

While many believe that signing Pujols to a long-term contract should be on the front-burner, I’m of the select few that believe that it isn’t necessary to focus every aspect on that one item.

Remember last off-season? Mozeliak basically focused on signing Matt Holliday. As a result, he couldn’t jump at several free agents that would have been good signs because he wasn’t sure what he could spend or what he needed to do.

That led to signing Brad Penny…and no one else.

That cannot happen this year.

Remember also that there are options with Pujols that didn’t exist with Holliday.

First and foremost, Pujols can be traded to alleviate payroll concerns, improving the system depth, and leaves an open spot at first base that can be filled in the short-term by just about anyone you can think of (Adam Dunn tops that list). Holliday couldn’t be traded because of being a free agent.

And there weren’t many alternatives to Holliday. Jason Bay, sure, but he was never really an option to play under the Arch’s shadow.

You also have to remember that by Pujols’ own accounts, he loves St. Louis and never wants to leave. He’s not represented by some jackass (Scott Boras in case you didn’t know who I meant) that thinks in dollars and cents, instead of comfort and sense.

And there’s also the fact that Pujols would hit the market with the Yankees not in the bidding. Yes, you read right. They would not be bidding.

How do I know? Think logically.

Pujols will not be a full-time DH. He is a first baseman, and one of the best fielding first baseman around.

At last check, the Yankees have a pretty good fielding first baseman in Mark Teixiera. Splitting those two between first and DH would likely work, but would you really want to pay $250 for six seasons of two part-time first baseman (assuming Pujols would sign for over $25 million in his first five seasons, matching up with Teixiera‘s last five)?

Also remember that the Yankees would still owe Alex Rodriguez over $170 million (assuming he breaks home run records) in that same time period. Oh, and CC Sabathia would be making over $60 million in base salary in that same time frame.

And just to put the icing on the cake, the Yankees have $107 million committed to 2012 (the first year of Pujols’ new contract) as of right now. That doesn’t include Derek Jeter’s new contract, Mariano Rivera’s new contract (if he doesn’t retire), Andy Pettitte’s new contract (assuming he doesn’t retire) arbitration raises for Joba Chamberlin and Phil Hughes, or Robinson Cano’s two options.

New York won’t be bidding. Not even the Yankees could pull off, what I am educated guessing to be, $85million tacked on to that number, plus filling out the other roster spots on the team.

And remember that I’m guessing Pujols would make $25 million. I’m sure it would be higher than that if he hit the open market.

With the Yankees likely out of any bidding, unless Brian Cashman is so focused on an All-Star roster and is willing to pay that amount of money on two part-time first baseman, Pujols hitting the open market won’t be as dramatic as many try to make it.

Think of this logically. The Yankees (presumably, as I don’t put anything past Cashman) won’t be bidding. The Boston Red Sox will be right there, as will the Cardinals. And…

Um, anyone?

The Nationals could make a push, but Pujols isn’t dumb. He wants to win.

The Atlanta Braves couldn’t afford Teixiera, so it is highly unlikely that they would swing enough payroll space for an even bigger contract of Pujols.

The Baltimore Orioles made a push for Teixiera because of the hometown hero angle. Pujols doesn’t fit that.

You can also remove the bottom-dwellers that have little to no money: Pittsburgh Pirates, Florida Marlins, Oakland Athletics, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians

If you’re counting (removing the Yankees, Cardinals, Nationals, and Red Sox from the list, since they have been mentioned already), that leaves: Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels or Anaheim as the only teams left.

Mariners and Rangers likely don’t have the room in payroll due to scaling back and focusing more on farm systems rather than investing large amounts of money into their teams.

The Phillies have Ryan Howard. The Mets have Jason Bay in left field, so Ike Davis is stuck at first base, unless he would be traded. Of course, big investments have killed the Mets recently, so wanting to spend on Pujols with both of those bogging them down are unlikely.

The Giants have a strong foundation of youth, but could be in the fray. The Dodgers, though, are out because the divorce case of the McCourt’s will be going on for years, or until they sell the team. Both of which put them too late into the race for Pujols and keeps them out.

The Tigers have been cutting money and have Miguel Cabrera locked up long-term. While a Pujols and Cabrera 3-4 would look good, the Tigers have a lot more problems to adjust than moving Cabrera to DH.

Never count out the Astros on big-time names, but with their sell-off of long-time franchise faces Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt, the Astros won’t likely be in.

The Reds. Joey Votto and mid-market. Only five words you need here.

The Angels have a lot of big contracts already on the books with more soon to come. They have also been reluctant to get into bidding wars for big-time free agents, so they’re out.

The Cubs? Well, sucking for over 100 years puts you in the market for a big bat. And with some bigger contracts expiring soon, the Cubs could give Pujols a contract.

Recap: after all of that text, we have the following teams that will bid for Pujols: Cubs, Giants, Cardinals, Nationals, Red Sox. Maybe the Yankees.

Since the Yankees are a maybe, they’re left out this next part. Teams Pujols would sign with: Cubs, Cardinals, Red Sox.

Cardinals are home. Cubs are close to home. Red Sox are traditional rich, like the Cardinals and the Cubs.

See why I’m not really worried? There’s three teams that can really sign Pujols.

He’ll be back.

Now onto more pressing matters.

Third base, here we come.


David Freese isn’t going to return until the end of Spring Training at the earliest. Consider him out of the race for Opening Day third baseman.

Outside of recently drafted Zach Cox, the Cardinals don’t really have any good third base prospect. Daniel Descalso could slide over to the hot corner, but he’s a better bet to stick at second base and upstage Skip Schumaker next season.

Matt Carpenter is a 25 year old at Double A. That isn’t horrible, considering he wasn’t drafted until after he graduated college, but still, not that impressive. Allen Craig Jr, basically.

Speaking of Craig: he isn’t trusted at the hot corner. Cross him off the list.

Tyler Greene wouldn’t be horrible, but I, like many, like him for upstaging Brendan Ryan next spring and taking over shortstop.

Not much depth.

In steps Alex Gordon. Yes, Alex Gordon.

Gordon isn’t look at as favorably in Kansas City anymore. There have been rumors that Kansas City may look into trading him.

Why not to the Cardinals?

Changes of scenery work all of the time, and Gordon is still extremely talented. If given the proper coaching and enough time, he will put it together.

And of course, if Gordon doesn’t put it together, Freese will be healed and ready to go by May. The duo could even platoon if maximized both of the players.

The deal would be tricky. There are several factors:

  1. Gordon will only be making $2-2.5 million in 2011 if he goes to arbitration
  2. The Royals will still want a decent package for Gordon, as they are very unlikely to non-tender him and let him go for free

This leads to this proposed package:

3B Alex Gordon for RHP Kyle Lohse (with St. Louis paying $22 million of the $23.75 million still owed), RHP Adam Reifer, and 1B/RF Allen Craig

Now hear me out before I get completely verbally bashed by all of you readers.

Lohse, will ineffective, needs to get out of St. Louis (so don’t worry about that no-trade clause). Even if pitching for the Royals, he will do better in Kansas City than in St. Louis, a town that flat-out does not like him.

A new environment, like with Gordon, could also reinvigorate Lohse. Of course, it might not as well, and if it doesn’t, oh well. Release him. Paying him $1.75 million over two seasons isn’t bad, even if he doesn’t pitch well.

Craig would add a power right handed bat. If given actual, uninterrupted playing time, Craig will hit. He has everywhere in the minors, and he even flashed good batting skills when given steady time in St. Louis. With well less than a year of service time and a lot of shuttle time between the majors and minors, Craig would offer a good, cheap bat for three seasons (shouldn’t be a Super Two).

Reifer, a power right handed bullpen arm, would match up with Joakim Soria extremely well. Reifer has had some slight control problems in his Minor League career. And it isn’t because he can’t hit spots. It is because he throws that hard. Throwing hard with movement and controlling it at that high velocity is difficult.

And I’m not done pleading my case. Think of what a trade of Gordon would do:

  • Mike Moustakas can start at third base on Opening Day
  • Eric Hosmer can start at first base on Opening Day

Gordon, playing both of those positions, can be used an excuse not to play the young power duo on Opening Day. By shedding Gordon, you also shed the excuses, and add some decent quality in return for Gordon.

See, so it isn’t as horrible as it looks right away. Is this deal greater for Kansas City or St. Louis? That thumbs up goes directly to St. Louis because of trading Lohse and adding third base depth, but Kansas City doesn’t make out horribly here. Paying less than a million a season for a back-end starter and opening spots for top prospects to play is a major win…even if that back-end starter is Lohse.

Would Kansas City make this trade? They would on my PS3, but I couldn’t tell you (and neither can you readers, despite what you believe) for sure in this real world.


This third and last one (as not trading Rasmus is a note, not a section) is about finding a right fielder who can play center.

B.J. Upton, anyone?

Upton has struggled thus far in 2010 and didn’t fare much better in 2009. With his payday likely to go over $5 million, the Rays would do well with shedding Upton.

Again though, it won’t be free. Upton will not be non-tendered, and the Rays will expect fair value in return, which is understandable. Despite his offensive struggles, Upton has still put up decent numbers in 2009-10 and is still an above-average center fielder.

The addition doesn’t stop with Upton, however.

Carl Crawford is a free agent at the end of the season and the Rays want to re-sign him. Of course, it isn’t entirely necessary because of their top prospect Desmond Jennings being on the cusp.

To be able to re-sign Crawford, the Rays have to shed money. What better way of doing that than dealing a starting pitcher who is in line for a a good raise?

I’m not talking Matt Garza. I’m talking about James Shields.

Shields is a classic buy low case.

He is throwing a lot of innings, which is good. He isn’t pitching well, which is bad.

His innings logs, however, from the 2009-10 season are a good indicator of what he can do.

Shields is well on his way to throwing over 200 innings yet again, but is also on his way to making a lot of money from 2011-2014 (guaranteed $4.25 million in 2011, and $28 million in three club options from 2012-14). By trading Shields, the Rays could replace him with Jeremy Hellickson on the cheap, but not lose the production.

So, in theory, by trading Upton and Shields, the Rays could save back more than $9 million for the 2011 season alone, giving them the financial wiggle room needed to re-up with Crawford. It would also put Jennings in his more natural spot of center field, rather than left field.

So without further ado, I present you the package of players that would go to Tampa Bay:

OF B.J. Upton, RHP James Shields for OF Jon Jay, RHP Richard Castillo, RHP Francisco Samuel, RHP Casey Mulligan, 1B/OF Mark Hamilton, OF Daryl Jones

Upon first look, this looks more quantity than quality for Upton and Shields. And as that is sort of correct, read on.

Mulligan is a 22 year old flame thrower that has movement and control. A converted catcher, a la Jason Motte, Mulligan has a bright future in a bullpen. With the Rays constant bullpen woes, adding Mulligan could be vital.

The same goes for Samuel. Samuel is a walk machine, but throws hard. If given the proper guidance and a good handling catcher, his walk rate will improve. It will always be high, but so will his strikeouts. As a seventh or eight inning starter, he would be very good. As a firefighter, you might pull out some of your hair.

Castillo is a real add. Not even 20 years old yet, he doesn’t get the coverage he should get. He has struggled thus far in the Florida State League, but will regain traction next season when he is more healthy. Not to mention he’ll know how to pitch, not so much throw.

Castillo, if you don’t know, was signed out of the Venezuelan Summer League. He hasn’t actually pitched against real hitters yet, except in 2009 when he first entered the FSL. Luck contributed early on to that success he had in 2009.

As for Hamilton, he is the new Adam Dunn. He has a lot of power, is a decent average hitter, but isn’t amazing with the glove (but he isn’t nearly as bad as Dunn is). Another prospect that doesn’t get the credit he deserves, Hamilton has raked in his Minor League career.

With Carlos Pena ready to hit free agency, Hamilton would be a good guy to take a look at to be the DH for the club. His left handed power would fit nicely in the middle-half of the Tampa lineup.

Jones is a former top prospect who has had knee problems. Best word to describe Jones: Crawford. He has speed, decent power, and is a good fielding left fielder.

Jones has stalled a little in Double A, but as I just said, knee problems contributed to that. He recovered nicely this season if you can avoid his average and OPS columns.

My normal disclaimer: would Tampa Bay make this trade? On my PS3, they would. In real life, who knows? You readers don’t know (I’m tired of THOSE comments in the comment section), so just give opinions.

Also, I’m not even sure if the Cardinals have considered asking about Upton and/or Shields, but I do know that the Rays are looking to move one or both this off-season, along with Garza.


With all of this out there, let me give my roster for 2011 and call it a day:

2B – Schumaker

RF – Upton

1B – Pujols

LF – Holliday

CF – Rasmus

C – Molina

3B – Gordon

SS – Ryan/Greene

SPs: Carpenter, Wainwright, Garcia, Shields, McClellan

RHP: Salas, Sanchez, Motte, Boggs, Franklin (CL)

LHP: Miller, MacLane



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Why the St. Louis Cardinals Acquiring Dan Haren Is Plausible

It was back in December of 2004 that the St. Louis Cardinals first traded Danny Haren.

Now, here in the summer of 2010, the Cardinals may re—acquire the former highly touted prospect.

Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse is reporting that the Cardinals are focused on Haren and the Cleveland Indian’s Jake Westbrook.

Haren is signed through 2012 with a club option for 2013. Westbrook is a free agent at the end of the season.

Those two facts alone point out whose price is the cheapest in terms of players needed.

Those two facts also point out who is most desired.

Dan Haren.

Yes, bringing back Haren would remove a small percentage of the bad memories of the great trade gone wrong. Haren would reunite with his drafting team under the shadow of the Gateway Arch.

A price worth paying.

But, can the Cardinals make an offer to the Arizona Diamondbacks that they cannot refuse?

Different story.

Firstly, I will avoid naming a package of players because as it has been pointed out to me by true talent evaluators (i.e. Keith Law), my picking skills are lacking. I will name a few names. Well, never mind. You’ll see.

Let’s start this bad boy!

Jake Westbrook

Personally, I like Westbrook. He is a workhorse, a sinker specialist, and a good clubhouse presence. He is, however, coming off elbow surgery. He missed all of 2009 and a lot of 2008.

While the price to acquire Westbrook is much lower than Haren’s, the Cardinals are not inclined to add a rent—a—player. They did that a few times last year, you might have heard, and gave up a lot of talent for a quick sweep in October.

This season, the Cardinals want to avoid those types of players. So, unless Cleveland brings down their asking price on Westbrook, I do not think you’ll be seeing him in the ‘Lou this summer.

Dan Haren

Haren is an ace—like pitcher. Adding Haren’s presence to the Cardinals rotation would make them the odds on favorite to finish off what was started in Cincinnati back on Opening Day.

Haren would make a four—headed behemoth monster, headed by Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, with rookie sensation Jamie Garcia following up the trio.

Now that you know why the Cardinals want Haren back, here is what makes this truly tricky:

Money and players, a.k.a. the price.

Haren is owed slightly less than $4 million for the rest of this season, along with $12.75 million in each of the next two seasons.

Carpenter is due $15 million next season with a club option at the same amount the following year.

Wainwright’s contract balloons to $6.5 million in 2011. Garcia is a renewed contract, but Kyle Lohse’s contract also spikes to $11.875 million.

Add in Haren’s $12.75 million, and the rotation would be due $46.125 million in 2011, or close to half of the payroll.

That is a lot of money for five guys.

Of course, there is always ways around the costs.

Carpenter can work out a new contract that would pay him his $15 million club option over three seasons (2012, ’13, ’14) to help offset some of the costs.

I’m also leaving out that Albert Pujols next contract starts in 2012. Go read that debate (Part II is up).

Let’s leave aside the whole debate about money. Money can be important, but it could also be unimportant. The Cardinals may find a way to up the payroll with the increase merchandise and ticket sales (a big acquisition like Haren can do that).

The really important piece of the trade equation is the players being traded. Can the two teams match up? If they can’t match up, then there is no need to worry about money.

In this case, I think the teams can.

First off, any trade discussion between the two teams will start with money, not players. And by money, I mean how much money the Diamondbacks would send to the Cardinals to offset Haren’s contract.

The less money spent, the less quality of players.

In other words, Miller and Sanchez are completely untouchable if the Diamondbacks don’t pick up any amount of Haren’s remaining salary.

Either way, there is one name that could intrigue the Diamondbacks.

Allen Craig.

Craig has raked at every level in the minors and did struggle early on this season after making the roster out of spring. Chalk that slow start up to not playing often so he couldn’t get into a groove.

Now that he has time to play, Craig is starting to rake. With Ludwick scheduled to come back mere days before July 31, Craig is a name to watch in the Haren talks.

Other names could be Jon Jay, Lance Lynn, Richard Castillo, and Mark Hamilton.

Like I said, how much money the Diamondbacks would pick up in the trade would increase or decrease the talent level of the prospects included in the trade.

Let’s remember, though, that the Diamondbacks are looking to shred salary; so any trade of Haren would likely be for Haren AND his entire contract.

That could make acquiring Haren for the Cardinals easier with the ability absorb his contract.

We’ll see.

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Trading Albert Pujols: Part II

So you know the theory to the idea.

Now, it is time for an actual deal.

First off, we have to create a list of teams that can afford Albert Pujols financially.

Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Detroit Tigers.

Teams that have the players to make a deal out of these teams (I have eliminated any teams that would “rent” Pujols based on the fact that even for Pujols, no team would devour their farm system for Pujols only to lose him right away):

Red Sox, White Sox, Angels, Mariners, Mets, Phillies, Giants.

That doesn’t leave a lot of teams, but let’s take a look.


Front Runners

The Red Sox have a very deep farm system with a talented Major League roster. The Red Sox could easily package Casey Kelly, Jonathon Papelbon/Daniel Bard, Lars Anderson, Michael Bowden, Clay Buchholz, Jose Iglesias, Junichi Tazawa, and Ryan Westmoreland together to make a deal.

The Red Sox have the cash to make Pujols the contract he desires, and while this trade would ruin their depth, it would improve their team without really hurting their immediate Major League roster.

The Angels are in the same boat. Mike Trout, Trevor Reckling, Fabio Martinez, Jordan Walden, Ryan Chaffee, Tyler Skaggs, and Garrett Richards would get a deal done.

The Angels too have the money to sign Pujols long-term and not hurt their current Major League roster by making this deal. Their depth would also take a huge hit.

The Mets are in a different boat. What kind of boat? The Red Sox and Angels are riding on the Titanic, and the Mets are in a dinghy. And yes, the Titanic reference is good. Trading this much depth would make an iceberg ahead.

The Mets would have to center any deal for Pujols around Ike Davis, Jenrry Mejia, Wilmer Flores, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey, Fernando Martinez, Josh Thole, and Juan Urbina.

The Mets would greatly hurt their Major League pitching staff, but add the bat they need in the middle of their order. The Mets too would have the money to lock Pujols up.


Middle Ground

The White Sox are the team that is in the direct middle. They could easily come up with the money to sign Pujols long-term and have the prospects to make the deal work, but do they have the space?

The team plays musical chairs at DH and 1B anymore. Would they want to add another player to that mix, even one as good as Pujols?

The prospects involved would be: Tyler Flowers, Gordon Beckham, Jared Mitchell, Dan Hudson, Jordan Danks, Dayan Viciedo, and Nathan Jones.



The Phillies are an interesting team in this discussion. Their depth has taken a hit, so they would have to deal from current players (J.A. Happ, Ryan Madson) and prospects (Dominic Brown) to get any deal done.

The reason, though, that the Phillies sit on the back of the bus is their lack of talent depth, but their lack of space.

Ryan Howard can’t play any other position on the diamond (just DH). Chase Utley can’t play the corner outfield with his weak arm and bad hips.

Placido Polanco would be a big gamble in RF, same goes for Pujols (who would also be a gamble at 3B with his elbow issues).

The Mariners are another interesting team. Their depth is there, but the talent depth really isn’t.

They have the cash to pull off a trade, but not a lot of talent (outside of Dustin Ackley) to offer.

The Giants are the most interesting team in this entire equation. Buster Posey, Jonathon Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner, and Zach Wheeler headlining a package would make anyone listen.

They also have the money and a clear need (Sandoval at 3B with Pujols at 1B would be a sick defensive alignment and 3-4 in the order) for Pujols.

Would Sabean act, though, is the major question. His lack of desire to make moves and reluctance to pay wanted prices pushes the Giants to the back, but would be dark horses if Pujols was put up on the trade block.



There is only one team would could feasibly fit Pujols into their 2011 budget, but not beyond. That team is the Tampa Bay Rays .

Think about this. The Rays make the trade for Pujols this winter. Even with some of their core players likely leaving, they would still be the team to beat.

And with their good track record of drafting and developing players, the two draft picks brought back from Pujols signing elsewhere (no one will rate higher than him on the Elias rankings) could be worth the lose of top prospects.

Many would say that any trade from Tampa Bay should be headlined by Evan Longoria. I’m not that naive. No way the Rays would deal Longoria, especially for a rent-a-player (even if it is Pujols).

No, their deal would be: Desmond Jennings, Jeremy Hellickson, Tim Beckham, Matt Sweeney, Matt Moore, Alex Torres.

Now do you see why this would be a long-shot? Pujols would effectively replace Pena for the season, but Jennings is supposed to replace Crawford.

Hellickson would replace a starter who would shift to the bullpen (my money on Davis or Garza) to close games and anchor the bullpen*.

The Rays can’t do make this trade because it would greatly affect their moving on, but they could still surprise all involved by making the deal.

* = Way too many starters for five spots, and they need a closer under club control. Why not move a starter back there, a la Papelbon, and call-up Hellickson? Makes more sense than overspending on a closer or bringing Soriano back.


Got the Cash

The Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, and Tigers have the money to sign Pujols.

None would land him in a trade.

The simple reason is that none of the clubs have the farm system to pull off a trade, or don’t have the young, cost controlled players needed to make a deal.

The Cubs would also fit in this category because John Mozeliak knows that if he traded Pujols, he would be lynched.

If he traded him to the Cubs, his body would be burned after the lynching.

Just remember that this is all theoretical. There are no discussions going on about trading Pujols.

This is just something that should be thought about with Pujols’ contract coming to an end and negotiations on the horizon.

And just to make a few things clear:

*I am a die-hard Cardinals fan. Remember: this is THEORETICAL!

*If Pujols makes it known that he wants to test the free agent market before re-signing with the Cardinals, I would not blame Mozeliak one bit for trading Pujols.

Anything can happen in today’s world.

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Just Blogging: My Thoughts

I sit here and realize I haven’t written Part II to my thoughts about trading Albert Pujols. I just about started writing Part II right now, but it took a backseat to this.

I read Bernie Miklasz’s “Bernie Bytes” just about everyday, and I like what that piece is about. He just writes for five minutes and comes up with masterpieces. It is incredible.

That lead me to writing this. So much is happening right now and I feel obliged to write about it and offer my thoughts…


First thought: Sweet Lou

Lou Piniella is retiring at the end of the season.

Yeah, we knew that was coming.

But these Cubs fans who are ragging on the man? Yeah, that’s not cool. Maybe that’s why you can’t win? Tried fixing everything else. Fix the fans.

It isn’t Piniella’s fault that Carlos Zambrano decided to pick a fight with everyone but a dead goat (blame that on his parents not giving him enough love as a child). It isn’t Piniella’s fault that Alfonso Soriano thought up was down and down was up. It isn’t his fault no one stay healthy.

Why blame the man? He lead a bunch of prima donnas to back-to-back division titles in 2007 and 2008. Then the team blew up in 2009 (gotta blame Milton Bradley, right Chicago?) and haven’t gotten back on track yet this year.

So this is Piniella’s fault? It is his fault John Grabow signed a stupid contract? It his fault that Bradley signed on for three years when everyone and their brother were screaming how dumb that was?

No. Try again.

Jim Hendry is the problem here. Hendry doesn’t have a clue. He is seriously more clueless and useless than Jim Bowden, and that is saying something.

The Cubs can’t move forward until they get a new guy up top, and from what I have heard today after Piniella’s announcement came, that isn’t happening any time soon.

Hendry needs to go and bring in someone, anyone really, that can run an efficient front office.

Bradley, Fukudome, and Grabow are the three names that I said, right when they signed mind you, were going to choke and eat up money that could be spent on useful players.

Was I lying?


Second thought: Burn Lebron at the stake!

What is the big deal about Lebron James signing in Miami?

Sure, ESPN had that idiotic ‘decision’ thing which could have spent on something better. But, I mean, seriously folks…get over it.

Everyone keeps complaining that Bosh and James signed in Miami, and that happened two weeks ago.

Get over it. Really.

James, Bosh, and Wade are all friends. They like each other and they obviously liked playing with each other. Now they want to do it for the next six years. Isn’t that their prerogative?

Who reading this would turn down a chance to win when you haven’t won before? No one. And you can’t even say they did it for the money. All three players took less than they could have made to make this superpower happen.

Oh, and for those of you who think big money empires can’t fall, remember this:

The New York Yankees have won one World Series title since pushing their payroll north of $200 million a year.

They can fall. It can happen.

Will it happen here? Probably not. Baseball is a more physically demanding and tougher sport.

Yeah, took my shot at the NBA and other sports. Baseball tops all. Admit. Move on.


Thought three: USC

USC cheats?! NO WAY!

All I can is that it is about time that the NCAA came after USC. As an Illini fan, I was extremely upset about the Rose Bowl massacre of 2008.

It wasn’t that defeat that made me hate USC. That hatred is there because you always hate the winners when you don’t root for those teams.

But, come on. Pete Carroll has been illegally recruiting for years. How else can he land all of those top recruits? It isn’t the allure of playing for USC. It is the allure of making money while playing.

Why did Carroll leave USC? He figured the jig was up and took off without taking responsibility.

Same goes for other schools getting sanctioned. All I can say is that it is about time.

All of these big, power schools who win all of the time are cheating. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

And basketball? Notice how Coach K assistants are getting nailed for recruiting violations? Coincidence?

Leroy Jethro Gibbs doesn’t believe in coincidences.


Thought four: Trade Deadline

Back to baseball we go.

The trade deadline is coming up and will be interesting. No one is predicting any big names being move, just a bunch of little moves.

Anyone else get the feeling that we’re being watched?

I see Haren, Jackson, Oswalt, Myers, Kelly Johnson, Bautista, Werth, Wigginton, Lilly, Dunn, Willingham, and Uggla all being traded.

I don’t know why, but I just do. Seriously, think about it.

Everyone keeps saying that the market is either weak, or teams are asking for too much. Therefore, no big trades will happen.

This happens every year. A few days before the deadline, prices will drop and big named players will be on the move. I have this feeling.


Thought five: Final Thoughts

Am I the only person that just doesn’t care about NASCAR? Drivers need to do something useful with their lives and play a real sport. It is annoying to see ESPN cover this crap everyday. What’s exciting about it? And if you answer “the crashes,” you need to check yourself. You like to see them possibly get hurt?

What’s up with the pitching this year? Is it steroids being cracked down on and the pitchers are taking advantage?

Twitter. That’s an invention. I do little tweeting, but I follow all of the big national writers to stay updated, and ask a few questions (and get answers on occasion). Also follow Cardinals writers. Strauss, Miklasz, Leach, and Goold make my day sometimes.

Speaking of twitter, Keith Law has some good one-liners on there. He can do some dumb things sometimes (not voting for Carpenter for NL Cy Young; yep, brought it up Keith) or say something that no one agrees with, but the guy knows his stuff.

I enjoy reading his scouting reports, one-line smart alec answers, and hearing his thoughts on a subject. We can all disagree with someone, but acknowledging someone else’s views on a subject can make us argue our side or improve our points more.

Getting tired of the words yet? Don’t be. Some day soon I’m coming out with a book and I expect all seven people who read this to buy it. The name? Southern: The Misadventures of a College Student.

Many stories from my four years in college and other stories from friends that I can use. Should be a best-seller, am I right? Who doesn’t want to reminisce about the good ole’ days?

Yeah, it is over. Hope you enjoyed. Comment why don’t ya?

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Trading Albert Pujols: Part I

Is this an absurd idea, or something quite plausible? Who knows really. As writers, we can only speculate and give our opinions on the matters we write about, unless they have happened (like a trade or signing) or will happen (like LeBron James signing in Miami).

For the idea of trading Albert Pujols, we can only speculate.

I have written about this subject some time ago and even titled it as I opened this article, but after reading the article I wrote I felt like it didn’t do this subject justice.

Do this subject justice, I felt the need to throw out the old one completely and re-write it. Go a different route and break it up into three parts.

Part I, the article you are currently reading, is the theory to the idea.

Part II is the article that you will hopefully read next. It is the possible suitors for Pujols and what type of packages each team could give up.

Part III is the mystery article. I sat here in my computer chair for 10 minutes, watching The Godfather Part II to try and think about what it could be about. Then, while watching the Godfather, I realized that Part III came out years after Part II and they didn’t know what it could be about.

And it hit me as I wrote this last paragraph. The Godfather Part III is about passing the torch from Michael to Sonny’s son. Part III of this series will be about the replacement of Pujols at first base and the ramifications of that decision.

With all of that out of the way, let’s move forward.


Pujols is a legend already. There is no one better in today’s game than Pujols.

He walks. He strikes out at a low rate. He hits home runs and drives in runs. He scores a lot of runs. He hits for a high average. He his a gold glove defender.

There is no one today’s game that can match all of that, and I mean all of that. No one. Pujols is in a league of his own.

Even considering trading Pujols could get John Mozeliak chased out of St. Louis like the Mormons.

The fact of the matter is, though, that the idea holds water.

Pujols is in line to make $16 million next season, and is making that same amount this season (with some of the money deferred). He will be making more than $25 million a season in his next contract.

Why not deal him?

A trade would certainly save money this season and next, while allowing for the $25 million he would make in 2012 and later to be spent on the young core of players now, such as Adam Wainwright.

Trading Pujols would overload a weaker system with high ceiling prospects. Think Mark Teixeira times two.

A trade could also loosen things in the clubhouse.

Pujols is a great person and cares deeply for his teammates and other people, especially children and the mentally handicapped, but Pujols is a part of the friction.

From what I have heard by reading articles from Post-Dispatch writers, writers, and hearing from people who have been inside the clubhouse, Pujols makes friction. He is a part of a “clique” of players, spear-headed by the Robin (Yadier Molina) to his Batman, and isn’t the definition of a bridge builder.

Sure, Pujols gets along fine with his teammates, but players like Reggie Sanders and Mark DeRosa build bridges in clubhouses. They interact well with each clique and are accepted right away by everyone.

Pujols isn’t like that. He’s accepted by all of the players because that’s what teammates do.

But that doesn’t mean they’re all buddy-buddy.

Pujols interacts with his clique and does things with his clique. When he needs people for charitable events, he looks within his clique and then to the other teammates.

A perfect example of this is the Lakers game back in the spring.

Pujols and Molina went to the Lakers game when Los Angeles was in Miami to play the Heat. Pujols met Kobe Bryant and Bryant talked with Pujols’ son.

Brendan Ryan and Joe Mather went to the same game. They knew Pujols and Molina were going too.

Pujols and Molina didn’t know Ryan and Mather would be there. In fact, Ryan and Mather sat behind Pujols at the game (several rows back) and weren’t allowed to talk to Pujols during the game.

Of course, that’s more so security guards being too stupid to realize Ryan and Mather were teammates. When Pujols was informed of Ryan and Mather’s presence, it was then that acknowledged them.

He didn’t bring them down to sit with him or talk. He didn’t go up to them.

He sent a message via the security guard that they could come back into the locker room with him to me Bryant.

Come with him. Not join him, but come with him. Not like teammates, but like peons.

Pujols is a great player, but the theory to trade him does hold its own.

With Pujols not a great clubhouse presence, and with the money saved by dealing Pujols too great not to realize, dealing Pujols should easily be recognized as plausible.

Of course, there is always the other side of the fence.

Pujols is a presence on the field and in the lineup everyday. He is a force to be reckoned with, and dealing him would not only be a significant blow to the lineup and defense, but would strengthen a rival team.

There is also the fact that the team doesn’t have an obvious replacement for Pujols anymore with Brett Wallace out of the picture.

Allen Craig would be first choice for the job. Mark Hamilton’s name would also be under consideration. Shifting Holliday to first base could even be considered (with Jon Jay and another outfielder platooning in left field).

The fact of the matter is that there is no obvious replacement for Pujols’ defense or offense.

When you look to replace a player, you want to replace a player with someone that can put up the same or slightly less than the same offensive numbers. And their defense should be on the same level.

In the case of Pujols, no one is on that planet, at least that is in the system right now.

Weakening the lineup and the defense is a minus to trading Pujols.

Strengthening a rival is a minus to trading Pujols.

Not having an adequate replacement on hand is a minus to trading Pujols.

There is no easy answer here.

When you’re dealing for a player to make a postseason push, you can always justify the trade by saying “we made the playoffs” or “we won the World Series.” Watching the player(s) traded do well is hard to swallow because you know that if you hadn’t triggered that deal, he would be putting up those stellar numbers for you.

But those types of trades are easily justified and easy to swallow right away.

Trading a quality player when you’re in the midst of a title run for a player of better value is easy to justify and to swallow.

Dealing a good player (like a Cliff Lee) when you’re out of the race is tough to do, but you know you have to do it to get any type of return to better your team for the seasons to come.

Dealing a franchise player, whether you’re in the race or not, is not easily justified. You have to weigh every option. Every one’s opinion on the matter.

And the conclusion you reach will either keep everything the same and make people within the organization mad.

Or you can deal the player, improve the organizational talent, but make the fans and people within the organization mad.

Either way, you’ll make someone mad. This is no different.


Part II will be published within the next few days.

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Cliff Lee to the St. Louis Cardinals Trade Possibility

As I sit here waiting for my boring accounting professor to get done talking with some 60-year-old woman, it occurs to me that I haven’t written anything in two months. Call it annoyance with the fact that no one reads my articles.

Read this article!

Anyway, you’ve probably heard that the St. Louis Cardinals need another starting pitcher.

Kyle Lohse had his forearm surgically repaired and even though his rehab is moving quickly, it doesn’t mean he is close to rejoining the roster. Mainly, in my opinion, he shouldn’t be allowed to rejoin the roster. Let the forearm heal. Throw batting practice into the start of August, then give him a month rehab assignment.

As a reliever.

The Cardinals could use another arm in that bullpen, and for a September stretch drive, Lohse would be good to use. Let him come back that way, then rejoin the rotation next spring.

Alas, I have returned to finish me stories, ye hearties.

Gotta reiterate a point here to get my brain back on the thinking track: Lohse joining the bullpen for a month would show if Lohse can return to form, and would give him a chance to work out any type of kinks he may have in short stints.

For Brad Penny, he needs to return to the rotation. He was throwing well and everything was getting ready to click when he went down. A deal for Lee would give him time to get healthy and be back before August starts.

Oh, did I mention that a deal for a Lee would get rid of Jeff Suppan? Yeah, thought that might cheer you up.

Let’s get down and dirty here, whatcha say?

This trade is a three-team blockbuster. The deal includes the Arizona Diamondbacks, Seattle Mariners, and the Cardinals.

Players on the move:

To Mariners: C Chris Snyder (ARI), 1B/OF Mark Hamilton (STL), 1B/3B/OF Allen Craig (STL), RHP Casey Mulligan (STL), LHP Evan MacLane (STL), OF Tyler Henley (STL)

To Diamondbacks: SS Pete Kozma (STL), OF Daryl Jones (STL), C Bryan Anderson (STL), 1B/OF Dennis Raben

To Cardinals: SS Stephen Drew (ARI), LHP Cliff Lee (SEA)

Let’s break it down. The Mariners need a catcher, and with Snyder a free agent at the end of the season, he fits this need perfectly. Snyder was hitting well with Miguel Montero on the mend early on, but Montero back in the lineup, Snyder has been getting less play time.

In come the Mariners. They need Snyder, and Snyder needs the Mariners. If Snyder is going to get any kind of contract this off-season, Snyder needs to play and he won’t play in Arizona.

As for Hamilton and Craig, both are strong hitters. Craig has over 60 runs batted in in just 61 games at Triple A. He hasn’t done much at the Major League level, but chalk that up to sporadic starts and too much pinch hitting for a kid that has always been a starter.

Drafted in 2007 as a senior in college, Craig is a bat that Jack Zduriencik, General Manager of the Mariners, wants for Lee. Add in Hamilton, who is a decent fielding first baseman with a big left handed bat, and Zduriencik will be happy.

Neither Craig or Hamilton have a spot in St. Louis. There’s this player named Albert Pujols at first base, you might have heard about that guy, who isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

With Matt Holliday in the first year of a seven year contract, and Ryan Ludwick bound for a four year contract this off-season, neither will see starting time under the Arch.

Different story for a rebuilding Mariners team. They need big bats like these two that the team can add to its core. Craig at designated hitter and Hamilton at first (or vice verse), the Mariners would be in good shape.

As for Henley, the Mariners add another power hitting left handed bat. Henley has struggled in a brief exposure at the Triple A level this year, but his stats add up.

He plays the corner outfield and would fight with Michael Saunders for the every day left field job in 2012 when Milton Bradley had left via free agency.

Mulligan, who I describe as Jason Motte version 2 (with better command and movement), could join the beleaguered Mariner bullpen right away.

MacLane could join the bullpen as well, or the rotation. He is more of a throw-in for the deal. Drafted in 2003 by the New York Mets, he rose quickly through their system and appeared at the Triple A level.

He was traded for an outfielder by the name of Shawn Green (might have heard of that guy, right?) in 2006 and pitched for Arizona’s Triple A affiliate every season since that trade.

We was traded to the Cardinals and assigned to Triple A, again, in 2009. He has been there ever since, with the exception of sitting on the bullpen bench for two days without appearing in a game for the Cardinals at the end of May.

MacLane is a good arm. He is older, but he is left handed and has put up good numbers at Triple A in his career. If given the chance, the Mariners would add a quality arm to their arsenal.

For the Diamondbacks, they make a nice haul.

Essentially, the Diamondbacks deal Snyder for Raben, a 23 year old left handed hitter with good power.

From the Cardinals, they land two highly regarded prospects who have stalled in the St. Louis system.

Kozma, a glove first shortstop and former first round pick (2007) of the Cardinals, hasn’t hit well at any system. It isn’t like he is allergic to ash bats, he just isn’t amazing.

He is a good on-base guy, and has flashed some power with eight home runs this season. By changing organizations, Kozma could get a fresh start and get going. It is an ‘if,’ by Kozma can be a Major League player. Utility or starter is up in the air, but worth the gamble.

For Jones, he too has stalled. He had a breakout 2008 campaign, and then injured his knees last season and hasn’t fully recovered this season. Changing organizations for him could do well, like going to Triple A for once and seeing if he can get restarted.

If healthy, Jones is a difference maker. His speed, double ability, and strong defense makes him a star in the making…if he can stay healthy. Another risk worth taking.

Anderson is an offensive catcher with average defensive skills. He won’t likely be a backup for the Cardinals as Dave Duncan likes to have a veteran backup Yadier Molina. For the Diamondbacks, though, he could create competition with Montero.

Like Montero, Anderson is left handed. He hits for a fair amount of power and is an average defensive catcher. He isn’t the left handed version of Molina, let’s put it that way.

For the Cardinals, they add another Cy Young winner to complement their one winner (Chris Carpenter) and their one screwed-over winner (Adam Wainwright), along with their budding left-handed ace (Jamie Garcia).

Throw in Penny to the mix, and this rotation is unstoppable.

Add Drew to the offense, and the Cardinals ill have a bat for the two hole. Drew, Skip Schumaker, Felipe Lopez, and Brendan Ryan can be used on a carousel to keep everyone fresh, with Lopez and Ryan play 2B and SS.

Ryan and Lopez would also serve as the utility infielders on the bench, meaning that Aaron Miles is out of job. Couple that with a release of Suppan, and a release of Randy Winn when Ludwick returns from the DL, the Cardinals offense and pitching will be in fine shape.


Hope you all enjoyed this. Remember, this is my own speculation/hope. I haven’t heard Drew’s name attached to the Cardinals, and I haven’t heard any names from the Cardinals involved in a possible Lee scenario (though the Cardinals are among the handful of teams scouting Lee).

I also haven’t heard Snyder’s name attached to the Mariners. My own speculation.

Serious discussion only, please. Name calling, insults, bad language can go elsewhere. Be adults. Be kind to each other.

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