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Spring Training Arrives

Albert_pujols_021407_chris_lee_post_dispThe Cardinals opened camp on Wednesday February 14, with Pitchers & Catchers as well as a few others reporting.  Albert Pujols, after acing his American Citizenship test showed up with his son A.J., fielding some grounders and spending some time hitting off a tee in the cages.  I feel really good about this upcoming season even though there are 59 players at this point.  By April 1, that number will be whittled down to a mere 25.  Most spots are pretty much spoken for, but there will be plenty of opportunities for the younger players to showcase their skills in the hope of landing a roster spot.  The bullpen has enough arms to stock two teams, and several outfielders could be competing for a few backup roster spots.  The most interesting thing to watch though, will be the pitchers competing for a spot in the rotation.  With Carpenter and Wells being the only sure things, Wainwright (If Izzy’s healthy) and Reyes are pretty much assumed to have a spot as well.  The question then becomes who will be the fifth starter till Mulder returns.  Will it be Looper? Thompson? Franklin?  Those seem to be the three names being tossed around.  We will see.  One thing is for sure, Spring is here, and the time is near when we will Play Ball.

So there you have it….  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me hear from you out there….
Thanks,
Josh
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Ankiel Signs For A Year

Rick_ankielThe Rick Ankiel Saga continued Wednesday, with the Cardinals signing him to a one year minor league deal, with an invitation to spring training.  He missed the entire season in 2006 when he hurt his knee in spring training.  In 2005 he hit .259, 21 HR’s, 75 RBI’s between A and AA ball.  Retiring as a pitcher on March 9, 2005 was his first full year as an outfielder.  I would like to see him make it one day.  He has battled back from anxiety problems to become a respectable minor league outfielder.  We will have to stay tuned to see where he goes next.  My prediction is that he will start the year in Springfield and possibly be promoted to Memphis early in the season.  I sure do miss watching that absolutely nasty curve and breaking ball he had, he was one **** of a pitcher.
So there you have it.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me hear from you out there….
Thanks,
Josh

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Another Bullpen Addition??

Ph_2110411_1We just signed Ryan Franklin to a one year deal.  I am not sure what to think about this.  Maybe it is similar to last year’s Jeff Nelson situation, where we see if he fits in during spring training.  But I can’t imagine a single spot on the bullpen roster where he would beat out who we currently have.  He has a lifetime losing record of 41-57.  I have never really been impressed with watching him pitch, but you never know.  Our bullpen already has Randy Flores, Josh Hancock, Tyler Johnson, Randy Keisler, Josh Kinney, Braden Looper, Chris Narveson (possibly), Ricardo Rincon, Brad Thompson, Brian Falkenborg, Russ Springer, and Jason Isringhausen all competing for probably 7 jobs.  Izzy is the closer, so now you are at 6 spots.  So where is an outsider going to come in?  You can pretty much guarantee Tyler Johnson & Randy Flores because we need at least two left handers in the pen.  That means Keisler, who is left handed might end up in Memphis.  So now you are down to 4 spots and Hancock, Kinney, Looper, Rincon, Thompson, Falkenborg, and Springer to choose from.  Springer and Looper are sure things to make the squad, so now you essentially have two spots with Hancock, Kinney, and Thompson fighting for them.  I think Rincon is too old and hasn’t pitched in over a year, and Narveson may be the ace in Memphis so he will continue to build up endurance as a starter in the future.  So you tell me, where would that leave a guy like Franklin?  He may compete for a spot in the rotation, but I don’t see room for him there either now that we have Carpenter, Mulder, Wells, Wainwright, & Reyes.  He started 30 games with the Mariners in 2005 going 8-15 with a 5.10 ERA.  Where will he end up?  Your guess is as good as mine.  In my opinion it doesn’t hurt to sign him, just not sure if we need him.

So there you have it.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me hear from you out there….

Thanks,
Josh

Mulder Stays With Cards

Mark_and_dave_3_8_05_4Mark Mulder just re-signed with the Cardinals about an hour ago.  It was a 2 year deal worth $13 Million, with an option for a third year.  It is an incentive laden contract, that could possibly bring the total contract to $45 million over the 3 year period.  The Mulder signing takes our rotation and makes it that much stronger.  He will not play a full season this year, but I am hoping he pitches about 2/3 of the season. I have heard anything from May till the All Star break as far as speculation for his return.  This gives the Cardinals a rotation of Carpenter, Mulder, Wainwright, Wells, & Reyes.  We still have our other options of Brad Thompson, Braden Looper, or Chris Narveson to fill Mulder’s spot until he returns.  I personally would like to see Narveson given the shot to make the team.  This signing also changes the level of desire for Jeff Weaver.Mark_mulder_041006_4
  I imagine we will still talk to him, but we don’t need him near as bad as we did at this time yesterday.  I knew Walt would come through, and I am tired of all the Cardinals fans who consider our team cheap when it comes to spending money.  I prefer to think of us as smart and prudent.  I have seen crazy money thrown at talent in years past, but this is the first ever off-season where I have seen crazy money thrown at mediocrity.  I mean Gil Meche for around $10 million, give me a break! So I am glad that the Cardinals are willing to spend but spend wisely.  I feel like today we took a big step towards success in ’07.

So there you have it.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me hear from you out there….

Thanks,

Josh

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Miles & Cardinals avoid Arbitration

Aaron_miles_041206 The Cardinals and Aaron Miles agreed to a 1 year deal Monday, just in time to avoid arbitration.  The deadline for signing non contracted players is Monday night at midnight.  He will jump from $350,000 to $1 Million next year.  He deserves every penny of it.  The 29 year old proved himself at 2nd as a starter, backup, and even filled in for about a month at shortstop for Ecskstein.  Aaron Miles hit .263, appearing in 135 games for the Cardinals.  There are also a few bonuses worked in for a certain number of plate appearences.  I would have been happy with him as our everyday 2nd baseman, and I love him being part of next year’s squad.  Here’s to you Aaron, thanks for a great 2006 season, and good luck next year.

So there you have it.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me hear from you out there.
Thanks,
Josh
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Please NO Pavano

Carl_pavano3This one is a no brainer.  We do NOT want Carl Pavano.  C’mon, I mean, has the  market gotten so bad that we are salivating over an oft-injured pitcher that hasn’t pitched a single inning since June of 2005?  Do we need a guy that is 61-64 lifetime? I mean Jason Marquis at least had a winning record of 56-52.  Carl Pavano is ALWAYS injured, and even witheld information to the team doctors about injuries he got from a car accident.  Do we want that kind of **** on our team? NO, THIS IS A NO BRAINER.  I do not want to see the Cardinals join the crazy club and throw a TON of money at a pitcher with a losing record.  He did have ONE good year, I will give him that.  As a member of the Marlins in 2004 he went 18-8 wigh a 3.00 ERA.  But one good year doesn’t mean he is a stud.  Quite the contrary.  As a member of the World Champion 2003 Marlins he had a losing record.  If we wanted this kind of a pitcher we would have signed Marquis again, and gotten more for less.  Pavano has two years and $22.95 Million left on his contract, and if any team did get him, they would no doubt want the Yankees to absorb much of the cost. Carl_pavano2 He is so terrible that he will probably not even make the rotation on the Yankees, now that they have Pettite and the rights to the Japaneese left hander Kei Igawa.  Mix in Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina and the Yankees are more than eager to unload Pavano.  Not only do we not need Pavano, but the Yankees would most certainly over value him when trading him, which would  mean we would be stuck giving up a lot for nothing.  Remember what we gave up for Mulder (Daric Barton, Kiko Calero, and Den Haren)?  And Pavano is no Mulder.  Some might argue that that trade was a bust.  I personally liked Walt trading for Mulder, and we had no way of knowing what would happen injury wise.  Mulder though was a premier pitcher.  Pavano is most definately not.  Do we really want to lose anyone we have now, for Pavano?  I know we need another starter, but I would move someone from the bullpen to that role before trading my future for a lying loser with a costly paycheck.  Read the article before this one (below it) and see if you don’t think one of those options would be as good as Pavano.  There comes a point where mediocrity can no longer demand such outlandish money.  Having given my opinion on Pavano, there are a few other pitchers on the Cardinals’ radar that wouldn’t be bad options.  Batista will probably sign with the Mariners, but he would have been a better option than Pavano.  And I still maintain that Jeff Weaver is a strong possibility to re-sign with the Cards.  Jeff Weaver has already proven he can flourish under Duncan, so why not get aggressive with him?  My guess is that Scott Boras will focus on his other clients like Zito, then focus on Weaver and when he does, the Cardinals stand a good chance of landing him again.  But no Pavano….no Pavano…

So there you have it.  Agree?  Disagree?  Let me hear from you out there….
Thanks,
Josh